Saturday, 7 October 2017

Short Attention Span Record Reviews Oct 2017


GRAVE PLEASURES – Motherblood
Post-punk you can dance to, sort of like a Sisters Of Mercy/Bauhaus/Billy Idol hybrid. Slightly better than “Dreamcrash”, not as good as “Climax”. (7)

IBEYI – Ash

Second album by French-Cuban twin sisters merging soul, jazz, hip hop and world music with solid results. +1 point for Kamasi Washington playing on the first single “Deathless”, -1 point for the autotune. (7)

J.D. McPHERSON – Undivided Heart & Soul

Oklahoman rockabilly star (check out 2015’s excellent “Let The Good Times Roll”) and Josh Homme buddy modernizes his sound with special guests and songwriting collaborations (Aaron Lee Tasjan, Parker Millsap, Butch Walker etc). Party time! (8)

JOHN ZORN’S SIMULACRUM – The Garden of Earthly Delights

Bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Melvins) joins Zorn’s progmetal vehicle for a mostly instrumental musical extravaganza loosely based on the work of Hieronymus Bosch. Not for the faint of heart. (7)

KAMASI WASHINGTON – Harmony Of Difference

If “The Epic”’s 3-hour epicness was too much for your attention span, you smartphone-generation goldfish, this wonderful EP only contains 5 short pieces so it’s the perfect opportunity for you to finally meet the guy who made jazz cool again. (9)

PRIMUS – The Desaturating Seven

Concept album based on a children’s book about goblins eating rainbows. Yes, I know. And even though it does figure the original 90’s line-up of Claypool-LaLonde-Alexander, there’s nothing as catchy as “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” or “My Name Is Mud” here. (6)

PROPAGANDHI – Victory Lap

Real talk: 2017’s top-5 metal albums to date were all released by punk bands. This is one of them. (9)

PROTOMARTYR – Relatives In Descent

A much better post-punk record than Grave Pleasures’. But you can’t dance to it and the girls won’t like it much. (8)

SONS OF APOLLO – Psychotic Symphony

Progressive/metal supergroup, basically a Dreamer Theater spin-off, exploring their inner Rainbow. I don’t hear stuff like this often nowadays and I sort of miss it. (8)

THE WEATHER STATION – The Weather Station

We’ve already had great albums by Laura Marling, This Is The Kit, Jesca Hoop and Joan Shelley this year, the Weather Station/Tamara Lindeman’s latest is OK but adds little to the female folky singer/songwriter genre. (7)

Friday, 22 September 2017

Short Attention Span Record Reviews Sep 2017 - Back To School Edition Pt. II


THE HARDER STUFF

BALL – Ball

Superfuzzed heavy psych-rock from a bunch of Swedes who won’t reveal their identities, so it’s either someone we know or someone trying to pull a Ghost. In any case, this rocks. Hard. (8)

DALEK – Endangered Philosophies

Dalek was Death Grips before Death Grips. Dalek is better than Death Grips. Dalek is back. (8)

FOO FIGHTERS – Concrete & Gold

In one ear, out the other. (6)

HOT WATER MUSIC – Light It Up

Melodic, anthemic punk rock with choruses that beg to be screamed out loud while hugging your best mate. I’m 49 and this stuff still moves me to tears. (8)

MARILYN MANSON – Heaven Upside Down

“The Pale Emperor” was great and very different from anything MM had ever done before. This year’s follow-up is more like a throwback to the “Antichrist Superstar”/“Mechanical Animals” sound of 20 years ago. (7)

MASTODON – Cold Dark Place EP

4 unreleased tracks, 3 from the “Once More ‘Round The Sun” sessions and 1 from the “Emperor Of Sand” sessions, more laid back but totally awesome in their epic epicness. Seriously, this stuff is better than both albums, or perhaps easier to digest since the EP’s only 22 minutes long. (9)

MATT CAMERON – Cavedweller

Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Cameron pulls a Brant Bjork and releases poppier solo album. Good stuff, fans of his bands will love it. (7)

