RECORDS

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Rock

Simon Warner: Waiting Rooms (Rough Trade, CD/LP/tape). Many have tried to translate the low-rent grandeur of Jacques Brel into a contemporary British context, but no one has previously succeeded in quite the way that Simon Warner does here. To well-drilled orchestral accompaniment, and in a voice that suggests Neil Diamond after a heavy night on the super lager, this charismatic West London chancer summons up lyrical visions that are both extravagant and emotionally engaging. That he does so with such everyday subject matter as his flatmate making a mess in the kitchen sink is a source of genuine wonderment. Ben Thompson

Sugar Plant: After After Hours (World Domination, CD only). At last, the Japanese indie-ambient crossover the world has been waiting for. This second album from Tokyo duo Shin'ichi Ogawa and Chinatsu Shoyama is a dreamy piece of work: celebrating "the relaxed and distinctly metropolitan `at home' feeling one gets in the quiet hours before dawn", with careful reference to the downbeat pop narcotic of Mazzy Star and the Velvet Underground. The music has a beguiling shimmer to it, and the lyrics - "You don't know how cold my limb is ... You and I like the cats" - have a haphazard poetry that is only available to those for whom English is a second language. BT

The Supernaturals: It Doesn't Matter Anymore (Parlophone, CD/LP/tape). "I'm far from overjoyed," sings James McColl in his rough-and-ready Glaswegian burr, and in case we don't get the message, he spends 12 songs confessing how glum he is, in highly convincing detail. Luckily, the darker the lyrics the brighter the exuberant, joanna-driven, Beatle-esque tunes, until it comes as a relief when such quieter songs as "Pie in the Sky" don't explode into glammed-up terrace anthems. A record that's not afraid to be Britpop. Nicholas Barber

JAZZ

Sonny Rollins: Alfie (Impulse, CD/LP). Re-release for one of the great Sixties albums, composed by Rollins for himself and an 11-piece band, arranged by Oliver Nelson and produced by Rudy Van Gelder. It's not, as far as I know, the real soundtrack to the movie, which Rollins recorded with Stan Tracey while he was in residence at Ronnie Scott's in 1965, but rather a 1966 New Jersey-gloss on the original themes. Whatever, it's marvellous stuff and Rollins's take on the title-theme has deservedly become an icon of the era, like Herbie Hancock's score for Antonioni's Blow Up. Phil Johnson

Everette Harp: What's Going On (Blue Note, CD). Shopping-mall muzak reworking of Marvin Gaye's classic album by soulful saxophinist Harp, which, while it's an effort that in no way surpasses the original, still manages to insinuate itself into your affections by virtue of the sax keeping close to the phrasing of Gaye's voice and reminding you of just how great his songs were. Bizarrely, the sleeve features photographs by artist Andy Goldsworthy. PJ

Brasil: A Century of Song (Blue Jackel, 4xCD). From Carmen Miranda to Milton Nascimento, this ambitious if rather selective compilation aims to define the history of Brazilian song through separate discs devoted to folk and traditional recordings, the music of carnival, Bossa Nova, and the recent pop-past as represented by Jorge Ben, Marisa Monte and Nascimento. With more sambas than you can shake a berimbau at, and a strong strain of surprisingly Northern Club-style singalongs, it's a very mixed bag, but some wondeful, rare recordings of Joan Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Baden Powell make the Bossa Nova disc especially worthwhile. PJ

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