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dave_sanction@yahoo.com (London, UK)

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A Word In Your Ear
A Word In Your Ear
Price: 6.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Magical B-side, 6 April 2002
This review is from: A Word In Your Ear (Audio CD)
On the basis of only two songs it is difficult to reach any firm conclusions... “Pink Lemonade” is fantastic. Lee Gorton, despite sounding not unlike a nauseous leprechaun, has a strangely pleasant voice. His bandmates offer simple and pretty harmonies. A violin and a cello exchange glances in the background, and suddenly at about two minutes into the song, this fantastic noise appears from nowhere; instantly creating the sensation of being in Alice in Wonderland and being eaten by a inverted trombone.
The A-side isn’t as utterly charming but is still an attractive slice of psychedelic folk music. “A Word in Your Ear” is a little repetitive and perhaps a minute overlong but still shows signs of Alfie’s promise. The album should be very interesting.


Mr Crow [CD 1]
Mr Crow [CD 1]
Offered by CDandVinyl
Price: 1.58

4.0 out of 5 stars I'll worship at the Church of Simian anytime!, 6 April 2002
This review is from: Mr Crow [CD 1] (Audio CD)
CDs 1 and 2 both reviewed together.
I’ll presume the bizarre mutant freak creature on the cover of this single is Mr. Crow himself; a terrorfying part-bird, part-bull mutilation who has seemingly inspired this snippy slice of psychedelic pop. At first I found ‘Mr. Crow’ slightly annoying, since at its heart lies a simple two-and-a-half minute pop song with little variation and predicable drug lyrics; “Hey, Mr. Crow. Why are you always stoned?” But with further listens the little stylistic eccentricities that make this song so hypnotic and re-listenable become more apparent. Perhaps a reasonable point of comparison are the Elephant 6 bands, particularly The Olivia Tremor Control, combining a sense of classic 1960s melodicism with modern music technology and innovative production.
The five B-sides are even more entertaining, becoming increasingly odd before reaching the climax of the quasi-religious “Societa”, which is more than likely a product of one of the band’s infamous Church of Simian secret sermons. “Something New” is an acoustic-led melody that dissolves and soon solidifies again in a cauldron of playful electronica, and “Queen May” is the pick of the bunch, beautifully inventive and a finale that is, like, totally monged.


To Hell With Good Intentions
To Hell With Good Intentions
Offered by cd_lp
Price: 3.64

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars McLusky is quite good., 6 April 2002
Let me introduce you to four young men that you should probably get to know.
Mr. Harding plays the drums. He relentlessly smashes those drumskins with a ruthless pulsation, jarring the entire infrastructure of his instrument to the extent that the cymbals are left quivering like the National Health Service.
Mr. Chapple plays the bass. He is the pulse of McLusky; the lines down the centre of their highway, using his skinny fingers to expertly select the best combination of the four different strings available on his instrument. He knows his bass is merely fodder for Mr. Falkous’ riotous guitar playing, but the band just wouldn’t sound the same without him.
And what can be said about Mr Falkous that hasn’t already been said a thousand times? He shafts his hands up and down the fret board, goofing off punk at top whack, shouting “JIMMY CONNORS” over and over again in “The Habit That Kicks Itself” (shouting “IVAN LENDL” just would not sound as good, y’see)
Harding, Chapple and Falkous are McLusky, and McLusky rock something like Fugazi. The forth man, incidentally, is the producer Mr. Albini. He plays in the rock band Shellac of North America, and sells his soul producing crap like Bush, yet still retains the artistic integrity to be offered the job of curating this year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties. And the summary is: “To Hell with Good intentions” is quite good.


