It has been 11 years since the last album by The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and a lot has changed since then. Thankfully TGTB&TQ have not, and are as on the ball as they were back in 2007.
Title track and opener ‘Merrie Land’ sets a haunting scene of a picturesque but broken Britain that is worth fighting for while at the same time asking if it’s worth the bother, with Albarn sounding already defeated. ‘Gun To The Head’ is an album highlight for me, sounding like Parklife-era Blur mixed with Madness with its chanty chorus and oompa beat, but the melancholy undertone is still present despite the upbeat brass.
‘The Last Man To Leave’ is one of the most inventive, intense and simply brilliant tracks on the album, and that Damon has ever done; Damon’s vocals sounding like a crazed preacher shouting about not wanting to leave and ‘liking the bed we’ve made to lie in’ while still carrying real, heartbreaking emotion.
The whole album plays out like a sad but hopeful love letter to the UK. The lyrics to ‘Nineteen Seventeen’ perhaps most directly hint at Brexit woes; ‘I see myself moving backwards in time today from a place we can’t remain … My heart is heavy because it looks just like my home.’ with other tracks referring to lines on maps and Windrush.
While this may seem a bit too in your face and preachy when written down, rest assured the whole project has that beautiful sad echo throughout it that only Damon at his best can bring, with his truly great songwriting helped come to life even further by the stellar line-up of Paul Simonon on Bass, Tony Allen on Drums and Simon Tong on guitar.
A few songs do sound very similar to each other and a bit one-note, with ‘The Great Fire’ being a bit of a low point for me, but these tracks are in the minority and the album still flows fairly well.
The themes in this album will hit home for those in the UK at the moment, but the messages of drifting apart and regret leave a lot to the imagination, and the meticulously crafted songs can be enjoyed by anyone. This is the perfect album for 2018.
KCTMO is the debut single from new London band Pozi, written during the aftermath of the Grenfell tower fire.
The track itself is a brutally honest, open-hearted encounter of what it was like to be near Grenfell at the time, and the anger Vocalist & Drummer Toby Burroughs felt; with lyrics like ‘Deadly damages are due’ Pozi aren’t holding back. Good.
Sonically, the track comes in somewhere halfway between the Maccabees and The Streets. ‘KCTMO’ has an irresistible bassline and a pounding drumbeat that really grab your attention, and the haunting violin that creeps in throughout keeps you hooked.
Very promising stuff for a debut single.
Pozi have 2 upcoming London shows:
31 Oct – London, The Curtain Hotel (PRAH Halloween Party)
27 Nov – London, Moth Club
The Nottingham three piece’s second effort sees them grow in confidence and scale, with ‘Strange Entertainment’ being a confident, varied album. Every track on the album is different in pace and tone, but it still flows really well and feels like one coherent piece.
Opener and album highlight ‘Egg Hunt’ starts off with just vocals and bass before developing into a really groovy track with a great, catchy jangly riff that hasnt left my head in a few days.
‘It’s Not My Day’ is another fave off the album it being one of the heavier moments on Strange Entertainment, with very strong vocals from Lucy over a slow but punky backing, with brilliant creative drum patterns on this track.
Monsieur Automaton is another great track, and another change of pace with this being perhaps the fastest track on the album, and I love the harmonised vocals on the verses a lot here. Closer ‘Strange Was the Time’ is another growing, progressive track that shows off just how good the trio are musically.
With great production, variety and just banging songs throughout this is exactly the album Kagoule needed to make, and they pulled it off.
