Review: "Father Of The Bride", Vampire Weekend's first album for six long years, has been receiving praise across the board from critics. It's been variously described as a "modern California pop masterpiece", a "scrapbook of brilliant ideas" and "the band's magnum opus". To our ears, it's certainly joyous and celebratory, with the acclaimed New York band wrapping their usual punchy-indie pop in subtle and not so subtle nods towards everything from Flamenco and Country music, to mournful piano ballads, excitable electronic indie-dance and 1960s baroque pop. In other words, it's a giddy collection of inventive, enjoyable songs that boasts the same eclectic, anything-goes swagger as the Beatles "White Album" or other similar wide-ranging sets.
Review: If there was ever a flaw to The Vaccines' apparent world domination masterplan, it was that their musical horizons didn't appear to extend much outside the world of straightforward indie guitar rock, yet on the evidence of 'English Graffitti', this has been rectified, and how. With the production assistance of Flaming Lips legend Dave Fridmann, this third album is chock full of sunny enthusiasm and sonic experimentation, lurching into straight-up pop territory on single 'Minimal Affection' just as easily as it tackles an arch Sparks/Devo curveball like '20/20'. It may have been youthful chutzpah that intially marked The Vaccines' arrival, but here the band has audibly grown up, and it rather suits them.
I've Been Waitin' For Tomorrow (All Of My Life) (12" mix)
Review: A triumph of enigmatic melody and an enduring document of one artist's personal vision, Matt Johnson's 1983 album still sounds as unique and affecting thirty years on as it did on its release. Replete with bittersweet gems like "This Is The Day" and "Uncertain Smile", "Soul Mining" is an album of paradoxes; too deft of touch to be rock, too weighty to be pop, it defies genre, and still sounds fresh despite being a product of Thatcher's '80s. Moreover, this album, which Johnson would arguably never top, is testimony to the good cheer that can be spread by even the most perennially gloomy songsmith.
Review: Splendor were a very short lived outfit - '70s funk/soul group including Billy Nunn, Robert "Bobby" Nunn, Sascha Meeks and Richard Shaw. "Take Me To Your Disco" and "Special Lady" were released in 1979 as the first single from the group's eponymous and only LP. It represents a heyday of disco - a zeitgeist where big budgets made for some amazing and seminal productions. With the likes of Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind and Fire fame) and the legendary Tommy Vicari on production duties - you can really hear the magic on these ones.
Review: Lonnie Liston Smith made a lot of rather good records in the 1970s and '80s, though few are quite as heavy, intergalactic and intoxicating as "Space Princess". Initially recorded and released in 1978 as the opening track of his jazz-funk focused "Exotic Mysteries" album, the track - a suitably cosmic workout of epic proportions - quickly became a firm dancefloor favourite at both the Loft and Paradise Garage in New York thanks to its extended, Latin-tinged percussion breaks. Here the original DJ promo 12" gets the reissue treatment, with the peerless classic being accompanied by fellow "Exotic Mysteries" cut "Quiet Moments" - a gentle, samba-soaked shuffle through sunrise-ready jazz-funk bliss.
Review: Six years ago, an iconic and emotional concert at Madison Square Gardens marked the end of LCD Soundsystem. The accompanying documentary 'Shut Up and Play The Hits' delved into frontman James Murphy's reasons for the decision, with self-examination, a need for change and a fear of old age playing a part. Fast forward to 2017, and the surprise release of three singles accompanying the announcement of a comeback album triggers anticipation and a sigh of relief from fans everywhere. 'American Dream' meets expectations and at times surpasses them, with the familiar driving disco rhythms, strutting funk basslines and heartfelt morning-after-the-night-before ballads feeling like a well-needed catch up with an old friend. The current musical, social and political climates provide Murphy with platforms for his self-effacing and acerbic witticisms. This strong return to form was needed now perhaps more than ever, but simultaneously feels like they never left in the first place.