Album Reviews: Preview due for release 26th July 2004

 

BJ Cole – Trouble in Paradise (Cooking Vinyl)

BJ Cole has been around for a long time and has made a name for himself as a steel guitar genius. More recently his collaboration with Luke Vibert brought him in to new circles. This album and the collaborations represent a fusion of styles that are all so different but also all linked in some way.

The title track sounds like some drunken journey home from a south Pacific night on the town. Interesting stuff! The ‘Interloper’ feat Fluid unleashes a funky guitar riff and chattering breakbeats. Really good! You are then hit with the Alabama 3 collaboration ‘Are you ready for some country?’, a hugely atmospheric track with sinister vocals.

The whole album is atmospheric though it maybe the steel guitar, but each track has a cinematic feel to it, conjuring visuals all the time. ‘Alert the Sax Police’ featuring Nottingham’s Bent is a good example. A lush combination of latin beats and soulful sax, it brings back memories of last summer sitting on a Cuban beach, sipping rum cocktails, listening to the originators of Samba and Son.

All the remaining tracks do the same thing, the Groove Armada collaboration ‘Beautiful’ is funky and more upbeat with a deeper house feel. Other tracks I recommend you seriously have a listen to are ‘Downtown Motel Blues’ featuring Neil Conti and the final track on the album ‘Ou sait ou elle va’ featuring the stunning vocals of Laura B.

All in all this is a perfect summer album with lots of interest. Released 12th July. 8/10

Nic Caesar

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Album Reviews: June 2004

 

Glide – Curvature of the Earth (Cooking Vinyl)

It’s apparent right from the off that Will Sergeant did NOT want this to sound like his ingenious band mates from the Bunnymen, but it’s every bit as atmospheric and very, very good.

Taking (I imagine) more of a lead from artists like The Future Sound of London, Robert Miles, Lo-Fidelity All Stars and possibly even the Aphex Twin, Mac’s longstanding friend and guitarist has shown that he is just as adept at arranging striking ambient tunes as anything else.

I love the unusual Oriental feel of several tracks here, not least “In Blue Sunshine”, and the whole damn thing just makes you feel like you are at one with nature – in much the same was FSOL’s seminal “Lifeforms” did ten years previous to it.

“I Have Seen the Sunlight” is a welcome departure – and relief – from the overwhelmingly organic flavour of most of the tracks here, and features Sergeant’s own wife, Paula, on guest vocals.

The way this album makes you feel so fresh and natural…well, I can only imagine that it’s just a matter of time before they start stocking it in Health Food stores. It just takes you off to another world altogether – one with no cars, no bills to pay, no wars to worry about, no deadlines and above all, no stress. Hell, I’m just an old hippy at heart!

Trust me though – YOU try listening to “Kraken” or “Expo ‘68” and THEN tell me you’re not tempted, like I was, to set up a tent in the back garden and live from it, with nothing but a small fig leaf to spare your blushes.

Erm…I meant a BIG fig leaf, obviously…Ahem… 9/10

Tone E

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Kings of Convenience – Riot On An Empty Street (Virgin)

This band is appearing at the Summer Sundae Festival in Leicester this August ( see Preview). They have a sound that makes you think, Simon and Garfunkel for the 21st century?! Very acoustic in their approach this Norwegian collective produce very gentle, minimal music. A piano, a guitar, a bass guitar and a few other bits and pieces and that’s it apart from some velvety vocals.

The first track is so Simon and Garfunkel its like a tribute band track!! But ‘Misread’ is a slightly more up-tempo number with a knee bouncing melody they demonstrates the groups unique sound more clearly. A band that although no where near dance and urban styles would sit nicely in some chill out mixes or down tempo mixes as the minimal style lends itself to being mixed with more funky beats and bass.

‘Stay out of trouble’ brings in those Simon and Garfunkel vocals again but the melody is so catchy you find yourself humming it hours later. ‘Love is no big truth’ is a funky little number, slightly melancholy and very simple. Its funky guitar riffs and thrusting piano chords gel magically with the super minimal drum beats. ‘I’d rather dance with you’ is another up beat track with a bit of extra attitude. For me it has delicate echoes of Morrisey’s early material but with a more funky and modern feel.

