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Reviews Written by
Ian "laughingdog" (Doha Qatar)

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Now More Than Ever
Now More Than Ever
Price: £18.25

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't remember enjoying an album so much for a very long time., 30 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Now More Than Ever (Audio CD)
I'm not sure if it's the current warm spell we're experiencing here in Doha (not seen a cloud for like 3 months), has made me chill out more, or if it's the sudden slow down of life here with most sane people leaving the country for cooler climates and well-earned holidays but I can't remember enjoying an album so much, can't remember playing an album so much for a very long time.

I reckon it's been a good year, so far, with numerous new releases, re-releases, old albums rediscovered, (Midlake, Betty Steels, Tindersticks , Colosseum to name but 4) - and then when you think that it's safe to surf myspace, amazon etc and you promise yourself that you want spend any more money on new music - then kerblaamm - you find this little gem of a record.

Jim Guthrie is a Canadian singer-songwriter (there must be something in their water the way they keep producing artists like this) and has recorded and toured both as a solo artist and as a member of the bands Islands, Royal City and Human Highway. These names probably won't mean too much to you but are worth checking out if only for the album cover of Human Highway's `Moodys Motorcycle'.

So why do I like the album so much? Good question, I'm not really sure - cant really pinpoint what makes it so good. I love the strings (arranged by Owen Pallett) that take the songs to another level. I love the lyrics, very strong, very simple but strong that paint pictures in your mind, subtle dreams that you can take anywhere.

The songs here are good, very good - I hear a craftsman at work, someone who knows how to tell a story in 5 minutes, someone who can convey his emotions, someone with something to say. The production is very good, the band is very good, the whole bloody thing is very good - but what makes it so special?
I think it's is the feel of the album - it all sounds just so right. There's space and light in each song, there's character and tone - a spirit that demands you sit down and listen. So, I'd better shut up and leave you to listen to the music.

I Am...Betty Steeles
I Am...Betty Steeles

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new talent who dares to be........................., 17 Jun. 2010
This review is from: I Am...Betty Steeles (Audio CD)
I know part of discovering new music is, what I call, the 'Virgin Effect' - nobody's been there before, you're the first to taste the delights, the first to pluck the cherry - you know what I mean? Its also that smug feeling of finding a sound that you can impress your friends with.

I can remember hearing David Gray very early on, being totally gobsmacked, and telling all that would listen how good he was - I feel the same about Betty Steeles a young lady from Brixton who has created an album of wonderful sounds that could be my sound of the summer.

On first couple of plays one instantly gets drawn in by the lushness, the sublimeness, the quaint feel of the songs. Then you start to hear things - the brass on 'Mudslide', the cowbells and lovey chord change in 'I Don't Wanna' and the feeling that you're really not sure what you're hearing. 'Poison' is not your normal slushy ballad but a song with many twists and turns hidden amongst a hybrid of sounds/background vocals and voices all molded together by a few notes on a piano and Betty's dry vocals - a classic song. Even on 'Bus Boy' which did irk me a little on first hearing with its breathless vocals and simplistic lyrics suddenly all makes sense after 3/4 listens and a glass or 2 of Chilean Chardonnay.

Comparisons ave already been made to Bjork and Kate Bush, but to be honest, all I hear is Betty Steeles. A new talent who dares to be different, dares to be honest, dares to be herself - this album is definitely a Betty Steeles Album.
Comment Comment | Permalink

Heavy Metal Fruit
Heavy Metal Fruit
Price: £10.51

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars just keep on doing what they do cos they do it good., 31 May 2010
This review is from: Heavy Metal Fruit (Audio CD)
This is already a strong contender for my album of the year as it contains everything I could wish for in music. Strong songs, magical melodies, great guitar and some good old fashioned rock riffs. I read somewhere that Motorpyscho had pop sensibilities? Whatever that means they certainly ain't a boy band - more your honest, hard-working Norwegian rock band that just keep on doing what they do cos they do it good.

All the tracks demonstrate what a good band they are (it is currently my album of the month)- but its the final track that really showcases their talent. The track is `Gullible's Travails (pt I - IV)' - the best track on the album and probably their best song.

Definitely a winner and recommended to you all but especially if you like Siena Root, Colour Haze etc.

