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Invented
Invented
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I met you the old-fashioned way, 17 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Invented (Audio CD)
Jimmy Eat World are a band that could interchange virtually any track off any album for any track off any other album. True each album has its own angle on production, but the band have nailed the art of the rock song consistently for the past 14 years or so. So how does new album Invented fit in?

Well fans who disliked the hugely sugary production of the last album will find much to love here. Mark Trombino has added that touch of grit which was almost entirely missing from Chase this Light, and brought the band back towards a sound more reminiscent of Clarity. That said, this is not Clarity 2, there are still layers and layers of sound like many newer Jimmy Eat World songs. In an interesting twist, the lyrics are mostly written from the perspective of other people, inspired by photography that lyricist Jim Adkins was looking at when writing, rather than his usual self-confessional lyrics.

Album opener Heart Is Hard to find is a really refreshing change with stomping rhythms and acoustic guitars before leading into first single My Best Theory, with its jittery drumbeat and trademark massive chorus. Other highlights include Higher Devotion and Stop which is a classic anthemic mid tempo Jimmy track along the lines of Work. Elsewhere Action Needs an Audience is a scuzzy track with that classic dirty drop D Jimmy sound and sung by guitarist Tom. Cut and Mixtape are fantastic examples of the bands slower tracks and would sit nicely alongside Dizzy and 23, conveying real emotion with seemingly great ease.

There are one or two weaker moments, Evidence features a stunning wall of guitars sound and some nice riffs, but the song itself isn't all that strong, and while Invented starts incredibly strongly I'm not sure the rocked up ending adds anything, and sounds a little awkward to my ears at least.

Overall though this album if full of depth and layers of instrumentation. Even though it has some instant moments, such as Coffee and Cigarettes, it is well worth repeated listens. This is another album lacking nothing in the melodies this band are famous for but this time it's a bit of a slow burner. Stick with it and you'll find that this is a gem of a record that you will keep coming back to.


Journal for Plague Lovers
Journal for Plague Lovers
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.86

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Journal For Plague Lovers, 8 May 2009
After the success of Send Away The Tigers, the Manics have seen fit to finally put some of missing lyricist Richey Edwards words to song once more, and the album Journal for Plague Lovers is the result. Richey was well known for "art directing" the bands musical direction, and with suggestions from Nicky that this could be a Holy Bible 2 type record, anticipation has been fierce. This could be especially true for those who believed the Manics were a spent force as soon as Richey left the stage at the Astoria in 1994.

Musically the record could sit very snugly in 1995. While it does not ever really hold the ferocity and screaming anguish of the Holy Bible, it never becomes anthemic like Everything Must Go. In respect of this, it could very well be considered the follow up the Holy Bible and offers a tantalising glimpse of how the band might have gone if Richey had stayed with them.

At times, such as the rollicking ending to Jackie Collins Existential Question Time, and the whole of Bag Lady (hidden track - more on this later) you could be forgiven for imagining it was 1994 all over again - James' rasp sounding like it was recorded in a tiny cupboard, molten guitars and driving rhythm sections are all present and correct. Peeled Apples is everything an opening song should be from the band who generally succeed in the art. The thunderous bass and massive drum sound only heighten expectations, and this time we get everything a Manics album should be.

The poppier moments which recall Send Away the Tigers and Everything Must Go, such as Marlon J.D. don't seem out of place either. There's not just rock on offer either, songs such as Facing Page: Top Left, a haunting, beautiful acoustic track complete with harp part. This record feels different to the last 3 albums, repeat listens are demanded - and the album possesses a depth certainly lacking from Send Away the Tigers.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all good. Weak spots are found on the Manics by numbers Pretension/Repulsion, and while Me and Stephen Hawking is lyrically brilliant, the song is dragged up to scratch by the sheer force and quality of performance. With that in mind, it is such a shame to leave hidden track Bag Lady off the album. While it does ape "Archives of Pain" in sound and uses a similar drumbeat, it is far too good to be languishing as the bonus track.

Overall though, having recently restored both their commercial success with, hopefully this album will get them the critical acclaim they rightfully deserve. It's not the Holy Bible, that is for sure. To me at least though, this is the best album the Manics have made in over 10 years, and for that alone it is well deserving of your attention.


Finelines
Finelines
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £6.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I haven't forgotten........, 22 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Finelines (Audio CD)
It's 2008, a nice round 7 years on from the release of this album, and still it holds sway among the best of the best rock albums. Why? Well it does has it's reference point, influences and the like - but you'd be hard pressed to find a band before My Vitriol who sounded exactly like them. As mentioned in the reviews from the time, there are hints of the Foo Fighters, a pinch of My Bloody Valentine for sure, but these influences are taken into a whole new spectrum on Finelines.

This album sounds BIG. And no that's not a bad thing. In many respects their wall of sound is all the more refreshing in the current climate of clackety indie guitars that sound as if they were recorded in a shed. Instead Som Wardner and gang took their telecasters, said no to the clean channel and turned everything up to 11, filtering myriad spacey rock sounds into the mix.

