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since 16/01/2004


Fiction 16/02/2007

Nothing to see here!

Fiction Editing in process: The following has nothing to do with anything. It it is just required to make the 120 word minimum. That is the purpose of these words too. Important: The reviews posted on our website should be based on your own thoughts and experiences, and you must not use anyone else's (copied from extern website or an intern ciao-review) research or work without giving them credit, even if you do not use their exact words. Even if you do cite your sources and say where your information is from, we would still like a minimum of 90% of your review to be your own original ideas. Please do not only list factual information that can be found on product packaging, manufacturer websites, etc. We want to know about your own opinion and experiences. What did you like, and what didn't you like? ...

With Love and Squalor - We Are Scientists 08/09/2006

Rocket science? This is not!

With Love and Squalor - We Are Scientists Released in October 2005, With Love and Squalor is the debut album from New York dwelling but Californian born trio, We Are Scientists. The record is a familiar blend of indie/alt rock with a dash of punk and some undeniably catchy hooks. On first inspection you could be forgiven for dismissing this record as simply another Kaiser Chiefs or Hard-Fi rehash but given time this is an album that reveals many treats and surprises. Like a fine wine left to age, With Love and Squalor, is an album that seems to get better with each passing month. That is not to say that its influences aren't obvious, it is easy to see The Killers, Editors, Franz Ferdinand et al in this record, but the important thing is that they never reuse or regurgitate, rather they borrow and refine, improving on past efforts and producing some songs of very high quality. The Scientists' pluck themes and ideas from everyday life and using their own style of acerbic wit they mould their songs into catchy 3-4 minute stories with a blend of great lyrics and catchy riffs. The first track, 'Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt', is an excellent opener for the album, starting with a repetitive but ultimately catchy riff, the drums and bass join in quickly to provide a solid grounding for Keith Murray's doleful lyrics. The vocals on this record are a case of personal preference. Some people have levelled the accusation that Murray's vocals are too mournful and self pitying but I think they set the music off perfectly, adding ...

Black Holes and Revelations - Muse 04/09/2006

The Future of Rock?

Black Holes and Revelations - Muse Black Holes and Revelations, Muse's fourth full-length effort, can only be described as overindulgence to the extreme. With this record Muse have finally unshackled themselves, opened themselves up to a whole new set of influences and finally shaken their 'poor man's Radiohead' tag, which has seemingly clung to their legs like a horny jack russel. It is a testament to Muse's technical and creative ability when I say that no other band could have made this album. In the hands of any other this album may have seemed pretentious but with Bellamy's evocative voice oozing sincerity at every turn it is hard to ignore the emotive nature of each and every song. The focal point of this album is clearly the vocals, with Bellamy invoking images of apocalyptic meltdown on a galactic scale, spiralling planets engulfed in the fiery jaws of supernovae. Alongside this, guitars swoop and soar and tension rises and falls as Muse lay out their vision for the future. Prepare for one hell of a journey. From the opening track 'Take a Bow' with its synthesised pulse and rising sense of dread, you get the feeling that Muse have deliberately tried to veer away from the rock industry standard. Make no mistake, this is in no way Absolution Mk. II. 'Take a Bow' is an obvious swipe at 'Gee-Dubyah' and Bellamy's haunting vocals are like a knife to the heart, as he menacingly whispers - 'You'll pay for your crimes against the earth'. As the dying embers of track one burn out a more familiar landscape ...