Laughing Dog - musicforthemonth
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2010 4:06 AM BST

This Charming Life
This Charming Life
Price: £9.26

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This must be the best 80's album of the 21st Century, 30 April 2010
This review is from: This Charming Life (Audio CD)
This must be the best 80's album of the 21st Century - what, I hear you say am I on about?

Well, its almost like I've just entered a Time Machine, pressed 1983 into the remote and bingo I'm back watching Joan on Top of the Pops singing `Drop the Pilot' (didn't everyone look really happy back then?), we're all wearing seat belts in the UK as it becomes law, we're all watching the final episode of M*A*S*H breaking the record for the most watched episode, Michael Jackson's Thriller album hits #1 on the US charts, and Phil Lynott performs his final show with Thin Lizzy in Nuremberg, Germany.

I almost feel like I'm there - why? Because Joan's new album is full of the 80's - big catchy choruses, simple song structures, delightfully naive themes, bouncy bass lines and wonderful cheesy lyrics. But its a cheese that has matured and now tastes superb ready now to eat and enjoy.

Basically as with all my Albums of the Months, its a complete album, full of good songs, well produced with Joan playing all the instruments except drums and its an album that I think will pass the acid test - I'll still want to listen to it in 6 months, 2 years time.

Did you know that apart from making wonderful music Joan has performed for Nelson Mandela, received an MBE from the Queen and an Ivor Novello Award, recently completed a BA (Honours) in History and presented a series of excellent documentaries on Radio 4 to her many accomplishments.

She also has a good taste in guitarists with her top 5 being Mark Knopfler, John Williams, the classical axeman best known for the tremulous "Cavatina" on the soundtrack to The Deer Hunter, Bonnie Raitt, the flame-haired country singer of "Love Has no Pride", Bert Jansch, the rumpled veteran folkie of Pentangle, the late-1960s band and Russell Lissack, the twentysomething, floppy-fringed Essex vegetarian from Bloc Party.

To conclude my review, her new album is a gift - a gift from an unique performer full of spirit and stylish confidence full of Joan. I wasn't 100% sure I should have it as my Album of The Month as it fails to fit into what most of my readers like, but then I thought "Hey this site is all about great music....and this is great music - hope you enjoy.

Laughing Dog - musicforthemonth

Black Rock
Black Rock
Price: £10.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A man inspired, 30 April 2010
This review is from: Black Rock (Audio CD)
This album is very very very good - Bonamassa has set himself and other guitarists a new benchmark, one that will be very hard to beat.

He sounds like a man inspired, like a man on top form and in the process has produced a fabulous rock record more I think than a blues record covering songs by Jeff Beck, John Hiatt, Otis Rush, Willie Nelson and Leonard Cohen. He's also joined by B.B. King on the Willie Nelson, tune "Night Life".

The album was produced in Santorini, Greece and named after Black Rock Studios where it was recorded with Bonamassa once again working with producer Kevin Shirley. (Black Crowes, Aerosmith) - this may explain the rockier sound. With each new album, music lovers are beginning to sit up and take notice. Bonamassa's voice also continues to impress and with his undoubted mastery of the guitar he must surely be acquiring a name as the new king of blues rock guitar.

Highly recommended with the highlights being Blue and Evil, I Know a Place, Spanish Boots and Night Life

For more great music visit my site

Laughing Dog - musicforthemonth

Price: £6.98

3 of 91 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wish he would just GO, 30 April 2010
This review is from: Go (Audio CD)
What an annoying pile of poo - can't believe the reviews on Amazon that made me buy it.

I love Sigur Ros and find their music like a deep mountain pool that I can dive into and lose oneself - this album is more like a puddle - shallow and annoying when you step into one.

Want to listen to some really good music - visit my site

Laughing Dog - musicforthemonth
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2011 1:24 PM BST

Plastic Beach
Plastic Beach
Price: £5.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubadours of modern music, 4 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Plastic Beach (Audio CD)
Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have created a modern album with modern references that has surely added another stripe on their musical sleeves and confirmed, to me anyway, that they should be regarded as a troubadours of modern music.

First impressions were "mmm 16 tracks - good value for money or 4 songs too many"?

It has a good intro which flows nicely into the 2nd track `Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach', which has funk and reminds me of the rapper Guru - nice and slow and sleazy. White flag the next track is big and bassy - after a Middle Eastern intro it soon develops balls and attitude and does the business. So far so good and the next track `Rhinestone Eyes' concludes what must be the best 4 opening tracks of any pop album since Yeasayers `All Hours Cymbals'. The rest of the album flows in much the same vein with some excellent tracks and fillers in between that do add value.

