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Friday, July 31, 2009


320 KBPS

Melody Gardot's debut recording, released in 2006, came two years after she suffered a near fatal automobile accident, the differently able Gardot triumphing in accomplishing what many others, including her, could only dream of. This project has her singing and playing guitar and a little piano, but more so presenting this project of all original material. Gardot has an interesting personal story, but even more intriguing music that straddles the line between lounge jazz, folk, and cowgirl songs. She's part sophisticated chanteuse, college sophomore, and down-home girl next door. Her innocence, sweetness, and light are very alluring, much like the persona of tragic songbirds Eva Cassidy and Nancy LaMott. Feel empathy for Gardot, but don't patronize her — she's the real deal much more that many of her over-hyped peers. "Quiet Fire" is definitely her signature tune, as it speaks volumes of where her soul is at, in a jazz/blues mode, yearning for true love. The title track follows a similar tack, a slow, sweet, sentimental slinky blues that will melt your heart. A finger-snapping "Goodnite" leaves you wanting that night to continue, but also exudes a hope that permeates the entire recording. She might be a bit down on men during the nonplussed "All That I Need Is Love," but her subdued optimism glows cool. "Sweet Memory" might possibly parallel Feist or perhaps KT Tunstall in a rural country mode, while "Gone" is clearly folkish, and the slow "Some Lessons" expresses a contemporary Nashville precept. The laid-back music behind Gardot is basically acoustic, incorporating hip jazz instrumentation, especially the trumpet of Patrick Hughes and occasional organ, Wurlitzer, or Fender Rhodes from Joel Bryant, but with twists including violin, lap steel, and Dobro. The concise nature of this recording and these tunes perfectly reflects the realization that life is precious, every moment counts, and satisfaction is fleeting. Likely to be placed in the Norah Jones/Nellie McKay/Madeleine Peyroux pseudo jazz/pop sweepstakes, Gardot offers something decidedly more authentic and genuine. She's one-upped them all out of the gate.

1. Worrisome Heart
2. All That I Need Is Love
3. Gone
4. Sweet Memory
5. Some Lessons
6. Quiet Fire
7. One Day
8. Love Me Like A River Does
9. Goodnite
10. Twilight


SUN (2001)
320 KBPS

Hailing from Bergen, Norway, Christine Sandtorv, Inger-Lise Stroksen and Jannicke Larsen combine acoustic guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies with blissful pop melodies to create a sound that is uniquely Ephemera's. Having received the Alarm Music Prize, Norweigan Grammy nominations (Best Pop Album for "Sun" in 2001, "Balloons and Champagne" in 2003) and Platinum-plus status in Norway, the girls released records in Japan and the UK to much critical acclaim.

1. Happy, Grateful, Aware
2. Again
3. Mrs. T
4. Perfect
5. Play
6. Bad Deal
7. Saddest Day
8. Morning Sun
9. Little Lion
10. Tornado
11. Close
12. Find Your Way


320 KBPS

The German instrumental post-rock/metal (or whatever!) outfit Long Distance Calling returns with Avoid the Light, its second album of dense, atmospheric wall-of-sound experimentation. What else would you expect from a band that credits one of its members with "ambience"?
Opening track "Apparitions" is as mysterious as its title, going from psychedelic background music to stoner metal during the course of its 12 minutes, leaving the listener unclear about exactly where Long Distance Calling is headed on this six-song, 55-minute album. The urgent "Black Paper Planes" borrows a Rush vibe, while the crisper, less-dense "359˚" allows for some breathing room. These dudes are intelligent, too: "I Know You, Stanley Milgram!" musically references the Yale University psychologist known for his experiments in obedience. (I had to look that one up!)
As Long Distance Calling did on its debut CD, Satellite Bay, the quintet includes one vocal track here: "The Nearing Grave" features Katatonia singer Jonas Renkse, and even though the majestic doom-metal piece adheres to the album's overall structure and tone, it represents a refreshing change of pace and should compel Long Distance Calling to consider adding a full-time singer – without, of course, entirely dropping the otherworldly instrumentals.

1. Apparitions
2. Black Paper Planes
3. 359
4. I Know You, Stanley Milgram!
5. The Nearing Grave (Ft. Jonas Renkse)
6. Sundown Highway


320 KBPS

'Grace Under Pressure' sees Rush straddling the line between 'Signals' and the full- blown synth-dominated slickness of the records to come. For fans who felt Alex Lifeson's guitars were too subtle on 'Signals', this album moves them up in the mix and into the soundpicture significantly.
In its own right, this is a very good album. Songs like "Distant Early Warning", "Afterimage", "Red Sector A", "The Body Electric" and "Between The Wheels" are among the best of Rush's '80s output. Full of tension, and in some cases darkness, they possess a curious new spark, a totally rebuilt Rush engine from the band heard on 'Moving Pictures' only 3 years earlier.
There is a confident new Rush here, and for what it's worth, there are some bright moments of greatness shining throughout 'Grace Under Pressure'.

