Music

The Genius Of… The Velvet Underground & Nico by The Velvet Underground

An album that spawned entire genres, influenced countless bands and altered the course of rock ’n’ roll history has taken its deserved place in the hall of fame. But its guitar-fuelled soundscape still sounds just as avant-garde and dangerous over 50 years on from its release.

The Big Listen: Doves – The Universal Want

A first album in over a decade from these much-loved Mancunian lost souls. Does it match up to their past glories?

The Genius Of… Is This It by The Strokes

Released into a barren musical landscape still suffering from a Britpop hangover, The Strokes' debut album was an exhilarating, razor-sharp distillation of New York's musical heritage that changed everything. Do believe the hype.

The Big Listen: Bill Callahan – Gold Record

Newly settled in domestic contentment, Bill Callahan produced one of his strongest albums to date in 2019’s Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest. Just a year later, this masterful raconteur returns with 10 hit singles new and old.

The Genius Of… You In Reverse by Built To Spill

With great songs and guitar interplay to rival the likes of Marquee Moon, Built To Spill’s collaborative 2006 return to form, You In Reverse, is a hook-laden gift that keeps on giving for guitarists.

The Big Listen: My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II

Captured during the same California sessions as 2015’s The Waterfall, the sequel from Jim James and his Kentucky band arrives five years later with a distinct sound that feels strangely prescient.

The Genius Of… The La’s, The La’s

Led by the flawed genius of their perfectionist frontman Lee Mavers, The La’s released a timeless self-titled debut in 1990 that predicted the whole Britpop movement. Three decades later, it remains the band’s only album and Mavers hates it so much he’s spent most of his life trying to re-record it. Will we ever hear the album as he intended? 

The Big Listen: Bright Eyes – Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was

After nearly a decade's absence Conor Oberst has got the band back together. The first Bright Eyes album since 2011 is an unflinching exploration of grief, loss and keeping on keeping on as life crumbles around you. We'd expect nothing less.

The Genius Of… Hoodoo Man Blues by Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band

In 1965, the Original Blues Brothers – harp maestro Junior Wells and livewire showman Buddy Guy – sidestepped broken amps and contract wrangles to bottle the sound of Chicago’s blues clubs on this classic album.

The Big Listen: Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings

The Scottish rock titans reconnect with their roots on an album that basks in the “ludicrous” brilliance of rock ‘n’ roll.
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