Errors - Lease of Life (Rock Action) Now on album number four and a stalwart of the Rock Action label, behind only long in the tooth label heads Mogwai, Errors have their sound down and do what they do with confidence and aplomb. It’s notable that Lease of Life is not prefixed with the word ‘new’; this is not a turning point in musical direction. Instead this is a celebration of life so far, filled with a twisted style of Electronica that occasionally hints at both Electro and Techno. ‘Slow Rotor’ is a highlight of slick and crisp synth work that recalls the best of The Knife. Check it out via Soundcloud.
The Revenge - Love That Will Not Die (Roar Groove) Despite a cohesive thread of soulful House, Love That Will Not Die is most notable for its uptempo tracks that each showcase a diverse sense of self. While these tracks are rooted in disparate styles and influences, collectively they point towards the dancefloor of a heady night out. The Sister Sledge collaboration ‘Stay a While’ is a case in point. With its origins in a remix created in Glasgow and a Twitter conversation with those Disco-legend collaborators, its destiny is sure to be in Berlin where it can float over the Spree in the early hours of a Monday morning. Check it out here.
Twin Shadow – Eclipse (Warner Bros) Electronica, Soul, R&B, and Indie Pop all play their part in inflating Twin Shadow’s sound into this, his major label debut. Expansive and grandiose, Eclipse has its sleeves rolled up and its chest puffed out from the first moment until the last. Like so many indie artists switching to a major label, this is very much a case of larger and more elaborate work pulled together with a slickness of production that harks back to the 1980s. That the title track draws comparison to Peter Gabriel is no surprise as forceful minor keys take hold. Check out ‘Turn Me Up’ here.
Matthew E White - Fresh Blood (Domino) If soft, DIY Soul and R&B from Virginia sounds like your kind of thing, and we reckon if it isn’t it should be, then this is one to check out. Songs as stripped back as these can often come across as one dimensional or even simplistic, but not so on Fresh Blood, where Matthew E White’s considered melodies are subtly textured and emotive. On occasion the soulful instrumentation has a light Funk feel, yet never hides the resonance of White’s Gospel upbringing. It won’t blow your socks off, but the juxtaposition of subtlety and depth makes for an interesting and engaging listen nonetheless. Check out a live performance of ‘Fruit Trees’ here.
The Mighty Sceptres - All Hail the Mighty Sceptres! (Kudos) Wurlitzer jukeboxes, leatherette diner booths, and Bakelite all come to mind while listening to the scratchy guitar work of ‘Siren Call’, the opening track of The Mighty Sceptres’ debut. From there on in it’s classic Soul and R&B of the Stax variety. While ‘Just Didn’t Mean It’ has a fun-filled energy that’s hard to resist, it’s the flute work in ‘Shy as a Butterfly’ that’s the real album highlight, acting as a perfect accompaniment to Angeline Morrison’s voice. As far as instrumentation goes this is an interesting and ambitious album, replete with various styles of keys, horns, strings, and percussion across its dozen or so tracks. Check out ‘Siren Call’ here.
Pops Staples - Don't Lose This (Anti-) Best known as the patriarch of The Staples Singers, famed for their Gospel-infused Soul sounds of the 60s, Pops actually started off as a Blues guitarist playing with the likes of Robert Johnson and Son House. Sadly, Pops passed away in 2000, and since then his daughter Mavis has been holding onto his final recordings. Now pieced together for release with the help of Jeff and Spencer Tweedy, Don’t Lose This has all the hallmarks of Staples’ Mississippi roots, as well as the clear cut sound of his adopted Chicago homeland. It’s a great record, and a fitting tribute. Check out ‘Nobody’s Fault but Mine’ to see what we mean.
Chilly Gonzales – Chambers (Gentle Threat) Approaching modern Chamber music, in this case a string quartet accompaniment to piano, would be a step into the abyss for anyone else who has ever written and produced for Drake, but not so for Chilly Gonzales. This is a complex beast comprising pun titles (Freudian Slippers), narcissistic odes to the self (Myth Me), and wonderful compositions that are at once pretty, soft, and wistful. That’s not to say there isn’t intelligence and energy to be found as well, in fact there’s plenty. Altogether it’s hard to escape an understated sense of the grandiose, that is to say; Chilly Gonzalez makes chamber music come alive in a very contemporary sense. Check out the video for ‘Advantage Points’ here.
Buena Vista Social Club - Lost and Found (World Circuit) A collection of studio off-cuts, live takes, and new material this is as close as we’ll ever get to a follow up album by the much-lauded Buena Vista Social Club. Featuring cuts by Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, and Eliades Ochoa there’s no shortage of fantastic songwriters on show. Ultimately, this is not an album to equal the great debut from almost 20 years ago, but it is still a show of some of the best Cuban Jazz musicians to play. As far as highlights go ‘Làgrimas Negras’, recorded in 1997 during those original sessions, is a standout. Why it’s taken this long to be released is anybody’s guess. Check out an album preview here.