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JJKelsall

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One Breath
One Breath
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £7.19

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Huge Leap Forwards!, 11 Oct. 2013
This review is from: One Breath (Audio CD)
This album is a fairly big departure in sound from Anna's debut, with the guitar no longer being at the heart of the songs. I'm actually quite glad of this, and I'm equally glad that for the most part, Anna has put aside her deep vocals in favour of more delicate, subtle vocals, that tracks like `No More Words' and parts of `Blackout' from the debut hinted at. Now I do love Anna's guitar work and I would be equally thrilled if she put out an album full of tearing guitar solos and fierce vocals, but the fact that she's chosen to challenge, rather than appease me (and I think, many other fans) is a much bolder move, especially for an artist who does have a lot of pressure, when you consider how well the debut was received.

I would say that unlike the debut as well, which had a very deliberate, state of intent kind of feel, that stayed throughout, `One Breath' begins rather casually. There isn't anything particularly challenging or exciting about `Suddenly' though it did hint a bit about the direction of the album, with the electronic touches and distortion. Still, `Suddenly' is a great track with one of Anna's best melodies. 'Eliza' follows it up and still, there is nothing particularly new happening, but again, `Eliza' is a stellar song and the climax towards the end is great.

It's only wasn't until I heard the disjointed introduction of `Piece by Piece' that I raised my eyebrows a little, since the live version didn't really hint that it would sound anything like the way it does. It is very focused on electronics, with a driving beat going through it that's almost danceable. Anna could have taken this song in a very poppy direction, but instead she fills it with flourishes of distorted guitar, strange electronic squelches and jagged strings. At this point I realized that this album was going to be something far removed from the debut, and indeed, I'm quite skeptic of certain reviewers who've written the album off of `more of the same.' I wonder if they just listened to Eliza and left it at that?
Next up is `Cry' which I have mixed feelings about. The backing vocals are wonderful, the lyrics are gorgeous, as is Anna's voice as she builds up to the final climax, though I do wish her guitar explosions were a little longer hear, since it gives the song an unfinished feel, though I do suppose it lives up to the theme Anna is going for with the album.

Sing to Me, everyone reading this should know about, and it's placing after the abrupt power surges of `Cry' is well placed. It adds another dimension to album, a very beautiful one I might add, since Sing to Me is one of Anna's most beautiful recordings.

Tristan is a favourite of mine. Anna's lyrics in this one are great, and I'd like to mention that her lyrics, which were quite standard on the debut, are much more interesting and better written hear. I love the power of this track, the distortion of the guitar, Anna's wailing, and live it's even more outstanding! Another loud rocker that I love is `Love of My Life,' which I wrote about briefly yesterday. It is distorted to oblivion, Anna's voice is barely discernible in the great wall of sound, but then suddenly it falls into this quiet part, before another abrupt end that leaves you wanting more. Unlike `Cry' however, `Love of My Life' sounds a lot more complete would I think, make an excellent single.
In between those too guitar based, powerhouse songs sits the title track. Now I was already expecting the sudden change into a string section, but I wasn't expecting it to be that fantastic. I love the build up to it, and I think the lyrics again shine on this track. I'll be very interested to see how this song is performed live. Another song which I'll be interested to hear live is The Bridge, which sounds like entering heaven, with Anna delivering her most sublime vocals to date.

That leaves us with two more tracks, one of which might just be Anna's best. Carry Me Over has so many layers that I could probably go on about it for days. It has that sinister opening, which evolves into a somewhat accessible melody, but rather than take it down that route, Anna experiments again, adding strings, more electronic distortion, some guitar, although it's used much more sparingly here than on the live version. There's also some nice piano work, not to mention Mally's excellent performance on the marimba, something I'd love to see performed live.

The final track is `Bleed Into Me' which does have that brooding intensity of `The Devil' from the debut, but I prefer this by far. It is mostly just Anna and her guitar, which is great of course, and I love the backing vocals and the climax towards the end. It works excellently as a bridge between Carry Me Over and The Bridge.

So overall then, this is pretty much a 5 star album. I can't say there is a single track I have major reservations about, which is something I couldn't say about the debut. I also think that it leaves Anna with a lot of directions in which she can now go. Will the next album develop more into electronica, or will she choose to go down the orchestral road, which both albums have been hinting at. Then of course, there is her guitar, which I'm sure she won't be putting down anytime soon.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2013 6:18 PM BST


Melt Yourself Down
Melt Yourself Down
Price: £6.32

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of 2013 (So Far), 12 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Melt Yourself Down (MP3 Download)
This has got to be one of the best debut albums I've heard so far this year, an certainly the most wild, insane and immensely entertaining. Melt Yourself Down is very hard to pin down genre wise, although it does merge together elements of Jazz, Electronic and Dance Music with a rather middle eastern feel and raw punk energy, all of which make for a particularly fine, not to mention explosive album.