1. Distant early warning
2. Afterimage
3. Red sector A
4. The enemy within (Part I of Fear)
5. The body electric
6. Kid gloves
7. Red lenses
8. Between the wheels


KISS (1974)
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Kiss' 1974 self-titled debut is one of hard rock's all-time classic studio recordings. Kiss is chock full of their best and most renowned compositions, containing elements of Rolling Stones/New York Dolls party-hearty rock & roll, Beatles tunefulness, and Sabbath/Zep heavy metal, and wisely recorded primal and raw by producers Richie Wise and Kenny Kerner (of Gladys Knight fame). Main songwriters Stanley and Simmons each had a knack for coming up with killer melodies and riffs, as evidenced by "Nothin' to Lose" and "Deuce" (by Simmons), "Firehouse" and "Black Diamond" (by Stanley), as well as "Strutter" and "100,000 Years" (collaborations by the two). Also included is the Ace Frehley alcohol anthem "Cold Gin," "Let Me Know" (a song that Stanley played for Simmons upon their very first meeting, then titled "Sunday Driver"), and one of Kiss' few instrumentals: the groovy "Love Theme from Kiss" (penned by the entire band). The only weak track is a tacky cover of the 1959 Bobby Rydell hit "Kissin' Time," which was added to subsequent pressings of the album to tie in with a "Kissing Contest" promotion the band was involved in at the time. Along with 1976's Destroyer, Kiss' self-titled debut is their finest studio album, and has only improved over the years.

1. Strutter
2. Nothin' to Lose
3. Firehouse
4. Cold Gin
5. Let Me Know
6. Kissin' Time
7. Deuce
8. Love Theme from Kiss
9. 100,000 Years
10. Black Diamond

Thursday, July 30, 2009


320 KBPS

BOTM are a superb instrumental 4 piece (multi-keyboards, guitar, electronic percussion, & sax) who combine equal parts progressive rock, pulse, classical, & more into an instantly recognizable whole; no rock band uses interlocking parts as brilliantly as these guys. This continues & builds upon their signature sound that 1st emerged in the early 80's.
Fans of demanding progressive jazz rock should check it out.

1. The True Wheelbase
2. They Walk Among Us
3. Coco Boudakian
4. I Don't Need No Crystal Ball
5. Chariots Of Fire
6. Magic Fingers (25¢)
7. Faultline
8. On The Street Where You Live
9. Maybe I Will
10. There Is No One
11. Slo-Boy
12. Pteropold
13. Just Say Yes
14. Magic Fingers (25¢)
15. Pteropold
16. Just Say Yes


320 KBPS

Billy Cobham made this album at a pivotal point. The original Mahavishnu Orchestra had disbanded, John McLaughlin was wallowing, and jazz purists were beginning to complain about the rock influence. Billy helped show a new direction. Crosswinds opening suite has lush and sophisticated horn arrangments, soothing a subtly intense rhythm. The effect is like night, tropical breezes, just as he wants to convey. You can almost hear the ocean, the music of the wild Caribbean (no steel drums of course, just cool). The rest of the album alternates between hot and cool, with some funky fusion and a beautiful extended piece, Heathers, near the end, featuring a trombone solo that sounds like the soundtrack to a loving and relaxing dream. The album is inspired, Billy at his creative best, showing the jazz world a new dimension that fusion had not shown before. At 35 minutes it is a little short, but we have quality here, not quantity. This album belongs in any jazz or fusion collection.

1. Spanish Moss - A Sound Portrait: Spanish Moss
2. Spanish Moss - A Sound Portrait: Savannah the Serene
3. Spanish Moss - A Sound Portrait: Storm
4. Spanish Moss - A Sound Portrait: Flash Flood
5. The Pleasant Pheasant
6. Heather
7. Crosswind


320 KBPS

The style known as "anti-folk," as realized by practitioners like Ani DiFranco and Billy Bragg, is derived from a punk aesthetic, and thus tends to be spare and confrontational. But while Regina Spektor's music is anti-folk in the way it subverts the traditional coffeehouse vibe, it's less interested in rebellion and more concerned with the joy of eccentricity, melody and surprise. Begin To Hope is full of surprises, and like her promising major label debut Soviet Kitsch, it displays an easy facility with song structure that enables her to go in different--sometimes wildly off-the-wall--directions without sounding scattered. Classically trained on the piano, she's been compared to Tori Amos, but her music isn't as delicate or precious. Fiona Apple comes up as well, but just because neither fits in the usual female singer/songwriter cookie cutter mold doesn't mean they sound the same. Her voice is actually the primary attraction, cracking and loopy on would-be lullabies like "On The Radio" and "Field Below," then punchy and cute on "Hotel Room." But the music, if understated in the mix next to her vocals, makes an impression as well, breaking in with twisty piano arpeggios ("20 Years of Snow") and occasional touches of electronica. It's a consistently intelligent and daring record, yet remains enormously listenable--a neat trick for anti-folk, or any other genre of music for that matter.

