Album reviews: The Strokes| Edwyn Collins| Gill Bowman

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A roundup of the latest music releases


The Strokes

Comedown Machine

RCA, £11.99

* * *

This is a fine enough follow-up to Julian Casablancas’s last solo album, but not exactly a re-entry record for The Strokes. It is louche and lithe but much of a muchness, with no standout songs or musical surprises. The title track attempts to contort keyboards into a psychedelic madrigal waft, while 50/50 gets back to New Wave basics with a serviceable guitar riff and driving beats,

Partners In Crime is jagged and a little jangly, and Chances explores falsetto vocal runs to no great effect. More run of the mill than running ahead of the pack, it only hints at better things with the ironic Happy Ending.


Download this: Comedown Machine, Call It Fate, Call It Karma

Edwyn Collins


Aed, £13.99

* * * *

Scotland’s rightly cherished rock legend continues to astound with his recovery from two brain haemorrhages suffered eight years ago.

His new album dances to a northern soul beat more than his previous work – Carry On, Carry On, in particular, throws up some talcum dust – and the backbeat runs through proceedings like a twisted spine. The twangier moments such as It’s A Reason can verge on the cloying, but what good country record doesn’t? Understated breaks no new ground, but is to be treasured for that.


Download this: Down The Line, Love’s Been Good To Me


Gill Bowman

My Yellow Ukelele

Songcircle Recordings 003, own distribution

* * *

Formerly a singing partner of Karine Polwart, Gill Bowman now runs a Song Circle in Stockbridge, aimed at the young children of Edinburgh. It’s also a public café, with a room for the under-five kids with their mothers/carers, and this new album mirrors the songs they learn.

Its 11 tracks include the eponymous song written by Gill, classic nursery rhymes, traditional Scottish lullabies and folk songs, and the opening poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Her acoustic guitar accompanies the songs, only two of which (Aiken Drum and When I First Came To This Land) stretch to three minutes.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: O Can Ye Sew Cushions?


Monty Alexander

Uplift 2: Higher

Jazz Legacy Productions, £14.99

* * *

This CD is a sequel to the 2011 Uplift which topped the JazzWeek chart twice within a year. It comprises performances culled from concerts and gigs around the world by Jamaican pianist Alexander’s two regular trios.

Among the staples of the Oscar Peterson-influenced musician’s repertoire that are included are St Thomas, Night Mist Blues and Montevideo, but the star turn is the exhilarating opener (an imaginative take on the American Civil War’s Battle Hymn Of The Republic).

A better balance of ballads and uptempo numbers would make this a more enjoyable listening experience.

Alison Kerr

Download this: Battle Hymn, Close Enough For Love


Edward Elgar

Cello Concerto

Telarc TEL 34030-02, £14.99

* * * * *

Sir Edward Elgar’s 1919 Cello Concerto was his last major composition, and one for which he retained a high personal regard.

Composed during what would be his last summer with his wife before her death, it appeared to mark the end of his creative life: “RIP Finis”, he wrote at the end of the score.

Contemporary cellists – and audiences – seem to find much that is attractive in the work, and this live recording, somewhat oddly paired with extracts from Smetana’s Ma Vlast, gives cellist Zuill Bailey a chance to demonstrate his solid technique.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Krzysztof Urbanski provide strong support in an accomplished, well-received performance.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Lento – Allegro Molto