This is certainly true of the first half of the album, where all of the tracks are upbeat, riddled with infectious, danceable hooks, but at the same time these tracks are quite experimental and certainly daring. A lot of them feature very few vocals, which I think works in their favour as vocalist Kushal Gaya seems to work best delivering short bursts of lyrics, roars and yelps rather than dominating the songs, as evidenced in the second half on 'Free Walk' which is rather mellow in comparison to the rest of the album and focuses a lot more on the vocals.

Aside from 'Free Walk' however, every other track on the album is a winner, particularly the singles, 'Fix My Life' and 'Release' but also the very middle eastern feeling 'Kingdom of Kush' and the stunning, riotous finale that is 'Camel.' Over all this is a thoroughly enjoyable, accessible but also unique album and well worth your time.


The Seer
The Seer

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard but Infinitely Rewarding Listen, 29 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Seer (MP3 Download)
I'm not going to lie, listening to this two hour album, start to finish is going to be hard, particularly if you are not used to experimental music and more specifically drone. Much of this album in purely instrumental, with the instruments constantly grooving through a single pounding riff over and over, and on first listen it can seem very over the top and pointless. However, numerous listens are rewarding, as you will notice the subtitles of even the hardest pounding riffs, particularly the tumultuous pounding that kicks in halfway through the half an hour long title track, which is fearfully torturous on first listen.

The vocals on here are pretty sparse but very rewarding. The opening track contains some ritualistic vocals, creating a lot of atmosphere and power right from the off, but when Mother of The World kicks in, it's on a fierce onslaught and the band really kicks into a single droning groove for nearly half the song, with only subtle changes and dark vocal flourishes. This eventually winds down into the albums shortest track, The Wolf, in which Michael Gira delivers a vocal that lives up to the name of the song. It is a wonderful introduction into the title track, which is by far the most challenging, with it's opening of bagpipes, bell chiming and hammered dulcimers basking in chaos until the band start jamming on ever more brutal and droning riffs and grooves.

The Seer is followed by The Seer Returns, another vocal heavy track and certainly one of the albums more accessible songs, at least musically, as the vocals are as usual, dark and sinister. There is also a backing from former member, Jarboe on this song, which is a little subdued, but is a great addition to the rather catchy, or at least enticing groove on which the song runs, which has a rather European, or eastern flavor to it.

After that rather fun track, the onslaught continues with quite possibly the most deranged track on the album, 93. Avenue Blues, which is slowly builds tension throughout, only to be released in furious crashing of drums, guitar and synth at the end. It is then followed by the rather standard, yet eerie The Daughter Brings the Water. Following this, the listener (they they are still listening) is rewarded with one of the albums most beautiful songs, A Song for A Warrior. It is certainly the least experimental, but by no means worst track on here. It is a welcome change, with some great lead vocals from Karen O'.

This doesn't last however, because then Avatar kicks in, quite possibly the weakest in terms of lyrics, though it is followed by more beauty in the track, A Piece of the Sky, featuring a haunting introduction and is truly an unexpected highlight of the album. The track winds up as a rather jaunty song towards the end, sung by both Gira and Jarboe, and acts as a rather mellow, chirpy calm before the deranged storm which is the final track, Apostate. Apostate literally sounds like an Apocalypse; it is scattered and insane, fierce and pulsating, certainly a difficult first listen though it has since become another stand out.

The most strange thing of all is that though this album is two hours long, even on the first listen it didn't feel that way and after multiple listens it has really left me wanting more. This is the first Swans album I have heard and it has made me desperate to explore this bands back catalog to see what else they have created.


The Tribe - Season 5 [DVD]
The Tribe - Season 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ The Tribe
Offered by filmrollen
Price: £33.76

2.0 out of 5 stars The Worst of the Lot, 29 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Tribe - Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
I really had to work to get enjoyment out of this series, as there were so many things I disliked right from the beginning. Tai San's return at the end of series four was great, yet she just vanished again; Dee and Patch's departure was ludicrous; Pride was killed off in a very rushed way and Salene returned for most of the series, into a pathetic sap again. The only character with any sense in this series was Mouse, who left the city behind to go live with the Eco's.

Nevertheless, there are still a few endearing qualities to this series. The plot with Mega is certainly more interesting and engaging than in series four, and we also have the return of Jack and Ellie, which is certainly welcome. Unfortunately, the new arrivals in this series are quite unremarkable and don't really seem to fit properly into the show, particularly those in Liberty, although at least Ram's presence there made things interesting. Unfortunately, much of this series felt very dragged out and the plots were kind of recycled. The love triangles involving Jay were irritating and made him unbelievable, Ebony's constant scheming (except when she was brainwashed) a continued annoyance, and then there's the end of the series itself.

Much like it has been since the climax of season three, the tribe builds up great endings, but doesn't live up to it, in this case, the show was cancelled. It is a shame because we saw the return of KC, Alice and The Guardian, plus it was hinted that Tai San, Bray and several other mallrats were still alive. Unfortunately we never got to see what life was like beyond the mallrats beyond the city, which is a great shame and undeserving end of an otherwise excellent show.


The Tribe - Season 4 [DVD]
The Tribe - Season 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ The Tribe

3.0 out of 5 stars Not too bad, but not great either., 29 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Tribe - Season 4 [DVD] (DVD)
There were several things about this series of the tribe that I did enjoy, but there was also much that I didn't. We shall begin with the positives. The return of Salene (albeit without Ryan) and her development from a rather wet character, into a very strong willed leader of the mallrats alongside Pride. They had a wonderful run in this series and were one of my main reasons for continuing to watch. The dynamic between Ebony and her sisters was also interesting, and Ram was a nice (more fun) change from the Guardian, although the whole idea of the technos is rather far fetched, even for the tribe.

In my review of the first series, I mentioned that the tribe is a show that requires much suspension of belief. I was able to do that for the first three series, but at this point it became too much. Children flying planes? The lazer zappers and being 'deleted' the disappearances of even more characters? It all became too much. In this series, nearly half of the original cast is gone in the very first episode, with Jack leaving again soon after, then the departure of Ellie and Cloe (who mysteriously vanishes like so many others).

It is a great shame because the climax at the end of series three was great, but the execution in this series just doesn't live up to it in any way. Still, it isn't entirely unwatchable and there are some good additions to the cast. It is also unfortunate that series five got even worse.


The Tribe - Series 3 [DVD]
The Tribe - Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Caleb Ross

5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Great Series., 29 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Tribe - Series 3 [DVD] (DVD)
It is sad that after series three, the tribe seemed to descend into shear absurdity. But for now, let's focus on this great series, which sees the return of Amber, but sadly the departures of many loved characters. The departures of certain characters are kind of irritating, considering that some are in one episode and then suddenly disappear without explanation, leading you into thinking you've missed something. Fortunately, several of these characters do return later in the series and some, like Ryan are at least given the possibility of a return.

The plot continues on from the second series, with the chosen now taken over the city and the mallrats split into two groups, Bray, Lex and Ebony, and the other mallrats trapped within the mall. The traps mallrats also begin to divide as some are killed, taken away or sell out to the chosen. All of this creates a lot of tension within the series and again, adds to its complexity and character development. Even the guardian becomes a much more interesting and flawed character as the season progresses, particularly after his downfall.

The second half of the series starts with the mallrats attempting to restore order to the city, while ebony secretly plots behind their backs. There is also the problem of what to do with the guardian and the kidnap of Trudy and Amber by Ned. By the end of the season, the mallrats are once again in turmoil and there are planes flying overhead, signalling the end of such a great series.

Much like the first and second series, if you enjoyed them then this should also prove enjoyable. The cast changes are certainly annoying, but at least hear they were backed by an engaging (somewhat believable) plot and perhaps even some above average acting from certain cast regulars.


The Tribe - Series 2 [DVD]
The Tribe - Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Caleb Ross

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Installment, 29 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Tribe - Series 2 [DVD] (DVD)
Series Two of the tribe really lived up to the first series, although with a few changes. Most importantly, two characters (Amber and Zandra) are lost right at the beginning and unfortunately that leaves Danni, as an inferior replacement for Amber. This is a shame because they could have added a new dynamic, but Danni was pretty faceless, which is why when Amber returned Danni was quickly written out.

Aside from this however, the second series really develops from the first, introducing a new tribe (the chosen) and also giving a little backstory to Bray, Ebony, Trudy, The Guardian, Zoot, Lex and Ryan, before the virus began. There are also some excellent new characters like Alice, Ellie and May, who are welcome additions to the cast. There is also a betrayal from one of the tribe members, and towards the end of the series, the Mallrats are very divided, the exact opposite of how they were in the first series.

