Andy Gill

Andy Gill is The Independent's Music Critic.

Album reviews - Lush, Graham Nash, Sturgill Simpson and Hauschka

Back in the Eighties, when Lush’s first recordings appeared, it was still unusual for a band to feature more than a lone female presence, so they were trailblazers of a sort - if “trailblazing” is an apt term to apply to their shoegazing style. Oddly, their ingenue charm works more effectively in this mature reunion mode than in the gamine original: “Out Of Control” is a natural extension of that style, with Miki Berenyi’s murmurous vocals and Emma Anderson’s droning guitars creating rolling dream-pop waves, and “Lost Boy” showcasing their trademark chorus-effect guitar jangle. Romance remains their core theme, although “Rosebud” strikes out for the harsher terrain of thoughtless cruelty: “They’re just having some fun/How is it wrong, if you’re wearing a smile?”. A welcome return. 

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Motorpsycho, Here Be Monsters, album review

Norwegian psychedelicists Motorpsycho execute their psych-rock workouts with Scandinavian polish and rigour on Here Be Monsters, a concept album (of course!) about psychological distress. The methodical guitar progressions of “Lacuna/Sunrise” and “Running with Scissors” are pitched between Mogwai and Pink Floyd, building elegantly and unthreateningly – which is fine, except the lyrics deal with darker matters. In “Lacuna/Sunrise”, the protagonist’s personality dissolves until only shame remains; “Big Black Dog”, meanwhile, wrestles with depression for 18 minutes without conveying emotional turmoil. Here and in “IMS” (an acronym for “Inner Mounting Shame”), the lyrics sound like they’re being negotiated, rather than expressed, while the music, for all its pleasing West Coast and Brit-psych affinities, lacks the risk and edge that made Sixties psychedelia such a thrill-ride.

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Bill Frisell, When You Wish Upon a Star, album review

When You Wish Upon a Star features Bill Frisell’s interpretations of film and television themes, some – like “Bonanza” and “Tales from the Far Side” – revealing fond memories of youthful gogglebox habits. He’s assisted by his jazz trio, expanded by the singer Petra Haden and violist Eyvind Kang – the latter effective in uncovering the Irish flavour of the lilting “To Kill a Mockingbird”, while Haden brings clarity and charm to “You Only Live Twice” and “When You Wish Upon a Star”, recalling Crystal Gayle’s work on One from the Heart. Frisell is meticulous throughout, never playing more than necessary, and slanting the arrangements to bring out the themes’ essential characters. The two major pieces are a three-part suite of Morricone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West”, which shifts between haunting, tense and elegiac, and a poignant 10-minute take on “The Godfather”.

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Fay Hield, Old Adam, album review

Save for a Tom Waits song in the traditional mode, Old Adam comprises old folk material in spruced-up new arrangements, offering a kaleidoscopic view of storytelling through the centuries. Fay Hield’s singing throughout is open and honest, delivering the stories unencumbered by needless ornament or moralising. The most familiar are probably “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” and “Jack Orion”, twin tales of sexual deception where carefree carelessness is conveyed by sprightly banjo-picking and dervish fiddling, respectively. But the oldest and most intriguing is “The Hag In The Beck”, an enchantment tale of spooky circularity set to the eerie squeak and drone of fiddles. By contrast, the drolly philosophical title-track describes Adam’s life as free from worry  or fear, but wonders where, without danger and temptation, lies his nobility?

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