Albums of the week: Jane's Addiction to Steve Adey
Iconic US rockers Jane’s Addiction mark the 25th anniversary of a classic record while avant-garde French artist Camille and Edinburgh-based Steve Adey offer quirky new releases.
JANE’S ADDICTION — ALIVE AT 25 — RITUAL DE LO HABITUAL
Ritual De Lo Habitual, released in 1990, set Jane’s Addiction apart from their contemporaries, managing to sound otherworldly, exotic, rocking, romantic and nostalgic at the same time.
Alive At 25 — Ritual De Lo Habitual captures the band on the last night of their Sterling Spoon Anniversary Tour at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in California.
Energy levels are still as high as they once were, the gear-shifting adrenaline rush of Stop kicks the doors open, and the dog-barking, cartoon brilliance of Been Caught Stealing still shines. Perry Farrell comes across like a Vegas showbiz pro, though can sound reedy at times.
But it’s Dave Navarro’s brilliance on guitar that still marks Jane’s as a band apart. Three Days sounds as majestic as it did 25 years ago, losing nothing of its sophistication, and this live revisitation — available on CD, DVD, Blue-Ray and vinyl — does a masterpiece justice.
STEVE ADEY — DO ME A KINDNESS
Steve Adey’s third studio album — dropped nearly five years after his last effort, The Tower Of Silence — is one of this year’s most innovative releases.
Do Me A Kindness may be an album of covers, in which the Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter revisits an eclectic range of tracks such as Morrissey’s Everyday Is Like Sunday and Over by Portishead, but it’s a refreshing ode to all.
Recorded in a 19th century church in the Scottish capital and using vintage equipment, you can feel and hear the reverberations in the charged, beautifully revitalised tracks.
Try not to be moved by Adey’s rich vocals. Try not to be sucked into his honest renditions of the songs that you already likely know and love, and probably never imagined being covered with such panache.
Stand-outs include Adey’s haunting version of Bob Dylan’s I Want You, and his musical adaptation of Hermann Hesse poem How Heavy The Days. A unique and resounding effort.
CAMILLE — OUI
Camille is known in her native France for making music with an avant-garde flavour, but she has enough pop leanings that make her work also suitable for perfume adverts and collaborations with lounge-pop outfit Nouvelle Vague.
Oui, her fifth solo album, sees her pitched somewhere between a French Bjork and a French Kate Bush. Minimalist soundscapes dominate, centred on thunderous drums (a Camille staple) and faintly menacing synths.
Front and centre is her voice, which goes from a sultry whisper to demented shriek — often within the space of a single song.
Camille herself has described the album as “politically charged” but playful and inspired by her experiences of motherhood. This may well be the case, but inevitably most of this subtext is lost on the non-French speaking listener.
Nevertheless, this ethereal mix of drums, synths, choirs, coughs, gasps and whispers is enchanting.
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR — PROUD DISTURBER OF THE PEACE
Proud Disturber Of The Peace couldn’t be much more of a misnomer. The debut album from Newquay’s William The Conqueror is one that fails to challenge any conventions of its chosen genre whatsoever — in fact it’s so full of alt-folk tropes throughout its 10 tracks that the brain’s only natural response is to eventually switch off.
The record starts fairly promisingly: opening track In My Dreams is a chugging earworm in the mould of The Hold Steady — though admittedly one that never really goes anywhere — while Tend To The Thorns mixes a pleasant floating melody with broody post rock.
But from there things get dull fairly quickly. Did You Wrong can only truly be described as landfill Americana, and much of the rest continues in the card-shop-alt-folk vein.
Cold Ontario varies its pitch slightly — incorporating inflections of plastic soul slightly akin to Matthew E White but sadly lacking his panache.
It isn’t wholly bleak. Sunny Is The Style is a foot-tapping blast of Bon Iver with a smile, while closer Manawatu is a genuinely enjoyable Fleet Foxes-esque earworm, but even at its highest points Proud Disturber Of The Peace suffers badly from its lack of fresh ideas.
SOCCER MOMMY — COLLECTION
Sophie Allison is a 19-year-old from Nashville who uprooted to New York almost two years ago, packing away in her suitcase the Soccer Mommy alias and a bundle of sketchy requiems to her teens.
Collection, formed of full-band re-recordings of early releases and fresh material, is a farewell to Allison’s formative years and telling evidence of her arrival as a songwriter not only to watch out for but to enjoy.
On the single and highlight Out Worn she laments: “This ain’t the love that I had desired/ I’m sick of living in your eyes.”
Elsewhere there are nods to a youth spent living with Cure and New Order records, and a kinship with the likes of modern-day marvel Waxahatchee, but mostly there is a steely conviction in Allison’s sense of self that carries the album.
Collection is a confident, intelligent, big-city record, as Soccer Mommy stakes an early claim to be young player of the year.