Nights In

bargepole's picture

Fripp & Eno

What's it called?: 
Live in Paris 28.5.1975
What does it sound like?: 
This three cd set at long last presents this legendary concert in fully restored sound quality, with the live audio now synched with the rediscovered and restored original studio backing loops used in the performance. To hear this work, almost forty years since its original performance, still boggles the mind. Cds 1 and 2 feature the full concert, based around the No Pussyfooting and (the at that time unreleased) Evening Star albums, during which you can almost sense the general bewilderment of the audience. CD 3 contains the backing loops without overdubs, together with the reversed loop for Wind on Water (as used on the Evening Star album), and Later On, the B side of Eno's Seven Deadly Finns single. At the conclusion of the evening's entertainment, as the audience leave with the sound of Index Of Metals (side two of Evening Star) assaulting their senses, their bemusement is palpable.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Hear this and hear two uncompromising artists at the very top of their game,breaking new musical ground before your very ears!
Goes well with …: 
No Pussyfooting and Evening Star in particular are redolent of this performance,musical exploration pushed to the outer limits and beyond.
Might suit people who like …: 
The duo's other works, both together,solo, and also in conjunction with any of their fellow musicians - and of course Crimson fans, and indeed fans of early Roxy Music, should check this out. Free your mind - you won't regret it!
bargepole's picture

Travis & Fripp

What's it called?: 
Discretion CD/DVD-A
What does it sound like?: 
Theo Travis - flautist, saxophonist and more recently member of Steven Wilson's band. Robert Fripp - guitar maestro, no further introduction required. This set is drawn from a series of concerts in 2010, with minimal studio overdubs added,and features a conventional Cd plus a hi-res version on DVD-A. The pieces here combine an almost telepathic interplay between the two musicians,moving from intimate to grandiose,from small scale to epic. Crimson fans will be pleased to spot the melodic theme from The Power To Believe here, which both opens and closes the original six track album. They will be even more delighted with the addition of two extra tracks, the second of which,Rhapsody on the theme from Starless, is a quite stunning improvisation based around the Crimson classic.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Like the Fripp & Eno collaborations, this set shows two multitalented musicians taking the stage and going wherever their muse takes them, pushing the boundaries with every note played.
Goes well with …: 
The duo's other albums merit investigation, as of course do Fripp's other collaborations.
Might suit people who like …: 
Music that offers something new and different, pieces that allow discovery of new elements with every listen.
tiggerlion's picture

FKA Twigs

What's it called?: 
LP1
What does it sound like?: 
LP1 sounds like the future. It is a thoroughly modern record with few discernible instruments and little that could be described as a melody. The 'music' consists of fragments of artificial noise stitched together; cracks, rattles, bends, throbs, warps, even a house alarm. At first, the details are distracting but, after a while, they blend into a sumptuous mattress over which Tahlia Barnett coos, trills and seduces. The overall effect is a languid, gentle undulation of mood over 40 minutes. The lyrics are deeply unsettling because they are explicitly sexual. It's like witnessing young Ms Barnett writhe erotically in the sweltering heat of a summer night. She sings of giving and receiving pleasure, craving and pain, submission and control. She is frank and she is complicated. At my age, a poppet asking me, "how would it be if I suck before I bite" is dangerous but I am more disturbed at the impression she is revealing her most intimate secrets. LP1 is a special and intriguing album.
What does it all *mean*?: 
The album is alive and well. LP1 is specifically designed for its ten tracks to be experienced as a whole with each piece complimenting each other. There is no attention-grabbing ear worm for individual consumption. She does call it an LP after all.
Goes well with …: 
Solitary listening under headphones and a fantasy world in which I am thirty years younger, at least. I also need vodka, orange, a box of tissues and a darkened room. Otherwise, I might be embarrassed if anyone knew what I was actually listening to.
Might suit people who like …: 
Modern, Young 21st Century Music. LP1's lack of tunes and recognisable instruments render it non-Afterword-friendly. It sounds like nothing else and for the first six listens is a real challenge. But, be brave, LP1 is packed with delicate treats.
timtunes's picture

