Sunday, June 17, 2007

In shops tomorrow: 18/6


What we try to do in this section is filter out the wheat, the chaff and the underwhelming (hello there, Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors) and leaven it down to the bitter quick of goodness. Not even much of that this week, as all we're left with is the not as good as most of the album but you've got to like them Direct Hit by Art Brut and Seasick Steve's British indie kid easily pleasing three string Missisippi delta blues It's All Good.


There are two things of note about Jetplane Landing's Backlash Cop (says 18th June on their website, that's what we're running with). One is that whenever we mention Jetplane Landing on STN, Jetplane Landing's official website links to it on the very front page, which is a smart thing for Jetplane Landing to do, and we heartily commend Jetplane Landing for their driving our visitor numbers up. Jetplane Landing, Jetplane Landing, Jetplane Landing. The other thing of note is they've made a truly remarkable album, which helps. Just as melodic post-hardcore of the type their first two albums had traded in becomes popular, they've gone and made a concept album - Andrew Ferris calls it one, so it is one - which we can only pigeonhole as Fugazi meets the Minutemen to go funk, a coagulation of Ferris' evangelising sing/shout/talk/rap vocals, oblique/provocative/meaningful lyrics, blowtorch riffs, broken beat rhythms, soulful moves and a litany of reference points (just from the titles we get Dizzy Gillespie, Les Savy Fav, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Motown bassist James Jamerson and black civil rights poet Sonia Sanchez). And cowbell. And it just gets better on repeated listens. Could this finally be their time? (Checks weight of press coverage) Oh. Bugger. Still, it's a spectacular development and probably the standout full-on rock record of the first half of 2007. A somewhat more celebrated exponent of the dark art of bludgeoning listeners into submission with enormous riffs is Jack White, who after those curious rhythm-led piano/marimba moments on Get Behind Me Satan has by and large returned to the distort pedal on Icky Thump. See, ver Stripes could have continued on the path loosely following their first three albums of emotional garage blues and they'd now be as relevant as the Datsuns. That they continue to make complete leaps of faith every time they book a couple of weeks in a recording studio and sell records by the truckload restores your faith in 'our' world on a biennual basis. It sounds variously like Led Zep, compressed prog, show tunes from Hades, heavy melodics, the electrified lovers' blues they were doing five years ago and all sorts of oddness besides. You shouldn't expect any less, really. Norway's Sondre Lerche was tipped as a natural melodic successor to the likes of Elvis Costello (who invited him on tour), Difford & Tilbrook and Paddy McAloon a couple of years ago, then deliberately lost some ground with an odd jazz album. Phantom Punch sees him regain his composure, remaining the doomed romantic while either touching the soul or piling into what Costello refers to as "rowdy rhythm". He's become one to watch again. Speaking of Costello, his first ten years have been reissued as eight quid digipacks, we don't even think for the first time in Sweeping The Nation's lifespan. Universal, Demon, Rykodisc, whoever, they'll flog this stuff to death. We're going to do an Illustrated Guide To Elvis Costello, perhaps even this week given how spectacularly More Songs... crashed and burned early, so for the time being here's a chronological list of buy links: My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, Armed Forces, Get Happy!!, Trust, Almost Blue, Imperial Bedroom, Punch The Clock, Goodbye Cruel World, King Of America, Blood And Chocolate. The former Charles Thompson IV actually recorded his first Frank Black solo album before he'd got round to checking the toner and pressing the big red go button on the fax to Kim and David, having decided that as Joey Santiago was on said album it might be a touch indelicate. Originally planned as a cover projec, that album came out two months after the split was made public (the fateful Mark Radcliffe Hit The North interview into which he casually dropped the breakup news sees Radcliffe refer to a promo copy) and as such sounds of a piece with that band's later work. Inevitably it's also the high water mark of a solo career that's if not exactly spluttered along then mostly flattered to deceive, although 93-03: The Best Of Frank Black does a more than reasonable job of collating it all together. Ever seen the video Adam & Joe made for Dog Gone? While we're on the subject of influential bands who broke up to go solo for a bit, the Go-Betweens' Robert Forster and Grant McLennan's four solo offerings each, not without merit but again nothing compared to the parent band, have been cherrypicked for the jointly credited Intermission - The Best Of The Solo Recordings 1990-1997.

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