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Syriat
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Birthdays (Deluxe)
Birthdays (Deluxe)
Price: 11.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blossoming Talent, 17 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Birthdays (Deluxe) (Audio CD)
Keaton Henson's debut album, Dear, was a delicate heartfelt album of one man, his guitar and a lot of pain and care. This follow up is the sound of him expanding that sound slightly. Its almost like listening to a painfully shy man emerge, gain confidence and then retreat again. Like the man himself? Perhaps. But during this album that's the journey you will hear.

Early on the sound is eerily similar to the first album. Electric Guitar, that voice and not much else on Teach Me and the beautiful 10AM, Gare Du Nord. In fact it comes as a total shock when listening to The Best Today that the delicate approach is enhanced by drums and more noise. It feels that the man himself wants to try and mix things up and Don't Swim follows this and does the job. Starting in the usual mode of vocal and guitar Henson then decides to throw in a loud and brash guitar and drums instrumental piece towards the end of the track. It sounds like something almost Post Rock like. Its a wonderful addition.
Kronos then swaggers into view and could be on any rock album, snarling riffs and loud quiet approach this could be grunge music. Or maybe something Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith or similar company would consider too brash for their albums when they were making them. The Beekeeper has Banjo, drums and keyboards and sounds a little like some Fleetwood Mac tracks in its composition and chorus - think mid 70's country influenced Fleetwood Mac here though. Gradually though the noise and mood recedes and whilst Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us has a return to the more introspective approach before horns take over. The deluxe edition contains three extra tracks, two quite quiet and the rather fantastic If I Don't Have To which is another of the new approach numbers. These three extra tracks are as good as anything else here so I would definitely invest the bit extra if you can.

As a second album this is a treat. Its definitely a step forward, a very interesting one too. There is an air of confidence and belief here. It will be interesting to see whether he retreats again or moves more towards the approach of drums and horns alongside his guitar. However, this is as good as the first album and I never thought I would say that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 23, 2013 6:43 PM GMT


Dyson DC41 Animal Dyson Ball Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Dyson DC41 Animal Dyson Ball Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Offered by euroelectricals
Price: 379.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but a great hoover nonetheless, 17 Mar 2013
This is my third Dyson. Quite simply I wouldn't have another vacuum cleaner. They are powerful and maneuverable and whilst not the cheapest out there they do last. This one is the Animal upright. Its not light (although lighter than previous Dysons) but has the ball so that you can steer it round corners with minimal effort. As ever it comes with some attachments, more are available for extra cost, these are not always necessary as you can detach the hose.

Over the years Dyson's have improved. The suction is as impressive as ever and the evolution of features always impresses. take for instance the task of cleaning the main cylinder. Its done via one button and is effortless. I've tried this on more than one type of carpet, lino and tile and it picks up extremely well.

There are a couple of issues. The first was a minor one for me and that it took a little bit of putting together. Instead of just clicking pieces into place, as per the instructions, there was a lot of effort and pushing. The second issue is more of a problem and that is the track marks it leaves behind. I am used to having a sweep effect on the carpet where you can see where you have been but in this case the ball and rollers leave tracks which are unsightly. Sure they go away quickly but its not ideal and its what stops it being 5 stars.

Overall it sucks well, is easy to push around, easy to clean and is very adaptable. Picks up hair very well too. So given the two minor issues I would recommend this.


Pale Green Ghosts
Pale Green Ghosts

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Album Of The Year, 10 Mar 2013
This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (MP3 Download)
John Grant has demons, that is a certainty. On his latest album he bares them openly. This is a man who has had his heart broken, openly stated that he is HIV+ on stage and wrote a song about it (Ernest Borgnine on this very album) and his bitterness is here for you to see. That he wraps it in songs like these is a testament to his skill. On first listen the paean to self-hate that is GMF almost feels like a beautiful ballad of the mid-seventies variety with acoustic guitar and heartfelt meaning. That is until you get to the sweary chorus, coming as a shock in the acoustics and beauty. You surely don't want to cross this man either. He will write whole songs dedicated to you as Vietnam and It Doesn't Matter To Him appear to be.

