Monday, November 30, 2009

So So good


TOURISM/Terrorism, the forthcoming album by The So So Glos, has brightened up the dark winter nights for me.
Because the Brooklyn-based punk band's second second studio effort is an entertaining, exuberant and enthralling, and possibly essential, LP.
The group condenses the punk ethos and attiitude of The Ramones with the pop nous of Love Me Do-era Beatles and the jangly guitar work of The Libertines, plus 101 other unexpected diversions from funky drummer outros to one-minute acoustic skits, into a half-hour of mayhem.
So So what are you waiting for, Glo and have a listen!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Classic forty one - Very good


VERY Fast, Very Dangerous is very Reuben.
It's very rock, it's very metal, and it's very good.
It's very much the sound of a band at the height of their powers - just listen to tracks like Kick In The Mouth and Every Time A Teenager Listens To Drum And Bass A Rockstar Dies - although that's now a thing of the past as far as Reuben are concerned.
It's also very underrated, and therefore very deserving of a place in the Classic Collection.
I very much recommend that you go and buy a copy, very soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wild waste


CATCH-up caught up, it's back to the everyday hum drum of having unreleased new music sent to me for free.
Ah well, mustn't grumble.
Then again...
Now perhaps unfairly, I made a dig at trans-atlantic trio Sparrow And The Workshop's six-track 'mini-album' Sleight Of Hand for being neither here nor there - not short enough yet not long enough.
But there can be no argument that, clocking in at just seven tracks and less than half an hour, their 'album' Into The Wild is not long enough.
Then again, with an alt-folk-meets-country sound so over-egged, maybe this is seven tracks too much...
It's not all bad - for example when they add a little Nick Cave-style rock to proceedings on Crossing Hearts.
But for the most part the sound is melodramatic, morose, and really not a lot of fun to listen to at all - Into The Wild? Into the bin, more like.

Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 Catch-up - IAMXcellent


IAMX, real name Chris Corner, and his 2009 album Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction was recommended on the Facebook page with the words "now THAT, THAT is an album of the year".
Now not being familiar with any of his solo work - but aware of him being a founding Sneaker Pimp - I welcomed the chance to be hooked by this, his third solo studio album.
And although I'll maybe hang back from declaring Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction one of my Albums Of The Year 2009, I will say it was a welcome suggestion.
Full of warm synth-driven electronica and thoughtful lyrics, the singer songwriter has bared his soul here.
It may not have me full-on addicted - but consider this his gateway album for me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Not Idlewild about it


I SUSPECT that frontman Roddy Woomble sort of reviews their previous album, Make Another World, on the sort of title track of Idlewild’s 2009 offering Post-Electric Blues.
“I’m bored for the first time,” he sings, “returning to a tried and tested method,” no doubt in reference to the band returning to the kind of straightforward indie rock that gathered them a Classic Collection inclusion for their debut 100 Broken Windows last time out.
Personally, I really enjoyed Make Another World.
But Post-Electric Blues, the Scottish group’s sixth studio outing, sees the band instead fusing Idlewild with Woomble’s folk-leaning solo streak on the better tracks like City Hall and Take Me Back To The Islands.
And, as Woomble explicitly states, the more traditional Idlewild tracks here do sound jaded.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Jamie T time


GOBBY rapper and songwriter Jamie T is fast becoming pop royalty with a string of catchy, original singles in 2009, and with a previous Album Of The Year under his belt he surely too has a chance of being crowned again this year.
But however great Kings And Queens is, it never quite reaches the heights of his 2007 debut Panic Prevention.
Vocally the distinctive T mixes the razor-sharp working class perception of the Arctic Monkeys with the swagger and lazy patter of The Streets, over bedroom-born beats that fuse elements of hip hop, electronica and rock.
And his original sound is as triumphant as ever on tracks like Sticks And Stones and Chaka Demus - the problem is, I suppose, that it was just that little bit more original first time out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Temper rapture


ANOTHER band touted by myself nearly 12 months ago, alongside acts like Mumford And Sons and Florence And The Machine that came good, was Australian act The Temper Trap.
And with their August release Conditions, they delivered on their promise.
Chock-full of pulsating basslines, jingling guitars and soaring vocals, the debut is as polished and epic as a band can hope for - with some hair-raising moments with the likes of Sweet Disposition and Love Lost.
Perhaps a little variety could be added - but nevertheless like the Coldplays and Kings Of Leons of this world, Temper Trap effortlessly produce the sort of music that stadiums were made for.
U2 take two anyone?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Radiant Dragon has LOTP collaboration

PRODUCER Radiant Dragon has teamed up with Late Of The Pier's Sam Eastgate for a new track.
You can download Ghosts, which was written and recorded by Radiant Dragon in Singapore and co-produced by the Castle Donington frontman, by clicking here.
Radiant Dragon said: "I've tried to blend electronic, ambient, psychedelic folk and rock sounds together to bring out the atmosphere and themes of the song, lamenting immigrants lost and stranded at sea."

