Album Reviews

It's been a rather slow summer on the music-buying end for me, but I did come across a few CDs that piqued my interest.

Mediaeval Baebes, "The Rose" - Not necessarily new, as it was released in 2002. But with Renaissance Festivals making their rounds this time of year, it's a good disc to bring out for the occasion. The Baebes are an 8-member female harmonizing group from England, reciting songs from the 11th to 15th centuries in anything from Old English to Italian, often accompanied by traditional instruments. A few of the lyrics, written centuries ago, are rather sexually explicit. A must for fans of the now-defunct Dead Can Dance. The Baebes have a Christmas-themed CD due out in November entitled "Mistletoe and Wine".

Grand Drive, "Grand Drive" - For a pop-n-ballad album with a distinct folk and alternative-country flavor throughout, this is a CD to spin. Catchy tunes without sounding like bland Top 40, this music reminds one of middle America ... ironic given the group is from the UK. The lead singer has a voice sounding much like Richard Ashcroft, and a music arrangement mixing in the Jayhawks, a little REM, and a touch of Scud Mountain Boys.

Les Nubians, "One Step Forward" - Sisters Guru and Kalib Kweli make up Les Nubians, a sun-splashed hazy CD of reggae, light techno, and soul to complement a late summers' evening. In other words, not radically different from a Sade album. About 2/3 of the songs are in French, with 1/3 in English. Some songs are better than others, for instance "El Son Reggae" is almost worth the price of the whole disc. But, all in all, a good diamond in the rough.

New CDs I'm on the lookout for over the next few months are Travis, Dido, South, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

And, when will Portishead ever release a new CD?

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