Album Previews

Exclusive album stream: James, 'The Night Before'

With a career that includes 10 studio albums, twenty UK Top 40 singles and 12 million album sales so far, James have stepped into the digital age with their new mini-album 'The Night Before', released on Monday and exclusively available to stream in full in conjunction with The Independent, below.

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: Ratatat, LP3 (XL)

For their third album, New York techno duo Ratatat (guitarist Mike Stroud and keyboardist Evan Mast) decamped to the Old Soul Studio of their friend White Flight, up in the Catskills, where they found a trove of old analogue keyboards that provide many of the textures and timbres of LP3.

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: The Chris McGregor Septet, Up To Earth (Fledg'ling)

Recorded around the same time (1969) as the recently reissued Brotherhood Of Breath albums, but never previously released, Up To Earth features similar combinations of top UK jazzers (bassist Danny Thompson and sax men John Surman and Evan Parker) with the remnants of pianist Chris McGregor’s expatriate South African band (trumpeter Mongezi Feza, saxist Dudu Pukwana and drummer Louis Moholo).

Album: Son Of Dave, O3 (Kartel)

Benjamin Darvill’s performances as one-man-band Son Of Dave have probably made him a cooler prospect now than when he was in the charts as part of Canadian alt.rockers Crash Test Dummies.

Album: The Move, Looking On (Salvo)

Looking On was a transitional album in The Move’s career, with Jeff Lynne drafted in to replace the cabaret-bound Carl Wayne and share some of Roy Wood’s songwriting burden, en route to ELO.

Album: dEUS, Vantage Point (V2)

The accolade of being Belgium’s Top Band sounds like something of a back-handed compliment – and following the recent rise of Soulwax, indie-prog outfit dEUS may not even have sole claim on that distinction. And to be honest, Vantage Point doesn’t quite merit it, either.

Album: Clinic, Do It! (Domino)

Few bands are either as prolific or as eclectic as Liverpool’s masked marauders Clinic, whose fifth album DoIt! features much the same uncategorisable mix of influences as their first.

Album: Barry Adamson, Back To The Cat (Central Control)

Barry Adamson’s first album for his own label continues in much the same vein as his earlier Mute releases, with a series of dark-side ruminations on human frailty set to meticulously-crafted jazz-noir arrangements.

Album: Cassius Clay, I Am The Greatest! (Rev-Ola)

It's clear that the producer of these spoken-word pieces, recorded in the first flush of Cassius Clay’s meteoric rise in 1963, regards the Louisville Lip more as comedy entertainer than serious pugilist.

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.