The key to the success of Gorillaz is I feel, not the images of cartoon characters, not the high tech tricks or media hype - it's the fact that they understand the musical times we live in, write good songs with strong melody and lyrics - no tricks just talent.

It's a very good album and although 12 tracks would be perfect 16 aren't that bad after all.

Laughing Dog - musicforthemonth

The Sea [Digipak]
The Sea [Digipak]
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £5.06

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of hardship and heartache comes inspiration, 5 Feb. 2010
This review is from: The Sea [Digipak] (Audio CD)
It sounds very harsh of me to say this but sometimes grief, sorrow, the loss of a loved one can bring out hidden depths and talents that would have remained undiscovered if the sadness had not appeared. Many of the best blues and gospel songs are based on hardship and heartache that make hearing these songs, sometimes a bitter sweet experience - "The Sea," Corinne Bailey Rae's second album reminds me of this.

Rae's husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, accidentally overdosed on methadone and alcohol in March 2008. This sadness has inspired Corinne to create an album that is heartfelt, regretful but optimistic and she displays a mature songwriting style that has enabled her to both mourn and celebrate her loss.

The chorus of the opening track is a fine example of this
"Are you here
Are you here
Are you here, cause my heart recalls that
It all seems the same
It all feels the same"

It sums up the way that a distressed dreaming soul can sometimes almost recreate their own happiness until the reality of the loss returns and one is reminded of the pain.

But don't think that it's all doom and gloom - they are some fine songs here such as the uplifting Paris Nights/New York Mornings, Feels Like the First Time and The Blackest Lily where she sings "Colour My Heart - Make it Restart". She has a fine voice which she uses well, is backed by a good band and has developed her song writing skills well from her first album, which was too poppy in parts - I look forward to the future music of Corinne Bailey Rae.

Laughing Dog - musicforthemonth

Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 Geezers and an Old Git give a Master Class for Musicians Everywhere on How to Make Music, 30 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Them Crooked Vultures (Audio CD)
It took me only 2 minutes and 44 seconds of `No one loves me and neither do I' to realise that this album and band are a wee bit special. It's the moment when they come out of the bridge and the whole band explodes playing the main riff again - a simple but magical moment that highlights the sheer musical savvy and creativity of these 2 geezers and an old git.

No one teaches this at music school and it highlights for me what this band is all about - 3 guys having a ball, and we're the lucky gatecrashers. Lucky to hear the experience and blistering bass of Jones, lucky to hear Grohl behaving badly behind the drums and lucky to hear Homme who has surely reached his peak here. Individually these guys are good but together they are great, with I think the rhythm section of Jones and Grohl and the way that they sound like a proper band that being the key to this album - making it a contender for album of the year (maybe even the decade).

On my website (musicforthemonth) I have recently complained that I'm not always happy with new albums as there's rarely enough good tracks to make me want to play it again and again, With the exception of `Interlude with Ludes' - one song that I don't particularly rate - the rest are all great songs - I have even added 2 songs to my monthly music mix on musicforthemonth and could have added 4 or 5 more.

So... this is a well produced album by 3 master musicians loving what they doing. It's almost like a master class for musicians everywhere on how to make music.

The Resistance
The Resistance
Price: £5.99

5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Matthew, tonight we're going to be Queen", 8 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Resistance (Audio CD)
I don't really like Muse. In fact I can honestly say that they get on my nerves. I dislike the way the music press lick their arse - dislike the way they're seen as the saviours of modern rock music - dislike the way they make music (I can see them now in the studio - "Yes let's have a piano intro like Freddie would do, yes lets have big drums like Roger would do" "ooh ooh ooh Matthew, tonight we're going to be Queen"

The only album worth half a listen is `Absolution' with `Time Running Out' and `Hysteria' as obvious highlights but the rest I fail to find many things that make me go "mmm". Their new album is much the same - starting with the old theme from Dr. Who it goes steadily downhill until it reaches the pits with a 3 part overture (Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 [Overture], Exogenesis: Symphony Part 2 [Cross-pollination] Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 [Redemption]) - I just can't be arsed anymore with this tosh, where's the delete button.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2010 5:44 PM GMT

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