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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds - Who Built the Moon?

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon?

2017 has been a strange year for the Gallagher brothers. When Oasis initially broke up, Noel was regarded as the more superior brother and “the man who wrote it all”. Yet, with the Jesus-like return of Liam Gallagher with As You Were, the emphasis seems to have switched from Noel to Liam. Of course, this hasn’t been helped by Noel calling Liam’s fans “parka monkeys” and alienating his fans with a different brand of music featuring cosmic pop and scissor players in his band. However, his third solo album, Who Built the Moon?, is arguably the finest thing he’s done since (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and most definitely his most interesting, diverse and experimental solo record.

Paloma Faith - The Architect (deluxe)

Paloma Faith – The Architect

Paloma Faith is a name which has risen to mass popularity over her past three double platinum records, each stressing the perfect combination of powerhouse vocal strength and pop infection. Now back with another follow up, The Architect, new horizons have definitely been opened to Paloma Faith’s career.

Morrissey - Low in High School

Morrissey – Low in High School

There was a time when Morrissey was one of the most exciting, charismatic and coolest frontmen of all time. Seriously, go and watch The Smiths perform ‘This Charming Man’ on Top of the Pops and tell me it’s nothing less than iconic. The quiff, the deep croon, the eccentric yet charming clothing, he had it all. However, his latest album, Low in High School, sees him take the final plummet from social pariah to the creepy uncle at a wedding. Low in High School is ghoulish, sordid and, at times, just plain dull. This is the final nail in the coffin of one of the most iconic men in alternative music.

OCS – Memory of a Cut Off Head

OCS – Memory of a Cut Off Head

OCS have never been a group to stand still for too long. Since 1997 the band have gone by Orinoka Crash Suite, OCS, Orange County Sound, The Oh sees, The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees and Oh Sees and, now, landing us back at the beginning with OCS. These shifts represent line-ups, changes of direction and sometimes the reason isn’t apparent at all. Memory of a Cut Off Head marks the band going back to their earlier material, which was a more acoustic-folk influenced area.

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest

Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest

There was a hilarious skit on the wireless the other day, where a deadpan comedian asked what the French given us music-wise, beyond Nouvelle Vague, the arch lounge tribute band? From there we were treated to compare and contrast clips for ‘Teenage Kicks’, ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘Making Plans for Nigel’. Anger, passion, excitement and, yes, artiness, versus cool-kitsch, languorous, art-free irony. You couldn't argue with that. Yes, the French have been notoriously backward and rather sniffy about 'pop' music over the years. Yet, thanks to the likes of disco-house innovators such as Daft Punk, and the deep and hugely significant urban hip-hop scenes, France is no longer the laughing stock of the rock'n'roll world, where all that was on offer beyond the chansons of Edith Piaf et al, was the 'French Elvis’, Johnny Halliday. Of course, he is not exactly revered beyond the extraordinary cultural nationalism of France.

Karl Blau - Out Her Space

Karl Blau – Out Her Space

Based along the Washington coastline, Karl Blau’s sound has finally found its way over to the European shores following the release of his debut, Introducing Karl Blau, last year. Now Karl is back with his follow up, Out Her Space, a record crafted of only the biggest and best tracks to come out of his 20 year career.

Mavis Staples - If All I Was Was Black

Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black

Mavis Staples is an icon. Not only was she a member of legendary soul and r’n’b group, The Staple Singers, but she’s a civil rights activist and a fledgling solo artist in her own right. After the last 12 months, which includeed a huge American tour with Bob Dylan this month and huge guest spots with the likes of Arcade Fire (‘I Give You Power’) and Gorillaz (‘Let Me Out’), she’s back with her third collaboration with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy on new album, If All I Was Was Black. Described by Staples as a reaction to the bigotry, unseemliness and crisis of contemporary America, it’s an album that shows as much love as it does anger and, ultimately, it’s an album that strives for togetherness through Staples’ gorgeous, impassioned tones.

Taylor Swift - reputation

Taylor Swift – reputation

Taylor Swift is displeased, to put it mildly. She may be one of the most loved (and certainly the biggest) stars in the world but it seems that she is no longer prepared to just shake off the equal amounts of ridicule and criticism that she inspires. reputation is the sound of Swift retreating to her castle and pulling up the drawbridge, identifying her enemies and lashing out. Conversely, though, at the same time it is also the sound of someone rushing out to meet the mainstream and embracing it. An album of opposites, this will undoubtedly be the biggest pop album of the year. But is it the best? Sadly, no - though it could have been with more quality control.

Teen Daze - Themes For A New Earth

Teen Daze – Themes For A New Earth

The companion piece to February’s Themes For Dying Earth arrives at the cusp of winter. Whereas his previous effort this year referred to the turn of the year and the move away from the death of winter – the thawing of icy mornings and scuppering of frost-laden walkways – this one seamlessly moves towards the winter, perhaps acting as a summary of the year and celebration. Teen Daze, along with a host of other artists including Moon Duo, seems to have made use of the dual-volume approach to releasing works; telling musical stories that run in tangent to one another, offering a narrative and ideology as well as a musical course.



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