Kirsty MacColl, All I Ever Wanted, The Anthology (Salvo) ****; Billy Bragg, Live At The Union Chapel London (Cooking Vinyl CD/DVD) ****

3:38pm Thursday 24th April 2014

THE link here is A New England. “I was 21 years when I wrote this song; I’m 22 now but I won’t be long,” wrote former squaddie Bragg, who is 56 now and still going strong. Kirsty MacColl covered it, extra Bragg female verse and all, going on to chart at number seven, her biggest solo hit.

Sohn, Tremors (4AD) ***

3:31pm Thursday 24th April 2014

AUSTRIAN rock acts are about as rare as famous Belgians, which is odd considering Vienna was home to Beethoven, Strauss and Mozart. We’ll gloss over Falco the one-hit-wonder, perhaps, but now here comes the Sohn.

The Afghan Whigs, Do To The Beast (Sub Pop) ****

3:29pm Thursday 24th April 2014

IT’S BEEN 16 years since the last Afghan Whigs album, but frontman Greg Dulli is typically bullish from its first note.

Paul Thomas Saunders, Beautiful Desolation (Atlantic) ****

3:28pm Thursday 24th April 2014

PAUL Thomas Saunders is a young artist who thinks big.

Lea Michele, Louder (Columbia) ***

3:27pm Thursday 24th April 2014

LOOKING back, none of the Kids from Fame graduated on to become adult pop acts.

September Girls, Cursing The Sea (Fortuna POP!) ***

3:26pm Thursday 24th April 2014

FALLING somewhere between girly pop and moody shoe-gazing music, September Girls are a pleasant change from homogenised chart music.

Paolo Nutini, Caustic Love, (Atlantic)****

York Press: Paolo Nutini, Caustic Love, (Atlantic)****

12:25pm Thursday 17th April 2014

HOW time flies. It’s five years since Sunny Side Up propelled Paolo Nutini to Brit nomination and Ivor Novello success.

The Hold Steady, Teeth Dreams (Washington Square)****

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12:23pm Thursday 17th April 2014

THE Hold Steady remain, to this listener at least, one of the leading half-under-the-radar bands in America. The best starting point remains Boys And Girls in America, from 2006, but Craig Finn and co never produce anything that isn’t loud and literate in some way or other, including 2010’s Heaven Is Whenever.

Morten Harket, Brother (Wrasse Records)***

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12:22pm Thursday 17th April 2014

GETTING older doesn’t obviously effect the Norwegian heartthrob, who here shows off his thoughtful side.

Rod Stewart Live 1976 – 1998 – Tonight’s The Night (Rhino)****

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12:21pm Thursday 17th April 2014

IN HIS enjoyable autobiography, Rod Stewart addresses claims that arena venues are soulless caverns by stating that it isn’t the venues that are lacking but the quality of some of the acts.

Liars, Mess (Mute Records)**

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12:20pm Thursday 17th April 2014

ANY album which starts with a threatening, electronically distorted voice demanding you “take my pants off”, “smell my socks” and “eat my face off”, is going to set you on edge from the get go. However, once the unease settles and the bass line of opening track Mask Maker kicks in, there’s little to differentiate Liars’ particular brand of electronic dance from anything else on the market.

Lucius, Wildewoman (Play It Again Sam)*****

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12:18pm Thursday 17th April 2014

JESS WOLFE and Holly Laessig assure us they are not twins. They might as well be, though. With their soaring harmonies and impeccable vocals, it is practically impossible to tell them apart.

Kaiser Chiefs, Education, Education, Education & War (Caroline International)***

York Press: Kaiser Chiefs to play Cheltenham's Centaur

12:52pm Thursday 10th April 2014

IMAGE - it’s everything. Ever sat back and thought how remarkable it is what a new coiffure, a high-profile diet and a berth on a celebrity TV show can do for it?

