Smokey Robinson, Smokey And Friends (Decca) ****

York Press:

12:23pm Thursday 11th September 2014

THE concept of revisiting your greatest hits with a selection of A-List celebrity guests has worked a treat for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Charles Aznavour and Tammy Wynette. So being the writer of so many classic pop songs, it was almost inevitable that Mr Robinson would want to follow this well-travelled route.

Royal Blood, Royal Blood (Warner Bros Records) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

12:22pm Thursday 11th September 2014

IF, LIKE me, you spend a lot of time in your car listening to the radio then you may have noticed that in between a Rihanna, David Guetta or Rita Ora song there is an explosive two piece from West Sussex threatening to burst out of the speakers.

Peggy Seeger, Everything Changes (Signet Music) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

12:20pm Thursday 11th September 2014

PUSHING 80 she may be, but Peggy Seeger remains a singer-songwriter of force, subtlety and charm. These are, by Peggy’s own reckoning, dark songs – “not black but deep chocolate with burgundy wine”.

Paul McLinden, Head Happy (OneInchPunch) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

12:19pm Thursday 11th September 2014

SCOTTISH independence is all the rage and here’s an album from a Scot who is likely to carve out a musical identity of his own on the evidence of his debut album.

Cold Specks, Neuroplasticity (Mute Records) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

12:18pm Thursday 11th September 2014

THE latest album from Canadian singer-songwriter is a fascinating piece, with plenty to shout about. Al Spx’s vocals are breathy and deep, veering in style between Adele, Morcheeba’s Skye Edwards, and Alison Goldfrapp.

Steven James Adams, House Music (The State51 Conspiracy) ****

York Press: (10225182)

12:17pm Thursday 11th September 2014

STEVEN James Adams should have a place in your house already from his days of bittersweet country-blues, scorched soul melodies and frustrated, cussedly witty tales of hope, heartbreak and heartache in The Broken Family Band and Singing Adams.

Review: Kate Rusby, Ghost (Pure Records) ***

York Press: (9994939)

3:59pm Thursday 4th September 2014

APTLY for a record called Ghost, Barnsley folk song thrush Kate Rusby's new album has rather ghosted in under the radar.

Dan Michaelson And The Coastguards (The State 51 Conspiracy) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

4:00pm Thursday 4th September 2014

YOU don’t hear a voice like this very often. The striking sound that emerges from Dan Michaelson is somewhere between a groan and a croon – a ‘groon’ perhaps; so deep it almost cracks.

The Magic Numbers, Alias (Caroline International ) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:59pm Thursday 4th September 2014

Prolific is not exactly a term you’d apply to The Magic Numbers. Having hit the public consciousness with their 2005 hit Love Me Like You, they walked off Top of the Pops after getting the hump with Richard Bacon, and then pretty much walked off full stop.

Alarms In The Heart, Dry The River (Transgressive Records) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:58pm Thursday 4th September 2014

LONDON four piece Dry The River’s second album is a great example of producers helping shape a record, but no worse for that.

Twin Atlantic, Great Divide, (Red Bull) **

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:57pm Thursday 4th September 2014

BIFFY CLYRO clones Twin Atlantic are suffering from an identity crisis. Great Divide, the Scottish four-piece’s third studio record, continues their surge into the public consciousness – reaching number six in the album charts – but fails to set the pulse racing.

Los de Abajo, Mariachi Beat (Wrass Records) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:56pm Thursday 4th September 2014

THERE can’t be many groups named after Chilean football hooligans, especially in Mexico. And while a good few bands in Mexico City play ska, none do it quite like Los de Abajo. Fortunately Talking Heads’ David Byrne had the good sense to sign the band on his label, dubbing the music salsa punk.

Courteeners, Concrete Love (PIAS Cooperative) ****

York Press:

3:57pm Thursday 28th August 2014

THERE is a claim I have yet to get in recent popular music. The pop puzzle teasing the Kelly grey matter is how American band The Killers were greeted and feted as the natural successors to Manchester 90s marvels New Order.

FKA Twigs: LP1 (Young Turks Recordings) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:55pm Thursday 28th August 2014

THE debut album by FKA Twigs is much hyped. Until recently, 26-year-old dancer Tahliah Barnett’s primary brush with fame was from appearing in Jessie J videos, but the release of two EPs and the cultivation of a very distinctive look, has seen her establish a reputation as a front runner in contemporary R&B.

Charlie Simpson, Long Road Home (Nusic Sounds) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:54pm Thursday 28th August 2014

ALTHOUGH Charlie Simpson parted company from Busted well over a decade ago, long term fans would have been besides themselves had the former Uppingham schoolboy joined his old class mates for the high profile reunion McBusted show at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre this summer.

