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Mr. A. J. Whiteway "andy-ru" (Londinium, uk)

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Dizzy Heights
Dizzy Heights
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth, irresistable and still not resting laurels...., 20 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Dizzy Heights (Audio CD)
I heard an advance copy of 'Divebomber' and thought 'ouch'. But then again, I almost wish I hadn't, because music streamed over the internet always sounds awful and 'Diverbomber' is such a delicate, fickle work that it's only with headphones on late at night that you get its kaleidoscopic effect in all its fullness.

I mention 'Divebomber' first, because it is very indicative of the album, perhaps more so than the (rather lovely) title track. Neil Finn's solo records have always been coloured by an experimentalism you wouldn't necessarily associate with Crowded House. What's interesting for me is that Neil has often had a heavy hand in the production of 'One Nil' and 'Try Whistling This', (for me with mixed results - some of One Nil I really struggled with), whereas on this occasion he has perhaps been more mindful of the effect Youth had on the seminal, dark final Crowded House album 'Together Alone'. Therefore Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev / Flaming Lips) has been bought on to this record, with startling effect.

I can't think (other than Together Alone) of a more interesting, organic tracklist of any of Neil's work. For example, the dizzy, gospel-tinged 'impressions' that opens the album wonderfully segues into the title track 'Dizzy Heights' by way of some looped/skipped strings that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand whenever I hear it. Ditto for the intro and punchy laser effects which accompany the lyrically brutal 'White Lies and Alibis' towards the end of the album. The use of strings is a firm thing that marks this out from other Neil albums and they are always used interestingly..

For me there are many stand out tracks on the album ('Recluse' and 'In My Blood' worth particular mentions), but what makes this album stand out for me is the bold and uncomprimising choices Neil continues to make in his music. Love it or hate it - he's a true artist in every sense, continuing to grasp for something just out of reach. Definitely worth a check and a few considered lessons if you're sitting on the fence and haven't got this yet.

Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, grower of an album., 29 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: North (Audio CD)
Didn't like this on first few listens - as reflected by some of the other reviews on here.

Been a fan of Matchbox since their debut and I think my problem was that my expectations were very high. Their last full studio album (More Than You Think You Are) is their best - an extremely consistent album with grand, technicolor pop moments that showcased the band to full potential.

This isn't quite there. From what I've read of the album's gestation, Rob, Paul, Kyle & Pookie travelled to each other's place (they live all around America) and wrote A LOT of songs. They have clearly picked a lot of gems from these, but overall the album, particularly early on, feels quite inconsistent. 'Put Your Hands Up' is too throwaway for me - it's a 'matchbox twenty do funky dance' moment and has none of the gentle and appropriate funk of 'She's So Real' from MTYTYA. 'Sugar' and 'radio' also aren't bad songs but fail to make much impact.

However, there are some clear and outstanding songs on here that rank up with the very best of Matchbox's songs. Opener 'parade' sets a fantastic opening tone while 'She's So Mean' is deliriously good fun, a basic chord progression thrown and twisted until it shimmers into heady pop. 'Overjoyed' is the kind of ballad that Matchbox Twenty do. 'English Town' is dark and moody while closer 'Sleeping At the Wheel' maybe the best song lyrically that Matchbox have written. Special mention must go to Paul Doucette's muscular and intuitive drumming - always an asset of the bands, it's propulsiveness gives a real energy to some of the songs,

Overall, the album has really grown on me. I think I was always going to be difficult to please and the fact that there are so many great moments is a testament to the band's continued creativity. The album was also Matchbox's first album to go to number 1 in America! So hopefully they won't take as long to make another album.

Monsters [DVD] [2010]
Monsters [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Whitney Able
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.50

35 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spell-binding, uncategorisable film-making, 24 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Monsters [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I saw this film in a cinema - there were clearly people left bemused by a film with its suggestive title and lack, thereof, of any kind of big budget blasting of gory monsters. And therein is why I like and would reccomend 'Monsters' wholeheartedly - it is a completely different kind of film to anything I have seen before.

Its a complete amalgam of genres and wears its influences unashamedly on its sleeves. Part road movie, big part love story, shot part documentary style, with incidental dialogue that doesn't neccessarily always spell exposition moving forward, 'Monsters' is, ultimately a meditative science fiction film, perhaps most closely mirroring the pace of films like 'Blade Runner' and '2001'. Its a story of two souls who start apart, but gradually find each other on the course of a strange and bizarre journey though the 'infected zone' - a cleverely devised conceit that imagines a new border between Mexico and the USA - one controlled by Aliens. The Aliens, when they appear (because the 'monsters' of the film are left in a little dealt by the end), are wonderfully realised, despite Gareth Edwards' shoestring budget - the phrase 'less is more' fits well here, and the ending is a masterstroke that left me thinking and feeling that I needed to watch this film at least once more.

Also, the score by Jon Hopkins is absolutely brilliant - anchoring the wonderful images in a dreamy, bleary soundscape - well worth checking out on the Amazon Mp3 store.