Altogether a great acoustic album, it’s melodic with sweeping harmonies and a funky kind of jazz undertone. They have travelled to Ibiza and went down well with the down tempo crowd. I think they offer a purity of music and song writing that isn’t around in a lot of pop, dance or urban music at the moment, so they feel heartfelt and fresh. 8/10

Nic Caesar

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My Awesome Compilation – The View Is Amazing (Sore Point)

We’ve been aware of this incredible band for some time now at Atomicduster, and boy are they fulfilling their promise!

Comprising 3 new tracks with 3 older ones (2 of which have been re-recorded), this mini album showcases the two sets of brothers with marvellous consequences.

“As Always”, one of the newer tracks and a Scuzz TV video favourite, is an anthemic singalong that confirmed to me exactly what I suspected a couple of years back – that My Awesome Compilation are the best band to come out of Leicester since…well…ever, really!

The two recently refurbished tracks, “Giving Up” and “The Miracle Mile” (originally on the band’s previous e.p. “Every Souvenir Has a Story”, have been given a new lease of life by producer Ben Moore and as a result are twice as good as they were before. And they were excellent then!

Probably the pick of the bunch though is the rather touching and delicate piano led number that is “Butterflies”. It makes you feel all warm inside, and with such wonderful lyrics as “Here’s my chance to make a difference/ It’s good how you can miss me/ and this denotes a feeling”, the band surely cannot fail to conquer the world on a grand scale.

Talking of fantastic lyrics, look no further than the next track, “Wish You Well”, in which the temptation to wave your lighters in the air becomes ever greater with the line “If a book was my life/ you’d at least be a chapter titled ‘One not to forget’”

Rounding off with “Our Lives: The Sequel” – one of the band’s best tunes (and there are so many!) – My Awesome Compilation have fired a lethal missile chartwards to all those lily livered charlatans masquerading as pop stars at present. Make way peasants, for the new kings (and saviours) of music have arrived! 10/10

Tone E

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Hope Of States - The Lost Riots (Sony)

Hope of the States are barely a year into their career and have already experienced more than most bands in a lifetime. The video for their first single was banned, a solo project from singer Sam Herhihy is reportedly in the pipeline, and tragedy has struck with the suicide of guitarist Jimmi Lawrence. But despite all these distractions, how good is the actual music?

The first thing that hits you is that the Sussex six-piece create such a huge, orchestral sound, somewhat surprising for a band of their inexperience. The brooding opening instrumental and fantastic single Enemies/Friends are overwhelming on first listen, and this feeling does not subside throughout the album.

The addition of a violin to the band works well, particularly on tracks such as ’66 Sleepers To Summer’, but when guitars return to the forefront on ‘Nehemiah’ it sounds just as good. It appears anything they try works, so I look forward to the possible inclusion of a ukulele in the future with interest…

At the centre of the album is the single that started it all, Black Dollar Bills, and this is the perfect illustration of everything the band can do, with a soft piano opening leading to a sweeping orchestral finish. ‘Beautiful’ is the only word adequate to describe it.

Most new melancholic guitar bands these days seem to be compared to Coldplay, but the fact is that Coldplay could release a million albums and still not come close to the magic of ‘The Lost Riots’. This is an absolutely superb debut from a band who surely have many more classics in them. 9/10

Joel Peterson

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Republic of Loose – This Is the Tomb of the Juice (Big Cat)

After reading what I can only describe as a rather surreal press release that accompanied this album, I think I’d better go and have a refreshing shower, gather my thoughts and come up with some references of my own…

(goes for shower)

Ok, I’m back now and raring to go! So, “Hold Up” is an ultra cool tune worthy of the late, great Edwin Starr, although I’m not sure that the track is actually SUPPOSED to be jumping like that. But hang on a minute, the timer is still ticking on normally! What a strange idea…I’d personally have preferred it without that little diversification though!