Alexis Taylor, Await Barbarians (Domino) **

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:52pm Thursday 28th August 2014

THE man behind Hot Chip returns to the solo scene with a reflective second individual record. Synth-laden, quiet and calm, the approach is about as far away from Taylor’s day job as it’s possible to get and, as a result, it takes some getting used to.

Vena Portae, Vena Portae (Humble Soul Records) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:51pm Thursday 28th August 2014

THE Vena Portae, should you have failed to keep up with your medical studies homework, is the short vein that carries blood into the liver.

Imogen Heap, Sparks (Megaphonic Records) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:48pm Thursday 28th August 2014

IT’S probably a coincidence, but this Sparks has much in common with the band of the same name during its Lil’ Beethoven era. Dense, complex, music, often uncomfortable and challenging, hard to categorise, but ultimately rewarding.

Sinead O’Connor, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss (Nettwerk Records) ****

York Press: (9527925)

1:10pm Thursday 21st August 2014

YES, that is Sinead O'Connor in Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman leathers and Uma Thurman's Pulp Fiction wig on the sleeve of her tenth studio album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss.

James Yorkston, The Cellardyke Recording And Wassiling Society (Domino Records) ****

York Press: James Yorkston

1:08pm Thursday 21st August 2014

YOU have to give James Yorkston time. It's always been that way and remains so on his eighth studio album. A cursory listen might suggest that Yorkston, with his half-spoken vocals and gently meandering songs, lost his way on the musical flatlands years ago.

Grant Nicholas, Yorktown Heights (Popping Candy) **

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

1:06pm Thursday 21st August 2014

IS going acoustic for someone ingrained in rock music the equivalent of a decathlete opting to concentrate on say, just the high jump? The lesser of parts and participation certainly seems the overall impression given by the first foray into the world of solo-dom by Grant Nicholas.

The Travelling Band, The Big Defreeze, (Sideways Saloon) *****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

1:06pm Thursday 21st August 2014

CATEGORIZE this lot if you dare. Some have tried, calling the Manchester band's music North Country and Western, which is a clever play on words, but it's still a country mile short of the mark.

The Gaslight Anthem, Get Hurt (Virgin) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

1:03pm Thursday 21st August 2014

THE fifth studio album for the rockers, Get Hurt continues on a similar path of howling vocals and anthemic guitars.

Alvvays, Always (Transgressive Records) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

1:03pm Thursday 21st August 2014

YOU are not listening to The Darling Buds or The Shop Assistants, pretty much forgotten names now from the 1980s days of girl-fronted indie pop, but the Canadian fuzz-pop quartet Alvvays most assuredly must have done so.

Britpop At The BBC (Rhino) ***

York Press:

3:41pm Thursday 14th August 2014

IT’S a title that should attract the attention, and the ire, of trading standards. What does it say to you – Britpop At The BBC? I’m guessing your answer is the same as mine and you would be wrong.

Luke Sital-Singh, The Fire Inside (Parlophone) *****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:40pm Thursday 14th August 2014

I THOUGHT I’d had it with male troubadours. I wanted to holler “singer-songwriters sling your hooks”. Then enters Luke Sital-Singh and there’s a fresh appreciation of solo power, passion and poetry.

Yes, Heaven & Earth (Frontiers) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:39pm Thursday 14th August 2014

YES without Jon Anderson is like fish without chips, what’s the point? Like Genesis Revisited, for all the virtuosity on display, all you really notice is the lack of familiar vocals.

Josh Record, Pillars (Virgin/EMI) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:37pm Thursday 14th August 2014

OPENING with the melodic Bones, Josh Record sets out the stall for his debut album as an uplifting and moving collection.

Jenny Lewis, The Voyager (Warner Bros Records) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:36pm Thursday 14th August 2014

JENNY Lewis, once the indie-queen voice of Rilo Kiley, hasn’t made an album for six years after she completely melted down.

Beth Orton, Central Reservation (3 Loop Music) ****

York Press: Songbird Beth Orton's sweet dreams

3:35pm Thursday 14th August 2014

IGNORING the 5,000 copies of 1993’s Japan-only release, Superpinkymandy, 1999’s Central Reservation was Beth Orton’s second album, the one that marked her move from Trailer Park’s “folktronica” to the more mainstream singer-songwriter mode, where she has remained ever since with diminishing commercial returns.

Shed Seven, Change Giver ***; A Maximum High ****; Let It Ride ** (All Polydor)

York Press: Indie stars from the 90s Shed Seven are set for a Christmas gig in Wolverhampton

2:34pm Thursday 7th August 2014

UNLESS you lived in York in the early to mid-1990s, you might struggle to truly get the impact Shed Seven made. Suddenly, a band from the city were in the charts, in the NME, on Top of the Pops. It might not mean much if you’re from Manchester or Liverpool or Sheffield, but it did in York.

