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Hozier (Self Titled) CD
Hozier (Self Titled) CD
Offered by mmglobal3
Price: £9.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Hozier - A fine debut from a new Irish talent, 1 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Hozier (Self Titled) CD (Audio CD)
Andrew Hozier-Byrne's passionate outpouring on his wonderful single "Take me To Church", promised the next big thing when it lodged near the top of the Irish Republic's singles chart last year. Sceptics might argue that Irish Times immediately dishing awarding a thumping 10 out of 10 for his new debut album might be treated in the same manner as the Latvian European song contest jury dishing out full marks to Estonia. The truth however is that the paper should be applauded for its impeccable taste as it is a very fine debut album from this Wicklow artist which will undoubtedly figure highly on this years Christmas wish lists and could trouble the charts we'll into next year.

Hozier has a soulful and stirring voice, penning songs which are wordy, literate and well executed. The aforementioned single is described by Hozier as "a bit of a losing your religion song" although the accompanying video takes on stronger themes not least the persecution of the gay community in Russia. Also check out the excellent performance on Jools Holland as a taster to his talent. The good news is that Hozier is no one hit wonder. This debut is full of songs of high quality such as the slow blues of the "Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene" where there are echoes of Pat Kane's vocal tones in his voice. He rocks out on songs like "Jackie and Wilson'" to great effect but its the big ballads where he comes into his own. One such is the dramatic "Work Song" full of aching vocals and heartfelt soul, another is "From Eden" a glorious pop song that could easily trouble the top of the charts if released as a single. Any doubts that Hozier can cut it live are dispelled on the gentle acoustic ballad "Cherry Wine" that closes the album. This rustic vibe is repeated on the sterling "Like Real People Do" where his rich baritone is used to great impact. The dark blues of "To be Alone" suggest a future direction for his career that shows a Gary Clark instinctive feel for music. His willingness to stand back and let fellow Irish singer Karen Crowley take the lead on "In a Week" creates a real highlight and a sign of sure confidence.

Hozier has the potential to sell by the bucket load and could be one of those albums which really generate a head of steam particularly if supported by a big TV campaign. He has been described in certain circles as the new Damien Rice. This is wide of the mark since his music ploughs a very different furrow and if the similarity dimly generates from the power of the songs that they both produce. The good news is that this album oozes talent with more to spare and is a really impressive starter for ten. Check it out you won't be disappointed.

Picture You
Picture You
Price: £12.22

4.0 out of 5 stars The Amazing - Swedish Sweetness, 28 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Picture You (Audio CD)
This is this reviewers first encounter with the Swedish band "The Amazing" and the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The bands main man Christoffer Gunrup is at the heart of this group of musicians who have previously recorded two previous albums. They debuted live on US television on the David Letteman show although looked a little awkward in this setting, Their music is a real mix of influences not least traces of Pink Floyd, the Red House Painters and some Nick Drake thrown in for good measure. Many of their songs such as the albums title track are essentially suites of music which often feel more like hazy jams than strict convention of verse-chorus-verse. Overall "Picture You" on the basis of glass half empty could be described as melancholy but once you road test this record for while its reveals hidden charms and ethereal melodies.

Opener "Broken" is a fine start with chiming clock like guitars breaking out into a wonderfully soft focus song with nice psychedelic underpinnings. As stated the title track has dreamy feel over its languid nine plus minutes. It is hard to pin down precisely what is so right about this track, whether its the flowing guitar work, sumptuous harmonies or the mid point break into a harder more bass driven composition. whatever the case it works and clearly sets out the bands stall. In contrast other tracks like "Headless Boy" are pure folk acoustics in the tradition of Mark Kozelek, indeed it may the best song he has never written. The track which stands out above the others is the seven minute “Fryshusfunk” a splendid psych folk meets workout that the band nail completely. By the end of the track they turn it into the maddest Dave Gilmour style guitar you may have ever heard. Other tracks like "Tell them you can't leave" have a slight Byrds feel and gorgeous harmonies, while another long track "Safe Island" clearly owes a debt to Robert Smith with its Cure style power chords.

It could be viewed as a real conceit to call your band "The Amazing" since sometimes they are far from it. Tracks like "To Keep Going" with its repeated lyrics strewn over 5 minutes outstays its welcome around 60 seconds and shows the limitations of half awake melodies whose function is more ambient than purposeful. There is nonetheless a great band stirring here, full of great ideas and with the musicianship to carry it off. In terms of their location in Swedish music they are much closer to the ethic of Radio Dept than First Aid Kit. In this sense "Picture You" is one of the sweetest listens of 2015 thus far and its time therefore to check out their back catalogue.

