A few years ago one of my kids went to the music festival at Reading so I took a particular interest in the bands that were playing and watched the broadcasts on TV. Off the back of that I bought a few albums and one of them was Save Rock and Roll. In the main the rock/RnB sound encapsulates the reason I enjoyed their live performances but for me it starts on a high with The Phoenix and slowly winds down. By the end of the album I felt like i’d had enough. Not sure if it was the music or the vocal style, or maybe the presence of Elton John! While I like some of his work it kind of ends it on a low because I just don’t enjoy his collaborative work of recent years. Still a good album but glad it’s not longer than it is.
Standout Track : The Phoenix
When the record company heard the pseudo-psychedelic ATWIAD for the first time apparently they weren’t impressed. Where was Purple Rain Part 2? While still touring with Purple Rain Prince was writing and recording ATWIAD and as always moved in a different direction to its predecessor. When I think of Prince albums ATWIAD seems to sit quietly in between Purple Rain and Parade, not always springing to mind when browsing my collection but this doesn’t reflect the quality of the album. You have undoubtedly heard of the singles but what defines it is its exploration of different sounds, instrumentation and composition that would characterise at least the next two albums. Where previously Prince would do it all, this is his more co-operative period with the Revolution, Wendy and Lisa in particular. If you have heard Purple Rain and like musicians that don’t stand still then you have to move on to ATWIAD.
Standout track : Condition of the Heart
Finally got to see Haim live last night! To celebrate their new album they held a a special one-off gig at the Electric Ballroom in London, and it was fantastic! Definitely one of my favourite shows ever, and the album is pretty great too. It continues to blend indie rock, pop and RnB with their unique harmonies making a sound that is their own. I like a band whose music isn’t easily defined because you get interesting albums like this with tracks that mix up and cross genres. It means you get an album with a cohesive sound that you can identify without a bunch of same-sounding tracks. I also liked the breezy feel that their debut album had, maybe because of it’s sunshine Californian heritage, something that this album retains. Make sure you also listen to the percussion and melodies – just great!
Standout track: Walking Away
For me Stanley Road is a summer album. I don’t know why but it just sounds good in the sun, however there is a darker tone to the album that you can hear in some of the tracks. Paul Weller referred to this album as perfect, and its difficult to disagree with so many great songs and it’s hard to pick a favourite among them. The drumming is particularly excellent on tracks like Whirlpools’ End and the melancholy of You Do Something to Me betrays its love song disguise. The way Weller captures emotion in these songs is wonderful and shows how brilliant a song writer he is. I can’t believe it was released in 1995!
Standout track: Time Passes
Egotistical, self-deprecating, angry, melancholy are all reasons why I like Robbie Williams and this album is my favourite of his. His later stuff hasn’t grabbed me at all but this album has loads of great tracks on it. The self-referential nature of his songs is attractive. Someone trying to analyse their life and feelings is something I can relate to, after all we are all trying to find meaning in our lives aren’t we? This sounds a bit deep and it is, but its wrapped up in ballads and faster-paced pop tunes that are great to listen to. A lot of his albums do have a similar sound and style so I can understand that some people just don’t like his music, but as with most artists who I really like its the people as much as the songs that get me listening.
Standout track: Nan’s Song
Sandi Thom became what is referred to as an “internet sensation” in 2006 when she streamed live over 21 nights from her basement flat. I was unaware of the controversy that overshadowed this publicity and led to her getting a lot of flak, but I was more interested in her debut album as I loved the title and the debut single that went to number one. She reminded me of KT Tunstall as apart from them both being Scottish female singer/songwriters they both have a guitar-based folk-ish sound with catchy hooks. As a debut album I think the lyrics aren’t as mature as KT’s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s quite a short album for the morning tube ride but its upbeat and a nice listen. Sandi is one of those artists that I should really catch up with to check out her her newer stuff.
Standout track: Little Remedy
I know that some people don’t like Adele’s music, that’s inevitable, but its hard not to like Adele for being Adele. Last night at Wembley she proved (again!) what a superb artist and person she is. Despite having a croaky voice regularly soothed with honey and lemon, she gave a flawless performance of every song she sang. I don’t know if people generally consider her as a soul singer, but she has got a great soul voice and 21 is really a great soul record. She has such a depth to her voice and this album captures the real angst of her relationship breakup at the time. The stripped down feel in some tracks allows her vocal and lyrics to shine, but whatever track you listen to her voice powers through in feeling, not just in volume. There is a real authenticity to her performance that you don’t always get.
Standout track: Take It All