Album reviews: Bell X1 | Editors | Jazz | Folk | Classical

The rest of this week’s album releases reviewed by the Scotsman’s music critics

Bell X1
Bell X1
Bell X1


Bell X1

Chop Chop

Belly Up, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

This is pop with prog ambition, gently beautiful in the style of Elbow but without the angst-fired gruffness of Guy Garvey. Starlings Over Brighton Pier is as lovely and quintessentially English as it sounds, but there is a steeliness about these songs. A Thousand Little Downers boasts an instrumental sting in the tail, Feint Praise surpasses the clever wordplay of its title, and Careful What You Wish For packs more than a dreamy hook. This is music for sensitive grown-ups, with a hard edge. CS

Download this: I Will Follow You, Motorcades


The Weight Of Your Love

Play It Again Sam, £13.99

Star rating: * * *

The departure of lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz has not brought any discernible levity to the Editors’ flinty profile, on their fourth album. Ton Of Love, with its incessant one word refrain of “Desire”, tries but fails to batter the listener into compliance, but the band are horribly two-dimensional in an IMAX world, and listening to The Weight Of Your Love is a little like being trapped in a nasty 1980s echo chamber. CS

Download this: Two Hearted Spider, The Sting


David Newton, Andrew Cleyndert & 
Colin Oxley

Out Of This World

Trio Records TR590, £14.99

Star rating: * * * *

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This CD was devised to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Trio Records’ first release, My Ideal. The late Colin Purbrook was on piano duties on that recording; here, that role is filled by the equally elegant, though stylistically different Scottish pianist David Newton. What is apparent from the outset is that this is a trio which operates as one: the melody on the opening title number flows from Colin Oxley’s lyrical guitar to piano and back again; on others, Cleyndert’s bass is very much to the fore, rather than confined to background plus token solos. Among the highlights are a hard-swinging Who Cares, a gentle I’ll Be Seeing You, two gorgeous Jobim classics and two examples of Newton’s talents as composer. In all, a classy affair. Alison Kerr

Download this: Valse Jaq, Por Toda Minha Vida/O Grande Amor


Michael And The Lonesome Playboys

Bottle Cap Sky

Blackwater Records BW002, available online only

Star rating: * * * *

This is an altogether well-made album of songs written by Michael Ubaldini, who has won the title “The Jack Kerouac of Americana” or, more colloquially, a rock ’n’ roll poet, for his proven songwriting class. Here he re-invents the North American songbook, but the arrangements are inventive and strong, and the band all also contribute dense vocal harmony, adding an emotional tenderness to the loose searching spirit that sustains what is now seen as the leading band in California. Even if you won’t or don’t like alternative, new country or Transatlanticana, these guys certainly do the business. Norman Chalmers

Download this: Three Cheers For Heartache


James MacMillan


Challenge Classics CC72554, £14.99

Star rating: * * * * *

This recording of James MacMillan’s music by the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic covers almost 20 years of his composing career. The oldest work, Tryst, is the one that brought him to public attention with its performance by the SCO at the 1989 St Magnus Festival in Orkney. Based on a Scots poem by James Soutar, it’s a multi-faceted work, which graduates from the startling 
to the settled, but without ever losing its edge.

Three religious works complete the album: O, an antiphon composed as part of his Strathclyde Motets for liturgical performance by parish church choirs, and a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis composed for Wells and Westminster Cathedrals respectively. All demonstrate the beautifully rounded atmospheric effect, deriving from a thoughtful, modern writing style, that makes MacMillan one of today’s most popular composers of religious music. Alexander Bryce

Download this: O