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Reviews Written by
Cuban Heel "Neil Schiller" (Liverpool)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Suprising, 22 April 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I never expected the blast of handclaps and thumping piano that opens this album when I stuck it into the cd player. That first track comes on a little bit like a more muscular 'Scouting for Girls' (don't let that put you off though), pretty high energy, and the rest of the record displays some pretty intelligent and interesting song writing. This guy has a good ear for melody and the tracks tend to hook themselves into your head pretty effectively after a few listens.

What I would say though is that the whole thing tends to lean towards the slightly overproduced side. And it's pretty out of step with its time in some respects. The arrangements are reminiscent of the upper end of 80's pop rather than anything more recent. Overall, it probably reminds me most of 'Aztec Camera' if you remember them. Which won't be everyone's cup of tea. But believe me, for what it is it's extremely well done.

Step Lightly: Create Out Loud
Step Lightly: Create Out Loud
Price: 10.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polished, 23 Mar 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In lots of ways this is a really well written and well produced album. There are moments that sound a little bit like Coldplay, as referenced in other reviews, but overall it reminded me of a slightly less edgy version of Crowded House. The problem I found is that none of it really stands out. There's nothing to object to, it's far from rubbish, but by the same score there was nothing that really grabbed me either.

I've listened to the cd a few times in the car and it certainly beats the dross that comes through on the radio. So it deserves to do better than a lot of stuff being put out. But it seems more like decent background music than anything else. I don't know, if you like Coldplay (I think they're also a little bit bland) you'll probably love it. Four stars for the overall quality, which never dips, but just not quite enough to really interest me.

The Elements
The Elements
Offered by jonfergy
Price: 4.80

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swimming against the tide, 20 Jan 2008
This review is from: The Elements (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This album is categorised as trip-hop and does indeed recall the glory days of Portishead and Massive Attack. Musically it probably sits a little closer to Morcheeba and Smoke City (if you remember their Levis advert hit 'Underwater Love').

There is an argument that it probably comes a decade too late to achieve any great success. But to be fair, Second Person have tried here to push the genre on a little bit by incorporating a few more diverse influences. And they've almost succeeded in creating a post-trip-hop sound. Track 1, 'Wood', begins where Portishead left off, 'Fire' injects a bit of variety to the beat, possibly reminiscent of Ronnie Size or UK Garage. 'Metal' has a distinctly Linkin Park intro and spirals into an Evanescence style chorus, an influence which reappears in the final track, 'Water'.

A 5 track trip-hop album in 2008 is essentially going to do little more than generate a cult following. But there's nothing wrong with that. There's definitely room in the current music scene for a band who produce finely crafted songs like these regardless of how commercially viable they are going to be. This is the kind of album that is going to be cited as an influence for other bands in a few years and will most likely get into your head via the odd film soundtrack or dreamy TV advert. If you liked Portishead, you'll enjoy this one. Listen to it late at night in a dimly lit room.

Trinity Revisited: +DVD
Trinity Revisited: +DVD
Price: 16.86

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough, 14 Jan 2008
This review is from: Trinity Revisited: +DVD (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've never heard the original Trinity Session album - I got this on the basis of the collaborations - Ryan Adams, Vic Chestnutt, Natalie Merchant. So I can't really comment on it as a reinterpretation, I've come to it as a new listener.

And overall it's a nice enough listen. Pretty atmospheric, well played and well sung. The problem is that none of it really stands out. You can easily pick out the influence this has had on artists like Adams and 10,000 Maniacs but it never really rises out of its laid back, pedestrian pace. As a nice, bluesy background it works well, but if you're looking for something a bit more inspiring it may be better to go for something by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.

Ivy York
Ivy York
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Problematic, 14 Jan 2008
This review is from: Ivy York (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The writing was on the wall when I saw there was a track called 'Butterfly'...

