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Mr. T. Ainslie "Timbob" (UK)
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Street Halo EP / Kindred EP [Import Japonais]
Street Halo EP / Kindred EP [Import Japonais]
Price: £12.45

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For those who just need a hard copy., 29 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are good reviews for both Street Halo and Kindred as individual E.P.s and I would recommend consulting these. But to summarise, Street Halo was very welcome in 2011 as it was the first proper output from Burial since his highly acclaimed 2nd album Untrue. Soft synthy hooks complimented the Burial sound, which has become a benchmark in production. Kindred is the more genre breaking - a heavier set of delightfully muffled dance tracks which add some doom to the usual gloom, illustrating why Burial is still a good few miles ahead of his peers.

They do not create a cohesive album when put together; this is a compilation for those who want hard copies of both, as they were never available on CD and had only limited pressings on vinyl. I would definitely recommend the content found here, to existing fans and new listeners alike. But its really a question personal prefence as to whether this format is chosen over downloading one or both of the E.P.s individually.

Picks: 'Stolen Dog' from Street Halo; 'Ashtray Wasp' from Kindred.


Famous First Words
Famous First Words
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £1.90

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the hype., 28 Sep 2011
This review is from: Famous First Words (Audio CD)
Are Viva Brother the greatest guitar band since the giants of the Britpop era? No
Are Viva Brother a tuneless, clueless racket that make the noise of a dying camel looped and amplified sound like music? No

What Viva Brother have done is take music they like and strapped it to a tried and tested, if unimaginative formula. They are not the world's greatest lyricists, nor are they the tightest musicians, but they do have a good enough model for a pop song. Yes they are very much influenced by Oasis, Blur, Suede, et al., but these in turn were influenced by the Beatles, the Kinks and Bowie. This does not make them a bad band.

Haters, moreover, seem to be under the impression that Viva Brother are all over the airwaves, adored by idiots across the country. I'm afraid the press did not over hype this band. They gave them plenty of coverage initially, but for the best part kept an open mind. Instead it is both fans and, perversely enough, haters that have overhyped this band.

Do not buy this album if you want music that pushes boundries and makes one think. Buy this album if you like pop songs. Ignore the hype. It is an average debut from an ok band. And that genuinely isn't an insult.

Picks: Time Machine; New Years Day; Electric Daydream


Freedom Run
Freedom Run
Price: £12.90

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rifles have found their Peace and Quiet, 28 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Freedom Run (Audio CD)
Its 2005, the Rifles enter a music scene bristling with guitar pop with their 7 inch single Peace and Quiet. And it was evident from that point on that they would outlast many of their peers.

Well, no, actually. Truth is they were just one of many bands trying to stand out in an oversaturated scene. Skip ahead to 2011 and they are still here however. Their previous output has admittedly shown increasing promise, and Freedom Run is their best outing yet.

Yes it has harmonies ('Coming Home'), it has strings ('Tangled Up In Love'), and pianos ('Long Walk Back'), and skyscraper guitars ('Sweetest Thing'). They move beyond the Jam model. In this sense Freedom Run is not unlike Falcon by the Courteeners.

But what I like most about this album is an overall feeling of contentment. Gone are the angsty songs about failing relationships and disillusionment, replaced with relaxed songcraft. The walls aren't crashing around them anymore, nor are they looking for something else. Its sounds like they have found that all elusive peace and quiet, and are happy to be there.

It is difficult to see where the band will go from here - they don't seem to be threatening the mainstream (although 'Falling' does scream advert!) and there can't be that much more to say. But it is nice to know the Rifles don't seem to feel they have anything to prove to anyone, and if this is their last album, then its a very fine happy ending.

Picks: 'Long Walk Back', 'Tangled Up In Love', 'Falling'


Start Something
Start Something

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where it all started, 22 Jan 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Start Something (Audio CD)
James Chapman, aka Maps, has a special place in my heart. 'We Can Create' is one of the finest debut albums ever, taking the best of nugaze, The Stone Roses, Spiritualized and The Byrds and weaving it together with his own personal electronica touch. Start Something is the aptly named E.P. that set us on the road to that masterpiece.

The production is abit sparser, which makes a change on 'To The Sky' and 'Lost My Soul', and there is a real sense in the six tracks that Chapman was gathering his various thoughts. It is a very good E.P., but at the price for four new tracks (two appear on We Can Create) it is really for completists only. We Can Create is the essential for anyone, whilst Start Something allows us to look at Maps' infancy retrospectively.

Pick: Some Winter Song (if only because its Maps at his most J. Spaceman)


Unbalance
Unbalance
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £4.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Dubstep, 1 Nov 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Unbalance (Audio CD)
There are a number of journalistic techniques that can be used to describe an album such as Unbalance. To review through the medium of comparisons, then 2562 is the Squarepusher of dubstep. To review with needless complications of genre, then this is breakbeat techno for the post dubstep era, possibly 'IDS', 'dutch-step' or even 'post-step'. To review with far too much pretension, then this is an album produced sometime in the mid to far future by a race of highly-evolved bassline-based lifeforms trying to communicate with the primitive electronica fans of the present day to warn them that mankind will endure anxiety and dark confusion very soon.

