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Youth Is Yours
Youth Is Yours
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lexicon - Youth Is Yours, 12 July 2010
This review is from: Youth Is Yours (Audio CD)
In the 2004 hit stoner comedy "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle", the young and reluctant Harold Lee drives home from his job to start his weekend of unpredictable mayhem with his best friend Kumar. Blasting out of his stereo as he drives is the chorus "You Gotta Rock to the rhythm with em got to give it to em, got to give a lot more than the minimum" - it is one of the many highlights on the sophomore Lexicon record "Youth Is Yours", and perhaps its most anthemic. It is a simple chorus, infectious from its sleazy intro and the charismatic rapping that made 'It's The L' a wildly addictive listen. All the additive elements are back throughout this second release, accompanied by a fuller bodied sound and a few new clever tricks.

There are two companion tracks which are worth serious praise: 'Xamot' and 'Tomax' are both 60 second tracks performed individually as funky, fiery freestyles, breaking up the meatier songs on the album. 'Party Party People', slow burning and repetitive as it is, provides another comical interlude, whilst the bulk of the remaining tracks' content centres on disses, drinking, smoking rapping and partying. Slightly less elaborate are the verses than those which littered 'It's The L', but the compromise is reassuringly little: its clear that the focus behind making 'Youth Is Yours' was to expand the sound. use more horns, wilder guitars and steadier beats. It is fair to say that the work has massively paid off.

Tracks like 'Turn Your Radio Up' and the opener 'Gotta Believe' possess a lazy summer evening vibe, others such as 'I Think That You Want To' and 'Bar Night' are cheekier and livelier. 'These Days' marches along quickly and assertively as one of the record's centerpieces. The glue that holds all of these songs together is its consistency in the overall pace, and Nick & Oak's near impeccable diction. Their chemistry and charismatic presence are the album's true centerpiece - they enthrall when pronouncing every syllable and make this album right for almost any time or place you could imagine.

Black Sands
Black Sands
Price: £7.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bonobo - Black Sands, 12 July 2010
This review is from: Black Sands (Audio CD)
A One minute introduction comprising of stringed instruments and pianos opens Black Sands to a neo-Japanese aesthetic. The gradual, dark melody builds and reaches its climax, and the following track 'Kiara' properly kicks off the album with a focused and rhythmic bassline. Bonobo's latest record of lounge is a distinct improvement upon its predecessors as far as song structure (a vastly underappreciated quality in lounge music) is concerned. 'Kong' plays out similarly to 'Kiara', albeit employing electronic sounds rather than bass to compose the melody. The album's sole guest vocalist Andreya Triana adds subtle vocals into three of the album's tracks - her voice acts as another instrument in the background, rather than as the driving force behind any of the songs she is featured on.

Elsewhere there are more stringed sections, such as on the elegant and cool 'El Toro', which somehow manages to sound Mexican and Oriental and like lounge music all at the same time. The bulk of this record plays like conventional lounge music that has been to the shop floor and accessorized with additional sound effects and instruments, giving it the feel of a more mainstream album. Whilst this is still distinctly a conventional lounge record, the skilled production that has gone into Black Sands elevates it beyond any of Bonobo's previous work, to a new level of sophisticated psychadelia and ambiance. Downbeat and bittersweet patches, rather beautiful melodies and electronica are the extra dimension to a great album for everyone to chill out to.

Fun With Dumb [Explicit]
Fun With Dumb [Explicit]
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dumbfoundead - Fun With Dumb, 10 July 2010
Korean-American rapper Jonathan Park is no stranger to poking fun at himself, others and life in general. If you have ever been lucky enough to watch his string of convincing performances for the Grind Time and King of the Dot battle circuits then you will already have an appreciation for his comic timing, musings and observations. He has a flair for illuminating the littlest of details and expanding them into full blown comical interludes; this is the basis for the content of his full length debut, appropriately titled 'Fun With Dumb'.