No, that's a little bit unfair because this actually isn't a bad album. It certainly starts promisingly enough - the intro and 'Retro Two' come on a little like a cross between Mazzy Star and Sneaker Pimps. Fantastic dreamy guitar and a real stand out vocal. The problem is the rest of the album doesn't really share the same ambition. As you move through the tracks Ivy York sounds progressively a little bit like All Saints, Julia Fordham, Dido, and even, god help us, Enya.

Track 4 - 'Unlikely' - probably sums up the problem York is going to have. It begins well, reminiscent of 'Pure Shores' by the aforementioned All Saints. Then it bursts into a very catchy, Natalie Imbruglia-esque chorus. But just as you're thinking this could easily be a big hit single, it goes into a strange little bridge and then finishes with some big bold guitar riffs that edge it into slightly more indie terrain. So is this a pop song or isn't it? Like the rest of the CD it straddles two worlds and doesn't really manage to rationalise them very well.

Which is a shame because there's obviously a pretty talented artist in here somewhere. And don't get me wrong, this is a good enough pop album with some good stand out moments and some ambition to be a bit more substantial. Ivy York is probably one to look out for in the future, but she perhaps needs to decide which way she's headed first.

Price: 11.81

4.0 out of 5 stars A real grower, 4 Jan 2008
This review is from: Strangelet (Audio CD)
Two things strike you when you first listen to this album. The first is that it probably isn't the best Phillips has put out. The second is that it hardly matters. Even when not on top form he still has that fantastic voice and an unerring ear for melody. This is probably the most commercial set of tracks he has assembled since the last Grant Lee Buffalo album - perhaps that's what put me off a little bit as I prefer his more acoustic material - but after a couple of listens it really lays the hooks into you in the same way that all his music does.

More than anything else, a real glam-rock influence shines through on this record. Several of the tracks sound like T-Rex would have had they originated in the American mid-West. There was evidence before that Phillips listens to a lot of Bowie (Grant Lee Buffalo covered Bowie tracks fairly frequently) but this was a bit of a surprise after the string laden 'Virginia Creeper' and the determinedly rootsy 'Ladie's Love Oracle'. But it just adds something else to his already pretty eclectic sound and just seems to fit somehow.

It's pretty criminal that Grant Lee Phillips (and his former band) has never really had the success he deserves. But there's something admirable about his determination to just keep on producing music of this quality for the cult following he's always had. Let's just hope he keeps shifting enough copies of his CDs to keep him in a record contract - the world would be a much poorer place without him.

Sunshine [DVD] [2007]
Sunshine [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Cillian Murphy
Price: 2.94

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Average, 13 Dec 2007
This review is from: Sunshine [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I was looking forward to seeing this movie after I'd heard a few good reviews but I found it pretty disappointing. It plods along at a pretty lethargic pace and whilst the effects and cinematography were good, it just didn't seem to go anywhere.

It starts with obvious influences from the 'Alien' franchise in terms of the sets and the theme of the psychological pressures brought to bear on a small crew in deep space. There are some obvious reference points from Kubrick's '2001' (and the sequel '2010'). And then it seems to try and squeeze in a sort of mini 'Event Horizon' type subplot right at the end. Which gave the impression of a real lack of focus, almost as though the director didn't actally know what type of film he was making.

Overall, a pretty derivative film that doesn't come close to being anything more than a sum of its influences, doesn't actually even manage to be interesting as a sum of its parts. One to avoid unless you have plenty of time and nothing much else to fill it with.

Shotter's Nation
Shotter's Nation
Offered by MasterDVD
Price: 4.19

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good, 12 Oct 2007
This review is from: Shotter's Nation (Audio CD)
I'm a huge Libertines fan and when that band broke up I didn't think we were going to get any more music as good as that which they put out on those two albums. The first CD by Babyshambles and the Dirty Pretty Things record did little to change my opinion on that. Each had one or two stand out tracks in my opinion but overall seemed like a collection of Libertines B-Sides.

