Bad lieutenant - Never Cry Another Tear(Triple Echo) “It's like New Order, but without the bass.” So says Bernard Sumner of this, his new project featuring New Order bandmates Steven Morris and Phil Cunningham, with Alex James of Blur standing in for the estranged Peter Hook.
The songs are noticeably stronger than the flaccid final two New Order albums, but despite its merits, there's shoddy material too: Shine Like The Sun, which finds Sumner sounding like a karaoke singer, although it sounds like a masterpiece compared to Head into Tomorrow.
And then there is the elephant in the room: fans will wonder how these songs might have worked had 'Hooky' been involved. Hook, incidentally, has been working on his own project, Freebass, featuring three bassists (including ex-Smith Andy Rourke and former Stone Rose Mani) — what it’ll sound like is anyone's guess.
Burn it: Twist of Fate; Dynamo
Mr hudson- Straight No Chaser(Mercury)
Ben Hudson attracted the attentions of Kanye West thanks to his debut album two years ago. West was so enamoured with the Birmingham singer that he designed a pair of sneakers for Louis Vuitton called Mr Hudson and is listed as the executive producer on this second album.
While Hudson's debut was a charming melange of pop, reggae and soul, this follow-up unashamedly aims big. That's obvious right from the super-catchy opener, Supernova, with vocals from West.
A vocal manipulator is used on Supernova and another Kanye-assisted track, Anyone But Him. Beneath Hudson's glossy synth pop lie songs detailing heartbreak, like the title track and Knew We Were in Trouble. The album suffers from an uncomfortably high number of fillers but when he's on form, Hudson could become Robbie Williams-big.
Burn it: Supernova; Knew We Were in Trouble
Julian Casablancas- Phrazes for the Young(Beggar’s Banquet)
Joining the ranks of Interpol's Paul Banks and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O, The Strokes frontman is the latest leader of a hip, influential New York band to release a solo album with minimal input from day-to-day colleagues.
This short, eight-track album goes some way towards erasing the painful memory of the last, bloated Strokes album, First Impressions of Earth, with Casablancas displaying a hitherto unseen love of folk and electronica.
Two tracks stand out: Ludlow Street is an eclectic, wilfully all-over-the-place song which sees Casablancas channelling his inner Dylan and delivering that most unStrokes-like feature, a banjo solo; while 4 Chords of the Apocalypse finds a bar-room piano and vintage synthesizer vying for attention under a melancholy vocal.
Burn it: Ludlow Street; 4 Chords of the Apocalypse