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R. Thane "The Line Of Best Fit" (Ipswich, UK)
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Easy Tiger
Easy Tiger
Offered by westworld-
Price: £16.98

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger, 20 Jun 2007
This review is from: Easy Tiger (Audio CD)
Nine albums. Seven years. Not bad going at all is it? Some people would have you think that Ryan Adams' post Whiskeytown career is full of inconsistencies and that he's never quite hit the heights of his 2000 debut Heartbreaker. They'd be wrong. Oh so wrong. Rock N Roll aside (we'll pretend that one doesn't exist, Ryan's tongue was firmly in cheek there) the problem hasn't been down to inconsistency, its been down to having too much material, too many ideas and at times being a little self-indulgent. The question is, had he been focused enough this time around?

The initial signs were good. Having been a drug addict for the majority of his life, Easy Tiger is his first `clean' album. Kicking drugs and alcohol over a year ago Adams has thrown himself into the comfortable confines of backing band The Cardinals, and even though its Ryan Adams' name on the front cover its obviously a full band effort. The production is slick, the arrangements are short and concise and Adams' voice is at a career high. Most importantly though, Easy Tiger has everything that a Ryan Adams album should have. The lilting pedal steel infused country of Goodnight Rose, the rich harmonies of Tears Of Gold and the love lorn acoustic balladry of Oh My God, Whatever, Etc its all here, its all totally focused and delivered with a passion that makes Adams one of the most important and vital songwriters of his generation. One puzzling thing about the album is that it features a couple of songs that are at least six years old. As good as Off Broadway and These Girls are, I can't help but feel a little short changed. Both these songs are available elsewhere in Adams' vast collection of bootlegs which makes me wonder if there's actually any point in re-recording them? Especially when his live song cannon boasts such fantastic and, as yet, unrecorded songs that could have easily slid onto this record. It's a minor complaint though, old songs or not, they fit in with the flow of the record perfectly.

The constant shifts in style on the album keep you enthralled from start to finish. The rock `n roll stomp of Halloween Head really shouldn't work. On first listen the goof ball lyrics and cheesy chord changes make you question whether the song is actually taking the piss or not. It places Adams in 80's rock mode, but the soaring lyrics on display put pay to any doubts about the track and it turns out to be one of the finest rock songs he has ever written, regardless of the lyrical content. On a totally different tangent is Pearls On A String which sounds like a traditional country lament that could have been recorded in another era.

So with all the shifts in genre and mood, why does the album work so well? The answer is simply in its delivery. Live, these songs sprawl with improvised jams akin to The Grateful Dead but on record everything is slimmed down, no junk, no meandering, just clear and focused songwriting. As brilliant as Love Is Hell, Cold Roses or Jacksonville City Nights were they were also a little bloated, a little too long. What we have with Easy Tiger is an amalgamation of all his past work, repackaged and condensed into a perfectly formed and easy to swallow 38 minute mouthful. A career high? Easy Tiger.

Richard Thane

[...]


The Kissaway Trail (Re-Issue)
The Kissaway Trail (Re-Issue)
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £5.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Kissaway Trail - The Kissaway Trail, 13 Jun 2007
On first listen you would be forgiven for thinking that the self-titled debut by Danish quintet, The Kissaway Trail, is yet another attempt to jump on the Arcade Fire bandwagon. The catchy melodies and huge sounding string arrangements mixed with mandolins and banjos are hugely reminiscent of the Arcade Fires finest moments. Look a little deeper though, and what is revealed is an album of hidden depths, crammed with joyous hope and youthful optimism, yet with a darker undertone hidden away at the songs core. Opening track Forever Turned Out To Be Too Long is a perfect example of this "Hey! If you're listening you'll hear / The Worlds inner decay", a refrain repeated over lush orchestral backing, church organ and a childlike choir adding the "la la la's".

