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Sid Nuncius (London)
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NIUTOP Xiaomi Piston 3, Original Xiaomi Piston III 3.0 3rd Headphone Bass Earphones Headset In-Ear Earbud with Remote & Mic Titanium Black, With NIUTOP 11X6.5CM Pounch and 17X14CM Microfiber Cloth, For Xiaomi MI3 MI4 Note iPhone 6 6 Plus 5S 5 iPad iMac Samsung Galaxy S6 S6 Edge S5 S4 S3 Note 4/3/2, HTC One, Nokia Lumia, Moto X Google Nexus 4 5 6 7 Sony Z Huawei Mate Honor Blu Lenovo Oneplus One Acer Asus ZTE Blackberry Windows Phones Smartphones Tablet PC, With RATAIL BOX etc
NIUTOP Xiaomi Piston 3, Original Xiaomi Piston III 3.0 3rd Headphone Bass Earphones Headset In-Ear Earbud with Remote & Mic Titanium Black, With NIUTOP 11X6.5CM Pounch and 17X14CM Microfiber Cloth, For Xiaomi MI3 MI4 Note iPhone 6 6 Plus 5S 5 iPad iMac Samsung Galaxy S6 S6 Edge S5 S4 S3 Note 4/3/2, HTC One, Nokia Lumia, Moto X Google Nexus 4 5 6 7 Sony Z Huawei Mate Honor Blu Lenovo Oneplus One Acer Asus ZTE Blackberry Windows Phones Smartphones Tablet PC, With RATAIL BOX etc
Offered by toparts2013
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality and excellent value, 3 July 2015
Niutop sent me these Piston 3 earphones for review and I am impressed. I have tried quite a lot of earphones and these give very good sound and build quality for the price.

The earphones are very nicely packaged (as shown on this page), with a good range of silicone tips so you can position them comfortably in your ears. They also include a little velvet drawstring carry-bag which is a nice touch. They seem very well made, with fabric-coated cable which gives almost no friction noise, gold-plated plug and decent strain relief so I'd expect them to last well.

The sound is very good for earphones at this price. They have good clarity of articulation and a nicely balanced overall sound. The middles are rich and the trebles are bright and hiss-free. The bass is firm without being spectacular, but these sound just fine for everyday use and respond quite well to a bass boost from an equalizer if you need it. I have a Test Playlist which I use for audio products beginning with 15th Century choral music, ending up with The Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen and London Grammar and going through most things in between; these perform well throughout, and I thought everything sounded good with clear articulation of instruments and voices in classical music and a good firm sound throughout in rock and the like.

Functionally they work well, with a microphone and controls for the phone on the lead. They look really good, I think, with a nice gunmetal finish and very elegant styling, especially of the mic/control unit. I'd say they were some of the most stylish earphones I've tried.

In summary, these are good quality earphones at this price, giving good, versatile sound. At the time of writing they cost well under twenty quid, which makes them excellent value. I think you'd have to spend significantly more to find a better set and I can recommend these. They're very good.


Umi Emax 5.5 Inch FHD LTPS Screen Mobile Phones Android 4.4 OS Smart Phone 3G/4G Sim Free China Smartphones Octa Core (2GB Ram+16GB Rom) Unlock Cell phone with 13.0MP Rear Camera-Silver
Umi Emax 5.5 Inch FHD LTPS Screen Mobile Phones Android 4.4 OS Smart Phone 3G/4G Sim Free China Smartphones Octa Core (2GB Ram+16GB Rom) Unlock Cell phone with 13.0MP Rear Camera-Silver
Offered by EUOU EASY
Price: £259.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good budget smartphone, 2 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Length:: 4:57 Mins

The manufacturer sent me this phone for review and I like it very much. When reading this review, do bear in mind that I am in late middle age and that this is the first smartphone I have owned. I don't game or tweet, for example; I use the phone for phone calls and texts, music, checking email sometimes, occasional photos and occasional web browsing. This means that I cannot advise on comparisons, lots of technical specification and so on, but for what it's worth:

