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LOWB
Leap And The Net Will Appear (Distiller)

LOWB Fans of Lamb will doubtless already be aware that LOWB is an Andy Barlow project (alongside Hipoptimist releases) but with vocal duties handled by Carrie Tree rather than Lou Rhodes. So Lamb lite right? Actually not at all. Ok opener ‘Wheeler Dealer Healer’ has all the skittering stop start lurching beauty of prime time Lamb (‘Cotton Wool’ springs to mind) and ‘Inward Outburst’ would certainly sit happily on later Lamb efforts like Between Darkness And Wonder, but the gentle folksy ‘Haven’, the electro throb of ‘Everybody’ and percussive workouts like ‘Lowb’ and ‘The Sharman’s Wife’ show Barlow has lost none of his experimental edge.
Drew Base

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Mark Lanegan Band
Blues Funeral (4AD)

Mark Lanegan Band To some listeners, this reviewer included, Mark Lanegan could sing a Chinese menu and leave the area covered in goosebumps, however as of his previous, rather fine, outing Bubblegum Lanegan has found something of a groove to wrap around his lugubrious tonsil shredding growl (alongside his heavy demand as guest vocalist du jour). Needless to say, as the title suggests, this ain’t a barrel of laughs, it is however fucking tremendous and even includes a wander into Kraftwerk territory alongside the grungy blues/rock fug. This has been more or less glued to the media player since it arrived and just keeps getting better.
Ruby Palmer

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Erja Lyytinen
Forbidden Fruit (RUF Records)

Erja LyytinenFinnish songstress Lyytinen’s latest album shows a more personal side and the bittersweet 'Joyful Misery' is a fine example. She goes through a number of styles, from the funky 'Soul' to the slow blues and jazz of 'Hold On Together'. Blues themes permeate the album with the eponymous title track being a contemporary blues, Lil Johnson’s 'Press My Button' continuing the tradition of blues double entendres and 'Things About Coming My Way' traditional Delta. Her trademark slide playing is all over Son House’s 'Death Letter' and everything is backed with emotion laden vocals, wonderful harmonies and expert guitar playing.
David Blue

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Aynsley Lister
Home (Straight Talkin’ Records)

Aynsley Lister Home is Aynsley Lister’s 10th album - and the first on his own label - his big brand of blues rock showcased on the bold eponymous title track, a classy blues with driving drums from Wayne Proctor but he’s not afraid to funk things up on 'Possession', 'Inside Out' and 'Hyde 2612', all of which have standout drums and bass (Steve Amadeo). However, ballad 'You Make It Real' aside, blues rock is his real forte and 'Free', 'Sugar', 'Broke' and 'Insatiable' are all fine examples of this whilst the old classic 'Feeling Good' more than matches Muse’s version. Aynsley goes from strength to strength on this showing.
David Blue

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Jerry Lee Lewis
A Whole Lotta Jerry Lee Lewis (Salvo)

Jerry Lee LewisOK so die-hard fans are going to bemoan the (relatively) small amount of Sun material found here and any long term fan will always zero in on that one missing track they believe to be essential but really if you’re that much of a Killer fan you will already have much of this stuff. This is really a career overview for those of you that are lacking in Lewis material, and a bloody fine job it does as well with 100 plus cherry picked highlights from the man’s long, long career (over five hours in fact), all bundled up in a well designed box – rather like Salvo's equally fine Peter Green box – and includes a cracking 72 page book, just about all of the Jerry Lee Lewis you will ever need in fact.
The Oracle

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The Law
Trigger (Local Boy Records)

The LawDundee four piece The Law return with the follow up to their highly acclaimed 2009 debut, A Measure Of Wealth. Their sound has become more expansive and comparisons to many acts are there to hear on the sweeping vocals of 'Gimme Some Love' (Fratellis & The View), the folksy rock of 'Holiday' (Oasis), the country rock of 'All Over Your Mind' (Fleetwood Mac/Lindsey Buckingham), 'My Lover' (Crowded House) and 'Shadow (It Isn’t Me)' (The La’s/Cast). Highlights are the aforementioned 'All Over Your Mind', 'Shadow (It Isn’t Me)' and 'My Lover' along with the soul searching epic 'Letter'.
David Blue

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Loka
Passing Place (Ninja Tune)