Grant has said his influences include ABBA, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads and other seventies and eighties legends. Listening to Black Belt you can hear Annie Lennox's delivery of Sex Crime or Beethoven (I Love To Listen To) in the delivery. The electronic influences coming in chilly blasts at the most unexpected moments on the album, the swathe of it in the middle of It Doesn't Matter To Him works well. But the drums are real and not programmed for the most part and it seems an odd mix of soft rock balladry and mid-eighties electronica throughout. That this works in a head scratcher but a joy of one. The lyrics are what make this unlikely to be the breakthrough it deserves to be. GMF could be that lighter wielding moment for many, the lyrics stop it short of being that. However, this lack of compromise is endearing. At times the self-loathing of the lyrics makes you feel empathy more than pity. These tracks are beautiful to listen to but ugly when looking at the lyrics. The depth this gives the album as whole makes it work far more.

The remixes can be ignored. Largely they are superfluous when compared to the album itself. The music on this album can be sparse, warm and thoughtful. The album is likely to be one of this years best. Let's hope he doesn't find happiness any time soon as his bitterness is so rewarding.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2013 5:23 PM GMT


New Moon
New Moon
Price: 9.47

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, 4 Mar 2013
This review is from: New Moon (Audio CD)
Garage rock, when it is done well, is a head down, foot stomping wall of noise. It isn't done very well much these days - however this fourth offering from The Men is a great exception. Its wailing, howling guitars, harmonica and drums on tracks like Without a Face, I Saw Her Face and The Brass is just a joy. Its reminiscent of Husker Du in its simple tracks and vocal delivery. Its just so loud and abrasive you have to love it.

There are some quieter numbers. Indeed when you listen to the piano and acoustics of the opening track, appropriately named, Open the Door you will wonder if you were listening to a different album - it sounds like a younger Travelling Wilburies. However, the overall tone is noise and its quite thrilling. Half Angel and Half Light sounds like a Neil Young and Crazy Horse number sped up and delivered with all the feeling those old warhorses have.

This is a great rock album. Its going to be up there at the end of the year as one of the best rock albums of the year. Its so blissfully simple, noisy and fun that its a joyful listen. It reminds you that simple rock n roll can be one of the best things in life to listen to.


Black Fingernails, Red Wine
Black Fingernails, Red Wine
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 7.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Little known Aussie Band delivers great album, 3 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A few years back I was on a mini tour of Australia and there was song on the radio constantly that I hadn't heard before. That song was Black Fingernails, Red Wine and the band was Eskimo Joe. I bought the album for a friend and then a second copy for myself. A few months later in London we saw them live - surrounded by Aussies. Great night. Quite why they haven't been bigger over here I will never know.

This is rock music, no frills and is reminiscent of many guitar bands. Nothing too heavy, just some great tunes with piano, guitars and vocals. The title track is a stomping number which sounds bitter and joyous at the same time. Its a stop start affair which doesn't at first seem to be memorable but lingers long after. Beating Like A Drum combines the bass and drums well to deliver a taut number. Sarah crashes about to great effect. Think a noisier Coldplay and you are close.

This is one album which works well from start to finish. It should have been bigger than it was. However, seek it out and discover a great Aussie band and a very strong album


Community - Season 2 [DVD]
Community - Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joel McHale
Price: 22.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funnier and even more innovative, 2 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Community - Season 2 [DVD] (DVD)
Season two of community carries on the story of the second year of the study group at Greendale Community College. It probably deals with hanging threads of the first season a little bit too quickly and then picks up pace and has the American comedy staples of Halloween, valentines, Christmas episodes. But this is community so it's a bit different. The Halloween episode is a proper zombie episode, the Christmas one is animated completely in stop motion. When I first heard this I was convinced it wouldn't work - but it does. The characters develop a bit more and there are increasingly storylines that touch upon their lives outside the college.

Episode highlights are the ones above, advanced dungeons and dragons and the two part paintball finale. This even manages to top the last seasons paintball episode.

