Weekly Capsule Reviews – 22/05/2016


This week: Richard Ashcroft, Mutual Benefit, New Order, Car Seat Headrest, Die Antwoord, Drake, Eric Clapton, Ariana Grande, Young Phantom

Richard Ashcroft – These People (20/05/2016 – Righteous Phonographic Association/Cooking Vinyl)

Ashcroft mixing the old and new in this I’m-against-the-biz piece of self-aggrandisement is well worth the ramblings whether you choose to listen or not. The electropop twinge mixed with what The Verve would’ve thrown at us is a solid mix. Crits are complaining of the chastisement of the “modern” world on top of the “modern” production, but if you choose to ignore it (I zoned out, occasionally) it’ll grasp you, as I mentioned. The blues/country guitar interweaving a handful of tracks is gorgeous respite (“They Don’t Own Us”) from the ostentatious pop strings that illustrate nicely how hard he’s trying – too hard or not is your decision. By the way, where is that song about the Syrian refugee crisis? Did you hear it? (8/10)

Mutual Benefit – Skip a Sinking Stone (20/05/2016 – Mom + Pop Music)

This reminded me a lot of Big Star’s cult self-titled debut but with more majesty and more balls in an ethereal manner. It felt more sure of itself, more fulfilled. If Jordan Lee is attempting to conjure up a sense of travel and observation he’s doing a fine job. The instrumentation doesn’t impede on that and takes us where he wants us to go. Full steam ahead! (8/10)

New Order – Complete Music (13/05/2016 – mute) – (Remix Album)

This reissue of last year’s highlight is nearly unwarranted… nearly. It adds nothing to the original tracks and shows nothing of what they could’ve been if left untouched. It’s a nice reminder of what Music Complete is – a danceable dance-rock album with more positivity infiltrating their seemingly gloomy interior when any half-baked fan would acknowledge that gloominess never existed in its true sense. I’m trying hard (and so is everyone else) to miss Peter Hook’s presence, but I don’t think I do. The early-’90s-techno sprinkle conjoined with soft ’80s synth is playful, soothing, and pristine. (8/10)

Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial (20/05/2016 – Matador Records)

This perpetual piece of not-so-lo-fi rock gathers pace from all of the influences which they inherently add to their sound. Will Toledo is suffocating and hectoring in his delivery and the instrumentation isn’t far behind. Saying this it’s quite smart and has a word or two to say. Find me a better track than “Vincent” this year… Actually, you probably might. (7/10)

Die Antwoord – Suck on This (19/05/2016 – Zef Recordz (self-released)) – (Mixtape)

The South African duo add a filthy (what?!) mixtape to their output. The beats are stagnant and dense but not lacking in flow. What are they saying? (7/10)

Drake – Views (29/04/2016 – Young Money Entertainment/Cash Money Records, Inc./Republic Records)

His sudden utilitarian nature in his love life and his urge to show us throughout is trite. I believe him, though, he’s a nice guy. Not a gangsta and definitely not taking the form of one. (7/10)

Eric Clapton – I Still Do (20/05/2016 – Bushbranch Records/Surfdog Records)

Winding down our Eric is, and who’s to stop him? I most certainly won’t. This is crisp and clear with a blues hook here and there which his talent will naturally throw in even if age is preventing some bravado. Bravado is so overrated… sometimes. (6/10)

Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman (20/05/2016 – Republic Records)

Dangerous woman she isn’t. She’s funny, talented, and intelligent. Okay, that’s dangerous. I just wish she’d leave that voice go solo, away from the production and the pap exterior. Her soul chops are plain to see. Let’s see more. (6/10)

Young Phantom – In the Moment (20/05/2016 – self-released) – (EP)

More guile than Rusangano Family and more novelty. “Obsidian Code” is something wannabe gangstas across the globe could only wish to concoct. The melody beat is dank and the lyrics and vocals flow beautifully over it from Mark Mavambu and his contributors. We’ll keep an eye out. (6/10)


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