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Malfunkshun Monument
Malfunkshun Monument
Price: £14.46

4.0 out of 5 stars A very fine Monument., 3 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Malfunkshun Monument (Audio CD)
For those who aren't completely aware of the history, Kevin Wood brought From the North together to bring life to the lyrics of his late brother, Andrew Wood (Malfunkshun / Mother Love Bone). As well as Kevin Wood, the album features another ex-Malfunkshun member, Regan Hagar (Satchel / Brad), Cory Kane (Satchel) and Shawn Smith (Satchel / Brad / Twilight Singers).

Being a huge fan of the work of Shawn Smith, that's how I learned about From the North, but there was no bracing me for what I was about to receive when I hit 'play'. The album explodes from the get-go with the brilliant Goodbye Just in Case and it's at this moment that you get the sense that this is going to be quite the record.

It is a collection of cosmic rock jams (Never Proud, The Mover and Love Child) and haunting grooves (Another You (Mirror of Guilt) and the brilliant rendition of Mother Love Bone's Man of Golden Words), inspired equally by the likes of Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix; the band sound like they've been together for years and as a result they really channel the spirit of Andrew Wood.

Highly recommended.


All Hail the Crown
All Hail the Crown
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars All Hail the Crown, 3 Sept. 2012
This review is from: All Hail the Crown (MP3 Download)
For those who are familiar with the work of Shawn Smith, he reprises his role as frontman to a `heavy rock' band. Those who picked up the From the North record will have some idea of what to expect, but it's clear early on that Day and Hommell add a real sense of power to Wood's heavy, often sludgy riffage (check out English Rule).

At times the band sound like a marriage of Alice in Chains and Steve Vai, while there's also moments that sound (like From the North) like Jimi Hendrix channeled through Tony Iommi. Smith's vocals and sense of melody often trip wonderfully against the band's rhythm (particularly on From the Swamp to the Stars and Colossus).

All Hail the Crown is an outstanding record which I expect to be in the stereo for quite some time. The band have taken the chemistry and formula of From the North and taken their cosmic jams to the swamp. Cranking the levels up a notch and introducing themselves in fine fashion.

Trust me, if you like Alice in Chains or Soundgarden, I imagine you'll be just as taken All Hail the Crown. Here's hoping that they feel like treating us to a second record.

All Hail the Crown indeed.


Saturnalia
Saturnalia
Price: £9.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Black is the Colour, 3 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Saturnalia (Audio CD)
When 'grunge' was taking off in the 90's there were a few bands who stood somewhat in the shadows. Left behind by the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and even the lesser 'grunge-lite' acts that came along a little later (Silverchair, Candlebox, Creed). Among those left behind where The Afghan Whigs and Screaming Trees, the bands fronted by The Gutter Twins. Since the break-up of both bands, they've kept exceptionally busy while remaining just under the radar - Dulli has been busy with his Twilight Singers project, while Lanegan has added a few more records to his incredible solo cannon (and that's not even touching on the wealth of collaborations).

Saturnalia isn't their first collaboration together - Lanegan has appeared on a number of Dulli's Twilight Singers' records - but it marks their first as The Gutter Twins. In many ways it's the record that you would expect from them both, it explores the same darkened streets (Seven Stories Underground), embraces the darkness that surrounds them (Idle Hands), yet never giving up hope (Who Will Lead Us?).

Sonically, there's the soul of the Whigs, the gospel of the Trees and I Was In Love With You sounds like a gothic Beatles number. It's not often that you can say there's a real etheral quality to guitars that seem be sparring ferociously (see the excellent Circle the Fringes), but Saturnalia is one of those records. It's not Black Love or Dust, but it finds Dulli and Lanegan right where they feel comfortable. In the shadows.


Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
Price: £11.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sound of Bees Making Honey (in the Lion's Skull)??, 3 Sept. 2012
When Dylan Carlson's Earth released Hex: Printing in the Infernal Method in 2005, there was some disapproval. After all, here was a record that seemed a million country miles away from previous records. While it was dark, slow and doomy, there were some added textures - even country-tinged guitars. During Earth's hiatus, the music took on greater purpose, with the likes of Sunn0))) and Boris turning that sound into a movement of it's own. But the second coming was a step into Gothic Americana.

Fast forward three years and Earth's 'The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull' explores that territory a little further, as Dylan Carlson becomes doom metal's Ennio Morricone. At times you focus on what's inbetween Carlson's guitar - "Omens and Portants I: The Driver" - and get lost before returning to the hypnotising guitar harmony ("Omens and Portents II: Carrion Crow").

The album title itself is said to relate to the story of Samson and Delilah, and you'd be forgiven for finding something spiritual and subtly psychadelic. It's a record that sounds complete, maybe the most band orientated that Carlson has created. It's beautiful and incredibly uplifting. Heck, even Bill Frisell comes along for the ride.


Cassadaga (Digipack)
Cassadaga (Digipack)
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid 6th from Oberst & Co., 11 Oct. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cassadaga (Digipack) (Audio CD)
The latest Bright Eyes album is easily one of the finest alt. folk (or whatever brand of Americana you want to label them under) records released this year. In fact, it's their finest effort to date - it's warm, mature and lacking in much of the pretension of their previous efforts.

It's not all about Oberst's quivering delivery and often sharp thought provoking sentiments contained in his words, it's the sheer majesty of the country tinged musicianship (the pedal steel, the riotous percussion, the warm background vocals) and the arrangements that make the songs of `Cassadaga' so accessible and endearing.

2005's releases were, at times, exceptional (especially the more stripped down `I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning') and they certainly suggested that despite the quality of their output to date, there was something quite amazing yet to come from the young Oberst & Co.

`Cassadaga' is more of a sequel to `I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning' as it recalls the flow and atmosphere of the tales within its song cycle. However, as much as it evokes the tuneful element of the aforementioned release, it also delivers on the promises within 2002's sprawling `Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground'.

There's the Middle America characters and the political referencing that earned Oberst the `New Bob Dylan' accolades, yet the writing appears to be much more realized (the lyrics aren't just smart, but at times honest). The incredible `Hot Knifes' and the single `Four Winds' carry the recurring themes: religion and truth. In fact, much of the album rotates around the idea that life, like the haven the album is named after, is just that ... an idea (as the lady states amongst the noise of the opener, `Clairaudients': "Cassadaga might be just a premonition of a place you're going to visit").

This is the band's fullest and most developed record yet. Musically and lyrically it's ambitious, and although sometimes the ambition overwhelms its initial impact the intrigue pulls you back in.

Sure, the themes presented can be deemed as `heavy' - as it focuses on the questions around life ... such as our purpose - but `Cassadaga' is quite the opposite, it's a lifting listening experience and appears to be free of the burden of some of their previous records (there's much less anguish on display).

This could quite possibly be Bright Eye's masterpiece ... as important as The Arcade Fire's `Funeral' - in that it highlights that somewhere, among the thousands of generic sounding guitar bands out there, there's real music.

You could find yourself submerged in this album.


Slo Blo
Slo Blo
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.77

4.0 out of 5 stars A lost alternative classic, 5 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Slo Blo (Audio CD)
Cell was a New York based band that occupied the territory between Sonic Youth and Cincinatti's finest, The Afghan Whigs.

Their 1992 debut, `Slo*Blo' is built around sparring guitar lines which form something very powerful and hypnotic (at times, Cell, can sound very like Up in It era Whigs).

Unfortunately, despite the intesity of tracks such as opener 'Fall', 'Cross The River', 'Tundra' and the slow burning 'Stratosphere', Cell never quite excelled.

However, there's no denying that Cell had crafted a fluid and lasting testament of the 90's indie rock.

'Slo*Blo' can be regarded as one of alternative rock's great lost albums.


Easy Tiger
Easy Tiger
Offered by westworld-
Price: £9.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little too Easy Tiger, 5 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Easy Tiger (Audio CD)
There's no doubt that `Easy Tiger' is Ryan Adam's most focused album since his debut solo outing, `Heartbreaker'. However, there's also no doubt that much of the ... recklessness that colored his work since has left the album sounding very safe.

This album is similar to 2001's `Gold' in many ways, while also lacking the sprawling self-indulgent ambition (Nobody Girl and Enemy Fire spring to mind). In fact, 'Easy Tiger' apears to pull together the focused elements of his releases since 'Heartbreaker' and in many ways is the album that critics have been waiting for.

The splendid opener, `Goodnight Rose' leaves you yearning for another 2 or 3 minutes of improvised instrumentation and you get the impression that it wouldn't have sounded out of place on 2005's incredible `Cold Roses' (where we would no doubt been treated to a rawer, 6 minute version of the song). Elsewhere, 'Halloween Head' revisits the territory he explored within the largely disappointing Rock N Roll, while 'The Sun Also Sets' could have been found on any of the Love Is Hell discs. However, where some of the material on each of these albums has been messy, these songs are concise and brilliantly constructed.

`Tears of Gold', on the other hand, could well be an orphaned track from Jacksonville City Nights: it's 'contemporary country' feel highlighted by the brilliant playing of backing band The Cardinals.

The sweet melancholy of 'Two' or `Everybody Knows' resists the urge to be overbearing on the listener due to their length. In fact, the same could be said for much of the album, as each of its tracks have an average running time of 3 minutes.

Essentially, despite boasting only Ryan Adams' name, 'Easy Tiger' is the third album from "Ryan Adams & The Cardinals". The song cycle is lean and lacking filler, and the playing exceptional. However, there's a feeling of disinterest from the efficiency of the performances.

The overall feel of `Easy Tiger' is ... well, easy. Although the albums songs are tight and concise, it's the `recklessness' of Adams' work that make it so endearing, leaving the album sounding quite tame.

There are some very fine songs, but on first listen only 3 or 4 actually stand out. Fortunately, I discovered that the album offers more after several listens.


