Rock, June 2022

hfnalbum.pngFontaines DC
Skinty Fia
Partisan PTKF3016-2; LP: PTKF3016-1

The Dublin band's third album looks at Irish identity from different angles, starting with 'Ár Groithe Do Deo' – that's 'In our hearts forever' in the Irish language – a brooding incantation with sombre vocal chorales. Singer Grian Chatten's raw poetry is forefronted on the title track as he surveys a doomed relationship, and on the haunting 'Bloomsday', with its references to James Joyce's Dublin. His hard-edged vocals create excitement, although they can be testing, but on 'Nabokov' they are set in a vortex of distorted guitars albeit sweetened by female backing singers. The single 'Jackie Down The Line' is a more melodic take on the group's propulsive rock, with guitars giving background colour. MB


Andy Bell
Sonic Cathedral SCR200CD; LP: SCR200LP

Andy Bell has played bass in Oasis and Beady Eye, but looks back here to his music in Hurricane #1 and the neo-psychedelic shoegazing '90s band Ride, if without that group's youthful chaos. The cover shot is, aptly, a blurred photo of the young Bell and the album opens with the impressionistic vocal collage of 'The Sky Without You', which segues into the Beatlesy 'It Gets Easier'. The songs drift along dreamily, but there's a sense of urgency on 'No Getting Out Alive', with its fuzz guitars and big synths. Flicker feels like Bell taking stock and resolving his relationship with his past, but its synthesis of old and new is worth exploring further. MB


Judy Collins
Cleopatra CLO2961CD; LP: CLO2961LP

It's said that things come at their appointed time and 60 years into her career, this is the first album for which Collins has written all the songs herself. On these largely autobiographical vignettes, she taps back into the energy of youth, her voice effortlessly soaring through its upper register, detailing a love of nature ('Grand Canyon'), the irresistible power of love ('Shipwrecked Mariner'), social activism ('Thomas Merton'), and a pinch of '60s hedonism. The songs have a folky feel with a tang of country, and the production is sonically inventive with watercoloured synths, rippling piano and pedal steel moving through a spacious soundfield. MB


The Harvest
New Heavy Sounds NHSCD033; LP: NHSLP033X

MWWB were formerly known as Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, but musically speaking, nothing has been spared to protect the innocent. The Wrexham quartet purvey 'cosmic doom', which translates as Brontosaurian riffs straight out of early Black Sabbath, played at length and garnished with atmospheric synths and vocalist Jessica Ball's emotive, multi-tracked vocals. The Harvest is texturally rich with the 9m 'Strontium', in particular, rising like monumental architecture out of a vast landscape. And for dynamic contrast we have the brief but ominous, keyboard-led instrumental 'Interstellar Wrecking' and the lovely sparse closing song, 'Moon Rise'. MB