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BigRich (Yorkshire, England)

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The King of Limbs
The King of Limbs
Price: £9.27

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Crumbs from their table, 3 April 2011
This review is from: The King of Limbs (Audio CD)
Having already been responsible for 3 undisputed heavyweight masterpiece's of contemporary music in the bends, OK computer, and In Rainbows (and some would say Kid A, but not in my personal opinion), Radiohead are always going to be burdened by the weight of great expectation. Such is their repertoire of genre and era defining tracks that the scrutiny afforded to their work is almost unfair, they are expected to push back the boundaries of music each and everytime the go into the studio. Albums such as Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief that would have been considered career defining records had they been the work of many other bands were seen as falling well short of the radiohead mark by most critics. The flipside to this is that some of their work is grossly overrated- precisely because it is by them (yes kid A, I'm looking at you). So it is always difficult to judge from reviews and critiques of their albums exactly what to expect....

In my opinion, and that is all it is, this is their weakest album to date. If you are going to make a body of work with a running time of well below the forty minute mark, then you really have to cut out the chaff. This album bleeps and blinks its way to nowhere with only the superb Lotus Flower offering any sort of quality reconcilable with their better work. Yes Codex and to a lesser extent Give up the Ghost are likeable enough, but is this really the best stuff they've compiled in the last 4 years? The guitarists are criminally under used, barely present at all. The off-kilter rythmns of opener Bloom is like listening to a broken tumble dryer and a fire alarm going off simultaneously. Feral isn't much better, and the tracks in between are just unmemorable mediocrity at best. The second half of the album is an improvement but not significantly. We all know what an incredible band they are at best, and they certainly know how to make a great album, arguably only the beatles have recorded more "seminal" albums. So surely they by the same token must realise that this is a lacklustre effort?

So then, 2 stars. Unfair? Exaggeratting the point to make it? I don't think so. Had they again employed the "honesty box" payment policy for this album i reckon about 3 of your english pounds would be about right. Disappointing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2011 6:12 PM BST

Carlos The Jackal (Complete) [DVD]
Carlos The Jackal (Complete) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Edgar Ramirez
Price: £9.70

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 great films..., 12 Nov 2010
Cant recommend this highly enough. Incredible directing, acting and cinematography lavished on a story worthy of the time, money and effort. It's film making that credits the viewer with intelligence and doesn't dumb down like so many Hollywood films do. Ramirez is superb as the preening,narcissistic international terrorist come international playboy. The film feels worthy of Oscars though whether it will be classified as a movie or tv im not sure. At 6 hours long you set off thinking it could be a struggle to get through but it absolutely flies by. There is a shorter version i believe but why miss out on seeing it as the director intended it to be seen? If you liked Bourne Identity, Mesrine, Syriana or anything of that ilk you should love this.

Winter's Bone
Winter's Bone
by Daniel Woodrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transports you to a place you'd rather not be, 3 Oct 2010
This review is from: Winter's Bone (Paperback)
The first thing that struck me about this book when i received it was how short it is. At just shy of 200 pages it seemed a little "lightweight". Having now completed reading it i can say with conviction that there's nothing lightweight about this novel set in backwoods-and some would say backwards- America. It gets you by the scruff of the neck from page 1 and doesnt let go til it's all over. The leaness of the book you discover is down to Woodrell's uncanny ability to paint a vivid picture of the places and the characters in a few sentences or so. Where some authors give you page after page of endless descriptive detail, DW cleverly manages to convey his story with a sharp, punchy writing style that while cutting to the chase gives you a real feel for the characters and the setting (the Ozark Hills, which i've never heard of but can safely say i won't be paying a visit to anytime soon). It is an utterly spellbinding read that you'll finish probably in 2 or 3 sessions but will stay with you for a long time. Im also a fan of Cormac McCarthy and this is remniscent of No Country for Old Men and The Road, and it is possibly the equal of both of those books. Best novel i've read for some time.

Price: £9.66

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I was on my way to tell you it's no good"....., 13 Sep 2010
This review is from: Interpol (Audio CD) borrow a line from Mr Banks on closing track The Undoing, but then a strange thing happened....

I first got into Interpol shortly after the release of Antics, following a recommendation of that album from my brother. Before that i had been aware of them, if not their music, but had assumed that these New York hipsters, if for no other reason than the fact they hailed from the same city, would be Strokes-esque, who in my opinion at the time were the emperors new clothes, and so i entirely through my own prejudice and ignorance missed out on getting into Totbl in the order that god intended. Anyways, having spent a few weeks gradually getting more and more hooked by Antics i bought Totbl and in turn fell in love with that album too. For the following 2 years i listened to practically nothing but those 2 albums, nothing else out at the time even came close to the quality of them. I would say though that whilst Totbl is an incredible album-and one of the best debut records ever- i have always been firmly of the opinion that Antics is the better of the two, maybe it's because i heard it first, but to me it's just a more polished and accomplished work and the sound of a band truly at the top of their game- it is and always will be one of my very favourite albums.....

