The best new CD releases this week: Belle & Sebastian and much more

February 12, 2018
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Alela Diane, from Portland, Oregon, is another leading light. Her 2013 debut CD was magnificent and Cusp is just as good.

An album largely and unselfconsciously about motherhood, it adds lush arrangements to Diane’s usual muted piano and guitar as she explores the pain of leaving her child behind to go on tour (Albatross) while Never Easy explores her own tricky relationship with her mother.

Best of all, perhaps, is Song For Sandy, a tribute to English folk singer-songwriter Sandy Denny that has the same atmosphere of darkening skies that Denny’s own music displayed.

Belle & Sebastian

How To Solve Our Human Problems

Glasgow sextet Belle & Sebastian should just make singles.

Instead, they’ve made four EPs and now put them altogether on an album which, for a band who have melodies flying out of them in every direction, is the musical equivalent of mainlining on Haribos.

There are some lovely things here – the 1960s-style call and response of Show Me The Sun, the lyrically brilliant Too Many Tears – but Try is slightly overwhelming.

I’m With Her

See You Around 

Having produced a wealth of folk, country and bluegrass music as solo and group performers, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan join forces here.

The palette of gently picked guitars, mandolin, fiddle and close-harmony singing throughout is reminiscent of Watkins’s band Nickel Creek, as are the suddenly strummed crescendoes and whooped vocals.

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto

Glass

Noton Glass is recorded in the Glass House: the see-through creation in Connecticut by architect Philip Johnson in which, presumably, no one ever takes a shower.

Being arch-experimentalists Noto and Sakamoto dodge tunes in favour of an almighty 37-minute whoosh and, oh dear, what sounds like a lot of cracking, tinkling glass halfway through.

It’s “difficult” listening but strangely spooky and entertaining all the same.

Fischerspooner

Sir

On their first album in 10 years, ancient New York electronic duo Fischerspooner explore the “sexual underbelly” of the singer’s past in the august company of REM’s Michael Stipe.

Stipe does his best but it’s 50 shades of dull, Fischerspooner sounding like Depeche Mode on a very “off” day. 



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