“Tell More Lies” is resplendent with “Billie Jean” style bassline, and ends up sounding like Outkast covering the latter tune.

A more “street” version of Kool and the Gang comes across on “Girl I’m Gonna F**k You Up” (see? I’m good to you lot who can’t access our pages from your workplace, because of being blocked for “sexual content”. Handy, that asterisk key) before a Mick Jagger impersonator seems to jump on stage to finish the track off.

I can’t shake the feeling, unfortunately, that “Ride With Us” sounds like Eiffel 65’s Europop cheesefest that was “Blue”, albeit a far slower version.

At least the fact that comparisons are easy to come by here shows the variety of music on display, and “Sober Sounds” continues that theme by evoking thoughts of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then “Slow Down” is a hazy walk through a smoke infested soul/jazz club that for some reason, don’t ask me why, reminded me of The Animals.

Anyway, overall, an impressive debut that it’s difficult to find fault with, but WOW, when they DO slip up (“Ride With Us”), they REALLY do! 8/10

Tone E

Where's the reference to 'The Fun Lovin' Criminals', Tone? Surely you can catch the 'Stateside wannabies' reference from the dialogue offered on track 11 ('Rant') - It maybe "bullshit", but it's all there, even if they're not happy with the comparisons. That said this album is one mighty fine collection of tunes, even if they do get a bit loose at times (Editor).

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Beastie Boys – To the 5 Buroughs (Parlophone/EMI)

The new album produced by the boys themselves is the first material we have seen from them since 1998 and is the first ever album produced entirely by the boys! So they are older, times have moved on, can they still cut it!!!

Daaa of course stupid! This is the friggin’ Beastie Boys man! Back in the eighties I saw them as a bratty pop band cashing in on the notoriety of rap and hip hop at the time. Whatever my opinion of them then, they have certainly proved their merit since, producing superb material and putting their reps on the line by supporting a chain of politically sensitive issues.

I am happy to say that that maturity and courage of convictions has carried through to this album. The true Beastie Boys style is still there, the energy, the piercing vocals and the fat beats all remain. What has changed is that the lyrical content is more substantial and credible in my mind.

‘Ch-Check it out’ is a fast and fun riot of beats and lyrics with mild undertones of social commentary but is by far the most commercial track on the album. But then all the tracks are similar in that way, each track is undeniably the Beastie Boys but each have a slightly different perspective and attitude. ‘It takes time to build’ is one of the more obvious political tracks with blatant mentions of how George ‘Dub-ya’ managed to weasel his way in to the Presidency and how he has taken the US to a place that most of its people don’t want to be in!

But then you get ‘Hey Fuck you’ a more in your face kind of message referencing there Jewish backgrounds and some of the criticism they have received. Their response, ‘Hey fuck you!!!’. The beats and production on this album is bang on, by the way. In true hip hop style there are short little interludes in between tracks, or as intros, that just make you chuckle. Check out the ‘mutants’ man, they ‘fly faster than you do and shoot at you!’.

Other tracks worthy of mention are, ‘That’s it That’s all’, ‘Shazam’ and ‘An open letter to NYC’. All the tracks are well produced and the combination of strict hip-hop beats with a broader use of other electronica styles is pure genius. I wish they had produced their own material before. Trust me, get yourself in front of a good sound system and whack this baby in it, sit back (if you can) and enjoy!

I didn’t like them before but I like them now!! 9/10

Nic Caesar

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Jesse Malin – The Heat (One Little Indian)

Probably Neil’s…sorry..Jesse’s most impressive album yet, although there are a few patchier moments. The album starts with the majestic single “Mona Lisa”, in which Mister Young’s…sorry…Mister Malin’s two note verses are immensely effective.

“Swinging Man” is another great tune, and to be fair, there isn’t a song on the album that I dislike. The problem is that, apart from those two tracks I just mentioned, there aren’t any that I love either. I either like them, or quite like them.

Jesse Malin HAS done one thing on this album that always winds me up though – there’s a track here called “Since Your In Love”. That’s right, not “Since YOU’RE In Love”, but the completely nonsensical “Since YOUR In Love”. I really hate bad grammar, and had I not been in such a good mood at present, that seemingly insignificant factor would’ve forced me to knock my rating for this album WAY down! It’s annoying because this is one of the best tracks on the album!

