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Simon Griffiths
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13
13
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "is this where I'm going to? we'll see...", 20 Mar. 2010
This review is from: 13 (Audio CD)
I remember I got this album back in 99, as a bright eyed and naive schoolboy of 14. "Tender" and "Coffee & TV" had just been released, and I loved (and still do) these, beautiful, emotional gems. So imagine my disappointment with 13. It was noisy, abstract and...weird. For a long while it lay dormant in my collection, as I got along with other transient piffle such as The Vines and The Cooper Temple Clause (remember? no)
Well, 11 years later and Blur are, thankfully, back with us and this album just might be their finest work. As brillinat as Blur have always been as a pop band, this is a million miles away from the likes of Parklife or Modern Life Is Rubbish. Even the eponymous album that preceeded this and offered the sensational likes of "Beetlebum" and "Song 2" is no match for the sheer daring experimentalism of this album. For a pop group, Blur always were an able bunch of musicians, but this album displays some truly outstanding work from the band as a unit and as individuals, paritucularly from the always innovative Graham Coxon. In a recent interview, Coxon stated that this was the point where he really felt he'd refined his skills as a guitarist, and the results here are at times breathtaking, creating the kind of dynamic noise that might make the likes of Mogwai or the Pumpkins sit up and take notice. But perhaps most impressive is Damon Albarn's at times woeful, at times enraged songcraft. He displays an emotional depth that was only ever hinted at in their earlier work, and there are moments where his vocals take on an angelic quality that is distinctive and powerful. "Trimm Trabb" is so visceral, so unsettlingly reflective ("all those losers on the piss again...that's just the way it is"), "Caramel" so hauntingly atmospheric and "No Distace Left to Run" so heartwrenchingly honest ("Its over, you don't have to tell me, I hope you're with someone that makes you feel safe in your sleep"), its hard to believe that this is in fact the same man who wrote about living in a big house in the country just a few years before.
Indeed, the sea-change in Blur's output that began with Beetlebum is easy to explain when
you follow their life story - quick, fast popular exposure spiralling into a mire of drugs, alcohol, personal animosity and heartbreak. But as emotive as 13 is, its not all doom and gloom, and in "Tender" it has given us a true, undisputably classic song. The overall feel of the album is an atmospheric, stoned-out groove, owed in part to lashings of electronics, sampled beats and the production techniques of William Orbit.
Its a shame that this was the album that broke the band and sent Coxon into rehab. The follow up was the lukewarm "Think Tank", sans Graham, that many cited as the beginning of the end for this once seminal band. But 2009 saw the miracle happen, and indeed many tracks from this outing were delighting audiences on their comeback tour alongside the likes of Girls & Boys, For Tomorrow and The Universal.
So, all in all, a fantasticlly mature piece of work, though not the classic Blur we all remember. I'm glad I kept my copy for a decade, and tentatively I wonder if the boys could offer us something new in the next along such lines....


Neon Bible
Neon Bible
Price: £5.99

0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 28 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Neon Bible (Audio CD)
I disagree with the majority of reviewers here in saying this is a poor, over-the-top and uninspired follow up to a breathtaking debut. Neon Bible (what, exactly, is this supposed to mean? answers please) lacks the subtlty, intimacy and tenderness, combined with rousing coureses and kinetic grooves that made Funeral so captivating. Where their debut felt anthemic and emotional and promised so much from the Canadian ensemble, NB sounds like the band, following a string of high-profile festival slots and a sell-out world tour, are trying way, way too hard to live up to the the hype.
On most tracks, we hear them throwing every trick in their book into a mix of half-baked ideas, and managing to come out with some instantly forgettable results. Moreover, the sounds and song structures that made them sound unique with Funeral are lost here, pushing the band into a more generic, indie-rock pigeon hole that doesnt really befit them. I'd say there are perhaps three tracks at most here that are up to the band's standard. My Body is a Cage is pretty. No Cars Go is without doubt the highlight of this lp, and indeed one of their finest tunes to date, but most fans will know that this is in fact a re-hash from their earlier eponymous ep. Win Butler's vocals, which were sincere and at times profound on Funeral, reach a wailing pitch that makes me cringe, sounding more Emo than emotive.
I hope Win and Co can return to form with album number three. In the meantime, check out Final Fantasy's solo efforts, as his work is much more interesting and heartfelt than this


