New CD Releases

Do you like rock music? 
British Sea Power   4/5
An impassioned baritone, declaiming over music both anthemic and intimate. The best of ‘80s indie cross-bred with traditional folk. An image that locates the band in another time, dispensing homespun wisdom redolent of past glories.But enough about Arcade Fire. Therein, you feel, has lain the problem for British Sea Power, cursed to arrive too early on the scene and end up typecast as the oddballs of British indie, lovers of foliage, forts and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Do You Like Rock Music?, then, comes across rather like a last throw of the dice, a statement of intent. If so, it is a glorious one, one that should by rights kick them up to the next level. The raucous punk energy of debut  The Decline of… has been welded to the shoegazing sophomore Open Season to produce a record that is colossal yet accessible, ragged yet polished. No doubt the influence of GY!BE and A Silver Mt Zion’s Efrim Menuck on the recording process has had an effect.The impenetrable lyrics of previous albums remain, but here they are matched by fantastic hooks. Lead-off single, ‘Waving Flags’, bucks the trend of tabloid scaremongering by welcoming Eastern European immigrants to our fair shores. Singer Yan declares, “You are astronomical fans of alcohol, so welcome in.” ‘No Lucifer’ adapts the terrace chant of “Easy, Easy” over a piece of HoTS-esque post-rock-lite to surprisingly potent effect. ‘Atom’, meanwhile, contrives to lodge “Caveat emptor, open the atom’s core” in your mind.The middle section of the album is something of a dip, with the relentless pace beginning to grate somewhat. But persistence proves worthwhile, with slow-burning instrumental ‘The Great Skua’ acting as a palate-cleanser. The ending triumvirate ably displays the range of the band’s talents. ‘No Need to Cry’ shows that they can do fragility equally as well as bombast. ‘Open the Door’, a piece of sweet jangle-pop, proves them equally adept shorn of their usual racket and obscure references. Closer ‘We Close Our Eyes’ could easily fit onto an A Silver Mt Zion record, with its feedback, military snare and chanted refrain “We’re all in it and we close our eyes.”With the musical zeitgeist as it is, you can’t help but feel that if ever there was a time for British Sea Power, it is now. Have they taken the opportunity? Frankly, they make it look easy.
by Dave Challinor  In the future
Black Mountain3/5 Scrolling through my music collection, Black Mountain comes next to the venerable Black Sabbath. Similarities go beyond just the name, and its easy to hear the influence of Ozzy in the album. Other influences are as diverse as Neil Young, Jimmy Hendrix and The Velvet Underground, so In The Future was bound to be an eclectic mix. In The Future attempts to wed stoner rock and folksy elements with some organs and synths thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work.Opening track ‘Stormy High’ starts the album off quite promisingly with a stomping rhythm, but it doesn’t really develop further. A bit of organ can’t really shake off the feeling that this kind of thing was being done (better) decades ago. it’s a competent and enjoyable track, regrettably not something that can be said for much of the album. Stephen McBean and Amber Webber both have passable voices, but not enough to grab the listener during the slower songs.There are some brighter moments, like the jaunty acoustic track ‘Stay Free’ which demonstrates McBean’s good falsetto, even though it is about ponies “so beautiful they’ll kill us all.” The eight minute long ‘Tyrants’ shows that the band have potential as it builds up to a crashing climax, but once again sounds rather derivative. An even longer track, ‘Bright Lights’ clocks in at nearly seventeen minutes, but is pretty forgettable for most of it.
In all, there’s little of In The Future that is really stands out. A couple of accomplished tracks fail to redeem the rest.by Thomas Barrett