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The Inner Mansions
The Inner Mansions

3.0 out of 5 stars Another great album from Teen Daze, 18 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Inner Mansions (MP3 Download)
Teen Daze of Vancouver, Canada has been sporadically releasing music since July 2010 - every few months a new EP would appear, but EPs were all he had until June of this year when All Of Us, Together was released as his first LP. Having been received positively it turned out to be just the 1st of 2 albums for release in 2012 as The Inner Mansions has arrived just 5 months later.

With this new album comes a new discovery of vocals, something not present on All Of Us, Together. Teen Daze has come to utilise his breathy wails to his advantage as they help create this gleaming wall of sound that shines proudly as dance, pop and a little bit of everything else. Pounding beats characterise the first few tracks upon which layer upon layer of percussion, effects and swelling electro is laid. But the thing with The Inner Mansions is its confusion of genre. `New Life' kick starts the album with pulsing synths, a radiant melody line & oh-so-floaty vocals and while `Divided Loyalties' is suitably melodic and Garden is pretty, as the album progresses Teen Daze moves away from the clever melodies and sticks to standard wishy washy ambient dance. Regrettably this just means he blends in with all the others of his genre. Teen Daze definitely has the potential to stand out as some of The Inner Mansions is really original: the ingenious back and forth that occurs between instruments in `Discipleship' and the bright melodies of `By Love' to name a few. But unfortunately tracks like `Garden 2' & `The Heart of God' disappoint with their lack of substance.

Releasing 2 albums in the same year was a mistake as some tracks definitely need more time to be developed. However, the tracks that do work well, work very well and `New Life' could well be one of the best ambient dance tracks this year. Worth a listen but not necessarily worth purchasing, The Inner Mansions is nowhere near perfect but it's pretty damn good.


Dead & Born & Grown [Digipack]
Dead & Born & Grown [Digipack]

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a great debut!, 18 Nov 2012
The Staves have appeared on `Later... With Jools Holland', are supporting Bon Iver at Wembley, Manchester and Glasgow all before heading off on their own UK headline tour. This hectic schedule shows the high demand for The Staves and this is before their debut album has even been released! 2012 has seen the rise of female folk groups, as Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit who have found their way into the spotlight as well as The Staves. Their similarities are obvious as their pure voices and ethereal harmonies are very alike. This being said, The Staves create pretty folk tunes rather than First Aid Kit's style of powerful folk ballads.

Title track `Dead & Born & Grown' sets the tone for the album with stunning vocals and a simple acoustic guitar line. Eventually the harmonies stagger in and what beautiful harmonies they are. As well as complex harmonies and intricate acoustic accompaniments, The Staves also have a knack for writing memorable tracks. `Facing West' is a charming little ukulele number which features pure vocals and a charming whistling tune which gives the track character. `The Motherlode', `Winter Trees' and `Wisely & Slow' all stand out from Dead & Born & Grown as their hooks are particularly strong and their harmonies very impressive. On the other hand, `Pay Us No Mind', `Snow' and `Gone Tomorrow' feel weak compared to the energy of the rest of the album.

`In The Long Run' has a sweet acoustic guitar that accompanies Emily, Jessica and Camilla Stavey-Taylor's even sweeter vocals. The innovative vocal melody in the chorus really sets this track above the rest, making it a favourite along with `Mexico'. `Mexico' originally came from Mexico EP (2011) and is The Staves' most commercially friendly track, one that's sure to stay in your head for a very long time.


BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, Volume 6
BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, Volume 6
Offered by FLASH
Price: £9.49

2.0 out of 5 stars 2 discs of bad.., 28 Aug 2012
Kicking off with Ed Sheeran - The A Team isn't a great start, a slow-ish fairly boring song (that is, far too overplayed) although you can't fault his performance, not even a voice shake so that's a plus! Next comes one of the only good songs on this album = Friendly Fires - The Edge Of Glory which is done very well as a cover, I actually prefer it to the original! It's dance-y and vocals are good, a great contribution from Friendly Fires. It's well worth a listen if you get the chance, and if I could buy it as a single I would! Example's cover of Don't Sit Down `Cause I've Moved Your Chair (Arctic Monkeys) is very poor, and I had to turn it off it was just so dull and basically badly done, and I love Example usually! A disappointment to kickstart the rest of the rubbish songs on this album... Miles Kane ruins Heaven (Emilie Sande) which is unfortunate as I like the original, the same with Leona Lewis' Let The Sun Shine, she slows it completely and while this could work, it just doesn't. The Vaccine's Last Friday Night is a very good cover I must say, changed up completely but still sounding awesome, same for Vampire Weekend's cover of Cheryl Cole which I love! Hard-Fi also does a good job of covering Snoop Dogg & David Guetta's Sweat - keeping it punchy but adding their own rock-y spin.

Ellie Goulding does Only Girl in the World - Rihanna and while, yes, it's lovely, it's also a tad boring and very predictably done (as expected of Goulding really) but if you like her then you'll love this. The Kooks cover Pumped Up Kicks nicely - sounding very like the original, though which defeats the point of Live Lounge a little. The only other 2 worth mentioning are Everything Everything - What's My Name? which is fabulous! Completely different from Rihanna's original and took to a new level with the quirky vocals. Also Avril Lavigne covering Tik Tok is very well done and definitely on a par with Ke$ha's version, her vocals just bring new life to the song whilst the acoustics bring a different timbre to the dance-y original. Other than that, the album is pretty mediocre and I won't be recommending it to anyone. It's a shame, as the Live Lounge albums before this have been pretty decent.


The King Is Dead
The King Is Dead
Price: £11.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful example of folk revival, 28 Aug 2012
This review is from: The King Is Dead (Audio CD)
This album is refreshing, after all the mainstream pop-punk or R n' B that's around The Decemberists provide alternative-country from Portland, Oregon - USA and do it extremely well. The King Is Dead contains some real gems, `Dear Avery' being one of them. Its simple melody and female harmony make for a very attractive combination. The song is well crafted & the melody is sweet and well sung, it just works. Colin Meloy's vocal has an interesting twang and his accent makes the album as it's different from anything else I've heard. The album as a whole flows together very well, going from the soft folksy `January Hymn' that has a lovely fade-in intro to `Down By The Water' which has a much more rock-y feel but still sounds like it belongs to the same album. The Decemberists use violins, guitars, harmonica and accordions to create their folk inspired rock and this is what keeps The King Is Dead so fresh. The light-hearted feel I get from it really differentiates it from other more down-beat albums of this year - The Decemberists have given us an album of real music.


Playing in the Shadows
Playing in the Shadows
Price: £4.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1000x better than his first album, 28 Aug 2012
This review is from: Playing in the Shadows (Audio CD)
The first thing I wanna say about Example is say he's an incredible lyricist. Most rappers just rap about `b**ches' or other rubbish that means nothing. Example talks about his life, tells us stories & successfully manages to make it all flow without using any lyric that doesn't fit (well, maybe "Stick around, yeah like Elastoplast" is the exception that proves the rule...) With Playing In The Shadows Example switches from rap to singing every few lines and this is something I love. He has a very strong London accent and this gives character to his songs, making them instantly recognisable. `Anything' is a beautifully crafted song, it presents his ultimate vulnerability with lyics like "Will I ever find another girl as beautiful and kind?". The melody is very catchy and set to an acoustic guitar accompaniment which is so contrasting to his usual heavy drum beats and distortion. `Midnight Run' is another fantastic hit from Playing In The Shadows as its synths and warped bass are topped with a hook so strong you can't help being pulled in. Example is charm personified and it shines right through this latest album. Not usually one for rap, Example is my guilty pleasure.


Sinners Never Sleep
Sinners Never Sleep
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Another great album from You Me At Six, 28 Aug 2012
This review is from: Sinners Never Sleep (Audio CD)
This is an album I really hated on the first listen. I guess all I heard was predictable slurred lyrics about heartbreak, love, tragedy from Josh Franceschi but I forced myself to listen again, and again, and - well by this time I absolutely loved it. I couldn't get `Loverboy' out of my head! You can't deny the boys the fact they write hooks, solid hooks and I mean, compared to the days of Take Off Your Colours they've matured a lot. Their sound is richer, the riffs less predictable and the vocals, well, they're still pretty much exactly the same but you get my point... Stand out tracks for me are `Little Bit Of Truth' and `No One Does It Better', still about the same things as their early days: `love' but `Little Bit Of Truth' is outstanding songwriting in a nutshell. Ballad-like pop at its best, arpeggiated chords used instead of block chords & sweeping strings are added which gives a lovely dream-like feel. It's a song I really get lost in. Filled with stupidly catchy vocals from Franceschi, `na na na's and riffs this album builds anticipation for even more You Me At Six. You just want more, more, more...


In Case You Didn't Know
In Case You Didn't Know
Price: £3.00

4.0 out of 5 stars I love Olly Murs!, 28 Aug 2012
This review is from: In Case You Didn't Know (Audio CD)
See-through pop heartthrobs have never really been my thing, but there's a little something different about the sensational X Factor runner up: Olly Murs. Still singing about heartbreak/other cliches and using words just `cause they rhyme, Olly Murs captured my heart with `This Song Is About You'. While there's nothing particularly different about it (compared to other pop songs out there) the hooks he writes (12/13 tracks being co-written by himself) are like nothing else. Happy-go-lucky Olly Murs lifts your spirits and gets everyone singing along, even if you don't really like him as a guy. Every single song includes some lyric about `needing you' and the obligatory `baby' every few lines but so what, he's charming! Funnily enough, even the rap sections don't bother me, Rizzle Kicks (on `Heart Skips A Beat') add a little something extra rather than the chorus over and over. The whole album flows, the songs are completely meant for eachother. What I like about Olly Murs is that he's not just a one-trick pony, he's had hit after hit after hit, each song he releases is an instant seller.


Birdy
Birdy
Price: £6.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad on first listen, but keep going and it gets good!, 28 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Birdy (Audio CD)
At only 15 Jasmine van den Bogaerde a.k.a. Birdy released a piano & vocals cover of Bon Iver's `Skinny Love'. This cover was chosen by Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton as Record of the Week and it was this that really sparked her fame. Birdy has a very clean, haunting voice that'll stay with you for days. All the songs on this album are amazingly sung and Birdy really makes them her own. `White Winter Hymnal', however, is a cut above the rest. Originally by Fleet Foxes she layers her voice over itself to create a rich, volumous sound which is just incredible: damn near perfection from a girl only 15. The combination of vocals with bare piano - no other instruments, just effects - is fantastic at creating an eerie atmosphere whilst making sure her voice isn't over produced or over complicated. `Without A Word' is the only song on the album written by Birdy herself. I had high hopes for it as she's done so well with the arrangements on the whole album but I must say I was rather disappointed... Yes the vocals are good but we've come to expect this at this point in the album and it just doesn't really hit the spot for me. I only hope that with her outstanding voice on her next album she can produce her own songs, keep them interesting and make sure she most certainly doesn't blend in.


EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\
EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £2.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly good, 28 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Glasvegas, usually accused of being `boring' or `out of tune' but not since the release of EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\. This album is very different to their first self-titled effort. The first had poor vocals and mostly forgettable tracks, really nothing special, but Euphoric Heartbreak is a cut above the rest. Songs such as `Euphoria, Take My Hand' are written with robust choruses, bellowed from lead singer James Allan, backed by tambourines or floaty electric guitars. The lyrics (partly concealed by the extremely strong Scottish accent with which they're sung) are meaningful and relatable: "Heartbreak, I'm not holding your hand any more. Euphoria, take my hand", these positive lyrics are set to a triumphant beat which inspires ambition and enthusiasm. I'll admit, the spoken word tracks `Pain Pain, Never Again' and `Change' aren't really to my taste, but they fit with the album and when listening as a whole they complete it. Glasvegas have most certainly won my heart and I'm eagerly awaiting to hear anything new from these superb Scots.


Young Pilgrim
Young Pilgrim
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £10.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting effort from Charlie Simpson, 28 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Young Pilgrim (Audio CD)
Charlie Simpson, ex-Busted star, ex-Fightstar has launched his solo career with the absolute gem that is Young Pilgrim. Just from the first listen of `Down Down Down' I fell in love. Simpson's voice is so much a part of his charm, husky and beautiful it fits the folk-y album he's created. Arpeggiated guitar chords and off-beat drums characterise the album, whilst the unconvential harmonies add a depth that was not expected from the rockstar we knew in Fightstar. Young Pilgrim is a laid-back and uplifting album, songs about love but not wailing about broken hearts, just about moving on. Simpson has crafted a wonderful album that I couldn't imagine my year without.


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