Album review: Various artists – For The Throne (Music Inspired By The HBO Series Game Of Thrones)

For The Throne album cover

First things first – I really enjoyed ‘The Long Night’. [SPOILER ALERT] It might have been dark in places, surely that was the point, and it might have brought one major element of the story to an end sooner than many had expected but as a piece of event TV it was simply brilliant.

Right, back to the music. For The Throne is not a soundtrack featuring music from the series, rather a collection of songs from a range of artists that have taken elements of the series as their inspiration for tracks.

As musical rosters go, there’s quite a few well-known names on here, such as Mumford & Sons, Ellie Goulding, The National, SZA, and The Lumineers, to name but a few. Stylistically, the over-arching theme is pop in its many guises. Think of it as a ‘Now! That’s What I Call Game of Thrones‘ if you will.

With all that said, the potential for this to be disastrous is huge, but actually it’s carried off quite well. There are some good, atmospheric folky numbers such as opener Kingdom of One by Maren Morris, and Love Can Kill from Lennon Stella. This is interspersed with hip-hop and R&B pop from the likes of Ellie Goulding, SZA and the providers of the album’s standout track Chloe x Halle.

While never straying away from its poppy heart we do get some different styles in the form of some Gospel-pop similar to Rag ‘n Bone Man from X Ambassadors a bit of latino salsa from Rosalia and the faint whiff of rock from Lil Peep.

Regrettably there’s no ‘Hands of Gold’ as sung by Ed Sheeran from his universally panned cameo in season seven. To make up for it, they instead closed the album with Muse front man Matt Bellamy providing us with his usual bombast and over-earnestness while singing over a prayer in High Valaerian. We would expect nothing less.

It’s not an instant classic, but is enjoyable and as it largely stays away from laying on the GoT references too thickly, it can be enjoyed by most anyone. It’s also much shorter than an average episode so doesn’t outstay its welcome. Well worth a try if you like your pop and dragons.

Release date: 26 April 2019

Rating: 7/10

Standout track: Wolf at Your Door

For fans of:

  • Mumford & Sons
  • The National
  • SZA

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New Music Friday 26 April – The pick of the latest album releases

A few more items of interest here than last week. Really looking forward to the new one from Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation after being impressed by their performance at Mutations Festival earlier this year. There’s also an emotional release from The Cranberries, completed after the untimely death of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan. I’ve literally no idea what I’m going to make of the Game of Thrones-inspired collection of artists on For The Throne, but it may be good for a laugh. Hope Ed Sheeran‘s little ditty is on there.

Spotify playlist at the bottom.

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Sacred Dreams

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The Cranberries – In The End

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Various Artists – For The Throne (Music Inspired by the HBO Series Game of Thrones)

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Catfish & The Bottlemen – The Balance

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Otoboke Beaver – Itekoma Hits

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Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky – Droneflower

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Guided By Voices – Warp and Woof

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Mammoth Penguins – There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win

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Bear’s Den – So that you might hear me

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

19 April releases – Reviewed and rated

Apologies, no full reviews this week, due to a lack of time and inspiration. Ultimately the albums released last week didn’t get me over-excited. I had high hopes for Loyle Carner‘s sophomore Not Waving, But Drowning, but ultimately it felt a little one-dimensional stylistically. If I were to pick out an album of the week, it would probably be Happy Now by post-punk veterans Gang of Four, but there’s not much in it to be honest. Hopefully this week’s batch will be better.

Gang Of Four – Happy Now

This is the ninth proper studio album from these post-punk veterans, feels a little tired but still has some good moments.

Rating: 6.5/10 – Album of the Week

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Leafcutter John – Yes! Come Parade With Us

Sometimes interesting electronica but failed to hit the spot consistently.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Heather Woods Broderick – Invitation

Nice ethereal singer-songwriting here, but just nice rather than impressive.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning

An enjoyable slice of laid-back hip-hop but lacking in musical diversity.

Rating: 6/10

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Cage The Elephant – Social Cues

American indie-rock with a few quality tracks interspersed – but not enough to grab your attention long-term.

Rating: 6/10

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Fat White Family – Serfs Up!

An album of initial promise from these south-London rockers, but unfortunately soon disappears up its own arse.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Stealing Sheep – Big Wows

Fluffy electro and indie pop that didn’t really do it for me.

Rating: 5/10

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New Music Friday 19 April – What to listen to

Here’s hoping it’s a ‘Good Friday’ for new releases – natch. Hip-hop artist Loyle Carner releases the follow-up to his Mercury-nominated debut album, while Cage The Elephant and Stealing Sheep also look to have a bit about them. I’ll review and see if they’ve got any substance to their releases.

Spotify playlist at the bottom.

Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning

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Cage The Elephant – Social Cues

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Stealing Sheep – Big Wows

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Gang Of Four – Happy Now

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Fat White Family – Serfs Up!

