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A. Moseley (UK)
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Time Capsules II
Time Capsules II
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.06

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How can this be the 1st review???, 6 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Time Capsules II (Audio CD)
The first review of something that has been out at leats two months. Has no one else bought this? Does no-one else like it? I can believe the former, but not the latter. This is an excellent album from start to finish. If you loved 'Loss' the first Mull Historical Society album (Loss another record that should have been far bigger than it was) then you will love this. Brad Oberhofer is very similar to Colin Macintyre both vocally and musically. He has fashioned an album of pop classics with an exuberant uptempo, but off-kilter pop feel, with instruments and arrangments thrown in at random to create something that shouldn't work, but does. As with Mull Historical Society, there are shades of the Beach Boys, particularly on Cruisin' FDR, and other sixties surf sounds on the likes of Landline, Away frm U, and Homebro, which is reminiscent of Brian Wilson's more reflective early moments. There's not quite the same variety as there was on Loss, which is why this is a four star rather than a five star review, but there's still the same spirit and same quality and imagination in the song writing, which makes it an essential recommendation.

Oberhofer apppears happy in his own geekiness, another similarity to Colin Macintyre, and in making music because he likes it, and not consciously aiming it an any particular audience. That may be why it is undiscovered and why this is the first review of it. All I can say is if you stumble on this review do yourself a favour and buy the CD and while you are on also invest in Loss by Mull Historical Society. You'll think it's the same band and you'll love both.


Strangeland
Strangeland
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Go for the deluxe edition - it''s worth the extra money, 6 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Strangeland (Audio CD)
The fourth (or fifth if you count Night Train) Keane album arrives to the usual dismissive response of most reviewers. Perfect Symmetry was criticised for imitating 80s synth stuff but now reviews claim that was a bold step forward and this is a big leap back. Seems Keane just can't win sometimes. So what's the truth? On first listen it is easy to see where the 'safe middle of the road' claims come from with few tracks really standing up in the way they did on Hope and Fears and Under the Iron Sea, but it rewards repeated listening and is definitely a more subtle, thoughtful and considered record than Perfect Symmetry. A lot of the annoying fluff of that album has gone, and a lot of what was lost on that album is back. If only they'd played it slightly less safe with the track selection this could have been a five star review, but as it is the commercial leanings of the band mean that three of the best tracks will only be available to people who pay out the extra money for the deluxe edition, and those who stick with the twelve track CD will get at least three songs that sound like fillers.

Going through it track by track - You are Young has an opening that sounds like an engineer missed the first second of the track, but builds into an optimistic uplifting against the odds type anthem. Silenced by the night passed me by entirely when I heard it as a standalone track, but now also has that outsider feel to the lyrics that categorised tracks on the first two albums coupled again with an uplifting defiant chorus. Third track in is Disconnected, which is the first track that still feels like the sound of a band running out of ideas and re-treading their past, it's pleasant, but that's no justification for putting it on the album. Watch How You Go is the complete opposite, the mournful slow ballad that is Keane at their best, not trying to write three minute pop songs for radio. Sovereign Light Cafe is another grower, appears to have little on first listen, but the music and lyrics work together to create something that makes you long for a past that isn't yours. On the Road changes the tempo and is worth having on the album if only for that. It's a track that depends on your mood, sometimes it sounds like a great call to arms up-tempo stadium track, other times it's lightweight fluff.

On to the second half of the main album proper and The Starting Line is this album's Bedshaped, with dramatic chorus to overcome the sense of loss created by the verse - again it's classic dramatic music that sounds like Keane writing what they want and not thinking about chart placings. Black Rain sounds like an attempt at Radiohead, and is a bleaker track than anything before it. Takes some time to register as a result, but after a few listens it gets there. Neon River is the second track that shouldn't be on the album. Keane by numbers with no lyrical or musical sentiment they haven't delivered better elsewhere. A filler track if ever there was one. Day Will Come sounds like it would have fitted well on Perfect Symmetry, as a piece of sugary pop with more than a passing nod to the '80s, as such it's another track that for me is too lightweight and not what I want from Keane. In Your Own Time is better but could have benefitted from a more adventurous backing track - had it been on the first album it would have had an uplifting feel throughout, here it feels as if that's been sacrificied for a drive time audience on Capital FM. It falls to Sea Fog as the last track of the main album to really rescue proceedings and remind you of what Keane do best, a simple piano backing and plaintive lyrics delivered with Tom Chaplin's best little boy lost vocals. Just as Love is the End was probably the best moment of Perfect Symmetry, so Sea Fog is with this album, joining Watch How You Go and The Starting Line as the album's standout tracks.

And for most people that's where the album will end, unless you've bought the deluxe edition. Deluxe editions are nearly always a not so cheap excuse to get more money off you with tracks that aren't good enough to make the main album, but not here. Strangeland immediately joins the three tracks mentioned above as a melancholy triumph. Run With Me doesn't build on it, and won't be missed by anyone who sticks with the 12 track album, but The Boys will be a loss. It's a different sound for Keane, more strident but again tinged with nostalgia. This should have been on the album proper instead, it's the mood changer that does more than simply alter the tone for a few minutes. It's Not True should also have made it on to the album, even if it does sound like it's natural position is album closer, and Sea Fog has already provided that as well as anything could.