1. Fidelity
2. Better
3. Samson
4. On The Radio
5. Field Below
6. Hotel Song
7. Après Moi
8. 20 Years Of Snow
9. That Time
10. Edit
11. Lady
12. Summer In The City


320 KBPS

Taken By Force is one of the finest releases from Scorpions. I like the darker sound that Scorpions had in their early days. Former Scorpions guitarist Uli Roth did some great heavy lyrics also on Taken By Force album. Your Light and The Sails Of Charon contains very dark lyrics and both are very good songs also. The album starts with fast and catchy track Steamrock Fever. Klaus Meine’s vocals sound different than usual on this song and I do like the rough singing in this one. The greatest song of this album is definitely We’ll Burn The Sky. It is a perfect half-ballad and I think it’s much better than the more popular slower Scorpions classics. Meine’s singing is awesome again. The song starts slow but the chorus part is heavy and catchy. In my opinion We’ll Burn The Sky is one of the greatest songs on the long career of Scorpions. It it sad, melancholic and beautiful. I’ve Got To Be Free is a simple rocker, but a good one. The Riot Of Your Time contains dark atmosphere which was quite typical element in the 70’s Scorpions. Next comes the two Uli Roth songs The Sails Of Charon and Your Light that contain even satanic feeling on their lyrics. When I listen to those songs they remind me of old Black Sabbath which is a cool thing. He’s A Woman, She’s A Man is a funny song but a kind of a legend. After this fast rocker comes the last song of the album Born To Touch Your Feelings. It is a very typical thing that Scorpions close their album with a ballad. In fact the song is good but too long for my taste. There are some women from different countries to spell some words in the end of the song. They speak different languages so it’s hard to find out what they’re saying. In my opinion that outro part is too long and boring.
Overall Taken By Force is a very good album and I’ll recommend it to everyone who likes solid 70’s heavy rock.

1. Steamrock Fever
2. We'll Burn The Sky
3. I've Got To Be Free
4. The Riot Of Your Time
5. The Sails Of Charon
6. Your Light
7. He's A Woman - She's A Man
8. Born To Touch Your Feelings
Bonus Tracks
9. Suspender Love
10. Polar Nights (Live)


224-320 KBPS

Been a fan of Reggie for a long time so picking up the new cd was a no-brainer. I was incredibly surprised at what I found. Unlike the previous album, this one is completely devoid of tomfoolery. No outtake tracks, no common denominator, even the dwarves stayed home this round. In fact, this is the most serious and professional RatFE album I've ever heard.
Fortunately James and crew avoided the common pitfall most bands stumble into when they "grow up". This isn't a mainstream record, you won't find overproduced vocals and cookie cutter melodies here. Rest assured, this is still VERY much RatFE. James' vocals and lyrics are still very much James, light moog melodies still overlay distorted guitar riffs.
Honestly, this is RatFE at their best. This is a full album of top notch recordings. No filler tracks and a great flow. If you even remotely like Reggie and the Full Effect you need to own this album and if you like punk-oriented music that doesn't fit the MTV criteria, you do too.

1. G
2. Smith and 9th Avenue
3. F
4. E
5. 3rd Avenue
6. L
7. J
8. V
9. Lorimer Street
10. R
11. 36th Street
12. N

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


AMANDLA (1989)
320 KBPS

Amandla doesn't sound like any of the contemporary jazz records of its time, as Miles Davis returns one last time to a leadership role he'd basically abdicated to Fender bassist/multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller on the preceding Tutu and Siesta. By plugging in with the cream of his live collaborators on Amandla, Miles retained the big band sound of Tutu, but with a more humanized sense of interplay and swing. "Catembe" heralds the third world rhythmic locus which snakes its way through the entire album, while "Jo-Jo" and "Jilli" engender an ongoing call-and-response between front line and back line, between main and secondary themes, as Kenny Garrett's fat, burnished alto lines coil and strike around Davis's more circumspect, muted phrases. The most poignant moments come on the title tune, with chord changes reminiscent of Davis's traditional ballad style, and on the closing "Mr. Pastorius," where Davis finally reverts to his classic open horn to pay tribute to the late bassist over a laidback swing beat, with echoes of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was."

1. Catembe
2. Cobra
3. Big Time
4. Hannibal
5. Jo-Jo
6. Amandla
7. Jilli
8. Mr. Pastorius


13 (1972)
320 KBPS

One of the rarest of Lee Hazlewood's original LPs, 13 is a surprisingly swinging album completely indicative of the year of its recording, 1972. But though it's undeniably a period piece, in many ways it's dated in all the right ways. The opener, "You Look Like a Lady," is a gem, complete with soaring horn section, a roving bassline, and scads of wah-wah guitar. Oddly, over-production never hurt Hazlewood's gravelly, off-key delivery, and though the arrangements here aren't always sympathetic to the songwriting ("Tulsa Sunday" is particularly jarring), they're usually entertaining. "She Comes Running," a song originally recorded for 1968's Love and Other Crimes, makes another appearance, though with a much more commercial production. The lyrics are vintage Hazlewood, and "Ten or 11 Towns Ago" is a highlight: "Met a girl in Baltimore / Nothing less and nothing more / She was rich and I was poor / So I let her take me on a small vacation" and "One week in San Francisco, existing on Nabisco / Cookies and bad dreams / Sad scenes and dodging paranoia." Not all of the songs are up to Hazlewood's level; "Toocie and the River" and "Rosacoke Street" are both, relatively speaking, duds. But Hazlewood fans will love to hear these songs, especially since none have been collected on the quasi-legal compilations available at the nation's better record stores. Out of print for decades, 13 returned in early 2000 thanks to a reissue campaign by Smells Like Records. The rip comes from this reissue. Enjoy.

