SANDI THOM: SMILE ... IT CONFUSES PEOPLE
RCA, 10.99 **
SANDI Thom's "discovery" following a series of gigs webcast from her basement is one of the more inspired marketing wheezes of recent times. But beyond her digital rags-to-riches story, there really isn't anything to mark out this Banff native from the legions of other rootsy pop troubadours strumming in bars up and down the country. Her simplistic modern-life-is-rubbish hit ditty I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) has the same whimsical, songwriter-next-door appeal as acoustic underdogs Nizlopi.
Elsewhere, it's difficult to overlook the KT Tunstall effect. Where Tunstall messes with the blues, Thom is a country gal with a powerful but unexceptional voice, and conventional songs to match.
TROMOLO, 10.99 ***
WITH its sophisticated sound, charming and understated arrangements, finely-wrought production from Parisian DJ Kid Loco, and an art nouveau-inspired sleeve, this second album from Glaswegian duo Quinn is an elegantly conceived work. Singer Louise Quinn has an appealing girlish clarity to her voice and applies a lipstick trace of sultriness when the occasion warrants. However, Luss is not the sort of album that seduces completely, as its songs are a little too wispy to really invade the consciousness.
SONIC YOUTH: RATHER RIPPED
GEFFEN, 12.99 ****
NEW York's feted noiseniks Sonic Youth have had their stale moments in the last quarter century. But the Youth in their middle youth have rarely sounded as vibrant as they do here. Rather Ripped is pop music Youth-style, boasting hooks which hark back to their Daydream Nation prime, when no indie disco was complete without a tear through Silver Rocket. Kim Gordon practically skips through the blithe Reena, while Turquoise Boy is positively lyrical. There are moments, such as Incinerate, when they simply do the best imitation of themselves. The Neutral is just dreary but, otherwise, this is an album to restore the faith, and maybe even prick up new ears.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: SCOTLAND - THE MUSIC AND THE SONG
GREENTRAX, 17.99 ****
IAN Green's personal selection from the more than 300 albums his label has issued adopts a catch-all approach, justifiable in the context of a portrait of the label. The music ranges from the very traditional singing of Jeannie Robertson through to the crossover experiments of Martyn Bennett and Peatbog Faeries, and covers a lot of ground in between.
ROY HARGROVE: NOTHING SERIOUS
VERVE RECORDS, 12.99 ***
AMERICAN trumpet star Roy Hargrove will bring the quintet featured on this disc to the Glasgow Jazz Festival this month. It is his first straight-ahead jazz release in a decade, issued simultaneously with Distractions, a more fusion-oriented disc featuring his RH Factor group. The quintet is augmented on three tracks by veteran trombone star Slide Hampton, including his own A Day in Vienna and pianist Ronnie Matthews's vibrant Salima's Dance. The band are equally slick on fiery uptempo workouts Nothing Serious, Camaraderie and Devil Eyes, and the lush soundscapes of Trust and The Gift.
BEETHOVEN: SYMPHONIES NO 2 AND 6
LSO LIVE, 7.99 *****
UTTER composure and authority drawn from a lifetime of musical exploration inform Bernard Haitink's latest Beethoven release with the LSO. The attention to detail is breathtaking. Vintage stuff.