Littlemen: It’s a Beautiful Thing

If ever an album hid its delights in its opening bars, it’s this. The start of opener The Girl With The Red Blouse sounds something like a country take on Wet Wet Wet’s Something In The Air, a gentle, slow pop tune with soft vocals, no indication of what’s coming. Then it builds in power […]

Biffy Clyro: A Celebration of Endings

This is Biffy’s ninth album and possibly the most approachable: all the early roughness has gone, along with most of the pomp and theatricality of the later stuff. It’s just (just!) a classic melodic rock album; some heavy moments, but more reliance on melody. It’s a positive and upbeat album, too, and pretty well instantly […]

Murray McLachlan: Gregson: Complete Piano

This is an appealing collection of piano pieces. It takes in different styles and sounds, and ranges from the intimate to the more extravagantly romantic, but it’s got a definite charm throughout. It gets off to a cheery start with An Album For My Friends, 11 pieces written for friends and showing a love of […]

Robin Stevens: Prevailing Winds

This is a mostly enjoyable mixed bag of short works; you probably won’t like them all but it’s a diverting collection of music. In his sleeve notes, Stevens says that composing miniatures such as presented here can be liberating: if it doesn’t work, it’s less time wasted. They also add to a composer’s technical skills, […]

Camargo Guarnieri: Chôros, Vol 1

We’ve got bogged down a little with this: it’s so engrossing we’ve played it on repeat instead of getting on with other reviews. Guarnieri was born Mozart Camargo Guarnieri in 1907, and his dad was an Italian immigrant and music lover. He not only named his sons after great composers (Mozart, Verdi, Rossine and Belline, […]

Ryan Hamilton and The Harlequin Ghosts: Nowhere To Go But Everywhere

You could be in danger of hearing far too much of this likable pop album, which is basically Busted for adults and might get a lot of radio play. We’ve never heard of the band before but they are clearly all experienced musicians. Hamilton is American, and the Ghosts from the UK; Hamilton has played […]

Thomas Bartlett: Shelter

Pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett has toured the world and worked with people from The National to David Byrne and produced the likes of St Vincent and Sufjan Stevens, with whom he earned Academy award and Grammy award nominations. But like all the rest of us, come lockdown he was stuck at home with only his piano […]

Kerry Turner: Horn Works

The sleeve notes say that Turner developed his reputation as a composer with the American Horn Quartet, but has written horn and piano at the same time as his horn quartets. He performed these works for horn and piano along with Kristina Mascher-Turner, appearing as the Virtuoso Horn Duo. Since the majority of these pieces […]

Philip Hartmann: Invocazione brillante, Organ music by Carson Cooman

The lockdown could have stopped one-man organ machine Carson Cooman from composing, but it’s unlikely. He’s prolific and never stops. Normally we expect Erik Simmons to be playing Cooman’s work but for this it’s German organist Philip Hartmann, and he does a fine job. We used to find organ music hard going but repeated forced […]

Pottery: Welcome To Bobby’s Motel

This a fine album, interesting and meaty, with added cowbell for those who feel modern music lacks such percussive adornment. The title track kicks it all off, opening with a frantic snare roll and then the speeded-up soundtrack to a Tarantino movie, lots of tom toms, psychedelic guitar and a voice-over about dreams, then, after […]