Product DetailsThis is only Dragonette’s third album but they’ve been around for some time now.  Their debut “Galore” was released in 2007 and the excellent follow-up “Fixin’ to Thrill” was released 3 years ago. This Canadian band have to yet to find mainstream success (other than their collaboration with Martin Solveig on last year’s ubiquitous dance floor hit “Hello”) with their wonky, imaginative pop but are respected and have become somewhat of an influence for the current generation of electro pop ladies (Nicole Roberts, Little Boots) and even Madonna whose recent “Turn On The Radio” is a poor cousin to “Hello”.

Not that much has changed between albums for the band other than “Body Parts” is completely 100% electronic (no children’s choirs, trumpets or banjos this time around) and maybe some of the specialness that Dragonette most definitely possess has been flattened out in the process. “Run, Run, Run” is a successful attempt at a minor key, stadium anthem and opens the album with an elegant confidence. “Live In This City” is as typical Dragonette as you can get and “Let It Go” resembles but doesn’t match the huge aforementioned “Hello”. So the first half of this album is solid, but sadly no longer sets Dragonette apart from what could now be considered their peers. Things do become more interesting in the second half however;  fittingly frantic “My Legs” is the boisterous tale of Martina Sorbara’s  disobedient lallies (‘I try to wash my face but my legs say put on make-up!’) and is completely brilliant, “Right Woman” has just the right pinch of sleaze and persuasion and “Giddy Up” hysterically goes a bit too far. These tracks all posses those grains of magic that were first in evidence in early tracks such as “Black Limousine” and “Take It like A Man”. Closing synth ballad “Ghost” is certainly nice and the glam stomp of “My Work Is Done” does pack a wallop but in a pretty derivative way.

“Body Parts” may be the result of Dragonette wanting to make an album that has more of an overall, cohesive structure and sound compared to their previous album “Fixin’ To Thrill” where almost every song had its own personality and was part of its own musical world but as a whole hung also together beautifully.  By doing this we end up with an album that admittedly has no lows but also deprives itself from any of the massive highs. Interestingly the fifth track here, the appropriately named “Lay Low”, which fails to assert itself within the oddly sequenced track listing, is one of the best songs they’ve ever written (Dragonette write and sometimes produce their own material, increasingly unusual in the modern pop genre); a mid tempo, wistful and multi-textured track with its clever ‘twist me in your tornado’ hook which seductively sinks its claws in; it’s a song that I almost overlooked. I’m hoping, then, that maybe this album will prove that it’s more of a slow burner than its predecessors and with patience could prove to have more longevity than their more instantly gratifying earlier material. Let’s hope so because I still love having them around.

Ok, I know the music business is changing by the millisecond these days and artists have to be increasingly creative to make sure their talent and hard graft actually generates some proper wonga for them rather than their tracks being illegally downloaded by some pimply pre-pubescent in Manchester.  And don’t accuse me of being anti-Manc, I’m just showing an interest in current affairs.  There’s no chance of landing a six-figure advance these days to invest in the Colombian economy before getting your mate to record your magnum opus over a slow weekend in his lock-up.  So everyone’s desperately looking for new ways to actually make a living from music.

There’s a whole new industry which has appeared from nowhere while our backs were turned.  It’s so new that it can’t even spell its own name yet, so I don’t know if it’s syncing or synching but I’m sure it’ll soon sort out that little identity crisis.  When I was a lad (before digital and mobile phones and that worldwide net thing), it was the ultimate sellout to allow your creative masterworks to be used in an advert.  Neil Young got so upset about an approach from Pepsi that he wrote “This Note’s For You” about it.  So who made it ok to sell your soul to Bartle Bogle Hegarty (come on, it’s so much funnier than BBH, isn’t it)?

It was Apple and the Archangel Bono, that’s who.  When “Vertigo” was used on the iPod ad, the trickle of high-profile bands chasing the advertising money turned into a deluge.  Everyone’s at it now.  I mean, did the Stones really need the extra dosh from “Start Me Up” on the Omega ad this summer?  I don’t mind anyone trying to get their music out there and get the rewards they deserve; far from it.  The sync(h)ing industry helps get good new music into films, TV series and ads that generate a buzz (and a fee) for the artists and you would have to have a hard heart to complain about that.

