Album Review : Mumford & Sons ‘Wilder Mind’

mumford-sons-wilder-mindartwork750Marcus Mumford and co return with an altogether understated, confident third album. Gone are the banjos, tweed waistcoats and barn dance stompalongs, replaced with Springsteen-esque driving rock-lite.

But has the self-imposed banjo ban killed the band’s success?

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My Top Albums of 2014

Albums2I’m going to be honest here. For as long as I’ve been a music fan I’ve always been a huge advocate of the album, and along with it, the concept of listening to an entire album from start to finish. I was thinking about writing this post earlier today and it struck me how much my listening habits have changed in 2014. Last year I blogged about how ditching CDs, then iTunes, (in favour of Spotify) had allowed me to listen to more music than any other time of my life. But it’s only now I’ve realised that, whilst true, with this freedom I’ve become impatient with the idea of playing a whole album from start to finish. Deep down, I hope the Guardian’s recent post on the death of the album isn’t a forecast of things to come… but I’m certainly not helping matters with my countless Spotify playlists.

Having said all that, there have been a handful of 2014’s albums that I’ve played straight through again and again – here they are:

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My Top 5 Albums of 2012

Albums20121As we near the end of 2012, I’ve been looking back through my iTunes library and thinking about the tracks I’ve most enjoyed listening to. It’s been a terrific year for music and I’ve been spoilt for choice in choosing my five favourite albums.

In the end I went with a mixture of albums that surprised me, a couple that indulged my guilty pleasures and one that I’ve just played pretty much non-stop. I’ll leave you to guess which ones are which!

 

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Album Review: Ed Sheeran ‘+’

Ed Sheeran has taken the charts by storm this year, with a fan base who have been established since 2005. In the lead-up to Ed’s album release, the Guardian review compared a track on ‘+’ to the “grisly” Match.com adverts. Ed’s army of fans rushed to Twitter to defend him and the journalist involved with the review even made contact with Ed directly to acknowledge the overwhelming support that Sheeran has amassed  (see here). Read on to see if I agree with what he said… Continue reading

Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘I’m With You’

After 2006’s bloated 28-track ‘Stadium Arcadium’, Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with a new lead guitarist, a handlebar moustache, and a new album, offering flirtations of rock, funk and disco (yes, disco). Following a career that has spanned over 30 years, bassist Flea cites “life and death” as the major theme of ‘I’m With You’, their 10th album. For the most part, it’s business as usual….and that’s not such a bad thing. Continue reading

Album Review: Mona ‘Mona’

Since appearing in the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll, and winning the Brand New for 2011 title at the MTV Awards, the Nashville 4-piece Mona have gone from strength to strength. Their debut album, ‘Mona’ was released in May 2011 and was accompanied with the following blurb on their website:

“The only thing slick about Mona is their hair. The rest is arm-pumping, vein-throbbing, knee-jittering, raw-throated, singalong rock’n’roll.”

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Album Review: Aloe Blacc ‘Good Things’

Californian soul vocalist Aloe Blacc first began his career as a rapper in 1995, but quickly turned his back on that genre, saying that “Artists like 50 Cent made me stop rapping. I felt there was too much opulence, braggadocio and misogyny in hip-hop and I wanted to tell a different story. What happened is that the music got corporatised. Industry executives sacrificed art for what sells and mega-stars now saturate the market with the same tired lyrics.”

‘Good Things’, Blacc’s second album, was released in 2010. Mellow, relevant, and soulful, it’s surely the sophomore album John Legend wishes he had made.

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Album Review: Lady Gaga ‘Born This Way’

Born This Way is Lady Gaga’s 2nd official studio album, after 2008’s ‘The Fame’ was spun off in 2009, released as ‘The Fame Monster’ with 8 new tracks.

Since 2009, the Madonna comparisons have escalated, her online following has grown (Gaga now has a Twitter following of over 10 milion ‘little monsters’), and her extreme image has entered bizarre new heights. She was also recently named Time Magazine’s 5th most powerful person in the world. Not bad for a girl who started her career aged 14, playing clubs on New York’s lower east side.

In the run-up to the release, Gaga explained:

The album is my absolute greatest work I’ve ever done and I’m so excited about it. The message, the melodies, the direction, the meaning, what it will mean to my fans and what it will mean in my own life – it’s utter liberation.

Can the most-anticipated album of the 2011 live-up to this kind of hype?

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Album Review: Train ‘Save Me San Francisco’

I’m not going to lie. I’m a massive Train fan, and have been since the moment I heard the first few bars of ‘Drops of Jupiter ‘ back in 2001.

You’ll even find me covering that song on my website. Despite releasing and selling millions of albums since then, they have remained relatively obscure, even enjoying a three-year hiatus, until new song ‘Hey Soul Sister’ exploded onto radio stations last year, along with ‘Save Me San Francisco’, their fifth studio album. And it’s a corker.

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Album Review: Imelda May ‘Mayhem’

I remember first watching Imelda May perform ‘Johnny Got A Boom Boom’ on Jools Holland in 2008. Her music was straight out of another time, a bass-heavy rockabilly band fronted by Imelda – a red-lipped, raven-haired Irish stunner. Now in her 30s, her career began at age 16, touring the Irish club circuit singing with blues bands, she was frequently barred from her own gigs for being underage. “I was getting tips from the best musicians in Dublin,” May said. “One of them said, ‘your voice is great, but it needs to roughen.” It was around this time, when driving a tearful Imelda to a gig, that her father asked her “”Is your heart broken? Excellent. Now you can sing the blues.”

‘Mayhem’, her third studio album, fuses rockabilly, jazz, Elvis and blues together – forging a refreshingly retro sound.

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