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Jonathan Collin "JC" (Leigh-on-sea, Essex, UK)

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Until The Earth Begins To Part
Until The Earth Begins To Part
Price: 10.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked by yet another warm-up act..., 12 Sep 2009
Please forgive the strange review title - I first saw Broken Records when they opened for one of my favourite groups, The National, at the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank last month. The National, in turn, first caught my eye when they opened for Editors in Brixton about 4 years ago, hence the title!

Anyway, back to Broken Records - to be honest I really wasn't quite sure what to make of them when they first started to play - their music sounds so varied and is so rich with different instruments that it is really difficult to categorise them. Broadly speaking I guess it's folk rock, and I've heard the usual comparisons to groups like Arcade Fire, but I don't think these guys are that similar to them, or any group I have heard before for that matter. Their sound is made up of many different layers and the use of more 'folky' instruments (violin, cello, accordion and trumpet) fits beautifully with the more common guitar, piano and drums.

The tracks on Until The Earth Begins To Part vary from faster-paced more lively numbers like If The News Makes You Sad, If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song, and A Good Reason to the slower-paced more heartfelt numbers like A Promise, Wolves, and Slow Parade. These latter tracks, along with Thoughts On A Picture, are my personal favourites - A Promise deserves special mention for the way it fades out after a couple of minutes, then slowly returns (instruments only at first) and builds to a crescendo, Jamie Sutherlands soaring vocals belting out in perfect harmony with the lush melody. Slow Parade is a similar affair - fading out after 2 and a half minutes, and then returning, the beautiful melody building and building, and proving a perfect finish to perhaps the best album of 2009 so far.

This album is certainly my favourite album of the year to date - eclipsing many decent efforts by more well-known and successful groups. I strongly urge any open-minded music fan to check out a few Broken Records tracks at the very least - I'm confident you will not be disappointed!

Fully worthy of all 5 stars.


Garmin Forerunner 50 + Footpod
Garmin Forerunner 50 + Footpod

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and cost-effective GPS alternative, 10 Nov 2008
After having started running regularly about 5 months ago, I decided to upgrade my Timex Ironman sports watch to a proper running watch that could measure pace/speed/distance. Having looked at the Garmin Forerunner range, and the 305 and 405 models in particular, I was put off by the high price and the average reviews.

The Forerunner 50 and footpod package seemed like a great (and far cheaper!) alternative to GPS, especially since I'd only be missing out on the mapping ability (which I don't consider that important anyway). Having tested my watch on a 5 mile run last weekend, I am very impressed. It is very simple to use (provided you can spare 15 mins to read through the manual!), and the ability to set training zones (such as pace) is handy although my first attempt failed abysmally when I set a pace goal of between 8:50 and 9:00 mins per mile and really struggled to keep within this 10 second zone! That is clearly a reflection of bad pace keeping on my part and not on the watch itself!

I should add that this watch does come with the ANT USB stick and the automatic transfer of running data from the watch to the PC is very nifty, although again it does pay to read the manual first to find out how this process works. The only problems I've had with this watch so far are installation issues with the software (if using Vista you will need to set the installer compatibility mode to Windows XP which I discovered by trial and error), and an issue with the auto lap feature stopping before my last lap which I think was just down to me pressing the wrong button.

So all in all, a fantastic alternative to a GPS-enabled running watch and a great way to make running training much easier to manage, although you will need a PC with a internet connection to make the most of this watch.


Alligator
Alligator
Price: 7.90

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely stunning masterpiece!, 6 Jun 2006
This review is from: Alligator (Audio CD)
I first heard the National when they supported the Editors at their Brixton Academy gig last week. I must admit I was kind of taken aback (not expecting too much) to hear some fantastic songs with beautifully orchestrated melodies. The inclusion of a violin in some of the songs worked very well and blended in perfectly. To be honest, I'd pretty much decided to buy Alligator as soon as I'd heard three of four of their tracks. It was probably the best music decision I've made!

I think I can safely say that this is the best album I have bought in years. The style is quite unlike anything I have heard before - I suppose the National would fall into the indie rock genre but they set themselves apart from many of the other indie rock groups with rich, lush orchestration, deep soulful baritone vocals, and some dark, moody, but not necessarily depressing lyrics. At a push the Nationals closest neighbours are probably the Arcade Fire, but their vocals aren't as varied - unlike the Arcade Fire they seem to rely on the one lead singer. This actually works well because the lead singers voice seems to combine perfectly with the rich sound of the music.