Kagoule have some upcoming UK tour dates:
Oct 31st – Leeds – Wharf Chambers
Nov 01st – Manchester – The Eagle Inn
Nov 02nd – Liverpool – EBGB’s
Nov 03rd – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
Nov 07th – Margate – Tom Thumb Theatre
Nov 08th – Brighton – Prince Albert
Nov 09th – Portsmouth – The Loft
Nov 10th – Southampton – Heartbreakers
Nov 11th – Bristol – Rough Trade
Nov 19th – London – Moth Club
Self Esteem- Rollout: The strongest track from Rebecca LT so far in my opinion. A great hypnotic melody with great harmonies over a great, funky percussion track. Very promising for a debut full length. 90%
Ian Brown – First World Problems:It’s good to have the monkey man back, with a new solo album coming next year. This new track is a groovy number, and Ian’s voice sounds on top form. Very exciting. 84%
Razorlight – Carry Yourself:A fairly pleasant, non threatening indie tune from Razorlight here, its not bad at all but it would fit in perfectly in a sofa sale advert or the opening of a cookery show. 70%
Lauren Jauregui – Expectations: A smooth, soulful slow jam from Lauren J here that really showcases her strong vocals; showing real emotion and passion while maintaining good control. Gooood. 80%
Cardi B – Money:Not a fan of this one at all. Usually Cardi has some funny bars that show she is still down to earth but this just seems like a big brag-fest. 20%
Peter Raeburn – Note To Self: A lovely, thoughtful collection of songs from Peter here. Sounding somewhere inbetween Fleet Foxes and I am Kloot, ‘Note To Self’ has great, stripped back production. ‘Never Gone’ is an album highlight for me, with haunting harmonies throughout. 80%
Time ‘n’ Place is the second studio album from experimental British 3 piece Kero Kero Bonito, who on their debut EP ‘Intro Bonito’ and subsequent first album proved themselves to be one of the most exciting, inventive new groups around. Drawing from a wide range of influences, ‘Bonito Generation’ was a bright, colourful record.
Based on the opening track ‘Outside’, it is clear that KKB have not just made a ‘Bonito Generation 2’, with it being more guitar based and instantly heavier than most things on their debut. Don’t worry, the band’s charm is still here in abundance on Time ‘n’ Place, with KKB developing their sound while not losing any of what made them great the first time around.
‘Time Today’ is an early album highlight, with Sarah happily singing about how she has a day to herself. The album continues very strongly into ‘Only Acting’ which details how Sarah feels while performing live over a nice pop-punky backing, that brilliantly self destructs towards the end.
The whole album is just as strong, most songs telling specific, on the nose stories over innovative beats and utilising Sarah’s unique vocal style perfectly, with ‘Dump’ being a nice little story about a rubbish dump, and ‘Dear Future Self’ being a letter to future self.
Closing track ‘Rest Stop’ begins sounding like the end credit music to an old Sega game like Nights or Alex Kidd before exploding into what is essentially a few minutes of noise music with Sarah faintly singing in the background before fading out to just Sarah. Odd, but it works. Good.
Another project from the man who never stops making music, Damon Albarn, is on the Horizon, with the second The Good, The Bad & The Queen releasing in November. ‘Merrie Land’ is the title track, and the first new music from the group since 2007.
Sounding halfway between early Blur and The Magic Whip, this first glimpse of the album is a very promising one. Melancholy lyrics about the state of post-brexit UK set to a carnival-esque instrumental. No idea how he had the time to make something this good whilst being on tour non-stop for the past few years.
The Good, The Bad & The Queen have been gone a long while, but they came back at the right time.
Ash played at the Sheffield Leadmill on Tuesday 16th October, with support from Death by Unga Bunga.
Death by Unga Bunga were one of the most entertaining opening acts I had seen in a while, with non-stop energy throughout their set, while still performing great musically. Check them out if you can.
Northern Irish rock trio Ash performed a lengthy set, but at no point did they show any signs of drifting off, with even their new album tracks pleasing the crowd.
The earliest highlight for me came in the form of a blistering rendition of ‘Kung-Fu’, and the whole set was filled with hits, reminding me just how many they’ve had over the years, with the likes of ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Angel Interceptor’ all coming thick and fast in the first half of the set.
This tour is in support of their latest album, ‘Islands’, and while they did play a fair number of new tracks (6), they slotted in perfectly with their greatest hits and fan favourites, especially ‘Confessions In The Pool’ and ‘Did Your Love Burn Out’.
Ash put on a memorable performance, and the quality of the whole set is a real testament to just how good they still are. They seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage too, which is the most important thing.