Review: Nicole Cassandra Smit – Third in Line

Very rarely does a first album showcase as much raw talent and imagination as Cassandra Nicole Smit’s dazzling debut Third in Line. The Edinburgh-based Indonesian-Swedish musician is not afraid to take risks on this LP, melding soul, jazz, hip-hop and electronica into her own sonic elixir. Yet the fluidity and sense of artistry underpinning everyContinue reading “Review: Nicole Cassandra Smit – Third in Line”

The E Street Shuffle: Bruce Springsteen’s messy, flamboyant, life-affirming second album

In 1973, when Bruce Springsteen presented his completed second LP The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle to Charles Koppelman at Columbia Records, he was told in no uncertain terms that the record would be a commercial flop. With its scruffy musicianship and lengthy, sprawling songs, the album would, Koppelman believed, kill Springsteen’sContinue reading “The E Street Shuffle: Bruce Springsteen’s messy, flamboyant, life-affirming second album”

Spring Highlights 2022

Inevitably, I don’t get the chance to review every album that catches my attention. For each review I post, there will be several other great records released that I don’t get to write about. And the last few weeks in particular have seen a surplus of fantastic new releases, making it tough to prioritise whatContinue reading “Spring Highlights 2022”

Review: Pictish Trail – Island Family

As musical tributes to the Scottish Hebrides go, Johnny Lynch’s salute to the Isle of Eigg, Island Family, is certainly an unusual one. There’s barely an acoustic instrument in sight, no soaring fiddles or intricate guitar to evoke the windswept landscape and rough seas. Instead, jagged electronics and coarse percussion cut across seas of seethingContinue reading “Review: Pictish Trail – Island Family”

Review: Jenny Hval – Classic Objects

The fact that Jenny Hval calls her latest LP Classic Objects her ‘pop album‘ speaks to just how left-field her previous musical ventures have been. Far from conventional, Classic Objects opens with a vibrant, rhythmic meditation on the institution of marriage and concludes questioning the value of art in a commercial system, slipping into spaceyContinue reading “Review: Jenny Hval – Classic Objects”

Review: Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

‘It’s a little bit magic,’ promises ‘Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You’, the title track of American indie folk-rock band Big Thief’s latest album. At 80 minutes long, this mammoth record was born out of drummer and producer James Krivchenia’s desire of capturing the full range of vocalist Adrianne Lenker’s song-writing talent inContinue reading “Review: Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You”

2021: the Year of Climate Change Music

For as long as there has been protest, there have been protest songs. Yet the greatest threat to humanity’s survival, an existential emergency facing every last one of us, has wormed its way into relatively little of our music. While Neil Young watched ‘Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s’, Joni Mitchell warned ‘youContinue reading “2021: the Year of Climate Change Music”

The Best Songs of 2021

Looking back on 2021, the achievement I am most proud of has been starting this blog. Having the space to record my thoughts about music has been an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience and I’m looking forward to posting more regularly in 2022. A huge thank you to everyone who has read and liked myContinue reading “The Best Songs of 2021”

The Best Albums of 2021

With long-awaited returns from Adele, Ed Sheeran and Kanye West, blockbuster debuts by rising stars Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X, and quietly confident follow-ups from Billie Eilish and Lorde, the album as a format is as impactful in 2021 as ever before. As a form of artistic expression as well as a commercial product,Continue reading “The Best Albums of 2021”

Review: Lana Del Rey – Blue Banisters

Just the day after the release of her seventh studio album Chemtrails Over The Country Club in March of this year, Lana Del Rey announced her next project Rock Candy Sweet would be out in June. Then postponed until July and retitled Blue Banisters, the album was teased with a collection of singles, before beingContinue reading “Review: Lana Del Rey – Blue Banisters”