Seasonal Hire
Seasonal Hire
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers - The sounds of modern Appalachian music, 27 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Seasonal Hire (Audio CD)
Steve Gunn's recent support slot for War on Drugs provided one of the best double billings to tour the Uk in recent years. Having reviewed Gunn's previous albums it was a rare thrill to see the man live in concert, weaving his intricate melodic guitar patterns and also developing as a great songwriter in his own right. This collaboration with the The Black Twig Pickers is slight diversion from the wide expanse that his is last album "Way out Weather" but is very welcome all the same. The BTPs are a quartet hail from the borderlands between southwest Virginia and West Virginia, play old-time Appalachian folk music with roots so deep they predate the Civil War. The blending of the experimental (Gunn) with the traditional (The Pickers) is a nice hybrid even though Gunn's first billing in name order doesn't play out on the record itself.

There are only five songs present although the title track is over 16 minutes. It is a massive cacophony of sounds, mostly violins that swell up to inhabit your air space and swallow it up. It has almost a raga psychedelic whirl and while exemplary musicianship prevails it does require a certain mood to squeeze out maximum enjoyment. Much better is the reworking of "Time Off's" standout track "Trailways Ramble" so hypnotic on that album that Paul McKenna should take notes. On this collaboration it is reworked in a much more acoustic and gentler format, punctuated by a Jaw's Harp and Washboard. It is much more earthy than the original and an unadulterated joy. The cover of "Don't let you deal go down" doesn't quite match the peerless version of the Flying Burrito Brothers but evokes a West Virginia roots ethic which is irresistible. The opener "Dive for Pearl" is probably the most Gunn orientated track on the album building from repetitive patterns and opening out into a lively jig that will positively dare you to stop your foot from tapping. Finally "Cardinal 51" is clearly a Black Twig Pickers developed track of old style mountain music with Sally Anne Morgan providing the authentic lead vocal.

As stated those wishing the next sonic instalment on the journey of the multli talented Steve Gunn will find this album a fork in the road. This is a meeting of equals not a red hot guitarist with a backing band. As a result if you love this type of music you are in for a rare treat, if not you can still marvel at the skill of these musicianships for whom the joy of playing and composing present their own rich rewards.

I Aubade
I Aubade
Price: £15.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Elvis Perkins - In Limbo, 24 Feb. 2015
This review is from: I Aubade (Audio CD)
Elvis Perkins has been missing in action since the pulsating Americana of 2009's "In Dearland" which followed the even better debut album 2007's "Ash Wednesday" containing one of the songs of the decade "While you were sleeping". This new album "I Aubade" has been released with little fanfare but arrived on this "stereo" with considerable anticipation. Sadly it is a bit of disappointment. It is an album with all the signs of a songwriter trying to hard and in its self production lacking voices that could have steered it into more bountiful musical pastures.

Perkins has issued a long statement to support the album and here is a flavour of it. He proposes that it comprises "Pink and white Mini Moog waves; man receives the heart of a hog and undergoes spiritual transformation; AM waves run off with fluorescent wives-to-be; the living become dead and are brought back again; barking waves, interior waves, static waves. Dewan oscillators turn medicine Tarkas". Should you desire more of this pretentious waffle the statement continues at length. The problem is that somewhere in the mix lies a singer songwriter who is trying to hard and has largely failed in his determination to try something different. There are some great tracks here especially the excellent "& Eveline" where Perkins voice is as better than ever and it echoes the best of his previous works. The single "Hocus Pocus" is full of humorous wordplay, has a slightly Eastern feel and plays well on repeated listens. The spooky "The passage of the Black gene" is a swirling track and well constructed. Other songs alternatively are buried so deeply in all the quirky instrumentation and songs packed with lacklustre melodies which adds little to their central core. Music should challenge and push boundaries but on "I Aubade" there is nothing boundary breaking and nothing that demands it taking up any significant time on your turntable. Some songs like "On Rotation Moses" are full of percussive ruckus and undoubtedly very clever. But the prospect of them being a first choice listen are remote, Others like "I came for fire" seem to be written for the backing singers and are actually rather dull.

Overall the lack of really memorable songs on "I Aubade" will unfortunately condemn this album to the outskirts of music in 2015 when an artist as good as Perkins should be centre stage. Hopefully in his extended period of absence other songs were recorded that can address this misstep on future releases.