Effloresce
Effloresce
Price: £9.16

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars as big as the ocean and twice as loud, 22 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Effloresce (Audio CD)
this marks the start of a string of consistently great releases from this drastically underrated band. Indeed, it is suprising that this is a debut effort, such is the power, precision and conviction of "Effloresce". There is a lot of variety here, and with each idea they hit the nail bang on the head.
Oceansize may not be as heavy as, say, ISIS, or as delicate as perhaps Sigur Ros, but they address both sides of the musical coin with such determination, and such visceral results, that it makes one wonder why this manchester quintet have not achived the same levels of acclaim and recognition of these and other post-rock acts. There are moments of lush, phase-laden atmospherics that lull the listener - such as the gorgeous "men who love women who love drugs"- leaving you hanging on every single, perfectly placed note. But the real highlights of the album are when Oceansize flick the switch, as they do to such dramatic effect on "massive bereavment" and the riotous "saturday morning breakfast show", and then its full on, three guitar, double-basspedal assault. Such is their ferocity at various points that they reach a tone of "post-metal" that will leave fans of Tool - a band that some compare them to - not disappointed. In between these two extremes lie some of the most invigorating anthems of the bands career - "Catalyst", a live favourite, "Remember Where you are/amputee" as a blistering, brilliant couplet - that still have the power to excite some seven years later, and gives a chance for a sing-along rarely afforded by bands of this ilk.
Throughout this long lp, the production and mixing (which are absolutely first rate) create a brilliant sense of cohesion across the variety of sounds, giving a real personality and signature to the music. In fact, the real satisfaction of this piece is to take it as a starting point, and then to follow the different avenues that their career would take. The superb Music For Nurses ep and the enthralling Everyone into Position rank highly in the Oceansize back catalogue, but this remains the purest exhibition of what this band is all about. If you like post-rock with a heavy edge, are a fan of Mogwai, ISIS, 65DOS or the Smashing Pumpkins, appreciate beauty and intricacy, then you've got no excuse for not already owning this album. A masterpiece.


Other Truths
Other Truths
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They can do no wrong...., 13 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Other Truths (Audio CD)
Each DMST album has offered us something different, a new variation on concurrent themes. From the jazzy, space-rock of their debut, the band have taken us on a sonic journey through moonlit ambience and laid-back grooves, rousing ballads and, occasionally, crashing climactic noise; all the while maintaining a ubiquitous sound that sets them apart from other "post-rock" bands, despite the fact that DMST do not fit so comfortably into such a pigeon-hole. So, with album number six, can we expect a change of direction?
In short, no. And, depending on your mindset, this can be the strength or weakness of Other Truths. In many ways, the band here distil a sound that has been present in their work since the folk-rooted, sweeping anthems they offered on "Winter Hymn..". Taking elements from this and all the rest of their repetoir - concentric beats, horns, hushed vocals and mix-desk trickery - the band refine their familiar sound into something more complete, something expansive and more involved. The prevalent mood here remains warm and wholesome, but still with enough emotion to stir, breathing life and freshness into each of these long, long tracks. "Say" and "Make", each clocking in way over the 10 minute mark, stand as some of their most inspired and moving offerings in recent memory. The album's opener - Do - bounces along with an upbeat energy that could make it a contender for "the single", if DMST were that kind of band. But, thankfully, they are not. Do may be the least original track on offer here, but these four tracks are best viewed as a complete piece, as is so often the case with the genre. And for post-rock die hards, the climax of "Make" reaches searing heights that recall the apocalyptic beauty of their dearly-departed countrymen Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
While Other Truths does not completely rewrite the rulebook, for genre or band, it does serve us a reminder of everything - and I mean every single thing - about this band that makes them great. It would make as good an introduction as any for the first-time listener, and following a rare spate of live performances last year, reminds aficionados that after 10 years, this band is definitely still at the top of their game.


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