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D. Newton (Swindon, Wilts)
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The Seldom Seen Kid
The Seldom Seen Kid
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grown Up Music for Grown Ups, 22 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Seldom Seen Kid (Audio CD)
The horns of the opening track `Starlings' seem to ring out as a fitting fanfare to the world announcing the arrival of this excellent record. What impresses me most about `The Seldom Seen Kid' is the maturity of songwriting and musicianship throughout; Elbow are true masters of their craft both musically and lyrically. The songs here are perfectly put together with the traditional rock template enhanced by subtle electronic effects and atmospheric strings. The lyrics truthfully, and with wry amusement, observe the realities of everyday life through stand out lines like: "cramming commitments like cats in a sack", "straight to my head like the first cigarette of the day" and "I'm working on a cocktail called grounds for divorce" to name but a few.

The band show their versatility by following `Mirrorball', with its gorgeous, melancholy string washes with `Grounds For Divorce' a stomping rock track punched along with a fantastic, growling guitar line. On the whole, the songs on `The Seldom Seen Kid' swell atmospherically and are richly melodic and satisfying, none more so than on `One Day Like This'. This song is a true string- drenched, flag-waving anthem, with a massive, uplifting lyric and chorus and would have made a fantastic closing track. I mention this because the only real criticism I have of the record is of the two tracks that succeed `One Day Like This'; both `Friend of Ours' and `We're Away' are very low-key and subdued and are a little disappointing.

The rest of `The Seldom Seen Kid' is still good enough to be a five star record for me though and thoroughly deserves all its plaudits and awards.


Hats
Hats
Price: £7.99

10 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars (It's A) Universal Emptiness, 16 Oct 2008
This review is from: Hats (Audio CD)
I am guessing from reading other reviewers' opinions that `Hats' is one of those CDs that you fell in love with when it came out and you then treasure it for always no matter how your life moves on. How else to explain an astonishing consensus of opinion in the shape of 33 out of 33 five star reviews? I have listened to `Hats' very recently with fresh ears and whilst I have no desire at all to be contrary for the sake of it, I do not rate this album in 2008.

My fellow reviewer Russell Clarke, who has obvious taste and appreciation, quotes a Swans song for his review title, but `Hats' is a million miles away from the timeless emotional and artistic strengths of Michael Gira's band. I will put it simply: in my opinion this record has dated horribly; its programmed synth/drum patterns sound like the worst of the 1980s and Paul Buchanan's lyrical vision of rain soaked streets, neon lights, late night trains, etc. rapidly becomes tiresome and repetitive. When he strains for emotional intensity for me it just does not hit home, compared with say Mark Eitzel's work with American Music Club during the same period. The pace of the album is glacial and the mood melancholy, which would not be bad things necessarily, but the music on `Hats' is DULL.

Overall, I will give it two stars because you can tell that the band truly believe in what they are trying to do which is more than can be said for a lot of music in general. Also, this record is obviously dear to the hearts of many and I respect that. But I feel moved to post this review because if you are new to the Blue Nile and are intrigued by so many glowing accolades you may be in for a sore disappointment.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2013 2:14 PM GMT


Draft 7 30
Draft 7 30
Offered by samurai_media_JPN4UK
Price: £18.31

3.0 out of 5 stars Un-easy Listening, 14 Oct 2008
This review is from: Draft 7 30 (Audio CD)
Having only listened to `Amber' and `Tri Repeatae' prior to `Draft 7.30', I now understand what is meant by Autechre's `difficult period'. Unless your head is really into electronica in a massive way you will probably, like me, find this record highly inaccessible.

The duo present the listener here with a virtually impregnable wall of seemingly patternless, distorted beats, abrasive sounds, drones and noises. To the uninitiated ear it is just so hard to get into. Despite repeated listens I was really struggling to find anything so old-fashioned as a hook or memorable rhythm. The most striking track is the lengthy `Surripere', which starts with a hypnotic, regular beat over wonderfully eerie and atmospheric synth washes (this appeals to the Boards of Canada fan in me) but little by little it is deconstructed into an alien mechanized mash up until the end of the track bears no resemblance to the beginning.

But, weirdly, this record is compelling and I still found myself coming back to it again and again. Perhaps the trick is to approach it from an abstract viewpoint and just savour the incredibly complex programming and layered sounds here. I also believe that Booth and Brown do know what they are doing and still have the greatest of respect for their work. Be warned, though, this is not one for the casual dabbler!


Draft 7.30
Draft 7.30
Price: £12.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Un-easy Listening, 14 Oct 2008
This review is from: Draft 7.30 (Audio CD)
Having only listened to `Amber' and `Tri Repeatae' prior to `Draft 7.30', I now understand what is meant by Autechre's `difficult period'. Unless your head is really into electronica in a massive way you will probably, like me, find this record highly inaccessible.