2009 Catch-up - Skye's the limit


METAL mammoths Mastodon and their March LP Crack The Skye were suggested as a potential Album Of The Year across on the Sound Off forum, as well as being tipped by myself as one to watch in January.
And with critical plaudits for the album, a conceptual romp through Tsarist Russia, coupled with support on the forum and a previous album, Blood Mountain, that I fell head over heels in love with, it's fair to say my anticipation was high on approaching this record.
However I was left thoroughly disappointed.
Given the theme of the album, I shouldn't have been surprised by the prog rock approach here, but the elements of stoner rock and freeform jazz hinted at in Blood Mountain's brutal metal have been eradicated.
Instead plodding Ozzy Osbourne vocals over inpenetrably dense, introverted riffing pervades.
Both in scope and technically Crack The Skye is a truly awesome body of work, and worth experiencing - however I'm not sure whether Mastodon made this album for the listeners, or just for themselves.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fruity tune

CASTLE Donington band Late Of The Pier are set to make a mouth-watering return to the charts ahead of a new album next year.
The band will release a new single titled Blueberry as a digital download on December 17, and then as a double A-Side in February 2010 with Best In The Class.
The tracks are the first tasters of a follow-up to 2008's Fantasy Black Channel.

2009 Catch-up - Manson on a high


WITH a Classic Collection album under his belt, as well as coming highly recommended on the Facebook page, Marilyn Manson's May release The High End Of Low demands a shot at an Album Of The Year slot.
And following some toe-curling diversions into synthpop and emo, The High End Of Low sees Manson put his head down to produce a triumphant rock album in the vein of former glories Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals.
Of course the overblown showman side of Manson remains, a mixture of his own mythology, cliches and self-parody - exhibited on lines such as "everyone will come to my funeral/to make sure that I stay dead" as well as many more not printable on a family blog.
The album's standout track is called Arma-godd**n-motherf**kin-geddon, for Christ's sake.
But through all the pomp and parody, by returning to his roots with former songwriting partner Twiggy Ramirez, Manson has proved that after all this time he is still as close to a real life rock superstar as we have anymore.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Classics Spotified

AS YOU may have noticed, I compile a Classic Collection on this site, to promote overlooked or underrated albums.
So for your listening pleasure, here is a Spotify playlist of some of the best tracks from some of the Classic Collection albums.

2009 Catch-up - Have I got noose for you


HARDCORE punk band Gallows's second album Grey Britain, suggested as a possible Album Of The Year on the Facebook page, sees the group adding a splash of colour to their debut album's sound.
Don't get me wrong, Watford's Gallows are still the musical equivalent of having acid thrown in your eyes.
But where Orchestra Of Wolves was just angry and loud and raucous, Grey Britain has a focus.
Lyrical vitriol towards 'broken Britain' is matched by a musical expansiveness - as well as the group's established acerbic punk sound there are a surfeit of heavy metal dashes, acoustic guitars on the group's Stairway To Heaven, The Vulture (Acts I & II), and even piano and strings on album closer Crucif*$ks.
It's a thrilling progression, which promises as much as it delivers - you could say that with Grey Britain, Gallows are a band of hope and glory.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Looking back at Maccabees


AS THE Maccabees built on their 2007 Album Of The Year Colour It In this May with Wall Of Arms, I felt it was only right I consider them for a 2009 placing as well.
And the Brighton band's sophomore CD certainly cements their place as one of the UK's most accomplished indie bands.
As on their debut, emotive, driving, jangling guitar work, skittering drums and Orlando Weeks's distinctive vocals combine to create a dense tapestry of sound throughout.
If anything, the rich Wall Of Arms is a more rounded, consistant effort than before - and this lack of peaks and troughs, which led to superb singles such as X-Ray and Precious Time on Colour It In, may be it's downfall.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Going Gaga?


