Album reviews: Randolph’s Leap | Fatherson

Randolph's Leap

Randolph's Leap

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DESPITE a healthy back catalogue of recorded work, multi-member pop orchestra Randolph’s Leap have only now arrived with their debut LP proper.

Randolph’s Leap

Clumsy Knot

Lost Map, web only

Star rating: * * *

It’s the second album to be released on Johnny Lynch’s Eigg-based Lost Map label, after the former Fence Collective stalwart parted ways with Fence founder Kenny Anderson last year.

As befits the tone of its title, Clumsy Knot starts with a pure shot of gangly, hesitant trepidation. “I know people like me like to judge people like me,” croons the band’s singer and songwriter Adam Ross in a crystalline falsetto. “It started out fun but now the house is on fire... you stand there in the grass with your head in your hands / in sailing attire.” Some may find it a lazy comparison, but it is impossible to see any fan of Belle & Sebastian being turned off by the combination of wry humour and winsome emotion evoked here.

The rest of the record is similarly light of touch and cheerful of spirit, from the boisterous rag of News to Gina’s winsome, almost hip-hop timed groove and the lullaby tenderness of Black & Blue.

Ross’s vocal feels pushed to the fore and all the more intimate for it, but despite how personable the music is, there’s a shortage of real standout moments like Weatherman’s escalating folk symphony and Microcosm’s growling indie rush. Throughout, it feels like the work of a band who have just found their feet and are poised to grow from here. David Pollock

Download: Weatherman, Microcosm

POP

Fatherson

I Am An Island

A Modern Way, £13.99

Star rating: * * *

The latest addition to Scotland’s repertoire of acts built on yearning, voice-cracking choruses and galloping post-emo guitar riffs, there are hints of Biffy Clyro and Idlewild to Kilmarnock’s Fatherson. For all that their sound is derivative, though, it’s created with care and enthusiasm by singer Ross Leighton and Co, right. Opener An Island comes in on a wistful kind of pastoral rock and kicks up a gear with roared harmonies, there’s a certain nostalgia to Hometown, and plaintive acoustic itches are scratched with Dust and the epic James. It’s the kind of debut which suggests they’ll walk a critical and commercial tightrope as they grow as a band. DP

Download: Hometown, James

Holy Mountain

Ancient Astronauts

Chemikal Underground, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

Two years after their debut album Earth Measures, Glasgow power trio Holy Mountain are back on Chemikal Underground with a follow-up which is utterly one-note and inflexible –

and that’s in no way a criticism. Through its eight tracks it’s a retro distillation of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, a raw, organic, heads-down invocation of the might of the rock riff. Those holding no truck with old-school metal music will most likely be turned off, but for anyone who’s happy to open their ears to a sound which pummels the body like a deep tissue massage, it’s a cathartic experience. DP

Download: LV-42666, Hollow Hill

JAZZ

California Feetwarmers

California Feetwarmers

84501968256, web only

Star rating: * * *

This eight-piece American band seems at first to belong to the trad jazz category, thanks to their deliberately primitive jazz sound and predominant banjo and sousaphone, albeit with a repertoire that is more wide-ranging than most (two Bix Beiderbecke-associated tunes, a trio of original numbers and a sprinkling of obscurities). But listen a few tracks into their musical calling card and a strong roots/Americana/Old Time sensibility emerges; you could almost imagine John Turturro and George Clooney dancing in their dungarees to France Blues. The most striking aspect of this CD is the exuberance of all concerned; this is undoubtedly a band that is best experienced live. Alison Kerr

Download: France Blues

FOLK

Fiona Hunter

Fiona Hunter

Rusty Squash Horn Records RSH004CD, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

An album full of Scots ballads, including The Cruel Mother, The Laird O Drum and Young Emsley, performed by a youthful singer, would have been a significant event in post-war Scotland, riding on the tail of the explosion of enthusiasm for the instrumental tradition on fiddle, pipes, squeeze-box and harp. And Hunter carries it through well, with perhaps a little too much instrumental involvement here and there. The singer handles the songs powerfully and adds some quality to the Referendum soundtrack. Norman Chalmers

Download: Braes O Gleniffer

CLASSICAL

Georg Friederic Handel

Der Messias

Hänssler Classic CD 098.022, £16.99

Star rating: * * * * *

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may be known primarily as a composer and performer, but he was, like most musicians of his day, also able to rework music by other composers when required. Forty years after Handel’s death, Mozart was commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa’s principal librarian to remodel his oratorios for invitation-only Lenten and Christmas performances in the homes of noblemen. These commissions involved more than simply refitting compositions to meet performance requirements, including the absence of an organ, or to address changing tastes; they also involved editing Handel’s arias to fit the various capacities of the soloists involved.

The quality of the result is amply demonstrated in this splendidly clear performance conducted by Helmuth Rilling, involving a highly skilled orchestra, chorus and soloists. Well worth adding to anyone’s library. Alexander Bryce

Download: Alle Tale macht hoch und erhaben

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