Best Albums Of The Summer – Part 1 – The Amazing, Black Foxxes, Blossoms etc.

With the summer and our reports from Reading Festival, we haven't given you an album review for quite some time. So a two-parter this weekend to cover a whole batch. Once upon a time, nothing new came out over the summer, but now it is all about streaming and YouTube plays, artists and labels seem to have decided it's not such a bad time to release new music. So there has been a lot of really good new music around – toady we have some brief summaries of some favourites, then we'll save the very best of the last two months for tomorrow.

Blossoms – Blossoms
The Manchester indie band have broken through to the big(ish) league quickly and their debut was number 1 in the album chart. It is pretty standard, tuneful catchy indie, somewhere in the Oasis / Catfish and the Bottlemen mode, although perhaps not quite as "rock" as Catfish. Occasional touches of something more dance friendly keep things interesting, and the tunes are consistently strong. If you like this sort of thing, as we do, it’s a very enjoyable listen, without any pretensions to change the world. 7/10

Viola Beach – Viola Beach
It is hard to review this without mentioning the tragic end to the band’s brief existence, but they left behind work that does not need the sympathy vote. This is lively, energetic indie-dance, Two Door Cinema Club, The Maccabees would be two comparisons, but with hints that they also listened to Vampire Weekend and some of the smarter US indie bands. So promising, and so sad they aren’t around to see how well their work has been received - an impressive memorial to the band. 7.5 / 10

The Amazing – Ambulance
This Swedish band have been around a while but have not impinged on our consciousness, until now. This is an album of guitar based rock which manages to be smooth, almost ambient at times, yet interesting. Guitars chime whilst the vocals are sung in a flat, expressionless, manner, almost fading into the background at times. Think of the first half of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper (before it goes a bit mad) and you get the idea. It has an air of beatific sadness (as the Guardian put it) but we found it all rather beautiful. It’s also THE best album (since early Sigur Ros anyway) to go to sleep to, I have found. 8/10

The Hunna - 100
The Hunna is a youngish British band, only formed a year ago, who would like to be Catfish, Weezer, Good Charlotte or maybe You Me At Six in their heavier moments, but come off as McFly just as often. Not that we’re criticising – we like McFly and this is very energetic, catchy, tuneful, pop-rock-punk which (given their reception at Reading Festival) is hitting the mark with the target audience, without showing much in the way of real originality. 7/10

Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
We have featured Mr Headrest (not his real name, we suspect) in our Friday round-up, and his sometimes slightly shambolic, slacker low-fi rock is perhaps an acquired taste, but you can go a long way with a sense of humour, a knack for a strong hook and some interesting lyrics. It is somewhat in the mode of last year’s brilliant Courtney Barnett debut, and whilst Will Toledo (Mr Headrest) does not have quite her lyrical genius, these songs about girls, school, growing up and drugs are a lot of fun and actually more musically sophisticated than they first sound. 8/10

Black Foxxes – I’m Not Well
A rock three-piece from Exeter, this is a surprisingly excellent debut. We knew little about the band before seeing them at Reading, but they manage to sound like classic rock whilst maintaining their own sense of identity. You will hear touches of Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, U2, Biffy Clyro, Placebo, the Foos in here, with powerful vocals, harmonies and big guitars. If those references make you nod in a positive manner, you will really enjoy this. It’s pretty heavy at times, but with plenty of tunes, riffs and a variation of pace that keep things fresh. 8/10

We’ve saved our favourite albums of the last couple of months for tomorrow!

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