I really have a problem with musicians who should know better endorsing totally inappropriate products.  Where do I start? Is that too many rhetorical questions?  Ok, Iggy Pop selling insurance, then.  Iggy (or Jimmy to his friends) has to be the risk-taker supreme of the 70s; drugs, physical self-harm and more drugs followed by even more drugs and then he appears on TV advertising insurance.  No insurance is as good as being the luckiest man alive, and you can’t buy or sell that commodity.  Chumbawamba, 80s anarcho-punks and agit-proppers (they were so anti-establishment they threw a jug of water over John Prescott) could surely be relied on to resist the temptation of selling out to the establishment.  No chance; “Tubthumping” is featured on an ad for that great anarchist enterprise of ambulance-chasing.

But the best one of the lot has to be John Lydon/Rotten for his splendid work endorsing dairy products.  From the most hated man in Britain to selling butter on TV; it’s a bit of a comedown from the brilliant “World Destruction” with Afrika Bambaataa.  A feature in one of the inkies a few weeks ago described our Johnny as a pantomime villain, but he’s such a caricature now that pantomime dame’s probably closer to the mark.


Product DetailsTrumpets (muted and otherwise), trombones, tuba, saxophones; if you can’t stand a brass band then don’t bother entering this experimental space that is the collaboration between the grandaddy of new wave, David Byrne, and super cool new girl Annie Clark aka St Vincent. The majority of the songs here feature either Byrne or St Vincent singing solo, a few are actual duets but almost every second of each track is crammed full with a parping, swelling or squeaking wind instrument sounding off; it’s very much the third, non-credited party here.

David Byrne sounds very much at home in this musical landscape, an artist who has collaborated with many world music artists and has also produces music in his own right that incorporates many eclectic, diverse styles from various cultures (1992’s “Uh-Oh” album for example), not even taking into account Talking Heads. St Vincent makes queasy, dark, melodic indie pop and is a fantastic guitarist. She is an artist that has slowly, over the course of 3 albums, each better than the last, has established herself as a significant new talent, a fascinating artist very much in her prime whose best work is probably yet to come. But it’s actually the horns that tie the 12 tracks here together, providing a constant, nurturing narrative regardless of who takes the lead.

David Byrne sounds very much like David Byrne on the majority of this album, a cerebral, wise but paranoid voice: St Vincent though goes places she hasn’t before with some fascinating results. This is a funky album, it’s politely and quietly funky and never really works up a sweat but play it at home at a decent volume level and you will be inclined to move around a bit, I guarantee. St Vincent, unlike Byrne, has never, ever been funky.  On “Weekend In The Dust”, on which Byrne doesn’t feature, St Vincent’s vocals are soulful and flirtatious and tightly harmonised, with an ‘I don’t get it, I just don’t get it’ refrain sung over chunky horns and a r’n’b beat; it’s not just a curio it’s a success. On “Ice Age”, which is the most typical St Vincent track here, after a sudden key change in the second verse the angular, staccato horns and bass guitar start to lose control around her. She is also responsible for the best song, the languid and glistening, world-weary “Optimist”; a gorgeous, solo performance.

I Should Watch TV” and “Dinner for Two” see David Byrne typically bewildered and unsettled by metropolitan, urbane situations and are both excellent songs with elegant arrangements and crisp execution. Of the actual, proper duets between the two, of which there are actually only a couple (although they co-wrote the whole thing together, music and lyrics) “Lazarus” is a poised, assertive stand-off and makes you wish that there are more equal interactions between the two. The Dapp Kings are featured on the disappointingly flabby “The One Who Broke Your Heart” and why is St Vincent so buried on this track as she also is on the better “I Am An Ape” where she features as back-up singer to Byrne only?  Byrne’s voice dominates these songs entirely and it just feels like such a wasted opportunity.


It takes to time to settle into this odd, self contained album which doesn’t actually feel like a collaborative effort although I’m certain it is in the truest sense. David has his songs and St Vincent has hers and if you’re a fan of either, ideally both, then there is a lot here to recommend.

Product DetailsThis partly fan-funded (to the tune of a cool million), long-awaited album bravely opens with a difficult, multi-layered six and a half minute song called “Smile (Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen)”. Pounding drums, thumping keyboards, distorted vocals about a nightmare and Californian dystopia which end with a repeated refrain of “I don’t want to die”. Amanda Palmer doesn’t want to gently lead us into “Theatre Is Evil”, her first album since 2008’s introspective “Who Killed Amanda Palmer” and her first with her 3-piece band, Grand Theft Orchestra. This is an unwieldy, boisterous, brutal collection of songs, massively so and listening to it is akin to standing on the top of a massive tower block in a gale force storm terrified that any moment you may be blown over the edge; completely exhilarating but more nerve-shredding the longer you stay.

