Top 50 albums of 2019: 40-31

40: Czarface – Meets Ghostface

A smart hip-hop collaboration between Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and Czarface.

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39: Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild

Album three from Blanck Mass is an intense electronic ride that takes the wall of sound concept to another level. It sometimes feels like you’re listening to two tracks at the same time but if you relax your way into it, it can be very rewarding.

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38: Lorelle Meets the Obsolete – De Facto

A dreamy, scuzzy pop-psych epic from this Mexican duo that grows more pleasing with each listen.

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37: Chase and Status – RTRN II JUNGLE

Does exactly what it says on the sleeve. The duo’s homage to 90s jungle has some blistering tracks on it

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36: Chali 2na & Krafy Kuts – Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero

Addictive, superhero-themed hip-hop. What’s not to like?

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35: Julia Kent – Temporal

An achingly beautiful neo-classical work with a smattering of electronica. Kent’s cello work pulls heavily on your heartstrings.

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34: The Specials – Encore

The kings of Ska return to put the world to rights – and don’t we just need it.

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33: SPC ECO – Fifteen

An indulgent combination of shoegaze and trip-hop from former Curve member Dean Garcia and his daughter.

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32: Prettiest Eyes – Vol. 3

The third effort from this post-punk trio that uses a dash of psych alongside distortion galore to bring a tasty treat to our turntables.

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31: Metronomy – Metronomy Forever

Cosy synth pop and some very catchy tunes combine to produce a memorable effort from these veterans of the scene.

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Look out for albums 30-21 coming real soon.

The best albums of February 2019

1: Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith

Rating: 8/10 – Read full review

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2: SPC EPO – Fifteen

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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3: The Specials – Encore

Rating: 7.5/10 – Read full review

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4: Yak – Pursuit of Momentary Happiness

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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5: Modeselektor – Who Else

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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6: Ladytron– Ladytron

Rating: 7.5/10 – Read full review

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8: Boy Harsher – Careful

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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9: Health – Vol4 :: Slaves Of Fear

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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10: Finlay Shakespeare – Domestic Economy

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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7: The Young Gods – Data Mirage Tangram

Rating: 7/10

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01 Feb releases – Reviewed and rated

Here’s my view on what were the best albums released last Friday 1st February. There’s a fair few links to my fuller (though still not too long) reviews here too. There’s also a Spotify sample playlist so you can make you own mind up about the artists.

The Specials - Encore album cover

The Specials – Encore

The kings of Ska return to put the world to rights – and don’t we just need it.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Boy Harsher - Careful album cover

Boy Harsher – Careful

Strong on ominous, brooding 80’s electro pop. If you liked the music in Stranger Things, you’re on to a winner with this.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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Finlay Shakespeare - Domestic Economy album cover

Finlay Shakespeare – Domestic Economy

A fine slab of acid-infused electro pop that shows great promise for a debut album.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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Cherry Glazerr - Stuffed & Ready album cover

Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready

A competent and mature third effort from the LA post-punk trio.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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White Lies - Five album cover

White Lies – Five

An enjoyable if unremarkable 80’s-influenced indie, post-punk opus with pop sensibilities. Reminiscent of so much but unable to build upon it influences.

Rating: 6/10Read full review

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Unloved - Heartbreak album cover

Unloved – Heartbreak

Invoking the spirits of Motown and dreamy 60’s french pop while injecting a touch of modernity. Some really nice moments interspersed across this album.

Rating: 6/10

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Spielbergs - This Is Not The End album cover

Spielbergs – This Is Not The End

Indie punk with a touch of early R.E.M around the sides. Pleasant enough, but not pulling up any roots.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Girlpool - What Chaos Is Imaginary album cover

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary

A punk band exploring new indie direction – unfortunately not entirely successfully.

Rating: 5/10

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Beirut - Gallipoli album cover

Beirut – Gallipoli

Indie-folk with added brass. Strong overtones of The Smiths in both vocal and musical style. Doesn’t fare well by comparison.

Rating: 5/10

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Ian Brown - Ripples album cover

Ian Brown – Ripples

A plodding effort from King Monkey that aspires to classic Roses, but falls far, far short.

