They Might Be Giants: Nanobots (Lojinx Records LJX058CD)
A quarter of a century may have slipped by since the mildly surreal Birdhouse in Your Soul allowed TMBG to enjoy a brief flirtation with the delights of rock stardom, but the two eccentrics are still mining the same rich vein of quirkily memorable pop which proved so lucrative for them during those far-off days.
John Flansburgh and John Linnell have always been happy to follow wherever their imaginations lead them, and Nanobots boasts no less than 25 snappily memorable ditties dealing with such arcane subjects as tiny robots, insect hospitals and combustible heads.
Stone Cold Coup D’Etat and Lost My Mind capture the unashamedly nerdy duo at their brilliant best.
Audrey Auld: Tonk (Reckless RECK014)
This unpretentious performer describes her style as “music with the dirt left on,” and her uncluttered and emotionally direct approach to music-making is certainly one of the most appealing features of the excellent Tonk.
Audrey may have been born in Tasmania but her decision to relocate to Nashville six years ago has obviously reinforced her passion for old style country fare, and devotees of Americana and roots music in general would be well advised to lend an ear to fine tracks such as Bound For Glory, Siren Song or the elegaic Lonely Town.
Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 5 (Decca 478 569 2)
The London Philharmonic’s impressive 1998 performance of Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No 5 shares centre stage here with archive recordings of three of the compser’s most evocative creations.
The Fantasia on Greensleeves, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and The Lark Ascending complete a splendid orchestral package, with violinist Iona Brown rising to the challenge presented by the latter composition, which consistently tops listeners’ polls to find the most popular classical work in Britain today.
John Foxx: Metadelic (Edsel EDSG 8024)
This wide-ranging three-disc set explores the sadly under-appreciated solo career of John Foxx, the pioneering electronic musician who was Ultravox’s original lead vocalist but left the fold shortly before they embarked on their lengthy run of chart successes in the early 1980s.
The audio content ranges from some pleasingly psychedelic studio concoctions to a series of hitherto unreleased BBC radio sessions and 12in single mixes, and the compilers have also found space for a companion DVD showcasing a selection of charmingly dated promo videos and a performance of Europe After The Rain culled from one of John’s all too rare appearances on Top of the Pops.
Samantha Fish: Black Wind Howlin’ (Ruf 1195)
Ruf Records added Samantha Fish to its impressive roster of young blues performers in 2011, and the Kansas City musician repaid the faith label supremo Thomas Ruf had showed in her by recording an excellent debut album, Runaway, for the German operation a few months later.
The singer-guitarist’s eagerly awaited follow-up set also finds Fish in particularly fine fettle as she delivers a refreshingly punchy package whose largely self-penned contents run the gamut from the melodic country pop of Last September to sassy rockers such as Kick Around and the venomous Go To Hell.