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Leaders Of The Free World
Leaders Of The Free World
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.99

60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations, 4 Aug. 2005
When you've a track record as sound and as promising as Elbow's is, it isn't wrong to have great expectations for their latest offering... It's alright, the boys don't disappoint.
Picking up from where 'Cast of Thousands' left off, this album develops further in just about every aspect. In terms of mood and general sound, their 2003 release felt a lot more spacious and hopeful than 'Asleep In The Back', this newie just opens everything up again making the tracks seem enormous and epic, but without losing the humble touch that makes Elbow songs so charming.
'Station Approach' kicks the album off as a gathering builder like 'Ribcage' was previously before exploding into a stomper of an anthem. 'Picky Bugger' seems understated and cute, but there are typically sinister tones in Garvey's lyrics showing that the band have far from given up on the more menacing songs in their backcatalogue. 'Forget Myself', the first single, soars mightily with a massive energy that I've never heard in Elbow before- another indication of the gutsy direction taken here. 'The Stops' takes things down a peg and is a fine example of the hard work that has gone into the production on this record (which I'll come to later). The title track that follows is perhaps the most un-elbow one here, and whilst you might be caught off guard by the bizarre out-of-character guitar bit, it's not difficult to notice the similarities with 'Coming Second' off their debut- marching along with a bite and a sharp tongue, its a real highlight and (hopefully) a single. 'An Imagined Affair' calms things down again, but seemed to pass me by a bit on the first listen- perhaps one of those growers as a song that needs attention. Following this, the boys push the boundaries once more with 'Mexican Standoff' which, again, feels like a combination of the first two albums ('Red' and 'Fallen Angel' this time) creating a whole new beast altogether.
From here, all the solid, cohesive work thats gone on takes a slightly different form to close the album. 'The Everthere' is a bit of classic Elbow which plods along in a unpresumtious manner, but has your attention nonetheless. 'My Very Best' is another of my personal faves which is serene, tender and fully sincere made complete with a few familiar contributions from the string section. Next up is 'Great Expectations' which is something of a pure love song Garvey-style. The vocals echo and the mood is deeply melancholic but intensely personal as is common in Guy's lyrics- you wouldn't argue with the truth in the stories being told here and in the other songs, all the while adding magic of this collection. 'Puncture Repair' follows the fine tradition of easy album closers and really makes you appreciate the quality of Guy's talent as a singer and lyricist.
What impresses me most about 'Leaders of the Free World', is the way it shows all of the best qualities of Elbow. It has the cynical rocking with a restless temper that showed on the first album, but still had all the hope and spaciousness that was achieved by 'Cast of Thousands'. A lot of this is down to the quality production that has gone on here. This might sound corny, but it REALLY does sound like you're in the studio with the band while they're playing and to complement this, in between songs you can hear the band having a laugh with each other or discussing drumming techniques. Whilst this effect is achieved, it doesn't sound live or have any rawness which sacrifices the special atmosphere of a really good studio recording.
I wouldn't be surprised if, after several more listens, this becomes my favourite Elbow record and in terms of the wider world, they'll blow everything else out of the water when released in September. It doesn't even sound like they're trying. Elbow are just one of those bands that regardless of what the fashion or the scene is, they carry on with things on their own terms and still achieve something that sounds as original as it did five years ago. Glorious.


