Tony Allen – Film of Life (Jazz Village)
How many drummers have successfully produced solo albums that capture the imagination as well as their beats capture the feet? We don’t mean Phil Collins’ broad Pop here, but instead taking what all great drummers are best at; creating sounds that impact the body and using them to move the head and the heart. If ever that were possible it would be in the style of Afro-beat, where West African percussive rhythms meld with slinky Funk basslines and Global horn sections to create a music that for so many hits the body, mind, and the soul. With this latest album by the Afro-beat drummer Tony Allen (Fela Kuti, Africa 70) we’re as close as we can get to music completely in check with all of the bodies rhythms. Check out ‘Go Back’ featuring Damon Albarn to get the feel.
Kindness – Otherness (Female Energy)
Soulful Pop and Future Funk are common currency these days, having established their cool credentials through the work of artists like Blood Orange, Kelela, and Kindness over the last five years or so. We find them all present for vocal duties here, alongside the even better known Robyn, as Kindness deal out a sophisticated and leisurely sprawl of R&B, Soul, and Pop cuts that ooze high quality studio sparkle. Focused on languorous bass, and loungey keys, Otherness succeeds in skirting familiarity and ubiquity by being beguiling throughout. Check out the video for ‘This is Not About Us’ here.
Deptford Goth – Songs (37Adventures)
Now onto his second album, Daniel Woolhouse, as Deptford Goth, continues to produce subtle, synthesised Indie Pop worth paying attention to. Like on the well received first outing, Woolhouse’s falsetto vocals still slip into mumbles at times, leaving his lyrics at times indecipherable; perhaps understandably when dealing with themes as personal and intimate as love. Yet, those vocals provide much of the depth to this delicate and soft album; even on ‘Relics’, one of the busier tracks, the repeated refrain of ‘the rhythm of life is an irregular beat’ speaks as loudly about the character of this album as the entire 4 minutes of musical beats. Check out lead single ‘The Lovers’ here.
Von Spar – Streetlife (Italic Recordings)
Some forms of music have a very definite style, others are broad churches with disparate congregations. Electro and Electronica are cases in point; while the former is distinctive and immediate, the latter is amorphous and fluid. On Streetlife, Von Spar have produced an Electro album that is heavily influenced by other immediate genres such as Disco and Funk. That this could then be considered Electronica reflects a particularly Germanic sense of musical style; one complete with fast and lightweight drum patterns, heavily echoing synths, and crisp… everything. It’s a wicked basket of styles, and one that is filled with class and cool. It’s not to be missed. Check out ‘Chain of Command’ here.
New Build – Pour It On (Sunday Best)
It’s been two years since the last Hot Chip album, and on their biennial cycle there should be one due this year, but that’s not to be. Instead each member is working on side projects; Alexis Taylor on solo material, Joe Goddard on The 2 Bears, and Al Doyle and Felix Martin here as New Build. Pour It On is perhaps the best of the bunch of releases, with its focus on dancefloors it manages to retain a diversity that narrowing side projects often miss out on. That diversity is, of course, traced with a common uptempo thread, taking in Electro Pop, late 90s Balearica, and House. Think of late period Underworld and you’ll be pretty close. Check out the video for ‘Look in Vain’ here.
Neil Young – Storytone (Reprise)
Neil Young is a busy man. As many prolific artists age we find that their output increases rather than wanes. This being Young’s 35th studio album is no surprise, that it comes as a double package follows in the footsteps of other recent outings. However, few expected an album of big band and orchestral tracks, yet that’s just what we get, with the added bonus of solo renditions of the same tracks on the flip. So how does ‘Ol Neil sound with a 92-piece orchestra and choir behind him? Quite like Neil Young actually. There’s no mistaking that high tenor, the deeply personal or staunchly activist lyrical themes, or the country embellishments. He makes a strange crooner, but continues to intrigue.
We Are Shining – Kara (Marathon)
Some albums are released as soon as they are finished, others get filtered into a complex release schedule based on everything from projected sales figures, to miss festival season, to when the XFactor Final is. Kara is an anomaly in that it is a warm, upbeat, party record perfect for the summer season that slipped out almost unnoticed at the tail end of the summer. We’ve just got our hands on it, and we’re sure it’s the perfect solution to the dearth of hazy, good-time records at this time of year. If you’ve ever wished to hibernate all winter, this may just change your mind. Check out ‘Road’ here.
The Coral – The Curse of Love (Skeleton Key)
Although The Curse of Love was recorded around 2006, on a basic Tascam 8-track no less, it only now sees a release. As is often the case with once shelved albums seeing the light of day, we have more recent material to compare with, and ultimately there is a risk of sounding out of place or hackneyed. Thankfully, The Coral continue to show that sounding just like they’ve always done is no bad thing; full of lightly psychedelic-tinged Indie with hints of Folk. Jefferson Airplane are still a prime influence, of course, but we’re not sure they’ve ever felt as musical as on ‘The Curse of Love (Part 2)’. Check out ‘Nine Times the Colour Red’ here.