The first third of “Theatre is Evil” solidly continues with these musical themes; the full, dense live sound of the new band (the stage will undoubtedly become this album’s natural home), maybe peaking with the decidedly new wave pop of the first single “Want It Back”. It’s possibly a little samey, it gets hard to tell these songs apart at one point, but it’s also very good. Palmer’s vocal delivery is at her confident best, right up in your face and if you liked the leery singalong of “Leeds United”, one of the few humorous, upbeat pop rock songs from Palmer’s previous ballad-heavy album, then you’re going to be happy with the predominant sonic tone of this album. The downbeat “Grown Man Cry” breaks up the bluster a bit and is a first person commentary on a broken relationship, Palmer’s speciality without a doubt, and a comment on a certain type of masculinity. A very skilled lyricist, ‘we were standing on the corner and you’re throwing down the gauntlet and it’s not a life decision, we just need to pick a restaurant’ for example demonstrates Palmer’s ability to focus on a mundane day to day event or detail and in doing so reinforce its power in the fact that it becomes so relatable.

Massachusetts Avenue” (great keyboard riff and lyrics about geographical ex-lover paranoia) and “Lost” pick up the belting, raucous rocking again with a highlight being the “My Sharona”-referencing lesbian lust of “Melody Dean” where, in places, Palmer’s vocal tics sound so like Lene Lovich on “Say When” you know that it’s another nod from her eighties-loving musical past and influences of which there are many scattered around. There are actually some interesting comparisons that could be made to Amanda Palmer’s choices here and those of Lady Gaga on her commercially huge “Born This Way” album; certainly Gaga has spoken often about similar influences for that album, about being a woman in the music industry who insists she is true to who she is and what she wants to create. Hmmm. This, however, is a different conversation for another day.

Bottom Feeder” provides an interesting deviation to this predominant, punk rock template (and oddly the second to use fish metaphors; see also the disturbing, seven minute plus gothic ballad “Trout Heart Replica”); a lovely, gentling plucking melody with Palmer in rare soft focus and an opposing lyrical darkness that is a staple of Palmer’s songwriting themes going back to the punk cabaret of The Dresden Dolls. “The Bed Song”, one of only 2 real ballads on this collection, keeps a piano-only waltz time and is so affecting and desolate and tender that you best be in strong place emotionally before you listen especially to the crushing final verse, or ‘exhibit’ as it’s referred to here. The final two songs “Berlin”, not surprisingly the most Dresden Doll like song here, and “Olly Olly Oxen Free” (sample lyric, ‘You’re lying in a coffin of clutter, your father and your sister and your drummer are sorting through your Soft Cell tapes’) are blistering, angry performances of such power, passion and sincerity that is as real and genuine as Palmer’s immense talent.

I will confess that I am very slightly disappointed that some of the more complex and beautiful songwriting, as well as some of the subtlety in the actual song presentation (there’s certainly nothing subtle about “Theatre is Evil”), that was so in abundance on “WKAP” is not as so much in evidence here. A quarter of the tracks are over 6 minutes long and there are 15 tracks in total; it’s a big beautiful beast and albums like these reveal their secrets and charms over time and not in the relatively small period of time I’ve had to get to know these songs which I’m sure will cosy up to me in the forthcoming months and work their way into my mind and subconscious forming strange satisfying relationships. Amanda ‘Fucking’ Palmer has finally had the freedom to make the album that she wanted to; no restrictions, no compromises and no excuses and .although not quite the masterpiece it could have been, this record is still a revelation. A massive punch in the head and gut from a fully formed Super Star who will be never be a slave to the industry that she has successfully deconstructed and reassembled on her terms.

Product DetailsIf there’s one thing that I really admire in musicians it’s the ability to survive; to come through the periods when you’re terminally unhip and still want to play, write and sing.  It needs incredible self-belief and, sometimes, sheer bloody-mindedness (before we even talk about talent) to keep going in an increasingly tough business.  If you’ve been writing, performing and recording for over 40 years and you’ve had a hand in songs as diverse as Ace’s “How Long”, Squeeze’s “Tempted” and Mike & The Mechanics’ “The Living Years” and The Eagles have covered one of your songs, then you deserve at least a fair hearing.  So, Paul Carrack’s back again in 2012 and he’s sounding better than ever.