Curvature Of The Earth
Curvature Of The Earth
Price: £10.26

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised (and a little speechless), 29 July 2005
This review is from: Curvature Of The Earth (Audio CD)
As a Bunnymen fan and a fan of Will Seargent's guitar work, it seemed only natural for me to buy his solo effort with Glide here, though not being particularly familiar with his previous solo stuff and not knowing quite what to expect. So, on the night that I bought it, I turn the lights down low and get out my headphones...
What an experience. There is nothing quite like this anywhere else and yet you can spot the individual references in tracks, all the while just adding to one massive consuming sound that Seargent has achieved here. I have to admit that at times it wasn't a comfortable listen; it's quite intimidating stuff when you didn't see the twisted Royksopp-on-acid 'I Have Seen The Sunlight' coming, or when you're hit unawares by the ferocious stereo-guitar attack of Iggy & Ziggy. The album opener 'A Golden Dawn' sounds like it could have taught Kasabian a thing or two and 'Chopped Hog' has a similarly menacing atmosphere before it pulls you down into its bizarre world of rock n' roll riffs and organ melodies. 'Kraken' is like the sound of Slowdive taking a midnight swim with Seargent-circa-'Heaven Up Here' and is a spacey, wonderous track, as is 'In Blue Sunshine' which employs plenty of Eastern strings and thick, cavernous production. Actually, there is plenty of Bunnymen Will to be heard here- 'Spirit' is probably the pick of the bunch (but it's close) with some trademark Seargent work combined with almost Underworld-esque ambient twiddlings. 'Curvature of the Earth' makes a worthy title track, also harking back to the glory days- this time, again, reminiscent of 'Heaven Up Here' and 'Crocodiles'.
Also worth a mention is the work gone into the production and the sound experience in general. It has to be said that this CD MUST be listened to through headphones on the first time because Glide's album will jump and chase around your head, sending little buzzes and chills down your spine.
OK, I suppose I've got a bit carried away with the association game and I need to emphasise just how different and original a work that Glide have created here. It's all too easy to say that it will "Soundtrack your dreams" or claim that its psychedelia will freak you like never before, but while these are true, 'Curvature of the Earth' never sacrifices quality for abstractness or electronic noodling. This manages to be an interesting, challenging and a little bit scary but at the same time, competing with the rest of 2004's highlights as an accomplished work. I suppose this leaves the question as to what Bunnymen fans can expect from 2005s 'Siberia' due autumn and whether Seargent's stirling work here can rub off on his colleage- it will have to be fantastic to keep up with this offering...


No Title Available

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Back Room, 5 July 2005
First of all, who are Editors? Well, if you're reading this, you probably know but if not then Editors are a Birmingham New Wave\Post-Punk outfit that specialise in the sounds of the early 80s and its raincoat clad pioneers.
Yes, 80s New Wave. Now, the argument could go on all day about the fashion in music today and whether we need another angular guitar, rhythmic and altogether dark group, but I'm not going to go into it... Whether or not Editors are an identical copy of Joy Division or a regurgitation of their parent's' record collection doesnt matter until you've finished with their record itself.
So lets get to the record itself. The fact of the matter is, is that Editors can knock out a good tune and they've done it more than once. However, after a couple of singles it is always interesting to see how the band take this to a long-player. Desperate and wailing epic single 'Bullets' is there and so is the dark urgency of follow-up 'Munich', but it can be seen in the next single 'Blood' how easy Editors obviously find this. The Ian Curtis\Paul Banks vocals of Tom Smith are effortless in making these songs massive-sounding, sincere and a little bit scary. But it doesnt stop here though, because Editors have more to offer. Album opener 'Lights' is a jumpy, short and catchy song that gets straight to point with no messing. 'All Sparks' is The Back Room's centre-piece and has the trademark Editors quality of the album's singles and will have you singing along from the first listen. 'Fingers In The Factories' caught me off guard at first but its unusual jumpiness grows on you, making a slightly bizarre and original use of Editors talents. Taking it down a notch, 'Fall' and 'Camera' have all the melancholic reverence you might expect whilst maintaining an accessible mentality of the album's dancier moments.
The lyrics are typically cryptic but not trivial and Editors have ensured that every song is a potential anthem that crowds and festivals all over will croon along to. The rhythm section is tight and disciplined but doesnt take a back seat; often choosing to be the twist in song's like 'Distance' and 'Blood'. Then of course, there's 'that' guitar which makes each song an Editors song and partially what makes the Editors' songs appealing to the New Wave devotees.
So it ticks all the boxes right? Maybe, but 'The Back Room' is far from a perfect work. There are many postive points to be taken from the songs here, but something doesn't feel right throughout. It only takes two listens to notice certain things. Firstly, you realise that 'that' guitar is same Chameleons-esque chime that appears behind - every - song and in a similar fashion in each case. By the time of 'Someone Says' its getting a bit weary and is perhaps the sound a talent not being stretched. 'Open Your Arms' benefits here from trying something different, but the accessible sensibility of 'The Back Room' feels as much a burden as an asset. Secondly, in a similar vein, I got the impression that Ediotrs were getting a bit too involved with their own sound and whilst these songs work well on their own, sometimes it just didn't work as an album.
But this is no major problem. Despite being up to my waist in the second wave of post-punk, the truth is that three or four years ago I would have killed for a band like Editors. Whilst 'The Back Room' might not be as accomplished as an album as some debuts, it is still a pleasure to listen to and is a success. You can never have too many good bands and hey, songs like 'Munich' could teach even Interpol a thing or two. Whether it is plagarism or not is up to you, I reckon its just more good songs from another promising band.


