The Wandering Hearts
THE Wandering Hearts are as close to a classic overnight success as you are likely to find in these digital days. Just 26 minutes after uploading their first Americana-influenced demo to Soundcloud, the London-based quartet were approached by Decca to sign with them. There are definite undertones of bluegrass in this light country-pop album – and each track is over long before you want it to be. If you are thinking that you don't like country (you need to forget the western) this is the release that will prove you wrong. There are moments of grandeur and underlying similarities to the Zac Brown Band and Avriel and the Sequoias too. This is no bad thing – their close harmonies are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac at their best. Stand-out tracks include Rattle, Fire And Water and Biting Through The Wires. As spring arrives The Wandering Hearts bring hope that summer is nearly here.
Pasar De Las Luces
IT'S typically proven challenging for instrumental bands to break through to the mainstream. Their hooks are more classical in nature, and can be inaccessible with no lyric to latch onto. But Tijuana band Mint Field seem poised to rise above the parapet. The album in question, Pasar De Las Luces, is a curious blend of cinematic sweepers - with heavy distortion and attitude - and contrastingly head-bobbable grooves that land closer to shoegaze artists like Pavement than John Williams. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Mexican double act's music is the smooth integration of vocals and music. Singer Estrella Sanchez's ghostly voice soars over the dense and intense instrumental in stand-out track, Ciudad Satelite, but more as an instrument itself than as a main feature. Though they emit the feel of a band you have to experience live, this album is not to be missed.
All At Once
MARISSA Paternoster funnels a dystopian and often anti-aesthetic vision of punk rock through deftly chromatic filters on the seventh studio album from Screaming Females. The band is the New Brunswick trio she has led as singer and virtuoso guitarist for 13 years. Now she, bassist Mike Abbate and drummer Jarrett Dougherty follow 2015's Rose Mountain with a new career high watermark. Thundering opener Glass House recalls early Black Sabbath, Paternoster's electrifying execution echoing both Iommi and Osbourne. The relationship red flag of I'll Make You Sorry first emerged on a benefit album for Chelsea Manning nine months ago. Since reworked, the wig-out comes loaded with heavy pop cargo as Paternoster warns of incoming storms threatening a relationship. Her guitar shredding remains a wonder, slathering but never sluicing the record with dizzying solos, the trio pausing for breath on a pair of slow-tempo tracks, Deeply and Bird In Space, before the pace lifts again.
While I Was Asleep
SOMETIMES a band name is a statement of intent - and in this case, a Norwegian trio casts its work as a sustained love letter to Americana. Immediately we're in Highway 61 territory as the harmonica-laced opener bounds along, deceptively affable though lyrically morbid. Haunting and altogether more compelling is Rolling On, with bright fingerpicking, hazy atmospherics and major/minor feints. It's no coincidence that this is the point at which multi-instrumentalist Mari Sandvaer Kreken takes centre stage, and the vocal limelight is hers for the record's greatest moments. She's got Alison Krauss-esque tonal purity, and tells a story engagingly, from slower tracks like Better Than Gold to newest single Loneliness. The title track emerges in a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young West Coast haze, gearing up into a double-time country chorus – and occasionally, as with Traveller, the pedal steel, harmonies and songcraft conjure something you'd swear was a lost 60s classic.
The Lovely Eggs
This Is Eggland
LANCASTER-based husband-and-wife duo The Lovely Eggs are on cracking form for their fifth album, employing renowned Flaming Lips and Mogwai producer Dave Fridmann to add substance to their endearingly ramshackle sound. The lurid cover art by underground artist Casey Raymond offers a clue to the brash content within, all fat, punk guitar-riffs, trilling keyboards and brain-scrambling slogans - a sort of unholy mix of the Fall and children's band The Wiggles. The lyrics, when not nonsensical (Wiggy Giggy), are frequently hilarious but unprintable (a fact acknowledged in I Shouldn't Have Said That). With so much modern music being as bland as a deflated souffle, The Lovely Eggs's in-your-face antics are liable to leave first-time listeners feeling shell-shocked, but this is a great album(en). Bold, daft, and impossible to egg-nore.