The anecdotes that comprise the bulk of the lyrics on this record are concentrated on women, music and relationships as told from a 22 year old's perspective and so are quite inventive and upbeat. 'Clockblockers', for example is a track which depicts avoiding people trying to prevent him from scoring a relationship with a hot girl, complete with a surreal intro and fake accents. 'Rapper-Os' makes brilliant comparisons between rap stars and breakfast cereal and features a rousing chorus of "i eat MCs for breakfast".

Nothing truly astounding has been created here, melody-wise. The melodies and percussion whilst not earth shatteringly unique are sufficient, which really is all that is required to provide a backdrop against which Dumbfoundead can showcase his rapping talent. Throughout the record Dumbfoundead is quirky, articulate, willing to make jibes at himself, eclectic in his lyrical themes and most inportantly has a very listenable voice. So whilst this is not a perfect piece of work, it has enough strong elements within it to make it a worthwhile and enjoyable debut.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2011 9:01 PM GMT

Liquid Courage
Liquid Courage

4.0 out of 5 stars Wax and EOM - Liquid Courage, 10 July 2010
This review is from: Liquid Courage (Audio CD)
If you are bored of rap songs talking about how much money or how many women that its star has, if you are looking for a genuine alternative to the synth laden autotuned wall of sound that most rap stars now perform to, then somewhere on your 'to listen to' list should be the Wax and EOM collaboration, 'Liquid Courage'. Set to an incredibly eclectic collection of beats, riffs and tunes arranged by EOM (Elements of Music) comes some of the most distinctive, audacious and electrifying rapping you will ever hear, provided by Wax.

Wax's style is that of telling elaborate stories in his songs. With the prevailing theme 'Liquid courage' resurfacing throughout many of the tracks, there are tales of being mugged at night, pulling the ugly girl in the club and a man who is in love with a 19 year old stripper amongst others. Where the genious lies though is in the rhyming style employed by Wax, which in some lines is slightly less than total. There are so many phonetic pairs in most sentences that songs flow more elegantly and fiercely than any time a rap star has mumbled his way through 3 and a half minutes of overly processed hip hop.

As other reviews have correctly pointed out, this record is badly in need of a third party taking it to the editing room. There are false starts and robot voices that are completely unneccessary and add nothing to the record. Barring this minor flaw though, is a record of grendeur and innovation. A record where the vocals are as dynamic and firey as the samples that they are matched to. A record that is not afriad to poke fun at all walks of life as well as itself. It is a record that will pleasently surprise you, if you can ever find a copy.

Clockwise [Explicit]
Clockwise [Explicit]

5.0 out of 5 stars Wax and Dumbfoundead are Clockwise, 8 July 2010
Probability states that neither Wax or Dumbfoundead will ever rise to musical superstardom. The fickle, unforgiving world of mainstream hip-hop has no time for artists as lyrically obscure as the audacious Wax or the self aggrandising Dumbfoundead, but this should not put off anyone who considers themselves a fan of quality experimental hip hop. Together they have formed Clockwise and recorded a self titled record that blows the stagnant, autotuned, overproduced mainstream out of the water.

There are 12 songs, some of which have surfaced on Dumbfoundead's website prior to this release. Thing's kick off with 'It's On' - Wax and DFD'S calling card track, but unlike their contempories, this is the only track on the album where the lyrics are vacuously self engulgent, but even these are wildly entertaining. 'Medicine', the following track is just superb to behold: a dictionary of romantic imagery set to a smooth, fuzzy beat. It showcases the best of each rapper's lyrical style and more importantly, their immense recording chemistry. Many of the other tracks feature back and forth bantering (the hilarious 'Hollyhoodrats', the comically downbeat 'Playground' etc) and each time it greatly surpasses 9 out of 10 rap songs that feature awkwardly inserted guest spots.

