Nouvelle Vague: Curiosities

Nouvelle Vague the band passed us by, we must confess. Nouvelle Vague to us was an album curated by David Byrne of a new wave of French folk bands, which was excellent. This was still French — from a man who speaks it so well he could write “Qu’est-ce que c’est” in the Psychokiller lyrics […]

Holy Moly and The Crackers: Take A Bite

This lot are one of those bands that are fundamentally a live band, playing raucous (but tight) gypsy / dance rock. Imagine Mumfords with a brass section and disco high-hats. And personality. Regulars at Rode Hall’s Just So festival will have seen many such a band — indeed, Holy Moly and The Crackers were on […]

Gary Clark Jr: This Land

We knew we’d like this when we read the reviews. We’re not fans of formulaic music genres so we liked some bits of Gary Clark Jr’s music but not the bits where he settled down into what he’s known for, rock blues. He’s a fantastic guitarist but rock blues is rock blues and does tend […]

Paul Weller: Other Aspects, Live At The Royal Festival Hall

For many bands the obligatory album with an orchestra is a sign they’ve run short of ideas, their egos are too big or they’re dead. For Weller not only does it work — his songs suit gentle string arrangements — but it takes his music to a different place, that place being St Tropez, about […]

Metronomy: Nights Out

If success is sounding as fresh as a decade ago, this reissue of the Metronomy break-through album is one of the best. The sound of what the band’s mainman Joseph Mount said was a bad a night out (maybe more than one, looking at the title), we found it too weird to like when we […]

Skinny Lister: The Story Is…

Skinny Lister are one of those good-time live bands, all punky folk catchiness and entertainment; we saw them live at Rode Hall’s Just So and they’ve recorded at Newcastle-under-Lyme, although they’re not local. It’s three tracks in before Skinny Lister hit the sound we were expecting, the first three songs all showing a new pop […]

Michael Bublé: Love

This starts off with a sentimental cover, When I Fall In Love, which is peak Bublé, as slow and luscious as you like and his voice shown off to its best. A perky I Only Have Eyes For You follows, just total class; you’d have to be Scrooge not to love it. Love You Anymore […]

Pet Shop Boys: Behaviour / Very / Bilingual

The PS Boys have been re-releasing their albums all year so they’re not out for Christmas but they’d make good pressies — the sleeve notes alone are worth the price, entertaining, indiscreet and informative as they are. This final tranche is albums that came after their heyday but they’re all still good. We might have […]

Ida Sand: My Soul Kitchen

The PR for this says Sand loves “sweet soul music”, and the emphasis is on the sweet for this collection of covers and originals. She’s got a honeyed voice and the band is tight but — in the best possible sense — it most reminds us of a live band you’d get in a classy […]

Sheridan Smith: A Northern Soul

We read that Smith’s debut album, Sheridan, was last year’s second-best selling debut by a UK woman, beaten only by cool pop singer Dua Lipa (although Smith sold 100,000 copies and Lipa 1.2m, so it’s not a close-run thing). That collection of covers was a little patchy, but this new one is more of a […]