Within the band we find two singer songwriters in Thomas Fagerlund and Søren Corneliussen who both share vocal duties throughout. The difference in their style of writing is what makes the album so listenable from start to finish. Fagerlund writes with a childlike innocence, in La La Song "Let's run away, today / The stars, the stars will guide us" he tempts the listener into throwing away all their troubles and strife by jetting off to Los Angeles and in album highlight Smother + Evil = Hurt the band are reminiscent of The Polyphonic Spree at their most triumphant. The Corneliossen penned songs offer a contrast with post rock textures and a darker mood with the songs Soul Assasins ("Sometimes I'm afraid to live / Its like life is a little tired of me) and Sometimes I'm Always In Black ("When winter comes, don't wash away my tears"), the instrumental backing turns the lyrical content of these tracks from being down in the mouth to totally euphoric and uplifting.

Throughout the eleven tracks here the band show considerable skill and restraint in holding everything together. It would have been easy for them to get carried away in the layers of instruments used by letting the grand orchestration overcome the songs various moods. By showing restraint they have created a wonderfully intricate, yet totally accessible debut that is sure to turn up in many a year end best of lists. What the future holds for The Kissaway Trail is anyones guess, but with the backing of label Bella Union (home to last years sensations Midlake) for now, at least, the sky's the limit.

Richard Thane

[...]


Attraction Versus Love
Attraction Versus Love
Price: £9.80

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Endrick Brothers - Attraction Versus Love, 13 Jun 2007
This review is from: Attraction Versus Love (Audio CD)
Having both Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin praise your debut album as being "some of the best country rock music they've ever heard" is sure to be a big ego boost. But with an added bonus of co-writing a song with Mr Adams, its the stuff dreams are made of - certainly round my house anyway. The classic country undertones contained within the said track Thorns On Every Rose mix together with power pop hooks which set the tone perfectly for the Scottish bands second long player. The track displays a fantastic musicanship within the band. Chugging guitar, lilting pedal steel and a killer melody compliment each other in the mix perfectly. The good news is that its not even close to being the best thing on the album. That title goes to Dear Jane. A masterclass in how to write a country song thats both touching, thought provoking and most of all uplifting. The tender harmonies over the chorus "Dear Jane, you shouldn't blame yourself" are simply lovely. Like Richmond Fontaine these guys really know how to make good use of pedal steel in their arrangements and Dear Jane is a perfect example of this.

So the first couple of songs have set the bar pretty high, and unfortunately for a short time the momentum is lost slightly with Irish Angel and Star Of The Silver Screen. Pleasant enough they may be but can't help veer more to middle of the road territory. Luckily Questions and Answers is a return to form which sees singer Niall Holmes doubting a new relationship "is the boxer in the wrong ring / punching above his weight", not before reassuring himself "has the poor boy hit the jackpot? / contented evermore". Its gentle pace slowly builds its way up to a chorus that should find daytime Radio 2 programmers wetting themselves with excitement. So Last Night takes the blueprint of Dreamer In My Dreams by Wilco and shifts it up a notch into a Faces-esque romp. But not without giving a nod to Wilco with the line "the passion fades in the morning light / when you're Outtasite Outtamind". Already a live favourite and down right great fun.

It would be impossible to write about the Endrick Brothers without mentioning the bands influences. They are all over the record; Neil Young and The Band through to The Jayhawks and Wilco, all of the Americana heavyweights are here. The winning formula here though is achieved by combining their love of country with the pop sensibilities of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star. A feat also achieved by fellow Scots The Hazey Janes with last years debut Hotel Radio. There is no pretense on display within this collection of songs. No cool rock star posturing. Just honest, mature and downright charming craftsmanship that can proudly stand tall against any other current Alt. Country album around in 2007. A triumph.

Richard Thane

[...]


Octopus
Octopus
Offered by RevisionNet
Price: £5.74

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bees - Octopus, 13 Jun 2007
This review is from: Octopus (Audio CD)
Recent months have proven slightly dissapointing for second albums. The Rakes, Bloc Party, Maximo Park, Razorlight and The Killers all not hitting the mark, all losing the edge of their debuts. The Bees however, never had that problem. Their 2004 sophomore album Free The Bees was a huge success artistically, transforming the band into 60's revivalists but somehow still managing to sound totally relevant.