Tate Modern, London 01/09/2006

Art for all - The Tate Modern

Tate Modern, London The Tate Modern is housed in the former Bankside power station, (the building has to be seen to be believed), and was built during the Millennium year. Since that point it has developed into one of London's most sought after attractions. The artworks are spread over 100,000 square feet and are based around a massive turbine hall that serves as the building's entrance, a most spectacular sight! Access to the gallery is provided by two tube stations, London Bridge & Blackfriars, and I took the former route which involves a pleasant ten minute walk along the bank of the river and I combined it with a quick trip across the London Bridge for a truly stunning view of Tower Bridge, shimmering in the haze in the distance. The gallery is also served by numerous bus routes, so there really is no excuse for missing this magnificent attraction. The gallery is open Sunday to Thursday from 10am until 6pm and from 10am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and with the exception of two temporary exhibitions (which frequently change) the gallery is free! The Tate Modern has also ensured that the building is fully accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs and leaflets regarding access information can be found at all the Information Desks. The mammoth space afforded by the former power station is bedecked with art from the 19th century right through to the present day. There is a lot to see, but it is important not to be put off by the sheer volume of works, and if you plan to see the entire ...

Shadows on the Sun - Zen Guerrilla 19/10/2004

£8.99 for a shiny coaster - great deal!

Shadows on the Sun - Zen Guerrilla Shadows on the Sun is the fourth full length release from the American quartet Zen Guerrilla. In the twenty years or so that they have been knocking around the blues/rock scene they have never really managed to break the surface. They remain submerged within a pool of similar artists, all of whom are struggling to get themselves noticed or produce something that could be considered a break from the norm. Blending influences from genres as far ranging as garage rock and gospel, the music of Zen Guerrilla does its utmost to avoid being pigeon holed. With 13 tracks (plus a bonus live track) and a forty two minute running time the album is pretty standard fare and Zen Guerrilla rarely stray from the 3-4 minute ‘pop song’ template. In some ways this is a blessing as the songs are short and punchy affairs, there one minute, gone the next. Opening track ‘Barbed Wire’ is testament to this with its catchy central guitar riff that seems to hold the song together and is used as an anchor for the other instruments. The vocals are also pretty tidy and really seem in keeping with the style of the song with Marcus’ bluesy howlings playing themselves off nicely against the dark, brooding guitars. From this moment on however, the album descends into farce and over the next few tracks it is almost entirely destroyed by its own awfully clichéd blues. ‘Smoke Rings’ is a dour and sombre affair, a standard blues track that has been done so many times before and done with so much more style ...

Apple iPod M9245FD/A 40 GB 15/10/2004

Your CD collection in your pocket!

Apple iPod M9245FD/A 40 GB Compatible with both Mac and PC the 40Gb Apple iPod portable music player is a marvel of engineering design. It measures in at an astonishingly tiny 6.1 cm x 1.4 cm x 10.4 cm making it the smallest high capacity MP3 on the market and weighs just 159g. With its rounded edges and sleek white design it is highly pocket-friendly and also fits snugly into the palm of your hand. It features a 5.03cm blue-white backlit screen with a resolution of 160x128 pixels which creates a fairly decent viewing experience, even in fairly bright light. The top half of the player with the screen is adequately balanced by the round scroll wheel on the bottom half and makes for a player which is both aesthetically pleasing but also functionally sound. The scroll wheel itself is very easy to operate and provides a good level of control over the functions even when running or walking. The wheel also boasts accelerated scrolling, which is a really good feature that allows you to scroll through thousands of songs in mere seconds. Between the scroll wheel and screen are four buttons which give you access to basic controls such as play, stop and skip. There is also the handy inclusion of a hold switch to prevent accidental pressing of any these buttons when on the move. The buttons and scroll wheel are very touch sensitive and make navigating the menus on the iPod a pleasing experience. Connectivity is also superb with the inclusion of both a FireWire port and a 2.0 USB port but the lack of a USB cable ...

