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M. K. Sutton (Nottingham, England)

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Cardinology
Cardinology
Offered by Koo Koo UK
Price: £6.98

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time to learn Cardinology!, 27 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Cardinology (Audio CD)
Whether its commercially successful or commercial suicide no one can deny the talent of Ryan Adams. I've seen him at his best around the time of `Heartbreaker', `Gold' and his worst at the gig the day before he fell off the stage in Liverpool and broke his arm and his pissing about to piss of the record company `Rock N Roll' and just recently his reinvigoration with his band The Cardinals which continues where last album Cold Roses left off. Here where Ryan puts the name of the band first before his own you do get a sense of collaboration rather than ego and a sense that the songs wouldn't be as good if all weren't pulling their weight equally, with that said this then is his most accessible songs in ages. They are catchy and fun, emotional without plunging the depth of his `Love is hell' days and musically much more diverse. Yes there is still the main tag of alt.country but now you can add pop, rock and even eighties alongside. Songs like `Magick' rock along like Billy Joel on `We didn't start the fire' Ryan punching out his words for the others to back up. `Let us down easy' is traditional Cardinals meets Spiritualized gospel confession and elsewhere each song is its own composition nestling snugly alongside its album companions to make a warm affectionate record. Often compared to Bob Dylan never has such comparison actually meant so much and seeing him now on his latest tour you will probably know why, he is at the peak of his power he has in the Cardinals what Bob had in the Band and together they are making some amazing music. Now is the time to embrace the Cardinology and a time for fans to rejoice in the fact that, for now, Ryan is back on the rails and doing what he does best.


A Hundred Million Suns
A Hundred Million Suns
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £5.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to the days of Final Straw., 26 Oct. 2008
This review is from: A Hundred Million Suns (Audio CD)
Ok so there are going to people out there that will knock this record before they have even heard it, the build them up knock them down mentality has befallen Snow Patrol and the band that it's ok to like has become the band its fashionable to hate. But after their last album which tried to hard to recreate the success of `Run' it is with out hesitation that I can say this record is a return to form and the best since `Final Straw'. Yes the tracks are ludicrously catchy sing-a-long and radio friendly but they also have some great depth to them. `Crack the shutters' is a genuinely honest love song `the sun seems to want you as much as I want you' Gary sings beautifully. First single `Take back the city' shows the band have lost none of there rock/pop sensibilities and sure to be single `Please just take these photos from my hands' is another fine example. Right from the opener `If there's a rocket tie me to it' with its `fire, fire you can only take what you can carry' refrain up to the 16 minute closer `The lightning strike' this is pure Snow Patrol and will see fans lap it up like a cat with spilt cream. There are still ballads like `Set down your glass' and `The planets bend between us' which aren't as strong as some of the others but it's the closing track that shows us the band are not afraid to experiment and challenge themselves, told in three parts the piano drives the melodies across which the band flow with great ease and it contains some of Gary's best lyrics yet. With Jacknife Lee (U2, Bloc Party, Rem) at the helm this will be the bands most commercially successful album to date but that doesn't mean you can't love it. I'm not ashamed to say I do.


I Started Out With Nothin' and I Still Got Most of It Left (Die Cut Limited Edition)
I Started Out With Nothin' and I Still Got Most of It Left (Die Cut Limited Edition)

