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Dingleberry (New Mexico.)

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They Want My Soul
They Want My Soul
Price: £7.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crack., 11 Aug. 2014
This review is from: They Want My Soul (Audio CD)
Oh, good grief, this is a great album.

Divine Fits, the band and album that Britt Daniel was involved with in 2012, found me in the minority that felt it was a very mediocre effort, especially after Spoon's excellent 2010 album, 'Transference'. But either way, it seems to have cleaned his creative pipes and also brought guitarist / keyboard player Alex Fischel into Spoon's lineup. Despite my feelings about Divine Fits' music, with the triumph that is 'They Want My Soul', I can now appreciate that project in a different light.

Frequently, with my favourite albums, there's one song that doesn't quite hit the mark. On Radiohead's 'OK Computer', for example, I could easily do without 'Electioneering'. 'Huey Newton' from St. Vincent's record of the same name, I could take or leave it. I like those songs but wouldn't miss them. 'They Want My Soul' isn't one of those records. Every single song is a piece of aural crack cocaine, an ear-worm ready to burrow into your brain. In short, they're all essential.

Produced by Dave Fridmann (other credits include Neil Finn, The Flaming Lips, OK Go), Joe Chiccarelli (The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Shins) as well as by the band the album nevertheless has a seamless quality. The production is uniformly excellent and embellishes the tracks without becoming the main event. These are ten strong songs and would be even without any added studio magic. But, at the same time, the production cannot be ignored. The interplay of guitars, the types of guitar sounds, the use of echos, vocal layering and a judicious use of electronics, etc, are all so right. It's as if everyone involved picked the perfect instrument or sound and placed it in the perfect place. It's impossible to imagine the songs being better or any other way. The overall sound of the music still has that slightly ragged Spoon sound and yet there's also a certain precision to the production too. It's an odd but thrilling juxtaposition that works incredibly well.

Which is the best track? Just pick one, any one, you won't be wrong. For me, this is the album of the year so far.

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If you're considering buying the vinyl the first pressing run is all in white. The master was cut at Trutone in the U.S, a small mastering studio known for their high quality pressings, so I assume that Spoon will have made similar arrangements in the U.K. My copy is the cleanest record I've bought in a while - no general surface noise, no pops or clicks and it looks great. The Spoon web site store seems to have sold out of the limited transparent blue vinyl, at least temporarily.


La Petite Mort
La Petite Mort
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £8.95

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come again?, 2 Jun. 2014
This review is from: La Petite Mort (Audio CD)
Do critics have it in for James?

A New Musical Express review for 'Millionaires' (a five star effort if ever there was one) described it as "not bad, not good, just deathly, endlessly average". The next album, 'Pleased To Meet You' was described by Andre Paine, in another NME review, as "a snort-worthy event" (Mr. Paine actually wrote that any artist releasing an 11th studio album deserves this reaction - so I guess he's not a fan of Bob Dylan, David Bowie or The Rolling Stones, to name but three).

'La Petite Mort' has been streaming on The Independent's web site for a few days now and the first reviews are being posted on anydecentmusic dot com. "Diffused with an over-eager commercial charge" writes Mojo magazine. What could that possibly mean? That James shouldn't enjoy making music? That they shouldn't aim to shift some units? No matter what they do, it seems as if James just can't win. The best antidote I can give to all this bile is to say that if you've liked most of what James have done in the past then you will find much to enjoy this time around.

That being said, when I first heard 'Frozen Britain' I wasn't that impressed. It's a song that couldn't be anyone else but, maybe for that reason, it left me somewhat underwhelmed. It was only when I saw the video of the acoustic version of 'Interrogation' that my ears perked up. It's one of the outstanding tracks here, one of the best tracks the band have ever made and would perhaps have been a better introduction to the album. I've since warmed to 'Frozen Britain' but prefer the songs where James stretch what they do into other areas. Tracks such as 'Curse Curse' and 'Gone Baby Gone' are dance music James style, they pull them off convincingly and both are also high points of the album.