All in all if you are a fan of series one, you will probably enjoy this more as it only builds on everything else, adding depth and complexity to the characters and the ever interesting storylines.


The Tribe - Series 1 [DVD]
The Tribe - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Beth Allen

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Series, 29 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Tribe - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
I think the first series will always be my favorite when it comes to the tribe. Yes the acting leaves a lot to be desired, there is an irksome musical score and you do have to suspend your belief a lot, but somehow it all works. After all it's just a childrens show and doesn't take itself too seriously, so it's pleasant enough to watch. It also touches on serious issues with great subtlety, in a way that many shows targeted at children would never do today. These issues involve sex, underage pregnancy, death, attempted suicide and eating disorders amongst others.

The first series of the tribe also has a great dynamic with the characters and cast, the mallrats have a very close bond in this series and it feels like a unit, which the viewer feels a part of. This sense is fragmented a lot in later series, but here it is very strong. So if you can look past the surface annoyances of the show, you will probably find a classic and enjoyable series, certainly one of the best children shows of all time.


Silence Yourself
Silence Yourself
Price: £7.99

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Stunning, 7 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Silence Yourself (MP3 Download)
This is a fantastic debut album and it's great to hear from a band with such ferocious passion in an age where most artists seem rather indifferent to what they are doing. Silence Yourself even has the band's manifesto written on the covers and its message couldn't be anymore relevant in our age of constant distractions and babbling.

So they have the substance and thankfully, the talent to match it. Savages built their reputation on their ferocious live performances and it is only a minor quibble that the album doesn't live up to that. But again, bands that are stronger live than on album are another rarity and this album is excellently put together.

You can hear right away the influences behind the Savages music, but Jehnny Beth's wail is out of this world, completely original and surprisingly diverse; she has an excellent way of phrasing words that really separates her from the herd. For the most part she uses her voice like the music behind her, to confront the listener, to demand them to hear what she has to say, which brings me onto the lyrics, which are quite excellent and biting.

For the most part, the album does have a unified sound, which is deliberately confrontational and sparse, with no fancy showmanship to detract from the band's message. Most of the songs are lean, harsh, some, like Strife and Hit Me, even suggest an almost metal-head influence behind the band, which isn't that hard to believe. But even this album has its moodier pieces, the first coming right in the middle of the album with Waiting For A Sign and the Instrumental, Dead Nature. It is a very sudden change of pace and while Dead Nature is pretty meandering, it gives the listener a breath before they continue with the onslaught with She Will, rounding up the album with their best tracks, like Hit Me and the Patti-Smith esque, Husbands, particularly when Jehnny Beth repeats the title.

The album ends on another moodier piece, the Gothic Torch song Marshal Dear, whose outro includes a sudden outburst of Clarinet. It is a peculiar choice but it works and hints that the Savages can be a little experimental should they choose to be.

Overall this is a worthwhile album and strong contender for best debut of the year. The Savages show excellent promise and hopefully they will only improve.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2013 7:46 PM BST


The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a Little Overrated?, 17 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When something is bombarded with praise it raises expectations so high that it is impossible for that something to live up to it. This is the problem with Ziggy Stardust.

Nevertheless it does have a great cohesion as an album and boasts some of Bowie's greatest tracks, such as the classic 'Starman,' which let's face it is worth the price of the album on it's own. We also have other greats like Sufferagette City, Rock and Roll Suicide and the blissful, 'Five Years' which opens the album and certainly lives up to the hype. Unfortunately, the moment 'Soul Love' began I felt a twinge of disappointment in my gut.

Unfortunately also is the fact that 'Soul Love' isn't alone in being a weaker track, as we also have 'It Ain't Easy,' and 'Hang On To Yourself' that latter track sounds like a carbon copy of 'Queen Bitch' from Bowie's previous album and it's that lack of originality that brings it down.

In fact that is something that also lets the entire album down. Ziggy Stardust is not in this writers eyes the ultimate Glam Rock album, for that try T-Rex or Roxy Music, the original pioneers of the genre. Ziggy Stardust excels in commercializing the Glam Rock sound but it does little in the way of experimentation, something Roxy Music certainly excelled at in their early days.

Overall then this is without doubt a solid album and well worth a purchase. However, it is a little over-hyped by many which has sadly tarnished its legacy somewhat, although nothing will tarnish the legacy of songs like 'Starman,' 'Five Years,' the two Stardust tracks and the closing 'Rock and Roll Suicide.'


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