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steve's back with three strings on his guitar and KT Tunstall & Nick Cave for company., 13 Oct. 2008
Recently a reviewer in NME gave Seasick Steve's new album two stars out of ten, why such a low score? Well the reviewer claimed that because Steve is no longer a homeless blues hobo but a Norfolk cottage dweller he isn't entitled to write these songs anymore. This as well as being lazy journalism offended me slightly and should offend any songwriter working today because he is basically saying we cant write about our experiences, just because I am in a healthy relationship I cant write about heartbreak anymore, is that it? If everyone just wrote about the now the boring musical climate would consist of loads of bands that sounded like Belle & Sebastian meets the Kaiser Chiefs (feel free to shudder here) I think you'll agree no one wants that. So to `I started out with nothing..' the third album from Steve and the first produced properly and since his Jools Holland appearances that started his meteoric rise to fame. Opening with the title track we are in familiar territory except for his voice, what's happened to the wizened old growl, he sounds like a man half his age, he can actually sing and has dare I say a beautiful voice. You may, like me find this the most startling revelation here but also like me, I hope, you will warm to it. So from the fast blues stomp to the ballad `Walkin' Man' a song that contains not only the line `my name is Steve and I'm a walkin' man' but with maybe a nod to his now more settled lifestyle `my name is Steve and I'm your staying man'. From songs with little intros giving the listener an insight into what's behind the stories or explain a slang term he may use in the lyrics to the albums central piece which needs no introduction (but gets one anyway) `Thunderbird' is Steve's homage to drinking whether to forget, enjoy or just stay warm its builds and builds into a cascade of belting drums and feedback slide without losing any of its charm. `Fly by night' again changes pace but really only serves to make way for `Just like a king' the brilliant collaboration with Nick Cave and Grinderman, the two distinctive but eerily similar voices playing off each other over layers of Grinderman swirl. Also making an appearance on two tracks is KT Tunstall although the better of the two only comes on the special edition (which I advise you to get as it has a much better track list, even three extra songs on disc 1) and is an amazing cover of `The Letter' in which they both breath new life into the classic tune. Elsewhere in the special you get a bonus disc of songs and spoken word, Steve coming across like Hunter S. Thopmson best gonzo rambles. Polished but retaining what first drew us to this beardy old blues bod `I started out..' will not only please older fans but may even see Steve in the hit parade, for someone who used to jump trains and still plays a three string guitar he has come along way and as the title suggests he has no idea how long it will last but he will enjoy it while it does. Add six stars to the NME review and you are closer to what this album and this man deserves. For once you can believe the hype because its right.


Ladyhawke
Ladyhawke

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut album., 28 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Ladyhawke (Audio CD)
From the opening few tracks of Ladyhawke's self titled debut you can tell its going to be infectious. Her catchy choruses sung in her sultry voice over her indie-electro jangle pop sticks firmly in your head long after the record has finished. It's a little too eighties synthesiser in places and `Back of the van' for some reason reminds me of early Bruce Springsteen but that said there is enough good stuff to make this an impressive debut.


Provisions
Provisions
Price: £14.34

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One small step for us, one Giant leap for them., 7 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Provisions (Audio CD)
We are so lucky at the moment with bands like Calexico, Fleet Foxes, Lambchop and Willard Grant Conspiracy all releasing amazing alt. albums, but you can now add Giant Sand to that list as they are back with `proVISIONS' surely the best record of their career to date. With 13 songs it glides effortlessly along broadening the horizons of the genre with unusual panache and grace. For me the only criticism I have is that the first half of the album is slightly weaker than the second despite collaborations with Isobel Campbell, Neko and Papa M but that said it is still breathtaking if not a bit too traditional. Then comes the P J Harvey cover `Desperate kingdom of love' a track that couldn't fit a band better and from this point on the music ascends until the end leaving the listener reaching again for the play button. It is on the last eight songs that band leader Howe Gelb has really taken the reigns and steered the album into uncharted water, experimenting with sounds and layered vocal patterns while still retaining a level of song writing charm that you'd expect from a grand master of the scene. Here each song has something extra, something more than the arrangement, the superb lyrics and the husky voice, it has hardly audible scratches, beeps and strange sounds that utilise the stereo causing your ears to dart from speaker to speaker trying to pick out what it is that's enhancing these compositions. And that's the thing you never quite know what's happening in the mix, underneath, sometimes you are even thinking that shouldn't work but brilliantly and unusually it does and that's what raises the bar. From the expected right through to the unexpected Giant Sand have produced a collection of songs that can hold a torch to anyone and as it gets better with repeated listens I'm wondering if this isn't one of the top albums of the year.


All Hope Is Gone
All Hope Is Gone
Price: £4.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corey and the boys are back!, 21 Aug. 2008
This review is from: All Hope Is Gone (Audio CD)
Love them or loathe them you can't miss them, nine masked musical warriors bringing you the loudest, darkest metal on the planet; and they're back and bigger than before. So what can you expect from this new album? Well everything you can imagine and more as this is an accumulation of all their pervious efforts rolled into one big bold record. Pounding drums, soaring choruses, blistering solos, softened breakouts (yes you heard right soft and quiet bits) it takes what they started to experiment with on the last album, Vol.3 The Subliminal Verses, and turns it up a notch. Corey sings like an angel when he's not gruffly screaming his heart out, Joey plays the drums like ten Keith Moons on acid, the percussion beefs up the sound and the guitars cut ferociously through it all. Lead single `Psychosocial' is the closest they have come to a chart hit in ages and to be fair the most straight forward and least experimental track here, where as a track like `Gematria (The Killing Name) is an anthem that clocks in at nearly seven minutes. Lyrically its business as usual ranting and spitting against everything and everyone but its in the bands knack for a good melody no matter how loud or quiet that makes these songs stand out as some of the best of their career to date. There is even a bonus track remix of `Vermilion pt2' from the last album which improves on the previous version. For a band that have constantly stayed ahead and always upped there game they haven't let us down with this record. All now in their thirties they are still showing the youngsters how it's done and whether it's on record or live they are showing no sign of letting up. My favourite album so far was `Vol 3..' so will this overtake it? Well only time will tell, but for now all I can say it stands a very good chance.


