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richard.ashby@btinternet.com (Leeds)

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All Is Dream
All Is Dream
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: 5.20

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime!, 30 Aug 2001
This review is from: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
It's difficult to describe Mercury Rev's excellent new release without using the following words; 'shimmering', 'ethereal' and 'god-like'. Since these words have been effectively been used to death describing My Bloody Valentine and The Cocteau Twins over the years I'll steer well clear.
Following up the superb 'Deserter's Songs' was never going to be easy, but if anything 'All is Dream' tops it. Ably assisted by production genius Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips), the Rev have created a swirling musical journey. It's refreshing to hear the melange of guitars, effects and mellotrons sound intimate and comforting rather than overblown and bombastic.
All the tracks are great, but 'The Dark is Rising' recalls Harvest-era Neil Young and John Lennon at his best. 'Nite and Fog' has a great chorus and is the next single. Special mention must go to 'A Drop in Time' however as it feels timeless yet contemporary. Tony Visconti even does the strings arrangements that remind you of all of the great Bowie albums recorded in Berlin.
More importantly it's a fitting tribute to the original producer Jack Nitzsche (Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Motown) who sadly died just days before recording.
This CD is like that first love, fine wine and evokes that bitter-sweet melancholy you feel when you say goodbye to your lover at the airport.
Just buy it. It'll brighten your day.


Through The Trees
Through The Trees

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The horror, the horror..., 15 May 2001
This review is from: Through The Trees (Audio CD)
To enter the macabre world of the Handsome Family is like walking into an episode of Twin Peaks directed by Tim Burton. On the surface all seems to be normal, but dig a little deeper and you'll find a world of harsh judgements, despair, madness and isolation. S Club 7 this ain't.
From the first track onwards (Weightless Again) the Family set out their bleak manifesto. The line 'this is why people OD on pills and jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, anything to be weightless again' really hits hard.
Husband and wife Brett and Rennie Sparks are to put it mildly a little eccentric. Brett was a devout Southern Baptist and Professor until he met Rennie, a sassy yet erudite New Yorker. They began collaborating on material embued with the dark qualities of Nick Cave and Tom Waits, but musically influenced by the lineage of great country artists such as Hank Williams.
The result is a record with beautiful arrangements, divine melodies and plaintive strumming but within which lurks a dark heart.
Listening to the CD can be disconcerting. On the surface it seems like pleasant music that could easily be part of the New Acoustic Movement, but pay attention to the lyrics and the room will suddenly become chilled. The Family aren't as blatant as an artist like Will Oldham who tries to create a spooky ambience. They manage this without any need for grand guignol theatricality.
That's not to say that the record is completely gloomy, and there are some signs of redemption and hope in the later tracks. Ultimately this CD examines mankind's darker instincts and addresses issues such as bi-polar schizophrenia with hummably tunes. No mean feat.
If you like the films of David Lynch, enjoy acoustic music, or just want to buy an album that makes some demands of the listener this is essential.
American Gothic has never sounded so sweet.


Heartbreaker
Heartbreaker

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The spirit of Gram Parsons lives on..., 9 May 2001
This review is from: Heartbreaker (Audio CD)
Ryan Adams should be a superstar. As it stands he's somewhat of a cult icon in Alt Country circles, akin to Kurt Wagner or Jim White. Lyrically he recalls his musical hero Gram Parsons with his wonderfully introspective tales of hard drinking, love, loss and the rootless search for identity. Heartbreaker was written in the aftermath of a break-up with his long-term girlfriend and it shows. The sense of resignation and loneliness present in these songs makes it hard to believe Adams is only 26.
In musical terms this album has a full yet live sound, recalling 70s Dylan, The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, but there is a modern sensibility to his songwriting that sets him apart from many of his Alt Country coterie.
Listen to his sublime duet with Emmylou Harris on 'My Sweet Carolina' and you'll hear two generations of country rock fusing together in a perfect marriage.
Buy this CD if you still believe in the redemptive powers of music, and want to take a stand against the manufactured dross that currently fills the charts.
Adams is the real deal. Let's hope he doesn't go the same way as many of his heroes.


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