Johnny Black

Johnny Black  |  Dec 08, 2010  |  0 comments
This Portland, Oregon, trio have released three albums prior to Mines and, I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t heard any of them. That’s all going to change though, because this is a corker. At first listen, Mines might seem a bit angular and disjointed, so may I suggest that you start your listening experience with the most instantly mind-obliterating tour de force, ‘Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Big Boy’. With its triphammer percussion, melodramatic keyboard riff, mood switches and powerhouse vocal surges, it’s one of the album’s several stratospheric high points.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Fresh (well, relatively fresh) out of San Diego, California, comes the ace second album by this spirited, soulful Americana quintet who subtly combine elements of straightforward Jayhawksy country rock with hints of the experimental tendencies of Wilco. Known for their use of unconventional instrumentation, including trash-can lids, orchestral bass drums, drones and quirky choirs, Delta Spirit are blessed with a belter of a vocalist in former busker Matthew Vasquez, but the whole band is tight as all get out and the songs demand that you sing along after just a couple of listens. So that’s my in-car listening sorted until the last of the summer sun is gone. Sound Quality: 90% .
Johnny Black  |  Dec 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Few artefacts set off my poo detectors as fast as solo albums by drummers from famous bands. Happily, in the case of Radiohead’s Phil Selway, drums are not what Familial is about. Right from the fragile opener, ‘By Some Miracle’ – an acoustic number – it’s obvious Selway is a proper songwriter, every bit as interested in melody, texture and lyrics as he is in beats. Indeed, the album’s percussive pulse is very subtle indeed, being beautifully integrated and imaginative throughout the set.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 08, 2010  |  0 comments
This Brighton-based combo get points because on their website it says they ‘enjoy sitting on the beach, engaging in semi-meaningful relationships’. So should we all. This debut album was produced by Dave Eringa, famed for his work with everybody from the Manic St Preachers to Kylie. Good man that he is, he’s had the good sense to let these eccentric, quintessentially English songwriters breathe, so that their peculiar charms are presented in all their haphazard glory.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
The grizzled Stones’ axeman returns with his seventh solo album. Actually, the horribly messy cover, which he painted himself, says it all. The music is precisely the kind of sloppy, boozy gumbo that Stones’ fans have lapped up for decades, but with Ron’s croaky sub-Bob Dylan meets Dr John, via Randy Newman vocals floated over the top instead of Jagger’s. Ronnie has pulled in all his old mates, including Slash, Flea, Eddie Vedder, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Womack, Ian McLagan and more, in the hope that all that professionalism will transform a dozen predictable songs (sample lyric, ‘It’s drivin’ me mad, I need you so bad…’) into rock genius.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
Amiina was formerly an all-woman Icelandic string quartet working with minimalist popsters Sigur Ros. Now, with the addition of a couple of blokes, they’ve become a sextet and this is their second rather exquisite album. Nothing here will slap you in the face and demand that you listen to it. Instead, Amiina offer the most delicate and fragile of little melodies, hypnotically repeated, ebbing and flowing, occasionally augmented with gentle vocals.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
Infinite Music is 2010’s most effervescently upbeat album by miles. This ultra-smart Brooklyn-based duo, Robert and David Perlick-Molinari, are good mates with MGMT but their music is streets ahead. In some ways, they’re the band that Vince of The Mighty Boosh probably dreams of forming, rich in layers of irony and cynicism, but at the same time impossibly danceable, and overflowing with singalong vocal hooks. ‘Broken Heart’ should be a gigantic hit just for its 150% feelgood factor; ‘New Florida’ is the greatest Yellow Magic Orchestra track that YMO never made; and ‘This Moment’ is Kool And The Gang impossibly pumped up by Giorgio Moroder.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
Sharon plays her folksy fiddle very nicely, and delivers deliciously silky harmonies with her family business. Unfortunately, left to her own devices for her first solo album, she has delivered a handful of gems wrapped in acres of pastel-coloured tissue to fill the empty space. There are three pleasant enough swoony Celtic instrumentals, and at the end of the disc three fairly memorable songs that feel like a consolation prize for having waded through all the foregoing mediocrity. The powerful closer, ‘Love Me Better’, has a touch of gutsiness that suggests a direction she could usefully pursue if she has any ambitions beyond lulling her listeners to sleep.

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