Minotaur Shock - Vigo Bay (4AD)
The new EP from David Edwards, aka Minotaur Shock, is an innocuous slice of electronica which fails to match up to his promising debut album, Chiff-Chaffs and Willow Warblers.
Aside from the synth-heavy This Side of Vigo Bay, the remainder of this EP is reminiscent of Chicago post-rockers Tortoise. Falling into the same trap that John McEntire and co have been mired in of late, it is a meandering amalgam of glacial ambient soundscapes and jazz-lite.
There are a few signs that the forthcoming album will be better than this offering, but essentially it makes for pretty yet inconsequential listening. HH
The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree (4AD)
A reaction to the death of his step-father, The Sunset Tree is a deeply personal collection of songs from John Darnielle, the song-writing force behind The Mountain Goats.
While it is at times deliciously dark, Darnielle's sardonic humour shines through; not least on This Year, when he sings "I'm gonna make it through this year if it kills me". His nasal vocal is perfectly suited to these acoustic vignettes which sketch out childhood memories and adult anguish.
Darnielle is an astonishing talent, leaving you gasping for more after this densely textured record's criminally short running time comes to an end. HHHH
Reviews by Simon Harper
The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart (Lo-Max)
The Go-Betweens split in 1989 after a run of albums that won cult status rather than the big league success they were honest enough to admit to wanting.
When joint singer-songwriters Grant McLennan and Robert Forster embarked on solo careers, the ambition diminished. While both produced some great albums, the specific alchemy when the two were together, meshing their two very different styles into one glorious, romantic sound, was gone.
However, with Oceans Apart, the ambition is back and so is the sumptuous, romantic sweep of old.
It opens with Forster's edgy, paranoid rocker Here Comes A City - a lesson for the likes of Franz Ferdinand in the New Wave sound from two guys who surfed it in style first time around.
Darlinghurst Nights, a swirling, spiralling epic recalling Forster's earlier The House That Jack Kerouac Built and even The Smiths' Death of a Disco Dancer is the album's centrepiece.
McLennan's tunes are up there with his finest work from the 1980s - best are the achingly honest paean to lost love No Reason To Cry and Finding You, which boasts the sweetest acoustic intro you're likely to hear. HHHHH
Review by Campbell Docherty