The Week’s team of reviewers lend their ears to the latest musical releases
New York Hummingbird
Songboy Records, £12.99
Edinburgh singer-songwriter Dean Owens is the first to admit what he does is not rocket science, modestly suggesting it is only some chords and words arranged in the right order. But then, so were the Eagles’ early records.
Owens is not likely to sell quite as many CDs as the Eagles did, but each one released surpasses the last. Largely fan-funded, songs such as The One That Got Away and Wander On clearly deserve a wider audience. He has a classic Scottish pop voice – think Ken McCluskey in the Bluebells or even Les in his pomp with the Rollers. Dogged and determined, the title track suggests he should leave his heroes behind and become one himself.
Download this: New York Hummingbird, Wander On
The Mars Volta
Warner Brothers , £12.99
Psych rockers The Mars Volta once supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the SECC, and in the subsequent years they have refined their angular sound, but it still errs on the side of being deliberately obtuse. Aegis could be the theme for a prog pantomime, but misses the trick with too much falsetto warbling and silly lyrics.
This is a common trait of the former At The Drive-In lads, who write song titles like Dyslexion or Trinkets Pale Of Moon. But more attention to chord progressions and less to time signatures would be more beneficial all round. Lovely, but laughable.
Download this: In Absentia, Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound
I Told You So
EJF CD111, available through Edinburgh Jazz Festival office
The first release from the Edinburgh Jazz Festival’s new label is by a singer who, in just a few years, has established herself as a favourite in the capital thanks to her soulful voice, eclectic material and excellent taste in putting together her band. All of these qualities are to the fore on this classily arranged CD, which showcases such A-listers as Martin Kershaw (alto saxophone) and Brian Kellock (piano), and finds King as commanding on ballads as on sassy blues.
Download this: I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, Trapped
Sgoil Chiuil Gaidhealtachd Records, SCGCD011D, www.allcelticmusic.com
It’s another year, another album from the pupils of the Plockton High School’s National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music. And it truly is excellent, in the main. The imagination and skill of the 25 or so “agents” is fully up to the tasks implicit in conceiving and performing the dozen tracks on each CD, which brim with adventurous arrangements in contemporary style.
Any weakness tends to come in the vocal department, where the lack of maturity is noticeable – but what a fine double album from the staff who produced, and the youth who revel in the music and reveal their hearts.
Download this: The Piobaireachd Set
Johannes Brahms, Nino Rota
Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano
Dinmore DRD 224, download only
In 1890, nearing the age of 60, Johannes Brahms proposed to retire from composing, but a trip to the Meiningen arts festival convinced him otherwise, after hearing works for the clarinet by Weber and Mozart, performed by Richard Mühlfeld. The clarinet wasn’t an instrument Brahms had held in any particular regard previously, but his Sonatas (performed here by Leslie Craven with pianist Michael Pollock) demonstrate how swiftly and expertly he identified with the instrument to create sonorous, full-bodied music. Nino Rota’s lyrical, neo-Romantic Sonata and Trio, here recorded to mark the centenary of his birth, provide fitting partners. High quality music – and a label well worth exploring.
Download this: Brahms Sonata No 1, 3rd movement
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west