Kevin Drew, Darlings (City Slang)****

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12:50pm Thursday 10th April 2014

MOST solo albums are a chance for their maker to move away from the confines of their parent band. As Broken Social Scene, the ever-changing collective Kevin Drew leads, aren’t renowned for having any confines, his second lone excursion travels in completely the opposite direction.

Future Islands, Singles (4AD)****

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12:49pm Thursday 10th April 2014

FROM the get go, Singles is a driving, synth-led album, at once modern and a throwback. Opener Seasons (Waiting On You), wouldn’t be at all out of place on the soundtrack of a 1980s film, with Sam Herring’s rough vocals soaring over driving bass and sweeping synthesisers, before Spirit turns more playful.

ABBA, Waterloo, 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Universal)****

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12:47pm Thursday 10th April 2014

ON Saturday, April 6 1974 pop music changed forever. Well, arguably the most important pop band since The Beatles shot into the consciousness of popular culture with their win at the Eurovision Song Contest, hosted at the Brighton Dome.

The Crookes, Soapbox (Fierce Panda Records)*****

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12:46pm Thursday 10th April 2014

EVERYTHING about Sheffield’s Crookes oozes class. Formed in 2008, they dazzled with youthful shows of bouncy, optimistic charm, indie-pop catchiness, tingling riffs – and songs of literate lyricism as sublime as it was playful.

Simone Felice, Strangers (Team Love Records) ****

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12:45pm Thursday 10th April 2014

EXPLAINING his second solo album title, Catskill Mountains novelist, poetic visionary and songwriter Simone Felice says: “Isn’t it wild how, when it comes to matters of the heart, we can start out so fanatical, so certain, only to end up as strangers in the end? Remote even to ourselves over time, strangers in the mirror.”

Engelbert Humperdink, Englebert Calling (Cone Head) ****

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11:52am Thursday 3rd April 2014

MANY were surprised that veteran Engelbert Humperdink was chosen to represent the United Kingdom in Eurovision a couple of years ago, ultimately achieving a shockingly lowly second to bottom placing.

Kian Egan, Home (Rhino)****

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11:51am Thursday 3rd April 2014

IT really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kian Egan has decided to go country on his debut solo venture.

The Melodic, Effra Parade (Anti- Records)***

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11:50am Thursday 3rd April 2014

IT would be misleading to say Brixton four-piece The Melodic are a new band but Effra Parade is nevertheless their first full-length album, although a cursory glance at YouTube will lead you to earlier treasures.

The War On Drugs, Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)*****

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11:49am Thursday 3rd April 2014

A THRILLING glimpse at the future of rock. With the genre under fire by young guns inventing new styles, Philadelphia band The War On Drugs have looked to the road and the classic rock spirit of Bruce Springsteen to create a contender for album of the year.

The Everly Brothers, The Very Best Of... (Rhino)***

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11:49am Thursday 3rd April 2014

NEVER slow to cash in on a casualty, the music biz spits out another compilation of the siblings from Kentucky in the wake of January’s death of Phil, younger brother of Don.

Emily Smith, Echoes (White Fall Records)****

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11:47am Thursday 3rd April 2014

AS 19th century Harvard professor Francis Child discovered, when compiling his anthology; The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, traditional music from these isles becomes a very different beast when it crosses the Atlantic. Take Child Ballad number 10; Twa Sisters.

Kylie Minogue, Kiss Me Once (Parlophone) ***

York Press: Kylie Minogue, Kiss Me Once (Parlophone) ***

1:26pm Thursday 27th March 2014

BY definition, pop should snap, crackle and pop. It isn’t meant to last. And yet Neighbours starlet Kylie Minogue, who had a debut number one with I Should Be So Lucky in January 1988, is still making pretty, if less innocent pop 26 years later.

Rufus Wainwright, Vibrate: The Best Of Rufus Wainwright (Interscope Records) ****

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1:24pm Thursday 27th March 2014

LISTENING to 18 Rufus songs one after the other is a little like overindulging with the chocolate box; all those fillings can be a bit much. Still, there are some lovely songs here, starting with Going To A Town and Out Of The Game, followed by a sly tease of a new song, Me And Liza (co-written with Guy Chambers).