Lonely Avenue
Lonely Avenue
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £7.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really robust offering from Ben (and some guy called Nick), 2 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: Lonely Avenue (Audio CD)
This album was originally intended to be in a similar vein to Ben Folds collection of in-between album songs, a bit like Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP - a brief collaboration between two excellent artists from two different mediums. Judging from the excellent liner notes that accompany this album though, both Ben Folds and Nick Hornby feel confident enough to assert that this is a proper, fully-fledged album.

And it is. The BBC review is spot on - although I hadn't thought about before, Hornby and Folds share a talent for well-drawn character studies that means you can often mistake this for a standard Ben Folds solo album (and that is not a bad thing). The character sketches here both cut and cackle as ever - 'Picture Window' evokes a solemn London and is an outstanding track, while 'Levi Johnston's Blues' retains a lot of the slightly OTT electo-exuberance which characterised a lot of the songs on Ben's last album 'Way To Normal'.

This is a creative partnership that seems to have bought out the best in both men. The liner notes attest to the creative partnership behind 'Belinda' and it is indeed a really unique song in the Ben Folds canon; embedded with an even greater, sadder irony than some of his best cuts before. 'From Above' gets a special mention becuase its just a great pop song, with excellent backing vocals as well. I really wouldn't mind if they made another album together. Soon.

Price: £11.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moon dust sparkles, 12 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Moon (Audio CD)
Gosh. This is a rare thing indeed - a science fiction film (y'know, like a proper one!) and an accompanying soundtrack that successfully enhances the film rather than just sitting alongside it.

I must admit to having given up on finding great new Sci-Fi scores in film, having recently become in awe of Bear McCreary's talent in his wonderful final season 4 score for Battlestar Galactica: Season Four , so to find this felt like a real gem.

Clint Mansell's score is predictably sparse but surprisingly robust on repeated listens. It compliments the film perfectly and if you dig a little deeper, begins to throw up subtle changes in the few recognisable cues that emerge from the movie.

Special mention goes to the track 'Memories...' - it is a wonderfully affecting piece of music, containing nowt much but an ethereal piano, before a Cello moves in by way of a final refrain. My favourite track on the album.

In short, if you're a fan of the scores that accompany the classics that 'Moon' was unashamedly trying to emulate, you'll love this.

Price: £5.99

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dynamics and saxophones, 26 April 2009
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This review is from: Glassworks (Audio CD)
I got into the work of Glass through his album Solo Piano and was anxious to purchase this complete album after hearing the track 'Facades'.

Glassworks is an album of dynamics and characterised by Glass' prepensity for dense rhythmic structures - some of these pieces can at first listen seem quite similar. Essentially the album is bookended by 'opening' and 'closing' (quite obviously, I hear you snigger!), both sharing the same notes, but the former played on a solitary piano, while the latter is performed by the orchestra. I prefer 'opening', perhaps because of my enjoyment of 'solo piano' - it is gentle and lilting; a subtly complex construction of notes.

I love the way Glass has used Saxophones in this piece. 'Facades' on balance remains my favourite piece - it is more thoughtful and sombre than the pounding 'Floe' and 'Rubric'. In it, a saxophone floats on top of some simple string refrains and conjures the work of Miles Davis to mind at times.

I found this album interesting and enjoyable. Its dynamics, while initially a little jarring came to be its strength on repeated listenings. Another interesting album from Mr. Glass!

Price: £5.32

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deserves to be huge., 18 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Fearless (Audio CD)
Its hard to know whether the Uk chart going public will embrace Taylor Swift's unfussy, simple, and sweet country music; what is for sure is that if you're a fan of the kind of music exemplified by the Dixie Chicks, you're going to love this.

America has already embraced Swift to the tune of 8 weeks of this album being number 1, only knocked off by Springsteen's newest disk, Working On a Dream

Some might label Swift's music as being a cynical approximation of country music. I would disagree. There's no denying her prettiness and the fact that she is co-writer on some (only a few mind you), of these songs. Then there's the fact that these songs seek a trajectory right down the middle of popular music; they're breezy and uncomplicated in their arrangements.

I don't think that any of these things don't mean that Swift is anything other than a great, new country artist. Swift's vocals have a subtle languidness, best heard on the lilting 'White Horse'. There is a strong sense of someone who is young, but also coming into their own as a writer on this album. The single 'Love Story' is a lyrical triumph, that suceeds in telling a memorable story. Perhaps its Swift's lyrics that mark her out the most, because it is clear on tracks such as 'Fifteen' and 'The Best Day', that Swift's music has matured since her sold debut album, which is also worth a look.

So; good, solid country arrangements, a great voice and some good lyricism. Reccomended.

Working On a Dream
Working On a Dream
Price: £7.51

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid and light?, 28 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Working On a Dream (Audio CD)
Well, if this isn't a breezy, wistful, joyous pop album! There are those who I suspect may struggle to want to like this album, but I suspect that's because they want their Springsteen music to be, well, serious.

