Lianne La Havas – Blood

Blood_by_Lianne_La_HavasLianne La Havas just has one of those voices.  It has a distinctive tone and depth that makes it hard to mistake her for anyone else.   I was expecting not to like this album, her second,  but found myself liking it almost instantly.  Its not all funky beats, there are some guitar-based and rockier tracks where at times I am reminded of Skunk Anansie.   She can let rip with her voice or bring it down to quietness, sometimes in the same song, but every time her soulful voice cuts through it all to stand out.  Its easy to see what Prince saw in her with her contributions to his album Art Official Age, and as a songwriter she clearly has talent. I look forward to her next album, and will probably seek out the first one. Soulful, jazzy and a bit rocky at times – in a good way.

Standout track : Unstoppable – if the opening track doesn’t grab you nothing will.

The New Power Generation – Exodus

mpg exodusIn 1995 Prince was having a big beef with his record company, and one of the results was this NPG album, Exodus featuring “unknown” masked vocalist Tora Tora. While this is an NPG album Prince runs solidly through it, and like most Prince-produced albums you get something that is different to any other Prince release. He was still quite sweary at this point in his career and there are plenty of mofo’s to be heard!  The segues on this album are great and you get a feel for Prince’s sense of humour.   Out of all his side projects this is one of my favourites and is a lot more accessible than the previous Goldnigga. Lots of funky tunes and some spacey references towards the end gives the feel of a Parliament/Funkadelic album, so if this is something you like this is worth a listen even if you’re not a Prince fan.

Standout track: Should be Count The Days, but as soon as Return of the Bump Squad kicks in…

Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony

catb balconyWhen you don’t listen to the radio much new music can be hard to get into. Sometimes you listen to an album and something clicks.  I have had a few like that and end up loving them.  I want to like Catfish and the Bottlemen primarily because its a great name for a band. Also all the track names on The Balcony are one word titles which is a very satisfying thing. As music goes The Balcony has a lot of guitars and driving drums and is a great listen.  At the moment though nothing has clicked yet that would make this a go to album or band. It will stay on my iPod for now at least and I have their second album to listen to as well.  Definitely one to play when I fancy a bit of rock, but not a fave quite yet.

Standout Track : Sidewinder

American Authors – Oh, What a Life

American_Authors_-_Oh,_What_a_LifeIts funny when your brain knows what to say but it doesn’t transfer to your mouth.  Instead of just saying “Please, have my seat” to a pregnant lady on the tube, I said “Would you like to sit down?”.  She didn’t say “Of course I would!” so the intention was recognised but it’s funny how in the moment the right words are not important. This has nothing to do with the American Authors by the way, one of the CD’s I borrowed from my kids to dip into. The plinky-plunky banjo-sound is a motif through a lot of the tracks, so if you have heard Best Day of My Life you will know what I mean.  It’s a pretty upbeat album where a lot of the tracks feel a bit anthemic in a festival/live kind of way. Is it a keeper? Not sure yet.

Standout track : Heart of Stone – cool guitar riff.

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Alanis_Morissette_-_Jagged_Little_PillCharity shops are a great place to pick up CD’s you thought you still had or never got round to buying, plus they are cheap! I never bought Jagged Little Pill which is practically a greatest hits collection for Alanis Morrisette who culled a run of hit singles from it in the late 90’s. I like clever or interesting lyrics and there’s a lot of that in this album. When she pulls back her voice on some of the quieter tracks you get to hear how melodic it can be. The songs that scream bitterness are countered by some more vulnerable performances, both of which relay emotional hurting. Frequently cited as one of the best albums of the nineties, if you like angst ridden jangly guitar pop rock to start the day then this is a good choice.

Standout track – You Oughta Know ; Alanis literally spits the lyrics at you.

Sheryl Crow – Be Myself

sheryl-crow-be-myself-2017-2480x2480-cd0294c5-fe01-4c6c-bfef-14831022bd44I’m a big Sheryl Crow fan but not in the same way as I am with other artists who I can really get obsessed about, but I buy all her albums and is probably one of the artists I listen to the most, so not being obsessed about her is a bit weird for me! She manages to blend country, rock and pop in a really great way that means that I rarely get bored with her music and her voice suits all these genres. Her latest album is supposedly a return to her rock roots of the nineties, and it’s a change from Feels Like Home which was a very intentional country album. For me that’s the attraction, that Sheryl mixes it up with every album and gives you something new to listen to.

Standout Track – Only just getting into it really but the title track is a great.