Memphis Industries £11.99
The Brewis brothers’ fourth album flits about without ever settling into a particular style, bobbing from Beach Boys-style arrangements – Sorry Again Mate – into skewed indie rock stylings on A New Town. On A Prelude To Pilgrim Street it feels as though the pair have been consumed by their own prog glam influences and spat out after a thorough chewing. The offhand English eccentricity is rather beguiling but rarely compelling, as though their music does not travel well, even if it is only from Wearside. Who’ll Pay The Bills attempts to engage in dialogues with little dramatic potency, while Ce Soir is a strangely out-of-place if charming continental excursion.
Download this: (I Keep Thinking About ) A New Thing, A New Town
This is a functional little pop record with its feet firmly planted in the 80s world of easily consumed melody and production, and a head occasionally aspiring to a loftier pretension. Recorded in his parents’ barn at their Melbourne farm, Making Mirrors will prove to be an inoffensive grower, but lacks the inspiration to really grip. It gets more innocuous when the tempo drops, with Giving Me A Chance failing to provide any reasons why you should.
You would think that an Australian Belgian doing bad cod reggae would be nasty, and State Of The Art clinches it.
Download this: Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You
The Complete Masters 1935-1955
Universal 533 610-1, £25.99
The Ella Fitzgerald set in this superb new series of limited edition box sets may not – as the Billie Holiday one did – cover her entire career, but it takes in some of her finest work, notably this reviewer’s favourite Fitzgerald recordings, the duets with elegant pianist Ellis Larkins in 1950 (her first Gershwin songbook) and 1954. The 14 discs span the dynamic singer’s output from her coquettish debut with Chick Webb through to the 1950s when she exuded a downright regal quality on her ballads.
Download this: Looking For A Boy, Stardust
Lamond Gillespie, Cormac Cannon and John Blake
The Trip To Carrick
LCB001, from www.custysmusic.com
Hard to find, indeed rare of this quality, this is a modest yet powerful gem of instrumental prowess, uniting a fiddler, piper and piano player in their shared love of the “old style” of traditional Irish music-making. Taking their model from the early 20th-century recordings, the monumental solidity of the phrasing with the intricate, expressive interwoven decoration of rolls, cuts and crans is a huge delight over the 15 tracks, recorded “live” over three weekends in a Donegal cottage. Each set of reels, jigs, hornpipes, laments or waltzes is accompanied by well-informed notes.
On the sleeve notes, Irish fiddle legend Tommy Peoples has the final word: “Their music lives joyously in the honour and respect of a cherished and treasured heritage.”
Download this: Ceo ar a’gCaoic/Sporting Paddy
Alfred Brendel plays Liszt
Decca 478 2825, £22.99
Decca’s Artist’s Choice series allows performers to select what they consider to be the best of their recording career with the label, which in pianist Alfred Brendel’s case, takes up three CDs for Liszt alone. If nothing else, this gives Brendel the chance to display his artistry and Liszt’s compositional variety. Listening to works composed from the 1830s, it is clear that this is, from the start, forward-looking and getting more adventurous – if more reflective – over the next 50 years.
In playing what are almost always works for solo piano, Brendel’s technique is fully exposed in recordings that cover 20 years of performance, and never falters throughout. Fully deserving of a place in anyone’s collection.
Download this: Années de Pèlerinage, Sposalizio