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ghostinthemachine1 (london)

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Years of Refusal
Years of Refusal
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 5.30

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nappy Days!, 30 April 2009
This review is from: Years of Refusal (Audio CD)
I honestly think this is Morrissey's most immediate album. That's not to say it's necessarily his best, but from start to finish (with the honourable exception of It's Not Your Birthday Any More), each song is just gloriously, toe-tappingly tuneful. From the sharp, succinct Something Is Squeezing My Skull through the wistful I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris, with its plodding verse giving way to its soaring, gorgeous chorus all the way through to the turbo-charged I'm OK By Myself, each song is to-the-point, immensely catchy and short to the point of always leaving the listener wanting more. Funny too how two previously underwhelming singles, All You Need Is Me and That's How People Grow Up sound so much better in the context of the album. Overall, it's an exhilarating, blink-and-you'll-miss-it collection of insanely hummable and surpisingly upbeat songs

Grand Prix
Grand Prix
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I'll make it clear..., 2 April 2007
This review is from: Grand Prix (Audio CD)
Have to agree with pretty much all the reviews here - the Fannies' best album. Contains the perfect mix of harmony, emotion, irony and just good, old-fashioned RAWK! The last of these being the guitar solo on Neil Jung, which gives Hotel California a run for its money. But pretty much every song is gorgeous - highlights for me are the powerpop of Discolite, the dreamy vocal of Going Places(whenever I hear this song, I always think of the travel agents of the same name, and it somehow makes it even better... don't know why!), the perfect song that is I'll Make It Clear, featuring harmonies that the Beach Boys would be proud of, and my personal favourite, Tears, which is short, sweet and moving to the point of, er, tears... those violins! It's an absolute scandal that Teenage Fanclub never became huge when vapid Scottish contemporaries like Travis did - perhaps it's because they have a timeless quality that transcends fads and fashion. Hard to say why it was that they didn't make it big, because Grand Prix came out just as Britpop was about to break - perhaps their relative anonimity as a band counted against them. But they will always endure - I can't think of many (0r any) other bands in which there are three different songwriters of such quality.

Human Traces
Human Traces
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Paperback

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable Traces, 8 Jun 2006
This review is from: Human Traces (Paperback)
I got this at Christmas, and have just finished it five months later, which gives you an idea of how motivated I was to keep reading it! Not that it's bad - it had many interesting parts, and definitely got better as it went on. I just found that for the most part, the main objective of the book was an exposition of psychiatry and psychoanalysis around the beginning of the 20th century, with a novel tacked on the side. Really, to hold the reader's interest, it should have been the other way round - the novel, with its characters, themes, narrative to the foreground, and to explore the medical themes within that framework.

As it was, I found the characters dull and flat, and the narrative drive non existent - for much of the book, there was no drama, no conflict - everyone's lives went by without anything particularly interesting happening apart from medical lectures and patient examinations, much of which I have to admit I found just far too technical to really want to read.

A shame, because it is obviously very well written, and the good bits really held my attention. By far the best section of the book was Thomas's visit to Africa, which was interesting both in terms of what would happen and whether the expedition would make it back safely, and in the discovery of the footprints and Thomas's subsequent discourse on our ancestors and the voices they heard, which was both amazingly thought-provoking and incredibly moving. Daniel's experiences in the war were also a highlight - as was Thomas's announcement to the family that he has Alzheimer's, which was the most moving part of the book.

So in summary - all the bits in lecture halls or consulting rooms: too technical. All the bits about the idyllic life in the schloss: too boring. Everything else: great!

Girlfriend in a Coma
Girlfriend in a Coma
by Douglas Coupland
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let me whisper my last goodbyes..., 8 Jun 2006
This review is from: Girlfriend in a Coma (Paperback)
OK, I admit it, I started reading this purely because I'd heard it had loads of Smiths lyrics embedded in the narrative. But I soon forgot trying to spot them as I got completely caught up in the story itself. As a whole, it's a great book, but I did enjoy the first part the most, particularly when the characters all go slightly off the rails as they get older(the description of Richard vomiting into his stero had me in stitches), and start wondering if there isn't some greater meaning to life. Coupland writes these scenes fantastically well - they are questions we've all probably asked ourselves, and maybe had drunken conversations about - but he makes the characters do it in a way that's somehow both touchingly innocent but profound at the same time.

