Arts

Album Reviews: The Corrs return with a cracking record

The Corrs return with a cracking album after 10 years of focussing on family life

The Corrs

White Light

After a 10-year hiatus, the Dundalk family pop group are back with a new album – the first major release since Borrowed Heaven in 2004. Fans of Andrea, Caroline, Jim and Sharon Corr will be glad to hear the siblings have returned with their signature sound: great songs that are full of heart, with a glimmer here and there of their Irish roots.

The title track has a gutsy attitude which shows Andrea is still a great singer, while Bring On The Night has a delicate softness that begs to be listened to in silence before it picks up the pace with a rousing chorus.

A highlight is the emotional Ellis Island which has a beautiful air and builds, making for an uplifting anthem. But for something particularly lively, look no further than Gerry's Reel, an example of the foot-stomping trad The Corrs do so well. Well worth the wait.

FOUR STARS

Catherine Wylie

The Vamps

Wake Up

With One Direction's remaining heart-throbs busy preparing themselves for solo careers next spring, there'll certainly be a gaping boy-band shaped hole in the affections of many a teenager come 2016.

The Vamps might turn out to be perfectly placed – after all, this is a four-piece whose 2014 debut, Meet The Vamps, boasted five top 10 singles that, impressively, they played themselves.

Wake Up is certainly a more varied record: the guitars are ditched on the hip-hop styled Volcano, while the synth-heavy hooks on the title track suggest a band happy to open themselves to new possibilities.

Of course, with a slushy ballad (Million Words) and a dalliance with reggae (I Found A Girl), there could always be the accusation that The Vamps are simply trying to be all things to all teenage tastes. But on the whole, they pull off such eclecticism with charm and enthusiasm.

FOUR STARS

Ben East

Neil Young

Bluenote Cafe

The latest in Neil Young's extensive archive series, this live set from the 80s finds Old Shakey in fine form on a blistering two-CD set.

The Canadian musician gets things off to a flying start with Welcome To The Big Room and then cranks things up with a sprawling This Note's For You. Young live can be a hit or miss affair, but Bluenote Cafe captures him at his best and most engaged with the audience, which is clearly lapping up every guitar lick.

The second disc maintains the tempo and quality with an excellent I'm Goin' and Sunny Inside before bringing things to a close with an epic version of Tonight's The Night. Cracking stuff.

FOUR STARS

Kim Mayo

Beat Happening

Look Around

Calvin Johnson, his voice a baritone drone, his songs so primitive some are suspected to have been first discovered fossilised, formed Beat Happening in 1982 with fellow Evergreen State College students Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford. The rest is history, yet history is quickly forgotten and Look Around is a timely nudge.

The three-piece from Olympia, Washington, have been cited as a key influence by scores of bands, notably Nirvana, Sleater-Kinney and Teenage Fanclub. Raw, so raw, Beat Happening and Johnson's DIY label K Records captured a counter-culture, punk rebellion against the excesses of the music industry in the 1980s and early 1990s.

This essential 23-track retrospective picks highlights from a career that produced five studio albums from 1985 to 1992, notably the wistful Indian Summer, later covered by REM, the Lewis-sung raw insistence of Foggy Eyes, and the nefarious ardour of Nancy Sin.

THREE STARS

John Skilbeck

Sudakistan

Caballo Negro

This debut release from South America and Sweden's psychedelic garage-punk five-piece Sudakistan is a pounding, frenetic triumph of rhythmic rock.

The band – comprising Michell Serrano, Maikel Gonzalez, Juan Jose Espindola, Carlos Amigo and Arvid Sjoo – uses its Latin American roots to great effect in creating a sound that combines the rhythms of early Santana with the scuzz and tempo of The Hives.

There is definitely a hint of Latin psychedelia on many tracks, including the fantastic Dale Gas, as the swirling guitars drift entrancingly over the constant deep basslines and throbbing drums. While the album may be formidable and ferocious, every track serves a purpose and the compositions remain structured – no song is too long and no instrumental outstays its welcome.

THREE STARS

Ian Holt

Placebo

MTV Unplugged (Live)

As Placebo prepare to celebrate 20 years since the release of their self-titled debut album, it feels like the right time to reflect upon this enduringly spiky indie band.

That's also what Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal have tried to do in this latest instalment in the Unplugged series. Rather than simply play their hits acoustically, they've stripped back each of their own favourites to the bare roots before painstakingly building them up again, finding new resonances and nuances along the way – much like Nirvana's famous session for MTV.

It is slightly odd that Placebo's two biggest hits, Pure Morning and Nancy Boy, are absent, but guest slots from Joan As Policewoman and Danish singer songwriter Majke Voss Romme reveal a real depth to Molko's songs. MTV Unplugged is usually a treat for the fanbase, but this reveals a band who could still make new friends.

FOUR STARS

Ben East

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