Jenny Lewis

What's it called?: 
The Voyager
What does it sound like?: 
The album you hoped she'd make.. As a lover of Rilo Kiley, well really 'More Adventurous' but particularly the heartbreaking 'Does He Love You', I have purchased her previous solo work and it hasn't won me over. So much so that I was considering not bothering with the new album, but the reviews (eg Sound Opinions) lured me. Finally! Record label marketeers are always bandying around "sounds like 'Fleetwood Mac' and 'Laurel Canyon'" in order to hook both the hipster and middle-aged nostalgics crowd. Normally, it's more wishful thinking(evidence, Haim). But here, at least the Mac label, is right. The album kicks off with what sounds like a lost track from 'Tango In The Night' and then keeps on going - with Ryan Adams sitting in for Lindsey. All of which is then cemented by her beautiful voice and at times, alluring and at times, vulnerable lyrics. Best new album i've heard for a good while - and i've kissed a lot of frogs...
What does it all *mean*?: 
I no longer hope for a Rilo Kiley reunion
Goes well with …: 
Sunny mornings standing on the station platform
Might suit people who like …: 
Fleetwood Mac! (but 'Laurel Canyon' I wasn't getting)

Tom Petty

What's it called?: 
Hypnotic Eye
What does it sound like?: 
Well, it sounds like Tom Petty, but then, he *always* sounds like Tom Petty. I haven't paid attention to a Tom Petty album since She's The One, which I liked a lot. So why return to him now? Well, there seems to be a bit of buzz about Hypnotic Eye - the dreaded phrases "return to form" and "classic sound" have been used. I'm here to report that it's a fantastic record. Tunes and Heartbreaker grooves abound in an all-killer, no-filler 44 minutes. The songs sound like they were recorded live, the guitars crunch like you'd expect. I'm at that point now where I've listened to the album enough times to have it knocking around in my head all the time, but not enough times to know it too well.
What does it all *mean*?: 
I can't truly answer whether it's a "return to form" or not - I allowed the last three albums & Mudcrutch to pass me by. However Hypnotic Eye seems intent on proving what it is that TP&tH are all about, what they are best at.
Goes well with …: 
Driving, to be honest, although I've been listening to it while cooking.
Might suit people who like …: 
...Tom Petty, really, there's no mystery here. If you're inclined to Tom and various Wilbury types, then Hypnotic Eye is one of the good ones. And don't be put off by the cover, because I was initially.
sven garlic's picture

La Roux

What's it called?: 
Trouble In Paradise
What does it sound like?: 
Somehow the singles from the first album didn't quite do it for me. A bit too obviously close to the Soft Cell, Yazoo influence. Elly Jackson's voice sounded somewhat shrill. I was drawn to this new album by the appealing cover image and gave it a go. The lyrics can be a little clumsy - 'I met him through a dancer/didn't know he was a tropical chancer'. They make me wince now and then. There's a song called 'Sexotheque'. And yet I find myself wanting to keep playing these songs. The music here is more varied than what went before. I hear reggae, disco, more instrumentation and more complex vocals, the voice is less exposed. There's still the synth-pop link to works like Human League's Dare but the influences and styles are more varied. Above all it's packed with catchy tunes, gorgeous melodies, and lots of hooks. A superb pop record basically. It's a joy. Don't be swayed by the singles alone, there's a lot more going on than they would suggest.
What does it all *mean*?: 
It means electronic, dance pop, mostly made by women is still the best and most interesting area of new music in 2014.
Goes well with …: 
Singing along and dancing around the home while undertaking domestic chores in your underwear. Well it worked for me.
Might suit people who like …: 
Human League, 10cc, The Knife and other well-crafted pop.
RubyBlue's picture

