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N. J. Mason (Norfolk)

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Sleeper Season One
Sleeper Season One
by Ed Brubaker
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edge of your seat superhero espionage thriller!, 1 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Sleeper Season One (Paperback)
I found this to be a first class graphic novel, the equivalent of an exceptional TV thriller series (think 24 with supervillians instead of terrorists). The plot twists and fast pace are all expertly judged. While Sean Philips style isn't glossy or ultra detailed like the typical Marvel comic, it is atmospheric and matches the hard-boiled tone perfectly.

Brubaker combines the spy thriller (with the usual ingredients and iconography - paranoia, shady deals, double crosses) with the superhero genre to come up with a believable and engrossing tale with plenty of sex, violence and black humour. And as its set within the Wildstorm universe there are plenty of great references(such as The Authority).

Highly recommended.

The Three EPs
The Three EPs

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Long and Thanks for All the Memories, 5 May 2007
This review is from: The Three EPs (Audio CD)
This album is a true classic and should stand the test of time. I imagine in 20 - 30 years time, tracks like these will be the sort of musical gems that the future equivalent of DJ Shadow or David Holmes will be unearthing.

The Beta Band were not confined by genre, trends or convention. Some tracks are stripped down and atmospheric, some are completely over the top with a 'throw everything but the kitchen sink in' approach. Manic percussion and drumming, multiple vocal chants, funky basslines, beautiful electric guitar leads, folky acoustic guitar strumming...its all on this collection of early eps.

Probably their best release, many, many students and likeminded music fans throughout the country have surely lost themselves in this music, whilst smoking a fat joint or the like. It is tailor-made mashed music.

And furthermore, Dry the Rain should have been huge. Its a song Oasis would have killed for.

Welcome To Sky Valley
Welcome To Sky Valley
Price: £5.25

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection!, 5 May 2007
This review is from: Welcome To Sky Valley (Audio CD)
An utterly amazing rock album that has classic written all over it. If you want to get into 'stoner rock', this is the first step. Really, you should own this by now. Go on, click the really will be the most risk free purchase you have ever made.

Lullabies To Paralyze
Lullabies To Paralyze
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Josh continues to push rock and roll boundaries, 22 April 2007
This review is from: Lullabies To Paralyze (Audio CD)
As a hardcore Queens fan, I feel duty bound to defend this album, which received less favourable reviews than Songs for the Deaf or Rated R. Admittedly, its not quite up there, but lets be fair, what is? Lullabies to Paralyze is a very solid entry into Queens of the Stone Age's back catalogue. If anything, the album is too long and it is some of the latter tracks that sound a bit like - whisper it- filler. I know, shocking on a Queens release, where normally the bar is so high it hits the roof. But lets not forget that the first ten tracks on the album are all quality. The is so much is like here: the schizophenic dark pop of 'Everybody Knows You're Insane' the catchy as hell 'In My Head' (if Radio 1 had picked up on it, it could have been huge but no they suck too much), the groovy, swamp stomp of 'Burn the Witch' or the tight, fast paced 'Little Sister'.

Although long time Queens collaborators are present (Alain Johannes, Troy Van Leeuwen, all too briefly Mark Lanegan), some major personalities are missing since Songs for the Deaf - namely Nick Oliveri and Dave Grohl. Joey Castillo fills in nicely for Grohl but there is a gap where Oliveri's vocals used, and no amount of guests can fill it (Josh's wife Brody Dalle, Shirley Manson, Billy Gibbons). No matter, this is Josh Homme's show and arguably it always has been. His vocals have never sounded as good and musically he is undoubtably one of the best guitarists and songwriters of his generation.

A special mention goes to album highlight 'Someone's in the Wolf' - the musical equivalent of Little Red Riding Hood going into a dark forest at night. Its a unique Queens rock workout that is atmospheric and technically brillant, the kind of sound that they excel in. Overall, an amazing album that has a very occasional dip in quality but still far exceeds 99% of other rock bands output.

Blast Tyrant
Blast Tyrant
Price: £14.61

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clutch's finest album?, 20 April 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Blast Tyrant (Audio CD)
It is truly heartwarming to read other reviews posted here raving about Clutch, my favourite band. So often overlooked in rock circles, they are a truly original band that follow no fashions or trends. With Clutch its all about the music.

