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ALBUMS OF THE WEEK ; reviews: Nicole Gallagher, Nathania Hartley, Kim Mayo, Mark Edwards, Rob Lavender, Holly McKenzie [Birmingham Mail (UK)]

August 23, 2013


NAUGHTY BOY: Hotel Cabana IF you thought Shahid Khan aka Naughty Boy has simply burst onto the music scene out of nowhere, his debut album might teach you otherwise. The British-born Pakistani singer- producer has been creating top 10 records since 2005. His experience shines through on Hotel Cabana - an accomplished and polished album featuring fresh and charting artists, including Emile Sande, Ed Sheeran and Bastille. Catchy No 1 single, La La La, and a Get Lucky cover with Tanika are stand-outs.

THE FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS: One and All THE latest release from Cornish shanty group The Fisherman's Friends is something rather special. The last album to feature all 10 members of the band, it was recorded shortly before the death of member Trevor Grills following a tragic accident earlier in the year. Capturing a warm spirit, One And All is an accomplished set of traditional tunes and songs of the sea. Stand-outs include the tender and rousing single Mary Anne, which sees Grills on lead vocals. A fitting tribute that should ensure a lasting legacy.

PANTALEIMON: The Butterfly Ate The Pearl PANTALEIMON is the multi- talented Andria Degens, augmented by guest musicians of the highest calibre. It is the first release by Degens in five years and proves to be well worth the wait. The album's rich, psychedelic, cinematic soundscapes do not strike an immediate chord, but repeated plays certainly reward the listener, with bass and sound loops becoming increasingly evident, along with the spooky vocals. Degens has recruited some top musicians to work on this album.

INFINITE LIVES: Bastardgeist BASTARDGEIST - the work of Chicago music-maker Joel Midden - immediately surprises, as Infinite Lives is full of delicate but dense compositions with eerie, chanted vocals. The songs often feel like they're going to fall apart. But from the chaos are drawn moments of real beauty and repeated listens fascinate as more of these episodes reveal themselves. Last Evening is a mesmeric and gorgeously spare mix of cello and two-finger piano refrain overlaid with archive spoken word samples. Bizarre and beautiful.

HJALTALIN: Enter 4 WHAT'S considered "pop" in Iceland is a bit more eclectic than our own chart offerings, as this Reykjavik-based musical collective's third album deftly demonstrates.

The group, led by vocalists Sigriour Thorlacius and Hogni Egilsson but featuring a wealth of talent courtesy of a seemingly ever-expanding line-up, have as their stock-in-trade a fine line in baroque-ish, mature chamber-pop. Fans of alt pop acts from Camera Obscura to Bon Iver to Bjork will find the group, and this eclectic album, hard to resist.

NEWTON FAULKNER: Studio Zoo A YEAR on from his last offering Write It On Your Skin, Surrey singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner releases his fourth album, Studio Zoo. Where To Start and Just Outside are reminiscent of Bon Iver's debut LP, with melancholy vocals balanced over Faulkner's finger-pick method of guitar- playing, which lends itself well to this stripped-back style. Unfortunately, this leaves tracks such as Indecisive and At The Seams sounding hollow, and overly acoustic for a studio album.

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