There should be something on this album that most 22 year olds can relate to, be it reminiscing about high school, describing your first love or poking fun at the moronic people that comprise the marjority of the entertainment industry. This record will pass 99% of people by, but give it a listen, and by the time you reach the effortlessly cool final track 'Do You Think....', the sensational rhyming talent and charisma of Wax and Dumbfoundead will have thoroughly won you over.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point, 8 July 2010
The Tipping Point begins by addressing the mystery surrounding the way in which epidemics spread and then sets out on a journey to find the answers. The bulk of the story observes the three key types of people that help transform things from cultural niche to widespread throughout society, using a barage of examples to do so.

Malcolm Gladwel's inquisitive writing style immerses the reader in the questions he poses. He has a flair for illuminating the fascinating elements of human nature. Each chapter reads like the authors own thought process, questioning every detail and nuance of a person or situation, proceeding towards the several fascinating conslucions he has stumbled upon whilst researching the topic.

If you have ever wondered why fashionable trends become popular out of the blue, or what the causes are of seemingly inexplicable social phenomena (the dramatic falling of crime rates in 1990s New York, The speedy rise to success of the Airwalk trainer company), or what people are responsible for these event, then buy The Tiping Point, because you will be enlightened by its content and enthralled by its smooth, objective writing style.

Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives
Price: £5.79

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nas & Damian Marley - Distant Relatives, 21 May 2010
This review is from: Distant Relatives (Audio CD)
Two of their respective genres' greatest stars, who collaborated on the mighty 'Road To Zion' in 2005 have returned with a full LP release that is every bit as adventurous and passionate as their previous endeavour would have you expect. Musically, the album has its roots in reggae and is infused with a variety of African instruments, vocals and samples but it is Nas and Marley's vocal intensity that stamps personality onto each different track, as in the album opener, 'As We Enter'. Here the two vibrantly banter back and forth a lyrical introduction to their work (Marley: 'Come now, we take you on the biggest adventure', Nas: 'It is truth we big news, we hood heroes'), achieving great cohesion for its 3 minute run time.

The change of pace and mood is frequent here: the album reaches summery heights on the uplifting 'Count Your Blessings' and takes a more somber direction on tracks such as 'In His Own Words (Featuring Stephen Marley)' to deliver the duo's overlying message of Africa's continuing struggle. Not much can be said for the guest features (with the exception of Stephen, Damian's brother who makes a welcome return) as they do little to add anything to what is already a complex and mature record. The slow burning ballad 'Africa Must Wake Up (featuring K'naan)' demonstrates the variability in the duo's songwriting skills and provides a dramatic close to undoubtedly one of the most successful collaborations in recent times.

All I Ever Wanted
All I Ever Wanted
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.26

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted, 27 Mar. 2009
This review is from: All I Ever Wanted (Audio CD)
To me, the music of Kelly Clarkson is somewhat of a guilty pleasure, and about fifteen seconds into the new album `All I Ever Wanted', all the memories of how much I enjoy her music came flooding right back. Clarkson's voice is so powerful and commanding, but not without being distinctly youthful, and so having an appeal to the younger audience still. Sometimes she wails whilst at others she spouts similar lyrics over and over, but her voice is very much the primary instrument throughout each of the sixteen tracks on the record, which is a claim that few artists have these days.

Of late, a good portion of female singers have forgotten that it is because they are great singers that they have money piled up over their heads inside their 38 million dollar mansions. I don't know why everyone wants to substitute their vocals for beats, synths, and electronic fuzz, but Clarkson has stuck two fingers up to this notion and refused to have her voice drowned out. Conventional instruments play conventional pop rock melodies here, but crucially it is Clarkson that you hear first and foremost. She powers through lead single `My life would suck without you', slows right down for stand out ballad `Already gone', and brings bags of attitude to `Whyyawannabringmedown'.

On this, her forth studio release, Kelly has not forgotten her fan base, and so the record is completely geared around her strengths; the soppy relationship based lyrics, the wailing choruses and a big fat injection of emotion into her vocals. The downside to this record is that because Kelly so thoroughly hit all the right buttons on `Breakaway' in terms of the variation of songs and in defining her style, there is very little she could have done to create a totally different record the forth time around, short of bringing in Timbaland or getting out the faithful electronic synthesizers. There is enough variation to satisfy all the Clarkson fans and it is really nice to see an artist stick to what they are good at, rather than submit to the in style of the moment. Don't expect anything new or anything as good as `Breakaway' and you will be satisfied.

