Music Record Reviews
FOLK TMSA YOUNG TRAD TOUR 2009 (TMSA) ●●●●● The bands assembled annually by the Traditional Music and Song Association for the Young Trad Tour draw their personnel from the finalists in the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year award, fought out each January at Celtic
Connections in Glasgow. This year’s line-up features both the winner of the 2009 title, fiddler Ruairidh MacMillan from Nairn, and his counterpart from 2008,
SINGLES & DOWNLOADS Shona Foster
Anticipating the arrival of a new White Stripes or Strokes release? Well, you’ll just have to make do with a couple of self-indulgent solo- projects via respective indie-rawk frontmen Jack and Julian. While the former cult icon and his Dead Weather supergroup deliver a cod- reggae-like second single, ‘I Cut Like a Buffalo’ (Columbia) ●●●●● from the album Horehound, Julian Casablancas goes for a New Order/glam disco trip on his ‘11th Dimension’ (Rough Trade) ●●●●●. Talking of retro-rawk comebacks, say hello to Weezer and Skunk Anansie – the latter for ballad ‘Squander’ (One Little Indian) ●●●●●, the former’s wispy ‘Just Like Buddy Holly’ approach on ‘I Want You To’ (Interscope) ●●●●●, thoroughly nauseating. Ditto Duff McKagan’s Loaded for yet another post- GNR try-out, this time by way of simpleton- rock double-B-side ‘Sleaze Factory’/‘IOU’ (Century Media) ●●●●●. More ‘Monsters of Rock’ come thick and fast this week. Bypassing Serotonin’s ‘Siempre Y Para Siempre’ and Castrovala’s ‘ThugLife’, both ●●●●●, the best are: Nickelback/Whitesnake-esque Shinedown on ‘If You Only Knew’ (Atlantic) ●●●●●, Soundgarden/Fugazi clones The Chemists on the ‘Milk and Honey’ EP (Distiller) ●●●●●, or Sound of Guns’ U2-like ‘Elementary Of Youth’ EP (Distiller) ●●●●●.
With some reservations, Single of the fortnight awards go to Edinburgh’s indie- folksters Broken Records and their Out on the Water five-track EP reissue (4AD) ●●●●● and Shona Foster’s Hard Work EP (BeachHut) ●●●●●, which ambitiously, but successfully, fuses Tori Amos with Kate Bush.
Pussy-pants Dolls Candyrock, X-Factor runners-up JLS, indie also-rans Marina & the Diamonds and the just plain dreadful Daniel Merriweather don’t deserve a mention . . . damn it, I just did! But if it’s classy pop you’re after, go buy ‘People’ (Lo-Five) ●●●●● by unsung heroes Trashcan Sinatras – miles above the overrated fellow Scot Paolo Nutini, and his sub-Jungle Book swing dirge ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ (Atlantic) ●●●●●. (Martin C Strong)
66 THE LIST 22 Oct–5 Nov 2009
guitarist and singer Ewan Robertson from Carrbridge. The line-up is
completed by the rest of the 2009 finalists (all male, unusually) – Lorne MacDougall (Argyll, pipes), Adam Holmes (Edinburgh, guitar and song), Kenneth Nicolson (Lewis, Gaelic song), Jack Smedley (Buckie, fiddle) and Daniel Thorpe (Inverness, fiddle). They cover a broad range of both traditional and contemporary tunes and songs, but the instrumentals come over as more convincing than the songs at this stage of their development. (Kenny Mathieson)
INDIE SERGEANT Sergeant (Shy Recordings) ●●●●●
Time was, a few words of praise from Alan McGee were enough to see a jangling indie band on their way to a batch of hits and national touring at a decent level for the next decade. Now all it really guarantees is that they, like he, listened to a lot of Oasis in their younger days.
That’s the impression you get with Glenrothes’ Sergeant, although The La’s seem to be their strongest influence, particularly in the way singer Nick Mercer’s loose, vowel-heavy vocals echo those of Lee Mavers on early singles ‘Sunshine’ and ‘K-Ok’. Shades of Cast (obviously), The Charlatans and Dundonian contemporaries The View also abound on an album that is breezy but somehow time-locked. (David Pollock)
WORLD RUPA AND THE APRIL FISHERS Este Mundo (This World) (Cubancha) ●●●●●
With their second album, Rupa and the April Fishers establish themselves at the cutting edge of world music.