LokaSomething of a lengthy gestation period preceded the birth of Passing Place, another of Ninja Tune’s little gems, pitched somewhere between The Cinematic Orchestra, the Third Eye Foundation and Jaga Jazzist Loka’s Mark Kyriacou and Co. apparently began work on this way back in 2008 before decamping to Thighpaulsandra’s Aeriel Studios to help bring all the strands together, and add possibly the most important missing ingredient, the magnificent Seindorf Beaumaris Brass Band (more brass bands in pop music please). Immaculately constructed this is uneasy listening of the finest sort, a bit like James Last on magic mushroooms.
Ruby Palmer

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Lamb
5 (Strata)

Lamb Having put lamb to bed in 2004 Lou Rhodes and Andy Barlow have both since released solo albums which, whilst certainly boasting some fine moments, failed to live up to the incredibly high standards set by their previous output together. In short these two clearly bring out the best in each other and such is the case once again on 5 as their mixture of beats, bass nous and unerring ears for a beautiful melody have delivered yet another fine album (they still have yet to release a duff one in fact), which marries everything from twisted beats and post rock riffing to gentle acoustics and soaring strings.
Drew Bass

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Little Feat
40 Feat: The Hot Tomato Anthology (Proper Records)

Little FeatA 3xCD collection of Little Feat's own bootleg recordings spanning 40 years from 1971 – 2011 pretty much all of which is eminently listenable but let’s be honest most long term Feat fans will head straight for the Lowell George cuts on disc one and what a little treasure trove they are, rough and ready certainly, but no less engaging for all that – this collection is almost worth picking up for the delightfully under produced demo of ‘Fat Man In The Bathtub’ alone. Perhaps not the first port of call for Feat newbies - we suggest you begin with their eponymously titled debut - but long term fans will find much here to delight them.
Ray Harper

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Jackie Leven and Michael Cosgrave
Wayside Shrines And The Code Of The Travelling Man (Cooking Vinyl)

Jackie Leven and Michael CosgraveBetter known to some as founder member of Doll By Doll the hugely prolific Leven - including his previous bands output, early appearance as John St. Field and pseudonym Sir Vincent Lone, Leven has released an astonishing thirty albums, not including fan club only releases – links up with multi-instrumentalist Michael Cosgrave for his most fully realised set of songs in a long time. Written, for the most part, in German hotel rooms whilst on tour, there is something both sad and uplifting about these songs, Levens lugubrious and occasionally idiosyncratic vocals wrapping around you like a much loved, but decidedly tatty, old cardigan.
Raft Thong

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Nick Lowe
The Old Magic (Proper Records)

Nick Lowe Bit of a national treasure Mr Lowe and certainly one of our most underrated singer songwriters unleashes his thirteenth album and the quality levels found on 2007's At My Age continues unabated – indeed all of Lowe's country driven material since The Impossible Bird has maintained a remarkably high watermark – his pithy way with a lyric now focussed on the aging process, and his voice, believe it or not, sounding remarkably like Nat King Cole’s. It’s not likely to appeal to those of you who want the Jesus Of Cool to resurface, but if you have no problem growing old gracefully, but with a mischievous glint on your eye, this could be for you.
Ray Harper

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Little Roy
Battle For Seattle (Ark Recordings)

Little RoyReggae has a long relationship with cover versions, the Jamaican charts since the ‘60s being regularly chock full of, often hastily knocked off, US and UK chart hits of the era, whilst at the other end of the spectrum we have the Easy Star All Stars excellent Radiohead and Pink Floyd excursions, to which we can now add this inspired selection of Nirvana cuts by Little Roy delivered in the most authentic sounding 70s roots style we’ve heard around here in a very long time, Kurt C’s songs sounding positively vibrant in Little Roy’s hands, his honeyed vocals and dub inflected chug bringing a whole new slant to Nirvana’s nihilistic clatter.
Drew Bass

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Nick Lowe
Labour Of Lust (Proper Records)

Explosions in the Sky The arguments about which Nick Lowe album is his best will doubtless continue to rage for an age but for many this is a career highlight and, featuring tracks such as ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ and ‘Cracking Up’, there is copious evidence to support this theory. Also featuring Lowe’s Rockpile compadres Dave Edmunds Billy Bremner and Terry Williams – the same line-up plays on Edmunds Repeat When Necessary recorded at the same time – and one E Costello supplying back up vox on 'American Squirm', this album has aged very gracefully indeed. If you are only going to buy one Nick Lowe album it should probably be this one.
Ruby Palmer

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Lone Pigeon
Time Capsule (Domino)

Lone PigeonDefine an idiotic undertaking. How about trying to review a seven disc boxset by the talented but more or less unknown Gordon Anderson (ex Beta Band, Ex Alien full time Fence Collective member – with brother Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote - and long term sufferer of mental illness). Trying to slot this huge archive of demos, ideas and samples (some simple riffs or short vocal snippets) into a recognisable genre is like trying to post jelly though a cat but the sheer weight of great material to be found amongst the noodles and doodles is nothing short of miraculous and is really worthy of investigation.
Ruby Palmer

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Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies
Wotcheor! (Tantobie)

Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies A pastiche of an old fashioned radio program (in fact inspired by a BBC radio programme, Wot Cheor, Geordie, broadcast in the 1940s) dotted with crackly radio effects, fragments of old songs and amusing ad breaks (we can’t stop playing ‘Sale’), all delivered in broad ‘why aye man’ Geordie. Yet more evidence that our gradual re-embracing of our folk culture remains ongoing. Tracks like 'Bare Knuckle' and 'It’s a Champion Life' are as fine as anything to found in the folk canon and prove Lowe is a talented songwriter whilst 'Barnstorming' (a tribute to Jack Armstrong) allows The Bad Pennies to stretch out nicely.
Raft Thong

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John Lennon
Double Fantasy: Stripped Down (EMI)

John LennonCoinciding with what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday, the latest overhaul of his solo catalogue combines slimline, non-jewel-case packaging with earthily remastered sound. The calling card, however, is a revamp of 1980’s Double Fantasy, which features the original album alongside a ‘stripped down’ version newly mixed by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas. Shorn of some of the production fripperies of the era, the result is raw, funky, post-punky: in short, a minor revelation and a very welcome late addition to the Lennon catalogue. (A solo hits compilation and a thematic four-CD box set, Gimme Some Truth, are also available.).
David Davies

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Little Axe
Bought for a Dollar Sold for a Dime (Real World)

Little AxeFrom his early days with Wood Brass & Steel (with long time bass buddy Doug Wimbish) and as part of the house band at Sugarhill Records (where he began working with drummer Keith LeBlanc) playing on early rap cuts like The Message by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five and beyond to his later work with Doug and Keith as Tackhead with Adrian Sherwood, Bernard ‘Skip McDonald’ Alexander’s career has been remarkable, made even more so by his later incarnation Little Axe under which moniker he has produced some of his finest music, and this, his sixth, is possibly his finest yet.
Drew Bass

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Jamie Lidell
Compass (Warp)

Jamie Lidell If, like many, you have no idea who the hell Jamie Lidell is, vocally he’s pitched somewhere between Prince, Beck and Jamiroquai (no, come back it gets better!), musically somewhere between Funkadelic, Little Axe and the sort of left-field electronic puddles you find the majority of other Warp artists paddling around in. He’s been trying to sew all these disparate entities together for some time now and he’s only gone and done it. This is a tremendous album, which wafts and wanes from squelchy funk to clanking blues, from beautifully bent ballads to wheezing Waits-ian electronica, and is easily the best thing he's done.
Drew Bass

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Living Colour
Paris Concert (Wienerworld)

Living ColourIf you haven’t ever heard of Living Colour then you are, sadly, in good company as they are one of the truly great overlooked bands of the late 20th century. Fortunately, having called it quits back in the mid-‘90s, they reformed at the birth of the new century, and whilst their creative fusion of metal, funk, jazz, punk and hip hop is seldom given the recognition it deserves at least a new young audience can now experience this fine band in action and we’d suggest this live show is a great starting point as it includes both classic old material alongside the newer tracks and is also available on DVD.
Ray Harper

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Juliette Lewis
Terra Incognita (Roadrunner)

Juliette Lewis Now Lick-less (that would be a reference to Ms Lewis' previous backing band, not a lack of intimate attentions – Ed) this is Juliette Lewis’ first solo album, also her first with the Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez twiddling her production buttons and the results are largely excellent recalling the more bug-eyed lunacy of PJ Harvey’s outings (this is a good thing), in fact it seems the move away from a group dynamic has freed Lewis up and allowed her to be far more experimental, something Lopez is eminently well placed to encourage and help realise. Not entirely sure why she’s dragging a cow around on the cover mind.
Ruby Palmer

