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Matt182 (Wales, UK)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an album!, 27 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: McBusted (Audio CD)
The self titled debut album from super-group McBusted, comprising of all the members of McFly and two of the three members of the disbanded band Busted, was released on 1st December 2014. From forming at the end of 2013 and performing 42 sold-out shows across the UK and Ireland between April and June 2014, playing Busted and McFly's greatest hits, they began writing original songs and decided on releasing a new album. The debut single Air guitar was released in November and follow up single Get over it in January this year.

After seeing them perform live for the first time on Comic relief and then watching the videos for the singles, which I was impressed with, I decided to buy the album. The only version that Amazon was selling is the Deluxe edition which includes 3 bonus tracks and that is the one I have. The artwork for this album is quite interesting and exuberant (anyone who's seen the back cover and inner booklet pictures will know what I mean).

The album opens with the anthemic Air guitar - a sing-along pop-punk/pop rock beauty of a track with clever lyrics and a killer chorus, also featuring some impressive guitar. The song about a guy's struggle with wanting to be a star and his dreams of being a rock star is a great concept. It's definitely one of the finest tracks. The band make it all work so well and it sets us up for a solid album. Hate your guts was co-written with Mark Hoppus from Blink 182, a band that has had a significant influence on both the original bands. It sounds like Blink 182, it's a pop punk driven, very humorous and ironic track. It may be the shortest but it's another great track. What happened to your band was written by James after Busted's break-up in 2005. It starts off slow with really strong, moving lyrics from Matt. The chorus is really strong and reminds me a bit of My Chemical romance but that isn't a bad thing. Get over it is a funny, ironic song about not letting a break-up bring you down and Tom Fletcher aces this one. The chorus is a sing-along anthem and it's so fun to listen to. Riding on my bike displays typical James Bourne, loser humour and it's so good. The intro sounds like the sound of a Gameboy - almost implying this is from the point of view of a gamer/slacker type. It's written by James and Matt and is one of the first songs they've written together in 10 years. The chorus is once again, a sing-along powerhouse. The ending is completely James Bourne trademark lyrics. Gone is a stunning track and is certainly one of the heavier sounding, more rock than pop songs. The verse features jumpy, intense guitar and sets us up for an incredibly moving, emotional, powerful chorus that hits like a hurricane. Sensitive guy is a bit juvenile, with very humorous lyrics that'll have you laughing. It's definitely memorable and is the second song co-written by Mark Hoppus.

Beautiful girls are the loneliest is a complete change of style. It's a moving acoustic guitar number written by James about how beautiful girls are misunderstood. It's quite profound. Even though it sounds different from anything else here it works, especially with the mellow guitar riff in the bridge interlude. The tempo is brought back up once again in glorious style with Before you knew me which is amazing in every way. The lyrics are so ironic, humorous and incredible. It's easily one of the best tracks with a driving rhythm and big chorus with interchanging lyrics each time it's sung. McFly were named after one of the band's favourite movies Back to the future, so it's no wonder they've written a song called Back in time. It's about a girl the guy has hooked up with but forgot what happened the night before and wishes he could go back to change things. It's not one of the strongest songs but it's a good song. How's my hair is another really humorous song but also has quite a serious side, with the guy displaying his insecurities about seeing a girl he likes, wondering if he'll look good enough. Getting it out has a great sound with a verse that builds up to a catchy chorus with the guy confessing his true feelings. It was co-written by Rivers Cuomo; the lead singer and guitarist from the band Weezer.

23:59 is the first of the bonus tracks (although they're not stated) and it's another catchy quality pop punk track about a guy completely infatuated, with a chorus that sounds like 5 seconds of summer. In da club is different. It's probably my least favourite with repetitive lyrics and more of a basic sound but it's grown on me. I see red is Matt and James' creation about a guy paranoid over his GF cheating and the lyrics are ironic, the chorus especially is excellent. It's one of the more punk sounding tracks and it's a decent way to end.

