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The Mountain Goats – Goths

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The Mountain Goats – Goths

Posted on 19 May 2017 by Joe

The Mountain Goats driving force John Darnielle has forged a critically acclaimed song-writing career on his ability to convey the emotions of society’s outsiders.

As a result there is an inevitability about Goths getting The Mountain Goats treatment.

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From the addicts on All Eternals Deck (2011) and We Shall All Be Healed (2004), to the small town wrestlers on last year’s Beat the Champ, Darnielle is a story teller who perfectly encapsulates the tragedies and triumphs of life.

This even extends to himself, as a music loving teen escaping into alcohol from an abusive homelife, on The Sunset Tree (2005).

He has also introduced us to characters like Jeff and Cyrus, the tragic young bandmates of All Hail West Texas (2002)’s The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton.

To some extent Goths is the continuation of Jeff and Cyrus’ story, of teens finding identity through music. Except here they have grown up and are looking back at their younger selves through older eyes.

Second track Andre Eldritch is Moving Back to Leeds encapsulates this. Here the protagonist is drawn back to his past after moving from this provincial goth hot spot in Yorkshire to London and back again.

Other older and former goths question their youthful obsession with darkness and death. Unicorn Tolerance is particularly good at conveying the soft vulnerability underneath those who look odd, morbid and even dangerous to those around them.

The narratives move across the world, from the UK, Berlin, Portugal to the US, which is the main focus We Do It Differently on the West Coast, where an older goth still closely follows the scene.

Goth performers are also featured. There’s a jaded former singer lamenting the changing music industry and his fading star on Shelved. Here he wistfully remembers riding the stage hydraulics and being tethered to a cross with the sad knowledge that such excitement is behind him.

As with All Eternals Deck there are also tales of real life celebrities, such as on Abandoned Flesh where Gene Loves Jezebel’s footnote in music history is the focus.

In terms of musical arrangement the Mountain Goats are on top form here.  Many of the tracks having a lounge, jazz feel, where the older current and former goths are cast as piano singers reminiscing about the good old days.

The use of woodwind, arranged and played by Matt Douglas throughout and a Fender Rhodes keyboard rather than guitar, help too as does the drumming of Jon Wurster.  Bassist Peter Hughes is also a highlight across the album. He even gets to do a traditional goth bass solo on Shelved.

One of the best is opener Rain in Soho, where drama is added by a 16-strong contingent from the Nashville Symphony choir who dropped by from a nearby Mahler rehearsal in Nashville, where this album was recorded.

As with all Darnielle’s subject matter he offers an understanding and poignant interpretation of their highs and lows. This album is particularly effective as Hughes points out, because they themselves are older, former goths.

“While John writes the songs, as he always has, it feels more than ever like he’s speaking for all of us in the band, erstwhile goths (raises hand) or otherwise,” says Hughes.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock

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Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock

Posted on 11 May 2017 by Joe

It’s taken 21 albums but Robyn Hitchcock has finally gone down the self-titled route for a release, which by happy coincidence just happens to be one of his best in years.

From its purple, cat stroking, cover to its backwards guitars, it is a psychedelic explosion of awesomeness, with oodles of noodles of nods to the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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But this is no mere retro throwback album. It sounds modern, full of energy and helped along by a full band and punchy production from Brendan Benson and recorded in his adopted home, Nashville

It sounds fun too, with band mates Grant-Lee Phillips, Pat Sansone, his partner the Australian singer songwriter Emma Swift, and long time collaborator Gillian Welch clearly having a hoot, as is Hitchcock, whose lyrics here once again perfectly blend self-deprecation with hope

“I’m a loser, but I’m walking on air,” he sings on Sayonara Judge, summing this up perfectly.

Other highlights include the twinkling, shiny Mad Shelley’s Letterbox and the country twanged 1970 In Aspic.

His new home’s twang is also featured heavily on I Pray When I’m Drunk, a country, booze-fuelled foot stomper that is helped along by his deliberately, oh-so, British vocals.

Autumn Sunglasses is another highpoint, where Hitchcock channels his inner Pictures of Matchstick Men to serve up a simply glorious slice of psyche pop.

But just singling out a few tracks does it a disservice – the whole album is good and there’s lots more for you to discover yourself.

If you have drifted apart from Hitchcock over the years then this album demands you tuck straight back into one of the UK’s most enduring artists.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock is released by Yep Roc. More details here.

