Pet Shop Boys: Actually

Another cracking album from the PSB: Actually (as in “Pet Shop Boys, actually”) was their second album, coming out in 1987 and being a critique of not only Thatcher’s economy but the whole 80s thing, from materialism to the post-Aids club scene. The tunes are great: four massive hits (What I Have Done, Shopping, Rent […]

Lisa Stansfield: Deeper

We weren’t sure what this was going to be like, except that if the Press budget extends down the food chain to us, great things must be expected. Deservedly so. Banish thoughts of cheesy pop or pop diva-ish warbling: this is a great pop/RnB album and Stansfield gives a masterclass in how to produce music: […]

Vance Joy: Nation Of Two

Joy is a singer/songwriter, the basic format of his songs between him and acoustic guitar. He’s ok; to call him average is harsh — to write and play one decent song is too much for most of us — but he brings nothing new to the game. Noah And The Whale did something similar, and […]

Black Water County: Taking Chances

You’ve heard Black Water Country before, at least if you’ve heard the likes of The Pogues, Levellers and Dropkick Murphys; the sound is not original, but it’s so high energy it makes us feel exhausted just listening to it. We imagine that, live, they spent a lot of time jumping about and spilling beer. Black […]

Speak, Brother: Young and Brave

Just to get the negativity over first: Speak, Brother are aimed at the Mumfords market, without the world-class songs that made the latter famous. Despite the mockery that followed Mumfords for a while because of their omnipresence, they did write some very good songs. That they were nice guys and being good live also helped, […]

Nick JD Hodgson: Tell Your Friends

Hodgson was the Kaiser Chiefs’ drummer and main songwriter but don’t expect any laddish sing-alongs. While drunken students chanting: “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby” might help his pension pot, he’s better than that and has written tunes for the likes of Mark Ronson, Hurts and Shirley Bassey. He plays all the instruments on this album; he and […]

Christopher Fox: Headlong

While this CD has an appealing side, it’s not one for someone who just fancies a nice bit of clarinet; if you studied clarinet at university, your car is called Clarrie McClarinetface and you only play the chalumeau with added keys for that authentic sound, perhaps. Though it’s a life you need, not a CD. […]

Pet Shop Boys: Please

We’ve had the later re-releases, now here are the remasters of the early albums, with Please being the debut. Two things leap out: first, it’s truly majestic pop; second, they’d have to release a lot of terrible albums (which they haven’t) to even partially squander the goodwill albums like this built up. No wonder people […]

Kim Wilde: Here Come The Aliens

Yeah, so you’re Kim Wilde, pop singer, best known for being poptastic and slightly cheesy, and though you’re gigging aplenty, your new collection of songs is so good you want to reach a wider audience. What you going to do? How about package the new collection as a 50s pulp fiction sci fi film and […]

Wille and The Bandits: Living Free

Like a pint of hand-pulled beer and a log fire after a long day’s walk in the hills, this double live CD is instantly comforting and familiar. Wille and The Bandits are predominantly a live band and we’ve never heard of them before, but frontman Wille Edwards is a consummate guitarist, playing lap steel and […]