1. You Look Like a Lady
2. Tulsa Sunday
3. Ten or Eleven Towns Ago
4. Toocie and the River
5. She Comes Running
6. Rosacoke Street
7. I Move Around
8. And I Loved You Then
9. Hey, Me I'm Riding


OLYMPIA 1984 (1984)
320 KBPS

What can I say? While Sheller is good alone at his piano or with a full band but he might be even better when accompanied by a string quartet and, lucky you, that's just what you get with this 1984 recording at the legendary Olympia concert hall. These 13 songs and 2 instrumental pieces demonstrate how subtle and delicate Sheller's compositions are... and entertaining too! Seldom has a musician been able to mix pop and classical with such grace. A great live recording from a great artist, get it.

1. Ouverture
2. Maman Est Folle
3. Les Mots Qui Viennent Tout Bas
4. Le Capitaine
5. Chanson Lente
6. J'Suis Pas Bien
7. A Franchement Parler
8. Oh! J'Cours Tout Seul
9. Les Filles De L'Aurore
10. Le Carnet A Spirale
11. Nage Libre
12. Une Chanson Noble Et Sentimentale
13. Symphoman
14. Simplement
15. Mon Dieu Que J'L'Aime


320 KBPS

Back in the late 80's It Bites got lots of press in magazines like Kerrang, Metal Hammer etc and they were on TV as well. Even though I am not much into progressive rock I purchased their 1988 album "Once around the World". The following year "Eat me In St. Louis" followed to even more interest from the media, but soon after the band disbanded.
The band has just completed their comeback album "The Tall Ships". However, this isn't a full blown reunion. Original members Bob Dalton and John Beck have enlisted two renowned colleagues in their band, namely guitarist John Mitchell (Arena, Kino, Frost) and bassist Lee Pomeroy (Rick Wakeman).
"The Tall Ships" is one of the most successful reunions because the album combines the best of the group's past with new fresh impulses.
Singer and guitarist John Mitchell sounds amazing on the CD. His voice is big and crystal clear. "The Tall ships" is better than It Bites in their heyday. Especially the pompous production, which accentuate all instruments and makes the big harmonies a real treat.
The songs are great compositions and manage to get listener to drift away into the songs and it doesn't feel pro-longed despite several songs clock in a 5-6 minutes.
This kind of music often has technical skills in the high seat in favor of catchiness. It Bites proves that both can be combined with the wonderful Fahrenheit.

1. Oh My God
2. Ghosts
3. Playground
4. Memory Of Water
5. The Tall Ships
6. The Wind That Shakes The Barley
7. Great Disasters
8. Fahrenheit
9. For Safekeeping
10. Lights
11. This Is England


256-320 KBPS

The story behind Operator Please's formation could have been a perfect plot for a teen movie. One talented misfit, annoyed at her high school's battle of the bands being won by the popular kids every year, rounds up four fellow talented misfits of differing ages. The five of them spend their lunch breaks practicing and forming friendships despite none of them previously knowing each other from a bar of soap. Just after the musical montage sequence they try on and then abandon the names Lego Head and A Rubix Cube before settling on Operator Please. At the film's climax they win the battle of the bands (first prize: a box of doughnuts) and then, in the unbelievable post-credits sequence, achieve fame, record deals, and world tours. It just happens to be true.
The five members — Amandah Wilkinson on vocals, Ashley McConnell on bass, Sarah-Jane Gardiner on keyboards, Tim Commandeur on drums, and Taylor Henderson, who replaced original member Stephanie Joske on violin — didn't get that Hollywood ending immediately. After forming in 2005 they started playing any gig they could get on the Gold Coast, despite being so young they were often made to leave venues immediately after performing to avoid breaking liquor-licensing laws. To help them secure more gigs they recorded the On the Prowl EP at a studio belonging to Commandeur's father, selling copies via MySpace and a post office box. Their second such EP, Cement Cement, attracted the attention of label EMI, who approached them about a record deal. They had to repeat the offer as Wilkinson, thinking it was a joke, ignored their initial e-mail.
Yes Yes Vindictive, the band's debut album, was released in 2007. The catchy single "It's Just a Song About Ping-Pong" became Australian radio stations' most-added song and was nominated for two ARIA Awards, including Best Pop Release and Breakthrough Artist, winning in the second category. For those who wonder what the band sounds like, I'd describe them as a teenage Yeah Yeah Yeahs which is not bad at all. We'll see how far these youngsters go but, judging on this album, my guess is pretty far.

1. Zero Zero
2. Get What You Want
3. Just A Song About Ping Pong
4. Cringe
5. Two For My Seconds
6. Terminal Disease
7. 6/8
8. Yes Yes Vindictive
9. Other Song
10. Ghost
11. Leave It Alone
12. Pantomime

Tuesday, July 28, 2009



QUATUORS OP. 61 & 96 (2009)
320 KBPS

Here's a rendition of might very well be Dvorak's most celebrated chamber music composition. The 12th quatuor was written in 16 days while in the U.S.A., it displays a deep feeling of nostalgia and spirituality and was influenced by Dvorak meeting african-americans. The lullaby, at the end of the second movement, alone makes this fantastic piece of music a must hear.
As usually, the Quatuor Talich shines on these recordings.

