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JR "Jaz" (MCR)

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Public Service Broadcasting - Inform Educate Entertain [DVD]
Public Service Broadcasting - Inform Educate Entertain [DVD]
Dvd ~ Public Service Broadcasting
Price: £10.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good way of having PSB videos in one place., 11 Nov. 2013
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In some ways the notion of a music video collection seems redundant now in the age of You Tube.
However, given the importance of imagery in the music of Public Service Broadcasting and in their sensational live shows it does make sense to collect them in one place.
This is essential the album Inform - Educate - Entertain but presented as a short film. Now you can see the backing videos seen at gigs and pay proper attention to them.
And PSB's backing videos are sensational. Cut and pasted from old war movies, public service announcements, news, documentaries they make the songs come alive.
If you own the album it will be down to personal preference as to whether you want to pay for the album again but with the video's but personally I feel it is as audio is just one part of the PSB package.
Note - the extras is rather disingenuous as "Live @ The Village Underground" is a 10 minute compilation! All in all the extra's are about 30 mins worth.
As it stands PSB are one of the hottest bands of 2013 and this DVD is better representation than their studio album.

Always Then
Always Then
Price: £7.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Looking for the killer instinct..., 11 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Always Then (MP3 Download)
Having seen The KVB put in an enjoyable set at the 2013 Psych Fest (a Festival people will talk about for years to come) I decided to check out one of their albums. The KVB are a boy-girl setup with guitar, keyboards and drum machine.
The trouble is, the Psych revival is now a crowded scene and The KVB are in the most crowded section of the revival.
Let's look at the bands who are influenced by The Velvet's, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Spacemen 3 and shoegaze. There are leading lights The Black Angels and A Place To Bury Strangers (and Wooden Shjips, though West was more space-rock), Iceland's Singapore Sling and Dead Skeletons, Sweden's The Janitors, France's Dead Horse One and home grown talent such as Carlisle's The Lucid Dream and Nottingham's The Cult Of Dom Keller. Plus The Warlocks who it seems were around far too early and appear to have been forgotten about.
That's not to say all these band's sound the same but they all operate within the same spectrum, and is the spectrum in which The KVB operate.
At first I thought that the problem was that they do not have a strong enough sound to set them apart from the crowd, no unque feature. This isn't true though. The use of drum machines gives an electronic backbeat missing in most psych, the boy-girl line up adds a Kills style fasion sense. They also add a delicious post punk gloom that sets them apart from the hazy druggy vibe that some of the bands prefer. These elements of 80s electronica and raincoat brigade musings do separate The KVB from the pack. In some ways the album reminds me of Movement by New Order, Throbbing Gristle, The Cure, Fad Gadget, early Human League more than it does Ride, Curve etc.
"Here It Comes" and "Until I'm Cold" are highlight of the album. I would say the album gets stronger as it goes on.
So what's the problem? Mainly that Always Then does not pack enough songs from the top drawer. There isn't a big hitter here to stand toe to toe with the competition. The Lucid Dream have the staggering "Sweet Hold On Me", The Janitors have the powerhouse "A-Bow", Dead Skeletons have "Dead Mantra" which not only serves as killer tune but band philosophy, The Warlocks have "Hurricane Heart Attack" and "Shake The Dope Out" and The Black Angels and A Place To Bury Strangers have a pantheon of stellar songs, justifying their place at the top table of psych.
Also the shoegaze vocals are a little too shoegaze, they threaten on being parody as opposed to homage. Oliver Ackermann (APTBS) uses a downbeat -lost-in-noise vocal style much better, using his vocals as a melodic tool. I don't think the production helps as the elements all seem to be at the same level in the mix, there's no real focal point for the songs, whether it's drums, guitar, keyboards or vocals, the songs need to be taken by the scruff of the neck.
Don't get me wrong, there isnt a bad song on Always Then, there is plenty to enjoy and anyone knee deep in psych would be advised to give them a look. Any post punk / 80s electronica fan would be recommended investigating them too.
It's just The KVB are struggling to make their din stand apart from everyone else's din.

