The Cranberries' Salvation (Island) is the first taste of the from the Limerick band's forthcoming third album, To The Faithful…

The Cranberries' Salvation (Island) is the first taste of the from the Limerick band's forthcoming third album, To The Faithful Departed. It's a short, sharp shock of vocals', guitars and brass which opens with an anti drugs admonishment from Dolores, before descending into a of ah has and oompahs. It's less irritating than Zombie, but also less substantial, sounding like secondhand Siouxie & The Banshees or The Breeders, but it still manages to leave a bit of a sting before abruptly vaporising in an explosion of drums. - Stephen Street's lush, layered production is replaced by a hard, edgy directness, suggesting that Dolores and the boys, have finally found - the confidence to leap fearlessly into the healing flames.

Canadian chanteuse k.d. lang, on the other hand, is still feeling a bit delicate on You're OK (Warner Bros), and she immediately lays her vulnerability bare with lines like, "I am wrought with paranoia/for I have brought myself before ya/ nakedly awaiting your OK". Indeed. A pretty petal of a tune which just dares you to stomp on it.

The Beloved have a fetish for sitting around naked in their videos with a host of perfectly formed extras, and the video for Satellite (East West) goes one step further by having the entire cast stand up and dance in the buff. Can't wait to see that one. The song itself is a typical Beloved bliss out, with a bit of strident Euro piano thrown in to overcome any lingering inhibitions.

Remember Vangetis, Greece's answer to Rick Wakeman? Well, he's just gotten together with well regarded Swedish singer Stina Nordenstam for the thin and airy Ask The Mountains' (EastWest). Stina is an exponent of the Bjork school off barely intelligible lyrics, so it's hard to work out exactly what question we are supposed to put to the nearest protruding mass of rock. How about "where's Jon Anderson these days?"


If you're looking for Brush Shiels, however, ask the nearest mad cow, because these days the Brush has become somewhat of a gentleman farmer, and he pursues his obsession with agricultural themes in The Tractor (Bus). a country flavoured ode to his trusty Massey Ferguson 35. If you thought Aon Focal Eile was bad, wait till you hear this one it makes The Wurzels' Combine Harvester sound like Neil Young's Harvest. It's difficult to believe that a man who once played with Phil Lynnott could even aspire to this level of dirt baked dross.

From the ridiculous to the sublime. Christie Hennessy's Angel (WEA) is an evocative ode to a statue of the Virgin Mary in the French village of Beaunne, and its rustic mandolin and haunting pan pipe sounds paint a picture perfect tableau, while Hennessy's soft Kerry tones lull the listener into a quasi religious serenity. Cat Stevens never managed; that once throughout all his neo Buddhist blustering.

Punk hasn't exactly been dragged screaming into the Nineties, but at least The Presidents Of The United States Of America have tried to hammer, it into shape with their last hit single, Lump. Their new one, Peaches (Sony), is not a cover; of The Stranglers' classic, but a turgid ode to the eponymous; tinned fruit, viz: "Peaches come in a can/They were put there by a man/In a factory downtown". As Father Dougal might say: Is that so, Ted?

Judging by the indecipherable sleeve credits, Super Furry Animals appear to be Welsh, and God! Show Me Magic (Creation), sounds like a Spitting Image piss take of Manic Street Preachers specially edited for Harlech Television. "I had a soul transplant operation" yells a voice which sounds like Max Wall on speed, while the band boogies away like Mott The Hoople in a Cardiff social club. Blluyddy awfyul cyrapp.

Dublin band Grasshopper sound like they've been hanging round with Thom Yorke and getting a few tips from the Radiohead man on how to capture that elusive street spirit. Harrington Street (Liquid) certainly has, a touch of The Bends about it, but that's not such a bad thing, because this paean to the flatlands of Dublin 8 is probably their most accomplished song to date. It starts out on some gentle. strumming chords, as, singer Acko begins his tale of woe and wishful, thinking, then tumbles over in a heap of twisted guitars and Beatles style cellos. On the strength of this latest offering, Grasshopper sound like they re coming on in leaps and bounds.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist