Andy Gill

Andy Gill is The Independent's Music Critic.

i Newspaper
The Independent around the web

Album review: Stornoway, You Don't Know Anything (4AD)

This six-track mini-album offers fresh slants on the Stornoway sound, though their warmth and charm are retained for “When You Touch Down from Outer Space”, which welcomes aliens (or babies, depending on your view) with a net of delicately embroidered guitar. “You Don't Know Anything” espouses the reading of books, and “Waiting on the Clock” evokes the first flush of love: there's a Belle & Sebastian flavour to its reminiscences of making mix-tapes for a girlfriend – small memories with large impressions. Things go slightly awry with the stodgy prog-rock textures of “Clockwatching” and “The 6th Wave”, but it's the work of a band obsessed with a multitude of musical directions, which has to be A Good Thing.

Download: When You Touch Down from Outer Space; Waiting on the Clock; You Don't Know Anything

The cover of Lady Gaga's latest album, ARTPOP

Album review: Lady Gaga, ARTPOP - It's hard not to feel underwhelmed

No heart behind the art of Gaga's surface spectacle

Album review: Dean Wareham, Emancipated Hearts (Sonic Cathedral)

If evidence were required of Lou Reed's lingering influence, this charming mini-album from the former Galaxie 500 frontman Dean Wareham supplies plenty. Reed's literary leanings are echoed in its track titles, sourced from poems by the likes of Brecht and Betjeman, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Love Is Colder Than Death; and the drone-rock blend of jangly guitar and violin that dominates the album is directly traceable to the Velvets' "Venus in Furs". Wareham's fragile delivery imparts an eggshell vulnerability to songs that track contemporary anxieties, such as "The Deadliest Day Since the Invasion Began", but finds its natural home in the lilt of the Incredible String Band's "Air".

Download: Love Is Colder Than Death; Emancipated Hearts; Air; The Deadliest Day Since the Invasion Began

Album review: Midlake, Antiphon (Bella Union)

Album of the Week: Mystery men find renewed courage in a crisis

Album review: Howe Gelb, The Coincidentalist (New West)

After last year's overblown Tucson: A Country Rock Opera, it's a relief to find Howe Gelb back in windblown, speculative territory. The Coincidentalist is a set of relaxed songs in stylings ranging from the Monk-ish piano of "Instigated Chimes" to the lilting, Cohen-esque "Left of Center" and the indefinable "Unforgivable". With M Ward on guitar, Giant Sand's Thøger Tetens Lund on string bass, and Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley on brushed drums, the atmosphere is akin to a shabby cabaret, to which KT Tunstall and a sweet-voiced Bonnie "Prince" Billy add a touch of elegance in the duets "The 3 Deaths of Lucky" and "Vortexas" respectively, the latter an engaging foray into Gelb's enigmatic desert consciousness.

Download: Vortexas; Left of Center; The 3 Deaths of Lucky; Unforgivable

Album review: Kronos Quartet/Bryce Dessner, Aheym (Anti-)

The National guitarist Bryce Dessner was first commissioned by The Kronos Quartet to write something for a 2009 Brooklyn festival. "Aheym" – Yiddish for "Homeward" – was the result, a piece celebrating his immigrant grandparents' settling in the borough decades earlier. Opening with urgent triplets, it settles into an elegant braiding of interlaced lines that push the music forward in waves. The commission led to the three other pieces here. "Tenebre" is also informed by Dessner's roots in the New York contemporary tradition, its interlinking phrases giving way to string and vocal drones. The breezy "Tour Eiffel" adds piano to the string and vocal textures, while "Little Blue Something" emulates the resonant timbre of viola da gamba players.

Download: Aheym; Tenebre; Little Blue Something; Tour Eiffel

Album review: Tinie Tempah, Demonstration (Parlophone)

Given Tinie Tempah's wish-list of collaborators for his second album – from Drake, Adele and Chris Martin to James Blake and Lykke Li – the line-up of Dizzee, Labrinth and a trio of Naughty Boy production duets with Emeli Sandé, Paloma Faith and Laura Mvula seems less intriguing. But there are enough decent moments to call Demonstration a success, not least the Diplo-produced "Trampoline", with its cavernous sub-bass and liquid-synth motif, and the brutal Dizzee duet "Mosh Pit". Lyrically, the album balances precariously between laddish celebrations of promiscuity and the sensitive claims of "Heroes", a belated realisation of the corruptions of success, which finds Tinie wondering, "What am I doing sitting next to two MPs?".

Download: Trampoline; Mosh Pit; Witch Doctor; Heroes

Album review: James Arthur, James Arthur (Syco)

Despite the huge success of "Impossible", James Arthur was sufficiently discomfited by his success, according to recent reports, to have considered suicide. Although, pop being a cynical business, it's hard not to commend the promotional value thus attached to "Suicide", a song about romantic disruption. The opener, "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You", is a decent showcase for his burly-voiced brand of R&B pop – but elsewhere, Arthur grossly overdoes the emotional groaning that passes for vocal expression in the album's more overwrought corners.

Download: You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You; Get Down; Lie Down

Album review: Julian Anderson, Orchestral Works (LPO)

The metaphysical, transcendent element of Julian Anderson's work is clear in these pieces recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. "The Crazed Moon" is infused with an extraordinary sense of wonder, almost subliminal trumpets giving way to the moan of cellos, before harp, chimes, woodwind and strings delve into turbulent territory. The premiere recording of the five-part suite "Fantasias" likewise grows from a complex fanfare of trumpets into a thrilling, crammed piece, with abrupt, jarring changes of direction and emphasis. The premiere recording of "The Discovery of Heaven" is more palliative, the three sections moving from the heavenly to a more earthly urban bustle of staccato horns and darting strings.

Download: The Discovery of Heaven; The Crazed Moon; Fantasia 2; Fantasia 3

Album review: The Carducci Quartet, Gordon Jones, Raskatov: Monk's Music (Louth Contemporary Music Society)

Unlike The Hilliard Ensemble's recent Prayers and Praise, in Monk's Music the vocal and instrumental elements of Alexander Raskatov's music are separated, with Hilliard bassman Gordon Jones intoning seven texts by the Russian monk/saint Starets Silouan as introductions to the instrumental evocations. It imposes a suitably pious atmosphere for the Carducci Quartet's arrangements to exist within. The seven sections reflect the emotions of the texts: yearning in "Adagio", where the pulsing cello ostinatos underpin wispy arabesques; then pained and imploring in "Adagio affetuoso", before achieving the soothing peace of "Adagio molto".

Download: Adagio; Adagio recitando; Adagio affetuoso; Adagio molto

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015