The packaging is very stylish and you get a charger, a micro-USB lead for charging and data transfer and a neat OTG lead. I think the phone itself is very attractive: it's slim, stylish and has a very nice, robust aluminium case. The screen is very good to my eyes; it's a generous 5.5" and a pleasure to use. Video, TV catch-up and so on look very good and everything works very nicely for me. It runs Android version 4.4.4, and everything seems very quick, simple and pretty intuitive. The internal memory is big at 16GB and you can expand with a micro-SD card of up to 64GB capacity (I use a 32 GB and it works fine). Set-up was very easy, but there is no manual available. The quick-start manual is OK, access to SIM and micro-SD card slots is very easy and if you're familiar with Android the lack of a manual may not bother you, but for the more timid user like me it might be a drawback.

Plenty of apps are pre-installed, including Google Play. Note that SuperSU is installed and the phone arrives rooted. I had no idea what this meant until one of my apps wouldn't work because of it, but it's simple to unroot the phone via SuperSU if you need to, even for a bit of a numpty like me.

In use, it is great for me and everything I want just works very well. Wi-fi connection was very straightforward as was syncing with my account. The battery lasts for several days with my use (although I carry a little power bank just in case). Music played through speakers this small always sounds pretty terrible to me, although this is one of the better phones I have heard, and through headphones or via Bluetooth the sound is excellent. I don't think the phone has NFC, by the way, but normal Bluetooth pairing is very quick and simple, and stable up to a decent range. The rear camera is excellent with a very good 13mp resolution. Other functions also seem very good.

In summary, this is a very stylish phone which does everything I want. It is simple to use, seems robust and works well. It seems to have very good specs for this price and I am very happy with mine. I can recommend it warmly, certainly to fellow non-techies who want a decent smartphone which just does the job.


The Song Collector
The Song Collector
by Natasha Solomons
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific novel, 2 July 2015
This review is from: The Song Collector (Hardcover)
I think this is a terrific novel. The publishers kindly sent me a copy for review and I enjoyed it enormously - it is thoughtful, humane, touching and very funny at times, and it has important things to say about family, the meaning of home, the difference between artifice and genuine human experience and other things.

The story is narrated by Harry Fox-Talbot ("Fox") in two intercut times: as a young man in the years following the Second World war and as an old man in the years following the death of his wife in 2000. Fox is a composer and devotee of folk music (the song collector of the title) and its connection to the land and its history. The story is of Fox's life, his music, his loves and relationships and his fight to save the old family estate in Dorset as the family runs out of money. Frankly, it doesn't sound that enticing, but Natasha Solomons writes so well and with such clear insight coupled with warmth of heart that I found it completely engrossing.

Solomons writes in lovely, unmannered, readable prose which is a pleasure to read. She writes wonderfully well about music and has an ear for a striking simile, too, so a cup falls and breaks with "a xylophone crash" for example. She paints vivid pictures of landscapes and seasons, and her characters are wholly believable. Their voices, in particular, are exactly right - like the eight-year-old complaining that his mother can't distinguish good piano playing from mediocre because she has "stupid ears." Fox's narrative voice is pitch-perfect, I think, both as a privileged young man in the forties and fifties and as a grumpy old man in the current century. It is witty (and laugh-out-loud funny at times), perceptive and exactly right in the language he uses making him completely real to me. He makes remarks as a young man like "I like the cellist very much, but not when he plays his cello," which tells us a great deal in a few words about both the subject and the speaker. Then there are genuinely funny but also very perceptive comments from the older Fox on TV talent shows, and the horribly artificial perfection of a Florida retirement community, for example, and the portrait of an old man coming to terms with the modern world, his own mortality and his past is insightful, humane and very affecting.

I could go on, but this review is probably already too long. I think this book has real humanity and profundity while being utterly engaging and easy to read. It is funny in places and very moving in others. I think that Natasha Solomons has established herself as a significant novelist, and I hope this attract the attention it deserves. I loved it, and I can recommend it very warmly indeed.


