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Present Tense
Present Tense
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The exciting British Alternative-Indie band's lustful, sexually-charged fourth studio album, 11 May 2014
This review is from: Present Tense (Audio CD)
Singer/guitarist Hayden Thorpe and singer/bassist Tom Fleming constitute one damn fine and distinguished songwriting team within the Alternative/Indie genre, and Wild Beasts' fourth full-length release, "Present Tense", is the British band's most ambitious, focused and accomplished album to date (as of 2014). Present Tense could very well be Wild Beasts' "Black Celebration", the album that took Depeche Mode to new heights, both creatively and commercially", with its tales of yearning, lust, and sexual debauchery, and its emphasis on both vintage and modern synth sounds. The album is a joy to listen to from start to finish: the songwriting, musicianship and production, it's all impeccable, and despite the sparse arrangements/instrumentation the songs all sound full-bodied and powerful.

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Out Among The Stars
Out Among The Stars
Price: £6.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The iconic Country star's posthumous studio album, recorded in the early 1980s, shines brightly, 3 April 2014
This review is from: Out Among The Stars (Audio CD)
Understandably, posthumous releases arouse skepticism at the possible prospect of weak, second-rate (or worse) material. But Johnny Cash fans can rest assured that "Out Among The Stars" far from puts the "Man In Black" in a bad light, and that the majority of the songs shine brightly. None more so than the cinematic lead single "She Used To Love Me A Lot", a Folk-ish, acoustic ballad of such high quality that it's difficult to fathom that it was never used or re-recorded for another project.

The dobro-infused "Out Among The Stars" tells the tale of a frustrated, jobless small-town adolescent, who holds up a Texas liquor store. "Baby Ride Easy" is a spirited duet with wife June Carter Cash, a cover of a Country song that was recorded by her daughter Carlene Carter in 1980, "If I Told You Who It Was" is a humorous, sassy and salacious account of a fan's encounter with a famous Country star, and the bittersweet and ironic "I Drove Her Out Of My Mind" is classic Cash and harks back to his old outlaw songs. "Out Among The Stars" showcases Johnny Cash as a legendary Country star, who was far from being a shadow of his former self.

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Morning Phase
Morning Phase
Price: £7.98

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The promise of a new day and a new beginning, 3 Mar 2014
This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
According to the press release, Beck Hansen regards his twelfth album, "Morning Phase", as a companion piece to "Sea Change" (2002) -– the L.A.-based singer/songwriter’s forlorn masterpiece -– and the similarities are undeniably quite striking. Not only did Beck invite the same group of musicians back into the studio, he and his collaborators also largely replicated the melancholic atmosphere that permeated "Sea Change". But whereas that mournful, autumnal album was fuelled by Beck’s heartbreak as a result of a recent, bad break-up with his girlfriend, on "Morning Phase" there’s a light at the end of that “long, dark night of the soul”, and it’s finally, albeit slowly, coming into view.

Beck still sounds world-weary, but despite the album’s subdued, momentarily somber aesthetic, there’s sunshine streaming in through the half-closed persiennes, carrying with it the promise of a new day and a new beginning. "Morning Phase" is a very worthy spiritual successor to "Sea Change" -– a richly textured, impeccably produced album and a deeply satisfying addition to Beck’s already impressive back catalogue.

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Lily and Madeleine
Lily and Madeleine
Price: £11.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "And the porch swing keeps swinging on / Long after your body's gone.", 25 Feb 2014
This review is from: Lily and Madeleine (Audio CD)
Even though sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz are natives of Indianapolis, the wistful and contemplative songs on their self-titled debut album exude a vibe that's more rural than urban, a down-to-earthiness rather than a self-conscious indie-hipster attitude (though the stylish album cover suggests otherwise). Lily & Madeleine's tight, beguiling, Appalachian-style harmonies -- and evocative lyrical lines like "And the porch swing keeps swinging on / Long after your body's gone" -- bring to mind grain fields swaying gently in the breeze, trickling creeks, and the scent of fresh mountain air.

Various instruments are introduced throughout the album -- acoustic guitar, piano, violin, slide guitar, a string section, pedal steel, tambourine, snare drum -- but the songs are all so sparsely and tastefully arranged that each and every composition sounds like a masterclass in subtle yet lush and richly atmospheric songwriting.


Dizzy Heights
Dizzy Heights
Price: £9.99

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The New Zealand singer/songwriter's most consistent, ambitious and compelling solo album yet, 14 Feb 2014
This review is from: Dizzy Heights (Audio CD)
For a songwriter who's mastery of songcraft has been so widely acknowledged around the world, Neil Finn's solo records have been remarkably low-profile affairs (1998's "Try Whistling This", 2001's "One Nil"). As the frontman and main songwriter of Crowded House, he's written some of the most memorable songs to ever come out of Australia - including certified classics like "Don't Dream It's Over", "Weather With You", "Into Temptation", "Four Seasons In One Day", "Better Be Home Soon" - but as a solo artist, he's never quite reached the same "dizzy heights".

"Dizzy Heights", Finn's third album and his most satisfying to date, once again displays the restless, experimental side of his songwriting, but to his credit, Finn's high-flying ambitions haven't clouded his vision: "Dizzy Heights" more adventurous musical excursions sound unforced and fully formed. Renowned producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Tame Impala) also deserves credit for his trippy production and recording skills/creative studio tricks that add another dimension to the songs.