So I am pretty astounded by how unbelievably good this second outing is. It isn't quite as raw as Pete Doherty's previous output but it certainly isn't any the worse for a little bit more production. On first listen I was just waiting for the downturn - the one crappy song that ruined it all, or the series of crappy songs that pulled the album down. But it didn't happen. This is a great collection of songs - definitely the best that Doherty's assembled since 'Up the Bracket'.

I know some fans hold 'Down in Albion' in some regard, but I would have to disagree a little bit. To me it had the feel of a stop-gap, something inbetween where Doherty was with the Libertines and where he wanted to go next. 'Shotter's Nation', however, sounds more evolved. It could almost be the third Libertines album as it takes a lot from the sound of that band and pushes it on. The only thing missing really is Carl's vocals, otherwise you would be forgiven for thinking they'd reformed.

I can't really single out any highlights as the whole lot really is that consistent. The one bit that does stick out, though, is the sudden introduction of swirling Doors style organ towards the end of track 6. That's just glorious and reminds me a lot of the nod back to the psychedelic sixties that they managed on the track (as opposed to the album) 'Up the Bracket'.

I remember seeing Mick Jones of the Clash state in an interview that the Libertines reminded him most of a young Beatles. To me they always seemed equal parts Beatles and the Clash (probably no coincidence when you consider Jones did a lot of the producing). It's a shame they aren't still together as 'Shotter's Nation' would have been their post-punk 'Revolver'. But then again, if Babyshambles can put something out this good, maybe we don't need the Libertines back after all...

Suedehead: The Best Of Morrissey
Suedehead: The Best Of Morrissey
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 4.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 2 Oct 2007
I think it's fair to say that Morrissey's solo output has never really matched the brilliance of The Smiths, but there is evidence on this 'Best Of' cd that he's sometimes come close. 'Suedehead' and 'Boxers' in particular are brilliant tracks and wouldn't have been too out of place on 'Strangeways Here We Come'. His cover of 'That's Entertainment' is good and 'Every Day is Like Sunday' is a bit of a classic, although the lyrics do tie it to the late eighties.

The middle of the cd takes a bit of a dip I think, a lot of the tracks sounding a bit sub-standard. But it picks up again when he gives full vent to his strange sense of humour with songs like 'You're the One for Me Fatty' 'Last of the Famous International Playboys' and 'We Hate it When our Friends Become Successful'.

It's a shame he and Johnny Marr don't work together anymore - together they produced music touched by genius. But this is worth a listen for the stand out moments outlined above.

MTV Unplugged in New York
MTV Unplugged in New York
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 4.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 1 Sep 2007
I was a fan of Nirvana before I heard 'Unplugged' but this album just proved to me how great a band they were. Stripped of the feedback and the frenetic punk energy the songs still stand up as classics.

'About a Girl' is total post-punk Beatles; 'Come as You Are' is better acoustically than released on 'Nevermind'; 'The Man Who Sold the World' is better than the Bowie original. 'Pennyroyal Tea' has some of the best lyrics Cobain ever wrote - "I'm on warm milk and laxatives; cherry flavoured ant-acids", "I have very bad posture". Pure generation x angst.

The cello on 'On a Plain' and 'Something in the Way' is hauntingly beautiful. 'All Apologies' is precisely performed and sounds like it was written for an intimate acoustic set. There are a lot of covers here and I must admit I do wish there were more Nirvana originals. 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam' isn't as good a song as some of their own they could have included. And the Meat Puppets tracks are pretty good, but they could have dropped one or two of them for an acoustic 'Lithium' or 'Serve the Servants' which would have been more interesting.

Overall though, this is an awesome record. Nirvana had some detractors based on ridiculous arguments that other bands had done the American indie thing before them, or that they were too popular for an authentic underground band. But this album proves that they were much much more than media favourites. They were the real deal. Live and exposed they more than prove their talent and their place amongst the best two or three bands ever.

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