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Omar Rodriguez Lopez
Old Money (Stones Throw)

Omar Rodriguez LopezOn holiday from his day job with The Mars Volta, Omar Rodriguez Lopez clearly has so much going on in his bonce he needs a band, a solo career and all manner of collaborative side projects just to get it all out (this is just one of three solo albums he is currently promoting) and if occasionally you do find yourself yearning for TMV's Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s vocals to help lighten the positive onslaught of instrumentals here - Lopez seldom uses one idea if he can cram in fifteen – the mind-bending mixture of jazz, funk, Latin and psychedelic prog rock seldom leaves you feeling anything less than wholly gobsmacked.
Ruby Palmer

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Loop
Heaven’s End (Reactor)

Loop Formed in 1986 by Robert Hampson Loop never really became music press darlings in the way other psychedelic bands of the era like Spaceman 3 did (perhaps because Spaceman 3’s Sonic Boom was so quotable, insisting Loop were nothing but pale Spaceman 3 imitations), but retrospect allows us to view thing dispassionately and, to these ears at least, reveal Loop to be vastly superior to Sonic Boom and Co. and the newly remastered and expanded Heaven’s End is perhaps their finest feedback drenched hour – although there are fans who will insist Fade Out (also released in expanded form), is the release of choice.
Ruby Palmer

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The Last Shadow Puppets
The Age Of The Understatement (Domino)

The Last Shadow Puppets Arctic Monkey Alex Tuner’s side project (with fellow northern type, Miles Kane from The Rascals), based around a love of Scott Walker and Turners bonce full of ideas that won’t fit the sparky spunky Arctic template. Remarkably, given that the people involved are barely old enough to qualify as embryos, several of the tracks here sound genuinely like authentic Walker style outtakes, although quite what the average Monkey boy or girl will make of this ‘John Barry’ style string swathed effort remains to be seen. However lovers of Walker, hip 60s soundtrack music and adventurous Monkey fans are advised to check it out.
Ruby Palmer

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Cleo Laine & John Dankworth
I Hear Music (Salvo/Union Square Music)

Cleo Laine & John Dankworth Beautifully packaged (and excellent value) 4xCD box-set – with extensively researched notes by writer Alyn Shipton - celebrating the 80th birthdays of Cleo Laine & John Dankworth, stretching all the way back to Dankworth’s first recorded output in 1944 and taking us right up to 2005 (touching on trad, bebop, big band and soundtrack work) alongside link-ups with artists as diverse as Ray Charles, Dudley Moore, Julian Lloyd Webber, John Williams and of course each other (and their equally gifted children). If you want a jazz history lesson you really can do no better than start right here with the royal family of UK jazz.
Paul Riley

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Living Loud
Living Loud (Edel)

Living LoudA collection of perennial sideman cranking out (mainly) cover versions, shouldn’t really be of interest, but when Ozzy Osbourne re-issued The Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman in 2002 replacing original co-composers Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake's original performances with new bass and drum tracks - both men having sued the singer for non-payment of royalties - they decided, not unreasonably, to re-record the tracks themselves. Roping in Deep Purple’s Steve Morse and Don Airey and ludicrously underrated vocalist Jimmy Barnes, the results are actually pretty damn entertaining, especially now that you get their only live show as a bonus DVD.
Ray Harper

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Steven Lindsay
Kite (Echo)

Steven Lindsay Part of the underrated Big Dish in the 1980s, Steven Lindsay spent many years away from music prior to his return in 2004 with the sparse, elegant Exit Music. Three years on, and the predominantly piano-based arrangements of that album have been augmented by horns and strings for this equally refined follow-up, although never at the expense of Lindsay’s haunting vocals and simple but effective lyrics. The title track is a euphoric invitation to turn off depressing TV news and go fly a kite (well, why not?), while mini-epic ‘Giving Up the Ghost’ should send more than a few shivers up an unsuspecting spine.


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LCD Soundsystem
Sound Of Silver (DFA/EMI)

LCD Soundsystem James Murphy, a man who goes one step further than nodding heftily towards his influences musically by actually naming them in song (check the list on ‘Losing My Edge’ more) and on tracks like ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ returns with his second (physical) long playing release, this time sounding not unlike an electronic gumbo of Eno period Talking Heads being played by The Strokes in Studio 54 – with flavours of David Bowie, Sweet, Tom Tom Club, Sparks and Kraftwerk chucked in for good measure - he then winds up the whole shebang with a woozy Lou Reed/Steve Malkmus style epic ballad. Demented but great fun.


