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The Best Albums of October 2012

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Mike Diver Mike Diver | 13:00 UK time, Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Straight to business – below are 10 really rather excellent new albums that were released in October 2012. They are by no means the only really rather excellent albums released in said period; merely, they are a representation of the quality the month had to offer. Check in with all of BBC Music’s album reviews by clicking to our week-ordered review pages.

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Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city


Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city
(Polydor; released 22 October)
Recommended by: Gilles Peterson, Zane Lowe, Semtex

“Lamar is a proud California native, but this major label debut harbours more Southern ethos than West Coast gloss. As it plays, it’s clear that Lamar wants to fill the pondering void once occupied by OutKast rapper André 3000, whose philosophical rhymes made him one of hip hop’s most admired MCs. He’s still growing up, but he’s ready to take his place among the hip hop elite.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Swimming Pools (Drank) (external link)

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Egyptian Hip Hop – GOOD DONT SLEEP


Egyptian Hip Hop – GOOD DON’T SLEEP
(R&S; released 22 October)
Recommended by: Zane Lowe, Marc Riley

“After an extended break, Egyptian Hip Hop have now reassembled for a first album, and it’s every bit as accomplished, smart and unusual as those following their progress could have hoped for. Boasting a slick wash of production, yet still retaining an oddball feel; sounding young and fresh yet acknowledging an obvious debt to its predecessors: this debut is a clever, fascinating and intricate triumph.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: SYH (external link)

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Halls - Ark


Halls – Ark
(No Pain In Pop; released 22 October)
Recommended by: Huw Stephens

“The debut album from south-Londoner Sam Howard, Ark features compositions which flex and pulse, that explode from stillness into glorious cacophony. These songs are marked by movement, where other purveyors of down-tempo, electro-coloured kind-of-nu-classical creations idly meander in circles for a 45-minute run-time. And it’s White Chalk, this set’s first single, which lifts the whole to unexpected heights.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: White Chalk (external link)

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Bellowhead - Broadside


Bellowhead – Broadside
(Navigator; released 15 October)
Recommended by: Mike Harding

“It's all there in that name. Those three syllables suggest a hollering madman, and a ferocity that will – for the newcomer – seem far removed from folk music. But Bellowhead are one of the genre's 21st century success stories. We're more in the realm of The Pogues and Dexys, hanging out with a thinking-and-doing party band, who twist traditional tunes through rabble-rousing arrangements.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: 10,000 Miles (external link)

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Metz - Metz


Metz – Metz
(Sub Pop; released 15 October)
Recommended by: Huw Stephens

“Blood simple and bloody minded, Metz’s half-hour self-titled debut is a welcome lurch straight for the jugular. The Canadians recall the cast of characters who graced the sub-legendary Amphetamine Reptile label, or Nottingham’s grotesquely unfashionable 90s riff-monsters Fudge Tunnel. Yet such is the urgency of aggro-blasts like Knife in the Water and Negative Space, that Metz is no retro throwback, no museum piece.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Wet Blanket (external link; contains strobe effects)

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Jeff Lynne - Long Wave


Jeff Lynne – Long Wave
(Frontiers Records; released 8 October)
Recommended by: Radio 2 Album of the Week, Alex Lester, Janice Long

“A subjective labour of love akin to Bowie’s Pin-Ups or Ferry’s These Foolish Things, which also carries elements of stripped-down self-exposure, Long Wave is infused with warm melancholy. If it never crackles with startling candour, you sense that’s because Lynne wants to pay simple homage to the tunes that formed him, rather than whip out his youthful diaries.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Have Mercy (external link)

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Josephine – Portrait
(Ark Recordings; released 8 October)
Recommended by: Nemone, Alex Lester, Janice Long

“Often, the term ‘timeless’ only really functions in hindsight. But occasionally, something comes to the fore that transcends any concept of now, then, or otherwise. One such example is the debut album for 29-year-old Manchester native Josephine. She manages the rare feat of creating something both novel and nostalgic, yet with an identity entirely its own.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: What a Day (external link)

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Tall Ships


Tall Ships – Everything Touching
(Big Scary Monsters; released 8 October)
Recommended by: Huw Stephens

“Brighton-via-Cornwall troupe Tall Ships boast math-rock melodies seemingly hatched in shady laboratories and arrangements so complex that scientists could spend days puzzling over them. Yet the dizzying craftsmanship evident on this debut LP is never an obstacle. When an album like Everything Touching comes along, it’s enough to just take a step back and marvel at the brainpower.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: T=0 (external link)

