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since 01/04/2005


Jim's Special Album - Stackridge 07/07/2005

Hundred Reasons - Ideas Above Our Stations

Jim's Special Album - Stackridge Released in 2002 on Sony Records, Hundred Reason's debut album 'Ideas Above Our Station' arrived with much expectation having laid down strong credentials on the underground scene. What was heard showed that they were geniunely talented musicians. Opening track 'I'll Find You' showcases almost perfectly their music style; progressive, alternative music. An hypnotic drumbeat over jumpy guitar riffs and raw vocals. It may sound like a bit of a mess to someone who hasn't heard it from this description, but it all gels perfectly. 'Answers' is the kind of track that 'grows' on the listener. The quiet verses and loud choruses meet the criteria of rock music perfectly. Vocal melodies work excellently here during the bridge, with a superb, punchy chorus finalé The third track, 'Dissolve', again shows the bands use of just vocals and drums, using the guitars as the explosive device, rather than the drums. It's something somewhat different to the bog-standard style that a number of bands use these days. Pleasant listening indeed. 'What Thought Did' is a track with more tempo, and certainly a more aggressive streak to begin with. The occasional scream will not please the traditionalist music listener, but it's never exaggerated or used out of context. This song also shows that the band do have more than one style, with this stronger, more moody attempt. 'If I Could' was a single released from the album. It does meet more of the 'radio-friendly' aspects, rather than the ...

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters 05/07/2005

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters It may be ten years since Dave Grohl brought out an album under the name 'Foo Fighters' - a self written album to showcase the former Nirvana drummer's talent. What he deliver was exactly that - an album of raw, exciting rock music that would lay the foundation for the Foo's smothering of the rock music market for the following decade. Opening track 'This is a Call' would instantly be listened to by so-called 'critics' and they would pick the bones out of it to see how much like Nirvana it really is - they would come out empty-handed as this pop-rock tune is an eccentric, udbeat tune to help open the album, with somewhat confusing lyrics - showing the more 'fun' side of rock 'n' roll. 'I'll Stick Around' has an excellent opening riff, that does connect somewhat to the grunge genre. The varying tempo of quiet verses, quick choruses is reminiscent of the grunge genre, but works extremely well in this context too. 'Big Me' shows the lighter side of Grohl's production. The video, for those who have seen it, will back this belief up. It's a very laid back track, with no need to show the aggressive side of the Foo's, with this instead showcasing a more laid-back appearance. 'Alone + Easy Target' is the style of song that has stood the band so well over the past ten years. The guitar riff in the chorus is 'grunge'-esque whilst Grohl growls over the top of it, and an great piece of music in general - a favourite of mine from the album. 'Good Grief' has a fast tempo ...

Everything Is (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Nine Black Alps 21/06/2005

Nine Black Alps - Everything Is

Everything Is (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Nine Black Alps The revival of grunge?? All sorts of bits and pieces bands have attempted this ever since the day Kurt Cobain took his own life, and in the Nine Black Alps, it would appear we have another pretender to the throne...but there would appear to be some substance behind this title. 'Everything Is' their debut release on Island records - a label associated with heavy, hard listening rock bands, and it is an excellent showcase of what could potentially be. 'Get Your Guns' kicks things off - snarling guitar licks and snare drums produce a rhythm that wouldn't instantly signal 'grunge', although you can certainly hear why through vocalist Sam Forrest's crackling voice. 'Cosmopolitan' is a fairly radio-friendly track - I've heard it on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show a few times - again, it's tempo is slightly pacier compared to 'Grunge', but the dark, heavy guitars help distinguish it, although with a pounding outro... 'Not Everyone' is my favourite track off the album, and a must-have track for anyone even slightly interested in this genre of music. It is reminiscent of Nirvana's 'Bleach' style of Grunge, which is a plus, along with the quiet verses meets loud choruses, and snarling vocals in the choruses help prove that this band could be the answer to the grunge revival, and then some... This is the kind of song you just have to turn the volume up all the way to 11! Going further through the track listings, 'Behind Your Eyes' and 'Intermission' help calm things down with ...