Vestiges & Claws
Vestiges & Claws
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jose Gonzalez - A Quiet Storm, 17 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Vestiges & Claws (Audio CD)
It is disconcerting to recall that some nine years have passed since those 170,000 bouncing balls brightly parading down a San Francisco street was soundtracked by Jose Gonzalez's breezy acoustic number "Heartbeats" in that famous Sony Bravo advert. His subsequent debut album "Veneer" was a huge smash and left the quiet Swedish singer songwriter struggling to hit those heights in its follow up "In our nature." After a long break Gonzalez returns with this new album "Vestiges and claws" and it is good to report that while his hybrid of Nick Drake meets Paul Simon and jams with Mark Kozelek template is at the heart of this record, it feels fuller, thicker and more substantial than past efforts.

"What Will" is the longest song on the album from where the title stems is classic Gonzalez a rolling set of acoustics that builds up a quiet storm after a slight pause around. 2.50 minutes. It has all the Gonzalez trademarks especially that lovely finger picking style and oozes melancholy atmosphere. Other tracks like the opener "With the ink of a ghost" are simply beautiful and evoke autumnal moods. There is nonetheless a new urgency on this record in songs like "Let it carry you" and this faster pace works well with his softly spoken vocals. The same applies to a standout track "Leaf off/the Cave" which could have the making of another classic like "Crosses". Finally the simplicity of "Open book" rounds off the album with a satisfying slow acoustic glow.

Some might argue that Gonzalez is ploughing the same furrow as "Veneer" and there is some truth in that. But "Vestiges and Claws" is much more mature work with a fuller sound. It is an album for quiet reflection and contemplation and that is fine. It is good to have Jose Gonzalez back in his solo guise after many years and this new record shows that his musical dexterity and process have significantly increased over time while his songwriting skills have exponentially leaped.

Live at the Music Hall
Live at the Music Hall
Price: £12.16

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phosphorescent - Glowing in the dark, 17 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Live at the Music Hall (Audio CD)
That hoary old beast the classic live double album was very much the product of the 1970s with records such as "Frampton Comes Alive" permanently camped in the US charts, whilst others like the "The Who - Live at Leeds" captured a band at the pinnacle of their raw stage power. Last December, Matthew Houck's band Phosphorescent played four shows at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York and whilst not quite matching Townshend and Co, this is a sterling concert performance and well worth seeking out.

At the heart of the performance is Houck's brilliant music from the last album "Muchacho". There has of course already been a set of acoustic live versions of these songs from a "try out" concert in St Pancras London which was included in the deluxe version of "Muchacho". For this set however the full electric band members of Phosphorescent are present and in addition there is the presence of a string quartet on the wonderful "Song for Zula". Others songs from the Phosphorescent repertory fare equally well in a live setting. A beautifully ragged "The Quotidian Beasts" sees Houck voice strain but not break adding to the songs vulnerability. Earlier songs like "Tell me baby have you had enough" have been road tested to the point of perfection over the years and work superbly on stage. The fragility of the "Wolves" confirms it as one of Houck's best songs especially the refrain"They tumble and fight / and they're beautiful/on the hilltops at night/ain't they beautiful". It is a wondrous 10 minutes and utterly absorbing through its passage. It is also great to hear other Houck classics like "A picture of our torn up praise", the wrecked country of "A New Anhedonia" and "Right on/Ride on" in this rawer concert environment. Like the old Grateful Dead, it is apparent that Houck and chums are artists who can get their live performances to match and often surpass the studio cuts. Best of all is a epic, knockout version of "Los Angeles" nearly hitting the eleven minute mark and once again showing that Houck may well be the spiritual heir to Neil Young.

"Live at the Music Hall" is obviously a holding exercise until the next full Phosphorescent outing (hence the 4 stars). In that sense this as much a live "Best of" as a new original contribution. It can however be usefully purchased by old and new fans of this great band. The music here is infused with genuine power and grace. It is underpinned by Houck's tangled and fraught view of the human condition. The outcome is as ever, the music of Phosphorescent glows in the dark
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 21, 2015 10:40 PM GMT

I Love You, Honeybear
I Love You, Honeybear
Offered by zoreno-uk
Price: £10.98

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Father John Misty "A concept album about a guy called Josh Tillman", 10 Feb. 2015
This review is from: I Love You, Honeybear (Audio CD)
The rumours circulating prior to the release of this new album by Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty was that a significant gear change had occurred and that the engine was purring. This has to served to wet many lips since his last album "Fear Fun" was also a clever and highly literate album to be treasured. On "I Love You, Honeybear" the ex-Fleet Foxes drummer has enlisted master musician and producer Jonathan Wilson which could be the special ingredient that has tipped him from very good to plain great. He creates poetry out of the mundane, reflects on the nature of modern living and delivers an album dedicated to love but deeply troubled by commitment.

