FORMED in 2014, Manchester-based The Moods are a nine-piece collective which fuses a plethora of musical genres — hip hop, electro, drum and bass, reggae and pop — with electrifying post-financial crash politics.
Fresh and intense, their debut album Missing Peace oozes talent and ideas. Fans of British hip-hop artist Braintax will find much to love here.
P.O.P (Profit Over People) kicks things off with lyrics about the government being corrupt and the lies told about the deficit, while the formidable Keep Your Powder Dry tells of police brutality and “propaganda from the West.”
The drug-filled rave-culture poetry at the beginning of Hidden brings to mind Blinded by the Lights by The Streets.
Showcasing male and female vocalists, The Moods have some great hooks and choruses, though these are often subsumed within hard-edged, ultra-fast dance rhythms and unyielding rapping.
Watch this space.
The Granite Shore: Suspended Second (Occultation)
HAVING been in and around the British independent music scene since the late 1970s, Suspended Second is the second solo record from songwriter, singer and producer Nick Halliwell.
And what an impressive piece of work it is — a heady mix of baroque pop with clever, often angry, lyrics informed by the Brexit vote (“a national self-harming anxiety episode,” according to Halliwell) and Trump becoming US president.
Halliwell presents a particularly eccentric English persona, with the songs’ peculiar beauty bringing to mind the legendary Leon Rosselson and American master Stephen Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.
“Who’ll be going solo?/And who’ll still have a career?” he wonders on There’s Always One, while closer Commodities fades out with the quiet mantra “We’ll remain, we’ll remain.”
Suspended Second is completely out of step with the today’s indie music and all the better for it.
Vijay Iyer Sextet: Far From Over (ECM)
US keyboardist-composer Vijay Iyer is a busy man.
Far From Over is his fifth album for ECM since 2014 and, like much of the label’s catalogue, this is high-quality contemporary instrumental jazz.
The dynamic six-piece band kick up a storm on tracks like cacophonous opener Poles.
And the punchy Good on the Ground brings to mind the big sound and wide scope of Chris Potter Underground Orchestra’s Imaginary Cities record.
Elsewhere, For Amiri Baraka is a majestic elegy in memory of the African-American poet, while the flat flugelhorn on the mournful Wake brings to mind Joe Zawinul and Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way.
Iyer says he hopes that the music will inspire and be re-energise the listener in “a time of fierce urgency and precarity.”
Intense and muscular, Far From Over does this — and much, much more.