Actually there ARE some other great tracks here; “New World Order” and “Hotel Columbia” fit that bill, and the guy’s lyrics are at times remarkable, but there’s just not quite enough here to make me want to embrace “The Heat” as a top record. 7/10

Tone E

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The Concretes – The Concretes (Licking Fingers)

“Say Something New” gets the ball rolling here, with its “could have been in a stage musical of Hair” kind of feel to it, and is as laid back as it is uplifting. Then we’re onto the single “You Can’t Hurry Love”, which you can already read a review of in our Singles section.

“Chico” appears to give a nod to the more placid numbers from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, utilising strings in fine style and making you feel like you’re having a picnic on a deserted motorway.

By the time you reach the fourth track, “New Friend”, it’s blindingly obvious that The Concretes are not a band you’re going to be “moshing” to at the front of a University Hall somewhere. They are far more a band to just stand and appreciate, and it is very easy to get lost in their melodies. The interestingly titled “Diana Ross” is a welcome diversion from all the tenderness for a while though, and whilst the repetitive rhythm can get a bit grating at times, it’s still one of the best tracks on the album.

“Warm Night” and “Foreign County” continue in much the same quietly melodious fashion as the rest of the record until we finally are served up a more beefy number in “Seems Fine”, which…hang on…sounds exactly like a song I wrote called “Hopeful” when I was about 15, and in a band called the Jet Set Zombies!

To be honest though (and a tad blunt), by the time I got past the last three tracks “Lovin’ Kind”, “Lovely As Can Be” and “This One’s For You”, I was starting to get a little tired of the weary, lazy effect of this band’s music. That said, the album’s climax had an almost dreamlike quality to it, probably due to the impressive mandolin played by Jari Haapalainen.

So, in short, this is quite a pretty selection of songs, but you know, sometimes I want to be grabbed by the balls, and that just didn’t happen here. 6/10

Tone E

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Pink Grease - This Is For Real (Mute)

First came last year's mini-album, "All Over You", and now here's their debut album proper.

T: I can't think of anything to say except to talk like my dad and say "What a racket". The band sound eager enough to please, but the whole thing is just too derivative of what's gone before and I cannot get into this at all.

N: A glammed up Punk album from a band who I could quite easily see remaking the Rocky Horror Picture Show as one of their promotional videos. Rory Lawarne bears an uncanny resemblance to Owen Wilson on the cover, with a band, itis agreed, played to a chorus of 1974. Even though you threw your comment their way earlier, may I remind you that the Darkness did it their way last year? Come to think of it, you hated them too!

T: I rest my case. This is bloody awful.

N: But no doubt you'll end up loving them in ten years time...

T: What are you trying to say? You're the Arsenal supporter here...

N: And so I heve been since the age of seven! 3/10

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Faithless - No Roots (BMG)

The forth Faithless album and as we are reminded from the sleeve notes presented within, this is a band who have lasted 10 years, a fact that surely and quite rightly so, brands Rollo and his cohorts one of the most successful dance acts in the world today. But as a forth album is this any good?

For those expecting another hi-nrg euphoric sound, a la the bands first album and tracks such as Salva Mea and Insominia, then they might be a little disappointed, but it is more likely that fans have followed this band throughout their career and will know exactly what they are to find. Describing this album as the post night chill-out room is what I discovered here, and after having recently rediscovered the first album whilst at a party and revelling in the now retro-euphoria, it's understandable that I at first fitted into that of the first demographic. If this is the case I'm sure you will find as myself, an album that given enough opportunity to caress the head space, will become everything you expected it to be.

From the opening of an album that was undoubtably 'Faithless', a fact that was probably down to Jazz's vocalisation and supreme poetical manner, I have to admit to my sliding early on, feeling disappointed that I was missing Bliss's bordering on hard-house synth stabs and the general exhaustion in the music. In hind sight, although this is not immeadiatly apparent, if this album is approached with a little less haste, the trademark patterns are still there.