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Nick Parker – Besta Venya

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Nick Parker – Besta Venya

Posted on 05 May 2017 by Joe

As a recording artist Nick Parker has something of a split personality.

On one hand the Somerset based singer-songwriter is keen to commit to disc his upbeat, often funny, proven crowd-pleasers from a relentless touring schedule that takes him across Europe and the UK festival circuit each year.

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On the other, each of his three albums also showcase at least three or four slower, subtler track. It is often these more nuanced songs that emerge as the best. Free from the pressure of trying to please a crowd, they are given more time to develop across their chorus and verses and often have the melodies that linger the longest.

The same applies on his latest Besta Venya, with the best three tracks tucked away at the back.

The first of these is a wonderful duet with his daughter Flo, backed by just mandolin and aptly titled A Simple Song. With the less is more ethos in full flow this may well be the best on the album.

Then there’s Not Fooling Me, a lullaby written with after show gigs in mind and almost hidden at the 11th track mark. Backed by cello, violin and piano this has the best arrangements on the album.

Right at the album’s close is The Other Half, with another fine melody and this time accompanied by a Beatles-esque arrangement of flugal horn and full band. It may be the last track on the album but is often the  first I go to.

As for the crowd pleasers, they demand attention too, especially as they will have just delighted many of those buying this album at post-gig merchandise stalls.

Down With the Yoof, about embarrassing dads, will be a particular welcome inclusion for those who have just seen him perform. This involves a neat multi-media aspect, where a member of the crowd places a mobile phone featuring footage of Parker’s singing mouth over their face.

Nick Parker performing Down With the Yoof

Nick Parker performing Down With the Yoof

Es Tut Mir Leid, about the English trait of apologising all the time, is another interactive track that works as well on album as it does live, where the audience is asked to help out with sing-along prompt cards.

Each track comes with an explanation about its subject matter or how it was written. This is important as these are a key part of Parker’s engaging on-stage banter.

When talking of the tracks about his life as a songwriter and performer,  this is particularly effective.

A case in point is Make Yourself At Home, which references a mis-booking for Parker where he was asked to play in the lobby of the Cheese and Grain in Frome, as people made their way to their seats to see John Cooper Clarke. A support slot gone wrong.

An Open Letter To My Human is another that requires this self-deprecating explanation. This focuses on his inability to write about politics, as seen through the eyes of his disapproving dog. Given he travels frequently to Europe from a country that has voted for Brexit it may not be long before he relents in spite of the inevitable pet protests.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about Nick Parker visit his website here.

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Eyelids – Or

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Eyelids – Or

Posted on 02 May 2017 by Dorian

Or, the second album by Eyelids (the band being confusingly called Eyelids Or in the UK), comes hot on the heels of their first ever UK dates and my opportunity to hear some of their new songs for the first time live. The new songs they played, plus the couple already released as singles, gave me a pretty good idea what to expect from the album. Sophomore releases can be disappointing, often pieced together from sings written at the same time as the debut in order for a label to get a quick follow-up release. With Eyelids being made up of veterans, with many albums to their credit, this wasn’t ever going to be the case and this album is filled with the freshness and wealth of ideas you’d expect from a band at their peak.

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The album kicks off with ‘Slow It Goes’ a single that was a real statement if intent when it came out last year,  all sparkling riffs and 60s beat-pop vocals. ‘Camelot’ keeps the pace up with a guitar line that could be straight from a Cracker record and guest keyboards from Jay Gonzales (from Drive-By Truckers) adding some extra depth.

This is an album with some nice changes in pace and after a break-neck start we slow down for the rather lovely pairing of ‘Falling Eyes’ and ‘Tell Me You Know’, the latter pulling in some of 60s psyche influences that were front and centre on their debut.

This is an album which is expertly sequenced and really doesn’t sag at any point. As such I’ll avoid the temptation tom wax lyrical about each song here. Honourable mentions go to ‘My Caved In Mind’ (another single surely?) which features an insanely catchy almost new-wave opening riff and ‘Moony’. Any song that sites Black Sea era XTC as the influence for the rhythm section is alright by me.

The real triumph of the album is how well the band pull all the different elements together across the board.  The playing is uniformly great, their debut showed off some great guitar playing and this release continues to impress. It isn’t just the guitars though, strong vocal harmonies and an excellent rhythm section make this more than just about the axes.

The use of guest performers is another big tick in the box. Sometimes when a band brings in guest players it feels like little more than an excuse to get a name on the liner notes. The guests here all have a purpose, and that purpose is to sound as much like themself as possible. When we hear Peter Buck’s mandolin it sounds just like Peter Buck and when Jonathan Seagal’s violin comes in it could only be the Camper van Beethoven man playing. This is a band of musical magpies and the bits of magic they bring from other bands, from other influences and different sounds is all carefully designed to make Eyelids sound as good as possible.

Peter Buck also produced the album and, along with engineer Thom Monahan, he does a great job. This is an album that sounds really good, all the elements are given space and the balance on the album is just right. Buck is clearly a fan of the band as well, appearing (see above) in the video for ‘Falling Eyes’.

If you loved their debut album you’re going to love this, nothing about it disappoints. If you haven’t heard Eyelids already then this release is a great place to start (before quickly going back to hear their previous LP and EP releases). You can thank me later for introducing you to your new favourite band.

10/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Happyness – Write In

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Happyness – Write In

Posted on 05 April 2017 by Joe

Happyness’ 2013 debut Weird Little Birthday was a perfect collection of 1990s US indie rock inspired tracks, that garnered a 9/10 review from this website.

It’s taken four years to release the follow up and since then they have expanded their palette, beyond their staple influence of the US College Rock scene, to take in the 1970s, with a few nods to Big Star, and 1960s psychedelia in particular. There’s also a softer, more relaxed tone in the main to this new collection.

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To add to the musical points of reference further, if Weird Little Birthday is akin to Teenage Fanclub’s distorted melodic debut A Catholic Education, this sounds more like Grand Prix.

This is particularly the case on openers Falling Down and The Reel Starts Again (Man as Ostrich), which wouldn’t be out of place on those glorious early 90s Teenage Fanclub albums.

By Through Windows and Uptrend_Style Raids though they’ve dipped further back in time to the 1960s, with this pair of Beatles-esque psychedelic numbers.

They then bask in the glow of the US indie scene one again, with the Dinosaur Jnr inspired Bigger Glass Less Full.

In many ways this is a typical second album, with elements of a stunning debut coupled with signs of a band wanting to go in new directions.

As a result, while all tracks are enjoyable, it feels uneven as it darts across the decades and influences, like a bridge between two albums rather than an end product in its own right.

Write In, which was recorded in their own studio for £500, also lacks the killer hooks of Weird Little Birthday’s best, such as the butt kicking single Its On You

If they continue sticking to the form book, that say The Clash mastered – a killer debut, OK follow up then masterpiece –  then Happyness’ third album will be their London Calling.

For now though this second release offers a reminder of how good there were at the start and glimpses of how much better they are going to be.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Frontier Ruckus – Enter the Kingdom

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Frontier Ruckus – Enter the Kingdom

Posted on 20 February 2017 by Joe

Michigan’s Frontier Ruckus have stepped up a gear on this, their fifth album. Their usual indie charm is still evident, but they’ve added sophisticated string arrangements too, as they take a melancholy look at suburban family life.

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For songwriter Matthew Mills there is plenty of source material,  with his own father’s struggles to keep hold of the family home after losing his job and having to rely on disability benefit.

Modern suburban ‘Netflix’ families are also a focus. This is particularly on opener Visit Me, where they are seen through the windows across the city outskirts in the “sweat pants” watching the “season finales”.

Other high points include Our Flowers Are Still Burning, which features a sardonic video with the band finding bleary eyed solace in their friendship the morning after a house party.

I first heard Frontier Ruckus through their debut The Orion Songbook, which erred far more on the side of Americana than this release.

But here bassist, musical saw and melodica player Zachary Nichols proves exemplary as a string arranger,  bringing a chamber pop feel to this consistent album.

This consistency is perhaps the album’s greatest strength.  From start to finish the quality of music is high, as the sweeping strings bringing a sense of hope to American family life.

Given the turbulence of recent political events in the US, hope is something they will certainly need to cling on to in the coming months.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Surfer Blood – Snowdonia

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Surfer Blood – Snowdonia

Posted on 06 February 2017 by Joe

It is perhaps inevitable that Surfer Blood’s latest, Snowdonia, will be remembered less for its catchy, powerful tracks like ‘Six Flags in F or G’, and more as an album to emerge from tragedy.

