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since 09/04/2007


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Beatles (The) 09/05/2007

Sgt. Pepper, forever living on

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Beatles (The) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the eighth album released by The Beatles. It was released on 1st June 1967 and it’s 40th anniversary will soon be marked by a covers album recorded by various current recording artists. The impact this album has had on music over the last 40 years cannot be overstated. Listening to it today it still sounds like it could have been released this year. The production techniques and quality are immense and cannot be matched. It’s closest rival of the time comes from The Beach Boys (or Brian Wilson’s….) Pet Sounds. This record defines modern music, across all guitar-based genres. It is sheer art. Over the years there has been much debate over what are considered drug references, but if you ask me that is irrelevant, it’s a ground-breaking piece of creativity and musical expression. Much of it has a psychedelic feel fitting of the era, but is creates such a vast landscape of sound and a massive dreamlike feel that is key to the album. The ever controversial but brilliant ‘Lucy in the sky…’ is perhaps the best example of that. It’s describing a dream of a young Julian Lennon and it’s not only the lyrics but the composition and distant swirling vocals that aid that. Ringo Starr has always taken a lot of flak for his drumming capabilities, but I think ‘Getting Better’ is representative of his abilities. His percussive work is solely based around what is required for the song or concept. Anything more intense would kill this song ...

Beautiful Freak - Eels 08/05/2007

Beautiful Freak - experience alienation

Beautiful Freak - Eels Beautiful Freak was Eels debut album, way back when in 1996. And although a lot of water has passed under the bridge since, it’s a solid starting point for a band. In honesty, I’ve enjoyed this album so much over the years I’ve struggled to really enjoy anything else by them and have actually avoided their music where I can. I think that comes from a disappointment over the first single from their second album. It’s not a ‘classic’ album, it’ll never be remembered for being anything ‘huge’ or ‘iconic’, but for me, it is a very good album and very enjoyable. Eels are slightly depressive alternative pop. Mr E the front man, doesn’t seem to have a rock ‘n’ roll bone in his body. This is a tender and fragile album, of pain, woe and a jaded mistrust for society and humanities treatment of the underclasses. It tells tales of the underdogs, the misunderstood and misfits. With touching lines like ‘If I was one of the beautiful people, would I be on your list?’ alienation, unreadiness and pain that will fit well with the angst of teenage years or a bad day for a thoughtful person. ‘There was some happiness, but my stone face cracked again’. It’s full of vivid uncomfortable lyrics such as ‘it’s like I woke up in my mothers clothing, like I’m talking to a voice that doesn’t exist’ that all add to the experience of the album. I wouldn’t recommend listening to this when down or depressed. A lot of people would say that about all music like this, but for me, I would welcome REM ...

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey 08/05/2007

Raw, edgy quality pop

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey It’s much more poppy than some of her other records yet still retains a dark and compelling edge and lyrical complexity that is associated with her music. Another highly rated accolade this album has is the fact Thom Yorke of Radiohead, sings on three of the tracks. Backing vocals on two, but lead on ‘The Mess We’re In’ which is one of the highlights of the album. There is more of a produced quality to this album than her others. It’s smoother around the edges, the instrumentation being key in that. There seems to be balance in the use of the synths, pianos and distorted guitars. Reserved isn’t quite the right word, they just seem to be more restrained, harnessed and generally better used. The studio where most of this was recorded may have played it’s part in creating that. The Linford Manor studio in Milton Keynes, has been involved in creating other finally polished albums, by a great variety of musicians. Other highlights of the album include ‘This is Love’ a great indie dancefloor anthem, ‘The Whores hustle’ with some sparing Thom Yorke vocals and the big opener to the album ‘Big Love’, which is indicative of the rest of the album. ‘Horses in My Dreams’ is perhaps my least favourite song on the album, but that is just down to personal taste. I would always describe PJ Harveys’ music as raw, but how you can say that of something so well produced I’m not sure, but some how, it still applies to ‘Stories from the city, stories from the sea’. ...