ANOTHER release I feel I should give a crack at being an Album Of The Year 2009 to is The Fame, the debut offering from Lady Gaga.
For the LP is not only the UK's biggest-selling album released this year, according to The Official Charts Company, but Lady Gaga is also my three-year-old daughter's favourite artist.
Which kind of sums up how broad her appeal is - the former-DJ-turned-pop juggernaught wanted superstardom and she went for it, regardless of whether it's appropriate to sing about "loving with her muffin" or riding "disco sticks" over full throttle club pop to impressionable youngsters.
But you've got to admire her balls - tracks like Poker Face and Paparazzi may be base and vacuous, but they are still as infectious as ringworm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wave Pictures on the Brinks

HERMAN Dune’s Stanley Brinks has teamed up with Wymeswold band The Wave Pictures for his new solo single.
“Cowboy indie” track End Of The World, released on December 14, is the first taster of new album Stanley Brinks And The Wave Pictures, which is due for release next January.
A spokesman for the Hawaiian shirt-clad singer songwriter said: “The former member of French/Swedish anti-folk trio Herman Dune Stanley Brinks released his debut solo album Dank U last year.
“This time, alongside The Wave Pictures, Stan’s simple, memorable lyrics come punctuated by the unlikely guitar shredding of Dave Tattersall and is pushed along with the skiffling beats of rhythm section Jonny Helm and Franic Rozycki.”

The Very Most wish you a merry Christmas

FEELING festive yet?
The Very Most have been - for the Idaho-based band have followed up their EPs Spring, Summer and Autumn with Winter, which hit the shelves in November.
And as an early Christmas present the group have offered a free download of the track Away In A Manger, which is jingle all the way.

2009 Catch-up - Biffy Clyro's Revolution


ANOTHER band with a pedigree that puts them in the running are Biffy Clyro, as the only act to have two previous Albums Of The Year.
2004's Infinity Land and 2007's Puzzle are both previous selections on Sound Advice, plus the new album, Only Revolutions, was also suggested as a contender on Facebook.
And who am I to argue - because this month's release Only Revolutions is, ahem, genius.
Sure, the Scottish prog-pop-metal trio know how to hammer the listener with noise - such as on single That Golden Rule - but they also have other facets, such as a unique way with melody - Mountains - a mature use of strings and brass - The Captain - and an ability to constantly confound the listener's expectations.
And so many times here, such as on the incredible Many Of Horror, all of these elements combine.
Listening to Only Revolutions, it's clear that it's Biffy Clyro's well earned turn at the top.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Loughborough bands singled out

TWO Loughborough bands are targeting the charts with new singles.
Penfold Gate will be releasing a new track title Pirates on November 30, while Quartershade release Statues on December 14.
To celebrate the Penfold Gate release, a launch party is being held on November 29 at The Orange Tree pub in Ward’s End, Loughborough. Admission is £3.
Drummer Stephen Smith said: “Not only are we playing but we will also be exclusively showing the music video for Pirates.
“We are being supporting by the pretty incredible Sheffield electro-poppers Taka Pow and Loughborough’s party-favourites Kids With Sticks.
“Driven predominantly by front man Pete Flood’s acoustic guitar, the track is kick started by an explosive opening riff, which unleashes a wave of aggressive energy.
“With frequent changes in pace, the single is awash with catchy verses and a soaring chorus. As the climactic conclusion fades, you’re left feeling almost seasick, yet glad to be aboard and in possession of this obvious treasure.”
And after the Penfold Gate release, Quartershade put out Statues, the follow-up to Lights Out.
Matt Sisson said: “To keep ourselves busy while we add the finishing touches to next-year’s album we’re putting out one more single before Christmas.
“It’s called Statues and it will be available from Spotify and iTunes.
“Neither Lights Out nor Statues will be on the album so get them while you can. Take a listen, and if you like it, tell your friends!”

