Album reviews: Nina Nesbitt, Penguin Cafe, Michael Bloomfield

 

Nina Nesbitt Peroxide (Island)

Young Scanda-Scot popstrel Nina Nesbitt has a firm grasp on contemporary teenage mores, and the snarky attitude to dissect them, whether it’s the arrogant pick-up attempt brushed off in “Mr C”, or the retro-Britpop lads in “Stay Out” who “think they’re from the ’60s, but they were born in 1991”. The latter is perhaps the most potent example of Peroxide’s main theme, the struggle to develop an authentic self in an age of post-modern prodigality (“All these boys and girls and people, looking for someone to be”). In “Selfies” and “Two Worlds Away”, her Scots brogue addresses the issue of “who you’ll be one day” with husky urgency, yoked to jaunty jangle-rock and prancing piano-pop which doesn’t anchor her in too parochial a terrain, giving Peroxide a broad appeal potentially akin to Ellie Goulding.

***

Download: "Stay Out"; "Two Worlds Away"; "Selfies"

Neil Finn Dizzy Heights (Lester)

It may have seemed like a good move for Neil Finn to employ Dave Fridmann as co-producer of his latest solo album. But while Fridmann (best known for his work with Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips) weaves his usual psychedelic magic, the accentuation of purely sonic elements – glitchy loops, textural effects, the miasmic tone – is at the expense of Finn’s core songwriting strengths. “Impressions” is typical: neat, diffident guitar fills, cosmic mantra, murmured backing vocals, swathes of strings, instantly forgettable. The formula is repeated, reaching a nadir with the ugly, portentous organ and falsetto vocal of the dream-narrative “Divebomber”. Things pick up later: “In My Blood” has a decent hook and “Recluse” accesses Finn’s former songsmith potency, but it’s too little, too late.

**

Download: "Recluse"; "In My Blood"

Penguin Cafe The Red Book (Editions Penguin Cafe)

There’s an intriguing space theme running through parts of The Red Book, though you wouldn’t know  it simply from listening – Penguin Cafe’s music continuing to explore the more earthly pleasures to be found at the confluence of world, folk, minimalism and chamber music. “Aurora” features a cyclical piano figure gently addressed with cymbals, droning strings and melodica, while “1420” has ukelele and cuatro cycling slowly out of sync over a harmonium bed. Elsewhere, mutant ethnological forgeries hold sway in the faux-Madagascan syncopation of “Bluejay”, the Indo-Celtic-Caribbean blend of “Odeon”, and “Black Hibiscus”, inspired by what Cafe leader Arthur Jeffes regards as the “Mexican” flavour of a Chopin Nocturne, a cross-cultural notion harking right back to the group’s 1972 origins.

***

Download: "Aurora"; "Black Hibiscus"; "Odeon"; "1420"

Yvar Mikhashoff  Panorama of American Piano Music (Mode)

As its title suggests, this is an extraordinary 4CD survey of 20th-century American classical piano music, exploring virtually every tributary and meander from early pieces by Ives, Cowell, Gershwin, Copland and Nancarrow, through to late-Eighties works by Lou Harrison and Alvin Curran. Nods to ragtime and jazz-rock are included in works by Zez Confrey and Frank Zappa, while the pieces by Morton Feldman and LaMonte Young position them as extending a bridge from Fifties avant-garde to Sixties minimalism. Yvar Mikhashoff was adept in all styles, and especially authoritative when handling avant-garde works, but John Cage’s presence on all four discs points to his towering, protean stature. A remarkable, monumental collection.

*****

Download: "Suicide in an Airplane"; "In a Landscape"; "Vertical Thoughts 4"; "Opening; Souvenir"

Michael Bloomfield From His Head to His Heart to His Hands (Columbia Legacy)

Michael Bloomfield was the American Eric Clapton: a white kid unnaturally blessed with an affinity for the blues, and the skills to instill emotional fire into his playing. He is best known as the guitarist of Dylan’s “thin wild mercury sound” on Highway 61 Revisited, a gig which he and fellow session hustler Al Kooper parlayed into the SuperSession spin-off, the 1960s root of American jamming-band culture. This “Audio-Visual Scrapbook”, compiled by Kooper, comprises three CDs tracking the guitarist from solo demos through his time with Dylan and the Butterfield Blues Band, his band the Electric Flag, and the SuperSession era, to his later period, plus a DVD of Bob Sarles’ documentary Sweet Blues.

****

Download: "Like a Rolling Stone"; "Tombstone Blues"; "East-West"; "Killing Floor"; "Stop"; "Her Holy Modal Highness"

Hard Working Americans Hard Working Americans (Melvin)

Explaining his new band’s name, Todd Snider writes about “taking back patriotism for the silly and the absurd, the broken and the bleeding, the subversives and the stoned”, which just about covers the debut by this aggregation of American jam-band veterans. Though most effective as a droll raconteur, Snider here relies on covers of songs by the likes  of Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams; fortunately, guitar wizard Neal Casal is on top  form, lacing snarling slide guitar around the rumba-rock rhythm of “Blackland Farmer”. Underclass loser anthems abound, but the standout is the chunky “Stomp and Holler”, which does what it promises: “I’m like James Brown, only white and taller/ All I wanna do is stomp and holler.”

***

Download: "Stomp and Holler"; "Blackland Farmer"; "Wrecking Ball"

Helena Tulve Arboles Iloran por Lluvia (ECM New Series)

Ancient and modern influences entwine with an austere elegance in the music of Estonian composer Helena Tulve. “Reyah hadas ’ala” employs Yemenite Jewish text  and melody, two countertenors occupying a stratospheric space where they blend into the high, keening sibilance of Ensemble Hortus Musicus’ period strings.  A similar confluence of soprano, glass harmonica and oboe underpins the haikus written by Mother Immaculata Astre for “Silences/Larmes”, gnomic utterances like “The air is woven from all our sorrows”. Tulve continues to explore the higher registers throughout the album, with the regional nyckelharpa featured on the title track, and the violins of “L’Équinoxe de l’âme” delivering  a thousand tiny slashing cuts.

***

Download: "Reyah hadas ’ala"; "Silences/Larmes"; "L’Équinoxe de l’âme"

Miloš Aranjuez (Universal)

On Aranjuez, Montenegrin guitar prodigy Miloš Karadaglić returns from the Latin American terrain of 2012’s Latino to the Spanish guitar’s core Iberian repertoire covered on his debut album, only this time dominated by the giant figure of Rodrigo, with a dash of De Falla. The restraint of the LPO under Yannick Nézet-Séguin is crucial to Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez”, conveying thrills with darting strings and winds that don’t overwhelm the delicacy of Miloš’ guitar. But it’s Rodrigo’s “Fantasia para un gentilhombre” that is the surprise, both more quixotic and sentimental than  the better-known concerto,  and hugely appealing. The set concludes with a gently florid  solo interpretation of Lennon & McCartney’s “Michelle”, Miloš playing freely with the tempo.

***

Download: "Fantasia para un gentilhombre"; "Concierto de Aranjuez"; "Michelle"

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

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

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
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.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower