Arts

Album reviews: new releases rated

Sheryl Crow's new album Be Myself is out now

SHERYL CROW – BE MYSELF

Although this is a return to form for Crow after 2013's country-based and too-cosy Feels Like Home, it's an odd pastiche of her 1990s work.

The smart arrangements and interwoven guitar riffs on her classics such as All I Wanna Do, Every Day Is A Winding Road and A Change Would Do You Good are all here almost, but not quite, note for note.

Be Myself would be a pretty good album if it wasn't trying so hard to be Sheryl Crow c1996, but it does still have some good tracks, with the cute and catchy Grow Up standing out as the most original song on offer here.

It's definitely an album worth listening to though if you're in need of a new shot of Sheryl Crow.

Rating: three stars

Phil Page

HAYSEED DIXIE – FREE YOUR MIND AND YOUR GRASS WILL FOLLOW

Clocks have changed and the summer is coming. Self-styled 'grass rock' cover band are back with Free Your Mind And Your Grass Will Follow.

Back in 2000, they broke into the music scene with their AC/DC covers. Since then, they have expanded their repertoire somewhat and added in some stellar songs including Bohemian Rhapsody (Killer Grass) and Motorhead's Ace of Spades (Let There Be Rockgrass).

Free Your Mind And Your Grass Will Follow has their signature bluegrass sound, however, there is definitely more of a pop sound going on.

Ball Of Confusion and Black Or White are two standout tracks – there is something rather comforting about hearing Black Or White stripped back.

Elvis Costello's Oliver's Army and Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier are even more leftfield and equally enjoyable. This is a great fun album for the upcoming summer months.

Rating: three stars

Rachel Howdle

MAXIMO PARK – RISK TO EXIST

In the mid-to-late 2000s, Maximo Park knew how to write skittering, buzzing alt-indie rock that ricocheted around between your ears, spewing cleverness and electric guitar-strewn lyrics.

They could make you dance and roll your head around frantically. Twelve years since their brilliant debut record, A Certain Trigger, and the Newcastle four-piece, still led by the ever distinctive vocals of Paul Smith, have changed little.

Get High (No, I Don't) is senselessly shouty, What Equals Love? is pleasingly funky, while The Reason I Am Here clangs and jars.

A mixed bag, but they just about get away with it.

Rating: three stars

Ella Walker

TEXAS – JUMP ON BOARD

Texas return with a brand new album, the first in four years. Following on from their previous release, 25, a celebratory acknowledgement of making music for over a quarter of a century, listeners are invited to "jump on board", in sync with the laid-back vibe of the album.

Approaching her 50th Birthday, lead singer Sharleen Spiteri cuts loose, projecting nothing but positive messages through her sincere lyrics. It's an open-minded album, reflecting on years of heartaches, hardships and general highs and lows.

The album features 10 tracks, combining rock, soul, new country and electro-pop. Opening track Let's Work It Out, an upbeat, dance track accompanied by a guitar rhythm, sets a tone which reverberates throughout the album.

In contrast to the upbeat rhythm of For Everything and Tell That Girl, there's also a number of more intense, eerier soundtracks from Can't Control to Sending A Message.

Rating: three stars

Elliott Beddoe

LITTLE DRAGON – SEASON HIGH

Old-timers Little Dragon, a Swedish electronic music four-piece whose first album was released a decade ago, are continuing their musical onslaught.

Following on from 2014's Grammy-nominated album Nabuma Rubberband, Season High showcases a new blend of electronica and experimental pop.

The album was admittedly approached with hesitation, according to lead singer Yukimi Nagano, but they need not have worried. Season High offers a rhythmically dreamy, upbeat and sleek listening experience.

Stand-out tracks include the album's opener Celebrate – an 80s throwback that highlights Nagano's Prince-like vocals, The Pop Life and Should I, both of which carry a similar vibe to the Pet Shop Boys.

The group's fifth studio album proves they are far from disappearing into the abyss.

However, for a band that is known for mixing with other artists, such as Mac Miller and Big Boi, this album is surprisingly restrictive in scope.

Season High has a compelling presence, thanks to the strong vocals provided by Nagona.

Mixing R&B with dance tracks, the overall sound is funky and enjoyable to listen to. Yet there seems to be moments where they lack diversity in sound.

Rating: three stars

Elliott Beddoe

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