Long Live Vinyl’s pick of the new albums on vinyl out this weekend, including a lost jazz Holy Grail, a Kink returning to the country, an experimental art-pop outing and scuzzy guitar thrills…

Jim James Uniform Distortion album

Jim James
Uniform Distortion
ATO Records

Jim James turns the political concerns of 2016’s Eternally Even to societal ones here – Uniform Distortion is influenced by his worries that technology has robbed us of our humanity. But far from being brow-furrowingly serious, this is often a whole heap of fun. Opener Just A Fool rumbles in with a squalling Jack White-style bluesy guitar riff and a knowing shrug of the shoulders at life’s troubles. The punsome You Get To Rome is a rollicking glam stomper, and there’s a melodic nod to Dreams on the Fleetwood Mac-esque No Secrets, which also boasts a cavernous solo Neil Young would be proud of… All In Your Head boasts a similarly Crazy Horse-style rumble. James tries on punkish power-pop for size to great effect on Yes To Everything, and the perky Better Late Than Never is a two-minute breezy delight. Far from being pained, mostly, James sounds uniformly chipper.

Let's Eat Grandma I'm All Ears album

Let’s Eat Grandma
I’m All Ears
Transgressive

Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth – aka Let’s Eat Grandma – are now entering the twilight of their adolescence. Two years after their debut I, Gemini, which they released when they were 17, the British singers and multi-instrumentalists are back with I’m All Ears. For this second offering, they take all the ingredients of their debut – furious synth-pop, loops, a love of PC Music and vintage synths, daring experimentation, intimacy and an unsettling chill – and infl ate them with grandeur into what might be one of the most impressive records of the year so far. Thematically, I’m All Ears is far more open, inclusive and honest than its predecessor, describing Walton and Hollingworth’s life over the past two years and navigating topics of friendships, romantic relationships and mental health. Where I, Gemini played on the pair’s twin-like and child-like qualities, this presents them as two distinct voices – artists and women who are developing into one of the most exciting acts in the country.

John Coltrane Both Directions album

John Coltrane
Both Directions At Once
Impulse!

An entire album cut by Coltrane and his classic quartet in March 1963 at Van Gelder Studios finally sees the light of day. The day before recording John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman, Coltrane laid down this session, with some of the compositions never being released; the tapes haven’t been touched since. As Sonny Rollins put it: “This is like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.”

 

Gorillaz The Now Now album

Gorillaz
The Now Now
Parlophone

Gorillaz are famed for their extensive collaborations over the years, working with the likes of Shaun Ryder, De La Soul, Grace Jones and countless others. On their sixth LP, they’ve largely ditched this approach and instead have allowed the vocals of Damon Albarn to lead the record. However, the most crucial contributor to the album is Simian Mobile Disco man and producer James Ford. The distinctly more electronic approach feels rooted in his touch. Ironically, the rare example of a collaboration on this record – via the Snoop Dogg featuring Hollywood – is its most potent and alive moment. Overall, the album is a subtle one; monster pop hits take a back seat for understated grooves, gently pulsing electronics and glistening melody. It’s largely a success, and for a project that’s synonymous with having so much crammed in to it, it’s a welcome shift to experience something a little more relaxed and sparse.

Ray Davies Our Country II album

Ray Davies 
Our Country: Americana Act II
Sony Legacy

Ray Davies goes all out on his latest album, while simultaneously going nowhere. It’s a follow-up to his 2017 offering and supposedly “follows my journey across America; through endless tours not just to reclaim The Kinks’ career, but to rediscover the country that offered me my earliest inspirations”. There are hints of Davies’ natural songwriting charm, but there are also cringeworthy moments of self indulgence, earnest sentimentality and peculiar spoken-word songs that act like unedited diary entries. The record weaves between country, folk, rock, pop and, as the title suggests, Americana. The opener, Our Country, resembles Spiritualized for a brief moment of promise, but soon dissolves into tired country cliché. Davies uses this record to dip back into his old memory box and career, on interludes such as The Invaders, while proclaiming he’ll seek revenge for his shooting in New Orleans on Epilogue. For all the reflection taking place, it just makes one yearn for the Davies of old.

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