Our man with the top musical tips points us in the right direction
The Electric Soft Parade, “Idiots” (Helium Records)- “Idiots” may be The Electric Soft Parade’s first new album since 2007’s “No Need To Be Downhearted,” but the White brothers have thankfully emerged from this lengthy hiatus with their rare ability to conjure free-flowing melodies out of the ether totally intact. The eclectic Brighton duo cite vocal influences as diverse as Freddie Mercury, Robert Wyatt and Chicago as they unveil a beguiling package which often seems to represent a conscious throwback to the innocent charm of sixties pop, with “The Sun Never Sets Around Here,” “Brother,You Must Walk Your Path Alone” and “Summertime In My Heart” capturing their deceptively tuneful sound at its most seductive.
“The Old Grey Whistle Test-The Anthems” (Rhino Records)- This impressive 3 CD set showcases contributions from many of the musical luminaries who’ve made an appearance on the BBC’s flagship rock show over the years, including such unlikely bedfellows as The Ramones,Captain Beefheart, Queen and Bob Dylan,who’s represented here by “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Selecting highlights would be a fairly pointless task because every track really is a classic of its kind, with a string of memorable studio recordings rubbing shoulders with rousing live renditions of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” Little Feat’s “Fat Man in the Bathtub” and The Pogues’ “Dirty Old Town.”
The Armoury Show, “Waiting for the Floods” (Cherry Red CDBRED564)-This grandiose package first saw the light of day in the summer of 1985, bringing together former members of Magazine and The Skids in a widescreen celebration of the dubious delights of stadium-rock which inexplicably failed to elevate The Armoury Show to the levels of popularity enjoyed by the similarly gifted Simple Minds. Richard Jobson’s lyrics were still just as deep and meaningless as ever, but his poetic pretensions couldn’t undermine the appeal of majestic tracks such as “Glory of Love” and “Castles in Spain,” with guitarist John McGeoch deserving a mention in dispatches for his spellbinding contribution to an excellent set.
Lord Huron,”Lonesome Dreams” (Play It Again Sam)- This American indie folk outfit began life as the brainchild of Michigan born Ben Schneider,whose initial solo project steadily expanded as Ben recruited a succession of band members who shared his subtly euphoric musical vision. The quartet’s splendid debut set, “Lonesome Dreams,” has already been showered with critical plaudits on both sides of the Atlantic as otherwise jaded pundits have been swept away by Lord Huron’s ability to distil the mythic essence of the finest Americana via prime cuts such as “Ends of the Earth,” “The Man Who Lives Forever” and “She Lit A Fire.”
Editors, “The Weight of Your Love” (Play It Again Sam)-The first Editors album to feature the recently recruited Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams finds the darkly memorable Birmingham outfit in typically imperious form as they set out to build on the chart-topping success that they enjoyed with their two previous albums,”An End Has A Start” and “In This Light And On This Evening.” Lead singer Tom Smith has made no secret of his admiration for the collected works of R.E.M. and Arcade Fire, and the influence of the two bands looms large during much of “The Weight of Your Love” as Editors serve up expansive creations such as “The Weight” and “A Ton Of Love” for your listening pleasure.