I am going to ignore all of the above however and keep it simple. Unbalance is an intelligent album - possibly dubstep, possibly not, indeed possibly anywhere between these two points, but that is mostly academic. The album demands your full attention yet can be listened to with little. And, like all good albums, is accessible not just to fans of dance music. Of course there are nice basslines and breakbeats, but there is a subtle weaving of layers which can be appreciated in tandem with these.

If I have any grievances with the album its that whilst there is some variety in the nature of the songs there's not enough. Though some albums benefit from this (see the excellent We Can Create by Maps or Burial's eponymous album), Unbalance lacks the atmosphere and begins to look unimaginative as a creative whole. But the tunes are generally of a good quality and are far more thought-provoking than of what many producers are creating at the minute.

2562 is maybe not the place to start if your entering the world of credible electronica (that would be 'dubnobasswithmyheadman' by Underworld) or treading the precarious path of good dubstep (try Burial or Skream), but comes highly recommended for anyone who is looking for a different, smarter take on the music of today.

I probably fit in the latter category, after all.

Picks: Dinosaur, Unbalance, Escape Velocity


Jj No 3
Jj No 3
Price: £8.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little gem, 20 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jj No 3 (Audio CD)
A short review for a short album. Clocking in at just over 27 minutes its a fairly brief affair, but on the plus side that means there's no room for fillers. The songs tend not to have strong choruses or hooks, but the subtle electronica and wistful melodies are an absolute joy. A lovely voice and a canny producer.

Recommended for anyone who wants chilled out music without any of the pretension that so often comes with it

Picks: 'Let Go'; 'Voi Parlate, Io Gioco'; 'Light'


Dead Waves
Dead Waves
Offered by Hausmusik
Price: £18.12

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kyte still flying the flag for Nugaze, 1 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dead Waves (Audio CD)
I've taken a keen interest in Kyte for a few years now, maintaining that they were one of the few bands to emerge from the Nugaze movement with any real talent. Dead Waves, their first full length record, is the latest in consistently above par output. Their sound has pretty much filled out as far as it can, with walls of sound a plenty, but we see an interesting departure of sorts in the album: Dead Waves is, more than anything they've done to date, a pop record.

The band have always had a keen sense for a simple melody, but we really see this penetrate the effect laden music more than before. The first half of the album leans towards good old fashioned verse/chorus song structures. Opening track 'This Smoke Saves Lives', 'IHNFSA' and personal favourite 'Fear From Death' all have big choruses, something fairly untried by the band in the past. Rather than My Bloody Valentine, they come across more like New Order or at times even Delphic, or electronica playing to a U2-sized arena. These pop songs are definitely where the strength of the album lies. A band like this can risk merging all the songs into one large psychedelic wistful meander, which is moreso the case in the second half of the album. Not that there aren't good songs later on - the title track may be Kyte-by-numbers but is also a highlight of the album - but it is all abit messier and more subdued.

That's all very analytical, but a band such a Kyte do demand such an approach. To simplify things, this is still the same band you have heard before - delay, subtle layers, electronica, wistful vocals, and that glockenspiel sound all feature - but with bigger choruses and a pop sensibility. If you haven't heard them before of course, then I would definitely recommend this album as a starting point - they're certainly better than the Big Pink.

Picks: Fear From Death, Dead Waves, This Smoke Saves Lives


Falcon
Falcon
Price: £6.57

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Took You So Long?!, 26 Feb 2010
This review is from: Falcon (Audio CD)
The Courteeners were certainly at the tail end of the libertines wave with debut St. Jude - an attempt to make jangling indie pop stadium sized, with mixed success at best. Songs such as 'Fallowfield Hillbilly' seem to be in the distant past now though, as Liam Fray and company have tightened up and with a little help from Ed Buller have produced an album of truly gargantuan propotions. Strings, Delay Pedals and Melancholy are all plentiful, and throughout there are obvious comparisons to U2, Coldplay or fellow mancunians Elbow. Fray's voice in particular is much better and compliments the overall sound, which clearly has a more practiced band at the heart.

1) The Opener: A lyrically unsubtle song about Manchester, with a melody as good as any on St. Jude. Might have expected a larger song for, well, an opener, but that it isn't shows how the band have progressed. 7/10

2) Take Over The World: A string laden Anthemic tune which unfortunately, despite the skyscraper-sized guitars, seems just the wrong side of a Take That tribute, or at best Embrace. Still, even casual fans will no doubt adore this live (if indeed casual Courteeners fans exist). 5/10

3) Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly: Initially a free download that marked a very different direction for Falcon, and a darker side that was definitely exciting to hear. Gloomy 'woah-oh's and staccato piano build up an atmosphere, but the song itself is probably one of the weaker on the album. 6/10

4) You Overdid It Doll: The title's daft, but definitely worthy of being lead single off the album. Sounds like New Order's bigger, angrier brother, adding some much needed vigour to all the thoughtfulness in the album. 9/10

