New from Courtney Barnett

Having topped the 17 Seconds Festive Fifty in 2015 with ‘Pedestrian At Best‘, Courtney Barnett is due to release her second solo album Tell Me How You Really Feel on May 18.

The most recent track ‘City Looks Pretty’ will be available as a 12″ single on Record Store Day this Saturday.

The two tracks already unveiled are the reflective ‘Need A Little Time’ and the rather uncompromising ‘Nameless, Faceless.’

You can order the album from your local independent record store or her Bandcamp page, and she will also be touring for much of the year. She plays a Scottish date at Glasgow Barrowlands on June 2.

Gig review – Alexander O’Neal

Alexander O’Neal, Glasgow SSE Armadillo, April 6 2018

‘How ya doin’ tonight?’ asks the soul legend as he bounds on stage. Well, apart from having endured the worst support act I have ever seen, I’m pretty excited to be here to see someone whose music I first fell for as a child, and who I even got to interview a few days previously. So, pretty good, thanks.

‘We’re gonna have a party tonight!’ he tells us, and with that he’s into a pretty amazing four strong set of ‘Love Makes No Sense,’ ‘All True Man,’ ‘The Lovers’ and ‘Hearsay.’ While some artists feel the need to push less well known works on their audiences, Mr. O’Neal recognises that his second album, 1987’s Hearsay album, is what he’s best known for. Indeed, this album (re-booted last year as Hearsay30) provides the bulk of his set tonight.

He’s backed by a nine-piece band, including the vocalist Ravena, who takes the place of Cherelle on two of the hits they had as a duo ‘Saturday Love’ and ‘Never Knew Love Like This.’ The crowd are ecstatic, and even when our hero disappears for a couple of songs, they keep the momentum going, not least with a cover of Prince’s ‘I Feel For You.’ ‘If You Were Here Tonight’ his first solo hit keeps him going, but within a couple of a capella notes of ‘Criticize’ (still his biggest UK hit, and nothing wrong with that, by the way) they go mental. It’s a fantastic way to finish the first set. The encore is, of course, ‘Fake’ – an extended version that brings almost everyone to their feet.

Much has been written over the years about O’Neal, but the reality is, he would never have been as big a star as he became without the music. There’s no need to rehash those who he has been (endlessly) compared to along the way: he’s a survivor, a legend and still putting on a show.

Respect is due.

 

Album Review – Broken Records

Broken Records – ‘What We Might Know’ (J Sharp Records)

I first encountered Edinburgh’s Broken Records over a decade ago. They were supporting Emma Pollock at the city’s Cabaret Voltaire venue, and there seemed almost too many of them for the stage – seven at the time. They were absolutely fantastic and I saw them numerous times supporting and headlining. They issued several singles and then signed to 4AD, who issued their first two albums, 2009’s Until The Earth Begins To Part and 2010’s Let Me Come Home. Their third album, Weights & Pulleys was released on their own J Sharp Records in 2014, and now, are after a hiatus they have given What We Might Know, again on their own label.

The album opens with the stirring ‘They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone’ and ‘Let The Right One In’ which feel like a call to arms. It must be observed that they’ve never sounded so consistently upbeat on record. That’s not to say they’ve sounded miserable for their career, but the euphoria and energy within is infectious, as typified by a track like ‘The Inbetween’ which explodes like a firework display. A slower, more reflective track like ‘Anytime’ still exudes warmth.

Broken Records have sensibly avoided repeating themselves over the years, and there’s new influences that aren’t discernible on earlier recordings, or if so, much more discreetly. ‘Perfect Hollow Love’ and ‘Someday You’ll Remember Me’ sound like New Order meeting Out Of Time-era R.E.M. with a hint of soul, and while still recognisably Broken Records, it is great to hear them investigating new avenues and incorporating them into their music.

While they’ve always had an ‘epic’ sound to proceedings, if you compare this album to their debut, the sweeping strings have moved away. They still sound like a band who should be filling huge venues on a regular basis, but the early description of them sounding like if ‘Nirvana came from Belaruse’ is not accurate of Broken Records 2018.

That night I saw them in 2007, there was a sense that this was a band who were special. Despite lineup changes, the core essence of this wonderful band remains. Come gather round people, wherever you roam, and admit that Broken Records are as good as they’ve ever been, and still deserving of a big(ger) audience. Despite the time between albums, it has been put to good use, and the final effect is of a band who still have a good deal to offer listeners, as well as explorations of their own…

What We Might Know is out now on J Sharp Records