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The Wolf (uk)
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Partly Fiction
Partly Fiction
Price: 15.27

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harry Done Good, 8 Jun 2014
This review is from: Partly Fiction (Audio CD)
Whatcha doin' Harry?! Harry Dean Stanton is one of my heroes.
The man can act but can he sing? Well. Sort-of. Erm, actually
in a rough and ready, hokey-Hollywood kind-of way he can. As
long as you suspend critical judgement you'll probably get a
lot out of 'Partly Fiction' but only because you know it's
Harry and you love him to bits. (Were it anyone else you'd be
running for the hills with your heels and pants on fire!)

Recorded in HDS's living room as part of a documentary tribute
by Sophie Huber this 12 track collection of poignant country
and folk songs will probably break your heart in two if you let it.

His renditions of 'She thinks I Still Care' (achingly bitter-sweet);
a rollickingly good 'Promised Land'; 'He'll Have To Go' and a fragile but
sublimely simple take on 'Danny Boy' capture something of the essence
of both the character and the spirit of this peerless performer.

In its own small way it's a wonderful and enchanting thing.

Recommended.


Invisible Hour
Invisible Hour
Price: 9.16

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Musical Craftsman, 7 Jun 2014
This review is from: Invisible Hour (Audio CD)
Sometimes experience and craft come together in a remarkable way.
Joe Henry certainly has the former by the truck load and the latter has
been honed to a sharp edge over a hugely creative and productive career.

'Invisible Hour' is a stunning album where it all comes together in a collection
of eleven songs which truly stir both the imagination and the spirit. (While I'm
at it let me draw your attention to his 2011 release 'Reverie' too). With a small
sympathetic instrumental ensemble for company Mr Henry weaves magic out of
thin air. His warm, slightly gravely voice inhabits these compositions with
a total absence of affectation. He sings to us directly from the heart.

With so many beautiful performances in the bag it's pretty much impossible
to tease out the highlights but in the interest of economy (I could wax lyrical
about every track) I will draw your attention to the wistful title song 'Invisible
Hour', the rendition of which seems to have been touched a little by the
spirit of Tom Waits; 'Lead Me On', a touching duet with Lisa Hannigan and
the sublime 'Water Between Us', a masterpiece of perfectly restrained emotion.

There's not one wasted moment here. Please don't hesitate to give it a listen!

Essential.


Days Of Abandon
Days Of Abandon
Price: 8.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lights In The Sky, 3 Jun 2014
This review is from: Days Of Abandon (Audio CD)
I had a bit of a soft spot for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's 2011
album 'Belong'. I still play two songs from it often : 'Heaven's Gonna
Happen Now' and the rumbustious 'Heart In Your Heartbeat'. It had a big
dense sound and memorable tunes and choruses you could sing along to.

'Days Of Abandon' is a collection of ten new numbers and Kip Berman
leads the band into somewhat more transparent sonic territory; he
still has a penchant for a romantic epic ('Coral and Gold' is a beauty!)
but overall things have lightened up a tad and breathe more easily.

Opening track 'Art Smock' is a perfect example of this new luminosity;
a gentle, largely acoustic composition with some lovely vocal harmonies.
The splendid 'Simple and Sure' is just that; a crisp pop-friendly arrangement
which rattles along without a care in the world. Mr Berman's slightly effete
but eminently lovable vocal delivery has never sounded better. 'Eurydice',
too, is a real cracker; the band pulls out all the stops and fills the sky with
multi-coloured stars. Musical fireworks of the very best kind! For my money
however the gorgeous final track 'The Asp At My Chest' seems to have come
closest to stealing my heart with its very pretty melody and unaffected charm.
(The quasi-Mariachi brass in the final bars came as a nice surprise too!)

A fine musical offering. (I'm not quite convinced by the album's artwork however....)

Recommended.