Partie Traumatic
Partie Traumatic
Offered by That's Entertainment - CDs & DVDs
Price: £9.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun party album, 10 July 2008
This review is from: Partie Traumatic (Audio CD)
When I used to flop around the floor like a disco fish it was to `Where's me jumper' by the Sultans of Ping or something by Pop Will Eat Itself, these days the kids will be bounding around to the sounds of `I'm not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you' by the Black Kids or indeed anything from their debut album `Partie Traumatic'. Because without a doubt this is a fun record, a party record and a record you can dance to but it won't change you life. Yeah it sounds like The Cure in places, Human League in others there's even a dash of early Prince but it's also catchy enough that nearly all of the ten tracks could be a potential single and all will lodge firmly in your head after just one listen. Lyrically it opens up to you the more times you hear it and although some of the lines are dumb they are easily sing-along-able. A couple of the tunes here sound very similar but that is really a minor criticism of an album that overall is great. Indie-disco, nu-rave-pop or whatever you want to call it this is going to soundtrack your summer whether you like it or not so you might as well jump on board now. I'm not sure of the longevity of the band but as far as the right now goes these guys are it.


Stay Positive
Stay Positive
Offered by Global_Deals
Price: £4.71

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hold Steady are back on fine form., 20 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Stay Positive (Audio CD)
After the success of `Boys & girls in America' Hold Steady's new album is hotly anticipated by fans and I have to say they don't disappoint. They are hardly the stuff of chart material, old and wise enough to have been around the block a few times but that is maybe what makes them so special, they have made it based on great music and a reputation for raucous but brilliant live shows. Here the sound isn't that far away from what you'd expect, they are just doing their thing, happens that they are just very good at it. The album opens with the born in the USA style riff laden `Constructive Summer' all attitude and business as usual and at just under three minutes it's another perfect slice of guitar pop. Next up is `Sequestered in Memphis' catchy as cold in an office environment and it gets instantly under your skin with its trumpets and Hammond belting out a basis for the lyrics to sit `subpoenaed in Texas, sequestered in Memphis'. `One for the Cutters' is a speeded up `Golden Brown' and the first song here to let the guitars sit back and relax while a honky tonk piano does most of the work. `Navy Sheets' seems to have embraced the new wave culture with its rave keyboards sharing duties with the familiar guitar. `Lord I'm Discouraged' takes the pace down to a Spiritualized level and wouldn't sound out of place on a Willard Grant Conspiracy record, it's a dusty Eagles-esqe story topped of with a guitar solo worthy of Slash. `Yeah Sapphire' is another typical tune with duelling guitars and crazy lyrics. `Both Crosses' sees the pace down again and R.E.M. comparisons seem inevitable as a mandolin and acoustic guitar gives it a cowboy feel reminiscent of `E-bow the Letter'. `Stay Positive' is the closest thing I've heard to a Jonathan Richmond song since the Modern Lovers and it comes complete with a whoo ho ho sing along chorus. `Magazines' is more Springsteen than the album opener while retaining all the classic elements of the band and is a natural successor to last albums `Chips Ahoy!'. `Joke about Jamaica' has nice little time changes and another cracking guitar solo, its starts with a `Life on Mars' style piano which builds into a heady mix before stopping dead and ushering in final track `Slapped Actress' a five minute song that halfway through breaks down `sometimes actress's get slapped, sometimes fake fights go bad' they sing before building up again into an Americana `Mr. Blue Sky' and after 43 glorious minutes its over. A charming, uplifting and positive record which should do nothing to harm The Hold Steady's reputation, a little experimentation, a lot of passion and twelve great songs make this one of the albums of the year.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2008 3:48 PM BST


