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Blind Water Finds Blind Water
Blind Water Finds Blind Water
Price: 7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adam Faucett - "Arkansas' truckstop poet laureate", 15 Sep 2014
Adam Faucett hails from Arkansas and is one of those musicians who belonged to a band called "Taught the Rabbits" who you file in that drawer marked "should have been bigger". Faucett has a voice that comes across like a hybrid of My Morning Jacket's high level pipes of Jim James combined with the more earthy concerns of John Fullbright. Quite why Faucett languishes in relative obscurity and is not wider known is one for the Gods of Fate to explain, what is clear is that some detective work on the part of readers of this review would be richly rewarded.

"Blind Water Finds Blind Water" is a often haunting record packed with minimalist instrumentation and country angst not least the dark pain on display in "Sparkman". Some have described Faucett as the "Arkansas' truckstop poet laureate" and this nicely captures the atmosphere of his songs. The starting point should be the outstanding "Benton" written about his hometown and demanding a major league artist to turn into a classic. The guitar runs which populate the song are pure Grateful Dead while Faucett's vocal comes from the Dickie Betts school of Southern charm. Other songs also impress greatly. Opener "Day Drinker" has a slight REM feel although the vocal is pure emotion. "Edgar Cayce" is a song about the American mysticist known as the "The Sleeping Prophet" who believed in the power of trance. One doesn't have to buy into Cayce's mumbo jumbo to recognise that Faucett has penned a great song about him. Finally "Rock over Gold" is the type of electric anthem which Neil Young nailed on "Le Noise" albeit it has a melody.

"Blind Water Finds Blind Water" is one of those albums that you play when drunk to friends bemused that they cannot recognise the greatness stemming from the speakers. The answer is don't give up and lock them in the room. Faucett deserves a wider audience not least since he has one of the finest beards on offer in rock. What more could you ask for?

Somewhere Under Wonderland
Somewhere Under Wonderland
Price: 9.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Counting Crows - Possibility Days, 15 Sep 2014
There are those who heard "August and Everything After", Counting Crows legendary debut upon its release in 1993 who never really got over it. This was a record that somehow defined musical space and time, capturing a certain spirit of the age. "August" was so impactful that even excellent follow up albums by Adam Durvitz and co were overshadowed by its breadth and depth. Thus when poorer fare followed over the more recent period, such as a Marmite concept album (Saturday Night & Sunday Mornings), an ok covers album and a range of "live" albums, many shifted their gaze elsewhere.

"Somewhere under Wonderland" is the Crows first album of new material since 2008 and whilst no match for their debut it is a record that is a rich palette of sounds. Durvitz's song writing once threatened to be the missing link between Springsteen and Van Morrison and there are times on this album where past glories are rebooted. The long opener "Palisades Park" is essentially a eight minute suite of songs which for some reason brings to mind Joni Mitchell circa "Hissing of Summer Lawns". It is a sort of musical kitchen sink replete with a jazzy trumpet opening, Durvitz's hurt vocal and wordy lyrics plus standard rock segments which push the song along. Repeated listens confirm a well planned if loose construction which despite its intricate nature is very endearing. Even better is the slow blues of "Scarecrow" which starts with a Drive by Truckers riff and builds into a commendable rootsy rocker. The later "John Appleseed's Lament" is probably the track with the nearest feel to the preoccupations of "August" and is punctuated by some lovely guitar work. When Durvitz strips everything back on "God of the Ocean Tides" he confirms his status as a top grade songwriter and reminds us that "less is more". On the down side why he felt the need to populate the album with such a standard rocker as "Elvis went to Hollywood" with its daft lyrics about "Aliens on motorcycles" is a bit of mystery. Still amends are made with the brilliant "Possibility Days" the albums concluding ballad a fine lament about "waiting for winter this year" where all the bands considerable strengths are on full display.

What is impressive about "Somewhere Under Wonderland" is the ability of Counting Crows to dust themselves down after what has been a lean few years and slowly construct an album which is possibly one of their best collections in a decade. In 2013 Durvitz admitted that "God of Ocean Tides" was the first original song he had written in a long while. On the evidence here his creative juices are flowing again and whilst we in the UK have "parked" this band, its time to give them another chance with this fine release.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2014 7:45 PM BST

Lateness of Dancers
Lateness of Dancers
Price: 10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hiss Golden Messenger - For a Dancer, 15 Sep 2014
This review is from: Lateness of Dancers (Audio CD)
Following the progress of Hiss Golden Messenger over the 5 albums released by the band thus far has been a satisfying road trip. Every new release seems to notch up the quality and the songs of the bands leading light M C Taylor grow in sophistication and self assurance. Their last album "Haw" was a particular favourite although "Lateness of Dancers" may be about to trump this.

