We take a look at all the best in new releases including Awolnation and a new offering from Simple Minds.
Awolnation – Here Come the Runts: Contrary to what its name might suggest, the US alternative rockers’ third album Here Come The Runts is a top drawer smack in the face of unadulterated, melodic, anthemic, rock ‘n’ roll tinged with pop: all killer, no filler. Runts is an authentic foray that hints at a bunch of genres, all sewn together with grungy guitars and industrial edge. From opener Here Come The Runts – an electro-rock track with a tantalising medley of tempos that never lets you get too comfortable – through Killers-esque romp Miracle Man and final track Stop That Train, which tickles – then smashes – your senses with chunky guitars and a haunting layer of sounds, Awolnation have delivered possibly their best record yet. Lucy Mapstone
Rae Morris – Someone Out There: Three years in the waiting, Rae Morris’s second album has finally arrived. We have been teased since the middle of last year with singles Reborn, Do It and Atletico (The Only One), all displaying different moods. Reborn was an appropriate introduction to a more electronic sound for Morris, while Do It is heart-achingly lovely in its positivity as a relationship tentatively goes to the next level. The newer tracks in the second half of the album take a few listens to embed themselves into your consciousness, but it will be rewarding. Physical Form slowly builds up into an epic track with thundering drums. And Rose Garden’s piano parts have touches of Kate Bush (no pun intended). Morris’s vocals are ethereal and intimate, and this is a collection that never loses hope even when love ends, because something else begins. Lisa Allen
Thomas Truax – All That Heaven Allows:Troubadour Thomas Truax is a teller of wry, noirish stories whose live shows feature self-invented, noise-making contraptions that have earned him a cult following. Even when you can’t see the cogs whirring, on record he packs in melodies equally indebted to Tom Waits’s whiskey-spiked wells as to Brill Building aerodynamism. While keeping it surreal, International Homeland Security also allies musings on migration to the album’s most propulsive beat; Swimming Back to Wowtown is a guitar, accordion, and slapback-laced grower and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra are evoked on Save Me, a duet with Gemma Ray. Eerie glockenspiels and couplets about horse weddings may not be to all tastes, but so many of these ideas hit the mark. Michael Dorman
Simple Minds, Walk Between Worlds: Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill’s carefully considered plan to restore Simple Minds’ reputation (after falling out of favour with critics during their stadium rock years) continues to bear fruit. Walk Between Worlds is quite simply the best album they have released since Sparkle in the Rain. Harking back to the sound they created in the early 80s – a still-thrilling mixture of glistening synthesisers, soaring electric guitars and moody vocals – its concise eight tracks rattle along with zest and optimism. “I believe in magic,” Kerr suggests in the opening track; “Here comes all those energies that get me born again,” he adds in Summer. Barrowland Star salutes both their Glasgow roots and their hero David Bowie while The Signal and The Noise pulsates with the joy of old. Duncan Seaman
Roderick Williams – Sacred Choral Works:Much better known as one of the world’s leading operatic baritones, Roderick Williams spends some of his spare time composing, often, he adds, “in the style of music I happen to be performing on stage”. That points to the very differing content of the sixteen tracks on this release that have drawn their inspiration from texts as diverse as the Bible and traditional African-American spirituals. So, for the greater part, it is couched in a pleasing harmonic language, with familiar titles as Mary had a baby, Christmas Bells and The Lord’s Prayer. It is performed by the superb Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban Chapel Choir, too rarely heard on disc, but whose quality places it among the world’s very finest vocal ensembles. David Denton