Maximo Park

What's it called?: 
Too Much Information
What does it sound like?: 
A bit of context: I do really love Maximo Park, mainly for 'Books from Boxes' which got me through a very bad break-up. I also played to death 'Our Velocity' which is a reasonably subtle anti-war song, for those who like that sort of thing. As a North-easterner I love hearing the accent on record, and I'm dying to see them live, so I come to this review with a lot of positive baggage. I know they are thought to be indie chancers but they have survived the post-mid-2000s implosions rather well. Their fifth album, and I didn't really expect to get this far with them. But I glad I have because this is rather a richer experience than previous albums. A bit of electronica in there, even, I think, and things sound more modernist and smoothed out, which may be a good or bad thing. The vocals sound more mature, if a little under water ( not a bad thing. More in the comments.
What does it all *mean*?: 
In and out of love again; we're older and life gets more complex; we show our musical influences on our sleeves.
Goes well with …: 
Live, I think. Played loud on a summer afternoon. Early evening pub. Post break-up quiet reflective moments. Stick it on your phone/device in the park with friends.
Might suit people who like …: 
The Smiths; The Maccabees; early REM; Fever Ray; Arctic Monkeys of 'Humbug' maybe; indie chancers. Standout tracks and more below!

Eric Clapton & Friends

What's it called?: 
The Breeze, an appreciation of JJ Cale
What does it sound like?: 
JJ Cale. No, really, it sounds just like JJ Cale to the extent that if someone played it, unannounced and unknown, I would assume it was the late great himself. And it is, clearly, none the worse for that, as Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler vie for who sings most like himself, aided and abetted by other friends ranging from those I know, Tom Petty, to those I didn't. Only occasionally, when Willie Nelson takes on a vocal, is there any slippage from the template, or when Greg Leisz steels in toward the end. Nice touch to have Mrs Cale, Christine Lakeland, on a few tracks as well. It's all mid temp choogle and you either like it or you don't. Innessential but lovely.
What does it all *mean*?: 
It feels as if this is a man who garnished more affection than accolade, and, d'ya know, of the two I suspect the former is more lasting.
Goes well with …: 
Driving thru' the midwest with a beer on the go. Only, of course, in my imagination.
Might suit people who like …: 
JJ Cale
Fatima XBerg's picture

The Twenty-Four-Hour Song

What's it called?: 
7 Skies H3
What does it sound like?: 
The Flaming Lips are known for wacky concepts (like a 4-CD album where you're meant to listen to all 4 discs at once) and this is one of them: in 2011 they recorded a 24-hour song (yes: it lasts for 24 hours!) and sold it on Halloween (each of the 13 copies came in a real human skull, and the price was 5,000 $). Then they put it on a continuous stream (you can still listen to it: http://www.satelliteheartradio.com/24/), and this year issued a 50 minute version on vinyl on Record Store Day. The music is mostly ambient, floating soundscapes (a bit like Porcupine Tree's instrumental jams such as "Moonloop"), but there are also noisy weirdo passages. In the middle there's a five hour improv session, recorded live (known as the "Metamorphosis Section"), that is pure bliss: like one of Eno's more melodic ambient albums, but played with electric guitars, drums, and that trancy psychedelic synthesizer from the "Yoshimi" album. One of the most beautiful pieces of music I ever heard.
What does it all *mean*?: 
You certainly begin to think about how to spend your time, what music means to you, and how you listen to it. I mean, the introduction lasts for three hours!
Goes well with …: 
A flatrate internet connection, a cozy sofa or bed, a bottle of whiskey and some sandwiches.
Might suit people who like …: 
to spend some time with music. Certainly not for the "life's too short for a six-minute song" brigade.
RubyBlue's picture

