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R. Fox (Bristol, UK)
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Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind [DVD] [2003]
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Drew Barrymore
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £3.64

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm impressed. You're not like the other killers..", 7 Mar. 2004
This was the best film I saw of all last year, and boy do I watch a lot of films. Actually, I work in a cinema so I'm sort of paid to watch films, but man, was this the best one! I can't remember the last time I saw such a cool, witty, original, hypnotic movie, with a perfectly picked cast and an astounding script (by, of course, the inimitable Charlie Kaufman).
George Clooney's first diretorial venture is so solid it's hard to believe he hasn't done it before, but what's even harder to believe is the way in which he really made the movie the tough way - the film is psychadelically layered and The Graduate standard in it's dramatic scene turns - but Clooney used no CG, and everything was done on rotating stages, bullet-fast costume changes and immaculate timing. The end result is a film that has every bit the feel of a grand, sinister theatre porduction, and the performances to back it. Sam Rockwell: what can you say? He's more like Chuck Barris than Chuck himself, and he plays the 'cool hitman' and 'psychopathic game show host' in violent measures of realism and prepsterousness. Julia Roberts is sexy and as frightening as a pair of scissors next to your groin as Barris's confedant in Russia. Clooney is great and mysterious as Barris's mentor, and Drew Barrymore is.. well, she almost acts in this one. Bless her, she does try.
The music in the film is as unpredictable and weird as the scene changes and Gong Show Contestants themselves, and the cinematography is immaculate all the way through, taking the viewer directly into Barris's warped and tortured mind. Man, there isn't enough good things I can say about this absolute gem of a movie. It's like the movie version of a successful bank robbery, or the feeling you get from watching your sister's seventeen year old best friend getting naked through the bathroom keyhole.. so to speak.


Band Of Brothers - Complete HBO Series Commemorative Gift Set (6 Disc Box Set) [2001] [DVD]
Band Of Brothers - Complete HBO Series Commemorative Gift Set (6 Disc Box Set) [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ron Livingston
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £37.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'We lucky few.. we band of brothers', 6 Mar. 2004
I will admit right away that my viewing of this TV drama was delayed by the fact that I thought it was going to be like Saving Private Ryan - a film which I don't like very much because it's so horribly self-congratulating and childishly pro-American. Well, I'm glad to say that this program is nothing like that at all, and is as valid and tremendous a represenation of life for Ailled Soldiers in WWII as anyone could wish to see. From the first episode, Currahee, where we see the burgeoning Easy Company brutally trained-up, it's a very tense atmosphere and stiflingly realistic. David Schwimmer as Sobel, their cold as ice drill instructor, offers at first a friendly face for the viewer to connect with, but you soon realise that he ain't no Ross Gellar!
From the next episode onwards, each story focusses specifically on one chapter in the course of Easy Co's progress across Europe, and is individually timed: an episode can run from forty minutes no nearly an hour and a half, depending on the complexity of the subject matter. Each episode is astonishingly done, but episodes that stand out particularly are Bastogne, which involves a highly uncomfortable stint in the forest for the troops as they attempt to take the town held by the Germans in freezing conditions and with very little suppiles. The next episode after this, The Breaking Point, also sees the troop risking even more with the next leg of the mission, and also solidifies the idea of legends and facts within their own group's soldiers and officers, with the introduction and exit of various officers who helped and hindered them at different points: 1st Lieutenant Dike never gains the confidence of the men and leads them all to near certain death, but is dramatically replaced by Capt. Spears, a near-mythical figure to the group who proves to be beyond their hopes for a CO.
The two last episodes here prove to be not only the most harrowing, but also the most emotional as well. In Why We Fight, the troops are surprised and uplifted by the sight of 300,000 Germans surrendering inside of Germany, but are contrastingly mortified when they discover a concentration camp. What is doubly shocking here is the fact that the men had no idea that concentration/work/death camps existed, so these cold, Hellish places of sufferening hit home even more why Easy Co are here to fight in the first place. The atmosphere of this episode is truly horrendous, and is the most affecting representation of WWII attrocicites that I've seen. Final episode, Points, is an amzingly perverse look into the lives of German commanders and generals, as Easy Co infiltrate and secure the Nazi's Austrian retreat, including Hitler's magnificent mountain top home from home. The silence and emptiness of these places fills the program with an alien atmosphere, but by now you feel like you've got Easy Co to look after you as well!
By the end of the series, I found that I felt a connection with these men, even though it was just a TV drama. The shows are intertwined with interviews with the real life men of Easy Co, who each of the charaters are specifically named after and based upon. There is a huge sense here not only of history and of war, but also of humanity and heroism. As someone who in general avoids war films because I think that most of them sensationalise it in a way which is unrealistic, I would say that this never stoops that low. It's true to the troops, their suffering, their battles (more famous battles were fought by Easy Co than you could have yourself believe!), and their sense of brotherhood. If it reminded me of any of the war films that I do rate, it would have to be Paths Of Glory and Full Metal Jacket - but it's not really fair to even say that. This is an amazing piece of war drama in it's own right.


