Pop: Album Reviews

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The Independent Culture
Add N to (X) `Avant Hard' (Mute) This weirdo London trio have trumped their much-heralded but over-arty debut with a much more accessible and inventive work that drags the electronica sound into a brilliant bombardment of sonic force that bears a great pop quality. HHHH

Bare Jr `Boo Tray' (Epic - import) This young Nashville band, led by the offspring of country legend Bobby Bare, rock like the Black Crowes meeting Steve Earle on a bender. Raucous, punky, fun, drinkalong music that's going down well on the US college circuit. The musical South has risen again. HHHH

The Gourds `Ghosts of Hallelujah' (Munich) Austin's Gourds are much better than their awful name suggests. This third album, their first all-electric one, sees them mash together their own personal blend of folk, hippie and southern rock with punk incursions on their best form yet. HHH

Grand Drive `Road Music' (Loose) The hard-gigging, south-London quartet's debut album arrives full of gorgeous harmonies, lush organ sounds and rustic charm. The songs are superbly constructed, but sometimes the production seems to get stuck in 1970s America. HHH

Tram `Heavy Black Frame' (Piao!) Weighing in at the quality end of British indie-folk, Paul Anderson and his various collaborators have delivered an album's worth of beautifully delicate and sparse-sounding songs. The subject matter is of course in the sadcore vein, but overall, it's a mesmerising piece of work. HHH