Albums round up: Minor Victories by Minor Victories; These People by Richard Ashcroft; Good Luck and Do Your Best by Gold Panda; Smash The Clock by Bruce Foxton; Cut and Paste by Oscar

Minor Victories

Minor Victories

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A file-swapping indie super group comprising members of Editors, Mogwai and Slowdive, Minor Victories combine elements of shoegaze, post-rock and post-punk in their first album together.

Songs such as A Hundred Ropes and Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard) are full of tension, drama and soaring guitars. In arguably the album’s prettiest moment, For You Always, Rachel Goswell duets with a croaky Mark Kozalek of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon over percolating marimba. An intriguing diversion from their day jobs.

For his first solo album in six years Richard Ashcroft reunited longtime producer Chris Potter and Wil Malone, who arranged strings on The Verve’s Britpop classics A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns as well Ashcroft platinum-selling Alone With Everybody. The move is certainly musically beneficial, giving These People’s attractive melodies an impressive orchestral sweep; however it can’t disguise the frustratingly nebulous nature of many of Ashcroft’s lyrics. Everybody Needs Somebody To Hurst would appear to be ripped from the pages of rhyming dictionary while the less said about the French double entendre in one verse of the title track the better. That said, there are some beguiling tunes to be found on this album – particularly the slinky Out of My Body, which has keyboards and programming by Madonna collaborator Mirwais, and the anthemic Hold On.

Peckham-born, Essex-raised electronic musician and producer Gold Panda’s fascination with Oriental sounds reaches its apex in his fourth full-length album Good Luck and Do Your Best. Inspired by a trip to Japan in the company of photographer Laura Lewis – with the original intention of creating a sight and sound documentary – it’s a record full of subtle dabs of keyboard, carefully applied samples, gentle yet insistent rhythmic loops and clanging koto strings. Throughout everything there’s a Zen-like sense of calm.

If Bruce Foxton’s renewed friendship with Paul Weller may never lead to a widely yearned for reunion of their old band The Jam, it has yielded some impressive collaborations in recent years on Weller’s Mercury Prize-nominated Wake Up The Nation and Foxton’s 2012 comeback album Back In The Room. Smash The Clock was recorded at Weller’s Black Barn studios in Surrey and features Weller on guitar in Pictures & Diamonds and piano in Louder. With Foxton’s regular bandmate in From The Jam, Russell Hastings, chipping in with Weller-like vocals, this has the feel of a rarities album compiled from The Jam’s purple patch between Setting Sons and The Gift, but that’s no bad thing. The lively Sunday Morning, Now The Time Has Come and the title track could easily have slotted into any of The Jam’s most sonically adventurous albums. At 60 Bruce Foxton seems to be in the best songwriting form of his life.

Search YouTube and you’ll find old Top of the Pops footage of Oscar Scheller’s parents fronting new wave band The Regents on their lone hit from 1979, 7 Teen. Recent single Sometimes opens Oscar’s own debut album in similar choppy style before swirling around in a head spinning array of musical directions, from pop to dub to hip-hip to indie rock. Cut and Paste’s restlessness may make it hard for some listeners to pin Oscar down, nevertheless the fizzy energy of Daffodil Days and the DIY charm of Only Friend, a duet with Marika Hackman, is endearing.

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