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Love is Hell Part 2
Love is Hell Part 2
Offered by Direct Entertainment UK
Price: £3.53

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would have been the best album of 2003..., 10 Dec. 2003
This review is from: Love is Hell Part 2 (Audio CD)
For those of you that don't know the story, when Ryan Adams presented what was intended to be his third proper solo album (excluding last year's Demolition - a collection of demos rather than a coherent album), entitled Love Is Hell, it was turned down by his record company, on account of it being "too dark" and "not his best work"...
Well, we all know what record companies know about music, and this just goes to prove it... While Rock'n'Roll, the album released as Ryan's official solo album is an effective piece of fun, but little more, Love Is Hell, released as two EPs instead of a full length album, is spectacular - deep, dark, emotive, tuneful, intelligent, and altogether rather wonderful - everything you'd like from an album, and everything you might expect from a songwriter with Ryan's prodigious talents...
This, the second of those EPs, more than lives up to the promise of the first, and stands up to his earlier highly acclaimed albums, Heartbreaker and Gold... Particular stand outs are "I See Monsters", and "English Girls Approximately", in which Ryan sings "Said you didn't love me, you didn't want a thing, English girls can be so mean..."
As with the first EP, the international edition comes with two bonus tracks, making it almost the equivalent of a stand alone album in terms of length, and more than value for your money...
Together, Love Is Hell Parts 1 and 2 would be the best album of the year - undoubtedly blowing Rock'n'Roll out of the water, as well as all the other great albums released this year... As it is, Ryan's record company has made a massive misjudgement of the quality of this material - don't be guilty of the same thing - this is certainly some of the most compelling and beautiful music made this year... Well done to Ryan for making sure this got a release at all, albeit not the way he might have wanted...

Price: £9.56

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The unintentional rock stars..., 16 Nov. 2003
This review is from: stellastarr* (Audio CD)
Let's just get one thing straight right away - I've bought a lot of albums this year, and Stellastarr* is probably the best...
Stellastarr* are a band who have defied convention at almost every turn, with members who'd rather have been painters, filmmakers or actors than rock stars. When the band was first formed, the frontman had only been playing the acoustic guitar for six months, the drummer had been drumming for six weeks, and the bassist had never laid her hands on a bass guitar... Well, from tiny acorns and all that...
The result of numerous gigs shaping their sound, around New York city and beyond, Stellastarr* have evolved into one of the most perfectly formed rock groups you could find... They've been slotted nicely into the pigeonhole formed for New York bands in the aftermath of the Strokes - but don't let that put you off - whether you like the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or any of the other current "it" bands or not, there's plenty here to give your ears a good workout...
The closest comparison I can come up with, and the one that springs immediately to mind when listening to this scintillating debut, is the Pixies... Stellastarr* come with much more of a pop sensibility compared to the Pixies though - this is an album of irresistible hooks and irrepresible melodies, backed up with chiming indie rock guitars and elaborate song writing...
It's near impossible to pick a stand-out in such a consistently great album, but mentions have to go to the likes of the dark, almost Joy Division-esque In The Walls, the fabulously exuberant "My Coco" which builds to an exultant crescendo of overlapping vocals, or the surprisingly tender and moving "Untitled"... One track for a desert island though? It's got to be "Jenny", just for the pure adrenaline rush that song produces...
The New York scene at the moment is a melting pot of great talent and superb music, and Stellastarr* are fully deserving of a place up alongside the Strokes at the forefront of the scene... This is a record the demands to be listened to, again and again and again - don't refuse the call...

Here Be Monsters
Here Be Monsters
Offered by westworld-
Price: £8.48

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thing of beauty, 12 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Here Be Monsters (Audio CD)
There's no other way to describe this fragile debut from one of Britain's most promising singer-songwriters... It is, quite simply, a beautiful record...
There's something thoroughly English about Harcourt's style and delivery, something almost parochial - this is not a bad thing, but a pleasure - Harcourt's music is, for the most part, soft, delicate - imagine a more upbeat Nick Drake, sat at the piano rather than with a guitar, and with richer production, and you might start to get somewhere close to what Harcourt sounds like... Supposedly, he wrote literally hundreds of songs sat in his grandmother's house out in the country before he was "discovered", and you can certainly imagine Ed sat at an old creaky piano, staring out at the English countryside...
Harcourt veers in style from the slow melancholy of "Those Crimson Tears" through to upbeat love songs like "She Fell Into My Arms", and even into vaguely "pop" territory with the likes of "Hanging With The Wrong Crowd" or "Shanghai"... He's at his most interesting though when he touches on the slightly experimental production of the likes of "Beneath The Heart Of Darkness", which builds up before literally collapsing in on itself in a wall of feedback and radio crackle... While that may sound a little self-indulgent, it never seems it, instead holding the attention of the listener for all of it's seven minutes...
On many albums, even those that I enjoy, I often find my fingers stretching for the "skip" button on my CD player to find a favourite track - but this is one album that I can happily start playing and listen to in it's entirety... There is not a weak track to be found...
I bought Here Be Monsters on a whim, knowing nothing about it and having never heard any of the music... Now I can safely say that it would be among my top ten albums of all time... All the friends I've played the album to have been equally enamoured... My advice - check it out now...

Love Is Hell Pt.1
Love Is Hell Pt.1
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.14

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ryan proves the record company wrong..., 3 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Love Is Hell Pt.1 (Audio CD)
The release of this first of two EPs coincides with the release of Ryan Adams' third solo album proper (not including last year's demos and offcuts collection, Demolition), Rock'n'Roll. The story goes that after $250,000 worth of recordings, Ryan presented his new album, entitled Love Is Hell, to his record company. Apparently, they refused to release it, saying that it didn't represent Ryan's best work... With Love Is Hell stuck in limbo, Ryan went off with a friend, drummer Johnny Yerington, and recorded Rock'n'Roll over the space of a weekend, at a cost of just $5000 (which Ryan put on his credit card).
Well, having heard both this and Rock'n'Roll, I'm here to tell you that the record company got it quite spectacularly wrong. While Rock'n'Roll is not disappointing by any means, and does exactly what it says on the tin - which is have fun - Love Is Hell is simply better. While Rock'n'Roll may be good, Love Is Hell is great.
Here we see Ryan at his most fragile, atmospheric, and even slightly tortured. Witness "The Shadowlands", where Ryan claims that "Most people never find a love", or Avalanche, where he says "I taught you how to feel, but you just feel numb"... The prime example of this though is "Afraid Not Scared", where Ryan's desire to write a "druggy suicide record - something drastic" is fully realised - "I'm really dying in here, and I'm afraid - no I'm scared... I'm getting really cold, and I'm looking at you, and you're not moving..."
Most fascinating of all is Adams' fascinating reworking of Oasis' Wonderwall. Let's put it this way - Noel Gallagher wasn't kidding when he told Ryan "It's your song now".
For anyone who has been even vaguely interested by Ryan's two excellent previous solo albums, Heartbreaker and Gold, this is well worth investing in - and for any fans of Ryan's music, this is a must buy... The addition of two bonus tracks, Caterwaul and Halloween, make this almost an album proper - so if you're deciding between Love Is Hell or Rock'n'Roll - Love Is Hell is the only sensible choice... Shame Ryan's record company didn't realise that...

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