Garage Meets Power Pop and Begets Punk ….. PLAY BLOODY LOUD!
“BERKELEY, Calif. — On November 2, 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States. The events of November 3 were less earth-shaking, although it was the day the power pop pioneers The Rubinoos recorded this album. The group walked into CBS Studios on Folsom Street in San Francisco to, as band co-founder and singer Jon Rubin recollects, “have a ‘set up and get comfortable in the studio’ kind of affair.”
…….and, to some extent that’s what you get …… a Garage Band of young fearless musicians without a care in the world; or more importantly ‘Hit Records’ in the forefront of their mind. All first takes; this in many ways is a Live Recording and to my ears; the forerunner of many Punk album that would follow in the next few years. The only thing that would make opening track All Excited any better would be if the drummer counted everybody in ….. “1,2, 3 ….hit it!” The following couple of minutes is very much ‘of its time’ as is the album itself; mid 70’s Power Pop with edges so rough and ready they all become timeless …. and certainly haven’t dated as much as many of what their peers would record in the next 12 months. That track is one of only three self-penned songs here; and all three sit very comfortably alongside the myriad of cover songs that the Rubinoos put their very own twist on. If I’d had a band in 1976 it’s quite conceivable that I would have insisted the Archies’ Sugar Sugar and my two favourite Beatles songs; She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were included in the set list; just like Jon Rubin did; but I wouldn’t have had the wit or imagination to have the Funk Classics, King Curtis’ Memphis Soul Strut and The Meters Cissy Strut in the mix too; as both only entered my collection ten or more years later ….. and here The Rubinoos certainly do justice to and show what great musicians they were at such a tender age. For a Favourite Track I very nearly went for the Surf Instrumental Walk, Don’t Run …… but that’s because I’m re-discovering that much neglected sub-genre; which leaves a coin toss between Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat (DeFranco Family? No; me neither) which has melodies and a chorus that sounds like The Adverts covering The Osmonds! T’other is a Rubinoos original; and a song that blew my metaphorical socks off ……. I Want Her, So Bad …… a genuine contender for the very first Punk Rock song (although there are other contenders) and one I’ve subsequently totally fallin in love with. The all too short album comes to a close with a Jonathan Richmond Song; Government Song done absolutely straight and possibly the one song here that actually is a forerunner to the fun time edgy Power Pop that The Rubinoos became famous for; but everything that precedes it; warts ‘n all, has to be there too to create the magic; doesn’t it? Four weeks ago I had absolutely no idea what to expect; as I’m particularly suspicious of ‘previously unreleased albums;’ but 2021 is probably a case of ‘right place/right time’ for The Rubinoos to take over your car stereo for the second time as you re-live your youth and scare the bejaysus out of your kids and Grandkids ……. PLAY LOUD and PLAY OFTEN!
Jody and The Jerms SENSATION EP Self Release/Bandcamp
Infectious Post-Pandemic Indie-Americana Hybrid
At my age I shouldn’t really be surprised at the vagaries of the music scene, but I have to admit that being asked to review this EP has expanded my music knowledge. While trying to find out more about the band I discovered that they had a link to The Anydays; who apparently toured way back in the nineties with the likes of Radiohead and Supergrass so I may/must well have seen them as support at a Supergrass gig. To still be active over 25 plus years later would indicate they either really enjoy their music or they are daft – I am running with the former! Based in Oxford and with a lead singer, Jody, who prior to 2019 hadn’t ever sung live, their single, ‘Get Me Out’ (like the rest of us mere mortals) they fell foul of the pandemic, so only managed a single gig before the normal world came crashing down. It was to their credit that they already had an album ‘Deeper;’ out last September which certainly got some them some positive attention. But, can they carry on where they left off, is the $64,000 question? Jody is a lead singer who just throws herself into things whole heartedly, and the first few bars of ‘Sensation’’ had me driven crazy trying to recall the track it had immediately reminded me of. Eventually I realised it was Meilyr Jones and ‘How to Recognise a Work of Art’. This is jangly guitar at its best and its a very infectious opener that would go down well as a gig opener. ‘Nemesis’ is a slower and softer offering and Jody hits just the right mark on this much gentler but quite pleasant track, before we move on to ‘Sunshine Rays.’ A totally different song both in terms of delivery and musical phrasing, with drums featuring far more prominently; backing a slinky slide guitar solo. The final track, ‘Never Going Home’ is a very good finale in the manner of someone like the Go Betweens and, for me, a nod to some early Slow Club stuff too. Classic Indie Pop (assuming this is still an acceptable phrase in 2021). There is no doubt that ‘Sensation’ is the highlight track, but overall this is a set that would certainly attract me to a live gig (they are apparently on the way back) to see if they can back up their pleasing sound in a small club setting like Newcastle’s Cluny. I suspect they wouldn’t let me down. Good luck to them – it’s a hard time for small bands to be pushing their music; so any assistance from local and community radio will definitely be beneficial.
