Comets On Fire: Avatar ****
SUB POP, 10.99
THE fourth album from freewheeling US quintet Comets On Fire must be some mystical portal back to 1969, immediately plunging the listener into what sounds like the middle of a hoary set of Woodstock-era acid rock which widdles on for eight minutes before the next sonic freak-out. Appreciation of this album is, therefore, somewhat dependent on a fondness for the collected works of Santana and other Californian wigout merchants from the era that hairdressers forgot. Sure, it's indulgent, but Comets On Fire don't forget to include melody in among the monster riffage which, at times, borders on the metallic. Though less gleeful than Wolfmother, Comets On Fire still manage to kiss the sky from time to time.
Nick Lachey: What's Left Of Me *
MORE a TV stooge than a pop star, Lachey was once a member of US boy band 98 Degrees (yeah, that lot, they did that song... y'know, whaddayacallit...) who became infinitely more fame-ish as Mr Jessica Simpson when the early days of the couple's nuptials were broadcast on MTV "reality" show Newlyweds. Your eyes will glaze over at the news that he is now the subject of an MTV special on the making and promoting of this stillborn album, which is every bit as formulaic as the TV pitch. Rather than follow the Robbie Williams/Justin Timberlake medium-funky route out of the boy-band straitjacket, Lachey has opted for the more insipid Ronan Keating/Darren Hayes brand of overwrought balladry. What's Left of Me is The Man's favourite album. Ever.
John Hart Trio: Standards Green and Blue ****
HEP RECORDS, 13.99
GUITARIST John Hart makes his debut in Scotland at the Edinburgh and Nairn jazz festivals this month, and this fine outing on the Perthshire-based HEP Records makes an excellent calling card for the New York musician. Hart brings a subtle but energised touch and imaginative musical sensibility to familiar standards and jazz tunes, as well as his own Green Acres and a cover of Joni Mitchell's Help Me.
Virtuoso vibes player Joe Locke adds his tasteful playing on half of the tunes, with Bill Moring (bass) and Tim Horner (drums) supplying swinging support.
Bannal: Bho Dhrn gu Drn ****
WAULKING songs have worked their way into the repertoire of a number of Gaelic singers these days, but they are the entire substance of the Glasgow-based band Bannal's output. The group can claim some of the credit for raising the profile of these island work songs in the last decade.
A rotation of lead singers within the group, including the likes of Kenna Campbell, Margaret Callan, Mary C MacLean, Christine Grant, Margaret Ann Campbell, Morag Law, Wilma Kennedy and Beathag Mhoireasdan, adds plenty of variety to the essentially similar rhythmic song structures. The double disc also features a DVD documentary on the group.
To order any of these CDs at the special prices listed, call The Scotsman music line on 0131 620 8400. Prices quoted include P&P.