Modern Apprentice - Ikara Colt 08/10/2004

I'm with stupid ~~~~~>

Modern Apprentice - Ikara Colt Modern Apprentice is the second album from the group of art school punks hailing from London, England known as Ikara Colt. They burst onto the scene in 2002 with their debut album Chat and Business, a vitriolic slice of spite that hacked and clawed at the mainstream music scene. With such an impressive debut it was anyone’s guess where Ikara Colt would head next, on one side they were teetering on the brink of greatness and on the other self implosion. The band was racked with inner turmoil, in the two years separating their two albums arguments and feuds rage between several band members, which eventually led to an acrimonious departure for Jon Ball, Colt’s bass player. Two years later and with a new female bass player in tow they have released a record equally as aggressive and nonchalant as their debut. In many ways Modern Apprentice could be referred to as ‘Chat and Business Take 2’, the vocals are still spiky and ravaged, the guitars blast with overwhelming bravado and the beats still manage to pummel your eardrums into submission. The only major difference is that they’ve become faster, heavier and much more violent. The opening track ‘Wanna be that way’ illustrates this change perfectly, a blistering track with sharp guitars and vocals reminiscent of the legendary Mark E. Smith (The Fall). There is something hypnotic about this song as if its rhythm demands you to listen, to sit up and take notice. It’s a great opening track and perfectly sets the scene for the rest ...

Chat and Business - Ikara Colt 08/10/2004

*Flipping a V Sign*

Chat and Business - Ikara Colt ‘Chat and Business’ is the debut album from London based band Ikara Colt. They formed in 2001 after meeting at Art college and set about writing their debut album which was subsequently released a year later on the Fantastic Plastic label. The album is a mixture of raw, stripped down rhythms and angry understated vocals. Add in some scything guitars and politically led lyrics and what you have is the archetypal Art-house punk record. The production on the album is kept to a minimum and the sound has a quaint, almost tinny edge to it. I would guess that Ikara Colt are the sort of thing that happens when you give instruments to four art students who couldn’t give a f**k about selling records. To say this is the most commercially unviable record I’ve ever heard is an understatement. For most of the album it’s hard to even discern any sort of tune but for what it’s worth it seems to work. ‘A new dawn is coming’ sneers a distorted Paul Resende, lead singer, on the bass ridden ‘City of Glass’. A dark, brooding song, which thumps along regardless of what anyone else thinks, as its creators rise nonchalantly above the competition with a wry smile plastered across their faces. Ikara Colt know their music isn’t popular and they play on this, even proclaim it. With biting lyrics that snap at the heels of the greedy, commercialised successes of ‘The Strokes’ and ‘The White Stripes’ they are most definitely a breath of fresh air. Ikara Colt have produced more ideas and attitude in a ...

Thunder + Lightning - Modey Lemon 07/10/2004

Electronic Sorcerer

Thunder + Lightning - Modey Lemon Modey Lemon are a two piece band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and ‘Thunder and Lightning’ is their second release on Birdman Records. At barely twenty years of age Phil Boyd (Lead guitar, vocals, keyboard) and Phil Quattrone (Drums) have their whole musical career ahead of them and from the sound of this album it’s going to be a fruitful one. ‘Crows’, the opening track of Thunder & Lightning’, sets the pace of the album brilliantly. Each second that passes by on this song brings rolling blasts of intensity that evoke influences from so many genres that it would be pure folly to try and list them all here. Inevitably with their distorted, chainsaw guitars and heavy, erratic drumbeats Modey Lemon have been lumbered with the tag ‘garage rock’. In fact, their music could not be further from the monotonous buzz emanating from most of the current crop of ‘garage bands’. The first five tracks on the album scorch a trail through your brain and pass in no time at all. The title track ‘Thunder & Lightning’ with its bluesy feel and comic electronic bass, which simply will not relent its hold on you, is a masterpiece to behold. Follow this up with the violent and angry ‘Enemy’ with its sneering vocals and a Thor-like fury of drums from Paul Quattrone and you have one hell of an opening for an album. The equally violent ‘Predator’ then follows with a hypnotic beat and plodding rhythm. A truly pulsating and engaging song with vocals not dissimilar to those of Rob Tyner from the 60/70’s ...

Keep on Your Mean Side (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Kills (The) 15/07/2004

Killing music!

