We take a peak at the latest CD releases, including remastered work from punk band The Damned.
The Damned – Damned Damned Damned (2017 Remastered): It’s inevitable; music that was part of the counter-culture becomes classic rock. February 18 marks the 62nd birthday of Damned mastermind Brian James, and the 40th of the band’s album, Damned Damned Damned. Providing vigorous tracks with a title that makes mincemeat of article word quotas, this work is a joy for critics. The music is also great for the punk neophyte, the impetuous consumers of tomorrow, and anyone who likes their music loud. The machine-gun etiquette that informs all Damned albums is here in unalloyed form. This is in the same pit as The Stooges, The Velvet Underground and The Ramones. New Rose still shines. If you don’t already own Damned, Damned, Damned, get hold of it in any way you can. Don’t deny it, just embrace it. By Angus Rae
Amy MacDonald – Under Stars: It’s been five years since Scottish singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald’s last album, Life In A Beautiful Light and this assured fourth offering of guitar-led indie-pop appears to have benefited from a long gestation. Dream On bursts straight out of the gate, perfectly suited to Amy’s smooth contralto voice, followed by radio-friendly Automatic, which is more rock than her usual folky tinge. The tempo doesn’t let up until the choir-backed ballad Down By The Water, and the overall message is to doggedly pursue your dreams. It’s a feisty collection that promises an excellent live show, with lyrics that can easily be interpreted through the current political climate. An extra eight acoustic recordings of album tracks are a nice bonus, but fairly unnecessary. By Natalie Bowen
Johnossi – Blood Jungle: They might as well be American – so don’t expect lilting Swedish whimsy, or minimalist, folkloric Skandi overtones from Stockholm rock duo, Johnassi. If you do, you will be sorely disappointed. The band is made up of frontman and guitarist John Engelbert, and drummer Oskar “Ossi” Bonde, this, the pair’s fifth record, doesn’t thrash around, there’s no yelling - in fact, for rock, it’s very mellow. Freeman is jaunty and sweeping, On A Roll is almost bluesy, layered over with simplistic lyrics that are more spoken than sung (“We’ve got a secret they don’t know”), while War/Rain is languorous and melancholy. It has to be said that that is not overly inspiring, but it is solid work nonetheless. By Ella Walker
Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors: Dirty Projectors are a collective centred around Brooklyn vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, David Longstreth and this is their eighth album. There’s definitely something of the NYC melting pot about Longstreth’s songs. They mix up genres, not just from song to song, but within songs themselves. Soul, R’n’B, funk, gospel, jazz and hip hop all jostle for position in the blender, but there’s an overall feel to the Dirty Projectors sound that transcends all that. Death Spiral combines throbbing beats with intricate keyboards and delicate strings as it charts a relationship breakdown. Sometimes it feels like there’s too much going on, but there are some strong songs underneath all the studio trickery and they do shine through. By Darryl Webber
Dove – For An Unknown Soldier: Jonathan Dove’s ‘Cantata of rememberence to mark the centenary of the onset of the First World War’ is a deeply moving and immensely disturbing score using poems from many who did not return. Scored for chorus and children’s voices with a tenor soloist and chamber orchestra, its nine parts offer nothing other than the pure futility of war, with just a hint of the satirical as men go marching to their death to the sound of children singing. The performance features Nicky Spence as the soloist and the London Mozart Players conducted by Nicholas Cleobury. Not a good idea for record company Signum to couple it with Dove’s lighthearted ‘An Airmail Letter from Mozart’, but most inventive heard in another context. By David Denton