Belle and Sebastian – BBC Sessions CD/LP– Fourteen gorgeous tracks recorded for the BBC between 1996 and 2001. At the time, Belle and Sebastian rarely performed live, so all these songs are noticeably different from the studio versions. This limited, deluxe double CD contains an entire live show broadcast on BBC Evening Session in mid-2001 with another four never before heard songs. – Insound
Arthur Russell – Wild Combination DVD- One of the better music documentaries in the past several years, in my humble opinion. Russell is one of the avant-pop world’s greatest unknowns, and with the release of this DVD his “World of Echo” may finally be exposed to the masses. Russell spent his years writing songs as a cellist, disco producer, and beautiful vocalist — and it was always out music. Sure to cause a revival much like the Townes Van Zandt and Roky Erickson documentaries have in recent years, there is no better deserving musician than Arthur Russell
Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke– Ladyhawke aka New Zealand girl Pip Brown has had a busy year recording and touring in the UK and across the globe. She’s played headline shows in Paris, Barcelona, Ibiza, Moscow, Australia and her native New Zealand. She also performed three times in one day at Glastonbury. She paused briefly at the beginning of July to play her first headline show in London to a sold out crowd. Pip Brown was raised in the ’80s with a musical family and grew up listening to the likes of Stevie Nicks, Deep Purple and Joan Jett. – Insound
Anathallo – Canopy Glow CD — Canopy Glow’s opening salvo, “Noni’s Field,” introduces straight away the topic of death. Among lush pile-ups of Pet Sounds harmony and Sung Tongs texture, Anathallo’s Matt Joynt and Erica Froman sing to the rafters: “We saw the sky, swarming full with the light that the fireflies made / An accidental constellation / You, how will you go? / Out through your mouth in a sigh? / Into a space we don’t know.” It’s a surprisingly beautiful rendering of life’s most feared result: calm and considered, yet wide-eyed in approach, and colored by kaleidoscopic detail. Canopy Glow, Anathallo’s second full-length (and first for Anticon), could be described just the same. – Insound
- Hebden Kieran and Steve Reid – NYC CD/LP — Kieren Hebden (Four Tet) and Steve Reid (Steve Reid Ensemble) return with their impressionistic take on their NYC surroundings. It fuses the digital slash-and-staple of sampling and the irresistible momentum of jazz drumming, all without ever forgetting the dance floor. The whole set, down to the choice of tracks and their sequencing, was influenced by New York City’s infamous energies. – Insound
- The Killers – Day and Age LP– Hot Fuss was an album of 80’s synth-pop. Sam’s Town was an homage to Bruce Springsteen. Day and Age is both of those in a melting pot. If you like the Killers previous work, you are sure to like this. If you think Brandon Flowers is lame, then you will hate this.
- Isobell Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Sunday at Devil Dirt CD – The pairing of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan for 2006’s Ballad of the Broken Seas was indeed an unlikely dalliance: she the delicate waif of Belle & Sebastian fame, he the fearsome firebrand who had growled his way through Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age. But it worked. Stuffed with creepy wayfarers’ tales and folk shanties, the album was a critical and commercial success. As well as self-producing, Campbell wrote the bulk of the songs, recording them in her native Glasgow then sending them over to LA for Lanegan to add vocals. – Insound
- Scott Walker – Tilt LP — Originally released in 1997, this was Scott Walker’s first release in over a decade. The bleak, gothic theatre that his oblique lyrics and operatic vocals convey is bolstered by dark string arrangement, reverbed guitars, the whirring of synthesizers, and the rattle of percussion. The release further enhances Walker’s 30-year career, finding him at still another and different peak of his ability as a vocalist and lyricist. When you read about Scott’s influence on Bowie or Pulp or Marc Almond or Nick Cave, you’re being told next to nothing about his own work. The term “inimitable” can truly be used in all sincerity here. – Insound