Arcane Roots: Melancholia Hymns

Arcane Roots’ debut album Left Fire is one of our highlights of the last decade: loud, ambitious prog/math rock with tons of melody. Follow-up album Blood and Chemistry ditched the melody in favour of more complex but less tuneful prog, with some screaming thrown in. This new album reels back on the full-on prog but […]

Cliff Richard: Stronger Thru the Years

The title is loosely based on his 1989 album Stronger, and the double CD opens with Stronger Than That, a tight, upbeat pop tune from the late 1980s, with a fast beat and typical 80s sound: we kept expecting Crocket and Tubbs to kick the door in. After that, it’s a compilation of his hits […]

Engelbert Humperdinck: The Man I Want to Be

The existence of Engelbert Humperdinck has always baffled us: to whit why Arnold Dorsey, of Leicester, should adopt the stage name of a German 19th century composer of operas. The idea worked, which is more surprising. Even if you don’t know who Humperdinck is (the still-alive one) you’ll know his songs: described as “one of […]

Timothy Hamilton: Requiem

Carlsberg have that advert, “If Carlsberg did…” followed by something really good. The best way we can put this is, “If Cliff Adams did requiems…” By which we mean that this modern piece — it was commissioned in 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War — manages to be […]

Shane Richie: A Country Soul

We were expecting this to be a bit dire but it’s good. If you like soft pop/country, you’ll probably love it. We don’t know much about Ritchie, as we don’t watch Eastenders or game shows, but do know he’s done some musicals and that he likes country. It’s country in the sense that The Corrs […]

Piano A Deux: France Revisited

An album we have played a number of times without being able to decide what its main attraction is: sprightly air, nice atmosphere or the rather luxurious effect of having two pairs of hands playing. It’s an engrossing and entertaining album. Piano A Deux is husband and wife Robert and Linda Stoodley. This new album […]

Treasure Island at the New Vic Theatre

The New Vic Theatre’s Christmas production (it’s not a panto) (oh no it’s not) is a new adaptation of the famous RL Stevenson book Treasure Island. The book created much of the modern mythology of pirates (maps, Xs marking spots, pieces of eight and wooden legs) and all the trademark piratical images are seen on […]

From The Jam: Live!

We’re not really into tribute bands but this one seems pretty good, not least because an original band member is in it. Former Jam drummer Rick Buckler, then working as an antique furniture restorer and dealer in Woking, formed From The Jam, playing old material from The Jam’s back catalogue. In 2007, Buckler’s former bandmate […]

The Front Bottoms: Going Grey

This is possibly the worst band name ever, not even really offensive just puerile. Maybe it gets them straight to their core audience: beer chugging students who want likeable shouty indie to sing along to. We’d favour that explanation: The Front Bottoms are not stupid and can turn in a great tune. We came across […]

O’Hooley and Tidow: WinterFolk

In our minds, O’Hooley and Tidow are linked with Kate Rusby: we really admire what Rusby does, but her music is too glum for us to ever listen to. We saw her live once and she joked about her glumness in the run-up to announcing her next song, I Am Sad. Ho ho. Belinda O’Hooley […]