2009 Catch-up - Shining Star


I DON'T bandy the word 'genius' around lightly - I've used it just seven times in a year-and-a-half of Sound Advice.
But expect to hear it a few times in the next week or so, as I play catch-up on some of the best albums of 2009 I might have missed, to make sure my Albums Of The Year 2009 are as watertight as possible.
And first up is a March release from Easy Star All-Stars - chosen as the reggae supergroup are one of the few acts with a Classic Collection album, Dub Side Of The Moon, to put out an album this year.
In the vein of their Pink Floyd-covering debut and follow-up Radiodread, a reworking of OK Computer, East Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band is a dub reggae romp through some of The Beatles' best loved tracks.
And it's amazing how well tracks like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Getting Better and With A Little Help With My Friends translate, with just the right balance of fun and respect for the Fab Four.
Pure genius.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Dutchess And The Duke royally disappointing


AFTER listening to The Dutchess And The Duke's second album Sunset/Sunrise, I can't help but thinking 'lighten up'.
I can best describe the group's sound as country, but with the blues - this is song after song of heartbroken folk and raw Americana with no relent.
With nerves exposed so close to the groups' surface, they never need to go deep with their music, which is definitely more Sunset than Sunrise on tracks like Let It Die.
And according to the press release, this album is "definitely more hopeful than the last record" - not being familiar that's hard to imagine, given the depressing dirge that the Seattle group's latest LP quickly becomes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Amazing amaze


IF YOU decide to call your band The Amazing, you'd better be good.
And then if you decided to also call your debut album The Amazing as well, well you'd better be better than good.
Luckily, the Swedes are not bad at all.
The eponymous LP, the band's first studio outing, is a psyche-folk-rock collection that's as much Pink Floyd as Grizzly Bear, full of woozy acoustic grooves and ethereal hummed vocals.
Never undercooked, but never even close to the pomposity their name implies, The Amazing probably about sums it up.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Frat lot of good


FRATELLIS frontman Jon Lawler makes up one half of Codeine Velvet Club, alongside Lou Hickey.
So as you can imagine there's a great deal of Fratelli flavour to the group's self-titled debut.
However the Glaswegian band's sound, which fell a little flat on their sophomore record Here We Stand, has been spruced up with a bit of glitz and glamour from Hickey.
The new LP sounds more like The Fratellis soundtracking a new James Bond West End musical - all pomp and sweeping cinematic production.
It's a similar situation to the Arctic Monkeys-Last Shadow Puppets scenario, an interesting diversion but ultimately unlikely to become the day job.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A plague of Paul Haig


RELIVE, the new album from former Josef K frontman Paul Haig, is the funkiest punk you'll hear this year.
Musically the songs are more like grooves, with tracks like Round And Round and Ambition sounding like a joyous head-on collision between Franz Ferdinand, The Smiths and The Pixies, with Grace Jones pulling up to the bumper for good measure.
Over these organic-sounding tracks Haig bathetically delivers a deadpan cross between Ian Curtis and Ian Dury.
And when the two strands are working in unison, Relive is an experience worth repeating.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Basement Jaxx under the hammer

BASEMENT Jaxx have lent their support to a charity art exhibition - by destroying their own portrait.
To celebrate Youth Music’s 10th Birthday, 70 of the world’s greatest musicians and visual artists - such as Kylie, Andre 3000 and U2 - have taken Rankin portraits of themselves and vandalised them for an exhibition and auction.
Former Loughborough schoolboy and one half of the group Felix Buxton said: "I started drawing various symbols for god, love, hate, infinity... then I took the picture to Simon, who started cutting away bits of his face.
"But Matt Maitland, who was designing our album artwork, told us we were being too reverential, and started adding new ‘Jaxx characters’, incorporating human and animal parts.
"What he did represents the Jaxx aesthetic, as our faces are all but removed, which is true when we create music – it doesn't focus on our personal images, and pulls in different characters, shapes, forms, dimensions, and isn't just human."
The artworks will be auctioned on November 14.

Ker-istmas album


LOUGHBOROUGH band Kerfuffle may have subtitled Lighten The Dark as "A Midwinter Album", but we all know what that means - Christmas!
And if you're a fan of trad folk, yule love it.
The album is a reworking of well-known tracks like The Holly And The Ivy and Three Ships and lesser-known numbers such as Lullay My Liking and Gower Wassail in the English folk style, meaning there's hardly a sleigh bell in sight.
Not that any fake snow and tinsel and baubles are needed - with their evocative accordian drones and crisp vocals alone, 'tis the season for Kerfuffle's sound.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Forever Young


WHERE other reality TV singers' careers have stuttered, original Pop Idol Will Young has proved to be Mr Consistency.
And this chronological collection, The Hits, which spans the singer's four studio efforts plus two new tracks, shows exactly why Young continues to appeal - even if he's not idolised in quite the way he was back in 2002.
Yes, there are the drivelly ballads, such as Evergreen and Anything Is Possible, as well as the throwaway pop numbers, such as Switch It On.
But the best showcases for Young's appeal are the soulful numbers - a recap of sings such as his Doors cover Light My Fire and Friday's Child show why Young hasn't grown old yet.

