Yorkston/Thorne/Khan - Everything Sacred (Domino) Here’s a Folk supergroup if ever there was one, comprised of the Domino regular and highly respected Scottish Folk musician John Yorkston, the Classical singer and sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan, and the Jazz bassist Jon Thorne, best known for his time working with the Electronica duo Lamb. ‘Everything Sacred’ showcases the talents of all three with a rich and varied musicality, an engaging group of vocal performers, and a consistency that belies the fact this is a debut for the trio. While the cover of Ivor Cutler’s ‘Little Black Buzzer’ is wonderful, the real highlight is the hymnal ‘Broken Wave’. Check out that Ivor Cutler cover here.
David Bowie – Blackstar (ISO Records) Sensitivity is the order of the day when reviewing an album by any late great, even more so when events unfold as they have over the last week or so. But then, it’s easier to do so when we can take the lead of the album’s maker. Across a career of shifting styles, buttons pushed, and boundaries broken, David Bowie was always sensitive to his audience. This remained true on this final album which serves up new directions, obvious debts to his own musical past, and clear flags of its key influences. It’s archetypal Bowie, and Blackstar, like so many before it, is a complete album worth indulging in. We’re picking no highlight on this one; go and give the album a go.
Hinds - Leave Me Alone (Mom & Pop) When reading these words you may think that it’s a little early in the year for a sun-soaked Garage Pop album, but we promise that this one will see you through until well after the clocks change. Filled with great melodies and plenty of fuzz guitar, Hinds (formerly Deers) have a hint of The Slits about them that shines through in their overlapping vocal styling. We expect to see the Hinds name on many festival billboards over the next few months, and with feel good tracks like ‘Chili Town’ we expect audiences to flock to see them. Check out the Belle and Sebastian-like ‘Chili Town’ here.
Mystery Jets - Curve of the Earth (Caroline International) As their career has gone on, Mystery Jets have become a little more sedate but they’ve also filled out their sound. Now with a lightly psychedelic tone to their sound, their songwriting is coming to the fore with hints of Pink Floyd on ‘Blood Red Balloon’ to complement their still cracking choruses. We never thought this would be a comparison we’d make, but this has us in the same mellow, settled mood we’re eagerly anticipating from the upcoming new Grandaddy album. Check out new single ‘Telomere’ to get a feel of what we mean.
Prince - HITNRUN Phase Two (NPG) Pop Complete with a 16 piece horn section, and backed by the ever funky New Power Generation (NPG), the second part of Prince’s latest HITNRUN series is more band orientated than the first. Of course, nobody knew there would even be a second part, as is the want of one of Pop’s most unrelenting recording artists. In places it feels like an extended reprise not just of the initial HITNRUN release but of Prince’s NPG records as a whole, while in others Prince still (quite remarkably) manages to take his classic style and twist it enough to show a new side. Nowhere is this more so than on ‘Groovy Potential’ which sounds like it should have been released on Stones Throw.
Tiga - No Fantasy Required (Counter Records) The first album in seven years for Tiga, and the final in a self-claimed trilogy, and he’s brought in some big name collaborators in Matthew Dear, Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters, and Hudson Mohawke. Unsurprisingly it’s an uptempo, club ready affair with a wicked streak of cheeky humour, just as you’d hope with Tiga. Whether it’s the warm deep bass of ‘Make Me Fall in Love’ or the comedic lyricism of ‘3 Rules’, there are highlights all round. Oddly, it’s the classic key stabs and multi-tracked vocals on ‘Tell Me Your Secret’ that really hammers home that there’s no fantasy required; great Electro is back on the radar in 2016 thanks to Tiga. Check out that HudMo collab here.