When talking about the greatest album opener in rock history, obvious choices might be Nevermind's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' or Master of Puppets' 'Battery' etc, etc. Wrong! Its 'Mercury' from Blast Tyrant. The thundering arrangement of drums and riffs buzzes around my head on a daily basis. Its everything rock music should be, and encapsulates Blast Tyrant in its tight few minutes: crisp production, booming yet expressive drumming, groove-laden bass, tight riff orientated guitar, distinctive vocals and original lyrics. It slowly dies down to a lengthy buzz, until the bass line for 2nd track 'Profits of Doom' starts up and then the drums and guitar kick in. Then after Profits comes the catchy 'The Mob Goes Wild' and on and on. Every track is perfect; its perhaps one of the most consistant rock record ever made. There is also plenty of variety. From full on rockers like 'Worm Drink'and 'Promotor' to slower acoustic tinged southern rock such as 'Ghost' and 'The Regulator', there is never a dull moment.

My favourite aspect of Clutch however, is the lyrics. Singer Neil Fallon is a genius. Not only is he an amazing singer (and live, a charismatic frontman), he is by far the most interesting lyricist in rock. From the political to the nonsensical, topics can range from imaginary stories and situations to historical fact via metaphor, slang and intricate wordplay.

From Beale Street to Oblivion
From Beale Street to Oblivion

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another quality album from Maryland's finest, 20 April 2007
Clutch must have the most consistantly excellent back catalogue of any band ever. I cannot over emphasise how good they are, and this, their ninth studio album, doesn't blot their flawless record. Clutch have always had bluesy elements in their musical mix but this and their last release 'Robot Hive/Exodus' have pushed it to the forefront. The recent addition of hammond organ into the band's lineup have also helped create a more blues orientated sound. More blues and less metal? Hammond organ?Normally, alarm bells would be ringing at this point. But do not worry:you can trust Clutch. The massive riffs and grooves are still present, as are the John Bonham style drumming. And one element of the band that continues to improve is their trump card, singer Neil Fallon. Not only has his distinctive vocal work got better and better, his lyrics have become the highlights of Clutch's work. I regard him as one of the best lyricists in the business. Mixing anything from modern slang to ancient mythology, Fallon continues to amuse, inform and entertain with his wide ranging subject matter and phrasing. On this album just a few of the more obvious references include Lucifer's fall from grace (The Devil and Me), apocalyptic novel Riddley Walker (The Rapture of Riddley Walker)and an depression era drifter's thoughts (Electric Worry). Musical highlights include the opening three tracks ( You Can't Stop Progress, Power Player and The Devil and Me) - instant fan favourites that kick ass bigtime. Bluesy first single Electric Worry is another highlight, mixing an old blues classic with a more modern sounding, fast paced Clutch rock workout. Perhaps not as good as previous album Blast Tyrant, this is still an absolute killer rock album and undoubtably one of the albums of the year.


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why aren't this band more well known?, 4 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Insider (Audio CD)
The second album by the Manchester three piece has a lot to live up to. The debut was a masterclass in thrilling modern prog-rock, and 2005's ep 'The Astronaut Dismantles HAL' added more sheen and sci-fi imagery into the mix. 'Insider' offers even more: more complex song structures, more crisp production, more mental Keith Moon style drumming, and more crushing guitar riffs with layer upon layer of fuzz and distortion. Needless to say, it doesn't disappoint. Opening instrumental 'Gustav's Arrival' sets out Amplifier's manifesto from the first shriek of feedback. The guitars are staggering big and heavy and quickly give way to the band's most original element: Sel Balamir's amazing, twisty-turny lead guitar hooks. Listening to them is akin to being a passenger driven at top speed along a winding mountain road with a madman at the wheel. Muse's Matt Bellamy surely will be taking notes: 'Must try harder'. The album itself consists of a range of variations on their central sound. Sometimes the sheer wall of noise (god knows how many guitar overdubs each song must have)detracts from the tunes, other times it is integral. While perhaps lacking as much variety as the previous releases, there is certainly enough here to get very excited about. In particular, 'O Fortuna', 'Strange Seas of Thought' and 'Procedures' make an instant impression, balancing the crazed guitar riffs with memorable tunes and vocal phrases. The other songs will certain benefit the listener with more plays. The only criticism could be that after such an explosive opening, the album struggles to reach such dizzy heights again. However, this is really picking at straws, and if you like intelligent rock that doesn't tread the mainstream path (think Oceansize, Tool, Cave In), then this is for you.

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