There are no bad, or even indifferent, tracks on “Good Feeling”; they’re all good and there’s stacks of variety in the in the styles and arrangements of the songs, but one thing makes this collection essential listening.  Paul Carrack still has an astonishingly soulful voice; my good mate Steve J reckons he could sing the telephone directory and you would pay to listen and I don’t think he’s far off the mark.  On top of that, he’s a great Hammond player and there aren’t many better instruments to accompany a great soul voice.  The songs on this collection are a combination of Paul Carrack originals, collaborations with other writers and covers of songs by writers as diverse as Nick Lowe, Bruce Springsteen and Gerry Goffin and Carole King.  It’s a great tribute to Carrack’s songwriting that his own songs are as strong as the covers although the best song on the album (my opinion here) isn’t one of his own, although it’s a great pick from a relatively unknown band.

The album opens with the Sam Cooke-tinged “Good Feelin’ About It” which, unsurprisingly, is a feelgood song and it’s followed by the Chris Difford collaboration “Marmalade Moon” bursting in with a horn section which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Southside Johnny album.  The album flits effortlessly between musical styles, from the laid-back funk of “Nothing Without You” to the early Motown feel (including Stevie Wonder style harmonica) of “Time to Move On” to the pure 60s pop of the Goffin/King cover “When My Little Girl is Smiling”, which is very reminiscent of his 80s cover of the Jackie de Shannon classic “When You Walk in the Room”.  The Nick Lowe and Bruce Springsteen covers (“From Now On” and “If I Should Fall Behind” respectively) both evoke the original performers while bearing the stamp of Paul Carrack’s incredible voice.

In my (almost) humble opinion, there are 2 songs which define the album and push it out of the Paul Carrack comfort zone.  “Make It Right” is a cover of a lovely Tinlin brothers song with lots of minor chords and a slightly discordant riff, while “Long Ago” (a collaboration with Swedish songwriter Chris Antblad) could be a Brian Kennedy boy band single, but with grown-up lyrics.  Any album of songs by Paul Carrack is going to be worth listening to, but these 2 songs take “Good Feeling” in a slightly different direction, introducing a hint of atonality on the one hand and a pop sensibility on the other.

If you’ve never heard of Paul Carrack, this is a cracking introduction and if you’re already converted, “Good Feeling” might just give you a few surprises.  Great album.

Release date 24/09/12.

Product DetailsI think it’s safe to say that the last essential album that the Pet Shop Boys released was probably their best. “Very” was released in 1993, that’s nearly 20 years ago, and just for top-notch, quality songwriting alone (one of the many factors that made this such a perfect and revered collection of pop songs) nothing they’ve released since has come close to matching this, their masterpiece, or  the 4 albums that preceded it. Pet Shop Boys are, after all, a pop act and pop acts by their very nature have a sell by date; pop culture is predominately dictated by youth culture and youth is all too fleeting.  So what do the Pet Shop Boys sound like in 2012? Pretty much the same as they have done anywhere in the last decade; nice but far from necessary.

2009’s ‘Yes‘ was produced by Xenomania (Girls Aloud, Kylie, Cher) and magic was not created in the way that you may have hoped for from what should have been a pretty much dream collaboration.  It was streamlined, safe and, bar a few highlights, dull. This time LA resident and R’n’B and hip hop producer (Kanye West, Jay Z), Andrew Dawson is on production duties – how does that sound for an interesting meeting of musical minds? Well, just don’t expect the unexpected. The best and most surprising thing about this collaboration is that Dawson, on the more successful tracks, has made the Pet Shop Boys sound like, well, the Pet Shop Boys. So much so that in some places it’s shocking. “A Face Like That” incorporates cowbells, synth lines, electronic hand-claps; all deployed to incredibly similar effect in 1986’s “Paninaro” (known to millions in its remixed form as the theme to the iconic 1990’s TV show, the Clothes Show). It’s unnerving and initially provides a huge adrenaline rush, even Neil’s vocals sound unchanged from over 20 years ago. Problem is the song itself is ok but nothing more and once you’ve got past the initial bombast it ultimately has the effect of you desperately needing to hear the brilliance of the original that it oddly mimics. It’s going backwards not forward. Without a doubt the album this most resembles though is 1996’s “Bilingual” which sonically encompassed Balearic beats, sunny sad handbag house and musical theatre (later versions of the album included a straight forward, high energy cover of “Somewhere” from “West Side Story”). It was uneven and was the sound of the Pet Shop Boys losing their bite for the very first time in a decade and the same themes are covered here.

