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Reviews Written by
Peter Hill ""yoghurtknitter"" (Waterville Ireland)
(REAL NAME)   

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Last Forever
Last Forever

5.0 out of 5 stars Coastal waves, 10 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Last Forever (Audio CD)
This Swedish band who it cannot be denied are definitely very shoe-gazy and will no doubt often be compared to MBV and similar guitar pedal distorters, have nevertheless still managed to release an album which albeit having a generic sound still sounds original, new & fresh.
It's helped of course by some sterling guitar histrionics and excellent vocals (both male & female) and when they combine on the soooo catchy '0700' (whatever that may stand for?) it fair takes your breath away.
9 out of 10.


Gravy
Gravy
Price: £21.77

5.0 out of 5 stars The creme de la creme, 10 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Gravy (Audio CD)
This is a massive 54 track retrospective. There are some duplications with a few alternate versions of songs and half a dozen live tracks too.
Strawberry Story were ubiquitous back in the late 80s/early 90s being favourites of many fanzines and releasing some excellent cassettes & 7/12 inch vinyl. Along with The Fat Tulips (who deserve a retrospective of their own too) they epitomized the DIY ethic of that time.
Currently this release (on CD) only appears to be available from Jigsaw Records in the USA but it can be downloaded easily and is a remarkable document of a fine band and is a must for anyone who was there at the time and wants to relive old memories or for newcomers who like Talulah Gosh style low-fi indie-pop.


Aero
Aero
Offered by samurai media
Price: £32.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Hot chocolate, 9 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Aero (Audio CD)
This Korean band who i suppose would be classed as shoegaze and/or Post-rock unleash swathes of layered/distorted guitar noise producing some lovely soundscapes and would be in similar territory to Amusement Parks On Fire.
My major complaint is that the ethereal (female) vocals are buried deep in the mix and you have to strain to hear them. If they weren't so beautiful it wouldn't matter but it seems a shame that they're seemingly wasting such an asset.
This is especially highlighted on the best track 'Elephant' where the dreamy vocal is slightly more prominent and therefore improves the overall feel of the song whereas on the remix of the same song (where the music is more dancey/bleepy and as a result less interesting for me) the vocal is for the first time crystal clear and really gorgeous and i don't understand why it wasn't used more often.
3.5 stars or 7 out of 10 but could easily have been 5 stars with more vocals.


Dreamlands
Dreamlands

4.0 out of 5 stars Insomniacs, 9 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Dreamlands (MP3 Download)
I was going to buy their new album 'distractions' after reading some great reviews but downloaded this 6 track EP instead as a taster.
I was a bit wary about the opener as it's a 10 minute song but it immediately grabs you by the 'whatevers' with a pummeling musical backdrop over which is read a story of a meeting that never takes place. It doesn't sound that interesting on paper but it's really gripping with alternate male/female spoken parts (not any of the band apparently) and my only complaint would be that the vocals were too low in the mix and indistinct at times (it needed headphones to appreciate it fully).
Unfortunately the rest of the tracks albeit nice enough noisy punky offerings are not especially different/memorable and are perhaps overshadowed by the epic opener.
A big 5 stars for the first track (it's worth the price of the download on it's own) but only 3 stars for the rest hence the overall 4 star rating.


Why Don't You Whisper
Why Don't You Whisper

5.0 out of 5 stars purr, purr, purr, 5 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Why Don't You Whisper (Audio CD)
Previously known as 'When I was 12' and having then released an excellent album called "Dear Eskimo" they decided to change their name to Catnaps.
There's no dramatic change in style (thank goodness) as it's still beautiful indie pop plus a hint of quirkiness/tweeness all wrapped around luscious vocals.
They have perhaps added a little more oomphh to their sound and often reminded me of Palomar especially on 'kitten & bear' and 'trees & houses', they also get quite noisy on the epic sounding 'still a fox' and even have an electro-pop feel on the title track.
They still play the expected array of unusual instruments such as Glockenspiel, Ukelele, Melodica and tambourines and have some great lyrics i.e "you only love me when you're drinking" and "you are too easy on the eye but hard on my heart" and "sat on the edge of my bed and i'd sing you Velvet Underground songs".
They have now disbanded which is a crying shame.


Lean In To It
Lean In To It
Price: £5.49

5.0 out of 5 stars ACe, 2 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Lean In To It (MP3 Download)
Allison's other band Swearin' are a noisy & angst ridden beast so this solo EP will come as a bit of a surprise as it's very sparse but nevertheless extremely passionate.
Said to have been recorded at home the programmed casio/drum machine intros on some tracks were initially peculiar but the more you listen the more it all makes sense.
Allison has a gorgeous voice which is well suited to these intimate songs but she shares the vocals on some tracks with fellow collaborator Sam. He does have an unusual voice, not unpleasant but sounding like it's been passed through some sort of machine!?
It's not perfect but the songs are totally addictive with the final two tracks being the best. 'You' has a simple but great piano/keyboard motif and is Allison's best vocal and 'Berlin' is similarly gripping with a nice guitar riff.
Hopefully there will be a full album to follow.


