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Showing posts from February, 2020

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 4 - "Lux Prima" by Karen O & Dangermouse

My album of 2019, only caution against recency bias stops this rising further. Ask me again in another ten years and it may have risen further. My review from earlier last year makes clear why I love this masterpiece so much. Sometimes you know that something is just 'right'. There is an almost indefinable quality that is evident from the outset that continues throughout the film, book, or in this case album. It is not often that I get this feeling, but much like 2004's "Saturnalia" from The Gutter Twins or 2010's "High Violet" from The National, this new album featuring a collaboration between Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and renowned producer Brian Burton, aka Dangermouse, has 'it'. My, oh my, this is some album. An early album of the year contender? Most definitely. Strong words you might say, but just listen to it. Running the full gamut of styles, sometimes within the same song, from electronica, through orchestral pop, funk and

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 5 - "Back Roads & Abandoned Motels " by The Jayhawks

This was my favourite album of 2018 and an edited version of my original review of appears below. Now we're into the top half we are talking about the best of the best here. With the benefit of time I'd like to add that the sheer level of craft on display here is staggering. That these songs were written over a period of time rather than specifically for this album maybe helps that, but nonetheless this is songwriting of the highest quality with performances and production to match. My only sadness is that they've not found it viable to tour over here since the 2016 tour to support the also very good "Paging Mr Proust". I was fortunate enough to see them at the Art School in Glasgow on that run,(solo acoustic guitar version of "Broken Harpoon"!), my fourth time overall, and sincerely hope that won't be the last. Arriving just over two years after 2016’s “Paging Mr Proust”, the new album from Minnesota’s finest is a departure, in that mos

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 6 - "Wovenwar" by Wovenwar

The 2014 debut from the band that rose phoenix-like from the ashes of As I Lay Dying  is the next in my list of the best albums of the last decade. Surveying the mess left behind in the wake of Tim Lambesis' arrest and imprisonment for attempted murder, the remaining members of As I Lay Dying teamed up with Shane Blay of Oh Sleeper to create what is almost the best metal album of the last ten years. Retaining the power of their former band, whilst vastly more melodic this became an instant classic in my collection and deserves a far larger audience that in achieved. Using the classic moody instrumental introduction before firing into the staggeringly good 1-2 punch of "All Rise" and "Death to Rights" this is punch the air stuff. Breath is drawn during "The Tempest" although the liquid guitar work of Nick Hipa & Phil Sgrosso still shines. The heights are climbed again with "Movin' Up" and especially "Sight of Shore&quo

The Unraveling by Drive-By Truckers: Album Review

If you thought Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley were angry on 2016's excellent "American Band" then wait until you get your ears around their latest album, "The Unraveling".  Never a band afraid to call it as they see it, y ou'll have no issues deciding the targets of their ire. "Murmur" this is not. Easing us in gently with "Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun", they bring the energy with the high octane "Armageddon's Back In Town".  This one rocks hard, and that energy continues when Mike Cooley takes over for the catchy "Slow Ride Argument". The music may be calmer and even jolly, but the lyrics of "Thoughts and Prayers" are an utterly coruscating assault  on the all too typical response of many in power to gun violence. Hear, hear I say. The tragedy is that this song will be appropriate many times every year.  The political commentary continues with "21st Century USA", the inequality of t

Ian Noe Live at St. Luke's in Glasgow: A Little Ain't Enough

I first discovered Ian Noe's music in May last year with the release of "Letter To Madeline", a tale of a bank robbery gone wrong, which fits into a long line of country songs about desperate men and women who still end up holding the short end of the stick. Think "Long Black Veil".  The timeless quality of this single song had me highly anticipating his debut album, "Between The Country " and it did not disappoint, just missing out on the top spot in my best albums of 2019 . Consequently when I heard he would be playing in Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections, I had to be there.  It was somewhat appropriate then that he opened with the aforementioned "Letter To Madeline". Unaccompanied on acoustic guitar, the sparseness of the arrangement allowed the quality of both the songs and his voice to cut through in the former church. "Junktown", "Irene (Ravin' Bomb)", "Dead on the River (Rolling Down)" and &

Sturgill Simpson Live At The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow: Plenty of Fury With Some Sound

Appearing as part of the annual Celtic Connections city wide festival, Sturgill Simpson the producer of not only one of the ten best albums of last year, "Sound & Fury" (full review here ), but one of the best albums of the last decade, "A Sailor's Guide To Earth" (full review here ), had my interest was piqued as to what kind of show my first time seeing the Grammy winning artist would bring. The band came out on stage at 9:25pm, (5 minutes early!) with Simpson saying "we've got a hard 11:30 curfew and a 2 & 1/2 hour set so we not gonna talk that much". Fine by me, let the music do the talking I thought. For the first hour they tore through "Sound & Fury" in no-nonsense style, although Simpson was clearly having monitor issues. An elongated "Brace For Impact(Live A Little)" that morphed into a 10 minute  Zeppelin-esque jam, with Sturgill giving it his best Jimmy Page brought the first half of the show to a hard