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It’s New Music time as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out new albums from Scottish folkie Paolo Nutini, nice guy rockers the Foo Fighters, possibly-on-the-verge-of-implosion One Direction and funky small person Prince.

New Album by a New Artist

Paolo Nutini: Caustic Love

My hipster friend Gavin has been recommending that I review Paolo Nutini for about a year now. When my slightly less beardy, yet still cool, cousin Paul suggested the same thing a few weeks ago, I thought it was probably time to give the chap a go.

Born in Paisley, Scotland in 1987, Paolo Nutini released his debut album These Streets in 2006 to positive reviews, then followed up with Sunny Side Up in 2009. In the interim he played at Glastonbury, supported The Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse and appeared on the Jonathon Ross show.

Almost five years later, Nutini has released his third album, Caustic Love. With touches of Van Morrison and Michael Jackson, Nutini has produced an interesting, diverse album that rewards repeat listens.

Opening track Scream is a funky jam that showcases the young Scot’s versatile voice and ability to shift the mood without losing the groove. Let Me Down Easy sets more of a laid back tone, while Bus Talk is an odd Chipmunk-style interlude that seems out of place leading into the soulful One Day.

Caustic Love contains heavy influences of Soul, Blues and R&B, driven by powerful rhythms and delivered with so much passion that he has been known to perform entire concerts with his eyes closed.

Don’t ask me why, but this would really annoy my wife.

Best tracks: Scream (Funk My Life Up), One Day, Numpty

Sample lyric:You ask me to remember, a kiss is just a kiss.’ (One Day)

Verdict: 8/10 — the spiritual heir to Prince

New Album by an Old Artist

Foo Fighters:Sonic Highways

The Foo Fighters are popularly known as the nicest guys in rock.

Led by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, The Foo Fighters have established themselves as one of the biggest rock bands in the world. They routinely play two-and-a-half hour live shows including all of the songs people actually want to hear, will do interviews with inarticulate half-wits (I’m looking at you, Channel V presenters) and remain gregarious throughout.

Sonic Highways is the Foo Fighters eighth studio album, recorded in conjunction with a cable TV series. Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways charted the band’s journey to record a song in eight different iconic music cities across America, including Austin, New Orleans and Seattle.

On first listen, Sonic Highways sounds like any other Foo Fighters album, without a standout single like All My Life or The Pretender.

First single Something From Nothing is vintage Foo Fighters with rollicking guitar breaks and a tight rhythm section (drummer Taylor Hawkins and bassist Nate Mendel) – but it sounds like a lot of other songs that the band has released over the years.

Second track, The Feast and The Famine, kicks into a higher gear and will probably be awesome live — the band are touring Australia in February 2015. Mini rock-opera What Did I Do/God as My Witness has a nice Meat Loaf vibe — and I mean 70’s studio prime Meat Loaf not footy final live Meat Loaf.

The worst thing that could be said about Sonic Highways is that it sounds a lot like a Foo Fighters album. Well worth a listen for fans of rock and/or roll.

Best tracks: The Feast and The Famine, What Did I Do/God as My Witness

Sample lyric: ‘Pay no mind now, ain’t that something, fuck it all, I came from nothing.’ (Something From Nothing)

Verdict: 7/10 — if you like the Foo Fighters, you will probably enjoy this album

Album I Expect to Suck

One Direction: Four

All right, this one is a bit obvious.

But honestly, One Direction are a little hard to ignore. Add to this the gleeful tabloid speculation that almost-as-hot-as-Harry bad boy Zayn Malik is on the gear and about to quit the band, we might be witnessing the beginning of the end of the One D phenomenon. Is their last album as bad as their first?

The group have churned out singles consistently for the past two years or so, acquired a few more tattoos and spent an enormous amount of time talking to interviewers older than their parents.

In terms of preconceptions for this album, I thought Steal My Girl was a catchy track, despite the disturbing connotations of a teenage relationship endowing some level of ownership over either partner.

Upon first listen, I am vaguely unimpressed and have to resist the urge to skip to the next track on a number of occasions. The songs are competent pop with some nice harmonies, but it’s been done better a thousand times before (see Jackson 5, N-Sync and Take That).

If you are a One D fan, then there is probably nothing I can say to persuade you that this isn’t the best album ever. For everyone else, it’s relatively inoffensive, highly disposable pop designed to sell $200 concert tickets to 12 year olds.

Best tracks: Steal My Girl, Fireproof

Sample lyric: Baby, I’ll never leave if you keep holding me this way.’ (Stockholm Syndrome)

Verdict: 5/10 — not actively awful, but certainly not my cup to tea

Ch-check It Out…

Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL: PLECTRUMELECTRUM

I don’t want to say it too loudly because he’s rumoured to be a tad litigious, but the man born Prince Rogers Nelson is somewhat… eccentric. After being born (or possibly hatched) in 1958, the purple one was 21 years old when he released Prince, which went platinum off the back of singles I Wanna Be Your Lover and Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?

Prince really hit his commercial peak during the 1980s, releasing classic albums like Purple Rain, as well as terrible movies like Purple Rain.

He also sang songs about Little Red Corvettes and crying doves, and was widely recognised as the funkiest man on earth, pound for pound.

The nineties brought Diamonds and Pearls, disagreements with record companies and a name change to an unpronounceable symbol. After that some time passed, insults were thrown, lawyers were called in and it was all very unpleasant. Fast forward to 2014 and Price has a new album out.

The credit for PLECTRUMELECTRUM is important to consider before buying — strictly speaking, this isn’t a Prince album. This is a Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL album. Replacing fondly remembered backing singers like The Revolution and the New Power Generation, 3RDEYEGIRL bring more of a pop sensibility that sits uneasily with Prince’s funky grooves.

While pearls of classic Prince funkiness are scattered through the album, PLECTRUMELECTRUM feels more like a girl band album with Prince as a producer and guest star — kind of like the way Snoop Dogg is willing to work with anyone with enough cash or weed.

Best tracks: WOW, PLECTRUMELECTRUM

Sample lyric: ‘You can call it unexpected, you can call it wow.’ (WOW)

Verdict: 3/10 — a disappointing lack of funk means Prince must hand his crown over to newcomer Paolo Nutini…

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