Texas return to the fray with “Hi” the follow up to 2017’s highly acclaimed “Jump On Board” and with a renewed statement of intent. Sharleen Spiteri has lost none of her soulful bluesy voice and while the days of “Southside” are long gone “Hi” finds the band making well crafted adult pop as evident in the collaboration with Richard Hawley in “Dark Fire”. Clare Grogan makes a welcome guest appearance on the spirited “Look What You’ve Done” and the Wu-Tang Clan add a ferocity to the title track. But it is the massive ballad “Unbelievable” that proves Texas have still got what it takes.
Staying with all things Scottish Justin Currie and the Del Amitri boys are back after 18 years with “Fatal Mistakes”. If you are expecting the bar-room songs of old then you are in for a disappointment. As Mr Currie sings on the opening track “You Can’t Go Back” well “you can’t go back” and they don’t and it’s a good thing. Repeated listens will bear fruit from the Crosby, Stills and Nash influenced “Lonely” to the breezy folk-rocker “It’s Feelings” with a nod to “Hatful of Rain” this is a band, like Texas, who still have something to say. The blistering “I’m So Scared Of Dying” with Ian Harvie’s Neil Young inspired lead guitar is the perfect backdrop to Currie’s mid-life anxieties lyrics. The albums 7 minute closer “Nation of Caners” is quite simply a caustic state of the nation address that frankly says it all.
It’s a week for comebacks as Crowded house join Texas and Del Amitri with their first release in more than a decade. Unfortunately it has not been wort the wait. There is nothing fundamentally wrong as they offer up well crafted polite soft rock with this album. Neil Finn’s time with Fleetwood Mac has not helped to motivate him to write classics’s of old. This is tame stuff devoid of any spark. Even the most ardent of fans would struggle with this as one indistinguishable song follows another. Only “Love Isn’t Hard” and “Real Life Woman” hint at former glories but this “unlucky 7th” album should have stayed in the studio. If you haven’t already go buy the Greatest Hits album to remind yourself how good they once were.
Released on the 11th of June “Back The Way We Came” is a “Best Of” Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds that proves, if proof were needed, that over the years he has developed into one of Britain’s finest artists. Stretching back from 2011 to 2021, over the course of 30 songs, it’s easy to see the huge appeal he has. Often, unfairly pilloried for the simplicity of his songwriting, he shows that with the right chord structure, simple is good. Take your pick from “If I Had A Gun”, “AKA..What A Life” or “Lock All The Doors” for proof. On “Riverman” he strays into Paul Weller territory and on the inevitable “extra” tracks he is happy to allow “Black Star Dancing” to become a dance club classic. New song “We’re On The Way Now” would not have been out of place on any Oasis album and will become a crowd sing-along guaranteed. A must purchase.
The “Mod-father” returns with his sixteenth album (yes he really has been around for that long) and follow up to the much acclaimed “On Sunset”. Put together mainly through lockdown “Fat Pop” finds Weller reining in some of his more experimental sounds in exchange for a more user friendly approach. It sadly doesn’t really work as is evident on the albums question and answer style lyrics, on the albums title track. It recalls, weirdly, Sammy Davis Jr’s “The Candy Man” if that song was done in some kind of spacey dub trance way. Elsewhere “Cobweb/Connections” and “Shades Of Blue” are perfectly decent songs and “True” is straight forward route one power-pop but all sadly unspectacular. Whilst he seems incapable of releasing a bad album this is not one of his best.
Seriously?? I mean..Seriously?? Words fail me…If you read the last edition of The Music Box there was a review for “Now ..whatever the number is”…Feel free to reference it for this complete and utter drivel…well apart from “Waterloo” by Abba…we quite like that in the Music Box office.