Featuring what is certainly a wound down sound, with tempos decreased, as with the loop found on the tune 'Sweep' and a more contemporary element added to tracks like the hard guitar (reference Peter Hook) laid on top of the sounds of 'Swingers' to great effect and this album although less like 'Reverence', seats comfortably between all 3 of their previous albums. The title song 'No Roots', features a subject matter reminiscent of 'Sunday 8pm's' - 'Bring My Family Back' and a pace in fitting with that of the opening barres of this tracks predessor, 'The Garden'. Elements that hark of the earleir released 'Reverence' come in the form of 'Pastoral' preceeded earlier on by the house tune 'Miss U Less, See U More', I suppose in a way can be seen as 'Outrospective's' 'Machines R Us', although here references can be made far more easily to other artists work - if you can tell me who this is, please email me 'cos it's driving me mad.

An album whose content fits so perfectly from one track to the next, but is so much more, with the family contributing to 'Faithless' growing even wider, as input can be heard coming from 'AD' previously featured artist LSK, being seated alongside 'Galliano' frontman, and guitarist here; Nemo Jones, Dido on vocals throughout, as well as she who needs no introduction, the voice of Nina Simone, on 'I Want More: Part 2'. Altogether and from a rocky start, this album passes the finishing post with hands held high - such an entertaining and sound filled album. A decade on from their first release; 'No Roots' although commenced as the bands final album (a point made clear from Rollo's sleeve notes), may well be just a rebirth of the sounds we have lived with for the last decade. I have no hesitation in believing that Rollo, Bliss, Jazz et al have a great deal more to offer, yes that's right after 10 years I'm still a fan. 9/10

Nick James

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FabricLive 16 – Adam Freeland (Fabric)

Another class release from Fabric – Adam Freeland. A name that most, if not all, dance fans know for one reason or another. All breaks & beats this mix is not your usual house set. It takes on all comers, house, rock, breaks, drum & bass, soul, hip hop, whatever!

A large number of Marine Parade (Adam’s Label) tracks feature but no critisism there as Adam admits he rarely makes a great deal of money from them, it is a labour of love! The mix represents a truly eclectic selection of tracks and an attitude that embraces all corners of dance music.

Tracks worthy of mention are ‘Burn the clock’ by Freeland, ‘Reign’ by Unkle feat Ian Brown and ‘Freak’ by LFO. There are loads of good tracks here but these just stand out for me!

However, the risk of such an eclectic approach is that the mix can feel disjointed despite there being a deliberate flow to the selections. With this in mind, I see it as a ‘thinking mans’ compilation rather than an emotional musical journey. Sonically superb, but lacking that gut wrenching, adrenaline flow that, in this case, is a good thing. Its good to listen rather than just hear - variety is the spice of life you know!!! Released 7th June for series subscribers or 21st June for the rest of us!! 9/10

Nic Caesar

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Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music - The Platinum Collection (EMI)

Released in time for Bryan Ferry's summer festival tour that are scheduled for 12 dates, taking in the Montreaux Jazz Festival on the 14th of July and culminating in a performance at 'Westonbirt Arboretum' in Gloucester on the 24th later that month, comes the 45 track, 3 CD affair that is 'The Platinum Collection'.

Bryan Ferry has had both his work with Roxy Music and as a solo artist, documented many times before on albums, but I don't think that a collection as comprehensive as this has seen the light of day before now. So unless you have already collected Bryan's work, then this may well prove beneficial. And even if this is the case, then such a neat and compact collecting of this artists work could well hold an appeal. 7/10

Nick James

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Brian Eno - "Early Works" Reissues (EMI)
Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets (EMI)
Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Moutain (By Strategy) (EMI)
Brian Eno - Another Green World (EMI)
Brian Eno - Before & After Science (EMI)

Some 31 years after the release of the oldest of the 4 albums featured here, we are able to listen to a remastered form of each of the works, or 'Early Works: Reissues' as the record company bumpf describes them. To say that these are albums, each of them, that have a great relevance, even on the music of today is not to give them enough credit. How about without their creators like, music would've been somewhat different today, if only the likes of Pete Waterman, Simon Cowell et 'al had taken the time to digest their sublime strains, both music and undoubtedly their wealth would indeed be different.

