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MUSIC Album reviews with Ian Sinclair

Latest releases from SAVAK, Laura Marling and Marker Starling

Rotting Teeth in the Horse’s Mouth
(Ernest Jenning Record Co.)

THE FOURTH album by SAVAK – the band named after the CIA-backed Iranian secret police during the Shah’s rule – is an energising hit of politically charged punk rock.

A supergroup of sorts, its members all come from other US indie bands – drummer Matt Schulz is from Holy Fuck and co-frontmen Michael Jaworski and Sohrab Habibion from The Cops and the Obits, respectively.

Their main target is the current fascistic occupant of the White House and the gruesome polity he has spawned.

But amid all the controlled anger — check out the fast-paced anti-war Bayonet and the shouty Mutual — there's also a welcome interest in melody.  The ringing vocals on Exposure sound a lot like Michael Stipe, while the pop-oriented Aujourd’hui could easily be an out-take from The Decemberists’ brilliant The King Is Dead record.

The spirit of Husker Du and the Dead Kennedys lives on.

Laura Marling
Song For Our Daughter

RELEASED early to “entertain, and at its best, provide some sense of union” during this dark time, Laura Marling’s seventh solo album is a song cycle of advice to an imaginary daughter.

In particular, Marling says, the record is concerned with “what it is to be a woman in this society.”

As with much of her previous work, the beguiling folk-rock songs invite the listener to live inside them, with many memorable melodies and images conjured up.  

On Held Down, she remembers how her legs were wrapped around a lover, while on the strings-assisted title track she worries about “all of the bullshit” her daughter will encounter.

Arguably the most talented singer-songwriter working in Britain today, the set’s confident and mature artistry is up there with her 2013 career high Once I Was An Eagle.

Marker Starling
High January
(Tin Angel Records)

“MUSIC is a form of expression/It’s how I express myself/If it comes from the heart you can never go wrong,”,are the memorable first words on High January, the latest album from Canadian singer-songwriter Chris A Cummings.

Working under the moniker Marker Starling, Cummings has created a wonderfully light set of romantic and melancholic tunes.

That it was produced by Sean O’Hagan of the High Llamas and Stereolab fame gives an indication of what to expect. I also hear echoes of Sufjan Stevens in the hushed vocals on Move It On, and the humour of Jens Lekman in much of the vocal delivery.

The band's backings of Cummings’s whimsical thoughts create a warm '70s soft-rock ambience, with the poppy Waiting For Grace a real highlight.

This gentle and seemingly effortless indie guitar music is the perfect summer soundtrack.


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