Opener 'Walk Like You' runs through three different phases before its end. Like the sound of a flute, the use of a fiddle in any song usually has me skipping to the next one but its addition here, in the last minute or so, is an inspired choice and takes things to a new level. I wish that section of the song was longer.

The final two tracks, 'Quicken The Dead' and 'All I'm Saying' are also standout tracks and round out the album nicely. After 'The Morning After' seemed to just peter out it's good to find that 'La Petite Mort' stays strong until its end.

James sometimes remind me of Depeche Mode's Martin Gore. They both have an ability to write some of the most twee lyrics you'll ever hear while belting them out in the most unabashed, over-earnest manner. Somehow Depeche Mode get away with it but, for some reason, it's a little harder to swallow coming from James. In the middle of some of my favourites come some real clunkers - "We learn to walk like you, talk like you, ooo-bee-doo", "One 1000, two 1000, three 1000" (etc), and "Love, love, love, love, love, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah". I generally don't care what people sing in songs but the vocals are so clear and upfront here that it's like hitting a speed bump at 70 mph - hard to ignore. On the other hand, maybe James retain a childlike joy that ignores self-judgement and enables them to just go with their first thought without question (if so, I envy them).

In the same way (and my only other quibble) three of the songs end in an unnaturally abrupt fashion. They just stop. At first I thought there was a problem with the Soundcloud stream I was listening to but no, that's how they are.

So, it's not perfect (things rarely are) but 'La Petite Mort' is a welcome next step for James. They sound full of life and creativity and Tim Booth is still in possession of one heck of a great voice.

Yes, critics do seem to have a problem with this band (clearly I have some small complaints myself but nothing like the venom coming out of NME). Maybe they sound just too damn happy sometimes and express too many damn feelings the rest of the time for cool or curmudgeonly reviewers. But if you kind of like being happy and dancing around occasionally and also don't mind having some feelings now and then, you will probably enjoy the new album by James.

Update, June 19th: In the end the NME didn't review 'La Petite Mort', something for which I am, and I'm sure the band are, truly grateful.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2014 11:31 PM BST


Odludek [VINYL]
Odludek [VINYL]
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Ditties., 3 April 2014
This review is from: Odludek [VINYL] (Vinyl)
When Beck released 'Sea Change' I remember one critic complained that the vocals on tracks like 'Paper Tiger' were sloppy or slurred, I forget the exact word used. I also remember thinking that this person must be new to the world of music and perhaps new to the world in general. Elvis, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits - non of these people took a rock 'n' roll elocution lesson.

My point is that music critics can be as dumb as the rest of us. They're just people whose voices reach a bigger audience than most.

The general consensus in the music press is that Jimi Goodwin's first solo effort away from his Doves band mates is an average affair at best. Some reviewers seem quite uptight, considering the business they're in, and almost offended that Mr. Goodwin should have the impertinence to make an album by himself. This strict parental attitude seems to have clouded their ability to enjoy 'Odludek' for what it is - the result of a great song writer letting his hair down, having some fun and coming up with some unexpected but inspired extracurricular invention.

Even if you can't accept that this is a solo effort, there's still a lot for a Doves fan to enjoy here. Tracks such as 'Didsbury Girl', 'Hope', 'Oh Whiskey', 'Keep My Soul In Song', and 'Ghost Of The Empties' are all excellent, equal to anything he's done before and certainly won't startle anyone who likes Doves' music.

'Live Like A River' has been likened to a Sub Sub track but the slight dance element is deceiving and merely a cover for a far more robust, driven song than anything that that band ever produced.

'Man v Dingo' is the one song where you feel that Mr. Goodwin's desire to make a "mad mix tape" of an album actually shows itself. The track is the most out-there element of 'Odludek'. A cheesy quiz show theme (sounding more like Sub Sub than 'Live Like A River' does) leads into jaunty bass, blasts of brass and a playful, music hall guitar strum. The lyrics sound like a stream of consciousness and complement the music perfectly. It has an 'everything and the kitchen sink' quality to it and does indeed sound a little mad. Terrific stuff that nevertheless may test a loyal Doves fan.

'Panic Tree', co-written with Elbow's Guy Garvey, also has echoes of music hall in its piano sound and suggestion of big bass drum wallop. With it's slightly wacky, unhinged glory, it's impossible to listen to it without smiling or dancing. If anything, along with 'Man v Dingo', it perfectly embodies what the main purpose of this album may have been - to create an atmosphere reminiscent of an after hours pub party or a large family get together where the band is loose, well oiled by a few drinks but hitting its stride. There's drive, fun, laughter, pathos, melancholy, nostalgia and love. At the end everyone's tired, unsteady on their feet but happy in the warm embrace of friends and family.

If you're open to it, 'Odludek' is a distillation of all those things - a great night out.


Dizzy Heights
Dizzy Heights
Price: £5.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laurels, uncrushed and disregarded., 11 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Dizzy Heights (Audio CD)
With 'Dizzy Heights', Neil Finn continues what he started with the title and contents of his first solo album, 'Try Whistling This'. And that is, fixing anyone who wants him to become the next Elton John, George Michael or even Robbie Williams with a steady stare while giving them his middle finger.

He will not be going soft on us by merely rehashing Crowded House songs on daytime TV to pad out his retirement fund. No, he's looking forward not back and is still curious about what else his music could be.

I've been listening to this album for a week on Pandora. When 'Divebomber' was first released I was unimpressed and disappointed. That falsetto, the rambling nothingness of it all. No, I wouldn't be buying this album. But the experience of the whole album puts that track into perspective. I'm not keen on it yet but I do now have an appreciation for it and it's growing on me. If nothing else it makes me smile when I think of Mr. Finn picking it as the lead single. As I said, a middle finger to those hoping for easy, charming, beguiling melodies that echo his past triumphs.

Still, there are some 'That Crowded House Guy' gems here along with the more experimental tracks. His falsetto appears in about three songs and I'm not sure if he's pulling it off or not. But it's that spread from conventional to odd that may make this his most interesting and enjoyable solo album so far. There are some truly wonderful moments where everything comes together so perfectly that it makes my hair stand on end - the last minute or so of 'Recluse' comes to mind. Then there are some forays into more 'difficult' music, that you wouldn't normally associate with Neil Finn, that are enjoyable in a totally different way. But it's not like this is a Scott Walker record, most of the tracks are pretty conventional and easily enjoyable.

In this age of the loudness wars I always take a look at the wave form to see if there's any compression on an album. I was surprised to see that there is. The track 'Flying In The Face Of Love' being the worst example.

All in all though, there's much to enjoy here and I hope he doesn't get arthritis in that finger.

Some other good news is that Mr. Finn has dispensed with that really bad mustache that had attacked his face around the time of Crowded House's 'Intriguer' album. Now, maybe, if things keep going this well, he'll remaster and re-issue the first four Crowded House albums in nice digi-paks with some bonus stuff and copious liner notes. C'mon Neil, after all, we did humour you with that 'tasche.


My Friend Fish
My Friend Fish
Price: £9.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One To Watch, 13 Dec. 2013
This review is from: My Friend Fish (Audio CD)
Having never heard a single thing by Foxygen, I'm in the happy position of not being able to make a comparison.

Shaun Fleming has been Foxygen's drummer and has also been a voice actor in movies like 'Kim Possible'. He certainly has a versatile, enjoyable voice that's capable of several different styles and, I have to say, I like them all. He growls, croons and occasionally shrieks and it's all a joy to hear. He wrote all the songs, pretty much played everything on the album, produced most of it and it was all recorded in his apartment over a two week period.

The whole collection has a gorgeous, sometimes lush sound to it. I don't have a great knowledge or affection for either the Beach Boys or Marc Bolan but I can see where a comparison to these artists could be made. There's a kind of lo-fi feel to the record - old style, bluesy organs, muted drum sounds, de-tuned guitars etc.

There isn't a bad song here and there's not one that doesn't fit in. The track order is perfect and each song leads seamlessly into the next. While I usually hate to pick out my favourite tracks, I just have to this time. They would be:

Never Lonely
Tale Of A Dead Dog
WWWoman
Eat Your Love (With Sriracha)

Although he released the E.P. 'Thank You' back in 2011 (and please tell me where I can find that), this is Shaun Fleming's debut album. It might not be something that will knock your socks off on the first listen but you'll find that it's a truly accomplished, timeless gem with a durability that few records achieve. What strikes me most about 'My Friend Fish' is the confidence and looseness Mr. Fleming has in delivering the songs and also the easy creativity that abounds in his songwriting. You expect all that from a seasoned professional but not on a debut.

2013 has been a great year for music but this may be my favorite release of the last twelve months. Shaun Fleming surely has bright future ahead of him.

Other contenders from 2013, in no particular order:

Todd Rundgren - State
Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Depeche Mode - Delta Machine
Goldfrapp - Tales Of Us
David Bowie - The Next Day


Fear Of Missing Out
Fear Of Missing Out
Price: £12.47

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thejoyofgreatmusic., 17 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Fear Of Missing Out (Audio CD)
This review was originally posted on Amazon.com on July 31st, the U.S. release date. It has been re-written in English for the benefit of U.K. music lovers.

...................................................................................

Fans of Radiohead may want to take a listen to this, the second release by Thenewno2.

Thanks again to NPR.com for streaming the whole thing for the week preceding its release. After liking a couple of the songs at first I gradually found myself loving all of them except one. Not being a fan of rap I found its low vibration on 'The Wait Around' brought an otherwise great tune down. Even so, I find myself singing the first part of it all the time. Highlights include, well, as I said, pretty much everything.

It's so interesting to hear Dhani Harrison, sounding so like his father on some tracks, singing these songs. Like Radiohead, there's a great mix of guitars and electronics but the sounds that hit me first were piano and (like Phil Selway's work) the great drumming. Frank Zummo sure can play those things.

This record is not just the son of a Beatle messing around with some mates to pass time, this is a serious, mature, rounded group effort. It's up there with the best music released so far this year. I didn't buy the first Thenewno2 release when it came out but I'll be checking it out now and I'll certainly be getting their next one.

So, ahem, definitely no air freshener required with this number two (sorry Dhani).

Update......

Tragic news from London recently. After writing a three star review of 'Thefearofmissingout' the normally sane Q Magazine reviewer John Aizlewood was rushed to hospital with what doctors are describing as the worst case of someone having their head up their a$$ that they have ever seen. Due to the depth of the insertion the rescue team that helped save those Chilean miners last year has been called in to help. A successful extraction is by no means certain and my thoughts and prayers go out to John and his family at this difficult time.

Updateno2 - December 2012.

Without doubt 'Thefearofmissingout' is my album of the year. It's been overlooked, ignored, and just plain missed by most people, as far as I can tell, but it's a superior collection of songs on so many levels. My review is woefully inadequate in describing the contents of this album but the right words have eluded me. It fills the gap where a good Radiohead release should have been. It's subtle, it rocks, it's moving, deep, beautiful and complex.

Incidentally, I did manage to create a successful, seamless edit of 'The Wait Around' - not a rapper can be heard, with a running time of 2.19.

To give some context to my enthusiastic frothing, here are my other favourites from this year:

Gaz Coombes - 'Here Come The Bombs' (a close second)
Grizzly Bear - 'Shields'
Hot Chip - 'In Our Heads'
The Shins - 'Port Of Morrow'
Matthew Dear - 'Beams'
Muse - 'The 2nd Law'


Here Come The Bombs
Here Come The Bombs
Offered by westworld-
Price: £8.47

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supergaz., 21 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Here Come The Bombs (Audio CD)
It's usually not a good sign when an artist starts thinking about their creativity too much. When Gaz Coombes announced before the release of the Supergrass album 'Road To Rouen' that we should expect a "more mature sound" my heart sank. All I could think of was that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry tells George that he thinks that he's maturing and George says, "Oh I hate to hear this".