New Eyes
New Eyes
Price: 7.00

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electro Con Brio, 3 Jun 2014
This review is from: New Eyes (Audio CD)
"Electronic music - Repetetive? Boring?" With a clutch of high-flying singles
already under their belts Cambridge collective Clean Bandit throw down the
gauntlet in the opening bars of the first number , 'Mozart's House', of their
stunning debut album 'New Eyes' to demonstrate, unequivocally, that there
will be nothing remotely repetetive or boring going on in this musical journey.

What a fine ensemble they are; mashing up top notch melodies, crisp and highly
addictive dance beats, scintillating string decorations and pristine vocals from a
stable of hugely gifted singers and collaborators. It's a heady and winning mix.

You'll probably already know and have danced your socks off to 'Rather Be' with
its marvellously soulful vocal from Jess Glynne and the exquisite 'Extraordinary'
courtesy of the wonderful Sharna Bass but dig deeper and there are further treats
in store in the shape of the charming robotic duet 'Dust Clears' (featuring Noonie
Bao); the cheeky staccato entanglements of 'Cologne' (with Javeon and Nikki Cislyn)
and (a highlight for me) the sublimely haunting composition 'Birch', which, with its
beautiful vocal turn from Eliza Shaddad brings a deeper, darker set of sonic colours to
the table. All-in-all there is nothing not to love in this supremely confident collection.

It's gone straight onto my Summer playlist. I doubt I will hear many better albums this year.

Highly Recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2014 8:55 AM BST


Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows
Price: 11.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Wait 'til Halloween, 1 Jun 2014
This review is from: Dark Shadows (Audio CD)
German DJ/producer Sascha Dive seems more than a little at home
in the shadows. His first collection 'Restless Nights' (2010) set the
stage for his nocturnal rhythmic preoccupations and his pact with
The Lords Of Darkness appears to have been signed, sealed and
delivered with his new album 'Dark Shadows'. There are eleven numbers
in the set which show a capacity for invention way beyond many other
artists carving the Deep House groove ever deeper down into oblivion.

There is an energy in Mr Dive's beats which proves to be irresistible
at times. When he throws a track as perky as 'Dance With Me' (with its
four-square structure and breathless Barry White-like grunts and moans)
down on the floor it's impossible to resist the invitation to bump and grind.
'Phantom', too, with its droll Count Dracula vocal loop is bound to get all
the rats and bats bouncing around in the belfry well into the early hours.

Don't wait 'til Halloween. There's no reason the party should't start right now!

Recommended.


Wild Heart
Wild Heart
Price: 14.43

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Class With A Capital C, 1 Jun 2014
This review is from: Wild Heart (Audio CD)
I'll be brief. Go Mindi Go!. On 'Wild Heart' Ms Heart does what Ms Abair does best.
Big-boned, raunchy blues-cum-jazz-cum-r&b with lashings of juicy saxophone.
Let's not forget that this lady has quite a voice going on too! Listening to her
snarling her way through the rumbustious 'I Can't Lose' is nothing if not a joy.

With some historic guests for company the album is a total treat.

For heaven's sake, with the likes of Booker T. Jones chortling along gamely on
'Addicted To You' and Greg Allman turning in a touching country duet on final
track 'Just Say When' it's hard not to fall just a little bit in love with the project.

If no frills and classy is your thing then look no further.

Highly Recommended.


Some Heavy Ocean
Some Heavy Ocean
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 8.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Managing The Hurt, 1 Jun 2014
This review is from: Some Heavy Ocean (Audio CD)
Emma Ruth Rundle's debut solo album is a dark affair; cathartic, confessional
and full of the kind of musical self-revelation and emotional complexity which
set up the likes of Alanis Morissette for a life at the top of the game. Pain pays.
It remains to be seen, however, whether Ms Rundle's fortunes will follow a similar
trajectory but I don't think these ten songs will be winning too many hearts and minds.

Although she seems to aspire to manage the hurt in ways not too dissimilar from
artists such as Lana Del Rey, (who has made melancholy a lifestyle) and the inimitably
miserable Marissa Nadler (her 2009 album 'Little Hells' takes a lot of beating!) she
hasn't quite got the tunes to back it up. 'Some Heavy Ocean' is a tad too monocular
in melodic, lyrical and dynamic scope to sustain attention and belief for very long.

