Folk Music of China, Vol 3: Folk Songs of Yunnan

We Are Family is the opening piece but there’s no Sister Sledge in sight on this collection of traditional songs. The CD is the latest in a series exploring China’s diverse musical heritage. The songs featured in this recording are folk songs of three of the minority ethnic groups of Yunnan province — Wa, Blang, […]

Nils Landgren and Jan Lundgren: Kristallen

You wait, as they say, ages for an album of modern chamber music and then two come together, this and the Salt House album (folk, if you can’t be bothered clicking). Landgren (trombone and vocals) and Lundgren (piano) play similarly organic music to Salt House, and while it is jazz, it’s got an intimacy that […]

Skylark and The Scorpion: Weather The Storm & Melanie Martinez: K-12

You wait ages for a multimedia concept involving film and music to come along, and then two arrive at the same time. Weather The Storm is accompanied by a 10-part short film set against the Jurassic coastline of the Shetland Isles. Musically, it’s heartfelt and gentle folk; it’s on Guy Garvey’s record label so think […]

Green Day: Father of All…

At last: after unicorning around with rock operas and pulp-rock three-cd novelty releases, Green Day return with a strong album. It’s punk rock ‘n’ roll, albeit sanitised by producer Butch Walker, whose CV includes Taylor Swift. Opener Father Of All … kicks off with drums and riffs that echo Hendrix’s Fire but then becomes more […]

Squirrel Flower: I Was Born Swimming

One might expect some kind of fey folk frippery from a person (Ella O’Connor Williams) who calls herself Squirrel Flower, but this is pretty decent. Squirrel’s got a deeper voice than might be predicted and a fair few of the songs are decently beefy, the guitar playing sturdy in the vein of Dinosaur Jr, albeit […]

Salt House: Huam

This is folk music — Ewan MacPherson on guitars, Jenny Sturgeon on harmonium and guitar and Lauren MacColl, fiddle, viola, vocals — but in spirit it reminded us of chamber music: intimate tunes played by a small group of people in a small venue. Like classical works, the music is meticulously written and arranged, and […]

Philip Glass: Violin Concerto No 2, American Four Seasons

Pretty much all you need to know is in the title: it’s Philip Glass offering his take on the baroque classic. The idea for this came from violinist Robert McDuffie, who asked Glass for a concerto reflecting Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The aim was for a work that could be programmed with the Vivaldi and offer […]

Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

Bombay Bicycle Club are cursed by the same, er, curse as Foals: everything they do is good, but you expect that, so it’s hard to assess.Their quality control is just really high. We’ve long thought Foals and Bombay Bicycle are the best bands in the UK so we were doubly pleased when both released new […]

Vetiver: Up on High

Vetiver’s Andy Cabic has a gentle voice — it’s a bit like Iain Archer (ex Snow Patrol, doesn’t sound like Snow Patrol). It’s melodic and tuneful yet Cabic’s singing style does not involve much variation. Like Archer’s solo albums (all recommended), it’s a soothing and warm sound. He sings about life; opener The Living End […]

Philip Glass: Glassworlds 6

The sleeve notes say Glass was chatting to someone who lamented America’s lack of history, so Glass set about creating one, lacing together his native culture and its legends. Thus were born the works on this excellent CD. The opening piece is “his most challenging piece to date,” Concerto for Piano No.2, After Lewis and […]