The songwriting is not to shabby either, they pull huge choruses out of the ether for the ones you might remember "Always: Your Way" and "Grounded." There's even harder slabs of rock with the likes of Pieces, and more broody, introspective numbers like "Ode To The Red Queen." There's even c.o.r. - a 40 second blast of furious metal stylings, almost as if the band knew that they could out-metal the multiple platinum nu-metal acts in the charts at the time. This is all bound together with some brilliant instrumental(ish) tracks such as "Tongue Tied." In a way it's pointless trying to pick out a highlight though as this is clearly an album, not to be digested in individual chunks.

With the band vanishing into almost obscurity since 2003, lets hope they release something in the future just as good to remind us all what it's all about. In the meantime, if you haven't already, do yourself a favour and get acquainted with one of the best and most overlooked rock albums of the decade.


Strength In Numbers
Strength In Numbers
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £14.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Back to the Future, 15 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Strength In Numbers (Audio CD)
The Music return after a hefty absence with an album reminding us all what a talent they are. Despite numerous bands fusing dance and rock, they were ahead of the curve and still do it better than most.

The album itself makes for great listening. There are moments such as "Fire" that could sit on either of Strength in Numbers predecessors, but the formula has been tweaked to give a fresh perspective on the bands sound. There are moments of respite in the likes of "The Spike" and "Drugs" which show a new lower range for singer Rob Harvey, and it helps give an sinister edge to proceedings.

Elsewhere Adam Nutters' big guitar riffs are present, but only in equal measure to some brilliantly intricate guitar work too. Tracks like The Last One show the band bridging the dance/rock divide perfectly. There's even an acoustic track bringing the album to a close, proving that the Music have come a long way in 4 years as a band and as people.

I can't quite give the album a 5 star rating, as there are a few tracks that possibly shouldn't have made the cut, most notably Cold Blooded. I think reduced to 10 tracks it could have been perfect. That however is not to take anything away from a band who do literally sound happy just to be here. This is a great album and is a wholly worthwhile addition to the rest of their material.

It also should be mentioned that they are also easily one of the best live bands currently touring, and for me they deserve the kind of plaudits Muse usually win on a regular basis for their live shows.


The '59 Sound
The '59 Sound
Price: £7.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic, 11 Sept. 2008
This review is from: The '59 Sound (Audio CD)
Gaslight Anthem are a band I was not aware of until the EP they released before this. Over 4 songs they perfect the pop/punk/soul combination in effortless style. Proving that this was certainly not a fluke, Gaslight come up trumps on their 2nd album. All the tracks here have great melodies, and massive hooks. The general feel is one of uplifting, even if some of the lyrics have melancholic overtones.

In an age where a good pop song is often eschewed in favour of funny time signatures/weird chords, it's great to see a band take the simple pop formula and give it a new lease of life.

This is a quite brilliant album that demands repeat plays.


Teach Yourself Swedish Book/CD Pack (Teach Yourself Complete Courses)
Teach Yourself Swedish Book/CD Pack (Teach Yourself Complete Courses)
by Vera Croghan
Edition: Paperback

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part of the Process, 14 July 2008
This book/CD pack is a good way to get you started on your home Swedish Lessons. Given the price it's hard to dish out bundles of criticism. Swedish isn't as abundant in resources as some other languages so it's really a case of picking and choosing your route in from a few options.

As with any language, multiple reference points in written and most importantly spoken language are needed and this book can prove very helpful as part of that. Firstly I would recommend only buying the CD/Book version of the course as both written and spoken skills are covered in each section. As others have commented the pace is very fast, and you are thrown in at the deep end, so in order to get the most out of the book it's a good idea to try a basic spoken course first.

For this purpose there are 15 free lessons from SurvivalPhrases available on iTunes. This will help you to get used to the tone of the language at a slower level. Moving onwards, there are various websites which promote basic Swedish and give hints on language usage. Once you have a grasp of this it's time to move onto the book.

The book starts with a basic alphabet explaining the Swedish alphabet and there is also a basic pronunciation guide. This is quite useful as to refer back to as occasionally Swedish has some odd pronunciations as it is a tonal language. In each of the 18 sections, we follow 3 dialogues of a family navigating their way around Sweden and picking up the relevant bits of language. Each of these sections takes around 1-2hr to complete, and includes written tests too. In addition to this there is a gradual introduction of grammatical structures allowing you to build on the words you have learned. Bear in mind that there is the possibility that you may need to re-take each section to master it.

At the back of the book is a (very) condensed English-Swedish dictionary to help with some common words, and a condensed verb list. In order to keep progressing in tandem with this book or after you have completed it, I'd recommend a concise verb reference 201 Swedish Verbs Fully Conjugated in All the Tenses (201 Verbs Series), a grammar book Swedish: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Grammars) and a quality dictionary Swedish Dictionary: English-Swedish, Swedish-English (Bilingual Dictionaries).

This package can be a very helpful product in your goal of learning Swedish. It is not without its flaws, but for its price it has go down as a useful tool when used in conjunction with other resources.