Still Creating Sparks and Dreams After All These Years.
After a career totalling around 30 years and releasing a dozen or so albums you would expect a band with the experience of Teenage Fanclub to be able to deal with the loss of a valued member of the squad; and that’s just one of the many problems they had to handle on this album. Their answer? Stick as close as possible to the routines/systems that have worked for them and slot in the ‘newcomer’, Euro Childs, and produce an album that is undoubtedly Teenage Fanclub from the opening bars. The loss of Gerry Love after all those years has been overcome; and that’s a tribute to both the band and their former member. From a personal point of view TFC take me back to 1990/91, when I was trailing around record shops to secure their albums for my son (16 at the time and a very keen fan) as a birthday or Christmas present along with ‘Screamadlica’ by Primal Scream! Little did I expect both of these bands to be still knocking out albums 30 odd years later, but they are and they still do it with the same vigour as they’ve demonstrated each time I’ve seen them over the years. My customary review selections tend to be bands/artists on the way up; or with just a couple of releases under their belt; so this was a major challenge as I made sure I went back over a few of their albums to see what (if anything) had changed in addition to the personnel. The simple answer (although that does seem a bit condescending) is that we are presented with 40 plus minutes of what they do best – articulate lyrics, indie guitars and excellent rhythms that have stood them in good stead. The constants include of course the retention of Blake and McGinley who haven’t lost their songwriting expertise. I must admit that I am not a lover of lengthy openers so ‘Home’ at just over 7 minutes had me a bit concerned, although the vocals on the track are just typical TFC, followed by plenty trading of guitars. As a total opposite we then find ‘Endless Arcade’ comes in at just 3 minutes ‘don’t be afraid of this life’ , life being the endless arcade in the track. Sounds as though it could be a Luke Haines ‘new wave’ offering? The songwriting has been split between Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley and you never lose their ability to come up with well crafted and considered lyrics; although the album probably misses out on a real standout track/single, the closest being ‘The Sun Won’t Shine On Me’, backed up by some top notch guitar work. On ‘Living With You’ we get a very much from the heart plea that ‘it’s going to take a minor miracle but I want to be around and living with you’ while the final track ‘Silent Song’ slides in very gently ‘see what I want to see with my eyes’ and develops slowly into a very sad and soulful lament. A sign that the spark is still there. ‘In Our Dreams’ stands out as the track that couldn’t be by any other band; with the harmonies as good as ever and the heavier guitars picking up on a track that (in my view) just misses out on being an outstanding song, although I can’t put my finger on what is missing – it’s just a feeling I had. Overall, I think it’s fair to say that the majority of their fan base will be happy with this album, but I am not 100% certain that it will hit the mark with other listeners; but as I mentioned above, I just can’t decide what it is that’s the missing ingredient. I must stress that there are no poor tracks on here but it just lacks the few strong and outstanding tracks found on most of the Teenage Fanclub back catalogue. I understand that they are already planning another album, and it will be interesting to see how the new group will have developed/progressed before that is released – I am pretty confident that they will soon get back to their previous standards. It may not quite be to the high standards of previous releases, but being slightly below par is still better than most other groups.
‘The Cellos Aren’t Real and the Mono LPs Just Don’t Exist?’
I find myself in a strange situation on this album review as Ste Reid, from Mono LP’s believes “people don’t listen to albums in their entirety any more, due to the likes of Spotify etc“. An interesting statement and one that in many ways may be accurate but it’s the exact opposite of my personal modus operandi.
Provided time permits I prefer to listen to an entire album (usually on my morning strolls) to get a true feel for the set, although it may take a couple of listens before I feel totally happy with my ‘views’ – not that they are always the populist ones, of course. I made a point of listening to the previous release; ‘States of Decay’ before finally deciding on the review, as it allowed the chance of a comparison between the two and even more relevant, the chance to see where the band are aiming with this offering. And it’s clear that they are certainly not the sort to be stuck in a rut as ‘Shuffle/Play’ is deliberately a step up in musical terms and arrangements. The opener ‘Think About It’ just hits you immediately, pleading with the listener to ‘think about it when everybody says you are wrong’. A heavy 80’s style number and an ideal set opener. Any thoughts this would set the theme for the album are blown apart with ‘Make Your Mind Up;’ much softer and a re-styling of an older track to an electronica number a la The XX so we have had two opposite ends of the spectrum on the first two tracks – what was to follow? The answer is ‘The Bomb’ delivered in an unmistakably obvious Liverpool accent – ‘you’re living like a queen’ but ‘it’s in an ivory tower’. A great arrangement making full use of their individual talents and one of the best tracks on the album. We are then back into real 70s rock style for ‘Hell’, one of their newest tracks from their writing endeavours, but to be honest, it was the only track that did not gel with me straight away. More down to me not being a fan of that genre; rather than the actual track possibly. You can’t win ‘em all! Their aim of an album dealing with different periods and genres isn’t going to have every track to the liking of even those with the most catholic tastes, but they were back in my good books on ‘Getting Away With It All’. Back to the 60s ( my era)? The highlight of the album (and video) is ‘Love Me’, a story of true love in true indie style – a real toe-tapper and one to get the crowd ‘up for it’. The arrangement and the vocals come together perfectly. For Peter Sellars fans who can remember him in ‘Being There;’ track #6 ‘Chancy Gardener’ glides along helped by the tremendous cello parts ( in a ‘rock’ band?) of Vicky Reid aided and abetted (in the nicest way) by the violin of Amy Chalmers, a friend of the band but also in Two Black Sleep. The Country/Americana track to add another string to their bow is ‘Sunlight’, very much influenced by The Coral before the penultimate ‘Not The Only One’, another more indie-style tune, with the catchy jangle of guitars to the fore. The sad finale ‘You Say’ deals with the death of a close relative from Cancer – ‘please stay with me tonight’ as the family gather together for possibly the last time. A beautiful violin and piano duo provide just the right atmospheric mood for a song genuinely written ‘from the heart.’ They have glued together a set based on older tracks pre ‘States of Decay;’ plus a lot of newer offerings and this clicks perfectly to bring a very enjoyable album and an array of (deliberately) differing moods. I don’t usually mention accompanying videos but just check out the video for ‘Love Me’ – a cracking song and an even better video of the ‘tortured souls’ variety; living out their ironic and humorous apprehensions of their love and the band. Well I listened to it all the way through THREE times and each time I seemed to pick up something I had missed previously, but it didn’t improve my mood re ‘Hell’ – it would seem I’m an old dog who can’t be taught the trick of liking 70’s RAWK!! Now that there are signs of life on the gig front, I will add these to my ‘to see’ list (it’s getting longer by the day). I have a feeling that seeing them with their cello live would be something I would really enjoy. An album of changes and I am reliably informed ‘change is for the better’.
The Ghost of Helags We Came From the Stars Warsaw Recordings
These Ghosts Will Intrigue, Surprise and Please You.
