Rilo Kiley – Rkives (Little Record Company/ April 2 2013)
By Iain Orkisz
Rarities compilations aren’t meant for the casual listener. This degree of lucky dip for the first time listener is reserved for ‘best of’ and ‘hits’ collections. Of course many venture no further than aforementioned easy-pickings discs, which is a shame. On the other hand, bands collating lesser known tracks (usually B-sides and obscure covers) can be judged as a hindrance in appealing solely to the hardcore followers. The Manic Street Preachers 2003 release Lipstick Traces is a fantastic example of one of the more imaginative collections of this nature, though in truth this was partly a response to criticisms from their turgid hits collection.
In the case of Rilo Kiley, this band were never destined to shell greatest hits collections by the bucketload, and thus have understandably hedged their bets and taken the more adventurous option of releasing Rkives, sifting through their back catalogue for less celebrated tracks. What this does represent is a reminder of Jenny Lewis and her edgier side before her more accessible efforts with the Watson Twins, whom feature on a small number of tracks.
Clinton Fearon – Heart and Soul (2012)
By Gary Lewis
The title says it all really. Clinton Fearon, of legendary roots reggae trio The Gladiators (bass/guitar), has dug deep into the archives and within himself, to pull out a collection of personal, beautiful tunes that crosses time, location and trends.
I want to be as happy and relaxed as the sexagenarian on the cover! And with songs such as ‘One Love’ and ‘Follow the Rainbow’ drifting out of your speakers and dropping Jah bombs on your consciousness, it shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.
Bonobo – The North Borders (Ninja Tune/ April 1 2013)
By Christopher Oliver
Bonobo is an artist that has been around for some time, a name bandied around the subculture of not only dance culture but the beat generation of the noughties. His most recent work, The North Borders, released without perhaps the same fanfare that Black Sands was privy to; had in fact came late to the game in discovering its release. But no stranger to Simon Green’s work, being a latecomer has never really mattered.
Los Chinches – Fongo (Movimentos Records / April 1 2013)
By Jim Hickson
Where San Francisco-style psychedelic rock, funk and cumbia meet, that’s where Los Chinches reside.
It’s not your typical cumbia though, this is chicha – a style that evolved in 1960s Lima, Peru. It combines the Latin rhythms and brass of the Colombian genre with melodies inspired by Andean music and instrumentation taken from surf rock (it was the 60s, after all).
Bear Ceuse – Don Domestique (Medical Records/ 2013)
By Finnola D’Albert
Don Domestique opens with ‘My Friends’, a bass guitar driven Smashing Pumpkins meets Semisonic throwback, featuring a rather unexpected amount of French horn.
Bear Ceuse could apply this description to a lot of their debut albums and would have songwriter and vocalist Cameron Matthews to thank for it. The band formed after Saint Louisan Matthews moved to New York and recruited some of the most interesting and talented musicians that Manhattan and the ever-trendy Brooklyn had to offer. Adam Horne provides dissonant and addictive alt-rock guitar, Juilliard student and French horn player (it all falls into place) Jordan James adds hook after hook on bass, and Saint Louis jazz mainstay Danny Sher on drums brings another level of experimentation to the four-piece.
Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite – Get Up! (Stax/Decca Records/February 4 2013)
By Jim Hickson
Guitarist Ben Taylor and blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite are no strangers to each others’ music. They first met when they recorded the track ‘Burnin’ Hell’ with the great John Lee Hooker, and they’ve since worked together on two albums: Harper’s Both Sides of the Gun and Musselwhite’s Sanctuary. This is the first time they’re recorded a whole album together, though, and the result is somewhat of an album of two halves.
Sleepy Time Ghost – Youthman Riddim EP (Unit 137/February 18 2013)
By Jim Hickson
Sleepy Time Ghost, a.k.a. Harry Metcalfe, is a London-based producer, and his debut EP, Youthman Riddim, seems to mark him out as one of the rising stars of dub music.
Taking its form from the Jamaican sound system tradition of playing a dubplate riddim (backing track) several times over whilst different deejays lyricise over the top, this EP consists of four tracks all based upon the same riddim.
David Bronson – The Story (David Bronson / January 7 2013)
By Lisa Sa
The first part to David Bronson’s two-part album series The Long Lost Story, The Story, is a compelling set of tracks from the New York singer-songwriter. The album focuses on the loss of young love and finding yourself again once you have had your heart broken for the first time.
The Story was released in the UK on January 7, and the album grows on you surprisingly quick. The lyrics are eerily honest they splutter pain all over your computer screen, the impressive guitar and bass riffs run smoothly alongside Bronson’s unique and distinct vocals.
Photo credit: Lowri-Ellen Owen
Nia – Doctor Doctor (Self-released/April 29 2013)
By Jake Quade
Folk and blues are genres renowned for their laid back, relaxing tempos and smooth vocal lines. Needless to say the soon-to-be-released EP from Nia, entitled Doctor Doctor displays these hallmark melody characteristics, with a few lovely additions. Hailing from North Wales, London-based singer-songwriter Nia debuts with this four-track EP, flashing glimpses of a gorgeously smooth vocal range backed by minimalist, ambient sitar riffs. This EP is nothing short of incredible, both in terms of a display of contemporary blues, as well as the talent Nia flaunts in her first release.
Woodpigeon – Thumbtacks and Glue (Fierce Panda / February 25 2013)
By Finnola D’Albert
Thumbtacks and Glue is Mark Andrew Hamilton (or Woodpigeon)’s fifth album to be released and sadly when compared to past work, for example 2010’s Die Stadt Muzikanten, a record I hold dear, I find it weak.
The album begins with an imaginative bass line and double tracked vocals similar to Sufjan Stevens but with more of Brendon Benson’s actual vocal quality. The distorted and breathy recordings on tracks like ‘Red Rover, Red Rover’ add a homemade and intimate character. This delicate nature of the music brings paper shadow puppets to mind and Hamilton’s hands nimbly manipulating their shape. The depth of instrumentation adds to the idea of images layering and dancing in front of the listener. The backing vocals are textbook indie-folk and with arpeggiating guitar lines twisting around one another it’s nice and very pleasant to listen to, but not very original or impactful.