Waitrose 06/06/2005

Waitrose employment

Waitrose I've now worked at my local Waitrose for just shy of two years, and will be leaving, fingers crossed, to go to university in September this year. Although my job was quite literally the part time student job that we all have at some time or another, and it's not a job I would wish for full time, or to make a career of, it certainly gave me an insight into the world of business. Training to begin with is extensive, as one would expect with a large company such as Waitrose. Working on food counters like I do requires specific caution and training on dangerous objects such as meat slicers for example, but my training covered these areas with enough depth, and quickly enough. Full time staff that you work with are essential to get you up and running, especially when it comes to areas such as product knowledge - which I knew very little about to begin with, but am fairly assured on now. The management are friendly and respectful, even to us part timers - most of them taking the time to learn basic such as my name, which other companies may just ignore when it comes to branch management. Of course, being a 'partner' rather than an 'employee' does seem to give benefits. Our branch has a rather large social club, and activities are scheduled regularly. Some may be for the 'older' store worker, but other activities such as paintballing have been arranged for us pro-active types! There's also the bonus of a discount card, which you receive after just 3 months of work ...

Philips Audio xQ CD-R 80 min 25/05/2005

Philips Audio XQ

Philips Audio xQ CD-R 80 min I recently had to purchase a set of CD-R's to produce some CD's, for legal reasons I should point out!! So I brought a set of the 'XQ' version, along with the 'Q' version produced by Philips. Made in Germany, the 'blurb' on the packaging states: 'For use with all Digital Audio CD-Recorders. Philips CD-R Q/XQ offer high quality, digital audio performance.' But do they really offer high quality?? Well, the majority of the CDs were used to burn mp3's, so that would partly rely on the quality of the mp3's more than anything, although after listening to them via the CD, there were absolutely no apparently signs of the quality of the songs having faded after being placed on the CD. Occasionally, I find that some CD-R's don't work when being written on, possibly because of the speed of my computer drive, but thankfully not one of the Philips CD's failed or aborted when being burnt. The ease of use obviously relies on the package you use. I personally use Sonic RecordNow! A very reliable, thorough software that can be used to produce CD's, DVD's or data carrying CD's. Durability can of course depend on what you do to the CD's. But instructions are given inside each CD case as to what you can and can't do to the CD, for example waterproof felt tip pens are fine, but biros are a no go - basically the standard suggestions of all CD's. A pack of ten of these set me back 7.99 from Tesco's - a relatively good price considering they come in full size cases, not flat cases ...

Tell All Your Friends - Taking Back Sunday 23/05/2005

Tell All Your Friends

Tell All Your Friends - Taking Back Sunday 'Tell All Your Friends' was the debut album from 'Taking Back Sunday' - one of a number of bands emerging from the debree of nu-metal music, to build the 'emo' genre into a musical superpower. Although some will say all emo is the same - nearly every band has their own geniune style and sound if you think about it. TBS's style being a preferred one of mine.... Opening track 'You Know How I Do' shows the passionate style of vocals from Adam Lazarra, which is almost an obvious convention of this genre, on top of pacey drum beats and thick guitar riffs. 'Bike Scene' shows the quiet vs. loud style that showcases another style of the emo genre, and would be more associated back with the grunge movement of the early nineties. 'Cute Without the E' is a big highlight of the album. It's quick paced, punk-like style shows another version of what emo can be like. The layered, harmonised vocals is a pivotal part of this style of music, and especially with TBS in general. 'There's No I in Team' builds on the emphatic path blazed by the former track, and although not quite matching the tempo of CWTE, it's quick enough to tap your feet to at least, with more emphasis on guitars here, with a far simpler drum beat. 'Great Romances of the 20th Century' - firstly I should point out to those unaware of this genre; titles like this are very common - some can stretch off for ages and into obscurity. But onto the music, this is seemingly on the surface, a more 'emotional' song, ...