The Reegs: Definitive Collection
The Reegs: Definitive Collection
Price: £16.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have for any Chameleons fan - FACT!, 28 Oct. 2013
I'll keep this review short and just say that if you are a Chameleons fan ie obsessive then this is something you MUST own!
This is Reg and Dave's project from the 90s.
There shimmering, shiny, jangling, atmospheric guitar work is much more to the fore, asyou would imagine and they do not dissapoint. But these guys werent just noodling, they have crafted proper, intense, catchy songs, many with vocals, that will live with you.
Many of the songs here are as good as anything on any Chameleons album, in fact "Chorus Of The Lost" could even be up there with Soul In Isolation or Swamp Thing (not Second Skin, nothing touches Second Skin!).
"Savage Garden", "Turn It Up", "These Days", "As You Leave", "Goodbye World" are just a few of the many highlights on show in this fantastic collection from a sadly neglected band. Also, their cover of The Kinks "See My Friends" is excellent.
And two songs are highly entertaining as they are joined by 'The Clockwork Poet' for some John Cooper Clarke styled verse on "Jesus Came To Manchester" and "Snooker Hooligan", both putting a smile on my face every time I hear them.

So if you love The Chameleons, please please introduce yourself to this collection!

Live At The Witch Trials
Live At The Witch Trials
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Every story must have a start..., 27 Oct. 2013
Not only is this where it started for The Fall, it's where my love of The Fall began, having brought this album in December 2005. It all instantly made sense, you either get why a chorus of "yeah yeah industrial estate" is amazing, or you don't. And I did.
Often overlooked Live At The Witch Trials is a fantastic album and a unique one, mainly for the role that MES plays in the band.
Here Mark resembles a bilious observational stand up comedian. Guitarist Martin Bramah has described it as "Coronation Street on acid" and it's easy to see why. On this debut album, Mark actually wants you to hear the lyrics: they are clear in the mix and well enunciated. Later on Mark would be obscure in his lyrics and fudged at the mixing desk, but here, he has things to say and he wants you to hear them. Apparently at one early gig he went into the crowd and poked his finger up the noise of Magazine frontman Howard Devoto. On Live At The Witch Trials he is poking his finger up all our noses.
Many of the topics that appear here would become mainstays of his writing. Working class routines are explored on "Industrial Estate". Drugs are discussed on "Like To Blow" and "No Xmas For John Quays".
There are unique themes here though. The chief one is control: both of society and of the individual. Control via prescription drugs on "Underground Medicine" (a topic later to resurface on "Rowche Rumble", via machinery on "Psycho Mafia" from the stories Una Baines told him from working in Prestwich Mental Hospital, via automated drip fed entertainment on "Bingo Master's Break Out". MES paints a picture of a suppressed populace numbed by government control, often without resistance, like cattle trotting happily into the slaughter house.
Right from day one Mark is casting his critical eye over society and scorning what he sees.
Perhaps the most interesting song here is "Frightened". We are all used to Mark E Smith, the perennial grumpy old man who releases an album every year but on Live At The Witch Trials what we have is Mark Smith, teenage singer in a band with his mates. It's a different Mark, before he became the leader, the hirer and firer. You hear enthusiasm and excitement that you don't quite get on subsequent releases. The thrill of the novelty of releasing an album perhaps, before it became his day job for the rest of his life. And maybe "Frightened" is a rare sign of insecurity. Being around 20 when I first heard the song "Frightened" struck a chord ", leaving behind being a teenager, not quite knowing what to do with life in that strange hinterland. "Frightened" is a song about not knowing where to place yourself in life or where life will place you. "I got shears pointed straight at my chest... I don't wanna dance I wanna go home... I spend hours looking sideways to the time when I was 16".
That's the words discussed. What about the music? This initial line up is terrific, and much underrated. Martin Bramah is a great guitarist and his angular scrapings are the perfect backdrop. Marc Riley rock solid bass holds the album together. Karl Burn's drumming is ramshackle and wild, and again, perfect for the music. And the keyboards? The keyboards are fantastic! Yvonne Pawlett is another unsung Fall member, playing the cheapest keyboards on the market add a Sooty Show parping that 10 years later still makes me smile.
The music switches from slow to fast like a manic depressive, making for an unpredictable ride. The use of repetition is evident from the start of course.
There is a real sense of fun on Live AT The Witch Trials. The shouted singalong chorus', Bramah joining in on backing vocals, the adorable keyboards and Mark's machine gun delivery are all constantly thrilling. The asides are very funny too: "what's this song about?" "er, nothing" on "Mother Sister" and studio instructions on "Music Scene" asking the band to stop playing.
And the release? The two disc is phenomenal, you'er not really buying the debut album but an anthology of the early days of The Fall with singles, EPs, a Peel Session and a gig from Liverpool that has appalling sound quality but find the band in form.
So there we go: this is The Fall as a band of mates, things would never be the same again...