The duo present the listener here with a virtually impregnable wall of seemingly patternless, distorted beats, abrasive sounds, drones and noises. To the uninitiated ear it is just so hard to get into. Despite repeated listens I was really struggling to find anything so old-fashioned as a hook or memorable rhythm. The most striking track is the lengthy `Surripere', which starts with a hypnotic, regular beat over wonderfully eerie and atmospheric synth washes (this appeals to the Boards of Canada fan in me) but little by little it is deconstructed into an alien mechanized mash up until the end of the track bears no resemblance to the beginning.

But, weirdly, this record is compelling and I still found myself coming back to it again and again. Perhaps the trick is to approach it from an abstract viewpoint and just savour the incredibly complex programming and layered sounds here. I also believe that Booth and Brown do know what they are doing and still have the greatest of respect for their work. Be warned, though, this is not one for the casual dabbler!


Rev (French Import)
Rev (French Import)

4.0 out of 5 stars 1970s Throwback Ahead of Its Time?, 11 Oct 2008
This review is from: Rev (French Import) (Audio CD)
`Rev', Kurt Ralske's Ultra Vivid Scene project's third and final album, met with a somewhat lukewarm reception upon its release in 1992. Ultra Vivid Scene had moved from DIY experimentalism on their first album to shining indie-pop with the second but `Rev's retro 1970s inspired sound was a genuine surprise, coming as it did some time before that decade's music became fashionable again.

The majority of the record, from `Candida' to `The Portion of Delight' and including `How Sweet' are delicious slices of funky indie-rock driven by punchy bass and drums. The music is confident and full-sounding with a proper band delivering Ralske's fine ear for a melody. But `Rev' is also Ultra Vivid Scene's strongest rock album as demonstrated by `Medicating Angels' and the aptly titled `Blood and Thunder' both of which feature very 1970s-style guitar workouts. Only the low-key, scratchy final track `This is the Way' is reminiscent of earlier more experimental material.

`Rev' remains a very enjoyable listen, satisfying and catchy and with good variety. My only criticism would be that with nine tracks covering 54 minutes it feels a bit too long in places. The main culprits here being `Medicating Angels' and `Blood and Thunder' which account for nearly 20 minutes between them.


Rev
Rev
Offered by digitalmediadistribution
Price: £12.93

4.0 out of 5 stars 1970s Throwback Ahead of Its Time?, 11 Oct 2008
This review is from: Rev (Audio CD)
`Rev', Kurt Ralske's Ultra Vivid Scene project's third and final album, met with a somewhat lukewarm reception upon its release in 1992. Ultra Vivid Scene had moved from DIY experimentalism on their first album to shining indie-pop with the second but `Rev's retro 1970s inspired sound was a genuine surprise, coming as it did some time before that decade's music became fashionable again.

The majority of the record, from `Candida' to `The Portion of Delight' and including `How Sweet' are delicious slices of funky indie-rock driven by punchy bass and drums. The music is confident and full-sounding with a proper band delivering Ralske's fine ear for a melody. But `Rev' is also Ultra Vivid Scene's strongest rock album as demonstrated by `Medicating Angels' and the aptly titled `Blood and Thunder' both of which feature very 1970s-style guitar workouts. Only the low-key, scratchy final track `This is the Way' is reminiscent of earlier more experimental material.

`Rev' remains a very enjoyable listen, satisfying and catchy and with good variety. My only criticism would be that with nine tracks covering 54 minutes it feels a bit too long in places. The main culprits here being `Medicating Angels' and `Blood and Thunder' which account for nearly 20 minutes between them.


Ben 10 3D Puzzle - Villians
Ben 10 3D Puzzle - Villians
Offered by Otherland
Price: £5.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Box, 18 Sep 2008
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Ben 10 3D Puzzle - Villians (Toy)
This is a decent enough jigsaw puzzle and the holographic 3-D effect works well, but the major design flaw is the box. It is necessary to tear open the box to get to the puzzle, there is no lid, so care is needed when first opening otherwise you will have nowhere to store the pieces.


A Ghost Is Born (2-Cd Special Tour Edition / Europe)
A Ghost Is Born (2-Cd Special Tour Edition / Europe)
Price: £11.48

4.0 out of 5 stars A Four Star Classic, 2 Sep 2008
Following up the truly magnificent `Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' was never going to be easy, but with `A Ghost Is Born' Wilco has managed to produce a record of equal impact if not of consistent quality.

On the whole, `A Ghost Is Born' is a quieter, more introspective album than its predecessor and this is most evident on the aching, melancholy heart of the record, the five tracks from `Muzzle of Bees' to `Company in My Back'. These songs are strongly piano-led, with string flourishes and splashes of guitar augmenting Tweedy's lyrics which speak of alienation, uncertainty and instability. The lines from `Handshake Drugs' are a perfect example: "I looked someone I used to know/I felt alright/And if I ever was myself I wasn't that night."