The Golden Age - Siglo de Oro
The Golden Age - Siglo de Oro
Price: £15.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good recording, 1 July 2015
This is a disc of very fine repertoire, well sung by The King's Singers. The music is by a variety of Portugesee, Spanish and Mexican composers, some very well known like Victoria and Morales, and some much less so. All the works are very fine, and it is especially interesting to have three settings of the funeral motet Versa est in luctum (including the famous setting by Alonso Lobo) to compare.

The performances are, as always from The Kings' Singers, technically flawless in intonation and blend, with a very good fluency of line and with that King's Singers sound evident throughout. They also employ a bajon (an early type of bassoon) in several places, which is very well done adds a great deal to the music here.

I have slightly mixed feelings about The King's Singers; their disc of Josquin is among my favourites from the whole of my collection Renaissance: The Music of Josquin Desprez, but I find the uniformity of the sound can, at other times, sometimes slip over into slight blandness and monotony. There is a bit of that here, and I find that a few pieces at a time is enough for me. Individually they are excellent but as a whole programme it gets just a bit samey - which shouldn't be the case with fine music like this.

A slightly qualified recommendation, then, but a recommendation nonetheless. This is a good recording of some really fine polyphony and, if you're happy with The King's Singers' sound, it will give a lot of pleasure.


Mozart: Clarinet Concerto / Clarinet Quintet in A major by Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Frost, Martin, Oundjian, Peter, Vertavo String Quartet (2003) Audio CD
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto / Clarinet Quintet in A major by Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Frost, Martin, Oundjian, Peter, Vertavo String Quartet (2003) Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Technically excellent but slightly emotionally cold, 1 July 2015
This recording is availabe here:Mozart: Clarinet Concerto / Clarinet Quintet in A major

This is in many ways a very good recording of these two lovely works, but it doesn't quite hit the spot for me. Martin Fröst is a brilliant clarinettist and both the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the Vertavo Quartet are very good, too, but to me these interpretations lack a real emotional core. The technical precision is remarkable, but it feels to me as though everyone is concentrating on producing a very beautiful sound (which they do) and not quite getting to the heart of the music.

This is a very personal feeling, of course, and you may not agree with it. In many ways these are very fine recordings, with excellent sound and a very close-miked clarinet which brings Fröst's masterly playing intimately close to the listener. I would suggest that, if you can, you listen to the samples before buying and try to make your own judgement. You may well find it is for you, but personally I would recommend Thea King's wonderful recordings on Hyperion for equal technical brilliance but a much warmer, more engaged and emotionally literate interpretation Mozart: Basset Clarinet Concerto/Quintet.


The Collected Poems
The Collected Poems
Price: £8.63

4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome collection, 30 Jun. 2015
It is good to have Fran Landesman's poems collected in a single volume. I was aware of her only from odd poems in anthologies or quoted occasionally by someone else, so I am glad to be able to take a serious look at her work - and it's generally very good.

Fran Landesman generally writes in formal stanzas using both rhyme and metre. There's often an almost childlike simplicity to her metre which in the early poems doesn't work so well; some come across as rather amateurish sub-Dorothy Parker stuff - especially as her rhythm is pretty shaky and forced at times. However, in the later poems it's a much more effective style: more tightly controlled and the maturity and skill she's developed make the contrast much more effective between the often umpty-tumpty feel of the rhythm and the more serious content.

Her subject matter is often love affairs gone wrong, the yearnings of the heart and the sexist nonsense which she spent a lot of time pointing out and subverting very effectively. It's often poignant and quite penetrating, and it's also witty and sometimes genuinely funny - like Yankee Doodle Londoner about the differences between US and UK English usages, for example. To give an example of her style, I liked "She" (for Hanja) which begins:
She so pretty, She so crazy
So delightful and so lazy
She make pictures, She make babies
All her life is full of "maybes"

She can light your darkest hours
She got visions, she got powers
Everything She makes unravels
Got no money, still She travels...

A very believable and recognisable portrait, I thought.

I don't think this is great poetry, to be honest, but there's some very good verse here which is often evocative and thoughtful, and the occasional very different-feeling poem, like the extremely atmospheric "Boy" for example, brings a sense of the depth which can sometimes get lost among the bouncing stanzas. I'm glad to have this and to have made the acquaintance of these poems. Fran Landesman's work is well worth reading and preserving, and I can recommend this collection.

