Album reviews: Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey, The Hold Steady, Shakira, Liars, Sabina

 

Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey Coming Back Home (Universal/Chess)

Thankfully he hasn’t gone back home yet. Wilko Johnson’s pancreatic cancer has been held at bay longer than at first seemed likely – and it is cheering to think that it is his psychological indomitability that has made it so. Doubtless the Thames estuary has  many things to offer, but it is not, and never will be, a medicinal spa.

Here’s the great man enjoying a brief but enjoyable studio hurrah with Roger Daltrey of The Who. It is not a substantial offering, nor does it plough a new furrow – but it is a buzz.

Johnson’s regular rhythm section, Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe, are graciously augmented here and there by Mick Talbot’s keyboard. Together they splice together a refreshed Johnny Kidd & the Pirates fantasy, especially on “I Keep It To Myself” – the sound of basic Fifties American blues and R’n’R lugging up the Essex Roads, to be met by a welcome party of amped-up English thugs with guitars.

Material? We get 10 extracts from the Wilko songbook, including “Sneaking Suspicion”, “All Through the City”, the title track, plus Dylan’s “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window”, all of them – with the exception of the wounded “Turned 21” – given the same treatment. Choppy, curt, Canvey.

Daltrey is altogether more deep-chested and muscular than his snaky predecessor, Lee Brilleaux, but they share the same vocal register, and if his reading of Wilko’s greatest song, “Keep It Out of Sight”, is a histrionic smear where it ought to be as clipped as the pitter-pat of pointy feet, then it is only polite in the circs not to complain. Maximum joy? “Everybody’s Carrying a Gun”, which hops like a toddler.

***

Nick Coleman

The Hold Steady Teeth Dreams (Washington Square)

If Craig Finn’s storytelling bar-rockers’ frenetic instincts edged them towards burnout on 2010’s Heaven is Whenever, their sixth album relocates their muscle and adds stamina.With keyboardist Franz Nicolay long gone and third guitarist Steve Selvidge recruited, the classic rock clout kicks in hard: “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You” is pure Thin Lizzy.

But they also sound confident enough to provide space for Finn’s lyrics of high nights and soul-harrowed hangovers, especially on the Springsteen-ish “Spinners”. Between the druggy ruckus of “On With the Business” and slow-burn reverie of “Oaks”, they sound like a band trying to harness their chaotic energies for lasting purposes – and succeeding whole-heartedly.

****

Kevin Harley

Shakira Shakira (RCA)

Hip-twizzling, Game of Thrones-dressing Colombian pop star Shakira is audio Marmite. To the 60 million people who’ve bought her records she’s a yodelling, lyrical genius. To everyone else she sounds like a strangulated sheep.

After a four-year hiatus, Shakira’s 10th album is full of raggae-tinged, bouncy melodies and absurd, occasionally quite poetic lyrics: “the stars make love to the universe” on ballad “Empire”. Teaming up with Rihanna on “I Can’t Remember To Forget You” is ironically memorable and “Cut Me Deep”, her collaboration with Canadian raggae-pop band Magic!, is also catchy. But “Medicine”, a duet with country star Blake Shelton, is a stretch too far, even by Shakira’s infinitely flexible standards.

***

Kate Wills

Liars Mess (Mute)

A band less comfortable with confrontation might have sounded stretched beyond definition by Liars’ shape-shifting tendencies. As it is, a full-bodied commitment to friction has been a galvanising constant in the experimental New York trio’s lurches between post-punk, avant-rock, drone devilry and oblique electronica.

Their seventh album keeps up the good, wilfully fractious work, retuning their dial to a kind of mutant dance assault; all restless beats, strafing synths and mickey-taking invitations to “smell my socks”. The second half takes a murkier turn: “Boyzone” is no Ronan Keating homage. But Liars revel in keeping their listeners on edge and entertained making Mess their most wickedly enjoyable album yet.

****

Kevin Harley

Sabina Toujours (Naim Edge)

New York dance-rock outfit the Brazilian Girls are one of the most underrated bands of the noughties, so it’s no surprise that their German/Italian lead singer’s debut solo effort has a lot to recommend it. 

Things get off to a shaky start with “Cinema” which uses The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” as a musical template and makes full but rather obvious use of the fact that Ms Sciubba sounds a lot like Nico.

But thereafter, things are as eclectic and raggedly charming as one could wish for with the off-kilter arrangements never getting in the way of the songcraft, and the witty, surreal lyrics always adding rather than detracting from the experience. A delightful indie pop record that’s by turns intense, playful and touching.

****

Howard Male

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.

    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
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003