At the moment I cannot stop listening to this album - I'll probably get the Nationals first two albums as well. My favourite tracks are Secret Meeting, Looking for Astronauts, Abel and the stand-out final track Mr November. To be honest all the tracks are great and make this album one worth listening to from start to finish. Top notch!


The Remote Part
The Remote Part
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 6.25

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scottish Fiction? Scottish Friction?, 27 July 2005
This review is from: The Remote Part (Audio CD)
I was first introduced to the delights of Idlewild whilst at University - around the time they were touring to promote The Remote Part. Some of my Uni mates went to see them live and I heard some tracks afterwards but was not particularly impressed. Since then I have listened to them far more, especially since the release of Warnings/Promises, and I have to say they are currently my favourite band.
This album is pretty varied - some tracks are real headbangers with huge stomping basslines and catchy guitar riffs such as You Held The World In Your Arms and A Modern Way Of Letting Go. Others are slower and far more melodic such as the touching Live In A Hiding Place and the amazing American English.
I think my favourite track and the highlight of the album is the last track In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction. This wonderful piece of music is another slower track that is probably the most emotional song on the album. It concludes with a spoken piece of Scottish poetry overlaying the music - this seems an odd concept for rock music but yet works perfectly.
I think what really makes this album for me is Roddy Woombles voice - it is so versatile and lends itself perfectly to this album, whether the tracks are faster paced and rockier or slower paced and more melodic. His Scottish accent gives the album a unique quality that makes it really stand out. Sensational stuff! Buy it now!


Dizzy Up the Girl
Dizzy Up the Girl

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning, 3 May 2005
This review is from: Dizzy Up the Girl (Audio CD)
I was first introduced to the Goo Goo Dolls about five years ago when a friend was playing probably their most well known track, Iris, in his car. Not long after I heard Name and loved this as well. More recently I downloaded some more tracks from the Dizzy Up the Girl album - Slide and Black Balloon, and I was pretty impressed.
I finally got round to buying the album last week, around five years after I first heard Iris and I wish I'd bought it sooner! It is really enjoyable stuff - very melodic, light-hearted rock that is really easy to listen to. Most of the albums I bought recently took a while to get into but this one appeals immediately. This is among the best US indie-rock type albums I have heard - I also own All The Pain Money Can Buy by Fastball, and Third Eye Blind by Third Eye Blind but I like this album much more.
Whilst all the tracks on Dizzy are good, my favourites are Slide, Black Balloon, Broadway, and Amigone. Iris is also great but when you listen to the album a few times you realise that it's probably a little overrated - I think I've heard it a few times too many now! I think Amigone is my favourite track - it is so catchy and is one of those tunes that just sticks in your head. This album has definitely sparked my interest in the Goo Goo Dolls - I think I will get Gutterflower or Superstar Carwash next.


Some Cities
Some Cities
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 4.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting change of direction..., 6 Mar 2005
This review is from: Some Cities (Audio CD)
...is the best way to describe this new Doves album. In my opinion, Lost Souls was the Doves finding their feet, and The Last Broadcast was the Doves exploring more mainstream athemic music. Some Cities kind of follows on from The Last Broadcast, containing some fairly anthemic tracks. However, it is far more laid back and mellow too and more about the Doves going back to the beginning and exploring/developing their own unique style.
The first six tracks are all very strong - Some Cities kicks off the album at a lively pace, followed by Black and White Town which is also pretty upbeat and lively - both tracks wouldn't have been out of place on TLB. The pace then slows with the heartfelt Almost Forgot Myself, and the hugely melodic Snowden. Listen out for the wonderful piano interludes in this track - amazing!
The Storm features some interesting special effects - and, no, your CD is not skipping! It is fairly moody stuff, though Walk In Fire is a little more upbeat - the guitar riff at the start reminds me of the intro to Suspicious Minds! I find One of These Days and Someday Soon a bit weak - the album seems to drag a little at this point. It does pick up with the next track though, Shadows of Salford - a slow melodic ballad which is really touching stuff and beautifully sung.
Sky Starts Falling is an awesome penultimate track - very upbeat, lively, and a true anthem - this is by far my favourite track on the album and perhaps most comparable to the classic Pounding off TLB. Ambition is a well chosen track to finish with - it is slower with some nice melodies and gives the album a nice sense of closure.
I would conclude by saying this album is my second favourite Doves album, which isn't to say it's merely mediocre because it's not, but it doesn't quite reach the dizzy heights of The Last Broadcast. However, it is a solid close-second and an album well worth a listen if you are a Doves fan. If you liked TLB then I guess you'd like a lot of this - but you need to be ready for something which can also be much slower, more downbeat and more soulful in places too. Much of this album gives an impression of the Doves going back to their roots.


