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oxxo (san francisco)

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Donovan Blanc
Donovan Blanc
Price: 12.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Jangly Jazz Pop - For fans of The Clientele, Sam Prekop and The Sea And Cake, 30 Jun 2014
This review is from: Donovan Blanc (Audio CD)
Captured Tracks is a small Brooklyn based label that has been releasing an abundance of great music lately. Their latest is the excellent debut by the New Jersey duo of Joseph Black and Raymond Schwab, known collectively as Donovan Blanc.

Stylistically they sound astonishingly similar to The Clientele (one of my all time favorite bands) without being derivative. There's also an element of that mid-60s, jangly, 12-string guitar Chad & Jeremy / Peter & Gordon sound, which I also love. And like albums by The Clientele and The Sea & Cake (circa 1999), all of the songs are of the same larger piece; more like a suite than a collection of radio-friendly pop songs.

Intelligent music for the NPR crowd.

The first 200 copies of this are on lavender vinyl from the Captured Tracks web store.

Price: 10.72

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swedish Retro Wave - buy if you like Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys or (early) Human League, 30 Jun 2014
This review is from: INTERNATIONAL (Audio CD)
Hannes Norrvide has shed the icy gloom of his previous two releases, added two band mates, and delivered an astonishingly brilliant album of solid, upbeat, highly produced synth pop. While comparisons to the above groups might be premature, LFY is stylistically heading in that distinctly European early-to-mid-80s direction.

Norrvide's somewhat flat vocal delivery works especially well set against the dance beats, and adds an air of dark authenticity--think "Travelogue" era Human League. Maybe Philip Oakey with a cold?

Immediate radio-friendly standouts (perhaps in another era) are "Illume", "New Boys" "Armida" (featuring guest vocalist Soho Rezanejad), and "Running". Many of these tracks will find favor at gay discos from Prague to San Francisco.

Deservedly so.

Sun Structures
Sun Structures
Price: 9.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mod Freakbeat Returns, 11 Feb 2014
This review is from: Sun Structures (Audio CD)
It seems fitting that Temples' debut arrives on the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. All I can say is, I haven't been this excited for a new UK band since the early days of Oasis. Hard to believe that we've been waiting for this album since "Shelter Song" was released in late 2012, but the wait was well worth it.

Temples has perfectly captured that freakbeat sound of the 60s without sounding the least bit derivative or precious; brilliant, dense layers of studio psychedelia set to a solid beat. Although their closest sounding contemporaries are likely Toy, Tame Impala & The Black Angels, enthusiastic comparisons to The Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds, Zombies, Kinks, Phil Spector, T Rex, etc will rightfully ensue. They've expertly blended all of it into something genuinely modern and unique.

Standout tracks: Shelter Song, Keep In The Dark, Mesmerise, Colours To Life, A Question Isn't Answered.

I predict that 2014 will see a distinct rise in the number of American pop psych bands faking British accents because of Temples...

Oh yeah, and we'll all fall in love with James Bagshaw's hair.


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Best Of 2012" Contender, 23 Sep 2012
This review is from: North (Audio CD)
"Take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the bastards with it" (from "Hold On When You Get Love")

I was introduced to this band with their "Heart" album back in 2003, which I practically wore out, so I bought the earlier "Comeback EP" and "Nightsongs" discs, and promptly played them to death too. 2005 brought the superlative "Set Yourself On Fire"--which has yet to leave my iPod--and gets my vote for one of the best of the decade. Then came "In Our Bedroom After The War", which I didn't love, and then "Five Ghosts", which I dismissed when it came out, but has grown to be one of my favorites.

I'm pleased to say that "The North" ranks among their best.

