SLAP on the wrist, I’ve been struggling to keep up with the volume of review requests I’ve had through recently and haven’t managed to review all the albums I should have done.
So to make it up to any acts who’ve slipped through the net in recent weeks, I’ve penned a haiku review of some of them.
Here they are – Saint Max And The Fanatics – Saint Max Is Missing And The Fanatics Are Dead
Made much less derivative,
With inventive horns.
4/5 Fighting Fiction – The Long And Short Of It
Rabble rousing band,
With political insight,
Distracted by girls.
3/5 HAIM – Days Are Gone
Eighties tinted pop,
Perfect for the summertime,
Released in Autumn?
4/5 Deaf Havana – Old Souls
Wanted to review,
Postman delivered the case,
With no CD in.
TAKING on the greats is always a tricky proposition, but Red Hot + Fela sees a myriad of artists both Western and African do just that with the late, great Fela Kuti.
And these are no standard covers – ranging from hip hop to house to jazz these reworkings are carried out with such imagination and enthusiasm that in most cases only the spirit and feeling of the originals remain.
Because of the variety the results are as you’d expect a mixed bag, but more hit than miss – personal standouts for me are the moving, largely-instrumental Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am, plus the Underworld-esque No Buredi.
And the all-star list of contributors – which include tUnE-yArDs, Questlove, My Morning Jacket, Alabama Shakes, Kronos Quartet and TV On The Radio among their ranks – have done this in the name of charity, to help raise money towards the fight against HIV/AIDs.
So if you’re a fan of Fela Kuti, I urge you to put any reservations to one side, and if you’re not, I’ll wager a listen to this and you’ll be looking to discover him afterwards.
IRISH two piece Kid Karate really belt them out.
The group’s new EP, Lights Out, sees vocalist/guitarist Kevin Breen and drummer Steven Gannon shine with their sheer energy and verve.
The sound harks back to the last great golden age of guitar bands – with the pair sounding akin to a younger Young Knives in places, with hints of early Bloc Party and The Rakes et al, all played with a DIY White Stripes attitude.
There’s a definite need to polish up what’s going on here, but this teaser has enough of a kick to it for me to want to hear much more from Kid Karate.
WE NEED Medicine, the new album from The Fratellis, sees the Scottish rockers in rude health.
The band were, without a doubt, under the weather, after their fine debut album Costello Music had been backed up by a disappointing sophomore effort, Here We Stand, and a hiatus – but this is the sound of a band back at their playful best.
They can at times on this LP sound a bit like a pound shop Arctic Monkeys – She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving, for example – and they’re still prone to a dodgy lyric or two.
But when they get in full rock pomp, such as opener Halloween Blues or the amazing Whisky Saga, there’s no band out there that’s as fun as The Fratellis.
I prescribe a listen to We Need Medicine.
ANTICON found Jel’s latest LP Late Pass sees the producer open with a title track featuring the repeated mantra “don’t get too comfortable”.
Which is odd, because Jel – real name Jeffery James Logan – sounds totally at ease with his sound here.
The beats are head-noddingly crisp, over sparse bass throbs, turntablist scratching and sampling, and a smattering of other instrumentation, plus now and then a little vocal.
But throughout nothing is forced or OTT, no particular sound dominates proceedings, no overpowering basslines or furious lyrical flows – it’s just a well produced, if short, collection of largely instrumental hip hop, and business as usual for Anticon.
PUNK band Crazy Arm, in previous efforts, had a bit of a folky twang to their sound – but on new LP The Southern Wild they’ve gone so country and western you wouldn’t bet against them wearing spurs when they recorded it.
Actually, as they’re all animal rights campaigners, they probably didn’t, but I bet they had those string things that cowboys wear instead of ties or something.
And they do do this sound very well – singer VIctoria Butterfield’s well-suited vocals in particular dripping with a soulful edge on Oh Hell/Death To Pay, the finger-picking good Fossils, or the wild stomping Roasting River showing a variety to their new sound too.
But for a Devon-based band, what would have set this collection far enough away from pastiche would have been just a hint more of the West Country on this Wild West soundscape.
IT DOESN’T matter one jot that Tamikrest’s Tuareg music is normally the sound track to the Malian deserts, even when I’m driving through rural Leicestershire in the gloomy autumn drizzle.
Because if I close my eyes, and turn up the blowers, it’s almost like the desert heat hitting you, the tapping of the rain against my windscreen becomes like sand blasting the side of an ahaket tent, and the honking of oncoming vehicles is, er, probably for the best.
Because this is music that takes you away when you press play, regardless of familiarity with the sounds.
The bluesy guitar work dominates the music on Chatma and is just dripping with feeling, and is so evocative whether on faster, jangly tracks like Imanin Bas Zihoun or the slower, darker work like the Pink Floyd-esque Assikal.
This coupled with the distinctly North African vocal harmonies, and Tuareg throat calls, gives Chatma a great blend of cultural influences, and is well worth investigating.