Review: "Sonic Citadel" marks Brians Gibson and Chippendale's seventh studio album and it is one that finds them revealing a little more of themselves than before. "Blow To The Head" is an intense opener with caustic texture, dense layers and scuzzy noise that soundtracks a manic episode, while elsewhere there are much more angular and punk influenced rhythm tracks with deathly vocals mired in gauzy riffs engulfed in dirt, grit and sandpaper sonics. Standout track "Halloween 3" is a suitably horror fuelled track of high energy, lo fi fuzz that will keep any demons away.
Review: Recorded in 1969 but first released in 1973, "Izipho Zam (My Gifts)" remains one of Pharoah Sanders' most expressive, out-there and enjoyable sets. As this fresh, heavyweight vinyl pressing proves, the album has lost none of its charm. It sees Sanders and his expansive backing band (including Lonnie Liston-Smith on piano) offer up a fine saunter through spiritual soul-jazz ("Prince Of Peace") before going all-out free jazz via two of the most intense and mind-altering workouts you'll ever hear. While the 13-minute "Balance" is a cacophonous and paranoid romp through free-jazz/experimental rock fusion, it's near 30-minute B-side "Izipho Zam" that stands out. Seemingly in a constant state of flux, the piece moves from densely percussive Afro-jazz to wall-of-sound noise-jazz insanity without skipping a beat.
Review: Is Stephen Duffy the UK's most underrated songwriter? Well, quite possibly, yes. It takes commitment and passion to lead a band for 30 years, especially when the outfit's line-up changes come thick and fast. Despite the inconsistent players, though, in that time the man at the centre of it all has built a back catalogue of exquisite work during that time. "Return To Us" isn't going to ruin that track record. It plays out like a parable of lilting folk fables underscored by a sense of nostalgia, delivered through the voice and song craft of a man whose life experiences have left him bruised and worn but never down and out. Melodic, emotive and engrossing, LP number ten is as timeless as the previous nine, leaving nobody under any illusions as to how precious this project really is.
Review: Last year, NYC based revivalist "gospel quartet" group the Harlem Gospel Travelers finally made their vinyl debut album after five years wowing audiences on the live circuit. 12 months later, they're finally ready to release their first full-length excursion. A nostalgic trip through 1950s and 1960s style gospel-based rhythms and blues, soul, funk and doo-wop, the album's greatest strength - aside from the authenticity of the music and production of course - is the group's incredible vocals. Brilliantly arranged harmonies play a big part, though the lead vocals (shared between all four members) are little less than stunning.
Review: There's a chance this Liverpudlian four piece will be familiar by now. This, their 11th studio outing, first unveiled as the 1960s slipped into the 70s, is a bonafide epic from an outfit that weren't lacking in epics; in many ways a culmination of their time together, marking the end of their active years and beginning of their legacy. By this stage, then, they've emerged from years spent on the inner journey and time on the outer, space cadeting to the hallucinogenic fuelled tones of "Sgt. Peppers" and "Revolver". Of course, there's still plenty of explorations happening, but the gritty blues rock of opening track "Come Together" really sets the tone. Five decades on, it still sounds great and maybe even better than you remember. Even if you own the original, this anniversary edition is worth having.
Review: Since leaving Cabaret Voltaire in the early '90s, Stephen Mallinder has kept himself busy, first by starting a new career as an academic, and latterly by stints in bands including Wrangler, Hey! Rube and Creep Show. There was always one thing missing from his CV, though: a new solo album. With "Um Dada", he's finally ticked that box, delivering a set that smartly channels four decades of electronic music influences into nine vocal and instrumental mutant pop cuts. It's heavy, trippy, mind-altering and thoroughly absorbing, with Mallinder offering plenty of nods towards the Cabs' 1980s and '90s work, as well as more contemporary influences such as German techno/electro and the sub-heavy rush of fellow Sheffielder Crooked Man.
Review: This 1988 debut album from Jungle Brothers eschews the use of the sampler, choosing instead to lay down these fresh beats by recorders, all looped by hand, eight bars at a time. The record also features Q-Tip for the first time on the excellent "Black Is Black" which features one of the few samples on the album as the voice of Gil Scott-Heron is stitched into the rolling beats. Smash hip-house hit "I'll House You" was added to later versions of the album and is included here with other gems like "Braggin & Boastin" and "Behind the Bush".
Notes: A simple and elegant record bag. The sturdy material makes this functional bag a perfect choice for everyday use and a practical vinyl carrying solution. The bag can store up to 25 vinyl records. Perfect for a record shopping trip or as an everyday essential. Features a printed logo, strong & durable, wide & adjustable shoulder strap, reinforced stitching and zipped outer pouch pocket.
Review: There are two things Starcrawler can definitely be described as - lost children of the 1970s, and incredibly Los Angeles in style. They make music that seems impossible to remove from one of the headiest rock 'n' roll decades in history, despite age preventing them from actually having been there at the time. It also falls on the polished side of heavy metal, channeling both pop punk and bare-chested, sweat-soaked guitar solos in one fell swoop. The result is a record that plays out like a bar fight in Tinsel Town. Muscular, powerful, driving and unarguably sexy, from the gaggle of kids preceding the onslaught of opener "Lizzy" to the final, liquor-soaked midnight sing-a-long of "Call Me A Baby", "Devour You" does what it says on the tin, with all the subtlety of Hollywood's finest, and perhaps even more entertainment value.
Review: Howie Smart's "In Dancehall Style" was first released on the legendary dub label King Culture back in 1982, a time when dub, reggae, roots and dancehall were all intersecting and evolving at a slick pace. There's nothing hurried about the rolling rhythms on this one though, which has some exquisite drum playing embellished with avant-garde studio trickery while the vocals add old school authenticity. Along the way, there are pained odes to missed romances, stoner anthems and more dancey cuts all next to gorgeous dubs.
Praying For You (Louie Vega NYC Fender Rhodes Solo) (4:55)
Praying For You (Louie Vega Vonita dub) (5:43)
Praying For You (KDA remix) (6:10)
Praying For You (album version) (6:11)
Praying For You (Louie Vega Expansions NYC dub) (5:41)
Smile (David Morales remix) (7:01)
Review: Earlier this year, DJ Spen and Teddy Douglas's long-serving gospel-house group Jasper Street Co returned to action with their first album in 16 years. It's from that album that "Praying For You" is taken, though the selling point here is not the LP mix but rather a suite of reworks from Louie Vega. Our picks of the bunch are his jazzy and breezy "Main Mix", the brilliantly bass-heavy "Vonita Dub" (think righteous call-and-response gospel vocals and a killer groove) and the sleazy "KDA Remix". The latter is a basement-bothering stomper rich in fuzzy organ stabs and spacey electronics. The smooth, slick and pleasingly colourful David Morales remix is also rather good (it reminded us a little of vintage Frankie Knuckles rubs, which is no bad thing).