Not just a Phase: Jack Garratt hype has foundation
THE main problem with Jack Garratt is that his bearded face is inescapable. He is everywhere right now; trailing 'rising star' award wins in his Radio 1 friendly wake. The pressure for the 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist and singer threatens to topple him before he's even gotten going.
Fortunately, the hype has foundation... although Garratt's debut record will only give fans six more new songs – he's already released half of it as singles. Not one for intrigue, then, but he does know how to nail a jangly electro-pop riff.
Weathered just needs a live choir in the background to have everyone weeping, while latest single Fire is less fluid. Sometimes it's not difficult to think, had James Arthur not had an attitude problem, opener Coalesce might have been the kind of stuff he'd have made down the line. But Garratt is far, far more talented and versatile than that.
LONDON'S fabulously fuzzy foursome return with their third album, Stranger Things. Mixing anthemic super-fuzz (Hold Me Closer, Cannonball) with spaced-out dreamscapes (As I Walk Away, Yr Face), there is an overwhelming sense of fun in all that Yuck do, reminiscent of early Flaming Lips, with some Bob Mould, Pavement and Silversun Pickups thrown in.
Done well, as it is here, this kind of music doesn't age. Yuck could be an original shoegaze act, or they could be part of the Nineties revival we're living through. In truth, they're neither, forming in 2009.
It's heartening to hear a rock band of some experience still using overdrive, at a time when everyone else seems to be disappointingly dabbling with electronica. Simply fuzztastic.
Hold On Dreamer
IF HOLD On Dreamer fails to make a star of Anne Lise Frokedal, it will be some miscarriage of justice. A Norwegian performer, well practised from time in the bands Harrys Gym and I Was A King, Frokedal has ached for complete control, and she capitalises on this.
After a decade of band toil, Frokedal remains largely unknown outside her homeland. Solo flight should change that. A recent collaborator with eccentric British troubadour Robyn Hitchcock, Frokedal here delivers a set of gently offbeat, timeless pop songs that reveal ocean-deep depth and great versatility.
The pretty pastoral folk of The Man Who Isn't Here grabs early on, before the grandstanding elegance of Dream Master recalls the darkness of late-period Abba, or their fellow formidable Swede, Frida Hyvonen, to whom Frokedal might be compared. These songs don't hang around, only two reaching the four-minute mark, but they pack a mighty punch.
SINGER-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez explores her Mexican heritage to winning effect on this, her sixth studio album. Inspired by the recordings made in the 40s by her great aunt, Eva Garza, the album, which is sung in English, Spanish and what Rodriguez dubs "Spanglish", is reminiscent to Kirsty MacColl's brilliant cultural crossover album, Tropical Brainstorm.
Lola, produced by Lee Townsend, features the Sacred Hearts, which includes guitarist Bill Frisell, with Viktor Krauss on bass, Luke Jacobs on pedal steel and guitars, David Pulkingham on electric guitar and Brannen Temple on drums. Renowned vocalist Raul Malo is also a guest.
Lola has a terrific samba feel, which would go down a storm on the dance floors of Rio, Mexico City and Havana. But it would no doubt work equally well in Europlean nightspots.
Dream of far off climes and let your feet do the talking to Rodriguez's thrilling rhythms.
Lily & Madeleine
Keep It Together
THIS third album from the Indianapolis sisters builds on an ethereal, introspective indie-folk style displayed previously on their eponymous 2013 debut and the follow-up, Fumes.
Not Gonna is a gentle yet bitter-sweet opening track, followed by For The Weak which ups the pace a little with one of the more instantly catchy guitar-pop melodies on the album. Chicago has a dreamy feel, almost like riding through the city itself in the small hours of the morning.
Small Talk seems quite laid-back at first, but there's an edgier, almost soft-grunge feel in there too which is also evident on the final track, Nothing. Keep It Together isn't an immediate attention grabber, but as with much of the best and most enduring music, it seems to evolve and reveal more delights with each listen.
I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
ONCE you get past the over-long – and, let's be honest, slightly creepy – title of Manchester band The 1975's second album you realise the record is as much of a scramble.
Formerly a paint-by-numbers-type indie rock band – who were actually brilliant live – frontman Matt Healy has said: "It's art. It's what I want to do. The world needs this album."
It's a big claim. First single Love Me sounds like the entire soundtrack to an 80s movie about a high school dance, scrunched inelegantly into three minutes.
A Change Of Heart has hints of Noah And The Whale's tenderness, they give cheesy electro pop a whirl on She's American and Somebody Else has a whispery beauty to it.
While pretty sounding and intriguing at times, overall the record doesn't hang together particularly well.