Cass McCombs - Big Wheel & Others (Domino) Double albums can be dangerous things. To pull it off an artist needs either a particularly strong and singular vision or an eclecticism that means things don’t get boring, fast. Cass McCombs sticks resolutely in the second camp with his new 22-track album that covers folk, blues, country, pop and rock. Filled with classic pop melodies that would make any one of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young proud, and held together with McCombs’ flair for story-telling, Big Wheel & Others is steeped in a hazy 60s vibe worthy of two disk indulgence. Hear album track ‘Brighter’ here.
Myron & E – Broadway (Stones Throw) Vocal duos are relatively uncommon these days, and if Myron & E are anything to go by then we’ve been missing out. Hailing from South Central LA and Newark, New Jersey respectively, the duo hooked up with the Finnish Soul Investigators to produce perfectly crafted soul, heavily indebted to its late 60s and early 70s heyday. With swinging organs, glassy lead guitar and those cool, laid back vocals you know exactly what to expect. Listen out for the strings which add an air of contemporary pop to proceedings. Here’s ‘Going in Circles’ over on Stones Throw.
NYPC - NYPC (The Numbers) Formerly known as New Young Pony Club, NYPC have dispensed with words and are now down to two founding members. That’s not all they’ve dropped on this their third album, having gone for a more stripped, less guitar focused sound than the Nu-Rave sound that made their name. In many ways the electronic edge here is more in keeping with the classic rave sound that Nu-Rave never really resembled. Featuring programmed drums and late 80s synths, this is a more constrained affair than previous hit ‘Ice Cream’ and is a clear attempt at showing that NYPC have grown up yet retained their pop sensibility. See the video for lead single ‘Hard Knocks’ here.
Nitin Sawhney – Onezero (Metropolis) For a career spanning 20 years, 30-plus film and television scores, 8 studio albums and countless collaborations, it would be fair to say that Nitin Sawhney is prolific in the mold of Ry Cooder. With Onezero, however, Sawhney has done something no other major musician has done in 30 years; recorded a live album, live. With no mastering, no mixing and cut straight to vinyl Sawhney has produced a strikingly original example of how to present a career retrospective in an exciting new light. Featuring a host of guest vocalists including Joss Stone on ‘I Ask You’, one of four new tracks, there’s something here for everyone. See the video for ‘I Ask You’ here.
Nightmares on Wax - Feelin Good (Warp) Being the longest serving artist signed to Warp doesn’t seem to have encouraged Nightmares on Wax’s George Evelyn to rest on his laurels. As someone who could no doubt see out his days DJing in Ibiza (where he has been for the last seven years), it comes as a surprise to find a new album recorded almost entirely with a live band, yet retaining the feel of 12” singles in the sun. Feelin’ Good showcases a decidedly Balearic flavour, with hints of hiphop, reggae and funk keeping the mood positive at all times. This is an album for the laid-back, good times. Hear the reggae influenced ‘Now is the Time’ here.
Four Tet - Beautiful Rewind (Text) “No pre order, no Youtube trailers, no iTunes stream, no Spotify, no Amazon deal, no charts, no Bit Coin deal, no last minute Rick Rubin…” When an album is announced with such a political statement, and without a release date, it should come as no surprise when the music turns out to be heavily influenced by one of the most politically important movements in UK music over the last 10 years; pirate radio. It’s the degraded, clipped feel of pirate radio, rather than its style, that resonates in Four Tet’s latest which is, at times ,as close to dancefloor friendly as we could expect from someone who released the spluttering Everything Ecstatic (which we love). Hear the superb first track, ‘Parallel Jalebi’ here.
RM Hubbert - Breaks & Bone (Chemikal Underground) While Scottish Album of the Year Award winning 13 Lost and Found was very much a collaborative effort, featuring a who’s who of Scottish indie including Alex Kapranos, Aidan Moffat and Emma Pollock, Breaks and Bone sees ‘Hubby’ striking out on his own again. Ornate guitar work is once more the focus, flitting between delicate and forceful, with the few vocal tracks both personal and moving. Chemikal Underground’s 200th release sees some of Paul Savage’s most intimate production to date, ensuring this is an absorbing release. Hear album track ‘Dec 11’ here.