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Album Reviews Psychedelic shots of hopefulness

IAN SINCLAIR reviews albums by Laura Veirs, John Surman, and The Lovely Eggs

The Lovely Eggs
This Is Eggland
(Egg Records)
★★★★

THE Lovely Eggs, a psychedelic punk outfit from Lancaster made up of married couple Holly Ross (guitars and vocals) and David Blackwell (drums), achieved a real coup with their fantastic fifth record.

After writing down a list of dream producers, they cold-called Dave Fridmann of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips fame who agreed to work with them. The outcome of this partnership is 11 very loud, fuzzy guitar-based tracks that bring to mind ’90s bands like Tiger and Kenickie.

“It’s pretty relentless”, Ross comments. “It kind of sounds like a chip shop on fire.” Many of the lyrics are absurdly witty, from the surreal single Wiggy Giggy to the fast and furious Dickhead.

In a world where ‘indie’ signifies a vague musical aesthetic more than anything else, This Is Eggland is a welcome return to the genre’s DIY roots.

 

Laura Veirs
The Lookout  
(Bella Union)
★★★★

After working with Neko Case and k.d. lang on 2016’s astonishing case/lang/veirs record, Portland-based Laura Veirs wrote songs every day for a year before boiling them down for her tenth studio album The Lookout.

She describes it as a concept record — a suite of indie folk tracks addressing the turmoil of post-election US, her own middle age and the struggle of being both a parent and an artist.

My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and musician Karl Blau contribute their talents. On the delicate but catchy-as-hell Watch Fire, a song about protecting the vulnerable and feeling vulnerable oneself, Veirs is joined by the elusive Sufjan Stevens, the two singers trading lines over a striking acoustic guitar riff.

A shot of hopefulness in the dark times of President Trump, it’s further proof Veirs is one of the most consistently brilliant singer-songwriters of her generation.

John Surman
Invisible Threads
(ECM Records)
★★★★

Active on the jazz scene since the late 1960s, legendary West Country saxophonist and composer John Surman has formed a new trio for his new instrumental album. The highly regarded Brazilian Nelson Ayres, conductor of the Orquestra Jazz Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, plays piano, while New York-born Rob Waring is on vibraphone and marimba.

The group have great chemistry. The playing is largely restrained, with Surman’s saxophone lines rising and falling across each track. Stoke Damerel is named for the Plymouth parish where the currently Oslo-based Surman once lived, as the title track playfully swirls around a central piano motif.

While his other work often conjures up wintery English pastoral scenes — check out the sublime Saltash Bells and Coruscating records — here the vibes and piano add a welcome warmth and international ambience.

An absolute delight.

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