Striking out on her own after two albums and nearly 10 years with Alphastates was a good move for Cat Dowling. The Kilkenny woman’s solo debut is probably the best thing she’s ever done; not because her former band were flawed, but because she sounds more comfortable unshackled by the limitations of electronic pop. These songs are more organic and consequently warmer, Dowling’s evocative, breathy vocals gliding across acoustic pop and seductive piano motifs with a natural grace. There are echoes of Cathy Davey ( Come On) and Imogen Heap ( Gospel Song) in parts, but Dowling’s influences aren’t so easy to pinpoint on Somebody Else’s mix of galloping beats, accordion breakdown and chugging electric guitar. Cat has found her voice with this impressive debut; let’s see what she can do next. Facebook.com/catdowling music1
Can Do Records
Broken Rules, Somebody Else EMI Norway From Kristiansand, Norway, Honningbarna (translation: “honey children”) know their punk rock from their pop and real-life dramas from fabricated soap operas. So their follow-up to lauded 2011 debut La Alarmane Ga arrives after personal (and personnel) upheaval and an even stronger sense of national identity. Matching the take-no-prisoners efforts of Rage Against the Machine and the neck-pulsing vein throbs of Gallows, there’s little subtlety on this uncompromising, nonEnglish-language album. Even the band’s one-time USP (a cello-playing lead singer) is played down in favour of sphincter-tightening riffola that rarely broadens out beyond the anthemic and sloganeering. One-dimensional? Perhaps, but there are few bands around these days that channel flareassisted sonic rioting as solidly as Honningbarna. honning barna.no
G Records/ Download: Fritt Ord Fritt Fram, Sinna Dame It’s taken Liam Trappe five years to craft his debut, but good things apparently come to those who wait. The Kildare man may have named his musical venture after little-known American Olympic athlete Sunder Nix, but with any luck this album won’t fade into a similar obscurity. Taking in uplifting orchestral pop ( Brasserie), leisurely piano compositions that nod to Neil Hannon and Ben Folds ( When the Morning Comes, Spiders) and sure-footed, full-band alt.rock compositions ( Killing Time), Trappe enlists a multitude of friends to drum, harmonise and sharpen focus on these colourful, melodic songs. Zany instrumental Siddhartha Highway is a standout, shifting the focus from piano and guitar to studio effects not unlike something Irish band 8 Ball may have once conjured up. An album that hits the sweet spot time and time again. Sundernix. com Download: Brasserie, Siddhartha Highway
Double Six Whatever about Cole Williams’s attempts to keep his real name and identity on the downlow, there was no such reticence about showing off his musical persona. As The Child of Lov, the Amsterdam-based musician believes that there world would be a better place with the help of great swathes of off-kilter soul, retro funk flings and electronic dabblings of every persuasion. With production help from Damon Albarn, a great contribution from Doom (the wham-bam Owl) and some brilliant flights of musical fancy throughout, Williams is not short of confidence to aim high, the skills to hit the target or the grooves to keep listeners humming. Fly is the one to check out as an example of Williams at his best, a gospel-powered earworm with both funky grit and righteous hellfire grandstanding pushing it onwards and upwards. An album to relish. facebook.com/ thechildoflov
Download: Fly, Owl New Zealanders The Phoenix Foundation’s smart, dreamy, folky pop has made them a band to be reckoned with at home over the past decade. It took until their fourth album, Buffalo, for them to gather a cast of admirers further afield. The ambitious, expansive and multi-layered Fandango is sure to add to that following, with its infectious, robust, atmospheric tunes. The band’s fondness for psychedelic reels has greatly influenced Fandango, with nearly every song coated in panoramic, kaleidoscopic hues. While they occasionally get carried away with the freak power of it all – it’s no surprise that the 18 minute-long Friendly Society lacks cohesion – the likes of The Captain, Modern Rock and Sideways Glance are euphoric, pastoral and languid by turn. thephoenixfoundation. co.nz Download: Modern Rock, Sideways Glance
Sony Bring Me the Horizon’s huge fan base and profile inspires love and loathing in equal measure. What they’ve lacked up until now has been a decent suite of songs. Sempiternal, their fourth album, is a valiant attempt to right that musical deficit. Metallers have an abiding suspicion of keyboards/synths, but new member Jordan Fish has added some unmistakable musical hooks to opener Can You Feel My Heart and has taken the edge off their discordant sound. Shadow Moses, Sleepwalker and House of Wolves are well crafted, but stand-out track Anti-Vist is an incendiary rant at the apathy of the iPad generation: “If you really believe in the words that you preach/Get off your screens, and onto the streets/There will be no peaceful revolution!” It beats One Direction at least. BMTH neither deserve the hype (the new Metallica, according to their label) nor the hatred of too many metal fans. Sempiternal shows they’ve finally learned something about songcraft.
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