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

Cowboy Junkies, "All That Reckoning" (Proper Records)- This distinctive Canadian band have now been active on the recording front for more than three decades despite refusing to conform to the commercial demands of the rock industry and Margo Timmins and company continue to march to the beat of a singularly different drummer on the evidence presented by the eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2012's "The Wilderness." The band may be approaching the veteran stage these days but their seductive and subtly memorable sound has lost little of its unique appeal with the passage of time, and "All That Reckoning" is an inventively arranged gem of the highest order.

Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy,"Anchor"(Topic Records)- The latest Topic showcase for the combined talents of England's finest folk dynasty finds the mother and daughter duo of Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy applying their distinctive musical imprint to a skilfully crafted selection of songs which run the gamut from Tom Waits' "Strange Weather" to Nick Lowe's "The Beast In Me" and Monty Python's "Galaxy Song." Martin Carthy also chips in with a slightly sombre version of the iconic "Scarborough Fair," setting the seal on a deeply satisfying package which should be required listening for discerning roots music devotees throughout the land.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, "Sparkle Hard" (Domino)- The seventh solo album from former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus is a typically tuneful affair which reflects his enduring love affair with the delights of indie and prog rock via stand-out tracks such as "Middle America" and the oddly anthemic "Shiggy," the latter providing an ideal vehicle for some joyous instrumental wizardry from the great man himself. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame also lends a hand on "Refute," making a splendid cameo appearance as she joins forces with Malkmus on a deliciously oddball slice of country balladry .

Jon Cleary, "Dyna-Mite" (Thirty Tigers)- Jon Cleary may hail from the archetypally English county of Kent but this Grammy Award winning performer's work has always been steeped in the musical culture of the vibrant cultural melting pot that is New Orleans. Singer and keyboard ace Cleary has been based in the Crescent City since long ago in 1980, following in the footsteps of illustrious characters such as James Booker and Professor Longhair as he delivers life-enhancing ditties such as "All Good Things," "Big Greasy" and "Dyna-Mite" itself for your listening pleasure. Splendid stuff.