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Silent Alarm
Silent Alarm
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.97

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In all seriousness, The Best Album Of 2005, 1 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Silent Alarm (Audio CD)
Half of the songs on Silent Alarm are either very, very good or excellent. The other half is phenomenal.
At first, Bloc Party were just one of the many new-up-and-coming bands that I'd heard a bit of and quite liked. Now, after purchasing this CD and seeing them live, they are my favourite band. This album represents not only the guitar-revival of 21st century Britain, but also life in 21st century Britain in general.
The songs manage to toe the line between being artistically obscure and commercially catchy, between familiarity and originality, very very well. The lyrics remind me of System Of A Down, actually, in the way that when you first hear them, they are completely unexpected and seem random, but on further listening you realise they are perfect and there is no better way to put them. The album can be heard and enjoyed at edgy-dancefloor-guitar-anthem face value, but can also be enjoyed on another level entirely if you give it the time to appreciate it's finer details fully.
The best songs are Like Eating Glass (amazing Alarm-like intro and even better ending), Helicopter (guitar riff Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park, Interpol etc would die for), Banquet (truly the best sing of the last year, flawless and addictive), She's Hearing Voices (Matt Tong's drums at their clearest level of genius), and Luno (just incredible all-round). I struggled to like the last two tracks as much as the rest of the album, mainly because they create a slow end to the album and the other 11 songs are so hard to beat! But it is listenable the entire way through.
Don't listen to anyone who tells you this is just another nu-indie-wave type album by the new Franz Ferdinand. They haven't got their facts straight and clearly haven't given Silent Alarm the time of day it demands and deserves. This is five steps ahead of every other album you will hear this yearand Bloc Party are the band that will endure the longest from the current crop.
I really can't recommend it highly enough. One of the few albums that genuinely deserves it's 5 stars.

Nimrod (U.S. Version)
Nimrod (U.S. Version)
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £4.06

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars buy this before American Idiot, then comapre them, 22 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Nimrod (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)
This is Green Day's best album. New fans will prefer American Idiot and it's commercial hooks, and purists will prefer Dookie since the band still sounded "rough and raw" when it was recorded. But personally, I think if Nimrod can be put in the shadow of those other two albums, then Green Day must be one amazing band, because it is fantastic. And here's why.
For a start, it's longer than both. Eighteen tracks on one album is not skimpy, and great value for money. Furthermore, the vast majority of these eighteen tracks are marvellous. To list, I would categorise Nice Guys Finish Last, The Grouch, Redundant, Scattered, All The Time, Worry Rock, Uptight, Walking Alone, King For A Day and (obviously) Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), as good or great. In addition, Hitchin' A Ride is Green Day's best single release ever, and was their best song ever until Jesus Of Suburbia (on American Idiot). That's 11 out of 18 songs either good, great or excellent. That's 11 out of 18 reasons to buy Nimrod.
Admittedly, there are some puzzlers and some downsides. Platypus (I Hate You) is a bit too rant-like I think. Last Ride In is a nice instrumental intermission, but not a song I would rush to play. Jinx, Haushinka and Reject are nearer the end of the album, and are so samey that by this time they just blend into the background and don't stand out at all for me. Take Back is an interesting foray into metal territory but not something I'd listen to the album for. And Prosthetic Head is pleasant enough, but not a stand-out album closer. I think it would have been more poignant (although possibly more corny) to end Nimrod with Time Of Your Life.
The album is not perfect. But the good clearly outweighs the bad. The weaker tracks are simply overpowered by the vast array of impressive Green Day classics on board.
If you're just getting in to Green Day and don't know whether to go for Dookie or American Idiot first, choose Nimrod. Disregarding Insomniac, it's the stepping stone between the two most famous albums, and combines the best elements of both. An album that can easily become your favourite of all time.

