His latest release. Rejoicing in the Hands. is yet another magnificent collection of tracks that will have you questioning whether the character behind its stark sound is human or some kind of gifted otherworldly being. Acoustic guitars are beautifully finger-picked and Banhart's highly wired. androgynous vocals quiver with emotion. and sound like no other on earth. These are simply some of the most exquisite compositions ever put to record. (Camilla Pia)
COUNTRY LORETTA LYNN Van Lear Rose (lnterscope) oooo
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Enticed out of retirement by Jack White and a trail of plaudits and complements. Loretta Lynn may be pushing 70 but she proves there's life in the old coal miners daughter yet. White produced and arranged the music here and his take on the c0untry tradition is (perhaps unsurprisinglyl rougher, rockier and more live sounding than
You are the Quarry (Attack) .00.
lnevitably, whatever this album is like, it’s good to have him back and seven years in the California hills can do wonders for a man, it would seem. Since we last saw Morrissey’s chiselled mug glaring out from the sleeve of Malajusted - his malnourished 1997 offspring which trembled in the wake of a critical mauling and headed off, tail between legs, to bed with 3
Lynn has been used to. It might not bring the subtleties out in Lynn's ageing vocal chords but it does — like Rick Rubin's recording with Johnny Cash — uncover a new untapped vein of music from hugely talented singer and stOryteller.
MARTIN SPEAKE AND ETHAN IVERSON
(Basho ) 000
The stereotypes suggest that the cool English saxophonist often compared to Lee Konitz and the frenzied American pianist from the Bad Plus are not immediately obVious duo partners. and all the less so when the programme is made up entirely of familiar jazz standards. The pair make a virtue of their differences and match up the already congruent facets of their music-making in fine style. however. and their interpretations of hoary staples like 'What is This Thing Called Love’?‘. 'Loverman'. ‘Stardust' and ‘You Must Believe in
temperature - he has been getting quietly sued by former band members, having tea with Nancy Sinatra and . . . well, being Morrissey. It is problematic sometimes to cleave Morrissey the man and Morrissey the music away long enough to rate the actual songs. But on repeated listens it’s evident that there are some truly great songs here. “The World is Full of Crashing Bores’ and ‘How Can Anyone Possibly Know What I Mean’ have the same exasperation/ desperation that permeated the Smiths’ final album Strangeways, Here We Come. Other highlights occur when the melodrama comes to the fore, in particular on ‘I Have Forgiven Jesus’ and ‘You Know I Couldn’t Last’. Jerry Finn’s live, lively production is crisp, but, as is a common fault in much of Morrissey’s solo work, too many songs rely solely on lyrical rather than musical oomph to drive them. Only the Idlewild-esque guitar sweeps on lead single ‘lrish Blood, English Heart’ sound like a band with some dynamic room for manoeuvre. Lyrically, he gives his adopted homeland a thorough pasting before speeding through Latino gang wars, and ‘silly women and taxmen’ and proves as dissatisfied with the world as any fortysomething
millionaire could be.
Spring' achieve a nice balance between respecting the tune and adding their own distinctive stamp. although Bad Plus fans Will be pleased to know that Ethan does cut loose in deconstructive fashion on ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes'.
MODEY LEMON Thunder + Lightning (Mute) OO
As good an incentive to bring back National SerVIce as any. this second proper long player from the Pittsburgh garage rockers is the unmistakeable sound of a misspent youth listening to Iron Maiden. Suicide and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Steeped in the theatrics of rock mythology and Apocalypse Now. then. we have a production line of tracks ranging from ‘Predator' to ‘Enemy' to ‘Poisonous Ink Cletids'. A little comic relief comes in the form of ‘Tongues
(Everyone's Got Onei'. by which point it's difficult to raise much enthusmsm for what's all in all a <lisappointingly unfrightening record. (Emma NCV‘JléllldSl
MCKENZIE MEDBOE DUO Charm
lwww. i i ickei iziei i ie( it xx:- duo.co.uki COO
Saxophonist Susan McKenzie and gtiitarist Haftor Medboe have been gigging successfully on the Scottish scene for a wee while now. and this self produced debut album is a good reflection of their work.
The pair have recruited some additional assistance in the shape of trombonist Chris Greive. percussionist Signy Jakobsdotlir and programmer Fred Parsons in creating their vivid musical soundscapes. all composed by llaftor with the single exception of a slightly sinister arrangement of a N()l"~.".’(}§]l£tll lullaby the spacious feel and airy textures of cuts like 'Float'. ‘Murmui‘ation'. 'Aerialist' and ‘Swoop' lWlill opening chorus of crowsi are balanced by a darker mood on ‘Murder' and the lullaby. ‘Vuggetrail'.
Petulant, forlorn and contrary as ever. Just how we like him. (Mark Robertson)
I cried the day Take That split up. and sobbed just as heartily a few months ago on hearing that Mark Owen was resurrecting his hopeless solo career, but for entirely different reasons. you understand. But ‘Makin' Out' (Sedna) 0.0 is far from the monstrosity I expected it to be and instead makes for rather lovely. piano-tinged guitar pop. This single may be off the back of a reality TV show but the boy's nowhere near as hideOLis as Peter Andre. Unlike V's ‘Blood Sweat And Tears' (Universal) which is saccharine boy band fodder brought to you by the team behind Busted arid McFly. the insipid trance of ‘Heaven & Earth' iZombaji by Pop! who are a Steps esque creation wrth thOusarid yard stares and no souls. and O- Zone's ‘Ma»a-hii' (Jive) which is hilariously horrendOLis Europop from Moldovia. and a masterpiece for the type of mind that has been melted in Ibiza.
Time to sort out these bland no—brainers I reckon. so why not enlist the talents of Kelis' ‘Trick Me‘ (Virgin) 0000 and Pink's ‘Last To Know' (Arista) 0000 : two lasses with attitude and dirtied up infectious tunes that Will give the charts a good seeing to. We‘d better not introduce them to the delicately mOurnfuI Scottish indie of Ballboy. however. whose 'Past Lovers' (SL) 0000 has cleariy had its heart broken too many times before. Don't fancy Thirteen Senses‘ chances much either. The Cornwall lOLlF-DIGCOS “Do No Wrong ijMerCuiy) .00. is beautifully soaring indie with its head in the clouds.
The madcap. deranged funk of Sound Development Agency's ‘l'll Give You SDA' (Sound Development Agency) 0000 would bring them back to earth With a bump, as virould Figure 5's rOugh‘n‘ready and hopelessly catchy guitar romp 'Topper' (Sunstone) 0000 and Katy Bar the Doors ‘Whatever Happened to Scarecrow' (Deadweight Records) .000 . a boisterous. frenzied rock attack which does the Dundonian four-piece proud.
From music for the moshpit to 80t.in(‘lscap<—3s created for the mind as the two Fife-based graphic deSigners who make up Humdrum dish 0th the ‘Outlook' EP (Seminal Emissions)
COO. : a dark and haunting slab of electronrca which sweeps into your SOUI. It almost makes Single of the Fortnight. as does Texan trio Secret Machines' 'Sad And Lonely' (Reprise) 0.00 which iriagnificmitly cembines bluesy guitars with dirty grooves and a huge chorus. but it's the unpronOunceable ll! who ultimately steal the show. 'Pardon My Freedom' (Warp) “out is a tense and truly evrl sounding slice of edgy punk funk littered with scratchy guitars and throbbing beats. dark and rhythmic enough to slice through the Optimullets of the ultra hip who will no dOubt claim it as their own soon enough. Make Sure you get there first. iCaiiiilla Pia)
3.1;. -'- THE LIST 101