Steven Wilson - To The Bone
“Wilson has said that To The Bone, his fifth solo album, is his nod to the great prog/pop crossover albums such as Peter Gabriel’s So. To that end it is a preposterously good mix of prog tropes – Pink Floyd guitar tones, Rush’s juddering rhythms – and a clear-headed ear for melody and arrangement that makes the nine-minute Detonation fly by. Especially good too are the brisk Nowhere Now, the down-at-heel Refuge and the thrumming title track.”
Iron & Wine - Beast Epic
“Apart from a collaboration with Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, it’s been four years since Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam graced the cultural landscape with his delicious voice and lustrous facial hair. This, the project’s sixth album, is a return home of sorts with a move back to the Sub Pop label and the sparse acoustic dynamics that characterised those earliest records. Not that this is a collection that looks back. The production is slicker and cleaner than those far off days, and the maturity of a life long lived forms the basis of the album’s 11 songs.”
Judy Dyble & Andy Lewis - Summer Dancing
“With its phased guitars, the breezy pop of He Said, I Said does nod back towards the 60s, but although the duo aim to expand your mind they also want to warp it through time and space, so along with fuzz guitars, eastern drones and Mellotrons, Lewis constructs a kaleidoscopic mix of modern and vintage samples. His father was an amateur audio tape enthusiast and his collection, which ranges from field recordings to stereo demonstration records, yields some of the musical material here. Musically this collaboration has few obvious peers, although Grasscut’s evocation of different historical eras and geographical zones on Everyone Was A Bird comes to mind. Lewis’ arrangements are inspired and although the songs are full of shifting textural detail they never become overloaded.”
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Robin Trower - Bridge Of Sighs Reissue
Robin Trower’s breakthrough album, Bridge Of Sighs peaked at No.7 in the US and remains one of the pillars of his repertoire to this day. Beginning with the stuttering riff of Day Of The Eagle, the album combines urgency with gravitas. ‘A cold wind blows and gods look down in anger on this poor child,’ Dewar sings as the title track unfolds with a vast, slow momentum, like a planet drifting through the void. This version, where the original recording has been remastered and a slew of bonus tracks added in, shows the album at its best.
Grateful Dead - ‘71 Dead
Recordings from a variety of original live US radio broadcasts make up the bones of this hefty 21-disc box set, where they have been re-mastered with background liners, rare archival photos and new artwork. While many of the live recordings are left wanting in the fidelity department, this collection captures the gleeful spirit of the Dead performing at their prime.
The Duke Spirit - Sky Is Mine
The fifth album from these London alt-rock veterans smashes together grunge, shoegaze, folk and good, old-fashioned rock’n’roll for a collection that is both seductively woozy and dripping with attitude.