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A. Glen

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Heaven Is Whenever
Heaven Is Whenever
Offered by Squirrelsounds
Price: £5.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short, early view, after two listens, 22 April 2010
This review is from: Heaven Is Whenever (Audio CD)
I listened to this record twice through, streaming it from the Guardian website last night (It's easy to find the preview there if you want:guardian.co.uk/music). From what I've heard, I'll be pre-ordering it directly.

My first encounter with The Hold Steady was their third album, Boys and Girls in America, and I've seen them pretty recently so while I'm not exactly a die-hard, from the beginning fan, they have made a real impression on me in the last few years.

This is a pretty shallow reflection on the album, as I've not had the chance to listen to it repeatedly, but I will say they seem to have found a way to accomodate the desire to move away from the more bombastic BAGIA sound while keeping the songwriting and energy levels exceptionally high. Since the way they used traditional US rock styles along with sometimes self-consciously naive, sometimes almost arch lyricism is what attracted me to the band in the first place, this album definitely counts as a success to me.

Since Franz Nicolay is no longer playing with the band, we're having to say goodbye to a lot of the twinkling pianos and organ chops, along with some of the more obviously punk influenced "Woah-oh-woah-oh" singalongs. Sadly missed, but the understated keys and pedals steel playing make up for it.

All in all, an excllent record from the two listens I've given it, and I'm looking forward to getting physical copy and getting to know it as well as BAGIA

Guerillas in Tha Mist
Guerillas in Tha Mist
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.96

0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Far from a classic., 19 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Guerillas in Tha Mist (Audio CD)
I'll be entirely honest here. I bought this album as it was very cheap at the time, and I had heard the title track on the GTA: San Andreas soundtrack. That song is pretty much the only good track on this album. As for the rest of it, avoid; Ninties Gansta rap fodder at its worst.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2016 6:42 PM BST

Lanark: A Life in Four Books (Canongate Classics)
Lanark: A Life in Four Books (Canongate Classics)
by Alasdair Gray
Edition: Paperback

48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional, difficult, incredible book., 19 Oct. 2009
To review this book properly, I have to make two things totally clear first of all. One, this is probably my favourite book of all time; I've read it four times, studied it extensively at school and university, and written two dissertations on it. Secondly, it's a difficult book. it's opaque, occasionally frustrating, diverse to the point of fragmentation, and bloody massive.

The difficult elements of Lanark are tied in inextricable with the manner of conception. Gray began writing the novel in 1954, and finished it in 1976. Over the course of these twenty two years, the book went through a tremendous amount of redrafting, editing, scrapping and resurrecting. The negative side to this extraordinarily long genesis is that the book does at times seem overly divergent in prose style, and can even feel disjointed. The plus side is, of course, that the final result is an allegorical novel covering over twenty years of ideas, events, arguments and revelations from Gray's life, Scotland and the world in general.

The plot of the novel is half fantastical, half semi-autobiographical. The novel is split into four books, with 1& 2 mapping the life of Duncan Thaw, a Glasgow man based on Gray himself; Book 3&4 focus on Lanark, an amnesiac lost in the bizarre city of Unthank.

Gray makes use of many experimental techniques in the novel, including his own illustrations and creative typesetting, extensive use of pastiche, self-referential jokes, fake scholarly footnotes, references to imaginary chapters and various other devices. Take note; if extensive experimentation with text, language and the elements of construction of fiction do not appeal to you, you will probably find large sections of this book not to your taste, if not unreadable.

However, if you are interested in writers who are openly technical, and choose to foreground the constructed nature of their work, or you're a fan of Iain Banks, David Mitchell, AL Kennedy or other popular writers influenced by Alasdair Gray, this book will probably appeal hugely to you. In terms of predecessors and debts owed, Lanark is a novel self- consciously in the tradition of James Joyce, Cervantes and Lawrence Stern, taking in Huxley and Swift to boot. Lanark is genuinely a powerful, funny, important book. It thoroughly deserves its lofty academic reputation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 26, 2014 9:41 AM GMT

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When it's good, It's good, but..., 10 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Glasvegas (Audio CD)
There was an awful lot of hype surrounding this album, and to an extent it's justified. There are some excllent tracks on here; Flowers and Football Tops pretty much sums up what Glasvegas are all about, with Jesus and Mary Chain noise meeting motown/Phil Spector sixties pop. This formula is use to create some really effective emotional exploitation, notably on "Go Square Go," with it's chant along, aspiring terrace album climax, and Daddy's Gone, a sickly but affecting ode to absentee fathers.

That said, the rest of the album is less effective, with only Geraldine really showing the humour and callousness that the best lyrical elements of the band's songwriting can rise to. For a full length album, there's an awful lot of feedback and reverb used as padding, and a shortfall in actual tunes.

Add to that the repetitive, monotonous drum beats used throughout the entire record, a side-effect of (allegedly) choosing a non-musician for a drummer based on her apperance, and you get a debut album that ends up being more style than substance. Worth having for the 5 or so stand out tracks, but overall not a great album.

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