St. Anger (Explicit Version/+DVD) - Metallica 18/05/2005

St. Anger

St. Anger (Explicit Version/+DVD) - Metallica Now, I'm a Metallica fan, as I'm sure a number of you are. But who here who are fans of great metal albums like 'Ride The Lightning' and 'Master of Puppets' geniunely enjoyed 'St. Anger'? Now, don't let me spoil the surprise, read on.... I often like to review albums I enjoyed (4 or 5 stars - check my other reviews please! *hint!!*), but I thought I'd have a go at one I didn't particular enjoy.... The troubles within the band a couple of years before the album release were well documented - Jason Newstead leaving, James Hetfield suffering drink problems - all these troublesome times, could in theory, produce some excellent metal music, full of thought and emotion, but it appears it's struggle to do that even though Hetfield described this album as a 'great expression'. The ardent Metallica fan would say they 'sold out' with the release of 'Load' and 'Re-Load', or even as far back as when they produced the video for 'One'. I wasn't too fussed with those albums, but this one has 'fussed' me! Opener 'Frantic' sets a trend throughout the album - low tuned guitars and garbage bin-like snare beats from the often reliable Lars Ullrich. Lyrically, there is an obvious biographical nature by Hetfield, which suggests he has let out many of his emotions over what he and the band had gone though, but I fear this head-pounding doesn't suit them one bit and just shows there's a lot of pent up frustration. The opening guitar riff to title track 'St.Anger' is quite good I must ...

MTV Unplugged in New York (Live Recording) - Nirvana 12/05/2005

Nirvana Unplugged

MTV Unplugged in New York (Live Recording) - Nirvana On November 18th 1993, the kings of 'grunge' stepped into a small studio filled with fans to perform an acoustic set. The traditionalist would have expected, or wanted, them to play the obvious likes of Smells Like Teen Spirit and Heart Shaped Box. But what Kurt Cobain had in mind was something beautiful enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. As I gradually review all Nirvana's releases, if anyones checked my other reviews....(hint!).... this cannot be mentioned in the same breathe as say, In Utero, just simply because this is the other side of Nirvana that we rarely saw, and perhaps would have seen more of, had it not been for Cobain's suicide. Opening song 'About A Girl' is taken from their debut release 'Bleach', which was originally a fairly calm track - very Beatles-esque in places, and with the 'unplugged' ambience, it is even more so now. 'Come As You Are' follows, one of the singles from 'Nevermind', and recieves instant applause from the audience as they instantly recognise it. The echoing screams of Cobain fit perfectly on one of the most basic yet eeriely brilliant guitar riffs you could ever find. The third track is the first cover of the evening, but yet one of the most obscure ones you could think of Nirvana ever doing. 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam' was adapted from the Christian hymn, that I believe the Vaselines also did - as Cobain mentions prior to the songs beginning, and it includes bassist Krist Novoselic on ...

In Utero - Nirvana 09/05/2005

In Utero

In Utero - Nirvana 1993 saw the heavily-anticipated release of Nirvana's follow-up to the ground-breaking success that was 'Nevermind' - an album that shaped a generation. But if that was the partying and celebration of 'grunge' - 'In Utero' was the emotional morning after, complete with bitter and breathetaking music. Opening track 'Serve The Servents' starts with the apt opening line - 'Teenage angst has paid off well, but now I'm bored and old' - instantly indicating Kurt Cobain's theory that Nevermind is long gone in Nirvana's timeline, and left instead is the more intelligent, moody, emotional masterpiece of this album. 'Scentless Apprentice' kicks off with one of the best drum intros around, and with low tuned guitars and lyrics jumping about, it sets us off well for Cobain's screaming of 'Go Away' during the chorus. Lyrically, it is so obvious to connote that the first two songs are a stab at the media and the record industry, who were arguably the reasons behind Nirvana being labelled 'sellouts' by many - how wrong that label was. 'Heart-Shaped Box' was to many, the anthem that Smells Like Teen Spirit was on Nevermind - renown across the rock music world, but yet both tracks are incredibly different. Rather than the pacey style of SLTS, HSB starts slowly, with Cobain's crackling vocals on top of clean guitars and a methodic drumbeat - only for it to erupt in a style that so few can achieve as well as Nirvana did. 'Rape Me' - to the untrained reader, it may feel that this ...

