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International Music Releases from the Second Half of February- Reviewed

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Hearty Har/ Radio Astro, Rock, Self-Released

The main reason one would want to check out Californian band Hearty Har is that it features Shane and Tyler, sons of Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty. After all, the dad has been one of the legendary figures in rock.

Hearty Har was formed in 2012 and focused on live shows. Though the title may suggest their new album Radio Astro is primarily meant for the airwaves, the tunes would sound good at concerts too. Both brothers share credits for vocals and guitars, but one also hears smart use of synths.

The sound is a blend of psychedelic rock and ’90s Garage/Alternative. Radio Man 56 sets the pace with its singalong vibe, showing the influences of British band James. On Calling Me Out, the rhythm guitar backdrop makes way for a sizzling saxophone solo.

The first single Scream And Shout is a perfect driving song, and the instrumental Canyon Of The Banshee keeps changing theme, displaying influences of Europe, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden. The radio-friendly Don’t Go Looking For Me and pop-laced Waves Of Ecstasy dilute the set. A little more polish and depth were needed on the second half to make us go ga-ga over Radio Astra.

Rating: 7/ 10

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Sia/ Music, Soundtrack-Pop, Atlantic Recording

Australian pop sensation Sia recently released her film directorial venture Music, which talks of a sobered-up drug dealer who plays guardian to her autistic half-sister. For that, she wrote a set of pop songs going with the storyline.

For those who’ve heard Sia, there’s little new as many of the songs are basically background material that create little impact. But there are a few out-and-out beauties too, specially motivational songs like Courage To Change, a take-off on a number she’d co-written with pop star Pink, and the inspiring Beautiful Things Can Happen.

A catchy hook defines 1 + 1, whereas Saved My Life, co-written by Dua Lipa, begins as a piano ballad and has a strong string arrangement. Floating Through Space, a collaboration with ace DJ-producer David Guetta works as a “party” number.

Interestingly, Music is the name of the autistic lady and the song titled Music is for her. It shows Sia’s soulful side though for half this 14-song set, she ends up being formulaic.

Rating: 6/ 10

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Django Django/ Glowing In The Dark, Art-Rock, Because Music

In interviews, London-based band Django Django have often joked that they’ve not named themselves after Jazz guitar great Django Reinhardt. That’s pretty obvious, as their sound blends art-rock with synth-pop and dancehall rhythms.

On their fourth album Glowing In The Dark, Django Django again blend multiple genres seamlessly. It begins making sense after a couple of songs and a few listens, but once it catches your attention, it stays there.

Vocalist Vincent Neff uses a pleasant falsetto, especially on Got Me Worried and Headrush. Singer Charlotte Gainsbourgh does a guest appearance on Waking Up, whereas the instrumental The Ark seems inspired by Pink Floyd. One also finds a later-day The Beatles hangover on The World Will Turn.

Synthesiser artiste Tommy Grace and bassist Jimmy Dixon are spot-on from the pulsating opening track Spirals, with guitarist Neff soloing brilliantly. The production work of David Maclean, who also plays drums, gives the sound a clear edge and vibrancy. The title of the last song Asking For More sums up your feelings after listening.

Rating: 8/ 10

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The Pretty Reckless/ Death By Rock And Roll, Hard Rock, Going Down-Fearless Records

New York band The Pretty Reckless has been around for a decade, attracting a loyal audience. Vocalist-rhythm guitarist Taylor Momsen has driven much of the sound with her powerful delivery, with guitarist Ben Phillips playing a large role.

The title track kicks off the new album Death By Rock And Roll, using the lines, “On my tombstone when I go, just put – death by rock and roll”. The first half is grungey, but later, the album is dominated by power ballads.

The highlights are the guitar-driven Only Love Can Save Me Now (featuring Pearl Jam-drummer Matt Cameron and Soundgarden-guitarist Kim Thayil), the singalong And So It Went (with Rage Against The Machine-guitarist Tom Morello) and the soaring and deep 25.

My Bones has brilliant coordination between the vocalist and drummer Jamie Perkins. The scream on Witches Burn and the controlled build-up of Standing At The Wall prove why Momsen is one of the best female singers from the past decade.

Rating: 8/ 10

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Narendra Kusnur

Author: Narendra Kusnur

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