Album reviews: Little Feat, Neneh Cherry, John Harle & Marc Almond, Julie Fowlis, Wild Beasts

 

Little Feat 'Rad Gumbo' (Warner Bros)

Little Feat were the quintessential multi-racial Americana band, developing a potent hybrid of rock, blues, funk, jazz and country which, thanks largely to the surreal beatnik lyrical genius of singer/guitarist Lowell George, possessed a singular synergy denied to more dutiful roots explorers. It helped that George was a slide-guitar genius with  a distinctive, snarling tone, and  a vocalist of rare blues quality. Sadly, when he died, the band’s equilibrium was disrupted, with little to offset pianist Bill Payne’s jazz-fusion leanings; the game was up when they abandoned the old Feat sound for a chunky AOR sound. But the earlier albums of this box set – Sailin’ Shoes, Dixie Chicken, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now – are as good as it gets.

*****

Download: Willin’; Cold Cold Cold; Dixie Chicken; On Your Way Down; Rock and Roll Doctor; Spanish Moon; Long Distance Love

Neneh Cherry 'Blank Project' (Smalltown Supersound)

For Blank Project, Neneh Cherry hooks up with Kieran “4 Tet” Hebden and synth/drum duo RocketNumberNine to create  a contemporary avant-electro work on which her vocals occupy a sparse space of hand percussion, drums and electronic noise. On “Across the Water”, she sounds like a poetry-slammer eulogising New York over hand-drum and rattle; “Blank Project” castigates  a feckless paramour while electro-bass and drums do battle; and “Weightless” employs bass chug and rimshot groove to deliver this week’s second reference to female masturbation. It’s starker and sharper than you might expect – the most pop-conscious piece is a collaboration with Robyn, “Out of the Black” – but it works well on the sinister shuffle of “Spit Three Times” and bleak jitter of “Naked”.

***

Download: Spit Three Times; Naked;  Out of the Black; Weightless

John Harle & Marc Almond 'The Tyburn Tree: Dark London' (Sospiro)

The classical-jazz saxophonist/composer John Harle here forms  a powerfully theatrical alliance with Marc Almond to investigate the dark underbelly of historical London. Harle’s lowering string  pads, trumpet and piercing soprano sax sketch a world of portents occupied by Almond in the declamatory manner of Scott Walker on the gallows ode “The Tyburn Tree”, while the prog manoeuvres of riffing guitar and treated vocal on “Spring Heeled Jack” sound like King Crimson,  a fine template for a song treating folk-devils as distractions from the problems of poverty. Iain Sinclair recites the grim litany  of Hawksmoor churches in  “To the Crow the Spoils”, and Blake’s “Jerusalem” gets a far darker adaptation than usual.

***

Download: The Tyburn Tree; Spring Heeled Jack; My Fair Lady; The Labyrinth of Limehouse

Julie Fowlis 'Gach Sgeul: Every Story' (Machair)

The fourth album from Gaelic superstar Julie Fowlis seems mostly comprised of material from North Uist: songs of land and love, bravery and fantasy, from the protective lullaby “Sleep Well My Beloved” to the closing “The Seal” and “In the Narrows  of Od Odrum”, in which seals  are mythically reputed to be the cursed children of a Scandinavian king. As an island culture, sailors figure strongly: harmonium underscores “The Song of Fear Heisgeir”, an “elegant helmsman”, while the sweet pain of Fowlis’ inflections animates the shoreline lost-love plaint “The Choice”.  But it’s the Gaelic mouth-music tracks that stand out most, her perky rhythmic vocables driving along “Dance Dun-Coloured Slattern” and “Beautiful Ribbons”.

***

Download: Dance Dun-Coloured Slattern; The Choice; Beautiful Ribbons

Wild Beasts 'Present Tense' (Domino)

Present Tense seems overworked, from the arch, punning title to the sometimes stiff music. “We move  n feel, we move in desire,” sings Hayden Thorpe on “Mecca”, but the music itself is dull and dutiful, with that makeshift feel songs can acquire when the right arrangement hasn’t been found. The album employs an Eighties electropop style, occasionally peppered with neat, itchy guitar though it’s Thorpe’s sylvan voice that pulls the songs through. “Wanderlust” establishes the overall thematic impulse to live culturally beyond one’s means, but in practice this can lead to the preference for smarts over suitability that spoils a track like “A Dog’s Life”. But there are moments of greatness here and there, such as the realisation in “Palace” that “in the darkened house of love, it felt like I was sleeping rough”.

***

Download: Palace; Wanderlust; A Simple Beautiful Truth

Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tv review
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

The best TV shows and films coming to the service

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn