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Londonist (London, United Kingdom)

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To The Teeth
To The Teeth
Price: £10.13

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A seminal work of genius, 17 July 2005
This review is from: To The Teeth (Audio CD)
This album mesmerises me. It is certainly one of the best I've ever heard in my life. Such a fresh, exciting fusion of styles, and such superb musicianship. Ani DiFranco's roots are in strongly lyrical folk/punk, so my first listen to this album was a revelation - I wasn't expecting anything quite so musically sophisticated. It is a unique and subtle blend of avant-garde, funk, blues, African and modern jazz, scat singing, folk, hip hop and downbeat. All the compositions are stunningly inventive and engaging, and the instrumentation is so adventurous! Across 13 tracks, Ani and her band play bass, organ, wurlitzer, accordian, steel drums, tuba, trumpet, trombone, clavinet, flute, piano, saxophone, turntables, bells, triangle, banjo, all sorts of guitars and although it's not credited, African thumb piano. But despite the huge range of instruments, there's no clutter. Every piece is beautifully judged. Ani's guitar work is extraordinarily fresh and original - she makes her guitars sound like unique and exotic instruments. And then there's the singing. Ani's brilliant vocals defy description! Sometimes the strongest comparisons would have to be Patti Smith or Fiona Apple, and sometime I'm reminded of Cassandra Wilson, Diane Reeves and even Paul Simon. Standout tracks for me are Wish I May, Freakshow, Hello Birmingham, Back Back Back, Swing, The Arrivals Gate, Providence (on which Prince guests as a backing vocalist) and I Know This Bar but the entire album is consistently strong and fascinating. If you are new to Ani DiFranco but have adventurous tastes, and enjoy any kind of progressive music, especially jazz, then I urge you to buy this album. It's one of the best you'll ever hear, from a stunningly talented artist whose musical development recalls Joni Mitchell's i.e. a shift from intensely personal acoustic folk into a fusion of folk, jazz, avant-garde and world music. Can Ani ever top this album? It's very hard to imagine, but let's hope so!


Strictly Ballroom [Collector's Edition] [DVD] [1992]
Strictly Ballroom [Collector's Edition] [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Paul Mercurio
Offered by Todays Great Deal
Price: £3.98

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly quirky, fast-paced film with romance and humour, 11 July 2005
A smash hit at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, this hugely enjoyable film launched director Baz Luhrmann's career, created a renaissance of popular interest in latin and ballroom dance - and named a host of television talent shows! I love Strictly Ballroom. I've seen it about six times since it was released in 1992, each time with mixed amusement and exhilaration. Paul Mercurio is superb in the lead role as Scott Hastings, a sizzling dance talent torn between his - and his mother's - lifelong ambition to win the prestigious Pan-Pacific Dance Championship, and the subversive urge to dance his own original steps. Tara Morice plays his 'ugly duckling' dance partner Fran to perfection, his whimsical father is endearingly eccentric, and the entire cast of engaging characters never misses a beat. This brilliantly quirky, fast-paced film manages to combine spectacular dancing, tongue-in-cheek visual humour and John Waters-style camp kitschness with a gentle romantic subplot. Not to mention some striking cinematic moments - for example the camera movement as Scott and Fran dance together for the first time, while above them, Scott's father prances gleefully around the washing line alone on a moonlit rooftop. Even by the generally high standards of the Australian film industry, Strictly Ballroom shines. If you haven't yet seen it, you've a real treat in store!


Save Yourself
Save Yourself
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: £5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catchy, sparkling rock/pop with captivating lead vocals, 15 May 2005
This review is from: Save Yourself (Audio CD)
This album is pure pleasure. It's crammed with exciting, catchy melodies and riffs backed by tight and driving rhythms, reminiscent of Texas at their addictive best. And like Texas, Speedway showcases a charismatic lead vocalist with a stunning voice. Anyone who enjoys this album should certainly take a look at Jill Jackson's forthcoming solo album - the vocal talent on display here is just the tip of the icebeg.


Eye To The Telescope
Eye To The Telescope
Offered by Todays Great Deal
Price: £1.89

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, addictive music with no genre boundaries, 1 May 2005
This review is from: Eye To The Telescope (Audio CD)
This is the best debut album by a new singer-songwriter I've heard since Jason Mraz. KT Tunstall is one of those stunningly talented artists so naturally good she defies description... what's the point in churning out words which can't define her genre, or convey the pure pleasure of listening to her? If you like Beth Orton, Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Colvin, Tori Amos, Patty Griffin, Joni Mitchell, Lucinda Williams or any other great folk/jazz/rock/pop singer-songwriter you just have to listen to this album! KT's voice is amazing, and her songs are addictive. I hope she becomes a major star.


Burn The Maps
Burn The Maps
Price: £11.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely beautiful, 12 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Burn The Maps (Audio CD)
Dreamy, deep, intimate, evocative, meditative, intensely beautiful. Everyone who loves acoustic or folk music should take the time to listen to this album - it deserves massive success.