American Idiot
American Idiot
Price: £4.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a divisive album, but on the whole good, 22 Jun. 2005
This review is from: American Idiot (Audio CD)
American Idiot has been Green Day's most successful album, their most adventurous album (in some ways) and certainly their most debated album ever. It's can be hard to form an opinion on the album because some songs are much better than others. As a concept album, it's best listened to the whole way through, from start to finish, to understand the "story" it is aiming to tell. But as far as individual tracks go, there are good and there are bad. Thankfully there is more of the good.
The songs that dent the record, in my opinion, are the slower, more "radio-friendly" tracks. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and Wake Me Up When September Ends are, in my opinion, two of Green Day's worst ever single releases (especially the first one). I might be biased because I think they've been totally overplayed on radio stations and music channels, but that's the point. They've thrown the band's commercial image in a totally different direction, transforming them into pop pin-ups and the sort of band whose songs could appear on a Power Ballads compilation album around Mother's Day. Put it this way, my mum couldn't tell you the first thing about Green Day, but she likes these two songs. She is also a fan of Lemar. That says it all really.
Other tracks that halt the album's pace are Are We The Waiting and Extraordinary Girl which to me seem quite bland for a supposedly epic album from an established punk band. The title track/lead single has some great lyrics and shows off the band's political standpoint on the album very effectively, but again compared to other tracks on the record and past Green Day singles, it comes across as musically average and is another one I tend to skip.
There are songs on American Idiot, though, that not only rescue it from commerical blandness, but that rightly give critics something to shout about and Green Day something to be very, very proud of. St. Jimmy is fast, furious punk rock at it's best and also stays true to the concept of the album. Letterbomb and Whatsername are classic Green Day fun. And Give Me Novacaine is the only slower track I can listen to again and again and truly appreciate it, as it doesn't seem as contrived or repetitive as Boulevard (if they had any sense, the record company would have released it instead).
But it's the two nine-minute-long "rock opera" tracks that really make American Idiot stand out. They are both, quite simply, incredible. All fans of punk, rock or pop music must hear them to believe them. They reminded me slightly of sort of modern-day, punk Bohemian Rhapsodies, which is surely no bad thing. Both tracks should rightly be held up as Green Day's crowing achievement and, in truth, the album is worth buying purely for these two songs.
I think it's easy to see how the album has divided both long time Green Day fans and critics, and I personally still prefer Nimrod to this record. But American Idiot is certainly one of the most controversial and intriguing moments of Green Day's career so far, and for that reason alone it deserves investigation. It will be interesting to see how they follow it up.

Social Icon
Social Icon
Offered by vsmusic_com_us
Price: £21.33

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Left Front Tire prove almost as good as their Icons, 24 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Social Icon (Audio CD)
Pop-punk is a pretty cut-throat genre when it comes to music. Masters of the art - namely Green Day, Blink 182, Rancid and the like - were awe-inspiring to thousands of reject American school kids, outcast for some reason or another (there "baggy clothes" being one possibility suggested by nu-punk-princess Avril Lavigne some years later.) And so at the turn of the new millennium, these hoardes of young punk fans grew up with many deciding to imitate their skateboarding, self-loathing idols by forming there own bands, and so a whole new wave of punk rock was to sweep over the world. Of course many of them were, well, crap, but thankfully some were worthy successors to Billie-Joe Armstrong. Left Front Tire is one such band.
There's a fair chance most media-driven Brits won't have heard of LFT due to their staggering lack of chart success, however any fan of the American Pie series of hysterical teen movies will surely have heard their track "Bring You Down" from the second instalment. And lucky them. Fast, fun, and with so much electricity produced from the cracking electric guitars you almost get shocked, it's an extremely likeable track.
And it's not the only one. "Therapy" is full of the same reckless abandon of upbeat pop-punk as "Bring You Down" with no less than an awesome guitar solo to boot. Some songs like "General Public" have more sickeningkly sentimental messages to them about etc. that seem somewhat awkward when played to the same chirpy chords as the other tracks, although they're still hard to dislike nonetheless.
Left Front Tire are a rewarding band once you get into them. First you have to distinguish them from the rest of the sweatband-clad crowd of social misfits ('and proud of it!') The next task is to try and remember what each song goes like, as it's quite hard to separate them at first. A minor flaw though, as, while they all sound very much the same, they all sound catchy, energetic and just plain great! In other words, if you liked "American Pie," you'll love this album.

Under My Skin
Under My Skin
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.54