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Leafcutter John – Yes! Come Parade With Us

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Heather Woods Broderick – Invitation

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

12 April releases – Reviewed and rated

No surprises that The Chemical Brothers take top slot this week, though it was surprisingly good. Also highly impressive was the debut from Dublin post-punk rockers Fontaines D.C.

Playlist at the bottom.

The Chemical Brothers – No Geography

The Chems are back at the top of their game with this corker of disco, soul, funk and acid-infused album.

Rating: 9/10Read full review

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Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

A brilliant post-punk album with a hint of Irish folk to it, only let down on occasion by a slightly strained vocal.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Ifriqiyya Electrique – Laylet El Booree

Bonkers mix of traditional African music and heavy metal. Loved it.

Rating: 7/10

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Lowly – Hifalutin

Dreamy synth-pop with a bit of cleverness to it. Immersive and pretty impressive.

Rating: 7/10

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Glen Hansard – The Wild Willing

Interesting alt-folk with some soaring experimental flourishes. Worthy of a listen.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Big Business – The Beast You Are

Heavy alt-rock, that’s not really pushing any creative boundaries.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

Album of the week (12 April): The Chemical Brothers – No Geography

The Chemical Brothers - No Geography album cover

The Brothers are back and, boy, have they worked it out. No Geography is their ninth studio album and probably the best in nearly 20 years (that it’s been two decades since Surrender was released is now worrying me quite a bit). In order to regain their mojo
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, a.k.a The Chemical Brothers have back to their roots, giving us some absolute classic bangers along with some soulful, funky disco numbers. Whatever direction they take us on this album – and there are a few – you can’t help but feel that they enjoyed putting it together as much as I enjoyed listening to it. In case it needs clarifying, I enjoyed it a lot.

Eve Of Destruction kicks us off, a cracking disco stomp featuring some seriously funky bass, 90s-style house synths and soulful vocals. Close your eyes (and turn up the heat somewhat) and you could be back in the Haçienda, yet the track manages to maintain a distinctly modern feel to it at the same time.

There’s no pause for breath as we move seamlessly into the next track, Bango, a bongo-laden effort that continues with the funky bass and house synth themes from before. This time we are treated to a strong dose of the Chems’ trademark squelches and random add-on effects. It’s a nice call-back on previous works, but on this album I’m happy that it’s more of an occasional visitor rather than an ever-present.

Yet again, there’s no break as we are introduced to title track No Geography, a more stripped back, emotive piece that samples poet Michael Brownstein to create a heartfelt work without dropping the tempo.

Finally, the opening mix ends, but there’s still little time for rest as we are treated to recent single Got To Keep On, another euphoric house/disco work of genius that has a smattering of 70s to it and a cracking vocal sample that makes the track. Very nearly my standout track.

The pace slows slightly over the next couple of tracks, with Gravity Drops taking a more languid approach and relying heavily on drawn-out synth notes and a bubbling bass track to make it’s mark. The Universe Sent Me is a (very) slow builder, using a juicy post-punk bass line and the ethereal vocals of Norweigan singer-songwriter Aurora to take you on a journey that adds layer upon layer of sound over you until you are completely immersed in a dreamy headspace.

We’ve Got To Try features some yummy deep acid notes and twisted synths alongside some funky soul, with olny the slower tempo stopping it from being a proper stomper.

But now we enter classic Chems territory. Firstly we have single Free Yourself, featuring an arpeggiating synth line, acid working away in the background and the occasional full-on sonic assault, all tied together by a simple vocal loop. Majestic.

This paves the way for MAH, a proper old-skool acid-techno banger that will have any dancefloor anywhere throwing their hands in the air in rapture. It’s proper rave material that makes me smile whenever I listen to it (and that’s been quite a lot recently).

Catch Me I’m Falling provides a low-key close to the album, a slower track featuring the dream-pop vocals of Stephanie Dosen. This isn’t an unfamiliar approach from the boys and again, provides a nod to what’s come before.

I’ll have to see how this opus plays over time, but right now it’s placed itself as a strong contender for album of the year.

Release date: 12 April 2019

Rating: 9/10

Standout track: MAH

For fans of:

  • Underworld
  • Leftfield
  • Orbital

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Album review: Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

The debut album from Dublin-based four piece Fontaines D.C. has been highly anticipated by those with their ear to the ground. Obviously that means this is the first I’ve heard of them, but I’m very glad to make their acquaintance.

Dogrel is at heart a slab of highly entertaining post-punk but manages to draw influences from various styles along the way.

Opening track Big shows their punk credentials while also rooting the band as distinctly Irish, both in the vocal stylings of singer Grian Chatten and in the slight Gaelic folk undertone running through the tune. Chatten’s drawling regional singing gives the whole album a whiff of The Pogues running through it.