Paloma Faith, A Perfect Contradiction (Sony) **

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1:23pm Thursday 27th March 2014

THE artwork on Paloma Faith’s albums is always fabulous. A Perfect Contradiction in all its glorious mock pre-Raphaelite splendour is no exception, and will encourage curiosity from a much wider audience than a hard-core fan base.

Francois & The Atlas Mountains, Piano Ombre (Domino) ***

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1:22pm Thursday 27th March 2014

PART moody synthesiser and jazz jam, part jolly pop, but always very French, the latest album from Francois & The Atlas Mountains is hard to dislike, but difficult to pin down.

The Saturday Sessions From The Dermot O’Leary Show (Sony) ****

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1:21pm Thursday 27th March 2014

COMPILATION records – they can be the scourge of the average. From Now 10,356 (will they ever stop producing this?) to 20 Tracks For That Mid-Autumnal Weekend, barely a week goes by without another Best Of being unleashed on to a tired audience.

Jimi Goodwin, Odludek (Heavenly) ****

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1:20pm Thursday 27th March 2014

WITH Doves, the fantastic band Jimi Goodwin fronts, on indefinite hiatus, their public voice – never short of intensity when it comes to music – steps into solo territory.

Elbow, The Take Off And Landing Of Everything (Polydor) ***

York Press: Elbow, The Take Off And Landing Of Everything (Polydor) ***

12:28pm Thursday 20th March 2014

AT the end of the loose 1997 remake of The Day Of The Jackal, Sidney Poitier’s character explains why he’s cutting Richard Gere’s Irish terrorist free, saying he’s so highly-regarded that he could mess everything up for the rest of his life and still be a hero. An unflattering metaphor for Elbow, given how bad that film was, but applicable to the can-do-nothing-wrong band of the times.

Joan As Police Woman, The Classic, (Reveal) ***

York Press: Joan As Police Woman, St George’s Church, Brighton, October 5

12:26pm Thursday 20th March 2014

HAS Joan Wasser finally struck gold? The title suggests so, as does the album cover, which features a gilded Joan sporting a Harry Potter magic scar on her finger. But the real alchemy is a metamorphosis from beguiling torch singer coming to terms with the drowning of her lover, Jeff Buckley, into slick, doo-wop soul diva.

George Michael, Symphonica (Virgin/ Aegean) ****

York Press: George Michael tribute show at Knutsford Gusto

12:25pm Thursday 20th March 2014

Even the most loyal of fans will be disappointed that after a decade’s wait, the new George Michael album is a recording of one of his London concerts from 2011, albeit a rather special concert .

Eagulls, Eagulls (Partisan Records) ***

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12:24pm Thursday 20th March 2014

A LEEDS band with rock guitars, screamed vocals and boundless energy? No, it’s not Kaiser Chiefs. Eagulls’ debut album does have those highlights in common with Ricky Wilson’s band, but they are a darker five piece altogether.

Sky Ferreira, Night Time, My Time (Polydor) ****

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12:22pm Thursday 20th March 2014

SKY Ferreira wants to be a real artist. She ticks the boxes: a disdain of the press, drug arrests while riding in cars with boys and a failed recording contract. By 21 she had already been abandoned by Parlophone, who had created an eerie Lolita, seductive yet virginal, an unholy synthesis of bras and Bibles.

Morrissey, Your Arsenal (Parlophone) ****

York Press: Morrissey

12:22pm Thursday 20th March 2014

MORRISSEY’S quixotic trawl through his back passages has reached 1992’s Your Arsenal, his third post-Smiths album.

Pharrell Williams, Girl (Sony) ****

York Press: Pharrell Williams

12:24pm Thursday 13th March 2014

MANY believe that Pharrell Williams was robbed of his Oscar for the best original song in a movie (Despicable Me 2) last week.

