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Music Review

ALGIERS ****

The Underside Of Power (Matador)

Multi-racial band Algiers are currently supporting Depeche Mode on their stadium tour, and now seems like a good time to introduce them to a wider audience, as they are about to release their rather stunning second album The Underside Of Power. Algiers tackle socio-political themes head on within their songs: there is no empty posturing or prisoners taken. With a post-punk influenced gospel sound that rattles and shakes like a Curtis Mayfield and Suicide soundclash, Algiers mean very serious business. DN

ALPHA MALE TEA PARTY ****

Health (Big Scary Monsters)

On their third LP, Liverpool-based power trio Alpha Male Tea Party flaunt their considerable technical prowess, but never at the expense of visceral impact. Sure, there are tricks, twiddles and time signature shifts aplenty, but they’re all in the service of songs that will appeal to metalheads wanting a Merseybeating as much as to math-rock chinstrokers. As ever, the tracklisting makes for entertaining reading, Carpet Diem and Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am being the pick of the bunch. BW

BELL X1  **

Arms (Belly Up)

Arms, the seventh studio album by popular Irish trio Bell X1, is nine tracks of smooth vocals, and mellow music – enjoyable enough for a sunny afternoon. No real surprises here though, apart from the uncredited child crying “Mum” a minute into Bring Me A Fireking. Arms is slow and steady but the songs never really take off. Bell X1 were nominated for a Choice Music award four years running – not sure Arms will be joining the list. LN

Music Review

CARDOPUSHER ****

New Cult Fear (Boysnoize)

Now based in Barcelona, I imagine the Venezuelan-born producer’s name stems from the effect of his music on the blood flow – this is certainly not a soundtrack for dinner parties or family drives. Outside of the techno-driven majority, Mind Eraser is a squelching, offbeat trip, Rigid Body Dynamics sounds like a funky Sega nightmare, and closer TYC pulsates with waves of bleeps and beyond. Comprised of 12 warped, thumping, acid-heavy tracks, New Cult Fear is a record for small, dark spaces, best delivered late, late at night. DH

CELTIC FROST

Reissues (BMG)

You can’t throw the goat to Switzerland’s greatest ever metal band Celtic Frost without their frontman, perennial drama llama Tom G Warrior, throwing a bucket of cold water. The issue with these reissues of four of the first five Celtic Frost albums (one, misguided glam metal effort Cold Lake, is missing because they’ve disowned it) is that Tom’s sleevenotes put the boot into original label Noise, and BMG edited them for legal reasons. Ho hum. Interested parties are left with some fancy packaging, bonus tracks, remasters and immense, inspired extreme metal majesty.

Morbid Tales (1984 *****) is primitive, sludgy hardcore-flecked wilin’ out with Into The Crypts Of Rays and Procreation (Of The Wicked) on, thus essential. To Mega Therion (1985 *****) ramps up the grandeur and technique but is still a hamfisted racket by the standards of most overground metal of the time; the world caught up with Frost in time, and this LP is now solid canon. Into The Pandemonium (1987 ****) opens with a cover of 80s alt-pop band Wall Of Voodoo and a bonus track here desecrates Dean Martin, except not that much. In between, a tortured gothic slickness creeps in, and even a token nod to hip-hop. Vanity/Nemesis (1990 ***), their final album before splitting, continues the pop sensibility with Bowie and Brian Ferry covers; the band chug rather than thrash now, if not Metallica-esque then analogous to their evolution. NG

CHRISTOPHER REES ****

The Nashville Songs (Red Eye Music)

Christopher Rees pairs lyrics about melancholy, mistakes and memories with some boppy beats and body- swaying tunes. There’s variety here too, from vintage country to rockabilly with the twangs of Welsh guitarist John Lewis. Home At Last has a distinct Don McClean feel – not a bad thing – while the ballad If You Had A Choice shows Rees’ ability to be philosophical without sounding trite. For a country album, The Nashville Songs is, on the whole, quite an upbeat affair. LN

Music Review

CIRCLE ****

Terminal (Southern Lord)

Combining Judas Priest-style codpiece metal with Krautrock should have been put into action as soon as both parts coexisted, but the world had to wait until Circle came along – in the early 90s if you lived in Finland, most likely the 00s for anyone elsewhere. Terminal, the latest of their 50-plus (!) albums, has riffs of swelling pomp, operatic vocals, fuzzy psych organs and plinky experimental jam excursions. Closer Sick Child is like Daniel Higgs singing for Rainbow, which is extremely my aesthetic. NG

Music Review

DAN CROLL ***

Emerging Adulthood (Communion)

Trying to pinpoint a genre of music for this album is pretty tough. An underlying pop sensibility is clear, but as Dan has confessed, his aim is to “approach pop from an unusual angle”. That he does indeed. New single One Of Us is a memorable, trademark indie-pop number, while Swim takes on a meatier beat. Bad Boy changes tone as well, upbeat and instantly gets you toe-tapping. Something for everyone, no doubt. OS

DANNY & THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD ***

Brilliant Light (Loose)

Danny & The Champions Of The World have a wonderfully slow country rock sound. Arguably their strongest song on Brilliant Light, their sixth studio album, is Consider Me with its powerful bassline, although the calmingly slow and soft Bring Me To My Knees runs it close. The album gives off a Summer Of 69 vibe and general springtime feeling, but the combination of electric strings and trumpets lends an extra jazzy touch in places. MM

