September (catch-up) Album Review – Jane Weaver, Flyte, Neck Deep and More!

We haven’t published an album review for ages, so today let’s catch up with an abbreviated run-through the new releases we’ve been enjoying over the summer. While there are some very good albums here, it is all very male and “rock” really looking at the list, (hang on, I forgot about Jane Weaver! We’ll start with her) but I better find a bit more variation for the next edition!  So next time look out for EMA, Susanne Sundfor, Phoebe Bridgers, and Wolf Alice (a contender for album of the year maybe?)

Jane WeaverModern Kosmology
Weaver has been going for over 20 years and is now getting some recognition with her slightly off-kilter “Psych revival” songs. I’m not sure about that description – at times, she sounds like Beth Orton singing with Kraftwerk playing the accompaniment! But it’s much better than that sounds, the songs are tuneful and interesting, and while it is an original sounding album it is not in any sense a difficult listen. Give it a try … 8/10

Queens of the Stone AgeVillains
QOTSA are back with another album of crunching rock, their seventh but produced by Mark Ronson who does bring a little more swing to the proceedings. It’s still heavy stuff in the main, in the best possible way, but with a dance-rock vibe that makes it an easier listen than usual QOTSA perhaps. Very enjoyable.  8/10

The DistrictsPopular Manipulations
The second album from the young US rock band has lost a little of the raucous edge of their debut, which at times sounded very bar-band (in a good way) but with great tunes and better than average lyrics.   I’m not sure the added maturity has improved things to be honest – this is fine, with touches of Arcade Fire, maybe the National and even 1980’s stadium rock, but it is all a little earnest and I’m not finding the songs as memorable as hoped after a few listens. Not bad but not what was hoped for. 7/10

Neck DeepThe Peace and the Panic
Pop-punk from Wrexham, very much in the style of classic period Green Day or Blink 182, with occasional seriously “heavy” moments, but also with tunes and vocal harmonies that can at times recall McFly or Busted. Two band members lost their fathers recently, and there are also reflective and quite moving tracks that show another side both lyrically and musically – it is not all 100-mph jollity.  A real and very pleasant surprise.  8.5/10

The AmazonsThe Amazons
A strong indie / rock debut from the band, who pulled a huge crowd in the Festival Republic tent at Reading Festival. (They are from Reading, we should add!) If you buy the special edition of the album, you get some acoustic versions of several songs, which impressively demonstrate the strength of the tunes. But the full versions also show their guitar-based rock riffing credentials, with QOTSA and the Foos as much of a reference point as Oasis or Catfish and the Bottlemen (us oldies might pick up the odd Zeppelin and Free reference point too).  On their way to big things, we suspect.   8/10

FlyteThe Loved Ones
We’ve seen this young alt-pop band from London a couple of times live and like them a lot. Clever, quite complex pop songs, harking back to the classics – Beatles, Elton John’s better work, early Queen – but with some edgier touches too. We were also reminded of The Feeling’s excellent debut, and early Maroon 5.  They do brilliant four-part harmonies live (check out some of their wonderful cover versions on YouTube) and this deserves to be a big success - not particularly “fashionable” music right now unfortunately but let's hope the quality shines through.  8.5/10   (Playing Guildford tomorrow – Monday 2nd October!)

The NationalSleep Well Beast
What can you say? It’s another excellent album from the band. Matt Berninger's lugubrious and often melancholic bass voice underpins the intelligent lyrics, varied arrangements (piano, guitars, electronics, ad more) and surprisingly memorable tunes. It is their seventh album and I usually rate them as “pretty good” initially then find I’m still playing them years later and enjoying them more each time. This one is perhaps a little more instantly memorable but I suspect it will also share the same insidious qualities of the others!  8.5/10



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