Current Listening; Monkeys, orchestras and rufuses


There have been a number of interesting new releases of late that I have parted cash with. A bit of a mixed bag but pretty good overall.

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The new Artcic Monkeys album has forced me to reappraise their first which, after the fuss has died down, is rather good.

The new one is very good. It’s got more light and shade (a ballad even) and seems significantly more mature – if a little less spontaneous.

Rumour had it that John Cooper Clarke wrote the first album, but as speculation has died dowwn and, I think, realism has kicked in, it seems unlikely. However it may be true that he is retained as a mentor – which I can believe.

Some of their lyrics are really very good indeed. Very witty. And very Yorkshire. Even so, John Cooper Clarke could not possibly have captured that essence of youth. No way Jose.

For a band this young to have released two albums so good is actually quite rare and quite remarkable.

Highly recommended.

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The Cinematic Orchestra’s 4th album, Ma Fleur,  is a hard one to call. I like it a lot. But in mood and tone it is virtually identical to their first which, in contrast to ‘The Monkeys’, is disappointing. However if you are unfamiliar with this excellent band do not let this slight criticism put you off. It is a mature, easy to listen to (but not easy listening) modern Jazz record of some quality. Whether it lasts the test of time to feature in the albums of the year list though I am uncertain of.

Recommended.

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Rufus Wainwright’s 5th release is a game of two halves.  Overly praised by the critics it has not progressed at all since his last. But may prove to be his most commercially successful. It is the usual mixture of torch songs, angst and dirtiness, but it peaks early and fades fast. It’s good, because he is brilliant. But it’s not that good.

Nevertheless I expect the two stand out tracks, “Do I disappoint you” featuring his awesome sister, Martha, and ‘Going to a town’ to both feature heavily in the reckoning on my tracks of the year CD come December.

Despite my reservations; recommended.