Canada Songs
Canada Songs
Offered by TIP TOP SELLER
Price: £5.51

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Damn those bloodsuckers..., 3 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Canada Songs (Audio CD)
The world of underground music is constantly bringing forth albums that people immediately claim are ‘instant classics’ or ‘revolutionary’ or ‘important’. On the underground grapevine, Canada Songs is very much one of those albums. Daughters are formed from members of As The Suns Sets, and are more of a line-up reshuffle than a brand new project. ATSS were a bit of an enigma, because their releases were whip-lash fast in duration, ultra-underground and, above all, original. Just as they split last year, they released their final recording, ‘8849’ (on Trash Art!) which had a little note on the sleeve saying ‘.. we begin anew as Daughters’. It’s no surprise then that Daughters are just where ATSS left off.
First off, you’re hit by the intricate, frenetic blast of Fur Beach, which sets the standard for pretty much all the album (about eleven minutes to be exact). But, however screamy the vocals may get, and no matter how pummelling the drums may be, there is a sense that this album isn’t really as heavy as you think it should be. There is a definite element of humour to the proceedings here – not least in the hilarious song titles – and it seems that an overall aggression in the production has been removed in order to make the album seem more amusing. The guitars at times sound more like messed-up pianos and harpsichords being smashed-over, and some of the vocals (especially the slower, compressed diatribes), seem more like formal radio broadcasts, informing the listener of the singer’s innermost neuroses. I’m sure than unless their sound is spot-on live they could easily be reduced to a heavier, more predictable noise - which is a shame. As you can imagine, at eleven minutes, the album is over pretty much as soon as it starts, but it is pretty enticing from the first listen and repeated listenings only make it more and more entertaining.
Another thing I have noticed from this album is that, because of the carefully removed ‘metal’ element to the production, this CD can be easily appreciated by people who wouldn’t normally go for heavy music, let alone the raspy, throat-thrash this band are disguised as. My friends are all rather diverse, but I’ve showed it to some ‘non-hardcore’ folk, and they have genuinely loved it. Is it song titles like Mike Morowitz, The Fantasy F**k or Nurse, Please Would You Prep The Patient For The Sexual Doctor? Is it the lovely sleeve and artwork that smells like potpourri? Or is it the fact that it’s just so desperately entertaining, even at full volume in the middle of the night when your neighbours may mistake it for you smashing china plates against a hyena’s head? Who knows – it’s way cool.
So, the final thing to be discussed is, everyone else thinks it’s an ‘instant classic’ and ‘important’ but the question is do I? To whit the answer is – just about. ATSS were something I had never heard before, but I’m told they have obvious similarities to other bands. Daughters only sound like ATSS to me, and they don’t even sound that much like them. So yeah, I guess it’s original, and maybe an instant classic. In movie terms it’s more Miller’s Crossing confident cult than Goodfella’s revolutionary.


