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P
Pa
April 1, 2021

The Snuts, Dan Croll and Ryley Walker deliver this week’s albums

P
Pa
April 1, 2021

THE SNUTS — WL

The Snuts are proudly flying the flag for bands at a time when solo artists dominate, and must have missed playing gigs more than most after making their name live. The indie four-piece from Whitburn, halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, built up a devoted fanbase through relentless touring and a series of rowdy singles.

Now their debut album arrives, 13 tracks custom built for singing along while punching the air, and they’ll be hoping their rescheduled autumn tour — including three sold-out gigs at Glasgow Barrowland — goes ahead.

WL starts unexpectedly with the low-key Top Deck before The Snuts hit their stride with the anthemic Always, driven by a nagging guitar riff, and the catchy All Your Friends. Somebody Loves You is a love song that strays towards boyband territory, while Boardwalk is acoustic, Don’t Forget It (Punk) is aggressive, Coffee & Cigarettes as experimental as they get and last track Sing For Your Supper heads towards power ballad territory.

The Snuts are not reinventing the indie wheel, with influences ranging from Oasis to the Libertines, Arctic Monkeys and The Courteeners, but their own personality always comes through. In their world it’s forever 2007, a heaving crowd packed tightly at the now demolished London Astoria, the band playing on amid a hail of plastic beer glasses, crowd surfers and stage divers.

At a time when we’ve been missing out on gigs for more than a year, W.L. will provide their fans with a soundtrack for counting down the days until the thrill of live music returns. 6/10 (Review by Matthew George)

DAN CROLL — GRAND PLAN LIVE

The idea of a live album recorded during the pandemic, when public performance remains impossible, might seem nonsensical. Nonetheless, Dan Croll is releasing a live version of his sensitive, engrossing 2020 album Grand Plan, plus a second side of extras.

It’s live in the sense that it was recorded as part of a livestream from Spacebomb studios in Richmond, Virginia, where the album was originally recorded. For the project, Croll reunited with producer Matthew E White and his studio band. The results are pleasing, like a hazy glimpse into the sessions that birthed the album. Grand Plan itself charted a year-long period starting in February 2018 when Croll left his hometown of Liverpool for Los Angeles.

He pivoted to a music that was more worldly, more tied up in the songwriting traditions of California, whilst also paying tribute to the looming presence of The Beatles. In a live setting, the quality of these songs shine through, revealing new dimensions. It’s an enjoyable, if

superfluous, companion piece. 7/10 (Review by Alex Green)

RYLEY WALKER — COURSE IN FABLE

Ryley Walker may have jokingly described this as his “prog record”. But thankfully, the Chicago rocker’s rigorous approach to songwriting and his roots in jazz temper the genre’s more self-indulgent tendencies.

He may now live in New York, but this is a record that pays tribute to the city in which he built a reputation and carved out a sound. Course In Fable looks back to the prog bands that emerged out of Chicago in the 1990s.

Gastr del Sol integrated the motorik rhymes of math and post-rock, while the The Sea and Cake was notable not just for their offbeat name but for the manner in which they injected jazz into their sound. These are the reference points to look for on Course In Fable, as Walker swings from the complexity of Yes! to gentle folk melodies. Rarely do so many genres combine in such harmony. 7/10 (Review by Alex Green)

DAVID BOWIE — KIT KAT KLUB (LIVE NEW YORK 99)

The sixth and final instalment of Parlophone’s Brilliant Live Adventures collection — a series of live albums covering David Bowie’s mostly forgotten 90s period — sees the late star in New York at the tail end of the decade.

He is performing at what was then the Kit Kat Klub, to an invite-only crowd of screaming fans and contest winners. The 12-track live album is, fittingly, a hit-heavy affair including a piano-led version of Life On Mars?, China Girl and Changes.

After a decade in the proverbial wilderness, exploring drum and bass, brash alternative rock and, God forbid, acid jazz, this is Bowie in crowd-pleasing mode. By this time, he had gathered together keyboard wizard Mike Garson and bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, two musicians who would remain central to his live band until his death in 2016.

Even amongst the dated heavy rock of The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell and I’m Afraid Of Americans, two 90s tracks best forgotten, things remain buoyant. 5/10 (Review by Alex Green)

BOO HEWERDINE —

SELECTED WORKS

Mark “Boo” Hewerdine, lead singer of The Bible and one of the country’s most enduring singer-songwriters, turned 60 in February. If you are looking for a way to celebrate his legacy than look no further than Selected Works, a collection of 20 tracks sequenced by Reveal Records founder Tom Rose.

A handful of the songs were written over the last year, although only The Language of Love, which opens the album, could be considered inspired by lockdown.

Elsewhere, Cambridge-raised Hewerdine explores melodic folk with Brooks Williams on Why Does The Nightingale Sing? and chamber pop on An Atheist In A Foxhole. The album also includes a new recording of The Village Bell with label mate Kris Drever that boosts the original’s harmonic qualities to wonderful effect. Perhaps one of UK music’s most underrated musicians, Selected Works is an unrivalled entry point into his music. 8/10 (Review by Alex Green).