Doom 3 (PC)
Doom 3 (PC)
Offered by GX-ENTERTAINMENT UK
Price: 19.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy sequel to the Doom series, 26 Nov 2004
This review is from: Doom 3 (PC) (Video Game)
Doom III is probably the most eagerly anticipated PC game so far. With the ground-breaking/genre-defining original Doom and it's sequel Doom II being a couple of the most popular PC games of the early nineties, it was always clear that there would be massive attention paid to any sequel, not least one that has been in development for so long.
So the biggest question amongst PC gamers is 'was it worth the wait?' I will attempt to provide my own answer to this question. I must admit I was impressed from the word go by the included Doom III T-Shirt - not terribly well made but the thought was there!
What strikes you about the game from the very start is the sheer quality of graphics - the smooth textures and objects give the game an incredibly lifelike look - aided by a good quality graphics card with anti-aliasing turned on of course. The game is noticeably dark most of the way through but this adds to the tense atmosphere in my opinion and is not a shortcoming like many other reviewers seem to think. The frequent need to switch between torch and weapon means that the player needs their wits about them all the time.
The enemies look fantastic and are, for the most part, updated versions of their Doom/Doom II counterparts complete with new moves and abilities. Imps leaping at you, full-stretch, from the shadows and Lost Souls dodging your attacks before flying at you at insane speeds all add to the quick pace of the game and put you on edge. The new enemies look great too and are well thought out, such as the creepy Cherubs and the Chainsaw Zombies. The one enemy I missed was the Cacodemon but this is the only disappointment I can think of.
The levels are mostly well designed and often very large, sprawling, and maze-like albeit not to the same extent as Doom/Doom II. Unfortunately the levels are also the biggest flaw with the game - they are not varied enough and there are only so many generic dark military-looking coridoors you can go down before you start to get bored. There are some fantastic features in the levels, however, such as fully moveable and rotatable lift platforms, and shatter-proof windows that look out over the Mars surface.
The weapons are well designed, sound realistic and all have their own particular uses. Whilst I have my favourites as I'm sure most other gamers do too (such the incredibly powerful and satisfying-to-use Chainsaw!), I am half-way through the game at present and still find myself switching back to more basic weapons when necessary. The pistol is probably my only redundant weapon although even that comes in handy sometimes for blowing up barrels.
The PDA feature is probably my favourite aspect of the game and is a fantastic way of developing characters and plots as you disocover new data/video disks, and deceased colleagues own PDAs - constantly building up a catalogue of e-mails, audio-logs and videos.
Another great feature is the ability to go outside into the oppressive Martian atmosphere. As the game progresses you need to do this for longer periods of time and the need to pick up oxygen tanks to avoid suffocating makes these parts of the game very nerve-wracking - you are forced to act as quickly as possible which is not at all easy for me, being a very slow and cautious player.
All things considered and despite the odd shortcoming, I would class this game as a success, definitely worth waiting for, and a worthy sequel to the Doom series. I have no doubt that all the hard work ID have put into this games development has not been in vain.


The Dance (1998) [DVD] [2000] [Region 1] [NTSC]
The Dance (1998) [DVD] [2000] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Fleetwood Mac
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 19.45