Veneer - José González 08/05/2007

a good album to relax to

Veneer - José González Veneer is a strange album. When I first heard it I was fairly non-plussed, it was all very nice but suited background listening rather than any particular attention. The only track that really stood out was ‘Heartbeats’ but only for its familarity due to its use in the Sony Bravia adverts. I didn’t even realise it was a cover by Swedish band ‘The Knives’. And it stayed that way for quite a while, until earlier this year when in the middle of a bad patch and with sleep becoming more than a struggle – I really discovered this album. José González has a strange heritage in as much as he is Swedish born by Argentine parents. The album was originally released in 2003 across Europe and didn’t reach the UK until Spring 2005, I believe it followed later in the year for the states. The sound/style is consistent throughout the album, well-played classicial guitar and soft almost forgettable melodies. That is until you really start listening. At first it seems like a guitar album, the only visible difference between tracks being changes in the guitar playing, but behind the stark composition there are some beautiful lyrics. I think ‘Lovestain’ typifies this ‘You left a blood stain on the ground, You left a love stain on my heart, but blood comes out easily’. Other quality tracks on the album include ‘Broken Arrows’ and ‘Crosses’, but in honesty I don’t think there is a bad track on it. Perhaps it is due to the simple nature of the recordings and their composition (although don’t be ...

Come on Feel the Lemonheads - Lemonheads (The) 08/05/2007

Come On Feel the unique approach

Come on Feel the Lemonheads - Lemonheads (The) Come on Feel by The Lemonheads is from 1993, a golden age for the band and for U.S music dominate the airwaves, commerical or otherwise. Come on Feel hosts a vast variety of tracks that made up the best of for this era of their career ‘Down about it’, ‘It’s about time’ ‘Into your arms’ ‘Being Around’ ‘Big Gay Heart’ to name a few. The major disappointment is ‘Being Around’, the acoustic version that acts as a B-side for the cover of Simon and Garkfunkels ‘Mrs Robinson’ is far superior to this album version. There are acoustic versions of ‘Down about it’ in circulation around too and although I prefer them, this is still a fine version of the song. Various tracks from this album have been part of the Evan Dando solo set over the last few years, proving their quality in his vast catalogue of music. The first three tracks are non-stop ‘power pop’ – ‘Great Big No’ (another best of song), followed by ‘Into Your Arms’ and Down About It’. ‘Paid to smile’ shows a more thoughtful softer composition than some of the almost ‘thrashier’ performances on the album, paving the way for the country-esque ‘Big Gay Heart’. ‘Style’ brings around another complete change of pace and shows the vast musicial ability of the band. An out-right rock song. For me ‘Rest Assured’ and ‘Dawn Can’t Decide’ are two of the weaker tracks on the album, although continue to show creative promise except perhaps for some strange ‘ba baa’s’ on the latter. ‘Rick James Style’ is an alternative, more expansive ...

Flights of Gravity - Exit Motel 08/05/2007

Flights Of Gravity, cult classic in the making?

Flights of Gravity - Exit Motel I’ve had a copy of this album in my possession for almost two months now. I’ve written several reviews in other places about it, all from when I was a couple of weeks in. In fairness those reviews are probably a little more balanced than this one, because this album is a ‘grower’ and this has most definitely grown on me now. It Perhaps not an album that will leave you with an instant hit of satisfaction, but then something as subtle and complex is best enjoyed over time, little and often until you can not remember why you didn’t cherish it straight away. I mean that in the sense of a very traditional album, some areas of it are always more easily accessible than others (hence why singles exist). But when you open the doors to an album as a whole and really listen to it over a period of time your opinion becomes almost intoxicated by the brilliance of something so well crafted and thought out. Because that’s what ‘Flights Of Gravity’ is, it is most definitely an album of thought and craft, no mindless rock here and although sitting within the alt-rock genre there seems to be something to pull most keen music fans. It’s what I’d class as a musicians album and I hope it’ll enjoy the slow burning cult status of other albums in its field. I’ll draw no comparisons here as they may be somewhat premature or may be slightly grandiose but the potential is there and only time will tell. I imagine ‘Flights Of Gravity’ will slowly bring this band into many peoples living rooms and ...