It's also done in a way that tantalisingly hints at answers being given later in the book, and ones that are tied up with Karen, the eponymous girlfriend, and the visions she had before her coma. And indeed they are, but somehow the answers given by Coupland fails to match the intrigue of the question. For me, this led to the second and third parts being inferior. Karen waking from the coma is very moving, and her first reactions to meeting everyone again are interesting, but the apocalyptic section moves the book more to the realm of sci fi thriller. The final part I mainly found irritating, mainly because I didn't really like the character of Jared the ghost, but it somehow all came together quite well in the final scene at the dam, and the ultimate message - which seemed to be 'start looking out for the rest of the world, not just yourself' - a thought-provoking one.

The various cultural references are also interesting - the lyrics, Smiths or otherwise, the unnamed TV show which is obviously the X Files. Unwittingly, Coupland also appears to have invented Lost in this book, with his description of a tv show about survivors of a plane crash who are never found... I'd also be interested to know if whoever wrote the screenplay to the film Goodbye Lenin had read GIAC, as the basic concept is exactly the same... especially seeing as Karen is told ad nauseam about the Berlin Wall coming down while she was asleep.

So overall, an excellent read, and I will definitely try some of his other books as a result.

By the Way
By the Way
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.41

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Say it now, because you never know..., 7 Jun 2006
This review is from: By the Way (Audio CD)
I didn't really like the Chili Peppers until Californication, and even then, I thought there was a serious decline in the quality of the songs in the second half on that album... enough to make me not bother to buy By The Way. But having acquired it recently, I can't believe how good it is. Far, far, better than Californication in my opinion, because the songs are fantastic all the way through, and there's a wider range of styles than just rocky and mellow. Highlights for me are Universally Speaking, Zephyr Song, Cabron, On Mercury, Venice Queen - and the two undoubted highlights, which I just don't seem to be able to stop playing at the moment - Don't Stop, the first 30 seconds of which are just perfection, and the rest just very, very good, and the utterly gorgeous Tear, the harmonies on which are like the Beatles and Beach Boys rolled into one.

Currently playing the whole album twice a day; absolutely perfect for gazing out of the window at the summer sky. My only slight worry is that I will get tired of it eventually... time perhaps to go and buy Stadium Arcadium before I do.

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Price: 14.02

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps 5 Stars Is A Bit Strong, But..., 22 Feb 2006
I bought this album doubtful that it could ever fulfil the claims being made for it - I'd heard both singles, and thought they were OK, but somehow not justified of the hype. But several listens later, all doubts were blown away. It is the real deal - a bona fide classic album.
The thing that immediately hit me is just how assured it is. For a debut album it is just staggering how it sounds like they've been playing together for years - there is just so much confidence in every song. But even better than that, it sounds polished without losing any of the incredible energy that is their trademark. It's like if you listen to the Sex Pistols - the energy and excitement is there, but any subtleties of musicianship or songwriting are not - with the Arctic Monkeys, you've got the lot.
And the songs! The way Alex Turner's singing and words weave themselves into the rhythms and guitar lines of the band is just glorious - and as for the music itself, like all the best bands, they are able to assimilate all their influences but somehow come up with a sound that is all their own. To my ears, the most obvious comparisons are with Pulp, the Smiths and the Wedding Present, not least on A Certain Romance, which combines Pulp-like lyrics, sung with an occasional Morriseyesque croon ("Oh, it's a funny thing you know") all set to Wedding Present-esque guitars - but all in a better or more interesting way, because although Alex Turner has that quirky intelligence and turn of phrase of Jarvis Cocker or Morrissey, he's not singing from the point of view of the outsider, but of the insider, if you like. Put another way, the whole Arctic Monkeys sound is as if all the great bits of British music of the last 30 years - punk, new wave, indie and britpop - have been combined into one album, but with all the crap bits left out.
Which is all a roundabout way of saying I love it. I also like the smaller details - like the fact that it's sort of half a concept album, with songs about a night out from start to finish strewn through it (with accompanying pictures for each one), and the simple but incredibly effective thing of splitting the song titles in two on the track listing, so you do somehow feel you're listening to two separate sides of an album.
Finally, I'd just like to say that I think "Well now, Mardy Bum, I've seen your frown and it's like looking down the barrel of a gun" is possibly the greatest opening line to a song ever!

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