It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land
It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £16.98

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All that glitters is not gold ..., 27 July 2007
At times, `It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land' is an unsettling and almost uncomfortable listening experience (the rumbling screams and yells within the incredible Paper Money, which literally send shivers down the spine). The music is richly textured ... steeped in soul, gospel and the blues. It's often reflective and demands further attention, yet at times you feel like you're eavesdropping on pleas of forgiveness (opening epic `Revival' and `Spiritual', where Lanegans refrain of "Jesus, I don't want to die alone" sounds like the appeal of a dying man).

The slow burning intensity of opening track `Revival', is unrivalled by any track this year. When Lanegan poses the question: "Why am I so blind with my eyes wide open, I need someone now that this dark night's begun", you can't help but ponder over what he's been blind over and who he's pleading to (perhaps his girl, a dealer, or God?). Regardless, the result is outstanding.

The reworking of Lanegan's Kingdoms Of Rain (it featured originally on the wonderful 'Whiskey for the Holy Ghost') has to be heard to be believed. The music is sharp and accentuates Lanegan's words, phrasing and tone.

Elsewhere he sounds like a preacher who's traded his soul and realises that his saviour isn't forgiving to those who've turned their back on him (`Jesus Of Nothing' and `Ghosts of You And Me'). The versions of Neil Young's `Through My Sails' and the Stones' `No Expectations' are more desolate and abandoned than the originals.

Those who are familiar with the work of Mark Lanegan will know that this sort of subject matter is contained within his work for the best part of 2 decades. However, here the effects are astounding. In fact, it could be argued that it is Lanegan's presence that lends gravity to the project as without Lanegan this would be very little more than territory once tred by the likes of Death In Vegas (The Contino Sessions).

The beauty of this record is that it will draw the listener in further with each minute that passes, making it very rewarding. It weaves and twists, and although often troubling, this is a cathartic listen.


The Hustler
The Hustler
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everybody Loves A Winner ..., 27 July 2007
This review is from: The Hustler (Audio CD)
Jeff Klein's second album, The Hustler, is just as dark as his One Little Indian debut -- Everybody Loves a Winner - while trimming off the rough edges and offering, sonically and lyrically, more variety.

Recorded in New Orleans and produced by alternative rock icon (former Afghan Whigs frontman) Greg Dulli and veteran Mike Napolitano, the album is (still) set within the claustrophobic world that he introduced in the unapologetically dense Everybody Loves A Winner are .

Like Dulli, Klein narrates tales of obsession, jealousy and deceit (all the `qualities' that can consume relationships), and like Dulli, he also delivers the tales in an uncomfortable elegance. It's not about apologising for his wrongs and making excuses, it's about being honest.

The Hustler is a bleak, but beautiful record that is as vulnerable as it is hazardous.


Cassadaga
Cassadaga
Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £3.74

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid 6th from Oberst & Co., 27 July 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
The latest Bright Eyes album is easily one of the finest alt. folk (or whatever brand of Americana you want to label them under) records released this year. In fact, it's their finest effort to date - it's warm, mature and lacking in much of the pretension of their previous efforts.

It's not all about Oberst's quivering delivery and often sharp thought provoking sentiments contained in his words, it's the sheer majesty of the country tinged musicianship (the pedal steel, the riotous percussion, the warm background vocals) and the arrangements that make the songs of `Cassadaga' so accessible and endearing.

2005's releases were, at times, exceptional (especially the more stripped down `I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning') and they certainly suggested that despite the quality of their output to date, there was something quite amazing yet to come from the young Oberst & Co.

`Cassadaga' is more of a sequel to `I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning' as it recalls the flow and atmosphere of the tales within its song cycle. However, as much as it evokes the tuneful element of the aforementioned release, it also delivers on the promises within 2002's sprawling `Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground'.

There's the Middle America characters and the political referencing that earned Oberst the `New Bob Dylan' accolades, yet the writing appears to be much more realized (the lyrics aren't just smart, but at times honest). The incredible `Hot Knifes' and the single `Four Winds' carry the recurring themes: religion and truth. In fact, much of the album rotates around the idea that life, like the haven the album is named after, is just that ... an idea (as the lady states amongst the noise of the opener, `Clairaudients': "Cassadaga might be just a premonition of a place you're going to visit").

This is the band's fullest and most developed record yet. Musically and lyrically it's ambitious, and although sometimes the ambition overwhelms its initial impact the intrigue pulls you back in.

Sure, the themes presented can be deemed as `heavy' - as it focuses on the questions around life ... such as our purpose - but `Cassadaga' is quite the opposite, it's a lifting listening experience and appears to be free of the burden of some of their previous records (there's much less anguish on display).

This could quite possibly be Bright Eye's masterpiece ... as important as The Arcade Fire's `Funeral' - in that it highlights that somewhere, among the thousands of generic sounding guitar bands out there, there's real music.

You could find yourself submerged in this album.


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