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Radiohead said that “Agaetis Byrjun” from 1999 was the record that had most influenced the band in the last few years. The record by Sigur Ros was very present while they were searching for the sounds that appear on “Kid A” and “Amnesiac”. The new release by the band from Iceland sees them cover similar ground. As always, the most important thing about the record is the texture of the songs. They’ll find it hard to shrug off the word “atmospheric”, but as long as they don’t lose their ability to come up with melodies and different ambiences there’s no fear of them being labelled as some Neu Are band. “Track 4” and “Track 7” are amongst the highlights of the record. An oddity to finish off with: the eight page booklet that comes with the record is blank. Maybe they want the listener to jot down the sensations provoked by the trip through the record?



scorpio rising

Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes still haven’t realised that they are better off on their own. They wanted to come up with something really good to follow on from the excellent “The Contino Sessions” and they’ve invited too many quests along to the party. Too many cooks spoil the broth. They’re like the electro world’s version of Santana. All the same I have to admit that the start of the record is amazing: “leather” gets the blood pumping and singer Susan Dillaine from group Woodbine grabs next song “Girls” by the scruff of the neck. Unfortunately, it heads downhill after that. I suppose Mazzy Star member Hope Sandoval’s narcotic contribution to songs “Killing smile” and “Help yourself” is worth a mention but Liam Gallagher and Paul Weller’s inclusion here are harder to justify. Gallagher does his best on the title track which has basically been cut to measure for him and Weller doesn’t sound too convincing on “So you say you lost your baby”. It’s not a weak record overall by any means, but it’s a far cry from the band’s best stuff. The question is: can they do it again?



sea change

It’s not the first time he’s done it. Beck has already shown that after recording a computerised dance record (“Odelay”, 1996), he likes to seek solace in an acoustic album (“Mutations”, 1998). Well, he’s come up with something similar on “Midnite Vultures”, his eighth album. He leaves behind the big beat sound and heads off in the direction of the dry Nick Drake/Bob Dylan desert. There’s no water around, but there are tears (“Lost cause”, “Lonesome Tears”) and the pain of the jilted who are still in love echoes throughout the songs. They say that Beck the songwriter works best when he goes acoustic. That just may be true. Most of his best songs since 1994 have nothing more than six strings to them (“Beercan”, “Asshole”, “Dead Melodies”,...). “Guess I’m doing fine” and “The modern Age” from the new record are right up there with the best of them.



don’t give up on me

Sometimes a singer is almost as grand as the actual songwriter. Few would deny that, after a performance like this, veteran soul man Solomon Burke doesn’t own the 11 songs on this record even if he didn’t write them. Everybody expected the reverend to do justice to the songs of songwriters like Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Tom Waits or Brian Wilson, but he’s outdone any expectations by a long shot. Real soul music played the way it used to be; everybody at the same time. “Don’t give up on me” steams out at you from the speakers. You can tell that Burke really feels good about this. The organ player is the very same one who helps him out at his Sunday morning masses and The Blind Boys of Alabama are present as well. Dylan’s bluesy “Stepchild”, Brian Wilson’s cheeky “Soul searcin’”... it’s really hard to pick out the best song from this collection of gems. Soul record of the year? You’d better believe it.