Legendary former The Jam frontman Weller reappears with his ninth solo album, a concept set retaining much of his signature sound but still proving that hes as modern a musician as he ever was. Of course, youll get Wellers soulful Brit-pop-rock mix, complete with edgy guitars and artistic song structures; but theres plenty of experimentation here, too, including collaborations with Oasis Noel Gallagher (Echoes Round the Sun) and ex-Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. And theres no lack of hit hooks, either - just take a listen to All I Wanna Do..., Night Lights, Have You Made Up Your Mind, and the title track, and youll quickly remember why Weller was and is a groundbreaker.
Takka Takka - Migration - EJ Records
Kicking off - or, rather, striding away - with its echoey and appropriately jungle-like lead track, Monkey Forest Road, Takka Takkas latest, as produced by Clap Your Hands Say Yeahs Sean Greenhalgh, is both ambient and poppy, with singer Gabriel Levines slightly rough tones skating nicely on top of the sets sample-ridden, trance-like backdrops. Its great background music, and thats definitely not an insult - pleasant enough to listen to over and over again, it may not be a sharp, listen-to-me-right-now sort of album, but rather one that really is meant for repeated listens, whether youre having a dinner party or doing the dishes, especially standouts Everybody Say, One Foot in a Well, and the opener.
Neil Halstead - Oh! Mighty Engine - Brushfire
Produced by Halstead himself along with co-producer Robert Carranza, the singer-songwriters sophomore set on Jack Johnsons label fits in quite well with the folky, chill feel that Johnson and crew prefer. Full of pensive, quirky, and carefully-arranged numbers that sometimes veer into humor and just as often turn into cryptic poems, Halstead seems to have slowly and good-naturedly constructed these songs, an approach thats obvious as each track unfolds. Although its mostly guitar, other seasonings are sprinkled in; mandolin on Witless or Wise and pretty keyboards on Always the Good. Its a set that grows in appeal with time, which is probably just how he intended it to be.
Nomo - Ghost Rock - Ubiquity
This skilled collective recalls a lot of genres at the same time, and somehow makes sense of it all within the structure of their own compositions. Bebop, African music (both Fela and Seun Kuti spring to mind), a little Motown, and even a little funk all make appearances in different songs, anchored by Nomos distinctive horn arrangements and tattered-live sound. Rings throws those horns in with tinkling, burbling keys, while Three Shades gets soopah-jazzy and echoes the melody an octave apart on separate instruments; Round the Way has an old school, arrhythmic feel, and the title track, with its slightly country-Western sound, gallops along briskly as if being chased.