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man or to give him his birth name, Rory Graham, releases his second album “Life By Misadventure”. Written and recorded in Nashville over the Spring and Summer of 2020, teaming up with hit Nashville songwriters Mike Reid, Allen Shamblin and The Highwomen’s Natalie Hemby, the 13 songs that make up the album show a far more adventurous Rag ‘n’ Bone Man than what appeared on his 2017 debut “Human”. Adding elements of funk, new wave, folk and jazz to his blues and soul repertoire, has allowed him more freedom without losing that distinctive sound. Opener “Fireflies”, a song written for his son, could well be this albums “Human” and on “Crossfire” which would not be out of place on a “Killers” album, will surely become a set closer. But it’s on the power ballad “Anywhere Away From Here” where he is joined by Pink that the albums highlight is to be found. This is an assured second album from an artist who can hopefully buck the trend of a three year life span in the spotlight and go on to a long and successful career.
The tragic story of Amy Winhouse’s demise is well documented and listening to this album only reinforces that loss. Blessed with a voice that was equally at home with jazz, blues and rock, she covers all three over the course of the albums 38 songs. All the big hits are here “Rehab”, “Valerie” and “Back to Black” all recorded live at various locations from Jools Holland to T in the Park, but it is in some of the lesser songs that she really shines. Joined by Paul Weller on a stunning version of “I heard It Through The Grapevine” or even better from a BBC Radio Session recorded in 2006 she performs vocal gymnastics on “To Know Him Is To Love Him”. She proves, if proof was needed, what a huge talent she was. This is a must for any record collection.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Wee Donkey do they never stop? Now 108!! Who is buying this? Never mind trying to find “H” (or the 4th man if you prefer) find these people and make them stop. There are 46 tracks on this one. You need tracks 2, 19 and 21 and even they are optional…the end.
11 Past The Hour is the welcome return of Irish singer Imelda May. Gone are the rockabilly good time songs the folky Irish ballads and bad cover choices. In their place we have rock, power ballads and guest artists Ronnie Wood and Noel Gallagher and she is all the better for it. Opening track “Breathe” wrong foots you into thinking Emily Sande has also rocked up but all is well with the Ronnie Wood lead track “Made To Love” that follows it. Elsewhere “Don’t Let Me stand On My Own” is nearly one of these folky Irish ballad things as she is joined by Naill Mcnamee “ but is saved by the duo’s close harmonies. The albums best track however falls to Noel Gallagher who joins May on “Just One Kiss”. With it’s Oasis swagger and and that trademark Gallagher guitar it will undoubtedly become a crowd pleaser.
That “difficult” second album doesn’t seem to have bothered Greta Van Fleet as the guys return to the fray with “The Battle At Gardens Gate”. As they continue to bow at the alter of classic rock the thinking is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Stomping anthems “My Way Soon” and “Age Of The Machine” and the pompous power ballad “Tears of Rain” are what we have come to expect from rocks latest big thing. But as is often the case they safe the best to last . The nine minute album closer “The Weight Of Dreams” not only showcases vocalist Josh Kiszka gravelly helium fuelled tenor but sees the band ascend to the pearly gates as they proudly worship the mighty Led Zep. What’s not to like.
Strathaven Academy Student Katya Neves Reviews Taylor Swifts latest album
Many of you might be aware that Taylor Swift recently gained the rights to re-record all of her older albums up to and including her 6th studio album ‘Reputation’ featuring the hits ‘Look What You Made Me Do’, ‘Ready For It?’ and more. Swift’s 2008 album ‘Fearless’ is the first to be released in series and the album which went on to win Album Of The Year at the 2010 Grammy Awards. The reimagined ‘Fearless’ (Taylor’s Version) was released on the 9th of April and the album contains 26 songs in total 20 of which were on the original release. Fans were blessed with a teaser of how the album would sound when Taylor released her version of ‘Love Story’ earlier this year in February, then again in March we got a sneak-peek at the never-heard-before songs ‘You All Over Me’ and ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ which are two of the 6 songs on the album that were not released in the original version. Through this album it is noticeably clear to hear how Taylor’s voice has matured since 2008 and on many of the songs you can clearly hear how strong it has developed over the years. From the new songs on the album I would say that ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ is by far the strongest. As always Swift’s lyrics are really easy to connect with and coupled with the songs strong melody it’s up there with her best work. According to the Official Charts twitter page ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version) “debuts at number 1 on the UK’s Official Albums Chart, beating a long-held record by The Beatles” which I think we can all agree is very impressive. Overall, the album highlights Swift’s astonishing song writing abilities with her lyrics and music and showcases her mix of emotional and slightly sad songs as well as the up-beat happy songs. As a fan of Taylor Swift, I have obviously added this album to my playlists, and I would recommend that you give it a listen and add it to your playlists too.
Whitburn’s finest The Snuts release their debut album W.L. (for Whitburn Loopy just in case you are wondering) and any early comparisons to Oasis or the Artic Monkeys are quickly dispelled. They could have taken the easy route and just recorded their live set but there is much more to this band than that. Recorded in LA, New York, London and Glasgow and working with producers Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air), Richard Costley (Biffy Clyro, Muse) and Inflo they pushed the band to deliver an album with more breath and ambition. Breakthrough single “Glasgow” and set closer “Sing For Your Supper” are immediate stand outs but the gentle opener “Top Deck” and “Juan Belmonte” show a maturity of songwriting that has developed over the last few years. This is a band who will, rightly, follow Biffy Clyro to international stardom.
Half Drunk Under A Full Moon yes we have all been there (and probably singing “Chelsea Dagger” at full out of tune blast) and I’m sure The Fratellis are no different. The follow up to 2018’s In Your Own Time finds the band once again in excellent form. “Need A Little Love” is a happy summer song, the Americana themed “Lay Your Body Down” and the power ballad “Stranger In The Street” once again highlights the diversity within The Fratellis sound. Album closer “Hello Stranger” with 60’s harmonies reminiscent of The Byrds is by far the albums stand out track. Scottish music is once again going through a purple patch and The Fratellis are rightly at the forefront.
Evanescene return with their first album of new music in nine years and it has been worth the wait. Amy Lee and co have always been able to walk that fine line between over the top “goth” metal and rock as is evident in “Yeah Right” and the power ballad “Wasted On You”. The remaining ten tracks cover similar ground with “Feeding In The Dark” harking back to their goth roots. This is probably their most accessible album to date and while there is nothing on here to match their breakthrough single “Bring Me To Life” it shows a band moving forward and their rescheduled British tour in September/October alongside fellow goth rockers Within Temptation is one of the years hottest tickets.
So what do we have here then? Marti Pellow of Wet Wet Wet fame returns with the first strange album of the year. Now lets be clear here he has always been a great singer and during the course of this album he sometimes manages to do that. “Diamond” could easily be a Wet’s song along with the soul/funk of “Urban Alligator” and “Love Me Tonight” is camera phone arm waving at it’s best. He visits his West End Stage past on the cheesy “Don’t Be Scared” but it’s the rest of the album that leaves you scratching your head. Put simply..tonight Matthew I’m going to be David Bowie. Seriously? Second track in “New York Angel” sets the scene for what is to follow and if proof was needed “Teenage Rebel” will have you searching for the Bowie track it reminds you of. But he keeps the best for last with the 11 minute “Black Horse” which happily rips off the Bowie/Lennon song “Fame” for most of it’s duration. In conclusion if you happen to be in a Bowie tribute band and need a singer then Marti is your man. On the other hand if you want to hear David Bowie then listen to his albums and not this. As Matthew may have said “sadly not going through to the next round is Marti from Clydebank” Oh and why is he trying to look like a member of Dexy’s Midnight Runners on the cover ?
Strathaven Academy student Katya Neves reviews Ariana Grande’s new album.
