CDs OF THE WEEK

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Pop Arctic Monkeys (Domino) Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not THE brash, acerbic Sheffield quartet have captured youthful imaginations by sounding something like the last schoolgirl crush, The Libertines, but with a work ethic and edges sharpened to bleeding point. The guitars are pent-up balls of energy, becoming exhilaratingly loud on From the Ritz to the Rubble and The View from the Afternoon. Cutting through the noise with prickly lyrical observations is singer Alex Turner, who captures the essence of messy Saturday nights with greater accuracy than anyone since The Streets. He can be childish, but when he thinks a bit harder, as on the sensitive snapshot of a prostitute's life, When the Sun Goes Down, or A Certain Romance, his band sound like no one else.

DAVID SMYTH

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Wichita Recordings) THE New York-based five-piece have shifted 50,000 copies of their selffunded, self-produced debut, mainly thanks to internet recommendations.

The vocals of lead singer Alec Ounsworth have been likened to Talking Heads' David Byrne, but on the album's dreamy, atmospheric standout track, Over and Over Again, he sounds more like Bob Dylan before his balls dropped.

Singing above the warm, driving riff of Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood, he sounds like a camp Johnny Rotten. CYHSY's melodies and chord progressions are generally simplistic, and while pleasant, they are frequently forgettable. In the middle of all the hysteria, remember that online hype is still hype.

And, good though this is, the hype isn't entirely to be believed.

CHRIS ELWELL-SUTTON

Richard Ashcroft Keys to the World OFT-MISUNDERSTOOD (his The Drugs Don't Work detailed his grandmother's death rather than excess hedonism), Richard Ashcroft is steadily maturing into a major British songwriter. Keys to the World, his third solo album after he disbanded The Verve in 1999, is a 10-track slab of loveliness: stately, elegiac, string-laden and quite unlike anyone else. Being thoughtful, adult music and unafraid of the big topics, it's not the most acccessible of records, but after a few plays it's a friend of the family. The urgent Rolling Stones-like title track, the plaintive folk of Sweet Brother Malcolm and the Curtis Mayfield-sampling Music Is Power are obvious highlights, but - as with all the best records - each play reveals a little more and another favourite song. Richard Ashcroft really is becoming special. …

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