- Life
Contemporaries of fellow Madchester acts, the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays, the ‘Inspiral Carpets ploughed their own furrow, and one dominated by the 60’s style Farfisa organ of Clint Boon. Most of the tracks were written by the original line-up after the band was formed in Oldham in 1986, but it would be with the arrival of new vocalist Tom Hingley with his more soul-tinged delivery that their rise to chart success took shape. Album highlights include album opener, ‘Real ... read more
 - Alien Soundtracks
Marking their commercial and critical breakthrough, this album reflects the immediate influence of band newcomer, Helios Creed, with its uncomfortable mix of low-fi guitar fuzz and alien industrial noise. Accordingly written originally as a soundtrack to a strip-show, this sci-fi punk was rejected as being too ‘out there’. Many of the tracks suffer from being structured like an uneasy collage of manic sounds. The closest track of any note is Nova Feedback.
 - New Adventures in Hi-Fi
Underrated, this album serves as a collection of tracks which reflect the career span of the band’s musical testament, and as, perhaps, the best sign-off for Bill Berry, who, having collapsed from a brain aneurysm on the ‘Monster’ tour, quit the band soon after its release. From the original hip-hop/free jazz feel of album opener, and first highlight track, ‘How the West Was Won and Where it Got Us’, Stipe, Buck, Berry, and Mills have crafted an album which ... read more
 - Singles 64-67
This Michigan band would score a series of domestic hits between 1964 and 1966, helmed by the inspirational rock guitarist and songwriter, Dick Wagner, who would go on to perform with Lou Reed and the likes of Kiss, but who would become best known for penning several of Alice Cooper’s greatest hits. At the time of the band’s formation, Wagner was greatly influenced by the sound of the Beatles, with the group touring a set combining their own compositions, bearing great similarity to ... read more
 - Junto
After a six year hiatus, the duo return fresh and invigorated. As always Ratcliffe and Buxton seamlessly merge distinct musical influences, as pictorially represented by the Venn diagram on the album cover, in this powerful demonstration that they remain at the forefront of purveyors of dance floor fillers. The album kicks off with the anthemic ‘Power to the People’, immediately followed by the superior ‘Unicorn’. Another highlight is the soul drenched ‘Never Say ... read more
 - The Real Deal
Typical but jaded fare from Shaver bereft of inspiration with nothing of note to add to his extensive discography. If only his recording career were of as much interest as his private life, being arrested two years later for shooting another man in the face outside a tavern in Lorena Texas. Though the victim maintained this attack was unprovoked, Shaver was acquitted as having acted in self-defence. In terms of outlaw country, this incident rather than this lacklustre collection would suggest ... read more
 - Ole! Tarantula
A return to the jangly guitar alternative pop of earlier in his career, here supported by US alternative rock figures, such as Peter Buck from R.E.M and Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows. The album also brings back to the forefront the surrealism which has largely peppered Hitchcock’s lyrical style, and whilst many of the tracks are pleasant enough, the only noteworthy track amongst this eclectic set is the catchy ‘Underground Sun’.
 - Women
Pretty uninspiring distorted lo-fi material from this quartet hailing from Calgary. Brothers Patrick and Matt Flegel formed the band with long-term friends, Chris Reimer and Mike Wallace, ploughing musical territory which, as one reviewer has phrased it, combines indie rock with harsh discordant garage rock. From this reviewer’s perspective, overall, the vocal harmonies, lauded critically, are hard to pick up across the confused noise. Yet, the single, ‘Black Rice’ gives some ... read more
 - Hello, Love
A satisfactory collection of recordings made in both 1957 and 1959 which failed to be included within Fitzgerald’s Songbook collections. The only true track of any note is her version of ‘I’m Thru With Love’, known to many from Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of the song on ‘Some Like It Hot’.
 - Madvillainy
This collaboration between MF Doom and DJ and record producer, Oscar Jackson Jnr, known as Madlib, achieved modest commercial success but cult status. The majority of the album was created by the latter on a trip to Brazil within the confines of his São Paolo room using limited equipment before Doom added his lyrics, and shows the influence upon Madlib of free jazz and both Indian and Brazilian samples. Though musically inventive, the album consists of short tracks, all under three ... read more
 - Grrr...
