I don’t usually write album reviews – it seems a bit pointless in an age of streaming.
However, I know that I myself sometimes fancy listening to something different, so I decided to do an occasional round-up of albums that have jumped out from the crowd and been on regular plan on my Sonos.
Needless to say, if you enjoy an album, it’s always worth supporting the artist by purchasing it on physical formats. Streaming is incredibly convenient for the listener, not so good for artists trying to make a living!
Almost Persuaded – Swing Out Sister
“Terrific record. proper tunes, proper words. It’s so wise, substantial – but goes down like melting butter. Beautifully, immaculately done” – Robert Wyatt
Since buying Swing Out Sister’s first 2 studio albums and seeing them at The Queens Hall in Edinburgh, I must admit I haven’t really been paying attention to what they’ve been up to over the years, but they’ve clearly been busy as this is their 10th studio album. It’s a crowd-funded release which has taken a while to record, but is totally worth the wait. The album is instantly recognisable as SOS at their best, with Corrine’s voice and Andy Connell’s tunes sounding as great as ever.
“Swing Out Sister are back with a self-assured swagger to their signature cinematic jazz sound. Dipping in and out of their influences from hip hop and neo soul to Blue Note and Motown with underlying scores that touch on blaxploitation and half remembered French films, Corinne Drewery and Andrew Connell show how their songwriting versatility has developed over the three decades since they hit the charts with Breakout.
Their 10th studio album has been three years in the making, and arrives ten years since their last studio album was released.
Corinne and Andy describe the making of Almost Persuaded, for the first time written and recorded in public, as they shared every step of the writing process with their online Pledge Music followers with regular films and updates.
All In A Heartbeat, filled with northern soul yearning, started out as a song that imagines losing someone you love, taking months, even years to complete. Having witnessed so many unthinkable changes in the world since they started it, it became even more poignant for Corinne and Andy.”
Happier than Sunshine a light-hearted dreamy number was inspired by “that feeling that you wish could last forever. You can’t buy it…you can’t own it…you won’t find it if you look for it…it has to find you. It can come in many packages…. a favourite tune……a surprise invitation…a smile from a stranger….a lick from a furry friend….an unconditional act of kindness….knowing you are sharing something special that warms you to your very soul. Think of this song as a great big hug and pass it on”, says Corinne.
I Wish I Knew was a melody Corinne first sung to her mum aged five years old “I was trying to get out of going to school. With a little artistic license and application, echoes of Dusty Springfield and the addition of Andy’s magnificent arrangement…a song is born”
“Almost Persuaded has been a rewarding new way to share what we’re about. A little like the way filmmakers have tended to move away from making a two-hour movie, and instead have embraced the Netflix series, or the box set, in order to explore the themes and characters over a longer period, and see how they might grow and develop in perhaps unexpected ways.”
The Fall – Cook Strummer
Ok, so to clarify this isn’t a new posthumous Fall album, “The Fall” is the name of the album and the artist is Cook Strummer. I can almost hear my mum saying “You don’t know what’s the name of the band and what’s the name of the song these days!”
Cook Strummer are an artist I wasn’t previously aware of, however since I was sent their album I keep coming back to it. A strong album on first listen which keeps getting better with subsequent listens.
“The music of Cook Strummer- aka Max Donnet- is the kind that can only come from someone with both Belgium and Berlin within him.
Channelling the post-punk synth sound of his home country’s Cold Wave movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, Donnet has absorbed the sounds of his adopted home in Germany, taking that all-pervasive electronic music that is all around him and morphing it into something new.
The result is The Fall.
Recorded in a cell located in the basement of an old Stasi Prison (Studio K61 in Berlin), it’s an album with one eye on the dancefloor, but one that works just as well when the party is over. It’s an album that blends the organic with the synthetic, mixing guitars and synths with post-dubstep flourishes and drum machines. It’s an album about something.
Talking about the album that he’s spent a full two years pouring his heart and soul into, Cook Strummer said: “I wrote and recorded the album at a time when I was getting over a break up. I was working 40 hours a week in an office, going out every weekend to Techno clubs and recording at night in the studio. It was intense. The lack of sleep even gave me hallucinations.
The feeling of doing something important stuck though. It gave me a reason to move on. Somehow, there’s a part of my soul in there. I had to put out both the emotions and the ideas to create something out of it.”
Warped Caress E.P. – Lomboy
OK so this is an E.P. not an album. but definitely worth a listen!
It’s another “new to me” artist, Lomboy produces Bright and Breezy French style Dream Pop / Lounge pop which should appeal to fans of bands such as Mono, The Cardigans, Hooverphonic and Portishead.
Real name “Tanja Frinta” originally from Austria, has lived in Sweden, Spain, Belgium and now Paris and Tokyo where she has picked up influences along the way and worked with local musicians, notably Japanese band Lamp. Her French live band includes members of Le Colisee and Las Aves.
“Opening track “Alien Lady” features a flute-driven solo backed up by a funky guitar riff that transitions into a tropical beat, narrating the story of feeling a stranger in a big city, unaware of social codes and language. The first single “Loverboy” comes out as a big urban spleen, splashing about in the electronic lounge if the 90s. ”
Not on this E.P. but well worth checking out is a song called “In the Chamber of Vanu”.
And that’s about it for this roundup, hopefully it’s given you something new to listen to!