'Road To Rouen' didn't turn out as bad as I feared and in fact had some great songs on it but the seeds of 'what are we about?' had been sown in the band's mind and ultimately produced the failed crop that was 'Diamond Hoo Ha'. After listening to that collection of songs as much as I could bear, 'Diamond' became the first Supergrass album that I didn't buy.

It seems that the Hot Rats covers album with Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey and producer Nigel Godrich have provided revitalization and inspiration for Mr. Coombes as he returns to his own songs with added vigour.

With a mixture of surprise and delight I find myself feeling that with his first solo outing Gaz Coombes has produced an album of greatest hits. Some of the songs here would sit very well on your favourite Supergrass release while others use that standard as a jumping off point to greater heights. Many of them have several parts (not simply verse, chorus, verse) and all of them build on what's gone before which increases the pleasure of each song.

It's an odd comparison but the amount of creativity here reminds me of early Genesis - like them or not, they wouldn't hold back when it came to song writing, preferring to throw every great idea that they had at a particular time into one song. There are so many great bits of music here that another artist might have reserved some to make more songs out of them later, or even another album. You have to give Gaz Coombes credit for the standard of his song writing and then, on top of that, throwing everything and the kitchen sink into this record - and yet there's a cohesiveness to the whole set. It's nothing short of thrilling.

My favourite Supergrass album is 'In It For The Money' and what Gaz Coombes has produced here equals if not exceeds it. It's just jam-packed with great tunes. Without doubt it's the album of the year so far.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2013 12:38 PM GMT


The Golden Age Of Wireless (Collectors Edition)
The Golden Age Of Wireless (Collectors Edition)
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £9.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something substantial from the '80s., 13 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Kraftwerk may have beat him to it but I would posit that Thomas Dolby made a equal contribution to the foundation of modern electronic music.

With this, his first release, Mr. Dolby created a more feeling and emotional sound than his German counterparts and, despite its age, it retains absolute relevance in today's musical scene. Here you have a record with no weak spots and a ton of innovation. The songs are warm, imaginative, passionate and the melodies are irresistible. No cold, hard beeps and burps here.

This remastered re-release finally restores the album to it's original, (U.K.) vinyl running order which is no small thing. The flow of the songs into one another was always part of the enjoyment of TGAOW and the previous CD release was a disaster in this respect. 'The Wreck Of The Fairchild' was omitted and the other tracks were mixed up for no good reason.

The remastering was overseen by Thomas Dolby personally and, as you would expect from someone who produces his own as well as others releases, it is superb.

In addition to the basic album, this expanded edition includes no less than ten bonus tracks. In the case of 'She Blinded Me With Science' you have one of Mr. Dolby's most well known hits accompanied by it's original B-side, 'One Of Our Submarines' - which, for me, is the better song of the two and an absolute classic. Both of these songs were added to the previously mentioned first CD release.

The rest of the tracks are by no means just filler. 'Urges', 'Leipzig' and 'Urban Tribal' are early Dolby tracks that hold their own against the basic album. After that you still have four demos (three of which are non album tracks) and an alternate version of 'Radio Silence' to explore.

As if that wasn't enough, the second disc is a DVD containing a live concert from 1983.

The CD booklet contains new recollections by Mr. Dolby of the songs' inspiration and creation.

All in all this is a wonderful package and an absolute bargain. Be warned that the CD booklet comes with a white square measuring an inch and a half on the front, bottom, left corner containing some German writing. Due to German regulations covering DVDs, the square has to be there to indicate it's viewer rating. As this is required in Germany, and this release was only made in Germany, it had to be printed on all the CD covers. So, even if you live in the U.S. you're going to have that on the cover.

If you haven't heard 'The Golden Age Of Wireless' before, watch and listen to some of the tracks on youtube. The videos haven't aged as well but the music is timeless.
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