Wednesday, 28 November 2012

reviews: martin rossiter, some songs side-by-side, whatever gets you through the night

Martin Rossiter - The Defenestration of St Martin (***)

Eight years since the curtain came down on Gene, Martin Rossiter has lost none of his earnestness or theatricality. Grandly opening the grandly titled The Defenestration of St Martin with a ten-minute ballad, his melancholic croon is as bruised and brooding as ever, even if the song’s subject matter (a bitter indictment of poor parenting, anchored by the line “the only thing I got from you was my name”) leaves him sounding overwrought by the end.

But though unashamedly emotional, he’s self-aware with it, as proven by the tongue-in-cheek melodrama of I Must Be Jesus, in which the tortured narrator wallows in self-pity and compares his suffering to Christ prostrate on the cross. The simplicity of the arrangements (almost exclusively piano and voice throughout) will undoubtedly limit the album’s appeal, with only negligible variety in sound and a terminally stark tone, but the eloquence and elegance of the songwriting is undeniable.

Out now

                                                  Various Artists – Some Songs Side-By-Side 

Various Artists - Some Songs Side-by-Side (****)

Jointly assembled by a trio of labels, with 22 tracks across four sides of vinyl and artwork from eight different artists, this endeavour is evidently more than just ‘some songs side-by-side.’ But the box set’s matter-of-fact title acknowledges an important truth: the effort’s worth nowt if the music lining its grooves doesn’t excite. But for its full 77-minute duration, Some Songs… most certainly does.

All involved shine: Tut Vu Vu open with an unhinged fusion that prods the amygdala and gets into your bones; Palms deliver a trio of raw garage cuts including threatening come-on Blood; while The Rosy Crucifixion’s rock-n-roll sashay is a sucker punch of reverb and rockabilly rhythms. But with Organs of Love, Gummy Stumps, Sacred Paws, Muscles of Joy and Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers completing the set, there are no weak links, only a bold print reminder of just how good Glasgow’s got it.

Out 3rd December

Various Artists – Whatever Gets You Through the Night

Various Artists - Whatever Gets You Through the Night (****)

Having cycled through theatre and film iterations, Cora Bissett, David Greig and Swimmer One’s multimedia Whatever Gets You through the Night project arrives in album form. And despite being partial by nature, it never sounds incomplete thanks to savvy sequencing and a consistently high standard of contributions.

With the wee small hours as inspiration, we get agony (Meursault’s wracked A Kind of Cure) and ecstasy (Wounded Knee and Bigg Taj’s Live at the Bongo Club, built from muffled beatboxed beats and background chatter); melancholia (Rachel Sermanni’s Lonely Taxi, 2am) and drunken munchies (Eugene Kelly’s droll Chips and Cheese) – a breadth of moods as varied as human experience, combining neatly into a vivid nocturnal tapestry.

Other peaks include Errors’ Embassy Approach, with eccentricities cut from the same cloth as Have Some Faith in Magic; Ricky Ross’s plaintive The North Star; and Withered Hand’s horn-backed bittersweet bookends, which bracket the anthology’s nighttime sketches splendidly.

Out now

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