And so when Our Love to Admire was released in 2007 it carried with it an enormous burden of great expectation. But it was a major disappointment; anaemic and stark, the brooding basslines of its predecessors conspicuous by their abscence, dreadful production and a collection of tracks that really didn't belong on the same album giving the whole record a clunky and disjointed feel lifted only by Pioneer to the falls and Pace is the trick. Songs such as Wrecking Ball, Who do you think and the much lauded The Lighthouse shouldn't have made it on Interpol b-sides never mind an album. Put simply, it sucked...

And so to "Interpol". Having read the incredibly mixed bag of reviews, some claiming it was a triumphant return to form, others that it was now surely the end of the band such was the continuing demise in quality- and all clearly from people well versed in the world of the 'Pol- I was massively intrigued and couldn't wait to hear it and form my own opinion. And now i can see where both "camps" are coming from. The first time I listened to it, and indeed the second and third times, i was deeply unimpressed. But fully 6 listens in and it's really taken hold. The dynamics of Antics are back, in so much as a 4-piece band all firing on all cylinders, songs that build subtley both on the record and in your mind so that you begin to crave another listen of the album in full again and again, Denglers bass work some of his best to date and superb production lending it the multi-layered texture that both Antics and Totbl had. Tracks such as Try it on, Lights and Summer Well are up there with Vintage Interpol, and they just get better and better. Dont get me wrong, Interpol isn't as good as either of their first 2 (what is?), but it is in my opinion a great return to form and will, for most fans who persevere with it if not all, reward their persistence. 9/10.

Have upgraded it to 5 stars after further repeated listens. It's genius..

by Roberto Vidal Bolaño
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg, 25 Aug 2010
This review is from: 2666 (Hardcover)
2666 is probably the most difficult book to review of all the books i've ever read. And giving it 4 stars as i have seems a bit like giving the Sistine Chapel a 4 star review("It's alright but the lad could've done better"). The thing is that there are parts of it where the prose or the coming together of storylines just makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, or just when you're about to give it up as a waste of time Bolano draws you back in to the book, almost like he is trying your patience intentionally and relents when he senses the reader is starting to drift. There are passages of this book that, whilst you may struggle to take them in and know precisely what Bolano is getting at, are mesmerising in their complexity and breadth. And then, conversely, there are parts of this book that make the shipping forecast seem like great entertainment. Hundreds of pages about brutal murders that go well beyond the limits of taste, decency and necessity. However, as much as i agree with other reviewers that serious editing should have taken place with this book, whether you like this book or not i think most readers would agree that Bolano was a literary genius, not writing something with a view to it being as successful as possible, not writing to win literature prizes, not writing to have praised lavished upon him by Richard&Judy, in fact probably not writing for the reader at all. No, Roberto Bolano you feel just wrote what his artistic intergrity and his genius told him to, and that possibly coupled with the fact that he was a terminally sick man when writing 2666 makes this book far from being easy reading. I certainly wouldn't offer this as a recommendation to any of my friends or family, but if you're looking for a challenge and prepared to put up with some fairly arduous reading i think that there is so much in this book to be admired that you'll find it a hugely rewarding experience. Sadly, there'll be no more new material from Roberto Bolano, but 2666 i believe will ensure that he is regarded as a literary heavyweight by many future generations.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2011 9:10 AM BST

The Suburbs
The Suburbs
Price: £7.67

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars album of the year? Not in my name..., 25 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Suburbs (Audio CD)
So, according to most of the musical press the contest for album of the year is over, even though it's only August, as the third album from Arcade Fire is apparently so darn good it couldn't possibly be bettered in the forthcoming four or so months, and it is of course way above the standard of anything released so far this year. More than that it is a modern classic, the band's masterpiece, their Ok Computer, but "arguably better than that" (bbc online review). I couldn't resist buying a copy after reading and hearing one great review of this album after another. After all, i had thought Funeral a very good album, if not so taken by Neon Bible, with the exception of Intervention, a stunning track.

I'll cut to the chase. Having listened to the album a good few times now, I really can't see what all the fuss is about. The first 3 tracks are pretty good, particularly the title track, but thereafter it is a real struggle to stay interested-in my opinion. The track Suburban War sounds like The Smiths and The Cure have somehow been fused in a Heston Blumenthalesque audio experiment, i was fully expecting to hear Morrisey come in with "Take me out, tonight" followed by Robert Smith chipping in "oh take me anywhere i don't care i don't care i don't care". Sprawl (mountains beyond mountains)is only a few seconds away from becoming "He's my Japanese Boy" by Aneka. It must be one of the most misguided efforts in living musical memory.

I do think Win Butler is doubtless a talented musician and songwriter. On the tracks where they sound like themselves (the suburbs for instance) they sound great. But theirs is too eclectic a musical cannon for my liking, and it's like they're thinking "the more bands we sound like, the more people will like us, right?" and they mimic too many other artists (Springsteen, Talking Heads, Television as well as those already mentioned) rather than building on their own sound. Add to that that it is about five tracks or fifteen minutes too long, and centred around the pretty dull theme of growing up in the suburbs (im pleased i didnt if this album is anything to go by)and it all becomes too much like hard work.

