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With Teeth
With Teeth
Price: 5.07

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent effort from NIN, 7 Aug 2006
This review is from: With Teeth (Audio CD)
The latest album from Trent Reznor and co. is a brilliantly hard-rocking, punchy and tuneful set of songs.

In scope With Teeth is simpler and more straightforward than previous NIN discs like the sprawling, ambitious double album The Fragile. It's also a lot more song-oriented, and less reliant on soundscapes, ambient instrumentals or studio atmospherics. Reznor alternates electronic elements like programmed synths and drum machines with the more organic instrumentation of a real rock `n' roll band - metallic guitars, bass, tambourine, piano and live drums courtesy of Dave Grohl. It's a straightforward, high-energy hard rock album, and it's an excellent example of that. It's still Nine Inch Nails and therefore it's still dark and angst-ridden, but there's something fresh here too: a kind of playful positive energy, an element of fun, even a wry sense of humour. It's far too angry to be considered anything like a feelgood album, but it somehow still manages to sound like Reznor coming from a stronger, wiser place rather than always putting himself in the same whiny martyr role.

Reznor has always had a strong gift for creating catchy melodies and memorable hooks, and he's not afraid to exploit his pop sensibilities on With Teeth. Several tracks are funky, danceable and instantly addictive. Three minutes into opener All the Love in the World, it suddenly morphs from gothic piano gloom into a bouncy disco/house beat; Only is insanely catchy, with its robotic 80s drum intro and bubbling New Wave keyboards; Every Day Is Exactly The Same belies its nihilistic title and suicide lyric to reveal an accessible pop core; Sunspots has a chorus you'll be humming for long afterwards. Closing track Right Where It Belongs is a nicely ethereal David Bowie-style piano ballad and this album's equivalent of Hurt or Something I Can Never Have. Other tracks like The Collector, You Know What You Are?, Getting Smaller and first single The Hand That Feeds are brutal, crunchy and hard as nails, driven by chainsaw guitar riffs and Grohl's powerhouse drumming. And the title track - in which Reznor sings the title as "Awitha teetha" over and over - is an awesome slab of fuzzy, distorted industrial noise with the sexiest bassline I've heard in a long time. I was happy to hear that Reznor can still craft music as furious, hard-rocking and plain noisy as anything on Broken or The Downward Spiral.

There are no weak notes or filler tracks on this album. I entered With Teeth without the highest expectations and I was pleasantly surprised to hear one of Nine Inch Nails' very best albums to date. Well worth buying.

Washing Machine
Washing Machine
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 5.70

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 7 Aug 2006
This review is from: Washing Machine (Audio CD)
I'm surprised there aren't more reviews posted here for this brilliant album. Everyone and his mother knows that 1988's seminal Daydream Nation is a solid-gold alternative rock classic, but it isn't the only great Sonic Youth album and it's not even my personal favourite. I reckon that 1995's Washing Machine is one of their strongest, most fully realised works to date.

There are a few relatively poppy and straightforward moments on the record - the striking Kim Gordon-sung opener Becuz, the lovely and melodic Unwind, the sweet 60s girl-pop pastiche of Little Trouble Girl. But unlike the more compact and concise punk/grunge songs of the Goo and Dirty era, Washing Machine is largely an album of sprawling, trancelike, free-form guitar epics. Therefore it's probably closer in spirit to Daydream Nation, with a hint of Teutonic art rock like Neu! and Can thrown into the mix. It takes some getting used to, sure, but gradually the pastoral textures and droning feedback achieve a startling, powerful beauty. This is never more evident than on the nine-minute title track and the symphonic, 19-minute closer The Diamond Sea, which is surely one of the most exquisite pieces of rock music in recent decades.

Washing Machine is a rich, intense listening experience. Once you get into the hang of it, it becomes one of Sonic Youth's most addictive records. So strap on your headphones and drift away.

Price: 7.90

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent as usual, 7 Aug 2006
This review is from: Dirty (Audio CD)
Dirty is one of Sonic Youth's more accessible records and as such it's an ideal starting point for new listeners looking to get into this hard-rocking band.

The songs on Dirty are short, angry, lean, tight and muscular. They are shot through with an urgent, breathless energy. The whole album has a punchy, chunky, straightforward sound and a clean Butch Vig production that admittedly sets it closer to Lollapalooza-era alternative rock than to previous Sonic Youth albums like EVOL, Sister or Daydream Nation. My only slight reservation is that in straying so close to Nirvana's grunge/punk territory, they don't sound as instantly distinctive as they do on, say, Sister, so it's not necessarily the most representative album of what Sonic Youth are about.