Ariana Grande’s new album ‘Positions’ is definitely a lot more light-hearted and playful than her previous album ‘Thank U, Next’ which was contemplative and mournful. It spoke of personal tragedies in her life, such as the passing of Ariana’s ex Mac Miller, the public break-up with fiancée Pete Davidson, and more. ‘Positions’ has 14 songs on the album with the deluxe, adding an additional 5 tracks. The track listing on ‘Positions’ flows really well and has a good transition from one song to the next and like many of Ariana’s past songs, you can hear her extraordinary and famously high vocals. Moreover, Ariana has an incredible list of guest artists featured on the album including Doja Cat on the song ‘Motive’, The Weeknd on the track ‘Off the Table’, Ty Dolla $ign on ‘Safety net’, and on ‘34+35’ Megan Thee Stallion. Although the album is great and I’m sure there are many fans of Ariana Grande who will love it, I have to admit that this album is not for me. But that is not to say that this isn’t a very good album, it is, maybe I just need to give it another listen, who knows? Nonetheless, if you are a fan of the young singer, download it and add it to your music playlists.
What makes this album of 148 songs (yes you read that right) surprising is that it avoids the obvious. So no “Your Song” or “Tiny Dancer” and thankfully no “Candle In The Wind” (the rewritten version for you know what). Instead you get a career spanning 8 disc set put together by Elton himself comprising everything from early tracks from the late sixties to deep cuts from albums you cant remember buying and he cant remember recording, b-sides to singles and the odd demo or two. What it does highlight is the progression of his and Bernie Taupin’s songwriting partnership and if proof were needed as to how just good they were then two tracks in with “Where To Now St Peter” says it all…and they had hardly even started.
Texas country band Midland’s latest release is the soundtrack to their documentary “Midland The Sonic Ranch” which tracks the bands career from their first recording sessions to the present. Over 12 tracks the band run through a well worn template of country cliches and there is nothing here to make you go… “well I understand why they are so successful”. This is a well played and forgettable set of songs which will do nothing to further their career. There is nothing on here to compare with their excellent debut album “On The Rocks” (which came out 14 years after their formation) with the classic track “Drinkin Problem” or the sublime “Electric Rodeo”. This is a band who peaked with their first album and perhaps should have left it there.
Album number 13 finds Thunder effortlessly showing how you put together a rock n roll record with just the right amount of light and shade. The follow up to 2015’s excellent “Wonder Days” “All The Right Noises” finds, once again, the consistent song writing that we have come to expect from the pen of Luke Morley. Ably assisted by Danny Bowes (who has one of the finest rock voices of his generation) and co, this is an album that mines the history of rock. Kicking off with the rock stomp of “Last One Out Turn Off The Lights” with its “Whole Lotta Love riff” firmly in place it sets the scene for what follows. From the dark brooding “Destruction” via the low-key acoustic “The Smoking Gun” to the honky-tonk piano led “You’re Gonna Be My Girl” this is an album of a band completely confident in what they can do. As if to prove the point sitting right in the middle is “I’ll Be The One” which has to be one of the finest ballads you will ever hear with, if proof was ever needed, a Luke Morley guitar solo that is up there with your Clapton’s, Knopfler’s and Gilmour’s. “All The Right Noises” is a classic tour-de-force.
Five years into their career Glaswegian rockers Mason Hill have at last an album to their name. With a set of melodic and powerful songs to the fore Mason Hill deserve all the praise that is coming their way. With the guitar interplay from James Bird and Marc Montgomery and the emotive vocals of Scott Taylor the band run through an albums worth of songs from the air-punching rock of “Against The Wall” and “No Regrets” to the power ballad “Who We Are” via a soon to be festival/arena favourite “Hold On”. If you are a fan of Gun or the Little Angels then Mason Hill will not leave you disappointed.
Nashville based Kings of Leon return to the fray with “When You See Yourself” and finds the band in a contemplative frame of mind across its 11 tracks. If you are expecting something akin to 2008’s “Sex On Fire” then you are in for a disappointment. “The Bandit” with it’s driving bass is as close as you will get while “Echoing” is the grown up version. Elsewhere the acoustic charm of “Claire & Eddie” and album closer “Fairytale” highlight the maturity in the bands collective writing. Written and recorded before the pandemic started it sums up in many of the songs the way the last year has been and none more so than in the albums stand out track “ Golden Restless Age”. A must buy.