Coming after last year’s death of guitarst Thomas Fekete, at the age of just 27 from a rare form of cancer, this is a tough album for any young band to have to make.

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They’d be forgiven for hurriedly churning it out to get back on the horse, but instead they’ve created a tour do force that is a fitting tribute to their departed friend.

Perhaps one of the reasons this is such a good album is that for the first time since their stunning 2010 debut Astro Coast, lead singer and chief songwriter John Paul Pitts has taken a tighter rein, writing and mixing it alone with the new line up in mind. This includes greater vocal layering featuring guitarist Michael McCleary and bassist Lindsey Mills, who has replaced original member Kevin Williams.

This focus on vocals is important as it was Pitt’s gigantic voice that made them stand out from the rest of the indie rock crowd back in 2010.

Among the high points are the aforementioned Six Flags in F or G, a Pixies-esque stomper, and the joyously catchy opener Matter of Time.

Another is Taking Care of Eddy, which channels the Ramones to offer an affectionate tribute to an elderly relative  of Pitts’ girlfriend.

Their tragic year is not sketched over though. Final track Carrier Pigeon, deals with cancer, specifically Pitts’ relationship with his parents following his mothers’ diagnosis with breast cancer. Despite such heavy subject matter it emerges as one of the most radio friendly pop tracks.

With 2013’s more downbeat Pythons and 2015’s 1,000 failing to impress me, this album feels like a return to form for the Florida act and certainly their best collection since their debut.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Mile Me Deaf – Alien Age

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Mile Me Deaf – Alien Age

Posted on 03 February 2017 by Joe

Sound the breakthough album klaxon. Wolfgang Möstl’s Mile Me Deaf act  has always been experimental but they are on the cusp of the big time on the basis of this latest, ambitious release

On previous releases he’s been looking to push the boundaries of indie rock and guitar pop.

Here he’s pushed, then smashed his way past them, veering off into trip hop, dub, jazz, and ambient. Above all, as XTC once proudly sang, This is Pop.

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Of course it wouldn’t be a Mile Me Deaf release without some left-field caveats to it.

It is pop with a massive alien, psychedelic twist, as the album is a loose collection of tracks about the end of the human race. But you’d never know its content was so dystopian with a sound more akin to a Flaming Lips festival headlining set, with its mish-mash of infectious melodies supplemented by a rag-tag collection of riffs, loops, twists and turns.

This is best typified on lead single Blowout, which follows the same successful template Tame Impala have pursued in recent years – make them dance, make them feel weird.

Then on Shibuya+ he hands lead vocal duties over to Katarina Trenk, and another great single is born, as he channels the spirit of Bristol’s early trip hop scene.

Among other high points is Headnote#2, which has a neat Massive Attack shuffle to it and a fantastic rock film score middle section.

The klaxon has sounded, its now up to you and a bit of luck to make this the hit it deserves to be.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about Mile Me Deaf visit their bandcamp page here.

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The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

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The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

Posted on 31 January 2017 by John Haylock

What a long strange trip it’s been for Oklomaha’s The Flaming Lips.

At the start of their journey there were primitive anarchic splodges of shambolic, psychedelic cacophony and disintegrating shards of brain scan feedback. This was most notable on their fabulously riotous early nineties albums such as Transmissions from the Satellite Heart and Oh My Gawd.

They now find themselves part of the mainstream, well sort of.

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In a world that is quite obviously insane and totally preposterous I suppose it should only be right and proper that Lips frontman Wayne Coyne is regarded as our bonkers saviour.

Let’s face it, rather him than Chris Martin or Ed Sheeran. Madness over sanitised sanity any day.

Anyway he’s not mad he’s just got an imagination that is bigger than a massively big tree with a six lane highway that’s been carved through it.

Think Brian Wilson meets Paul McCartney in a drugs factory. Think outside the box of frogs. He’s merely emancipated himself from mental slavery and got lost in the Strawberry Fields of the Nephilim, as you do.

Let’s not forget the band’s unsung heroes Steven Drozd, a name that sounds spookily a bit like an android, and Michael Ivins. These quietly loyal men at the back, whose melodic sensibilities have repeatedly come to the fore, have formed with Coyne a formidable song writing partnership.

So here we have another collection of loony tunes to devour, digest and discuss.

Oczy Mlody comes luke warm on the heels of the mildy entertaining Terror, and the awful Embryonic.

