FROM WHICH COURSE: AN INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

The latest album reviews


Espers, Espers II, Wichita

The seven long tracks on this second full-length effort from the Philadelphian psychedelic folk-rockers form a satisfying whole, one whose roots burrow back into the late Sixties mystic-mythic mulch. With titles such as "Dead Queen", "Widow's Weed" and "Dead King", the album is clearly preoccupied with mortality.

The eight-minute "Dead Queen" that opens proceedings is typical: taken at a suitably funereal tread, it begins with acoustic guitar picking, around which are wrapped eerie tendrils of electronic tones as Meg Baird starts to sing with the stark purity of Pentangle's Jacqui McShee. Multitracked cello lends an antique drone, before Greg Weeks adds a slow lead guitar line. Somewhere along the way, you realise that an electric harpsichord has been added to the mix. It's like wandering around the edge of a forest and suddenly realising you've strayed deep into its darkest, lushest regions, with no clear idea which way is out.

Pharrell, In My Mind, Virgin

Though rock'n'roll is, to a large extent, built upon unfettered ego, there is one kind of arrogance that afflicts producers, persuading them that their talents extend to in front of the mic. Which is only excusable if you're Brian Wilson, and most unwelcome from the former Neptune Pharrell Williams, whose career has slipped into precipitous decline ever since he became convinced of his solo potential. Just about bearable as a guest on someone else's track, he lacks the skills to carry an entire album on his own: even aided by contributions from Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Nelly and Jay-Z, the charisma gap is so cavernous it's embarrassing.

He sounds like he believes rapping is no more than talking over beats. Worse, his fund of decent grooves appears to have been used up on production commissions for other artists, leaving just a few monotonous husks for his own material.

Inara George, All Rise, Loose

Inara George is the latest beneficiary/victim of rock's dynastic urge, though at least she sought out other options - notably acting - before following in the footsteps of her late father Lowell George, songwriter and slide-guitarist with the seminal Seventies country-funk synthesists Little Feat.

Having succumbed, it's as if a dam has been breached, as she readies no fewer than four albums for release over the next year, with this solo debut followed by those of band projects George Is Jones and The Bird and The Bee, and then the follow-up to All Rise.

George is probably the most obviously gifted of such offspring since Jeff Buckley, blessed with vocal timbre and phrasing akin to Jolie Holland, and a sharp eye, cutting down a would-be suitor with the line: "If I was you, I wouldn't talk, just keep dancing." With the jazz-tinged, sophisto-folk settings creating an air of languid uncertainty, the result is one of the more beguiling singer-songwriter albums of recent months.

Dr Octagon, The Return of Dr Octagon, OCD International/Casual

Having "killed off" his Dr Octagon alias in 1999, the former Ultramagnetic MC Kool Keith now revives his most bizarre identity with this typically oddball effort. It is a continuation of the "intergalactic hip-hop" of the UMCs, with surreal sci-fi images such as "an elephant with metal wings pulling up at Domino's" and ruminations such as in "Aliens", where he muses on the possibility of being "abducted by a gas", over horror-movie organ and theremin. The backing tracks are courtesy of the One Watt Sun trio, with DJ Dexter adding scratches to "Ants": "Ants work together, jerk together, do concerts together, try and get hurt together". The only real variation comes with "A Gorilla Driving a Pick-Up Truck", with its steel guitar groove, but the results are never less than entertaining.

Which Course magazine is now available online at whichcourse.epagesmarketing.com. Contact Joshua Gilbert - tel: 020 7005 2283; fax: 020 7005 2292.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Primary Teacher

£90 - £150 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Upper Key ...

Primary Teacher

£90 - £115 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Primary NQ...

Primary Teacher

£90 - £115 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Primary NQ...

PE Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently recruiting...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup