Straight out of Bridlington come Seafret, an acoustic duo who struck internet gold when Games of Thrones star Maisie Williams appeared in the video for their single Oceans.
Musically Jack Sedman and Harry Draper have a fair bit in common with last year’s biggest British breakthrough artist James Bay, for whom they’ve opened on tour, as well as Kodaline, who they are due to support in London next month.
Sedman’s emotive vocals combine with sweeping tunes that pluck at the heart strings.
Oceans itself is a sweet and subtle romantic ballad; Over ventures into rollicking Mumford and Sons territory. A polished debut.
Anne Lise Frøkedal was previously frontwoman with the Norwegian outfits Harrys Gym and I Was a King. Her first solo album contains a likeable collection of poetically-inclined pop-folk songs.
Mostly they are pared back to guitar and violin drones but occasionally, as with The Sign, there are simple piano chords and thumping drums.
“Big, busy songs don’t touch me emotionally any more,” Frøkedal reasons. “I hoped to go the other way – to remove as much as I could and be left with a beating heart.” Hold On Dreamer achieves its goal.
Frøkedal plays at The Basement in York on Friday February 26.
The pick of recent acoustic releases is the seventh album by south London’s Turin Brakes.
Once leading lights of the ‘quiet is the new loud’ movement at the turn of the Millennium, their songs such as Underdog and Painkiller blazed the way for the current generation of acoustic artists such Max Jury, Aquilo and Benjamin Francis Leftwich.
Lost Property plays to the strengths of songwriters Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, with its emphasis on elegantly crafted tunes.
Particularly notable are the deft lead guitar touches in 96 and the instantly hummable Keep Me Around which has propelled the band back on to the BBC Radio 2 playlist.
Equally impressive are the huge bursts of melody and the sumptuousstring arrangement in Brighter Than The Dark. A strong return to form.
It’s a brave band these days that makes an album that’s designed to be listened to as ‘a piece’, from beginning to end. In the pick and mix age of iTunes and Spotify it seems few listeners have the patience to stick with the same record for 40 minutes or more.
Suede throw caution to the wind on their second album since they reconvened five years ago. Night Thoughts, it is said, was inspired by Frank Sinatra’s magnificent In The Wee Small Hours and the encroaching shadows of middle age; “that waking nightmare of real life” as singer Brett Anderson puts it.
“I don’t know the meaning of much, I don’t know the right expressions/I don’t have too much intuition or too many credentials” he sings, addressing his young son, in the key track What I’m Trying To Tell You. With its soaring guitar line, it’s classic Suede, wracked with self-doubt yet stirring at the same time.
Night Thoughts could arguably do with a few more choice moments – only Like Kids roars in the same way – but it’s really a more reflective kind of record, with a lot of strings. “And who knows we’ll become?” Anderson muses in the curtain closer The Fur And The Feathers. It’ll be interesting to see where Suede go next.
“No revolution, the dead on the street” intones Ian Astbury in Dark Energy, the portentous opening track of The Cult’s 10th album in a career stretching back to the glory days of Goth in the mid-1980s.
Hidden City is filled with blood and torment – its cover features lilies splatted in red, Dark Energy apparently references a Buenos Aires slum notorious during the time of Argentina’s military junta. The album’s centrepiece, Deeply Ordered Chaos, addresses the spread of slaughter from Syria to Paris: “Violence in my head, I’m a European,” Astbury cries.
Set to some of Billy Duffy’s best guitar riffs in years, this is a stirring restatement of The Cult’s abiding values. Crucially, in tracks such as GOAT (the ‘greatest of all time’), it rocks with real menace. “And the blood rises up,” Astbury bellows in that familiar baritone. The Cult’s passion remains undimmed.
Released in 1979 when he was 20 years old, Off The Wall marked Michael Jackson’s ascent from youthful lead singer with The Jackson 5 to the bona fide King of Pop.
With the assured hand of veteran jazz musician Quincy Jones at the production desk, Jackson let his imagination fly on a selection of bustling floor fillers and tender ballads.
His quality of his vocals here is outstanding – nowhere more so than in the joyful Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough and the devastatingly phrased She’s Out of My Life.
So too are the the ultra smooth horn arrangements courtesy of Jerry Hay for the Seawind Horns. And the blistering Latin funk rhythms in Workin’ Day and Night will surely move even the most leaden of feet.
Jackson would go on to even greater commercial heights with Thriller and Bad but Off The Wall is where the revolution began – and the pristine sound on this reissue enhances its status further still.
A special DVD or Blu-Ray edition includes a bonus documentary, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off The Wall, directed by Spike Lee.