When I was first offered the chance to review an album by a ‘Swedish outfit,’ I had visions of blokes with long blonde hair and beards dressed in outfits that looked as though they had been used in Jurassic Park! How wrong I was proving again, that with music pre-conceptions are not a good idea and certainly not where you are about to listen to a band for the first time. So it’s congratulations to this Berlin-based Swedish duo of Teresa Woischiski and John Alexander Ericsson for their debut album. Synth pop, Electronica and Shoegaze were all potential genres into which this would easily slot but to do so would be an injustice to the overall effort. Imagine the XX or Alt-J just delivering a set without any background jumping around and you’ve got The Ghost of Helags. They have followed several recent singles with a 12 track album that makes the most of the excellent vocal range of Teresa with the lush electric backing of John as they got together an array of songs written in several far flung places. ‘Chemistry’, the opener sets the scene with the drum machine being the ideal partner to the delightful vocals of Teresa, a voice that is very much in vogue at present with a plethora of high quality female vocalists making their mark on the music scene. A toe tapper to start us off. More of the same with ‘Mary’ as ‘she forgot to stay in touch so it’s over now’ – another lovely track delivered beautifully before one of the album highlights ‘InThe Dark Honey;’ a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Phoebe Bridgers set. ‘Looking for trouble but I can’t say it found me as I hide in the shadows.’ A mention here for the backing vocals of Hayley Ross, a Brighton based star in the making. The further we get into the album the more the feeling that Teresa’s voice deserves more recognition than it has earned so far. Each track gives her the chance to show her full vocal output. ‘Bye Bye Tokyo’ is a little diamond – just sit back and listen to the dreamy backing to her so soft feathery emotional vocal on a track that was apparently written on a plane as the flew over the islands of Japan. ‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Autobahn Lullaby’ are the real bright spots of the second half of the album with the latter a tribute to their home in Berlin where the bulk of the tracks were finally mixed, mastered and produced. The album was all written in the old days (before Coronavirus) with ‘Mary’ created somewhere in Eastern Europe; while ‘Parallel’ was written during a summer festival at Antibes and you can feel the influences of the likes of Kate Bush and Chemical Brothers on several tracks. I have to admit that I do have a penchant for female artists and for bands/groups with a female vocalist; so this was literally right up my music street – Teresa is certainly well worthy of the praise for her part in this dream pop offering. Personally, I did not find a weak track amongst the twelve and it is great to hear a new album that not only surprises but delights in equal amounts and I just hope that it dies get the play time that is has warranted. I know ghosts usually frighten people – on this occasion they surprised me in a great way. Thanks again.
From Canada; Life’s Happiness and Sadness (But Not in Equal Measures)
Quite a few years ago I read an article extolling the virtues of the number of successful Canadian bands on the Indie/Rock scene, so not long after; I took the chance to see a few bands from this ‘new scene’ whenever they visited my Home Town of Newcastle. Two of the earliest I was able to catch up with were Woodpigeon and Wintersleep. Both were excellent, so I have CDs from both in my collection (something that definitely needs to be tidied up ASAP). In the latest edition of MOJO Magazine, is their small review of ‘Twin Flames;’ the band were described as ‘inventive envelope-pushing indie rock’. The link between the two points? Paul Murphy that’s who; and POSTDATA is his side project to Wintersleep; and is releasing this album under the expert production of Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, Portishead and P J Harvey). In addition; among the performers offering quality helping hands are Grant Hutchison and Andy Monaghan from Frightened Rabbit, one of my favourite UK outfits. Having set out with the aim of producing a more intimate offering Paul has managed to to manufacture an album that not only reflects that, but also suits his quite distinctive voice quite perfectly – the end result is his best release so far, in my opinion. Nine tracks that retain the dual target of an excellent album filled with excellent individual songs. Sadness and happiness abounds; albeit in unequal measures. ‘Haunts’ drifts in slowly and gently behind Murphy’s vocals ‘you were the first to say I love you,’ backed by percussion and bass to start us off on the road through ‘Twin Flames.’ This is followed by a dreamy pop style ‘Inside Out’ and one that Murphy maintains he has left in its ‘poppy’ state. Catchy is the ideal adjective for track #3 ‘Nobody Knows’ where he is backed by friends and family shouting ‘not good’ behind him. This is the track that Murphy has modelled on the musical leanings of the late Scott Hutchison. The title track is delivered in a cool spoken manner and is certainly the darkest song here, in terms of meaning and lyrics ‘holding you tightly in the endless night til there was nothing left’. The beautiful horn backing offers the ideal back set to this track. Favourite track? For me? ‘Kissing;’ about a relationship that is so alive, you can literally feel the Frightened Rabbit influence in here – sadness is always just a heartbeat away. Brilliant. The last few tracks offer Paul the chance to demonstrate his ability to mix the upbeat ‘Behind You’ and the need to just get through tough times and make the most of life with ‘My Mind Won’t,’ dealing with love in its many complicated ways, not least being the difficult part of simply staying together; ‘I don’t want to let you go but my words are meaningless.’ Another great song ‘Tomb’, the finale, covers the aftermath of a death, with the memories that are so clear yet all they do is to bring these almost to life, so he can’t get away from them in real life. An album of happiness and sadness (not in equal measures) that does definitely reveal the friendship and influence that existed with the members of Frightened Rabbit, but overall it is a tremendous set, one that will go down a bomb in a smaller more intimate venue. My ‘test’ is to listen on the daily morning walk and this one got regular re-plays and I even found myself looking at the lyrics, something I very rarely do. Did I mention that Canada have more than a few decent indie/rock outfits? POSTDATA are well and truly in that category.
Overnight Sensations Again After 30 Years in the Wilderness?
An album that has been 30 years in the making for, for one time ‘overnight sensations.’ After releasing the first track on this album as a single towards the end of 2020, Bradford (oddly enough from Blackburn!) effectively re-announced their arrival (or return) to the music arena and an arena totally different to the one they left 30 years ago. Back then, they were lauded by the likes of Morrissey as ‘a band of the future,’ and with tours in support of Mr. Morrissey and Joe Strummer things looked bright, before that light was extinguished with the burgeoning Manchester scene. Bradford, like the town, lost their aura and had to disband in 1991. Roll on nearly 30 years and a collection of around 30 songs appeared – a ‘lost English classic’ some said; and this had the effect of re-lighting that late 80s fire and the result is the worthy effort of ‘Bright Hours,’ and a new line- up to take up the baton yet again. Deciding to issue an album was brave, but to re-create songs written 30 years ago was even braver, but the revised line-up and the re-arranging of the various tracks has produced a very good stab at getting back into the groove. It is hard to envisage how much time was spent in poring over the material and deciding how to alter arrangements that would retain their individuality, but at the same time, keep the Bradford ‘sound’ – they’ve made a more than passable attempt to marry the old and new together. ‘Like Water’ is a perfect choice as the opener, as it catches the flavour of their history perfectly as ‘water just drifted away through the cracks’ in the same manner as their 1990 hopes and dreams. Vocally, I think it’s fair to see that these suggest an older band; one with a few miles under their belt. Founding members, Ian and Ewan have been joined by producer Stephen Street and the chemistry between the three is highlighted on some very catchy and well crafted tracks both musically and lyrically. With your eyes shut you can imagine some of these being sung by a more mature Small Faces or The Coral. On ‘My Wet Face’ they deal with the ‘need to hang onto things you love,’ while ‘This Week Has Made Me Weak’ is a superb track where their harmonies fit well into a song dealing with the travails of getting through a 7 day week, with each day allocated a specific identity. Regardless of the individual days the sum total is to be weak after the week ends. A couple of the tracks work well as they suit Ian’s voice (‘Bright Hours’) and certainly wouldn’t be out of place on a set by more recent and, dare I say it …. younger bands. Ian delivers the lines with a minimum of fuss and I did wonder how well they would have done if they had been able to ride out that 1991 year. ‘Feathers In The Fire’ has a hint of an Indie-Folk track and would certainly slot into the sets of several modern North West bands, but one of the highlights for me is the gruff delivery of ‘The Rowing Boat Song’, imploring that ‘you keep your seat on the hard wooden seats.’ A bit like their own story where you try to hang on to what you have got. It would have been interesting to hear the original productions and arrangements; and to compare them to the finished article and I definitely felt that ‘Gave A Time’ had benefitted from the changes, as Ian offers a soft and occasionally strangulated vocal on a gentle song. The album got my usual two or three full listens and I can honestly say it grew on me with each hearing. The penultimate track ‘I Make A Fist’ could easily have been on a Richard Hawley album and the more I listened the more I enjoyed it. I am realistic enough to know that this won’t be a big seller, but I hope that enough folks listen to it and enjoy it for what it is. An album that has survived the test of time in the real sense of the word.