THE BRONX – V

They call themselves “The Greatest Punk Rock Band In The World”. They’re not, but they certainly play like they believe it. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares

A bunch of proto-metal bands from the late 60’s/early 70’s that I’ve never heard of (Xarhanga, Novaks Kapelle, Whistlers Mother, Brass Alley…) doing bad drugs and turning the fuzz up to 11. Pure gold. (9)

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – Thrice Woven

A very welcome return to their black metal roots after the unfortunate ambient/faux-Tangerine Dream experiment of “Celestite”, this is one of the best metal albums you’ll hear this year. Great guests (Anna Von Hausswolff, Neurosis’ Steve Von Till) add an extra dimension. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF


AMADOU & MARIAM – La Confusion
New album from Malian husband & wife Afro-blues duo. Too many keyboards and electronics on this one, losing some of the immediacy that had made 2005’s Manu Chao-produced “Dimanche A Bamako” such a great album. (7)

ANTIBALAS - Where The Gods Are In Peace

Brooklyn-based Afrobeat 12-piece collective that has supplied the likes of Arcade Fire, The Roots, Mark Ronson and The Black Keys with session players returns with funky new album. Sounds very African and very New York at the same time. (7)

BEDOUINE – Bedouine

Promising debut album from young Syrian singer-songwriter living and working in L.A., featuring an impressive list of collaborators who have previously worked with Beck, Norah Jones and Devendra Banhart. Fans of Natalie Prass should check her out. (7)

DAN REED – Confessions

Not having heard a single note from Reed since 1991 I was still sort of hoping I’d get some funky hard rock when I decided to give this a spin, but instead I got 10 sugary ballads which is 9 sugary ballads more than I can take in one sitting. (5)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR – Luciferian Towers

Canadian post-rock nine-piece continue their apocalyptic-sounding quest to eliminate the evils of capitalism. (8)

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER – Hallelujah Anyhow

Similar in style to last year’s “Heart Like A Levee”, this is good country rock with soul overtones a-la Van Morrison. (7)

KRONOS QUARTET & TRIO DA KALI – Ladilikan

Classical string quartet joins forces with traditional Malian musicians for an exquisite, soulful set. This is a better Westernized reinterpretation of Mali’s rich musical tradition than the Amadou & Mariam album. (8)

TEXAS GENTLEMEN – TX Jelly

Ace Texan backing band steps out on its own after playing with everyone in country and rock from Kris Kristofferson to Leon Bridges to Nikki Lane. (7)

TOM RUSSELL – Folk Hotel

It’s hard for the father of Americana to top 2015’s “The Rose Of Roscrae”, his masterpiece, but Russell takes a shot at it and comes pretty damn close. (8)

WILLIE WATSON – Folksinger Vol.2

Former Old Crow Medicine Show member releases second solo folk/blues/gospel/country album playing well-worn standards with sparse acoustic instrumentation – his version of “Gallows Pole” is particularly strong. (7)

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Short Attention Span Record Reviews Sep 2017 - Back To School Edition Pt. I

THE HARDER STUFF

CHELSEA WOLFE – Hiss Spun

Californian gothic/doom/folk songstress incorporates even more metal and industrial elements into her sound which you’ll love if you’re 17, depressed, wear only black and use lots of mascara. (7)

GOGOL BORDELLO – Seekers And Finders

Half the band is new but with Hutz and violinist Ryabtsev leading the way it still sounds like a crazy party. I’m pretty sure however that without Oren Kaplan they’ll never even get close to making another “Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike” again. (7)

LIVING COLOUR – Shade

Lower East Side “funk metal” the way it’s supposed to be and the way you remember it from back in the day. A fantastic blues-tinged album full of Reid’s guitar pyrotechnics and Glover’s soulful vocals backed by what sounds like the best rhythm section on the planet. (8)

