OUR team of critics lend their ears to the latest sounds.
The Bravest Man In The Universe
XL Recordings, £11.99
The rocking soul of Womack has long been hot wired into the rock mainstream, and this record renews the working relationship with the random piano tinkling of Damon Albarn. This time in harness with XL Recordings’ boss and producer Richard Russell, they sieve out all the indulgent excess.
On Dayglo Reflection, Womack duets with Lana Del Rey, and it makes beauty and the best sense, like Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood.
Deep River and Sweet Baby Mine peel back the layers and expose the raw soul at the heart of what Bob is all about, even when singing about lollipops running through the rain.
Download this: Dayglo Reflection, The Bravest Man In The Universe
Light Of The North
Chemikal Underground, £11.99
Glasgow musician Julian Corrie’s first album for Chemikal Underground is packed with more gossamer delicate pop and gutsy electronic punch than ever. Hey Sound encapsulates the essence of Miaoux Miaoux with a throbbing keyboard bass line and crystal clear vocal balanced on top.
Cloud Computer boasts the binary bounce to make Vince Clarke green with envy, while Stop The Clocks is a modern folk song for the disposable generation. If the Monkees had access to modern technology, their music might have been this joyous. Here comes the summer…
Download this: Stop The Clocks, Ribbon Falls, Sweep Clean
Temple Records COMD2105, £12.99
The latest album by the Hamilton artist was recorded by the painter with two Mikes – Katz and Whellans, the Californian bagpiper/multi-instrumentalist and the Lauder one-man-band. For all its deft and cheerful new instrumental colouring, Nardini’s edgy, black-humoured bleakness is still there, as in The Best In Me and Xenophobic Blues, but his unique humanity and humour shine out everywhere, as does his uncompromised Larkhall/Hamilton accent. Nice to see we were at the same gig there when the early Rolling Stones played Hamilton’s Chantinghall Hotel, leaving it badly trashed, while Nardini met a new girlfriend.
Download this: The Silver Coin and The Rosary Beads
Fapy Lafertin & LeJazz
94-96 The Recordings
lejazzetal LJCD13, online only
This double disc of two 1990s albums recorded by the Hot Club-style LeJazz along with Fapy Lafertin, the world’s foremost exponent of gyspy jazz guitar, opens a bit of a can of jazz worms since it begs the question: would you listen to this when you could listen to the original Django Reinhardt recordings (although, admittedly he didn’t record all the tunes featured here, and there’s no attempt on the tunes that he did record to replicate them)?
Lovely and swinging though this band is, I’d prefer to hear them live and have my Hot Club moments with the original masters, Grappelli and Reinhardt.
Download this: To Each His Own, Que Reste-t’il De Nos Amours
Chopin Piano Concerto No 1, Beethoven Piano Concerto No 4
ICAC 5045, £11.99
Two masterly performances from almost half a century ago feature on this CD, both with backing from the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra (now the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne). Yet despite or perhaps because of their age, there’s a sense of majesty about both.
For the Chopin, recorded in 1954, the Chilean pianist has the German maestro Otto Klemperer as conductor. Five years later, with Christoph von Dohnányi conducting, Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto appears almost tentative and inward-looking, not just by comparison with the Chopin, but with contemporary renditions. Superb playing throughout from the entire ensemble makes this well worth hearing.
Download this: Chopin Piano Concerto No 1, Vivace