Albums: New music from Maggie Rogers, Jamie T, Amanda Shires and Of Montreal
MAGGIE ROGERS – SURRENDER
MAGGIE Rogers is back with a second album, although chances are you've never heard of her. With this new release, the Grammy-nominated Maryland-born singer-songwriter is gaining more mainstream attention – and fully deserves it.
Singles That's Where I Am and Want Want are the standouts of the record, offering up pounding drums and grinding distortion.
Horses is a beautiful song with emotional vocals delivered over a simple drum beat.
Be Cool catches attention with its synth opening and Shatter instantly grips with its immediate distortion and constant energy throughout, courtesy of electric guitar.
Rogers scores a hat-trick with her latest work – she is a powerful vocalist, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist.
Sometimes her vocals overpower the production, but with such a broad range of instrumentation, Surrender offers strong variety and demonstrates raw talent.
JAMIE T – THE THEORY OF WHATEVER
JAMIE T doesn't like the limelight. The wait for a new album from the Wimbledon-raised troubadour can last years – in this case six. But on The Theory Of Whatever, the mists have cleared with him delivering some of his finest, most uplifting and at times hilariously biting music in years.
Despite being lumped in with the indie crowd, he has always maintained his own identity, mixing indie and half-spoken rap well before it became a pop trope.
Tracks such as the anthemic The Old Style Raiders capture a new sense of hope, while Keying Lamborghinis is the opposite and one of the darkest songs he has written.
This is Jamie T's final album under a record deal he signed in his teens and, as he hits a new stride, let's hope we don't have to wait so long for the next one.
AMANDA SHIRES – TAKE IT LIKE A MAN
"YOU can call me serious trouble," Amanda Shires sings on album opener Hawk For The Dove, and the Nashville veteran's eighth studio album certainly delivers in the wake of her arguing fiercely and publicly against the repeal of Roe v Wade.
The title track and second single is another early highlight, an already powerful ballad lifted by dramatic strings, but mid-album standout Bad Behaviour takes the honours, from the seductive opening "oh-oh-ohs" to the teasing "Maybe I like strangers" chorus.
Guitar work from Shires' husband Jason Isbell and guest vocals from her Highwomen collaborators Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby – as well as Brittney Spencer – perfectly complement Shires' central performance.
Finishing with the jazz-flecked Lonely At Night and the beautiful, wistful Everything Has Its Time – the latter showcasing Shires' vocals at their finest – this is a strong album that deserves to build on the momentum of 2016's My Piece Of Land and follow-up To The Sunset.
OF MONTREAL – FREEWAVE LUCIFER F^
PREPARE to tangle with one of the year's most adventurous and baffling albums. From the album title's use of symbols, songs resembling cryptic crossword clues and esoteric lyrics, this is like nothing else. Each of the seven tracks is a dizzying whirl of styles, key changes, instrumentation and mood, with nods to the Beatles' Sgt Pepper, MGMT and Gary Numan-style synthpop.
Opening track Marijuana's A Working Woman starts as mutant funk, interspersed with quieter interludes accompanied by random vocal sounds, and yet is probably the most conventional track.
The title of Blab Sabbath Lathe Of Maiden seems to refer to British metal giants Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, but there's not a guitar riff or drum solo in sight. Ofrenda-Flanger-Ego A Gogo is gentle synths, while final track Hmmm is underpinned by 1980s-style oddball funk.
While the album is hard going at first, the more you play it the more it makes sense.