July Music Review – The Wonder Years, F*** Buttons and K.T. Tunstall

We have a huge range of music covered in just three albums in this month’s review, but with the common theme that they're all really good.

K.T. Tunstall burst into our consciousness with her solo performance of “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” in 2004 on the TV show Later, as she live overdubbed herself to create a hypnotic folk-rock sound. Well, she’s matured, and there’s not much on Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon that you could describe as pure folk. It’s a quite melancholic album, inspired by her divorce and death of her Father (poor girl), with an American sound - touches of country, blues, soul, folk and pop. (I would expect it to do well in the States). At times she sounds quite Dusty Springfield-like (that’s a compliment), and it also reminds me of some of my favourite US female singers like Tift Merritt and Gillian Welch. At times it veers a little into MOR territory, but a heartfelt and very enjoyable album. 7.5/10.

From the sublime to... Here’s a great quiz question – which band had their music featured arguably more than any other (except the live performers) in the London Olympics opening ceremony? Yes, it was F**k Buttons. Two of their tracks were used extensively, as well as a third composed by Benjamin John Power (one of the two band members). Slow Focus, their third album, is instrumental, electronic, pretty industrial at times, towering, dramatic, filmic – almost every track invites use as a soundtrack. I found it quite challenging listening on the first go, but actually it is great music to drive or work to, I’ve found. My wife – far more insightful than me – described it as “Tubular Bells for 2013”. She may just have nailed it there. Well worth a listen and an 8.5/10.

Finally, The Wonder Years (now wasn’t that a great TV show) are a US punk band who haven’t impinged on my consciousness until their recent fourth album “The Greatest Generation” started getting very strong reviews. The title refers to the generation who grew up in the Depression, then fought in the Second World War, so you can see that this isn’t just another lowest common denominator punk / pop / emo / metal band. Sure, there are reminders of Green Day, 30 Seconds to Mars and umpteen other bands here, but although it’s aimed at people around one third of my age, there is an intelligence to the song writing and lyrics, some great tunes and a couple of lovely slower tracks that all add up to what may well be the best album of the year of its type. I’m still assessing its relative worth really, but let’s go for another 8.5/10 at the moment.

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First Voice

  1. David Atkinson:

    I’ve got that new FB’s LP. About time I listened to it.

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