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3.7 out of 5 stars9
3.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 9 October 2004
I was fortunate to see Blue States at a London show recently. I thought they'd disappeared off the scope and always wondered what became of them since I loved Nothing changes Under the Sun.
My how they've changed! They're an indie band these days. But the strange thing is that they don't sound like Chill Out also rans changing direction out of desperation (which maybe they are!) but in fact they sound like a world class indie band at the peak of their powers (like it's that easy!) The beautiful arrangements that made NCUTS such a success are still there but with addition of co-writer Chris Carr what we have are real songs with real depth.
The lush orchestrastion that threatened to suffocte many of the tracks on second album Man Mounatain is used far more cleverly with the majority of the album made up of dark guitar and synth led arrangements with vocals on 7 of 10 tracks that recall the best parts about the 80s. (glorious yet sensitive). Chris Carr's voice I would best descirbe as a cross between Ian Curtis and Julian Cope. It's wonderfully British with an almost provocative tone coupled a with a wonderfully fractured lyriscism. Since Dragazis excels at painting beautiful soundscapes the pairing works brilliantly.
There are still instrumentals on the Soundings but they are cleverly blended into the vocal tracks which results in a real album experience as opposed to a collection of songs (something the current crop of supposed best British bands should take note of!) Best example of this is One Night on Tulane into The Last Blast where an almost Japanese Whispers era Cure sounding instrumental lures in a beautifully picked acoustic ballad that builds to a rousing chorus outro with layer after layer of vocal harmonies recalling Loaded era Velvet Underground. Magnificent and one of many goose-bump inducing moments. Another would have to be the closer (Sad Song) where the melancholy ascends to heart breaking levels as a full orchestra crashes in for a finale that the Flaming Lips would kill for.
Every track on the Soundings is genuinely fantastic and displays a considered approach to the writing which is rare these days. Also the prevailing themes of love and loss manage to avoid the trap of sounding preachy and patronising. This is much to do with the way Carr leaves a lot to the imagination with curious lyrical couplets and the omission of certain nouns in much the same way as Neil Young writes. Delivered with a convincing passion the effect conjures a myriad of images and succeeds in giving the Soundings an other-worldly quality. More importantly it makes the album listenable in almost any scenario!
I can see why some fans of Nothing Changes might dislike this album but then if you only have sample based instrumental down-tempo in your record collection and don't like well written vocal songs as well you shouldn't buy this album. It's that simple.
I enjoy more than one kind of music and it's refreshing that Blue States do as well and are keen to show it. I just wish more bands would show some guts and change their sound instead of recording the same album twice and cashing in on the same tired old formula (they know who there are!)
Blue States are a great band - certainly the most innovative in the UK at the moment and for me the Soundings just gets better with every listen.
I can't see this album leaving my CD player for a long time!
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on 19 July 2004
Blue States is synonymous with cinematic sounds, blissful orchestrations and captivating arrangements! Andreas Dragazis' first album (at the time he was on his own) was a groundbreaking release in the downtempo genre and stands high up with Bonobo's sublime "Animal Magic". On "Man Mountain", Blue States changed direction by incorporating female vocals to their songs, something that is predominant in "The Soundings" albeit with pop-like male vocals. Some fans (including me) were sceptical towards that shift, because we were expecting a downtempo album that would be serene and eerie, ideal for chilling regardless of temporal or spatial requirements. Still, in my opinion, "Man Mountain" was a great release that was indeed partly deviating from the known Blue States sound, maintaining however, that ethereal and cinematic brilliance!
In "The Soundings", Blue States sound more like a band rather than an Electronica act. Nonetheless, the compositions are praiseworthy and the new singer has been well absorbed in the group. His contribution plays a pivotal role in the feelings that the listener develops throughout this album, which are rather esoteric and emotional. Standout vocal track has to be "The last blast" and instrumental favourite is the melancholic "Output".
"The Soundings" is definitely targeted to a wider audience and I think it will be appreciated by many. And Blue States thoroughly deserve this appreciation, because I strongly believe that they have surpassed more well-known bands like Zero 7 and Air (at least with respect to their latest efforts).
As a fan of Quantic, Fila Brazillia, Cinematic Orchestra, Tommy Guerrero, Kruder & Dorfmeister and the rest of the artists in my Listmania lists, I doubt that "The Soundings" will stay in my cd player for a long time, simply because I prefer instrumental, slightly more cerebral music. Buy it and make your own judgements! 3.5 stars
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on 15 June 2004
I was a little concerned when I first saw the album cover as it doesn't contain any blue like the last two albums. Goes to show you can't judge a CD by its cover. On this record Blue States have reinvented their sound stripping away the strings, making it more electronic sounding than Man Mountain. However its still unmistakably Blue States - the three instrumental tracks could've been lifted straight from Nothing Changes. New vocalist Chris Carr adds a touch of melodrama to proceedings with his yearning 80s sounding vocals. In my opinion its their best effort yet.
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on 7 July 2004
The Blue States have definitely produced a gem of an album in the Soundings as they moved slightly to a different soundscape than their previous work.
The big plus is the addition of the singer/ soungwriter which gives a pop-rock dimension to their complex haunting musical soundscape; producing great melodies.
The opening of "Under a grey sky", which is a fantastic track although there isn't a single bad track on the album; this has to the standing out one, not my personal favorite which will have to be "the last blast"; but everytime any of my friends who overheard "under a grey sky" in the background have consistently told me it was a great song before asking me who it was.
Have owned this album for about a month, I have got my hands on quite a few other albums since but the sounding is definitely becoming one of the house's favorite - well for the "Chill-Out" times anyway;
The soundings is an impressive Indie Pop-Rock debut from electronica experts.. and they still are brilliant in producing electronic beats and phrases the two purely instrumental tracks are definitely proving it.
Worth every penny; Get it, you will love it; i have yet to find someone who told me that this album was average.
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on 14 August 2008
Like many other here, I loved the first two albums and had high expectations of this one. Sadly is doesn't compare as it is a completely different type of music. I know other contributors are advising a few listens until it becomes appreciated but I have had albums like that before and this isn't one of them.

This sort of thing simply isn't my bag; it's been on twice and won't be going on again.
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on 24 June 2005
I loved the previous two albums by blue states (but found the first far stronger than the second so I was worried that the third album might not deliver.
I was wrong - great music and a good step forward from the previous albums. There are far more vocal tracks and the album is more consistant in its sound than previously. It does take a time to get into but after 3 listens, it's hardly been off my player.
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on 14 August 2004
Nothing Changes Under The Sun and Man Mountain are great albums! Why oh why oh why have Blue States used a dreadful male vocal (who sounds like a million other mediocre male vocallists) on most of the new tracks? They sound like a middle of the road guitar band now. Thank God for Amazon's returns policy because I can't get this one back in the mail quick enough.
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on 28 October 2004
read the reviews,brought the album, i'm affraid the bad reviews don't mean anything this album is by far the best yet, be warned it does take a while to grow on you but it will trust me!
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on 11 January 2007
Why have Blue States moved away from what they do best to this? The vocals are nothing short of awful! Gone is that fantastic retro 60's feel to something which I just found lacking in every way and very irritating.

If you have other BS stuff, buy this at your peril.
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