Never one to fit into any one musical genre, The Bees have really found their feet with their third offering Octopus. In the solace of their own basement studio in the Isle Of Wight the band have cooked up an album of understated excellence. Mixing up soul, ska and funk to produce an album of shimmering beauty that grows with each listen. There is a new found confidence to each of the ten tracks on display here. The musical genres sit together seamlessly, from the sixties funk (mariachi style) of Got To Let Go to the gorgeous, lilting soul of Listening Man which, in a just world would be a sure fire hit. The folkiness of Love In The Harbour nestles up perfectly with the dub workout of Left Foot Stepdown, whilst the albums only clanger End Of The Street comes complete with comedy sound effects.

What intrigues and fascinates me most about this album is the quality of the production. It actually sounds like it was produced in another era, the vintage sound has to be heard to be believed. The range of styles and influences on display never seem forced or contrived, the band are doing what comes naturally to them and it is a joy to behold. This is the sound of a band feeling totally comfortable in their own skin.

Richard Thane

[...]


Let's Get Lost
Let's Get Lost
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £3.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars TD Lind - Lets Gets Lost, 13 Jun 2007
This review is from: Let's Get Lost (Audio CD)
London native TD Lind has been around; he's done the London pub circuit, played Jazz piano in Paris before jetting over to the states to from a band in LA performing the blues in Memphis and New Orleans. Not only that, he's worked with Wilco and Ozzy Osbourne. Quite an impressive, if a little erratic, CV. So what can we expect from this, his debut album. If his past is anything to go by, a mixed bag of styles and influences is to be expected, and that's exactly what you get.

What Lind has created here is an album designed for coffee tables and supermarkets everywhere. What I mean by this is the music on display here is aimed at the same market as The Feeling or James Blunt and Morrisson. Music that is picked up my mums doing the weekly shop thinking that they are buying something `current' or `hip'. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, there's obviously a market for it and these artists sell a hell of a lot of records. It all becomes clear when you discover that the man behind the sound of this album is Rupert Hine, hit making producer extroadinaire and the man at the helm of (look away now) Tina Turners `Private Dancer'.

So you're scared now I take it? Well, its not actually that bad. Lind's problem is that there are too many ideas and styles being thrown around. What he makes up for in terms of creativity and writing a catchy tune he loses in identity. The record sounds all over the place, lost in a sea of production. Current single `Radio Proposal' sounds like a homage to 70's pop sensations Supertramp, `Jesus Christ' is a full on gospel onslaught and the Dylanesque rap of `Come In From The Cold' is just downright confusing.

TD Linds finds his niche when he loses the bells and whistles and gets down to basics. What he produces then is his own take on Americana. Country tinged songs of ex-lovers and nights out on the town. There is a stark beauty to tracks such as `I'm Not Worried' and `A Bird Flew' that could make Lind this countries answer to Josh Rouse - if he could only lose the heavy production that is weighing what could be a fairly promising debut album down.

Richard Thane

[...]


Hello New World
Hello New World
Price: £12.40

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Playing Fields - Hello New World, 13 Jun 2007
This review is from: Hello New World (Audio CD)
Say hello to North London's latest indie offerings The Playing Fields. Having been around in different guises for the past few years the band have finally got round to releasing their debut album. The Playing Fields are a product of brothers Steve and Mike Bland, they write acoustic led indie indie set to an often stark and atmospheric backing. Joined by Hannah Sless [violin], Ron Rosenblum [drums] and Jeff Baskett [bass] the band have been regulars on the London scene for some time and it shows. The songs are well formed, these guys obviously know what makes something pleasing to the ear - the arrangements being fairly flawless.

The problems start when you look a little deeper into the songs and realise that there is little or no personality within the music. You can listen to the entire album and nothing sticks out, sure its pleasant enough but there is nothing engaging about it, which is a real shame because you find yourself wanting to like what you hear. "Nonesuch Nameless" could be a great song, it starts off promising with a delicate lead guitar line but come the verse it ends up sounding like Nickelback (remember them?), it does redeem itself however in the final minute with a sterling guitar solo that produces a fantastic wall of sound which is the only truly heart stopping moment on the whole record. Sylvia Thompson comes off sounding somewhere in between Idlewild at their most genteel and melodic and "Sleep Alone"-era Wonderstuff. It just about hits the mark and is a moderate success.

The main problem here in my opinion is that these guys take themselves far too seriously to the point where the weaker moments on here feel too contrived. The pained vocals sound ever so slightly put on, affected even. Protect The Humans is a real low point here, the only true `rocker' on the album, its basically a pointless 5 minute jam with Mike rambling on about being Superman and Batman - the pained vocals turned up to 11 here. It falls flat and leaves you reaching for the skip button. This rather embarrassing song is saved by "Glass & Concrete" which has a lovely guitar and harmonica passage with possibly the best vocal performance on the whole album. Here you can tell that our singer means every note that comes out of his mouth thus leaving us with the only truly `honest' sounding song on the whole album.

Its a patchy album at best, it has glimmers of promise but unfortunately fails to convince. Its a shame, because the talent is obviously there, these guys can all play and the production is flawless its just a shame that the sum of its parts doesn't live up to the bands potential.

Richard Thane
[...]


Because Of The Times
Because Of The Times
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £3.99

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kings Of Leon - Because Of The Times, 13 Jun 2007
This review is from: Because Of The Times (Audio CD)
Maybe I'm getting older, or maybe my taste has changed since the last Kings Of Leon release, but when their new album turned up at TLOBF towers a few weeks ago I couldn't have been less interested. Which is strange as I clearly recall listening to A-Ha Shake Heartbreak for the first time 3 years ago and claiming it was the greatest record I'd heard in years. In hindsight maybe that was a slight overreaction (I'm prone to the odd bout) but its gritty, sexually charged southern rock n roll ticked all of my boxes and, to a degree, still does. The problem is, a lot has changed in the musical climate since then. They just don't seem as important anymore. Ultimately I think it comes down to the fact that three years ago the UK charts were still dominated by throwaway pop which meant that bands like Kings Of Leon and The Strokes were something to believe in. Now you can't hide from long haired guitar slinging upstarts gracing the cover of NME whilst hailing them this weeks "saviours of rock n roll". Its all getting a little bit boring and tiresome.

So Kings Of Leon have had to mix things up a little and Because Of The Times is without doubt their most mature and thoughtful album yet. Their coming of age record if you will. Drafting in long term producers Ethan Johns and Angelo Petraglia, this set of songs sees the band exploring avenues they'd only hinted on in previous releases. Things start well with the slow burning, 7 minute "Knocked Up" with Caleb Followill's trademark snarl over lines like "I love her like no other", sounding tender and vulnerable. "Charmer" is Bleach-era Nirvana let down only by the ball busting yelps made after each line is sung. "McFearless" and "Black Thumbnail" are as full on as KOL have ever been and sound all the better for it, although they are lacking in the sparkle that made tracks like "California Waiting" alight indie disco dance floors the nation over. Half way through the album things start to take a turn for the worse. "Ragoo" is the most upbeat and jaunty the band have ever been but it fails to convince, "Fans" sounds like an outtake from A-Ha Shake Heartbreak and "The Runner" is a painful gospel workout. Maybe the latter half of the album needs a little more time to sink into the consciousness but I can't help but thinking the band simply ran out of steam.

So its not quite the masterpiece the brothers Followill obviously set out to create, but it's certainly a bold move that achieves a variable degree of success. There has always been filler on Kings Of Leon records. Its just a shame they saved it all for the last six tracks. A little more quality control could have seen this as one of the albums of the year.


Favourite Worst Nightmare
Favourite Worst Nightmare
Offered by Formats
Price: £13.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare, 13 Jun 2007
You have to give credit to the Arctic Monkeys. It would have been so easy for them to rehash the themes of the debut, especially with all of the pressure put on them with the incredible praise that met them on its release. As good as Whatever People Say I Am, Thats What I'm Not was, it was overly indebted to the Monkeys' love of all things Libertines and Strokes but delivered with a Northern England cyniscm that made it fresh and appealing to a new generation of fresh faced teens. After a year of rigorous touring the band return with Favourite Worst Nightmare, Alex Turner and cohorts have grown into their musical plimsoles, confident in their own abilities not just as songwriters, but as musicians to boot.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and opening track Brianstorm displays this new found confidence to startling effect. This juggernaut of a track literally smacks you in the face with Matt Helders pulsating drums played at a staggering speed whilst Turner's sardonic lyric taking hold "Brian, top marks for not trying". There is a punk urgency to the track that has taken over from the pop undertones from the debut, which continues throughout the first half of the album. The sing-along jaunty tracks are still here but they have been doused in a darker, more aggressive coating. The desert rock of Teddy Picker, an album highlight, is Fake Tales Of San Francisco Mk II with some of Turners most scathing lyrics yet "When did your lisp replace the twist and turn?/And your fist replace the kiss?/Don't concern us with your bollocks/I don't want your prayer/Save it for the morning after". The onslaught of potential singles continues with D Is For Dangerous, Balaclava and Fluorescent Adolescent. All complete with the now familiar choppy riffs and aggressive delivery.