Sencillos
Sencillos
Price: £17.56

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The (simple) good life, 30 July 2015
This review is from: Sencillos (Audio CD)
This is a lovely boxed set of 4 out of print EPs covering the period 1992 to 2000 plus a collection of other tracks on a 5th CD. The CDs all come in their original sleeves but there is unfortunately no information about the band at all so a small booklet of the band's history would have been a nice addition.
It's certainly good value for money as you get 25 tracks spread across the 5 CDs mostly sung in their native language except for a couple of English songs on the 'versiones' CD.
I've been quite interested in Spanish pop over the past couple of years and so was looking forward to this set as the band are said to be the founders of Indie-pop in Spain. I have to admit i was underwhelmed on my first listen but it's certainly grown on me on subsequent plays.
As a guide they're similar to many of the bands on the Sarah & Elefant labels producing some lovely gentle indie-pop albeit occasionally alas straying into bossa nova/lounge style music.
All the songs are fairly short with lots of 'babababadas' included and the first two EPs are similar in style being fairly laid back musically with female vocals which are at times a bit flat. However they do improve with each CD and become gorgeously sultry and deep by the time the 4th EP is reached (it could of course be a different vocalist?). The majority of the vocals are female with occasional duets with a male singer but on the 5th CD the roles are changed and there are mostly male leads.
By the 3rd EP they have introduced brass, strings and more prominent guitars & drums which makes the latter EPs much more upbeat.
The first 4 EPs are all very enjoyable (at times brilliant) but it's the 5th EP that i find the most interesting, not necessarily better but much different from it's predecessors.
As i said earlier this CD has mostly (fairly good) male lead vocals which gives a different feel to the music and the songs on this EP are most unusual. They do a fair cover of The Velvet Underground's 'Candy Says' and a mediocre cover of The Beatles 'here,there & everywhere'. I'm not familiar with the other songs (they may or may not be covers) but there's an electronic (overlong) instrumental called 'old man' and a weird song called 'h.powell' which opens with a childlike rhyme with disembodied voices and bleepy effects throughout this rather sparse song before the lovely sultry female vocal kicks in later on. This final CD certainly highlights their more eclectic side and makes the box set much more varied than it might otherwise have been.


Fall To Rise
Fall To Rise
Price: £41.64

4.0 out of 5 stars The Gold Standard, 16 July 2015
This review is from: Fall To Rise (Audio CD)
At times this album is so delicate/fragile that you could imagine it might just break apart at any time, but it's a thing of gentle beauty and not to be missed.
The vocals from Pieta & Lucie are delivered in a hushed tone with just a simple picked guitar to back it all up, it's very ethereal but if you listen on headphones it all perfectly makes sense.
Both women individually have lovely voices but when they duet it's just wonderful.
Most of the songs are fairly restrained but they do get slightly more upbeat on 'driftless now' albeit emphasis on the 'slight'!
Difficult to define but i suppose they're a combination of country/folk & blues.
It's worth 4.5 stars or 9 out of 10 but it loses the perfect score as although individually each song is lovely i would have liked a little more variation over a whole album.


Company
Company
Price: £10.44

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good company, 13 July 2015
This review is from: Company (Audio CD)
This album is a collection of the band's first 3 E.Ps and it's good to have them all together and available at a reasonable price.
It's quirky indie-rock but also has quite a folk(y) feel to the sound especially when Dearbhla sings in a high pitched style although she also has a fine wide range to her voice which she produces throughout the album.
Unusual lyrics about epileptic seizures, blood transfusions & severed heads but underpinned by some fine guitar playing which has a very bass(y) tone.
All the tracks are catchy especially the opener 'microsleep' which includes numerous time changes and 'playground' even opens up with a riff that could easily have come off Paul Simon's 'Graceland'.
They're difficult to pigeonhole but something of a cross between Veronica Falls, Sons & Daughters and Steeleye Span!
It loses one star for being not quite varied enough over the whole album but still highly recommended.


Teithgan
Teithgan
Price: £18.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Diolch yn fawr for this rare-bit of welsh folk, 12 July 2015
This review is from: Teithgan (Audio CD)
This is a Spanish label re-issue of their 2nd album originally issued in 1981, so i'm only 34 years late in hearing it but it was definitely well worth the wait!!
Sung entirely in their native Welsh language but this didn't affect my enjoyment of the album at all as the music is so good. Basically folk orientated but with a psychedelic/progressive edge which makes it stand out above similar bands.
There's plenty of flute, acoustic guitar and bodhran on display (as you might expect) but the electric guitar work is really top class especially on 'mae nghariad i'n fenws' & 'mynydd parys'.
The epic title track has numerous changes starting all medieval before going psychedelic and finally ending up all Jethro Tull(y). There's also some nice bursts of organ on 'symffoni lawen' and the very folky 'ble'r wyt ti'n myned' has some lovely harmonies and a frenetic ending.
A couple of tracks don't quite work for me e.g 'draw dros y bryniau' which is too laid back and a bland instrumental 'diferion' hence only 4 stars.
The packaging is nice (it comes with an outer cardboard sleeve) but the sleevenotes are very squashed as much of it comes repeated in 4 different languages!
If you like your folk music to have a bit of ooomph then this is the one for you.


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