Ok - so having said I don't do record reviews any more - here are some record reviews! No, no! These are simply observations about new music I've recently been listening to - in no particular order then...
1. Muse - 2nd Wave. A bit different from Mr Bellamy and the boys, probably never going to be my favourite Muse album but a good listen no doubt. In some ways on some of the later tracks on this I get a feeling of Porcupine Tree overall in the sound - not a bad thing just my observation.
2. Blair Dunlop - Blight and Blossom. Super début album this. Billy in the Lowground is my highlight - Blair takes this old bluegrass fiddle classic reworks it on guitar adds some amusing lyrics and it is a real delight. Whole album is great.
3. The Albion Band - Vice of the People. Hang on it is Blair Dunlop again! So great solo album and here he has re-ignited his Dad's old band (he is Ashley Hutchings son if you don't know). So the great folk rockers of the past are reborn anew. And blow me what a stunner! Really rocky in places but with the folk overtones this is classic British Folk Rock at it's very best. A reworking of the old folk classic "The Thieves Song" is my personal favourite on this, but there isn't a duff track on the album.
4. Oliver Wakeman and Gordon Giltrap - Ravens and Lullabies. I pre-ordered this as I'm a bit of a Gordon fan - any regular reader will know this! I've been to the workshop, bought his albums, learn his pieces, even bought one of his signature guitars! Enough hero worship. I dropped this into the CD player and was really blown away from the first track. Unlike the recent tour where the material was instrumentals with just the two of them this is a full blown prog rock band album. Gordon really impresses with his electric guitar lead playing too... the guy is too talented! Oliver is in the mould of his illustrious father (he was also a member of Yes for some years just prior to the latest lineup). So if you like old style prog a la Yes, Caravan, Genesis (Gabriel era), etc. you really ought to listen to this it may sound a bit dated but still is superb musicianship etc. as you'd expect. To put to a more recent context more than once I was reminded of supergroup Transatlantic.
5. Sam Carter - the No Testament. Out and out folk and well executed to, loads of really great songs, many traditional songs re-arranged by Mr Carter with pitthy modern references, P45s etc. The guy has a stunning voice.
6. Lau - Race the Loser. This group won (again!) best group of the year at the recent Radio 2 folk awards. Deservedly so. This album is stunning. This group produce songs with pure songscapes in them. Whenever I listen I feel myself being transported away to somewhere new, different. Honestly you just get lost in the marvellous sounds. Throwing Pennies - is the highlight for me, a beautifully executed and lyrically poignant song.
7. Biffy Clyro - Opposites Probably the best yet from the Scottish trio. Super songs great playing and terrific production. Both CDs in this double package have strong tracks Black Chandelier is my favourite.
8. Led Zep - Celebration Day. Well some reunions and performances by past masters frankly only work if you remember how they were rather than really acknowledging how they are today. I wondered about Celebration Day... I needn't have worried. Stunning! Totally still got it - some of it is wonky but that was Led Zep - Jimmy for example seems to forget to hit the "clean channel" button at the start of Ramble On but whatever that is my only nit pic of the whole thing. Bonham Jr is frankly amazing in his Dad's Shadow, Jimmy is Jimmy - John Paul Jones looks more into it than he was in the 70s! And Mr Plant - well he still just has it.
9. Coldplay - live 2012 - Live album from the band I rated as one of the best gigs of last year. You know - I'm thinking most of the tracks on this are way ahead of the studio versions and it isn't often I feel that about an entire live album... UFO Strangers in the Night excepted of course! Bargain too - CD and DVD for price you often pay for one or other...
Now a couple of others...
10. Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels. So as soon as I could get on Spotify to listen to this I did. Sadly a bit disappointed. The last release from the Hendrix estate was Valleys of Neptune which uncovered a bunch of "lost" tracks. I thought that was a worthy release. This one sadly I'm not so sure of, there are too many alternative versions of previously available stuff and for me they aren't on a par with the more well known versions. Isabella for example doesn't work half as well for me in this version to the more well known release. So sadly I'll pass on this - interestingly there is a version of Crash Landing - which was the title track of a previous posthumously released album from the 70s that received much complaint about its lack the Jimi vibe... this is closer to that vibe, Eddie Kramer has been involved, but still really sounds like a collection of slightly under par stuff to me.
11. Robin Trower - Roots and Branches. Robin Trower is sadly too far ignored by many - he seems to be a players player and many seem to slate him as a Hendrix clone. Well using a Strat, Univibe, Wah-Wah, Fuzz pedal and a Marshall amp cranked up - sounds a familiar recipe and with his blues influences yes he is Hendrix like - but stands on his own merits. Listen to Bridge of Sighs or Victims of the Fury to hearhim in his heyday with the late great James Dewer on vocals and I'll think you'll agree the man is worthy of more widespread acclaim His latest offering however is a set of reworking of early influential tracks with him giving them his own flavour. So you'll find Hound Dog on here - but trust me it don't sound nothing like the King! This is a good album but possibly more still for fans already than going to make him new converts. Again I'm still listening on Spotify to this determining whether I should add it to my collection permanently.
That'll do for now but just so you people know I'm still forever in search of new music.