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Music Album reviews with Kevin Bryan: February 13, 2020

Latest releases from Beans On Toast, Pet Shop Boys and The Haden Triplets

Beans On Toast
The Inevitable Train Wreck
(Bot Music)
★★★★

FOR the past decade, the admirably warm and open-hearted performer Beans On Toast has maintained the tradition of  releasing a new album each year on his December 1 birthday.

2019  thankfully didn’t represent any exception to the rule and the artist formerly known as Jay McAllister continues to muse on contemporary politics and the vagaries of the human condition via his alter ego of Beans on Toast, drawing inspiration from such unlikely bedfellows as Chuck Berry and Greta Thunberg to spark his creativity.

He serves up affecting ditties such as  On & On, World Gone Crazy and England I Love You and, while the planet may be going to hell in the proverbial handcart, hope springs eternal as far as Jay’s  ultimately optimistic world view is concerned.

The Inevitable Train Wreck ranks as his most tuneful offering to date.

Pet Shop Boys
Hotspot
(x2 Records)
★★★

IT WOULD be  unrealistic to expect Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe to spring any major surprises on their devoted listeners at this advanced stage of their careers but the pop veterans can always be relied upon to deliver the goods in no uncertain fashion whenever they venture into the recording studio.

Completing the duo’s trilogy of Stuart Price-produced albums, the overall mood is a little more muted and autumnal on Hotspot than some of their recent offerings. Partially recorded in Berlin, it references the unique ambiance of the German capital via the excellent Will-O-The-Wisp and You Are The One, with guitarist Bernard Butler of Suede fame guesting on another of the stand-out tracks, Burning The Heather.

Tennant’s astute lyrics reflect the love of a finely turned phrase which had also illuminated his previous existence as a music journalist.

The Haden Triplets
The Family Songbook
(Trimeter Records/Thirty Tigers)
★★★★

The Hadens’ late father, trailblazing bass player Charlie, helped to redefine the sound of the  instrument through his work with Ornette Coleman in the late-1950s.

His three talented daughters also relish the joys of innovation as they delve deeply into the loosely connected worlds of country  music and Americana, bringing a sublime otherworldly quality to their haunting treatments of much-loved standards such as Wayfaring Stranger, Wildwood Flower and I’ll Fly Away.

This eagerly anticipated follow-up to the trio’s critically acclaimed 2014 debut set also breathes new life into four recently unearthed songs penned by another member of this supremely gifted family, their grandfather Carl E.Haden, a highly regarded radio performer and songwriter who was an influential figure during the early years of country music and a close friend of the legendary Carter Family.

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