LYKANTROPI – Lykantropi

Vintage, 60’s-influenced psychedelic rock sounds from yet another young band from Sweden, one of the better ones – female vocals, flute flourishes, warm analog production, the works. (7)

MYRKUR – Mareridt

The Robert De Niro to Chelsea Wolfe’s Al Pacino. (7)

PROPHETS OF RAGE – Prophets Of Rage

Rap metal leftists release their anti-establishment manifesto. Some of the sloganeering is too childish to take seriously, but some of the grooves are killer. (7)

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – Villains

Oh shut up, it’s fine. (7)

SEPTICFLESH – Codex Omega

A symphony orchestra playing along to brutal metal is really not my cup of tea and I tend to think that older SF albums like “Revolution DNA” were more, well, revolutionary. Still, a solid effort. (7)

SISTERS OF MERCY – Some Girls Wander By Mistake (Expanded Edition)

1992 compilation reissued (this time with 5 extra tracks), collecting the band’s pre-major label limited-edition vinyl format singles, the “Reptile House” EP, extended versions, re-recordings, covers of the Stooges and the Stones, remixes etc. A must for anyone even remotely interested in goth music & culture. (10)

TUESDAY THE SKY – Drift

Solo project by Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) who ventures deep into post-rock territory: Despite contributions by Kevin Moore (Dream Theater), this should appeal more to fans of Sigur Ros, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or God Is An Astronaut (whose drummer collaborates here) rather than to metalheads. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

DREAM SYNDICATE – How Did I Find Myself Here

Not a lot of people know of The Dream Syndicate but those who do love them deeply. Their first post-reunion album after the 1989 breakup is very welcome, a jangly, noisy, dreamy, psychedelic set of songs that sound like no other Dream Syndicate record but is still very distinctly a Dream Syndicate record. (8)

FLEETWOOD MAC – Greatest Hits

Reissue of a 1988 compilation with misleading title since it only covers the band’s “yacht rock” period from 1975 to 1987, ignoring the Peter Green era. Still, some great tunes in here. (8)

GRIZZLY BEAR – Painted Ruins

Maybe if I moved to Brooklyn, became a Pitchfork reader, grew my goatee into a full beard, I’d like this stuff more? (6)

IRON & WINE – Beast Epic

Subtle, touching piece of work by veteran indie folkie. (7)

JOLIE HOLLAND & SAMANTHA PARTON – Wildflower Blues

Former partners in Canadian outsider folk group The Be Good Tanyas, Holland and Parton reunite for an album that sounds like an encyclopedia of North American music with elements of country, blues, rock and even a hint of jazz. Features originals plus a few covers (Townes Van Zandt, Dylan etc.). (8)

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – American Dream

Post-rock, art-rock, disco. You can dance to it but it’s dark, much darker than his previous albums. The ghosts of David Bowie and Alan Vega are all over the place and so is the shadow of Giorgio Moroder. Lyrics that will wow you. This could be the album of the year. (9)

LEE RANALDO – Electric Trim

Sonic Youth guitarist sidelines the noise and explores his pop side with “traditional” songs for a change. This is actually very good and features an all-star cast including Sharon Van Etten, members of Sonic Youth, Wilco and Oneida, and lyrical contributions by novelist Jonathan Lethem (you should read this book now. And this one.) (7)

TED LEO – The Hanged Man

Underrated indie rocker who has previously written the best song of all time returns with crowdsourcing-funded solo album. Solid songwriting, punchy rockers, and more ballads than usual – but they’re good ones. (8)

TEEBEE – Archives 2

Second part of Norwegian drum ‘n’ bass artist’s work from the early 00’s remastered and released in digital format for the first time. This is great, intense stuff, even if you’re not much into electronica. (8)

WAR ON DRUGS – A Deeper Understanding

If Chris Rea, Dire Straits or Don Henley had released “A Deeper Understanding” music critics would have slaughtered them, and yet The War On Drugs can get away with this sub-par soft rock crap because they’re “indie”. (5)