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Tame Impala - Lonerism


Tame Impala – Lonerism
(Modular Recordings; released October 8)
Recommended by: Marc Riley, 6 Music Album of the Day, Nemone

“For all the Oz roots and American connection, this second album’s soul is so very British. Set the controls for the heart of the sun, matey, we’re going on a magical mystery tour. Tame Impala’s penchant for feeding everything through pedal-tastic reverb-flanging-Echoplexed-backwards-fuzzboz FX makes a shoegaze band resemble an acoustic folk duo by comparison.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Elephant (external link)

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Flying Lotus


Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
(Warp; released 1 October)
Recommended by: Gilles Peterson, Benji B, 6 Music Album of the Day

“While FlyLo’s previous work is bright and bouncy, this set is ambient and nocturnal. It’s a wistful journey through a mystical dream world that only he could construct. It’s an otherworldly excursion through our deepest states of unconsciousness. For a person so sonically inclusive, Until the Quiet Comes further catapults its maker into the cosmos and away from all things terrestrial. He’s the king of his domain, and there is no runner-up.”

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Until the Quiet Comes (A Short Film) (external link; contains scenes which some may find upsetting)

Rock and more - The week in BBC Music

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Elisha Sessions Elisha Sessions | 12:19 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2012

What you (haven't) missed (yet)

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

All week long it's been Radio 1 Rocks (it's hard to put that in the past tense, by the way), with live sessions from You Me at Six, Lower Than Atlantis, Biffy ClyroThe Gaslight Anthem and many more. There's an entire website all about it, with all the live sessions and interviews.

The Radio 1 documentary team and Daniel P. Carter talked to six of the UK's clutch of new rock bands about what it was like to start out, in a special hour-long doc called Rock: In The Beginning. You'll hear from Twin Atlantic, Bullet for My Valentine and more.

As The Asian Network gets ready to celebrate its 10th birthday next month, DJ Limelight and Kan D Man wrapped up their longstanding Mic Check show, with Rude Kid, Faze Miyaki and others in the studio. Stay tuned for what they get up to next...

Coming up

Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers

Opening for Led Zeppelin, touring with The Beatles, jamming with Eric Clapton? Why, it's Chas 'n' Dave, the mischievous Zeligs of rock. BBC Four's Chas & Dave: Last Orders chronicles the unsung history of these music hall maniacs, with interviews and long-forgotten footage from the byways of rock 'n' roll. It's on at 9pm (BST) tonight, Friday 26 Oct on BBC Four.

Radio 4's Swansong takes a look at the Manic Street Preachers' Holy Bible, the last Manics album to spring from the vision of Richey James Edwards, who disappeared five months after its release and was never seen again. It'll be on at the somewhat unlikely hour of 11:30am (BST), Tuesday 30 Oct on Radio 4.

If you've never heard this 14-minute programme about keys in music, you really should. Called Key Matters, each show looks at a different musical key and what it's signified historically to composers, performers and audiences. Tomorrow, Saturday 27 Oct it's on at 3:45pm (BST) and the subject is the apparently "austere" key of B-flat minor.

Out soon

We've got reviews of imminently dropping albums from 1982 + BJ Cole, Cody ChestnuTT, David Sanborn, Mick Hucknall, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Pangaea, Soothsayers, Stumbleine and The Velvet Underground.

Psych, folk & pianos - This week in BBC Music

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Elisha Sessions Elisha Sessions | 16:17 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2012

This week

AlunaGeorge in the Live Lounge

AlunaGeorge in the Live Lounge

AlunaGeorge were in the Live Lounge for Trevor Nelson doing Your Drums, Your Love and a killer cover of Montell Jordan's This is How We Do it. Yes, you just read that right!

If you click through, you'll see that clip is part of BBC Music's Showcase, which lets you surf around genres and collections of the best music from around the BBC. You can spend a lot of time this way, we've found.

Kate Rusby sang live at the BBC Radio Theatre in London, doing songs from her new album, 20, which features classic songs from her 20-year folk career re-recorded with some of her favourite collaborators. So really this concert was something of a greatest hits performance, beguilingly spruced up with the likes of Nic Jones, Eddi Reader and Sarah Jarosz.

On Christmas Eve, 1955, The Weavers put on a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City that has gone down as one of the seminal moments in the re-awakening of the American folk music movement. Songs you know, like Goodnight, Irene, might have been lost to the mists of time if not for this single night of music, coming after years in the wilderness for The Weavers, who had been blacklisted by anti-Communist ideologues. Here, Pete Seeger and the surviving Weavers talk about putting on that show, and what it meant.

