Review Roundup

26 Nov

Keaton Henson – ‘Kindly Now’

Painter, poet, songwriter, classical composer, electronic beat maker, illustrator, film maker – It could be reasonably argued that Keaton Henson is a jack of all trades and master of none. In every project he undertakes, comparisons to others come just a little bit too easily. His latest singer-songwriter release, ‘Kindly Now’, borrows too liberally from James Blake, Damon Rice and Bon Iver; he leans a little too heavily on cliche and corny sentiments that will have you cringing before anything else. But then there’s that voice, a weapon that is quite unlike any I’ve ever heard, and therefore the only original thing about Keaton Henson. Fragile to an unnerving degree, you can hear that he means every single sentiment, however gooey or dopey. ‘Kindly now’ isn’t a great album but it is at times a moving one. ‘Old Lovers in Dressing Rooms’, ‘Alright’ and ‘No Witnesses’ are particularly affecting, which goes to show that you don’t have to be an innovator to tug at people’s heart strings


Crying – ‘Beyond the Fleeting Gales’

You couldn’t think of a more indie band name than Crying and so appropriately their music also brings to mind a particular strain of romantic, melodramatic 1980s indie – bands like The Wake, Orange Juice and The Field Mice. But Crying don’t play it straight, not by a long shot. The intense, rather standard, emotional sentiments are enhanced to near IMAX levels on their debut album. Van Halen and Pokemon Yellow loom just as large over ‘Beyond the Fleeting Gales’, a record that is practically the definition of post-genre. Hyperactive rhythms, felt-tip guitars and glassy, bombastic synths characterise this very distinctive album. The sugar-rush provided by early tracks ‘Premonitory Dream’ and ‘Patriot’ can’t quite sustain what is an exhausting listen but in brief bursts ‘Beyond the Fleeting Gales’ offers one of the more convincing answers to the questions being asked of guitar music in 2016.


Wilco – Shmilco

The illustration on the cover of Wilco’s new album, ‘Shmilco’, depicts a man sticking his finger in to a socket and getting electrocuted. If only that had literally happened to Wilco. Anything to get them going! ‘Shmilco’ is a disappointingly sleepy album from the legendary band, who have earned the right to take it a little easier – without a doubt – but this is a bore. I just don’t buy in to what Tweedy is singing this time around. The emotional platitudes used time and time again are the nearest fruits on the tree and his singing sounds inexpressive and laboured. The quiet, acoustic arrangements don’t scan as country, folk, pop or rock n roll and actually get lost somewhere in between. Melodies are unmemorable and there is a lack of experimentation, which is surprising considering experimentation has been Wilco’s go to guise for at least the past decade. After last year’s brilliant return to form, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Shmilco’ feels like a tiresome disappointment.



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