It's a great season to watch and contains great one liners and set pieces. For instance the whole zombie episode has a soundtrack of ABBA. The payoff for this is right at the end of the episode and is genius. If you loved the first season then this is a must have. If you haven't watched before then this is one of the smartest, funniest and knowing comedies for a long time. Well worth it


The Perfect Ofsted Inspection
The Perfect Ofsted Inspection
by Jackie Beere
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good with outstanding features, 1 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is aimed at senior managers and governors within a school who are expecting an Ofsted under the new framework. It does cover the new style Ofsted of Requires Improvement etc. It has some good tips and the style is very readable. However, it doesn't really have much if you don't teach in Secondary schools (which isn't clear in the blurb at all). In middle management there is a lot to gain and you can use this as a guide. However, given the notice period you will have to put this into action a long way ahead of that dreaded mid morning phone call.

Its a good book, no doubt. It should really not be so Secondary School centered and cover other inspection areas. That would probably turn this from merely good to outstanding.


Community - Season 1 [DVD]
Community - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joel McHale
Price: 8.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Comedy 101, 26 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Community - Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Community is a sitcom following 7 misfits and their studies as Greendale Community College - possibly the most dysfunctional college you have ever seen. The group come together to form a study group for their Spanish class which is taught by Senor Chang, the strangest and creepiest teacher you have seen. This first season spans the first year of their time at college and has 25 episodes.

The comedy here is somewhere between Arrested Development and the more mainstream comedy you will find on American TV. It takes a couple of episodes to get used to the style of comedy (the pilot is not the strongest episode). However, the characters are very good. Abed and Troy are a great double act in particular and their credit sequence antics are usually very funny - particularly the rap. Some episodes are absolute genius (the paintball episode is very good, Jack Blacks cameo episode is also a highlight as are the episodes that have set pieces running through them). The extras are good, in particular the study breaks on disk two.

I have rushed through this series in double quick time. It riffs on political correctness very well and has great characters and actors and isn't totally predictable. If you loved Arrested Development then you will enjoy this. However, this is one of the best comedy exports from the US for some time and should be watched.


Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3)
Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3)
by Ben Aaronovitch
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just as good, 16 Feb 2013
Whispers Underground is the third book in the Peter Grant series and is as good as the previous two. You can't really read this without having read the other two first though.
In this one apprentice wizard/police officer Grant is called in to help the murder squad when the body of the son of a US senator is found dead in the underground. The murder weapon has a magical aura so it's looking a little less than straightforward. Also running alongside the main story is the continuing search for the rogue wizard from the last books and the group of little crocodiles.

The humor, style and characters are the same as previous books. The pace is as quick as ever too. Lesley is involved far more, which is good, and there are more aspects of Londons other side revealed here. However, and this is a minor gripe, the occasional jumping of storyline that has happened previously is here too. Grant occasionally has a flash of inspiration and this is explained pages later. You feel kind of left out of the intervening pages on occasion. However, this is as fun to read as the previous books and not quite so difficult to keep up with the narrative at times.

This series is being quite addictive and the addition of a storyline strand that goes through all the books is a good one. If you liked the other two books then this one is just as good and you will enjoy it. If this is your first book of the series then you are best advised to start at the beginning, Rivers of London, to get the most out of it.


II
II
Price: 11.38

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sunny Fuzzed Psych, 15 Feb 2013
This review is from: II (Audio CD)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra's second effort is not a great leap from they rather wonderful first album. It has the fuzziness of that album but is a little more lo-fi in its feel and numbers. It doesn't have the standout feel good of How Can You Love Me that the first album had. But the album as a whole might be stronger. The vocals are light as they were last time and this is ideal for the summer. One At A Time is a brash number which sounds like the 70's again. No Need for A Leader could be off a glam rock album, although somewhat quieter. Secret Xtians (Christians to these ears) finishes off proceedings in great style with light guitar and drums and catchy hooks.

Its probably not going to win new fans. Its probably going to be well liked by the critics. But this is one slice of fuzzy pop that works well, if you play it in the summer heads will bob and questions will be asked...its got that kind of sneaking quality which draws you in and makes you smile. Not bad qualities at all.


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