JAMES BLAKE J Blk James Blake ****
Classically-trained Blake brings new daring and discipline to the dubstep genre with the trippy cadences and minimal but deeply ingrained electronic textures of this debut album. Between the quaking liquid bass, disruptive breaks and his cool wavering voice, it's often what he leaves out that makes him special.
READY TO RAWK?
SUGARLAND The Incredible Machine **
Nashville-based duo Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush have swept aside all comers in the US with their huge arena country rawk with its cod rap and 'rank' reggae bolt-ons. Our American counterparts may pledge an oath of allegiance to such tub thumping overkill, but we'll stay immune. Won't we?
THE MEMORY BAND Oh My Days **
With a string of side projects, Stephen Cracknell is a busy chap, perhaps too busy to give this latest outing by his folk ensemble the attention it requires. A host of pals guest, but the whimsical and pious tunes sorely lack dynamic charge or burning conviction. And they could benefit from some.
THE BOXER REBELLION The Cold Still ***
The third album from the London-based outfit is an imposingly solid but slightly faceless work. Ethan Johns' production has loosened them up, p but songs such as Memo centre on an ideal of haunted grandeur which has some appeal, although it ultimately becomes wearing.
SEA OF BEES
Songs For The Ravens ****
Sacremento siren Julie Ann Baenziger makes a fetching addition to the freak-folk scene with this debut album showing shades of Bon Iver and Cat Power. Her songs have enveloping layers of sunshine punk, poised grace, rockin' rumbles and yearning harmony. Make sure you get stung.