O
O
Price: £6.40

25 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "There's always one reviewer who has to be different..", 23 Feb. 2004
This review is from: O (Audio CD)
This is the kind of CD that you might here a tiny bit of on 4 Music, or an advert, or a movie soundtrack, think 'wow - who's that guy?' then rush out and buy the CD to predictably discover it's no where near as good as it should be. I was really disappointed when I got to listen to the whole thing, and I'm sad to say that even after repeated listens, it just gets less and less impressive.
One of the problems is, through no fault of his own Damien Rice hs been labelled as a genius. That word is probaly the most misunderstood anfd over-used word in modern music. Every indie artist who's releasing an album this side of Coldplay's Parachutes are all called geniuses, and for the most part - prepare yourself for this, indie kids - they most certainly are not. Damien Rice is not a genius by any standard whatsoever. He may be a lovely bloke (his TV interviews are more interesting than his music), he may be a gifted guitar player and he may be a very passionate vocalist, but he is by no means anything more than average when it comes to songwriting. The first track on this CD, Delicate, is actually very very beautiful. One of the few tracks here to not over-use or over-experiment with an orchestra, or opera, or background noise. But from Volcano onwards, I didn't find it all so enticing. In fact, I found it all to be a bit too experimental-cum-mucking about, annoyingly unpredicable, and never quite hitting the mark.
The Blower's Daughter is an example of what could potentially be a good song ruined by mucking about. A lovely, heart-felt acoustic ballad becomes a naff version of No Surprises by Radiohead sung by a girl. Now, that did surprise me at first! But what soon began to not surprise me at all was that the songs seem to be based on tracks by the artists' favourite bands thinly veiled as original work: Older Chests is very Jeff Buckley indeed, Amie is a great song that mutates into a woefully inappropriate Bjork-type orchestral part (not her weird stuff, just her odd classical streak). Cold Water again starts off nicely, but ends up becoming some kind of rubbishy Leonard Coen thing with a very bad processed tenor choir-thing at the end. Embarrassing.
I Remember is sung by Lisa Hannighan at first, and is your typical folk music by numbers tune that always turns up on CDs like this, so the list is endless of that one's 'inspiration', until it turns into another Jeff Buckley cannibalisation. Final track Eskimo is actually pretty good all the way through, but the opratic ending just made me think of Moulin Rouge (d'oh..)
I think it's a shame really, but I'm looking forward to wahtever he comes up with next. It probably won't be so all over the place, but at the moment it reminds me more of specific songs by other artists (which isn't too good), or it reminds me of songs from films (which is even worse!)


She Loves Me She Loves Me Not
She Loves Me She Loves Me Not
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £15.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak is the word..., 17 Feb. 2004
I've been a fan of Playing Enemy for a couple of years now, but I had no idea that they were essentially the backbone of this band, and that the legendary Tim 'Deadguy' Singer was the frontman for this outfit! I snapped it up straight away, blinded by a light of intrigue, superstardom (in one sense) and feeling left out.
She Loves Me.. was Kiss It Goodbye's only album (they did 2 singles shortly before disbanding), but this album is a chronically sad example of a band that could have gone on to create lots of astounding music. Tim Singer was the frontman of all frontmen whilst singing for Deadguy. His abrasive yet understandable screaming carved the way for many immitators to come in the metalcore circles, and on with Kiss It Goodbye, it's obvious that he gets to flex his angst muscles one more time, in style.
From the vomit-inducing fear that is Helvetica, Kiss It Goodbye clamp their jaws around the nearest of your limbs and don't let go. This horrendously, uncomfortably honest take on the whole impatience and insecurity side of relationships leaves you with a dry throat, as do pretty much all the songs here. Even though the musicians here aren't neccesarily as diverse as Deadguy were (the comparisons end here), the sludgy/grindy metal of Kiss It Goodbye makes up for it in molevelence and all-round anti-social atmosphere-mongering.
I don't know why Tim Singer left the band, because it seemed like such a strong outfit, and it seemed as if this band could lead the way for a lot of new bands. Well, if you look at it positively, they did lead the way to some extent - Playing Enemy came afterwards and continued the style in style. History lesson over, children. Your homework assingment is to write down how many times Tim Singer uses the f-word' on this release...


