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4.0 out of 5 stars Music to make memories to
I will always find a place for this record in my heart just because it reminds me of a time when life was sweet. However, that doesn't mean that the album should only be special to me; the reason it formed the backdrop to that time was that I simply couldn't put the thing down at the time.

It is quite a mellow album, although you wouldn't know it from the...
Published on 18 April 2006 by Wattsenhausen

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3.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten tribal elders of the LA music scene
Eleven are the forgotten tribal elders of the LA music scene. Guitarist Alain Johannes played in a proto-Chili Peppers and along with partner Natasha Shneider, provided extra musical muscle for Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell's solo album, Euphoria Morning. But despite their musical expertise and technical wizardry, their own band Eleven - now also including...
Published on 3 Oct 2007 by C. O'Brien


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3.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten tribal elders of the LA music scene, 3 Oct 2007
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C. O'Brien (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Howling Book (Audio CD)
Eleven are the forgotten tribal elders of the LA music scene. Guitarist Alain Johannes played in a proto-Chili Peppers and along with partner Natasha Shneider, provided extra musical muscle for Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell's solo album, Euphoria Morning. But despite their musical expertise and technical wizardry, their own band Eleven - now also including Pearl Jam refugee Jack Irons on the drums - has so far failed to make it big.

Their album Howling Book is a strange affair. It combines bluesy jazz-punk outings with ghostly torch songs, nursery-rhyme ballads with elegantly baroque soundscapes. Influences seem to range from the Beatles - as a guitarist, Johannes does an uncannily accurate George Harrison impression - to Schubert and Bach.

Some of the songs visit too many chords for their own good and Shneider's musical training is plainly visible, veering at times into Muse-style prog or classical pastiche. Such moments are redeemed by the broken passion of her singing; Kill Me No More addresses ghosts, someone who "made the sun go out...all the seams have come undone" and the album's haunted title track heaves with agony, her throaty, Eastern European voice lamenting old wounds and absent friends. Johannes is at his best when he's grinding out riffs and spinning elegant guitar textures; the swampy intro to You're My Diamond flows like melted chocolate and when he remembers to relax, he's a sensual pleasure.

All too often, though, Eleven simply push too hard. It needs to look easy - and the best musical ideas on Howling Book are too often marred by self-conscious effort.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Music to make memories to, 18 April 2006
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This review is from: Howling Book (Audio CD)
I will always find a place for this record in my heart just because it reminds me of a time when life was sweet. However, that doesn't mean that the album should only be special to me; the reason it formed the backdrop to that time was that I simply couldn't put the thing down at the time.

It is quite a mellow album, although you wouldn't know it from the opening two tracks. "Show Me Something" is impossibly catchy, fusing punk power chords, drum and bass and top power pop to produce something special. "Flow Like A River" is beautifully crafted raunchy rock. But just as you think that this album is a simple collection of intimate chants between Schneider and Johannes, it suddenly drops, quite beautifully. "This Simple Kiss" is a lovely acoustic piece, "You're My Diamond" beautifully understated blues, "Kill Me No More" a heart-wrenching anthem to the faltering step into love, and "Now Is The Word Of The Day", again understated rock at its finest.

To be honest, the first half of the record is superior to the second, if only because I generally prefer Johannes's rich sneering voice to Schneider's haunting one. However, there are a number of highlights in the second half, not least the impossibly catchy "All My Friends" (even if the verse does borrow slightly from "Stuck In The Middle"!); and the tension-release ballad of "Hidden", which is the only song on this record that nods towards their association with Chris Cornell on "Euphoria Morning". If you want more of that, try their previous offering, "Avantegardedog".

Better still, buy both. You won't be disappointed with either. For me though, this just shades it.
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Howling Book
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