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Short Attention Span Record Reviews Aug 2017 - Summer Vacation Edition


THE AMERICANS – I’ll Be Yours
Spiritual children of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the original roots rock/americana band. (7)

ARCADE FIRE – Everything Now

Transition from overrated indie rock brats to bad disco clowns successfully completed. (5)

DALE CROVER – The Fickle Finger Of Fate

Melvins drummer on solo album has some fun experimenting and fooling around in the studio. Non-essential. (6)

DEAD CROSS – Dead Cross

Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton play hardcore. What more do you need to know? (8)

DREAM MACHINE – The Illusion

Great occult/psych-rock revivalist album, organ-driven, sounds like an Iron Butterfly/Atomic Rooster/Doors/Electric Prunes hybrid. But they make a big fuss about tuning to A=432hz instead of A=440hz so they should cut the pretentious crap. (8)

ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN – The Killing Moon: The Singles 1980-1990

Hated them since I was a teen.  Decided to give them another chance now that I’m older, wiser and with a wider music taste palette. Still hate them. (-)

GEORGE THOROGOOD – Party Of One

Solo, mostly acoustic blues record. I prefer him when he’s rockin’ backed by the Destroyers. (7)

HACRIDE – Chapter I: Inconsolabilis

Solid EP by underrated French band, Gojira contemporaries who have also moved way beyond their death metal/Meshuggah roots. Fun fact: Half the band are touring members of Carpenter Brut. (8)

HARD WORKING AMERICANS – We’re All In This Together

Not to be confused with The Americans (see above) but, yeah, spiritual children of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the original jam band. This is a live album, if you liked last year’s “Rest In Chaos” then you should definitely check this out. (7)

LANA DEL REY – Lust For Life

Now that everyone has realized Lana Del Rey is just a persona/character like Alice Cooper, can we all agree that Lizzy Grant writes pretty decent pop songs and releases great singles? Too bad about the album filler though – like her previous works, “Lust For Life” would greatly benefit from being 3-4 songs shorter. (7)

MARGO PRICE – Weakness EP

Jack White-endorsed country singer-songwriter drops surprise EP. Good stuff, firmly in the Loretta/Dolly vein. (8)

MELVINS – A Walk With Love & Death

If you’re not already a Melvins fan then don’t bother with this one. If you are a fan then you know the only real surprise on a Melvins album is who’s playing bass, and this time it’s Steven McDonald from Redd Kross. This is a 2-disc set, album 1 (“Death”) sounds like a Melvins album, album 2 (“Love”) is the soundtrack to an experimental film directed by Jesse Nieminen and it sounds like the soundtrack to an experimental film (i.e. pretty much unlistenable). (7 Death/4 Love)

NINE INCH NAILS – Add Violence

This EP features Reznor’s most “commercial”/accessible material in ages, except when it features his noisiest. (8)

RANDY NEWMAN – Dark Matter

If you only know Newman’s music from the Pixar movies he scores then you’re missing out on a great, weird songwriter and a master of irony and satire who can also pull your heartstrings: Before you’ve stopped LOLing over a song like “Putin”, here comes another one like “Wondering Boy” to make you cry. (8)

SHABAZZ PALACES – Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star / Quazarz Vs. The Jealous Machines

Is this art-rap? Is it prog-hop? Dunno how to label them, but they definitely sound like no one else on their two new albums released simultaneously. (7)

SHEER MAG – Need To Feel Your Love

Thin Lizzy-influenced classic hard rock with lo-fi production and hi-fi ambitions. What I don’t get is why everyone talks about Tina Halladay’s voice, this reviewer finds her delivery rather grating. (6)

STEVEN WILSON – To The Bone

The vibe of this one goes back to the more commercial, “Stupid Dream”/”Lightbulb Sun” Porcupine Tree era (1999-2000), and that’s fine. (7)