The follow up to 2018’s “Under My Skin” finds Gabrielle in cover mode. “Do It Again” finds her tackling such standards as “Killing Me Softly With His Song”, “Proud Mary”, “Teardrops” and “Fast Car” and adding precisely nothing to them. It’s not that she can’t sing, she can, it’s the fact that she has a limited vocal range which while it works on Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted and the Harry Styles/Thomas Hull penned “Falling” the rest fall flat. Whoever suggested she covered the Sam Cooke classic “ Bring It On Home To Me” should be shot.
Released last October, Liverpool’s Red Rum Club follow up to 2019’s inventive debut album “Matador” highlights a band fast maturing and becoming one of the must see acts of 2021 ( the band are touring later this year..hopefully). Their influences aren’t hard to see 80’s pop, 90’s Brit pop and Mexican Mariachi music and its the later that sets Red Rum Club apart from their contemperies. Joe Corby’s soaring trumpet is at the heart of the bands music. Album opener “The Elevation” sums up exactly what they are about. A dance groove, great vocals from lead singer Francis Doran, killer harmonies and a sing-along chorus..and that trumpet. “Vivo” and “Kids Addicted” will become jump up and down festival favourites and it’s easy to see why “Eleanor” was shortlisted by A List radio stations. This is one of these rare things.. a complete record in the same vain as the classic ABC album of the 80’s “The Lexicon of Love”. With “The Hollow of Humdrum” Red Rum Club have come of age and may just have created a classic of their own.
So David Coverdale of Whitesnake calls his manager and says “lets face it I can’t sing anymore and we can’t play live at the moment but I’ve had a great idea. Why don’t we, for the umptenth time, regurgitate my old songs, put them in a fancy cover, use the word “remix” and sell them to a gullible public who desperately need 14 different versions of “Give Me All Your Love” ? “Yes” says his stupid 20% manager. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to “ The Blues Album”. 14 songs that you already own, you don’t need and as far as “blues” goes not one of them has been anywhere near the Mississippi delta. In fairness and in the main the songs selected for this album aren’t all bad. “Give Me All Your Love”, “Slow An’ Easy” and “Crying In The Rain” are Whitesnake classics and “ Too Many Tears” and “Lay Down Your Love” have always been strong album fillers but the rest are standard 80’s rock metal throwaways. This is the third in a series the previous two being “Rock” (white cover) and “Love Songs” (red cover) perhaps the next one should be in a green cover because to be honest Dave as good as you were we are sick of constant re-releases.
Once a month we are joined at the Music Box in the Strathaven Echoes by Katya Neves who reviews the latest singles and albums that cross her path. Katya is a 6th year student at Strathaven Academy who is going on topursue a career in music journalism and music production
For all the fans of Taylor Swift in Avondale the 11th of April sees the release of “Fearless”, Taylor’s re-recorded version of her 2008 album. Featuring the album’s original 16 tracks and a host of never before bonus tracks, this is the first release from her back catalogue. For now though Taylor has dropped a little sneak-peak into what she has in-store for her fans. Her re-recording of “Love Story” debuted at number 11 on the Billboard charts and has now climbed right to the top. The song keeps all the excitement and emotion that the original recording had yet also has the smallest changes that Taylor has done when re-recording it to keep the song fresh and inviting.