Over the last few years Wayne has spread his love too thinly, collaborations with Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Tame Impala and basically anybody he meets in a studio with a joint. This has been much to the detriment of the band he fronts.

There have been far too many side projects to distract from his primary directive- to blow peoples minds with the Flaming Lips.

I am happy to report that we’re on course again. This is the best Flaming Lips release since Yoshimi and those evil bastard robots grrr grrr.

It’s a relatively subdued album but absolutely littered with hooks, innocent magic, solemnity and gorgeousness. In the distance Death stands silently with a big scythe in one hand and a copy of Pet Sounds in the other.

Opening with glacial perfection the instrumental title track meanders gently into How?? an absolute Lips classic. Wayne’s vocals here are beauty personified. This will take the place of Do You Realise in their canon of crowd pleasing, heart string tuggers.

There Should Be Unicorns is a darkly hypnotic piece of electronica, with a haunting tracked vocal. Toward the end a scary Darth Vader voice speaks about swans and shit and I hastily conclude this is the best Lips track I have ever heard.

Sunrise and Nigdy Nie continue the lovely ethereal vibe. One Night While Hunting For Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill, is as mad as its title suggests. Imagine a skeletal folk song from an alternative Cornish universe, where a confused semi naked Poldark meets Dr Timothy Leary.

Listening to the Frogs with Demon’s Eyes similarly morphs into a hallucinatory experience. Epic in scope and heaven on headphones, whilst on a train heading into St Pancras railway station at four in the morning.

The Castle is catchy-catchy pop. It sleepwalks on candyfloss, it’s a sexy rumination featuring mushrooms, bumble bees and dragons and should come with a free Arthur Rackham print.

We a Family closes on a high. It’s an anthemic little excursion; walking boots not required.

Back on track then. Where on Earth (or any other planet ) they go next is anybody’s guess. But be assured the trip is definitely not over yet. Tickets please.

These are some of The Flaming Lips best songs of their long career, don’t take my word for it, those evil robots are coming to get you. Yeah.

Words by John Haylock

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Best Albums 2016 – Neonfiller’s Look At The Year’s Best Releases

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Best Albums 2016 – Neonfiller’s Look At The Year’s Best Releases

Posted on 14 December 2016 by Joe

After taking some time in June to list our favourite albums so far this year, the time has come to reveal our Best Albums of 2016.

The surprise alternative pop album of the year has not budged from its number one slot, but our extended end of year list has given us the chance to add a further 10 albums to our selection.

There are a few more veteran performers here, but also plenty of new bands with some stunning debuts released this year.

It may have been a horrible anus  in terms of politics and the death of iconic legends but 2016 was still a great year for music. Sit back and enjoy our Best Albums 2016 list.

20. Picture Box – Songs of Joy

 

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Robert Halcrow uses his brand ‘wonky pop’ to take you on a tour of the lesser known nooks and crannies of his home City of Canterbury, in Kent. The demise of its speedway team, its smelly former tannery and a pet fish shop are the stars of this thoroughly eccentric look at small town England. Read the full review here.

19. American Wrestlers – Goodbye Terrible Youth

 

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The brain child of Gary McClure, once of Manchester band Working for A Nuclear Free City and now living in St Louis, this new act’s debut album earns a deserved spot on our list for its personal subject matter and catchy hooks all blended perfectly together with lashings of distorted guitar. Read the full review here.

18. Robert Rotifer – Not Your Door

 

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Not Your Door is a deeply personal album for Robert Rotifer, taking in his present life living in Canterbury, Kent, as well as his past, growing up in Vienna. But with its themes of family and the very notion of home it aims to resonate with many. Its post Brexit release also offers a thoughtful alternative view on EU relations. Read the full review here.

17. Rapid Results College – In City Light

 

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Rapid Results College is such a great name for a band, cemented in modern urban life with tongue firmly in cheek about its pressures, pace and pitfalls. Their debut album left us enthralled, taking in influences such as XTC and their keen focus on melody, all channeled through some of the cleanest production you will hear all year. Read the full review here.

16. Southern Tenant Folk Union – Join Forces

 

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After the ambitious Chuck Norris Project of last year, in which the Edinburgh folk collective used film titles by the rightwing actor to protest against his politics, their latest album goes back to basics. This has a more traditional sound, focusing on their bluegrass and Celtic influences, but still with plenty of politics and above all heart. Read the full review here.