Ophelia
Ophelia
Price: £8.57

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly beautiful - Kylie Minogue fans, look elsewhere, 30 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Ophelia (Audio CD)
This is a gorgeous album, packed with stunningly good melodies and arrangements. It is lush, epic, and beautifully written and performed. Natalie Merchant's voice is a thing of startling loveliness, delicacy and emotional depth. Piano, cello, violin and delicate guitar contribute enormously on every track. Peter Yanowitz' trumpet on Break Your Heart is divine. Although the album demands some emotional maturity in the listener, as evidenced by some of the negative reviews here, many of the songs can only be described as uplifting.
Outstanding, classic tracks include 'Ophelia', 'Life is Sweet', 'Frozen Charlotte' and 'The Living'. Only two tracks tend to disappoint - 'Kind and Generous', with its simplistic happy-clappy lyrics, and 'When They Ring the Golden Bells', on which the initial section is marred by Karen Perlis' rather saccharine guest vocals.
Listening to this album, the most depressing thought that comes to my mind is that someone who would appreciate and enjoy it might be put off by the unhelpful, aggressive Amazon review. Complaints about emotional tone are completely inappropriate - what next, reviews of Gregorian chants saying "this is a bit of a downer, lighten up lads!" Grow up Michael, this is Amazon, not NME - you're here to sell albums, not rip them to shreds. The only pretension here is your own.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2013 4:37 PM BST


Macalla
Macalla
Price: £6.44

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, timeless album - Clannad's career best, 1 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Macalla (Audio CD)
I own six Clannad albums, the first of which I bought twenty years ago. Macalla, originally released in 1985, is not just my favourite Clannad album, but one of the best-loved albums in my entire collection. I believe it is their strongest and most widely accessible work. Whereas their earlier albums were strongly rooted in the traditional folk genre (lovely, but not always accessible to the eclectic listener) and their later albums leaned more strongly towards pop and new age (to my folk-leaning ear, usually too sweet and over-produced), Macalla is a beautifully conceived crossover album. The majesty and beauty of Clannad's traditional folk harmonies and Celtic musicianship are enriched and enhanced on Macalla by exciting, sophisticated pop, rock and jazz influences. The lead vocalist, Máire Brenna, is the star of the album. Máire's haunting, clear and delicate voice has never sounded more beautiful or compelling than it does here. Her vocals on the standout track 'A Wild Cry' are nothing short of ravishing. Other particularly fine tracks are 'Caislean Oir', 'In a Lifetime', 'Almost Seems (Too Late to Turn)', 'Buachaill on Eirne' and 'Northern Skyline'. Interesting changes in pace throughout the album provide entertaining contrasts. 'Indoor' is a sparkling, exhilarating pop-rock track with guitars, drums, sax, heartracing lead vocals by Máire and gorgeous harmonies which are all reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac at their very best. 'Closer to Your Heart' is a jaunty, enjoyable, guitar-based pop track, and one of their best-known songs. Perhaps the odd track out here is Blackstairs, with one of the Clannad men on lead vocal, which nevertheless provides a pleasant, gentle interlude. In summary, Macalla is a beautiful, timeless album of melodic folk pop, representing Clannad's career best.
This 2003 digitally remastered reissue with new artwork includes one bonus track, 'Caislean Oir' (Planet Heaven Mix), as well as new sleeve notes and rare photos. Clannad's official site reports that Pol Brennan oversaw the remastering from the original tapes, and that the band are very happy with the results. Despite what I feel was a misjudged decision to replace the striking 1985 black and white artwork - with Máire in Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' pose - given also that the original CD was issued with frustratingly minimalist sleeve notes, giving no track credits, this reissue is therefore to be highly recommended on all counts.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2011 3:05 AM GMT


Christmas EP
Christmas EP

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The uniquely talented Mary Margaret O'Hara, 1 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Christmas EP (Audio CD)
The music on this CD is intimate, sweet, warm, joyful, cool, jazzy, country, ethereal and melodic. In a word, divine. It is the only Christmas music I could ever imagine buying, from one of the best singers I've ever heard in my life.


The Sexual Life Of Catherine M
The Sexual Life Of Catherine M
by Catherine Millet
Edition: Paperback

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The mechanical adventures of the Duracell bunny, 12 Jan. 2004
An astonishingly dull, tedious and mechanistic book about a life spent in the pursuit of clockwork sex. This woman humps her way through dozens, possibly hundreds, of faceless men rather like the Duracell bunny - with considerably less excitement, pleasure and imagination than a trainspotter recording serial numbers from railway engines. All the characters including the author remain resolutely two-dimensional and bloodless throughout. A deadening book which summons up rather more vivid images of the psychiatrist's office than the bedroom.


The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best children's books of all time, 12 Jan. 2004
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
The Phantom Tollbooth tells the story of Milo, a boy who receives a mysterious gift of a toy turnpike tollbooth complete with little car, and magically enters the Lands Beyond. Here he embarks upon a quest to rescue the maidens Rhyme and Reason from exile, and thereby make peace between the warring kingdoms of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. On his way he visits fabulous and fantastical places full of colourful characters and unexpected hazards, such as The Doldrums, where it is unlawful, illegal, and unethical to think, The Forest of Sight, home of the Great Chromo, the conductor who conducts all the colors in the world, The Valley of Sound, where the Doctor of Dissonance mixes terrible noises assisted by the awful Dynne, The Mountains of Ignorance, where terrible monsters such as the Gross Exaggeration, the Everpresent Wordsnatcher and the Terrible Trivium dwell, and Expectations, the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Oh and that's just for starters. This stunningly inventive book will blow your mind! Any child with imagination, curiosity and an interest in fantasy will love this book and remember it for the rest of their life. I know I did.
If you can possibly find an edition of the book with the original illustrations by Jules Feiffer, then buy it! Those wonderful images will live in your memory as vividly as Norton Juster's amazing tale. But if those illustrations are no longer in print, then buy anyway... because this book is too wonderful not to own.


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