THIS IS THE KIT – Moonshine Freeze

Interesting song structures, charming melodies and rich instrumentation make for a delightful little pop-folk record. (8)

TOM JONES – Live On Soundstage

CD/DVD package from a recent show in Chicago, featuring special guest Alison Krauss. A mix of tracks from his 3 excellent most recent albums and re-imagined older classic hits, with the psychedelic latin-rock version of “Delilah” an obvious highlight. (9)

TYLER CHILDERS – Purgatory

Sturgill Simpson protégé but more traditional-sounding, this is pure old-school country music with the exception of “Universal Sound”, the closest Childers gets to Simpson’s cosmic meditations and coincidentally (?) the album’s best track. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Late Night Tales: BADBADNOTGOOD

In case you’re not familiar with the concept – “Late Night Tales” is a series of artist-curated compilations, with curators being asked to put together the ultimate late night mix. BADBADNOTGOOD do a decent job but this is not as great as the Cinematic Orchestra and Nils Frahm ones. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Soul of a Nation: Afro-Centric Visions in the Age of Black Power (Underground Jazz, Street Funk & the Roots of Rap 1968-79)

Of course this compilation opens with Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and includes mind-blowing tracks by Roy Ayers Ubiquity, Oneness Of Juju etc., but it’s certainly incomplete without The Last Poets. Great stuff anyway. (8)

Monday, 3 July 2017

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, July 2017


ARCADEA – Arcadea
Mastodon’s Brann Dailor on drums and vocals plus two guys playing synthesizers. No guitars, no bass, yet this is METAL. Dailor goes crazy here, this is his best drum performance since “Blood Mountain”. (7)

CIRCLE – Terminal

Mad Finnish kraut-psych-heavyrockers release their 52nd (!) album and it’s a glorious mess that sounds like their previous 51 albums all played simultaneously. (8)

DANIEL O’SULLIVAN – Veld

O’Sullivan is definitely someone to follow – either with his own bands (Grumbling Fur, Mothlite) or his collaborations (SunnO))), Ulver) he always creates some otherworldly sounds. This solo album is pastoral yet abstract, experimental but pop in an Eno-y kind of way. (7)

EX EYE – Ex Eye

Avant-garde saxophonist Colin Stetson goes METAL, puts together awesome band featuring Greg Fox from Liturgy on drums, blows you away. (8)

FIVE HORSE JOHNSON – Jake Leg Boogie

As I’ve said before listening to Five Horse Johnson makes me want to give up everything, buy a blues harp, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a cheap second-hand black suit, move to the Arizona desert and start a band singing Steppenwolf, Black Oak Arkansas and Dr. Feelgood covers in the only bar within a 100-mile radius (sawdust on the floor, only draught beer, WC without any toilet paper, redneck clientele always ready for a good fight). (8)

FLOGGING MOLLY – Life Is Good

Just like their East Coast Celtic punk counterparts the Dropkick Murphys it’s impossible not to like Flogging Molly, even when they tone it down a notch. (7)

HERE LIES MAN – Here Lies Man

Marcos Garcia from Antibalas put together this band to address the question “what if Black Sabbath played afrobeat?” Judging from the results I guess the answer would be “Funkadelic”. (7)

IFRIQIYYA ELECTRIQUE – Ruwahine

Tunisian ritual music supercharged with distorted guitars and industrial noise, this is basically Sufi trance music on steroids. (8)

JESSICA HERNANDEZ & THE DELTAS – Telephone/Telefono

Hernandez, a tough broad from Detroit’s Hispanic ghetto, releases her sophomore album in two different versions, an English one and a Spanish one. A highly danceable rock/latin/soul/new wave brew featuring eclectic guest friends like Phil Durr (Big Chief, Five Horse Johnson). (7)

LEE BAINS III & THE GLORY FIRES – Youth Detention

They label themselves “pure Alabama rock ‘n’ roll”, apparently what this means is that they add the Who’s class, the Rolling Stones’ swagger and Husker Du’s sense of urgency/melody to a swampy southern rock/garage/soul brew. I’m in love. (9)

LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS – After You’ve Gone

J.D. Wilkes & gang return with another slice of rockabilly/southern gothic/carnival music/swamp rock madness. (7)

RADIOHEAD – Ok Computer Oknotok 1997-2017

Not a lot to be said about the anniversary reissue of what is arguably the best album since 1997, perhaps even since 1977. We just have to note that this edition includes three (good!) unreleased tracks and eight b-sides. (10)

ROCQAWALI – Sufi Spirit
Based in Denmark but with members of Pakistani and Iranian origin Rocqawali blend, well, rock and qawali (Sufi devotional music from Asia, made internationally known by the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) and they’re battling it out with Ifriqyya Electrique for world music album of the month. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock Vol. 2
Second part of an excellent compilation, a must-buy for everyone interested in Australian rock ‘n’ roll beyond AC/DC. 4 CDs, 90 tracks -  Cold Chisel, The Angels, Divinyls, Split Enz, Rose Tattoo, Baby Animals, Screaming Jets, Noiseworks, The Saints, Church, Hoodoo Gurus, Bon Scott’s Fraternity, Little River Band, Men At Work etc. etc. (8)

Saturday, 1 July 2017

It Ain't What You Do (It's How You Do It)

Τον περασμένο Απρίλιο όταν πέθανε ο J. Geils δεν έγραψα κάτι - αφενός έπηζα εκείνες τις μέρες και δεν είχα χρόνο, αφετέρου τα έχει ήδη γράψει όλα για τους J. Geils Band ο Nick Hornby στο "31 Songs", αφετρίτου με είχε κυριεύσει μια παγωμάρα γιατί η συγκεκριμένη μπάντα πάντα είχε μια ξεχωριστή θέση στην καρδιά μου.

Διαβάζω τώρα όμως στο περιοδικό Classic Rock συνέντευξη των Aerosmith -των Aerosmith, οι οποίοι έχουν πουλήσει πάνω από 200 εκατομμύρια δίσκους στην καριέρα τους- και ο Joe Perry αναφέρεται στους J. Geils χωρίς να ερωτηθεί όχι μία, αλλά δύο φορές: Μία για να πει ότι αποτέλεσαν την έμπνευσή του για να γίνει μουσικός όταν τους είδε live ως έφηβος, και μία για να εξηγήσει τη μακροημέρευση των Aerosmith λέγοντας "νομίζω πως, επειδή είμαστε από τη Βοστώνη, ήμασταν μονίμως στη σκιά των J. Geils κι έτσι πάντα προσπαθούσαμε να αποδείξουμε την αξία μας, και αυτό το μάθημα ζωής μας ακολουθεί ως σήμερα."


Υποψιάζομαι ότι η συνέντευξη έλαβε χώρα μερικές μέρες μετά το θάνατο του Geils και γι' αυτό οι J. Geils Band ήταν top of mind για τον Perry -67 ετών, μη ξεχνιόμαστε- αυτό όμως δε μειώνει στο ελάχιστο το γεγονός ότι επρόκειτο για μια από τις κορυφαίες μπάντες της γενιάς τους και σίγουρα η καλύτερη μπάντα που έβγαλε ποτέ η Βοστώνη.


