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Red on Black

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Carry The Ghost
Carry The Ghost
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noah Gundersen - Battling with doubt and uncertainty, 30 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Carry The Ghost (MP3 Download)
Observing a songwriter growing in stature is a wonderful thing. Seattle's Noah Gunderson has oozed promise since a range of intial EPs and an excellent debut album last year in the form of 2014's "Ledges". On this new record "Carry the Ghost" Gundersen has tended to play down the more radio-friendly elements to be found on some of the tracks from his debut and concentrated on drawing out the more emotional and somber elements of his muse. This is not to say this is a depressing record, it is just one that requires you to listen, soak it up, reflect on the words and enjoy the sensation.

The album starts with the beautifully plaintive "Slow Dancer" which is the sort of song that Jackson Browne once majored upon. Gundersen's vocals are impeccable and on repeated listens you feel the growing power of this track. Even better is "Halo (Disappear / Reappear)" a deep rumination on broken love which grips you from the start and does not let go. Others like the poignant "Selfish Art" are more in tune with the alt-country acoustic ethic of Gundersen's previous work which bears comparison to early Ryan Adams. another track "The Difference" draws on the talents of the wider Gundersen family who regularly sing together as a group. it features strings from his sister Abby Gundersen a talented multi-instrumentalist, as well as sharp percussion from Jonathan Gundersen.

The deluxe version of this album contains 16 songs and stamina is required to stick with the prevailing mood of melancholy for over an hour. However, patience is rewarded as these songs get under your skin. On the first hearing, you sense that a gentle acoustic song like "Silver Bracelet" is good yet on repeated listens into moves from good to great. Equally the powerhouse ballad "Heartbreaker" the longest song on the album takes a time to get going and builds to a huge crescendo. The album also confirms that Gundersen continues to deeply interrogate and distance himself from his own upbringing in a religiously conservative family. In "Empty from the Start" he ruefully observes that "I think I heard a good man say / God is love and love has made us / but have you seen the news today / I have and I think God is gone away / If He was ever there anyway”.

Gunderson admits that his personal background soundtrack for "Carry the Ghost" was Neil Young's seventies doom masterpiece "Tonight's the Night". While "Carry the ghost" is far more accessible you sense a prevailing theme where both artists were/are battling with a prevailing mood of doubt and uncertainty. This reviewer can thoroughly recommend this truly excellent album its release is timed perfectly to soundtrack autumnal moods where the possibilities of summer are gone, and the chill of winter is on the horizon. If you wish to hear the album it is streaming on the link below.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2015 8:51 PM BST

Price: £14.14

4.0 out of 5 stars David Ramirez - Candid tales from a Texas Troubadour, 28 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Fables (Audio CD)
The website of the Austin musician David Ramirez informs the listener that his music is "For Fans of Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell, Dawes, Damien Rice". Whilst this makes sense it is also one of those publicist enticements designed to drag in new listeners when in fact Ramirez has a talent that stands in its own right and will hopefully colonise these shores in due course. Listen to the powerhouse "Ball and chain" and try not to be impressed by his great voice and the excellent lyrics all which build to a mighty instrumental crescendo. The doyen of music blogs Stereogum has described this artist with the laser-like accuracy when he stated that "David Ramirez has a voice like a tall tale, one minute strong and thick, the next threadbare and careworn". This is confirmed by the bucket load in the wonderful "Harder to lie" possibly the best alternative country song this reviewer has heard tin 2015 this side of Jason Isbell's "Children of Children". The presence in the Seattle studio of the excellent Noah Gunderson as producer has also significantly influenced the direction Ramirez has taken with a scent of melancholy permeating throughout this record most keenly felt on the song "New way of living".

Other tracks on "Fables" greatly impress especially the plaintive "Rock and a Hard Place" underpinned by a candidly emotional lyric and a beautiful' baritone, equally the welcome acceleration of pace on the lighter "That ain't love" works very well. There are a couple of tracks which are a bit too familiar in terms of sound and place particularly the sub-standard John Mellencamp soundalike of "Hold On", but this is nitpicking. Overall the album slots beautifully into the Americana/Alternative country genre and while originality is not its prime virtue the quality present outshines any reservations. Earlier this Summer, David Ramirez entered into Nashville's Eastside Manor Studios to record acoustic versions of 4 songs from his new album. As a taster for this album they are well worth seeking out.

Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival (Live)
Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival (Live)
Price: £8.99

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Yours truly on Public Saxophone", 28 Aug. 2015
It is worth contrasting this performance with the technically flawed set a tired Jimi Hendrix served up at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. The Atlanta International Pop Festival was marketed as "the Southern Woodstock" and Hendrix's contribution took place on Independence Day, July 4th 1970, in front of a huge audience of some 300,000 people. Unlike the problems encountered at the Isle of Wight, this is a blistering set spanning the length of Hendrix's career. Alongside him were Mitch Mitchell on Drums and Billy Cox on bass, who together performed as the one of the most coherent of three piece units in the sweltering evening heat of Georgia. It all adds up to "Freedom" a double set of vintage Hendrix soon to be followed by a Blu Ray release of this performance.

The concert starts with a superb version of "Fire" that sets the tone for what follows. The guitar playing on "Spanish Magic Castle" is Hendrix at his best literally punishing his White Stratocaster. Despite fluffing the first line his version of "All along the Watchtower" proves yet again every match for the Dylan original plus that Hendrix was a great singer who constantly underestimated the power of his own voice. The run through of favourites like "Voodoo Chile", "Foxy Lady" and "Purple Haze" are to the highest standards, plus the slow blues of "Red House" never fails to impress with the level of guitar virtuously on display. The live versions of some of his newer songs stand up well against the older material. The title track "Freedom" is beautifully tight, while "Straight Ahead" shows the direction in which Hendrix was heading with a melodically hard driven funk rock. The obligatory "Star Spangled Banner" is present although perhaps the real essence of Hendrix is most perfectly distilled into the 9-minute plus supercharged version of "Hear My Train Comin" so good that when it finishes the needle swings back to the beginning of the track.

For once it appears that the Hendrix estate has handled a key part of his legacy with sensitivity and care. In light of this the forthcoming documentary of this concert highlighted above should be a real treat. The documentary will feature interviews with band members Billy Cox and the late Mitch Mitchell as well as Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Kirk Hammett, organizer Alex Cooley and more. An eyewitness to this concert should perhaps have the last words. Bill Mankin, who worked on the construction and stage crews for the festival, provides liner notes for the album and captures in words the force of nature that unfolded. As he explains, “At the center of the vortex was the master magician on guitar: the personification of a life lived fully and wildly, with no boundaries, no limitations, and aiming for the stars at light speed.”

Disc 1

1. "Fire"
2. "Lover Man"
3. "Spanish Castle Magic"
4. "Red House"
5. "Room Full Of Mirrors"
6. "Hear My Train A Comin’"
7. "Message To Love"

Disc 2

1. "All Along The Watchtower"
2. "Freedom"
3. "Foxy Lady"
4. "Purple Haze"
5. "Hey Joe"
6. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return) "
7. "Stone Free"
8. "Star Spangled Banner"
9. "Straight Ahead"
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2015 10:32 AM BST

Y Dydd Olaf
Y Dydd Olaf
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gwenno - Y Dydd Olaf/The Last Day, 9 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Y Dydd Olaf (Audio CD)
Gwenno Saunders is one of the continuing range of innovative artists who come from Wales and sing in the language of heaven. Formerly of the all-girl indie pop group the Pipettes she has cut out on her own and delivered an album of electronic excellence. Contained within this record is a concept about robots taking over the world. You may wish to explore the work this is based on or alternatively determine not overly worry about its underpinning or a lack of understanding of Welsh to thoroughly enjoy this album. Some reviews have taken the lazy route and compared "Y Dydd Olaf" to Super Furry Animals "Mwng". Inevitably, with the sheer eclecticism of the works of Gruff Rhys and Co there are some crossovers, Yet Gwenno Saunders is very much her own woman and takes this debut based on the work of the Welsh writer Owain Owain, turning it into pop Welsh gold.