Justin Rice and Christian Rudder appear to have somewhat lost their innate ability to create infectious melodies on this their third album. Though entertaining, there are few tracks of much note, with the overall feel that the majority are unfortunately, instantly forgettable. This reviewer also agrees that the tracks are overtly saccharine, to the point that they are cloying. Those tracks which break this trend are the catchy ‘The Lion and the Teacup’, the breezy ... read more
 - The Spoils
A concentration on the visceral power of the vocals and the music to the detriment of song structure, this album is marginally better than their debut. The closest track to anything of note is ‘Souer Sewer‘, with its watery mood, but overall, this is a repetitive exercise in battling to fathom anything beyond the guttural wails of singer Nika Roza, and ultimately this is a battle with no spoils.
 - Recording Together For The First Time
Record producer, Bob Thiele, who would co-write perhaps the most landmark song of Armstrong’s career in ‘What a Wonderful World’, would consider arranging the joint recording of these two highly influential jazz musicians as the single greatest achievement of his own career. Recorded over two days in April 1961, this remarkable collection of tracks combine their undoubted artistry in one of the greatest timeless classics. There had been talk of Satchmo playing with ... read more
 - Mars
This album signified a remoulding of Sudanese-British multi-instrumentalist, Ahmed Gallib’s sound, covering a diverse range of influences from Afro-beat to jazz to disco-funk. The album kicks off well with ‘Runnin’ where a tropical drum beat meets a funky base line. This is immediately followed by the irresistible Afro-pop groove of ‘Jeeper Creeper’. Unfortunately, the rest of the album, aside from the sultry ‘Makin’ Time’, pales by comparison. ... read more
 - What We Did on Our Holidays
Signed to a new record deal with Island Records, the band auditioned for a new female vocalist, and, according to founder member, Simon Nicol, singer-songwriter, Sandy Denny, ‘stood out like a clean glass in a sink full of dirty dishes’. Not only did her arrival signal the band being provided with pure ethereal vocals but also greater influence for the band’s shift towards folk music. The album contains landmark tracks, ‘Fotheringay’, penned by Denny herself, and a ... read more
 - Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
Though a welcome change to their largely derivative Sonic Youth-inspired sound, and despite being their most accessible effort yet, their latest album still fails to wholly convince. Gone are the heavily discordant guitars as well as the shrill vocals of Kazu Makino to be replaced by more lightness of touch. This is most noteworthy on the most notable track on the album, and album closer, ‘For the Damaged Coda’, based on Chopin’s Nocturne in F Minor, which ‘Rick and ... read more
 - When I'm Alone I Cry
Just as the title of his previous album indicated, Gaye continued stubbornly to try and mould himself as a jazz vocalist. Met with critically mixed reviews, this album has highlights such as the big band opening track, ‘You’ve Changed’, but overall feels like a poor man’s Nat King Cole. The other pair of notable tracks are “I’ll Be Around’ and ‘I Wonder’, but ultimately, this would represent his final, unsuccessful, venture into this genre ... read more
 - The Only Fun In Town
The darker twin of record label Postcard band mates Orange Juice, this post punk collective drew comparisons to Joy Division - the track ‘It’s kinda Funny’ falsely accredited as being inspired by the death of Ian Curtis -but though critically acclaimed, commercial success eluded them. This could be largely credited to band leader, Paul Haig’s dense existentialist lyrics, and droning vocal style. Founded in 1979, the band would go their separate ways soon after the ... read more
 - Haven't Got The Blues (Yet)
As throughout his recording career, on this his twenty-third album, Wainwright covers the gamut of human emotions with equal measure wit and poignancy. He also brings several genres together, such as his French quarter blues of ‘Spaced’, more traditional blues on ‘Depression Blues’, and his ‘tongue in cheek’ Michael Buble-esque critique of the NRA in ‘I’ll Be Killing You This Christmas’. Another notable track revisits his marital failures in ... read more
 - 90125
Much maligned by diehard fans for its undoubted lurch towards a much more commercial product, the album still amounts to a remarkable reinvention of the band’s sound which both propelled them to chart success and helped them capture a new generation of fans. From the opening bars of the classic single and album opener, ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’, it is clear the band have attempted to merge their progressive rock with contemporary pop/rock, and unlike many others, this reviewer ... read more
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AOTY July Playlist