They say that in the event of a nuclear war only two things will survive, Cockroaches and the The Rolling Stones Keith Richards. Well make that three..the never ending series of “Now That’s What I Call..” albums. Who is buying these? Or more importantly why? This latest release once again (and for the 15th time) wanders into the realm of “Country” with 80 tracks of regurgitated hits from the usual suspects John Denver, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell…you get the drift interspersed with the odd modern country artist, Little Big Town, Lady A and Luke Combs thrown in for good measure. But it is the inclusion of Pink, Bon Jovi and Kylie Minogue that is frankly just bizarre. Ok they might have bumped into a country singer somewhere for a bit of karaoke but they are so out of place on here. And as for the inclusion of Squeeze.. don’t even start me. In fairness there are, of course, classic songs on here but every home should already have them. So to the people who produce these never ending albums….stop “Now”
Taylor Swift’s favourite alternative girl band return with the expanded edition of 2020’s “Women In Music Part 111” Featuring the aforementioned Ms Swift on the excellent “Gasoline” and 17 other well balanced tracks covering everything from death, depression to the almost lightweight pop of “Summer Girl” the HAIN sisters have firmly established themselves as one of Americas top acts. “ Man From The Magazine” would not have been out of place on a Joni Mitchell album from the 70’s and “Another Try” with modern beats and synth overlays is as right up to the minute as it gets. If Stevie Nicks,Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris and even Ringo Starr want you to appear on their albums you have to be good and the HAIN sisters are.
This month sees New York rockers The Pretty Reckless return to the frey with the excellent “Death By Rock And Roll”. Fronted by Taylor Momsen who has one of the best female voices in rock the band over the space of 12 tracks and 50 minuets hit every rock cliché in the book and it’s all the better for it. The opening title track is mainstream rock, “Only Love Can Save Me Now” featuring Soundgardens Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil is as grunge as you would expect and “25” is the best Bond theme you have never heard. Elsewhere “Got So High” is a truly lovely acoustic strummer and “Harley Darling” could have been one of the standout tracks on Neil Young’s classic “Harvest”.
If you only buy one rock album a year make it this one. You won’t be disappointed.
The Foo’s 10th album finds them….well…rocking out as usual but also going all funk and disco??
In part inspired by Abba, Prince and 1983’s Lets Dance album by David Bowie, Dave Grohl has as he says, “tapped into that groove or vibe that most musicians have in them” or to put it another way he explains “I’m a drummer”. But they are not quite ready to cut loose their stadium friendly, slow-burns as evident on “Waiting On A War” and the riff driven “Love Dies Young”. There is even a cowbell featured on “Cloudspotter”….now that is rock! The soulful title cut “Medicine At Midnight”, the handclaps and na-na-na chorus on the album opener “Making A Fire” highlights this new(ish) direction and the album is all the better for it. Clocking in at just over 36 minutes this is yet another contender for album of the year. And lets face it what’s not to like about Dave Grohl and his merry band of musicians.
Released this month is a new 8 track “mini album” from Deacon Blue. The follow up to last years excellent “City of Love”, “Riding on the Tide of Love” finds Ricky Ross carrying on from where that album left off. Strong melodies with his fine lyrics to the fore, here is a band with nothing to prove. There is not a bad track or a throw away filler across the albums 8 tracks. “Nothing’s Changed” features their trademark harmonies, “ Not Gonna Be That Girl” is a modern “Chocolate Girl” and “Time” is “Raintown” for 2021. Like a good whisky, Deacon Blue improve with age and remain as relevant today in Scottish music as they did back in the 80’s.
Recorded over five days at his home studio with the E Street Band, “Letter To You” finds Springsteen revisiting his glory days of the 70’s and 80’s. Lead off single and the albums title could have sat easily on Born To Run or Born In The USA. His gift for story telling is undeminshed and on “Ghosts” he sounds like a man in his 30’s and not the 71 years of age that he is. On “Last Man Standing” he reflects on past glories but he is very much of the present. A must buy.
Scotland’s own Amy Macdonald releases her 5th album “The Human Demands” on the 30th of October. The follow up to 2017’s underrated “Under Stars” sees her back on top form. First single “The Hudson” sets the tone for an album. Like that of “10 Songs” from Travis (reviewed last column) it contains songs of maturity, sadness and loves lost and won, all sung in that distinctive voice. “ Crazy Shade of Blue” highlights an artist coming of age with life and everything around her.
