Albums: New music from The Snuts, Dan Croll, Ryley Walker and Boo Hewerdine
THE SNUTS – WL
THIS indie quartet from Whitburn in Scotland have built up a devoted fanbase through relentless touring and a series of rowdy singles. Now, their debut album: 13 tracks custom built for singing along while punching the air at a sold out Glasgow Barrowland.
WL starts unexpectedly with the low-key Top Deck before The Snuts hit their stride with the anthemic Always, driven by a nagging guitar riff, and the catchy All Your Friends.
Somebody Loves You is a love song that strays towards boyband territory, while Boardwalk is acoustic, Don't Forget It (Punk) is aggressive, Coffee & Cigarettes as experimental as they get and last track, Sing For Your Supper, heads towards power ballad territory.
With influences ranging from Oasis and the Libertines to Arctic Monkeys and The Courteeners, The Snuts are not reinventing the indie wheel – but their own personality always comes through.
DAN CROLL – GRAND PLAN LIVE
THE idea of a live album recorded during the pandemic, when public performance remains impossible, might seem nonsensical. Nonetheless, Dan Croll is releasing a live version of his sensitive, engrossing 2020 album Grand Plan, plus a second side of extras.
It's live in the sense that it was recorded as part of a livestream from Spacebomb studios in Richmond, Virginia, where the album was originally recorded. For the project, Croll reunited with producer Matthew E White and his studio band.
The results are pleasing, like a hazy glimpse into the sessions that birthed the album. Grand Plan itself charted a year-long period starting in February 2018 when Croll left his hometown of Liverpool for Los Angeles.
He pivoted to a music that was more worldly, more tied up in the songwriting traditions of California, whilst also paying tribute to the looming presence of The Beatles.
In a live setting, the quality of these songs shine through, revealing new dimensions. It's an enjoyable, if superfluous, companion piece.
RYLEY WALKER – COURSE IN FABLE
RYLEY Walker may have jokingly described this as his "prog record". But thankfully, the Chicago rocker's rigorous approach to songwriting and his roots in jazz temper the genre's more self-indulgent tendencies.
He may now live in New York, but this is a record that pays tribute to the city in which he built a reputation and carved out a sound: Course In Fable looks back to the prog bands that emerged out of Chicago in the 1990s.
Gastr del Sol integrated the motorik rhymes of math and post-rock, while the The Sea and Cake was notable not just for their offbeat name but for the manner in which they injected jazz into their sound.
These are the reference points to look for on Course In Fable, as Walker swings from the complexity of Yes! to gentle folk melodies.
Rarely do some many genres combine is such harmony.
BOO HEWERDINE – SELECTED WORKS
MARK 'Boo' Hewerdine, one of England's most enduring singer-songwriters, turned 60 in February. If you are looking for a way to celebrate his legacy than look no further than Selected Works, a collection of 20 tracks sequenced by Reveal Records founder Tom Rose.
A handful of the songs were written over the last year, although only The Language of Love, which opens the album, could be considered inspired by lockdown.
Elsewhere, Cambridge-raised Hewerdine explores melodic folk with Brooks Williams on Why Does The Nightingale Sing? and chamber pop on An Atheist In A Foxhole.
The album also includes a new recording of The Village Bell with label mate Kris Drever that boosts the original's harmonic qualities to wonderful effect.
Perhaps one of Britain's most underrated musicians, Selected Works is an unrivalled entry point into his music.