The Streets – Computers and Blues
On Mike Skinners swan song, he just may have crafted some of his very finest songs. On what is to be the fifth and final Streets record, Computers and Blues comes full circle a decade after Skinner’s bombastic debut with Original Pirate Material. The polo shirt wearing, middle class English rapper has given an insight as to how the middle class has struggled in the UK for years. Though as his career has gone on and the parties, drugs and women got more indulgent, the Streets began to discuss the rock star lifestyle. Now on Computers and Blues it is back to basics as to why and how Skinner started this operation in the first place. Opening the door for UK rappers like Dizzie Rascal, Lady Sov, Plan B and even Lily Allen, The Streets can bow out on an infectious record of grooves,licks, and most importantly an insight into the high working class. We are just two months into the year and this is already an album of the year contender.
FINAL GRADE: A+
Chapel Club – Palace
One of the most anticipated debuts of not just the year, but in recent memory, London’s Chapel Club is something to admire because their first full length, Palace, delivers and lives up to the hype and anticipation. Singer Lewis Bowman is a tortured soul and his lyrics showcase that torment of trying to find happiness, self-expression, comfort and love. The music of the band is just as haunting and vulnerable as Lewis’ words, which is why they are all the perfect combination of sonic style for one another. Easily the best debut we have heard since Glasvegas’ 2008 self-titled release and one of the most exciting and artistic bands to keep an eye on. Palace is a haunting musical display for a band that will take the thrown around the world.
FINAL GRADE: A
All the rage and hype back in his native England, this 18-year-old beat maker is already being compared to Dark Star, Jamie xx and is already being looked at as the future of dub-step. With just a debut under his belt, a few covers and various remixes, James Blake is the most talked about new solo artist around and his debut is the answer to the call. It delivers in big ways. His debut is a hypnotic and haunting display of someone trying to find their place in the world and someone trying to find the balance in love and lust. This is a record that will grow on you and will stay in your head for days, one that you will keep replaying and finding new things about. James Blake just might be the most curious and fascinating newcomer in a while.
FINAL GRADE: A-
Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
After a long absence, Coner Oberst has retaken his Bright Eyes moniker and is back to give his opinion and express on the state of the union and put his heart back on his sleeve. In many ways this is a Bright Eyes record but in many ways it is not, having a full band behind him and having synths incorporated into the new Bright Eyes era. The People’s Key is certainly a good album but will take some time to grow on you; it does not strike at first listen, but then cuts in deep.
FINAL GRADE : B+
..and You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Tao of the Dead
The prog / metal / rock / classic sounding band is back and better than ever. Tao of the Dead is indeed Trail of Dead’s finest effort. An intricate display of bone crunching rock and roll and intelligent playing. The combination of various forms and styles mix perfectly together and the band has never shined so bright as they do now. Tao of the Dead is a powerful listen.
FINAL GRADE: B+
The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts
What could be the final record from England’s The Go! Team, shows that the band maybe going out with a bang. The incredibly energetic and ultra fun live act, channel their live shows on album. For Go! Team fans around the world this is nothing new, but something to smile about.
FINAL GRADE: B+
Dave Hause – Resolutions
The Loved Ones singer goes solo on his first full LP and shows he can work it alone. Hause gives us a great rockabilly punk album that proves Hause’s worth as a songwriter, entertainer and rock and roller. Fueled with passionate lyrics, roaring guitars, pounding drums – Resolutions has it all! An exciting record that only makes us wanting more.
FINAL GRADE: B+
Pendulum – Immersion
The Australia via England high octane six piece are ready to take over the planet with Immersion. This is an electronic based, high energy; thumping album will make them fan favorites around the globe. Already a massive success in Australia and in their current home, England, Pendulum are poised to be the next Muse with an album this scientifically technical and precise.
FINAL GRADE: B
Cut Copy – Zonoscope
The Australian beat makers deliver high and mighty on their third album. Zonoscope is their most valiant effort to date. An instant party starter and a blast to listen to, Cut Copy will be one of the more talked about electronic duo’s of the year due to this album. I hope they are prepared to get bigger than what they are.
FINAL GRADE: B
British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
There was a time when British Sea Power were supposed to be as big as Bloc Party, yet they failed to reach the climax. Still a sensation back in England, around the world they have a solid fan base, yet everyone in their camp must know that it could be better. Valhalla Dancehall was the record that was expected to bring them up to higher status and it may still do so, but the issue with it is that it sounds like all the other releases the band has had in the past. Nothing new, but twangy guitar and catchy chanting choruses, it is a fun album but would have expected something more.
FINAL GRADE: C