WITH the Easter break in full swing, Observer editor Rob George takes a look at the latest music releases on offer this spring.
BASSIST Jim Barr once remarked Get the Blessing were ‘total outsiders’ and were the ‘punk entry’ when they scooped the prestigious BBC Jazz Award in 2008 for Best Album.
However, six years and four albums on from ‘All is Yes’, the same could still be said, albeit the group now have a little more wisdom and age at their disposal.
‘Lope and Antilope’ is the band’s fourth album and while to some degree the thrashing rhythms have mellowed somewhat, the irreverent and mischievous attitude is very much in evidence.
The album makes use of sounds collected while out on the road yet was recorded in an empty pottery in Pembrokeshire.
And four days of improvising and experimentation which began with a sound effect to which a groove, a tune and even a solo was added, saw the creation of ‘Lope and Antilope’.
As the band put it themselves: “It’s the culmination of four days of recording, three years of gigging and 12 years of drinking tea and gin.”
‘Entanglement’ is the debut album from guitarist Ant Law, a former scholar at both Edinburgh University and Berklee College of Music.
The talented musician’s star began to rise when he moved to London in 2008 and picked up work with the likes of Mica Paris, Steve Brookstein and members of Level 42.
Now, Law divides his time between the UK and New York and the influence of Ben Monder, Lage Lund and Ari Hoenig can be heard on ‘Entanglement’.
Recently seen on tour with Deap Valley at Reading, Leeds and the iconic Bestival, Skaters have released their debut album ‘Manhattan’.
The band’s music, ethos and attitude are remarkably entrenched in the late nights, eclectic characters and punk roots of New York.
Skaters were formed when singer/songwriter Michael Ian Cummings got a call from English guitarist and former Dirty Pretty Things member Josh Hubbard.
Hubbard arrived the US and crashed drummer Noah Rubin’s birthday party and together with bassist Dan Burke, the awesome foursome delivered an album full of bold, swaggering rock.
‘Manhattan’ distils elements of The Clash, the Ramones and even the Strokes into their own unique sound.
British favourites Embrace are back with a bang on April 28 with the release of ‘Embrace’, their first album in seven years.
The Yorkshire five piece bowed out of the music scene in 2007 with a number one album, number two single, sold out arena shows and more than one million album sales.
‘Embrace’ carries a mature and darker sound while retaining their signature anthems and huge choruses.
The first release from the album, a four-track EP headed by the single ‘Refugees’, is a catchy track with huge vocals from brothers Danny and Richard McNamara backed by electro beats and synths.
Folk duo Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow have once again shared their considerable talents for ‘The Hum’.
Acknowledged as one of the strongest songwriting partnerships on the contemporary folk scene, O’Hooley and Tidow want ‘The Hum’ to stand tall in the face of deprivation, austerity and suppression.
The album is a nest of 10 songs carefully crafted over time by the duo and taken on to another level by Mercury nominated producer Gerry Diver.
The result is a harmony of deeply moving and thought provoking songs with an honest to disarm even the hardest of hearts.