Taylor and Scott Hirsch his key partner, plough an electric folk furrow and his songs are well crafted and immaculately constructed. They fall easily into that category of compositions which sneak up on you, until there comes a point when they lodge in he brain and refuse to budge. On this album a couple of leading culprits already stand out. The trials, tribulations and joys of parenthood are tackled on the glorious "Mahogany Dread" a sophisticated piece of roots rock that is an album standout. The title track shows a more plaintive side to the band which has some echoes of Jackson Browne and a aching vocal by Taylor which again should be a choice for the download button. There are also couple of retreads on the album as the folk blues of opener "Lucia" goes back to Taylor's old band Court and Spark, similarly the concluding track "Drum" is a pure country song which previously appeared on the kitchen based recordings of the lo-fi album "Bad Debt". Other songs worthy of mention include "Saturday Night" characterised by a pounding piano and a big hook that pull you in. Finally the pace subsides on "Black Dog Wind (Rose of Roses" on a song which laconically ticks over and allows Taylor's conversational style to flow not least his observation that “Night seemed so endless and I fought with the sunshine/Mama begged me to wait for the right time”.

"Lateness of Dancers" shows that Taylor is incrementally building from album to album and will at some time reach a level of sheer quality that cannot be surpassed. He is not quite there yet but this is journey worth travelling with an artist who will never leave you musically stranded.

Wake Up To Find Out: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Ny 3/29/1990
Wake Up To Find Out: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Ny 3/29/1990
Price: 13.48

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grateful Dead with Branford Marsalis - "Jehova's Favourite Choir", 10 Sep 2014
"Wake Up to Find Out" is a three-CD live album by the Grateful Dead containing the complete concert recorded on March 29, 1990 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. With such a long and varied career there are "hot" and "cold" phases when it comes to Grateful Dead concerts and music. In the early 1970s in particular they were untouchable in terms of their stage shows, Yet by 1995 as Jerry Garcia's health declined they were listless and mediocre, sadly burned out after endless touring and management pressures. In this sense the 1990 tour of the US and Canada, is considered by many Deadheads, as their last great tour. There are already plenty of recordings from this period not least a massive 23 CD box set and specific concerts such as "Dozin" at the Knick", "Spring 1990" and selections from the earlier official live release "Without a Net". On that album one track stands head and shoulders above the rest namely "Eyes of the World" which is included here, This sees the great jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis join the band on stage to exchange solos with Jerry Garcia. It is electrifying and has tantalised Dead fans ever since.

Amazingly this was the first time Marsalis had played with the Dead and it was a revelation. As Marsalis has stated "What I experienced was what I remembered music to be in my younger years, something that I'd felt was lost long ago. Process over product. No set lists, light shows and costumes required, but music first" He had actually come up to play on "Bird Song" and then depart, but the band insisted that Marsalis stay for the whole of the second set which is here in all its glory. In these performances, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Brent Mydland (sadly later to die in of the summer of 1990 of an overdose) are firing on all cylinders. The aforementioned "Birdsong" is classic, a complex 13 minute plus rolling jam on which that good old Dead magic happens. The presence of Marsalis sees the band rise to the improvisational challenge. There is a huge version of "Dark Star" which is reprised on the third disk. The fact that the band had not played the song frequently that tour made this version truly special.

Finally while an excellent "The Wheel" is a melodic highlight you really need to just listen to the band on "Estimated Prophet' and you cannot fail to note the joyous mood and the sheer energy underpinning this set. Overall this is a killer concert and a hugely worthy addition to the immense library and musical canon of Grateful Dead music.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 11, 2014 4:34 PM BST

At Best Cuckold
At Best Cuckold
Price: 10.36

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avi Buffalo - Songs for the Fall, 9 Sep 2014
This review is from: At Best Cuckold (Audio CD)
Avi Buffalo's singer songwriter Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg seems unable to write songs without including dangerous hints of melody and hooks so big they should be hanging in the local butcher. This reviewer fell in love with the heartwarming summer fun of the bands debut four long years ago and has been checking on progress for a new record ever since. Finally it has arrived and whilst the innocence has partly dissipated the skills of the band have increased exponentially and Avi's songwriting skills have developed accompanied by a sublime pop vision.

"At Best Cuckold" is a more subdued and autumnal than the previous outing but the songs are things of beauty. Granted it is an "economical" listen at 35 minutes yet no space is wasted. There are some songs here which suggest that Avi Buffalo as a band could be the logical heirs to Belle and Sebastian once the lovable Scots decide to hang up their boots. Thus the sparkling flowing melodies of "Can't be too responsible" would surely get the seal of approval from Stuart Murdoch. Equally "Memories of You" has that pop sensibility that Elliot Smith managed to appropriate to great effect. Any song like "Oxygen Tank" that starts with the lyric "that a man carrying an Oxygen tank/ is going to come to kill me and family too/if i don't stop seeing you" deserves all the plaudits that can be heaped upon it. In addition the wistful piano of "She is Seventeen" makes you curse your accumulating years and nostalgically hark bark to better times. Finally while "Overwhelmed with Pride" does start off by sounding like a Noel Gallagher song it soon gets over this stigma and builds into a rare gem.

It is regrettably the case that this album will probably be on E Bay selling for 50p within weeks. If so we ought to reflect on the world injustices and the sheer unfairness of life. Alternatively you could avert this negative outcome, seek it out post haste, recline on the September grass and savour 30 minute's plus of sheer unadulterated pleasure. "At Best Cuckold" is well worth a punt.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams
Price: 9.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ryan Adams - Solid Heartland Rock, 8 Sep 2014
This review is from: Ryan Adams (Audio CD)
Ryan Adams self titled 14th album is further evidence that the South Carolina troubadour has not entirely managed to resolve some of the erratic quality issues which have plagued the more substance dependent phases of his career. It appears that Adams was on course to release what was essentially "Ashes & Fire Part II" an album produced by Glyn Johns that he scrapped at the eleventh hour as "too sad to release". If it is on par with the still unreleased "Suicide Handbook" then a further treat may be in store.

Instead Adams has now set forth this self produced album, which is a mix of rockers, and acoustic songs some of which are from the top drawer although a number of tracks could see him paying royalties to Tom Petty. Songs like "Stay with Me"" stand firmly in the latter category. It is ok but doesn't really advance his music from the type of workmanlike heartland rock peddled on the lacklustre "Cardinology". In the same vein "Feels like fire" is Adams on a lazy cruise control with a very standard backdrop, whilst the jury is still out on the heavy reverb chords of "I Just Might". Thankfully the single "Gimme Something Good" does improve on repeated listens. "Kim" alternatively is a belter. A medium paced rocker with a beautifully subtle song structure and excellent lyrics. Equally the two straightforward acoustic numbers remind you about why Ryan Adams is so special. "My Wrecking Ball" is the sort of heart-breaking lament with that is his trademark and will undoubtedly become a live favourite in his concert performances. Similarly the last song "Lets Go" is wondrous in its acoustic simplicity with a warm vocal by the master. Of the rockier tracks it is slow burn of "Shadows" that impresses most with Adams questioning forlornly "How long do I have here with you"? When all the elements come together in songs like the Fleetwood Mac sounding "Am I Safe" you sense that Adams might be seeking an audience well beyond the aficionado's of alt country. Whether that is the direction he should be pursuing is another matter?

In the last analysis "Ryan Adams" comes nowhere near the dizzy heights reached by past glories such as "Heartbreaker', 'Gold', "Love is Hell" and "Cold Roses". It is a largely solid performance and in many respects reminds you of his preoccupations on 2007's "Easy Tiger" an album that has a similar vibe and sits in the 7 out of 10 scoring category. It nonetheless proves definitively that Adams is on much firmer ground in his acoustic rather than rockier guise, not least since his lyrics seem to slide as soon as he plugs into amp. This self titled record is certainly no horror story like his worse album "Rock n Roll", but it is a tangential step back from the lovely "Ashes and Fire". Thus whilst Ryan Adams has ticked another box with an album harking back to the classic sounds of 70s West Coast rock his real strengths lie elsewhere.

lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar
lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar
Price: 9.99

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Plant - The Sensational Shapeshifter, 8 Sep 2014
Ten solo albums in, and the "Robert Plant can do no wrong" school of thought receives yet another thumping affirmation with his new album "lullaby and ...The Ceaseless Roar". While it might have been the musical Americana of his collaboration with Alison Krauss that gave his career a significant bounce this new album picks up on the more eclectic nature of 2010's "Band of Joy". Having listened to it for a week on the NPR stream it is one of his finest offerings.

