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P. Haslehurst (Surrey, UK)

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Some Kind Of Salvation
Some Kind Of Salvation
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A great album, 14 April 2010
This review is from: Some Kind Of Salvation (Audio CD)
Right from the off this album sets a very high standard from which it barely deviates. Frenetic, pacey and full of great dynamics, this is the kind of album you'll come back to again and again.

Sound-wise, this offering sits somewhere between bands like The Coral, Cold War Kids, and Arctic Monkeys. Certainly in the case of those first two bands, this album is stronger than anything either of them have produced so far.

Songs like "The Drawing Board" and "Temporary Blues" are convincing explanations of youthful frustration and pain. But whilst the subject matter can be weighty, the tunes are effortless and brilliantly catchy. These guys know how to write a song.

Other highlights include "Still Lost", which grows and grows into a brilliant chorus, and "Lions", which is probably the jumpiest, poppiest and snappiest of all.

To be fair, though, each and every song is a winner and you'll be hard pushed to chose a favourite. Which in turn means that this album is an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Price: £3.99

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes, Rarely, You Can Trust The Ads, 21 Jun 2006
This review is from: Trouble (Audio CD)
It's a risky business, trusting TV advertising. You could end up buying any number of useless items. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of music, where it is safe to assume that 97% of albums advertised on TV are pure, unadulterated rubbish. Countless R&B compilations, unstoppable series of "Essential" Trance collections. When oh when does it end?

It ends now. If you're looking at this, it's probably because you've seen an advert for Ray Lamontagne's "Trouble" and realised that perhaps it's not the next in a long series of boil in the bag hi-fidelity sacrilege. Perhaps it's good.

It's hard to tell from the advert, because you only hear a snippet of a chorus, but "Trouble", both song and album, could be the slow-burning hit of the year. It's a record with such appealling folk brilliance that it would be hard to imagine anybody but the most hard-hearted of cultural buffoons not enjoying it. Indeed, I have rarely been so excited by every single track on an album that I listen to the whole thing again as soon as it comes to an end.

Lamontagne's voice is a glorious thing - rough edged, raw and flagrantly, excessively powerful. Does he use a microphone? Perhaps he sings from the next room to avoid damaging the audio equipment in the studio? But alongside such power is a delicacy, and wonderfully poetic touch that brings pleasing contrast to his songs.

And what excellent songs. Each track stands out, a neat and perfect study of love, confusion, and more often than not the affirmation that life in all it's craziness is a wonderful thing. You'll find yourself smiling, singing along before you even know that you remember the words.

Don't take my word for it though - trust the advertisers this once and buy it for yourself. You'll be glad that you did.

Arrested Development - Season 1 [DVD]
Arrested Development - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Will Arnett
Price: £9.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Performances, Stellar Show, 22 April 2006
"Arrested Development" is a show with such wit, originality and hilarity that it's all too easy to forget that it's not British. Indeed, it wouldn't be altogether ridiculous to suggest that "Arrested Development" gives "The Office" - my particular nomination for best British Comedy Ever - a serious run for it's money.

Michael Bluth is a single Dad in the family from Hell - a corrupt father, permanently drunk mother, a sister who has never worked a day in her life, and two bizarre brothers, one a washed up magician and the other a neurotic Mummy's boy incapable of maintaining his confidence for long periods.

The show's primary focus is Michael's desperate effort to rescue his family's faltering business, a constant uphill struggle against his various family members who each have their own unique flaws that stand in his way. Michael's patience and dedication are a source of gut-churning frustration to the sympathetic viewer - indeed, I frequently found myself shouting advice at the screen.

There are many glorious sub-plots through the course of the series - Michael's brother's relationship with a far older woman (played fantastically by the eccentric Liza Minelli), his son's desperate attempts to please the multitude of grown-up influences in his life, and funniest of all, his Father's incarceration for "mild treason".

It is rare to find a show so remarkably well scripted that you find yourself quoting line after line, much to the annoyance and confusion of your friends. "Arrested Development" is so entirely full of these classic moments that you will be tempted to take notes. Don't bother, you'll be watching the whole thing again and again anyway.

The show is so fantastically produced, deliciously witty and laugh-out-loud hilarious that you won't even worry about the DVD extras, which are incidentally top-notch. Commentaries, deleted scenes, documentaries and featurettes will keep you occupied for a couple of hours extra entertainment.

I can't recommend Arrested Development highly enough. If you've been left feeling empty after the "The Office" came to an end then this is exactly the tonic that you need.