Too Late To Die Young
Too Late To Die Young
Price: 7.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable record from Nashville's greatest British band., 6 April 2002
This review is from: Too Late To Die Young (Audio CD)
Departure Lounge are clearly ambitious, with four members playing nineteen different instruments between them, and attempting various different musical styles on their sophomore effort “Too late to Die Young”. And despite their eclectic ambitions, they have still managed to produce an entertaining album that isn’t too lacking in coherence.
It is a shame that this record is being released on the wrong side of Valentine’s Day since “I Love You” is perfect for the occasion. Singer Tim Keegan’s romantic lyrics are spread liberally over a fog of charmingly dissonant piano and accompanied by spacious “ooohs” from his band members. As the bass and drums thrust themselves into the mix, Keegan’s celebratory vocals are suitably escorted by an ascension of trumpet and the occasional burst of flute.
The centrepiece of the record is the cinematic, DJ Shadow inspired instrumental “Tubular Belgians in my Goldfield”, which effortlessly morphs into “Be Good to Yourself”, a jam session built upon layers of jazz piano and fiery trumpeting. A female guest vocalist is introduced in “Over the Side”, which reminds me of Nick Cave’s “Death is not the end” every time I listen to it, although Keegan’s lyrics appear to be an exultation of life rather than of murder. The forthcoming single “King Kong Frown” is fast and funky and features bebop trumpets, but is a little predictable and not one of the better songs on the album. “Alone again, and” (title possibly inspired by Love’s classic “Alone again or”) sees Keegan’s underused falsetto efficiently employed; and the opening bar of the hugely catchy “What You Have is Good” makes for the most inviting start to a song I’ve heard in ages. The band clearly had a good time making this album and you will have a good time listening to it.


Spoonface
Spoonface
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 12.96

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concave floundering - nice., 6 April 2002
This review is from: Spoonface (Audio CD)
The cynical voices can be heard for miles. “Spoonface?!? That’s a ridiculous title!” And perhaps they have a point. However, conduct this simple science experiment and the true meaning of the title will be revealed. Stare at your reflection in a moving spoon. One minute you look like a rugby ball, the next minute a hot dog. Now think of the spoon as a physical manifestation of the music. From one angle you hear a series of fragile and emotional Jeff Buckleyesque vocal performances. Move the spoon to the other side of your face and you’re confronted with harsh and abrasive minimalist electronica. The changing reflection on the ‘spoonface’ must represent musical ecleticism. Genius! And then you realise that your bold experimentation was a complete waste of time because in the gorgeous title track Ben is sprouting absolute guff about a “Spoonface Jesus spitting rhythms.” Huh??
Nonetheless, Christophers’ debut album ‘My Beautiful Demon’ made for compulsive listening, his gentle acoustic guitar songs were accompanied by the slightest and eeriest of beats. Whilst much of ‘Spoonface’ covers similar ground it is a more varied effort. ‘Transatlantic Shooting Stars’ and ‘Leaving My Sorrows Behind’ are catchy mid-tempo pop songs and the stand-out ‘Hooded Kiss’ features lush cyclical guitar rhythms, swampy basslines and a great tune to boot. Christophers has a fantastic voice although it is probably better suited to the slower songs in which he is given more space to demonstrate his vocal ability. All in all, possibly the most concave record of the year.


The Ugly People Vs The Beautiful People
The Ugly People Vs The Beautiful People
Price: 8.91

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Varied, surprising, exciting., 6 April 2002
The sheer audacity of this band.... The wonderful piano-led ‘Top Breed’ is sneakily hidden behind the first song ensuring that people who don’t think of rewinding the CD from the start will miss it completely. This buried opener bleeds neatly into ‘Drug’, an engaging love song in which singer/songwriter John Grant proves his rock star credentials by informing the listener that a particular aspect of his relationship “is not ecstasy, but is better than cocaine.”
The Czars are a five piece band hailing from Denver, whose last album “Before...but longer” was critically acclaimed although commercially largely neglected. On the band’s sophomore effort Grant produces a stunning vocal performance; tortured, bittersweet and angelic, drawing comparisons to Tim Buckley, Mark Eitzel and Stephen Merritt.
‘Killjoy’ boasts the band’s musical diversity. Opening with a slightly distorted harmonica and a playful trumpet, this pop song soon finds itself in Grandaddy territory with toy electronica similar to that of “The Crystal Lake”, and culminates in High Llamas style melodies whilst Tarnation’s Paula Frazer lends an elegant and operatic backing vocal. The gorgeous ‘Anger’ contains hints of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Lilac Wine’ whilst ‘Black and Blue’, with its exquisite scattered piano and pedal steel suggests a country influence. The album ends with ‘Catherine’, an upbeat piece of vintage Californian psychdelic pop defined by Grant’s Magnetic Fields style crooning. Paula Frazer adds wonderful backing vocals alongside meandering guitars and singalong harmonies whilst the pedal steel countrifies and consolidates in the background. It comes as no surprise that Denver is located about halfway between San Francisco and Nashville. A splendid album full of surprises.


Holes In The Wall
Holes In The Wall
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: 5.05

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite good. But overrated., 6 April 2002
This review is from: Holes In The Wall (Audio CD)
Previously simply known as The Soft Parade, brothers Tom and Alex White were forced to add the word ‘electric’ to their name. Having experienced the harsh realities of the music industry whilst still in their teens, one hopes these young men are able to keep their feet on the ground despite being tagged as the ‘Ones to Watch in 2002’ by the terminally declining NME.
The album’s opening track 'Start Again' recalls 'Alternate Route to Vulcan Street' by the Super Furries, and at a stretch some of the guitar and production work is reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine’s 'Loveless' album. The third track, 'There’s a Silence', bears all the marks of a minor indie anthem, but ultimately sounds like something we’ve all heard many times before. The album’s nine minute centrepiece, 'Silent to the Dark', could have been the pillar that holds this record together, but it is overlong and does little to maintain interest.
The second half of the record is weaker than the first. 'Why Do You Try So Hard To Hate Me' is angsty teenage stuff and entirely disposable. The title track is inoffensive but lacklustre and the closing song, 'Red Balloon for Me', attempts to round off the record with some style but is dogged by lame vocals. 'Holes is the Wall’is by no means a bad record but it is lacking in substance and innovation.


Balling The Jack
Balling The Jack
Offered by para-dise
Price: 3.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bring in the Nu!, 6 April 2002
This review is from: Balling The Jack (Audio CD)
Balling the Jack - The Birth of the Nu-Blues (Ocho Records)
Enough with the old! Bring in the Nu! Or should we? We have already suffered the festering putrefaction of “nu-metal” (Slipknot, Korn), along with the “nu-ass” movement (Jail B8, R Kelly), so for what possible reason would anybody want to listen to over an hour of the “nu-blues”?
Well, for a start the CD is accompanied by an extremely informative booklet in which the rise of this loosely connected movement is carefully charted by the album compiler Joe Cushley. He explains how despite it being a creation of their people, there has been a general lack of interest in blues music amongst African-Americans since the 1950s. Soul, funk, jazz, and more recently rap and hip-hop, became more popular than a type of music that was “tarnished by its association with slave days... an old fashioned, backwoods beat played on the porch or in sleazy drinking dens.”
Therefore, the cause of the revival of the genre is perhaps best represented on this record by the songs that successfully combine the techniques, and the feel, of “old-blues” with elements of hip-hop, rock and dance. Chris Thomas King’s “Mississippi KKKrossroads” is gangster rap meets mythological blues for the cause of civil rights. Elsewhere on the record, the going is eclectic, with artists as diverse as Moby, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, The Soft Boys and Diamanda Galas appearing. The tracks offered by the men singled out by Cushley as the innovators of “Caucasian nu-blues”, Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, offer particularly gutsy performances. The contributions by R.L Burnside, Petit Vodo and Bob Logg III also standout amongst the pack. Let’s bring in the Nu!


Sociological Imagination
Sociological Imagination
by C. Wright Mills
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perscription for all, 27 Nov 2001
Wright Mills perscribes the Sociological Imagination as the way for his discipline to emerge from its chin-stroking inaction. This re-engagement with the world of problems, versus abstract intellectualism, would effectively rerender the Sociologist as an "intellectual craftsman" - subject to no alterior orthodoxy than those of his own choosing. In doing so sociologists would articulate what Mills conceives as the next necessary challenge for effective democracy- to help the "masses" liberate themselves from the invisable fetters of mass society. It is a bold assertion of intellectual autonomy, acutely and passionately aware of the threat to reason and freedom posed by power-blind social analysis - a concern still valid some fifty years after the supposed "End of Ideology".


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