Brazilian Landscapes

This fascinating CD is nominally classical with jazz influences, but you could call it world because of the rhythm, which leans towards the Latin. It’s a quiet and reflective album. The percussion plays varying roles in the music, coming to the fore in places and dropping back in others. There’s a sense of fun about […]

Various: Music from The American Epic Sessions

We thought Old Crow Medicine Show doing Blonde on Blonde live in Nashville was pretty cool but this is even better. The backstory is that it’s a television documentary on the early days of music. In the 1920s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies took to the road to find new […]

Hackney Colliery Band: Live

Whenever we’re down in the dumps in the Review Corner, we often play Rock With the Hot 8, by The Hot 8 Brass Band, a New Orleans outfit that blend hip-hop, jazz and funk. It’s not brass as you might expect if you’re a fan of Foden’s Band, and nor are there eight of them, […]

Nadine Khouri: The Salted Air

Khouri is a British-Lebanese musician and songwriter based in London, whose work is described by the Press release as “music born of perennial outsider status”. The PR cites a four-star Mojo review (“dark, possessed beauty”) and a five-star Radio Two review (“fascinating musical tapestry”). We’d give it three stars (“all a bit the same, really, […]

Raphael Doyle: Closer

  Most albums get compared with other albums or bands; this one is a book, Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man. That’s the story of his life in Auschwitz and its first chapter describes how his (and by extension) the reader’s humanity can be completely taken away if someone’s a big enough bastard. It’s […]

Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou: Madjafalao

This is surely going to go down as a classic in world music. It’s ace. Poly Rythmo are from Benin and play afrobeat, funk, soukous and other styles, often based on religious music rhythms. They formed in 1966 and recorded around 500 songs between the late 1960s and early 1980s. We came across them via […]

Jeremy Loops: Trading Change

Mr Loops is somewhere between Ed Sheeran, as in acoustic-based pop, and he uses loops a lot (as one would expect), and the dreaded Mumfords — it’s the kiss of death to use the M word in a review now — but it’s banjo-centric and has the bouncy feel of the Mumfords at their best. […]

Xylaroo: Sweetooth

After reading the biog, this is not what we were expecting. The sisters that make up Xylaroo are from Papa New Guinea and now live in London, via Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and we were expecting something a bit world, but opening song, Track A Lackin’ is a rollicking country tune. It […]

Various: Beating Heart Malawi

This is a hard album to review: it’s for a good cause but the quality is varied. African music goes down well in the Review Corner, the rootsier the better (ideally one player on a two-string guitar and another with krakebs) so this looked promising: traditional music from the International Library of African Music remixed […]

John McCusker: Hello, Goodbye

Charming is the word for this solo album from fiddle player McCusker: he’s celebrating 25 years as a professional musician but as he joined the Battlefield Band when he was still a nipper (well 17) he’s still a comparative stripling. As well as the Battlefield Band, he’s played and produced with Kate Rusby and Heidi […]