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Sick Mouthy (Exeter, Devon)
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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Price: £9.58

36 of 84 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype. Please, please don't., 5 Jan. 2011
There are many, many things wrong with this album and the furore of critical consensus around it. Nevermind borderline racist indie kids lunging to praise the acceptable face of hip hop just because the guy from Bon Iver sings on a bit of it, or music writers in a diasporic cultural landscape desperate for common heroes to praise regardless of the actual quality of the work. Let's discount the Sex & The City 2-esque orgy of late-period consumer capitalist lust that runs through both the lyrics and the mythology of the album's creation ("it cost $30m to make! omg!"). Let us even discount the fact that Kanye's alleged masterpiece is an overlong, inconsistent, largely hook-shy trudge.

Even ignoring all these things, Kanye's album has 3 massive, massive, disgusting flaws.

1. It's a racist, misogynist piece of crap. I know in 2010 we're a bit post-ism, but anyone who writes lyrics which basically equate as confessions to sleeping with white women for kudos because black women are a bit too easy for him, let alone violent rape fantasies or 3-minute spoken-word spiels by crass comedians about reupholstering women's reproductive organs, is so far out of line that even those who rightly whinge about political correctness having gone mad must recognise this as really awful, nasty, reprehensible filth.

2. Sonically, this $30m album is, on CD at least, mastered so loudly and with so much compression that the wave-form looks like a brick and, on anything more hi-fi than laptop speakers, it sounds so bad that you can't actually distinguiish individual elemtns in the mix. In fact, this album is mastered so badly, and is so awful sounding on a physical, phenomenological level, that I think you could probably take Kanye and his label to court for false advertising on the grounds that the sound on here doesn't actually constitute music.

3. Kanye's important statement that gets to the heart of what's wrong with the world right now, his incisive, dangerous revelation of the underbelly of masculinity, Western culture, and hip hop, his dark, twisted fantasy, isn't really all that dark or twisted or fantastical. If the desire to wear expensive clothes, drive supercars, treat women badly, and have nasty sport/porn-sex is dark and twisted, rather than shallow and thoughtless and cliched and mundane, then I'm missing something that I don't want to make an effort to understand.

Also he really clumsily samples a lovely Aphex Twin track at one point and raps nastily about being horrible to women over the top of it.

But you might like that sort of thing.
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2014 3:29 AM BST


The Stone Roses - The Special Edition
The Stone Roses - The Special Edition
Price: £17.73

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More enjoyable than it has been for a long time, 10 Aug. 2009
Given that this album is 20 years old and has been subject to no small amount of discussion regarding its status as "the best album ever" and whether it deserves that title (it doesn't; what does?), it would seem churlish to talk about the subjective quality of the songs on it. You probably know them, and know whether you love them or not. I loved them passionately 15 years ago, as a 15 year old. But there's been a lot of records between then and now, and I'd never presume to know what my favourite record is these days, let alone the best ever.

So what I will talk about is the remastering. Silvertone & Sony have repackaged the scant amount of material that The Stone Roses produced between 1988 and 1990 in so many ways that many fans of this music quite rightly feel taken advantage of; singles & b-sides compilations (some of them very shoddy), 10th anniversary editions, remix compilations, demo compilations, a version in an eco-friendly recycled card sleeve... but until The Very Best Of in 2002 they never bothered remastering any Stone Roses material.

The remastering on that compilation was good; it added some weight and impact to (early) material that was a little lightweight on CD, that first album floating in a reverb haze with little bass or clarity to anchor it in the real world. Maybe that was part of the appeal of the debut album; on CD at least, it almost seemed like a dream.

The remastering on this edition is, if anything, even better; John Leckie and Ian Brown have talked about putting the bass back in to the CD release that was always on the vinyl, and they've certainly done that; Reni's kickdrum in the opening to I Wanna Be Adored now has some serious impact on your solar plexus if you turn it right up on a good pair of speakers, and Mani's bassline opening to She Bangs The Drums doesn't vanish when the guitars drop in.

But there's also more definition; you can hear the detail of the strings & fingers in that same bassline better, too. Even Ian's vocals are improved; when he sings "I'd love to do it and you know you've always had it coming" unaccompanied in Shoot You Down (possibly the most sonically improved track) he actually does sound angelic, his voice recorded and presented with an exquisitely natural tone. The stop/start guitars at the end of that tune also sound irresistible.

Other moments I've enjoyed more than on the initial CD release include the chugging guitar riff that starts Bye Bye Badman, which now slowly moves across the soundstage from one side to another and back, something I'd never noticed before. Don't Stop has gone from being a backwards indulgence to a truly awesome moment, the added physicality of it suggesting that dub was as much an influence as 60s psychedelia.

People who worry about this kind of thing (I'm one) will be pleased to know that the album hasn't just been brickwalled in terms of dynamic range either; thought it is louder than it was, the songs still have contours - This Is The One is particularly awesome, especially when it gets into its swirling climax.

I doubt the remastering here will be as revelatory as that on the forthcoming Beatles re-releases (the Beatles' master tapes almost certainly sound better than the Roses', and the Roses' initial CD release sounds better than the Beatles', if that make sense), but it's made me enjoy this album more than I have done for probably a decade. Hopefully the b-sides and non-album singles will soon get released on a single CD so they're affordable - as much as I love them, I'm not spending £80-£100 on the deluxe whistles & bells box set.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 26, 2012 6:00 PM GMT


Dyson DC16 Animal Handheld Vacuum Cleaner for Pet Owners
Dyson DC16 Animal Handheld Vacuum Cleaner for Pet Owners

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great little vacuum., 25 Jun. 2009
We have two big furry cream & white ragdoll cats, and a big comfy brown sofa that they love sitting on, leaving plenty of their fur there when they finally get up. Sometimes, it's just too much hassle to get our full-size upright Dyson out of the cupboard and attach the animal fitting; the DC16 Animal handheld is perfect for these occasions.

It's also perfect when you've knocked a plant over and spilt a little soil, or when you need to vacuum the footwell of your car, or just a couple of steps that kittens have kicked litter over, or when you've cleaned the toaster and sent ancient charred crumbs all over the kitchen side; suction is incredible for the size (it seems more powerful than our upright, even), and the attachments have all proved useful. Plus, it being a Dyson, it's incredibly well designed and easy to maintain; just flick a catch and it empties easily, replacement parts are a piece of cake to install, etc.

Yes, the battery life is only 6 minutes, but I've never had it run out on me while I was in the middle of an "essential" vacuuming task, and yes, it takes 3 hours to recharge, but that's not a hassle if you plan where you keep the unit and its charger sensibly (i.e. ours lives in a cupboard by the sofa, and can be plugged in instantly). If you acknowledge that the DC16 Animal is designed for doing little, awkward vacuuming jobs, and not whole-house sweeps, then it's a great device; I certainly wouldn't be without it now.

The only thing I would say is that occasionally I find the trigger that sets it sucking to be a little uncomfortable and un-ergonomic; I don't think my hands are anything other than average size and shape, so I'll put this down to a slight design oversight rather than me being a freakish physical specimen.


Yesterday And Today
Yesterday And Today
Price: £11.19

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the debut., 22 May 2009
This review is from: Yesterday And Today (Audio CD)
The Field's debut album was raved about in many places in 2007, and while I enjoyed its minimalist techno / shoegaze crossover aesthetic, I thought the actual tunes and rhythms were a little one-dimensional, rendering From Here We Go Sublime as little more than ambient music with a nice steady 4/4 pulse to me.

So I wasn't all that fussed about a follow-up, to be honest. Then I heard that John Stanier of Battles and Helmet was drumming on a track or too, that there were only six songs, that it was filled out with ideas a bit more than the debut... so I investigated.

And I'm super glad I did, because Yesterday & Today is better than The Field's debut in pretty much every way: rhythms are better, the banks of synths are better, the tunes are better, it's more emotional, each song has more ideas, the use of real drums and guitars gives an added textural dimension, and layers and grooves are built more convincingly than before.

The whole album holds holds my attention way better than the last, even (especially, in fact) when things get really minimal - the stripped back percussion & bass coda to the title track, for instance, excites me far more than anything on the debut did.

Then there's the closing track, Sequenced. Oh my! An epic 16-minute quasi-electric kraut jam that's like Moon Revolutions or Mother Sky or something, an irresistible groove that you want to go on for ever and ever. And the last 3 minutes is just the most blissful music I've heard all year - my only complaint is that this part of the tune doesn't go on forever.

The Field isn't really minimal techno or dance music, which a lot of people label him (them?) as; what attracts and delights me about Yesterday & Today is that it's basically a meld of electro/organic shoegaze / krautrock. Along with Patrick Wolf, Bill Callahan, and Grizzly Bear, this is my favourite album of the year so far.


The Bachelor (Battle One)
The Bachelor (Battle One)
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.00

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stepping out of the shadows., 24 April 2009
Patrick Wolf's fourth album is his first recorded with a budget, in proper studios, and with serious collaborations (The Magic Position's dalliance with Marianne Faithful notwithstanding in the facer of Eliza Carthy, Matthew Herbert, Tilda Swinton, and Alec Empire, who all appear here). It's also, (in)famously partly funded by donations from fans paid via the internet - £100,000 to mix the album and subsidise early tours.