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Ray LaMontagne
Till The Sun Shines (14th Floor)

Ray LaMontagneOne of those irritating buggers who seeks out a career making music and then promptly begins performing in the dark, refusing to talk about his music and generally coming over all enigmatic. Still, irritation aside, there’s no doubting the quality of his work and this, his second album, sees him add horns and strings to the mix whilst that much touted voice (and it is a lovely voice) is reigned in to almost whispering pitch in places – hmm, whispering and playing in the dark? At this rate he’ll disappear altogether – the end result is far more rounded and polished than his debut but will certainly still satisfy his fan-base.


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Jerry Lee Lewis
Last Man Standing: The Duets (Artful)

Jerry Lee LewisRecent print coverage would have us believe JLL is the last of the great white superstars (Elvis gone, Cash gone, Roy gone etc.). By simply staying alive Jerry Lee has apparently proved something, but in all honesty has the man left a legacy even a tenth as good as Johnny Cash or Roy Orbison? He has not. His moment in the worldwide spotlight was blindingly bright but mercifully brief given the fact that he’s obnoxious. Still, a positive who’s who of country and rock (and Kid Rock), lend a helping hand over twenty odd tracks, the results ranging between likeable enough and downright bloody pedestrian.


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Little Axe
Stone Cold Ohio (Real World)

Little AxeThe boy Moby may well have managed far more conspicuous chart success with his melding of old blues standards and modern chart moves but Skip McDonald, for Little Axe is he - with help from, amongst others, buddies Keith LeBlanc, Doug Wimbush and producer Adrian Sherwood - is far more entrenched in the bare bones of the blues and gospel. Consequently the results have a far more genuine ring of truth about them, channelling the spirit of blues greats like Leadbelly, Son House, and Howling Wolf directly into a more bass heavy reggae and hip hop environment, and immensely powerful and moving it is too.


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Sean Lennon
Friendly Fire (Parlophone)

Sean LennonTuneful and inventive, Into the Sun – Sean Lennon’s 1998 debut – was distinctive enough to ensure that it was not judged simply in the shadow of his late father’s considerable legacy. Apparently disillusioned by the music industry (and who can blame him?), it has taken a full eight years for the sequel to emerge. Largely recorded live with gifted accomplices including multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion, the harmony-laden Friendly Fire variously recalls the work of Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Fountains of Wayne, Selling England-era Genesis (okay, just the once) and, yes, the old man, while somehow remaining its own quirky self.

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Damian Lazarus
The Other Side Of London (Resist: DualDisc)

Damian LazarusLondon listings magazine Time Out sponsored mix CD which is pretty damn good on two fronts, the first being the delightfully glitchy Damien Lazarus mix CD side which squishes the likes of Roots Manuva, Squarepusher, Yazoo and Gruff Rhys into a most entertaining 1:13:39 minute blast, the second being the interactive DVD side which offers up a batch of the current coolest shops, markets, restaurants, bars etc to pop along to – very useful for a visitor keen to hit all the right spots on a short visit. Of course it will be out of date by Christmas, but you still have the mix CD and Paris and New York versions are also available.


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k.d. lang
Reintarnation (Sire)

k.d. langKathryn Dawn Lang’s career has taken so many stylistic turns since her 1992 breakthrough album Ingenue that it can be easy to forget her early records were almost entirely country-orientated. Indeed, it’s a bit of a shock to hear the suave and finessed crooner of ‘Constant Craving’ battling it out with “good time” fiddles on this compilation of tracks drawn from her first four “cowpunk” albums. ‘Pay Dirt’ and ‘Turn Me Round’ are the hoedown-ing highlights of this sometimes unrecognisable lang, although the gorgeous ballad ‘Curious Soul Astray’ does offer a tantalising hint of what was to come.


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Leya
In Our Hands (Rubyworks)

LeyaIt’s very late and this is the last CD in the review pile, it’s been a long, generally disappointing evening but things are about to pick up as this Belfast four piece, who have been wowing punters on the emerald isle for some time now – even landing the No 1 slot in Hot Press’s 2006 'most promising act' poll – have successfully married the soaring beauty of Sigur Ros to the stadium thunder of U2. Comparisons with Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and Muse have also been bandied about (and with some justification) but for us this is the album everyone hoped Coldplay would make last year. Definitely ones to watch.