Fracture (DVD) 07/05/2007

Keep guessing in this intelligent and slick movie

Fracture (DVD) I saw this movie in an empty cinema yesterday. I was glad of that as it gave no cause for distraction although does this movie an injustice. 'Fracture' stars the ever brilliant Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. I've seen it described in various synopsis as a 'cat and mouse thriller' which yes, you could argue - but it certainly wouldn't be your typical one. Hopkins plays a successful engineer/businessman, married to a much younger woman, whom he discovers to be having an affair with a policeman. In cold revenge he kills his wife, with her lover the arresting officer. Hopkins confesses in what appears to an open and shut case for hotshot up-and-coming lawyer Gosling. As all evidence from the case appears to be either inadmissable or missing and Hopkins looks to be a free man,who us playing with Gosling - Gosling has to find a way of finding justice, keeping his job and his hot-shot ways alive. This movie is a slick, witty meeting of minds. It is dramatic and yes, thriller could be deemed an appropriate term, but it is more pyschcological and intelligent than a 'cat and mouse' description have you believe. It is clever and the dialogue well written. It's the first time in a while I've seen a movie with twists that are surprising yet actually make sense. Hopkins and Gosling are both well placed in this movie, Hopkins in a typical Hannibal Lector role, that he plays so well. What really drew me in is the amount of dry wit throughout. I laughed more than I ...

Firewall (DVD) 07/05/2007

Stereotypical Harrison Ford Action/Thriller

Firewall (DVD) Harrison Ford is a movie legend, it goes without saying that Indianna Jones and Jack Ryan will forever be remembered as good characters in good movies. His performance is always of high quality and perfectly believable. And this is no different. Paul Bettany has enjoyed much success over the last few years with the Da Vinci Code and Wimbledon and has shown an ability to be well suited in any role. And as for Ford, this is no different. Firewall, is an action/thriller movie very much in keeping with everything Ford has been in over the last decade or so, I guess 'formulalaic' (forgive the spelling) is the word. Ford plays a family man who is head of security for a bank that is in the middle of a merger. The takeover appears to be far from ameniable for everyone, which leaves a long-term colleague to seek out other opportunities for him and Ford. This marks the entrance of Bettany into the movie, posing as a businessman. His intentions are far from good as he appears in the meeting, as after he kidnaps Ford and family in a bid to get Ford to help him steal £100,000,000 from the bank he works for. What happens next is a 'dramatic' series events in a struggle to save himself, his family and to stop Bettany getting away with the money. As It sounds above it is a perfectly enjoyable and watchable movie. All except for about 10-15 minutes from the end when the most random, convienent and daft event happens to play into Ford's characters hands. From there on in ...

Our Shadows Will Remain - Joseph Arthur 06/05/2007

A well-crafted more polished Joseph

Our Shadows Will Remain - Joseph Arthur Our Shadows will remain is the fourth studio album by Ohio born Joseph Arthur. He was originally discovered by Peter Gabriel and signed to his Real World records, on which Joe released his first three albums. It's fair to say his live performances at times far out-weigh the quality of his albums, renowned for his looping, self-harmonising and painting on stage, his live shows are a cut above any other solo performer. Our Shadows will remain however, is his finest studio release yet. Part of the reason for this is 14th Floor, who have obviously given him the time and budget to craft something fitting of this prolific talent. The strings are a welcome addition to his sound, creating something far more produced than his previous endeavours. This album is also softer and less awkward than earlier material. The minute and a half long 'In Ohio' is a gentle introduction into a more mature recording, quickly followed up by 'Can't Exist' which is definitely more commercial aware than alot of his other tracks. Thats not to take anything away from a song that really sets the tone for the album. Smoother, beat based and more up beat (although very much still dark) the tracks are almost composed with the live shows in mind. As tracks like History and I am are perfectly wirrten for his meandering live performances, and experiments in beat-based music. It's hard to pick out a weak track, which is strange as his previous albums have had some real clangers on, but this is a much ...