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thankfully, Avril's decided to Let Go a bit, 23 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Under My Skin (Audio CD)
"Let Go" was a great album, no question. In late 2002, on to the scene burst pop music's female equivalent of Dennis The Menace - the fiesty, the fiery, the frighteningly tiny Avril Lavigne. The record was the perfect 21st century pop package - every song fuelled with both alternative attitude and commercial appeal. On "Under My Skin," she does it again, except this time she decides to be herself a little more. Out with commerical appeal, in with alternative attitude.
Right away, a sense of honesty and genuine emotion is gained from opening stormer "Take Me Away" and the even better "Together." The catchy pop hooks remain, but the somewhat plastic facade of the rebellious teenager has been replaced by the sincere angst and confusion of a young woman approaching adulthood. Similarly on the singles - the slightly disjointed "Don't Tell Me" and the bonafide hit "My Happy Ending" - a feeling comes about that Avril is speaking her own mind this time, as opposed to the A&R man's.
The defining moment comes halfway through the record in the shape of downright classic "Nobody's Home," a thunderbolt of dark, irresistable pop-rock. If this song doesn't get Avril Lavigne taken seriously among all those "real music fans," nothing will.
At times, Avril slips back in time two years. The likes of "Freak Out" and the "Sk8er Boi" sequel "He Wasn't" seem intrusive, butting in from "Let Go" to disturb this album's clear progression. However, being as inevitably catchy as they are, she is easily forgiven - especially when you reach yet another masterpiece like "Forgotten."
As a whole, then, Avril has triumphantly improved in many different areas. Musically she's less predictable, as a writer she's more mature and vocally she's improved a lot (her voice more than good enough to rival that of elder Alanis Morissette at times.) A few brief time warps are included to keep younger, "Sk8er Boi" fans on board, which is perhaps the album's only flaw of sorts. Otherwise it is certainly a step in the right direction for the more honest Avril.

Waiting For My Rocket To Come
Waiting For My Rocket To Come
Price: £4.38

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rocket should ensure Mraz's career takes off, 23 Aug. 2004
If the soulful, soft strumming of Damien Rice is a little too boring for you, the hit-destined hooks of Kristian Leontiou a little too poppy, or the high-pitched crooning of female acoustic peers Michelle Branch and Dido a little too sweet on the ear, then look no further than Jason Mraz to fill that musical gap.
With a Czech surname meaning "snow" and the looks of a slightly malnourished Hugh Grant, Mraz certainly stands out from the "bland"-tagged acoustic singer-songwriter crowd. However despite these minor pronunciation and appearance-related drawbacks, he also certainly knows how to create one hell of an album!
Opener "You And I Both" gives a good, all-round first impression of what's in store, displaying Mraz's pleasant vocal ability, clear talent on his adopted instrument and, most prominently, his ingenius use of lyrics. It is this that places "Waiting..." on a pedestal high above its chart contemporaries.
Inevitably, there are both highlights and lowlights throughout the record. Thankfully, though, there are more of the former. Lead single "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)" bounces and shines its way to a thoroughly uplifting climax, helping you pretend you're roaring down a sunny Californian road in a plush convertibale with the stereo blasting, and not in fact sitting next to a smelly man on a rickety old bus. Elsewhere "I'll Do Anything" conveys Mraz's enjoyment for songwriting, with notably humerous lyrics. "Curbside Prophet" is his personal theme tune, while "Too Much Food"'s addictively bizarre lyrics ("Livin' in a fast food bag makin' friends with the ketchup and salt") cry out to be listened to over and over again till you're comfortably full.
Some of the slower moments of the album, e.g. "Sleep All Day" are outstrummed by the tracks mentioned above at first, and it is all to tempting to skip some songs for second helpings of "...Food," but over time they too start to shine, and you really appreciate the likes of album finale "Tonight, Not Again."
So, if you're looking for something new and exhilarating to get into music-wise, Jason Mraz is bound to satisfy. He's got the remedy, he's got too much food, he's got everything you could want really.
Except that rocket perhaps, but it shouldn't be long before it arrives and blasts him off to super-stardom.

The Beacon Street Collection
The Beacon Street Collection
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thank God they re-issued this!, 30 Jan. 2004
After becoming a huge fan of No Doubt's more recent releases and Gwen Stefani's huge talent for music and popular culture as a whole, I decided to investigate this band further and, after being warned off their eponymous debut album, plumped for this, their second release.
This CD was originally released in 1995, funded by the band themselves after being dropped by their record company when their first single and album were huge flops. Thankfully, smart people recognised its greatness and many snapped it up, which enticed their record label to take them on again!
After the huge success of the sequel, Tragic Kingdom (another great) this album was re-issued on a worldwide scale in 1997 - and it's just aswell! There are a great many worthwhile tracks on here that no No Doubt fan should miss out on! My particular favourites are the opener Open The Gate, rockier moment Snakes, the quirky closers Squeal and Doghouse and, best of all, the simply amazing Total Hate '95 - the most original and hard-hitting song I've heard in ages and maybe one of the best ska songs ever!
Every fan of the band should definitely own a copy of this album as it's probably their second best ever (maybe even their best at points?) and is an essential part of the No Doubt collection! I'd also recommend it to fans of all good ska and punk music. However if you only realy like No Doubt in smooth, radio-and-chart-friendly, Underneath-It-All-mode, or the more recent electro-influenced It's My Life, this might be one to avoid. No Doubt have shown great diversity between all music genres over the years, but this is definitely a ska-punk-rock album.