Ephemera
Ephemera
Offered by themusicmerchant
Price: £6.42

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must bring own weapon, 16 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Ephemera (Audio CD)
I had a very strange experience before I heard this EP. I went round a friend’s house one morning, and she was listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon on LP. I never knew she liked Floyd, and asked her if she had heard Animals. She said no, and so I took this as a cue to rant on (as per usual) about how it’s the best Floyd album because it’s so dark and politically astute, and how I reckon it’s influenced more HC bands out there than Sabbath or Zepplin or Slayer ever could, how Botch and Converge et al remind me so much of Floyd. She swiftly told me I was an idiot, so I left and went and bought this EP.

Playing Enemy are formed from the remaining members of Kiss It Goodbye, and had done one album before this, Caesarean (Escape Artist Records). Their sludgy, anti-social sound was nasty but effective, and on Ephemera (meaning a short-lived thing providing passing interest), they have taken it a step further. First track, John Q Russia, is perhaps the best track they have written thus far – the music is astoundingly complex yet dangerously slow, and the vocal work is throaty and awesome. Content to just float from one riff to the next, PE doesn’t look back when it comes to different sections of songs. They just seem to plough into a riff, then chuck it in a ditch somewhere, limbless and twitching. Next track, Must Bring Own Weapon, is presumably a song they have properly written, but here it’s just a comically charming midi version, with cheaply-effected vocals, programmed drums, and a tacky keyboard doing the guitars which are so badly played you just want to laugh out loud. Supremely entertaining.

Finally, we come to my strange experience; a cover of Dogs (You Gotta Be Crazy), from Pink Floyd’s Animals. PE’s version of this song is one of the best covers I have ever heard, but I think you’d have to be into Floyd to see why – don’t mean to sound cliquey, I just think that. I think decent covers appeal mainly to other fans of the original song, rather than fans of the band covering it. For a band to do a cover and make it good, they need to make the song their own, but they also need to keep the soul of the original. The original version of Dogs is a long journey of a song, much like most of Floyd’s best tracks. It flows forward and disposes of riffs, but keeping the initial feel of the track intact – very much like PE do with their own stuff. Obviously, their version is heavier, but the atmosphere of the music has remained credibly accurate, and the vocals seem to be calmed down a bit, so you can still understand the lyrics. This EP is a truly great piece of modern HC music, and the inclusion of a cover by what I believe to be one of the most influential bands to the HC scene, is the icing on the cake.


Dischord No.101
Dischord No.101
Offered by MUSIC-4-THE-MASSES
Price: £13.82

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skip the lickety, and just split., 16 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Dischord No.101 (Audio CD)
Bluetip's first full length for Dischord is the sound of a jailbreak put to music. Whether your jail be a bad relationship, a bad job, or a bad hometown, herein lies the instructions on how to get out for once and for good. Or how to stay and grin and bare it, depending on how you look at it.
This was the least listenable Bluetip release for me up until recently, when I gave it a dusting off and a fresh chance. Man, did it shine this time round. A lot rawer, gittier and downright rockier than Join Us and Polymer, Dischord 101 is a great lesson in desperately trying to escape your influences as a musician (Jason Farrel surely must be a big fan of Cheap Trick, Sabbath and Anthrax) and not to spill your guts in too personal a way for your first big release. But the fun starts directly with Jason doing just that. From the scratchy/neurotic blast of Nickleback, we are cast into Bluetips' world of badly air conditioned social skills, mispronounced love affairs and tobacco stained cynicism - and my God, is it good.
'You're my outright last worst time'. Jason, thankyou for sharing all this with us. Hope we were good listeners!