The resulting record may well alienate fans of the low-fi, bedroom caterwauling that made up his debut, Lycanthropy, or the lonesome promontory folk of Wind In The Wires. It may even confuse fans of the pop-inclined Magic Position, his last album from 2007. But it shouldn't, because The Bachelor, a collection of songs charting the dark days and emotions that followed his brush with major record labels and existential panic, is a terrific record that sees Patrick step not only out of his bedroom but also out of the shadow of his key influences - namely Kate Bush and David Bowie.

Because have no doubts about it; this is a big, elaborate, ostentatious record that has more in common with The Hounds Of Love than with whoever's trendy with the gatekeepers of indie taste in 2009. Swinging from darkly tinged, sexually-charged electro on Vulture to bona fide English folk traditions on the title track, Thickets, and Blackdown, and taking in dramatic string & choir laden ruminations on loneliness such as Damaris and Theseus, as well as full-on guitar driven anthemic rock (Hard Times), and perfect symbioses of all of this distilled into perfect dissonant pop nuggets (Oblivion), it covers all the bases that Patrick has traversed through his career thus far, only now it does so with a stronger purpose, with more accomplished songs - with a sense of ambition and pride and imperative.

Yes, it verges on overblown on numerous occasions; yes, choirs are deployed; yes, Patrick's vocals are now dramatically accomplished and refined rather than the castrato terror that typified his debut: but this is what happens when a gifted boy grows into a talented man. Some people will doubtless see this as a betrayal or a loss; others will recognise it as an evolution.

That £100,000 is well spent, too, because this is a gorgeous-sounding record, rich with timbre and scale, depth and dynamics, flutes and violas and sequencers and ancient synthesisers and guitars and drums and ukulele and grand piano and church organ and double bass and sitar and "circuit bent mobile phone" and cutlery percussion and massed voices recorded and mixed with real skill and attention to sonic detail.

If you can't tell, I think this is Patrick Wolf's masterpiece.


A Series Of Sneaks
A Series Of Sneaks

5.0 out of 5 stars Great album, 22 April 2009
This review is from: A Series Of Sneaks (Audio CD)
A Series Of Sneaks is probably my favourite Spoon album, and considering how much I love Gimme Fiction, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and Kill The Moonlight, that's pretty high praise.

On their debut album, Telephono, Spoon basically sounded like a cross between Wire and Pixies, with an adenoidal Texan singing. It was alright, but the Soft Effects EP a year later started throwing in what makes Spoon genius; killer riffs and rhythms, and hook after hook after hook, meaning it didn't sound so much like Wire or Pixies, but rather it sounded like Spoon.

Spoon aren't your common-or-garden indie band, you see; they're more like The Neptunes or Can in that it's all about minimalism, grooves, unexpected turns, and changing-but-never-changing riffs, except instead of hip-hop or krautrock they play indie garage rock. Simple.

A Series Of Sneaks is a series of short, sharp songs played on guitar, bass, and drums, and then embellished with radio noise, weird keyboard textures, and a host of other effects, including Britt Daniel's compelling whoops of "c'mon" and "oh yeah" and so on, which may seem cheesy when written down but when yelped by Daniel somehow become the very platonic essence of why rock n roll is fun.

Every track has multiple sonic and structural delights, from the weird filigree around the edges of Utilitarian, the two-kit drum fills of Reservations, the razor stop-start riffs of Car Radio, the weird electric drones of Metal Detektor, and the handclaps of No You're Not. Advance Cassette is the closest thing to a ballad here, only it's a; not a ballad at all, and b; about losing an advance cassette of your favourite band. Somehow, it's more melancholy than most bands' heartfelt paeans to lost lovers.

This version appends 3 b-sides to the originally 14-track album, but Revenge, Shake It Off, and I Could Be Underground are all of excellent quality and fit in stylistically, so you'd never think they shouldn't be there.


Series of Sneaks
Series of Sneaks

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome album, 22 April 2009
This review is from: Series of Sneaks (Audio CD)
A Series Of Sneaks is probably my favourite Spoon album, and considering how much I love Gimme Fiction, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and Kill The Moonlight, that's pretty high praise.

On their debut album, Telephono, Spoon basically sounded like a cross between Wire and Pixies, with an adenoidal Texan singing. It was alright, but the Soft Effects EP a year later started throwing in what makes Spoon genius; killer riffs and rhythms, and hook after hook after hook, meaning it didn't sound so much like Wire or Pixies, but rather it sounded like Spoon.

