Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week's alternative CD releases.

DeStijl, "Debut" (Glasstone Records)- Destijl may hail from the southern French city of Montepelier but this darkly memorable four piece band have always felt a natural affinity for the musical culture of eighties Manchester, and they returned to their unlikely spiritual home once again early last year to record the content of their third album, rather perversely titled "Debut." The finished product blends hypnotic dance beats and melodic pop rock in well nigh irresistible proportions and should be required listening for discerning music lovers everywhere.

Stick In The Wheel,"Follow Them True" (Self Released)-The East London outfit fronted by singer Nicola Kearey and guitarist Ian Carter have been deservedly hailed as "Britain's most exciting new folk band," and Stick In The Wheel certainly bring a freshness and originality to their music-making activities that sets them apart from many of their contemporaries in the field. Kearey's distinctive vocals set the seal on a collection which explores some of the darker aspects of the human condition with a refreshing disregard for many of the tired orthodoxies which can often bedevil the folk genre. The invigorating contents run the gamut from the charming traditional balladry of "Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green" to the haunting electronica of the stunning closer, "As I Roved Out," with demon fiddler Ellie Wilson in fine fettle throughout.

"Soul Woman" (Universal Music On Demand)- This inexpensive 4 CD set ranges far and wide in its choice of subject matter, running the gamut all the way from jazz great Billie Holiday's 1941 recording of "All Of Me" to much more recent offerings from the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae, Vanessa Williams and the late lamented Amy Winehouse. Soul's golden age in the sixties is also well represented by bona fide classics such as Aretha Franklin's "Respect," Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me" and the irascible Nina Simone's haunting "I Put A Spell On You," sharing the limelight with a string of infectious Motown hits from those far-off days.

BlackHawk,"Love & Gravity / The Sky's The Limit" (Retroworld)- The latest CD re-issue from the good people at Retroworld explores the radio friendly output of tuneful country rockers BlackHawk. The band were formed by former Outlaws singer and guitarist Henry Paul in 1992 and were firmly established as hot commercial properties by the time that these two albums first saw the light of day towards the end of the decade. showcasing some finely crafted original material alongside covers of Heart's "Will You Be There" and Andrew Gold's 1977 hit, "Lonely Boy."