5) Lullaby: This perhaps personifies the new look Courteeners. A Piano led ballad full of more sorrow than Fray has been able to transfer before, we can see now that the Courteeners, like the best of Manchester, are here to make you *feel*. 8/10

6) The Good Times Are Calling: The closest we get to a St Jude era song, being essentially a friendly indie pop song, but delivered with superior musicianship and more subtle vocals. A nice departure then from Coldplay/ Elbow analogies. 8/10

7) The Rest of the World Has Gone Home: Essentially an acoustic Liam Fray song, again perhaps a hark back to earlier days when it was just Fray and his guitar. Pleasant enough, perhaps should have been a b-side though (albeit a good one). 6/10

8) Sycophant: Possible single? By this point we know the formula, Coldplay given abit more energy, but not sacrificing the melancholy. Liam certainly nails his vocals, and lyrically this is one of the stronger efforts. 9/10

9) Cameo Brooch: The Chorus is very predictable with comforting lyrics, but we can't take anything away from this slow song, probably the strongest tune on the album. The verse certainly isn't comforting, yet the melodies compliment each other very nicely as does the loud/quiet dynamic, and the production is spot on - Buller has done well not to whack on an orchestra onto the track as must have been tempting. Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) would be jealous. 10/10

10) Scratch My Name Upon Your Lips: The album finally gets some much needed rock n roll. In terms of sound its not unlike the towering 'Cavorting', but good as that song is, there is much more depth here so it doesn't feel out of place. Subdued vocals work very well in conjunction with those dark 'woah-oh's we should be familiar with by now. Another fine effort. 9/10

11) Last of the Ladies: Doesn't really bring anything new to the table, a piano ballad that just needs a little something extra lyrically to bring it up to the same standard as the other songs here. The New Order reference in particularly seems just abit too immature for Falcon. 5/10

12) Will It Be This Way Forever?: Dark and heavier than elsewhere but of course not bereft of strings and piano. As track 12 it works not because its a natural closer (may indeed have been a better opener), but because it is uniquely the Courteeners. No other band around could create this song. 9/10

No doubt the album will bring about criticisms from those who wanted St. Jude part II (those so inclined should listen to the Second Folio CD of the Deluxe edition - not bad but all too stagnant). Its long been time for bands to abandon the good ship Albion and her Jam-Come-La's indie. The Courteeners, whilst they may not have produced the finest album ever, have certainly come along way and silenced critics who branded them as just another lad rock band without losing their identity, and that is praise for any band.

Now a THIRD album, that could be the one...


Get Scraped
Get Scraped
Price: £7.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The King is Deadmau5, 24 Jan 2010
This review is from: Get Scraped (MP3 Download)
Though I can't say I'm a fan of all of Deadmau5's work, Get Scraped is bang on the money. This is one of the best electronic albums to come out of the 'noughties. True its not as brilliant as Maps 'We Can Create', nor as raw as Crystal Castles, nor as vividly brooding as Burial, but sounds all the better for it. Deadmau5 is a DJ first and a producer second, and the progressive house beats of Get Scraped reflect this.

The album demonstrates variety that producers seem to lack these days, indeed even Deadmau5 himself seems to be lacking with later efforts. But hey that's his prerogative, he's moving to a different scene. But for the record, what he was doing here suits me just fine. Beats with just the right amount of intelligence.

Picks: The Oshawa Connection; Waking Up From The American Dream; Try Again


Turning The Mind
Turning The Mind
Price: £8.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Valium in the sunshine and showers, 2 Oct 2009
This review is from: Turning The Mind (Audio CD)
Two years after releasing one of the finest debuts in history, James Chapman as Maps has followed We Can Create with a mixed bag. There is an awful lot of production, some unneeded, and in his efforts to produce dance classics seem too strained. Still, the album looked initially like it was going to be a shoegaze fest so at least we have a step in the right direction with the final incarnation of Turning the Mind.

The album starts with opener of the same name, not a bad song but not really extraordinary, before plunging into 'I Dream of Crystal' - classic Maps and one of his best to date. After that we get a couple more melody driven songs such 'Valium in the Sunshine', another of my favourites, but mostly we have many more beats and electro-lite songs such as 'Let Go of the Fear'. The tracks seem to get progressively worse as the album wears on, 'Everything is Shattering' being shamelessly pop but still average, 'Love Will Come' is ok but not the classic i believe Chapman was aiming for with it and 80s synth parade 'Chemeleon' being neither hear nor there.

Ending much like the start in quality, 'Die Happy, Die Smiling' is another shamelessly upbeat tune that works and is a contender for track of the album, then Without you is fairly nondescript. By the end of the album i had hoped to have been on a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions. But i just ended up with a feeling that the album, whilst far from bad and definitely better than 95% of bands at the moment, lacked the intellect I was looking for. Still, the songs in isolation are decent if not as a whole. But anyone who hasn't heard Maps before and is interested should look to We Can Create for real quality.


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