Great sounds abound this month, including a collaborative effort from Santana and the legendary Isley Brothers, a Euro rock release and a new one from country duo O’Shea, writes Greg Bush
Triggerfinger Mascot Records www.mascotlabelgroup.com Triggerfinger get straight to the point on Colossus, the fifth studio album for the Belgian trio. The first four tracks are rock with a creative twist until the slower acoustic ‘Afterglow’ offers another side to Triggerfinger’s talents. ‘Flesh Tight’ has a distinct commercial sound, as does ‘Upstairs Box’ with front man Ruben Block reaching into his bag of guitar effects. The band continues on its inventive way with ‘That’ll Be The Day’, although ‘Bring Me Back A Live Wild One’, with its chunky guitar riffs, leans towards traditional rock. ‘Steady Me’ is slightly sinister and ‘Candy Killer’ is identifiably Euro rock. Producer Mitchell Froom and engineer Tchad Blake can take some credit for the sound quality, having worked with the likes of Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam and Crowded House.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
Walter Trout Provogue/ Mascot www.mascotlabelgroup.com Singer, songwriter and blues guitarist Walter Trout has been performing since the late 1960s, leading to stints with Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in the ’80s. Trout’s new album We’re All In This Together features an A-list of blues musos, including Mayall who plays harmonica alongside Trout’s acoustic guitar on ‘Blues For Jimmy T’. Kenny Wayne Shepherd brings rock guitar to ‘Gonna Hurt Like Hell’, followed by slide specialist Sonny Landreth who also adds vocals to ‘Ain’t Goin’ Back’. ‘The Other Side Of The Pillow’ has Charlie Musselwhite’s harmonica sparring with Trout’s guitar. Warren Haynes stars with guitar and vocals on the classic ‘The Sky Is Crying’, and Edgar Winter adds sax to ‘She Steals My Heart Away’. Other guests include Randy Bachman and Robben Ford.
The Districts POD/ Inertia www.inertiamusic.com Popular Manipulations is album number three for US band The Districts, and, compared to 2015’s A Flourish And A Spoil, it’s a step in a wider direction. Lead singer Robby Grote’s vocals fool the listener into thinking The Districts are English, not a band from Pennsylvania. He starts out in whimsical mode on ‘Ordinary Day’, the rest of the band making its considerable mark on the mid-paced song. ‘If Before I Wake’ is more dramatic but equally appealing, while the introspective ‘Why Would I Wanna Be’ brings Grote’s falsetto to the fore. Another ingenious track, ‘Salt’ sounds like it belongs in the Britpop genre, although there’s none more intriguing than ‘Will You Please Be Quiet Please?’ The Districts, formed in 2009, are going through a solid growth spurt with Popular Manipulations.
Cage The Elephant Sony/ RCA www.rcarecords.com Grammy winning rock group Cage The Elephant has sprung a surprise with new album Unpeeled. Not only is it the six-piece band’s first live album, the tracks were recorded in intimate settings with pared-back arrangements. It’s not quite “unplugged” but it’s bereft of any studio tricks, with only an orchestral string section and extra percussion added to the band’s raw sound. Most of Cage The Elephant’s hits are here, including ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’. Front man Matt Schultz excels on ‘Trouble’, one of seven tracks from the award-winning studio album Tell Me I’m Pretty given the stripped-back treatment. The string section adds to the drama of ‘Come A Little Closer’, and then it’s back to the rockier style of 2010 hit ‘Shake Me Down’ and crowd favourite ‘Back Against The Wall’.
POWER OF PEACE
The Isley Brothers – Santana Sony/ Legacy www.legacyrecordings.com Carlos Santana reinvited himself in 1999 with the album Supernatural, containing a list of impressive guest artists. This time he’s joined forces with the last remaining members of the famed Isley Brothers: Ronald, 76, and younger bro Ernie. Power Of Peace is a another notch for Santana; its loaded with up-tempo boogie tracks, including a vibrant rendition of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’ with Ronald Isley on lead vocals. Cindy Blackman Santana steps out from behind the drums to take lead on her own composition, the ballad ‘I Remember’. She stars again on the classic track ‘God Bless The Child’. Santana adds trademark licks to a robust version of ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ and Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Gypsy Woman’, while it’s soul power all the way on ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’.
THE SOUND OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIA – NOW & BEFORE
Various artists Warner/ Festival www.warnermusic.com.au This double album is a fairly comprehensive collection of Indigenous Australia’s contemporary music talent. Divided into “now” and “before” discs with songs reaching back to Vic Simms’ ‘Stranger In My Country’ from 1973 onto hip-hop duo A.B. Original’s thought-provoking ‘January 26’. Yothu Yindi’s 1991 hit ‘Treaty’ is included, along with the late Jimmy Little’s emotive ‘Yorta Yorta Man’. Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who passed away in July, is represented with ‘Wiyathul’, country star Troy Cassar-Daley sings of Charlie Perkins’ ‘Freedom Ride’, and Dan Sultan rocks it up on ‘Kimberley Calling’. Two of the best tracks are ‘Best Part Of Me’ from duo Busby Marou, and Christine Anu’s hit version of Neil Murray’s ‘My Island Home’.