This week we cast our ears over new releases from established acts including Soundgarden and Kaiser Chiefs, as well as newcomer Cuco.


Posthumous releases are the most difficult to get right. Soundgarden must have known this following the death of frontman Chris Cornell, who took his own life in Detroit in 2017 aged only 52.

One solution would be to enlist an anthology series comfortable with documenting extraordinary artists with towering legacies. Enter Live From The Artists Den, a three-time Emmy-nominated series with a history of chronicling gigs by stars including Mumford & Sons and Ringo Starr.

As an overarching document of the Seattle band's 35-year career, Soundgarden's offering is unparalleled. Recorded in February of 2013 at the Wiltern Theatre in LA, it captures 29 songs across two-and-a-half hours. The music is dark and fast, twisting itself around weird time signatures and driven by the whiplash drums of Matt Cameron. It's a much needed document of Cornell in his late career pomp.

There have been shamefully few live recordings of the shaggy-haired singer and one-time Bond theme composer (2006's surprisingly superb You Know My Name). This rights that wrong. And the deluxe box contains an impressive, if totally unnecessary, number of extras. Bonus interviews, four black vinyl LPS, CDs, a 40-page photo book and replica artist all-access pass from the night.

Superfluous to most, but essential to those keen to ensure Cornell is not soon forgotten.


(Review by Alex Green)


It's hard to believe that it's been around 15 years since indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs, fronted by Ricky Wilson, burst onto the scene. Duck is the Leeds combo's seventh album. But has the itch set in?

From the first strains of People Know How To Love One Another, which has been all over the radio giving it early anthem status, it's obvious that this isn't your usual Kaiser Chiefs record. Lyrically, however, there is still a hint of the early days. The personable lyrical style of Never Miss A Beat and Everyday I Love You Less and Less are evident here, and that is really where they come into their own.

What we have now is the questioning nature of those approaching middle age. Golden Oldie has all the life questions about settling down and actually growing up, whereas the catchy Wait (with a very Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man-sounding opening base line) is all about FOMO and mental health in the modern world.

Kaiser Chiefs have put together another grower of an album filled with great indie pop songs.


(Review by Rachel Howdle)


It has been five years since Iggy Azalea released her debut album The New Classic and electro-pop single Fancy. The Australian star hasn't been shy of controversy since 2014, embroiled in claims of cultural appropriation and regular feuds with fellow rappers like Azealia Banks and Snoop Dogg.

Azalea hits back at the controversies and more in Clap Back, a track from the long-awaited In My Defense. The bass-heavy battle bars have a promising start but, lyrically, it fails in actually clapping back and is disappointingly unoriginal.

This is a theme that continues throughout the 12-track album. Spend It and Just Wanna have the potential but lack any originality or personality. Hoemita, featuring Lil Yachty, just about brings the album back from the brink: it feels like Azalea is enjoying herself with a fresher sound compared to earlier tracks.

An ambitious comeback album, and her first as an independent artist, In My Defense had all of the hype but fails to defend anything. Azalea's nervousness at releasing an album at the same time as Peppa Pig - a very unlikely rival - might be justified.


(Review by Emma Bowden)


Cuco, largely hailed by music insiders as one of the most exciting young stars of the moment, has dropped his debut album. Brimming with sun-soaked summer tunes, here's hoping it could help us ease through this startling heatwave.

An indie pop producer, singer-songwriter and musician with a leaning towards Latin-inspired music and R&B, the Los Angeles-based Mexican-American artist has created a record that intrigues and delights, and is somehow both nostalgic and fresh, and both comfortably familiar and intriguingly challenging in parts. Having grown up listening to Spanish-language bolero music as well as rap and rock, the album is an expert blend in easy-listening tunes fit for a summer's day, as well as edgier, stylish funk-adjacent R&B pop, perfectly suited for pre-drinks with pals. The flow from song to song, via the occasional well-placed interlude, is its defining positive feature, as well as being markedly different from any current chart music.

Having grown in popularity in recent years and becoming a genuine emerging talent with millions of streams (he already has just shy of three million monthly Spotify listeners alone), Cuco certainly deserves a chance.


(Review by Lucy Mapstone)


Despite its name, Lykke Li's fourth full-length record, so sad so sexy, saw her venture away from the "sad pop" sound that earned her a cult following way before the likes of Lorde and Lana Del Rey swept in. In its place was an R&B-inflected dance record, more akin in parts to fellow Swede Robyn, but regarded by some not to have hit the same notes as her prior critical successes.

Yet so follows still sad still sexy, an EP of reworkings from last year's record which is arguably most notable for featuring the dreaded words: "Skrillex remix" (in truth the pair's repurposed two nights ii is a bit naff, but not as terrible as fans might have feared).

While one might be tempted to question the purpose of the EP beyond squeezing a few more streams out of fans, there is a moment worth hanging on for right at the end. A pared down rendition of deep end strips away the original's trap beat to reveal a soulful, powerful indie piano ballad that's reminiscent of her very finest work.

However, in the most part still sad is, sadly, a bit of a throwaway best reserved for devotees only.


(Review by Steve Jones)