West My Friend: In Constellation

Canadian folk trio West My Friend have roped in a symphony orchestra and choir to go with their regular guitar, mandolin and accordion for this new album. If your record collection is stuffed with 50s style crooners and big bands accompanied by an accordion, this is for you. For the rest of us, it’s an […]

Charlie Parr: Charlie Parr

At first play, Charlie Parr’s self-titled new album sounds like a worthy but basically routine album: man sings while skilfully finger-picking a 12-string. (He plays a Mule resonator, National resonator guitar, a fretless open-back banjo, and a 12-string guitar, often in the Piedmont blues style). The album is a mix of old and new songs, […]

Eleanor Hodgkinson: Nino Rota, Complete Solo Piano Works, Vol. 1

You all know the music of Nino Rota — he wrote scores for films such as The Godfather; the famous main theme from that, Speak Softly, Love is his. He also wrote the music for 150 other films. His day job was director of the Conservatorio di Musica Niccolò Piccinni in Bari and he also […]

Antje Weithaas: Schumann Violin Concerto

This was one of Schumann’s last major compositions, and should perhaps be called “the doomed”. It remained more or less unknown for more than 80 years after it was written, because violinist Joseph Joachim, for whom it was composed, suspected it revealed the composer’s madness (bipolar, probably). Then, as the sleeve notes explain, it was […]

Marius Neset: Viaduct

Nominally jazz but Norwegian saxophonist Neset proves he is a composer, period, as he and the London Sinfonietta baffle anyone who tries to pigeon-hole music. The piece opens with bustling orchestral strings and percussion before a jazz sound emerges with urgently plucked double bass (?) and some easy listening sax before it all goes a […]

Sebastian: Thirst

Without wanting to sound pretentious, you only have to know that this is out on (dance label) Ed Banger Records, to know the sound. The label is home to Justice and Uffie (Pop the Glock), as well as Cassius, Krazy Baldhead, DJ Mehdi and Mr Oizo: old-school club bangers. (Think Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With […]

Buddy: The Regent Theatre, Hanley

There is musical theatre and then there is Buddy – so full of hit songs that it feels like a concert. Upbeat, energetic and hugely entertaining, Buddy charts the period from musical trailblazer Buddy Holly switching from country music to the rock ‘n’ roll that made his name, to the last day he played. For […]

Arabnormal: Arabnormal

Arabnormal is led by Younes Faltakh, formerly of Belgian alternative rock band The Hickey Underworld, from Antwerp. (The name comes from a song that appears on the album Plays Pretty for Baby, by Washington DC punks Nation of Ulysses). Belgian music is good, and while you might not have heard of Review Corner favourites Castus, […]

Rex Orange County: Pony

Rex, known to his mum Mrs O’Connor as Alexander, grew up in the rock ‘n’ roll heartland — a village in Surrey. (Actually Grayshott: from 1898 to 1900, Flora Thompson, author of Lark Rise to Candleford, was assistant postmistress there; among her customers was Arthur Conan Doyle. That kind of place.) Clearly a talented musician, […]

Courteeners: More. Again. Forever.

So: Courteeners make a good album shocker. It’s not that the songs are better, it’s just got a groove. Opener Heart Attack has a fat baseline and will be a song fans probably love. The lyric “Here we go / new tempo / pick another song for the radio” suggests business as usual (and fondness […]