Quatuor à cordes n° 12 en fa majeur
1. Allegro ma non troppo
2. Lento
3. Molto vivace
4. Finale. Vivace ma non troppo
Quatuor en ut majeur, op. 61, B 121 (1881)
5. Allegro non tanto
6. Poco adagio e molto cantabile
7. Allegro vivo
8. Finale : vivace


320 KBPS

South Saturn Delta is a cluttered mess. Fortunately, just like cleaning out an attic, while listening to this, you are going to find many things you loved that you could never figure out where you placed them. Thats the best analogy that I can give in regards to this record.
Indeed, it is cluttered, and at points even difficult to stomach, but in the end when you look at the album as a whole, you see something more than the mess, something that you just can't resist. At least it's that way for me and other Jimi-philes alike.
The intent of South Saturn Delta was to find a place for some of Jimi's uncomplete work, some stuff previously unavailable after Cry Of Love, Rainbow Bridge, and War Heroes were deleted from Hendrix catalogues, and other material that even the "hardcore" fans haven't heard. While most of the material from the previously mentioned out-of-print titles was spread out over the length of "First Rays Of The New Rising Sun," some couldn't be placed there, whether it be through time constraints, or the fact that some of the stuff just wasn't complete. Instead, all of the unfinished material was pushed over to SSD.
Despite it's somewhat iffy sound quality, and half-finsihed tracks, SSD still manages to be an incredibly endearing title. Maybe it's the honestness found in the fact that Jimi wasn't perfect and he did make mistakes, or maybe it's some of the new ideas he was attempting to blend into his lyricism, I don't know. Much more spiritual, emotional, and poetic work is found throughout.
Even the instrumental tracks (whether they were intended to be instrumentals or Jimi had yet to add vocals) have a fantastic feel, and this is where Jimi shines. Without constraints in front of the mic, he was free to let loose and just whail on the Strat, visible in many of the "jam-oriented" tracks throughout.
I still do have to wonder why EH/MCA chose to release many of the tracks ($$$ ?) found here when there is an entire vault of near-complete work and live recordings waiting. Angel is missing the first two minutes do to damage done to the original master tape (yet, interestingly enough, on the Jimi Hendrix box set, the same track is found, but in complete form). Sometimes conversation can be heard, and during several tracks, Jimi himself laughs, talking to friends and to the engineer (presumably Eddie Kramer).
But even when you take this into account, SSD is still a fantastic release, and something that dedicated Jimi-freaks have been waiting for for years. It was preceded by near thirty years of dissapointing rip-offs, and maybe because of this, fans see SSD as being better than it actually may be.
If you want to find out about Jimi, and haven't really heard any of his music, I'd advise you not to invest in this set, as his complete works are a much better representation of himself.
Finished or not though, South Saturn Delta is an excellent, enjoyable release, and one that is sure to please even the most hardcore fans.

1. Look Over Yonder
2. Little Wing
3. Here He Comes (Lover Man)
4. South Saturn Delta
5. Power of Soul
6. Message to the Universe (Message to Love)
7. Tax Free
8. All Along the Watchtower
9. Stars That Play with Laughing Sam's Dice
10. Midnight
11. Sweet Angel (Angel)
12. Bleeding Heart
13. Pali Gap
14. Drifter's Escape
15. Midnight Lightning


256-320 KBPS

It's better to try too hard than not hard enough. That might sound like a platitude from an inspirational poster that hung on your elementary school room wall, but in the case of ¡Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta! the debut full-length from Phoenix's Stiletto Formal, it really is true.
Making good on the promise of their first two EPs, Masochism in the Place of Romance and the Army of Darkness-referencing This is My Boomstick, the band puts literally everything they have on this record, including screaming, reckless genre-bending, wild tempo changes, and a guest appearance from underground rapper MURS on “Sleeping Our Way to the Top.” And then there’s the cello. While not the first band to incorporate the classical instrument into indie rock (done notably and credibly in the past by Cursive and Murder by Death), its seamless integration in songs like “50 CCs of Anything Potent” prove that it's not simply a goofy gimmick.
The lyrics match the music quite nicely: complex, fractured and occasionally off-putting. When lead singer Kyle Howard emotes “You can stake your claim in the tributary” in the rollicking opening track “We Are All Muckrackers,” who knows what that could actually mean, but it’s intriguing nonsense worthy of at least some thought, like a Zippy the Pinhead comic strip.
And, of course, it's a concept album. Why wouldn't it be? Each song is meant to be a “cinematic collection aimed at a different facet of human interaction,” which you surely would not be able figure out on first listen Nebraska, it isn¹t.
The Stiletto Formal dub themselves “eccentric rock & roll,” and instead of just being a marketing pitch, it’s a mission statement. Sometimes the result is a bit messy, but that’s sort of the point.

1. We Are All Muckrakers
2. Nightcap At The Santa Fe
3. 6 P.M. Your Time
4. Bearskin Rugs Of The Future
5. Fiesta Fiesta Fiesta Fiesta!
6. Sleeping Our Way To The Top
7. Back Alley Contortionist
8. 50 CCS of Anything Potent
9. Desperada
10. Naked Brunch


320 KBPS

"World's apart" is Saga's fourth album. Still very progressive, some changes however have been made here compared to the previous albums. The sound is better, more flashy and echoed, especially the really bottom and loud bass. The keyboards are more modern and futuristic than ever: they are also quite atmospheric. With 2-3 keyboardists in the band, one has to have great expectations, and actually the listener should not be disappointed regarding the keyboards refinement and pertinence. There are still synchronized combination of electric guitars and keyboards forming melodic, structured and complex parts. The lead vocals still sound the same as before but more refined. The electric guitars themselves become here more varied, and they sometimes sound a bit like the clean ones on the early albums of The Fixx. That's why I consider this album to have the traditional Saga's style combined with some Fixx-esque elements. There are some very good electronic drums parts. Many keyboards have a magical percussive sound. The sound sometimes slightly approaches the perfect one on the "Head or Tales" album, made 2 years later.

