Albums of the week: From Popcaan to Meg Myers
Post-punk musician Ebony Bones offers up a unique, political album with the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra, while Caribbean star Popcaan has produced the soundtrack to the summer.
EBONY BONES FEAT. THE BEIJING PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA — NEPHILIM
Ebony Bones’ album is an emotionally driven argument of where life in the UK is currently failing. No Black In The Union Jack opens with the Rivers of Blood speech by Enoch Powell, on its 50th anniversary.
Tearing into the xenophobic tendencies of the Trump administration and the slow removal of the UK from the EU, Brixton’s Bones has turned anger into a bright and rounded track.
Her blend of punk-inspired lyrical poetry and big sound production blended with the majestic Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra on tracks Nephilim and Truth Or Treason creates a new style of progressive trip-punk.
Bones has eloquently created a dignified album questioning where hatred and misunderstanding of our fellow man has come from. Truly original.
POPCAAN — FOREVER
Call off the search, the soundtrack to your summer has arrived. A vitamin D-enriched mood-booster in 17 tracks, Jamaican DJ and singer-songwriter Popcaan offers up a dancehall delight, his contemporary Caribbean approach as addictive as could be.
The 29-year-old has produced a record that defies you not to dance along. Staying still is not an option while plugged into Popcaan’s second album, a follow-up to his 2014 breakthrough Where We Come From.
More than a handful of the songs, including Naked, Foreign Love and Body So Good, focus on beautiful women, passionately and emphatically, and where things venture into perhaps edgier territory, such as on Lef My Gun, the music never flags in energy and peppiness.
Even if not a seasoned devotee of the Caribbean genre, this album will strike a pleasing chord with listeners, not least because the influence of dancehall on modern pop music has never been more prevalent than now.
MEG MYERS — TAKE ME TO THE DISCO
She might want to go to the disco, but it doesn’t sound like Meg Myers would enjoy it — the second full-length from the LA singer-songwriter is more concerned with introspection and angst than hitting the dancefloor.
Most of the songs have a grungy quiet-verse, loud-chorus dynamic based around throbbing bass and distorted guitar that mostly recalls the Pixies and Nirvana. However there are other, more surprising touchstones too. The Death Of Me and Tourniquet’s huge drum sound recall the power ballads of the 1980s, while Some People owes a heavy debt to Enya. It’s far from cheerful, and it wouldn’t make a suitable soundtrack for a night on the town. But it could certainly suit the hangover the morning after.
THE INTERNET — HIVE MIND
It takes a certain level of confidence to name your genre-defying band after the greatest technological advance of the last century, but The Internet are nothing if not bold.
Fans of the Californian five-piece will be pleased their fourth album, Hive Mind, picks up exactly where Grammy-nominated breakout third record Ego Death left off — meandering bass noodles over funky guitar licks and percussion borrowed from the likes of Jurassic 5 and Aphex Twin.
The soothing, whisper-like vocal performance from frontwoman Syd Tha Kid offers the gloss to this funk-soul-pop-rock-hip-hop hybrid. No other artist is doing it quite like The Internet.
If only they could summon the creative talent to find a suitable end to their tracks instead of simply fading out...
PUNCH BROTHERS — ALL ASHORE
This American five-piece — mandolinist/lead singer Chris Thile, guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, fiddler/violinist Gabe Witcher and banjo player Noam Pikelny — are modern bluegrass personified.
The band’s new album All Ashore, is somewhat challenging — but mostly rewarding — both enthusiastic yet understated.
Although a relatively short record at just nine tracks, each feels drawn out, averaging around five minutes. Maybe it’s just the influence of modern cinema: most of the songs sound like the soundtrack to an indie rom-com starring two lead actors that you kind of recognise but can’t for the life of you remember their names.
Highlights include the noble-sounding Three Dots And A Dash, a dense, folksy musical masterpiece, and the delightful, bouncy Jumbo.