Music Review

DJANGO BATES **
Saluting Sgt. Pepper (Edition)

Teaming up with today’s quintessential big band jazz ensemble, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, the titular off-the-wall jazz composer has fundamentally unleashed his jazz all over the seminal Beatles album and pop culture staple. If you happen to like busy music with plenty of flair and flourish and you’re absolutely enamoured with the Fab Four and every musical tie-in under the sun, then this is definitely for you. On the flipside, you might find it, trite, utterly contrived and completely unnecessary. CPI

LITTLE BARRIE ***

Death Express (Non Delux)

Guitarist to the stars Barrie Cadogan is back with bassist Lewis Wharton and drummer Virgil Howe for studio album number five. On the whole, a very grungy, garage rock styled offering with plenty of chilled psychedelic aspects; tracks prove a little samey but not taking away from some catchy riffs and licks. Ultra Violet Blues and new single Produkt head the ranked list of this 20-track album; definitely one for fans of Primal Scream, Paul Weller and the likes. OS

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART ***
The Echo Of Pleasure (Painbow)

This is the fourth outing from Kip Berman and his occasional helpers, and their brand of fuzzy MBV-esque melancholic pop seems to be in zero danger of changing tack. A product of the Myspace generation, TPOBPAH play straight-down-the-line indie rock love songs and have one of the most apt names in the business. Teaser track Anymore is the highlight and if you’re in for the long haul then the frequent changes in tempo are a nice antidote to the somewhat rigid instrumentation. BG

PETER PERRETT ***

How The West Was Won (Domino)

Waiting until the age of 65 to release your debut solo album seems to have worked out pretty sweetly for the former frontman of The Only Ones. Despite being on something of a hiatus for most of the past 35 years, his nasal trademark snarl lends itself well to this collection of country-tinged tunes which sound not unlike Perrett jamming with Pavement in their prime. A worthy listen for those who were disappointed by the no-show of a rumoured Only Ones reunion. BG

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING *****

Every Valley (PIAS)

After 2015’s The Race For Space, the social history soundtrackers have come back down to earth and taken on a topic much closer to home: the decline of the coal industry in south Wales. Every Valley is by any measure a quite exceptional record: well-researched, painstakingly crafted, emotive, impassioned. James Dean Bradfield features (of course), but the best moments are the Mogwai-channelling All Out and You + Me, a poignant bilingual duet of defiance. Sorry, I seem to have something in my eye. BW

Music Review

RIDE ****

Weather Diaries (Wichita)

After two decades the shoegazers are back! And even a bit political. Though there’s a couple of meh tunes, it’s a very good mix of familiar pop/new wave/psych/garage with some refreshing electro weaving through. With echoing, jangly and distorted guitars and gorgeous harmonies by Mark Gardener and Andy Bell, you hear The Cure and The Church influences big-time and even the under-appreciated Comsat Angels. Dance to Lannoy Point, Charm Assault and Cali and dream Home Is A Feeling and White Sands. RLR

SHEER MAG ****

Need to Feel Your Love (Static Shock)

Sheer Mag’s debut LP is like a best of MTV rock circa 1981. Meet Me In The Street and Rank And File evince the New York Dolls as fronted by Poly Styrene, and there’s rollerdisco rock on the title cut. Pure Desire showcases sublime Blondiesque chord changes, while two firecrackers of new wave powerpop perfection are in the hook-filled Just Can’t Get Enough and the tight rhythms of Expect The Bayonet, with “If you don’t give us the ballot, expect the bayonet,” capturing the zeitgeist. CS

SWEET APPLE ***

Sing The Night In Sorrow (Tee Pee)

Sing… sees Sweet Apple return for album number three, sounding more subdued and downbeat than they did on the sunshine stomps of Love & Desperation or The Golden Age Of Glitter. Not that they’ve abandoned their MO altogether – She Wants To Run sounds like Tom Petty covering Hüsker Dü and would have fit neatly on either prior album, while J Mascis’s glorious guitar tone will never change – but this is a more melancholic affair that lacks the vim of previous outings. HR

Music Review

TERENCE PARKER ****

GOD Loves Detroit (Planet E)

Detroit, typically identified as the birthplace of techno, delivered us Terrence Parker – a stalwart of US house, now releasing a third album. The title cut is a born-and-bred summer track, along with Latter Rain (After the Storm Mix), whilst tracks like Bassment Beatz and Let’s Go show Parker’s versatility. The piously titled party album has a wonderful ability to blend genres and merge classic stylistic choices while maintaining the tempo of contemporary House (if not setting it). CP

VARIOUS ***

Silhouettes And Statues – A Gothic Revolution 1978-1986 (Cherry Red)

When putting this compilation together it’s clear that those in charge weren’t overly bothered about the consequences it may have on a listener’s mental health. Dark, dreary and depressing, for a casual fan of the genre this could quite possibly turn into the most hellish six hours of their life.

For devotees of this dramatic and often bizarre world of gothic rock though, it’s the next stage in the haunting but enduring journey: five discs of obscure album tracks and B-sides from 85 artists covering various stages of the success spectrum. Accompanied by copious amounts of rare photos, biographies and production notes from the artists themselves, it’s a further education for those already emotionally invested in this scene of the 70s and 80s. The reforming in recent years of a number of the bands featured suggests a renewed thirst for this post-punk subgenre. That being said, newer fans will likely find this intense, monster collection far too niche to stomach. GT

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