ADRIAN THRILLS: Bono’s boy is a chip off the old rocker
INHALER: It Won’t Always Be Like This (Polydor)
Verdict: A breath of fresh air
TOM ODELL: Monsters (Columbia)
Verdict: Conquers its demons
Young rock groups have been hit harder than most by the lockdowns of the past 16 months.
Not only have they been unable to tour regularly, they have also struggled to make records as they once did.
Songwriting sessions have been confined to Zoom and even band meetings in the pub have been off the agenda.
Irish quartet Inhaler are typical. They formed as teenagers at St Andrew’s College in Dublin, and were one of my tips for 2020.
They expected to spend most of last summer winning new fans at festivals such as Glastonbury and Latitude. Their first album should have come out so long ago that they would be nervously contemplating its sequel.
Irish quartet Inhaler are typical. They formed as teenagers at St Andrew’s College in Dublin, and were one of my tips for 2020
Covid-enforced delays mean that debut is only emerging today, but the band have at least used the extra time to their advantage. Rather than the gauche effort they might have produced last year, they have come up with a tight, confident coming-of-age album that combines youthful exuberance with a growing maturity.
That’s due in part to Eli Hewson, whose singing is a towering presence here. And if there’s something familiar about that voice — a certain urgency; his habit of extending a note — that isn’t surprising. Eli, 21, is the eldest son of Paul Hewson, otherwise known as U2 frontman Bono, and the apple clearly hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.
Eli says his parents wanted him to go to university rather than follow a pop career, and only relented after he proved how determined he was to do his own thing.
To their credit, Inhaler aren’t U2 clones. They stray a little too close for comfort at times — the frenetic When It Breaks recalls U2’s I Will Follow — but they owe more to the Manchester axis of The Stone Roses and New Order. There are nods to 1990s Britpop, too, accentuated by the production of Antony Genn, once a member of Pulp and Elastica.
The most immediate songs are those about teenage obsessions, some penned when the band were still at school. ‘Play me like a record, baby, spin me around,’ sings Hewson on the title track, a song originally written about meeting girls but re-purposed as an anthem of hope in uncertain times: it won’t always be like this.
Guitarist Josh Jenkinson comes to the fore on My Honest Face, a Kings Of Leon-style rocker that strives to recreate the energy of a live show, with Hewson playing an unapologetic heartbreaker: ‘I didn’t want to hurt you, but there’s just a certain culture when you’re young.’
The most impressive thing about Inhaler is their range. Hewson says lockdown convinced the band to look beyond youthful concerns and address the adult world, and they do so with aplomb on Slide Out The Window, about coming out of quarantine, and Who’s Your Money On? — an admission of human frailty.
They sometimes rely too heavily on atmospheric riffs rather than fully-realised songs, but there’s genuine promise here, with the most inventive numbers edging the band away from rock’n’roll towards New Order-esque synths and Talking Heads-like rhythms. It’s almost as if they’ve made their first and second albums in one fell swoop. With restrictions easing, an autumn tour will finally give them the live stages these tracks demand.
After going full Billy Joel on 2018’s Jubilee Road, Tom Odell (right) makes a dramatic about-turn on his latest album, adding synths and bedroom pop introspection to the mix. The Chichester piano man is having a good year — his 2013 single Another Love has seen an upswing in streaming numbers — and Monsters should fuel his resurgence.
After going full Billy Joel on 2018’s Jubilee Road, Tom Odell makes a dramatic about-turn on his latest album
The record emerged from a period of anxiety. Alone in California with an alcohol problem after coming off the road in 2019, Odell, now 30, abandoned plans to make an album in LA and flew back to his parents’ house in West Sussex, determined to clean up his act and write his way through his mental health issues.
The upshot is a comeback that’s heavy in tone, but uplifting, thanks to the brightness of its tunes. The title track, included twice, addresses his demons and vows to overcome them. ‘You’re just a monster and I’m not scared,’ he says. He goes on to admit, on a song called Lockdown, that the pandemic has at least put his personal woes into perspective: ‘Should have had more fun, should have never really had a worry.’
The move tow-ards electronica has given his music a contemporary sheen. Piano ballad Numb is enhanced with eerie synths and shuddering bass frequencies. There are auto-tuned vocals on Noise and layers of rhythmic effects on Money. It tries a bit too hard at times, but Odell keeps a balance by regularly falling back on his singer-songwriter basics.
His love songs are striking, too, with the acoustic Tears That Never Dry driven by a crisp hook, and single Lose You Again a romantic ballad with a promo video shot in a deserted Wembley on the eve of Euro 2020.
Inspired by the DIY pop of James Blake and Billie Eilish, Odell is exploring a new-found sense of adventure, while demonstrating that he’s still capable of crafting an arena-ready anthem.
Both albums out today. Inhaler start a tour on September 28 at the Octagon Centre, Sheffield (gigsandtours.com). Tom Odell starts his tour at Ulster Hall, Belfast, on February 15, 2022 (ticketmaster.co.uk).
Tribute to man who wrote Delilah
The composer of the lyrics to Delilah and many other hits died in London in April. But on July 12, radio stations particularly across Lancashire have been asked to play his music
A special day of tributes has been planned for the man who wrote hit songs for Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck — also clocking up three UK number ones. His hometown of Wigan has decreed Monday Barry Mason day honouring the prolific songwriter on what would have been his 86th birthday.
The composer of the lyrics to Delilah and many other hits died in London in April.
But on July 12, radio stations particularly across Lancashire have been asked to play his music and Wigan council will be airing an inspirational interview with him, shot as part of a documentary by his ‘grandson’ Charlie Martin.
His UK chart toppers include Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) for Edison Lighthouse, The Last Waltz, and I Pretend for Des O’Connor. His songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart, Petula Clark, Perry Como, Charles Aznavour, Tony Christie, David Essex and Barbra Streisand.
Barry, who remained immensely proud of his Wigan roots, wrote more than 1,100 songs and won five Ivor Novello awards. A blue plaque will be put up in his honour in the town and local schoolchildren will be learning about him next term.
The Spice Girls celebrate the 25th anniversary of the song that launched Girl Power with a spruced-up reissue of their first single Wannabe. The catchy empowerment anthem attracted lukewarm reviews in July 1996, but went on to top the charts in 37 countries and become the seventh best-selling debut of all time.
Repacked today as a four-track digital EP — with vinyl and cassette versions in two weeks — the track is featured in its initial guise, as a beats-driven dance mix by Junior Vasquez and as a previously unheard demo that lacks the original’s zest. Mellow R&B ballad Feed Your Love, another unreleased track, completes the package.
Sam Fender renews his bid to become the North Shields Springsteen on new single Seventeen Going Under, a chest-thumping rocker with a 1980s drum thwack, while Brighton soul singer Celeste prepares for the imminent return of nightclubs by teaming up with Detroit house pioneer MK (Marc Kinchen) for a dance mixof her 2020 single Stop This Flame.
And Sufjan Stevens joins another American singer-songwriter, Angelo De Augustine, for the first two tracks from a forthcoming album based loosely on popular movies.
Having explored electronic music on last year’s The Ascension, Stevens returns to his acoustic roots on Reach Out and Olympus, folky pop numbers worthy of Simon & Garfunkel. The album, A Beginner’s Mind, is set for September.
Source: Read Full Article