In the superb opener he manages to take a slice of pure Appalachian gold in the old bluegrass standard "Little Maggie" and essentially turn it into a world music anthem. The contrast with Dylan's more traditional interpretation on "Good as I've been to you" is fascinating. The song is littered with exotic rhythms, a sort of "Trance meets Zep," as Plant explains it. The single "Rainbow" again is packed with Juldeh Camara's wonderful Ritti playing. In addition Justin Adams plus fellow musicians in The Sensational Space Shifters have a name that aptly describes their brilliance. The powerful track "Pocketful of Golden" cements a sterling introduction to this album. From thereon the album starts to branch out. Fourth song "Embrace a fall" is sublime with lovely cameo performance from Welsh singer Julie Murphy, while "Turn it up" is more of a hard rock blues song with slight Zep undertones. Further selections include the lovely plaintive ballad "Stolen Kiss" which gives the album its title in the lines "I am drawn to the western shore/ Where the light moves bright upon the tide//To the lullaby and the ceaseless roar/And the songs that never die". Listeners will fully appreciate from this that Plant's voice is in better condition than ever.

On "Somebody there" it is the influence of Roger McQuinn that protrudes through the chiming melodies, while "Poor Howard" takes another old song and gives it a radical makeover. "House of Love" is ostensibly a pure pop anthem, which is beautifully controlled, and one of the more straightforward tracks on the album. Closing the album are two songs. Firstly "Up on hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)" a ghostly paean to his old haunts in England and Wales sound tracked by Tuareg guitars. Finally "Arbaden (Maggie's Baby) reprises some of the musical passages of the opener and sets it in hard African funk rhythms plus a echo based Plant vocal providing a fitting reconnect to the start of the albums song cycle.

Plant has stated that "these songs are an ode to life and love and the fragile adventure that you set out upon unknowingly and unwittingly". This is fitting since Plant's adventure grows more intriguing every album he releases. There were times in Led Zeppelin that he slipped in the worse caricature of the excessive rock star and almost passed into parody. He has since been obsessive in casting off this image and pursuing the path to greater levels of musical innovation and respectability. Lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar" proves that this determination to be rock music's redoubtable explorer is one of the most worthwhile journeys being undertaken by any musician of his generation. Highly recommended.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2014 3:47 PM BST

Price: 11.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Ty Segall - Produces a classic double album, 6 Sep 2014
This review is from: Manipulator (Audio CD)
The charms of this prolific lo-fi San Francisco garage rocker and his "wall of fuzz" largely eluded this reviewer until he released the acoustic album "Sleeper" which literally camped in the CD. Part of the problem is the scale of Segall's musical abundance and prolific output which is off putting in terms of keeping up with his musical twists and turns. The new double album could add to that trepidation for those seeking an opening into the career of one of the most intriguing American musicians since Beck and Jack White pitched their tents in the studio. This would be a shame since "Manipulator" is effectively a record that crystallises all the best elements of previous releases and pitches Ty Segall into a bid for significant mainstream recognition.

The vibe of this record tends to meld artists like Blue Cheer,The Stooges and Strokes but the true foundations lie in a debt to Hunky Dory era David Bowie and a large slab of Suede. It is Ty Segall of course so once all these influences are put the through the mixer it comes own with his own distinctive sound. Cheek out the huge classic rock of "Feel" with an almost Black Sabbath like bass line, punctuated with nasty guitar riff and yes folks, THE RETURN OF THE DRUM SOLO! Granted its not some 10 minute kit bashing exercise so beloved of 70s rock behemoths yet its in the mix and makes the song all the more brilliant. Other songs like "Tall Man, Skinny Lady" are pop alchemy with that sort of Hunky Dory driving acoustic guitar which weaves around a great swirling track. This is even more pronounced on the superb "The Clock" which does hark back to "Andy Wharhol". Songs like "Green Belly" are more straightforward and demonstrates that Segall can pen a really commercial tune when he sets his mind to it. Other mentions in dispatches should go to the funky "Mister Main" jam packed with lilting falsetto harmonies, whilst the late Marc Bolan would have been proud to hear the pulsating glam rock of "The Faker". Segall also does not forget his core audience and good old scuzzy fuzz rock of "The Crawler" with its 1970s ambience will please greatly.