Whether as a recording artist or the producer of others work, he has contributed to albums for those artists such as David Bowie, Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, James, forgoes the production of U2's Unforgettable Fire, then works with the band on both Joshua Tree and Zooropa among'st others, produced 'For Your Pleasure' for Roxy Music , later leaving (or fell off) the group soon after with musical differences being cited. Not to mention his many occasional series of remixes for such artists as The Grid, EMF, Massive Attack, Can, Suede, I could continue, but I'd be here all night. None of these in any particular order here, but we've ascertained, if ever it were needed, that with this only minor part of Eno's career mentioned or indeed re-released, this is musician of great importance.

But am I not somewhat mistaken, as noting both his published handbook, dating back as far as 1968 ('Music For Non Musicians') and Paul Morley's comment in writing of 'Here Come The Warm Jets' - "It is an album of someone who did not know how to play an instrument. But he knew how to attack one." Continuing that this was "an avant garest fascinated by the pop single", does this qualify an artist as a musician? Well indeed this was somewhat of an awkward album, only in the sense that its creator seemed inexperienced at his art - noting both noise, wailing and mistiming, but still having gained the public adoration - "Quintessential 70's art-rock" and "Ground Breaking", what's more to say? Well how about this not only became influence to groups like 'Television', surely inspired 'The Edge' in creating his inimitable guitar style and was certainly the creator of one such band name in that of 'The Warm Jets', as well featuring such lyrical gems as "..let the hotpoint's rust in their kitchenettes..". Alright not exactly Shakespeare, but it shows this guy had a sense of humour. To my mind great, but not 'ball breakingly great' in the context found here. 7/10

Next to be released was 'Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)' and it is surprising at exactly how much Eno has developed as a 'non-musician' during the time between '73 and '74, the point at which this was released. Again it screams as having been a 'bench-mark' to many artists who have come since. Quite rightly described as 'a classic' and 'the pinnacle of Eno's work' in editorial describing the album that I have managed to locate, this work makes it all sound too easy. Eno's 'flat' vocal style suits the 'story-telling' role he adopts extremely well and certainly makes a very good show of the burgeoning musical creativity that Eno has become renowned for. An album that is easy going, but with real balls. 8/10

'Another Green World'
followed in '75 and catch where Mick Karn and Steve Jansen later of 'Japan' caught their wind from as early as the opening track 'Sky Saw'. I'm sorry, I've got to catch my breath, now I realise just how much I am in the presence of greatness whilst listening to these albums. So much of the groups who were at the core of my existence whilst growing up during late 70's early 80's Britain, comes flooding out as I realise just who I should've been listening to around this time. It certainly becomes apparently clear that Eno's chosen form of instrument, was in fact the recording process itself. Here we see all manner of instrumentation 'treated' to create wild and crazy effects that seat perfectly in this musical pool, non more so than guitarist Robert Fripp's involvement on this album. Probably the most remembered tune in itself was that of the albums title track, that was picked up by the BBC to play as the theme to BBC2's Arena. Whereas the earlier reviewed titles featured far more vocal offerings, this album concentrates almost entirely on the musical side of matters, creating what is essentially an instrumental album, one that has been described both as "Perfection", certainly "Pioneering", but to some "Patchy". I'd have to agree with that I have read that described this album as being "A Must Have". Certainly not the most accessible Eno album, but once you have found the 'key' that opens the inner sanctum, one that is ultimately rewarding. 9/10