I'm not saying that it's a dreadful album, because it's not. For me it's just a massive over-statement to say that it's a great one. 6/10.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 8, 2011 12:31 PM GMT

Petrolia: The Landscape of America's First Oil Boom (Creating the North American Landscape)
Petrolia: The Landscape of America's First Oil Boom (Creating the North American Landscape)
by Brian Black
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched book on a fascinating story, 14 Aug 2010
Have just spent the last 3 hours reading Petrolia and i would heartily recommend it to anyone with an interest in early american oil and industry, as well as anyone who just likes a great historical story. Black's writing style is easy to follow and he gives a comprehensive account of the discovery of Oil in Pennsylvania, the characters involved and the havoc and destruction wreaked in plundering the region's natural resources. It seems an ecological abomination now but bearing in mind recent events in the Gulf of Mexico it makes you wonder how much we've learned from history.

Becoming A Jackal
Becoming A Jackal
Offered by Side Two
Price: £11.99

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime., 10 July 2010
This review is from: Becoming A Jackal (Audio CD)
I've had a habit in the last few months that has restricted my intake of new music. A copy of the Beatles anthology 3 (a truly exceptional works, it goes without saying)has been kept at all times in my car. When new albums have been brought in (including some very, very good ones such as Beach House and Shearwater's recent efforts)i've inevitably eventually thought, this is great, but i'll just listen to that take of Blackbird one more time, and then the moment for that particular new album has kind of gone. It's a bit like going to a friend's house for a dinner party but taking Raymond Blanc with you to cook your own meal if the level of satisfaction dips below an acceptable level at any given moment. This hasnt happened for the last week or so, and the reason is this incredible album from Villagers- the trading name of Mr Conor o'brien i believe. 11 tracks, not a duff moment throughout, songs that slowly burn away in your mind when you're not listening to them, making you wonder "where did i hear that piano sequence?" before realising ,no, it wasnt on the Beatles anthology, it was on Becoming a Jackal. TBA3 has been removed from the "glove box". This is my new bench mark of song writing genius for 2010. Simply sublime.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 (HBO) [DVD]
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 (HBO) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Larry David
Price: £7.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty, pretty, pretty, good..., 1 July 2010
if you're a fan of "Curb" then you'll know what to expect from Mr Larry David by now, and you'll probably agree with me that whilst the show is unashamedly a one-trick pony, it's probably about the best trick in the situation comedy genre. The genius of the premise of Curb is that no matter how absurd the predicament that LD gets himself into each episode is, you can almost always draw a comparison from your own life with a similar incident. And the quality of the writing and delivery of the script just gets better with each series. I think, however, that someone coming into CYE on this series would find the whole thing hard to swallow and would probably recoil in horror at the foibles of Larry's personality- best to start at the beginning and work your way through all 7 series of a goldmine of comic genius, developing a like or dislike of the myriad of characters as the show progresses. The scene in episode 1 of series 7 for instance, where Larry learns of Loretta's cancer, would be the first and last of CYE i would have watched if it was the first i watched (if that makes sense). As it is, you grow to understand exactly where he's coming from, and he can tread the dangerously fine line between funny and offensive like no other (Ricky Gervais watch and learn)making you laugh out loud at a tragic situation without making you feel insensitive.

Added to the usual roster of characters, the appearances from Jerry Seinfeld et al give the series another texture, and also characters such as Funkhauser, who i've always previously found quite irritating, come to the fore. And as all Curb fans will know, it's the one liners that are the real star of the show (such as "can i apologise for the apology?"), many of which you dont get the first time round. Buy it, and watch your quality of life improve.....

A Serious Man [DVD]
A Serious Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Stuhlbarg
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £5.99

9 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Tedious Film, 17 May 2010
This review is from: A Serious Man [DVD] (DVD)
Having read the rave review on the box from Empire magazine ("Brilliantly Funny" 5 stars)and being a fan of SOME of the Coen bro's films (Fargo, Hudsucker Proxy, Barton Fink)i decided to rent this one out for the night and give it a shot. Bad move. You know the feeling you get when you have a tremendous appetite and then ruin it by having a dodgy meal? Well that's kind of how i felt. It's dreadful, one of those films that makes you wonder how someone during the course of making it didn't say "look, lads, lets not bother with this one". Admittedly, i only managed about 45 minutes of it, maybe it gets better? Actually, it couldn't possibly of got any worse! What is there in this film that anyone could think "brilliantly funny"? I enjoyed the Fable-esque scene at the start, in fact the last 15 minutes of watching this turkey were entirely down to wanting to find out the relevance of that, if any. But then i thought, no, life's too short. And watched a program on politics instead. Avoid like the plague.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2013 12:07 AM BST

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