Opener "Chwyldro" (Revolution) would in the world infused with taste and justice effectively colonise the pop charts. It is a wonderfully commercial song with Gwenno's vocals playing out sweetly over a pulsating backdrop. "Patriarchaeth' is a darker piece of work with real echoes of the Human League which is inevitably a good thing. This reviewer's favourite thus far is the brilliant "Calon Peiriant" (Heart Machine) a much slower and considered track which shows Saunders maturity as a songwriter. Equally "Sisial Y Môr” has a beautifully light French feel to it and is beautifully economical in its construct. It lets Gwenno's voice dominate the mix and drive the song. Others such as "Stwff" are pristine in their beautiful pop melancholy which is the predominant vibe of this album. To her credit Sanders also takes another marvellous language within these Isles and produces an album highlight in "Amser" which is sung in Cornish. It reminds the listener of the glory days of the Young Marble Giants which is appropriate bearing in mind Gwenno's association with the brights lights of Cardiff/Caerdydd.

"Y Dydd Olaf" should, therefore, be immediately downloaded and bring some sunshine to a miserable British Summer (although it was glorious in Aberaeron yesterday and the cider later flowed in the Dolau over in New Quay). It would be great if "Y Dydd Olaf" can get a fair hearing from all who recognise the shimmering wonder of great pop music. It has also been a very long time since a Welsh Language album has risen to the upper reaches of the charts. This is grossly unfair. The late great John Peel recognised the brilliance of music West of Offa's Dyke and would have loved this album.

The Most Lamentable Tragedy
The Most Lamentable Tragedy
Price: £11.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Titus Andronicus - The Most Laudable Triumph, 7 Aug. 2015
It’s been 5 long years since New Jersey’s finest released “The Monitor” centered on the American Civil War and sounding in the words of one critic like "Born to Run's drunk stepchild on an epic spree". The release of “The Most Lamentable Tragedy” by Patrick Sickles and Co is even bigger in conception and even more unbalanced in its outcomes. To start it is a 29 track long “rock opera” essentially telling the tale of Sickles torment with manic depression. In this abundance of music, there are some of the greatest rock tracks of recent years combined with a couple of horrors and fragments of music which act as breaks between the main songs.

The first proper song on the album is a continuation of one of the tracks from “The Monitor” namely the wonderful Clash style thrash of “No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant”. Everything that is great about this band is present. There is enough energy to light a town and Sickles vocals shred like a chainsaw through a tree. Brilliantly, they match this on the next track “Stranded” where in the riotous chorus Sickles summarises his own predicament when he screams “Thick bold stains/on your sick young brain/ just take your Ritalin/then you can play the old hits again”. Alternatively “Lonely Boy” sounds like the best Graham Parker music that he never wrote. At the centre of the whole album is “Lost my mind” a cover of a Daniel Johnson song that appears to accurately chart Sickles trials and tribulations with on-going and intermittent depression, it a personal manifesto coming to terms with his mental illness. It is followed by a range short tracks including the pure punk of the 49 seconds of “Lookalike” the best song ever written about a doppelganger, which quickly leads into a the high-speed reprise of “Lost my mind”

Two songs on the album exceed the nine-minute mark. Once again “More Perfect Union” picks up on of the threads from "The Monitor’." It starts quietly then builds to a brilliant melodic sing-along populated with T-Rex sounding power chords. It ends in a punk crescendo that sounds like the E Street band on crystal meth. The other long track is “(S)he said, she (S)aid” anchored by a heavy metal riff and is a anthem that one day you hope you will see this band deliver in a killer on stage version. Sickles pulls it all back to a simple piano on "No Future V: In Endless Dreaming” but it remains utterly compelling. Two other tracks show Titus Andronicus’s ability to produce fine melodies albeit within a dirty barroom setting. Initially “Fired Up” is splendid first division power pop and hugely enjoyable. Secondly, neighbours in this reviewers immediate vicinity are now humming the infectious single “Fatal Flaw” as it has been played that often and loud. Quite why Sickles then needs to record two covers of “Auld Lang Syne” and bludgeon Shane McGowan’s Pogues classic a “Pair of Brown Eyes” is questionable. It probably shows that he can’t always effectively steer the sheer weight of music in his head. Yet he makes up for this with songs like “I’m going insane” which is a mixture of punk and prog. Why not round it all off with a 6-minute' sea shanty in “Stable Boy”? Finally, if you can resist the charms of “Come on Siobhan” then you are a steel-hearted monster.