Take Disconnected, Neon River and Days Will Come out of the main album and add Stangeland, The Boys and It's Not True in their places and you have an excellent album. For once this is definitely something where the extra money for the deluxe edition is worthwhile.


Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Price: £4.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thank God he's got rid of the brother!, 3 Nov. 2011
Never much cared for Oasis, some great songs along the way but very over-rated and a lot of tracks that were as subtle as a sledge hammer and like bad Rolling Stones rather than anything the Beatles might have attempted. But with their last two albums there were some excellent tracks with Noel on lead vocals (Importance of Being Idle and Falling Down) that made me think just how good he could be if he didn't have to write in a band format, and the first single off this album The Death of You and Me, was another track up there with them so I decided to buy this and wasn't disappointed. Sure there's some tracks that sound like they could slip into bad prog rock or self indulgence and wouldn't sustain an album (Everybody's on the run, Record Machine, and If I had a gun) but those aside there are some excellent tracks. Dream On is anthemic, but in a low key less self conscious way than Oasis anthems, the aforesaid Death of You and Me is both an excellent track in itself and made better by the instruments and wistful feel they give it. AKA What a Life has an uplifting feel you'd never find on Oasis and Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks has obvious Ray Davis influences which turn it into a classic. Broken Arrow has a great chorus and an okay verse, while The Wrong Beach is another excellent track with a production that really brings out the song. Stop the Clocks is a good album closer if nothing spectacular.

Oasis fans may be put off by this not being Oasis and non Oasis fans may be put off by it being from the bloke who wrote most of the songs for Oasis, but I'd say give it a chance. It's a great album and one that will pleasantly surprise people when they hear it.


Velociraptor!
Velociraptor!
Offered by SweetBuzzards
Price: £3.45

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half way to a classic, 3 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Velociraptor! (Audio CD)
Serge Pizzorno said this album was a classic, and my initial thoughts were to be very worried about this claim, particularly when the cover seems to be adorned with his face (a sign of an ego getting too big?) and first single proper (Days are Forgotten) lacked any of the subtelty or imagination of Fire or Where Did All The Love Go from the last album. However, even with these doubts I still bought it, and for the first half of the album was completely blown away. Let's Roll Just Like We Used To is the best album opener they've done, with great use of instruments that create a flowing feel vaguely reminiscent of Lost Shadow Puppets or Love's Alone Again Or track. Days are forgotten sounds better as an album track following on from this (and it is a shame they didn't get more adventurous with the first single) and then Goodbye Kiss and La Fee Verte combine to move the Kasabian sound forward so far from anything they've done before that you feel that this really is the big progression of an album Serge claimed it to be. Velociraptor is next and is big, loud and fun, pure enjoyment and another track which combines with what's gone before to make this sound like a classic in the making. So far, so good, but then after that it doesn't really deliver to the same high standards. Shelter from the Storm is good but needs another excellent track to follow it to avoid the album losing momentum and sadly I Hear Voices is not that track, its technically proficient, but nothing exciting about it and sounds like an outake from West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. Re-Wired sounds like it could have improved the Empire album if they'd put it in on that, but that was five years ago and it shouldn't be on here if the band really are moving on. A Man of Simple Pleasures is a return to form, and a track that could be on a classic album, it's just a shame that the tracks before it have let the album down. Switchblade Smiles is back to filler stuff, before a strong closer with Neon Noon, but by that time there is the feel that the album lacks the sixties, eastern influences that made West Ryder such an unusual and innovative album, and that what you have is not a classic, but largely just Kasabian's pop album, a bid for a mainstream market that risks losing them a lot of the audience they had built up with the last album. The best bits are all at the start and it runs out of steam as it goes on. Definitely an album of two halves.


Ceremonials
Ceremonials
Price: £3.49

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the subtelty and excitement gone?, 3 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Ceremonials (Audio CD)
The first Florenece and the Machine album was so good largely because of the wide variety of styles and dramatic lunges between them, you never knew where it would go next, but it never disappointed, with almost every track being a standout (if that's technically possible). There was an energy, an innocence and a sort of giddy enthusiasm about the whole thing, and that's what's lacking on Ceremonials. There are some excellent tracks, two of which - Spectrum and All This and Heaven Too - are almost at the end of it, and run the risk of passing people by because they'll switch off somewhere before them. But there is not enough variation here, and most of the songs outstay their welcome by a minute at least - What the Water Gave Me is an example of this in spite of being very good for a long time. There's no subtelty in some of the tracks where there really needs to be, everything gets a big production, there are no really stripped down tracks such as Girl With One Eye, or My Boy Builds Coffins, and that's a great shame. A track like Seven Devils would really benefit from being paired down to the barest levels of instruments and having a vocal that did not sound like everything had to be big. Ultimately, it would make the whole album more listenable if there was more light and shade in it. It's technically perfect, her songwriting has improved, and there's a passion running through it, but it's just all a bit too clinical and over the top, and you're left wanting the slightly ramshackle, loveably ecelectic feel of the first album. Maybe album 3 will be the one that fulfils all her potential?