One of the cool things about iPlayer is that you can watch shows that were never broadcast to your TV to begin with. Sure, this BBC One documentary on Welsh composer Karl Jenkins has a natural appeal in Cymru, but Jenkins' music is played all over the British Isles and this documentary is a fascinating portrait of the man.

Coming up

Django Django

Django Django

As the US Presidential race heads into the final stretch, many eyes will be on Wisconsin, one of the few "swing states" that could decide the election. Tim Rice's American Pie listens, rather than looks, at this little-known part of America on Sunday 21 Oct at 7pm (BST), part of Rice's titanic tour of the curiosities and classics of the American songbook, state by state, on Radio 2.

Starting Monday at 9am, Radio 1 Rocks all week long! There'll be Live Lounge appearances from Biffy Clyro, You Me at Six, Bullet for My Valentine and The Gaslight Anthem, and all sorts of exclusive stuff in the evenings with Zane Lowe and Daniel P. Carter.

If you've never listened to Radio 3's Piano Keys, it's a bit like the Gardener's Question Time of music programming. Listeners phone in with their questions about the piano, and a handful of genial experts attempt to answer them. This Monday 22 Oct it's on at 8:10pm (BST), presented by Sarah Walker.

Fresh off a tour of North America, psych rockers Django Django are live in session for 6 Music's Marc Riley on Tuesday 23 Oct at 7pm (BST), back in their London stomping grounds for a minute before heading off on a trip across Europe.

Out next week

We have reviews of records coming out by A Plastic Rose, Andy Burrows, Egyptian Hip Hop, Halls, Karriem Riggins, Lukid, Main Attrakionz, Martha Tilston, Paul Banks, Peter Broderick, Peter Gabriel, Stone Sour and We Are the Physics.

Apps and raps - This week in BBC Music

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Elisha Sessions Elisha Sessions | 11:08 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2012

This week



The big music news at the BBC this week was the unveiling of iPlayer Radio and its partner in crime, the iPlayer Radio smartphone app. It's currently available for the iPhone and described in some detail on the BBC Internet Blog. Android users sadly need to wait a little while longer for their version, but if you visit any BBC radio station in your smartphone's web browser you'll get a lot of the same stuff.

1Xtra just aired an hour-long documentary on Guruthe guy who teamed up with DJ Premier in perhaps the definitive old-school East Coast hip hop duo, Gang Starr, and who then went on to make the head-nodding smooth funk of Jazzmatazz, and whose final days were unfortunately complicated by controversy and misunderstanding. This is Part 1 of a series on "Gone Too Soon", a 1Xtra documentary strand on musicians whose lives were cut short; the next one is about ODB.

I bet you forgot about Late Junction. Well, Tuesdays' show was really good. Trust me, there is no way you'll have heard most of these acts, I don't care how many RSS feeds you follow. Verity Sharp presents Ska Cubano, master oudist Titi Robin, Xavier Rudd, Seaming To, Sundog and more.

You've got a day left to watch the special two-parter about the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. Will you watch the documentary first, and then the restored movie? That's how it was presented on BBC Two, but with iPlayer you can swap it around. We'd suggest getting a full blast of the movie first, and then seeing it talked about afterwards. But to each his own.

Coming up

André Previn

André Previn

Awalé will be live in session for World on 3 tonight 12 Oct at 11:00pm BST, doing their ensemble afrobeats thing. You'll also hear jams from Buenos Aires, Senegal, Bermuda, Mexico and more, presented by Lopa Kothari.

Right after that at 11:50pm BST you can catch the extended telecast of Later... with Jools Holland, this time with Jessie WareJohn Cale, Sharon Van EttenThe Vaccines and Beth Hart.

Sunday 14 Oct at midnight BST you've got Don Letts' show on 6 Music, where he'll be playing the likes of King Yoof, Slim Harpo, Neneh Cherry, Bobby Darin and Lucy Rose.

Earlier that evening, at 8pm BST on Radio 2, you can hear Part 1 of a four-parter about the life and music of André Previn, presented by Charles Hazlewood and written by Russell Davies, with contributions from the likes of Tom Stoppard.

And finally, the next wave of guest DJs have started on 1Xtra's 10pm-2am specialist shows – they include South Africa’s Petite Noir on Destination Africa with DJ Edu, Dismantle on Cameo, the mighty Gappy Ranks on Dancehall with Robbo Ranx and Lady Leshurr and Paigey Cakey with Semtex.