Your Early Stuff” and “Ego Music” are funny, self referencing and ironic; the absolute essence of the Pet Shop Boys. “Ego Music” could have been brilliant but is undermined by a predictable, bleeping electronic soundtrack when it should have been manic and crazed much like “Yesterday When I Was Mad” from “Very” which it resembles, or tries to at least.  “Leaving”  is a crisp, multi-layered  mid-tempo track with a nostalgic instrumental break referencing Nu Shooz’s 1985 hit “I Can’t Wait” and is lovely and affecting as is the ode to the fifties gay man, ballad “Invisible”. “Winner” however, a disastrous decision for first single, is an attempt at lighters aloft power pop and is best regarded as conceptual. “Hold On” sounds like it was written for an assembly of  six year olds singing about global warming, bizarre but pointless, and the muzzy, bland “Give It A Go” could be a cheesy theme tune written for corporate away day team building event.

The best song on “Elysium” however, where everything finally comes together, is the steely grey “Everything Means Something” all  minor chords in the verses and major in the chorus and a dubby reverb on Neil’s vocal creating an unsettling effect. It’s interesting, diverting and brilliant and is very Pet Shop Boys (excuse the pun), and by that I mean what the Pet Shop Boys were once and judging by this one song could still be today, maybe. However, on the majority of the songs in this collection, Neil and Chris sound like they are going through the motions; the ideas may be there still but the realisation is not.

We’ve got some exciting things going on in the near future with some exclusive reviews and releases from some of our favourite artists. Here’s the Riot Towers guide to what’s happening over the next few weeks.

September 10 – Lilygun album release date.  Review here.

September 10 – Amanda Palmer “Theatre is Evil” release date. Review here.

September 10 – David Byrne & St Vincent “Love This Giant”.  Review here.

September 17 – Nelly Furtado “Spirit Indestructible”.  Review coming soon.

September 24 – Dragonette “Body Parts”.  Review coming soon.

September 24 – No Doubt “Push and Shove”.  Review coming soon.

September 24 – Deacon Blue “The Hipsters” album release date.  Review here.

September 24 – Paul Carrack “Good Feeling” album release date.  Review here.

September 30 – Lilygun live upstairs at The Garage.  Review coming soon.

October 8 – Ellie Goulding “Halcyon”.  Review coming soon.

November 2 – Billy Walton Band UK tour starts.

And more pix soon as well.


If you haven’t managed to see Riot favourites the Billy Walton Band yet, you can see them across the UK in November of this year.  I know I keep saying this, but you really should make the effort to go and see them.  Full details available at .


November 2, 2012 7:00 pm

The Regal Cinema Evesham, Port Street

Evesham, WR11 3LD


November 3, 2012 (Time TBA)

The Flower Pot, 25 King Street

Derby DE1 3DZ


November 4, 2012 4:00 pm

Grimsby Yardbirds Club, Church Street

Grimsby, DN32 7DD


November 7, 2012, 7:00 pm

The Caves, 8-12 Niddry Street South

Edinburgh EH1 1NS


November 8, 2012 (Time TBA)

Backstage at the Green Hotel, 2 The Muirs

Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland KY13 8AS

Billy Walton Band & WT Feaster Band


November 9, 2012 (Time TBA)

The Cluny, 36 Lime St, Ouseburn

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK NE1 2PQ


November 10, 2012 (Time TBA)

Cameron’s Club, Hartlepool

Double Bill w/ WT Feaster


November 11, 2012 (Time TBA)

True Blues Club at Earlestown Conservative Club,

17-19 Earle Street, Newton-le-Willows, WA12 9LW


November 12, 2012, 8:00 pm

The Greystones, Greystones Road.

Sheffield, S11 7BS

Double Bill w/ WT Feaster


November 13, 2012 (Time TBA)

The Cellars, 56 Cromwell Road,

Eastney, PO4 9PN


November 14, 2012 (Time TBA)

The Robin 2, 20-28 Mount Pleasant

Wolverhampton, WV14 7LJ

Double Bill w/ WT Feaster


November 15, 2012 (Time TBA)

Crawdaddy’s, Basildon

Double Bill w/ WT Feaster


November 16, 2012 (Time TBA)

Boom Boom Club/Sutton United Football Club

Gander Green Lane, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 2EY

Double Bill w/ WT Feaster


November 17, 2012 (Time TBA)

Halling Community Center, High Street

Halling, Rochester, ME2 1BS

Double Bill w/ WT Feaster


November 18, 2012 (Time TBA)

The Pavilion, Harbour Street,

Broadstairs, CT10 1EU



Product DetailsDid you hear the one about the radio presenter, the TV presenter, the actress and the music performance teacher? Or, alternatively, Ricky Ross, Dougie Vipond, Lorraine McIntosh and Jim Prime?  The members of Deacon Blue have taken time out from the day jobs to release a new album, 25 years after their first, “Raintown”, in 1987.  I first heard the band in that year; “When Will You (Make my Telephone Ring)?” was released as a single and I was hooked from the first listen.