Obstacles to Young Love
Obstacles to Young Love
by David Nobbs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two lovers story told over several years. Sounds famililar?, 10 Aug. 2011
Timing is everything in comedy and perhaps the timing of this book, so soon after David Nicholls One Day, was not the best. Although none of the reviews I've read have made the comparison, for me it's an obvious one. Both books chart the relationship between two people who are destined to be together but take a long time to manage it. Both of them cover a large time frame and both of them choose selected moments rather than giving the full day to day life story. Unfortunately, Obstacles to Young Love lacks the ambition of One Day - there is no obvious reason for the time periods chosen to focus on, with some years skipped completely and others getting grouped together but feeling like the time frames they cover is more down to a need to go through the years rather than there being three or four years activity within them. Also, the characters never feel as real or as complete as they do in Nicholl's book possibly because we don't see them grow as we miss whole chunks of their lives. That is not to say that this is a bad book, merely that for what it is trying to achieve it comes over as very much second best to a book published at much the same time.

The plot of the book includes the battle between religion and atheism, and this is the next problem I have with the book - not that it does this, but that the extreme action Naomi takes to promote the atheist cause seems very much out of character, the events that lead up to her meltdown are well described but don't seem to justify the conclusion, and nor does the extremes of her anti-religious stance seem necessary for the central strand of the story (her relationship with Timothy) to work. Other aspects of the story, notably a suicide and the transformation of a minor character into a major influence on events, also come across as unconvincing and read as if several pages of developing storylines have been sacrificied in order to cram too much into what is already a long book. It would have been better if the number of main storylines and sub ones had been whittled down a bit to make a really focused novel.

So why, in spite of all of this, would I still give it three stars? Well for a start, there is still a lot of very amusing and very well observed writing here. The repetition of several phrases and events such as pennine drinking sessions, is excellent and something few others writers could pull off as well as Nobbs does. The almost identical sections of texts and recurring lines never feel stale and instead illustrate the routines that form so much of our lives. There are embarrasing scenes that are written with such and accuracy and honesty and the conversations between all the characters are genuine, reflective but never boring. On the whole it's worth a read, but if you've not read anything by Nobbs before start with Going Gently rather than with this, and if you have read Going Gently be prepared to be disappointed that an author who managed to condense the last century into one of the best books of this century can't manage to repeat this with a book scanning a far shorter time frame.


The Scenes from the Suburbs
The Scenes from the Suburbs
Price: £14.46

13 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Arcade Fire rip off fans, 28 Jun. 2011
The Suburbs is a brilliant album. Speaking in Tongues is a brilliant track, so why am I only giving this 1 star? Because I already own the Suburbs and don't want to have to shell out this much money just to get two new tracks (one that I haven't heard) and a DVD that I don't want. It's a shame that a credible band who I thought had integrity by the bucketload are now joining the rip off brigade with re-packaged albums. I doubt this will be bought by anyone who doesn't already own The Suburbs, so why do it. Release the DVD on it's own for those who want it and don't want to have to buy the album again, and release a two track CD single of the two new tracks, that's all they needed to do.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 9, 2015 9:05 AM GMT


The Fountain
The Fountain
Price: £11.51

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is Red the new Grey?, 17 Nov. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Fountain (Audio CD)
Here's some parallels, back in 1987 Echo and the Bunnymen released their fifth album. It was much delayed, and was dismissed as their weakest album to date. Die hard fans were annoyed at the choice of Laurie Latham (of Paul Young fame) as producer because he produced pop records, and this sounded like an attempt to crack the US charts and betray all the band stood for. The album became known as the Grey Album, because of the predominant use of one colour on it's cover. Now fast forward 23 years, and the fifth album since the Bunnymen reformed. Delayed by more than a year, produced by John McLaughlin (of Busted fame) dismissed as their weakest album since they reformed, and with a cover dominated by one colour (Red). But is the red album the new grey album? The answer is sadly yes. The Fountain aims at the American market, and much like the grey album the songs simply don't have the conviction or passion that you expect from the Bunnymen. The first two tracks flatter to decieve, as I think I need it too is anthemic albeit in a one dimensional way, and Forgotten Fields is one of the best tracks they've ever made and would have fitted easily on Ocean Rain or comeback album Evergreen. From then on it's quickly downhill, with both music and lyrics going particularly awry on Do You Know Who I am and Shroud of Turin. It's not a bad album on the whole, and in the title track and the idolness of gods it has two more excellent tracks for people who like the band at their most reflective, but it's nowhere near as good as the criminally ignored Siberia. Ian McCulloch's lyrics sound like he doesn't care for most of the album. The personal issues that ran through Siberia's lyrics and made it such a classic aren't here this time, and Will Sargent is just keeping time rather than adding to what is ultimately a pleasant collection of songs from a band who sound like they've accepted middle age and are content to rely on their back catalogue.


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