A well deserved rest is needed, which comes in the form of Only Ones Who Know, Alex Turner crooning over a sea of slide guitar. Its on tracks like this that you not only see the Monkeys more mature side but also hear Turners' impressive vocals. Often he sounds bored, just going through the motions, but here we find him in love-lorn mode and it suits him. Yes! The Arctic Monkeys have a sensitive side.

The pace builds on Do Me A Favour, a musical roadtrip through the backwoods of Americana, a nice break from the chugging riffage that take up most of the record. Which, coincidentally, takes up the next chunk of the album. By now the formula starts to wear slightly thin. Where the first half of the record grabbed my attention and made me hold on for dear life, the second half is more formulaic to the point where I'm almost reaching for the skip button. Until, that is, album closer 505. By far the most outstanding thing the Arctic Monkeys have ever produced. Everything about it is perfect, from its two-chord beginning it builds from a solitary organ to a pounding bass drum and lilting guitar. The lyrics vivid, "In my imagination your waiting, lying on your side / with your hands between your thighs".

Overall the album is a success. More importantly, it proves that the cocky northern scamps aren't one trick ponies and can come up with a set of songs that totally strip away any previous preconceptions, whilst being totally familiar at the same time. If this is any indication, the future is looking increasingly brighter for Arctic Monkeys. Still young and unashamingly gifted, what comes next is anyones guess. But if its delivered with as much swagger and confidence as Favourite Worst Nightmare then its sure to be a winner.

Richard Thane
[...]


OF STARS AND OTHER SOMEBODIES
OF STARS AND OTHER SOMEBODIES
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Silent League - Of Stars & Other Somebodies, 13 Jun 2007
Hailing from Brooklyn NYC, The Silent League return with their sophomore effort Of Stars & Other Somebodies. Led by Jason Russo, formely of Mercury Rev, the eight piece band have set about making an album of grand proportions. Taking the blueprint from their debut release The Orchestra, Sadly Has Refused, Russo has carved and crafted a musical journey of intimate, confessional songs set to the backdrop of seventies infused soft rock with lush orchestral embellishment and delicate arrangements. It's by no means an immediate album. In fact, it took me at least five listens before the songs sunk into my psyche. But once there, the music on offer here is simply enchanting. Warming your soul like a gigantic comfort blanket.

The eight musicians here don't clutter the recording, instead the subtle flourishes of instrumentation each act as a piece to a jigsaw puzzle, with Justin Russo's delicate and melencholic vocal being the final and vital piece that completes the picture. Album highlight Before You Started, is a gentle meditation, soothing yet incredibly uplifting it could easily have been an album track from Mercury Rev's classic All Is Dream. This is followed by Let It Roll, which hits the spot nicely in all its soft rock FM glory. Its not all this soft focus melencholy though, Victim Of Aeroplanes sounds like Arcade Fire covering The Band, whilst Out Of Reach rocks out enough to keep things moving along nicely. Attention is lost slightly on the meandering The Tolka Not The Liffy and A Prayer For The Nihilist doesn't quite hit the mark, the backing of hammond and horns only disguises the fact that its actually just a pretty dull song. These are just a couple of niggles though, there is more than enough to get your teeth into here. The melody in Untied could have come from a Jayhawks album, and the weeping brass in Second Canary Test comes across like a long lost cousin to The Bands' Unfaithful Servant.

So what was a rather patchy debut, The Silent League now seem comfortable in their own skin and what this album lacks in originality it makes up for in terms of songcraft. Justin Russo really does have a knack for crafting simple, enchanting melodies that wouldn't work with just an acoustic backing. In fact the beauty of this album is in its orchestration, at times its simply staggering.

Richard Thane
[...]


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