This CD cover image released by Domino Records shows the latest release by Hot Chip, :In Our Heads." (AP Photo/Domino Records) Purchase photo reprints »
This CD cover image released by Arista shows the latest release by Kix Brooks, "New to this Town." (AP Photo/Arista) Purchase photo reprints »
Mark Knopfler, the British guitarist best known as the frontman to Dire Straits, returns with his seventh solo record, the subtle “Privateering” that’s a moody and entrancing musical travelogue spread over two discs.
Employing world-class musicians, like Tim O’Brien on mandolin, the 63-year-old Knopfler uses his increasingly world-weary voice to spin tales of gamblers, lovers and seafarers from across the globe over the 20 original tracks.
O’Brien is just one of several guests who add layers to the sound not typically heard in popular music, including whistle, flute, pedal steel, harmonica, fiddle and accordion. Along the way Knopfler delves into country, blues, Celtic folk and rock, melding the different styles into a cohesive whole.
in our heads
Hot Chip rules the dance floor. With five albums now spanning eight years, each record has produced at least one track that could be heard blaring at an indie disco — from “Over and Over” to “Boy From School” to the anthem “One Life Stand.”
You would not be judged for thinking you had been transported to a 1980s era dance floor on first listen to Hot Chip’s latest, “In Our Heads.” The influence seems to be a common vein throughout the record.
The album’s opener “Motion Sickness” hooks you from the beginning. Layered keyboards, synth and drums compliment each other before the crescendo of the vocal, which employs intriguing, tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “Everything spins from my head/to my compact disc.”
There’s more synth and cymbals on “Don’t Deny Your Heart” and the lyrics are in keeping with the London-based group’s apt tag of “electro-romantics”: “Don’t deny your heart/Don’t destroy your heart.”
The band uses such a massively diverse collection of instruments, from saxophone to steel pan to marimba, it’s sometimes hard to put your finger on what you’re actually listening to. Just go with it, the aural concoction works.
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It’s been three years since The xx’s last album. The wait was worth it.
“Coexist” is note perfect. The South London trio has moved away from the slightly poppy direction of its Mercury Prize-winning self-titled debut in favor of a more stripped-down approach. The album is in parts so spare you wonder what makes it so spine-tinglingly beautiful.
The opening track “Angels,” which the band teased fans with before the album’s release, almost whispers but sets the tone of the album as it builds in depth. “Sunset” introduces the vocals of Oliver Sim, allowing an intoxicating synergy between his voice and Romy Madley Croft’s.
The lyrics are still acutely melancholic. “We used to get closer than this/Is it something you miss?” Croft muses in “Chained,” which is reminiscent of the constant questioning the group displayed on its debut record.
And in “Missing,” Croft muses, “Are we all we could be?” The answer is a resounding yes.
— Photos courtesy of Amazon.com.