Out next week

We've got reviews of brand-new records out next week by Bat for Lashes, Bellowhead, Jake Bugg, Jason Lytle, Kylie Auldist, Leona Lewis, Martha Wainwright, Metz and Ultraísta.

What happened and what's next in BBC Music

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Elisha Sessions Elisha Sessions | 12:41 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2012

This week

Hot Chip perform at Maida Vale studios

Hot Chip at Maida Vale studios

Later... with Jools Holland has kicked off its new series. As you know. What you may not know is that every performance is available for a full month after it's broadcast, but not through iPlayer - as clips, conveniently bundled up in our Later... collection.

6 Music had a ridiculous line-up of live acts this week at Maida Vale, with Jake Bugg, Primal Scream, Bat for Lashes, Hot Chip, Cody ChestnuTT, Kindness and Portico Quartet all using the legendary studio to lay down live tracks.

Our reviews editor Mike Diver runs down his favourite albums of September with links to videos and reviews by the likes of Mala, Terror Danjah, The Pet Shop Boys, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and more.

Finally, you can get ready for the weekend by listening to two pretty wild mixes from Monterrey, Mexico. 19-year-old Erick Rincon and the more veteran Toy Selectah provided the guest mixes for Diplo's wide-ranging Diplo and Friends show on 1Xtra, showcasing a particular hybrid of tribal guarachero and what's come to be called "EDM".

Coming Up

The Beatles in a bus


The Magical Mystery Tour Revisited airs tomorrow, 6 Oct at 9:45pm BST, as Part 1 of an Arena double-bill looking back at the shambolic 1967 Beatles film. Often called "misunderstood", one could argue that it was understood all too clearly by the third of the nation who watched it. But watch this doc and then watch the restored movie itself directly afterwards, and judge for yourself.

Staying with the moptops, Stuart Maconie presents Love Me Do: The Beatles '62 on Sunday 7 Oct at 10pm BST. It goes all the way back to the Beatles' very first single, what kind of pond that particular pebble got tossed into, and what sort of ripples it produced.

Tonight, 5 Oct at 8:00pm BST, BBC Two is showing Troubadors - Peaceful Easy Feeling as part of its Sounds of the 70s series. This episode takes a look at the California longhairs whose early-70s gentle folk-rock would, for many, come to epitomize that place and time.

Out next week

We've got reviews of brand-new albums by Boys Noize, Daphni, Jeff Lynne, Mika, PAWS, Tame Impala and Yasmin Levy.

The Best Albums of September 2012

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Mike Diver Mike Diver | 10:12 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2012

September is often a fantastic month for new album releases. This time in 2011, we were filling our ears (well, I was at least) with superb records by Mastodon, Boom Bip, Wilco and Laura Marling, alongside many others. Rewind another year and the best of September featured long-players from Aloe Blacc, Grinderman, Bilal and Deerhunter.

This year’s crop of September collections is no less impressive. So, in a change to the usual monthly round-up format, I’m not picking one of these 10 out as a single standout. All of these records are great – and there have been several more excellent sets released besides. Click to our week-ordered review pages to discover for yourself some of the treats to have emerged of late.

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Efterklang - Piramida


Efterklang – Piramida
(4AD; released 24 September)

“For their fourth album, Efterklang travelled to Piramida, a former Russian mining colony turned ghost town near the North Pole, to record sounds and ambience. And while those particular sounds might not be immediately traceable among the elements arranged herein, the desolate, isolated nature of the abandoned settlement pervades the album that it inspired. The group bravely embraces darker themes and moods, grazing the profound but never throwing off their lightness of touch.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Hollow Mountain (external link)

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Terror Danjah - Dark Crawler


Terror Danjah - The Dark Crawler
(Hyperdub; released 24 September)
Recommended by: Cameo

“Terror Danjah can only be described as an underground music legend, but it seems this synth-loving producer is showing absolutely no signs of retiring any time soon. The Dark Crawler shows just how varied a grime album can actually be. From the bass-riddled Rum Punch, all the way through to the sultry Baby Oil (yes, grime can get sexy if it wants to), we get to delve into the grey matter of a true mastermind.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Dark Crawler (feat. Riko Dan) (external link)

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Grizzly Bear - Shields


Grizzly Bear – Shields
(Warp; released 17 September)
Recommended by: Another Country with Ricky Ross, Lauren Laverne, 6 Music Album of the Day