1. On the Loose
2. Time´s Up
3. Wind Him Up
4. Amnesia
5. Framed
6. The Interview
7. No Regrets (Chapter V)
8. Conversations
9. No Stranger (Chapter VIII)

Monday, July 27, 2009


320 KBPS

It's during a shooting that Emmanuelle Seigner met Pierre Emery and Gil Lesage, aka Ultra Orange. Nobody exactly knows how collaborating on this album came to their mind, what we know is what they've given us to hear: a delicious pop/rock album enlightened by psychedelic arrangements and Emmanuelle's sensua/childish voice.
The guitars sometimes remind me of The Velvet Underground and it's no wonder with Emmanuelle voice which is clearly close of that of Nico. The album also bears the influence of what Serge Gainsbourg wrote for Brigitte Bardot though the overall album leans more towards rock than bubble-gummed pop.
All in all, what we're having here is a retro album (circa 1969) with quality songwriting and top notch musicianship. Nothing new but delightful enough to wish for more.

1. Sing Sing
2. Simple Words
3. Rosemary's Lullaby
4. Bunny
5. Lines Of My Hand
6. Touch My Shadow
7. Don't Kiss Me Goodbye
8. Won't Lovers Revolt Now
9. Nobody Knows
10. The Good From The Bad
11. One Day


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This is an unusual release, from the morphed David Bowie, who had changed personna again, this time into the Diamond Dog depicted on the cover. This was supposed to be Bowie's concept album, a tribute to George Orwell's politcal commentary and prediction of future events. The opening track, spoken over the orchestrated version of "Bewitched" arranged by Tony Visconti, "Future Legend", ends with Bowie yelling, "This isn't Rock and Roll, this is genocide". The shredding slide introduction of "Diamond Dogs" shows Bowie at his guitar playing best. The band tears through the title song, with top players including Herbie Flowers on bass. Herbie, a frequent sideman, is famous for his playing on "Space Oddity", "Jump Into the Fire" by Nilsson, and "Walk On the Wild Side", to name just a few. Drums are handled by another studio star pair, Aynsley Dunbar, and Tony Newman, while longtime favorite after the departure of Rick Wakeman, Mike Garson handles the keyboard duties. Bowie takes lead guitar on all tracks, except for the scratchy wah wah played by Alan Parker on "1984". Bowie's guitarwork is surprising, with crunchy, scratchy sound dominating the release, after the tasty melodic soaring tones that former sideman Mick Ronson used so effectively. "Sweet Thing" features soaring vocals, great orchestration by Visconti again, with Bowie on a yacking sax on a tune that morphs into "Candidate", before reprising back into "Sweet Thing". It is easy to see the political tone Bowie takes by the end of the first side, with "Rebel Rebel" with it's lyrical repetition, commenting on social decadence and decay. Again, Bowie manages to carry the song with a simplistic, yet unforgettable guitar riff, whose searing tone cuts through. "Rock and Roll With Me", co authored by Bowie and Warren Peace (collaborator G A MacCormack) begins the second side of the original release, which is more consistent with the Orwell's 1984. "We Are the Dead" a direct quote from the book follows, which rolls into "1984", a classic Bowie track, with it's guitar intro. powerful vocals and abrupt ending. "Big Brother" is another obvious Orwell reference, whose end is looped to conclude the disk. In all this is excellent release, whose highs are unbelievable. Some of the tracks are good, not great, but the ones that are on are unforgettable, making this a must own.

1. Future Legend
2. Diamond Dogs
3. Sweet Thing
4. Candidate
5. Sweet Thing (Reprise)
6. Rebel Rebel
7. Rock 'N' Roll With Me
8. We Are The Dead
9. 1984
10. Big Brother
11. Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family


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I loved "Blues for the Red Sun" and "Welcome to Sky Valley." While "...And the Circus Leaves Town" did not immediately strike me as a great album, it slowly grew on me through repeated listens and, over time, it has racked up more plays on my i-pod than either of those albums. Over two years later, I still find myself appreciating it in new ways.
It is initially difficult to appreciate Circus because it doesn't really sound like a Kyuss album in several respects. In place of sprawling, "Freedom Run" style epics, Circus is basically a collection of medium length grooves. Even the 11 minute album closer plays more like a medley of short riff jams than a through composed epic. Meanwhile, the band's trademark organic guitar voices are replaced with a thick, beefy growl that foreshadows the early QOTSA "robot rock" sound. On the vocals, John Garcia sings as much as he snarls. And his lyrics eschew the awesome ego tripping bombast of Gardenia and Green Machine for something a lot moodier and more complex. Taken together, these changes create an overall feel that is very different from both earlier Kyuss albums and the early QOTSA output that followed.
The basic idea of "Circus," as I interpret it, is that Kyuss puts away the bag of tricks they could have easily used over and over again (I think that is what is meant by "the Circus") and engages the listener on a much humbler level. There is still considerable grandeur in this album, but it is not a grandeur that says "I am great." It is the grandeur of being small and human, doubting oneself and marveling at the greatness around oneself. In the Yawning Man cover Catamaran, John Garcia sings "smooth stones behind me / cold air surrounds / soft and savory / it can take you to God." I think that about sums it up.