Extras : Complete BBC Series 1 [2005] [DVD]
Extras : Complete BBC Series 1 [2005] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ricky Gervais
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: £2.75

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inevitably Great, 26 Mar 2006
I must admit, when "Extras" was getting it's first run on BBC2 I only managed to watch 2 episodes. This annoyed me, because I'm big fan of the Gervais/Merchant classic "The Office", and was very interested in seeing what their next project would offer.
So, thank goodness for this DVD, because now I know. I'm not disappointed.
Aspiring actor Andy Millman (Gervais) is desperate to become a credible actor, or at least see his screenplay garner some success (a reference to Gervais' pre-"Office" struggles perhaps?) but is continually pushed into non-speaking roles by his inept agent (Merchant). His sweet natured but incredibly naive companion Maggie (Ashley Jensen) provides moments of hilarity and non-belief in equal measure.
A simple enough format, but the central foundation of the show, and it's brilliance, is not the plot (which develops slowly and predictably) but the relationships between the principle characters and the variety of people that they encounter.
There are some high profile celebrity guest stars that merit mention here - Samuel L Jackson, Kate Winslet, Les Dennis, Ben Stiller, Patrick Stewart and Ross Kemp. All bring unique parodies of their "real-life" characters to the screen, Les Dennis standing out especially for his excellent performance of himself, all washed up and full of pent up sex and depression.
There's the usual Gervais material under the surface of this well produced and cleverly written sitcom - race, disability and machismo are all given smart treatment through Millman's eyes.
Andy Millman is effectively a slight extension of Gervais himself. This is a pleasure or a pain, depending upon your opinion of the man.
"Extras" has recieved a small bashing at the hands of critics who believe it to be "unoriginal", "not as good as the office" etc etc. Comments like this demonstrate a single minded lack of originality on the part of the critic more than the artist. Considered as a piece of work in it's own right "Extras" is both excellently written and acted out.

Life of Mammals [DVD] [2002]
Life of Mammals [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ David Attenborough
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £20.92

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 25 Mar 2006
This review is from: Life of Mammals [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
It's an often overused word, especially in relation to David Attenborough, but this series is truly a demonstration of Genius. Yes, with a capital G.
Since I can remember, David Attenborough has been involved in some truly awe-inspiring projects - The Natural World, Living Planet, Life in the Freezer, etc etc. What unites the various programmes is the obvious dedication and love of the subject matter from all involved.
Beautifully shot, edited and narrated, The Life of Mammals is an epic study of some fascinating wildlife. Starting with the Platypus, surely the oddest of all mammals, and moving gracefully and majestically through countless other species, the series ends with a fascinating treatment on Humans themselves.
Attenborough's chosen subdivisions of the group makes the large volume of material easier to digest - Chisellers, Meat Eaters, Water Dwellers, Opportunists, Tree Dwellers, Insect Hunters - they're all equally interesting, endearing and lovable.
As with any Attenborough project, there's a fair share of groundbreaking technology used to give a new insight into the natural world. Luckily this new technology is used sparingly, and with obvious benefit where it is.
There's rarely a dull moment's viewing in this series, or in any other Attenborough - BBC collaboration. Lovers of nature documentaries will not be disappointed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2009 10:45 AM GMT

Jamie's Italy
Jamie's Italy
by Jamie Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.00

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 25 Mar 2006
This review is from: Jamie's Italy (Hardcover)
I'm a bit of a cookery book addict, so when I enjoyed Jamie's Italy on TV I knew I had to get the book.
With lots of great pictures, and little snippets of 'wisdom' from the man himself, this is more than a collection of recipes - it's an aspirational manual for a better attitude to eating. Moreover, it's probably the best piece of free marketing the Italian tourist board could have ever wished for.
The recipes vary, as with all recipe books, from the straightforward (and sometimes a little too obvious perhaps) to the advanced. Depending upon your attitude to cooking this can be a blessing or a bit inhibiting. If you've got a bit of practise then you'll be able to enjoy most of the recipes in this book without too much trouble.
Jamie Oliver's take on Italian food is balanced neatly between the traditional and the modern. His personal variations on staples like minestrone, lasagne and pizza all reflect his own flair and passion for fresh ingredients, but also his respect for the "proper way" of doing things. All the recipes that I have sampled have turned out very well. Personal favourites have been "Hunter's Lasagne" and the exquisite Cauliflower Risotto (seriously, you'll never frown upon a cauliflower again).
All in all this book comes highly recommended - it's a pleasure to read and work from.

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