Tragedy Rocks - Crimea (The) 06/05/2007

Tender, fragile piece of music

Tragedy Rocks - Crimea (The) The Crimea formed from half of the remains of The Crocketts. Dave Macmanus and Owen Hopkins cleaned up their habits and are having another go. The Crimea are a more gentle approach to what was at times bordering on crazy with The Crocketts ( I once saw Davey Crack his head open with an electric guitar). Tragedy Rocks is a tender, fragile piece of music. The lyrics are dark and insiteful, at times showing an obtuse wit that readers of Macmanus myspace blog will have come to have known and loved. Some of the tracks take on an almost bubble-gum pop feel (Lottery WInners On Acid) but with such a darker approach. Out of Africa is perhaps a disturbing favourite to have on the album, being what sounds like a tale of alienation and almost pointless suicide in a tv- filled unforgiving world. For comparitive sound you are best off looking at Frank Black (and therefore Pixes) and stuff like Eels and Flaming Lips. Its quirky alternative pop meaning it sounds radio-friendly but is so much more sinister and has roots in rock music. The band don't stray far from their sound, but the fact this is a re-recording of a record the band distributed themselves until Warner Brothers stepped in and had gone through various line up changes during this period, makes that unsurprising. I think future releases (second album due out 14th May 2007) will be a bit more 'experimental' for want of a better phrase, but Lottery Winners on Acid, Isabelle, Opposite Ends and Out Of Africa are all good ...

Wave of Mutilation (The Best of Pixies/Parental Advisory) [PA] - Pixies 06/05/2007

A true reflection of a seminal band

Wave of Mutilation (The Best of Pixies/Parental Advisory) [PA] - Pixies I normally find best ofs miss some quality under-rated album tracks, but I would say wave of mutilation is a very true reflection of pixies music. Their albums are a little on the erractic side, with some poor tracks mixing amongst the classics, BUT THIS IS BEGINNING TO END BRILLIANCE. Pixies are an under-rated band with an almost underground appreciation society and when you look at the number of bands they have inspired so greatly you really begin to appreciate the unique quality in their music, they paved the way for the grunge scene and so much alt-pop and rock in the decade and a bit since their demise. This album was released before their reunion back in 2004 as the definitive and official best of and I think it really is a good starting point to this seminal band. With the unique qualities of tracks such as 'Where is my mind' a track deemed good enough for the closing credits of modern classic Fight Club, the power of 'debaser 'and the slightly bizarre, 'Nimrods Son', there is quite an electic feel to the album. It covers surf pop, grunge, rock, pop, punk some tracks even have a latino feel. It's an album of true alternative music, that also proves it doesn't need to be about thundering guitars and just making noise. Sure Frank Black makes some strange noises along the way but the sound of this band is so unique, it captures that diy approach of lo/fi and garage music and is edgey and raw, but not just for the sake of it. The tracks have simple compositions ...

Because of the Times - Kings of Leon 05/05/2007

A genuinely brilliant album

Because of the Times - Kings of Leon I would say I have never considered myself a Kings Of Leon fan, but this album is a far cry from their previous lo/fi almost hillbilly sound of old. This album erks you back to a better time, to the early 90's of american music, and whilst I couldn't necessarily consider this album a grunge album it has more of that feel. There are also some pixies links to be made here although the they are subtle. The tracks are delivered in an almost understated fashion, so this isn't an album that'll smack you in the mouth from the start, but there is something genuinely loveable about it. I've been struggling with 'new music' for a while, there hasn't been anthing that has really caught my imagination, but I've not been album to get this CD out of my head, it's dominating my home stereo and MP3 player and I would say it's the first new album I have loved for a very long time. And I can say without reservation I will love it for a long time yet.. ...
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