(I received a review copy of this book via Netgalley.)


Broken Silence by Ramsay, Danielle ( AUTHOR ) Oct-14-2010 Paperback
Broken Silence by Ramsay, Danielle ( AUTHOR ) Oct-14-2010 Paperback
by Danielle Ramsay
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Promising but flawed, 30 Jun. 2015
There is a lot to enjoy in this book but I think Danielle Ramsay has tried just a bit too hard to make an impression with her first Jack Brady novel, so that it suffers rather from overkill both in plot and prose style.

Good things first: it's a very decent story, well plotted and paced. I thought the killer's identity was well and quite fairly concealed until late in the book and the denouement was believable and well done. It is much to Ramsay's credit that she spares us an implausible Cornered Killer Climax; the interview scenes in which the truth finally emerges are among the strongest in the book and provide a gripping climax of their own. I certainly think that there's enough substance here to warrant a second book and possibly a series.

I do have reservations, though. Firstly, in her keenness to give us an interesting detective, Ramsay lays on the personal complications with a large trowel. As well as having a monumentally complex and dysfunctional personal life, Jack Brady seems to be emotionally or professionally compromised (sometimes both) in his relationship with almost everyone involved in the case: a major suspect, the suspect's wife and daughter, the defence solicitor (his recently ex-wife, for heaven's sake), his sidekick, his boss, an arrogant sergeant, the local mafia boss... and so on and on. It really did get a bit much and I began to wonder whether a character would ever appear with whom he hadn't slept or fought or shared a shady past.

Secondly, the style (he coolly introduced). Ramsay cannot just let characters speak for themselves (he briskly stated) but has to pile on the adverbs (he firmly asserted) and clumsy synonyms for "said" (he curtly attacked). After 100 pages or so I found the cumulative effect of this incredibly irritating and it really distracted me from the narrative. Mercifully, in the climactic interview scenes this almost disappears and they are tense, tightly written and really engrossing, showing that Ramsay is able to write really well when she allows herself to flow in an unaffected way.

I think Danielle Ramsay just needs to relax and tell the story, and I hope she will do that in future books. I couldn't in all conscience give this book four stars, but I hope it will be the start of a more mature series, which has the potential to be very good.


Still (Deluxe Edition)
Still (Deluxe Edition)
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Richard Thompson, 29 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Still (Deluxe Edition) (Audio CD)
I agree with The Wolf (as so often) - this is a very fine Richard Thompson album. The man's a genius who has been writing great songs and playing superb music for decades now and this is a great addition to his already stellar canon.

Thompson's music is it's usual excellent self: good melodies, harmonically interesting and lyrically full of that carefree joi de vivre that always characterises Thompson's songs. :o) Seriously, a glance at the titles will give you a pretty strong clue that he's not deviating much from the sadness and anger which runs through so much of his work: Broken Doll; No Peace, No End; Where's Your Heart...you get the idea. And yet it never becomes depressing or over-bitter. The quality of the songwriting keeps it well above that level, and it's a fine album.

The performances and production are top-class, I think. Thompson is one of the great guitarists of our age and he's on fine form here - some fine guitar work while being quite understated and often quite far back in the mix. This works very well indeed, I think, and the band are all excellent.

I loved Electric but I wasn't quite so taken with Acoustic Classics, although I can't quite put my finger on why. This is Thompson back to the peak of his form, I think: a classic Thompson album of fine songs, exceptionally well performed. It's always hard to tell for a while whether an album will turn out to be truly great as opposed to very good, but I think this may well be up there with Richard Thompson's very best - which is really saying something. Warmly recommended.


The Monsanto Years [CD+DVD]
The Monsanto Years [CD+DVD]
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good message but poor songwriting, 29 Jun. 2015
I always look forward to a new Neil Young album with considerable trepidation. He's still capable of making fine records - I loved both Psychedelic Pill and Storytone - but he's also still capable of making very bad ones. This is a bad one, I'm afraid. It doesn't make me physically wince quite as much as A Letter Home, but I think as an album it's worse in some ways. At least on A Letter Home the music was really good and Neil performed well, it was just the horrible mess of a recording which made it almost unlistenable. On The Monsanto Years it's the fault of the material and the performance, which I find less forgivable.

