The Meat of Life
Clem Snide have it all - in Eef Barzelay a songwriter capable of the most poignant, witty sharp lyrics out there, delivering them with a voice that's not beautiful in any way other than its vulnerability. Clem Snide also have a roster of albums that move close to perfection, if you like your indie rock thoughtful rather than grungey. So, after last year's lovely Hungry Bird, The Meat of Life comes as a somewhat unfortunate surprise. The songs mostly drift around on similar melodies, and a similar mood, forcing the attention onto the lyrics. They're still remarkable lyrics, dripping with irony and humorous bitterness, but the album comes across as dry and underdone, as if more music needed to be thrown around first on top of the lazy country jazzy texture. We should be thankful for more Clem Snide - until 2009, it seemed the band might be no more - but here it seems more time between albums could have been a good thing.
ACE rating 7/10
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Beat The Devil's Tattoo
Success came early to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, as the group were instantly propelled into the limelight on the back of their debut album. Beat The Devil's Tattoo sees them complete a full circle, having gone a bit country gospel, and a bit experimental, along the way. As nicely Jesus and Mary Chain as is reasonable, BRMC mix in some Black Crowes for good effect, maybe some T-Rex and even some Cage The Elephant, and end up recalling their own debut wonderfully. When good, they kick the behind of pretenders like Kings of Leon. It's not the most modern-sounding record, a point almost confirmed by the artwork, but they do have the benefit of a strong set of songs, played really well (even if you fear for the pounding that the drums take throughout - dished out by Raveonettes drummer, Leah Shapiro here). It is a frowny miserablist view of the Goth's favourite rock band, but it is also a whole lot of bluesy good times.
ACE rating 8/10
The Definitive Collection
'Definitive' in this case means 'the best 15 songs you'll need from Joe Walsh's solo career and James Gang time (the group he was in before the Eagles)' as you'll not find any Eagles material here, and the double disc 'Look At What I Did' is way too much for any introductory dip into the work of an unassuming and under-recognised guitar genius. The famous songs like Life's Been Good and Rocky Mountain Way are here, along with wonderful pieces like Funk No 49 - showcasing his wonderful feel with a slide, and ability to funk up some rock nicely. The subtitle of the album - Greatest Hits: Little Did He Know - suggests a man whose career took more surprising turns than even he could have guessed, but there is little doubt that listeners who know and love the hits will also enjoy every other track here. As a way to discover Joe Walsh's music, it is hard to imagine a better solution.
ACE rating 7/10
Adult Contemporary Essentials rating
9-10 Essential purchase
7-8 Good, definite buy if you've liked this artist in the past
5-6 OK only, don't say I didn't warn you
3-4 Poor, even for this artist