Keep on Your Mean Side (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Kills (The) The Kills are a two-piece blues/rock hybrid consisting of VV (Alison Mosshart) on vocals and Hotel (Jamie Hince) on vocals and guitar. Allegedly the union of two former pen pals The Kills have been doing the rounds for a while now, touring and writing in preparation for their first full-length release. Their energy filled live shows have gained them many fans in both their home country the US and over here in the UK. On the stages it’s just the two of them while in the background lingers a jet black, HAL like drum machine, the rock upon which all of The Kills songs are built. Many of The Kills tracks have a lo-fi feel about them. Songs that have seemingly stolen the essence of a song from one of the old delta bluesmen and then revved up the guitar riff to sound like a hook from one of the classic Stooges songs. The Kills songs are always simple in nature, which is unsurprising considering the fact that there are only two of them. For the most part their songs can be boiled down to just a single repetitive riff and some bluesy, nasal vocals from VV. Surprisingly though there are plenty of songs on this album that extend beyond the four minute mark but not always with good effect. This inherent simplicity means that any Kills song is only as good as it’s riff and some songs tend to get boring once they push past the three minute mark. On the other side of the coin though, are the shorter songs, punchy attitude laden tracks that throb and vibrate but are over almost sooner ...

Static Delusions and Stone-Still Days - Catheters 12/07/2004

Been there before!

Static Delusions and Stone-Still Days - Catheters ‘The Catheters’ is probably one of the worst names for a band you could imagine and a real minefield for anyone reviewing the band‘s second album ‘Static Delusions and Stone Still Days’. I mean the potential for jokes is endless, and the result could be a real ‘piss take’ review that sinks to all new lows. Needless to say I will side step these land mines with aplomb and rise above any temptation to garner cheap laughs from such an obvious source. Released on Seattle’s ’Sub Pop’, a label that has strived to shake off its Nirvana connections since the mid nineties without much success, ‘The Catheters’ second album does little to alleviate their problem. ’Static Delusions and Stone Still Days’ is a throwback in the most middle-of-the-road of ways. It has energy by the bag full, plenty of thrash and a fair sprinkling of rumbling bass lines but nothing to suggest that its makers have the song writing skills of the bands to whom they are indebted so heavily. The comparisons to ‘The Stooges’ are unavoidable, from the brutally stark guitar work to the scratchy vocals it’s clear that this Seattle quartet have studied ‘Raw Power’ all too closely. Nearly all of the songs from this album follow the blueprint of the classic ‘Search and Destroy’, regurgitating the nihilistic mood almost chord for chord. Methinks it maybe time for Mr. Pop to call in his legal team. Putting litigation aside for a while though, ‘The Catheters’ don’t really add much to the ‘stripped down’ garage rock ...

Becky Falls Woodland Park 07/07/2004

Bouldertastic fun!

Becky Falls Woodland Park Located in the rolling granite uplands of Dartmoor, Becky Falls Woodland Park is in my opinion one of Devon’s finest attractions. With its stunning canopy made up of ancient oak trees, massive granite boulders and gushing waterfalls it provides some of the most spectacular walks in the whole of the south-west of England. The park is situated on the outskirts of Dartmoor just four miles west of Bovey Tracey. It is well sign posted on all local roads and can be easily accessed from both the M5 (coming from the north) and the A38 (from the south). It is open every day from March 27th to November 7th as well as the Christmas holidays and the February half-term. Admission to the park is £5.40 for adults and £4.40 for children, which after my visit I would definitely recommend as excellent value. Now even before we had reached the car park our adventure had already started as we ascended through the bleak, granite moorland driving on roads that only required a slight deviation from the road surface to plummet hundreds of feet to our death. This of course provided much amusement for the younger ones amongst our party. For me however, it was a nerve jangling drive that required all my concentration to prevent us from meeting our grisly end. Of course I am exaggerating slightly (well a lot really, as all people afraid of such heights would) but it was a great source of entertainment to the youngsters and helped to ward off those ‘are we nearly there yet’ kind of situations. So with ...

Sony MiniDisc recorder 17/06/2004

Walking along singing a song!

