The Handsome Family: Through The Trees

This re-issue — it’s 20 years since The Handsome Family first released it — is bloody marvellous. Its basic sound could be 100 years old, a couple of (rather sinister) folks with beards and overalls making country music on a porch, but it’s got a modern feel and the lyrics are heartfelt; in fact, that’s […]

Hinds: I Don’t Run

When 2016’s Leave Me Alone came out, Hinds were the new super-cool indie band. We found its ramshackle garage charms, well, charming, but they had one sound and that charm faded as the album played through. It would have been a good six-track EP. Wikipedia reports that it only debuted at 47 on the UK […]

Dave O’Higgins: It’s Always 9.30 in Zog

If the title alone doesn’t want to make you buy this — it’s surely the coolest album name ever — the sleeve, evocative of the old Blue Note house style, should. O’Higgins is a Birmingham-born jazz saxophonist, who has recorded 19 albums as a leader, so while he’s new to us, proper jazz fans must […]

My Indigo: My Indigo

Dutch singer Sharon den Adel is better known for leading Within Temptation, a symphonic metal band; it’s a genre that is less than huge over here, but is massive in Europe, where the band has shifted millions of albums. She wrote this to deal with personal problems. The album is probably okay for Europeans who […]

Port Cities: Port Cities

Unlike Hinds (see here), who are all quirk, Port Cities are not quite quirky enough; as those ghastly people on The Apprentice say, they have no USP. That’s not to say this is a bad album: Port Cities can turn in a good tune; the type Fleetwood Mac or Tom Petty fans would hear on […]

Denis Jones: 3333

Like The Courteeners, Denis Jones is from Manchester but unlike them he makes interesting music. On a website we found he was described as making “scuzzy Mancunian blues”, which is good, but misses out the word “electronic”. It’s the blues of a dirty city where residents have good reason to sing soulful songs, but it’s […]

Bryde: Like An Island

A lot of whether you like a song is down to the vocals: love the voice and you’ll like the music and vice versa (hence our apathy to Arctic Monkeys). Bryde’s voice is mesmerising and we love it. It’s strong but sounds vulnerable, and she reminded us of Paula Cole (Where Have All The Cowboys […]

The Courteeners: St Jude Re:Wired

We saw The Courteeners on the St Jude tour at the Sugarmill in Hanley; we wanted to like them but found their laddish rock slightly off-putting. Singer Liam Fray did some acoustic numbers and we thought we could sense a feeling that he wanted to branch off into more adventurous areas and leave the lads […]

Nan Schwartz / Brenton Broadstock: Orchestral Works

If you’ve ever played your favourite album of film soundtrack music and thought: “Hmmm, if only they’d thrown in some jazz guitar, this would be perfect,” then this is for you. To make it clear: most of this album is palatable and listenable but it’s not lightweight classical film fare. This is music with gravitas, […]

Wolf Harden: Busoni, Piano Music, Vol. 10

As Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan famously wrote of Jimmy’s harmonica, it “soothed the souls of psychos and the men who had the horn”, and this programme of piano music has the same effect. It’s calming. A man with an appellation to rival Mr MacGowan, Dante Michelangeli Benvenuto Ferruccio Busoni was born at Empoli near Florence […]