Album Previews

Album: Mugison, Mugiboogie (Mugiboogie)

For his third album, Icelandic maverick Mugison has abandoned the laptop troubadour approach of previous releases for an all-out assault on retro-rock authenticity.

Album: Polar Bear, Polar Bear (Tin Angel)

Sometimes described as post-jazz, for their affinities with post-rockers such as Tortoise and Godspeed You Black Emperor, Seb Rochford’s quintet adopt a disarmingly postmodern approach to jazz, drawing from its vast library of styles with scant regard for the historical rivalries that have traditionally riven the genre into competing cliques and movements.

Album: Joe Tex, First On The Dial (Shout!)

Joe Tex will always be known primarily for his mid-Sixties’ successes, when Atlantic Records took over distribution of his Dial Records material, and scored a top 10 hit with “Hold What You’ve Got”.

Album: The Tubes, Goin' Down (Cherry Red)

Since the deaths of Frank Zappa and Warren Zevon, satire has become a vanishingly small part of the rock music scene – though lord knows, there’s far more to be cynical about in the current music biz than ever before.

Album: Various Artists, Rockin' Memphis (Proper)

Most Memphis heritage compilations focus either on the city’s R&B or rockabilly scenes, but there’s plenty of room on this four-disc, 118-track box set to cover all bases, offering a detailed account of how rock’n’roll, the miscegenate offspring of blues and country, came crawling out of the South in the early Fifties.

Album: Blue Blokes 3, Stubble (Fledg'ling)

As members of 3 Mustaphas 3, Ben Mandelson and Lu Edmonds were playing footloose and fancy-free with blended roots music “forgeries” as far back as the Eighties, so the string-band crossovers done in cahoots with folk-blues guitarist Ian Anderson on Stubble should come as no great surprise.

Album: The Black Ghosts, The Black Ghosts (Southern Fried)

Simian and The Wiseguys, the previous bands respectively of Black Ghosts duo Simon Lord and Theo Keating, both had tracks used to soundtrack car commercials, so it’s no surprise to find their debut album brimming with the kind of smooth, rolling technopop that gets wheels turning and wallets emptying.

Album: Micah P Hinson, Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra

Like some old sharecropper bluesman, Micah P. Hinson has known trouble most of his life, from addiction, jail and bankrupcy to the chronic back trouble which plagued him during the recording and promotion of his second album, Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit.

Album: Various Artists, More Dirty Laundry (Trikont)

His record company, so legend has it, blew a gasket when Bobby Womack wanted to release a country album titled Black In The Saddle Again; and when it eventually appeared as BW Goes C&W, they simply ignored it, hoping nobody on either side of America’s racial divide would notice.

Album: Tapes 'n' Tapes

Sometimes, it's hard to see what all the fuss is about when an unknown band suddenly becomes flavour of the month. Take Minnesota's Tapes 'n Tapes, whose 2006 debut The Loon drew unaccountably rave reviews for its routine alt.rock exercises.

Album: Daniel Lanois, Here Is What Is (Red Floor)

Here Is What Is is the soundtrack to a documentary in which the acclaimed producer of Dylan, U2 and Peter Gabriel tries to reveal “the source of the art, rather than everything that surrounds the art” – an impossible task, but one he comes close to fulfilling at various points here, most notably in enabling “Lovechild” to blossom into a complete song from the initial root of Garth Hudson’s piano improvisation.

Album: Various Artists, African Scream Contest (Analog Africa)

African Scream Contest reveals another hidden area ofAfrican music, in this case a form of psychedelic Afrobeat popular in the Seventies in Benin and Togo: an exuberant blend of Cuban, Congolese and highlife strains, streaked with slithery psychedelic guitar fills.