January 21, 2020

Beck – Colors – Capitol

By Kristi Kates | Oct. 14, 2017

He’s been working on this album since 2013, and the wait was well worth it. The latest from Beck still offers complexity, but it’s sharper, more to-the-point ’60s-inspired pop-rock that’s equal parts psychedelia and Greenwich Village folk. “Dear Life” features pool hall piano over bright guitar and drums as Beck revisits his “Devil’s Haircut” character. “Wow” and “Fix Me” are instantly likeable. And the whole thing was co-produced with Beck’s pal Greg Kurstin — the pair have a long history collaborating, and that synergy shows through nicely. *** ½

Liam Gallagher – As You Were – Warner Bros.
It’s probably impossible at this point for the younger of the two Gallagher brothers to disassociate himself with the band (and brother, Noel) that made him famous, the Brit-rock outfit Oasis. Not helping that cause is the fact that this solo set by Gallagher sounds like Oasis revisited, from the ’60s–’70s influences right down to his vocal stylings. Which is perfectly cool, since that means you get to hear those vocals once again on songs like the fiery “Wall of Glass” and the grooving “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way.” ***

Luna – A Sentimental Education – Double Feature
Thirteen years ago, Luna effectively went into radio silence, so for this comeback the band is taking the soft approach: a double album — half covers, and half Luna instrumentals. For the covers portion, it takes on songs by Mercury Rev, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, YES, and the Rolling Stones, among others, inbuing the tracks of others with Luna’s own unhurried pace and thoughtful audio treatments. The instrumentals are treats all their own, blending synthesizers with influences ranging from Spanish pop to EDM. ** ½

Jake Bugg – Hearts That Strain – Mercury
We weren’t the only ones drawn in by Jake Bugg’s confessional-lite style of singer-songwriter performance. So was The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who teamed up with the English musician for the single “How Soon the Dawn,” plus two additional tracks — this album’s first indication that it’s going to be a good one. Recorded in Nashville with second guest Noah Cyrus dueting on “Waiting,” the album is, as might be expected, more bluesy/rootsy than Bugg’s previous works, and that approach works pretty well for him. ** ½





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