Breton, War Room Stories (Cut Tooth/Believe) ***

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12:22pm Thursday 13th March 2014

TURFED out of their studio in London’s Elephant and Castle when it was turned into luxury apartments, capital-based fivepiece Breton decamped to Berlin to make their second album, and the forced relocation is evident in their music.

St. Vincent, St. Vincent (Loma Vista/Caroline International) ****

York Press: St Vincent: St Vincent

12:21pm Thursday 13th March 2014

THEY say you should never judge a book by its cover, and the same goes for albums.

Real Estate, Atlas (Domino) *

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12:20pm Thursday 13th March 2014

THIS band may hail from New Jersey, but they have little of the terseness and grit customarily associated with that blue-collar region on the eastern seaboard of America.

Metronomy, Love Letters (Because) *****

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12:19pm Thursday 13th March 2014

O MY – the last three letters of the band’s name and wow, o my, this is a humdinger of a release.It is a groove of delights from first play to last of the ten songs birthed by founder and propulsive force Joseph Mount and it will take something extra special to supersede this as one of the records of 2014.

Micah P. Hinson, Micah P. Hinson And The Nothing (Talitres) ****

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12:18pm Thursday 13th March 2014

NEVER take life for granted. Micah P. Hinson And The Nothing was composed by Tennessee/ Texas singer-songwriter Hinson in 2011 before a car accident on tour in Spain left him without the use of his arms – temporarily, as it turns out, although he did not know it at the time.

Wild Beasts, Present Tense, (Domino) *****

York Press: Wild Beasts at New Slang

2:08pm Thursday 6th March 2014

THERE’s more to Kendal than mint cake. The town was famous for green cloth woven for archers at Agincourt and the most recent claim to fame is Wild Beasts, one of our most innovative and vital bands.

Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams: 25th Anniversary Edition (Lucinda Williams Music) *****

York Press: Lucinda Williams

2:07pm Thursday 6th March 2014

WHEN Lucinda Williams released her brilliant breakthrough eponymous album in 1988, she revived Gram Parsons’ dream of creating cosmic country music.

Stanley Brinks and The Wave Pictures, Gin (Fika Records) ****

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2:06pm Thursday 6th March 2014

STANLEY Brinks is new to this reviewer – surprising, as he is said to have released 100 albums. Such a huge discography suggests a compulsion, as if Brinks is addicted to recording as some are to shoplifting; he just can’t help himself.

John Harle & Marc Almond, The Tyburn Tree – Dark London (Sospiro Noir) ****

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2:05pm Thursday 6th March 2014

In the hands of most artists, a project as dark and sinister as The Tyburn Tree would be commercial suicidal.

Reverend And The Makers, Thirty Two (Cooking Vinyl) ***

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2:03pm Thursday 6th March 2014

IN the nicest possible sense, Jon McClure is musical ambivalence personified. The Reverend of the title has never cared much for critical acclaim or chart-busting, with his (not inconsiderable) fanbase rarely growing or shrinking, like a club with a workable one-out one-in policy.

Uncle Tupelo, No Depression, Legacy Edition (Legacy Recordings/Sony Music) ****

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2:03pm Thursday 6th March 2014

THE Legacy Edition status of a reissued album sometimes can be overstated, but not in this case. Uncle Tupelo’s 1990 debut now comes as a deluxe two-disc set with remastered demos, cover versions, more demos from a self-released cassette and odds-and-sods rarities.

Nina Persson, Animal Heart (Lojinx) ***

York Press: Nina Persson releases debut album

2:52pm Thursday 27th February 2014

YOU may recall The Cardigans calling their first album Emmerdale after the muck-and-brassed off Yorkshire soap opera. It was enough to win the cool Swedes a place in northern hearts, a relationship cemented by glacial vocalist Nina Persson’s subsequent explorations in A Camp.

Broken Bells, After The Disco (Columbia Records) ****

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2:51pm Thursday 27th February 2014

THE second collaborative album from James Mercer and Danger Mouse is a welcome alternative to the mainstream music scene, while still being accessible enough for the casual listener.

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