One Minute Music Reviews 2

An overview of the most interesting new albums to come my way in the last three months.

Calexico – Garden Ruin

On their most straightforward album yet, Calexico ditch the Latin instrumentals and concentrate on producing polished pop/rock songs. Long-time fans missing the mariachi horns will find some solace in ‘Roka’ or ‘Nom de Plume’ with its whispered Gainsbourg-like vocals. Elsewhere there’s the light touch of ‘Bisbee Blue’ or feedback-drenched album-closer ‘All Systems Red’. (4/5)

Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country

This Scottish indie-pop ensemble creeps out from the shadow of mentors Belle & Sebastian to produce their strongest collection yet. Swedish producer, Jari Haapalainen, has given the band a bigger sound and plenty of atmosphere. First single ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken’ is a highlight. (3.5/5)

Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

The last few months have seen a flurry of new albums by female singer-songwriters – Beth Orton, Jenny Lewis, Chan Marshall. This is probably the best of the lot. Case’s voice is commanding; the songs have a haunting, timeless quality, while her lyrics evoke a mysterious twilight world. (4/5)

The Fiery Furnaces – Bitter Tea

The Friedberger siblings have perfected the art of sabotaging perfectly good songs with bizarre tempo changes and mood swings. Their brand of prog-pop is an acquired taste, but songs like ‘Teach Me Sweetheart’ and ‘Benton Harbor Blues’ make it worth the effort. (3.5/5)

The Futureheads – News & Tributes

The second album from the UK’s Futureheads finds them still working from the same The Jam/XTC template with another collection of frenetic, stop-start pop. There is a broadening of sound, however, with some atmospheric moments (‘Burnt’), and an all-out thrash-fest (‘Return of the Beserker’). (3/5)

Howe Gelb – ‘Sno Angel Like You

Gelb’s gritty tales of hardship and lost faith are transformed by the addition of the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir. ‘That’s How Things Get Done’ and ‘Nail In The Sky’ are among the best of a fine batch of songs. The record is surely a highlight of this singer-songwriter’s long and prolific career. (4/5)

Grandaddy – Just Like The Fambly Cat

Grandaddy’s ‘farewell’ album is an understandably melancholic affair. However, there’s also evidence that the band were, indeed, running out of ideas, with the album containing more than its fair share of ‘filler’. There are still a few gems here though in songs like ‘Elevate Myself’, ‘Summer… It’s Gone’ and ‘This Is How It Always Starts’. For full review click here. (3/5)

Hot Chip – The Warning

A big leap forward for this London electro outfit, ‘The Warning’ marries the wit and warmth of their first outing with great tunes and infectious grooves. Songs like ‘Over And Over’ and ‘Boy From School’ will fill the dance floor, while ‘Look After Me’ and ‘Breakdown’ are more reflective in mood. (4/5)

Mates Of State – Bring It Back

This husband-and-wife duo work wonders with a limited range of sounds – voice, organ and drums. It’s the vocal tricks that provide the magic though, with the wondrous harmonies giving the songs an almost celebratory feel. (3.5/5)

Morrissey – Ringleader Of The Tormentors

Morrissey has built on the success of ‘comeback’ album ‘You Are The Quarry’ with his strongest, most assured set of songs since ‘Vauxhall And I’. Recorded in Rome with legendary producer, Tony Visconti, ‘Ringleader’ is full of passion and drama and features a rich blend of sounds, including a children’s choir and strings arranged by Ennio Morricone. For full review click here. (4/5)

The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers

Brendan Benson’s pop sensibilities meet Jack White’s take on the blues to create an enjoyable collection of 60s flavoured tunes. (I actually like this a lot more than the White Stripes last effort!) Standout tracks include single ‘Steady As She Goes’ and the Beatlesque ‘Yellow Sun’. (4/5)

TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain

The oddly-titled ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’ is a progression for this New York art band in every sense. There is a greater variety in sound and mood, while the songs are more complex and, and the same time, more accessible. For full review click here. (4.5/5)

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2 thoughts on “One Minute Music Reviews 2

  1. Are any of you guys interested in writing album reviews in exchange for free CD’s? I work for a music website and we’re looking for new writers. Drop me a line or visit my blog for details. (This isn’t spam)

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