The Understanding
The Understanding
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £3.99

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously Good, 7 Jun. 2005
This review is from: The Understanding (Audio CD)
This is thoroughly exciting stuff. Back in 2001, I bought Melody A.M. and have subsequently got it out every summer and given it a good listen but after four years, it was time for a follow-up.
In a time where some claim the 'death' of dance music, and where indie bands are invading dance festivals all over, groups like Royksopp are needed to keep the reputation of the genre respectable and in a year with so many good albums out all ready, there is quite a task in hand. Fear not. 'The Understanding' is awesome. In the space of four listens it has become my favourite dance album of all time and is the highlight of the year so far.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect at first, whether we we're going to get more of the same with 'Melody A.M.' pt 2. or not, but 'The Understanding' is a different beast altogether. Forget reams of subtle hazy beats and melodies, this album is one to dance to and it doesnt let up throughout. If 'Melody A.M.' was the album of a summer day, this is the album of the summer night. It all kicks off steadily with the piano-driven 'Triumphant' before going into the stunning 'Only This Moment' which is like a hot and sweaty Ibiza-born Eple. Following this is my personal fave, '49 Percent', which sounds equally epic and really grabs you by the throat with its hypnotic vocals and driving beats- its certainly not background music.
Now at this point when you're expecting it to ease up and give you a chill-out, it just doesnt. 'Boys' is quite indicative of the direction being taken by the lads at the moment and even has a dabble with acidy squelches and pushes the boundaries a bit. 'Follow My Ruin' is just as gutsy and, like every track, has its own presence, but fits in with the whole ethic of the album. 'Beautiful Day Without You' is the most laid-back so far and is the 'summer track' with familiar Royksopp features. Just as you've let your guard down, you're hit with 'What Else Is There?', which is unusual with distinct female vocals and a (seemingly recurrent) seriousness about it. 'Circuit Breaker' breaks down more barriers and is a pacy, beat-laden affair before the ambient epic 'Alpha Male' brings the album to its summit.
After all the serious dancing you've been doing throughout this, Someone Like Me is the start of the come-down and is familiar territory and could have fit on 'Melody A.M.' with its laid back, trademark tempo. Ending peacefully, 'Dead To The World' is like a dream with a melody ascending and descending behind easy vocals.
This album has clearly stretched the boys and is quality throughout (a lesson in how you spend three years on an album), making their live shows an even better prospect. Im eagerly awaiting the release of 'The Understanding' and it won't be leaving my cd player for some time. I can't imagine anyone not liking this, so get your orders in now and get excited!


Forever Faithless - The Greatest Hits
Forever Faithless - The Greatest Hits
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £4.24

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick review for the fans, 24 May 2005
If you're not already a massive Faithless fan, then read no further and just buy this CD now, followed by the individual albums.
However, if you are already a fan and you're wondering what this album really offers you, then consider this-
The new tracks, Fatty Boo (feat. LSK, its like something off No Roots), Reasons... (which has Ian Dury on it) and the highlight Why Go? (actually a dancey re-work of Why Go? on Sunday 8pm, but with Estelle singing).
Need another reason? Well how about the fact that what you're actually getting on this album is the radio and single edits of the greatest hits; something you won't have unless you've got the singles or whatever. I personally couldnt stand it when I Want More never really took off on the album version but the single version did it all...
So are you convinced yet? Go on. Get the DVD as well.


