June / July Album Review (part 2) – Dan Auerbach, Pixx and Lorde

We’re all out of sequence here, still covering June albums into July – apologies! So in part 1 of our “June” album review the other week we covered some releases from well-established bands; a bit more variation this week, from a totally new artist to a veteran band member doing his solo thing.

Dan Aeurbach is the main man in massively successful rock band the Black Keys, who sell millions.  Waiting On A Song is his second solo album (the last was  8 years ago) and in it he has lovingly recreated what sounds like a compilation of 70s US country and blues tinged soft-rock. There are several songs that you will swear you’ve heard before – classic sounding pop songs. A couple of songs have a bit of an edge but the vibe is much more Travelling Wilburys than Black Keys. It is beautifully produced, with a crack team of Nashville-type session musicians and it is a rather short but very enjoyable album. It’s not breaking any new ground, but if anyone over 40 tells you “they’re not making records like they used to”,  you can buy them or play them this. 7.5/10

 

Pixx (Hannah Rodgers to her family) is a young British artist who has been to “Brit school” but does not fit the image of a commercial, somewhat predictable artists that is perhaps the image of that nursery for talent. Her debut album, The Age Of Anxiety,  is very contemporary but does not fit easily into a single category.  It is very listenable (not “difficult” in any sense) as she puts rock, dance, and electronic influences together into a rather beguiling mix, with a strong voice that can carry different styles very successfully. This is very promising – we know that  many artists make good first albums then disappear, but we really hope Pixx is not one. Assuming she does survive, it will be fascinating to see how her talent develops. 8/10

 

To finish, a better-known artist. I wasn’t a total convert to the initial Lorde bandwagon. Sure, Royals was a clever song, and for a 16 year old she clearly was a precocious talent. The first album was enjoyable but was she really that good, forgetting about her age? Then we have the issue that she writes very much about her experience of being a teenage girl; something that is a long way away from anything I can personally relate to.

But she is now 20, and with Melodrama, her second album, we can now clearly say that yes, she is that good or better, and she is absolutely to be enjoyed by anyone who likes clever, tuneful, thoughtful and emotionally involving pop music. Her lyrics are literate but relatable for her core audience, and she has the ability to be present in the story but observe herself objectively at the same time.  The musos amongst you should listen to this with headphones, there is some real creativity here, and actually some quite weird musical touches, but she can also write great dancefloor pop tunes like Green Light and Perfect Places, and the Giorgio Moroder influenced Supercut. And if you still are in doubt, listen to The Louvre; one of those rare songs that I had to go back to immediately and listen again (three times actually). A brilliant album from (yes, we will use the word), a genius. 9/10

Next month we should have Arcade Fire, Public Service Broadcasting, James Vincent McMorrow and Kacy Hill – so plenty to look forward to then.

First Voice

  1. Alphabet Bands:

    If you are Latitude bound this year Peter, I highly recommend checking out the Pixx live show. She is a fascinating watch, part musical theatre and part asbo youth looking for trouble.

    If Iggy Pop or Liam Gallagher were to be in an Andrew Lloyd Webber show, they’d perform a bit like Pixx.

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