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

Dowally, "Somewhere" (Self released)- Dowally's eagerly anticipated second album finds this unique Scottish folk trio ranging far and wide in their choice of subject matter as they bring their collective expertise to bear on everything from a traditional Irish tune to The Beatles' "And I Love Her" and Arctic Monkeys' "Fluorescent Adolescent." The bulk of this invigorating set is self-penned however, reflecting Rachel Walker and Daniel Abrahams' own distinctive take on the art of music-making.

Spirogyra, "St.Radigunds" (Talking Elephant)- The Talking Elephant label is now firmly established as a prime source of rare and obscure folk and folk-rock material, and their latest timely re-issue focusses attention on Spirogyra's 1971 debut set. Their mildly demented melange of acid-folk and prog-rock won the hearts of a devoted coterie of fans during Spirogyra's relatively short existence, but, like their similarly gifted contemporaries Comus, this was never really translated into solid record sales. "St.Radigunds" isn't a consistently successful affair , but creative mainstay Martin Cockerham's spikily memorable ditties are well worth hearing nonetheless.

Harvey McLaughlin, "Tabloid News" (Saustex Records)- Thirty year old San Antonio resident Harvey McLaughlin has been perceptively characterised as "an old man in a young man's body," and the talented Texan tunesmith makes his solo debut with an invigorating set which resembles nothing so much as an unlikely alliance between the best of fifties rock'n'roll and piano based singer-songwriters Randy Newman, Warren Zevon and Tom Waits. "Tabloid News" is a compelling rootsy gem of the highest order, and you'd be well advised to devote forty minutes or so of your time to its refreshingly urgent charms.

The Wood Brothers, "One Drop of Truth"(Thirty Tigers)- The sixth album from the close knit trio containing brothers Chris and Oliver Wood and their long term collaborator Jano Rix must rank as their most dynamic and wide-ranging offering to date, mining a rich vein of soulful Americana to make its presence felt in no uncertain fashion. The trio's growing maturity as writers and performers is reflected in stand-out tracks such as "Sparkling Wine," "Can't Look Away" and the plaintive opener,"River Takes The Town."