Album Reviews

Have your say

The Bottletop Band – Dream Service (Bottletop B0058VZRB8): Charity albums raise funds for good causes, but musical quality is not always a key issue. Fortunately, The Bottletop Band bucks the trend. With the help of leading Brazilian musicians, many of the UK’s celebrated artists have contributed to the album with VV Brown, Carl Barat, Gruff Rhys and Eliza Doolittle among the line-up. An enjoyable listen throughout, the money raised will support charitable initiatives in countries including Brazil, Malawi and Rwanda. The Bottletop Band’s cross-cultural groove is best exemplified by One In A Million, with vocals by Doolittle. The perfect soundtrack to lazy, sunny afternoons. KM

Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves (Domino Recording B005FNWCMG): This solo album from Devonte Hynes is made up of languid, sun-bleached numbers. The slowed-to-a-crawl rhythm of S’cooled, longing chords of Can We Go Inside Now and the smooth, hypnotic groove of Sutphin Boulevard are the perfect soundtrack for lazing the day away. Tracks such as I’m Sorry We Lied switch up the pace to pleasing effect, bringing some motorik beats and a touch more urgency. The album’s title hits the nail on the head, as for the most part this is an album of achingly subtle, 1980s-inspired pop loveliness. SH

Paul McCartney – Driving Rain (UMC B004T8J69K): Nearly 10 years after its original release, Driving Rain gets a second outing. The original saw Paul McCartney produce a raw, uncompromising sound, unfortunately the effect wasn’t always successful. A decade on, the cracks are all the more visible. About You trundles along without much weight, as does the well-intentioned, though clumsy, Freedom. Meanwhile, the jaunty Heather and I Do make for an uncomfortable listen. It’s the nursery rhyme-like She’s Given Up Talking which stands out as one of few highlights, if only as a blueprint for the more accomplished outings of the last few years. RP

Crystal Fighters – Star Of Love (Deluxe edition) (Zirkulo B0043PUIS2): Originally released in October 2010, this is the deluxe edition of the Spanish and English five-piece outfit’s debut. Clearly inspired by both the traditional folk music of Spain’s Basque region and modern acts such as Casiokids and CSS, the album was well received with highlights including I Love London, I Do This Everyday and Xtatic Truth. The deluxe edition includes the group’s strong cover of Golpes Bajos’ Fiesta De Los Maniquins, as well as satisfying acoustic versions of album tracks Plage, At Home, Champion Sound and Follow. AG

Delius – Songbook, Volume 1 (Stone Records 5060192780062): Although Delius was born in Bradford, America and Germany are where he learned his trade and France was where he practised it. So it’s a surprise to find so much of the Victorian parlour in To the Queen of my Heart. It is one element of an impressive enterprise by baritone Mark Stone and pianist Stephen Barlow to record all the composer’s songs. Delights abound and Stone reveals the scope of the material with skill and affection. DD

Howard Blake – Works for String Quartet (Naxos 8.572688): Blake was propelled to international success by his score for The Snowman and Walking in the Air finds a place on this recording alongside four more substantial works, including Spieltrieb. His gift for lyrical melody is matched by a capacity to establish mood and atmosphere within a few bars, notably in his arrangement of his film score A Month in the Country. The Edinburgh Quartet, which commissioned Spieltrieb, plays with a lovely warmth of phrase. DD