We are now the proud possessors of tickets to see Tom McRae in May. The tickets seem to be exclusively available to fans for the first couple of days, so it’s worth registering on the website if you want to grab tickets early.

I bought Idlewild’s new album Make Another World today. On first impressions it’s a big return to form – far, far more typical of the energetic melodic-rock of The Remote Part than the languid weariness of Warnings/Promises, but without sounding like a backward step. Here’s the first track: In Competition For the Worst Time. The album has a CD case design which I haven’t seen before, with lovely rounded corners and a different hinge. Quite desirable. For a CD case.

Recently I also got Ray LaMontagne’s Trouble on a whim (veggiesu and immortalradical got me interested). The album is perhaps a bit samey in places, despite meandering from The Commitments to ‘seventies rock to blues to country, but overall I like it a fair bit. It teeters on the brink of pastiche without quite tipping over, and the ragged soul in the man’s voice carries off even the blander songs. I’m going to push it at my sister who loves this kind of thing.

I’m still listening to Joe Purdy after picking up his album at the Hotel Cafe gig. I’ve given his other albums a sample and all fall firmly into the whispering folk category, but Only Four Seasons has a bigger, more produced sound reminiscent of Counting Crows’ early material and it works well. Joe’s voice has a lovely mournful quality that stays the right side of country, and there’s a consistent set of songs on the album. Very gentle stuff, really, with few genuinely sharp lyrics, but like Ray LaMontagne it’s sincere and it’s heartfelt and it works. This is the first track: The City. I gather that his “Wash Away (Reprise)” (from Julie Blue) is quite well known from an episode of Lost, of all things.

Having enjoyed Neil Finn’s music for many years I thought I’d give his brother Tim’s new album Imaginary Kingdom a shot. Tim was briefly a member of Crowded House and has collaborated on the two Finn/Finn Brothers albums, as well as the live Seven Worlds Collide DVD. As a result I knew what to expect: tuneful pop-rock with a voice that sounds like Neil Finn with severe laryngitis. To be fair Tim’s voice is deceptive; though it often sounds frail and wavering he still belts out the lyrics at high volume and in tune. The album is probably stronger than his brother’s last solo effort to be honest: brash, unashamed pop blended with some seventies rock/soul influences and a nice line in bitter-sweet darkness to offset the chirpyness. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I’d recommend it to fans of Crowded House or Neil Finn. Here’s Still the Song which gives a good feel both for his voice and the familiar furrow he’s ploughing.

Coming up I’m looking forward to Grant-Lee Phillips next solo effort Strangelet, on 27th March. Fans of Bones may remember Mona Lisa (from his last album) which was on the end of a second season episode. He also plays the Troubadour character on Gilmore Girls and his stuff’s been on Grey’s Anatomy, neither of which I watch. To be honest very little of his solo material has the energy or verve of his old band Grant Lee Buffalo, but I like it well enough. At least there’s the promise of a return to the 12 string electric guitar on his latest.

Then there’s Tom McRae’s King of Cards, obviously, on 23rd April, and later in the year we should have the new Counting Crows album Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings, and the new Crowded House: Time on Earth.

From all of this you may suspect that my musical tastes are irredeemably middle-aged. It’s true *sob*.

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