Reviewed this week
Back in 1979, Scottish group Skids released their seminal debut 'Scared To Dance', an equally abrasive but more intellectual continuation of punk, but also one of the albums that helped establish the UK's post-punk sound. Having not released a record in nearly 37 years, 'Burning Cities' marks their long-overdue return. Both the band and the album benefit greatly from Killing Joke bassist Youth's punchy production, which aids the group as they simultaneously explore contemporary rock and reprise some of their early-eighties sound. 'Burning Cities' is the comeback album that has propelled Skids right back into relevance, in a time when their high-energy anti-establishment songwriting will resonate more than ever.
Where once Whomadewho's records were fuelled by the club-rocking heaviness of punk-funk and post-punk disco, the Danish trio's output now has a much warmer and woozier feel. For proof check out seventh studio album Through The Walls, a masterful stroll through alternately lilting, loved up and quietly Balearic pastures. Shot through with glassy-eyed songs that variously draw influence from Low Life-era New Order, huggable synth-pop, enlightened indie-pop, Nils Frahm, Steve Moore, neo-folk and sunset-ready nu-disco drowsiness, it's a set that simply gets better with each successive listen. It may not boast oodles of club jams, but it provides fine listening from start to finish.
Jump-starting 2018, this debut release from south London's Shame has set the bar pretty high. 'Songs Of Praise' is a well-toned, considered and poised record, striking perfect balances and contrasts in just about every regard: melodic invention and post-punk aggression, optimism and humour against anger and gloom, rough against smooth. In terms of highlights, the entire album is an exhilarating listen, with enough meat for the listener to sink their teeth into, and enough surprises to maintain engagement throughout. This is one of the most fresh, ferocious and inventive post-punk records released in a while, and - in a time when identikit indie groups seem rife - a concrete opening statement from a group who have skilfully proven themselves to be a cut above.
Heading into their twentieth year playing together, leather jacket-clad San Franciscans Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have been ploughing a gnarled furrow of grungy blues rock over their previous seven albums, hitting the spot every time. After a five-year break, their eighth record, 'Wrong Creatures' typically carries all the skulking and indignant fuzzbox riffs, stomping blues drums and gloomy seedy vocals that have become their stock in trade. However, BRMC have subtly pushed themselves further here, unexpectedly imbuing in their songwriting more nuance and emotion, marking a step forward in their writing and showing a little more of their depth as a band.