Hurray for the Riff Raff

What's it called?: 
Small Town Heroes
What does it sound like?: 
I knew nothing about them before buying the album so thanks for the recommendation. I’ve not ready any reviews apart from the ones on here, and I don’t really know much about the genre either (folk rock? folk blues? Or simply folk? Something else?) Thanks for the suggestion- I always like to broaden my horizons although it takes a bit of a shift in attitude and an investment of time. Themes: country, rivers, New Orleans, murder, the South, guns, death, love, tradition, the past. Some dark themes, some lighter and Alynda Lee Segarra’s lovely, beautiful , honey voice means it’s a deceptively easy listen. I have to confess that this didn’t grab me immediately; I had to dig a bit deeper due to being largely unfamiliar with this kind of music.It’s not my favourite genre(s) but willing to give it a go. (I had thought it was a little one-paced but I was very wrong about that- see below.)
What does it all *mean*?: 
Important because: • The lovely voice (and fiddle); • The genre blurring; • Female reflections on history, traditional songs and styles.
Goes well with …: 
• Whiskey on the porch. • I was mainly listening to this on very long walks on hot sunny days and it didn’t fit really; another sundown record, maybe. • Road trip down South. (America, not Brighton, perhaps.)
Might suit people who like …: 
•Old murder ballads mixed with feminism mixed with Ani DiFranco mixed with roots;•Johnny Cash;•Gillian Welch;• Gene Clark/ Byrds:‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’;• Country Dylan;• Laura Marling?• Natalie Merchant;•A darker Cowboy Junkies; •American Gothic.
RubyBlue's picture

Lana Del Rey

What's it called?: 
Ultraviolence
What does it sound like?: 
A few caveats: 1. I haven’t read any reviews of this at all, partly so I could come to it fresh without any more preconceptions than I already had. 2. I’ve never reviewed anything before. 3. I adore ‘Video Games’ for personal reasons so I had a relatively positive bent towards LDR from the start. As an aside, this is a wonderful album cover- how I miss full-size LP covers. Overall, the themes and imagery include: dangerous boys; crazy, damaged girls on the edge of a breakdown; anger, self-destructiveness; the Bible; guns; cars (and girls); childhood; ‘America’ (I think); fame; dresses and flowers; wanting more more more. She has a much warmer voice that I expected; I thought this would be colder, more detached and chilly, and the production kind of is: clear, shiny, metallic and light but the voice redeems it for me and brings back a bit of connection. It is a much more interesting album that I thought it would be – more serious. Comments on the tracks below.
What does it all *mean*?: 
• A new seriousness- Lana as serious artist. • A reflection on female self-destructiveness in the face of dangerous yet seductive men. • Fame: it’s a good thing, it’s a bad thing. • She has a truly beautiful and clear voice.
Goes well with …: 
My first listen was at sundown on a Sunday with a couple of drinks; I was in a reflective mood and this suited that feeling well. Good for that 3am time when you can’t sleep and melancholy takes over.(Won’t help you get back to sleep, however.)
Might suit people who like …: 
Wonky Pop: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonky_pop ; the more outré and dirty aspects of Tori Amos; Kate Bush; Ani diFranco; drama; female pain; women who swear a lot.
bargepole's picture

Yes

What's it called?: 
Heaven and Earth
What does it sound like?: 
Having witnessed a seemingly rejuvenated Yes on their recent tour, expectations were reasonably high for this release, the first by the current line-up of the band. That optimism hasn't been totally justified. Although this isn't a bad album overall, indeed there's nothing to really dislike about it all, there isn't any outstanding material that you feel will be a long standing part of their future repertoire. As you'd expect, the playing is exemplary and Jon Davison sounds remarkably like Anderson at times. However, the songs themselves are a bit much of a muchness and at some points veer dangerously close to blandness. The production by Roy Thomas-Baker doesn't add as much to proceedings as anticipated, but there is some nice Roger Dean artwork to look at. However,the proggier side of the band has been pretty much neglected here in favour of more commercial shorter songs - a shame as there's still a big market out there for the longer, more complex pieces.
What does it all *mean*?: 
If you're hoping for the Yes that produced prog classics such as Close To The Edge etc then this album is perhaps not for you. It is more in the vein of latter day releases such as 'Fly From Here', a more AOR oriented 'Yes-Lite' sound if you will.
Goes well with …: 
Bands with a back catalogue of classic material will often face a struggle getting their audience to take on board newer material, and that could well be the case with this album unfortunately.The closing 'Subway Walls'is as close as we get to prog.
Might suit people who like …: 
All in all, something of a curate's egg and perhaps a missed opportunity, especially as the recent tour showed a band which obviously enjoyed playing the longer proggier pieces,and still had the ability to do so - yet there are none on offer here.
bargepole's picture

Jethro Tull

What's it called?: 
A Passion Play - An Extended Performance
What does it sound like?: 
Another Steven Wilson job on a classic 70's album. This is Tull's 'difficult' 1973 album, together with the aborted sessions for the proposed sequel to 'Thick As A Brick' recorded in France earlier that year. Both now have a new stereo mix on the two CDs here, while the two DVDs boast a variety of 5.1 surround mixes of the same material. The DVD also features video of 'The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles', together with intro and outro films from the subsequent tour. Wilson has thinned out the complexity of the mix on the original album, leaving a sound that, while still complex, is somewhat less dense than the original. This beautifully put together package also includes a great 80 page book, with reminiscences of the original sessions, details of the remixing process and memories of the 1973 tour - and much more!
What does it all *mean*?: 
This is maybe not the place to start if you're a newcomer to Tull, but for the diehard fans this sheds new light on an album which divided fans on its original release. Needless to say, the sound quality is excellent throughout.
Goes well with …: 
It's fascinating to hear at last the full aborted sessions from the chateau in such good quality - as fans will know, some of this material ended up on APP, while a few others surfaced on subsequent albums and the remainder languished in the vaults.
Might suit people who like …: 
Fans of Tull will already have formed their opinion of this work long ago, but maybe now is the right time for a reappraisal of this classic 70's album. If you're not familiar with it, give it a try anyway - you might be pleasantly surprised!

Sturgill Simpson

What's it called?: 
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.
What does it sound like?: 
Possibly the worst title for an album ever. The contents however are an entirely different proposition and a conundrum. The first 7 songs are fairly straight country songs - country of the edgier variety, think Ryan Adams, Steve Earle etc. Then things start to get turned on their head with the 8th track Just Let go and go completely bonkers by track 9 It ain't all flowers. It starts as a country song and then wigs out into a psychedelic jam replete with backward loops and all manner of cosmic noises and completely changes the perception of the album as a whole. Daring and adventurous, I can't help thinking that this is only the start of a new direction for Sturgill Simpson and his next album will almost certainly veer further off the Country road. Still he has a great voice and a good line in tunes.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Country music doesn't have to confine itself to the Nashville straightjacket. Those of us who are fans of the genre knew that already of course.
Goes well with …: 
Not really sure - I bought the cd after hearing the 'crazy' track on a cd in a shop in Rotterdam. If I had heard the other tracks first they may not have grabbed me in the same way but it definitely grows.
Might suit people who like …: 
Country outside of Rhinestone and Hats box. His voice is similar to Garth Brooks but without the Schmaltz and big production. After three listens I am hooked.
chubbylittleloser's picture

x (Deluxe Edition)

What's it called?: 
x (pronounced Multiply)
What does it sound like?: 
x is the second album from Ed Sheeran. The first track, One, recalls the loss of his love, Alice, a frequent theme on his first album, +, and one continued into I'm a Mess, a faster-paced guitar based track with a harder edge. Sing, the most radio-friendly track, produced and co-written by Pharrell Williams, is followed by Don't and Nina before yet another tale of loss, Photograph, the R&B/hiphop tinged Bloodstream, Tenerife Sea (probably 2014 song of choice for lovestruck holidaymakers), then back again to the more radio friendly R&B of Runaway, another Justin Timberlake inspired song co-written and produced by Williams and then the rap of The Man. Thinking Out Loud and Afire Love, a tribute to his grandfather, who died during the writing of the song, are both slow tracks which bring the regular-sized album to a close. The R&B/hiphop/upbeat feel continues on the deluxe version with the rap of Taking it Back and uptempo Shirtsleeves.
What does it all *mean*?: 
The sentimental Even My Dad Does Sometimes and I See Fire, a song previously released on the Desolation of Smaug soundtrack close the extended version. Producers Jake Gosling, Rick Rubin and Pharrell Williams add the seal of quality to the product.
Goes well with …: 
Younger, female company, perhaps even older ladies who secretly want to mother the tousled, flame-haired ruffian. And definitely a bottle or two of chilled white wine.
Might suit people who like …: 
Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, et al. Not intended for consumption by prog devotees or grumpy old dads.

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