Mutter Slater Band: The Champ

Mike “Mutter” Slater was front man and flute player for 70s cult band Stackridge, produced by George Martin and signed by Elton John. They played for The Old Grey Whistle Test and John Peel, but their story resembles a Ripping Yarn script for a spoof 70s rock band. Stackridge Lemon was formed from the remains […]

Philip Henderson: From The Old World To The New World

You could almost class this is a pop album — there’s an osmotic connection between ambient pop and classical music and this excellent CD is most definitely the pop side in places. Henderson wrote the music for shows such as The Far Pavilions and this awareness of what the masses wants infuses this easy-on-the-ear classical […]

Shakin’ Stevens: Echoes Of Our Times

The Brexit vote, the death of Elvis, John Major/Edwina Currie — some events are so unexpected that they change your world view. Right up there with them is this is new album from Shakin’ Stevens. It’s very, very good. In a proper, serious rock, sounds-a-bit-like-the-Beatles way. It’s a collection of strong songs with a blues/ […]

Yevgeny Sudbin: Scarlatti: 18 Sonatas

Ignorance is bliss in this case. We thought this CD of piano renditions of Scarlatti sonatas beautiful, but read a number of reviews that said purists might want to hear the works played on a harpsichord. Obviously, by the same token they should embrace all elements of life in the late c17th: bubonic plague, slavery, […]

Area 11: Modern Synthesis

Opener Override (C) promises Enter Shakiri style dance/rock/metal, but with more neck twiddling on the guitar. But The Contract is more pop punk than anything while Watchmaker suggests Muse-like ambitions, with a synth opening, though it’s a pop take on Muse, Area 11 not quite having the heft to do a full muse. Versus goes […]

Hattie Briggs: Young Runaway

This enjoyable folk/pop album reminded us of Texan singer Keri Noble. We bought her 2005 album Fearless and play it quite often still; what makes the album is her voice, which is crystal clear and refreshing. Nothing you could put your finger on, just honest and easy on the ear, with no vocal gymnastics, quirks […]

Teenage Fanclub: Here

We suspect this review is aimed only at non-Fannies (as the band is known). The true fans will have bought this, probably after studying the band members’ DNA for flaws and cross-referencing with what singer Norman Blake had for tea on Wednesdays in 2003. Looking at reviews of this and their live gigs, we saw […]

The Handsome Family: Unseen

Based on a series of complex algorithms, this is the second best album* we have received to review in the <mumble mumble> years we’ve been doing this reviewing game. That doesn’t mean it’s got the best tunes or the best singing or the wildest guitar solos: it’s a combination of meticulous song-writing, musicianship, production and […]

Martha: Blisters In the Pit Of My Heart

We call this punk because they do, but it’s as much indie as punk, and it’s rather marvellous. Hailing from the splendidly named hamlet of Pity Me (either a shortening of something like Petit Mere or an ironic name for an agriculturally barren area), Martha play a kind of indie emo punk. Musically, it’s bright […]