Album Reviews

Stornoway: Beachcomber's Windowsill (4AD B003FVCZ8Q) £11.99

Oxford band Stornoway were featured in the BBC's Sound of 2010 poll, and it's easy to see why. Named after a town on the Isle of Lewis, this folksy four-piece has produced a beautiful debut album evocative of long days spent in the great outdoors. Anthemic opener Zorbing

will reel you in with its irresistible chorus, but slow-burners like Fuel Up and The Coldharbour Road will have you playing this over and over. And, thanks to Brian Briggs' clear-as-a-bell vocals, you'll be able to sing along. A perfect summery treat. AW

Villagers: Becoming A Jackal (Domino B003D85E6Q) 11.99

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Conor O'Brien is a talented young man. The Dubliner is responsible for everything on Becoming A Jackal – writing the songs, playing the instruments and producing the album – and it's an accomplished effort. Atmospheric opener I Saw The Dead may be slightly morbid, but it doesn't set the tone for the whole album. The strong baseline of the

more upbeat title track makes it instantly catchy and there are other stand-out tracks such as the poignant The Meaning Of

The Ritual and melodic Set The Tigers Free. AW

Dohnanyi: String Quartets Nos 1 & 3/Ruralia Hungarica Praga PRD/DSD 250 268 13.99

A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning the neglect of Dohnanyi when this superb disc arrived for review. The Third Quartet, with its rhythmically catchy finale, is a joyful score full of highly attractive melodies. From his student years, the First had its roots in Haydn and is of more than a passing pleasure. The short Ruralia Hungarica for cello and piano is an added bonus. Magical and technically immaculate playing comes from the Kocian Quartet. DD

Shostakovich: Symphony No.14 Alpha 159 13.99

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A score of unremitting sadness here played out in an operatic presentation, the soprano, Julia Korpacheva, heartbreaking in the fifth song and sounding totally demented in the sixth. There have been more high-profile recordings, but this delivers you to the heart of the music, can you take it? Musica Aeterna, from Novosibirsk, turn the thumb-screw on our emotions; Petr Migunov is a reliable bass, while conductor, Teodor Currentzis, is a sure-footed guide. A bit boomy in the bottom end, but well-balanced sound. Disturbing but remarkable. DD