Cultured Vultures


AS SUPERGROUP'S go, kryptonite couldn't keep this one down.
If you didn't already know about Them Crooked Vultures, the group are a three-piece made up of rock royalty Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and Jon Paul Jones - who between them have been in bands including Led Zeppelin, Queens Of The Stone Age, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Kyuss, Eagles Of Death Metal... the list goes on
And their debut album, Them Crooked Vultures, is, as you might expect, as rocky as a statue of Sylvester Stallone wearing boxing gloves.
Displaying this pedigree with a dirty, sweaty, scuzzy collection of angular Queens Of The Stoneage-style riffing and heads-down guitar noodling well exemplified by single New Fang and the mammoth Elephants, the LP is a blisteringly brilliant one.
Them Crooked Vultures is instant classic rock.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Game for Olof?


ICELANDIC singer songwriter and Mum member Olof Arnalds crafts a soundscape as barren as the wilds of her homeland on Vid Og Vid.
Luckily this, her soon-to-be re-released 2007 debut, is a beautifully sparse folk collection which at times is also as breathtaking - such as on the rich Nattsongur.
Over the course of the full LP, her Joanna Newsom-meets-Bagpuss sound, coupled with the language barrier, can be heavy going.
But I still hope next year's sophomore Arnalds release, Okidoki, which as with this LP is being crafted alongside Sigur Ros's Kjarten Sveinsson, is more of the same - to try and make Olof Arnalds accessible would be like tarmacking the tundra.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A work of Fighting Fiction


SPUNKY punky newcomers Fighting Fiction have a frank sound on their new EP, A Lesser Of Two Evils.
Frank Turner, that is.
For the Bristol quartet demonstrate the same mixture of vitriol and perception as the former Million Dead singer songwriter on this 10-minute manifesto - although perhaps a little too much.
With their punk rock, which is mixed with a dash of indie and a little ska, the are equally adept at tackling the political and the personal.
It's promising stuff, they just need to develop more of their own voice before the album rolls around.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Memorising star


ONE-man band Memory Tapes, real name Dayve Hawk, is a name worth committing firmly to the old grey matter.
Seeks Magic, technically the group's debut album although it follows Hawk releases under the guise of Weird Tapes and Memory Cassette, gets a full release next week after a very limited run of CDs and coloured vinyls in August.
Hawk used to front punk band Hail Social, and accordingly his dance music has a distinct rock influence, although in Seeks Magic this is a gloriously hazy New Order sound.
The result is a sublime, subtle brand of dance, which is rather like having a rave in the fog.
● On the original run of CDs, there was a bonus disc which contained instrumental track Treeship.
Mr Hawk has been kind enough to release the bonus track for free, so click here to grab a copy.
He said: "It's about 20mins of new/original instrumental music... enjoy."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Apse-a-lutely great


THE meandering musical meddling of American band Apse has found an individual feel on Climb Up, which should see them on the rise.
As you would expect from a group who have been lumped into genres as disparate as ambient, heavy metal, shoegaze and punk over the course of four EPs and a debut album, their sophomore release's sound is hard to pin down.
A dense, atmospheric, muscular mixture of trip hop, rock and folk, led by primal vocals and driving basslines, Climb Up is one worth picking up.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Stranded in Departures


AN IMPULSE to up sticks from London to New York was the inspiration behind John Garrison's new album Departures - which is a surprise listening to the music.
Because former Budapest frontman Garrison's meticulously-constructed orchestral indie doesn't do anything that sounds spur of the moment on this, his second solo album.
For despite a few exceptions - the rocky Footprints and the unexpected disco hybrid Rendezvous - the tracks are stifled with over-production.
This means that Departures is filled up with plodding sub-Embrace tracks which frankly, I can take or leave.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sadly beautiful


DURING the process of writing and recording his last album Goodnight, an emotional labour of love which picked through his parents' divorce, William Fitzsimmons split with his own wife.
Not one to miss an opportunity, beardy folk singer Fitzsimmons' follow-up album, The Sparrow And The Crow, examines his own divorce.
So don't expect a barrel of laughs.
However do expect a tear-soaked collection of Iron And Wine-style acoustic tracks that could pierce even the thickest of skins.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Local drummer goes Supernova