Tillman's music can vary from the ecstatic to deeply introspective. In songs like the wonderful breezy pop of "True Affection" he can successfully stake a claim in the territory of French synth pop masters Phoenix and completely pull it off. Alternatively in the albums lead single "Bored in the USA" he delivers a mordant piano ballad full of self loathing on the human condition where he ruefully observes "How many people rise and say/My brain's so awfully glad to be here for yet another mindless day" His peerless performance of the song on the David Letterman show is a "must see" where lines such as "They gave me useless education/And a sub-prime loan on a craftsman home" are accompanied by ironic canned laughter making the it all the more poignant. Other tracks are jam packed with observational songwriting out of the top drawer. The slight Feet Foxes feel on "Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)" is one such example, while the sweeping "The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt" sees him confess "Oh, I just love the kind of woman who can walk over a man/I mean like a marching band". The John Lennon-esque vibes that mix with alternative country underpinning of "Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Godxxm Thirsty Crow" is an absolute standout and demands repeated listens. Equally the sad acoustics of "I went to the store one day" is a song of heartbreaking brilliance that shows that Tillman is a master songwriter and has not forgotten his folk rock roots. Finally the fiery honesty of "The Ideal Husband" steps up the pace and as another reviewer wryly observes its leaves the listener with "a frozen uncertainty about whether we should laugh, cheer, or weep".

In the last analysis Tillman has delivered an album, which will be greeted with joy by lovers of intelligent music and trepidation by any major artists contemplating an album release in 2015 as he has set the bar very high. Ultimately it is a confessional record with a sense of detachment. Tillman essentially turns on himself with dark humour and caustic observational skills to reveal a deeply flawed man to whom we can all relate. More than this "I Love You Honey Bear" is a hugely romantic album by someone who sounds afraid to love. In this respect it shares a number of key similarities with John Grant's masterpiece "Queen of Denmark". Like that record it is a glorious baroque pop epic packed with wit, tragedy, angst and wry irony. Never has an existential crisis sounded quite so good.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2015 1:32 PM GMT

Tomorrow Is My Turn
Tomorrow Is My Turn
Price: £10.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rhiannon Giddens - Takes centre stage, 10 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Tomorrow Is My Turn (Audio CD)
In recent months Rhiannon Gibbons has contributed to a range of collaborations involving some of the best and brightest on the current music scene, notably Elvis Costello, Jim James and Marcus Mumford. Whether through her contribution to the T Bone Burnett produced supergroup "The New Basement Tapes" or the show stopping performance in the concert film of "Inside Llewyn Davis", it is clear the Rhiannon Giddens oozes star quality and has one of the best female voices to grace the record business in years.

T Bone Burnett is back on producing duties on this debut solo album "Tomorrow is my turn" which is largely a covers album and builds on some of the musical preoccupations of her band the Carolina Chocolate Drops. It is a super confident record and Giddens mines that source of pure Americana with aplomb. Her version of "Waterboy" stopped the audience dead at the "Llewyn Davis" concert and her sassy powerful delivery on this album is a revelation as is the funky groove of "Black is the color". it takes a brave artist to cover a Patsy Cline classic quite as famous as "She's got you" yet she does the old Hank Cochran standard proud and makes the vocal sound as effortless as her great country precursor. Another song by a country giant, in this case Dolly Parton, is tackled on "Don't let it trouble your mind" and again not a step is out of place. Perhaps best of all is the sweet simplicity of the version of Elizabeth Cotten's "Shake Sugaree" which is a pure delight although the deep blues of the Geeshie Wiley's "Last kind words" packs spiritual real punch.

If there is is a small complaint about this album it is perhaps that a couple more originals might have also allowed the listener to pass keener judgement on Giddens songwriting skills which if they come any where near her vocals will be a force of nature. As it stands the one self penned song, namely the country swing of "Angel City", does show real potential and it bodes well for future albums. This debut shows an artists beginning to stretch out and cash in on a rare talent which will undoubtedly feature across many great albums in the future. "Tomorrow is my turn" shows that Rhiannon Giddens as a musical prospect to be devoured and followed with rapt attention.

