Review: It's logical for Throwing Muses to re-release their startling, first-in-ten-years 2013 album Purgatory / Paradise right now. And it has nothing to do with the record's seventh anniversary. Until September's 'Sun Racket' arrived, this was the alternative rockers' most recent release and by all accounts the sprawling 32 track epic is among the finest Muses moments to date. So new fans will want to get properly acquainted, and vice versa.
The American alt-rock titans have a history stretching back to 1981, six years of inactivity around the millennium aside, but when it landed Purgatory / Paradise was only their ninth studio album. Think quality, not quantity in terms of discography - with this a case in point. Dense enough to lose yourself completely in, Kristin Hersh's effortless movements between wail and soft serenade, the jangling, hypnotic late-night guitar chords, groove-laden percussion and open-hearted tales of everyday characters are frankly incredible.
Review: Here's something to get Talking Heads fans salivating: a fresh EP featuring previously buried, unheard alternative versions and outtakes recorded during the sessions for the celebrated New York new wave band's 1979 album Fear of Music. The EP begins with the completely unheard 'Dancing For Money', a typically undulating, off-kilter chunk of post-punk eccentricity that seemingly never went beyond the demo stage, before offering up a riotous alternate mix of the noisy, guitar-laden stomper 'Life During Wartime'. Over on the flip you'll find notably different arrangements and recordings of 'Cities' and 'Mind'; the latter, with its juju style guitar sounds and languid rhythm section, is particularly good.
Review: Given the recent passing of Ennio Morricone, it seems fitting that we're being treated to a reissue of Babe Ruth's "The Mexican", a scorching funk-rock number based on the late, great Italian composer's theme from "For A Few Dollars More". The band's cover of that can be heard on the B-side, but it's the five-minute A-side, which boasts lyrics calling out the misleading narrative of John Wayne western "The Alamo", that you need in your life. Full of killer funk breaks that became staples during hip-hop's foundational block party era, plus driving musicality and some of rap music's best-known hooks, the track is still capable of slaying dancefloors 47 years after it was first recorded.
Review: New Orleans funk outfit The Wild Magnolias were active in the mid 70s, releasing two albums and then regrouping in the 90s. Their sound is in step with their more renowned Louisiana peers, but certainly running hotter than the likes of The Meters. "Handa Wanda" is a stirring, effervescent call and response epic that shows the band at their best, rocking a wall of sound approach that keeps the pressure up the whole way through. "(Somebody Got) Soul, Soul, Soul" is a more fluid track, but it's certainly no slouch in the energy department either. This is hi-octane funk to get people shaking and sweaty.