Fame has indeed changed Ohio’s most famous bluesy duo, not necessarily for the worst.
Back in the days, you couldn’t find anything but voice, guitar and drums on a Black Keys record. These times are no longer : the bluesiest duo around has changed its game. Of course they can still whip up a dirty blues (‘Lonely Boy’), but it’s not “El Camino’s” main attraction. This is about soulful keyboards (‘Gold On The Ceiling’) and making sure you’ll get their songs stuck in your head forever (‘Run Right Back’). This is, in fact, the best and most contemporary Black music record two white boys have ever made, which is something The Clash used to do pretty well. And they were four.
Variety and quality with a tremendous sense of value: Florence + The Machine are back.
There’s nothing wrong with having a thing for 20 tracks-long records filled with diva pop and a sense for grandiloquence. Knowing that, you’ll have no shame digging through “Ceremonial”. It is lenghty for sure, and yet it manages not to get boring : what makes it work isn’t just Florence’s large registry of vocal performances, it is the keen sense of dynamism and variation the band puts in every song. You’ve got the Aretha Franklin vibe on ‘Lover To Lover’ and just one track later, you feel like Arcade Fire’s just gone another step further with ‘No Light, No Light’. Despite a few understandable let-downs here and there, the whole experience is indeed enthralling.
The peak of literate and addictive pshychedelic pop comes from Wasilla, Alaska.
It’s a funny thing to call your band Portugal. The Man, and to come from Alaska. Or maybe I’m the only one seeing the fun in that. It doesn’t translate into any sort of hispanic vibe anyway, at least not in this “In The Mountain In The Cloud”: everything here is as international as it can be. Take lead singer John Baldwin Gourley’s voice. It’s a perfect blend of Bon Iver (‘Share With Me The Sun’), Marc Bolan (‘Floating [Time Isn’t Working My Side]’) and David Bovie’s (‘Senseless’), and it serves a musical blend taking from even more influences. The result is a refreshing and endearing psyche pop frenzy with soul, electro and glam rock accents.
Ex-Oasis songwriter and 90s Britpop hero returns, with influences unchanged
Noel Gallagher once was the songwriter who best addressed Britain’s youth with his evocative lyrics and fresh guitar skills. He’s been that during Oasis’ first two records at least. 20 years after his early fame, he is famously recording solo. His “High Flying Birds” haven’t got much surprise in them : think of a heavy dose of the Beatles’ influence with an Oasis twist, and something of a plastic pop polish not unlike Carl Barât’s thing with Dirty Pretty Things. It has its highs (‘The Death of You and Me’) and its lows (‘Stop The Clocks’) but for those in need of good, wordy pop with strumming guitars and echoing lyrics, Gallagher has crafted an appropriate shot of nostalgia.
“The (Black) Saviour of Blues” comes for Texas, and he knows his classics.
There’s nothing new about Gary Clark Jr. since his latest release. “The Bright Lights EP” only has one track you couldn’t find on the 2010 self-titled debut (the excellent ‘When My Train Pulls In’). The rest are remasters or live versions of past songs. Still, there is a little treasure sealed in these four tracks, crafted by a 27 years old Texas Bluesman, a 21st century guy whose best friend is a guitar. This isn’t 20 minutes straight of John Lee Hooker wannabe. Clark’s influences draw on Marvin Gaye, Hendrix or even on the pop-er side of Mayer’s take on the Blues. It is truly captivating and just like he sings on ‘Bright Lights’, you’ll remember his name…
Misfits turned idols, the post-punk sensation from England returns. Now with added disco.
The Horrors receive so much lusty attention from the British press, it’s almost too much. But such is their life since “Primary Colours”, their 2009 record, revealed them as a highly knowledgeable and musically crafty band. “Skying” builds up on their dark, intricate post-punk in some ways – guitars still as noisy as you’d expect (hypnotising on ‘Endless Blue’), a step forward into shoegazing even, but there is a little bit less “dark” and a little more disco-pop. Think Primal Scream meets MBV. Or Joy Division meets Pulp. You’ve just stepped into the weirdest disco, they are playing ‘Moving Further Away’, and you might be strangely enjoying it.
One-time rockers return with a harmless pop record, aim for sons-in-law of the year award
Incubus once dabbled with Metal and Hard Rock, and yet… The opening eponymous track ‘If Not Now, When?’ lets you think you’ve stumbled upon a new Death Cab for Cuties EP. Cue fragile power-pop with a main focus on the singer’s vocal talents, and little more. It is tremendously American, not in an Americana way, but with that College Radio pop kind of inspiration. It is filled with would-be edgy songs, speaking to the rebel inside of you with easy-to-catch choruses (‘Thieves’, ‘Defiance’), but bereft of a single threatening moment (except maybe ‘Switchblade’, but that chorus is awful). In short, this is as feeble and dull as it gets.