Album reviews: Delta Mainline | Texas | Barrule

Sharleen Spiteri of Texas. Picture: Contributed

Sharleen Spiteri of Texas. Picture: Contributed

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Our roundup of the latest releases

Delta Mainline

Oh Enlightenment

Re Hab Sound, available online only

*****

This is a most impressive debut from the Edinburgh seven piece, like a lively pint crammed into a half-pint pot. It froths and sputters with a certain menace from the moment the eerie atmospherics of opener Tus Nua yield to the psychobilly of Misinformation. It ripples with an energy seldom heard since punk’s headiest days, ferociously fermenting into the brassy Stop This Feeling. An endearing anarchic approach continues through a spirited attempt to condense the Velvet Underground’s career into The Church Is Up For Sale. A fragile beauty is celebrated on Home To You, before descending into a modern prog rock finale to make Syd Barrett smile.

CS

Download this: The Church Is Up For Sale, Dark Energy

Texas

The Conversation

Pias, £13.99

****

An old-fashioned ear worm, the title track of Texas’s new album ingrains itself in the memory after a single play, proving that Sharleen Spiteri and Johnny McElhone’s knack for composing memorable pop remains undiminished. The band’s first new work in eight years sits well with all its predecessors, sensibly not trying too many variations on the proven successful theme. The group’s natural affinity with Americana is well served by Detroit City, as they have been by a Motown backbeat in the past. Hearts Are Made To Stray hints at a different musical heritage, no less appealing. A safe and solid return to the fray.

CS

Download this: The Conversation, Detroit City

Dominic Alldis Trio

A Childhood Suite

CANZ CD7, £13.99

****

Four years ago, the English pianist, composer and arranger Alldis released Songs We Heard, a collection of piano trio improvisations on nursery rhyme themes. With A Childhood Suite he revisits 14 of these tunes, in the company of a string orchestra, and the results are lovely, the strings adding a richness and cinematic quality to the proceedings while contrasting with the lightness of Alldis’s piano touch. There are some memorable moments of witty interplay between piano and strings, notably on London Bridge and I Saw Three Ships, and a funky arrangement of Three Blind Mice that’s so catchy it could change the way you sing that tune.

Alison Kerr

Download this: I Saw Three Ships, Frère Jacques

Barrule

Easy On The Records

Wardfell Records, EOTR02, £13.99

****

Tomas Callister, Jamie Smith and Adam Rhodes (plus half a dozen guest musos) lead this innovative charge into the music of the Isle of Man, and can all play very, very well on fiddle, piano box and bouzouki. The album vocals are split between accordionist Jamie and guest singer Greg Loughin, whose traditional She Lhong Honnick Mee is also offered as a free download on the Barrule website. The 13 tracks are a contemporary expression of the character of the separately evolving Manx musical identity, and are heavily laden with atmosphere and vitality – yet do not sound either Irish, Scots nor English. So, full marks to the funding by the Manx Heritage Foundation.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Irree Ny Greiney

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Missa Brevis in D Major and B Flat Major

Naxos 8.573092, £6.99

*****

In an economic downturn, you make savings where you can. For the newly-elected Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in 1772, even “the most Solemn Mass spoken by the Archbishop himself” had to be kept short. The cuts also applied to composers: although each Mass still required a full complement of instruments – “trumpets, drums and so forth” – Mozart, as the Archbishop’s resident composer, was obliged to write less (constraints of this kind that would ultimately lead to Mozart’s self-driven dismissal almost a decade later). Compare this solid recording by the St Albans Cathedral Choir and Sinfonia Verdi under Andrew Lucas with his much longer religious works, and you can see just how the cuts affected the arts. Plus ça change.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Allegro and Andante (Fantasia) in F minor

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