King Creosote, From Scotland With Love (Domino) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

2:28pm Thursday 7th August 2014

FROM Scotland With Love was written as an audio-accompaniment to Virginia Heath’s BBC2 Scotland documentary to tie in with Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, and like 18 fellow Scots, King Creosote’s Kenny Anderson has struck gold.

Oscillations, Cosines (Fika Recordings) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

2:27pm Thursday 7th August 2014

BOUNCING along with deft foot-tapping beats, Cosines’ synth-heavy album is very enjoyable, if derivative.

Dylan Howe, Subterranean (Motorik) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

2:26pm Thursday 7th August 2014

ODD coves, albums by drummers. On the one hand there is a fear of 20-minute solos, on the other a certain knowledge that most of the input will come from other musicians, which is certainly the case here, seven of them in fact .

Morrissey, World Peace Is None Of Your Business (Harvest) ****

York Press: Morrissey cover. (8796926)

4:06pm Thursday 31st July 2014

WHAT do you want from a Morrissey solo album in 2014?

Bright Light Bright Light, Life Is Easy (Self Raising Records) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

4:07pm Thursday 31st July 2014

NAMED after the line squealed by the furry character Gizmo in the 1984 movie Gremlins, Bright Light Bright Light is actually a very accomplished nu-disco synthpop artist, Rod Thomas.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye (Reprise) ****

York Press: Tom Petty will bring his Heartbreakers to the Isle of Wight

4:06pm Thursday 31st July 2014

IT’S a scarcely believable 37 years since Tom Petty released Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and began his scorching journey into the heart of that elusive American dream.

Slow Club, Complete Surrender, (Caroline), ****

York Press:

4:04pm Thursday 31st July 2014

ADMIT it, Sheffield duo Slow Club have largely passed you by.

Richard Thompson, Acoustic Classics (Proper) *****

York Press: Virtuoso: Richard Thompson

4:04pm Thursday 31st July 2014

AT A glance, this latest Richard Thompson album doesn’t seem much, just a compilation of favourite songs. Yet one listen dispels such doubts, as Thompson pulls 14 songs from his capacious song suitcase, dust them off and offers new, reinvigorated versions.

Natalie Merchant (Nonesuch) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

4:03pm Thursday 31st July 2014

This has been a long time coming. 13 years to be exact since Motherland, Merchant’s last offering, so has it been worth the wait? At times, yes. She’s certainly come a long way since her days with 10,000 Maniacs.

Manic Street Preachers, Futurology (Sony Music) ***

York Press:

3:47pm Thursday 24th July 2014

“WE’LL COME back one day, we never really went away”, sings James Dean Bradfield on the Manics’ new title track. Given it’s been less than a year since their last album, there’s some truth to that.

John Fullbright, Songs (Blue Dirt Records) *****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:48pm Thursday 24th July 2014

FULLBRIGHT’S assured debut, From The Ground Up, marked him out as a musician to look out for. The follow-up cements such hopes, although it does so by taking a different direction.

Gramercy Arms, The Season Of Love (Reveal Records) ***

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:46pm Thursday 24th July 2014

FIVE years in the making, these 36 minutes have clearly been painstakingly put together by this New York collective.

The Felice Brothers, Favorite Waitress (Dualtone) **

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:45pm Thursday 24th July 2014

YOU can’t practise spontaneity, but that is The Felice Brothers’ forlorn aspiration on their fifth studio album.

La Roux, Trouble In Paradise (Polydor) ****

York Press: CD reviews - zxc

3:44pm Thursday 24th July 2014

TROUBLE In Paradise appears an appropriate title for the second album by La Roux. For despite winning the award for the best electronic/dance album at the Grammy Awards, and scoring a number two UK album with the debut self-titled collection in 2008, the act have had a turbulent time in the past six years.

Bellowhead, Revival (Island) ****

York Press:

2:25pm Thursday 17th July 2014

HERE’S a story that somehow failed to make the pages of this newspaper.

Various Artistes, Nile Rodgers presents Disco Inferno (Warner Music) *****

York Press:

2:24pm Thursday 17th July 2014

Although there are several dozen Disco Classic compilations available from the discount racks in garages and supermarkets, most are greatly disappointing, as all they offer nothing new and simply regurgitate the same old songs.

Honeyblood, Honeyblood, (Fatcat), **

York Press:

2:23pm Thursday 17th July 2014

THE problem with advancing years, and increasingly greying temples, is that fewer things surprise you. You’ve heard it all before.

Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (Merge Records) ****

York Press:

2:17pm Thursday 17th July 2014

BOB Mould doesn’t break the mould on Beauty & Ruin, and a good thing, too.

Sebastien Tellier, L’Aventura, (Because Music UK) ***

York Press:

2:15pm Thursday 17th July 2014

THE fifth album from French singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tellier is part concept album part elevator music.


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