3 Stars

Gregory Jolliffe

No Line On The Horizon
No Line On The Horizon
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.53

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars U2 - No Line On The Horizon, 27 Mar. 2009
This review is from: No Line On The Horizon (Audio CD)
A truly great critic is one who can sit down to analyze any piece of creativity and look at it in an objective light, and whilst I am not going profess that I am a great critic by any means, I do feel a strong desire to prove my being unbiased by reviewing something that I would otherwise, slander for no reason. Enter, the new U2 album, `No Line on the Horizon'.

Listening to this, their umpteenth LP, I couldn't help but let out a great sigh. There was just nothing on the record good or bad to get worked up about. I personally hate Bono's voice but I can't hold that against the record. I didn't detest the music, even though it largely consisted of a 4 minute wailing guitar track, unless the song in question was one of the lengthier ones, in which case it consisted of a 7 minute wailing guitar track. Let's take `Unknown Caller' as an example. Over a standard rhythm section, Edge hits out a 4 minute plus guitar solo whilst Bono preaches about something quite poetic that I couldn't really decipher. The track started and ended nowhere and achieved very little during, which would be fine if I didn't have to go through the same experience another 8 or 9 times and had begun with at least some expectations.

There is the generic "lively and fast paced" song `Get Your Boots On', which along with about 2 other songs, sets itself apart from the rest of the album. There is the "Let's give one of the songs a ridiculously long title for no reason" song, whose only stand out feature is the chorus / title. To call this record a little bit samy would be like calling Bono a little bit pretentious - the rest of the album might as well be one track for how musically varied it is.

For all my complaints, the record actually SOUNDS quite nice. It was consistent, immersive on occasion, and surprisingly for a band I personally loathe, it annoyed me very little. I also think the record is quite understated - there is nothing as trying as the `Vertigo - YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH' ing of the previous record that made me want to break stuff every time I heard it. `No Line on the Horizon' blends rather insignificantly into the background whilst you carry on with your life, washing over you rather than shaking you to your core. It is 50 minutes of palatable noise rather than 50 minutes of decent song writing, and I think that this is my biggest complaint - everyone inexplicably takes U2 for always producing the latter. I think this is one for the fans.

3 Stars

Gregory Jolliffe
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2009 8:18 PM BST

Invaders Must Die
Invaders Must Die
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die, 27 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Invaders Must Die (Audio CD)
`Invaders Must Die' opens with a thudding bass line and a melodious guitar riff, which build gradually up until after 16 bars or so, they merge to provide a combined assault on your ears akin to the opening of a Pendulum record. The bass is cranked to 9 Billion, the tune is simple enough to dance to and the song as a whole is catchy as hell. Following the title track is lead single `Omen' - so good that when I first heard it, I swore that I was listening to a track from `Fat of the Land'. "The Writing's On The Wall" was about the only lyric I could gather, but it didn't matter because as with `Fire starter' or `Smack My B Up', one lyric is all you really need to be able to get fully into it.

The opening two tracks are an indication of what to expect on `Invaders Must Die'. `Warrior's Dance' provides contrast for about 30 seconds when it opens with a euphoric female vocal. Very quickly though, the listener is brought back with a bang, and back come the thick and heavy Drum n Bass beats. Where The Prodigy have always excelled, is in selling their distinct sound by varying the tracks just enough to so you don't get déjà vu every time there is a song change, but not so much as to slow the pace of the record. On `Invaders Must Die', this is brought in with great effect. For forty minutes or so, the music infects your ears and causes your body to move, never slowing or treading over old ground.

The chances are that you already know if you are going to like this CD. There's nothing groundbreaking, audacious or controversial on this new release - it is just a good solid piece of work. As exciting as they ever were and ready to get the party going, The Prodigy are back. Nice to see that the boys still have still got it.

4 Stars

Gregory Jolliffe

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