by Alistair MacLean
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Join MacLean..., 24 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Athabasca (Paperback)
In the ice fields of Alaska to find a deadly saboteur...
In many ways ATHABASCA is a lot like MacLean's earlier novel, THE SATAN BAG in that a great premise gets off to a flying start, full of tension and a good mystery to intrigue you. With both books I whizzed through the first halves enthusiastically, keen to read a MacLean with the man at the top of his game. However, both books fizzle out halfway though then slowly limp towards a staid, unsatisfying conclusion.
It all starts so well, in an ususual setting, a deadly game of cat and mouse is being played to blackmail an oil company to pay up or destruction will be wrought. The unseen enemy looms over the book, totally in control.
So what's good? Jim Brady is an unusual central character for MacLean, being fat. This makes for a nice twist on the formula and Brady is a fun, character. The setting is a winner, in a cold climate MacLean is on firm ground, more of which later. A lot of the early action is vivid and memorable, particularly when one of Brady's lackey's (I forget which, see below) is nearly crushed by a dragline.
But then... MacLean yet again falls back on his old trick... taking hostages. You can see it coming a mile off and kills the story stone dead. I very nearly gave up but battled on after enjoying the first half. And then, as other reviewers have pointed out, when we meet the saboteur's it a massive anticlimax, a bunch of fools who clearly couldnt plan the intricate destruction that occurs throughout the book. On top of that they are arrested in a frustratingly dull manner.
To compensate for having a main character more suited to Robert Morley than Patrick Magoohan, not only does MacLean uses his stock hero as a sidekick, he uses his stock hero twice to provide Brady with two identical sidekicks. Now we all appreciate MacLean's brand of hero but to have two of the same character is utterly ludicrous! Even by the end of the book I didn't know, or care, which was which, as they just spend entire conversations engaged in identical dialogue!
On the topic of characters, there are far too many of them. When MacLean uses a small cast he can get away with his brand of one dimensional cardboard cut outs but here he seeminly has dozens of characters falling out of the wardrobe, they come and go in swathes and are all entirely indistinguishable. When the villains were finally uncovered I didn't remember, or particularly care if they had appeared before.
If all this sounds a little harsh, it's just dissapointment that such a great first half is derailed by MacLeans laziness.
Having said all that if you are looking to try out a later MacLean this is worth a look, along with BREAKHEART PASS.
I am probably not the first to notice that MacLean is best when characters are stuck in a cold or / and wet environment.
His best works are...
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (wet - it's an island, near enough...)

As a sidenote the level of drinking in this book is HILARIOUS!!! Seriously, Brady and his two cohorts punctuate every conversation with whiskies and daiquiri's and whenever they meet someone they drink some more and get them drinking and whenever they go somewhere the first thing they do is get a drink. If they had made this as a film only Oliver Reed would have had the constitution! The relentless drinking from a team of "professionals" was a source of much amusement!

The Cult Of Dom Keller
The Cult Of Dom Keller

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you had a football team of Nu-Gaze The Cult Of Dom Keller would probably play full back, 23 Oct. 2013
This review is from: The Cult Of Dom Keller (Audio CD)
Here we are in 2013 as psych expands in the glow of the current revival.
The Cult Of Dom Keller, from Nottingham fit neatly into the branch of neo-psych that are following in the vapour trails of the Velvets, Jesus & Mary Chain, Spacemen 3 and the shoegaze genre.
This crowded field includes The Black Angels, A Place To Bury Strangers, The Lucid Dream, The Janitors (who I saw co-headlining with The Cult Of Dom Keller), Dead Skeletons, Dead Horse One, The KVB, plus any more I may have missed or forgotten.

