CD Reviews

The new album by Jack Garratt
The new album by Jack Garratt
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We take a look at this weeks new releases including The Blossoms

Jack Garratt – Phase:The main problem with Jack Garratt is that his bearded face is inescapable. He is absolutely everywhere right now; trailing ‘rising star’ award wins in his Radio 1-friendly wake. The pressure for the Buckinghamshire multi-instrumentalist and singer is more than on... Although Garratt’s debut record will only give fans six more new songs – he’s already released half of it as singles. Not one for intrigue, then, but he does know how to nail a jangly electro-pop riff with all the emotional impact The Weeknd is currently trading on (a very good thing). Weathered just needs a live choir in the background to have everyone weeping, while latest single Fire is less fluid, halting and leaning towards staccato minimalism before blanching into hammering techno. Ella Walker

The Blossoms – At Most a Kiss: There’s a buzz about the Blossoms – even in this short EP, with the punchy indie-disco of lead track At Most A Kiss getting proceedings off to a stellar start. There may be a hint of overproduction on the opener - always a risk after signing with a major - it shows the label’s faith in the Blossoms’ potential. Follow-up track Fourteen is a grower and, with its good synth hook, recalls some of the Arctic Monkeys’ more recent output. While most of the tracks on At Most A Kiss may sound familiar, this is the only one where any influences stand out. Sounding familiar yet fresh is a good skill to have. As is the ability to write catchy hooks. There’s another one on Wretched Fate, which also possesses a certain Sixties vibe. An EP with an impressive yet pleasingly cohesive variation. Ian Holt

Dan Sartain – Century Plaza: The cult singer, best known for his early garage rock material, has taken to an iPad to record his latest album and the result is a brooding synth pop success. In a significant departure, only one guitar line features on the entire album – an epic Eighties-style solo on the pulsing cover of his own Walk Among The Cobras, which opens the record in promising fashion. Elsewhere the tablet-produced sound recalls Chromatics and Iggy Pop’s electronic material such as Nightclubbing. When it clicks, like on the hooky single First Bloods, it really works and at just 33 minutes the listener is left wanting more. Kudos to Sartain for such a dramatic shift in style and recording process. Arj Singh

So Pitted –Neo: A punk record on Sub Pop still stirs anticipation like perhaps no other genre-label association since the days of Motown. The Seattle imprint is 30 years old this year, and in its infancy released early Mudhoney and Nirvana records. So Pitted have big boots to fill, and with Neo they blow out violent waves of noise that carry the kind of hooks for which their forebears became known. Nathan Rodriguez and Liam Downey share vocals – with guitar and drum roles – while Jeannine Koewler pumps her own guitar through a bass amp. A title such as Pay Attention To Me sounds teenage-diary infantile, but the screaming vocals, blazing guitar and dustbin-lid-clatter drums coalesce to form something close to a pop song, while I’m Not Over It is an anxious, grungy strut. Turn it up. John Skilbeck

Sibelius – Complete Symphonies: Okko Kamu, the most distinguished Sibelian of our time comes to Sheffield City Hall tomorrow evening to conduct The Halle in the Fifth Symphony as part of the 150th anniversary of the composers birth. 
It coincides with this new release of the seven symphonies, Kamu’s perceptive performances unequalled on disc. He has the benefit of his Lahti Symphony, a superb orchestra, with a fabulous woodwind section and trenchant brass. Its members are steeped in the cold and windswept atmosphere Sibelius frequently pictured, here reaching freezing point as the jagged moments are hammered home by the timpani. Superb sound and contained on just three very lengthy discs in an attractively thin box (BIS 2076). David Denton