Albums of the Quarter

Happy Easter everyone! I can’t quite believe we’re three months in to 2018 already… What I thought I’d do this year is to talk about the top few new albums that have really been making an impression on me each quarter. So, here’s the first instalment!

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John Howard – Songs From the Morning review

John Howard has today released his latest EP Songs From the Morning, where he has covered songs from five artists who influenced him as he grew up in Bury and continue to have an impact on his writing as he prepares to release his eighteenth ‘solo’ LP later this year as he turns sixty-five.

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Steve Brookes, Hoodoo Zoo – Review

Out now, 8/10

I’ll be honest, like many Paul Weller fans, I’ve known who original Jam guitarist Steve Brookes is for some time but have never quite got round to seeking out his solo work. All that changed with the release at the start of the month of his fourth album Hoodoo Zoo, recorded at Weller’s Black Barn studios, featuring the Modfather on two tracks, plus Ben Gordelier who plays percussion on most and Black Barn resident producer Charles Rees behind the desk.

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The Granite Shore, Suspended Second – Review

Occultation Records, 9/10
Out now.

“What news from England, are they happy now they’re free?”

There isn’t much that needs to be said about the Granite Shore’s new LP Suspended Second that hasn’t been already. Whether it’s from band leader Nick Halliwell (it presents his – profoundly negative – feelings towards Brexit through metaphor and is released on his indie label Occultation Recordings), new recruit John Howard (it’s the band’s second album and this time includes backing vocals and piano from the Night Mail man) or the multitude of glowing reviews (it’s bloody good), most bases have been covered.

But if only to add to the chorus of positive voices, I think it might be worth me having a stab at explaining quite why it’s such a triumph.

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Strength of their Nature: Lovestarrs, Planet Lovestarr – Review

“Yeah you give me that physical feeling, butterflies when I’m walking the streets with you”

Lovestarrs – Planet Lovestarr (DEFDISCO) 10/10

Lovestarrs today released their long awaited debut album Planet Lovestarr. Singer Sarah McIntosh and her brother, bassist Hamish, were helped by a bunch of eminent Swedish producers to create a slick synthpop sound in an excellent record characterised by several real earworms.

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Opening Up, Stretching Out: John Howard, Across the Door Sill – Review

“Praise is what we crave, it whispers like a lover. Time’s a funny thing, it sings in our ears like a siren.”

John Howard – Across the Door Sill (Occultation Recordings) 8/10

John Howard last week released his latest solo album, following on from the Europe-wide success last year of his new band’s self-titled debut LP John Howard and the Night Mail. Across the Door Sill is a concept album which really delivers the goods despite throwing fans a curveball on first listen, differing markedly from the full band sound of the Night Mail.

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Albums of the Year – 2015

Allow me to share with you my five highlights of the year in album form. The list is not exhaustive or exclusive to one genre or another, but click on the videos, explore a bit further if you like what you hear, and enjoy the soundtrack to my year!

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