Andy Gill is The Independent's Music Critic.
13 December 2013 01:46 PM
'As billowing and bountiful as that legendary booty'
13 December 2013 09:55 AM
Dylan’s gloriously jagged pursuit of a restless muse
06 December 2013 12:43 PM
Let’s talk about sex, baby – and nothing but sex
29 November 2013 07:00 PM
The music publishing event of the year was undoubtedly Morrissey's Autobiography (Penguin, £8.99), which is as verbose and vindictive as you'd expect, though rather less droll than might be hoped. Effectively the story of how a plucky, fragile flower bloomed despite the weed-killer antagonism of a cabal of authority figures, it catalogues the merest, most insignificant of slights in exhausting detail and endemically overwritten prose. His legendary lyrical wit seems entirely absent from metaphors like the "swarm of misery" gripping Manchester, and the "drooled gruel face" – of a headmaster, naturally – although his total recall of arcane corners of '60s/'70s telly and pop-culture kitsch is impressive. But sadly, celebration of The Smiths seems to matter less here than subsequent recriminations over their dissolution.
29 November 2013 11:20 AM
Emotional power raises the album above a simple collection of songs
27 November 2013 10:19 AM
The boy band's third album is a fumbling transition from pop to rock
22 November 2013 12:38 PM
Sleek solo set shows that Gary’s back for good
15 November 2013 07:01 PM
Given his legendary allegiance to acoustic piano, it's astonishing to hear these 1986 home recordings of Keith Jarrett overdubbing himself on drums, electric bass, percussion, recorder, voice, piano and, mostly, electric guitar. Across two CDs, they resemble Jerry Garcia on one of the Grateful Dead's more reflective days, with individual tracks offering other echoes – there's a lyrical, African soukous flavour to his guitar on "V", for instance, while the jazzy tone and elegant phrasing of "I" recalls John McLaughlin's early Extrapolation work. It gets a bit noodly-doodly at times, but with some stand-out moments, notably the lovely, meditative grace of the bass and guitar alliance in "XII" which supports Jarrett's sleevenote query, "How could I have left it in a drawer all these years?"
Download: XII; V; I; II
15 November 2013 07:00 PM
Gareth Malone deserves credit for popularising singing as a social, community activity rather than a staging-post to celebrity, but as this album demonstrates, there are limits to the aptness of the choral approach. On a work specifically written for the medium, such as Paul Mealor's "Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal", the burring murmur of baritones and soft caress of distant sopranos are arranged with subtle spatial attention; but elsewhere, the likes of Radiohead's "No Surprises" gain little from the procedure, while the whispered hubbub of Death Grips' "Guillotine" is repellent. Best of the secular pop treatments are Fleet Foxes' exultant round "White Winter Hymnal" – little changed here – and Bon Iver's "Calgary".
Download: Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal; Calgary; White Winter Hymnal
15 November 2013 07:00 PM
One of the year's more celebrated Americana albums, reissued here with an additional mini-album also available separately as "it's a big world out there (and I am scared)". Some of the tracks are extensions or remixes: "Never Run Away", his love ode to a girl who fell for "a wild child who harmonizes keys in his dronin' mind", is re-cast with additional string synthesiser, while the trippy, dense-textured "Snowflakes Extended" adds three extra stanzas to "Snowflakes Are Dancing". "Feel My Pain" muses on empathy over a gentle putter of drum-machine and guitar. Vile displays a deceptively ragged frailty reminiscent of Neil Young, with his band The Violators conjuring up the chugging momentum of Crazy Horse.
Download: Snowflakes Extended; Feel My Pain; Wedding Budz
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- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early