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The Like
Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking (Geffen)

The LikeDrawing comparisons with Belly, The Breeders and The Bangles – which given they are a female trio is pretty much inevitable – The Like definitely bear comparison with those acts, but tracks like ‘Under The Paving Stones’ have just as much in common with the Clash’s ‘London Calling’. And whilst most of the press seem obsessed with the possibilities of nepotism - Z. Berg (guitar/vocals), Charlotte Froom (bass) and Tennessee Thomas (drums) are the progeny of A&R man Tony Berg, producer Mitchell Froom and Attractions drummer Pete Thomas – this is actually an assured, impressive, melody driven collection of indie-centric pop.


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Loka
Fire Shepherds (Ninja Tune)

LokaA mere six years in the making, Liverpudlian duo Loka (Karl Webb and Mark Kyriacou) are nothing if not meticulous, and given the convoluted future jazz on offer here perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Fans of those other Ninja Tune mainstays Cinematic Orchestra or recent signings Jaga Jazzist will be in familiar territory, the unlikely press release claim of ‘Miles Davis jamming with Carl Craig and the Kronos Quartet’ actually not that ludicrous a starting point (if only to prompt the listener to expect the unexpected) By turns sinister, uplifting, funky and beautiful Fire Shepherds is living breathing sound of jazz circa 2006.


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Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
Rabbit Fur Coat (Rough Trade)

Jenny LewisCompiled of songs written in the Rilo Kiley tour van and recorded last year in the San Fernando Valley and Portland, Oregon with the Watson Twins (a honey-voiced pair of identical singering sisters), Lewis digs into her past, including looks at her star-struck pushy mother and failed love affairs, wrapping the results in a very low-key mixture of folk, country, gospel and straight up pop, which may possibly alienate the odd indie-centric Kiley fan but frankly shouldn’t. Ignore the plethora of girlie singer-songwriters clogging up the charts and pick up this and the recent Cat Power album The Greatest, you won’t be disappointed.


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Lemmy
Damage Case (Castle)

LemmyWe’re big fans of Ian Fraser Kilmister here at TM-Online, not least because this 60 year old rocker makes most of the current crop of metal-heads sound positively lightweight - whilst watching his peers grow grey and flabby. This career spanning collection includes top notch clatter from his time in the Rockin’ Vicars, Hawkwind and of course Motörhead. Collectors will also be delighted to find his link ups with Girlschool, the Plasmatics Wendy O Williams, The Damned, Dave Grohl, the Ramones various Stray Cats and Pirates axe man Mick Green spread over the two discs. Just don’t imagine that he’s gonna gracefully retire now.


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LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem (DFA)

LCD SoundsystemLauded in chin stroking mags like The Wire as the intellectual saviours of disco-punk - LCD head honcho James Murphy wear’s his influences like a big flashing neon suit (check early single Losing My Edge or Fall homage Movement) - but also on the dance-floors of New York by those fond of cutting a rug to cracking bum shakers like Daft Punk Are Playing In My House. LCD Soundsystem are in fact equal parts knowing winks, punk attitude, stuttering krautrock, clipped white funk and serious Studio 54 dance-floor dynamics. Get in quick and you’ll also get a second CD of equally frazzled early material

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John Lydon
The Best Of British £1 Notes (Virgin)

John LydonThe path from nationally reviled tabloid villain to nationally treasured tabloid icon is not one often travelled with any degree of success, but that’s exactly the route John Lydon has followed, none of which has anything to do with the fact that he’s also been behind some of the greatest music ever recorded. Not content with fronting two of our finest rock and roll bands (the Sex Pistols and PiL) Lydon’s subsequent link ups with the likes of Leftfield and Afrika Bambaattaa then resulted in several all time classic dance tunes. It’s all here, including a cracking new tune 'The Rabbit Song', proving there’s clearly more to come


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John Lennon
Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon (Parlophone)

John LennonIt’s always going to be a subjective business creating a ‘definitive collection’, summing up an artist like John Lennon over a mere 38 tracks is something of an impossible task (like who the hell thought 'Intuition' was definitive?), but given these limitations - and briefly skipping over exactly who the hell might want this that hasn’t already got everything here - this is a pretty cool stab at covering all the bases from gentle ballads, through primal workouts, visceral sniping and onto those big ol’ sing-a-long-a- Johnny moments. If you have a young music fan in your household do ‘em a favour and pop this in their Christmas stocking

