The Mars Volta: The Bedlam Goliath

This is about as avant-garde as it gets. The only trouble with the free form jazz rock fusion thingy is that you often sail a fine line between intellectual geniuses and a bunch of pretentious twats. I’m sure there are people who could maintain valid arguments for the Mars Volta sailing on either side of the line. Still I rather enjoy a bit of free form noodling, but then again I am a bit of a pretentious twat myself. The perfect antidote to AC/DC.

Kaiser Chiefs: Off With Their Heads

Not quite the electrical maelstrom of their debut but a few sparks nonetheless. The Album production is courtesy of Mark Ronson.and highlights include: “Never Miss a Beat” which uses the Boomtown Rats technique of the band supplying witty retorts to the lead singers questions, “Good Days Bad Rain” which is a boppy, if perhaps a little juvenile but likeable romp that leads us nicely into the album highlight “Tomato In The Rain” with the vocal style and simple melodies reminiscent of their debut album.
The overall verdict has to be a little disappointing as the Kaiser’s have a plotted a steady downward course since “Employment”. I think there’s enough creativity and potential for a lot better.

TV On The Radio: Dear Science

Dear Science is one of the most pioneering albums I have heard this year, rather than plough the well furrowed trail left by many modern rock bands, New Yorkers, TV On the Radio, have found their own unique blend of innovative rock by incorporating a long list of other genres (funk, soul, free form jazz to list a few). “Dancing Choose” is a good bouncy example of a synthesis of more modern electro sounds and rock. At the time of writing TV on the Radio are not a major household name, but I think on this occasion I might stick my neck out and suggest that they could well be a big name in the future.

David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk

You may want to argue, that with plenty of decent live Pink Floyd albums available this new release from Mr Gilmour is not required. Wrong. “Live in Gdansk” eclipses the previous Floyd live releases for a number of reasons. Firstly the production quality of this album would have Gerald the (Not the 9’O’Clock News) gorilla waxing lyrical for hours, the performance it self is sublime and the set list is inspired. Included here for the first time in an official live release is “Fat Old Sun”, Gilmour’s first serious contribution to Pink Floyd from 1970’s “Atom Heart Mother”. Even more important is the inclusion of the mighty epic “Echoes” the early Floyd colossus. Each track is also subtly adapted to add new interest from Richard Wrights dicking around during Echoes, the extended guitar solo at the end of “Fat Old Sun” and the Spanish guitar at the conclusion of the post Waters high tide mark, “High Hopes”.

Queen and Paul Rogers: The Cosmos Rocks

The three main protagonists on this album , namely Brian May, Roger Taylor and Paul Rogers each have their own familiar and distinctive styles that all come to the forefront on this album. The resulting concoction is a very convincing rock and roll album, but one that does not necessarily sit altogether comfortably with the rest of the mighty Queen cannon. Thankfully Paul Rogers is instantly recognisable as Paul Rogers and not Paul pretending to be Freddie. Homage is however paid to Queens illustrious past via Brian’s squealing guitar solos, trademark backing harmonies and even a nod to their classic anthem via two foot stamps and a clap.

Portishead: 3rd

Portishead’s 2nd was released in 1997, so was it worth the 11 year wait for their 3rd? Well they’ve retained their distinctive sound of repetitive jarring beats overlaid with Beth Gibbons’ angelic vocals. Despite the simplistic sound, like all music of any credit there’s far too much to be picked up on the first couple of listens, and some of the disjointed rhythms don’t seem to make sense the first few times around. However, “3rd” is up there with the first 2 great Portishead long players and the similarity surely guarantee’s aficionados of the first two will also love this one. To pick a few standout tracks, I would have to mention “The Rip” with its delicate acoustic guitar refrain underpinning the gorgeous vocals before the synthesised rhythm gradually builds up and takes a hold. “Magic Doors” opens with the monotonous tone the BBC used to broadcast at night when they’d run out of telly, the unwavering tone is joined by an avant-garde drum loops reminiscent of early Nick Mason to produce a surreal cacophony.

The Last Shadow Puppets: The Age of Understatement

Side projects seem to be all the rage lately, this particular one from the Artic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and The Rascals’ Miles Kane fully justifies the concept. As with all side projects Alex and Miles have attempted something a little different from their day jobs. The angle they’ve used for the Shadow Puppets is that suave sophisticated sound of Scott Walker from the late 60’s with the heavily orchestrated strings and brass provided by the London Metropolitan Orchestra, and it works a treat.

Oasis: Dig Out Your Soul

It’s been 13 years since the hay day of Brit Pop and the daily tabloid battles between Oasis and Blur. Despite that Oasis continue to soldier on with the same beatle-esque manc swagger that raised them to top of the pile in the first place. I didn’t have especially high hopes for this album as the quality of some of their output following their dazzling first 3 albums has been variable. The Gallagher brothers have continuously shuffled their auxiliary band members in a hope of recreating the early days when brilliant songs flowed effortlessly from nowhere. “Waiting for the Rapture’s” opening riff sound like a direct lift from the Doors’ “Five to One” but the rest of “Dig Out Your Soul” will be immediately familiar to all Oasis fans. All of the ingredients of a great Oasis album have been poured into the mixing pot, perhaps the only missing magic ingredient is the fact that it’s no longer the mid ‘90’s.