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Secret Scribe (London United Kingdom)

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4.0 out of 5 stars TV21 Retuned..., 26 Nov. 2009
This review is from: TV21-FOREVER 22 (Audio CD)
TV21 are possibly the only band ever to have pulled off two great rock albums as book-ends to an almost unbelievable hiatus of 28 years. Talk about unfinished business!

OK - first things first. Everyone in the know is going to mention `A Thin Red Line' because in 1981 it was something of a new wave classic, as debuts go. That one deserves a review in its own right - REISSUE PLEASE AND NOT BEFORE TIME!!!

With the 2009 release of `Forever 22', TV21 have re-imagined themselves, acknowledging past (almost) glories, while understandably avoiding the pitfalls of using the same, now dated production values. The rousing Dexy's/Teardrops style horns and atmospheric Joy Division-ish basslines are dispensed with, leaving the guitar sound stripped back to a ferocious (albeit melodic), dynamic kind of power-pop blueprint. They may not have committed to any particular direction as yet, but it was important to road-test and get some product out. So it is, that a brace of new material is augmented with a slew of bonus re-worked songs in the same vein, weighing in at a value-for-money 19 tracks.

The band has a penchant for full-on stadium rockers ('Last Man Standing', 'Look To The Sun'), but they are also quite capable of shifting gears with subtler playing required for slower ballads. Either way, life experience shines through, with wit and pathos apparent in the intelligent lyrics.

This album is TV21's statement of intent - laying out its stall with memorable tunes, fizzing with energy whilst striving to deliver a varied offering within the lean guitar band framework. Further into the album, the use of violin on `In Another World' hints at possible future directions, but where they go from here is anybody's guess. 'Forever 22' ensures they won't be confined to yesteryear.

Century Flower
Century Flower
Price: £21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Getting It Right, 6 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Century Flower (Audio CD)
An evolutionary leap on from their first album, 'Helleborine'. Eschewing the over-reliance on string arrangements and impenetrable lyrics (beautiful as it was, one album was enough), the band developed a more varied pallette with this offering, which probably helped them them pick up the support slot on The Cure's world tour. This album is far more accessible, balancing textures and themes on several levels:

The love of unusual instrumentation is still there, but more confidently deployed, without overly dominating the vocals. The use of drums give the tracks a backbeat that suits the songs in their rockier context here (whereas there were little or no drums on Helleborine). Everything comes together!

Vocal harmonising is terrific throughout, as evidenced by a jazzy 'Summer Flies' (a breezy take on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks?), folk/gospel style on 'A Few Small Hours' and the delicate title track itself.

The rockier tracks contrasting with slower fare - compare the pace of 'Shatter', 'Timeblind', 'The Silent Day' and (their most commercial track ) 'Between Two Waves' with 'Tar Baby', 'Self', 'Century Flower' and the ponderous 'Amanita Muscara'.

A high watermark second album and one they weren't to match until late 2008's 'We Have Everything We Need'.


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Overlooked Treat, 6 Dec. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Humroot (Audio CD)
Apparently Humroot wasn't named after a fruit, but in honour of Jem Tayle's dog.

Many people seem to prefer Helleborine or Century Flower, but this album has some perfectly good tracks. Standouts are the barrelling piano and harmonies on 'Burst' (very Cure influenced - reminds me of 'Friday I'm In Love'), the quirky 'Little Death', soaring 'Dolphins' and whimsical 'Long Dead Flowers Dried Out In Summer'.

The songs are gently shimmering, very airy and almost languid in parts. Perhaps there is too much of the same type of mood and tempo between tracks overall. Slow songs and laid back delivery don't always equate to the atmospherics the band strive for, but can come across as dirge-like. More contrasting material would have given the tracks a better chance to breathe. This could have been addressed with livlier production and even by using more evocative titles (mostly one word song titles aren't very inspiring).

I was lucky enough to hear three of these songs played by the reformed band at a London gig recently ('Fishes', 'Swallow' and the aforementioned 'Long Dead Flowers...'.) The stripped down acoustic versions sounded rougher, but more lively altogether.

Worth a click on your i-pod.

Charmed & Strange
Charmed & Strange
Offered by tunesonline
Price: £3.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good First Effort - Needs Stronger Songs, 15 Oct. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Charmed & Strange (Audio CD)
I saw 'Adore, Adore' played live on Jools Holland's 'Later' show and was captivated by the use of guitar and effects pedal. 'Club Thing' has similar strengths and maybe so with one or two other tracks, but elsewhere this album has too much filler. The two monster tracks rather overshadows the rest.

With patience, more songs and the right producer, Yoav is capable of much more. Look forward to the next one.

We Have Everything We Need
We Have Everything We Need
Price: £6.16

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something For Everyone..., 14 Oct. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
16 years later, and Shelleyan Orphan have had time to reflect and cherry-pick their tracks for the new album. Apart from the quality of songs (consistently better and more diverse than Humroot or the Babacar project), this shows in the careful running order selection, so there is a balance and contrast between moods and tempo of the songs. Listeners will welcome the familiar female/male vocal dynamic, plus the spot-on orchestration and deployment of unusual instrumentation (they clearly had a lot of fun with this). All in all, a confident and colourful return. It holds together as an album, with standout tracks being opener 'Body Sighs', 'How a Seed is Sown', 'Something Pulled Me', 'Judas', 'Evolute' and the XTC-like 'I'm Glad You Didn't Jump Out of the Car That Day'.