This is a sprawling double album and this could act as deterrent to those new to Segall's music looking for a punchy introduction. You should fear not as "Manipulator is a veritable jukebox of delights and wherever you drop the needle a great listen is almost guaranteed. Uncut has rightly argued that the album represents a sort of Ty Segall's "Greatest Hits" and for those that say that guitar rock is dead listen to "The Feels" at the end of this album and go to church on Sunday to seek forgiveness.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 7, 2014 3:36 PM BST

Swimmin' Time (Deluxe Edition) [+video]
Swimmin' Time (Deluxe Edition) [+video]
Price: 8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shovels & Rope - Classy Country Gospel and Stomp, 4 Sep 2014
This is the third album from the South Carolina husband and wife alt-country duo Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst following on the heels of 2012's excellent "Oh be Joyful". The new album is a nice mix of rambunctious and rollicking country anthems tempered by some darker tracks which showcase the continuing development of this fine duo. In terms of this record it makes sense to dispense initially with a couple of missteps. The rather daft but mercifully short "Fish Assassin" could have left on the cutting room floor whilst the Tom Waits sounding "Ohio" just does not work and do we really need (post Gillian Welch) another song rhyming the Buckeye State's name with "me-oh-my-o"? Now that the complaints are out of the way lets accentuate the positive for the rest of the album is alt country gold.

Opener "The Devil is all Around" is a great slice of country gospel, while "Evil" has a nasty riff running through it where Trent and Hearst come over as a sort of malevolent Civil Wars devoid of any sweetness. The big highlight on "Swimmin' Time" is the dark rolling guitar ballad "After the Storm" where they move into Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris territory with consummate ease. It is a great vocal performance the couple with Hearst in particular deserving a mention in dispatches. There is nothing on the rest of the album that quite reaches this peak but the rock n roll ballad "Coping Mechanism" is great fun and "Stono River Blues" with its slightly Felice Brothers feel is a real grower. Finally "Mary Ann and One Eyed Dan" will bring a smile to your face with set of lyrics infused with wry humour.

"Swimmin' Time" is not a massive step forward from the previous record but it builds on that rawness and passionate delivery which make the band so endearing. It is understood that on stage they are a tremendous live act and with material like this seeing them in the raw would be a great prospect.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2014 10:48 PM BST

Tied to a Star
Tied to a Star
Price: 7.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars J.Mascis - Gets Sensitive, 2 Sep 2014
This review is from: Tied to a Star (MP3 Download)
Visualise the name J Mascis and inevitably it is the drawling vocals and ferocious hardcore guitar sound of Dinosaur Jr that leaps into the line of sight. Mascis is a wizard and a true star, a musician who used sonic power to best effect and probably the most influential guitarist of his generation. These days he varies his plays with a solo career which allows him more space to develop a less fuzz laden approach which in the case of "Tied to a Star" is almost completely devoid of squalling guitar heroics. If it is the "harder" side of Mascis that you enjoy most this album may not be a primary attraction. Alternatively if you are prepared to accept that he has always been a great songwriter and can make an acoustic guitar "sing" like its electric counterpart you will relish this excellent second solo album.

The predominant theme of the album is set out in the lovely alternative country opener "Me Again", a gentle ode with contemplative lyrics underpinned by a song bursting with melody. Even better are the brilliant rolling acoustics of "Wide Awake" where Mascis playing g is exemplary and assisted by the dulcet tones of Chan Marshall on backing vocals. Other songs like "Heal the Star" echo previous acoustic outings on Dinosaur Jr albums where Mascis confesses that "Everybody's rollin' down town, I could use a little down town, I could use a bit less down" before the songs steers off into an Eastern coda. Elsewhere the most rock orientated song on the album "Every Morning" has a clear pop edge and almost sounds commercial. The later "Trailing Off" also contains a nice solo and is very well constructed building to a surging conclusion. There are a couple of songs that perhaps could have down with the injection of an electric power surge not least "Come Down" which drags and while its superbly played the little instrumental "Drifter" sounds like it might be filling space.

Solo albums often leave you with the feeling that they are a temporary departure from a more successful band template where the songs could have been bigger and better. Yet in this case "Tied to a Star" is a valuable addition to the works of J Mascis and proves that he is his capable of melodic light and shade, and overall this foray into more tranquil territory is generally a quiet triumph.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 5, 2014 2:51 AM BST

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