Into:Music – Writer’s Choice – Best Album of May 2019
Stray Cats – 40
It’s 26 long years since the last Stray Cats release but the rockabilly titans have returned with an assured album that is well worth the wait for their patient fans. If you’re looking for a change of direction or something a bit different, forget it. These cats play straight up and down rockabilly with snapping drums, rocking guitar and slapping double bass to the fore.
The album title is derived from the fact the group formed forty years ago in Massapequa, New York and its release is a precursor to a series of worldwide gigs. The fact that the band contain the three original members, Setzer, Rocker and Phantom adds to the mystique. Early single Cat Fight is the first track and would sit easily beside all those early singles we know and love so well. The mix on the album is excellent, the instruments given space to breath with Setzer’s vocal leading the way while the sound retains that authentic 50s feel the band are known for.
There are obvious influences here from Eddie Cochran to Bill Haley and Link Wray. So dust down your brothel creepers, get that hair quiffed up and get that rockabilly sound playing daddy-o!
Pip Blom – Boat
Heavenly Records usually have their finger on the pulse when it comes to cool indie bands and in Pip Blom they’ve once again come up with the goods. Having released a series of encouraging singles, the debut album from the Dutch band is assured with 10 tracks of swirling, incisive pop, laden with jarring guitars and sweet melodies.
While the album is solid throughout, Ruby is the standout track, guitar at the forefront early on before Blom leads into a rousing and epic chorus before taking the song down a notch or two and back up again. It’s an absolute earworm of a track and will have you nodding along throughout.
Pip Blom are touring the UK now and over the coming months, if you get the chance to see them live, do it, I know I will be.
The Media Whores – A Decade Of Defiance
Capturing the best of their four releases to date, from 2010 onwards, this compilation from the Mercury Music Award nominees (for their 2016 release Dangerous Minds) also has the added benefit of three new tunes as a precursor to their next studio album which is scheduled for release towards the end of 2019. The influences are apparent, with nods to the likes of Magazine, The Stranglers and Wire.
The eighteen songs here continually and consistently hit the bullseye. The band are musically sharp and you can hear the songs develop across the compilation, but what sets this band apart are their lyrics. Politics, social commentary, big business, greed, fracking, injustice, war and so on are just some of the topics covered in an acerbic, stinging and scathing way.
New songs Money and Big Pharma are particularly on point and stand up well against established live favourites Zombies In Mayfair and You Can’t Say Whore On The Radio.
In a world where being famous for being famous is the new norm, the political landscape is shifting worryingly to the right. Now, more than ever, we need artists to stand up, question and challenge. The Media Whores do this and more. Go check them out.
Attic Lights – Love In The Time Of Shark Attacks
Sometimes an unexpected little gem comes into your universe and this album is exactly that for me. Released in the early part of 2019, I somehow missed the release but I’ve been making up for lost time by playing it pretty much on repeat recently.
There are many highlights in here, in fact I’d go as far to say Come Back To Me will be one of best songs released this year, it channels the tuneage and soul of the Bellshill/West Coast scene/sound and is three and half minutes of blissful, achingly beautiful pop.
The album is full of sophisticated, melodic and harmonious tunes from the beguiling Palace Of Losers to the more upbeat Louis and Kings Of Whatever and deserves to be heard.
Gary Crowley’s Lost 80s
For many, the 80s were the defining musical decade, a time of ‘do-it-yourself’ bands, differing styles and genres, a broad range of weekly and monthly music magazines, record shops, radio shows, mix tapes, ghetto blasters, gigs, clubs and of course the local disco. Happy days!
But how do you bottle it, how do you capture the zeitgeist of the period for what was a diverse and extensive period? Well, look no further than this anthology. It’s clear Crowley has put this 63 track set together with careful, methodical and loving care, ensuring a cool mix of familiar bands such as Haircut 100, Wham! and Depeche Mode to, perhaps less known, acts such as Friends Again, 23 Skidoo and Bush Tetras.
The boxset is split into 4 CDs, each with their own title, Jingly Jangly, Dance This Mess Around, F##k Art, Let’s Dance and 12” Heaven. It’s also worth mentioning the CD collection includes a 40 odd page booklet which is filled with amazing content, from photos, gig flyers and tickets, notes on each song, as well as views and recollections from some of the artists and contributors.