The project is not wholly without merit however. 'Run Forever' is a competently moody
composition, saturated with reverb and shot through with nicely spooky electric guitar
decorations and the quasi-psychedelic folk of 'Oh Sarah' possesses a certain sepulchral
charm but in the end I began to feel more than a little suffocated by Ms Rundle's muse.
(By the time I reached the devastatingly downbeat 'Savage Saint' I was exhausted!)

There's nothing wrong with a bit of sonic self-flagellation. Just not quite this much.

Whatever you do don't put it on as the soundtrack for a first date....


Wine Dark Sea
Wine Dark Sea
Price: 13.56

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rough and Ready Dreams, 31 May 2014
This review is from: Wine Dark Sea (Audio CD)
As Texan singer/songwriter Jolie Holland's new album 'Wine Dark
Sea' grinds into gear with the bristling opening track 'On and On'
we are immediately aware that a new kind of energy has sprung
into being in her artistic vision. Darker, dirtier, looser and built
to connect directly with our nervous system and imagination. This
is extraordinary stuff and I think she must know just how good it is.

The shuffling piano ballad, 'First Sign Of Spring', which follows must
count as one of the finest compositions in her career so-far. There's more
than a whiff of Martha Wainwright's unsettling autobiographical exposure
about it (indeed, these two performers could well be Sisters under the skin)
in the mewling vocal twists and turns. It is a wonderfully affecting song.

Elsewhere, the rough and ready, almost hallucinatory arrangement of
'I Thought It Was The Moon'; the simple romanticism and slightly drunken
tenderness of 'All The Love' and the raw and broken blues of 'Out On The
Wine Dark Sea' (channeling the spirit of Tom Waits) makes for a varied,
curiously intoxicating and emotionally invigorating listening experience.

Ms Holland, always a talent to be reckoned with, delivers her finest work here.

Highly Recommended.


Out of The Furnace [DVD] [2013]
Out of The Furnace [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Price: 7.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So - So, 31 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Scott Cooper has made a competent but hardly extraordinary thriller
which would probably pass over the horizon unnoticed were it not for
the big bucks which have clearly been shelled out on a stellar cast.

Both Christian Bale and Casey Affleck acquit themselves well as the
brothers Baze, stuck in more than one kind of hell in small-town America.

Forest Whitaker brings a little warmth to an otherwise chilly and not wholly
convincing plot as police chief Wesley Barnes and Woody Harrelson manages
to deliver a convincingly dark performance as the psychopathic DeGroat
but at the end of the day I felt that 'Out Of The Furnace', despite being a
very good looking movie, depended rather more on style than substance.

So-so.


This Is Where We Are
This Is Where We Are
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 9.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fruits Of A Desert Sojourn, 31 May 2014
This review is from: This Is Where We Are (Audio CD)
Here's a lady who knows how to write a song to touch your heart
and what a beautiful voice she has to bring it into glowing life too.
'This Is Where We Are' is clearly a labour of love for Pricilla Anne.
The thirteen numbers in this melodically and thematically wide-ranging
set demonstrate both her innate musicality and rich imagination.

From the grinding big beats of opening track 'Diana', a curious mixture
of fragile folksy charm and quasi-industrial bluster; through the truly
lovely and painfully poignant 'Remember How I Broke Your Heart', in
which Ms Anne seems almost to be channeling the spirit of Dory Previn;
the memorably tuneful pop-friendly simplicity of 'Home; the haunting,
fragile emotional self-revelations of 'In A Closet In The Middle Of The Night'
(the album's front-runner by a country mile!) and the curiously fractured
structure and vocal harmonies of concluding track 'I Think I'm Ready To
Love You', there is nary a moment when our attention is allowed to flag.

All-in-all a magically engaging project from an remarkably talented artist.

Highly Recommended.


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