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Mac, 19 Jun 2004
Having become acquainted with Fleetwood Mac nearly a generation after they made it into the pop music hall of fame I felt like I had much to catch up on. The purchase of this DVD made sense because it featured most of Fleetwood Macs classic hits, it also featured the most successful Fleetwood/McVie/Nicks/Buckingham 'Rumours' era line-up, and pleasingly it featured none of their earlier Spencer/Green blues material which I have never been interested in.
The concert, a one-off reunion performance at Warner Bros Burbank Studios, fires into life with the magnificent 'The Chain', featuring one of the most memorable bass riffs of all time. From this point classic track after classic track holds the audiences attention and every band member performs flawlessly and in complete harmony with one another.
There are a good number of tracks for Lindsey Buckingham, IMHO the greatest Mac guitarist ever, to display his incredible talent, the best examples being in 'The Chain', 'Go Your Own Way', 'Bleed to Love Her', 'I'm So Afraid', and my personal favourite 'Big Love'. The close-up shots in this last example show just how talented he really is - can anyones fingers really pick that fast?!!
Mick and John, the infamous Mac rhythm section from which the band got its name, show off their skills in many tracks but most prominently in 'The Chain', 'Go Your Own Way', 'Don't Stop', and best of all in the awesome 'Tusk'. That scary 'not quite all there' look in Mick Fleetwood's eyes whilst he drums away shows how he really is performing on another level. John McVie, as ever, shys away in the background preferring to let Buckingham, Nicks and his ex-wife Christine take the limelight.
As for Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, they both more than play their part in the 106 minute extravanganza, with Stevie displaying incredibly sharp vocals in 'Gold Dust Woman', 'Gypsy', and 'Rhiannon', and Christine pretty much steals the show at the end with her magnificent solo performance of 'Songbird'. Both foxy ladies display some amazing vocal harmonies in the classic Tango in the Night track - 'Everywhere'.
This DVD is the best alternative to seeing the Mac live, which very fortunately I was able to do last year at the MEN Arena as part of their 'Say You Will' Tour to promote their latest album, the DVD from which is being released this August and looks to be another essential Mac purchase.
The lack of any extra features is a little dissapointing but worth overlooking given the strength of the music alone. Given the complex and troubling issues between band members that led to their much publicised 1980s split - it is reassuring to see them all back together, stronger than ever, and performing as though nothing had ever happened in the first place.


Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.60

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...best contemporary rock album by a female artist, 13 May 2003
Having never heard any of PJ Harvey's earlier material I am unable to give a comparative review of this album. I was bought this album by cousins from LA about three years ago, and never really got around to listening to it until a few days ago.
I realised when I did listen to it that I recognised three of the tracks straight away - Big Exit, Good Fortune, and This Is Love. Having heard Big Exit performed live on Jools Holland, I was won over immediately by the pure strength of the track - the distinctive rock sound and heavy guitars seem to perfectly complement PJ's strong rocky vocals.
The rest of the album is pretty damn great as well - it's taken me two or three goes to really get to grips with it but now I have I feel very rewarded. As someone who had never even heard of PJ Harvey before I received the album, I now feel grateful that I was given the chance to appreciate music by this damn talented chick.
This Mess We're In is a wicked track - it's a duet with Thom Yorke from Radiohead - ironically I don't particularly like Radiohead but Thom gives a top performance on this track. The harmonies between the two are great. Other notable tracks are the last two - We Float and Horses In My Dreams, they are both more downtempo than the other tracks and a perfect way to end a fantastic uptempo rock album.
To summarise, this album is well worth a listen because it is simply unique. I have never heard another female singer pull off such a fantastic rock album with so much style and talent. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is without a doubt the best contemporary rock album by a female artist that I have ever heard.


Zooropa
Zooropa
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 10.20

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Zooropa - An interesting U2 milestone..., 25 Mar 2003
This review is from: Zooropa (Audio CD)
Zooropa, in my opinion, is an album that marks an interesting milestone in U2's career. It seems as though by 1993 they'd grown tired of their existing successful 'straight-rock' formula and wanted to experiment and diversify with some new and more modern and different ideas.
Zooropa is a mixture between conventional U2 instrumentals and dance/synth effects. With the exception of a few, more conventional, ballad style tracks that wouldn't have been out of place on Achtung Baby (Stay (Faraway, So Close!)), this album is essentially a chillout album complete with weird synthesized sounds and vocals.
This formula works but is so fundamentally different to U2 of old that it is hard to know quite how to react to it. My own impression is that though this album is very easy to listen to, it is better to listen to when you want music to chillout to. I can't see myself playing it as regularly as U2's earlier material and ATYCLB - dance music is not one of my favourite musical genres but it is that genre to which Zooropa essentially belongs.
Track highlights include Lemon, Dirty, and the two ballads of the album - the aforementioned Stay (Faraway, So Close!), and the haunting finale, The Wanderer.


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