Thursday, 4 October 2012

reviews: rozi plain, gav prentice, dog is dead

Rozi Plain - Joined Sometimes Unjoined (****)

Where Rozi Plain’s debut Inside Over Here was pieced together from various home recordings, the creation of Joined Sometimes Unjoined involved a full band and studio; a significant development for a performer often defined by her DIY inclinations, but one worn lightly. The opening tracks – the dainty Cold Tap and the dancing rhythms of Humans – are graceful and beguiling, with echoes of pals, Fence-mates and sometime backing band Francois & the Atlas Mountains in the former’s steel drums and the latter’s faintly afrobeat undercurrent.

But it’s on side two that Plain really impresses, with an exuberant re-record of See My Boat going off like a party-popper; Take It’s muttered protests and mantric guitar swirling together hypnotically; and the warm brass of Catch Up (from where the album gets its name) beautifully underpinning its otherwise fluttering cadence. As a whole, Joined Sometimes Unjoined’s charms are subtle but impactful: good, sometimes very good.

Out 22nd October

Gav Prentice - The Invisible Hand (***)

You can appreciate why Over the Wall’s Gav Prentice felt the need to release these songs under his own name, as opposed to incorporating them into the music made with OtW partner Ben Hillman: not only is his solo debut’s stripped-back style a world away from Treacherous’s playful alt-pop, but throughout, The Invisible Band sounds acutely, sometimes painfully personal.

The arrangements are predominantly lo-fi and bare, placing emphasis squarely on vocals that are by turns vitriolic (the spitting verses and howled refrain of Burning Down) and miserable (the self-pitying I Know That). At times, this focus is unflattering, with the aforementioned I Know That becoming one long whine (possibly deliberate, considering its lyrical content, though intent doesn’t make it any less arduous to listen to). But elsewhere, his heartfelt passion is palpable and affecting, with Square Mile’s knotted sadness and the sneering How Are You Sleeping? stirring emotions, albeit in very different directions.
Out 15th October

                                                    Dog Is Dead – All Our Favourite Stories 

Dogs Is Dead - All Our Favourite Stories (***)

Nottingham’s Dog is Dead have been all over this summer’s festival calendar, and with good reason. Debut LPAll Our Favourite Stories sounds ambitious and expensive, its robust indie-rock built not for poky basements but wide open spaces, indicating an act already operating on a somewhat grander scale than most indie debutants. It’s little wonder the majors came knocking, with the album’s three singles to date – moody torch-song Two Devils; Hands Down, which fuses aspects of Arcade Fire with The Ronettes; and the lounge-scented swing of Glockenspiel Song – demonstrating both commercial appeal and a confidently forthright song-writing bent.

Unfortunately, they already seem to have lost some steam, with nothing else quite living up the same standard. Yet with a few coming close (like the closing Killers-ish electro-ballad Any Movement), and residual promise in even the dullest stretches, it’s easy to envisage them leaping up line-ups come next year’s festival season.

Out 8th October

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