Review by Bill Redhead Released February 19th 2021
Out today; Everybody Cares: An Elliott Smith Compilation which has been put together by Francis Lung (ex-WU LYF), La Blogotheque and My Favourite Elliott Smith Song (a fan podcast) – the compilation of Elliott Smith covers with 100% of the proceeds going towards LGBTQ+ right charities (AKT, The Audre Lorde Project and GIRES). The charity compilation was put together in June 2020 as a live show via La Blogotheque’s Instagram, raising over £1500 for the aforementioned charities – now, in an effort to keep supporting, they are releasing the compilation via Bandcamp. Cover versions come from Christian Lee Hutson, Francis Lung, Oceanator, Keep Dancing Inc., Blaenavon, Marissa Nadler, Martin Courtney (Real Estate) and more.
Plenty of Driving Guitars and Well Crafted Vocals; Now That’s Entertainment!
I suppose that I need to own up to the fact that although I’ve never felt let down by a live Maximo gig, but I haven’t always felt the same about all of their album releases. Not that they have been bad – it’s just that they haven’t come up to the same exciting standards live. As a result I was really looking forward to ‘Nature Always Wins,’ especially as we are dealing with a local band that have done well in their years on the national stage; and I had also planned to see their forthcoming local gig (not likely to happen now). It is an achievement that this has even come out at all in 2021, when we consider the effects of COVID 19 and the various lockdowns that have impacted on the music scene in general; and this album in particular. Producer Ben Allen and the band had to complete the album with them in the UK and Ben in Atlanta – the wonders of modern technology. Paul Smith must have one of the most distinctive voices of current front men and the opener, ‘Partly Of My Making’ suits him down to the ground, quite catchy with a very subtle change of emphasis mid song. A real ‘indie rock’ track. A very gentle intro takes them into ‘Versions Of You;’ ‘I can hardly comprehend these versions of you’ with Smith at his best as the vocals rise and falls on a smashing track. An acknowledgement within a relationship of how many impressions (versions) a person can give of themselves. ‘Baby Sleep’ is Maximo at their best, with driving guitars and well crafted vocals and we then race into ‘Placeholder’, a song about relationships and coping within the confines of such a duo delivered at full pace. An excellent selection as their recent single. One aspect of their music has always been their ability to spend time on their lyrics; and the meaning behind them and ‘All Of Me’ is, for me, the highlight of the first half of the album, a real toe tapper and a sing along at gigs (remember them?). The band at their best vocally and musically too. The second half starts with ‘Meeting Up’, another song about the vagaries of thinking how each party believes the other will be thinking; or imagining it’s progress. In ‘Why Must A Building Burn’ they consider why matters have to go so sour before both parties realise that isn’t what they needed in the first place. The pace never drops as we move into the last 3 or 4 tracks and this is where the band are at their very best, keeping a high tempo and not allowing the listener a chance to consider moving onto a new track. As we get towards the end of the album I realised that I hadn’t really been aware of it coming to an end – always a good sign for me; but I will know better on a couple of extra listenings in coming weeks. Possibly the softest song on the set is track 11, the penultimate track; ‘Feelings I’m Supposed To Feel’ but it isn’t out of place, as it gives Smith the perfect opportunity to run through his full range and I reckon this would be a cracker at a live gig, the spoken section getting the crowd ‘cranked up’ for the finale. ‘Child Of The Flatlands’ has a pensive Smith looking into a bleak future as the world changes; but he yearns for being back in the days when he was a kid. Not my favourite track and one which I feel doesn’t sit comfortably as an end to an album. Personally, I would have preferred this to have been slotted somewhere in the middle of the set. Going back to my opening comments I’ve now listened to the album again; and although I feel it is better than their last couple of albums, I am still of the opinion that they are a better band live. I also have to admit that as a regular gig goer I much prefer to be ‘entertained’ more at the gig, than when I am listening to a CD or vinyl at home; or on my headphones while out walking. It’s an album I’ve genuinely enjoyed; (and Maximo Park fans certainly will) and that’s all that really matters – we all need an occasional uplift; especially as this year is unfolding; and the album will do that. Maximo Park were scheduled to play this album at a number of socially distanced gigs in February but these have already been cancelled and replaced by a July Tour; fingers crossed things will get closer to normality by then!
