Albums of the week

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Andy Welch
Paul Heaton
New York
Kele Okereke
Albert Hammond Jr


New York electronic duo Ratatat release LP3

We look at this week’s interesting mix of releases including albums by Beck and Tricky.

1) Ratatat – LP3: Ratatat are an electronic duo from New York – guitarist Mike Stroud and Evan Mast who takes care of all synthesizer and production duties. They released their almost solely instrumental self-titled first album in 2004 and since then have built up a cult following including Bloc Party’s frontman Kele Okereke.

Second album Classics followed a couple of years later and built upon the sparse nature of their debut. LP3 moves that sound on a little further and while still containing no vocals aside from the odd sample here and there it’s a remarkably emotive record. Committed to tape in just a few weeks the 42-minute album skips along.

If you want a short burst of entertaining slightly challenging electronica swiss replica watches you’ve come to the right place. Shempi in particular is a treat. Rating: 7/10

(Review by Andy Welch)

2) Albert Hammond Jr – Como Te Llama?: While The Strokes were making slipshod albums and umming and ahhing over making a fourth album the band’s guitarist Albert Hammond Jr decided to embark on a solo career. What started out as a quick side-project for the uber-cool Californian has unfolded into something much more substantial.

Como Te Llama? follows on from the critical success of 2006′s Yours To Keep. There are moments when Hammond’s Strokes connections are all-too obvious most notably on Bargain Of The Century and You Won’t Be Fooled By This but it’s when he’s being more subtle that Como… really takes off.

The seven-minute instrumental Spooky Couch which features Sean Lennon on piano is a real highlight. Rating: 7/10

(Review by Andy Welch)

3) Unkle – End Titles: Stories For Film: Unkle is effectively the recording moniker of DJ and record company founder James Lavelle who along with beat master DJ Shadow created Psyence Fiction a seminal hybrid of rock and dance a decade ago. For that release Lavelle drew on the talents of such luminaries as Thom Yorke and Richard Ashcroft to create an unsettling trip-hop heavy soundscape.

End Titles: Stories For Film continues in this vein with tracks such as Open Up Your Eyes (featuring controversial director Abel Ferrara) and Nocturnal lending themselves to the cinematic motif. Newcomers to this dark world might be best advised to first invest in the earlier record before they tackle this one. Rating 6/10

(Review by Patrick Gates)

4) Paul Heaton – The Cross Eyed Rambler: The Beautiful South may have attributed their split brilliantly to “musical similarities” but their leading light’s solo album shows no inclination to change a winning formula – boozy love songs rub shoulders with eloquent moans.

Heaton’s sceptical about change and the state of the world but on A Good Old Fashioned Town he also finds time to have a go at reactionaries and on epic closer Everything Is Everything he rails against well replica movado ono watches everything.

The sound is perhaps a little more rock than The Beautiful South which could win over those who let radio-friendly tunes blind them to Heaton’s laconic wit. Rating: 8/10

(Review by Alex Sarll)

5) Black Kids – Partie Traumatic: Until now Black Kids were just another ‘This Year’s Big Thing’ kind of band. They emerged amid a flurry of hype with no material aside from a taster EP and the admittedly brilliant single I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You.

It’s now sink or swim time for the Florida-based five-piece as they release their debut. Anyone lucky enough to see them at Glastonbury last week will know Black Kids are a great live band energetic and engaging. The recorded versions of their songs are no less addictive either with marching drums call and response choruses super synths and driving guitars around every corner.

The aforementioned single is of course the highlight but Listen To Your Body and I’ve Underestimated My Charm (Again) are equally memorable odes to youthful lust and freedom. Great stuff. Rating: 8/10

(Review by Andy Welch)

6) The Corrections – Repeat After Me: The Corrections were formerly known as The Fallout Trust but apparently changed it during a gig in their hometown Bristol last year. New name or not there’s nothing original about their sound which constantly attempts – and fails – to sound as big as stadium-fillers such as Coldplay and Snow Patrol.

While Messrs Martin and Lightbody manage to at least sound like they mean what they’re singing The Corrections’ singer Guy Connelly although blessed with a good voice doesn’t convey any conviction at all. White Dog is a brief respite to the humdrum but it’s just not enough to lift this disappointingly bland debut from the mire. Rating: 3/10

(Review by Andy Welch)

7) Tricky – Knowle West Boy: His debut 1996 Maxinquaye and Nearly God spin-off were staggeringly good but after that Bristol rapper Tricky too often seemed lost in a haze going from making music which expressed the paranoia and confusion of modern life to sounding like those sensations were overwhelming him.

Knowle West Boy comes as a surprise – the sound is clean sparse and almost punk at times. The sentiments are still indistinct and baleful but they’re being delivered with fresh purpose. There’s even a Kylie cover Slow – and it works.

He may never top Maxinquaye but on this evidence at least Tricky is back in the game. Rating: 7/10

(Review by Alex Sarll)

8) Beck – Modern Guilt: It’s difficult to know what to expect from a new Beck album. Mr Hansen became the poster boy for slackers when he released Mellow Gold and Odelay while 1999′s Midnite Vultures saw him aping Prince’s slick funk and soul.

Sea Change written after breaking up with his then girlfriend was an introspective record that touched on country rock and blues and Guero and The Information since then have been equally eclectic.

For this eighth major label release Beck’s enlisted cooler-than-thou producer and one half of Gnarls Barkley Danger Mouse to help him craft yet another collection of original innovative tracks which veer between rootsy acoustic stomps 60s psychedelic pop and dreamy electronica. There will be few better albums released this year. Rating: 9/10

(Review by Andy Welch)

9) The Supremes – The Story Of The Supremes: Brassy insistent and confident this collection of Motown songs charts the journey of 60s shoo-bop girl group once nicknamed the ‘no-hit Supremes’ to superstardom. Beginning with girlish tunes like Buttered Popcorn you can hear why The Supremes originally struggled to make an impact.

But after a canny producer made Diana Ross the lead singer the tone of their music completely changed. Songs about nostalgic snacks were out and emotional belters were in.

The album includes hits such as Stop In The Name Of Love I’m Gonna Make You Love Me and You Can’t Hurry Love – reminding us that these soul divas were entirely obsessed with matters of the heart. With the shoo-bop sound still influencing producers like Mark Ronson today this is a terrific and comprehensive introduction to an era-defining group. Rating: 8/10

(Review by Sarah O’Meara)

10) Circuits – Bright As Midnight: Circuits are an all-male four-piece from west London with more than a passing love for the reggae-tinged New Wave sounds of the early 80s. Throughout this long-awaited debut album guitars are set to ‘spiky’ reminiscent of Elvis Costello The Police and The Clash.

The effect is doubled by the addition of dubby nagging basslines and tight drumming. The Choir Invisible Young Enough Not To Care and Before It’s Over are about the best the album has to offer which while maybe not good enough to bowl you over is more than a promising start. Rating: 6/10

(Review by Andy Welch)

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