1. Hurricane
2. One Inch Man
3. Thee Ol' Boozeroony
4. Gloria Lewis
5. Phototropic
6. El Rodeo
7. Jumbo Blimp Jumbo
8. Tangy Zizzle
9. Size Queen
10. Catamaran
11. Spaceship Landing


POLARIS (2009)
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During the multiple break-ups and handful of albums released all within a few years, Stratovarius was clearly losing momentum due to Timo Tolkki, their lead guitarist, lacking inspiration as the main writer for the band. So much so that when he ended the band for the final time, he waived the rights of the name to Jens Johansson, the band’s keyboardist. The remaining members decided to breathe new life into a dead tree, replacing Tolkki with upcoming guitarist/producer Matias Kupiainen and wrote a completely new record as a band within a year…so it probably fell on its face, yeah?
Based off just one listen you can take a shot in the dark and say Tolkki was the problem, because even amongst the myriad of useless power metal bands Stratovarius managed to put forth something not only listenable, but enjoyable. Yes, enjoyable power metal. This is huge, this hasn’t happened since Nightfall In Middle Earth, but just how did they do it? Firstly, Johansson’s eclectic use of keyboard effects is vital in the versatility of the record. Secondly, the song compositions are not nearly as typical as their recent outputs, as if they allowed a progressive edge to take form construction-wise. Kupiainen’s new blood is noticeable with his lead playing and the amount of feeling he is able to put into his parts, playing so fluid as if he was born to play these songs. Stratovarius just may be a force to be reckoned with once again…if only they’d find a more resourceful vocalist. They are beyond standard for the genre; at times they fit quite well, but when there’s less layers of music his voice is distinctly less strong.
Polaris as a whole isn’t power metal innovation but it certainly could be a stepping stone to that path. Not one track feels forced, and it seems that even though Stratovarius are not doing anything different than their previous works, let alone their very small amount of contemporaries, they have a vindication mindset allowing them to evolve without the limits of band member conflicts. Among the emotive piano progressions budding from chaotic and conscious shredding and the ever-changing tempos and sensations within the catharsis of a band reborn, even a casual power metal fan will find this a worthwhile listen.

1. Deep Unknown
2. Falling Star
3. King Of Nothing
4. Blind
5. Winter Skies
6. Forever Is Today
7. Higher We Go
8. Somehow Precious
9. Emancipation Suite: I Dusk
10. Emancipation Suite: II Dawn
11. When Mountains Fall
Bonus track
12 - Deep Unknown (Mikko Raita Vinyl Mix)

Sunday, July 26, 2009


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With 1971's Fragile having left Yes poised quivering on the brink of what friend and foe acknowledged was the peak of the band's achievement, Close to the Edge was never going to be an easy album to make. Drummer Bill Bruford was already shifting restlessly against Jon Anderson's increasingly mystic/mystifying lyricism, while contemporary reports of the recording sessions depicted bandmate Rick Wakeman, too, as little more than an observer to the vast tapestry that Anderson, Steve Howe, and Chris Squire were creating. For it was vast. Close to the Edge comprised just three tracks, the epic "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru," plus a side-long title track that represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years. Close to the Edge would make the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic, dispatch Yes on the longest tour of its career so far and, if hindsight be the guide, launch the band on a downward swing that only disintegration, rebuilding, and a savage change of direction would cure. The latter, however, was still to come. In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece.

1. Close To The Edge
2. And You And I
3. Siberian Khatru

RELAYER (1974)
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Yes had fallen out of critical favor with Tales from Topographic Oceans, a two-record set of four songs that reviewers found indulgent. But they had not fallen out of the Top Ten, and so they had little incentive to curb their musical ambitiousness. Relayer, released 11 months after Tales, was a single-disc, three-song album, its music organized into suites that alternated abrasive, rhythmically dense instrumental sections featuring solos for the various instruments with delicate vocal and choral sections featuring poetic lyrics devoted to spiritual imagery. Such compositions seemed intended to provide an interesting musical landscape over which the listener might travel, and enough Yes fans did that to make Relayer a Top Ten, gold-selling hit, though critics continued to complain about the lack of concise, coherent song structures.

1. Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over

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Going for the One is perhaps the most overlooked item in the Yes catalog. It marked Rick Wakeman's return to the band after a three-year absence, and also a return to shorter song forms after the experimentalism of Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans, and Relayer. In many ways, this disc could be seen as the follow-up to Fragile. Its five tracks still retain mystical, abstract lyrical images, and the music is grand and melodic, the vocal harmonies perfectly balanced by the stinging guitar work of Steve Howe, Wakeman's keyboards, and the solid rhythms of Alan White and Chris Squire. The title track features Howe on steel guitar (he's the only prog rocker who bothers with the instrument). "Turn of the Century" and the album's single, "Wonderous Stories," are lovely ballads the way only Yes can do them. "Parallels" is the album's big, pompous song, so well done that in later years the band opened concerts with it. Wakeman's stately church organ, recorded at St. Martin's Church, Vevey, Switzerland, sets the tone for this "Roundabout"-ish track. The concluding "Awaken" is the album's nod to the extended suite. Again, the lyrics are spacy in the extreme, but Jon Anderson and Squire are dead-on vocally, and the addition of Anderson's harp and White's tuned percussion round out this evocative track.

