Turner Cody – Last Of The Big Time Spenders (Tummy Touch)
With a name like that, you can probably guess which side of the Atlantic Turner Cody calls home. Add the fact that he would also be far happier living in the 70s and you get an idea what Last Of The Big Time Spenders might sound like. Cody ups the ante however with a neat line in songwriting, especially lyrically, which leaves this an a melancholically engaging experience in the mould of Townes Van Zandt.
Paramore – Paramore (Warners)
Often the loss of a key member can give a band a new lease of life, allowing those remaining to rewrite the rule book. Paramore would seem to be very much in this school, despite the less than impressive moments that see the US trio sounding like a cross between Transvision Vamp and Katy Perry. Persevere, however, and the band do start to demonstrate hitherto uncharted depths – taking in bits of pop, epic rock, country and even a ukulele along the way. A genuinely present surprise.
The Neighbourhood – I Love You (Sony)
An American act, shrouded in mystery, arrive on the scene in a blaze of black and white, pushing their own brand of twisted R&B. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Yes, it’s hard not to see The Neighbourhood’s debut as an attempt to repeat the success of a certain Canadian musician. Unsurprisingly, the heights of House Of Balloons prove way beyond the Californians and the early promise of their stylish delivery and mixture of rock and twisted soul soon begins to wear thin.
Biggles Flys Again – Remember Saturday (self-released)
From the outside looking in, everything about Biggles Flys Again screams old school indie – the name, the low tech cardboard album sleeve, the one man band nature of the project. From the inside, however, Conor Deasy’s debut finds him expanding from his lo-fi roots into something more muscular. Helped no doubt by his rhythm section and the mixing talents of Steve Shannon, the kitchen sink musical approach never detracts from the quality of the material and Deasy proves that his single minded attitude to his craft has served him well.
Akron/Family – Sub Verses (Dead Oceans)
Of all the formats on which the US experimentalists are presenting their seventh album, it’s no surprise to discover that double vinyl is on the list. Akron/Family are a band that need both freedom and restriction at the same time. Inspired by huge land art installations, Sub Verses is indeed an epic work – much in keeping with recent collaborators Swans. There’s always the sense that any of the ten tracks could go on for hours and that part of producer Randall Dunn’s role was simply to keep them in check. That he manages it makes the results all the more intense, if not for everyone.
Dear Reader – Rivonia (City Slang)
The political and historical situation in South Africa has inspired much music over the years, although it’s safe to say that few are quite as distinct as this. Recorded largely in Cherilyn MacNeill’s Berlin apartment, the record uses geographical and chronological distance to take a very different look at her country’s past. Focusing on the human element of those troubled days, the subject matter takes the listener down some fairly dark avenues – tempering it with an ear for a left of centre pop melody and flashes of bright musical colour. A unique, thoughtful and memorable record.
OMD – English Electric (100% Records)
Like the 21st century never happened, the 80s revival continues apace. Establishing yourself as a top notch festival nostalgia act (as OMD did at the Electric Picnic a couple of years back) is one thing, making a successful return to the studio is quite another. Never exactly global superstars, OMD nevertheless were always capable of pulling the odd gem out of the bag. English Electric never reaches the heights of ‘Enola Gay’ or ‘Joan Of Arc’ but at least tries to update their legacy, if not their sound. Some pretty dodgy lyrics aside, it’s a record that more than earns them the right to trot out the hits for a bit longer.
Cayucas – Bigfoot (Secretly Canadian)
Given the unpredictable nature of the climate these days, the concept of making an album that depends on a summer’s day to enhance its impact has to be a risky move. Californian to its core, Bigfoot is a slight enough piece of work but one that does sound an awful lot better when the sun is dappling the trees. Titles like ‘High School Lover’, ‘A Summer Thing’ and ‘East Coast Girl’ tell you all that you need to know, requiring a certain suspension of belief to make Bigfoot anything more than mildly diverting.