Our critics review some of the best and worst of this week's new releases...
The Wolfmen: Married To The Eiffel Tower
Howl, 11.99 **
WHILE Adam Ant makes a solo comeback, two of his erstwhile Ants, guitar wingman Marco Pirroni and bassist/backing vocalist Chris Constantinou, have set up shop as The Wolfmen. Married To The Eiffel Tower doesn't stretch too far for its cultural iconography with lame laments about Marilyn Monroe (the self-explanantory Wam Bam JFK) and Americanisation (Coca Cola Kid). Sinead O'Connor pops up on sentimental folk punk duet Jackie, Is It My Birthday? but the best track is a cover of an unreleased Velvet Underground song, I'm Not A Young Man Anymore, which combines the acidic rhythm'n'blues of the Velvets with the louche swagger of the Ants.
Big Talk: Big Talk
Little Oil/Epitaph, 12.99 ***
HANKERING after a new Killers album? Worn out your Brandon Flowers solo effort? The next member to step up to the plate is drummer Ronnie Vannucci, pictured above left, who has proved similarly incapable of enjoying some time away from music while his parent band are on hiatus.
Hooking up with an old musical buddy, Taylor Milne, he has made a generic but devil-may-care album featuring wonky vocals and AM radio riffola in abundance, which flaunts the influence of Tom Petty, The Cars and ELO along the way, but inevitably winds up sounding like The Killers if they weren't so big on the bombast.
Hardly essential, but still better than some of The Strokes' solo recordings.
Danny & The Champions Of The World: Hearts & Arrows
Southern Crossroads, 11.99 ***
MEET Danny Wilson, purveyor of heart-on-sleeve Americana hailing straight outta London Town – though his latest album Hearts & Arrows is spiritually more in tune with Springsteen's New Jersey. Danny and his Champs are less rambunctious in performance than their American cousins The Hold Steady but just as capable of evoking warm, fuzzy nostalgia on the likes of Brothers In The Night and romanticising youthful idealism and a bygone footloose lifestyle on You Don't Know (My Heart Is In The Right Place) that their male fans of a certain age will fondly recall.
Cheryl Frances-Hoad: the Glory Tree
Champs Hill, 11.99 ****
WHO is Cheryl Frances-Hoad? Were it not for her own initiative and efforts at pulling together this crazily assorted recording of her chamber music written since leaving university a decade ago, I'd still be in the dark. But what comes out of these pieces – performed by a huge assortment of those who first played each individual work, among them Scots pianist Alasdair Beatson – is a voice overflowing not only with ideas, but also with the discipline and artistry necessary to harness them. The tracklist ranges from an evocative song cycle The Glory Tree that sets Anglo Saxon Christian texts, to other literary-inspired gems such as the piano trio My Fleeting Angel (after a Sylvia Plath short story) and string trio The Ogre Lover that draws on the connection between Plath and Ted Hughes. This, and much more besides, sets out the stall of a young composer well worth finding out about.
Alan Barnes with Ken Mathieson's Classic Jazz Orchestra: The Glasgow Suite
Woodville Records, 12.99 ****
IT'S no secret that Benny Carter's commissioned piece for the inaugural Glasgow Jazz Festival in 1987 was written at the very last minute, mostly after he arrived in Glasgow. It is now known as The Glasgow Suite, and is in five sections. It won't go down as a timeless classic, but is well worth hearing again in these arrangements made by drummer Ken Mathieson for his own eight-piece Classic Jazz Orchestra (he actually commissioned the music as the director of that first festival). The suite forms the centrepiece of another excellent disc, with the equally excellent Alan Barnes as guest soloist on alto saxophone and clarinet. Carter's music is beautifully played, Barnes and the band add their own creative contributions, and the eight other standards and Carter compositions maintain the CJO's usual high standard of arranging and execution. KENNY MATHIESON
Steve Tilston: The Reckoning
Hubris Records, 12.99 ****
FORTY years after his debut album, this seasoned voice and guitar on the English folk scene, whose songs are widely covered, shows no sign of diminishing powers. Despite occasional echoes of better-known peers such as Renbourn or Jansch (as in the jog-along musings of Doubting Thomas, and his closing homage to the late Davy Graham), Tilston is very much his own man. These are songs of great heart, delivered with authority and instrumental panache, whether celebrating the landscape in Pennine Spring or the lyrical This is the Dawn, revisiting the tradition in Nottamun Town Return (driven by Keith Warmington's harmonica) or Weeping Willow Replanted, or musing on life and everything with the help of a string section in the unashamedly sentimental Memory Lane. My own particular favourites are the sublime Sovereign of Tides, a sort of eastern nocturne, and the delicious guitar spin of the Davy Lamp set. JIM GILCHRIST