“Shields pushes and prods at musical boundaries in a similar way to Talk Talk’s 1986 masterpiece, The Colour of Spring. It’s an aesthetic rather than musical comparison, but – with songs shifting with casual precision, arrangements that are fluid and brave, and an honest, organic production – there’s a sense throughout that Grizzly Bear are on the cusp of a genuine breakthrough. Where they go next may prove even more intriguing.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Yet Again (external link; contains some strobe effects)

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Jon Spencer - Meat and Bone


The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Meat + Bone
(Bronzerat; released 17 September)
Recommended by: Marc Riley, Vic Galloway

“After eight years’ hiatus, the trio returns on feral form, with a set of fierce gutbucket groove, wiring Delta riffs full of dirty New York City electricity. As Spencer confesses on the shuffle of Bottle Baby, he’s ‘Got the blues again, gonna drive it way back to the start / Goin’ home, goin’ deep, comin’ straight from the heart’. The Blues Explosion are back, and they’re more Explosion than Blues again. So light the touch-paper and step back.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Black Mold (external link; contains scenes of horror, violence and gore)

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Gaslamp Killer - Breakthrough

The Gaslamp Killer – Breakthrough
(Brainfeeder; released 17 September)
Recommended by: Tom Ravenscroft, Benji B

“Calling an album Breakthrough may seem like an idle or arrogant boast but the quality of The Gaslamp Killer’s debut, which is crammed with quick-fire ideas and restless creative energy, should provide him with just that. He has delivered a varied, immersive set of highly memorable, enjoyable and danceable tracks that should push him further into the limelight where he has triumphantly proved he belongs.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Breakthrough trailer (external link)

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Gallows - Gallows


Gallows – Gallows
(PIAS; released 10 September)
Recommended by: Rock Show with Daniel P Carter

“It only takes two songs for the blood-twisting riffs of old to re-emerge on Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead), which is followed by new vocalist Wade MacNeil spinning a web and a punk rock cliché on its head with Last June, a broadside at the treatment G20 protesters received in Toronto in 2010. The latter’s one of their best songs to date, and one they couldn’t have written without him. This is music with a pure heart, a clean conscience and the snap of a steel-spring trap.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Outsider Art (external link; contains strong language and scenes of violence)

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Mala - Mala in Cuba


Mala - Mala in Cuba
(Brownswood; released 10 September)
Recommended by: Skream and Benga

“In a genre fixated on the quick thrill of the big bass drop, Mala’s basslines here sound as geologically slow as they did on his early Digital Mystikz releases. Yet it’s exactly this subtle shifting quality that means Mala in Cuba feels less a culture clash, more two different worlds gradually moving into each other’s orbit. You can sense the melancholy longing at the core of both much traditional Cuban music and early dubstep. It reverberates through Mala in Cuba as powerfully as the bass.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Cuba Electronic (external link; contains some strobe effects)

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The xx - Coexist


The xx – Coexist
(Young Turks; released 10 September)
Recommended by: Nemone, Zane Lowe, Chris Hawkins

“On a first spin, little might appear to have changed. Angels opens, starring Romy Madley Croft’s delicate voice set against a guitar that chimes its presence with an unhurried effortlessness. So far, so very debut-over-again. But The xx’s challenge was to both expand their palette and satisfy the demands of a huge audience. And through refinement rather than reinvention, they’ve succeeded in singular style.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Angels (live in Tokyo) (external link)

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Pet Shop Boys - Elysium


Pet Shop Boys – Elysium
(Parlophone; released 10 September)
Recommended by: Radio 2 Album of the Week

“Elysium could be Pet Shop Boys' warmest, wisest album yet. Several songs offer appealingly realistic views on relationships. ‘I'm not saying you can't find someone better,’ Tennant concedes, ‘But in the meantime, why not give it a go?’ They mock themselves on Your Early Stuff, whose lyrics are stitched together from cutting remarks made by taxi drivers. One cabbie apparently told this pair of seasoned pop veterans: ‘I suppose you're more or less retired now.’ On this evidence, he was very wrong indeed.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Leaving (external link)

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Ivo Neame - Yatra


Ivo Neame – Yatra
(Edition Records; released 24 September)
Recommended by: Jazz on 3

“Neame’s ensemble hurtles straight off into the densely-arranged title track (meaning ‘journey’ in Hindu), the pianist constantly injects frills, stabs and flourishes. When someone steps forward, their companions are always responding in the sidelines. Most of the tunes share a predilection for jittery motion, all players constantly hyperactive, but never without a keen purpose. Yatra burns with an extremely organised energy, marking Neame’s ascent to a stratospheric level as composer, arranger and bandleader.”

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Yatra (official promotional video) (external link)

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