The standout track is "Worlds", an immense number that really takes the album to a higher standard with a cavernous riff and rather reminiscant of Ride, at a powerhouse 7+ minutes it is an album standout. "You Are There In Me" has stomping drums and another great riff below the effects. "Nowhere To Land" feels suitably huge and cavernous. "All I Need Is Not Now" is suitably trippy and closes the album in style. Generally the second half of the album is stronger than the first.
Other tracks though come and go though without making much of an impression: "Eyes" has an appealing glam bass line but fails to really deliver with it

The Cult Of Dom Keller is a good, solid album with a lot to enjoy, but in a crowded market they struggle to go toe to toe with some of the albums by the bands cited above. Worth checking out for any psych fan though.

So The Cult Of Dom Keller would be a reliable full back. A Place To Bury Strangers and The Lucid Dream have the style and attack to play up front, Dead Skeletons and Janitors rock solid in defence, Black Angels as the powerhouse midfielder. Don't know who's going in goal, mind...

Songs Of Lies & Deceit
Songs Of Lies & Deceit
Price: £15.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Living The Dream..., 18 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Songs Of Lies & Deceit (Audio CD)
After a highly impressive set at the soon to be legendary Liverpool Psychedelic Festival 2013, The Lucid Dream have very timely released their debut album, Songs Of Lies & Deceit...
But within a peak of psych revival, does the album cut the mustard?
Yes, quite simply. They fit most comfortable into the shoegaze / Jesus & Mary Chain / Spacemen 3 influenced bands like The Black Angels, The Cult Of Dom Keller, The Janitors, A Place To Bury Strangers.

Thumping drums and an air raid siren get the album off in style on "How's Your Low When You're Low Alone" before exhausting guitar patterns burn into your retinas like the neon of passing juggernauts at night. "Glue" continues the pace. "Love In My Veins" is more laid back and posesses a 60s vibe and clearer vocals; it feels out of place on the album, like an old song included out of obligation. The middle songs slow down and have more of a 60s vibe, which isn't quite to my preferred taste of psych, but that is of course personal preference. "A Mind At Ease Is A Mind At Play" picks up the pace with a frenetic garage rock pace backed by space rock keyboards which refires after a mid album lull. The stand out track is "Sweet Hold On Me". Occupying the last last-track-freak-out slot it takes an earworm mantra and explore it's many shades and hues for your listening delight. Bright, insistent and trippy, it's 9 plus minutes soars by in a whirlwind of fun; it is a highlight of modern psych.

It maybe a lazy comparison but the Stone Roses spring to mind with the band's swagger and confidence, giving the downbeat, introspective genre of shoegaze a confidence and sure footedness it often lacks. The Lucid Dream attack with their shoegaze, as opposed to the neurasthenia that you normally find. As you'd expect, vocals are buried deep in the mix, providing shade more than poetry. Having supported the immense A Place To Bury Strangers, the band have clearly been influenced by 'The loudest band in New York'.

So, if a shoegaze party album appeals, check this album out. As a side note, having seen them live 3 times they can deliver on stage too!

Internal Wrangler
Internal Wrangler
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the vegetables serve as obstacles..., 17 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Internal Wrangler (MP3 Download)
Clinic come from Liverpool. Clinic wear surgical masks. Clinic sounds like Clinic. No one else sounds like Clinic.
This is their debut album and in the space of 31 minutes they pack more ideas than most bands use in a career and tear music up in the toybox of their minds and put it back together again.
Keyboards and melodica are to the fore but the real star is the vocals. Ade Blackurn's delivery is a truly unique weapon of rock n roll.
After heavy rotation through 2013 I now believe that this could be the best debut album ever made, beaten only by Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. This album is exceptional.

