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soulmoxie "A customer" (Ottawa, Canada)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unadventurous, 17 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Creation (Audio CD)
This is a letdown from You and I, which in turn is a letdown from Thirteen Tales, which is their best album. Belle Noir (see below) is dead on in her review of this product. Catherine is apparently in love, and has produced a bunch of very contented, gently rolling love songs to express her feelings. In fact, she monopolizes Creation from the writing standpoint, penning 11 out of the 16 tunes on the deluxe edition. So Allison only gets five, which I think is a damned shame. It is of course a vast generalization, but on the whole Allison is the darker and edgier of the two, & Cat the more sweet and settled. The title of one of Catherine's tracks, "Confidence in Love", just about pinpoints the mood of this album. The drama and intensity are missing - things you can find, for example on the first 6 or 7 tracks on You and I, the mature melancholy is missing ("Glorious" (the lyrics, not the music), "Space and Time", "I Put Your Records On"), and of course the wicked sense of fun & delight in virtually every track of Thirteen Tales is absolutely missing. What saves this album, as always, is the sisters' singing, the only thing that is beyond reproach. They've been singing together since they were little girls (check out the picture of them at around age 4 in the liner notes to their first disc - it is absolutely priceless), and it definitely shows. The material has gotten a little complacent as they forge on toward mass MOR acceptance, but there's no denying how marvelously their voices work together. So that's the saving grace here. But I don't particularly care for the direction their career seems to be going. Best tracks: for Catherine, the title track, which actually acknowledges things like growing old and the passing of time, and for Allison, "Elements", which is almost anthemic. But only 5 out of 16 songs, my god...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 7, 2015 8:55 PM GMT

13 Tales Of Love And Revenge
13 Tales Of Love And Revenge
Offered by Lizard King Records Online Shop
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dark underbelly of You and I?, 4 Jun. 2013
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The Pierce's latest offering, You and I, is directly targeting commercial breakthrough after their near break-up around the time of 13 Tales, so it is highly produced and very romantic, with lots of ultra-lush harmonies. And nothing that might be called remotely inappropriate in the lyrics. This one's different, as is suggested by all the snake-trees in the artwork. The girls are being coy, naughty and a little dark: e.g. Boring, Sticks and Stones, Lights On, Ruin. The lovely harmonies are not abandoned, but this time we have a little edge to the material. And it certainly makes for a delightful listening experience. Very classy and delicious. You definitely need to YouTube the video for "Turn on Billie". The closer "Go to Heaven" is absolutely marvelous, and definitely takes you where it promises. Oh, and the question mark in the review title is there for a reason: I doubt that the Pierces could be truly dark if they tried... but they sure know how to flirt with darkness...

Electra Heart
Electra Heart
Price: £13.54

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The sophomore let-down, 27 May 2012
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This review is from: Electra Heart (Audio CD)
Marina has decided to go off on a new tack here and create a concept album about the "rise and fall" (Primadonna) of the "American queen" who is the "American dream" (Hollywood). So basically, the first half is brash and aggressive and ego-driven as Ms. Wonderful battles to the top, the second half is bewildered, bemoaning and despairing as she slides her way down, and "Fear and Loathing" closes things out in resigned but wiser acceptance. So she is deliberately creating her music within the limits of that storyline. And precisely because she is working within limits, I think the music suffers. It's pretty much flashy pop (best exemplified in "Bubblegum Bitch") interspersed with a few more reflective ballads, including what are maybe the two best tracks here, "Lies" and "Valley of the Dolls". But even the latter two are only near-knockouts, whereas just about every track on "The Family Jewels" is a knockout. That's because in her debut album she was not confined to a character but free to be anything and everything (mostly catty and witty and a helluva lot of fun). I'd go so far as to say there is probably more inspired creativity in "Mowgli's Road" alone than in this entire album.

Ironically, what the trouble seems to be is that she really DOES want to be Ms. Wonderful. She has been recorded as saying that she released Primadonna as the British single in a deliberate attempt to change her career, i.e. to BECOME A STAR (or more of one). Hence too the bland dance-pop of "Radioactive", released in the US but not officially part of this album (only on the deluxe version). The blonde dye-job and/or wig seems to be part of this campaign (and I for one don't find the new look flattering at all).

Ah, well, what can you do. "The Family Jewels" just raised expectations to an unrealistic level, I guess: there was no way she could match it. I could listen to that every 2-3 days; I'll probably listen to Electra Heart every 2-3 weeks. But she's still young and hopefully has a long career ahead of her: still plenty of time to reconnect with the spark of genius that blazed out ever so brightly two years ago.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2012 8:27 PM BST

