September 19, 2020


By Kristi Kates | Jan. 28, 2017

Peter Doherty – Hamburg Demonstrations – BMG
From The Libertines to Babyshambles to his solo projects, Doherty has long been the subject of both scandal and scoffery, derided as a party boy who simply couldn’t focus. But you can’t deny his ability to craft a hook worthy of The Clash or The Ramones, and now that he’s stepped away from substance abuse, his inherent skills are slowly re-emerging. This album is a testament to that, with standouts being the sly first single “I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)” and the surprisingly sentimental “She Is Far.” **1/2

Hope Sandoval – Until the Hunter –
Perhaps Hope Sandoval isn’t the most prolific singer-songwriter; her most notable project, the shoegazy, slow-moving band Mazzy Star, admittedly only released four albums over 23 years. But at least when an album finally does surface from Sandoval, it’s worth the listen. Her latest, with her newest band The Warm Inventions, pulls more emotion and ambition out of her vocals than has been heard previously, most notably on the adroitly repetitious “Hiking Song,” the heartbreaking melodies of “The Peasant” and Sandoval’s perfectly matched, country-inflected duet with Kurt Vile titled “Let Me Get There.” **1/2

Alejandro Escovedo – Burn Something Beautiful – Concord
Escovedo’s unusual mix of Tex-Mex music, classic West Coast punk, Americana and a touch of Springsteen makes his sound difficult to classify, and that’s what’s so cool about him, including the tracks he’s recorded for this 15th album. With assistance from stalwart R.E.M. associate Peter Buck and The Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey, the instrumental focus is an even balance of forceful beats and guitars on one side and haunting balladry on the other. Highlights include the faintly eerie “Beauty and the Buzz” and the storytelling “Suit of Lights.” ***

The Courteeners – Mapping the Rendezvous –
By contrast, The Courteeners’ more ambitious songwriters and band members are releasing their fifth album in eight years. This fan-focused effort pays homage to their followers and showcases their determination in the face of indifferent radio hosts. The band is definitely capable of filling venues in spite of the latter, and this set should pull even more SRO shows. Opening title “Lucifer’s Dream” maximizes the band’s garage-rock side, while “De La Salle” features Smiths-esque wordplay and lush synths and “No One Will Ever Replace Us” conjures up the most appealing choruses of The Stone Roses. ***


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