Shadows In The Night
Shadows In The Night
Price: £9.81

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bob Dylan - Facing the final curtain, 2 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Shadows In The Night (Audio CD)
There was the distinctive sound of a train crashing when it was announced that Bob Dylan was to cover the songs of Francis Albert Sinatra. Those still scarred by the horror of his Christmas album would have just about forgiven him that often hilarious misstep when he followed it with the very solid "Tempest". But even on that album the vocals often sounded like his larynx had been shredded during a vicious razor blade attack ("Paid in Blood"'). What damage then a couple of years later will he inflict on the great American Songbook?

Actually "Shadows in the Night" finds Dylan in good voice (relatively speaking), Certainly there are bum notes aplenty and passages so out of tune it sounds more like Tom Waits than ole Blue Eyes (the last line of the "Night we called it day" is a shocker). Yet to this reviewers pleasant surprise "Shadows in the night" is far from an unmitigated disaster and in parts is hugely enjoyable. In essence it does not divert radically from that road Dylan has travelled since "Modern Times" with music based on spare blues and country templates. And to those who want to rush to end one of the greatest musical journeys in modern music let us enjoy him while he is still here no matter how fallible he is. In this sense the excellent version of "That Lucky old sun", the yearning regret of "I'm a fool to want you" and a splendid languid country cover of "Autumn Leaves" are far more humane than the Buble style big band impersonations of artists like Rod Stewart who have milked this material dry. Dylan brings a ramshackle charm to there delivery that works very well and can be treasured. Alternatively other versions struggle and sink. "Some Enchanted Evening" is a first class honours degree stinker whilst sadly "Stay with Me" barely holds a candle compared to Sinatra's definitive take.

"Shadows in the night" is a classic curates egg and of course you would be better advised to save up your hard earned cash to get the best reissue of the past year and probably the last decade "The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 Box set". Similarly there is no substitute for the real thing and either a copy of Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours" or "Sings only for the lonely" would be a better investment. Bob Dylan is never going to record another "Blonde on Blonde", "Blood on the Tracks" or even "Time out of Mind" but he is still with us and by God he deserves our respect. For those who feel that this is not so much a "shadow in the night" as a shadow of his former self, then so be it. The irony is that the man who ushered in modern music as we know it, has once again returned to songs originating before the 1950's. This should not surprise us. Dylan has often looked backwards to move forward. "Shadows in the Night" is not essential but neither is it a lamentable mess. At minimum it is worthy of nvestigation. Finally a small nod to the mighty forces that he didn't attempt "My Way"!

Philips Sonicare AirFloss HX8222/02 Rechargeable Power Flosser Pink
Philips Sonicare AirFloss HX8222/02 Rechargeable Power Flosser Pink
Price: £71.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Phillips Sonicare AirFloss HX8222/02 Rechargeable Power Flosser Pink - Pluck some Floss N' swish it around, 1 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Product received for free

The passing of years is a terrible thing and with dotage approaching the daily tangle with the electric toothbrush appears to leave more bloody carnage than the Battle of the Five Armies. As ever the wonders of modern capitalism come up with a solution which you really don't need. Indeed there are so many things that you could profitably spend £78 upon not least food to get jammed up in your teeth in the first place. But as a diligent person it seemed worth testing the emphatic product boast that the "Philips AirFloss is proven to reduce inflammation and bleeding in 95%* of people, when used just once a day as part of your evening brushing routine".

Having waited with growing anticipation after rigidly obeying the orders in the instructions that you must charge this for 24 hours before use the excitement was palpable. Sadly after lifting the flimsy reservoir filler cover and filling it with a small amount of mouth wash the application was inserted into the land of teeth and the result was underwhelming. Granted your reviewer did not desire to have the the old molars sand blasted and the pressure is nicely balanced. But at the end of the day that is it - namely a gadget that spritzes water between the gaps in your teeth. You could equally buy a water pistol and give that a go or get a special attachment to the garden hose? More practically you could save some cash and use a tooth pick or floss since they do exactly the same job. In short use the £78 to buy "The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 Box set" by Bob Dylan. It won't improve your teeth but it will give you hours of enjoyment. Listen in addition to "Montana" by Frank Zappa and spare a thought for all prospective dental floss tycoons out there. You wouldn't want to put them out of business would you?

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