Cold Water
Cold Water
by Gwendoline Riley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Let Down, 6 May 2005
This review is from: Cold Water (Paperback)
I bought Cold Water on a recommendation when looking into books that are from local authors and that are set in Manchester. When I came on and read the amazon reviews and I was getting less excited about the copy sat in front of me.
I started Cold Water, forgetting the comments made here and starting with a fresh mind but I was a bit upset that the reviewers here really arent kidding- this book is pretty horrible in places. Riley's character of the disaffected bar worker is unconvincing and unlikeable... In fact all of the characters are unconvincing and it all wreaks of nasty romantic images which simply dont work in the gloriously idealistic way that is obviously intended.
The whole process of developing a sense of place is poor. Riley name drops various places in and around Manchester constantly and it immediately lacks a genuine sense of setting. Its alright if you, like me, know the places mentioned, but unfamiliar readers are going to get lost in Riley's attempts to really use setting to effect. Yes, Manchester is depicted as a romantically dour rainy town and whether or not you agree won't matter while you endure main character Carmel's hideously self-indulgent thoughts juxtaposed with watery and indecisive tones that jump from the gritty to the rose-tinted with little subtlety.
Why does it deserve three stars? Well, from about page 120-142 (I wont spoil what happens) it all of a sudden (and somewhat mysteriously) becomes quite a pleasure to read until the final few pages when it all goes wrong again.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I dont think its a matter of it not being 'my thing' because I read books of a similar type and all I see here is something that smacks of someone sitting down, writing a book and chucking in all the ingredients without any real thought (the other reviewers dont lie!).


Curtains [Includes Bonus Disc]
Curtains [Includes Bonus Disc]

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Repackage, Re-evaluate the songs...", 8 Aug. 2004
The most underrated band in the history of the universe? Repackaged? With sheeny clean sound AND a bonus disc? Bout time.
This sort of situation might sound familiar with the Bunnymen and other artists receiving the same treatment in the past few years but it is nothing to be complained about (let alone paint a vulgar picture about) as the some of the real classic records are now beginning to meet the digital age and sound like the real classics they are. Curtains is a typical Tindersticks record- which makes it a fantastic one. Though change hasnt really been the Tindersticks thing, this more recent album is undeniably more like the first two albums as if it was completing a trilogy (Tindersticks III if you will).
It all kicks off with 'Another Night In' which is, for me, their best song ever with its melancholy strings and oppressive laments. Its not all gloom but alot of it does swing that way... this kind of thing is actually more of a selling point to me but each to their own so if youd like something a little brighter try perhaps 'Simple Pleasure' or something. Other highlights on the record include 'Fast One', 'Buried Bones', '(Tonight) Are you...' and of course the amazing 'Bathtime'. Maybe then though Im forgetting the 'Ballad of Tindersticks' and 'Rented Rooms' which wouldn't be fair. However this would mean Im forgetting 'Desperated Man' and well... we could be here all night.
Being here all night wouldnt be a problem though because as with all Tindersticks records, Curtains complements it perfectly. For those of you new or unawares, Curtains is the soundtrack to lonely nights in smokey bars with solitary pianists and nursing whiskey and wine. Interested? You should be.


Porcupine (Expanded & Remastered)
Porcupine (Expanded & Remastered)
Price: £5.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just like my lower heaven..., 30 July 2004
Echo & The Bunnymen: Masters of the sacred art of album making.
Porcupine is volume 3 in the possibly greatest succession of albums ever... Crocodiles to Echo & The Bunnymen... and it is a worthy installment.
Following 81's dark and atmospheric Heaven Up Here, Porcupine is ready to progress accordingly and shows the growth of the Bunnymen as artists. In Crocodiles the sound was aggressive with a focus on drums. Heaven Up Here put the guitar in the spotlight with better (and quite frankly awesome) pipes from macca. Porcupine takes this and, looking back, bridges the gap from Heaven Up Here to Ocean Rain, whilst still being a quality record on its own. There are times where you can really feel the cold of its predecessor (with appropriate artwork), paticularly on Higher Hell, Porcupine and The Cutter with familiar lyrics and vocals. Difference comes with the sound which has been refined from the rawness of the two albums before, incorporating a greater range of instruments like strings and various percussion, whilst flexing some serious production muscle. However its important not to get carried away with Porcupine being a paticularly dark record as its just not. It is, like the cover, reminiscent of a snowy, blizzardy day (paticularly with the xylophony-bits) that is magical and wondrous but not exactly heart-warming. The songs are stuctured with real Bunnymen sophistication and mystery, but at the same time retaining just the right amount of accessibility as displayed on Back of Love. Its easy to see where they went from here, taking a little bit of the chilliness into 'Nocturnal Me' and twisting into a bit of eccentricity with 'Thorn of Crowns' on the following album.
Porcupine is solid and sophisticated. It is chilly and cool without being morbid or depressing. The instrumental arrangements are spot on without being showy or extravagant. This repackaged issue is actually pretty good, with polished sound and, interestingly, alternative versions of tracks which in some cases are better than their album equivalents. Not to mention Fuel and Never Stop which have typical Bunnymen quality all over them.
Despite all of this goodness... its still fourth in the pecking order. Never mind that though, just buy it anyway.


