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PAOLO NU­TINI Caus­tic Love At­lantic

A lot can hap­pen be­tween the ages of 22 and 27, and Paolo Nu­tini’s first re­lease since Sunny Side Up (2009) sug­gests that the past five years have been spent im­mersed in clas­sic soul, funk and Mo­town, if the likes of the slinky One Day (a tune straight out of Sam Cooke’s canon) are any­thing to go by. Let Me Down Easy and Numpty are more un­der­stated num­bers, while Iron Sky taps into a rock­ier vibe with its earnestly rab­ble-rous­ing lyrics. Yet as groovy as this brass-laden al­bum oc­ca­sion­ally is, Nu­tini misses an op­por­tu­nity to use his beau­ti­fully stir­ring vo­cals in a more in­no­va­tive way; the quirky tempo and falsetto vo­cals of Diana come close, but la­bel­mate Janelle Monae’s rap verse on Fash­ion sounds ter­ri­bly mis­placed. Over­all, it sounds like Nu­tini is still fine-tun­ing his style. paolonu­ LAUREN MUR­PHY Down­load: One Day, Diana

THE AFGHAN WHIGS Do to the Beast Sub Pop

Six­teen years since their clas­sic 1965 al­bum, the Cincin­nati alt.rock­ers are back on their old Sub Pop la­bel. The Afghan Whigs were never re­ally given a fair crack of the commercial cross­over whip the first time around; their orig­i­nal work is a ma­jor in­spi­ra­tion for acts such as The Na­tional. Thank­fully, Greg Dulli & co haven’t gone the makeover route. One lis­ten to al­bum stand­out The Lot­tery con­firms that the soul­ful gui­tar-driven swag­ger is still in place, if with an added sense of ur­gency. There’s width and depth aplenty here: Al­giers may be­gin like Be My Baby, but it soon morphs into the type of song U2 talk about writ­ing but never get around to. Re­duc­ing the tempo and dark­en­ing the mood with These Sticks, they slow-burn their way through a hook-laden bit­ter bal­lad. Royal Cream is a com­pres­sion of their trade­mark qual­i­ties. An in­vig­o­rat­ing work from a rein­vig­o­rated band.

BRIAN BOYD Down­load: These Sticks, Al­giers, Royal Cream

THE HOLD STEADY Teeth Dreams Wash­ing­ton Square

Some­times the only thing to do is re­turn to those fa­mil­iar mean streets in the com­pany of knuck­le­headed hard­chaws of old. The Hold Steady’s first clutch of al­bums were vi­brant waste­lands of colourful char­ac­ters and chron­i­cles, but the band left that scaf­fold­ing to one side for 2010’s Heaven Is When­ever, which was deemed over­cooked and un­der­drawn. Teeth Dreams is a re­turn to the holy ground: Craig Finn’s pen joins dis­tinc­tive lines once again, and the riffs and twangs that shadow them are meaty and juicy, if a tad un­der­served by Nick Rasku­linecz’s muf­fled pro­duc­tion. But I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You, Run­ner’s High and the ma­jes­tic Al­most Ev­ery­thing are the big mu­sic writ large, songs of hope, fear, de­spair and a strange sort of res­o­lu­tion. A full-throated yell from these un­like­li­est of rebels. the­hold­

JIM CAR­ROLL Down­load: I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You, Al­most Ev­ery­thing

BEN WATT Hen­dra Un­made Bed/Caro­line

Has an­other 1980s pop star comes out of the wood­work? Fol­low­ing Kate Bush’s re­turn to live per­form­ing, we now have for­mer Ev­ery­thing But the Girl’s Ben Watt re­leas­ing his sec­ond solo al­bum – 31 years af­ter his de­but, North Ma­rine Drive. Watt hasn’t been as low-key as Bush, of course, but it’s still good to have him back as a record­ing artist. Fans will know not to ex­pect an Chas & Dave-like knees-up, but rather Watt’s by-now sig­na­ture ru­mi­na­tive tropes on mat­ters that ring true and clear. Do­mes­tic bal­ance is elab­o­rated on in The Heart Is a Mir­ror, grief on the emo­tive Nathaniel, and in­ti­ma­tions of res­ig­na­tion on Young Man’s Game. Wo­ven through­out is one man’s sober de­meanour pep­pered with at­mo­spheric and ser­rated folk rock. Oh, and a suit­ably pure gui­tar solo from Pink Floyd’s Dave Gil­mour on The Lev­els.

TONY CLAY­TON-LEA Down­load: The Heart Is a Mir­ror, The Lev­els, Young Man’s Game

MARC O’REILLY Hu­man Herd­ings Salt and Shake Records Marc O’Reilly isn’t ex­actly a house­hold name, de­spite a crit­i­cally ac­claimed de­but al­bum in 2011. Hu­man Herd­ings will un­likely change that fact, but don’t let the Water­ford man’s anonymity pre­vent you from in­ves­ti­gat­ing his mu­sic. Fans of John Mar­tyn, Nick Drake and Bert Jan­sch will be en­am­oured by this nine-track collection, an ex­er­cise in brevity and in­ti­macy that draws from a min­i­mal­ist pal­ette of mostly fin­ger­picked acous­tic gui­tar. Light­house and Just So are beau­ti­fully af­fect­ing in their sim­plic­ity. Dashes of bluesy rock bal­ance O’Reilly’s muted vo­cal on You Never and The Way­ward Shepherd, en­com­pass­ing a full band stomp and a de­gree of im­pro­vi­sa­tion to shake the metaphor­i­cal dust from the rafters. Cru­cially, O’Reilly is awareof the lim­i­ta­tions of his set-up, en­sur­ing that Hu­man Herd­ings doesn’t out­stay its wel­come by ram­bling on. mar­cor­eil­ly­mu­ LAUREN MUR­PHY Down­load: Light­house, You Never

AVEY TARE’S SLASHER FLICKS En­ter the Slasher House Domino

An­i­mal Col­lec­tive’s David Port­ner has re­leased records un­der his Avey Tare moniker be­fore, but this is more of a col­lec­tive punt with An­gel Der­adoo­rian from Dirty Pro­jec­tors and Jeremy Hy­man (late of Pony­tail) along­side him in the pro­jec­tion room. Those ex­pect­ing a feast of hor­ror­core mood and mo­tifs should keep on walk­ing, as En­ter the Slasher House is more about nervy, spooky, off-kil­ter, cos­mic der­ring-do than do­ing the full Her­rmann or Car­pen­ter. It’s loaded with trippy, wob­bly and in­de­cently ex­posed twists and turns of the jazzy, post-rocky, oc­ca­sion­ally proggy va­ri­ety. Tracks of­ten con­tain an in­tense, mes­meris­ing amount of gen­res, each blar­ing to make it­self heard, yet Blind Babe, The Out­law and the lovely, lithe Lit­tle Fang some­how bal­ance out this col­lec­tive odd­ness to make ro­bust state­ments of in­tent. en­ter the slasher JIM CAR­ROLL Down­load: Blind Babe, Roses on the Win­dow

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