They Might Be Giants, “Why?” (Lojinx) The affable alternative rockers are probably still best remembered here for their infectious 1989 hit “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” but John Flansburgh and John Linnell have remained remarkably productive during the past three decades, and the Brooklyn duo’s unique songwriting gifts are captured in all their quirky glory here.
“Why?” is They Might Be Giants’ first album of child orientated material since 2009’s Grammy nominated “Here Comes Science,” and it’s predictably crammed to the gills with instantly memorable ditties such as “Omnicorn,” “Or So I Have Read” and the rousing closer, “Then The Kids Took Over.”
Paul Handyside,”Tide, Timber & Grain” (Malady Music)Former Hurrah! creative mainstay Paul Handyside has reinvented himself as a rootsy acoustic balladeer whose music blends elements of folk, Americana and pop delivered with an honesty and emotional power that’s well nigh impossible to resist. The Geordie troubadour’s third solo album serves up a veritable feast of compelling musical narratives for your listening pleasure, including the “Woodcutter’s Son,” “A Whaler’s Lament” and the beautifully unadorned “Should I Leave Your Side.”
Hank Marvin, “Guitar Solo The Complete Solo Recordings 19821995” (Edsel Records) This bespectacled guitar wizard’s inventive use of echo and tremolo embellished a string of classic instrumental hits by The Shadows during the early sixties, and in many ways captured the essence of preBeatles pop. This five CD box set explores some of Marvin’s later solo output and features consciously undemanding covers of everything from Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs.Robinson,” many of them underlining the fact that although Hank may be a hugely influential guitarist he’s certainly much less accomplished in the vocal department.
The Druids, “Pastime With Good Company” (Talking Elephant) This long deleted folk offering was first released by Decca’s Argo offshoot in 1972, and is now available in CD form for the first time. The Druids’ pleasingly archaic approach to musicmaking relied entirely on acoustic instrumentation as they tackled a repertoire drawn from the folk traditions of the British Isles which they performed with a refreshing absence of elegance or polish. This didn’t bring them anything in the way of commercial success but their work still repays closer investigation. with “All’s Dear But Poor Men’s Labour” and “The Irish Girl” emerging as the pick of an engagingly rustic package.