In Ghost Colours
In Ghost Colours
Offered by westworld-
Price: £9.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Summery Music, 30 May 2008
This review is from: In Ghost Colours (Audio CD)
After the promise shown on Bright Like Neon love and the critical flurry which surrounded it, I thought Cut Copy would have a job trying to beat that effort. I like to see artists given the chance grow and the great news is that this record easily surpasses its predecessor.

As an album, it retains a flow usually found on straight up dance albums, however Cut Copy have a "band" sound to them, using acoustic guitars alongside synths and other noises. The great thing about this album is that it never lets up with twists and turns. Just as you think you have a track sussed, a hughe synth line and beat will appear, or the track will blend into one of the subtle instrumental link tracks.

Overall this album is brilliantly infectious, and it has a bit of everything. It will make for fantastic listening either in the clubs or not, and you can guarantee this will be on many an end of year best-of list.


Twilight Of The Innocents
Twilight Of The Innocents
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Ash keep dispelling the myth, 16 May 2008
Ash have often been filed under "singles band." To me that signfies a band who write excellent about 4 good pop songs per album along with a load of filler. Ash really are not this kind of band, and their only real dip in form was around the time of Nu-Clear Sounds, the band burned out by their early success struggled to match which by anyone's standards was a great album. And Nu-Clear sounds wasn't that bad anyway. Skip forward to the present, and Ash are almost back where they started. Second guitarist Charlotte Hatherley has left and the 3 boys are on their own once again. The only thing that has changed is the content. Where once the songs were tales of adolescent summer full of dreams and hope, quite literally The Twilight of the Innocents. Now the songs are of growing up, leaving the excess and the break ups behind, and generally thinking about some more "grown up stuff." One thing that remains is Tim Wheelers ability to pen a pop song, and again the band excell throughout the album.

Starting off with a classic Ash pop song, I Started A Fire is pure melodic gold with Tim usually reasonably restrained vocally hitting all kinds of high notes. Lead singe You Can't Have It All is familiar territory, but with a dancey beat and a thumpingly good bassline, its hard to resist. Blacklisted is fairly reminiscent of their 1977 era stuff, and again features a huge chorus. Second single Polaris is a strange nut. On it's own it sounded like much of the yawnsome Keane type stuff that populates the charts. As part of the album it becomes much more important, and helps the ebb and flow of the album, and along with the title track it becomes a cornerstone of the albums lyrics "for the innocence you lost will not return" is a key lyric.

After Palace of Excess we're left with an even more bizarre choice of single, End of The World. I'm not quite sure what it is about this track but it doesn't seem to do much and as such is pretty forgettable, again though it's a bit of a blip and along with Shattered Glass they are the only skippable moments on the album. From here on we have straight up pop in Ritual and Princess Six. The biggest surprise is Dark and Stormy, a bop along pop song that heads slightly off the beaten track for Ash but like most of their songs it comes right back to a killer chorus.

Finally we're into the title track. At first the idea of Ash recording a full on epic seems a bit strange but my oh my does it work. Its a very layered and dense track with synths, orchestral sounds, big guitars and brilliant drumming topped off with one of Tim Wheelers best vocals. Its a song that just has to be heard live too, the band pull this off amazingly well.

Twilight of the Innocents is a stellar album and has more than enough moments of brilliance for repeated listens. It's not quite as good as the likes of 1977, but it makes a damn fine fist of it and tries a few new things along the way.


Turning Dragon
Turning Dragon
Price: £10.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality, 30 April 2008
This review is from: Turning Dragon (Audio CD)
Delving back into electronica has been a huge adventure for me, this so far is the pinnacle of the albums I've discovered. I read a few favourable reviews of this record, and bought it on a whim. It's an indescribabley good piece of music, just when it gets into a rhythm, a random glitch or change in pace throws it off. That said it's pretty relentless and noisy, but its totally euphoric. Brilliant.


Heresy and the Hotel Choir
Heresy and the Hotel Choir
Offered by The Music Warehouse
Price: £12.68

4.0 out of 5 stars If it ain't broke...., 15 April 2008
Maritime follow up the critically acclaimed We The Vehicles with Heresy and the Hotel Choir. This the groups 3rd album finally sees the band cement their signature sound perfected a few years back.

As the old adage goes, if it ain't broke - don't fix it! So here we have 12 new indie pop tracks very much in the vein of the last record from the band. If there are any differences, they are certainly very subtle. The only notable difference is that perhaps compared to "Vehicles" this is slightly more subtle lyrically and musically, though plenty of tracks fall in the summery indie pop category. Right from the off, opener and lead single Guns of Navarone picks up with a breezy wisp of a pop song, and it's a great way to kick things off. Elsewhere For Science Fiction, Pearl and Are We Renegade press all the right buttons.

The band have also clearly taken notes from touring partners Jimmy Eat World on how to write a classic album closer. Love Has Given Up is an brilliantly bittersweet song about ending relationships set to shimmery summer pop. Essentially there is much to love with this and fans of the last record will probably be delighted with this effort. It does require slightly more time than its predecessor but it's certainly as good, and is a wholly worthwhile follow up.


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