March Music review. Nothing to do with procurement.

Exciting couple of weeks for music.  Quite a few new albums to discuss so will try and keep it snappy.

Gorillaz;  Plastic Beach.  Damon Albarn = genius.  No doubt.  More ideas in this album than most artists manage in a lifetime. Who else could combine Kano (rapper) with the Lebanese Orchestra for Oriental Music and make it sound brilliant and beautiful? (White Flag).  And other tracks feature Lou Reed.  Snoop Dog. Mick Jones. Mos Def.  Mark E Smith.  Elvis is probably in there somewhere.  Here's my favourite track.  You probably won't like every track - I don't - so perhaps a selective download job, but it is a jaw-droppingly  impressive piece of work.  8 / 10

Courteeners - Falcon. In which Liam Fray tries to 'do a Maccabees' and use the vital second album to step up from indie promise to main stage contender.  So does he succeed?  (I say 'he' because this feels more like a solo rather than a band album).  I'm not sure.  His lyrics don't really stand too much scrutiny, and it is all a bit corny in places in a rock / indie / Oasis/ Kasabian / way.  But the better moments call forth the Smiths and Pulp; and there are some big tunes I can imagine the Radio One tent singing along to by the Thames on August 28th .....  So it may do the trick; 6.5/10.

Titus Andronicus - Monitor. You may not have herad of them; I hadn't till recently.  If I said "60 minutes of concept album about the US civil war from a US  EMO / punk / band" you wouldn't be dashing off to the shops would you?  And yet...if I described it as a mad mixture of the Pogues, early Clash, the Hold Steady and the E Street might feel differently. An exhilarating ride and  strangely uplifting (given the apocalyptic lyrics),  if a little exhausting at times.  7.5/10.

And now the two albums that have excited me more than anything I've heard since...the last thing that excited me.

Frightened Rabbit - Winter of Mixed Drinks.  Their last - Midnight Organ Fight- was one of my 2008 faves.  It was a passionate, disturbing at times, raw and very Scottish  'indie' album.   At first listening, the new release is less intense, tortured, dark.  But the edge remains, as does the faint folk tinge ('Living in Colour' could be the Proclaimers on a really good day), but with some more obviously commercial sound and melodies.  At times, quite Biffy Clyro, and even (and they might not take this as compliment) Snow Patrol before they got dull (digression; the first Snow Patrol album, 'Songs for a Polar Bear', which I bought purely because our daughter was in love with Polar Bears at the time,  sold about 3 copies and was judged quite a cutting edge and difficult listen.  It does also have one track with the immortal title, "Get Balsamic Vinegar...Quick You Fool").   Anyway, Frightened Rabbit have pulled off an excellent album here, and it looks like they may be breaking the States - no 84 with a bullet in the Billboard top200;  and if you don't think that's a big deal, that makes them the fifth biggest UK artist in the US  this week after Gorillaz, Sade, Peter Gabriel and Corinne Bailey Rae!    9/10

And finally, Laura Marling and 'I Speak Because I Can'.    She grew up just a few miles from here; who knew?  Genius walked amongst us, and I say that without the slightest iota of irony.  I don't know what I can say about her really, she's still only 20 , she writes songs that bring to mind traditional British narrative, often darkly-edged folk, Nick Drake, the best of  mid-period Joni Mitchell yet with a contemporary 'nu-folk' feel.  Romantic interlude: you can hear the Mumford and Sons influence here, and they play on the album.  She and Mr Mumford are apparently an item.  She was of course also the muse behind Noah and the Whale's beautiful but depressing  'The First Days of Spring', written by Mr Noah (or was it Mr Whale?) after she dumped him.  What a girl!  Anyway, it is as near as dammit perfect.  Here's a more literate review from the Telegraph.  An absolute classic, and put money on her being Dame Marling of Eversley by the time she's 50.   Streamed here only till Monday - listen now.  9.5/10.  Maybe 10.

And I'm afraid, pleasant and much-hyped though the Ellie Goulding and Marina and the Diamond's albums are, they pale somewhat in comparison.

Finally, for those of you, obviously serious music fans, who have got this far, remember tickets for Reading and Leeds go on sale March 29th at 9am.  See you there.

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Voices (2)

  1. Chris Jelley:


    I have to agree with you Lara Marling & Frightened Rabbit deserve the scores you have awarded. However, Courteeners? 6.5 ! This new album like their last (for me) is one of those strange albums that grows on you over time. I remember having St Jude in my collection for a long time, giving it a cursory play and then I saw them at Glastonbury.

    This for me proved what an awesome band they are live. I think that this new album will also prove to have a similar pull. Hopefully, I will see them on the Glasto 2010 line-up and (barring any major clashes) I will once again be there to hear them.

    While I am at it, suprised you haven’t mentioned the “excellent” new “Imagined Village” album and have you heard Erland and the Carnival, I think you will like them.

  2. Alan:

    Hi Pete,

    Knowing my musical taste you will guess straight away I love the mew Laura Marling album – it is truly scary to think she is only 20 years of age; I had barely learned to pick my nose with class at that age.

    Love the Frightened Rabbit (especially since they are from God’s country!!) and will be downloading presently.

    Take Care,


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