What's hot and what's not in this week's new releases.
By Shereen Low
Album of the week
Mt Warning - Midnight Set
Mt Warning is a collaboration between Australian musician Mikey Bee and American filmmaker Taylor Steele. Bee composes the tracks, whilst Steele works out how to bring the songs to life on stage and in video. Their debut, Midnight Set, tells the story of a life cycle, both lyrically and visually, from first track Midnight Dawn, to the closer, Midnight Set. Steele suggested Bee try 'sounding like a man sinking in to the ocean' when he sings, and this can somehow be heard in his mournful, folk-rock sound. Midnight Dawn, as the first single, is an absorbing, beautiful piece, while stand-out track Youth Bird has a more lively sound. An immaculately planned and atmospheric album, this is a work of art from two great minds.
(Review by Harriet Shepherd)
Simone Felice - Strangers
Former member of folk-rockers the Felice Brothers, main man behind soul-folk trio The Duke And The King and an acclaimed author, Simone Felice now looks to satisfy his restless talent with his second solo album. Strangers is a beautifully crafted collection of ten songs which span sun-drenched West Coast folk rock, soul influences and sparkling pop touches. Lead single Molly O retains some Felice Brothers rambunctiousness with backing vocals from The Lumineers's Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, and it's nice to hear some crack and croak in the singer's usually thin and quavering voice. Gettysburg and Running Through My Head have emotive yet effortless refrains to stop you in your tracks and beautiful ballad If You Go To LA has that sense of sunshine and space of the Eagles in their prime. Strangers is Felice's finest moment since flying the family nest.
(Review by Mark Edwards)
Various - The Saturday Sessions from The Dermot O'leary Show
When he's not busy presenting The X Factor or space shows, Dermot O'Leary introduces upcoming bands in live performances on his Radio 2 show, The Saturday Sessions. The fourth album from this series features tracks from Keane, the Manic Street Preachers and Primal Scream. Like every good compilation, the album includes a mixture of feel-good tracks such as Biffy Clyro's version of the Daft Punk hit Get Lucky and more melodic offerings from Ben Howard and Lissie. However, Nerina Pallot's version of Finally - Cece Peniston's dance floor hit - and Cattle & Cane's take on Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love make this album stand out from the crowd. Expect a few surprises too; Turin Brakes take a very sinister spin on a Mary Poppins classic.
(Review by Rebecca Flitton)
Kevin Drew - Darlings
This isn't the first time Broken Social Scene founder Kevin Drew has taken time away from the Canadian collective to go it alone. His debut solo album, 2007's Spirit If... seemed a natural progression from the group's offerings - a little more indie, but not too dissimilar to his group's trademark, atmospheric sound. Seven years on, he returns with Darlings. Tracks such as the wonderful Bulls**t Ballad have Broken Social Scene written all over them - thumping drums, vocals which even when shouted sound laid-back, and the occasional brash instrumentation. That's not to say this is simply a BSS album re-packaged. Good Sex, You In Your Were and album closer, And That's All I know, are the work of a solo artist who's confident with his own style.
(Review by Polly Weeks)
Foster the People - Supermodel
It's a popular idea among musicians who hit it big with their debut to try and capture the downside of success with their second. Less famous people may be irritated by this notion and struggle to feel sympathy, but perhaps Foster The People have worked out the best way to do this - by masking bittersweet lyrics within another collection of upbeat neo-psychedelic pop tunes. It's certainly what the Grammy-nominated trio behind Pumped Up Kicks do best, as Supermodel sometimes falters on the introspective, acoustic tracks such as Goats In Trees and Fire Escape, but is on to a winner with the brilliantly funky, summer-smash-in-waiting Best Friend.
(Review by Rob Barker)
Courtney Barnett - The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas
The Australian singer-songwriter re-releases a compilation of two old EPs, but the radio success of Dylan-esque History Eraser has necessitated the reboot. The Melbourne twenty-something grips the listener with the mundane thanks to highly witty and at times hilarious lyrics - most evident on Avant Gardener, a song about having a panic attack with so many killer lines that it is impossible to pick one out. Musically, Barnett veers somewhere between Nirvana unplugged grunge and Pavement slacker rock, even if earlier down-tempo material on the B-side lets the collection down. That said, opener Out Of The Woodwork's Nick Cave-isms hint at exciting things to come from this precocious songwriter.
(Review by Arj Singh)
Sam Bailey - The Power of Love
Following her triumph on the show last December, Sam Bailey, 2013's X Factor champion, releases her debut; which as the title might suggest, includes covers. In fact, ten of the 11 tracks here are covers including her winner's single Skyscraper (originally sung by Demi Lovato) and those she performed on the show such as Jennifer Rush's The Power Of Love and her semi-final duet with Nicole Scherzinger, And I Am Telling You. She also drops her renditions of Shania Twain's From This Moment On, Faith Hill's There You'll Be, Karyn White's Superwoman and Ain't No Mountain High Enough with Michael Bolton - all rather 'safe' choices. While her vocals are impeccable, fans will be waiting to see what she pulls out of the bag for the next album. If this is any indication, we can be assured it'll be packed with powerhouse vocals and a big dose of ballads. A safe but strong debut.
(Review by Shereen Low)
Future Islands - Singles
Singles is the fourth album from Baltimore synth-gods Future Islands, offering another compilation of dreamy electro tunes, completed by Samuel T Herring's intense vocals. Opener Seasons (Waiting On You) is a soulful record carried along by waves of electric guitars, while Back In The Tall Grass conjures up images of carefree summer travels. Meanwhile, Spirit and A Song For Our Grandfathers are pure electro goodness, not too dissimilar in sound to Metronomy. Their first album signed to 4AD, Future Islands seem to have finally found a place they feel comfortable, in an album that's somehow both mournful and cheery, and showing these guys at their melodramatic best.
(Review by Harriet Shepherd)
Dexters - Shimmer Gold
Had Dexters been around at the height of Britpop, they'd have been among the biggest bands in the country. Unfortunately for the London five-piece, it's not 1997 anymore. Nevertheless, there's plenty on Shimmer Gold that's worth your attention. Opener Cloudfest has a chorus that deserves to be sung by festival crowds all summer long. The same can be said for They're Blind, Recover, Start To Run and, well, most of the other seven tracks. A bit more variation in pace would go a long way - at the moment it's a bit one-note - but as first attempts go, they've hit the ground running.
(Review by Andy Welch)
Jimi Goodwin - Odludek
Doves frontman Jimi Goodwin promised his first solo release Odludek would be like "a crazy mixtape", veering from one musical style to another. To a certain extent he has delivered. Tracks such as Oh Whiskey! and the sublime Didsbury Girl could have slotted in nicely on a new Doves album, but it is tunes such as Live Like A River - harking back to Goodwin's days as one third of dance act Sub Sub - and the random Man Vs Dingo which really make things interesting. Ghost Of The Empties and the delicate Hope are also highlights on an impressive debut.
(Review by Andrew Carless)
On The Road
:: Kate Bush is to return to the stage 35 years after her one and only tour, and will play a 15-date residency at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. The Before The Dawn shows will starting on August 26 until September 19. Tickets will go on sale from 9.30am on March 28 from www.eventim.co.uk, www.gigsandtours.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk.
:: Paolo Nutini is to play a seven-date tour in May and June. The Scottish singer will kick off the live shows at Manchester's Apollo on May 24 before heading to Edinburgh, Bridlington, Wolverhampton, Brighton, Norwich and London. Tickets are available now from www.gigsandtours.com, www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.gigsinscotland.com.