This Is Meant to Hurt You
This Is Meant to Hurt You
Price: £12.61

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Put down that metalcore, boy..., 15 Feb. 2004
In all fairness, I had no idea what to expect when I first heard TARS – I mean, the name alone is highly ambiguous, and given the slew of weirdly named bands in the alternative closet at the moment, they could sound like anything. Usually, the best thing to do in these situations is either blindly assume they’re something (metalcore, emo, whatever you fancy) or actually give them a listen. I did a bit of both – I assumed they were screamo (I have no idea why) then I listened to them, and found out they were not that at all.
TARS are formed from ex-members of Kill Sadie, Nineironspitfire and Botch. I didn’t find this out until I had heard the first track on this release, Riding The Grape Dragon, and I’m glad to say that I would never have guessed their heritage. If I had known it before, then my assumption that they were screamo may well have been made all the more solid. In actual fact, TARS are possibly one of the freshest sounding bands I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s very difficult to see much influence from the members’ prestigious hardcore backgrounds, but instead a wider range of influences seem to have surfaced. For a start, they’re not heavy (in the traditional ‘metal’ sense of the word), but instead are a more effected, emotive ‘loud’ that you get the impression is just killer live. The vocals are more like spat-out poetry than actual singing (think Me Without You meets ..Trail Of Dead), and the music is steady yet fluid. Actually, after hearing the entire EP recently, I discovered that the aforementioned first track is actually quite a deceptive representation of the band. The rest of the tracks are much more unpredictable and wildly varied.
Run It Through The Dog opens with a much more furious atmosphere than the first track. When I say atmosphere, I mean just that – not pace. It’s actually tough to say whether a lot of these tracks are fast or slow, they just seem to be lessons in atmosphere. Begins with an almost demonic dual-vocal track over clawed riff guitars, but just as swiftly turns into some kind of chilled drum/bass segue. Next track, Diggers Of Ditches Everywhere, begins with an almost warped-sounding bass riff, before transforming into an epic-sounding mood tune. For some reason, it made me think of how this song would sound cool as the soundtrack to some Bollywood movie projected on some huge exterior wall, somewhere late in the evening, in India.
And the songs go on, interesting, mature, gentle and harsh at the same time. I highly recommend this to fans of Ikara Colt, Pilot To Gunner and even Bright Eyes. If you liked Botch, you’ll probably buy this because of Brian Cook – however, be warned because it sure ain’t Botch. These musicians have chosen a very different path to their previous band’s efforts, but it is most definitely a change for the better.


River Bed
River Bed
Price: £12.60

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson to remember, 15 Feb. 2004
This review is from: River Bed (Audio CD)
SBB’s third full-length studio effort is perhaps not only their most accomplished and beautiful work to date, but it is unfortunately their swansong as well. Fans of the band will know that they split-up last October, just four short weeks after the release of this album. The news is made even more sad by the fact that in the last twelve months, with the release of this album and the Nail Yourself To The Ground EP, the band had clearly reached a more defined, less-caustic sound than on previous efforts. 2001’s Dead Reckoning album had a much rougher, almost ‘louder’ studio sound and it could be said that what some of the songs lost in musicianship, they just seemed to gain in general noise. A good album, but a bit much after a while (SBB fans prepare the noose for me now..). The subject matter for the songs seemed to be about relationships, personal analysis, and generally intense life issues. Common ground for a lot of ‘emo’ bands, sure. But a lot of SBB’s message seemed to be lost in the over-wrought production here – and the same can definitely be said for My Own Wars (1999).
The River Bed presents SBB as they were possibly always meant to be heard. Crunchy, yet melodic, guitars that aren’t in fierce competition with the drums for ear-damaging space. Crisply recorded vocals that don’t dissipate from Mike Reed’s hoarse-style of singing. Everything laid out very nicely and powerfully, fully conveying the obvious passion the band had for writing and playing the songs. Up until now, SBB have often been compared to the likes of Hot Water Music, Jawbreaker, etc. I’d say earlier on in their career, they may well have had nods towards bands like that, but on this album they’ve reached a sound of their own which could finally make them be seen as inspired and inspirational. Deconstruct/Rebuild kicks the album off with a gentle, flowing chord before it jumps into the main verse and Mike singing ‘we bury ourselves alive in a cold, steel van. This pain isn’t getting better..’. This is an emotional, deep album right from the start. Subject matter for the songs here is, as on previous releases, obvious and honest. There’s the tiresome struggle of loneliness and self-involvement (A Declaration Of Sorts), failed attempts to let go after being with someone (The Outline Of Your Hand Still Remains On My Hand) – actually, that song is particularly worth noting as it is spine-tingly emotive. A true hardcore anthem to come, if there is any musical justice! And finally, there’s the age-old cry for unity, understanding and togetherness (A Lesson To Remember).
I suppose a lot of this kind of hardcore is really appreciated if you don’t mind getting involved in the personal side of it all. SBB are bearing their souls on a lot of the songs here, and it more than enhances the music. Perhaps they did know this was to be their swan song – there are definitely some songs here on the subject of the turmoil of being in a band (and a band that also features two close family members). Regardless, it is a magnificently accomplished piece of modern punk from a band that will be sorely missed.


