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Album reviews: From David Bowie to Dan Croll


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The latest album by The Snuts

The latest album by The Snuts

The latest album by The Snuts

The Snuts, Dan Croll and Ryley Walker deliver this week's albums.

The Snuts

WL

The Snuts are proudly flying the flag for bands at a time when solo artists dominate, and must have missed playing gigs more than most after making their name live.

The indie four-piece from Whitburn, halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, built up a devoted fanbase through relentless touring and a series of rowdy singles.

Now their debut album arrives, 13 tracks custom built for singing along while punching the air, and they'll be hoping their rescheduled autumn tour - including three sold-out gigs at Glasgow Barrowland - goes ahead.

WL starts unexpectedly with the low-key Top Deck before The Snuts hit their stride with the anthemic Always, driven by a nagging guitar riff, and the catchy All Your Friends.

Somebody Loves You is a love song that strays towards boyband territory, while Boardwalk is acoustic, Don't Forget It (Punk) is aggressive, Coffee & Cigarettes as experimental as they get and last track Sing For Your Supper heads towards power ballad territory.

The Snuts are not reinventing the indie wheel, with influences ranging from Oasis to the Libertines, Arctic Monkeys and The Courteeners, but their own personality always comes through.

6/10, Review by Matthew George

Dan Croll

Grand Plan Live

The idea of a live album recorded during the pandemic, when public performance remains impossible, might seem nonsensical.

Nonetheless, Dan Croll is releasing a live version of his sensitive, engrossing 2020 album Grand Plan, plus a second side of extras.

It's live in the sense that it was recorded as part of a livestream from Spacebomb studios in Richmond, Virginia, where the album was originally recorded. For the project, Croll reunited with producer Matthew E White and his studio band.

The results are pleasing, like a hazy glimpse into the sessions that birthed the album.

Grand Plan itself charted a year-long period starting in February 2018 when Croll left his hometown of Liverpool for LA.

He pivoted to a music that was more worldly, more tied up in the songwriting traditions of California, whilst also paying tribute to the looming presence of The Beatles.

In a live setting, the quality of these songs shine through, revealing new dimensions. It's an enjoyable, if superfluous, companion piece.

7/10, Review by Alex Green

Ryley Walker

Course In Fable

Ryley Walker may have jokingly described this as his "prog record".

But thankfully, the Chicago rocker's rigorous approach to songwriting and his roots in jazz temper the genre's more self-indulgent tendencies.

He may now live in New York, but this is a record that pays tribute to the city in which he built a reputation and carved out a sound.

Course In Fable looks back to the prog bands that emerged out of Chicago in the 1990s.

Gastr del Sol integrated the motorik rhymes of math and post-rock, while the The Sea and Cake was notable not just for their offbeat name but for the manner in which they injected jazz into their sound.

These are the reference points to look for on Course In Fable, as Walker swings from the complexity of Yes! to gentle folk melodies.

Rarely do some many genres combine is such harmony.

7/10, Review by Alex Green

David Bowie

Kit Kat Klub (live New York 99)

The sixth and final instalment of Parlophone's Brilliant Live Adventures collection - a series of live albums covering Bowie's mostly forgotten 90s period - sees the late star in New York at the tail end of the decade.

He is performing at what was then the Kit Kat Klub, to an invite-only crowd of screaming fans and contest winners.

The 12-track live album is, fittingly, a hit-heavy affair including a piano-led version of Life On Mars?, China Girl and Changes.

After a decade in the proverbial wilderness, exploring drum and bass, brash alternative rock and, God forbid, acid jazz, this is Bowie in crowd-pleasing mode.

Even amongst the dated heavy rock of The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell and I'm Afraid Of Americans, two 90s tracks best forgotten, things remain buoyant.

5/10, Review by Alex Green

Belfast Telegraph


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