Tuesday 23 December 2014

This week's album reviews

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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds The album of the same name is the first full studio album from the elder Gallagher brother since their sibling rivalry tore Oasis asunder in August 2009. Oasis fans will be familiar with this classic Gallagher in the uplifting AKA... What A Life and Everybody's On The Run, while being excited by the fresh ideas and experimentation that make this album at times great. Much like his previous work, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds grows on you with further listens. Closing track Stop The Clocks has been described by the lead singer as one of the best he has ever written, so with that high rating, Oasis fans definitely won't be sorely disappointed. Rating: 8/10
Matt Cardle - Letters Having kept a low-profile since winning The X Factor last year, Matt Cardle is bound to be anxious about being the latest victim of the contest's "curse". But any nerves can be put firmly aside because his first album Letters has potential to be a success. Winning single When We Collide makes the final cut, but the other numbers on the tracklist could also be hits. Run For Your Life is exactly what we'd expect, showing off Cardle's lyrical capabilities, while Starlight is a faster-paced piano-heavy number showcasing his impressive falsetto. It may be slightly predictable, but there's something about this album that hints Cardle has much more to offer. Rating: 8/10
Alice Cooper - Welcome 2 My Nightmare The Stephen King of rock 'n' roll is back, with an eagerly anticipated sequel to his 1975 concept album Welcome To My Nightmare. But was it worth the 35-year wait? Well, like King, Cooper's prolific output, as well as his over-the-top nature and refusal to take himself too seriously, belies the high quality of his work. Welcome 2 My Nightmare is a genuine treat for Cooper fans, from the sublime (When Hell Comes Home) to the ridiculous (Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever). There's more than enough quality material here to entertain objective listeners too. A definite winner. Rating: 8/10
Jane's Addiction - The Great Escape Artist It's been more than 20 years since the classic Nothing's Shocking, and the reformed group's fourth studio release, The Great Escape Artist, certainly feels like a Jane's Addiction album - in-keeping with past glories while still managing to sound modern and relevant. Underground kicks things off with Perry Farrell's distinctive vocals and the unpredictable changes of tempo all keeping listeners off balance. End To The Lies is much the same, just even better. Irresistible Force (Met The Immovable Object) is an instant favourite. Quality, not quantity certainly describes Jane's Addiction - and this definitely measures up. Rating: 8/10
Emily Barker And The Red Clay Halo - Almanac While she may be from Western Australia, there's an undeniably English sound to Emily Barker And The Red Clay Halo's third album, Almanac. Written by Barker, it's an oddly lacklustre start but when the singer and her band hit their stride with the slow-building Pause, it's a treat. What the quartet do best is tell stories while layering up sounds - with Pause it's voices and organ, while on the striking Openings it's insistent, stern strings. It's when the band wear their traditional folk influences on their sleeve, as on Witch Of Pitteweem, that the music is at its most powerful. Rating: 7/10

X Factor champion Matt Cardle releases his debut Letters, but can he take on former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher with his new outfit High Flying Birds?

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