When Goodbye Means Forever
When Goodbye Means Forever

4.0 out of 5 stars Damn those blood suckers..., 15 Feb. 2004
The world of underground music is constantly bringing forth albums that people immediately claim are ‘instant classics’ or ‘revolutionary’ or ‘important’. On the underground grapevine, Canada Songs is very much one of those albums. Daughters are formed from members of As The Suns Sets, and are more of a line-up reshuffle than a brand new project. ATSS were a bit of an enigma, because their releases were whip-lash fast in duration, ultra-underground and, above all, original. Just as they split last year, they released their final recording, ‘8849’ (on Trash Art!) which had a little note on the sleeve saying ‘.. we begin anew as Daughters’. It’s no surprise then that Daughters are just where ATSS left off.
First off, you’re hit by the intricate, frenetic blast of Fur Beach, which sets the standard for pretty much all the album (about eleven minutes to be exact). But, however screamy the vocals may get, and no matter how pummelling the drums may be, there is a sense that this album isn’t really as heavy as you think it should be. There is a definite element of humour to the proceedings here – not least in the hilarious song titles – and it seems that an overall aggression in the production has been removed in order to make the album seem more amusing. The guitars at times sound more like messed-up pianos and harpsichords being smashed-over, and some of the vocals (especially the slower, compressed diatribes), seem more like formal radio broadcasts, informing the listener of the singer’s innermost neuroses. I’m sure than unless their sound is spot-on live they could easily be reduced to a heavier, more predictable noise - which is a shame. As you can imagine, at eleven minutes, the album is over pretty much as soon as it starts, but it is pretty enticing from the first listen and repeated listenings only make it more and more entertaining.
Another thing I have noticed from this album is that, because of the carefully removed ‘metal’ element to the production, this CD can be easily appreciated by people who wouldn’t normally go for heavy music, let alone the raspy, throat-thrash this band are disguised as. My friends are all rather diverse, but I’ve showed it to some ‘non-hardcore’ folk, and they have genuinely loved it. Is it song titles like Mike Morowitz, The Fantasy F**k or Nurse, Please Would You Prep The Patient For The Sexual Doctor? Is it the lovely sleeve and artwork that smells like potpourri? Or is it the fact that it’s just so desperately entertaining, even at full volume in the middle of the night when your neighbours may mistake it for you smashing china plates against a hyena’s head? Who knows – it’s way cool.
So, the final thing to be discussed is, everyone else thinks it’s an ‘instant classic’ and ‘important’ but the question is do I? To whit the answer is – just about. ATSS were something I had never heard before, but I’m told they have obvious similarities to other bands. Daughters only sound like ATSS to me, and they don’t even sound that much like them. So yeah, I guess it’s original, and maybe an instant classic. In movie terms it’s more Miller’s Crossing confident cult than Goodfella’s revolutionary.


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