IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international releases

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IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international releases

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column which scoops up releases by international artists, in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column picks up New Zealand artists and Yasmin does with EPs.

Comments will be brief.


Various Artists: Erased Tapes Collection VIII (Erased Tapes/Southbound)

Cool, another opportunity to point readers in the direction of the excellent Erased Tapes Records label which we have acknowledged in releases by some of the artists on this 10th anniversary collection: Penguin Cafe, Ben Lukas Boysen, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Nils Frahm, Douglas Dare, Daniel Brandt and Peter Broderick.

Check them out on this 11-track selection alongside others like the very seductive a cappella opener The Ways by Allred and Broderick, Rival Consoles, Immix Ensemble and others.

As we've noted previously, quite a number of these (mostly) instrumental artists work in the soundtrack idiom (the Woodkid and Nils Frahm track here comes from the moving film Ellis with Robert De Niro's voice-over) or at least invoke mental images.

There are a few labels with a very consistent vision and a bar set high. Erased Tap es is one of them and this sampler – on CD and vinyl through Southbound – is an excellent calling card to newcomers.


Filthy Friends: Invitation (killrockstars/Southbound)

A kind of indie-rock supergroup, Filthy Friends get this one away with the blistering anti-Trump political commentary on Despierta (“your time is over, your power has peaked”) as Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney channels the spirit and rage of the young Patti Smith. Although there are otherr big presences here – Peter Buck of REM, Kurt Bloch (the Fastbacks), Scott McCaughey ( Fresh Young Fellows) and Ministry'sBilll Reiflin – you get the feeling that Tucker's the one steering much of this and the driving rhythm section and Buck's sometime flamethrower guitar solos are providing the back-up troops. It's not al a rage against the political machine and sometimes there's a sense of jaded sensibilities (Faded Afternoon) which leavens the attack, and that these are 12 crafted pop-rock songs (with choruses) in just 40 minutes.

Pop-rock economy with passion and something to say. Very old school in all those regards, but the better for it. An invitation worth accepting.


Ariel Pink: Dedicated to Bobby Jameson (Mexican Summer/Southbound)

Elsewhere will be the first to admit it has been enormously underwhelmed by the shapeless and sometimes lazily indulgent live appearances by LA left-field pop-rock indie guy Ariel Pink who – as we have previously noted – carries himself as if he is much more talented and ironic than he actually is. A few of the albums have been interesting, but hardly compelling.

Here however he draws his disparate threads tighter into 13 songs more full of pop smarts and references (effortlessly from Falling In Love Again to Sparks-meets-Chills lightlydelic sounds on Feels Like Heaven) and the quirky funk now seems more comfortable in this context.

This still occasionally suffers from the Pink ADHD as some pieces falter to something like an ending and others never get past second base, but on the title track (you can check the reference) he touches the pure spirit of psychedelic-era San Francisco and in other places touches thew sonic spirit of Brian Wilson (without the focused songs structure). And on Bubblegum Dreams gets away a decent shot of crowd-pleasing power-pop.

Still not a truly satisfying album, but certainly more enjoyable than his previous outings.


Ringo Starr: Give More Love (Universal)

Recently the Guardian (of all places) has taken to posting click-bait pop culture articles like Kraftwerk are more important than the Beatles (offering scant evidence) and saying Ringo was a much underrated drummer. Well, not by anyone who has listened to Beatles albums and his work with his ex-pals in the first five years after their break-up.

However there's not a lot of evidence for the case in his defence on his All Starr Band albums which are generally rock'n'roll singalongs – this one opens with We're On The Road Again about coming to play for you – which are propped up by the revolving door cast of Big Name Pals ( a couple of dozen here including McCartney, Benmont Tench, Jeff Lynn, Don Was etc on a track or two apiece).

Ringo co-wrote these for his limited range with the likes of Glen Ballard, Dave Stewart, Van Dyke Parks, Richard Marx, Peter Frampton and other travellers in his band, and a number reference the touring life and his past. And most are pretty ordinary if not awful.

For reasons not clear he has also chosen to re-record his early hit Back off Boogaloo and, You Can't Fight Lightning, and sings Photograph and his Beatles' number Don't Pass Me By with Vandaveer. Needless to say the country-flavoured songs (and the rather elegantly simple sentiuments of the title track) are among the best.

As always he includes a song about his younger days in Liverpool, this one is Electricity co-written with Ballard and namechecks Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. A genre long his forte as evidenced by this excellent piece from 1970 when the band splintered.)

This is another Ringo Starr album, one for rock'n'roll revival clubs on dance night, the 15th studio recording under his own name.


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