Doctor Sax: Modern Classic
Doctor Sax: Modern Classic
by Jack Kerouac
Edition: Paperback

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone lurks in the woods..., 30 July 2004
Kerouac claimed Doctor Sax to be his favourite amongst his many fine works and it is easy to see why. 'On the road' was the epitome of his road-trip stories and though each was a gripping read, you know pretty much what to expect. Doctor Sax, however, is one of the rare occasions where Kerouac chose to focus on another aspect of his life: his childhood.
Doctor Sax another chapter in the life story of familiar alter-ego Jack Duluoz. Jack keeps busy by playing imaginative games with his mates or by himself, growing up in his french-canadian family. As the many tales of fun and mischief unfold, mysterious accounts of the enigmatic Doctor Sax and Count Condu give an insight of the magical dreams and imagination of Jack, leading up to what is a fantastic ending.
The imagery in Doctor Sax is the key feature and of course, Kerouac is no stranger to writing like this. Though not quite as plot or event driven as 'On the Road' or 'Desolation Angels', this book more than makes up for its varying changes in pace by its colourful characters and purely fantastical sequences towards the end. Doctor Sax is Kerouac's masterpiece...


Antics
Antics
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.93

4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A time to be so pleased, 30 July 2004
This review is from: Antics (Audio CD)
In 2002, post-punk was saved by the greatest album this side of the millennium so far. Turn on the Bright Lights was haunting, claustrophobic and yet uncontrollable epic. It received criticism from some critics, ones who claimed that Interpol were a reproduction of Joy Division, failing to see the refinements made on Ian Curtis' immortal sound (and voice). Whilst not being a significant commercial success, Interpol delighted fans with a smart, dark aesthetic, driving drums and bass lines, fearsome jangly-guitars and Banks' desolate voice singing eloquent lyrics.
Of course, they had to follow it up.
Early reports came in from late 2003 with regards to the recording of 'Antics', the follow up to Turn on the Bright Lights. Comments from the band indicated a radical change on the sound but "the fans will still like it I think" assured Banks. Not the encouraging reply to fans' "It aint broke, dont fix it" plea. However, when the track-listing was listed in June 2003, fans were able to instantly identify NARC, Length of Love and A Time To Be So Small: tracks that had featured in the band's live set since 2001... perhaps not the radical change feared then, but are we getting anything new?
Come July, the answer came (yes... it was on the naughty internet). Opening track 'Next Exit' is an unusually easy listen, optimistic and backed by uncharacteristic keyboards which made a decidedly different opening to Untitled. 'Evil' was next and made for a very interesting listen, essentially being a matured version of Specialist; gentle then desperate then gentle desperate with the bass line and lyrics stealing the limelight. Then comes NARC, one of the band's greater moments and one of the album's highlights without being a progressive track as indeed it would fit easily on TOTBL. 'Take you on a cruise' is another indication of the new Interpol sound; not as dark as its preceding songs but pleasing nonetheless. 'Slow Hands' is this album's pacy song, it's equivalent to 'Roland' and whilst perhaps not quite as good, its certainly stands its ground and is a strong track. 'Not Even Jail' is another highlight with real enormity and YES really jangly guitars that go NA NA NAN NA NA NANA NANA NA. This track is a great because it takes good points from old stuff and introduces new stuff that works, as well as benefitting from the more sophisticated production on this album. The next two tracks 'Public Pervert' and 'C'mere' are probably the two weakest songs on the album for me but this is a sign of the general quality of Antics as these songs are not bad by any means and feature some cool moments. But then- DADADADADAD DEDED DEEEDEDEEEDEDD DADADADADDA- Length of Love is annouced and once again we are transported back to the days of TOTBL with intimidating power; Length of Love is one of Interpol's finest moments... ever. It can only be suitably followed by 'A Time To Be So Small' which has been given a makeover for the better and makes a fantastic closing song.
Are we getting anything new? Absolutely. Its welcome too. Antics is new and different but not worse off for it, we are frequently reminded of older tracks that make us love Interpol and yet at the same time are challenged by interesting new stuff which really improves with time. None of the tracks are bad in any sense, making an all-round well structured album that will prove to be a vital addition to the Interpol back-catalogue.
Another future classic? Only time will tell.


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