When I discovered the 2 bands had formed to cover their back catalogue together it really didn't interest me but after listening to the singles and purchasing this album I'm very glad they did get together because this is an amazing album with really solid songwriting and awesome pop punk/rock tunes which are sing-alongs for the pop fans but also very impressive for fans of rock and punk too. I speak for myself on that. This is an album I really enjoyed immediately and I have to take my hat off to these guys because they've done a great job with this album. It's one of the best pop punk/pop rock albums I've heard in a while. There are no bad songs. I'm looking forward to their next one already!

The Dream Walker
The Dream Walker
Price: £7.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I think Tom Delonge is in dream land!, 8 May 2015
This review is from: The Dream Walker (MP3 Download)
The dream walker is Angels and airwaves' fifth studio album released on December 9th 2014 and just like with their previous project Love, which spawned two albums; this is also part of an ambitious project, which coordinates with an animated movie and a graphic novel. Just like the last album this is also released through Tom's own label To the stars records. The album was written by Tom Delonge and new drummer Ilan Rubin. Since the last album their original drummer Atom Willard parted ways in October 2011 and (their 2nd) bassist Matt Wachter also departed in June 2014. Original guitarist David Kennedy was also not featured on this album but according to Tom, is still in the band (he featured later on their video for Tunnels). The album is another change in sound, going from a space rock theme, which was heavily influenced by synthesizers on Love, to more of an alternative/indie rock still reliant on electronic sounds/synthesizers.

Tom's voice is once again an issue for me although I've got used to it since the radical change in sound on Love. Lyrically, most of the songs don't make a lot of sense. He seems to be writing words down that create a story and make sense to him but sound incongruous to me. Not all the songs are like that but most are and it's a shame because it's just not effective as his simpler, sensible song lyrics. The songs are mostly between 3-5 minutes, which don't really allow for that anthemic sound they once had.

Teenagers and rituals opens with a piano riff and rolling drums and Tom’s lyrical style is demonstrated. The verses are bland but the chorus is pretty good. There’s an interesting inarticulate and poppy “bu, bu badadada...” interlude which I‘m not a fan of. It’s an OK start. Paralyzed was the first released song (but not a single) and is definitely 1 of the best. The intro sounds almost like Boxcar racer with a heavy sound, it’s got a decent melody throughout, especially in the chorus. The lead single The wolfpack is another of the best, carried by synths. The verse lyrics are questionable but the chorus is strong and really effective with a solid rock sound. Tunnels is a quiet and a slow driving song that only takes off at over a minute but delivers in the interesting chorus about death. Kiss with a spell sounds like something from the 80’s with a great sound. I like how the electronics cross with the guitars in the verses.

Mercenaries has a big intro with quite a punk sound in the verses and could’ve been another Blink 182 song. Bullets in the wind has a very upbeat, fun rhythm and is a highlight. The disease has another big electronic intro and a big chorus. It’s an example of their alt rock sound and it’s not one of my favourites. Tremors has really good guitar and is another upbeat and uplifting track with a good chorus. Anomally sounds like nothing AVA have done before. For a start it’s an acoustic track! It’s a romantic ballad which has very sappy, syrupy lyrics and quite a pathetic chorus featuring the lyric “I never wanted to be one of your sad discoveries“ - not exactly the epic, confident style I expect from this band. Some people will love it but I don’t.

The top 3 tracks are Paralyzed, The wolfpack and a toss-up between Kiss with a spell and Tremors.
Very much like Love I don't think Tom's ambitions meet the result. The best albums he did were when he was just focused on the music but with other projects going on the music is once again not up to the quality of the early material. Even though Tom scuppered his Blink 182 position and has now been replaced, it doesn’t make this album one of his best. It's a decent album with a more exciting and varied sound than Love 1 & 2 but it just doesn't appeal to me like the first 2 albums did. It stands alone as a good album and AVA will remain my favourite band but I just don’t like the direction this band has gone in recent years, even if this is more satisfying to listen to than Love 1 & 2. I just hope Tom sorts this band out and decides what he wants to do for the future. Very disappointing that you can only buy this album as an mp3 download.

Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Reign supreme!, 22 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Supremacy (Audio CD)
This is the 4th Hatebreed album which was released on August 29th 2006. The gap between the first and second albums was 5 years so the band had a lot of time to hone their style. The gap between the 2nd and 3rd was a year so that's why those albums sound similar but this album has a gap of 3 years from The rise of brutality, and once again the band have developed their sound. Both the 2nd and 3rd albums - Perseverance and The rise of brutality were released on the major label Universal records but this album is released on Roadrunner records.

Jamey Jasta (vocalist) has a powerful set of booklet notes to introduce us to the album and how it is based upon the times he suffered with personal problems during the height of the band after the release of their 3rd album, how he suffered with depression for the past couple of years but was saved by the music. He doesn't sign his name off or tell us that it is him but I'm presuming this is who it is! He describes the main theme of the album as "fighting to attain supremacy of self". The story he tells is inspiring and you can really feel his honesty in his words which is refreshing and gives me a more genuine appreciation for the music. The album has commentary for almost every song to give us a first-hand insight into what they're about which I like.

The artwork is more artsy and graphic than on previous albums. The cover is impressive with the duel eagles holding the band mace's in front of a map and the inside follows this map theme. The band brought in a new member for this album with the addition of Frank Novinec on guitar to reform a five member line-up for the first time since 2002's Perseverance. I think the duel guitar gives a thicker, richer sound than on the previous album and that's just 1 of the differences you will notice on this one.

The album opens with shouting and distorted sounds which leads into the intro scream that is for the lead single Defeatist. It's a song which shows someone who has the opposite view of themselves than Jamey is trying to inspire with this album. I suppose it's a personal track and one that expresses how Jamey had felt before feeling positivity. It's a powerful opener with a repetitive and hard-hitting chorus. I will say that with this album there is more screaming for screaming's sake just as shown in the intro to Horrors of self. This song has quite a simple sound but it's a decent track. Following this track about facing personal negativity we have Mind over all which is really positive with an inspirational chorus that reflects what this album evokes - empowerment, with mental strength. To the threshold is another powerful and aggressive track with Jamey telling us he will take your negativity and he will give you strength. There is a new vocal experiment for Jamey here where he uses melody for the first time when he screams "this is more than a battle cry" - I really like that! Give wings to my triumph has a long intro which is something the band seems to follow a lot more with this album and it's new for them to use them so much. It's powerful, has great lyrics and an inspiring chorus. Destroy everything is the second single and one of the best tracks with a great sound, motivational lyrics and a memorable chorus. Divine judgement is different - it doesn't seem to follow the same theme of personal struggle/empowerment but it's still a good song with a strong sound.

Immortal enemies begins with war cry screaming and leads into another really good heavy track. The lyrical theme of world injustice is definitely reminiscent of the last album The rise of brutality. The most truth is trademark Hatebreed - using negativity as strength to move forward into positivity. Never let it die is another of the strongest tracks with a one liner chorus and such a memorable sound. Once again Jamey uses vocal melody in the lyric "I'll fight like never before" which sounds so good. Spitting venom is a bit too repetitive for my liking but it's a cool song about fighting back during conflicts with people who have personal wars. As diehard as they come is one for the fans and Jamey makes that clear in his notes. This one is also quite repetitive but it sounds so good. Supremacy of self serves as the title track and it's thoughtful, motivational and explicitly inspirational. This song is what this album is about - supremacy of self (being supreme) and overcoming your personal struggles in whatever form they may be. It's easily 1 of the top 3 best tracks.

This album may be a bit of a change in sound for the band and slightly more experimental but it is trademark Hatebreed and it sounds like nothing else but them. There are no disappointments, just another really strong album from a band that keeps delivering what the fans want. It's amazing!

Songs from the Labyrinth
Songs from the Labyrinth
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient songs given new life, 9 Nov. 2014
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This album was released on October 6th 2006. After releasing Sacred love (an album of original songs) in 2003 Sting once again, just like in the late 80's, began to suffer a bout of writer's block. With no new songs he decided to rediscover the songs of John Dowland and was introduced to lutenist Edin Karamazov through Sting's long time guitarist Dominic Miller. Together they created this album of songs written by John Dowland, a 16th-17th century Lute player who played in the courts of royalty including King Christian IV of Denmark but he never managed to receive the position he so heartedly coveted - to play in the court of Elizabeth I of England and later James I.

The album is a collection of Dowland’s songs, 1 by Robert Johnson who was a contemporary, and a letter written by Dowland to Sir Robert Cecil; secretary of state for Queen Elizabeth I when it was written in 1595. Sting calls it “a musical soundtrack” to the composers life and I think it’s a tribute that Dowland should be proud of. The booklet has plenty of information including the full story of the meeting of Karamazov, the life and times of John Dowland and Sting’s own experiences and opinions on the songs, as well as some original pictures of Dowland’s artefacts.

I actually bought the CD-DVD collection entitled ‘The journey and the labyrinth’ a year before I purchased the original album as I didn’t know how I would take the music and was putting it off for a while. When I watched the DVD documentary and listened to the live CD I was greatly impressed so decided I’d buy the original album and I’m very glad I did!

Having a mix of instrumental songs, lyrical songs - all melancholy in lyric but some being very bright and cheery in music such as Fine knacks for ladies (which uses a choir), the amazing Come again (1 of my favourites) and Clear or cloudy, and the pleading letter to Cecil, it really does give an insight into Dowland’s life and his feelings at the time. Dowland was obviously a very melancholy character, but with wry humour present in many of the lyrics, and some of the songs being quite upbeat and jolly, he definitely wasn’t what some describe as a ‘depressive‘.

My personal favourite from the album is the Robert Johnson (17th century lutenist not Blues musician) song Have you seen the bright lily grow? I can safely say it’s 1 of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. This album is full of real music, as Sting said; “there is nowhere to hide“, it’s just lute and vocal and that simplicity is where the beauty and quality lies. I could name all my favourites but really there isn’t one song that I don’t like. I am not a classically trained musician or a classical buff at all and I’m writing as a fan of a massive range of genres, classical being 1 that I do really appreciate. The music is amazing, and Karamazov’s talent is explicitly displayed in the instrumental Forlorn hope fancy. Together with Sting’s amazing vocals, which he says was a challenge for him, especially for Weep you no more sad fountains, these songs are carried with real eminence. The original album ends with In darkness let me dwell which Karmazov calls “The greatest song ever written in the English language” and was the first Dowland song Karamazov performed for Sting.

For this 2008 Australian and Asian tour special edition there are 3 bonus tracks - Fields of gold; which really fits in well with lute backing, Message in a bottle - live and Have you seen the bright lily grow - live. The live recordings, arguably have more life and vigour than the originals and sound just as great.

This is an incredible project and Sting has shown his versatility as a musician and singer with this masterpiece. I have a lot of respect for Sting because he respects the history of music and that is clearly depicted in this beautiful tribute to these 400 year old compositions. It's far more than just a cover album that's for sure!

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Floating around most of the time, 29 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Parachutes (Audio CD)
I am a fan of the old sound of Coldplay and that's why I have been collecting their albums before Viva la vida. A few years ago I bought X & Y due to it having my favourite Coldplay song on it - Fix you, and I was impressed with the album. Last year I purchased A rush of blood to the head and really liked that album too. So after working my way backwards the only thing left was for me to buy this album which features the classic singles Yellow and Trouble on it.
After the band released a couple of EP's - The safety EP and The blue room EP (which also features an early version of Don't panic), this debut album was released on 10th July 2000.

The album cover is a picture of an orange coloured globe apparently purchased from WH Smith for £10, which contrasts with the black background. The album has 10 songs and features a hidden bonus track.

Don't panic starts off and it's not the Coldplay you expect. It's based around acoustic guitar and it's a ballad with a chorus you're likely to recognise. Shiver comes in like an alternative rock track but slows down for the verse and has a quirky guitar riff between Martin's vocals. The overall sound is stronger and the lyrics of yearning are good. Spies is another acoustic song with soft vocals, a consistent sound with decent guitar and a high pitched vocal for the short chorus. It's pretty good and is the (naturally) longest track here at 5:18. The middle 8 gets big and intense but it comes back to the soft sound it began with, with Martin squeaking "they're just spies!". Sparks is another acoustic track with a melancholy sound and a sober tone. Yellow is the best track here and 1 of Coldplay's most famous songs because it's the song that got them recognised. This song is upbeat, has a great chorus and features electric guitar.