At their best, this band have a rare beauty to them. This will do nicely, but let's hope they've got another album in them, yet. And to think people used to say "Pre-Raphaelite", like it was something bad. Ignore the nay-sayers - welcome back Caroline and Jem!

Here & Now
Here & Now
Price: £18.60

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Producing the Goods..., 10 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Here & Now (Audio CD)
Looking forward to seeing this band showcase the new album at the Roundhouse in Camden this w/e. Notwithstanding their constant touring, America sound less laid back on record than in recent years, and more like they're really trying on this one.

Longtime fans will recognise the classic light and breezy America songwriting template at work ('Indian Summer' could stand up against the classic hits of their day). The song palette is carefully varied, with Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell swapping vocal duties on tracks that suit their strengths. Guesting musicians have breathed some new life into the band, who rock out on a few numbers - enjoyed 'Always Love', 'Look at me Now' and bonus track 'The Glass King'.

Fans of Beckley ballads get a treat with 'Chasing the Rainbow', 'One Chance' and the emotionally searing 'Love and Leaving'. While there are trademark Bunnell songs aplenty - check out 'This Time', Golden','Ride On' and 'Walk in the Woods'.

I've named nearly all the songs. The album is that good.

ReGenesis: Season One [DVD]
ReGenesis: Season One [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Outerbridge
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £11.60

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Quality Series from Canada, 12 Sept. 2007
This review is from: ReGenesis: Season One [DVD] (DVD)
Its hardly necessary to endorse this series, given the reviews so far - it is far superior to the pale imitation mini-series "Eleventh Hour" with Patrick Stewart foisted on British audiences. I quite like the Regenesis plot device of starting at the (near) end with the main character's close shave accident in a moment of high anxiety, then using the series to flashback through a kaleidoscope of intertwined events and characters involved, that led up to this crisis.

Some interesting if scary themes of engineered bio-weapons, particularly the opening two episodes involving an Ebola and Camelpox hybrid in a baby. Horrific, because it is just about plausible (especially if you have read Ken Alibek's book about his days with the Soviet Biopreparat programme...)

There was some unintentional dark humour with the boy running round telling everyone he was a clone - until it turns out to be true (his Father grew him solely for the spare parts for his ailing brother).

The series winds down with the rediscovery and release of the Spanish Infuenza virus, but the team seems to get on top of this disaster rather too quickly, given this flu's fearsome reputation for spreading rapidly.

Every character is given a hang up, for the human interest side, which perhaps makes the series a bit soaplike, and there is that incidental music that gets repeated every time the main people furrow their brows, stroke their collective chins and peer knowingly into a testtube before coming up with the idea to save the day - hope they ditch these lame ploys for the follow-up series. Regenesis is good enough to stand without them.

A very good series, all in all. I hope the sales will pick up, and then we can get the other series (2, 3 & maybe 4 by now?) over here in the UK.

Offered by johnny8640
Price: £39.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Orphans Incognito, 6 July 2006
This review is from: Babacar (Audio CD)
This is really the 'lost' fourth album of Shelleyan Orphan, in case you liked them but always passed this by unwittingly. Babacar were Caroline Crawley's next project, with Jemaur Tayle (much more in the background) and members of the Cure also.

How does it stand up? It's as if the afore-mentioned Shelleyan Orphan got into World Music, as there are many different cultural influences at play. Not the same emphasis on classical strings as previously, but there are plenty of exotic instruments here, with Caroline's ethereal vocal an effective counterpart.

Then they disappeared - wish they'd do some more...

Secret Affair: Live At The Scala [DVD]
Secret Affair: Live At The Scala [DVD]
Dvd ~ Secret Affair

4.0 out of 5 stars Red Hot Affair!, 25 April 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was pleasantly surprised to find the band in such good form, especially Ian Page's vocals, after so long. A real barnstorming gig, and looked like a sauna in there! All the old hits and faves, although I hated the crowd singalong on 'My World' - destroyed the dynamics of the song. The rest of the gig more than made up for it, though.

They should release some old performances from their heyday.

Illumination (+Bonus)
Illumination (+Bonus)
Offered by themusicmerchant
Price: £12.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Rejuvenated Weller Serves a Near Ace..., 21 April 2003
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Illumination (+Bonus) (Audio CD)
After having much fun getting comfortable with his back catalogue (after years of Jam denial!) on the solo acoustic tour, Paul Weller gets down to business. Illumination is a thoughtfully crafted piece of work, with many textures. Quite an upbeat slant runs through - check out the confident march of 'Going Places', Jericho trumpets on 'It's Written In The Stars', the dedication to his child 'Who Brings Joy' that means it while managing not to be a mawkish filler, etc. A good mix of rockers (A Bullet for Everyone', 'Call Me No. 5') and balladry (Leafy Mysteries, One X One, Bagman), nodding back to the Wildwood days but not retreading material in a redundant way.
Weller is good value for B-sides. The import version throws in two rockers, 'Horseshoe Drama' and 'Talisman', for good value.

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