talks about the latest releases in the music world

Chart Chat Album Review : Sleater-Kinney – ‘No Cities To Love’ (19th January 2015)

Chart Chat Album Review : Sleater-Kinney – ‘No Cities To Love’ (19th January 2015)

During their first reign Sleater Kinney were prolific, releasing a total of seven albums between 1995 and 2005.  Then in 2006 they split up and their story seemed to be over.  Fast forward to 2014 and they reformed to begin working on a new album which this week sees the light of day. There is a real buzz around both this album and their current tour which has seen them sell out a concert at London’s Roundhouse venue. The album is short by modern day standards, containing ten tracks which are all under four minutes, but that doesn’t detract from the end product.  There are no fillers here, and although this is a very 2015 album it is also distinctly Sleater-Kinney too.

Fans who are new to the band could do worse than to check out their career spanning seven disc box set ‘Start Together’ which was released last year. It features remastered versions of their studio albums collected in one place.

The album is released on Sub Pop, the label responsible for signing Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden amongst others. The label has continued with its punk roots and currently homes acts such as Foals, Fleet Foxes and The Shins. It is fantastic to see such excitement surrounding a release on the label so many years after it first came to the fore of the music scene.

‘Price Tag’ opens proceedings and at 3 minutes 54 seconds it is the longest track featured here.  Dealing with the topic of greed and capitalism, it still packs a big punch with lyrics such as “I was blind by the money / I was numb from the greed / I’ll take God when I’m ready / I’ll choose sin till I leave”. It gets the album off to a blistering start and sets the tone for what lays ahead.

‘Surface Envy’ is an early highlight and was one of two songs made available to download ahead of the albums release.  “We win / we lose / only together” comes the hook, and it’s one of the first tracks that I revisited after my first listen of the album in its entirety.

‘No Cities To Love’ follows closely behind and has been generating internet interest via a celebrity filled video which features them (along with the band themselves) singing along to the track. While I feel this album needs to be viewed as a complete body of work if ever there was a track which could be released as a single then this would be it.

‘Bury Our Friends’ arrived on the album at the end of the writing sessions. It comes with a hook line which will stick inside your head from the first time that you hear it. Lyrics include the lines “Exhume our idols / Bury our friends / We’re wild and weary / But we won’t give in” which displays their determination to deliver. Both Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker share the vocal duties and the results speak for themselves.

‘Fade’ brings the curtain down on the album just over half an hour after it started.  The final lyrics give a pause for thought “tell me what do you see in the last script / yeah its a trip – what’s it all for? / if we are truly dancing our swan song, darling / shake it like never before”.

Let’s hope this isn’t their final word, as after such a strong return there remains a promise that they could deliver yet more. The trio may be older than on their last outing but thankfully that hasn’t impacted their enthusiasm or determination to deliver. ‘No Cities To Love’ is creating a buzz in the music industry and quite rightly so.  A reminder, if it were needed, that the best music can often be found outside of the confines of the singles chart.

Ian Anderson (@ChartChatUK)

24 January, 2015 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment

Chart Chat Album Review : The Charlatans – ‘Modern Nature’ (26th January 2015) (8/10)

Chart Chat Album Review : The Charlatans – Modern Nature (26th January 2015) (8/10)

This marks the first Charlatans album since 2010’s ‘Who We Touch’ and the first since the death of their drummer Jon Brookes. The inscription on the inside of the sleeve dedicates the album to him, and he would be proud to hear just what the band have put together after he passed. Tragically he became the second band member to die following on from keyboardist Rob Collins who passed away in 1996.  It’s hard to believe that it has been twenty five years since the release of their debut album ‘Some Friendly’ which became the first of three no.1 albums. Their last top ten album was ‘Simpatico’ back in 2006 but I think this has a real chance of becoming their highest charting album since then.