Trouble is surely the 2nd best and another famous track from them with a great piano riff you should immediately recognise. It's a strong song with Martin asking for forgiveness stating "I never meant to cause you trouble". Parachutes takes us back to a quieter, slower sound with acoustic guitar carrying this. It's incredibly short at just 47 seconds! High speed is a bit heavier, once again with a guitar riff wrapped around the vocals. It's still got the quiet, relaxed sound that this album has throughout. We never change is another acoustic track with a soft tone and electric guitar wrapped around for effect. It's another really laid back, sombre track. I think we've had a bit too much of that already in my opinion. It would be nice to have more upbeat, exciting tracks. Everything's not lost is a slow piano driven track with some cool guitar. It's another track where Martin sounds like he's complaining, with his pathetic earnest. It's a decent closer with a sound we've got used to by now. After a gap there's a 1:37 hidden track called Life is for living which is a folk sounding acoustic track with echo-y vocals at the beginning which gets cleaner and features what sounds like an organ.

If you don't like soft acoustic songs then you are not going to enjoy most of this album! Besides the 2 standout tracks which are the singles Yellow and Trouble, this album is very soft, downbeat and quiet and you are going to have to have an appreciation for that style to like this album all the way through. I like it and it's definitely worth listening to but I just wish there was more variety to it because then it would have been great not just good.

Save Rock & Roll
Save Rock & Roll
Price: £3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It saved me from my apathy!, 26 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Save Rock & Roll (Audio CD)
This album was released on April 12th 2013 and is their 5th studio album. The album cover of the Asian boys in contrasting fashion is a contrast to the black and white pictures with the red colour of the inner booklet.

Fallout boy never appealed to me before. I was well aware of the band and thought a couple of their songs were alright. The only song of theirs which really stood out for me was their cover of Beat it which I think is, if not the best, one of the best covers of any song ever.

This year I went to Download festival 2014 mainly to watch Linkin Park and Avenged Sevenfold but I thought at the time I wouldn't mind seeing these guys live. When I did I really enjoyed them and they went way up in my expectations. I liked the sing along 'whoah-oh's' on the new songs which I don't usually go for in songs but they were perfect for a live performance. So weeks later I decided to check out the video for Alone together, which I'd heard on the radio, and then bought the album.

I know that the band made quite a change to the sound for this album and some of the fans were disappointed. I get that, and I've been there with many bands, but for me I'm seeing it from the perspective of a new fan who only got interested because of this material so I can't make any comparisons. Upon my first listen I thought the album was a bit of a mix and match. Most of the first part sounded great but the latter part of the album wasn't so exciting. It didn't take many more listens to change my mind though and have an appreciation for the album as a whole. It's far from perfect but it is a great album with sing-a-long choruses and an energetic, sometimes epic vibe. It's a concept album with all the songs fitting together for a theme and the band have videos for every song for 'The young blood chronicles' which you can see on Youtube.

The fast, energetic strings at the intro of The phoenix is an awesome way to begin this album and got me excited from the start. It's one of the best tracks with a strong chorus and is a testament to the vocal abilities of lead singer Patrick Stump - that guy can sing! The playful lyrics, determined attitude and pop rock sound set you up for the feeling of the whole album. The first single Light 'em up follows with not such an intense sound but the lyrics are still pretty dark. The chorus is pretty short and pretty simple but the song's rhythm is great and the song is helped out by the sing-along "whoah-oh"s. Alone together is my favourite track; with a powerful sound throughout and incredible vocals with a chorus that lifts you up off the ground. Once again the "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh"s definitely have a positive effect! Where did the party go slows things down a bit with its droning bass rhythm and cool lyrics. It's definitely more laid back than the first 3. The bridge and the chorus are both catchy and it sounds cool. Just one yesterday is a highlight which features Foxes. The chorus is strong and carries the song even though the rest of it sounds good, and the female vocal works bang-on with Patrick's vocals.

The mighty fall feat. Big Sean is good but not 1 of my favourites. The chorus is simple but big and the verse lyrics are cynical. The rap is pretty good and it works well with the sound as a whole. Miss missing you picks up the pace and has a far more positive vibe - this is 1 of the best. Patrick expresses some impressive vocals throughout and the chorus is powerful with decent lyrics. It's got an 80's reminiscent sound to it which I really enjoy. Death valley goes back to the dance rock sound. The verses are OK with smart lyrics like 'undress to impress' but it's the chorus that really saves the song from being mediocre. Young volcanoes has to be my 2nd favourite after Alone together. It's a powerful track with a really positive feeling. It's backed with acoustic guitar and sounds really cool. The sustain on the 'wild' has given me goosebumps before; the chorus is that good! Rat a tat feat. Courtney Love is an interesting one. I am not at all a fan of Love's contribution entering with 'It's Courtney b****!" - beautiful! The profound and strong chorus is what really makes this song half decent. The bass line will make your head bop. The title track is a decent song. It sounds different from anything here with its piano backdrop and contribution from fan Elton John. I swear they stole "you are what you love not who loves you" from a movie starring Nicolas Cage called 'Adaption' but I won't hold it against them! The collaboration is unexpected but it works and the sound is good, especially the chorus.

As a new fan of the band and being really impressed with this album, I am planning on buying their previous material. It's a really good album and it's made me a fan so that's recommendation enough!

The Simpsons - Season 7 [DVD]
The Simpsons - Season 7 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dan Castellaneta
Offered by The Heron Bay Trading Co.
Price: £28.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality for your collection, 25 Oct. 2014
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The Simpsons season 7 is another really good season of The Simpsons and is definitely worth buying. It's not my favourite season but it is still up there with the classics. The presentation box is good with this time round being film based and just as with the seasons before 11, it's well packaged with plastic cased holders for the DVDs instead of the cheap cardboard, budget packaging these days. The disc menu is animated with Simpsons characters and the menu is made up of play buttons and plus signs (for the extras) which is my favourite set-up, which they still use currently.

On one of the commentaries we're told that this season was based around season 3, which had good family values and is a favoured season by the writers. I can see the parallels but this season is definitely different in feeling to that one. The season begins with the cliff-hanger of Who shot Mr. Burns? (part two), which was left at the end of season 6. Radioactive man was the first episode where they used digital colour and the look of it is quite different. Personally I prefer the hand coloured look rather than the perfect appearance that computers give these days. Other episodes to watch out for is Bart sells his soul (which I've seen a thousand times), Treehouse of horror VI which has a parody of Nightmare on elm street with Willie as Freddie Kreuger and Homer in a 3D world which has an interesting ending!

Homers mother suddenly appears for the first time in Mother Simpson, which has a sweet feel to it, The Simpsons 138th episode spectacular is a highlight with clips from the show, some never seen before, presented by Troy McClure. Team Homer is a great episode with Homer and pals attempting to win a bowling tournament, but then Mr. Burns ruins their plans, Two bad neighbours with George Bush senior going head to head with Homer is definitely a standout, Bart on the road is definitely a favourite with Bart supposedly heading off to Canada for a spelling-bee but drives away to Knoxville with his friends, 22 short films about Springfield is definitely different with all these different stories occurring around Springfield at the same time, Homerpalooza, which features many guest bands and Summer of 4ft.2 with Lisa finding herself on a family vacation are decent endings.

Matt Groening appears on 16 commentaries which is good to see because he barely gets involved with commentaries these days. David Mirkin gives a nice commentary after one of the episodes about how much he enjoyed being the show runner, a position he began on season 5. I really found the commentaries interesting but that's probably because I am sentimental about the episodes, something which I don't feel about everything post season 10.

There are plenty of extras again this season with deleted scenes, available to play with the certain episodes, deleted scenes with commentary which appears on Disc 4 extras. On Disc 1 we've got a featurette on Homer in the third dimension, Paul and Linda McCartney's recipe for Lentil soup from Lisa the vegetarian, an animation showcase. Disc 3 has Art & animation from the animators for The day the violence died - a fun watch, Disc 4 as well as the deleted scenes has a language feature for 22 short films about Springfield, art & animation in a few different forms including original sketches which is interesting to watch.

Another great season I would definitely recommend to any fan of this show young or old

The Hunting Party
The Hunting Party
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £7.30

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I was an idiot to think they could sound anything like they did back then!, 7 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Hunting Party (Audio CD)
In the year 2000 Linkin Park broke through the charts with their amazing debut album Hybrid theory with an incredible mix of Rock, Metal and hip hop styles deemed Nu metal. After their massive success Meteora followed in 2003 with a similar style, a developed sound and more amazing music with the band sounding their best. In 2007 Minutes to midnight was released which had a very different sound and was more alternative rock. It wasn't nearly as good as the first 2 albums but it had some great tracks on it and is likeable. 2010 heralded a massive change with A thousand suns which was completely different and an album I still despise; with a reliance on electronic, computerised sounds, I could never like how much they changed. Living things still depended on electronica but in a portion of songs proper instruments were added into the songs which helped make it a stronger album with a far better sound. I didn't know anything about their new material until I was at Download festival this year and the band announced they were releasing a new album and threw a signed copy into the crowd. They played a few new songs and I thought they sounded alright live so was looking forward to the album.

After some unfavourable demos from Mike which Rick Rubin liked, Mike scrapped them and decided to create a new sound for this album. Mike and Brad produced the album themselves and it's the first non Rubin produced record since Meteora.

The thing that frustrates me most is prior to the album's release Brad was quoted saying the album sounds like a prequel to Hybrid theory. I wish bands wouldn't spout unjustifiable comments that they can't follow through. Just like when a band swears their latest album is the best thing they've ever done, and it never is! As a previous reviewer said; that comment was just a PR move to cause hype. When an excited fan has already bought the album just to discover it sounds nothing like their early material it's too late for the band to care. This album sounds nothing like anything before MTM and it's a million miles from the Hybrid theory/Xero demos. Whereas the early stuff had great guitar riffs and a polished, glorious sound, this album is rough, boring, bland sounding with mediocre songs. It's an alternative rock record and is most similar to MTM in style but also influenced by their electronic sound too. On the first 2 records the electronic sounds were used in an intelligent way as a rhythm but this album still smacks of using electronica to layer out the music.

Mike said what makes them angry now is different from back in the day; to prepare fans that the lyrical content is completely different from their early material even if the music was supposed to be similar. The lyrics on the first 2 albums especially were about real feelings with emotional depth and hurt that most people can relate to. That's what helped make them so popular back then and what made me love them. Apparently what gets them going these days is politics, war, the music industry and people who won't admit their guilt! I think above all that's what has turned me off ever since ATS and with this - I just can't relate to this band anymore and can't imagine any old fan who got into their earlier music for its depth and honesty who can appreciate these songs. Anyone who liked their first 2 albums and also likes this one is either a so-called 'true fan' who's stuck with every record, or they don't care about the lyrics and are just enjoying the fact they're making more proper music using mostly instruments again.

Chester opens up with distorted screaming sounding like a deranged computer humanoid on Keys to the kingdom! This song introduces us to their eagerness to fill half the songs up with screaming to get a 'heavy' sound. Chester's voice sounds off. Whereas on the early stuff the screaming was beautiful and placed cleverly in the songs usually at the bridge, the screaming now is overdone and overbearing. It ends with the 1st soundbite of many and this one is a little kid shouting! All for nothing featuring Page Hamilton is calmer and better. Hamilton sings the chorus but what's ironic is the song's about not selling out and this is a collaboration! Guilty all the same has a huge intro with guitar and piano. It's one of three 5 minute plus songs on the album. The rap verse by Rakim is poor and ruins the rhythm of the song. The summoning is an ugly sounding short instrumental. War is a metal/punk crossover with a lot of shouting/screaming but is OK. It has the best guitar solo interestingly towards the end.

Wastelands has a stop-start backbeat with a half decent chorus. Until it's gone is based on the old cliche 'you don't know what you've got' - original! The sound is 1 of the best though. The guitar sound on Rebellion is great, it's the preachy political lyrics that let the song down. Apparently only those under oppression are proper rebels, we're just 'imitations of rebellion'! Mark the graves is overly long and drags with a mediocre chorus. Drawbar is great because it's 0% pretentious! Tom Morello provides some squeaky guitar with a nice piano backdrop and rolling drums. Final masquerade is 1 of the better tracks with a thoughtful bright sound and much better lyrics than most of what we've heard on the album. A line in the sand is another long track. This time Mike does some singing and rapping in the verses and Chester provides an angry chorus. It's a boring end to a disappointing album.

The best tracks are Guilty all the same, Until it's gone and Wastelands and they're OK at best. This album is proof that their best days are long behind them!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2015 3:25 PM BST

Blue (Da Ba Dee)
Blue (Da Ba Dee)
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to Blue, 18 July 2014
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This review is from: Blue (Da Ba Dee) (MP3 Download)
Absolute classic late 90's song. I loved it back in the day and after straying away from this song for a long time and my music tastes changing, it took me close to 15 years to appreciate how much of a great pop/dance track this is. I saw the music video on a music channel recently and it moved me the same way it did back then with those little blue aliens grooving away wither their arms swinging from side to side! A modern classic with such a catchy and unique sound.

The Outsider: My Autobiography
The Outsider: My Autobiography
by Jimmy Connors
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The confession of Jimmy Connors, 18 July 2014
I've been a bit of a Jimmy Connors fan for years after watching re-runs of his matches on Wimbledon and seeing him interviewed a couple of times at Wimbledon, most notably the time before last I saw him at The Championships ('08 or '09) before making a surprise appearance this year and doing some commentary for BBC. When I found out he had released an autobiography last summer I knew that I had to get it. I have previously read John McEnroe's autobiography, which I really enjoyed and found insightful so I was hoping for the same from Jimmy.

I wasn't around when Jimmy was playing professionally and I got into tennis in '06 so my interest in McEnroe and Connors comes from footage of how they played and who they are now. I'm a big fan of current tennis but I think I find something exciting about the way it was back then and the personalities which is quite different from nowadays.

The book starts in an interesting time in his career in 1981 where he tells us people have been saying he's 'finished, washed up, done' and how he was determined to work his way back to the top and be better than anyone believed he could be. The story takes us through Jimmy's upbringing in East St Louis, Illinois and how his mum taught him to play alongside his grandmother nicknamed 'Two-mum', due to her being like a second mother to him. The struggles are discussed including a savage attack on public courts where his mother, gran and grandfather were brutally assaulted by two youths. His mother went on to be his manager through his professional career alongside coach Pancho Segura. Alongside word-class tennis was life off the court - partying with Ilie Nastasie (but always in moderation) - his close friend, an on-off relationship with Chris Evert, former Miss world Marjorie Wallace and his Wife - Playboy model Patti McGuire. Jimmy had problems with tennis federations and promoters, with lawsuits and with other players. Jimmy reflects on those issues with good humour as he did back then. Jimmy came to the fore when tennis was becoming popular with your average Joe and not just the Country club upper crust. It was a golden age for tennis and alongside McEnroe, Borg, Nastase Gerulaitis and Lendl; made the sport appealing for everyone. Jimmy pioneered the aluminium racket when the sport was transitioning from wooden racquets. He was the outsider and never really fit in with the clan of players that coalesced at the time.

Connors gives some interesting views throughout the book including his thoughts on today's tennis. Jimmy was a founder of the seniors tour and he tells us how he just didn't want to stop and had to keep going. He tells us he stills plays tennis every day even after 3 hip operations (he doesn't like the uneven number due to his OCD!). He discusses family life and even though there's been struggles how he's been married to the same woman for 35 years. Even in his later years Jimmy wasn't living it down quietly getting intro trouble with the Santa Barbara police department at a college football game with his son, for which he got arrested! The book ends with heartfelt acknowledgements to those who helped him through his life and tennis career.

I really enjoyed reading this book and in many parts it was more blunt and revealing than Johnny Mac's autobiography. Jimmy puts it all out there including an abortion that Chris Evert had against his wishes which the press had a field day with when the book was released and Evert didn't know he had included it. Jimmy approaches life with humour and honesty and that's what helps make this book so enjoyable that he tells it like it is and doesn't hold back. I would definitely recommend this for any tennis fan.

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