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Mr. D Burin

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Born in a Barn - with Simon Armitage
Born in a Barn - with Simon Armitage
Offered by Vinyl Tap Limited
Price: £11.09

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They've made an excellent record (in my eyes), 29 May 2012
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The musical project of acclaimed poet Simon Armitage, and guitarist Craig Smith, The Scaremongers first full-length release is a catchy, witty and surprisingly accessible set of songs. Opener 'You Can Do Nothing Wrong (In My Eyes)', a bantering love song, with back and forth boy-girl vocals, and superb lyrics; "the day you laugh/I'll frame it in a photograph" is definitely the album's best song, but it is far from being a flash in the pan. This relatively varied album, throws up the bright vocals and thundering drums of the excellent 'Tea Leaves', and the perceptive tale of a local lad changed by his university education, in 'Grouse Beaters Boy's Club', amongst others. Armitage and Smith also throw the gentle electro pop of 'Porch', and the glassy-eyed shoegazing of 'From the Shorelines of Venus' into the mix, both of which indicate that this is a band comfortable with branching out into other styles, and whom generally seem able to keep their knack for impressive melodies, and yearning vocals, amidst these differing styles; even if neither of these two songs number amongst the album's finest tracks.

That's not to say that 'Born in a Barn' is without its faults. Whilst Armitage's lyricy is generally wry and impressive, such as on 'Nodding Dog', as the song's narrator bears his frailties; he does sometimes try to cram too many academic references and humorous asides into the songs, meaning that on a few occasions on 'Born in a Barn', the words begin to trip up, amidst the catchy, tight melodies of most of the songs - a criticism I would particularly level at 'From the Shorelines of Venus'. There's also a little bit of filler on the album; notably the repetitive 'Less is More', and the overly-Smiths-esque 'Legendary'. Still, these flaws do not take too much away from the quality of what is an excellent pop/rock album, one with expertly penned romantic calls to arms, 'You Can Do Nothing Wrong (In My Eyes)', accomplished musicianship, and a frontman who tends to write his lyrics with a tongue-in-cheek perceptiveness, more often than not. Definitely recommended.


Boston's Boy
Boston's Boy
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £17.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A real talent; but frustrating and patchy, 28 May 2012
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This review is from: Boston's Boy (Audio CD)
Since his first released track, 'I Hate College (Remix)', a parody of Asher Roth's 'I Love College', there has been little dispute over Sam Adams quality as a rapper. His flow is smooth, the beats he chooses often excellent, and 'I Hate College (Remix)' proved that Adams had a dextrous way with words. The problem is, that 'Boston's Boy' seems far too stretched as an album. There are a number of tracks which are more killer-than-filler, a lack of variety both in style and the subject matter of the tracks, and little of the freshness which made his arrival on the scene seem so promising. The best parts of 'Boston's Boy' should have been put onto an EP, and the rest either improved or discarded. As it is, we've got an album. That's not to say it's all bad, mind. 'You Girl' is excellent; a sparkling, electro-tinged, beat-heavy number, with some of the album's best lyrics. 'Swang' is a dirty, dancefloor filler, with a catchy as hell refrain, and 'Coast 2 Coast' is a fun paean to the touring life.

Elsewhere, though, things are rather one-dimensional. Every track begins with Sammy shouting his own name, and a number consist of lazy boasts about his status as a ladies man, and gripes about his education, whilst he tells us that a girl with a boyfriend is no obstacle. It's not particularly bad, it's just boring. Quite a lot of the songs on 'Boston's Boy' sound like they could be by pretty much any current, average rapper, and that's probably the most disappointing thing about the album. On the infectious, superb 'Driving Me Crazy', with its flittering beat and cheeky lyrics, Sammy shows us why he's got the skills to be one of the best East coast rappers of recent years. It's just a real disappointment that it seems to be only in fleeting moments that he shows this, on 'Boston's Boy'


What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? [Explicit]
What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? [Explicit]
Price: £3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the UK's brightest indie bands, 21 May 2012
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Whilst there's nothing particularly original or innovative about The Vaccines, there are few British indie bands playing currently, who have a better ear for a catchy, rocky melody and whose lyrics are more in keeping with the present day, than The Vaccines. 'What Did You Expect From The Vaccines' was met with mostly excellent reviews upon its release, and the only real criticisms of the album came in focusing on its relatively generic sound; though it's a qualm easy to forget when the songs on show are as catchy as the tale of falling in love with a teenage girl, in 'Norgaard', the almost grungy drive of 'Post Break-Up Sex'; and even slower, more restrained numbers, such as 'All In White'. The band can also play fairly well, and whilst the album is primarily made up of fast drumming and driving riffs, there's a decent amount of variety on show; and frontman Justin Young's charismatic vocals also help to set The Vaccines apart from the pack. This is an album unlikely to change anyone's view of music, nor does it bring anything vastly new to the table; but it doesn't pretend to - and if what you're looking for is 12 great indie rock songs, full of memorable hooks and clever one-liners, then you won't go far wrong with 'What Did You Expect...'.


Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby?
Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby?

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some things to love, but very inconsistent, 11 May 2012
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A rare release of a European artist from the excellent Mr. Bongo label, Doris' 'Did You Give the World Some Love Today, Baby?' was released on EMI/Odeon in 1970, and included a host of talented session musicians, and quite fittingly for a Swedish artist, closed out with a cover of Harry Nillson's 'Bath'. 'Did You Give...' is an interesting album, to say the least. Though the most common comparison is Dusty Springfield, Doris' style veers between the almost hard-rock growl of the title track, the irritatingly cutesy vocals of the preposterously bad 'Won't You Take Me to the Theatre', and the catchy, soulful voice she gives us for 'Don't' (a song which reaches almost Aretha Franklin levels of funky). This is also a diverse album, both for better and for worse. Ill-fitting folky guitar strumming appears on the odd 'Waiting at the Station', as Doris complains of hard labour for a crime she hasn't committed, yet elsewhere, the harmonies are top rate, such as with the gorgeous, restrained, lilting piano which holds up the gentle, yearning 'Grey Rain of Sweden'.

It's hard to know how to rate the album, because it is very hit and miss. Equally, whilst the virtuoso music of Doris' backing band shines through at times, elsewhere the music sounds dated and one or two moments on the album are really quite naff. If female soul singers are your thing, then Doris' 'Did You Give...' will probably provide you with a record that intrigues, and delivers, with a handful of top-quality songs. But for the casual listener, there is too much in the way of twee melodies, oddly childlike vocals and slightly misplaced jazzy riffing for this to be the top quality, soul-filled album that tracks like 'Don't', and the catchy, cabaret-esque 'Bath' would suggest.


From Africa With Fury: Rise
From Africa With Fury: Rise
Price: £6.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Celebrating African music, criticising African leaders, 11 May 2012
Seun Kuti (the son of the illustrious Fela Kuti) teams up again for his second album with Africa 80, with the result being the funky, politically interested and infectiously catchy 'From Afica with Fury: Rise'. The album contains of seven songs, all of which bring in a range of instruments, from the delightful brass section to tribal drums and beyond; all fronted by Kuti's harsh, but fitting voice, for 46 minutes of political anger. The album's key theme is the injustice of Africa, from the call-to-arms against injustice of 'Rise', to the criticism of endemic corruption in 'Mr. Big Thief'. The lyrics are bold, and generally well-aimed, though there's nothing here in the political outcries and outrage which hasn't been done before in African music. And that's true of the album as a whole. There's not a bad track on 'From Africa with Fury: Rise', but there's nothing particularly innovative or oustanding amidst these jams. The beats and rhythm provided by Africa 80 are consistently good, and there are a few standout tracks, namely closer 'The Good Leaf' and 'Rise', but neither departs from the album's sound, which both musically and lyrically, has a tendency towards a repetition which can be a little irritating as often as it is hypnotic. That said, there's still little doubt 'From Africa with Fury: Rise' is an album which will disappoint listeners. There's enough meaty tunes, topical lyrics on the condition of Africa, and affecting, angered vocals here to make this a worthwhile purchase for anyone keen on world music, but a bit of a lack of variety, and a handful of tracks being repetitive and dull in places, stops it from being quite as fine a record as it could have been.


Raditude (International Version)
Raditude (International Version)
Price: £7.39

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not rad, but not bad, 8 May 2012
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After 'The Red Album' provided a return to form for the band who had released the frankly awful 'Make Believe', hopes for 'Raditude' were fairly high. Quality wise, it's somewhere between the two. There's nothing particularly great about 'Raditude', but nor (barring the hilariously bad Lil' Jon collaboration 'Can't Stop Partying') is there anything dreadful about it. This is a set of 12 catchy and likeable enough tunes, all of which sound pretty similar; filled with pleasantly breezy, poppy melodies; but nothing original or well-wrought enough to really set any of the tracks here out as a Weezer classic. Things kick off with the album's lead single, the upbeat, jerky 'If You're Wondering if I Want You To (I Want You To)', which has generally been regarded as the album's best song, and onto the slightly-too-cheesy but infectious 'I'm Your Daddy', and the AM-radio pop swagger of 'The Girl Got Hot'. The album's best two tracks, in my opinion are 'Let It All Hang Out' and 'In The Mall', but the album ends on a slightly sour note with the brattish, sneering 'Turn Me Round', where Cuomo moans about a girl he doesn't want who just won't leave him alone, to a generic, Green-Day-ish pop-punk tune. It feels rather a long way from 'Pinkerton'.