Despite being recorded in close proximity with recent album 'Magic', the tone of this CD couldn't be more different. While 'Magic' felt like a reflection upon 8 years of living under the 'shiny saw blade' of the Bush administration, 'Working on a Dream' seems to eschew the political in favour of the personal. The closest brother to 'Magic' is 'Life Itself'; full of brooding and foreboding lyrics and with a simple, swelling refrain that seems to gather in intensity around the Byrds-influenced guitar work.

Opener 'Outlaw Pete' is cinematic Springsteen and the E-Street Band at its best. It might lack the lyrical complexity of some of the hit-and-run stories of 'Nebraska', but its a wonderfully widescreen epic, full of colour and dynamics. Admittedly, it might be as adventurous as the album gets, but early on, the unmistakeable swagger of 'My lucky day' and positive 'Working on a Dream' are solid pop songs that reflect the optimism that shines through this album.

This album's probably closest to the unjustly neglected gem 'Tunnel of Love' - although that used the personal to devastating lyrical effect, like 'Working on a Dream', it was a damn fine pop album. The final tracks touch on some kinds of despair and solitude, 'The last carnival' being a simple elegy to Danni Federici, recently deceased member of the E-Street Band. Bonus track 'The Wrestler' is raw and bruising like its subject matter.

Springsteen has delivered an album of unashamed, unabashed pop music that seems to trace those best cuts of music he must have first heard as a young man. As such, its a welcome change from his recent material and a varied and surprisingly robust album.

I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too
I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too
Offered by RFH Global
Price: £4.24

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, provoking - everything a pop album should be?!, 17 May 2008
Having only had this a week, maybe i'm not qualified to write this review yet, but I feel compelled to act, because if this album gets lost it will be nothing short of a travesty.

Following a great first album was always going to be tough, but I think Martha Wainwright has walked a fantastic tightrope here. She has produced an album of varied moments, at times skirting close to straightforward pop (at which she puts to shame most of her contemporaries), whilst also producing more introspective and intriguing tracks.

'Tower Song' is a great example of the latter. It sits on a bed of prickly strings and feels dark and menacing. It articulates a very 'here and now' sense of loss and desperation and feels compelling because of it. 'In the middle of the night' recalls a slightly heavier Neko Case, all full of backyard incidents and night drama.

Openers 'bleeding all over you' and 'you cheated me' are charming, memorable affairs, full of fantastic lyricism, while reflecting the breezier side of this disc. 'Niger River' is just beautiful and haunting, two adjectives that describe Martha Wainwright's music at its core. This is a logical step forward, but its not safe and it showcases a talent that is more than ready to step out from the already illustrious pedigree of the other Wainwright's.

Also, have we seen a better album title this year? I think not.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 [2006] [DVD] [2004]
Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 [2006] [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Edward James Olmos
Offered by Fulfillment Next Day
Price: £8.39

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, Compelling Science Fiction, 6 Mar. 2008
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Season Three contains BSG's best and worst moments. Luckily for this viewer, the worst moments are niggly and the best brave and bold.

The writers of BSG had set up an intriguing storyline at the end of season 2 - a huge city on a difficult planet, with the Cylons running a brutal occupation over the citizens of New Caprica. Season Three wastes no time in showing the desperate lengths that the embittered survivors in New Caprica will go to when fighting the Cylon occupation. Suicide bombings, people betraying other people, and double-agents are the de-rigour from the offset. This is challenging science-fiction, showing chilling contemporary relevance and a bold vision.

Characters continue to make tough choices, right up until Admiral William Adama arrives back with the Battlestar Galactica to make one of the most audacious rescues in television history. Without spoiling anything, it is pretty special and well balanced with some intense characterisation.

The challenging storylines continue with the fleet seemingly 'reunited', but nonetheless still 'split', with the survivors of New Caprica bitter and looking for reparations over their own extreme actions and those who allegedly collaborated with the Cylons.

Its at this point though that the season begins to 'sag' a little. There are excellent story arcs here and there, but occasionally the feeling of 'stand-alone' episodes seems to seek in. Opinion seems divided on them. To me the raging-bull-esque 'Unfinished Business' is strong and a brilliant piece of direction, but I felt frustrated by some of the other episodes, as either threads are suddenly buried, or I just didn't feel interested enough in some of the other threads.

Still, BSG's weaknesses put most other Science Fiction (i'm not just talking about television), to shame. The acting remains nuanced and compelling, even if a 'soap-opera' feels does permeate the rivalries that develop over the essentially forbiden love of Lee Adama and Kara Thrice.

As always though, BSG pulls its best punches in the final third. One character seems to vanish, while the trial of disgraced president of New Caprica, Guis Balthar, provdies a good dramatic weight to anchor the final episodes. As always there's one heck of a shift in terms of story at the end (and without spoiling it), which makes the final season seem like it will have plenty of story to get into, without, one hopes, veering to close to some of the weaker aspects of this series.

Certainly when its at its best, BSG is compelling Science Fiction of the highest order. Highly reccomended. (If you're starting from scratch get the mini-series and the 1-3 boxset. It's worth it!)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2008 10:14 AM GMT

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