Album Round-up — December 2014

Including new releases from Disappears, Prosumer, Smashing Pumpkins, The Grand Gestures, Darren Hayman, Yo La Tengo, Southern Tenant Folk Union and Beyoncé

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Album Round-up: December 2014

Prosumer

Disappears — Irreal

(Kranky) ●●●●
The ‘guitars are dead’ contingent may wish to re-evaluate upon exposure to this, the sixth album from Brian ‘90 Day Men’ Case’s Chicagoan art-rock group. It’s hard to categorise, but there’s essentially an attempt to recreate the throbbing electronic pulse of industrial or hard techno music amidst tracks like ‘Interpretation’, ‘Another Thought’ and ‘Navigating the Void’, albeit played entirely on analogue instruments with sombre, reverberating vocal intrusions. Dark and brilliant. (DP)

Prosumer — Fabric 79

(Fabric) ●●●●
German-born, Edinburgh-based producer and former Panorama Bar resident Achim Brandenburg deservedly gets a crack at the Fabric mix stable here, and he grasps the chance with both hands. It’s a laid-back but lively set of two dozen tracks featuring contributions from house legend Chez Damier (‘Untitled B2’), Edinburgh’s own Linkwood (‘Expressions’), I-F, Axel Boman and more, creating a pulsing house aesthetic with a foot in the past and an eye on the future. (DP)

Smashing Pumpkins — Monument to an Elegy

(BMG Rights Management) ●●
The midway point in Billy Corgan’s ambitious three-album, six-year ‘movement’ Teargarden By Kaleidyscope, the majestically-titled Monument to an Elegy, is sadly a triumph of grand designs over great execution. Recorded with the ever-in-flux Pumpkins down to its bare bones (only sole accompanying member Jeff Schroeder and guest drummer Tommy Lee were involved), it starts brightly with the incisive rocker ‘Tiberius’, but there’s something Pumpkins-by-numbers – with occasional added synths – about much of what follows. (DP)

The Grand Gestures — Third

(Chute Records) ●●●●
As the title suggests, this is the third part of Jan Burnett’s trilogy of collaborative musical encounters, although the record retains an admirable sense of style and purpose despite the broad range of artists involved. It features minimal electro-indie with Jill O’Sullivan of Sparrow and the Workshop on ‘Compos Mentis’, an experimental, spoken word ‘You to Me Are Everything’ with Sanjeev Kohli and a thrilling appearance by Danny Wilson singer Gary Clark on ‘The World Will Break Your Heart’. (DP)

Darren Hayman — Chants for Socialists

(wiaiwya) ●●●●
Inspired by a leaflet Hayman picked up at the William Morris Gallery, this delightful album ponders the role of protest song in contemporary music. Designer/ activist Morris’s lyrics find an easy space within Hayman’s gentle, thoughtful urban folk sound. Hayman admits this is less a rallying cry, more ‘comfort and solace’ to anyone wistfully reminiscent for a time when people were more politically engaged. (RD)

Yo La Tengo — Extra Painful

(Matador) ●●●●
For the 30th anniversary of revered New Jersey indie rockers YLT, Matador is reissuing the album that made everyone sit up and take notice, 1993’s Painful. Extras includ live/ session recordings, demos and unreleased tracks and the scuzzy, electro-pop magnificence of classics, ‘Big Day Coming’, ‘Nowhere Near’ and ‘I Was A Fool Beside You For Too Long’ sound as fresh today as in 1993. (RD)

Southern Tenant Folk Union — The Chuck Norris Project

(Johnny Rock Records) ●●●●
Maybe the most bonkers idea for a record this year, STFU release an album of tracks named after movies starring leonine martial arts star Chuck Norris. The band’s trademark acoustic, folk-country sound is skilfully augmented by 70s disco influences and the music of John Carpenter, Fabio Frizzi and Gene Clark. (RD)

Beyoncé — Platinum Edition Box Set

(Parkwood/Colombia) ●●●
Anyone who’s been living under one of the earth’s layers for the past year may not be familiar with pop behemoth Beyonce’s self-titled album, or heavily publicised Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Fear not! The former is all here along with selected live performances from the tour, two new songs and unreleased remix collaborations with Kayne West, Nicki Minaj and Pharrell Williams. (RD)

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