Spoon aren't your common-or-garden indie band, you see; they're more like The Neptunes or Can in that it's all about minimalism, grooves, unexpected turns, and changing-but-never-changing riffs, except instead of hip-hop or krautrock they play indie garage rock. Simple.

A Series Of Sneaks is a series of short, sharp songs played on guitar, bass, and drums, and then embellished with radio noise, weird keyboard textures, and a host of other effects, including Britt Daniel's compelling whoops of "c'mon" and "oh yeah" and so on, which may seem cheesy when written down but when yelped by Daniel somehow become the very platonic essence of why rock n roll is fun.

Every track has multiple sonic and structural delights, from the weird filigree around the edges of Utilitarian, the two-kit drum fills of Reservations, the razor stop-start riffs of Car Radio, the weird electric drones of Metal Detektor, and the handclaps of No You're Not. Advance Cassette is the closest thing to a ballad here, only it's a; not a ballad at all, and b; about losing an advance cassette of your favourite band. Somehow, it's more melancholy than most bands' heartfelt paeans to lost lovers.


Series of Sneaks
Series of Sneaks

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odd added tracks..., 22 April 2009
This review is from: Series of Sneaks (Audio CD)
A Series Of Sneaks is probably my favourite Spoon album, and considering how much I love Gimme Fiction, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and Kill The Moonlight, that's pretty high praise.

On their debut album, Telephono, Spoon basically sounded like a cross between Wire and Pixies, with an adenoidal Texan singing. It was alright, but the Soft Effects EP a year later started throwing in what makes Spoon genius; killer riffs and rhythms, and hook after hook after hook, meaning it didn't sound so much like Wire or Pixies, but rather it sounded like Spoon.

Spoon aren't your common-or-garden indie band, you see; they're more like The Neptunes or Can in that it's all about minimalism, grooves, unexpected turns, and changing-but-never-changing riffs, except instead of hip-hop or krautrock they play indie garage rock. Simple.

A Series Of Sneaks is a series of short, sharp songs played on guitar, bass, and drums, and then embellished with radio noise, weird keyboard textures, and a host of other effects, including Britt Daniel's compelling whoops of "c'mon" and "oh yeah" and so on, which may seem cheesy when written down but when yelped by Daniel somehow become the very platonic essence of why rock n roll is fun.

Every track has multiple sonic and structural delights, from the weird filigree around the edges of Utilitarian, the two-kit drum fills of Reservations, the razor stop-start riffs of Car Radio, the weird electric drones of Metal Detektor, and the handclaps of No You're Not. Advance Cassette is the closest thing to a ballad here, only it's a; not a ballad at all, and b; about losing an advance cassette of your favourite band. Somehow, it's more melancholy than most bands' heartfelt paeans to lost lovers.

This edition of ASOS oddly appends the single The Agony Of Laffitte and it's b-side, Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now - oddly, because Laffitte was the A&R man responsible for signing Spoon to Electra for this album, and also responsible for them being majorly messed about by the major label; the two songs, while melodically sweet, are not very nice at all about Mr. Laffitte...


Achtung Baby
Achtung Baby
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.82

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really dislike U2., 11 April 2009
This review is from: Achtung Baby (Audio CD)
I think U2 in 2009 are a pretty awful band, and I don't much care for them in any other year of their 30+ year career either.

But this record is awesome. Maybe it's down to Flood, maybe it's Larry Mullen Jr, maybe it's actually Bono. I don't know. But Achtung Baby has as good a batch of 'songs' as U2 have ever written, only for once those songs are allied to an awesome, enthralling set of arrangements and production values. Just get the minimalist start to So Cruel; the oddly flat but still actually very groovy rhythms throughout the album; the whole of Until The End Of The World & The Fly. The Edge is pretty fantastic throughout; all those riffs! What the hell is he even doing at the start of Zoo Station?! In fact the whole band are awesome all the way through this record. Pretty much everything they've done post Pop has been exercises in sounding as much like people think U2 sound as possible. Have they forgotten that, actually, U2 also sound like this, as well as The Joshua Tree?

And, you know what; there's not a hint of irony anywhere, unless we count some of the outfits in the sleeve photography. It's just a great record.


Left Luggage at the Peveril Hotel
Left Luggage at the Peveril Hotel
Price: £6.81

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tasty leftovers, 6 April 2009
Well worth buying if you're a Six. By Seven fan, this collection was released at the same time as 04 and contains demos, a remix, and various finished tracks that just didn't fit on that album. It's pretty much like a b-sides album in concept, flow, and quality - there are some crackers (Bring Down The Government, Wallflower, Around), and plenty of other tracks that are perfectly good if not close to the band's best work. Generally the material here is more guitar&drums driven than on 04, with quite a whiff of krautrock going on, especially the last few tracks.


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