The Debt Collection
The Debt Collection

5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre musical noises through the shortwave set, 8 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: The Debt Collection (Audio CD)
The Shortwave Set's debut in music is a self-consciously charming (but still charming for being self-conscious) conceit built around the strange contraption pictured on the cover. That machine is supposedly what produces the bizarre sounds on the album - the whizzes, clicks, stutters, sagging tape loops, needles traveling through empty grooves on phonograph records, sudden interruptions and omnipresent "bad" editing. It's picking up the music of the universe you see, which is floating around on every possible frequency. Thankfully there are also real songs with real melodies behind all the sonic clutter and flutter, it's just that they've sort of been chopped up, like a William Burroughs technique transposed to music. It is a really clever idea, and the band has executed it well - from their bedrooms, allegedly! It's definitely fun to listen to. Seems like it was a one-off, though: the last track is the only one that is almost "normal" (no effects) as Ulrika sings to a simple guitar accompaniment, but "Yr Room" cannot apparently survive the ambiance of the rest of the record, as she disintegrates into giggles and then a shriek of frustration as the Debt Collection closes. And by the time Replica Sun Machine comes along three years later, the conceit has been abandoned and the songs are pretty much straight-ahead. But the melodies on that one are so strong that they really deserve to shine through clearly. The Debt Collection, however, is a wonderful and unique animal. Recommended.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the ABSOLUTE gems of rock 'n roll, 27 July 2011
This review is from: Temperamental (Audio CD)
The Divinyls' short career was a fairly checkered one, but a couple of years before the album with their big hit on it ("I Touch Myself"), they produced this little pearl which is damn near perfection from start to finish if you like passionate, exciting (and excited) straight-ahead R&R. The songs are excellent, but what is really superb is the performance: the rhythm section in top gear, and McEntee plays blazing guitar like you wouldn't believe - lyrical, unfettered, creative, inspired. Christina is her usual coy and fetching self, but sometimes it's like she's almost run over by the band, like the "Runaway Train" that closes this disc in a blaze of glory. This record builds starting at about track 5, "Dance of Love", then it just climbs and climbs and climbs to the end. Takes your breath away. It was all downhill for the band from this point: they did their damnedest to finally get a commercial hit in the U.S. with the next record, and they did it (at the expense of the music), and then the swan song "Underworld", which is kind of stale and flat. Yes, checkered is the word. "Temperamental" shows what the Divinyls were truly capable of. Even to be preferred over a greatest hits package. If the price of this on CD ever comes down to a reasonable level, try it out, and be one of the select few to be in on the secret...

Offered by hifi-media-store
Price: £11.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 27 July 2011
This review is from: Speedballads (Audio CD)
I got lucky and picked this up for a song, so to speak, from a seller. I've always been fond of the first Republica album with "Ready to Go" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous", but this, my god, I think it's even better. Category a mix of dance/pop/electronica, but the kicker is the passion in Saffron's singing. She just grabs hold of you and gives you a good shaking. Two of these songs can only be called anthemic: Try Everything & Nothing's Feeling New. But the tempo's pretty high throughout (in keeping with that marvelous title). A mere 10 songs, but they leave you feeling exhilarated. This, my friends, is what music is supposed to do. Another of those bands whose short lifespan is to be eternally regretted. I regard a listening session with this album as a treat and an event. GET IT!!

Panic of Girls (Fan Pack)
Panic of Girls (Fan Pack)
Offered by sauliusst
Price: £23.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Blondie is back!, 27 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was somewhat amazed to discover Panic of Girls advertised here: so nice to learn Blondie are still in the game EIGHT years after "Curse". Eight years is not 17, but it's still a long time... This is a nice, relaxed, eclectic little package which strolls through the genres as it wishes. It's not really all that comparable to the other 2 post-reunion CDs, not as melodic and song-structured as No Exit, not alternately sweet and hard-driving like Curse. This band still knows how to surprise. We got rock, pop, reggae, Spanish salsa, a French ballad: one thing that's NOT here is Jazz Passengers-type vocal stylings by Deb as on the last two tracks of Curse. Just as well, I say. Rather have Latin salsa any day.
The big magazine that comes with the fan pack is really nice to have: it's got interviews, historical reviews of all the albums, history of the band, Debbie in film, Debbie as female pop icon & trailblazer, lots of new photos, you name it. What it does NOT have is any news about what happened to Jimmy Destri. You have to go to his website to find out he has become a licensed substance abuse therapist after going through his own particular drug ordeal. Apparently he "was asked" about rejoining around 2008, but must have declined, as that was when new keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen came in. The good news is that Katz-Bohen has written two VERY good pop songs for this album, one of which is damned near perfect ("What I Heard"), a fact which obviously was not lost on the other two ace songwriters this band has. This goes some way toward mitigating the loss of Destri's skills in that department... not ALL the way, but some way, and it is most welcome. But one wonders about the failure to mention Destri in the mag, except historically: I sure hope this is not a repeat of the ostracizing of Infante & Harrison, that would be a TOTAL bummer...
Clem is obviously busy exploring world music these days (remember "Jen-Jen" from Necessary Evil?): he's responsible for the gorgeous "Girlie Girlie" reggae being here (how anyone could dis this song - and it has been dissed in this place - is beyond me), as well as Zach Condon from Beirut ("Sunday Smile" with its lovely trumpet part), & the Gainsbourg-flavoured "Le Bleu". It all just makes the disc all the more tasty. After the pure rock of the first three tracks, things seem to settle into this world ambiance. No complaints from me here. I think the best vocal performance from Deb is "Words in my Mouth" (Don't Put), where she adopts a character and plays it out perfectly.
All things considered, then, this is a very good, self-assured product from what continues to be one of the best pop bands in the world, and amazingly, a band that is still growing. Material has already been written for the next album! Please don't let it take another eight years! (after all, Deb just turned 66 - how much more time can they have?). Don't know if it's a "classic" as some reviewers are touting, but it sure is damned good. And it's fantastic to have Blondie still with us after all these years!

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