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Alasdair Blackwell (London, England)

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First Impressions Of Earth
First Impressions Of Earth
Offered by Mattpuss
Price: £20.98

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Undervalued grower from Julian and co., 15 April 2007
It's been 16 months since this album's release and a far more considered review of the material can be delivered now, than would have been possible in January 2006.

Most often, the negative comments this record receives, stem from the opinion that not all of the 14 tracks are necessary. That many listeners would cull 3 or 4 tracks, making a 'much better album'. Hogwash.

Does the presence of these tracks mean the removal of your preferred ones? No. The record has a pace, set by the order and style of the tracks. Yes, it is (gasp) different from the pace of their other recordings. This is intentional. In my opinion, many of The Strokes' songs themselves work so well because they build tension and anticipation. They begin in one place and travel to another. This is also true of this record as a whole.

Are the notes in a melody more important than the spaces in between? Personally, I find On The Other Side a superb ramp for the furious and brilliant Vision of Division. Then there's the climb down into Ask Me Anything. Ize Of The World is all the better because of the first 3:30 of 15 Minutes and the super chilled Evening Sun is the perfect precursor to the fun and energetic Red Light.

All this is putting aside the fact that every member of the band has obviously improved substantially as a musician. The Strokes of 2001 could never have conceived of, or played a track such as Vision Of Division.

So yes, this is different to previous works, but The Strokes are moving on. There are few things more subjective than taste in music. If it's not your thing, then it's no biggie. Their first two albums and all those live performances are there for you to enjoy, but different does not equal bad.

If reports are to believed, Hammond Jr will release a second album before The Strokes begin on their fourth. I hope they return from their sabbatical with equally challenging and original work.

The Eraser
The Eraser
Price: £9.91

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No more leaky holes in your brain..., 17 July 2006
This review is from: The Eraser (Audio CD)
As Yorke has previously demonstrated in his (largely post 2000) work with Radiohead, he has a great talent for interesting rhythms and layered sounds.

Here, he treats us to tracks where the prominent instrument can be piano, guitar, bass guitar, synth, or percussion. All equally enthrawling and accomplished. However, it is Yorke's voice which gives these songs their identity. Often described as depressing and whiney, this is, at best, a stupifyingly superficial observation. His vocals capture uniquely the bleak subjects he covers in his songwriting. Hurricane Katrina's faceless and indiscriminate destruction, the shameful and tragic events surrounding Dr.Kelly's death, increasing anxieties about the global environment and the anguish of personal love and loss.

Importantly, it is again his voice which can uplift and calm as in the upbeat Atoms For Peace, as Thom sings 'feel the love come off of them and take me in your arms'. Sounding to my ears like a modern folk song, with a linchpin melody which could have come directly from an early computer game loading theme.

He often employs technically simple guitar parts to great effect. Black Swan, And It Rained All Night and the upcoming single, Harrowdown Hill given as examples. Equally, the interesting and original piano parts found in the title track and the superior Analyse capture the attention, but it is held by the vocals and vocal sounds which are expertly woven and stiched, presumebly with painstakingly detailed production and editing talent.

This record should be recommended to all who appreciate thought-provoking, original songwriting. It's superbly produced, features beautiful melodies and creative synth arrangements as well as much to occupy the mind.

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