Category Archives: music review

Jezzer’s Albums of the Year So Far (2016)

Slightly late this year. Coming in at number 5, pop pickers….

5. Michael Kiwanuka- “Love and Hate”

Only out for a week, this is a very good album with Marvin Gaye-esque soul and R&B influences. I was initially put off with its lead single “Black Man In A White World”, which suffered from the twin misfortunes of mediocrity and being played to death on national radio. However, give the album a chance and you’ll find some very strong song writing and great production. Unfortunately, I suspect Love and Hate is destined to be played only as backing music to middle-class dinner parties across suburbia, which is a shame.

4. Kendrick Lamar- “Untitled Unmastered”

Kendrick Lamar is a Californian rapper who is rightly causing established popular artists such as Kanye West some sleepless nights. This compilation of unreleased demos and outtakes is short and has some rough around the edges recordings (as is to be expected). However, seek out the diamonds in the rough, such as the almost jazzy number below, and you will be greatly rewarded.

3. David Bowie- “Blackstar”

What can I say that hasn’t already been said?

2. Bat For Lashes- “The Bride”

For me, Natasha Khan is way up there among artists such as Kate Bush, Bjork, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie, as a singer who’s creativity stretches beyond just the musical art form. Her latest album is (dare I say it) a concept album which follows the story of a bride who’s fiancé dies on the way to their wedding. That simple sentence hasn’t really sold it well, but listen to the album (as a whole) and a beautiful piece about love, loss and overcoming trauma will emerge. Really wonderful.

1. Radiohead- “A Moon Shaped Pool”

Continuing to march to beat of their own drum, Radiohead turn out an album of mainly ethereal ballads. In this humble bear’s opinion, beautifully constructed songs with lovely melodies that only reward the most patient listeners (as it should be). Interestingly, they have finally recorded a studio version of True Love Waits, a song that has been knocking around since the 90s, and which they use here as the closing track. Worth the wait.

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Jeremy’s Albums of 2015 (So Far)

5. Jamie XX- “In Colour”

Yes, both The XX albums sound the same. And yes, this solo outing from Jamie doesn’t exactly stray from the uber-cool, playing as background music at a hipster party formula that they are famous for. So why fix something that ain’t broken? 4 paws out of 5

4. Marika Hackman– “We Slept At Last”

Young, talented, gorgeous. Don’t you just hate her!! (kidding) I defy you to listen to the song below and not fall for her charms too. 4 paws out of 5

3. Nadine Shah– “Fast Food”

I religiously listen to Guy Garvey, lead singer of the band Elbow, DJ on BBC 6 Music on Sunday afternoons, 2 till 4pm. His two hour show, I suspect with a hint of irony, is called Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour. Elbow are a fine band, and judging by the music he plays on his show, are inspired by great musicians. If ever I became a famous bear and was invited onto Dessert Island Discs, I’d just point to Mr. Garvey and say, “Talk to this chap; he knows what I like”.

I was already vaguely aware of Nadine Shah from the odd radio play here and there, but it was Guy Garvey who tweeted how good the album was, so on that recommendation how could I not buy it? And disappointed I was not. 4 paws out of 5

2. Sufjan Stevens– “Carrie and Lowell”

It’s easy to pass off Sufjan Stevens as quirky indie pop, but I genuinely believe there is a wonderful folk music core to his songs, especially when stripped of the Vince Guarldi-esque orchestrations he used to be so fond of. This album, a heart wrenching ode to his late mother and his stepfather, shows how delicate and beautiful his songwriting really can be. Highly recommended.  4.5 paws out of 5

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1. Blur- “The Magic Whip”

Blur are in that unique position of not needing the money, but still release albums (albeit very sporadically) for the love of music. And unlike Radiohead, who decided to go a bit mental after OK Computer, Blur still make writing great pop songs look very easy indeed. So, hot on the heels of Damon Albarn’s amazing solo effort last year, I bring you The Magic Whip- my favourite album of 2015 so far. 4.5 paws out of 5

Jeremy’s best albums of 2014 (so far)- countdown

5. Maxïmo Park- Too Much Information

Good old fashioned British indie rock and roll. My hoomin says he used to date a girl who lived in Brixton and loved Maxïmo Park. He dumped her because she smoked too much.

4 cigarette butts out of 5

4. Morrissey- World Peace Is None of Your Business

A very strong new album from Morrissey- great tunes, well produced, and he’s in fine voice too. Just when people thought his star was waning, he comes out punching. The boy’s done good.

Fact: he likes his tea very weak (click here).

4 quiffs out of 5

3. Wild Beasts- Present Tense

Beautiful melodies sang (mostly) in an almost ethereal falsetto voice. Deserves to sell by the bucketload (but probably won’t).

5 roars out of 5

2. Damon Albarn- Everyday Robots

If, like me, you thought Blur’s ballads were some of their best works (see here) then you will adore this album. Achingly beautiful.

5 Select Magazines out of 5

1. The War On Drugs- Lost In the Dream

Take 3 parts Springsteen and 2 parts Sonic Youth. Add a drizzle of electric-era Dylan and you have the best album of 2014 paws down. Download, delete and download again. Just amazing.

6 Born In the USAs out of 5