maniacal sound of this, his second solo record. The restless energy of Hill’s drumming, predictably, is the driving force, but the fearless invention stretches to the rest of the instrumentation, which Hill has twisted and reworked in the mix. Sometimes the results sound like R2D2 having a panic attack in an acid bath and sometimes it sounds like a mess, but it’s very rarely boring. (Sean Welsh)

ALT.COUNTRY THE DIRT Bury Me Tomorrow (Big Rock Candy) ●●●●●

achievement for a once sniggered about boy band. The timing is perfect and the emotion palpable as Robbie Williams shares lead vocals with his beloved Mark Owen and not so beloved Gary Barlow over ten tracks of solid, electronics-tinged man pop. Howard Donald and Jason Orange get a look in on occasion too, but really, this album is all about the return of Williams to the fold and the brand new sound that brings. (Camilla Pia) AVANT-POP SPECTOR- BULLETS Spectorbullets (Mayakovsky Produkts) ●●●●●

For those that like their alt.country sparse, dark and deadly, Glasgow’s The Dirt are just the tonic for those frozen nights when nothing but the bleakest music can warm the soul. Graeme Dirt channels Johnny Cash’s deathless growl through a rictus grin, relating tales of incest, skeletal churches and local serial killers while Jen Dirt’s sunny alto provides a lovely vocal counterpoint. The Dirt’s secret weapon, however, is the pitch- black wit that runs like a ghostly mare through their lyrics, making lighter moments such as ‘I Saw You’ all the more charming, and deepening the poignancy of the melancholy ‘Flowers’. (Sean Welsh) BOYBAND REUNION TAKE THAT Progress (Polydor) ●●●●●

The brainchild of New York-dwelling Swedish singer-songwriter Gustaf Heden and former Fire Engines/Win/Piefinger drummer/sonic magician Russell Burn, Spectorbullets’ mix of stripped-down anti-folk and strung-out, rock‘n’roll euphoria is on a restless mission to condense the spirit of Jonathan Richman into a loose-knit and gloriously messy street- smart confection of post-punk skiffle.

Such wide-eyed and snarly felicitations are poignantly offset by after-hours opener, ‘He Needs It’, a sad-eyed and unrequited piano- tinkling lament that features on vocals the final recording of Edinburgh’s recently lost genius poet Paul Reekie. For that alone this is an album to treasure. (Neil Cooper)

HIP HOP SERENGETI AND POLYPHONIC Bells and a Floating World (Anticon) ●●●●●

For all of their talk about floating worlds, there’s something sub-aquatic about rapper Serengeti and producer Polyphonic’s latest burbling hip hop missive. The Chicago art-rap duo’s six new laidback social expositions are

HIP HOP KANYE WEST My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Mercury) ●●●●●

In the two years since he recorded the singular 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West has opened a couple of Fatburger franchise restaurants, designed a line of shoes for Louis Vuitton, played himself as an obnoxious drunk in a Spike Jonze short film, ruined a millionaire milquetoast country singer’s big moment and earned himself the derision of the entire world and the ire of TWO Presidents of the United States. On the swing back from all the bad press and the megalomania, he’s

turned his own attempts at atonement into minor TV tantrums. He’s also recorded the best album about arrogance, self-hate and death since The Holy Bible. The best, that is, that can also comfortably host the lyric ‘I don’t need your pussy, bitch, I’m on my own dick’ (on ‘Power’). The self-styled ‘McDonalds of music’ side to Kanye has taken a back seat as he’s rediscovered his touch for employing less well- known samples and more interesting collaborators. The likes of Shirley Bassey, Daft Punk and Mr Hudson have been abandoned in favour of King Crimson, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver. However, those that found 808s . . . self-indulgent will be unimpressed with his decision to stretch the spine-tingling ‘Runaway’ to nine minutes, with a coda featuring his distorted vocals gradually emerging from a heavily autotuned murk. But this is Kanye’s show, and his sheer force of personality, warts and all, is ultimately this album’s greatest strength. When the dust he’s kicked up around himself has settled, Kanye is still just about justifying the hype. (Sean Welsh)

DRUMMER SOLO WORK ZACH HILL Face Tat (Sargent House) ●●●●●

GOTHIC DANCE VARIOUS ISVOLT: A Disaro Witch House compilation (Robot Elephant) ●●●●● If hypnagogic pop is like some half-remembered 80s fantasy, then witch- house is more of a half- repressed nightmare familiar, compelling and faintly horrific doused with drowsy disco beats.

Fusing and abusing elements of industrial, electronica, shoegaze and hip hop and burying vocals six-feet under the DIY witch- house (or ‘drag’) scene has thus far largely been confined to micro-runs on cassette, VHS and CDR, but this release serves to uncover its lo- tech charms. The acid-goth scythe- pop of Tense’s ‘Versus Man’, Horse MacGyver’s psychedelic reed mantra ‘Nod’ and sub-genre superstars White Ring’s fathomless bass hmyn ’IxC999’ are haunting introductions to this engrossing and often amusing coven. (Nicola Meighan)

By his own reckoning, Zach Hill has so far contributed to 100 albums during his short career, building a reputation as one of the best drummers on the planet. He’s worked with everyone from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez to Boredoms to Wavves; an impressive resumé that barely hints at the By the time you read this, the now fully reunited Take That’s sixth offering will have been bought by stratospheric amounts of people. Progress is one of the fastest selling records of the century so far a huge


Haight-Ashbury Here in the Golden Rays (Lime) ●●●●● Aptly named Glasgow trio, giving a nod to San Fran’s 60s counter-cultural hub. Phased guitars, CSN&Y echoes and trippy double-vocals; pack a bong and enjoy the psych-folk. The Savings and Loan Today I Need Light (Song, by Toad) ●●●●● Whisky- soaked, gravel- voiced country inflected songs in a plaintive vein, by duo Martin Donnelly and Andrew Bush. A fine way to spend a remorseful evening in Mr Jack Daniel’s company. Rosie Nimmo Home (Kick My Heels) ●●●●● There’s no denying Edinburgh-based Nimmo has a great voice (with a clear jazz/blues heritage), but the lyrics and imagery on this Marc ‘Hobotalk’ Pilley produced album are often cloyingly sentimental. Not Squares Yeah OK (Richter Collective) ●●●●● Difficult for this LP to match the blistering dancefloor inferno of this summer’s track ‘Release The Bees’, but the Belfast party band take a fantastic stab at it ‘Asylum’ is a stunner. Rumer Seasons of my Soul (Atlantic) ●●●●● Smooth-voiced, lounge jazz song- stress, calling to mind Carly Simon and Karen Carpenter’s style. Already bigged up by Jools Holland and Sir Elton John. Rumer plays Classic Grand, Glasgow, Wed 15 Dec. (Niki Boyle)

variously immersed in paranoid minimalist 2–16 Dec 2010 THE LIST 65