“The Most Lamentable Tragedy” revives the horrors of the rock opera and gives the concept a full blood transfusion. Granted some of it is a bit hit and miss, and if Sickles could get it into his head that “less is more” that might be a blessing. But ultimately who cares? This is hard-core, messy, loud, anarchic, dirty, shambolic feast of brilliance from a band whose sheer enthusiasm bowls you over and leaves you gasping for air. There is nothing within rock music that comes close to the wonders of Titus Andronicus ability to put pent up rage to music and deliver a rousing affirmation of why the genre occasionally delivers true redemption.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2015 3:15 PM BST

Nina Revisited: A Tribute To Nina Simone
Nina Revisited: A Tribute To Nina Simone
Price: £10.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Nina Simone Tribute - Stick with the Originals, 4 Aug. 2015
A classic example of if it is not broken don't fix it. It is wonderful that the memory and music of the great Nina Simone thrive in the modern setting and she remains a core influence for a whole generation of artists. Her example as an artist and civil rights campaigner rightly deserves honour and respect. The fact that some of the biggest names in American soul music congregated together to produce this short homage is a testimony to this. The presence of the soul master Lauryn Hill should be a spectacular success on "Feeling Good". Unfortunately, the cover barely deviates from the Simone original with the exception of an over the top guitar solo, so out of place that you hit the "off" button. Frankly the Muse version is better and it begs the question why would you head in this direction when the original is streets ahead in quality. Hill then turns "I got life" into a rap version, which fares better in terms of innovation although two listens of this will fully satisfy this reviewer for a lifetime. Alternatively Alice Smith's ghostly version of "I put a spell on you" is much more in the rebellious spirit of Simone, while Common and Lelah Hathaway do a nice soulful version of "Young Gifted and Black".

Sadly, things take a turn for the worse when the man in the stupid hat Gregory Porter delivers up a mundane energy free cover of "Sinnerman" which ends with the sounds of assorted grunting while Jazmine Sullivans funky cover of Randy Newman's "Baltimore" is fine although again not in the same class as the original. Overall this is a real mixed bag. More importantly you have a choice to spend £11 on this tribute on £5 quid on Nina Simone's Greatest Hits. There is no contest.

Philips SC2005/00 Lumea Prestige IPL Hair Regrowth Prevention System for Body
Philips SC2005/00 Lumea Prestige IPL Hair Regrowth Prevention System for Body
Price: £320.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phillips Prestige Hair Remover - The liberation of the Gillette Mach 3, 4 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On the principle of never looking a gift horse in the mouth this rather expensive product has arrived at the right time and will probably save a relationship. Frankly this reviewer cares not a jot for hair removal. Having a limited amount in the head area has tended to lead to the reaction that if it does "pop" up elsewhere on this decaying old body then it is entirely welcome. Alternatively to use the vernacular of Rumpole of the Bailey 'she who must obeyed" takes a diametrically opposed view. In particular a source of significant tension centres around her uncanny ability to sense when a brand new razor blade has been placed on the Gillette Mach 3, which is the property of yours truly. This leads to a shaving session of what appears Werewolf proportions (a beautifully attractive creature let it be added). The outcome is the inevitable blunting of the new blade, but worse still a complete failure to communicate that this has occurred. The result of this is a veritable blood bath of "Kill Bill" proportions the next time a manly shave is attempted.

The arrival of the Philips Lumea Prestige SC2005/00 IPL Hair Regrowth Prevention System for the body has thus been a revelation. True, it does look like a pink blowtorch but the feedback on the product has bordered on the ecstatic. Strangely the aiming of said instrument at the relevant "foliage" seems to produce a tingly effect which she also seems to enjoy. While the product is not aimed at stopping hair growth it slows it down to the pace of the British Rail timetable. It also has a different set of heads for various bits of the bodywork. All in all the considered judgement is that is a fab product although whether in the real world anyone would cough up over £300 for it is debatable especially when they can purloin your razor for free.

Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Tet - A Game of Two Halves, 27 July 2015
This review is from: Morning/Evening (Audio CD)
Kieran Hebden, best known by the stage name Four Tet, has always produced wonderful slabs of mesmerising electronica which are high on invention and accessibility. On this new album "Morning/Evening" he delivers two sides of music, one that lasts over 20 minutes and the other coming in barely under. In these two "songs" Hebden locates much of the work which has made Four Tet one of the better exponents working within the electronica/new age genre. He is not afraid to trawl world music to assist in this task and in the first side "Morning" the use of different raga styles prevalent in Hindustani classical music infuse the sounds of bubbling synths and beats with a foreground of exotic vocals. It does work brilliantly and despite its length there is never a thought to take the needle off the record or skip to the next track. This also turns out to be sound common sense since the "Evening Side) is by far the weaker of the two tracks. It starts with a gently percolating beat which by four minutes in has not really developed into anything further. At this point a female voice in the Raga tradition again emerges but for the first 13 minutes it is one of those songs that you hear in shops that sell wind chimes and candles. The term slow burn doesn't really capture the feel of this. It does sprint towards the end yet never really sets the pulses racing or climaxes with the power that might be expected.

Consequently while this album shows that Hebden remains a leader in this field this album lacks consistency throughout. To use football parlance, this is a "Game of two halves", in relation to Hebden's output namely a well deserved five stars for side one and a grudging three stars for side two.

CB12 Mild Mint Menthol Mouthwash 1000ml
CB12 Mild Mint Menthol Mouthwash 1000ml
Price: £37.20

1.0 out of 5 stars CB12 Mouthwash - Western decadence at its worse!, 27 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Product received for free (thankfully)

Come on! Seriously? £26 quid for a bottle of very mild minty tasting mouthwash on par with the 75p variety sold in Aldi's? This is Western decadence at its worse. The idea that this is some miracle cure for a bad dose of Chicken Kiev or a too many espressos really needs to be countered. The claim that it lasts 12 hours is pure hyperbole. It barely lasts 12 minutes. Indeed, put on Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and by the time Jimmy Page finishes off in a lavish swirl of Eastern guitar mysticism the taste impact of this mouthwash has long vanished. When you give your mouth a good old "swill" with this product all it does is to remind the buyer that they should never depart far from Listerine. Do the economics - for £26 you get five one litre bottles of Listerine's "Green Monster" Fresh Mint flavour. This is the stuff that if you leave it your mouth longer than 30 seconds it gives a third-degree' burn, reduces your teeth to stumps and were you to accidently tip it on your floor the carpet begins to let off smoky fumes. What more do you want from a mouthwash?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2015 4:52 PM BST

The Brighter Side: A 25th Anniversary Tribute to Uncle Tupelo's No Depression
The Brighter Side: A 25th Anniversary Tribute to Uncle Tupelo's No Depression
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The Brighter Side - 25th Anniversary Tribute to Uncle Tupelo's "No Depression", 24 July 2015
When Uncle Tupelo comprising the immense songwriting partnership of Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy released "No Depression" some 25 years ago they didn't just release an album they invented a genre of music. The album marked the foundation of the alternative country movement and has gone into legend as that precise inter section when traditional country was bolt welded to contemporary punk music. It also saw the genesis of two outfits which birthed Tweedy's "Wilco" and Farrar's "Son Volt" and later defined American rock.

It great therefore to see "No Depression" celebrated by a range of obscure artists which actually sits well with the ethic of the original band whose subsequent influence always extended well beyond their record sales. There are a some decent covers present. Big Sky Blue do a sound job on the rocking "Before I Break" and Mikaela Davis lovely country waltz effect on "So Called Friend" is a true joy. The version of "No Depression" by the Canadian fuzz rock band Wooden Sky is suprisingly true to the original and works. Sadly two of the most famous songs on the album fare less well. Another Canadian band Elliot Brood miss the mark and pack a weak punch on "Whiskey Bottle" with their vocalist Mark Sasso offering a pale imitiation of Farrer's raspy brilliance. Equally "The Last Bison" fail to power up the classic "Graveyard Shift" and leave it bereft of energy. Those who keep it simple fare best especially Smoking Popes whose cover of "Life Worth Livin" is one of the best things present.

Overall this tribute is hit and miss. In one sense expecting these bands to reach the heights achieved on the orginal "No Depression" is a big ask. Thus the answer is straightforward, buy the deluxe version of Uncle Tupelo "No Depression" and you will never look back.

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