Monday, 19 April 2010

Songdog – A Life Eroding

Released April 19, One Little Indian
Having reached their fifth album in somewhat secretive style, folk noir trio Songdog still seem to have the crushing weight of heartbreak carving a hole in their chest with the end of the world seemingly nigh.
Having said that, they’ve made friends in high places, with Springsteen revealing his respect for the band by using ‘Days Of The Armageddon’ as the walk in theme on his most recent European tour while the South Wales band regularly frequent the airwaves of Radio 2 and XFM.
The praise is not without foundation and while ‘A Life Eroding’ is a poignant affair and Lyndon Morgan spins tales of love and loss with his soft and haunted vocals, there is an unparalleled beauty that runs through the majority of this 11 song long player.
Morgan’s lyrics emanate a precious glow and set the scene amongst the vivid soundscapes, leaving little to the imagination. It begins with the album’s title track which delves deep into the heart and soul of the singer/songwriter and it’s showered with a mournful delicacy as Morgan slowly murmurs: “I was poking round that draw you kept your secrets in, old manifestos that lost their wheels, cries from the heart you scribbled down and then forgot, but how there’s so much sorrow, so much sorrow, how there’s so much sorrow in the world.”
The dreamy moments of ‘Gene Autry’s Ghost’ sees the effective use of harps and accordions and the sadder moments are accompanied by the damn right sexy: “I said I’m nobody special but I give pretty good head,” and the lustful urges aren’t forgotten in Elaine: “I rode into a joint across from the takers yard, feeling homesick, hungry for pussy and crazy for a drink,” exposing Morgan’s lasting desire for a steamy night between the sheets.
‘A Life Eroding’ is an enticing album, smothered in lust, desire, terror and heartbreak, subjects that the band are clearly all too familiar with. This isn’t your run of the mill folk album though and has duly side stepped its trademark origins. Songdog are as intriguing as they are challenging and while ‘A Life Eroding’ rests on the harder side of easy listening and is definitely one for the sad days, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.


Friday, 16 April 2010

Paul Weller - Wake Up The Nation

Released 19/04/09, Island Records

Still resplendent in his old(er) age and releasing albums for fun, the God of Mod in once again back to flex his muscles with arguably his best solo long player to date.

After the success of 2008’s 22 Dreams earned him Best Solo Artist at last year’s BRITs, it’s a testament to the importance of the Modfather  that he still coughs up material that possesses the grit and passion that has been with him throughout his long and illustrious career.

Wake Up The Nation calls on all of the sensibilities that have followed Weller throughout his calling and flashes of The Jam, The Style Council and his earlier solo work shine through a record that rocks to the rhythms of his earlier mod days while the ever apparent Northern Soul influences remain firmly on the 51 year-olds sleeve.

The title track stomp of ‘Wake Up The Nation’ sets the mood as Weller rants about the nation’s state of affairs and the desensitisation of the country (“get off your Facebook and turn off your phone,”) over some shit hot brass after the somewhat ballsy start of ‘Moonshine’, while the welcome return of Bruce Foxton is ever apparent in the bounce of ‘Fast Car/Slow Traffic’.

There’s more innovation here than in the likes of ‘Illumination’ and ‘Heliocentric’ and the more diluted moments seem fewer and farther between though, they do occur in the pub rock splutter of ‘Grasp & Still Connect’ which doesn’t sit well next to the epic pastiche of punk, boogie and soulful balladry in ‘Trees’.

The tracks are short and sharp and before you realise it, ‘Two Fat Ladies’ is wrapping up a well executed album with a fresh rock n roll irreverence, doused in the cheek and charm that distinguishes Weller as the father of a generation.


Anané - Ananésworld

Released April 5, Nervous Records

If you’re one for the summer sun and you revel in your holiday dancing shoes, you need to get your Anané out. This Cape Verdean singer’s New York dipped dance pop gets rather good in parts and after an emotional version of Yoko Ono’s ‘Walking On Thin Ice’, the Wailer spiced breaks of ‘Plastic People’ and a rootsy Caribbean percussion chill out in ‘Bern Ma Mi’ it seems like you might be on to a winner with this one.

It’s when you enter the second phase of this album that it becomes a little suspect and the watered down dance floor beats of the monotonous jingle bound ‘My Sexy Way' has the vigour of a Full English munching Magaluf monster, and some more as Anané whispers: “You make me lose control, you try to stop but I want more, I need to feel you inside, coz it’s the thing to do, it’s be giving it to you.”

No wonder husband, producer and Grammy Award winner Louie Vega “tapped her as an integral member of his Elements of Life Collective.”

As it continues an unwelcome cover of ‘Love To Love You Baby’ rears its head while ‘Shake It’ borrows the music from level 3 of Super Mario to sadly make it very much a two part show. As Ananésworld delves deeper into the 15 songs the divide becomes more defined, with one side displaying emotion, soul and intelligence and the other showing how the clutches of the mainstream can render the most talented useless.

It’s clear that her work here is not done though and with appearances at Montreux Jazz Festival and an acclaimed performance in front of 140 million people worldwide at the Super Bowl XLII pre-game show, there is a part of Anané ready for domination; the other part just needs to remember why.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

We Have Band - Divisive


Released March 22

Belonging back when the new wave was on the way in and electronica was reigning supreme, French duo, We Have Band, have conjured up a taste of the 80s with the first track to be taken from their debut album, WHB.
‘Divisive’ is a synth pop dance floor filler that bops to its own beat and will give the electro lovers the short sharp tingle in their boogie shoes that they so desire.
It’s not fresh and it’s not new but fuck it, let’s dance.

Nneka - Walking

Yo Mama’s Recording Company

Released March 29

It seems a star was born when Nneka left Nigeria for Germany clad with skills and hip hop crusted reggae grooves that would see her pick up a MOBO through the back door, reach Radio 1’s A-List and soak up lavish plaudits on Letterman from an ever growing US fan base.
‘Walking’ is the second single to be taken from her critically acclaimed second album, ‘No Longer At Ease’, and reflects on (in her own words) “the Exodus, the movement of God’s people.” It’s a strong theme with Nneka, and her second album is riddled with religion but also displays her Nigerian roots and her experiences in Germany with an undying intensity, something that isn’t lost on ‘Walking’.
The song’s frame is built around a Curtis Mayfield sample from ‘Um Um Um Um’ (of Major Lance fame) and Nneka’s natural vocal rhyme circles the mellow beat with an incandescent smile, raining with dance floor sensibilities.