Tales Of Silversleeve
Tales Of Silversleeve
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £4.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant follow up to underated debut., 20 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Tales Of Silversleeve (Audio CD)
If you missed Cathy Davey's debut album `Something Ilk' I suggest you firstly spank yourself and secondly get yourself a copy as it was great. But it has been four years since that album and I often wondered if there was ever going to be a follow up. But thankfully here it is `Tales of Silversleeve' has been a long time coming but it was worth the wait. With her own unique style, that has since been borrowed in her absence, she here gives us eleven new compositions of exquisite beauty. Opening with `Sing for your Supper' the first thing to notice is how Davey has used more layering on this record to really fill out the sound without overcrowding. `Rueben' the lead single is up next and it's a perfect companion piece to KT Tunstall's `Black horse and a Cherry Tree' all whoo hoo's and regulated drum beats. `Collector' is percussion laden and brings back memories of her debut where as `Moving' expands on the layered vocal over a hypnotic rhythm pattern. `Mr. Kill' sees her really explore her vocal range `I'll never rule you out' she repeats on its catchy chorus. `Overblown Love Song' slows the mood right down and lets her tender side float over a sparse piano and acoustic guitar before building into a full blown plea of `love me' as the music crescendos around. `No Heart Today' has a Nellie Mackay feel to it, a little ditty that has piano runs under the vocal parts. `Harmony' has a Bad Seeds carny element but less brutal than Nick and the boys with quite a jaunty piano solo. `Cant help it' has a chorus that soars far above the verse really lifting the song. `Rubbish Ocean' feels like a late night lullaby as Davey becomes the sandman and tries to sings you to sleep before jolting you back with a huge finish. Final track `All of you' is Davey's showcase to her voice and song writing skills and haunts the end of the album like a friendly ghost. It's a record that might not put her up with her contempories but I kind of like her where she is, existing a space that is all her own allowing her to make the music she and subsequently we love.


Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (Gatefold Digipack)
Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (Gatefold Digipack)
Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £3.03

8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Career best from Chris and the boys., 8 Jun. 2008
When I first saw Coldplay they were a supporting band, the globe that adorns their debut album was on top of Chris Martin's piano and they had a few good songs, what a long way they've come to reach album number four, a fresh start and a new era, according to the band. It seems to have become fashionable to knock Coldplay and specifically Martin with his campaigning, Hollywood wife and fruit based children, but if you can put that to one side and concentrate on the music you will hear a band making incredibly challenging steps to make the best record of their career to date. Gone are the obvious `hits' and sing-along songs replaced by experimentation not just of the sound but of the structures of each composition. Straight away lead track `Life in Technicolour' strikes you as different partly because it's instrumental but also because it signals the start of the directional change that you can expect from rest of the album. Huge swathing organs and layers of guitar fill out the sound that was so sparse on the last record, is this the influence of producer Brian Eno? whatever the reason it creates a constant wall of sound rather than just crescendos. Next up is `Centimetres of London' an eerie ghost march through spirituality it is much darker than anything they have done before. `Lost' continues the theme and broods along still sounding like its Coldplay at the controls but never quite sure where they are going. `42' is a beast of a track with heavy guitars at the forefront; it's a moody full circle lament on death which breaks down revealing a song within a song before revisiting the start. `Lovers in Japan' and hidden track `Reign of love' are the first glimpse we get of the Coldplay of old, with subtle piano and familiar riffs. `Yes' begins with strange middle eastern guitar strums which instantly give the song character, then its hidden track number two `Chinese sleep chant' which is a mass swirl of guitars that are reminiscent of Ride or My Bloody Valentine. Album title track `Viva La Vida' is next and for me one of the stand out tracks of this record, seven glorious minutes of church bells, strings and an overall aura of optimism. `Violet Hill' the first single to be taken from here is probably the most catchy and easy to pick up but in the context of the whole it does sound a little out of place. `Strawberry Swing' is for me the only disappointing song, its Beatles experimentation and whimsy means it meanders along at a psychedelic pace never really going anywhere. Final track `Death and all his Friends' starts slowly before building in to a euphoric epic of strings, pounding drums and a choir, it's a real album closer which makes hidden track three seem like a bit of a waste. So in conclusion it may divide fans, something I'm sure the band aren't too concerned about, its not perfect by any means but it's a good record. Is it their `Kid A'/'Amnesiac'? well kind of but if that's the case then in a few years we can expect their `In Rainbows' and then maybe they will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the like of Radiohead and U2. But for now rejoice in the fact that of all the directions they could have gone in they have, at least at this juncture, chosen the right one.


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