A DRUMMER from Loughborough has hit the big time playing with rising star Mr Hudson.
Andrew “Wilkie” Wilkinson, 24, grew up in Nanpantan, and has played for local acts including punk band Wester and the Loughborough Grammar School Big Band.
However nowadays Wilkie more commonly shares a stage with top international stars - such as Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Calvin Harris and Sting - as part of Mr Hudson’s band The Library, who scored a major hit with single Supernova earlier this year.
Wilkie’s work can also be heard on Mr Hudson’s current album Straight No Chaser, which has reached number 25 in the album charts.
He said: “I moved from Loughborough to London to go to art college about five years ago, where I met Ben (Mr Hudson) in a pub.
“I joined his band and played on the first album, A Tale Of Two Cities. It wasn’t a massive sales success, but musicians were basically telling each other about it.
“Kanye West ended up getting a copy, and then wanted to meet.
“It’s still frightening meeting all these stars, people like Kanye have such a big presence, even though offstage he’s quite a quiet man.”
• Mr Hudson, complete with Wilkie Wilkinson on drums, will be returning to the East Midlands to play The Royal in Derby on November 13.

Zephyr EP online

BASEMENT Jaxx are currently streaming the Zephyr EP, a collection of "soundscapes" recorded parallel to the Scars sessions, on their website.
The EP is due for release before the end of the year.

Crimea X-aspirating


THE three-track Chorne More EP by Italian dance act Crimea X, which takes its name from the Black Sea, is a black mark against their name for me.
Because despite a promising opening minute or so, Jurij is smothered with cheesy pianos seemingly salvaged from an early '90s house track, and a one-word vocal that could have stolen from the Stereo MCs.
And the disco house vibe continues onto the toned-down Vavara and the plodding Liubov.
As far as electronic music goes, this is the era of dubstep - yet Chorne More churns out something more Urban Cookie Collective than gritty urban reality.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Radar's of the pop charts


IT'S clear to see who's on Beat The Radar's radar on To The City From The Sea.
Because the Cumbrian quartet play jangly indie pop that sounds so familiar you could stick a bunch of flowers down the back of its trousers and call it a long lost Jarman brother.
The Smiths and The Cribs loom large throughout, and there's a running game of spot the derivative - with hints of Buzzcocks on Telephone Conversation and early Blur on Stars among many others.
Not that it's a bad thing - this is an old-fashioned debut by the sort of sincere guitar band that are hard to come by these days.
But it's hard to wax lyrical about an album that just doesn't do anything new - however well it does it.

Midwinter Graces the charts this Autumn


MY DAD once bought an album called A Medieval Christmas, a double CD of deadpan monks chanting.
It became a legend in our house as the most dour, depressing soundtrack to the festive season imaginable - we would challenge ourselves to endure as much as we could before reaching for Slade.
Therefore knowing Tori Amos's penchant for piano-led, moody ballads, I approached Midwinter Graces, dubbed her 'Christmas' album, with a little trepidation.
Luckily, I need not have - although there are still more lush string arrangements than jingle bells on display, the collection is a gift to her fans.
Because despite Christmas being a time of indulgence, having a focal point has helped Amos avoid the problems of her other album this year, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, which was overlong and jumbled.
Instead her talents shine through on an album that warms like a roaring fire.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Slew, I salute you


THE Slew
combine a whole heap of influences to create something unique with 100%.
The bulk of 100% is based around cut-up classic rock guitar riffs and vocals that are principally funk, sometimes rock, sometimes blues, sometimes spoken word.
However over subtle head-nodding hip hop beats and samples, the rock and funk is sliced and diced and pushed and pulled around to amazing effect.
Because tying everything together is the genius of turntablist Kid Koala, the man behind Classic Collection addition Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - and the same warped originality of his solo stuff is in evidence here.
With The Slew's 100%, we see him running at full capacity again.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Twinkranes in a zone of their own


DUBLIN dance act Twinkranes describe themselves as "a psychedelic power trio specializing in zone-out progressive pop musik".
And who am I to argue?
For the imaginatively-titled Spektrumtheatresnakes is made up of seven prog-rock-meets-dance freakouts that are summed up by that perfectly.
The collection is much along the same lines as Beak>'s recent Beak>, with a little more oomph but the same lack of direction.
This is music you can easily lose yourself in - it just sounds a bit like Anto, aka Blonde Fox, Rooster, and Ray, aka Auburn Spinner, may have done so themselves.

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