pop album reviews

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Helena Hauff: Qualm review – zeitgeist DJ bends techno to her will

(Ninja Tune) In five years, Helena Hauff has gone from a resident DJ at the sticky, sweaty Hamburg club Golden Pudel to one of the current techno club and festival circuit’s most thunderous selectors – blending acid house, electro, and post-punk into industrial techno, EBM and wiggling downbeat house jams. Her tastes comes not from …

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Mac Miller: Swimming review – maturing rapper in search for self-acceptance

The Pittsburgh artist went through a breakup with Ariana Grande and was arrested for a drunken car crash – but his troubles result in a wiser, sadder, better album There are those years when it seems the only way through is to tell yourself: “Hey, one day, this will make for some good writing material.” …

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Mt Joy: Mt Joy review – could try harder

(Dualtone) When I tell you that the very first word on Philadelphian up-and-comers Mt Joy’s debut album is “Mary-Anne”, you may fear we have already veered off the Springsteen interstate down the wrong turning marked “landfill Americana”. Yet despite the long drives, levees, women with old-fashioned names and Followill-esque throaty yowling on display here, the …

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All Saints: Testament review – past glories partially recaptured

(Absolute/AS Recordings) Initially sold as the Spice Girls’ sassier rivals, All Saints quickly proved to have far greater depth, distinguished as they were by Shaznay Lewis’s superior songwriting chops. Intra-band squabbles over a combat jacket might have cut short the party in 2001, and their first comeback, in 2006, was underwhelming. But their third coming, …

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Body/Head: The Switch review – otherworldly Sturm und Drang

(Matador) After 30 years and 15 albums of groundbreaking alt-rock, Sonic Youth split in 2011, in large part because of the acrimonious divorce of bassist Kim Gordon and guitarist Thurston Moore. Since then, while the solo careers of Moore and fellow guitarist Lee Ranaldo have largely followed in the style of late-era Youth, Gordon has …

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Ty Segall & White Fence: Joy review – a follow-up that’s merely fine

(Drag City) Six years ago, these two psychedelically inclined West Coast noise-makers collaborated on a previous album, the well received Hair. Since then, Freedom’s Goblin, released last January, has become a career high for Segall. White Fence’s Tim Presley – an ex-punk now into 60s melodicism who did time in the Fall before collaborating with …

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All Saints: Testament review – smoothies drowned out by digital clutter

(AS Recordings) All Saints’ fifth album starts with a spoken-word segment recounting a mother’s prophecy about being torn between two kinds of men: those who will give you the life you want, and those offering the love you desire. But the song itself, Who Do You Love, presents a different kind of crossroads: are All …

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Underworld and Iggy Pop: Teatime Dub Encounters – review

(Caroline International)The joyous product of a recording session for Trainspotting 2, Iggy Pop’s EP with Underworld finds rock’n’roll’s chief hedonist in reckless and reflective mode There are few, if any, opening shots in rock more magnificent than that fired off by Iggy Pop in 1973. “I’m a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm,” …

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Gaika: Basic Volume review – downbeat articulacy

(Warp) Warp signings the Sabres of Paradise had an album called Haunted Dancehall (1994); this debut from another Warp act actually sounds like one. Brixton-born Gaika is an MC with a grounding in Caribbean sounds: dancehall, reggae, London grime. But as a producer he unites two disparate aesthetics, leaning towards the goth end of narcotised R&B. Through …

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Ty Segall and White Fence: Joy review – kindred spirits on a white knuckle ride

(Drag City) Californian cult garage rocker Ty Segall is a textbook example of how to succeed in the modern music industry on one’s own terms. Over the past decade, the 31-year old singer-guitarist-drummer has released a solo album a year on a myriad of independent labels, while also playing in a baffling array of bands …

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