Now that festival season is behind us here, it’s time to catch up on some of the great music released over this last little while, including Ryan Adams, Kingwood, Temples and Dope Lemon.
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
You can hear a lot of Springsteen on the new Ryan Adams album, but it’s the Boss of 1987’s Tunnel of Love that Prisoner can most be likened to. In following up his world conquering Born in the USA, Springsteen constructed an introspective, country-tinged break up album, and Prisoner is all of these things. Ryan Adams, of course, isn’t afraid to get derivative, his previous album covered Taylor Swift’s 1989 in its entirety, albeit completely reinventing the material. It’s refreshing that Adams doesn’t shy away from his influences, choosing instead to embrace and celebrate them, and in doing so, Prisoner offers up some great moments. The staccato bursts of guitar in ‘Do You Still Love Me?’, make for a engaging opener. From there the first half of the LP is a little hit and miss, before really coming into its own in the second half. The highlight is ‘Outbound Train’, which sounds like The War On Drugs covering the Boss (the title even sounds like it should be a Springsteen composition). The heavy reverb of the chord changes on ‘We Disappear’ then make for a suitably wistful conclusion.
Kingswood – After Hours, Close To Dawn
Kingswood have found a way to beat the second album blues: complete reinvention. It’s a strategy that comes with a risk of alienating fans. But it’s executed here with such flair and confidence who could complain? The driving wall of distorted guitars of Microscopic Wars have made way for a seventies rock/soul aesthetic. The great advantage is in allowing for more intricate song construction, expanded room to play with the soundscape and a greater focus on the silky vocals of Fergus Linacre. It’s so good to hear a young band really pushing themselves and, as a result, the songwriting is first rate throughout. The bluegrass of ‘Big City’ is the only moment that feels a little out of place. Elsewhere, the quality is so high that it’s hard to pick out highlights. After initial listens, ‘Library Books’, ‘Rebel Babe’ and ‘Atmosphere’ come to mind, but the whole album is a killer. As with the previous LP, the band travelled to Nashville to record, with producer Ed Spear piecing together an amazing sound. After Hours, Close To Dawn proves that Kingswood are one of the very best things on the Australian rock scene. Get around them.
Temples – Volcano
Like Kingwood, Temples follow up a well received debut by making some changes. But with Volcano, it is a case of more gentle evolution rather than reinvention. And by embracing this, Temples surpass their previous effort. Sun Structures was a delightful debut, but it sometimes felt a little too tethered to the late sixties / early seventies milieu that inspired the band’s vibe. While the antecendents remain in full view, with this latest offering Temples free themselves up with a more modern tweak to their sound. The results are something more akin to Tame Impala than The Yardbirds or T Rex, confidently announced on ‘Certainty’, the terrific album opener boasting an irresistible moog hook. Other highlights include the shuffling ‘Open Air’, the trippy ‘Oh The Saviour’ and the unabashed glam of ‘Roman God-Like Man’. Volcano is sparkling psych rock repackaged for 2017.
Dope Lemon – Hounds Tooth (EP)
It seems like no time at all since Angus Stone released Honey Bones (read our review here), but he’s not finished squeezing the creative juices out of his Dope Lemon project, with this very welcome EP release. While tracks 2 to 5 are very much in the vein of the 2016 album, the opening track, ‘Home Soon’ is a bracing transformation. We venture into South American style funk, with Stone sampling seventies Belgian outfit, The Chakachas. It’s a totally infectious track, complete with some sexy jazz flute. Stone is clearly pushing into new territory with great results – hopefully we can expect to hear more of this kind of thing in the future. The rest of the album explores similar atmospheric terrain to the previous Dope Lemon material to pleasing effect. The highlights here are the chilled ‘Neon Lights’ and ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’, which sits on a sweet groove. It will be interesting to see where Stone takes this project next.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor