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Reviews Written by
L. Webb (South West, UK)

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Signal Flare
Signal Flare
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars An unknown gem, 1 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Signal Flare (MP3 Download)
Fantastic banjo and guitar-led alt-folk from America. I saw this chap playing in Laura Veirs' band years back, and he opened the show with a solo set and I was lucky enough to buy this CD on the night. A real ear for a tune, and obscure, occasionally appropriately perverse, lyrics which have very accessible meaning behind them. The female harmonies are a nice touch, and occasional cello is never a bad thing. There is also irony and humour within the whole thing ("I don't want this to sound like a well-oiled machine" is the first line of the album - a subtle self-reference to the 'rough band sound' he has created) which gives the album a nice humble tone. Really great stuff.

100 Acres of Sycamore
100 Acres of Sycamore
Price: £9.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A grower, 27 Aug. 2011
This review is from: 100 Acres of Sycamore (Audio CD)
I listened to this album a few times through, and I must say, my initial reactions mirrored that of the previous reviewer. After about track 6 it started to wash over me. This wasn't necessarily a reflection of the latter songs, merely an indication of the pace and tone of the album. So I listened to the tracks in isolation. Each track, bar one, has its own unique charm, and in fact, this album is drenched in quality: The incredible lyrics on 'The Lake District'; the bouncy romance of 'For A Nightingale'; the beautiful harmonies on 'North Star Lover'; the melancholy of 'List of Distractions'.

Fionn is clearly a gifted songwriter, and he's shown that in the quirky folk of the first album, the jangling rock'n'roll of the second, and the quiet reflective ambient folk of this album.

Clearly, it's not an album of perfection, for, as previously stated, the pace does not build and the songs tend to blend into one without a bit of effort to single out tracks. It is a grower of an album in that respect, but I'm not sure it will capture the imagination of anyone new to Fionn. It is 4 stars for this reason, but also because 'Vodka Sorrow' is a desperate song which does grate on you after about the 15th repetition of "vodka sorrow".

Cracking songs all the same.

Andrew Maxwell: One Inch Punch - Live at Vicar Street [DVD]
Andrew Maxwell: One Inch Punch - Live at Vicar Street [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andrew Maxwell
Price: £8.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Standard., 5 Jan. 2011
With Andrew Maxwell you always know what you're going to get - a loveable scamp of a man with a cheeky grin and chuckle who will make you laugh whilst talking about Ireland, sex and hecklers (amongst other things, clearly). This show is absolutely no exception: He talks about taking his 9 year old son to a football match, global panic and terrorism and the general nonsense that gets thrown around in life (particularly in Ireland!). A fantastic show as always with an amusing extra about his experience of heckling.

The only problem I had with the show was that, as comedy DVDs go, it was very short: For instance, the Ross Noble DVDs run 2 hours or more with bonus footage, as is true of the new Dara O'Briain DVD, however Maxwell's show is only just over the one hour mark, which is somewhat disappointing - especially when you realise that, as an owner of the other two Maxwell DVDs, near the beginning there are quite a few old jokes reused for this show.

So all in all, this is exactly what you would expect from an Andrew Maxwell DVD, and it is exceptionally funny, even if it is on the short side. Highly recommended. 4/5.

Dylan Moran Live - What It Is [DVD]
Dylan Moran Live - What It Is [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dylan Moran
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £4.75

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top class, true stand-up, 25 Nov. 2009
The thing with seeing a Dylan Moran show or dvd, is that you know it will be good. I sat down to watch this, after seeing the show live in Bristol last year, and knew I was in for a treat. He doesn't disappoint.

Dylan Moran begins this show in a superbly bumbling fashion, pretty much walking out onto stage and shrugging. But, ironically when you consider the themes he talks about, this evolves into passionate rants about just about anything he can think of to complain about.

Of course, amongst 80 minutes of talking, there is a great deal of cynicism, but that's always been part of Moran's charm. The passion he shows is addictive, and you can feel the audience growing with it. This is true stand-up comedy: One man + one stage + one microphone = jokes. simple. The way Moran manages to diversify from this very simple comedy formula is by being a very unique observational comedian and by giving very bizarre analogies. It's pure, and it's superb.

"What It Is" is a perfect title for this show, and Moran talks about pretty much everything, and this can be summed up by the way he begins the show; with material on God and science and the creation of the world. Common Moran themes like self-improvement and foreign countries (and their accents) crop up, however more fresh and broad themes are talked about, such as Death, Consumerism, Child-rearing, pleasure and, er... confectionery.

"What It Is" could be viewed as a dark and cynical talk about the difficult issues in life, maybe even a passionate lecture, but the difference is, Moran manages to cover these topics whilst being outrageously funny. This DVD is superb from start to finish, and leaves you wanting to go have a cake. Moran would be pleased.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2010 8:21 PM GMT

Machismo Ep
Machismo Ep
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, but remember - it's an EP, 30 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Machismo Ep (Audio CD)
The thing with this album is that it leaves you wanting a lot more. After two solid albums, Gomez started to get a bit more experimental, and this pre-empted the 2002 album 'In Our Gun' which was again a solid album, but built around more experimental music mixed with their classic sound and digital effects.

What Gomez gives us with Machismo is a little insight into the 3 years between 'Liquid Skin' and 'In Our Gun' and I suppose, somewhat aptly, the music seems to be a bridge between the two albums. So first off; If you are looking for something to fill the gap between these two albums, this is a very good EP to buy, if not for the songs themselves, for coherence and judge of progression.

However, there are the songs themselves...

'Machismo' is the first track on this EP, and it is a song crafted around a sample from a David Blaine show (yes, honestly!) and a catchy guitar hook, with a chorus which utilises all three singers to great effect, and it is an incredibly addictive yet atmospheric song.

'Do's and Don'ts' is a very trippy song led by Ian Ball. It has a very bluesy feel to it, and has the danger of sliding into mundanity and sending you into a hazy dream, but this effect is only fleeting for the song clocks in at 2:08, so the whole charm of the song isn't spoiled.

Track three is a song led by Ben Ottewell called 'Touchin' Up'. This song is a much more standard Gomez song in that the core of the song is based around acoustic guitar and vocals. However this song crescendos nicely with strings and makes for a well rounded song.

'Waster' is an incredibly funky tune led by Tom Gray on vocals and guitar with a lovely piano in the background. This song is a lot of fun with a very sing-along chorus.

I suppose the last track deserves the most praise, clocking in at 13:33 and being somewhat epic for it. In fact what you get with 'The Dajon Song' is a blend of Gomez at their bluesiest and their trippiest. What I will say about this song is that it can fade into the subconscious owing to the nature of the song and its length. However, whilst this is true, the song itself is incredibly impressive - Ian Ball is very haunting on this track.

Overall, a great buy for any Gomez fan; maybe not a starter album for anyone starting out, however it is full of quality and innovation (even if it is only 5 tracks long)


A New Tide
A New Tide

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb - something new in every listen, 30 Mar. 2009
This review is from: A New Tide (Audio CD)
Gomez has continued to release albums that manage to have totally different tones and styles. This album is no exception. Bring it On and Liquid Skin had the original Gomez sound, then In our Gun showed of Gomez's use of electronics and having fun with an album. Split the difference was a rocker of an album that was so surprising to hear from Gomez, but it was refreshing to hear, and, of course, as with everything they try, they pulled it off. Then after that, How we Operate was released which was a polar opposite to Split the Difference - it was leisurely and calm.

That brings us up to 2009 and Gomez has released A New Tide - an album which shows a return to roots, and it seems as though every different style they have experimented with has been wrapped up in this album. Let me give a brief review of each song.

1. Mix - A lovely vocal and guitar track led by Ian Ball, which has a fantastic kick-in section at the end.

2. Little Pieces - A more commercial sounding song from Gomez, but with an addictive acoustic guitar hook that is so quintessentially Gomez in its tone.

3. If I ask you nicely - The only song on this album led by Tom Gray - A fun sounding song which really puts you back to 1998 with a funky strummed guitar and an awesome chorus, FUN song!

4. Lost Track - Another excellent acoustic guitar hook on this song, a return to something you may have heard on Bring it On, with an excellent jazzy breakdown in the middle.

5. Win Park Slope - A drifting and eerie song, with an insatiable slide guitar riff in the background with excellent reverb on Ian Ball's vocals, this song creates such an atmosphere - arguably the best and most innovative song on the album.

6. Bone Tired - This song flows straight from the previous one, with a soothing fingerstyle guitar riff with Ben Ottewell singing over it. This song is just...beautiful!

7. Airsteam Driver - A song which has what sounds like elements of a track from Bring it On, mixed with the heaviness of Split the Difference - This song, again, is like nothing else on the album. Really great song, with a VERY addictive line which you will sing a LOT ("go carefully, carefully, oh airstream driver!")

8. Natural Reaction - A really sweet song, which has that feel of driving round the coast, led by a banjo. The verse of this song uses vocals SO effectively, as seems to be consistent with Gomez. The rhythm of this song mixed with the incredible use of voice makes for a very impressive song.

9. Very Strange - The drumbeat mixed with the riff really gets me on this song. That, combined with a really uplifting kick-in for the chorus (you'll be "do do do"ing along with this in no time) makes for a very impressive song. The song ends how it starts with the drums and guitar riff, a really well-written and rounded song. excellent stuff.

10. Other Plans - another genuine contender for the best song on the album; a lovely soothing song which could very easily have been taken straight off of How we Operate - hints of Nick Drake in this track?

11. Sunset Gates - This song is very enjoyable, very effective 'Gomez sound' with the vocal harmonies in the verse, with an acoustic guitar strumming along happily with a playful electric guitar riff. This song is so Gomez it hurts. Such a good close to an album - it ends with a plethora of sounds, brass, percussion, high vocals in the background, it's a fantastic close to the album.

All in all, this album really hits the spot for me, and it has something for every Gomez fan, whether you liked their early work more, or their later work. Every time I have listened to this album since getting it, i always hear something else going on in the background, which is such a common factor in the music of Gomez; the percussive sounds mixed with some mellotron and some subtle backing vocals - you'll get something new with each listen. I wanted to give 4.5 for this album, what for the lack of songs led by Tom Gray, however i didn't think to drop it down to 4 out of 5 was fair for what is a real gem of an album.

Gomez - You've done it again!!

Who Goes There
Who Goes There

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First solo album by Ian Ball, 2 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Who Goes There (Audio CD)
Okay, first thing's first, this isn't a Gomez album. Naturally, upon first listening, it is tempting to be disappointed by the different sound, however there is a more a subtle tone going on here which takes a few listens to get into.

The plus points of the album:
* Funky numbers such as 'Automatic Message', 'Failure' and 'When we were cool'
* The fantastic crescendo in 'Enzymes'
* Nice use of organs and keyboards throughout
* Ian's use of soothing vocals to create very soft, mellowing songs (see 'The Elephant Pharmacy' which incidentally uses female vocals and mandolin to great effect)

The negative points of the album:
* only 9 true songs here, 'batteries' and 'free tickets to the moon' offer real promise as songs, but then finish as soon as they begin (being 1:26 and 0:52 in running time, respectively)
* Ian's vocals often sound shaky and lacking confidence
* Fairly repetitive lyrics about getting drunk and breaking up
* The title track 'Who Goes There' is unnecessarily long with a 4 and a half minute middle section, which whilst being pleasant enough to listen to, is quite boring

All in all the best way to describe this album is self indulgent. Naturally, after pushing 10 years with Gomez, Ian would want to have the chance to go out and do something different. The 3 singers of Gomez all went out and played solo during this period, and Ian made an album. Whilst the negative points are valid, the songs push this review to 4/5 because they are very well-written and enjoyable to listen to - Ian Ball has a real feel for a melody. This album has the potential to be snubbed by Gomez fans like myself, but I can hear real potential in this album if Ian Ball decides to continue creating solo albums.

Different artist, different sound, different songs - definitely not Gomez, but still very impressive for a first album.

In Through The Out Door
In Through The Out Door
Offered by nagiry
Price: £6.56

8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frighteningly incredible, 8 Feb. 2007
This review is from: In Through The Out Door (Audio CD)
the problem with many reviews this album has recieved is that many people seem to have the issue that it's not like other zeppelin albums. but the thing is, if led zeppelin threw out 8 led zeppelin 1s then they wouldn't have been labelled one of the best bands in history. If you follow the progression between the first four led zeppelin albums, you can see that there was a dramatic change, for instance, songs like going to california and the battle of evermore would never have fitted on the first zeppelin album. This album needs to be reviewed as the NEW led zeppelin album, not the next led zeppelin album. This music may be different to that of previous albums, but that is what makes them great: in this albums they churn out 7 songs in 7 totally different styles, and not one of them fails. it opens with in the evening, which is a straight-out rocker, which no zeppelin fan could really have a problem with. they then go on to the bluesy honky-tonk rhythms of south bound saurez, which is vaguely reminiscent of boogie with stu in its piano based rhythm. they then go on to give us a latin number-how many other bands have produced an album this versatile in just 3 tracks? and this song is also fantastic, great piano work by JPJ, which works together superbly with the guitar and bass, and Plant's vocals are outstanding, and you come out of it thinking, 'i just listened to a great latin-rock song', not 'i just heard a great rock band trying to do a latin-rock song' and then when you've soaked in that, hot dog comes on which is a light-hearted country-esque song, with admittedly sloppy guitar playing from Page, but the whole feeling of the song is of a small band playing country songs in a small saloon getting blind-drunk, which is reflected in the instrumentation, and not only does the song make you laugh it is also pretty damn good! then the synth bases cauroselambra just blows you away, with 10 minutes of original disco/techno beats mixed with classic Page guitaring. not once does this song every lose momentum or every feel in any way boring. The next track is All My Love, which is a rather beautiful love song, which on the surface seems scandalously poppy, but once again the musicianship must be applauded in the instrumental with a fantastic synth solo from Jones, followed by a beautiful classic guitar solo from Page. the album ends with a delightful ballad, with all the elements of zeppelin, vague blues references, sections of heavy rock, sections of slow mood-filled guitaring, and once again a song which highlights Page's fantastic vocals. there is nothing bad to be said about this album, they succeed in everything they aim for on this album, and it is just another fantastic album, made my Led Zeppelin, they have given us albums of bluesy brilliance, albums of folky brilliance, and in fact they have given us albums with a ridiculously large spectrum of musical styles. Their first album even had folky numbers and eastern style pieces seperating out the blues-rock, so this album just puts the final nail in the coffin for the collection of zeppelin albums, it says to me 'this is what we can do, and we can do it bloody well' well done zeppelin, this album encompasses all of what you are good at-essential for your zeppelin collection.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 18, 2010 5:15 PM BST

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