Something For The Weekend – New Vinyl Out 8 June
Supersonic Years – The Seventies Singles Box Set
Like Led Zeppelin, Sabbath were at the vanguard of 70s rock bands who considered themselves a cut above the instant hit of pleasure gained from a 7″ single. Occasional appearances on Top Of The Pops were just a distraction for Birmingham’s heaviest; yet they knocked out their fair share of economical, radio-friendly classics, and this limited-edition boxset does a great job of presenting the highlights. For Sabbath completists, there are five rare single edits included – Iron Man, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Am I Going Insane (Radio), Hard Road and Symptom Of The Universe. The punchy remastering job here by Adam Pearce gives equal prominence to the underrated performances of bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward, affording them parity with guitar behemoth Tony Iommi. The obvious heavy-rock touchstones of Paranoid, Iron Man and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath are all present and correct – but it’s the band’s versatility that impresses most. Iommi is imperious on The Wizard, and the protest sludge rock of Electric Funeral still has the power to send a shiver down the spine. The acoustic interlude Laguna Sunrise shines much-needed light in amongst the doom and makes abundantly clear Sabbath had more strings to their bow than juggernaut riffs and Ozzy’s gonzo charm.
Attack Of The Grey Lantern
Back in the 90s, tracks such as Wide Open Space, Taxloss and She Makes My Nose Bleed were ‘indie floor-fillers’, and Mansun’s debut was stuffed with them. Deservedly, it spent almost half a year in the charts, eventually reaching No. 1. Not bad for a record which frontman Paul Draper referred to as “half a concept album” and which contains such unpromising titles as Dark Mavis, Stripper Vicar and The Chad Who Loved Me. What made it so successful – and why it still works – is Draper’s Beatles-esque way with a melody. After frequent hesitant starts, each song eventually emerges with at least one killer hook that you can’t shake. Kscope’s vinyl remaster is timely, too, as 1997 copies will set you back £70-plus. It’s a shame that the original’s inner-gatefold artwork and poster have not been reproduced but, hey, one listen to Attack… and any residual sour taste from Draper’s Nottingham meltdown of earlier this year will be banished fore
Hot on the heels of 2016’s much-loved Mothership, Dance Gavin Dance’s eighth album wastes no time in stating its intent: to surpass. Though still imbued with insane technical flourishes, guttural vocals and infectious hooks, this record displays a maturity we’ve not heard before. Where Mothership was unadulterated, Artificial Selection is considered; still drenched in bombastic aplomb, but eager to break convention – Count Bassy positively purrs, while Shelf Life’s ethereal haze is a DGD you never knew you needed. And even when the record stumbles on the slightly disjointed tonal shifts of Midnight Crusade, Flash and Story Of My Bros, the blistering final half more than atones. This is quintessential Dance Gavin Dance. Outrageously catchy, brutally unhinged and unforgettably audacious, Artificial Selection’s masterful fusion of styles further cements the Sacramento five-piece as powerhouses of the scene. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
So Sad So Sexy
Since LA based Swede Lykke Li dropped Little Bit a decade or so ago, she’s managed, remarkably, to maintain the refreshing purity of her unusual musical vision. Not for her Autotuned excesses or the oversaturated production so prevalent on our radios. Instead, she’s kept things trim, matching powerful choruses with simple arrangements and marketing herself as an indie-pop star while following a major label path to the top. So Sad So Sexy rarely strays from this template, something signalled early on by the breezy Hard Rain, which opens with just Li’s multitracked voice, and the album’s aesthetic is confirmed by Two Nights, which rejects every invitation to develop into an EDM banger and leaves rapper Aminé waiting until its final 45 seconds. Sex Money Feelings Die, too, adopts recognisable R&B tropes but still entirely dispenses with bling, and even if the title track is the album’s most upbeat, upbeat is far from what it is.
Babelsberg is the fifth album by Gruff Rhys, his first record for Rough Trade since 2007’s classic Candylion. The album’s ten tracks were initially recorded in early 2016 in a whirlwind three-day session that took place before producer Ali Chant’s studio was demolished. The band he gathered for the record were his regular drummer Kliph Scurlock (ex-Flaming Lips) and multi-instrumentalists Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo) and Osian Gwynedd. The 10 tracks then hibernated for 18 months, awaiting orchestral scores by Swansea-based composer Stephen McNeff and the incredible work of the 72-piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
The result is Gruff’s best record to date – a 10-song gazetteer of modern times, each track set to timeless, indelible melody. Amazingly, for a collection of songs written over two years ago, each one seems to pull very sharp focus on the times we’re living in. Over the course of Babelsberg’s 40-something minutes, Gruff manages to perfectly document our troubled and troubling times with humour, grace and always addictive melody.
Upset The Rhythm
Apostille is the solo project of Glasgow-based Michael Kasparis (of Anxiety, The Lowest Form and founder of Night School Records). l Kasparis has spent the last few years making forays into the realm of hardcore punk with his groups Anxiety and The Lowest Form. Throughout all this, his solo electronic venture, Apostille has continued to evolve with each twist and turn of the world. At once minimal and courageous with intent to connect, Apostille songs race off with unchecked abandon, skittering drum machines, thick walls of sequenced synth and decidedly elastic basslines.‘Choose Life’ is both the album Apostille chose to make and had to make
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