Finally 1976 saw the release of the album, 'Before And After The Science', where from the very opening tune, is an album that draws the listener in on its fantastic presentation. From both vocal, to a forthright musical approach, this album screams of an artist who it is clear is confident at what he is writing and performing. Reviews I have read have commented on how from the tunes found on the second side of this album (a comment coming as a throwback to the days of the vinyl release I would hazard a guess), speak of how it could at first be seen the signs of "the early 80's conversion to ambience". This can be heard most certainly, but it is from Japan, to the Cope'esque refrains heard in the track 'Kurt's Rejoiner' and the rock-out elements on 'Kings Lead Hat', a track I felt were a direction toward 'Television's' 'Marquee Moon' and all this as just a start. It was with this album that I at first felt most comfortable with, having read this described as "an album made by a wizard left out in the sun to ripen", can certainly assimilate with this description. 9/10

Nick James

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Morrissey - Hulmerist (EMI)
Morrissey - The Malady Lingers On (EMI)

Having recently emerged from his self impossed media hiatus, Morrissey who recently celebrated his 45th birthday on May 22nd, has not only seen his latest album 'You Are The Quarry' acheive top 10 chart success in the UK, but is now having 2 collections of promotional videos released for the first time on DVD. First released in 1990 and 1992 respectively on VHS, the two collections see 7 tracks on each, with the former lasting just over 3/4 of an hour, while the later barely makes it past 29 minutes. Although both DVD's feature material which is both funny, touching and stands as a worthy reminder of just how good this artist is, even without 'The Smiths'. With both releases directed by Tim Broad, I'm only reminded that with the DVD format now available, so much more could've been done with both releases, even if this only stretched to a fancy menu format!

I see this only as a selling out of Morrissey's worth and one that doesn't pay any regard to his fans. This may well be the fault of a breakdown between artist and his former record company bosses, but this really does reek of releasing something just for the sake of the financial benefit it will bring - at the very least they might have repackaged both under one title! I wholely enjoyed the content on offer here and can really not fault what I saw, but only for the fact that this only sees the benefit of an improved format, I can award - 4/10

Nick James

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Cowboy Junkies - One Soul Now (Cooking Vinyl)

Would you believe that this is Cowboy Junkies’ NINTH studio album? Well, it bewildered me anyway! They’ve always seemed to be there, mingling amicably in the background, but NINE?! I guess I ought to start paying attention!

Right then, the title track. Let me just stress that this pleasant, breezy track sounds not one jot like the Pixies track “Levitate Me”, yet inexplicably, the verses remind me of that very tune!

“Why This One” sounds quite a lot like Aimee Mann…or does Aimee Mann just sound like Cowboy Junkies? You tell me. Either way, all the tunes herein are pretty, dreamy numbers.

So many of these songs take me back to Woodstock (well, I say “take me back”, but that’ not actually true, seeing as I was but a glint in the milkman’s eye at that stage…) and “My Wild Child” is at the forefront of my mind when I make that particular observation.

The dark and moody “From Hunting Ground to City” is probably the pick of the bunch for me, sans chorus and arranged in comparable style to Neil Young’s classic “Powderfinger”. Then the Junkies get all upbeat on us with the REM meets Counting Crows style tune “The Stars of Our Stars” and it’s really quite effective.

We’re back down with a thud for “Notes Falling Slow”, a poignant, haunting, bittersweet bundle of misery (hmm..where have I heard THAT before?)
In fact, yes I’ve changed my mind; THIS is the pinnacle of the album.

“No Long Journey Home” sounds like the most cheerful tune the band have ever done until you read the words. Must have been the overly happy feel of the party hand claps that fooled me originally…

“He Will Call You Baby” and “Simon Keeper” are a weed connoisseur’s delight, although given the imagery conjured up by the latter, it’s perhaps a good idea to go easy on those reefers!

The album concludes with the uplifting “The Slide”, and is a fitting finale to an album that is extremely easy to listen to.
The first 10,000 copies of “One Soul Now” come with a limited edition e.p. entitled “’neath Your Covers” and features versions of tracks originally by Neil Young, The Cure and the Youngbloods amongst others. Value for money? I should say so! 8/10

Tone E

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Oops: Ones that we missed

 

Sandoz - Digital Lifeforms (Mute)

A re-working or development form the original Digital Lifeforms CD issue back in 1993. Disc one is the original tracks as released back in the day and it sounds like it to. Although the sound is now associated with more old school styles, it is clear to see that the original was pushing the boundaries of electronica at the time.

