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The Se­cret Life of Rime­coat Records ★★★ A lot can change in five years. Since he re­leased his last al­bum, Ad­dicted to Com­pany (Part One), Paddy Casey has cut ties with for­mer la­bel Sony and is now mak­ing his own way as an in­de­pen­dent artist. The mop-topped Dubliner cer­tainly seems keen to ex­per­i­ment, as his fourth al­bum is sprin­kled with sur­prises. Col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Shan­non Gospel Choir on Wait and It’s Re­ally Up to You are snappy, self-as­sured ra­dio hits, while the clubby dance beat of Light­song sits un­ex­pect­edly snugly along­side the pre­vail­ing gui­tar-pop tunes. On the other hand, the reg­gae-tinted That’s Just the Way It Goes and the bluesy chug of The Love Har­mon­ica sound a lit­tle forced. Yet even though Casey’s rein­tro­duc­tion seems a lit­tle ten­ta­tive in places, these songs have a shy charm that’s dif­fi­cult to re­sist. pad­dy­ LAUREN MUR­PHY Down­load tracks: Show Me Yours, Wait TRACEY THORN

Tin­sel and Lights Buzzin’ Fly/ Strange ★★★★ Whether she likes it or not, Tracey Thorn is the mid­wife to, if not the mother of, fe­ma­le­ori­ented lo-fi pop. And so, while we’re told it’s the time of the year to be jolly, here comes Thorn to punc­ture the bub­ble with a col­lec­tion of mostly cov­ers, in­clud­ing White Stripes’ In the Cold, Cold Night, Suf­jan Stevens’s Sis­ter Win­ter, Low’s Tak­ing Down the Tree, Ron Sex­smith’s Maybe This Christ­mas, and Joni Mitchell’s River. Be­tween these and the two orig­i­nals – the heart­break­ing Joy (“When some­one very dear calls you with the words ev­ery­thing’s all clear”) and a re­vamped Ev­ery­thing But the Girl song, 25th De­cem­ber – Thorn com­bines tradition with a won­der­ful sense of eclec­ti­cism and sen­ti­men­tal­ity and a strong dose of re­al­ism. She re­ally is the best of the bunch, isn’t she?

TONY CLAY­TON-LEA Down­load tracks: Joy, Tak­ing Down the Tree, Sis­ter Win­ter HOT 8 BRASS BAND

The Life & Times Of… Tru Thoughts ★★★★ The Hot 8 Brass Band know how to throw a party. The New Orleans crew have seen their pro­file rise on the back of TV ap­pear­ances on David Si­mon’s Treme and Spike Lee’s When the Lev­ees Broke, but it’s their rowdy, ex­u­ber­ant, all-horns-blaz­ing live show that re­ally spread the word. While there’s no sub­sti­tute for the live bump and stomp of a sweaty club, The Life & Times Of… cap­tures the Hot 8 essence just so. They tear into Base­ment Jaxx’s Bingo Bango with wild aban­don and turn The Spe­cials’ Ghost Town into a mighty sec­ond-line re­quiem for their own city, still deal­ing with its post-Ka­t­rina malaise. Other tracks ( Let Me Do My ThinG, Can’t Hide From the Truth) are sim­i­larly en­dowed with right­eous jazz and funk mojo. The next best thing to see­ing them in a N’awl­ins dive af­ter mid­night. hot8brass­ JIM CAR­ROLL Down­load tracks: Ghost Town, Bingo Bango DEFTONES

Koi No Yokan Reprise ★★★★★ These at­mo­spheric met­allers are back at the top ta­ble, four years af­ter a car crash al­most killed their bassist and put an end to the band. Re­group­ing, they turned out a clas­sic in Di­a­mond Eyes. And Koi No

Yokan makes good on front­man Chino Moreno’s prom­ise to re­flect all of the band’s sin­gu­lar sound – crush­ing to del­i­cate, in­tro­spec­tive to eu­phoric. Stephen Car­pen­ter con­trib­utes two of his most dev­as­tat­ing riffs ever on

Swerve City and Poltergeist, while Leathers and Rose­mary reach higher and are as ef­fec­tive as any­thing in the band’s ca­reer. White Pony will al­ways re­main Deftones’ defin­ing state­ment, but

Koi No Yokan is an­other valiant at­tempt to bet­ter it – a gen­uinely thrilling re­turn. CHRIS JONES Down­load tracks: Leathers, Swerve City, Rose­mary MELODY’S ECHO CHAM­BER

Melody’s Echo Cham­ber Weird World ★★★ Much of the ini­tial flurry of in­ter­est around Melody Pro­chet’s de­but al­bum had to do with the pres­ence of Tame Im­pala lynch­pin Kevin Parker in the pro­ducer’s chair. But it’s do­ing Pro­chet a dis­ser­vice to chalk the al­bum’s beau­ti­ful, bliss­ful, fuzzy and fizzy dream­pop down to Parker’s magic touch with be­spoke psych drap­ery. Not only does her sweet, jazzy, oc­ca­sion­ally ethe­real voice pro­vide many of the songs with their heart and soul, but she also recog­nised that such de­mure light­ness re­quired some crunch and edge. That’s sup­plied by Parker, whose gui­tars fill in the space around the vo­cals. Tracks such as Crys­tallised and I Fol­low You are fine ex­am­ples of the pair’s flair for cre­at­ing colourful, bold, oc­ca­sion­ally flam­boy­ant state­ments. face­­chocham­ber

JIM CAR­ROLL Down­load tracks: Crys­tallised, I Fol­low You ORPHANCODE

I Am a Coun­try Con­tin­u­ous Ink Records ★★ A three-piece whose 2007 de­but flew so low un­der the radar that it was prac­ti­cally in­vis­i­ble, Orphancode aim to make a louder, prouder state­ment with their sec­ond al­bum. Un­for­tu­nately, time has not helped to fi­nesse the Dublin­ers’ sound. All too of­ten, I Am a Coun­try’s murky indie-rock at­tempts to em­u­late the surg­ing, an­themic power of bands such as The Na­tional, In­ter­pol and Ed­i­tors (stand­out track Des­per­ado does this most con­vinc­ingly), but flops to a halt with a fee­ble shud­der. Lyri­cally, these songs aren’t the strong­est: Anti-Trust re­sorts to cliched lines about a “head full of co­caine”. The big­gest prob­lem with the over­sim­i­lar nine tracks, how­ever, is that there is no spark of ex­cite­ment to pro­pel them into the lis­ten­ers’ mem­ory, nor el­e­ment of stay­ing power to keep them there.

LAUREN MUR­PHY Down­load tracks: Des­per­ado, Lit­tle Mar­tyr Me

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