"Voodoo Wop" sets the ball running with evil percussion and queasy keyboards that calms down into a sangria-by-the-beach swell. Merely into music it sets Clinic's stall. Weird and unsettling and funny all in one go.
"The Return Of Evil Bill" punishing, grinding, quisling, garrulous. The first sense we have of Ade Blackburn's sinister nonsense speak ('Self help for the farm'?. 'The billboard wars'?). Pushed along at a pace that isn't natural (apart from when it slows to a nursery rhyme falter).
'Internal Wrangler' sounds vaguely garage rock, like Inspiral Carpets with indigestion, except of course that Clinic don't sound like Inspiral Carpets, or anyone. Parping and stinging, surf meets garage meets the Joe 90 theme.
"DJ Shangri La" another mood piece as funeral keys meet squalling seagulls.
"The Second Line", plodding bass underpins amazingly nonsensical lyrics with a "tssked" backing harmony and a breathless boy band backing harmony. Despite all this the songs is fantastically catchy that makes you want to sing along! There is a wonderful child like joy about this song.
"CQ" is fast and stuttering that sounds like a punk reduction that Wire only dreamt about.
"TK" sees another keyboards heavy song.
"Earth Angel" is the first sight of slower Clinic with teasing, cajoling vocals ('Martha the snitch'?) backed by minimal instrumentation and lapping ocean sounds. A haunting, creepy ballad about... something.
"Distortion" continues the slower, tender theme as slow caressing keys and luscious bass weave around Ade's reptilian croon. I love the lyrics of this song, the mystery of working out the puzzle of what it means. 'I want to know my body / I want this out not in me' what on Earth does this mean? Personally I think it's along the lines of Gang Of Four's 'Anthrax', seeing love as a disease? Or a hymn to self loathing? It is simply one of the most affecting lyrics ever committed and the entire thing is sung with such skill, encompassing fear, fright, love and pleading to be a world of complexity and confusion.
"Hippy Death Suite" does what it says on the tin as the pace is ramped up to a blitzkrieg as surf guitar goes nuclear.
"2nd Foot Stomp" another catchy pop hit (from the planet ruled by Brian Eno that is) with a breathless melody
"39905" sees a dirtier tone backed by bass drum.
"Goodnight Georgie" is a gorgeous lullaby.

Dazzlingly inventive. constantly surprising, sporadically childlike, occasionally threatening.
Only in listening to it now have I noticed the heavy use of Beach Boys style vocal harmonies. I think this is what lends the album it's childlike joy. There is a sense of exploration here and the thrill of hearing music unlike anything you have ever heard is enervating.
Another thing that struck me how minimal is the instruments are on many songs but you only notice if you actually examine the component parts. The vocals carry much of the work, with the songs taking shape around the meaningless words.
Half kids show theme tunes and half music from horror movies, half gorgeous, half sinister. Profoundly weird, disturbing, fun, avant garde, catchy, silly, aggressive, accessible, an acquired taste. Clinic are ridiculous. Clinic are genius. Clinic deserve medals. Clinic need help. Clinic should pack arenas. Clinic should be sectioned.

A phenomenal debut album.

Price: £3.09

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 12 inch Hookworm..., 17 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Hookworms (MP3 Download)
In the ironically cramped universe of space rock in the 21st century Hookworms set sail on their maiden voyage through the stars. The Leeds based band known only by their initials are currently making a name for themselves though, and on the basis of this, their 12" vinyl release, the self titled Hookworms, it is a name well deserved.
Fuzzy grooves, swooshing guitars brings you music that floats and attacks in equal measure. Too focused for noodling, the songs unwind and realign themselves. Snotty vocals add a touch of garage rock.
While the songs shift in tone more than feeling like individual pieces, "Teen Dreams" is suprisingly catchy, in that it has something resembling a chorus (odd what you can find in space eh?)and is a real aural joy. The records' trim 26 minutes flies by.
Hookworms certainly deserve to be at the forefront of the current psych revival.


4.0 out of 5 stars Mid 80s Wobble curio, 17 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Psalms (Audio CD)
A very pleasant suprise as this mid 80s effort sees Wobble attempting to be more commercial, before even his return with Invaders Of The Heart.
More commercial than you may be used to, with Wobble occasionally sounding like a hybrid of New Order / A Certain Ratio with a hint of his future world music exploits, Psalms is worth hearing.

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