This new collection of tracks on CD two represents the development of those early sounds. It does still sound very early nineties in places, on some tracks. Familiar tones and sounds are used in slightly different ways but always exploring the purer side of electronica. A definite style emerges that doesn’t pull from any contemporary influences.

Tracks worthy of special mention would be ‘Erzulie’ with its tribal beats, some retro sounds and undertone of samba over-layered with spacey synths. Also,‘Shanpwel’, with its repeated vocals which are superb.

By the time you get to track number five on the album you do realise that what you are listening to is electronic music more as sonic literature than magazine entertainment. All the tracks are more artistic expressions than melodies designed for emotional effect. It is categorically not ‘dance’ music as such. It could be seen as pretty heavy going material but I think if you’re up for being educated on the art and origins of electronica since the nineties this would be worth a listen. A fresh take on the old Detroit techno sound. Released 31st May. 6/10

Nic Caesar

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Miss Kittin - I Com (Novamute)

Caroline Herve, aka Miss Kittin, has over the last five years become one of the most inspiring DJs and voices to emerge within the electronic music scene. This is her long awaited debut solo album.

N: I was so looking forward to your hearing this. Sounds from DJ Miss Kitten, and her own album, but not one like so many. Some of these sounds can be construed as offensive, and maybe like her professional set, I don't know, but an album that shows no fear.

T: It starts off with a track that sounds all too much like Fast Food Rockers or The Waitresses, albeit with rather more warts - maybe even wearing Hallowe'en masks - and there are several that make you cringe to the same extent as those artists mentioned, but when she slows her music down a touch, it's actually quite atmospheric and moody. Sadly though, those moments appear to be rather few and far between. I guess it would be a good album to play loud if you don't like your neighbours. Now you've played a bit more of the album though, it's become apparent that the cheesier numbers are thankfully at a minimum. The fact still remains though that the album would be a lot better off without them.

N: She has noted appearances from the hacker here, and this influence - if it is indeed that - certainly shows, as does FSOL and Underworld. Those nastier moments certainly grab your attention, but I'd agree that this is a far better album without those cheesy tracks. 8/10

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Bark Psychosis - DustSucker (Fire)

Well, it's taken them 10 years to follow up "Hex", and with this album containing 9 new tracks I'm sure you're well aware that this means they've been going at a rate of less than 1 track per year since then! Well, it'd better be good, that's all I can say!

T: Seductive and apparitional, this is rather like a CD version of the ultra weird BBC2 show "Jam", and it works. Containing the emotional content of many of the better Shoegazing bands, without ever becoming one of them. I've always been susceptible to white noise myself - yes I'm one of those odd people who loves the noise of vaccuum cleaners - and therefore this holds tremendous appeal. Music to snooze lightly to. This is quite wonderful.

N: It's been a while since I've encountered Bark Psychosis. I believe the first was in support of a group like Curve in the early nineties, and as a consequence I cannot recall their last album, even though I do own it! Hearing them now though, this is typical shoegazing stuff, played with far more refinement and an atmosphere that blows the planets away. 10/10

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Faultline - Your Love Means Everything (EMI)

Something of a surprise this, I must confess. When I reviewed this artist’s recent single “Wild Horses”, I thought it was pleasant enough and expected more of the same here. Not a bit of it!

We are at once confronted by the title track – one that wouldn’t have been out of place on Future Sound of London’s seminal masterpiece that was “Life Forms”, and then Coldplay’s Chris Martin lends vocal support to the lethargic and fantasial “Where Is My Boy?” – incidentally I’d like to take this opportunity as well to thank Faultline for actually bothering with a question mark in the title; a little punctuational manner is appreciated here and there, as so many of the buggers that make music these days sadly neglect it.

Throughout the album, you can pick out many other references; Tricky, Goldie, Lo-fidelity All Stars, Air and Flaming Lips (who actually DO make a fleeting appearance) are all in evidence here.

Hell, I don’t even need to tell you any more. All I need to say is that this is a superb album. 9/10

Tone E

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