The Monsanto Years is a long rant against environmental damage, GMOs, greedy banks and corporations and so on. It's a message with which I largely agree and I wouldn't argue with much of what Neil is saying here - but as songs they are crude, poorly crafted, musically pretty thin and lyrically they're frankly terrible. Really, this sounds like the sort of stuff that you might have produced when you were thirteen and then come across as an adult and burned with embarrassment that you could ever have thought it even worth writing down. Just as an example, in People Want To Hear About Love, there's just a long, long list of things like:
"Don't talk about the beautiful fish in the deep blue sea dying...
"Don't talk about the corporations hijacking all your rights...
"Don't mention about world poverty...
"Don't say pesticides are causing autistic children..."
and so on and so on and so on. These aren't song lyrics, they're just slogans. It's very important stuff, but there's no finesse, no wit, no depth of analysis or anything approaching crafted verse which might convey real meaning or make it a powerful song. The same is true throughout the album; it's as though you were being shouted at by an obsessed drunk in a bar, so when there is the occasional neat lyric like "Too big to fail, too rich for jail," it's a surprise to find a gem among the mess. And this from the man who wrote the magnificent Ohio in a white hot rage in just a few hours. That, though was a long, long time ago and seemingly in a galaxy far, far away because Ohio was an enduring masterpiece while this just best forgotten.

Musically it's pretty poor, too. There's not much in the way of melody, and although there are some decent chord sequences, none of it sounds very fresh. The Promise Of The Real, although they are a perfectly competent band, just remind me constantly how very, very good Crazy Horse were. Neil's voice is wearing pretty thin these days, too, and at times it's cringeworthy as he reaches for high notes he has no business to be attempting and misses them by some distance. (Try the opener, New Day For Love and you'll see what I mean.)

I've loved Neil Young's work for close on half a century now and I accept that loving it means that you have to take the poor with the brilliant - and this is really poor. On the first play I turned it off about half way through and felt as though someone had stopped beating me over the head with a blunt object. I've forced myself to listen a few times more to see whether it improved, but it hasn't. It's still a relief to turn it off.

I simply can't bring myself to give a Neil Young album only one star, but it's a scrape to get up to two. I'm sorry to say it, but this just isn't worthy of such a great songwriter and performer.


Late Night Calls (Live)
Late Night Calls (Live)
Price: £7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome record, but not an LWIII classic, 28 Jun. 2015
This is a recording of a radio broadcast made in Cleveland in 1972. Loudon Wainwright plays solo in a studio with a small live audience, in an extremely informal atmosphere. There's some good stuff on it, it's a nice record of Loudon's live style of the period and I'm glad to have it but it's not a brilliant album, to be honest.

There is some material which wasn't on studio albums but the songs are largely taken from his first three albums, for which I have a particular affection,. I still have my original vinyl copies bought at the time, and he signed the first two for me when I went to see him play live a couple of times on his first UK tour in 1972, so you can tell I'm a hard-core fan :o). I saw him play quite a few of these songs then, so I'm really pleased to have a reminder of that time and Loudon's witty, self-deprecating way of relating to an audience. The performances here are pretty good, but it sounds to me as though Loudon was a little disorientated by the shambolic-sounding way the recording was set up, so it doesn't quite have the electric excitement I felt at the time. The sound is decent but not brilliant, and the whole thing is one of those albums I'm glad to have heard and I'm glad to have, but which I won't play that often, I think.

LWIII fans like me will want this, of course, and no-one could be disappointed in it, but if you're just looking for early LWIII recordings, I'd recommend the first three studio albums well before this. Certainly if you're looking for a place to start with him, try the early studio albums first or Older Than My Old Man Now for a more recent gem. It's good, but it doesn't have quite the brilliance of a lot of Loudon's work.

(You can still get the first three albums, and now as downloads too:
Album 1
Album II
Album III )


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