'Raditude' isn't really a record that will change anyone's opinion of Weezer, let alone change their lives. Latter-day Weezer fans will find enough here to like, and 'Raditude' is certainly pleasant enough on the ears. Old-school fans of the band will probably, and with fair reason, be disappointed that the band still seem incapable of channeling the kind of gleeful surf-rock sounds of 'The Blue Album' or the moving, introspective lyricy of 'Pinkerton'. Thankfully Weezer seem to have abandoned their bid for commercial success at the expense of their reputation, as they did on the dreadful 'Make Believe', but 'Raditude' is still some way short of reminding listeners why Weezer were one of the best and most relevant bands of the 90s. 'Raditude' is the kind of record one casually likes, but not the kind of record one loves.


Breaking God's Heart
Breaking God's Heart
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began, 7 May 2012
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The first of Hefner's four studio albums, 'Breaking God's Heart' is perhaps their most downbeat and introspective release. As a record, it also sounds rawer and less produced than 'The Fidelity Wars' and other later releases; with its restrained guitars, dirty synths and even an organ combining to create a sound that is both pared-back and fits well with Hayman's private, often deeply sexual lyrics. That's not to say that 'Breaking God's Heart' is a difficult listen, or inaccessible. This is an album filled with lovelorn laments, from the heartbreaking tale of a lonely, cuckolded husband ('Tactile') to the search for validation through sex ('Another Better Friend'), and the universal need for love ('Love Inside the Stud Farm' - told from the perspective of, well, a horse). 'Breaking God's Heart' also sounds remarkably fresh and relevant, almost 15 years after its original release; and this is primarily down to Hayman's songwriting. His voice is, admittedly, limited and rather tuneless; but the exhausted, saddened emotion he puts into his vocals on most of these songs, along with the splendid lyrical tales of love won, searched for (and more often than not) lost, means that the album has a timeless, moving quality. The album doesn't rock like certain tracks on 'The Fidelity Wars', for example, do. This means that the band never really get a chance to display the talent for a noisier, rockier and messier sound which they would achieve on some later recordings. Equally, the thing 'Breaking God's Heart' lacks, really, is variety. Each song on the album, in and of itself, is excellent - but to listen to as a whole, it can become almost a little dull. There's no change of pace in tempo, no real diversions in musical style, and no songs which preoccupy themselves with anything other than sex.

This re-release, commissioned by Darren Hayman in 2007, provides a wealth of extra music. For casual Hefner fans, there'll probably be more here than you want - but despite the fairly hefty price tag of the album, you do get a lot of Hef for your money. The quality of these songs is generally good, though mixed. The inclusion of the earlier 'Hefner Soul EP', for example, provides a few really good songs, such as the creepy-but-sexy 'The Girl from the Coast', and a few excellent songs off single releases, such as 'Lee Remick' and 'Christian Girls'. There are a few cringeworthy tracks which should probably have been left in the vaults, like the twee 'Normal Molly', but these are outweighed by the general quality of these additional songs; and the opportunity of seeing how Hefner progressed their sound from the singles and EP, to their first full length release. There's even a few anomalies in here which will interest Hefner curious, including alternate (4-track) recordings of a few tracks from the album itself, and even a cover of Galaxie 500's 'Oblivious' (no, I didn't see it coming either). 'Breaking God's Heart' may not quite be Hefner's best album, but it's certainly got enough heart, perceptive and poignant lyricy, and additional gems to make this bumper release worth a go. You'll regret it if you don't.


Pinkerton
Pinkerton
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark days make for superb songs, 7 May 2012
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This review is from: Pinkerton (MP3 Download)
Now considered by many fans and critics alike to be the high-water mark of Weeer's musical career, 'Pinkerton' was met with a lukewarm response upon release, due to the deeply personal nature of many of Cuomo's songs, the emotive vocals, and the darker, heavier sound of the album, which was a notable departure from the sunny, often surf-rock influenced melodies of 'The Blue Album'. Listening through the album for what must be the hundreth time, it's hard to find anything bad to say about 'Pinkerton'. The album has a wealth of absolutely brilliant songs, from the troubled laments of 'Why Bother?' and 'Pink Triangle' to the perfectly pitched scared-but-horny, punkish rock of 'Falling For You' and 'Across the Sea'. The lyrics feel both personal and relevant, the music is tight, powerful and memorable and everything falls perfectly into place for the quiet, restrained closer that is 'Butterfly'. As others have said, 'Pinkerton' isn't an album which reveals its brilliance on first listen. In both music and mood, it's markedly different to any other Weezer release, meaning the first few listens, whilst enjoyable, are a bit of an acclimatising period. For fans of later Weezer, looking to discover their earlier work, you'll likely be surprised and rewarded by the depth and harsh beauty of 'Pinkerton', and for those just looking for an honest, inventive alternative rock record; this is it. If I had to choose one album to listen for the rest of my life, I'd struggle to find anything more worthwhile and continually inspiring than this album.


Weezer (International (UK Only) Version)
Weezer (International (UK Only) Version)
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The grass is still green, 4 May 2012
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Weezer's 'The Green Album' was unfairly written off by a significant minority of both critics and fans upon release, due to its departure from its predecessor, the edgy, brutally honest and heavier-sounding 'Pinkerton'. There's little argument that 'Pinkerton' lyrically and musically is a more complex and engaging record, but that should take nothing away from the fact that Weezer's long-awaited follow up to that album is a likeable, infectiously catchy album full of singalong melodies and witty, self-deprecating, and warmly sentimental lyricy. Admittedly there is less of Rivers Cuomo's personality in these songs, which will initially strike listeners as more generic and less diverse than those of the band's two prior releases. To Weezer's credit, though; despite a bit of a lack of variety on the record, there is still a wealth of excellent tracks on the album - from the laid-back, dreamy strum of 'Island in the Sun' to the claustrophobic, grungy rock of 'Hash Pipe' and the shamelessly sentimental and worryingly catchy, romance-driven 'Smile'.

In truth, there's not a poor song on the album, though the rigid structure of some of the tracks stops them from reaching the gleeful, often unique-sounding experimentation of tracks such as 'Undone - The Sweater Song' and 'The Good Life'. This, again, is forgivable considering that the album includes such timeless power-pop songs as 'Photograph', 'Knock-down Drag-out' and 'O Girlfriend'. For Weezer fans who loved their first two albums, 'The Green Album' might initially disappoint a little, but it's a grower, and I've found it one of the most cheering and tuneful albums I've heard. For those more familiar with latter-day Weezer, the style of 'The Green Album' will likely be more familiar, and as a whole it's definitely more consistent and less irritatingly teen-angsty than parts of both 'The Red Album' and 'Hurley'. Definitely reccomended.


Liza Of Lambeth (Vintage Classics)
Liza Of Lambeth (Vintage Classics)
by W. Somerset Maugham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liza's love in London, 29 April 2012
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A tale of adulterous love between a feisty, fun-loving young woman and a charming but rough, married man, is the focus of W. Somerset Maugham's debut novel, the engaging 'Liza of Lambeth'. Maugham's novel is a cautionary tale of sorts, with his titular character Liza seeming to turn down the affections of her adoring suitor Tom, for the ruggedly enticing Jim Blakeston; an experienced, older man new to the area. The normally carefree Liza soon finds herself in over her head with the burgeoning relationship with Jim, in a novel which expertly balances the natural comedy and bitter sadness of the lives of the poor in the capital. Maugham's prose is excellent here, especially for that of a debuting writer, and both the novel's romantic elements and its strains of tension are handled with a surprising maturity and honest unsentimentality. Liza's complex relationship with the simple but devoted Tom is perhaps the novel's most impressive facet, and hints at the excellent analysis of human relationships which Maugham honed and developed in later novels such as 'Of Human Bondage'. The novel's central characters, such as Tom, Liza and Blakeston are all excellently written; but Maugham shows a little too much desire to dip into caricature, for example in the figure of Liza's selfish mother, Mrs. Kemp.

The novel's main flaw is its dialogue. Like Dickens in 'Hard Times', Maugham tries to evoke a working-class dialect in his novel; and fails. The phrases used by the central characters are often almost embarrassingly hackneyed, and annoyingly repetitive. Still, this can be forgiven considering how deftly Maugham writes some of the novel's key scenes, in particular a nervy, emotionally-wrought and hugely impressive 'fight scene' of sorts involving Liza (not to give too much away!). As a first effort, 'Liza of Lambeth' seems a surprisingly assured, honest and heartfelt depiction of working-class London (besides some of the dialogue). For Maugham fans interested in giving one of his lesser known novels a read, or just for those looking for a moving and well executed Victorian novel, I'd definitely recommend 'Liza of Lambeth'.


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