Their unusual name, top- quality musicianship and linguistic versatility, fused by the eclectic ideas of a second generation brought up on world music, see them creatively pastiche a host of styles.
In the weave and weft of this attractive album dedicated to the plight of all those forced to migrate for work, oldies might hear a clever cocktail that references the voice of Lhasa de Sela, French musette, mariachi, klezmer, jackdaw attitudes forged by Manu Chao, Los de Abajo, Amparanoia and much more. An ingenious mix. (Jan Fairley)
JAZZ MIKE STERN Big Neighborhood (Heads Up Records) ●●●●●
Guitarist Mike Stern sees the big neighbourhood analogy as central to his musical philosophy as well as a way of encompassing the diverse line-ups and musical styles on this latest album. Recorded in New York, Los Angeles and Texas (and that is a very big neighbourhood), the music stretches from the opening gladiatorial rock- out with Steve Vai to bassist Esperanza Spalding’s soft-focus wordless vocals, and many points between.
Bassist Richard Bona also provides his own take on wordless vocalising as well as his usual African feel, while Medeski, Martin and Wood give a funky edge to the two tunes they appear on. Steve Vai turns up again, as does guitarist Eric Johnson, while saxophonist Bob Malach and trumpeter Randy Brecker also
feature. Stern’s own guitar work and some great rhythm sections help to hold it all together as a functioning concept. (Kenny Mathieson) WORLD BASSEKOU KOUYATE & NGONI BA I Speak Fula (Out Here) ●●●●●
some killer guitar hooks; ‘Stand’ revels in its cheesy rock glory and ‘I’m an Animal’ has a certain swagger. They never truly capture the majesty of classics like ‘Deuce’ or ‘Love Gun’ but they could easily slot in alongside them. (Henry Northmore) JAZZ JOHN ABERCROMBIE Wait Till You See Her (ECM Records) ●●●●●
Following on from Segu Blue, his award-winning debut album, Kouyate offers us a denser sound with his wife Amy Sacko’s glorious voice well to the fore. Championing the language of his own Malian ethnic group, he charges the sound with the energy of live performance and shows just why his band is among the most celebrated in world music circles at the moment. Guest appearances from the likes of vocalist Kasse Mady Diabate and young electric bluesman Vieux Farka Toure and terrific, crisp production courtesy of Lucy Durán only add to the quality on show here. (Jan Fairley) ROCK KISS Sonic Boom (Roadrunner) ●●●●●
It’s been 11 long years since Kiss’s last studio album. While they are rock gods across the globe only ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ really broke in the UK, which is a crying shame as they are one of the most electrifying bands the world has ever seen. A concept beyond the mere mortals that make up the band in make-up, here Kiss go for full-on 70s glam stompers – no pretensions, just rrrrrrrock. ‘Russian Roulette’ in particular powers through with
Guitarist John Abercrombie continues to refine the chamber jazz approach he has developed in this excellent quartet in recent years, although bassist Thomas Morgan takes over from Marc Johnson on this occasion, alongside regulars Mark Feldman on violin and Joey Baron on drums. The title track by Rodgers and Hart is the only one of the eight tunes not written by Abercrombie, and even it receives a singular interpretation. Some of the guitarist’s melodies feel almost like standard tunes, while others are more abstract. The players work in a distinctly conversational mode of intricate interplay, drawing not only on a characteristically ECM- like chamber jazz feel, but also on a shifting matrix of free improvisational techniques, post-bop structures and a kind of free swing approach, and often employ a combination of all of these in any given tune. (Kenny Mathieson)
ELECTRONICA HUDSON MOHAWKE Butter (Warp) ●●●●●
In some strange alternate universe, young Glasgow producer Ross Birchard (aka Hudson Mohawke) is as famous and respected as Timbaland, The Neptunes or Diplo. His productions, a fierce amalgam of R&B, wonky rave and smooth 80s