By the Youth's avant-garde art-rock standards these songs are relatively catchy, poppy and radio-friendly, but please don't let snobbery get in the way of a great rock album. There is so much to enjoy here, and there's still plenty of hard-rocking white noise for feedback fanatics to savour. Highlights include Kim Gordon's seductive, menacing Shoot; the brutal, hard-as-nails punk tantrums Swimsuit Issue and Drunken Butterfly; and the classic singles 100% and Sugar Kane.

Rock on!

Dance Hall At Louse Point
Dance Hall At Louse Point
Price: 7.56

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, startling and oddly beautiful, 7 Aug 2006
Dance Hall at Louse Point is an excellent and often unfairly overlooked collaboration between the Dorset rock queen and her long-time collaborator John Parish. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this is late-night mood music of the highest order.

The lo-fi, stripped-down production and Parish's stark musical backing perfectly compliments some of Harvey's rawest vocals to date. Throughout the record she swings dramatically between different vocal registers, from angelic choirgirl falsetto to creepy whisper to shredded gut howls, as if she's role-playing different characters for each song. She sings every song on this album with a demonic, throat-clenching intensity that's almost frightening. City of No Sun and Taut are not for the faint-hearted!

Songs like Rope Bridge Crossing and Civil War Correspondent are poetic, dreamlike and chillingly beautiful. That Was My Veil is a break-up song of bitter sexual jealousy and bruised vulnerability. Heela mixes a spaghetti western vibe with bluesy Led Zeppelin swagger, and on this track Polly's shrieking, androgynous falsetto actually sounds like Robert Plant as she pleads with a voodoo healer to exorcise her body of an obsessive love; musically, Heela builds relentlessly towards a climax of subsonic bass shudders and layered slide guitar assault. Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil is a lingering dirge that crawls along at a turtle pace until the three-minute mark, when it stuns you with a reverb-drenched guitar break that is luminously beautiful, suddenly filling the record with blinding white light.

Dance Hall at Louse Point is not the most immediately listener-friendly work in PJ Harvey's back catalogue. To be frank, it took me at least four or five listens before I really fell in love with it, but it was well worth the effort. With this album, Harvey and Parish take us on an astounding journey into the musical heart of darkness. Take a chance on it.

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.88

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern rock masterpiece, 4 Aug 2006
I'm too lazy to bother reviewing many albums here but I had to make an exception for this one. Why? Because it's one of the greatest rock albums I've ever heard and I want new people to know just how good PJ Harvey really is.

Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea is a masterpiece from start to finish. PJ outdoes herself on raw, fiery, hard-rocking guitar cuts like Big Exit, This Is Love, Kamikaze, The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore and the brilliant bonus track This Wicked Tongue. The spectacular opening song Big Exit speeds past on blazing, careening power chords and powerhouse drumming courtesy of master percussionist Rob Ellis. Good Fortune and One Line both have a dizzying romanticism and surging energy that make them similarly irresistible. And listen out for the quaking monster riff that opens This Is Love as PJ lustily declares, "I can't believe life's so complex when I just wanna sit here and watch you undress" - it manages to be an electrifying, deliciously sexy hard-rock song and witty, tongue-in-cheek fun at the same time. These songs see PJ Harvey revisiting the punky, bluesy power-trio days of her early albums Dry and Rid of Me, and they reveal her oft-cited influence of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and other classic 70s rock. It's not all bluster and noise though. Gorgeous songs like A Place Called Home, You Said Something, We Float and the heartbreaking Thom Yorke duet This Mess We're In will surprise you with their sparkling melodies and a cleaner production than previous PJ Harvey records. There are also two minimalist, stripped-down acoustic numbers - Beautiful Feeling and Horses in My Dreams - that bring a nicely eerie atmospheric touch to proceedings, nestled in amongst the louder tracks.

The whole album is brilliantly sequenced so that it feels like a loosely conceptual song cycle about a person arriving in a big scary city (Big Exit), finding an exciting but dangerous love (the Bonnie and Clyde references of Good Fortune), then enduring romantic heartache (This Mess We're In) and angry turmoil (Kamikaze) before fading out on a promise to "Take life as it comes" (in We Float). But a few minutes after We Float has reached its dreamy, hopeful end, the head-banging bonus track This Wicked Tongue unexpectedly charges in to bring the record to its bitter, explosive, hardcore finish.

PJ Harvey is a unique, genius-level talent and Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea shows her off at her peak: her voice is brilliantly expressive, her lyrics are unusually poetic, and her guitar playing has a ringing dynamic clarity. She simply has a rare brand of emotional intensity and pure passion that cannot be faked.

I strongly urge all you readers to buy this album now - you will NOT be disappointed!

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