15. Robert Pollard – Of Course You Are

 

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Incredibly, this is now the 22nd solo album from the hardest working man in music and proves another high point in an illustrious career. Read the full review here.

14. Bob Mould – Patch the Sky

 

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Third album from the former Sugar and Husker Du man’s most settled line up for years. The key to its success is its ability to tackle the tough issues of life in the most fun way possible, as Mould’s rage and melody once again combine perfectly.  Read the full review here.

13. Woodpigeon – TROUBLE

 

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Heartbreak, loss and a globe trotting meander prove the powerful inspiration for Mark Andrew Hamilton’s latest album. Beautiful and inspiring. Read the full review here.

12. John Howard – Across the Door Sill

 

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This may just be the best album to date by John Howard, the 1970s singer songwriter who is enjoying a renaissance in recent years as an independent artist. His time capsule preserved vocals are in abundance here thanks to some sumptuous layering to create an entire choir of Howards backed simply by piano. Beautiful. Read the full review here.

11. Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

 

 

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Many bands have trod the well worn path of capturing the pains of being young within three minute, fast paced pop songs, complete with guitar solos and rousing sing-a-long choruses. But no one does this quite like Martha. This collection from the north east of England act is another deserved entry to our end of year round up. Read the full review here.

10. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

 

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Like an extended rock jam, taking in science fiction, monsters and, naturally, some awesome guitar riffs this is another stellar release from the Australian psych rockers, with a little help from some robots and a gigantic wasp. Read the full review here.

9. Dressy Bessy – King Sized

 

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Fabulous return from a six-year break for the US act. This works particularly well by merging their beefier pre- hiatus sound with the pop nous that made their early work so infectious. Read the full review here.

8. The Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner in the Rain

 

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Underneath what may very well be 2016’s crappiest album cover lies this year’s best blues LP, as The Wave Pictures take their fascination with American blues to new levels. Read our full review here.

7. Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

 

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Former Death in Vegas man Ian Button and crew have created their very own 1970s pop band. Full of fuzzed up guitar riffs and stomping rhythms there would have been plenty to satisfy the charts back in the day, especially the album’s title song, and its best pop tune, Radio. Read the full review here.

6. Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages – Vol 1

 

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One of Hayman’s best pieces of work and possibly his most important, preserving the oral history of the relatives of those who survived the horrors of the Great War as well as paying tribute to the village life these soldiers left and thankfully returned to. Read the full review here.

5. Emma Pollock – In Search of Harperfield

 

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Childhood memories and the toils of adulthood mix wonderfully on the former Delgados singer’s latest album. With the track Parks and Recreation she has also created one of the best songs of recent years. Read the full review here.

4. Arborist – Home Burial

 

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Imagine a colliery band on tour of the Appalachians and I guess you are somewhere near this sound conjured up in this stunning debut from the Northern Ireland based act, that also features The Breeders Kim Deal on vocals. It’s Americana, but not like you’ve heard it before. Read the full review here.

3. Free Swim – Life Time of Treats

 

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Free Swim’s Paul Coltofeanu is a silly chap, that’s why we like him. We’ve already been enthralled by his collection of quirky EPs but here, on the act’s debut album, he joins forces with chum David Turn to  take the charm up a few notches. Ray Mears, air drumming, Neville Southall’s moustache and angry internet sensation Gordon Hill are among the cast of stars that Paul and David encounter. There’s some fine music here too, which shows they are no mere novelty act. Read the full review here.

2. Evans the Death – Vanilla

 

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On album number three London act Evans the Death have upped, shredded, beaten up and garrotted the ante. It’s full of rage, the guitars are heavier than before, the vocals fiercer and the ambition turned to stadium sized proportions, with a brass section and even a funky bass added to the mix. Incendiary album from what very well be Britain’s best rock band. Read the full review here.

1. The Monkees – Good Times

 

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The comeback to beat all comebacks. Originally planned as merely something to sell on their 50th anniversary tour this album has ended up grabbing the headlines in its own right. With Fountains of Wayne man Adam Schlesinger at the helm, a stack of lost demos to dust off and new tracks from talented Monkees fans such as Andy Partridge and Ben Gibbard, Good Times both pays tribute to their place in 1960s pop history and creates a great, modern day indie and alternative pop album in its own right. A well deserved number one slot. Read our full review here.

Top Ten Albums of 2016 So far was compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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