Gorky's Zygotic Mynci The Blue Trees

They're puckish and irreverent, but there's little contrived eccentricity about Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, which I think is partly what makes their often goofy, off-kilter takes on British folkways so winning. With their 1999 album, Spanish Dance Troupe, they played fast and loose with the traditions they seemingly fed into a Captain Beefheart-patented translation engine to spit out winsome pop trinkets. If folk purists had anything to carp about, it would be that things were gained, not lost, in the translation. Merry Welsh pranksters they may be, but they can also play it sweet and lovely, and that's the side they play up with this eight-track tray of hors d'oeurves, in advance of the main course, which is due next spring. Aside from Nick Drake-style delicacies, there are moments of consummate wistfulness that seem a nod to Gram Parsons, and indeed, a current of Americana runs through The Blue Trees, even if only to illustrate the affinities between lilting country-rock and the British folk revival of the '60s. Gorky's are themselves a revival in the best sense of the word - not just a rediscovery, but a rejuvenation. (Mantra)