Out on the 16th of October from The Eagles we have “Live From The Forum MMXVIII”. Recorded during their 2018 world tour at The Forum Los Angeles, with Vince Gill and the late Glen Frey’s son Deacon joining Don Henley and Co to run through 26 all time classics. All the hits are here so Take It Easy, pour a Tequila Sunrise, check into Hotel California and have a Peaceful Easy Feeling as you relive Life In The Fast Lane.
Everybody’s favourite Aussie Kylie Minogue releases “Disco” on an unsuspecting public. As she said in a recent interview “ I’ve turned off the dirt road and onto the supersonic highway – straight to the galactic disco” Eh? Well if you say so. Sadly this album is not out of this world. Lead single and the album’s opening track “Magic” is anything but, and sets the tone for the remaining 15 tracks. It is genuinely difficult to tell where one song ends and other starts. And as for her voice (which was always passable) it appears as if she has had a hit of helium before the start of every song. Kylie is a national treasure and like last months review of Sam Smith, this will sell in vast quantities and right now we all need a bit of sparkle in our lives. But sorry Kylie, Disco’s in the bin.
Staying with the ladies, the 13th of November see’s the welcome return of Paloma Faith with “Infinite Things”. Always an artist to push boundaries opening single “Falling Down” is dance music for grown up’s. “Better Than This” is the type of ballad with non saccharine lyrics that we can all relate to. On “Last Night On Earth” she obviously got a loan of Kylie’s helium but as she has enough light and shade in her vocals she doesn’t sound like she’s blowing up a party balloon and the albums title track “ Infinite Things” may well be one of the best songs of 2020.
Sadly not even a pandemic can halt the new album from Bon Jovi. If 2020 wasn’t already bad enough we now have a musical reminder from a band (well really just John Bon Jovi and hired hands) who should have stopped long before now. Their glory days are long behind them and while still a major draw due, in fairness to a reasonably good back catalogue, there is nothing on 2020 that comes close to “ Livin On A Prayer” or “You Give Love A Bad Name. Track 2 “Do What You Can” is his response to the current world situation.. Lame sugary lyrics and twee imagery abound and he continues in the same vain in “Lower The Flag”. The albums beat track “Brothers In Arms” shows flashes of Bon Jovi of old but nowhere enough to save this album.
Out on the 9th of October is the welcome return of Travis with “10 Songs” The follow up to 2016’s “Everything At Once” once again finds Fran Healy and co in fine form. “Waving At The Window”, the albums opening track, sets the scene with an insistent piano hook and an opening line which states “Promises you once kept/Are going to break”. On “The Only Thing” they are joined by Susanna Hoffs of Bangels fame duetting on a modern day grown up love song which typifies all the other 9 tracks on this album. Grown up songs on how life affects love and what love does to weather those challenges. Buy or download is our advice.
Staying with all things Scottish, Fish releases the final album of his long and illustrious career this month. “Weltschmerz” (German for a feeling of melancholy and world weariness). To be fair to Fish, after sitting through 84 minuets of this I know how he feels. Not that this is a bad album by any manner of means. Here is an artist who knows the power of lyrics as exemplified on the albums stand out track “Garden of Remembrance” and in “Waverley Steps (End of the Line)” he brings his recording career to a close (almost) just before the albums title track fades in and he finally says Auf Wiedersehen. Timeless progressive rock from a master of the genre.
Queen & Adam Lambert release “Live Around The Word” a souvenir album of their last world tour around the world. Must have taken them awhile to come up with the title. All the hits are here over 20 tracks. You know what they are, you already have them all, you really don’t need yet more versions of the same songs. But hey it’s Queen and there is probably a law (or a Royal Decree..see what we did there) that says you must buy it. So do as you are told, play it loud in your car/house/man cave or wherever and enjoy.
Finally in the first of our “You Cannot Be Serious” album releases we find ourselves with this unbelievably dreadful excuse for music from Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. Entitled “The Blues” he has boldly gone where no singer has gone before and completely destroyed 14 blues standards. Sounding like a man in pain he warbles through classics such as “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Smokestack Lightnin” and “Sunshine of your Love”……Beam me up Scotty!!!
January tends to be a slow month for new releases but we here at the Music Box never shy away from a challenge and after much searching (well 10 minuets online if we are honest) we found the following for your delight and amusement.
First up and once again taking the music industry by surprise is the second album in 5 months from Taylor Swift. “evermore” is the natural successor to “folklore”. Again joined by the National’s Aaron Dessner and HAIM it is once again an album of home studio vibes, bare-boned arrangements and bared-soul lyrics and it’s all the better for that. This is an album of perfect short stories. “tolerate it” tells the tale of a trapped relationship and “happiness” is anything but. It’s only January but Swift may just have produced the album of the year.
Oh dear what do we have here? “Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Song Book Vol 1”. Now we here at the Music Box like The Bee Gees. Classic songs, perfect harmonies and while the teeth were a bit scary you couldn’t help but like them. So on this album Barry Gibb has decided to revisit some of their best known songs with help from the likes of Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow and Olivia Newton John. So what could possibly go wrong? All the invited artists handle their parts admirably (with one exception). “I’ve Gotta Get a Message To You” was tailor-made for Keith Urban, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” would have been a massive solo hit for Sheryl Crow and “Lonely Days” featuring Little Big Town just makes you smile thanks to killer harmonies. But that exception? …Say hello to Dolly Parton who joins Gibb on “Words” and frankly words fail me! It’s the teeth, both sets. I can only think that either a) they took the wrong teeth out of the glass before recording or b) they were breaking them in for someone else. But hey as we said you can’t fault the songs so download and enjoy.
Finally we have “Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted” from Passenger. A great title doesn’t always make a great album but in this case it does. Like Taylor Swift, Michael Rosenberg (Passenger to his friends) writes from the heart and the title track will resonate with many. We’ve all been there at some point. “What You’re Waiting For” and “Remember To Forget” with their Beatle-esque overtones showcase his musical roots. Often compared to James Blunt, but don’t let that put you off, he is an artist growing in stature with every release.
First up we have the latest release from Sam Smith with “Love Goes”
His record collection seems to consist of the entire output from Adele, 19, 21 & 25. He would have been quicker to just have called it “28” Harsh? Probably, but to be fair the boy can sing and his latest single “Diamonds” showcases his range and is thankfully upbeat. “My Oasis” (no not a homage to the Gallagher Brothers sadly) continues in a similar vain with it’s restrained hip-hop beat. But after that, we are faced with songs with really happy titles like “For The Lover I Lost”, “Breaking Hearts”, “Forgive Myself”.. you get the picture. It will sell by the truck load and jilted lovers will be quoting his lyrics for some time to come.
If the blues is your thing then this new release from Joe Bonamassa will be right up your street. Album number 31 “Royal Tea” finds him paying homage to the great British blues bands of the 60’s and early 70’s. With songs co-written with ex Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Masden and contributions from Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Jools Holland, who’s contribution on the album’s rockabilly closer “Lonely Boy” is a joy. Elsewhere “High Class Girl” is a souped up version of the classic Booker T track “Green Onions” and the albums title track is Bonamassa‘s take on the recent Royal bust up with Harry & Megan. Play it loud and on repeat
Finally this month we have “Beastie Boys Music” a 20 track anthology of their career to date. Now here is the thing, this was three guys who while not really knowing what they were doing, had great ideas and great lyrics as well as a love for hip-hop and rap. “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” remains one of the best songs of the 80’s along with the albums closer “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” This was a band who anticipated the Rap culture of today with the use of rock and pop melodies. All the hits and more are here but perhaps best not to play it in the car if people of a sensitive nature are around.