Final Straw - Snow Patrol 05/05/2005

Final Straw

Final Straw - Snow Patrol The majority of us will have no shame in admitting that we hadn't heard of Snow Patrol until they released the anthemic 'Run' in late 2003, but of course, 'Final Straw' is their third studio album, and it seems that they have finally made it into the big time. TRACK LISTINGS 1 How To Be Dead 2 Wow 3 Gleaming Auction 4 Whatever's Left 5 Spitting Games 6 Chocolate 7 Run 8 Grazed Knees 9 Ways & Means 10 Tiny Little Fractures 11 Somewhere A Clock is Ticking 12 Same BONUS TRACKS 13 We Can Run Away Now They're All Dead and Gone 14 Half the Fun Opening tune 'How To Be Dead', the album's fourth single, is an excellent opening track. Lyrically, it proves the strength of the band - 'Can't you shoulder the blame cos both my shoulders are heavy from the weight of us both' - clever, intelligent lyrics from Gary Lightbody like these stand the band in good stead throughout the album. 'Wow' is a slightly heavier track, not too heavy though, just some light distortion and a quicky drumbeat to help keep the pace of the album up and ensure it doesn't 'drag along' at any point. 'Gleaming Auction' is a track that has certainly grown on me whilst listening to the album, time and time again! It's similar in a way to 'Wow' with its structure - a style that obviously works well for the band. 'Whatever's Left' can sometimes get ignored by those who have just brought this album, because of the three tracks after it, but don't ignore it, give it the listen it ...

Greatest Hits - Alice in Chains 04/05/2005

Alice In Chains - Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits - Alice in Chains The comparison between Alice in Chains and other 'grunge' bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam is inevitable, but I will do my upmost to avoid it, as AIC are certainly on a more advanced level. Although Nirvana maybe have been the commerical success, more of the underground rewards went to AIC, with their even darker, heavier approach to the genre. A greatest hits album is just what the band needed to showcase it's skills to the world inside one collection, but with just 10 tracks, it begs the questions as to why so few? I honestly don't know. 'Man In the Box' is the albums opening track, the only track from 1990 release 'Facelift', and it is certainly one of the most famous AIC tracks, and a definite favourite of mine. It's low, dark guitar riffs on top of vocals to match from Layne Staley define AIC, and is certainly a great way to kick the album off. The following four tracks are all taken from 1992 release, 'Dirt' - 'Them Bones', 'Rooster', 'Angry Chair' and 'Would?', proving why Dirt was arguably their best album. The haunting, echoing vocals on the likes of Them Bones was a definitive style of the band. The echoing guitars of 'Rooster' are eerily beautiful, along with the thought-provking, dark lyrics on top of it - 'The bullet sccreeeaammss at me from somewhere'. And then there's the low, haunting bass riff of 'Would?'..... 'No Excuses' and 'I Stay Away' are from 1994's release 'Jar of Flies', an album I never brought, but was always told about in the ...

Wave of Mutilation (The Best of Pixies/Parental Advisory) [PA] - Pixies 27/04/2005

Wave of Mutilation

Wave of Mutilation (The Best of Pixies/Parental Advisory) [PA] - Pixies Some argue Nirvana were the definition of 'grunge', others say the Pixies were...I can't see the comparison to be fair, the Pixies rather encapsulate the definition of Indie and Alternative music, and this is the 'best of' collection that they deserve - 23 tracks to showcase the Pixies history from their five albums - 'Come on Pilgrims', 'Surfer Rosa' the classic 'Doolittle', 'Bossanova' and 'Trompe le Monde' - all made within a five year time-span. The opening two tracks - 'Bone Machine', from 'Surfer Rosa', and 'Nimrod's Son' classify the alternative-ness to the Pixies style, and as my 'Disadvantages' state - it may just be TOO alternative for some, faint-hearted traditionalists, with the rhythm jumping about all over the place to Frank Black's shouting and grooving - to those new to the Pixies, you may instantly say "he can't sing for s**t" - but believe, give it time, this is originality as it should be, as those familar with the band will testify. 'Holiday Song' is the first taste of some of the guitar anthems the band came up with in their hay-day, and 'Caribou' is certainly an anthem amongst many fans. This is certainly building up the album's credentials, showing all the tracks taken from 'Come On Pilgrims', into a heavyweight of heavyweights. The next three tracks, 'Broken Face', 'Gigantic' and 'Vamos' are all from 'Surfer Rosa', with 'Gigantic' showing us the vocal skills of bassist Kim Deal as well - personally, this is one of my favourite tunes from the ...

