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Album Review: Hearts and Arrows by Danny and the Champions of the World
We say: Oh dear. After promising much through the first two albums, Danny and the Champions of the World fail to deliver anything new with Hearts and Arrows. We can understand why Mr Wilson might take a populist angle with the new album, we can tolerate the derivative tosh that sounds exactly like early Bruce Springsteen moved up an octave, but what is truly inexcusable is the lack of sincerity running through this album. Even if we ignore the ‘alt-country by numbers’ tracks and focus on the slower songs where Danny’s admittedly decent voice comes into its own, it is still weak. There is no conviction, no compassion, none of the frailty that is demanded of the best americana. The tragedy is that there are sufficient moments of quality throughout the album that makes you wonder what they could have produced if they weren’t so hell-bent on cracking the US market. A shame.
Best tracks?: Heart & Arrow, Too tough to cry, Walk with me
Sounds like?: A fake Bruce Springsteen, a counterfeit Ryan Adams, a wannabe Neil Young
Still playing in ten years?: Even on the best songs we got bored before the end of the track
In three words?: Copy and paste
Big names include porky welsh karaoke mistress Adele for 21 and ‘man who talks while wearing sunglasses’ phenomenon Tinie Tempah for Disc-Overy. Another talking specialist (this time with a degree of talent) is represented by Ghostpoet with Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam. Former winner PJ Harvey appears to have been nominated twice, once as herself for Let England Shake, and once in disguise as Anna Calvi for her eponymous debut. Examples of actual listening pleasure are represented by Metronomy for The English Riviera, Everything Everything with Man Alive, and the album that should win King Creosote & John Hopkins with Diamond Mine. Fans of slightly fat men with beards will be heartened by the inclusion of Elbow, looking to follow up 2009’s success with Build a Rocket Boys!. Quite literally making up the numbers are Katy B with On a Mission, James Blake with the imaginatively titled James Blake, and a guy with a piano of whom nobody has ever heard.
Album Review: Songs for the Ravens by Sea of Bees
We say: Julie Ann Bee’s debut full length album under moniker Sea of Bees is a floaty little musical meringue that lifts the spirit and taps the feet in equal measure. Jules deserves ample credit for only occassionally drifting into ‘mobile phone advert soundtrack’. For all the haunting beauty of this album, however, there are very few take-your-breath-away moments, and it risks getting lost in the current flood of pop-folk mush. An admirable first album; give it a go.
Best tracks?: Gnomes, Won’t be Long, Blind
Sounds like?: Bon Iver’s sister, Lisa Hannigan’s American cousin, Beth Orten’s less-funky friend
Still playing in ten years?: Occassionally will pop up by mistake on shuffle, but you won’t turn it off
In three words?: Ocean of Butterflies
Not a lot to go at this week. Highlights include the long-awaited Hearts & Arrows by folk-funk maestros Danny and the Champions of the World, and the first album since reformation for US post-grunge merchants Cold with Superfiction. Another band back from hiatus is Polish metal pioneers Decapitated, who return following the death of drummer Witold Kieltyka with Carnival is Forever. Whilst on the metal theme, Reading’s finest and David Mitchell’s favourite band Malefice release their fourth album Awaken the Tides, and easy-listening impresarios Suicide Silence will have grannies everywhere foot-tapping along to their latest offering The Black Crown. Those craving a hit of whining uber-cool nonsense should get their fill from Rufus Wainwright’s new album House of Rufus. Other releases include the faintly ludicrous Good for the Soul, the second album by 15 year old Dionne Bromfield who should really be concentrating on her schoolwork, a live album from Goo Goo Dolls who insist on clinging to their 15 minutes of fame in the late 90s and bleeding it (and us) to death, and an album by the drummer from The Killers, which will probably be a massive hit by association but actually be as good as every other entry in the ‘drummer side project’ folder of music.
Album review: No Shore by Alex Cornish
We say: Edinburgh-based singer songwriter Alex Cornish’s third studio album, No Shores is tight and well produced, but lacking any edge. A pleasant enough short album of pop-folk with the occasional hint that Cornish has more to offer. Insufficient variation of sound can make some tracks verge on boring, whereas glimpses of nostalgia are seldom followed through which leaves the whole thing anodyne. It’s not all bad, but this is an album that is not going to offend anyone, which is never a good thing. Buy it for your mum next mother’s day.
Best tracks?: Storm to Pass, Space and Time, This is the Point
Sounds like?: David Ford without the misery, David Gray without the over-production, Damien Rice without the magic.
Still playing in ten years?: Unlikely to be playing in one year, let alone ten.
In three words?: Breezy and safe.