Rating: 4.5/10Read full review

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Within Temptation - Resist album cover

Within Temptation – Resist

Over-the-top goth metal with symphonic overtones. No doubt would do well as an ‘alternative’ Dutch entry on Eurovision. A worthy successor to Lordi.

Rating: 4/10

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Album of the week: The Specials – Encore

The Specials - Encore album cover

It’s been 18 years since The Specials last stepped into a studio, but with Encore they clearly decided it was time to put the world to rights again – and in the current political climate it feels just as necessary as ever.

The album starts with a couple of tracks that are a departure from standard Specials fare. Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys is a funk-laden, almost disco-like affair and a cry out for interracial harmony.

The funk journey continues, as does the calling out of racism, on B.L.M. Lynval Golding’s autobiographical monologue on the treatment dished out to him as a black man from the days of Windrush to modern-day USA.

Terry Hall provides his own monologue to depression and self-loathing on The Life and Times (Of a Man Called Depression), as does guest vocalist Saffiyah Khan on 10 Commandments, a heavy dub-laden number calling out sexism and sexual violence against women – to my mind the best track on the album.

Elsewhere there are more typical Specials numbers to delight hardcore fans. Blam Blam Fever provides us with an upbeat ska track deriding gun culture, while Vote For Me is another classic Specials number shining the light on hypocritical politicians.

Reggae gets a good airing on Embarrased By You, where Golding perhaps shows his 67 years a little in his rant against the “youth of today”.

There’s even a little tribute to The Doors on Breaking Point, a proper Oompah number that shares a lot of DNA with Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) as it roasts the twisted world of social media.

They may be a little long un the tooth these days, but Tje Specials feel remarkably fresh and just as relevant as when they first stepped onto the scene 40 years’ ago.

Bonus points also for the deluxe edition of this album with features a cracking live set from Le Bataclan.

Release date: 01 February 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: 10 Commandments

For fans of:

  • The Beat
  • The Selecter
  • Madness

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New Music Friday 01 February – What to listen to

Another glut of new releases to work through. Of today’s debuts we see the likes of Ian Brown, The Specials and White Lies offering up some fresh material. I’ll review the best through the coming week and rate them all as I go along.

Ian Brown – Ripples

The Specials – Encore

White Lies – Five

Cherry Glazerr – Suffed & Ready

Finlay Shakespeare – Domestic Economy

Beirut – Gallipoli

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary

Boy Harsher – Careful

Within Temptation – Resist

Unloved – Heartbreak

Spielbergs – This Is Not The End

Album review: Rat Boy – Internationally Unknown

Rat Boy - Internationally Unknown album cover

Chelmsford born Jordan Cardy, A.K.A. Rat Boy, has pulled off quite a trick with Internationally Unknown, merging pop, punk, rap, reggae, dance, dub and ska into a feast of infectious tunes.

Chip on My Shoulder launches us into the album headfirst and screaming, a raucous punk effort that will have you bouncing around. There are a fair few all-out pop-punk episodes peppered across the album including I Wanna Skate, Dad’s Crashed Car and So What, which are tremendously enjoyable tributes to Green Day et al. But it’s when Rat Boy pulls in other elements that the album gets really interesting.

My Name Is Rat Boy takes a trip around Reggae, Ska and Dub while Rat Boy raps almost as energetically as he plays trashy guitars. Night Creature, is a slower Reggae track that throws in a bit of Dubstep to boot.

There are influence flying in from all over the place, from The Clash and The Sex Pistols, to Fatboy Slim, The Specials, De La Soul, Sisters of Mercy and Rage Against The Machine. Despite all that, Rat Boy manages to pull them all together into coherent and hugely enjoyable pop numbers.

Internationally Unknown is undoubtedly a pop album at its heart, drawing on the tried and tested ‘Ode to disaffected youth’ formula. However, I get the feeling that it’s a pop album that arrived a couple of decades too late.

It’s most certainly worth half an hour of your time, but with so many throwback influences it may struggle to land with a younger audience. Perhaps Rat Boy is a boy out of time.

Release date: 25 January 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: My Name Is Rat Boy

For fans of:

  • Green Day
  • The Specials
  • Fatboy Slim

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