Kate Halsall: Miniaturised Concertos and Maché

In the paper, we lumped this together with John Metcalfe’s Appearance Of Colour because they seemed similar but they’re not really. Metcalfe’s album is soothe and calming and reflective of nature, Halsall is angular and unsettling, and more based in hardware. Like Metcalfe, Halsall, a pianist, mixes genres; the album stems from a project started […]

John Metcalfe: The Appearance Of Colour

We bought this after previewing a gig he was playing: he’s a violinist who was once a member of The Durutti Column, and has provided string arrangements for the likes of Morrissey, Blur and Bat For Lashes. He sounded interesting. You’ve got to listen closely to this, otherwise it drifts by. The music varies between […]

New Order: Complete Music

Music Complete came out last year and was New Order’s first full studio release since 2005’s Waiting For The Siren’s Call, and their first without Hooky. It saw them dump the more dominant guitars for a fairer balance of electronics and guitars. Gillian Gilbert returned. We thought it was their best record for ages, a […]

Meadowlark: Paraffin EP

  Meadowlark’s last EP Dual is one of our favourite releases in the 15 years we’ve been writing reviews. It’s lovely, mainly because of Kate McGill’s voice, but her bandmate Daniel Broadley’s minimalistic guitar and synth arrangements complement her rather elfin vocals to perfection. They produce nuanced and textured sparse tunes, to which the word […]

Sixx AM: Prayer For The Damned

We were never fans of Motley Cru and glam/sleaze rock bands of their ilk, finding them clichéd and formulaic but this new album from Sixx Am — bassist Nikki Sixx, guitarist DJ Ashba and singer James Michael — is pretty good. It’s their fourth album (the first two were soundtracks for Sixx’s books) and as […]

The VirginMarys: Divides

It’s a shame VirginMarys were formed 10 miles down the road: Macclesfield has a bona fide successful modern rock band to boast about and we can’t wangle a local connection (other than drummer Danny Dolan has mates in Congleton). This is their second album and it’s a bit of a monster. It’s a sign of […]

Lydia Kakabadse: Cantica Sacra

This album of sacred choral works for the 21st century is a delightful CD, with some surprises as far as its background goes: Lydia Kakabadse has her roots in Greece, Austria, Russia and Georgia, but was born in Southport and grew up in Altrincham. Clearly a compulsive over-achiever, she started composing at 13 and after […]

Plague Vendor: Bloodsweat

If an album entitled “Bloodsweat” by a band called Plague Vendor sounds good to you, you’re going to like this. It’s a name for a band playing at the limit of music, be it punk or metal, one that wants a frenzied and loyal fan base to sweat blood in the moshpit at gigs. In […]

John Illsley: Long Shadows

  “Low key Dire Straits” would be a thumbnail review of this new album from bassist Illsley. We saw him live a while back and don’t remember him as being so Dire Straits-ish but the guitar work and overall sound on this suggests that the signature Straits sound was as much his as Mark Knopfler’s. […]

The Croutons: No Nonsense Monkey Business

The Croutons are Bill Ollier from Goostrey and Chris Wood from Congleton, who met in 2005 and so have been writing and playing together for a decade. We imagine the songs tell the story of the band: early hopes of becoming the new Simon and Garfunkel abandoned when they realise it’s more fun to play […]