Here are the standouts:

1. "Theory Of Relativity" - Stars does electronica dance music. Great track played loud. (Vocals: Torq Campbell)

2. "Backlines" - Guitar-driven indie pop, perfect for the Pitchfork crowd. (Vocals: Amy Millan)

3. "The North" - Heartbreaking in that uniquely Canadian bleak sorta way. Best song on the album. This one reminds me more of Memphis, Torq Campbell's other band. (Vocals: Torq Campbell)

4. "Hold On When You Get Love" - Stars channels New Order. Another one to play loud for the dance floor. (Vocals: Torq Campbell/Amy Millan)

5. & 6. "Through The Mines" & "Lights Changing Colour"- Stars channels Cocteau Twins. Both superb. If you heard these on the radio, you'd swear it was Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie & Company. (Vocals: Amy Millan)

7. "The Loose Ends Will Make Knots" - Exactly what you'd expect from Stars based on their earliest albums. This one could have been an outtake from "Heart" or "Set Yourself On Fire" (Vocals: Torq Campbell/Amy Millan)

8. "Progress" - Electronica dancer reminiscent of Goldfrapp. (Vocals: Amy Millan)

It's only been out a week and I know it'll be on my Best Of 2012 list.

Who's for the Young
Who's for the Young
Price: 38.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vinyl Transfer + Not Licensed From Capitol/EMI = Bootleg, 21 July 2011
This review is from: Who's for the Young (Audio CD)
This is an illegal release and is a violation of international copyright laws.

Fallout Records is one of the many pirate labels started by the notorious UK enterprising thief James Plummer.

Don't support theft.

Christmas At Sedsoul
Christmas At Sedsoul
Offered by Groove Alliance
Price: 7.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ann Sexton's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" Is Worth The Price Alone, 22 Dec 2010
This review is from: Christmas At Sedsoul (Audio CD)
OK, so if you're reading this review then it's more than likely that you're already a fan of Cool Million's "Back For More" or "Going Out Tonight" releases (both stellar, in my opinion). If that's the case, then you know that SedSoul (short for Seductive Soul) is the fledgling label of German musicians/producers Frank Ryle & Rob Hardt AKA Cool Million.

SedSoul abandons the prevailing (and tired) urban "flava" of R&B and produces modern "80's" styled R&B à la Mtume, Kashif, Loose Ends, Midnight Star, etc., and the results have been astonishingly original. So much so that Cool Million's "Back For More" gets my Best Of 2010 vote, hands down.

I was naturally pleased to hear that Sedsoul's fourth full-length release would be a Christmas album consisting largely of original holiday compositions. And while I don't absolutely love this set as much as I was hoping to, there are a couple of real stand-outs.

First and foremost is Ann Sexton's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", which departs from the album's overall 80's R&B theme by being more of a late 60's/early 70's rollicking Motown-inspired arrangement. Pure awesomeness.

C. Robert Walker's "A Thousand Kisses At Christmas" is, by far, the best of the original songs (think "Mistletoe Jam" by Luther Vandross), and may actually enjoy some life outside of this collection.

On the other hand, Noel McKoy's "This One's For You (Merry Christmas)" is laughably bad. From the cheapo synthesized horns to the hilarious lyrics, all if this song is just wrong. Here are some painful excerpts:

"I've Been Thinking About The Times That We Used To Have, Mistletoe & Apricot" [huh?]

"So Can I Get Witness, For A Very Merry Christmas" [groan]

Here Lies Love
Here Lies Love
Price: 14.59

5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Of 2010 (Without A Doubt) But Definitely NOT Disco, 12 Jun 2010
This review is from: Here Lies Love (Audio CD)
OK, before yet another enthusiastic but misguided reviewer mistakenly labels this as a disco collection, I thought I'd better jump in and set the record straight: This is not disco.

Andrea True Connection is disco. Silver Convention is disco. Donna Summer is disco (well, mostly anyway).

And while the original concept may have been to set this album in a Studio 54 environment, only one track--"Ladies In Blue"--has that 70's Saturday Night Fever disco sound. The rest of the tracks are pure modern-day electronica (except Steve Earle's & Martha Wainwright's, which are also the weakest overall). Fatboy Slim aka Norman Cook is one of the world's foremost electronic musician/composer/DJ/producers, so most of this set contains his expected samples, breaks & beats. In fact, I'd say the overall success of this project is due largely to Norman's involvement (sorry David). Really.