Talking In Tones

Kicking off proceedings is ‘Talking In Tones’, one of the four tracks which was made available to download prior to the albums release. It has a slow paced but hypnotic beat to it and the hookline soon gets inside your head after a couple of listens. “I don’t know how to act / When you pick up the phone / I’ll start filling in the gaps / Talking in tones” sings Tim Burgess over a mid tempo backdrop.

So Oh

This was one of the first tracks to be heard on the album with a video to promote the track being uploaded in mid November.  The title gets repeated throughout and that does become a little repetitive. The guitar which kicks in from the start reminds me a little of ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’ and overall I would say it is one that grows the more times that you play it.

Come Home Baby

This has more of a vintage Charlatans feel to it and would make a great single. A video to promote the track was uploaded to their Vevo account on the 15th January, and that has picked up over 25k views during its first week. The track starts slowly but builds to its epic chorus “Come home baby, come home baby / Kiss me gently / I can’t wait / Don’t hesitate / Let’s be together”. It has an uplifting and optimistic feel to it and it’s certainly one of the albums highlights.

Keep Enough

This track is much less immediate than some of it’s counterparts.  The theme of moving on can once again be heard in the lyrics. “Is this the beginning / Cos it feels like a start / Remember where you were yesterday” precede the simple chorus “Keep it up / keep enough”.  It shows a more tender side to the band and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

In The Tall Grass

Another of the tracks that could have been downloaded prior to the albums release.  It starts with a simple keyboard pattern courtesy of Tony Rogers who also provides backing vocals to the track but then builds as the vocals kick in. “Felt free in the tall grass / Letting go of the past” sings Tim Burgess as he delivers


For me this is one of the albums highlights. It’s certainly one of the catchiest tracks on here and would be another contender to be released as a single. It is also the shortest track on the album at just 3 minutes 20 seconds but it’s punchy enough to get its message across during that time.

Let The Good Times Be Never Ending

Again some fine keyboard work is in evidence here on a track which is almost half instrumental.  Dexys’ trombone player ‘Big’ Jim Paterson is a guest while it is one of three tracks to feature Factory Floor drummer Gabriel Gurnsey on percussion. While both of those musicians add some flavour to the track is quite lengthy with a running time of over six minutes. It’s upbeat and uplifting with the band casting an eye towards a positie future while still acknowledging the events of the past.

I Need You To Know

This is a fantastic song, a real smouldering slow burner. “I could have said / I should have said / It’s always the same / Can I tell you / Before it’s too late” are the lyrics at the start of the song, and whether they are linked to everyday relationships or life and death matters they are words that we can all relate to.

Lean In

By far the most straight forward and uptempo song on here, and that’s probably why it is my favourite.  At 3 minutes 47 seconds long it is perfect in terms of radio play and it would be great if this gave them their first top forty single in almost nine years. Factory Floor’s Nik Colk Void provides backing vocals here, and it’s one of the first tracks I returned to after giving the album its initial play.

Trouble Understanding

Another slower track but one which examines the vulnerability which affects us all. “Another minute / And it could be / A different ending / Another second / And it’s gone” reminds us just how fragile life can be.

Lot To Say

In some ways this is a strange choice to end the album with as for me this is one of the weaker tracks to be found here. Compared to some of the others on the album this is a light touch in terms of both the lyrics and instrumentation. It’s a shame because the album as a whole is very strong, and while this is by no means a bad track it’s just not as strong as it could have been.

Fans who purchase the deluxe version can also receive the tracks ‘We Sleep On Borrowed Time’, ‘Walk With Me’, ‘As Long As You Stick By Me’ and a demo version of ‘I Will Never Leave You’.

When I initially heard ‘Talking In Tones’ and ‘So Oh’ I wasn’t immediately struck by them, but both are growers. I was delighted with the album, particularly ‘Lean In’, ‘Emilie’ and ‘Come Home Baby’. It’s a strong collection of songs and for me this is their best album in several years. If you have been a fan of the band at any point during their career then I recommend that you buy this.

Ian Anderson (@ChartChatUK)

24 January, 2015 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment