The Herald's regular team of reviewers

listens to the best sounds around

Lovelife, Lush (4AD)

Quite distinct from Blur's blokey Parklife, Lush's Lovelife - crafted by top axe-wombyn Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi - is a thoughtful fizzpop treat in which self-obsessed men cop it; young people are encouraged not to buy their heroes wholesale; and single girls find strength in being on their own. Make room in your life for it today.

Fine Gold, various (Dorado)

Twelve albums and 35 singles down the road from Dorado's birth in February, 1992, the coolest fusionary label in the universe offers you a bargain-priced chance to see what all the fuss has been about. Ten cool runnings for only #5.99, you lucky people! Swoon to soul-funk goddess Jhelisa Anderson! Thrill to the epic genre-busting of D*Note! Hot up your dancing-trousers with Cool Breeze! Enliven your living-room with A.P.E's chamber-jungle vibe! Throw some moody shapes to the baroque loops of Outside! Perhaps best of all, discover what it's like to Take The L Train To Eighth Avenue with the sublime Brooklyn Funk Essentials! If hearing this track doesn't immediately impel you to seek out the BFE's Dorado album, Cool And Steady And Easy, I'll come round and make you eat my hat.

Denim In Ice, Denim (Echo)

Enunciating like a disciple of pithy philosopher-poet John Hegley, Denim main-man Lawrence inhabits an abandoned variety theatre at the end of a pier off the coast of Britpop. In cob-webbed isolation, he studies his collection of 45s by Chicory Tip and Arrows. Lawrence is at his best being ironic about the UK music-industry and its fawning handmaidens in the music press. Check out The Great Pub Rock Revival (``There's a rumour going round that the Rumour are gonna reform... I wanna castigate the media for this pub-rock revival''), Shut Up Sidney, Synthesisers In The Rain, and Denim On Ice. He also does a telling line in camp social protest via songs such as Job Centre, Council Houses, and Glue And Smack. As to the precise message conveyed by Grandad's False Teeth . . . well, this is an album you really should chew over for yourself.

Martyn Bennett, Martyn Bennett (Eclectic)

n Go reeling in jig-time! The long-overdue release of the multi-talented Mr Bennett's splendid debut album, a pumptastic Caledonian-folk-roots-ambient-hoose cross-fertilisation, eminently suitable for a ceilidh on Mars in the year 2096. Playing everything from digital sampler to distorted electro-violin and Northumbrian smallpipes, Martyn creates a giddy whirl. Dive right in soon. Dancefloor trainspotters might be impressed by the fact that the album sleeve provides a note of each track's beats-per-minute rating (from 90bpm to 120bpm), but what really matters is that this album is propelled by its own generous heartbeat.

Flexistentialism: Ninja Cuts, various (Ninja Tune)

n A neat two-CD compilation offering 24 slices of unravelling groovefulness from such beatmasters as 9 Lazy 9; DJ Food; Up, Bustle and Out; Funky Porcini, and Ashley Beedle. Get flexed and lazily existential, man.


Message from Home, Pharoah Sanders (Verve)

n Produced by Bill Laswell, providing an otherwise unlikely connection with Mick Jagger, Message From Home also connects the African explorations of Sanders's sixties leader, John Coltrane, with the 1990s courtesy of the Love Supreme-meets-hip hop vibe of Our Roots (Began in Africa) and Tomoki. Sanders's soprano saxophone playing on the former is as sweetly lyrical as I've ever heard him and his tenor on Ocean Song is damn near romantic. But there's more trenchant, not to say angsty, stuff, too, on an album whose danceability ultimately will probably annoy Sanders diehards, although not as much as his admittedly groansome 1970s funk efforts.

Calling Card, Arthur Blythe (ENJA)

n Even when he emerged in the 1970s as a fairly radical New York-loft type alto saxophonist Blythe's playing showed obvious respect for and deep knowledge of jazz history. So it should come as no surprise that one of the real treats here is a gurgling Jitterbug Waltz, reverential to Fats Waller but bearing Blythe's own unmistakable, spiky stamp. Recorded direct to two-track at the Village Vanguard, Blythe leads a band of immense stature (pianist John Hicks, drummer Bobby Battle and the peerless bassist Cecil McBee), ballad, blues and hard bop workout alike played with a commitment and creativity that make this CD the next best thing to being there.