Of the twenty-two tracks, only four are just so-so: the aforementioned Steve Earle & Martha Wainwright tracks, the Natalie Merchant (sorry Natalie) and the David Byrne/Shara Worden duet. David's vocals just aren't up to the level of the ladies on this project (sorry again, David).

That leaves eighteen exceptional tracks, which let's face it, pretty much never happens, and why this album is likely to do the Grammy thing as well as land on everyone's Best Of 2010 lists (including mine).

The real standouts for me (starting with most favorite) are:

1. Dancing Together (Sharon Jones) - Sharon is flat-out phenomenal in everything she does. Period. This track is a funk tour-de-force and is worth the purchase price alone.

2. Eleven Days (Cyndi Lauper) - Radio-friendly, catchy with superb performance by Cyndi. One of her two best vocals in decades (the other being 2007's "Early Bird" with Erasure).

3. The Whole Man (Kate Pierson) - What? She's in her 60's? Unbelievable. Kate sounds as fresh and young as the day the B-52s stepped into the studio to record "Rock Lobster".

4. Men Will Do Anything (Alice Russell) - An amazing performance by this under-appreciated UK soul powerhouse. If there were any justice in the world of music, Alice Russell would be on everyone's iPod. Yes, she's that good.

5. Don't You Agree? (Roisin Murphy) - I've been a fan of Roisin (pronounced Ro-Shen) since her days with Moloko. Check out her "Ruby Blue" album for a truly inspired, bizarre, left-of-center electronica experience.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2010 5:20 AM GMT

Blue Dream Street
Blue Dream Street
Price: 33.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 1964 Mono Compilation Of Earlier "Blue" & "Dream" Songs - For Completists Only, 7 Feb 2010
This review is from: Blue Dream Street (Audio CD)
NOTE: This is NOT an album of new material from 1964!

Mercury issued this "themed" collection of mostly mid-Fifties recordings in 1964, shortly before Patti's departure to Columbia Records. All but two of the tracks date between 1953-1956: "Am I Blue" from 1947, and a truly awful 1959 re-recording of "With My Eyes Wide Open (I'm Dreaming)."

The mastering is compressed and flat, which is both surprising & disappointing for a Japanese release. Several of these tracks appear on the out-of-print "Golden Celebration" set, where the sound is much cleaner.

My vote would have been for a "Manhattan Tower" mastered from the original tapes (as opposed to the current UK Sepia vinyl mastered edition).

I've Got A Feeling
I've Got A Feeling
Offered by westworld-
Price: 24.98

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Includes The Entire 1968 Veep "With You In Mind" Album In Stereo, 10 Oct 2009
This review is from: I've Got A Feeling (Audio CD)
OK, so there's no shortage of Baby Washington compilations out there--most of them serving up the same Sue tracks--and this particular version is no exception having fourteen of her most well-known Sue recordings. However, also included is the first appearance on CD of her 1968 "With You In Mind" album, entirely in stereo nonetheless.

Clean, crisp, glorious, ultra-separated stereo.

This album sounds kind of like the soundtrack to a "TCB" style television special; big--at times, funky--arrangements (many with horns) that have little in common with her Sue catalogue, and are perfectly suited to her gospel-weighted voice.

Also included is the 1969 Veep single "Think About The Good Times" backed with the epic (and I do mean epic) "Hold Back The Dawn."

For once, Stateside got it right.

I've posted the artwork for the original 1968 "With You In Mind" LP. The LP track order is:

01. All Around The World
02. I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good
03. It's All Over But The Crying
04. I'm On The Outside (Looking In)
05. I'm Calling You Baby
06. Take Me Like I Am
07. Get A Hold Of Yourself
08. This Old World
09. People Sure Act Funny
10. At Last
11. It's A Hang Up Baby
12. Hurt So Bad

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