Review by Bill Redhead. Released February 26th 2021
When their initial album was released a few years ago I was extolling its virtues to a couple of lads from work – both really liked it, but couldn’t understand the spelling or pronunciation of DJANGO. I explained about Django Reinhardt but still received blank looks, so they decided to look it up. After asking how to spell both Django and Reinhardt they listened to my suggestion and they both bought the album and went to see the band live, so I must have been correct in my original view of the band and the album. Having enjoyed the previous three albums (to varying degrees) I was really looking forward to their 2021 offering to see if there had been any changes to their philosophy over the last 2/3 years. I was not disappointed. I’ve always had the view that bands need to hit the listener early via the opening track; and ‘Spirals’ does that in spades; being the sort of track that just deserves to be the opener on any live set. At 5 minutes it could have the audience on a high immediately. A smashing opening. Over their 4 albums the band have tried to change/progress/evolve musically but at the same time retaining that ‘definitive sound’ that hit us all on their debut album. It’s a hard path to try and walk without slipping off but track 3 ‘Got Me Worried’ is ideal in that respect, leading onto ‘Waking Up’ featuring the tremendous Charlotte Gainsbourg, whose voice just suits this arrangement. This switch of lead vocalist is a real winner. Probably my favourite track. It is hard for me to put this band into a genre and even more so on their 4th album, but I think it’s fair to slot them into a Electro-Rock category, if that exists but I suppose it does now. ‘Free From Gravity’ is a real toe tapper with an almost hypnotic and repetitive percussion backing to emphasise the title. As a band, Django Django have relied on the close and catchy vocals on previous offerings and they’ve not lost any of that here; on ‘Headrush’ with Vincent Neff keeping ‘the spirit up in a headrush’. If it works well don’t change it so ‘Night Of The Buffalo’ keeps us on our toes through the middle third of the 13 tracks. There is a sudden drop in tempo with ‘The World Will Turn’, a pleasant softer tempo number that wouldn’t be out of place on say, an Admiral Fallow album. This toning down soon disappears on ‘Kick The Devil Out’ with (to me) a hint of the Beta Band on another very catchy melody. The title track doesn’t show until track 11 and this ‘sounds just like a Django Django number;’ was my first thought and I still feel that after a longer listen. Really catchy with the stuttered delivery. We finally see this set out with ‘Hold Fast’ and the appropriately named ‘Asking For More’. Drum rolls, soft vocals and a finish that the album has earned – one where we are still listening as intently as we were back on ‘Spirals’. My customary practice of listening to this a couple of times on my morning walks (no interruptions so a clear head), have me needing to decide if this is their best album so far. That’s a tough one, but on reflection, I think it’s best to say that DD fans will not be disappointed at all. In a gig free society in which we live/survive, does it make me want to go out to see this being played in front of an excited crowd? Absolutely 100%. I reckon that’s a good way to end and a good decision to make. ‘Glowing In The Dark’ will be glowing on a lot of turntables (or CD players)