Thin Lizzy specialise in the type of music that this writer normally avoids like the plague. Instead of tunes encompassing soothing, melodious guitars with cryptic, melancholic lyrics, they create songs for boozy nights that epitomise good old-fashioned rock’n’roll.
However, over the course of Thin Lizzy’s career-best effort, my indie snobbery was firmly tempered. Phil Lynott’s combination of simple lovelorn lyrics, big dumb choruses and laidback vocals has always seemed like a guilty pleasure. He also often wears his influences on his sleeve, as on venerated tracks such as ‘Running Back’ (Van Morrison) and ‘Warriors’ (Jimi Hendrix).
So what separates Thin Lizzy from the legion of contemporary piss-poor 70s revivalists such as Jet? Well, perhaps it’s the warmth and sincerity that imbues every note on this wonderful record, notwithstanding the band’s plainly limited musical palette.
The reissue also comes with a second disc of remixes and rarities that should be roundly ignored by all but the staunchest of Thin Lizzy fans.
In a nutshell: Something to buy your Dad for his birthday.
– Paul Fennessy
Album: The Golden Age of Knowhere
The Golden Age of Knowhere is the debut album of LA indie-rock threesome Funeral Party. In light of the considerable hype surrounding its release, it disappoints hugely.
‘New York City Moves to the Sound of LA’ is a relatively good start to the album, but it goes violently downhill from there. With eight more similar sounding, high-tempo tracks complete with a screaming vocalist (who seems to have a constantly sore throat), cutting guitars, and everyone’s quota of cowbells for 2011, it gets old fast. Despite slowing down and becoming less in-your-face in the relatively decent penultimate track, ‘Relics to Ruins’, you’ll be bored long before you ever reach it.
Funeral Party don’t bring anything new to the table; we’ve heard it all before, only better. A couple of catchy tracks you’d dance to, but it’s all a bit same-y, without any real memorable moments.
In a Nutshell: The lyric: “It’s all been done before, it’ll all be done again” says it all.
– Aoife Valentine
Artist: Gang of Four
Content is a tricky album to evaluate. In one sense, it’s an exhilarating listen. The band’s fusion of left-wing punk agitprop with funk and dub grooves still excels. Abandoning the austerity of old for a warmer production has paid off, giving the album a cohesive, inviting atmosphere. Fans of the band’s iconic early output will find much to love. Songs like ‘Who Am I?’ and ‘Second Life’ somehow manage to make social commentary danceable.
In another sense, the album has none of the fierce originality of their earlier output. Their signature sound, once so groundbreaking, has since been reborn and played to death by the Death From Above label and Franz Ferdinand, robbing Content of its impact and freshness. Still, those bands should listen up, as their musical forefathers Gang of Four amply demonstrate how it’s done.
In a Nutshell: Perfect for getting your groove on, Marxist style.
– Cormac Duffy
Album: Mine is Yours
Word Count: 150
With soul-soaked vocals layered upon an all-too-familiar indie sound, Cold War Kid’s Mine Is Yours fails to bring much of note to the table. Sonically, the album sounds much more refined than the band’s last effort, Loyalty to Loyalty. To make a dangerously simple comparison, it sounds like a superior Delorentos crossed with a synthless version of The Killers.
To call it bad would be a lie, as there are some genuinely intriguing songs on the album. ‘Sensitive Kid’ features an infectiously catchy bass line and electronic beat, and ‘Out of the Wilderness’ sounds like a soaring Mumford & Sons track. Along with the curiosities, there are some excellent songs – most notably the exceptional ‘Finally Begin’ and ‘Skip the Charades’, which provide the album with much-needed memorable moments.
In a Nutshell: Some brilliant moments mixed in with some awfully formulaic songwriting that makes for a frustrating listen.
– Conor O’Nolan
Album: Anna Calvi
It seems that female artists are often forced to conform, as evidenced by a market rife with bland Lily/Amy/Gaga copyists. However, Anna Calvi has created something truly unique with her remarkable self-titled debut. She inhabits an impressive range of musical characteristics; going from utterly seductive on ‘No More Words’ to closer ‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’, where we find her possessed by yearning desire.
There’s a heightened sense of emotion to Calvi’s lyrics throughout – especially on the magnificent ‘Suzanne & I’ – that is superbly blended with her musical accompaniment, which is never less than epic in scope and execution.
Calvi occasionally falters, but there’s enough here to suggest a bright future ahead for British songstress.
In a Nutshell: Imagine an Ennio Morricone soundtrack with Kate Bush singing over it, then you’d only be somewhere near Anna Calvi.
– George Morahan