Album reviews: Lil Daggers | Big Country | Echoes Of Swing | Pharis and Jason Romero | Johannes Brahms, Stephen Hough

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This week’s album reviews include Dreams Stay With You from Big Country, Message From Mars by Echoes Of Swing and Lil Daggers’ album of the same name.

POP

LIL DAGGERS

Lil Daggers

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Song, By Toad, download only

The Scots label presents another unsigned nugget from the US, a hunk of psych-rock unearthed from the very back of the garage. Miami, Florida, is not the place you might expect to find music this rough and ready, or indeed downright dirty, but the fuzzy bass and distorted guitars work a treat.

Slave Exchange is driven by devilish dischord, and Dead Golden Girls is a true theme from the underworld. If you like the White Stripes or The Dead Weather, seek this out for a vaguely illicit thrill.

CS

Download this: Slave Exchange, Dead Golden Girls

BIG COUNTRY

Dreams Stay With You

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Active Distribution, £13.99

Almost a decade after Stuart Adamson was found dead in a Hawaiian hotel room, his band return with a live collection recorded at the Picture House in Edinburgh this year. Alarm front man Mike Peters is credited with preserving the band’s legacy, along with the original members and Bruce Watson’s son Jamie on second guitar. It is a heartfelt and creditable effort, if stripped of the angst which drove Adamson.

CS

Download this: East Of Eden, Steeltown

JAZZ

ECHOES OF SWING

Message From Mars

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EOSP 4506 2, download only

This offbeat CD from the German-English quartet has won a clutch of European jazz awards. It’s a mixture of classic jazz sounds and jazz twists on classical tunes – plus the weird title track written in the 1930s. Most of it hangs together well, though trumpeter Colin T Dawson’s Chet Baker-esque vocal numbers don’t seem in keeping with such hot tunes as Shake It And Break It or even the boppish The Ghost Of Marsden Grotto.

ALISON KERR

Download this: The Ghost Of Marsden Grotto, Butterfly Chase

FOLK

PHARIS AND JASON ROMERO

A Passing Glimpse

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Lula Records, LULA1102, import only

High in the wild woods of the US north-west, this couple lead a bucolic existence, building top echelon banjos under the Romero name for the likes of Ricky Scaggs and Dirk Powell. The rest of the time they sing old songs, cover other people’s, or write their own. Former member of BC’s Outlaw Social, Pharis stands out as a pithy wordsmith within that tradition, contributing five songs under which beautifully toned banjo and guitar come and go singly or closely intertwined. Over the other ten tracks, more authentic American traditions are upheld.

NORMAN CHALMERS

Download this: Lay Down In Sorrow

CLASSICAL

JOHANNES BRAHMS, STEPHEN HOUGH

Other Love Songs

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Linn CKD 382, £13.99

It’s tempting, sometimes, to discount the events of a composer’s personal life on his or her output, if only to try to avoid “reading into” a work something which may not be there. In Brahms’s case, however, it is clear that his mother’s death in 1865 spurred the religious German Requiem, premiered in 1869, just as unrequited love resulted in the much jollier Liebeslieder Waltzes. What is interesting is that they appeared within a few months of each other. To this spirited performance of both Brahms’s Liebeslieder works (the others being the New Liebeslieder of 1875), the Prince Consort add a specially composed work, Other Love Songs by Stephen Hough, exploring different types of love, from the devotional texts of Julian of Norwich to AE Housman’s gay-themed poetry. Unusual, insightful and highly enjoyable.

ALEXANDER BRYCE

Download this: Rede, Mädchen, allzu liebes

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