Sony MiniDisc recorder The Sony MZ-N505 is now at the budget end of the mini-disc player market and has been discontinued by Sony. Despite this, it is still available to buy from many online retailers and there are always plenty of these models lurking around on eBay. This MZ-N505 can be picked up for a mere £79.99 brand new and comes in three different colours - silver, blue and a ghastly gold/yellow. The MZ-N505 boasts a sleek and modern looking design with rounded edges and a two-tone finish. Small enough to fit snugly in the palm of your hand and weighing in at just 104g this device is the epitome of portability. The controls are located on the front of the player and are easy to access and very responsive. This player is perfect for a workout at the gym or passing some time on a long train journey with 56 hours of playback using just a single alkaline battery the MZ-N505 The MZ-N505 also has three different quality settings for recording - SP (80 minutes of music), LP2 (180 minutes) and LP4 (300 minutes). The first quality setting is obviously the highest and gives CD quality sound which when played back through the supplied headphones gives a good range of tones and the bass is full and thick. Taking the step down to LP2 quality there is little or no difference in the quality of the playback so this is the setting that I use the most. Using LP2 you are able to fit three average sized albums onto a single mini-disc at near on CD quality which is very useful indeed. Using the LP4 mode you ...

Outta Sight/Outta Mind - Datsuns (The) 10/06/2004

Unleash the fury!!

Outta Sight/Outta Mind - Datsuns (The) In the gap between their two albums ‘The Datsuns’ could be forgiven for thinking that they have been forgotten. Just eighteen months ago they were being lauded as the saviours of rock - a throw back to the shaggy haired, riff slamming bands of the seventies. But confusingly The Datsuns now find themselves back at square one. It seems the media have forgotten these darlings of rock and moved to pastures new (most notably The Darkness and Kings of Leon). This week though ‘The Datsuns’ released the follow up album to their critically acclaimed self-titled debut of 2002. So what has become of these former rock Gods? Well with their second album they have come back faster, heavier and seemingly dragging with them a bag stuffed full of new tricks. Gone is the slightly bland repetition of their debut and in comes a selection of very diverse tunes ranging from all out three minute rockers to heavy bass driven epics, not dissimilar to the early work of ‘Rage against the machine’ and more recently ‘Audioslave’. So what’s changed since the debut then? Well for a start ‘The Datsuns’ have enlisted the help of legendary ‘Led Zeppelin’ bassist John Paul Jones in the production department. It comes as no surprise then to hear that a vast chunk of the songs from this album have a distinctly bass tinged feel. None more so than the heavy ‘I got no words’, a slab of hard rock that is based around one of the heaviest riffs on the album. The bass rumbles and stutters its way through the track ...

The Devil's Backbone (DVD) 28/05/2004

El Espinazo del Diablo

The Devil's Backbone (DVD) ‘The Devils Backbone’ is set in Spain during the final days of the Spanish Civil War. Francisco Franco’s fascists have victory within their sights, and in a small orphanage the children from Republican families await their fate. In an effort to fool the fascists Casares (Frederico Luppi) and Carmen (Marisa Paredes), an old couple who run the orphanage, have erected a giant crucifix on its roof, hoping to disguise the institution as a Catholic school. In the courtyard an unexploded fascist bomb sits ominously on its nose, embedded into the dirt. A young boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) has just been made an orphan (not that he knows it) and is being transferred to the remote orphanage. He is a likeable, studious boy but his welcome from the other children is less than friendly. He has been assigned bed number 12 - ’Santi’s Bed’ and the children of the orphanage worryingly whisper amongst themselves. Carlos later learns that Santi (Junio Valverde) once lived in the orphanage but he disappeared on the same night that the bomb landed. According to the children his spirit can be seen roaming the orphanage and strange noises are often heard coming from the dank cellar. As the days pass Carlos becomes more and more aware of the presence of Santi and he starts hearing noises during the night. Carlos is convinced that the spirit has something to tell them and he is determined to find out what Santi has to say. At the same time Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), the charismatic ...
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