We take a look at five new CD releases from pop to classical, including the beautiful sounds of Mark Eitzel.
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone: It’s a wobbly line that Loyle Carner – real name Benjamin Coyle-Larner – walks on his debut LP, blending grime, jazz, rap and spoken word. Opening with The Isle Of Arran, edged throatily by a skin-shivering gospel choir, Carner’s low, rumbling vocals scoop up painful topics – from abandonment to doubt (“I wonder why my dad didn’t want me/ex didn’t need me”) – and lays them on you with feeling and nuance. The 21-year-old south Londoner was training at the Brit school until his stepfather’s death, a tragedy that propelled him back to music, and home to support his little brother and his mum. On the jazzy Ain’t Nothing Happens, he dissects ambition, while on Florence imagines making pancakes, set to warm, spare piano chords. There’s depth and beauty here. By Ella Walker
Mark Eitzel – Hey Mr Ferryman: Former American Music Club frontman Eitzel’s 10th solo album is his first in three years and was recorded in London with ex-Suede man Bernard Butler who also plays guitar, bass and keyboards. It’s a fruitful collaboration. Eitzel brings heartfelt lyrics and memorable melodies, while Butler gives the music a lush, shimmering warmth. Eitzel’s tales of the marginalised and downtrodden are as affecting as ever. The Road is slow-burning tale of defiance in the face of disappointment, Nothing And Everything is a tender, haunting story of someone in a very troubled relationship, while La Llorona ups the pace and unleashes fuzzy guitars. Wistful and bittersweet, this album shows Eitzel is still at the top of his game. by Darryl Webber
Xandria – Theater of Dimensions: German symphonic metal band Xandria are a haunting, powerful rock spectacle, and their new album expresses their sound so much more creatively than the previous LP, Sacrificium. It’s a big step up, putting them in the ball park with bands like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, and Within Temptation. Dianne van Giersbergen’s vocals are perfect, whether reaching piercing top notes like on Ship Of Doom, with its dark Irish folk twist, or gentler tones like on the ballad Dark Night Of The Soul. Backing her are high tempo drums and typically brash metal guitar riffs, with a subtle layer of keyboard and strings. It’s not surprising that by adding these you can make opera quite appealing, but instrumentally this band would be phenomenal to listen to. By Liam Sheasby
Horse Theif – Trials & Truths: Oklahoma five-piece Horse Thief have a good pedigree. They hail from the same town as Midlake and are friends with The Flaming Lips who introduced them to label Bella Union. This second album confirms them as one of US alt-rock’s brightest hopes with a collection of finely-honed tunes that encompass the epic and the intimate. There’s a sense of a band getting their heads around what they’re about, but there’s some accomplished songwriting on show. Another Youth is an upbeat reflection on getting old, but retaining your youthful spirit, while Drowsy is a frank look at how drugs can take over your life. Melancholy guitars accompany lyrics that take in love, longing, loneliness and depression, but the soaring melodies make this album an uplifting experience overall. By Darryl Webber
Choir of York Minster – Threads of Gold: It took almost two hundred years for English music to ascend from the abyss it had fallen into after the ‘Golden Age’ that blossomed under the patronage of the first Queen Elizabeth. During that period it enjoyed many of Europe’s outstanding composers, including Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, William Mundy and Orlando Gibbons, their sacred music here performed by the Choir of York Minster conducted by Robert Sharpe. Maybe the fact that the choir has one tonal quality to serve all purposes is a minor drawback, but within that realm they are excellent, the intonation of the boy trebles is unfailingly accurate. Mostly unaccompanied, David Pipe elsewhere introduces a discrete organ. Regent Records sound engineer has tamed the reverberant Minster. By David Denton