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Music round-up: November 2010

Jude Mason


Sufjan Stevens has never been shy of the contrary and so it should be no surprise that in the months after talking about quitting music all together he should come out with two new releases.

For those who missed 2009's BQE project both the All Delighted Peoples EP and The Age Of Adz album will be a surprise. While retaining Stevens' signature super-fast-flute-arpeggios and quirky, breathy vocals, they are also definitely Nu-Sufjan with lots of electronica thrown into the mix. Age of Adz is a good album, if still a long way short of his best, but don't bother with the EP unless you're a super-fan.

From Eat My Words Corner comes an album by Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs so great it's forcing me to stop disliking him. A mixture of bluesy grit and folksy charm makes the wonderfully named God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise just as wonderful a listen.

A couple of legends still at the top of their game are Robert Plant and Mavis Staples (pictured).  Plant's Band Of Joy is in the same pocket as his multi-award winning collaboration with Alison Krauss, teaching a world of artists that middle-of-the-road doesn't have to mean mediocre. Produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Staples' You Are Not Alone is certainly Gospel themed if not truly Gospel in sound, with a dirty blues feel to many tracks.  She may be over 80, but good Lord! Staples still got soul!

Other purchase-worthy releases this month from Greenbelt headliners Jars Of Clay whose The Shelter is a brilliant paean to community, and Le Noise, Neil Young's collaboration with the U2 and Dylan producer Daniel Lanois.

Tracks from all these plus Folds & Hornby, Interpol, Robyn and Peter Gabriel (who is re-releasing his entire back catalogue) are available on the Third Way Spotify Playlist for November.

Jude Mason