"Dizzy Heights" is the New Zealand singer/songwriter's most consistent, ambitious and compelling work since Crowded House's "Alone Together" (1993).

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Fall Remixes
Fall Remixes
Price: £7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All India Radio's Martin Kennedy remixes "Fall", the Australian outfit's 2008 album, with impressive results, 9 Feb 2014
This review is from: Fall Remixes (MP3 Download)
Released in 2008, "Fall" was the first of ambient-instrumental band All India Radio's albums to feature a singer (the formidable Leona Gray), and it's among their very finest releases. As its title says, "Fall Remixes" is a collection of remixes of the songs included on the original album (plus one short instrumental piece). Fortunately for fans of All India Radio's subtle Slowcore music, Martin Kennedy chose to remix these songs himself - a less graceful and tasteful approach by someone else could've easily yielded disastrous results (cheesy dance remixes, anyone?) - and not surprisingly, he has remixed Fall to perfection: Martin Kennedy is an admirably understated yet (quietly) assertive musician and songwriter.

Even if one already owns "Fall", "Fall Remixes" is a welcome companion piece and every bit as entrancing, if not more so - it's Dream-Pop at its dreamiest and no All India Radio fan should be without it.


The King Of Soul
The King Of Soul
Price: £12.49

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attractively packaged 4-disc/92-track box set covering the career of legendary Soul/R&B singer Otis Redding, 4 Feb 2014
This review is from: The King Of Soul (Audio CD)
Otis Redding was both an influential interpretive vocalist and an impassioned singer/songwriter, but whether Otis Redding was actually the king of Soul music is, naturally, open to discussion among fans of the genre. After all, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were all worthy of the throne in their own right. But one fact simply cannot be disputed: Otis Redding was most certainly Soul music royalty and remains so to this day.

The 4-disc/92-track box set "The King Of Soul" is a deeply satisfying anthology which contains both studio and live recordings -- singles as well as essential LP tracks -- from various sources, including landmark albums like 1965's "Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul" and 1968's "The Dock Of The Bay". Otis Redding was a balladeer extraordinaire; while he did record numerous energetic and memorable Soul stompers ("Shake", "Chain Gang", "Respect", etc.), he particularly excelled at raunchy, stirring Southern Soul ballads such as "That's How Strong My Love Is", "I've Been Loving You Too Long", "These Arms Of Mine", and "Try A Little Tenderness". Released by Rhino Records, a label which specializes in archival reissues. [Also see Rhino Records' "The Queen Of Soul" 4-disc box set by Aretha Franklin.]

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Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2014 7:45 PM GMT


The Queen Of Soul
The Queen Of Soul
Price: £12.49

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 4-disc/87-track testament to Aretha Franklin's supreme interpretive skills and a tribute to her place in Soul music history, 4 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Queen Of Soul (Audio CD)
The 4-disc/87-track box set "The Queen Of Soul" covers Aretha Franklin's tenure at Atlantic Records, from 1967's "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You" to 1976's "Sparkle", and contains various hit singles, album tracks, non-LP sides, outtakes, rarities, and live performances. This attractively packaged anthology features all of sixteen Soul/R&B No. 1 hits, eleven of which also reached the Top Ten on the Pop Chart. Released by Rhino Records, a label which specializes in archival reissues, "The Queen Of Soul" is a testament to Aretha Franklin's supreme interpretive skills as a singer, as well as a tribute to her iconic status and her place in Soul music history. Released by Rhino Records, a label which specializes in archival reissues. [Also see Rhino Records' 4-disc box set "The King Of Soul" by Otis Redding.]

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Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2014 9:09 AM BST


Warpaint
Warpaint
Price: £7.08

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Further proof that this girl group is in a league of their own, 4 Feb 2014
This review is from: Warpaint (Audio CD)
Even though there's no testosterone in the band members of Warpaint, there's certainly no shortage of attitude, tension, edge and darkness in the Alternative/Indie girl group's music - a quality that largely sets them apart from most other contemporary female musicians whose vocals and songwriting are often too twee and cutesy. The album cover's gorgeous artwork - hazy, layered, mirage-like images - is a good indication of the atmosphere-heavy, often languid and hypnotic music that is influenced by related music genres such as `80s Ethereal Wave, early `90s Shoegaze, and contemporary Dream-Pop, all of which emphasize sonic textures as much as melody.

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Antiphon
Antiphon
Price: £8.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Midlake's fresh new start, 16 Jan 2014
This review is from: Antiphon (Audio CD)
The talented musicians in Texas-based group Midlake have never been afraid to embrace change in terms of musical styles, dabbling with different genres ranging from Alternative/Indie (2004's Bamnan And Slivercork), `70s Laurel Canyon-inspired Westcoast/Soft-Rock (2006's The Trials Of Van Occupanther), and vintage British Folk/Folk-Rock (2010's The Courage Of Others). But when lead singer/main songwriter Tim Smith quite unexpectedly chose to leave during the recording sessions for Midlake's fourth full-length release due to creative differences, fans feared that he left a void the size of Texas. From an outsider's perspective, his departure could very well have been the beginning of the end for Midlake, but listening to Antiphon it sounds more like a fresh new start. A triumph.

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