Rock, March 2022

hfnalbum.pngCat Power
Domino WIGCD469; LP: WIGLP468XM

Chan Marshall aka Cat Power has a singular voice that encompasses the melancholic twang of country and the grittiness of the blues. On these covers, she digs deep into the lyrics, transforming The Pogues' 'A Pair Of Brown Eyes' from a boisterous drinking song into a hymn of longing and desire. With a taut rhythm section and dissonant guitar buzz, 'The Endless Sea' surpasses Iggy Pop's version, but the album's loveliest moment is Nico's These Days' – penned by Jackson Browne – her voice accompanied by sweetly picked guitar. Covers ends appropriately with a reading of Billie Holliday's 'I'll Be Seeing You', but it's a testament to Marshall's charismatic delivery that ultimately they all sound like Cat Power songs. MB


Sacred Bones SBR-287-CD; LP: SBR-287-LP

Formed in 1992, Boris have amassed a vast back catalogue and epitomise off-mainstream Japanese rock's attraction to extremes, from near-inaudible ambient drones to noise overload. Female singer Wata takes on lead vocal duties throughout and on 'Invitation' her soft, whispery voice floats above delicate percussion and spangly guitar. At the other end of the spectrum is the monolithic instrumental 'The Fallen', which sounds like it's collapsing under its own weight. But Boris achieve a yin-yang balance, sometimes within a single song: eg, 'Beyond Good And Evil', with vocal lullabies set to funeral drumbeats and a veritable wind tunnel of guitars. MB


Extreme Witchcraft

This is the first Eels album produced by PJ Harvey guitarist John Parish since 2001's Souljacker and it's full of terse, mid-paced guitar-driven songs underpinned by electric piano, with some locking into the band's characteristic downtempo groove. Eels mainstay, singer and guitarist E – aka Mark Oliver Everett – often presents dark emotions in song, but these essays in light and shade feel more inviting. 'Better Living Through Desperation' is the tale of a stoic loser, but E makes the best of things on 'Stumbling Bee'. The bitter pill of 'So Anyway' is sweetened by a luminous melody. And 'Strawberry And Popcorn' is about the simple joys of snacking. MB


Crispin Glover VODU16CGR126 (CD and LP)

Norwegian four-piece Spidergawd have shared a couple of members with Motorpsycho (whose The All Is One was reviewed in Nov '20) but they fully explore the heavy rock territory into which that group can stray, with influences including Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. But listeners allergic to those bands' screeching vocals should find Per Borten's more rounded tones easier on the ear. The opening bars of 'The Running Man' are close to 'Burn' by Deep Purple, and the guitars on 'Into The Deep Serene' evoke Thin Lizzy, but they play with a tightness that sounds thoroughly modern, and pull out all the stops on the high-speed thrill ride, 'Yours Truly'. MB