This folkiness is apparent across the platter, with the likes of Television Screens and Dublin City Sky featuring it particularly strongly. But there are other strings to this band’s bow (or fiddle).

The Lotts borrows heavily from early Cure in the rhythm section, low key but relentless. This is matched in tempo by the vocals, before drifting towards a hypnotic, head-nodding conclusion. Sha Sha Sha is a chugging number that has more than a hint of blues to it while Liberty Belle smacks of Green Day and american skater punk.

It’s when Fontaines D.C. are playing on the heavier side of post-punk that the album truly comes alive. Hurricane Laughter, for instance, features a fantastic dirty bass line and a brilliant guitar riff reminiscent of the work of FEWS. Standout track Chequeless Reckless operates firmly in punk territory – as does the high tempo jangly guitars of Boys in the Better Land.

There are few bum notes on this album, but when the tempo slows, the noise abates slightly and the vocals come more to the fore, on tracks such as Too Real and Roy’s Tune, then the weakness in Chatten’s voice is exposed. Clearly, vocal perfection is not a pre-requisite for punk, but it might be better not to highlight this as much as this album does.

That said, I can see Dogrel staying on my playlist for some time.

Release date: 12 April 2019

Rating: 8/10

Standout track: Chequeless Reckless

For fans of:

  • IDLES
  • Shame
  • The Pogues

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New Music Friday 12 April – What to listen to

I’m pretty convinced that album of the week is a shoe-in this time around. Will anyone be able to sneak ahead of the mighty Chemical Brothers? On first listen, possibly not, but some albums can really take you by surprise. The challenge is on.

Playlist at the bottom.

The Chemical Brothers – No Georgraphy

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Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

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Big Business – The Beast You Are

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Glen Hansard – The Wild Willing

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Ifriqiyya Electrique – Laylet El Booree

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Lowly – Hifalutin

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

05 April releases – Reviewed and rated

Despite the rather small shortlist this/last week, there were still some absolute crackers on display and album of the week could easily have gone any one of three ways. In the end I plumped for the classic indie sound of JAWS but I would also highly recommend checking out Priests and W. H. Lung

Playlist at the bottom.

JAWS – The Ceiling

Album of the week – Classic indie from the Birmingham trio that’s a joy to listen to.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Priests – The Seduction Of Kansas

Excellent female fronted post-punk pop that was a hair’s breadth from being my Album of the Week. Check it out for the sake of your own well being.

Rating: 7.5/10

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W. H. Lung – Incidental Music

Electronic-heavy indie pop that fans of last year’s storming TVAM album will most certainly enjoy.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Cowboy Flying Saucer – Travel Lodge

Occasionally bizarre psych rock with some nice squelchy electronic touches and a dash of The Fall in the vocals.

Rating: 7/10

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Circa Waves – What’s It Like Over There?

Anthemic pop with indie-EMO undertones. Enjoyable listen but a tiny bit too commercial for me to fall completely in love with.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

Album of the week (05 April): JAWS – The Ceiling

JAWS - The Ceiling album cover

This is the third full length outing from Brummie indie-rock trio JAWS and this album displays enough maturity and song craft to justify it as album of the week in what turned out to be quite a strong shortlist.

The Ceiling has just enough dreaminess, grunge and shoegaze to push a lot of my buttons, and in many ways is quite reminiscent of the work of Shame, who also produced a strong album with Songs of Praise last year.

It takes a little while for this album to get going. Driving at Night offers us some warm familiar tones, with a classic jangly indie guitar riff, while Feel has a distinct Foals feel to it with its poppy chorus and slightly staccato rhythm section.

All very nice so far, though not necessarily blowing your socks off, but the album keeps growing as you listen.

With Do You Remember? we get our first taste of some heavier grungy rhythm guitars, albeit balanced out by some lighter lead guitar work at first but as the song gets into gear the heavier tones dominate and we end up with a bit of a stomper.

Fear offers us laid back grooves alongside lighter touch guitars that really sweep you up as the song motors along. End of the World has some Slowdive influence at the start with some echo laden guitars complementing Connor Schofield’s vocals before the song veers off into a satisfyingly heavy area.

Two more indie classics follow, Patience offers us beats, whereas Looking / Passing has a more atmospheric start. But however build well as the songs progress leaving us well happy by the end.

Strangely, title track The Ceiling is probably the weakest track on the album – a lower key number that doesn’t really go anywhere.

Please Be Kind is another classic indie belter with an anthemic wall of sound guitar laden chorus, while closer January is another groove-laden number after a slower start.

Ultimately this is an indie album, pure and simple. But it is good to see that there are still some newer bands injecting a bit of fresh life into a mature genre at a time when some of the old names are coming back out of the woodwork to reclaim their territory.

Release date: 05 April 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: Do You Remember?

For fans of:

  • Shame
  • Foals
  • Slowdive

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