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Shelby Lynne
Suit Yourself (EMI)

Shelby LynneHave you ever dismissed something simply because of what you assume it sounds like? Are you someone who believes themselves to be completely out of step with the new breed of US crossover country stars? Then do yourself a favour, listen to this and see if you still feel the same way. Sounding a little like Rickie Lee Jones in places, and with production values that can best be described as, erm, frayed around the edges – although let’s be honest all the best country is stripped of surface gloss – Suit Yourself doesn't sound at all like you might imagine and, more importantly, far better than you might believe


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Bill Laswell
Dub Massive - Chapter One (Trojan)

Bill LaswellOne of two dub collections put together by Bill Laswell after being let loose in the Trojan Vaults, Dub Massive is billed as a set of re-interpretations but in reality proves to be more of a lick of paint and spot of sanding than a full blown restoration job as an extra production sheen is ladled onto the likes of King Tubby, Lee Perry, Augustus Pablo, Scientist, Sly And Robbie and a good many others (hell, if it ain’t broke eh?) and if doesn't exactly reinvent any of the classics found here it does at least prove Bill Laswell has impeccable taste and proves to be a very satisfying first outing for his new UK label Sanctuary.


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John Lennon
Acoustic (Capitol)

John LennonBit of a curio this Lennon unplugged outing as it seems to have been cobbled together from the dusty nether regions of Yoko’s tape cupboard - including seven unreleased recordings - and ranges from the pretty pointless sub minute snippet of Woman Is The Nigger Of The World and pedestrian instrumental So Real to the painfully heartfelt My Mummy’s Dead and splendid clatters through Working Class Hero and God. It even includes all the chord charts for all you budding axe victims, so expect to hear dreadful karaoke versions of Lennon classics in a front-room near you very soon.

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Little Axe
Champagne & Grits (Real World)

Little Axe This has been out for a while now but as it isn’t clogging up the charts we felt we should give you all a nudge and point you at one of this years - soon to be lost if everyone doesn’t get their bloody finger out – little gems. The recipe is simple, take the blues, courtesy of Sugarhill/Tackhead mainstay Skip McDonald, dub, tweak, sample and process them (courtesy of On-U dub legend Adrian Sherwood) sprinkle on a little Keith LeBlanc and Doug Wimbish, add guest vocals from Junior Delgado, Shara Nelson and Chris Difford and bobs yer uncle. Top smart.

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Lemon Jelly
’64 – ’95 (XL)

Lemon Jelly This reviewer has to admit to having failed to fall for Lemon Jelly’s charms to date, Fred Deakin and Nick Franglen’s constructs, to these ears at least, being so much style over content. Which is why I approached this with little in the way of expectations, and got something of a subsequent ear boxing by an inspired collection of tracks built around samples whipped from the Jelly boys massive vinyl collection (the album title referring to the dates of the samples used). From Gallagher And Lyle snippets to Masters Of Reality heavy metal lifts LJ have created something altogether sublime

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The Levellers
Truth & Lies (Eagle Records)

The LevellersRegularly reviled in the UK's music press and about as popular with the nations radio stations as someone with a very itchy skin complaint in a crisp factory, The levellers, rather like previous social outcasts Ozric Tentacles, carry on regardless, continuing to make music, release albums, play gigs to many thousands of devoted fans and were in fact the best thing on the recent live Glastonbury Anthems album by a sodding mile. This, their latest, sees no real change in their punky folk direction, but you can almost hear the choruses being belted out by a field full of happy revellers this summer already.


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Amos Lee
Amos Lee (Blue Note)

Amos LeeDiscovered whilst touring with Norah Jones on her European tour last year (she supplies guest vocals on Colors) this US born ex-elementary teacher was snapped up by Blue Note, and the resultant album can best be described as a collection of self-penned soulful jazzy folksongs, pitched vocally somewhere between Seal and Daryl Hall. Given that most majors have an Amos Lee on their books nowadays there’s a good deal of luck involved in whether he sinks or swims, certainly there’s no lack of talent on show here as Lee can both write and sing beautifully, but if that alone is enough remains to be seen...


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