In Time (The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003) - R.E.M. 21/04/2005

REM - In Time

In Time (The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003) - R.E.M. I was never a 'huge' REM fan, and never owned an album, but I felt my CD collection was in need of one. Rather than risking my money on something like Automatic For The People for example, which is a great album anyway I should point out, I played safe and went for the Best Of album.... what I discovered was a production of brilliant, beautiful and intelligent music. Before buying it, I thought I'd be able to name, roughly, 7 or 8 REM tracks, (the obvious ones - Losing My Religion, Everbody Hurts, What's The Frequency Kenneth? etc.) but I knew all but a couple of these tracks - proof that REM are a band well known across the globe. 1. Man On The Moon This is an essential REM song. Michaels Stipe's vocals fit majestically on top of laid back guitars and crisp drums. It has an eerie sense to it, especially after about have way with the guitar interlude and when the vocals re-commence. A fabulous track. 2. Great Beyond A fairly recent track, compared with many of the other tracks available here. On top of a selection of instruments, Stipe works his way through to a laid back first chorus, which eventually builds as we get through the song. 3. Bad Day Again, another fairly recent track here. The quick vocals and drumbeat and slightly distorted guitars make this a toe-tapping kind of song. This is the energetic version of REM at their best. 4. Whats The Frequency, Kenneth? Another essential REM track. Using just basic instruments and basic light ...

Murky World of Seats - Garlic 21/04/2005

The Datsuns

Murky World of Seats - Garlic One of New Zealand's best imports, possibly ever, The Datsuns debut self-titled album released in late 2002 is genuine rock n' roll at it's best!! Loud, distorted guitars playing riffs that just make you want to get up and jump, and drums that compliment this as well, and raw, tuneful vocals to match and impress. Having heard the singles 'In Love' and 'Harmonic Generator', I saw them play Reading Festival in 2003, and was hooked instantly, putting on one of the best shows of the weekend by far! So had to buy the album, so I did!! 'Sittin' Pretty' is the album's opening number - using a main lead riff and working around it - it shows the basics of good, air guitar music. Soloing is in evidence - another sign of rock n' roll, which must be a good thing! 'MF From Hell' is an extremely pacy, distorted track. But with the lyrics managing to fit with the catchy rhythm of the guitars, it is a blatant example of the air guitar style that rock n' roll portrays. An big highlight of the album. 'Lady' continues the formula of toe-tappingly good guitar riffs, and drumbeats to match all at a high tempo. And a delicious guitar solo just after halfway really tops this one off!! 'Harmonic Generator' was the second single taken from the album - this one has more to do with nodding along to the drumbeat, rather than the infectious guitars of the previous three tracks. Although the guitars still have a distinct rhythm to them and make this another excellent track! 'What Would I ...

Cobra Indian Beer 18/04/2005

Extra Smooth Cobra

Cobra Indian Beer Born in Bangalore, India, the award-winning Cobra beer is a beer that, for some reason, goes fairly unnoticed outside of the standard-par Indian restaurant. It's taste is clean and very smooth, which is what I enjoy, not any of this American weak malarkey! Cobra's certainly ideal when your wolfing down a rather hot curry and suddenly need a refresher. According to the bottle, it is 'double filtered' for it's extra smooth taste, and extra smooth is correct, and it contains a 'unique blend of barley, yeast and malt with hops, maize and rice', although I'm sure this combination has been 'done' before!! At 5.0% ABV it's a worthy premium lager, but yet it is the ideal company with a curry as it is not particularly gassy, and therefore doesn't burn your mouth further when mixed with some hot vindaloo! And in turn both the beer compliments the food and visa versa. I regularly buy a large, 660ml bottle of Cobra from my local Waitrose, as it seems it be on constant offer! But the smaller, 330ml bottles are also available, however only Waitrose and Tesco have I seen Cobra on sale where I live. The question is however, what beer is genuinely the best out of the big three? Tiger, Kingsfisher or Cobra? Personally, the latter wins this round due it's superior taste.
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