Album reviews: JEFF the Brotherhood; Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express; One Direction; and Kylie Minogue
JEFF the Brotherhood investigate inner space, Greenwood and co create true world music, One Direction give the fans one last gift, and Kylie delivers her first festive album
JEFF the Brotherhood
Global Chakra Rhythms
Infinity Cat Recordings
After the release of their seventh and most successful album to date, the Dan Auerbach-produced Hypnotic Nights, Nashville psych-punk duo JEFF the Brotherhood released a press statement ahead of the release of the follow-up Wasted on the Dream. The Orrall brothers stated: “We are SO F***ING PLEASED to announce that we have been DROPPED from the clutches of the demented vulture that is Warner Bros!” Global Chakra Rhythms arrives only eight months after the slightly disappointing WotD, but the double album basks in an air of expressive freedom. It’s a rather pungent air, it has to be said, as this is the sound of guitarist Jake and drummer Jamin rolling a big fat one and embracing their trippy inner stoners. With the addition of a bassist and an extra guitarist, the siblings boldly step away from their polished garage rock sound to further explore the mystical psychedelia and droning stoner rock heard on previous recordings. On the nine-minute cover of Mazzy Star’s Mary of Silence, they pound a sonic groove so deep that it will likely still be reverberating throughout the galaxy.
Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express
Collaborating once again with noted film director Paul Thomas Anderson, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood keeps himself busy with another side project, this time along with Israeli singer and composer Shye Ben Tzur and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich as they journey to colourful Rajasthan. Greenwood has written the scores for three of Anderson’s acclaimed movies (There Will Be Blood, The Master and Inherent Vice) and here the director returns the favour by documenting the meeting of Eastern and Western musicians. Recorded as a large ensemble piece with Indian qawwali band The Rajasthan Express, Junun features sufi poetry and singing in both Hindi and Urdu, music proving to be our common worldly language. The sprawling soundscapes of mashed-up tribal beats and programmed drum loops mix effortlessly with traditional Israeli and Indian elements, an often minimal rhythm building with a steady jazz groove into a racing finale. Greenwood’s Radiohead influence only really shows itself on the guitar driven Allah Elohim; elsewhere he is simply one of the percussive gang, each member as vital as the next to the beautifully textured cinematic compositions.
Made in the A.M.
Having recently scooped the top prize for artist of the year at the prestigious American Music Awards for the second year running, British teen-pop sensations One Direction return with their fifth album, Made in the A.M., before they take what is expected to be an indefinite hiatus. The follow-up to 2014’s chart topping Four, Made in the A.M. is the energetic boy band’s first album since Zayn Malik sought greener pastures, leaving Harry and his three chums (apparently, according to Billboard magazine, Styles’ hair “is probably the best in the entire realm of pop music”) to pleasure their screaming fans for potentially one last time. Of course, being the product of the world’s biggest boy band and a well-oiled fun machine, Made in the A.M. does little to disappoint their adoring teenage horde. From the rocky arena-anthem opener Hey Angel through to the punchy upbeat lead single Drag Me Down, the quartet’s slick power pop displays a maturing warmth and the band still manage to cover their childish flaws with genuine charm.
As the jolly fat man readies his jingle bells, the lead-up to another festive season brings with it the traditional deluge of nauseating Christmas music. Somewhat surprisingly, Kylie Christmas is the first Christmas album from the Australian pop princess. At a time of year for family celebration, Kylie is joined by little sister Dannii in a rare recording appearance on the deluxe album track 100 Degrees. The duetting sisters set the dance floor ablaze on this funky disco track as they tip their hat to the hot Christmases they experienced growing up in the southern hemisphere, but elsewhere we are in more traditional big band territory. Let it Snow, Winter Wonderland and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas are grand orchestral renditions of winter classics, and suit Kylie’s delightfully sultry vocals, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without a couple of big fat turkeys. Sinewy rock god Iggy Pop joins Kylie for a cover of The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping, before comedian James Corden appears for a rather strange duet of Yazoo’s Only You. Warning: consume with sherry.