The current band are two-thirds of the original line-up; bass player Ewen Vernal is now with Capercaillie (and guested with Love and Money” on their shows last year) and, sadly, guitarist Graeme Kelling died in 2004.  So, apart from the obvious 25th anniversary, why release an album in 2012?  Because they have a bunch of great new songs and they still love playing together, and that’s good enough for me.

If you bought “Raintown” in 1987 and managed to avoid listening to anything by Deacon Blue since then, “The Hipsters” would sound like the logical next step.  The songs are just as strong, probably even stronger, than those on the ground-breaking first album but the overall sound is more immediate and engaging than the very 80s production of “Raintown”.  There’s a reason for that, and I’ll come back to it later.

The album opens with “Here I Am in London Town” which harks back to “Raintown” in that the lead-off song on both albums has a stripped-back production, but there’s more to it than that.  The opening song on “The Hipsters” looks back to the period just before the release of the debut album when all of the members of the band were “waiting for the world to begin again”.  The title track, “The Hipsters” is one of the best singles I’ve heard this year and a great summer song; it’s just a shame that we didn’t have a summer to do it justice.  It’s also ironic because Deacon Blue were never hipsters and no amount of sales would make them hip; but that’s probably why we loved them so much.  Just in case we missed that particular bit of irony, the balance is redressed with “The Outsiders” which is the position they were most always most comfortable with: “this world seemed so much lighter, when we were the outsiders”.

It’s difficult to pick standout tracks from the album because the songs are all superbly crafted and the arrangements work perfectly to bring the songs to life, so all I can do is point you in the direction of some of my personal favourites.  “The Rest” is a feelgood barnstormer which sounds like the E Street Band at full throttle with great piano lines and sus4 guitar chords driving the chorus along, while “It’ll End in Tears” has a really bouncy feel but an ultimately downbeat message.  The final song “Is There No Back to You?” is a gorgeous lovelorn ballad which brings the album to a melancholy but fitting close.

The songs in this collection are the work of a mature and confident songwriter with nothing left to prove and a lifetime’s experience to draw on.  The material on “Raintown” was good by any standards but the relationship songs, apart from “When Will You (Make my Telephone Ring?)”, were always at a slight distance from the subject matter or in the third person.  It felt like you were hearing a snatch of a conversation from the flat next door or catching a glimpse of a scene through a restaurant window.  On “The Hipsters”, the narrative of the relationship songs is in the first person and we’re drawn into the heart of the situations, which gives the songs much more power.

The arrangements all work perfectly to enhance the songs and range from the sheer power of “The Rest” through the ‘60s pop feel of “That’s What We Can Do” to the minimal feel of “Here I Am in London Town” and “Is There No Way Back to You?”.  And it’s just possible that I’m over-interpreting, but is Ricky Ross paying tribute to some of his songwriting heroes here?  The production and/or vocals on three of the songs have a familiar feel; “Here I Am in London Town” is very Neil Young, “The Rest” is pure Springsteen (with a hint towards the end of Big Country) and “Is There No Way Back to You?” has a feel of “Jealous Guy” era John Lennon.  Despite the usual stories of star-crossed lovers (“Turn”, “She’ll Understand”, “Laura from Memory”, It’ll End in Tears” and “Is there No Way Back to You?”) the overall feel of the album is still uplifting because of the relationships in “Stars” and “The Rest” which, against all the odds, end happily, and the sheer exuberance of “The Hipsters” and “The Outsiders”.   This is a great collection of songs, great arrangements, great performances and a great production.

Going back to the immediate and engaging sound of the album; there’s a very good reason for it.  The songs were thoroughly rehearsed before the band went into the studio and recorded them live; that’s quite a brave and unusual move these days and it’s paid off because they’re good enough and confident enough to perform to that level.  Before The Beatles, that’s how everyone recorded and maybe there’s still a place for that immediacy now; it was good enough for Joe Meek.

This album is the best, most moving collection of songs I’ve heard this year and I’ll be listening to it for years to come.  What more can I say?

The single is released on September 23rd, followed by the album on the 24th.