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Reviews of this week's CD releases

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POP/ROCK Attica Riots

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/01/2018 (1713 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

POP/ROCK

Attica Riots

Love Sunshine & Hysteria (Five Seven Music)

You don’t rush a good thing. But you can understand if the members of Winnipeg’s Attica Riots have been champing at the bit, waiting for their first full-length album to hit the streets, especially after repeated listens to the rock-pop nuggets that make up Love Sunshine & Hysteria.

Produced by Mark Needham (who’s produced and mixed material by The Killers, Bloc Party and Fleetwood Mac, among many, many others) and recorded in L.A. at EastWest Studios, Love Sunshine & Hysteria is a hip-shaking and foot-moving blend of rock ’n’ roll grit and pop sensibilities that will set hearts pounding. Attica Riots singer Bobby Desjarlais, guitarist Kyle Erickson and drummer Anders Erickson have crafted 10 songs that set them squarely in the modern rock space occupied by the likes of, say, The Killers and Maroon 5.

From the opening power chords and chorus of hyperkinetic opening cut Give it Up, this record grabs hold and doesn’t let go. Second track Misery is a hook-filled, synth-driven head bobber, while No Hands opens with a piano riff that recalls Paul McCartney’s 1984 before becoming an elastic dance-floor groove. I’m Not the Only One marries a reggae backbeat with Desjarlais’ ruminations on nightclub denizens, who “came here with the possibility of love” and the title track is a rousing singalong with a chorus that, with any luck, will be rolling off the tongues of fans everywhere this summer.

★★★★ out of five

Stream these: Misery, No Mistake, Love Sunshine & Hysteria

— John Kendle

 

ROOTS / COUNTRY

The James Hunter Six

Whatever It Takes (Daptone Records)

From his velvety vocals that at times reach a rasping scream worthy of comparison to James Brown at his finest, to his unique guitar method, James Hunter’s work is always fascinating and cool.

Whatever It Takes finds him again working with the super-talented Bosco Mann and like almost all Daptone releases, the album is an authentic example of tasteful soul music with a nod to the rock-solid sounds of the past.

The pitch of the album is set when the snappy snare drum crack activates the smooth grooving première track I Don’t Wanna Be Without You. Hunter’s band is of the sort that hangs back to the point that their restrained influences on the total mood don’t really hit your consciousness at first. This allows Hunter’s voice and lyrics to push forward in the fabulous mono mix, adding to the overall audio excitement and charisma of the music.

“An evil mind will always find work for idle hands…” (I Got Eyes), “A tender word too few came half a day too late…” (I Should’ve Spoke Up) and “My baby took a powder on one fine September day, my cryin’ grew louder as her footsteps faded away…” (How Long) are three examples of Hunter’s clever poetic bent. For those who have enjoyed Hunter’s atypical guitar style on past releases there is a little bit less soloing here. On the charmingly old-school instrumental Blisters, Hunter boogies like it’s 1967 again, which makes up for the scant riffing elsewhere. Ultimately, Whatever It Takes makes the grade as one of the early highlights of the 2018 year in music so far and is completely worth getting a dance party organized for.

★★★★½ out of five

Stream these: Blisters, How Long

— Jeff Monk

 

JAZZ

Django Bates Belovèd

The Study Of Touch (ECM)

Django Bates is a British multi-instrumentalist (mainly piano), composer and jazz innovator. His new album with his trio he calls Belovèd is a fascinating exploration of the jazz trio format in contemporary jazz. The jazz trio of piano, bass and drums has been one of the benchmarks in jazz almost from the beginning.

Bates’ trio has Peter Eldh bass and Peter Bruun drums. While apparently not originally having an interest in delving into the trio format, his association with his colleagues here led to the formation of the trio Belovèd. This album is, at several levels, deceptive. It has flowing, melodic tracks that, while harmonically unconventional, sound at first hearing to be reasonably well-known. But regularly the music takes on a subtly angular and unusual mood without jarring the listener. In fact, to appreciate this music takes careful listening, despite the fact that the trio format is so familiar.

There is a lot going on here, and Bates does not simply go through the motions of a well-known format. The title track, The Study Of Touch, is a good example of this. The complexity often “hides” behind what appears to be something you might have heard before. While Bates is clearly in the top rank of current jazz artists, he is perhaps not as well-known in North America as in Britain. He should be.

★★★★ out of five

Stream these: Slippage Street, We Are Not Lost, We Are Simply Finding Our Way

— Keith Black

 

CLASSICAL

Mark Padmore, Kristian Bezuidenhout

Schubert: Winterreise (Harmonia Mundi)

British tenor Mark Padmore and South African-born Kristian Bezuidenhout perform Schubert’s harrowing Winterreisse in this new Harmonia Mundi release that seems oh-so-right for January.

Composed in 1827, the 24-song cycle, based on Wilhelm Müller’s poetry, depicts a jilted lover’s allegorical journey through the heart with the barren winter landscape reflecting his own melancholia. Padmore brings both requisite lyricism and drama to each piece, with Bezuidenhout’s sensitive accompaniment (albeit his choice of period instrument creates a more brittle texture for 21st century ears) evoking fickle weather vanes, cackling crows, barking dogs and raging storms.

The singer seems to suspend time itself during Wasserflut, and Der Lindenbaum, while the more crisply delivered Rückblick and Mut also display his clear diction. He successfully navigates the work’s overall narrative arc, including poignantly longing for spring in Frühlingstraum, as well as singing of the will-o’-the-wisp in Irrlicht. Pacing is always paramount with any song cycle, and mostly Padmore succeeds. And by the time he arrives at the finale, Der Leiermann, with its droning hurdy-gurdy, the cumulative effect of these winter songs is chilling.

★★★½ out of five

— Holly Harris

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