The Singles 1992 - 2003
The Singles 1992 - 2003
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £4.72

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hella Good the whole way through!, 4 Jan. 2004
This review is from: The Singles 1992 - 2003 (Audio CD)
No Doubt are one of the most unique and fantastic acts in the world just now. Most people probably remember them as "starting out" in their Tragic Kingdom days, in fact they formed in 1986. This perfect package of all their hits from their first appearance in the charts till the present day shows exactly why they've lasted so long.
On listening to the album, you can see how diverse the band are, moving effortlessly between genres: ska, punk, pop, reggae, rock - it's all here. The singles are cut mostly from their three biggest LP's - Rock Steady, Return Of Saturn and Tragic Kingdom, with only the quirky Trapped In A Box at the end of this collection representing their debut, self-titled effort. Sadly there are no tracks from their second album, The Beacon Street Collection, however this doesn't taint the quality of the songs. Singles opens with the monster American punk smash Just A Girl, and moves through the band's display of diversity smoothly, from the stomping Hey Baby and feel-good ska of Bathwater to the whirlwind that is Excuse Me Mr. and the memorable Spiderwebs. Gwen and the guys even manage to go mellow on us with Underneath It All and moody on the huge UK number 1 Don't Speak (one of the greatest songs of all time surely.)
As well as bonus tracks and the new single It's My Life, the album sleeve is very detailed and an entertaining read in itself! A great deal for the price of a normal CD, it's a must have definitely. If you're the band's biggest fan then buy it to reminisce and if you've just discovered them, buy it as the perfect introduction. Spot on without a Doubt!

The Spirit Room [Int'L-Not Enh.]
The Spirit Room [Int'L-Not Enh.]
Price: £7.39

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only there was a 6 stars rating option...., 29 July 2003
This is the best album in the world ever and you should buy it right now if you don't already have it. All 11 tracks are fantastic, I can't fault the album in any way at all and I find it easy to criticise!
Michelle Branch has turned out a first album that will be remembered in the future as a pure classic. She has everything you could want from an artist - including a stunning debut full of rock-pop masterpieces.
The best song (hard to choose) is the opener and debut single, Everywhere, a bouncy piece of guitar pop packed full to the brim with attitude and it can't fail to please. Other greats include the rocky grinds of All You Wanted, the indie genius of Something To Sleep To, the mature sounds of I'd Rather Be In Love and the utterly addictive lyrics of Sweet Misery. There is only one true ballad on the album (most are either up or mid tempo) so Michelle makes sure it's an absolute cracker and Goodbye To You is one of the strongest, "real" songs in the world at the moment - no exaggeration.
Flawless, suitable for any way you are feeling and any situation you may be in. I recommend it to everyone. There just aren't enough words to describe how fantastic, tremendous, terrific, spectacular and brilliant this album is. Buy it now. You'll have a CD that won't be out of your hi-fi for a long time, believe me.

Be Not Nobody
Be Not Nobody
Price: £3.58

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 29 July 2003
This review is from: Be Not Nobody (Audio CD)
I was really looking forward to listening to Be Not Nobody when I first got it. I was a huge fan of both singles from the album (A Thousand Miles and Ordinary Day) and Vanessa clearly has a talent that is rare in the today's charts. But after revelling in albums from similar artists like Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne, Be Not Nobody was a bit of a let-down.
There are a few god tracks other than the singles on here, most notably Unsung which is a great, upbeat swirl of piano and her storming cover of Paint It Black is another highlight. But many of the tracks just all blend into one another, the distinguishing piano riffs are few and far between I felt and Vanessa's voice can become quite irritatingly nasal at certain points.
I think huge fans of the artist will love it and it's definitely not a bad piece of work, her clear talent and enthusiasm shines. But I was expecting a lot more from it and was disappointed to find an album with little depth and full of sub-par, half-copies of the lead single. To be honest, you should save money and just buy a copy of the single A Thousand Miles, as I think it may be the only song on the album many people will end up listening to.

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