Review: Liam Gallagher is many things to many people, and one thing to everyone - authentic. It seems unthinkable we could question the indie roller's motives, or expect anything other than the "meat and veg rock" he described his own work as during a 2018 interview with The Guardian. "Why Me? Why Not" sees him take that mantra to new heights. As an album it's as accomplished and polished as anything this pied piper of the raw and unpolished has gifted us in the years after *that band*, making for an immediately engaging collection of anthems-in-the-making that will have crowds eating out of the palm of his hand as if they'd never seen his hand before, or tasted any of the food he's been feeding them for years now. And therein lies the reason it remains impossible to criticise this undeniably upfront British songwriter. Enough said.
Review: After Beady Eye split in 2014, Liam Gallagher appeared conflicted about whether he would pursue a solo career, resolving in 2016 that this year's album was set in stone. Fans of previous work will undoubtedly be contented with solo debut 'As You Were', with it channelling the British pop influence, singalong riffs and the classic anthemic writing that Oasis were famed for. As expected from a Gallagher brother, the album is drenched in hubris, but Liam lets his guard down with surprising and rare moments of what seems to be vulnerability. Aside from the cocky rock and roll swagger, it's these moments that give 'As You Were' a little more depth than people were perhaps expecting.
Review: Barely a child of the '80s you would never know it having heard the music of Jacco Gardner, a Dutch multi instrumentalist colliding psychedelic pop, rock, synth, jazz and ambient in a way that firmly sounds like it was recorded in the presence of Klaus Schulz (see "Pale Blue Dot" & "Utopos") somewhere in '70s Berlin. There's strokes of sultry French stylings too in "Eclipse" around the album's halfway point - a sound reminiscent of Air - to the "Planet Caravan" Black Sabbath modus of cosmic chill out tracks like "Rain". There's even dashes of legendary, one-off band Ibliss in "Privolva". Seriously cool music from a seriously cool dude.
Review: Since their widely lauded 2015 debut 'A Dream Outside', London based four-piece Gengahr have devoted a significant amount of time touring and working on 'Where Wildness Grows' a follow-up that stridently meets expectations. Their music builds on UK indie of the early-mid noughties, with doses of a contemporary psych-pop aesthetic. The songwriting here is ambitious and broad, tracks going from breezy sun-flecked pop, to Maccabees-esque epics, to reverberating soundscapes, to stark angular guitars over almost funk grooves. It's clear just how much time and care the band have put into the record, with every song showcasing their intricate writing, layering and structures. 'Where Wildness Grows' is a lush and urgent sophomore record, and a giant leap forward for the band.
Review: With associations to the great Wichita label, Californian punk duo Girlpool land a third LP in the twosome's short but burgeoning tenure. The album sees the pair converge a series of solo works over their previous hands on collaboration style; masses of land for this album holding Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, for the time being, apart. Their sound in 2019 reflects tints of Garbage and Hole - grunge, shoegaze and downbeat - to patches of more contemporary electronic impulses in tracks like "Minute In Your Mind" and title track "What Chaos Is Imaginary". While there is some neon to light this LP, it remains an album of wash-dyed hair and denim jacket trips out of the city.
Review: The teenage duo of Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker have proved themselves unusually skilled at crafting stripped-down, luminous ditties with angular indie-rock shapes, whilst dealing in their spare and affecting style with issues of vulnerability and frailty that most outfits struggle to negotiate. 'Powerplant', their second album and first for Anti, boasts a fuller production than their debut, and may appeal to admirers of Throwing Muses and Cat Power alike, but seldom has such a knotty and gnarly take on punk rock also sounded so raw and intimate.
Review: After 11 years Damon Albarn's The Good, the Bad & the Queen project release their second album, and again it features the drumming virtuosity of Tony Allen and other instrumentalisation from former Gorillaz/The Clash member Paul Simonon and the Verve's Simon Tong. The album itself features the woozy croon of Albarn vocals with a busy concoction of guitars and textured layering that bodes well to encapsulate the murky carnival atmosphere of the album's cover art. The most dream-like of carny sounds are best heard on "The Truce Of Twilight" and "Ribbons" with the slightest of London reggae vibes to boot too.
Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Review: John Grant delivers a modern contemporary dose of synth pop in his Love Is Magic LP for Bella Union that was co-produced with Midlake's Paul Alexander. It provides the American with his fourth solo album, following 2015's Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, 2013's Pale Green Ghosts, and his 2010 debut Queen of Denmark. This LP, though, arguably provides a fresh thicket of neon-lit sounds that keep the irony palatable enough, "Diet Gum" perhaps the best example. For fans of the soundtrack to Drive, or Parisian duos Justice and Daft Punk, to the avant ballads of Laurie Anderson, Grant's pop kosmische here is a dazzling disco ball to be danced upon in your loudest colours and cackles of laughter.
Review: Legendary alt-rock group spearheaded by Robert Pollard delivers a massive 32-track double-album called Zeppelin Over China. Guided By Voices have released more albums than you can poke a fender at, and this whopper makes it 10 LPs in 10 years, straight. In a sentence, it's an album of balanced positivity avoiding the pitfalls of nihilism to a degree, and perhaps best suited for that whiskey drinking malaise. Deep inside the music you'll hear references (owing or given to) from the likes of Pearl Jam and David Bowie (most obviously), with nothing to be taken away from Pollard's songwriting and vocal presence, and along with the band's lucid technique, it's 75-minutes of the good stuff, neat or on the rocks.
Review: Since debuting as Grouper back in 2005, Liz Harris has delivered a swathe of experimentalist albums that explore almost every aspect of ambient and drone music. Here she launches a new project, Nivhek, via an expansive double-album of sparse, atmospheric compositions that tend towards the epic. Really, it's two albums in one. The first slab of wax is entitled "After Its Own Death" and boasts a two-part, non-stop suite of tracks built around echoing choral vocals, dark electronics and blissful bells. It's alternately melancholic, blissful and grippingly intense. In contrast, "Walking In A Spiral Towards The House", the piece stretched across both sides of the second record, is breathtakingly beautiful - a meandering, soft focus trip through chiming, reverb-laden motifs and gentle music box melodies.
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