But this remarkable record cannot be generalised, because elsewhere there are some striking differences in style. `Spiders (Kidsmoke)' is a 10-minute monotonous `Krautrock' chugger whilst the opener, `At Least That's What You Said' features a fiercely squally guitar attack. `I'm a Wheel' is a weak track, approaching sub-indie thrash and as forgettable as a Sebadoh B-side.

Worthy of highlighting because of its sheer willful awkwardness is `Less Than You Think'; fifteen minutes long but fully ten of these are nothing but droning and rumbling sounds. God knows what the label bosses thought of this, and I suppose Tweedy is to be admired for his bravery, but the truth is that the drone section does not work and seems a pointless exercise. He should listen to the Body Haters' '34:13' to hear how drones and industrial noises can be made compelling.

But there is yet another facet to `A Ghost Is Born' because in between `Less Than You Think' are `Theologians' and `The Late Greats', two joyous, upbeat stomping tracks which recall the band's more carefree early material. `The Late Greats' is particularly enjoyable, genuinely funny and ends the record on a positive note.

So overall, what is `A Ghost Is Born'? It is a true heavyweight rock album: demanding; richly textured; beautifully melodic; supremely well-played and performed; delightful yet frustrating and exasperating as well. It sounds like it is suffering from some mental illness, a personality disorder perhaps, but it is compelling and vital as well. I cannot give it five stars yet I would recommend it without hesitation and it is a real favourite of mine. A true mass of contradictions, but at its best solid gold.


A Ghost Is Born
A Ghost Is Born
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £10.76

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Four Star Classic, 2 Sep 2008
This review is from: A Ghost Is Born (Audio CD)
Following up the truly magnificent `Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' was never going to be easy, but with `A Ghost Is Born' Wilco has managed to produce a record of equal impact if not of consistent quality.

On the whole, `A Ghost Is Born' is a quieter, more introspective album than its predecessor and this is most evident on the aching, melancholy heart of the record, the five tracks from `Muzzle of Bees' to `Company in My Back'. These songs are strongly piano-led, with string flourishes and splashes of guitar augmenting Tweedy's lyrics which speak of alienation, uncertainty and instability. The lines from `Handshake Drugs' are a perfect example: "I looked someone I used to know/I felt alright/And if I ever was myself I wasn't that night."

But this remarkable record cannot be generalised, because elsewhere there are some striking differences in style. `Spiders (Kidsmoke)' is a 10-minute monotonous `Krautrock' chugger whilst the opener, `At Least That's What You Said' features a fiercely squally guitar attack. `I'm a Wheel' is a weak track, approaching sub-indie thrash and as forgettable as a Sebadoh B-side.

Worthy of highlighting because of its sheer willful awkwardness is `Less Than You Think'; fifteen minutes long but fully ten of these are nothing but droning and rumbling sounds. God knows what the label bosses thought of this, and I suppose Tweedy is to be admired for his bravery, but the truth is that the drone section does not work and seems a pointless exercise. He should listen to the Body Haters' '34:13' to hear how drones and industrial noises can be made compelling.

But there is yet another facet to `A Ghost Is Born' because in between `Less Than You Think' are `Theologians' and `The Late Greats', two joyous, upbeat stomping tracks which recall the band's more carefree early material. `The Late Greats' is particularly enjoyable, genuinely funny and ends the record on a positive note.

So overall, what is `A Ghost Is Born'? It is a true heavyweight rock album: demanding; richly textured; beautifully melodic; supremely well-played and performed; delightful yet frustrating and exasperating as well. It sounds like it is suffering from some mental illness, a personality disorder perhaps, but it is compelling and vital as well. I cannot give it five stars yet I would recommend it without hesitation and it is a real favourite of mine. A true mass of contradictions, but at its best solid gold.


Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada
Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let Down by 'Poetry", 17 Aug 2008
You know already that Godspeed! are a truly unique act; this CD encompasses the best and worst of the band.
The best is the opening track 'Moya' which is hard to describe without resorting to hyperbole. Suffice to say that it is the ultimate marriage of rock and classical/orchestral sounds, a beautifully constructed piece which builds on a theme to a spine-tingling crescendo. Anyone, regardless of their musical inclination, who regards themseleves as a serious music fan must own this masterpiece.

Unfortunately, track 2 'BBF3' does not hit these heights. The music is beautiful and restrained but I defy anyone not to become weary of the ranting street 'poet' featured on the track after repeated listens. In saying that, the music cleverly increases in volume to smother the words of Blaise Bailey Finnegan when he is is recounting his run-in with the judge over his speeding ticket. The message that the voice of the people will not be heard against the establishment is put across well.

If you can stick the track out to the end it finishes well, but the 'poetry' in question is so bad that it should not see the light of day.

A minor whinge though, but enough for the CD to be docked a star.

Still a very good place to start if you are new to this most important band.


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