Τι ήταν όμως αυτό που τους έκανε τόσο σπουδαίους; Οι περισσότεροι γνωρίζουν τους J. Geils Band από την εμπορική στροφή/επιτυχία του 1981 με το άλμπουμ "Freeze Frame" και το single "Centerfold", η μπάντα όμως από το 1970 ως το 1980 είχε κυκλοφορήσει άλλα 9 καυτά studio άλμπουμ καθώς και 2 από τα καλύτερα live άλμπουμ όλων των εποχών (το "Live Full House" του '72 και το "Blow Your Face Out" του '76 - αμφότερα προτείνονται ανεπιφύλακτα). Παίρνοντας τα καλύτερα στοιχεία της μαύρης μουσικής παράδοσης, τα blues, τη Motown, το doo-wop, και πασαλείβοντάς τα με δύο δάχτυλα παχιάς ροκ γλίτσας, έφτιαξαν ένα καθαρά δικό τους μουσικό χαρμάνι. Τα υλικά ήταν παλιά και δεδομένα, οι J. Geils Band στα χαρτιά δεν έκαναν κάτι καινούργιο, το έκαναν όμως με ανυπέρβλητο στυλ, ειδικά στο σανίδι όπου ήταν άρχοντες πραγματικοί, και δικαιολογημένα μετέτρεπαν άτομα όπως ο Joe Perry σε fanboys: Μόνο οι Rolling Stones μπορούσαν να κοντράρουν τους J.Geils στα 70's, και από την άλλη πλευρά του Ατλαντικού κανείς. Γιατί όπως έχουν πει και οι ίδιοι it ain't what you do, it's how you do it.
 


Friday, 16 June 2017

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2017


CAPTAIN BEYOND – Lost And Found 1972-1973
The demos for their debut (a serious contender for 1973’s Album of the Year) plus a previously unreleased song from the same era, a treat for fans, nerds and archivists who won’t mind the four-track recording hiss. (-)

CHEAP TRICK – We’re All Alright!

The four uptempo tracks opening the album are the best 12 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll you’re likely to hear in 2017. Much better than just Alright. (8)

JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT – The Nashville Sound

Have you seen that pic of Isbell with Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton? It’s not that he’s in good company, it’s the other two guys who are in good company. (8)

LILA DOWNS– Salón Lágrimas Y Deseo

Downs delivers her feminist manifesto whilst the sonic background behind her shifts between different Mexican music subgenres such as mariachi, cumbia, danzon, rancheras, son, even rock. And, That Voice! (8)

RICHARD DAWSON – Peasant

Probably the strangest, most unsettling music you’ll hear this month, from a VERY English folk musician who sounds medieval and postmodern at the same time, sort of like a Geordie Captain Beefheart leading the Incredible String Band. (8)

SIKTH – The Future In Whose Eyes

They’re described as progressive metal or as the forefathers of djent, but they’re basically Korn with a hint of Dillinger Escape Plan. (7)

SONGHOY BLUES – Resistance

Damon Albarn-endorsed refugees from North Mali record fantastic album, infusing their Sahara blues with James Brown funk, Fela Kuti afrobeat, even a couple of Queens Of The Stone Age riffs and an Iggy Pop cameo. (8)

STEEL WOODS – Straw In The Wind

Exciting debut album by southern rockers in the Blackberry Smoke mold – and league. They also cover Black Sabbath and invite Lindi Ortega 💙 for a guest vocal slot. (8)

STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES – So You Wanna Be An Outlaw

Earle has been there, done it, smoked it, drank it. He’s done time in prison, got married 7 times, won Grammies, shot heroin, kicked the habit. He’s got people like Willie Nelson and Miranda Lambert guesting on this album and he does a great redneck Led Zep impression on “Fixin’ To Die”. If you think you won’t like this album because it’s “country” just listen to the thing, OK? (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock Vol. 1

They’re all here (except AC/DC due to licencing rights difficulties, but you will hear unknown Vanda/Young-produced bands with very young Young brothers as session guitarists). Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, The Angels, Divinyls, Men At Work, Sunnyboys, Boys Next Door, The Saints, Split Enz, Icehouse, Church, Lime Spiders, Baby Animals, Screaming Tribesmen, Rose Tattoo... 4 CDs, 91 tracks, fantastic liner notes. Buy! (9)

WILLIE NILE – Positively Bob

Ten jangly, rocking covers of Bob Dylan songs. If you always thought that “The Times They Are-A-Changin’”, “Blowin’ In The Wind” etc. are great compositions but could use an electric kick in the butt, well, Willie delivers. (8)