Prayers for the Damned
Eleven Seven Music
Now that infamous hair metallers Mötley Crüe are contractably bound to never play another live show again, author, radio host and former junkie bassist Nikki Sixx returns his attention to his decade-long headbanging side project Sixx:A.M. Following on from the sleazy swagger of 2014’s Modern Vintage, the first instalment in this year’s double album project, Prayers for the Damned finds the original core of Sixx, guitarist DJ Ashaba and frontman James Michael, joined by new tub-thumper Dustin Steinke for a darker, more introspective look at life, as the band reaches “the most creative place of our careers”.
Heavy rocker and lead single Rise is a call-to-arms of sorts, a thumping stadium-rock groove, albeit with typically trite metal lyrics. “Rise up, it’s a dawn of a new day/Hands up, it’s gonna be okay”. Oh well, if you say so. There’s plenty of focus on dark mythology and spiritual searching, and while Michael’s vocals are hardly groundbreaking, they soar well alongside the tight thunderous riffage of SixxA.M’s modern rock.
“I hate it! I want it! I need it! I love it!” singer and guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani yells over a dirty fat bass riff and a wall of six-string feedback on Complaint Rock, one of the raucous highlights of the 10-track Outer Heaven. Repeated over and over throughout the track, it’s a simple mantra that almost perfectly sums up (there’s no hating going on around here) the sophomore album by Toronto’s ferocious post-punk outfit Greys.
With screams of “it doesn’t matter” over a looped guitar, the glorious hardcore racket of If It’s All The Same To You is, according to Jiwani, the band attempting to sound like Chemical Brother’s Setting Sun, while the gritty single No Star, a song that deals with the racism in the wake of last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris, explodes into an ear-splitting cacophony. Bringing “new textures and dynamics to temper their trademark onslaught of discordance”, Outer Heaven, the follow up to their equally exciting 2014 debut If Anything, is an angry and reckless album that you’ll want, need and love.
Sounding not too dissimilar to the cheeky tattooed monkey Robbie Williams belting out his swinging jazz tunes, 1980s heart-throb and former teen idol Paul Young opens his new album in fine spirits, with an impassioned rendition of Al Green’s L-O-V-E (Love). With the mullet and denim jackets long gone, Young has recently been known more as a celebrity TV chef than a bonafide pop legend, so for his first solo soul album in 20 years, the former Q-Tips singer has gathered a collection of Memphis soul tunes to put his stamp on.
But rather than simply covering the obvious Motown classics, Young and American hip-hop producer Arthur Baker focus on more obscure timeless wonders from the fabled labels, Hi Records and Stax. “This album is a labour of love, my soulful dream realised for everyone to now share,” Young has said. Accompanied by a ballsy brass section, the covers of The Staples Singer’s Touch a Hand, Make a Friend and Eddie Floyd’s Big Bird certainly show off his soulful roots.
We Are Scientists
It wasn’t simply their nerdy hipster looks or the cute pussycat adorning their breakthrough album With Love and Squalor that brought Brooklyn-based We Are Scientists to prominence in the mid-noughties. With their quirky humour and knack for an infectious post-punk hook, it was the rambunctious hit single The Great Escape, played to death across every indie dancefloor, that shot the 80’s-influenced indie trio onto the front pages of NME alongside Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs.
From the title of their fifth album Helter Seltzer, and the food-flinging video accompanying lead single Buckle, it’s obvious there’s still a buoyant playfulness to the anthemic sounds created by singer Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain. Now joined by keyboardist and producer Max Hart, who once toured with zesty pop puppet Katy Perry, Helter Seltzer sees the trio polish up their blasts of spikey guitar and synth waves with a fresh poppy shine. While there’s nothing here to quite rival the rollicking tunes of their early career, Helter Seltzer proves We Are Scientists still possess a potent musical chemistry.