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MISDIRECTION, secrets and romance have been dominating the headlines this week, what with the Royal Wedding news, leaks of footage from the new Harry Potter film and, er, the announcement that Justin Bieber will stop off in the UK on his recently-announced world tour.

It has been much the same here, with the excitement kicking off when the latest offering from Gregory And The Hawk landed on our desk. Featuring neither Gregory nor his raptor companion, the album Leche, out now on FatCat, is, in fact, the work of New Yorker Meredith Godreau.

She's been kicking around since 2003, having taken her name from her brother and his imaginary childhood pet (if you believe her bio), making folk music that could freely be described as falling at least partially into the kooky camp.

In Godreau's world, vocals edge towards the helium-enabled end of the spectrum, arrangements wobble between sparse and overblown and titles like Olly Olly Oxen Free are perfectly acceptable.

This is not to say that it's an unpleasant place to spend a little time. In fact, the aforementioned awfully-titled song is one of the more lovely things you'll hear this year. She stumbles a bit on Puller Return and Hard To Define, but it's easy to forgive when she's generally so appealing. More killer than filler, which is always a good ratio.

Unfortunately it's one to which Ray Davies fails to adhere on his latest, See My Friends, out now on Universal.

Quite how a 14-track collection featuring Davies and celebrity mates, including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Jackson Browne and Billy Corgan, could be considered in any way a good idea by anyone involved in it is beyond me. It's beyond anyone quite frankly.

The Metallica-backed version of You Really Got Me is the most inessential reworking of a song ever conceived. I can't imagine a single situation in which I would ever play this album, unless I had suddenly decided I hated my ears so much I needed to torture them with the sound of money being spent on talented people making nothing of worth.

If you're looking for something of slightly more substance, albeit packaged as a collection of songs hovering around the minute mark, then Ten Short Songs For Modern Lovers should be top of your list.

In contrast to Davies' bloated, star-studded guest list, it's the work of the distinctly un-starry Aidan Moffat. As one half of Glasgow's Arab Strap, he provided the mumbled poetry that underscored the darkside of late '90s/early noughties hedonism and has matured into British music's greatest swooning romantic. This latest solo work was written and recorded over one sunny afternoon in his flat last June, to be released on seven-inch vinyl, and as such it's a concentrated study in brevity, wit and love that's occasionally quite shocking in its insight.

It's out now on Chemikal Underground and should be top of your to-buy list. Possibly Wills and Kate have it on their wedding list, but I'm planning on sending them a copy - just in case.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 19, 2010
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