Albums of the week - from Foals to Yungblud
Rockers Foals have managed to go one better with their new album, while other releases this week include the 'lunacy' of a Christmas album from Judas Priest's Rob Halford
Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2
Although cut from the same Grade A cloth, the follow-up to Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1, manages to usurp its predecessor - and that's no easy feat.
The album is a powerful eruption of what we have come to expect from Foals: intense, foreboding rock tracks, with a couple of more melodic and upbeat tunes to lighten the mood.
Every song is a triumph, you'll find no fillers here. Even the two short instrumental offerings, Red Desert and Ikaria, bring to mind an empty but beautiful wasteland that lays waiting for the four-piece from Oxford to descend upon with thrashing guitars, foot-stomping riffs and Yannis Philippakis' melancholic, haunting vocal.
One thing is for sure - Foals keep getting better and better, this album proving the pinnacle of their career thus far.
Jimmy Eat World - Surviving
You only have to read the title of Jimmy Eat World's 10th album - Surviving - to get a feel for its topic of choice. The band, once pioneers of the so-called emo scene, are 25 years into their musical lives, while former label mates and rivals such as Good Charlotte and AFI have disappeared from view.
Jimmy Eat World are not a band known for venturing outside the hook-laden guitar sound they helped carve out but on this record they reach for the future by turning back to the past.
Surviving is unlikely to surprise fans of Jimmy Eat World. But it might make them fall back in love with them.
Rob Halford - Celestial
A Christmas album in October from Judas Priest's stalwart frontman? Yes, Halford - with family and friends - is thumbing through and adding to the Yuletide songbook.
Of the four original compositions, the instrumental title track leads into standout rocker Donner And Blitzen while Morning Star is an unlikely ballad, though not a patch on ridiculous closer Protected By The Light.
The highlights lie on the traditional numbers, including a magnificently melodramatic Away In A Manger and seven-minute Good King Wenceslas. Only intermittently does Halford truly let the heavy metal loose, most spectacularly with the driving riff and spiralling solo of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and the guttural fa-la-las on a skull-crushing Deck The Halls. A similarly thunderous Hark! The Herald Angels Sing segues straight into a perfectly traditional, orthodox rendition of The First Noel.
I'm not sure whether to rate this lunacy at five or nine out of 10, so let's settle for seven. Merry Christmas!
Yungblud - The Underrated Youth (EP)
Fresh from rocking out across music festivals this summer, Yorkshire-born musician and singer-songwriter Yungblud (real name Dominic Harrison, but it's not as much of a statement) is ready to drop his new EP, an anarchic collection of anthems aimed at today's youth.
The 22-year-old rising star's riotous, hedonistic six-track release is a call to action for those of his generation; those who are talking openly about their mental health issues and accepting themselves for who they are, those who are feeling jaded that the way their elders are running the world, and those who just want to express themselves in whatever way that may be.
The strongest track - musically and lyrically - on the EP is Original Me with Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds, a song about self-acceptance and being authentic, a real 2019 hot-button topic and one that will surely resonate with Yungblud's huge fanbase.
Michael Monroe - One Man Gang
Ask most people to name something from Finland and they'd probably stretch to Nokia phones and Finlandia vodka. But only those with a love of sleazy rock 'n' roll could add Hanoi Rocks to that list. At a time when Motley Crue were conquering the world with a watered-down glam rock crossover, Hanoi Rocks were the real deal, but never got the respect or sales their talent deserved.
Thirty-odd years on, Rocks' lead man Michael Monroe is still rocking like a demon at a time when most musicians of his age (57) are slowing down.
The album's best track is the mariachi horn-driven Heaven Is A Free State.