1. Going For The One
2. Turn Of The Century
3. Parallels
4. Wonderous Stories
5. Awaken

DRAMA (1980)
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For this one album, ex-Buggles Geoffrey Downes and Trevor Horn were drafted in to replace Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. It rocks harder than other Yes albums, and for classically inclined fans, it was a jarring departure; but it was a harbinger of Yes and Asia albums to come. A newly emboldened Chris Squire lays down aggressive rhythms with Alan White, and Steve Howe eschews his usual acoustic rags and flamenco licks for a more metallic approach, opting for sheets of electric sound. Prime cuts include the doom-laden "Machine Messiah" and the manic ska inflections of "Tempus Fugit." Despite the promise of this new material, the band soon fell apart; Horn went into production, Howe and Downes joined Asia, and Squire and White toyed and then gave up on a pair-up with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, which was to be titled XYZ (i.e., Ex-Yes and Zeppelin).

1. Machine Messiah
2. White Car
3. Does It Really Happen?
4. Into the Lens
5. Run Through the Light
6. Tempus Fugit
Bonus tracks
7. Into The Lens (I am a camera) (single version)
8. Run Through The Light (single version)
9. Have We Really Got To Go Through This
10. Song No.4 (Satellite)
11. Tempus Fugit (tracking session)
12. White Car (tracking session)
13. Dancing Through The Light
14. Golden Age
15. In The Tower
16. Friend Of A Friend

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The four-years-in-the-making follow-up to Yes' comeback album, 90125, Big Generator was also a million-selling hit, although not as successful as its predecessor, probably because the singles "Love Will Find a Way" (number 30) and "Rhythm of Love" (number 40) couldn't match "Owner of a Lonely Heart" from the previous LP, even if they were favorites on AOR radio at the time. Actually, it was the title track that was a carbon copy of "Owner," so maybe that was the problem. More likely, though, "Owner" was a one-shot (courtesy of producer Trevor Horn), and as Yes asserted itself more here, the band reverted more to its old style, making for some confusion. Nevertheless, this album was Yes' last major hit.

1. Rhythm Of Love
2. Big Generator
3. Shoot High Aim Low
4. Almost Like Love
5. Love Will Find A Way
6. Final Eyes
7. I'm Running
8. Holy Lamb

TALK (1994)
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Between 1992-94, Yes had the bad luck to sign a contract with a new label which went bankrupt later. The new label wanted the 90125 line-up, so the main responsibility fell in Trevor Rabin, who again did the best job he could, recording this album in his studio, using computers and advanced recording technology. So, one of the things I don`t like very much from this album is the very "clear and clean" sound of the tracks, very processed by studio technology. But the album is still good, maybe the most "progressive" done by this line-up, with also having the most Radio oriented song from all the songs of this album (I heard it in the Radio), "Walls", a song composed by Rabin with Roger Hodgson (ex- Supertramp) and Jon Anderson. The best songs are: "I am Waiting" (the best of all), "State of Play" (the heaviest of all) and "Endless Dream" (Rabin`s "Awaken", as I call it). "I Am Waiting" is a very good ballad. "State of Play" is almost heavy metal, with very good drums and guitars. "Endless Dream" has a mixture of Rabin`s style with some of the old Yes of the seventies. As Rabin played the main keyboards in this album, Tony Kaye`s organ is there only sometimes.

1. The Calling
2. I Am Waiting
3. Real Love
4. State Of Play
5. Walls
6. Where Will You Be
7. Endless Dream
a) Silent Spring (Instrumental)
b) Talk
c) Endless Dream

Saturday, July 25, 2009


RED (1974)
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King Crimson fell apart once more, seemingly for the last time, as David Cross walked away during the making of this album. It became Robert Fripp's last thoughts on this version of the band, a bit noiser overall but with some surprising sounds featured, mostly out of the group's past — Mel Collins' and Ian McDonald's saxes, Marc Charig's cornet, and Robin Miller's oboe, thus providing a glimpse of what the 1972-era King Crimson might've sounded like handling the later group's repertory (which nearly happened). Indeed, Charig's cornet gets just about the best showcase it ever had on a King Crimson album, and the truth is that few intact groups could have gotten an album as good as Red together. The fact that it was put together by a band in its death throes makes it all the more impressive an achievement.

1. Red
2. Fallen Angel
3. One More Red Nightmare
4. Providence
5. Starless


THIRD (2008)
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When word broke that Portishead would be releasing their first album in a decade, I could barely contain my excitement. I have been a fan of the trip-hop act from the U.K. since their first album, Dummy, came out in 1994. The band’s blog teased fans with progress reports and they played some new songs at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England. One would expect a triumphant return, a bold comeback to remind fans why they fell in love with Portishead all those years ago, but then one would be disappointed. To say that this new album is experimental is an understatement. The lead single, “Machine Gun”, is a random mix of electronic sounds and Beth Gibbons ever-haunting vocals. Fans of the band will be pleased, but this is not going to attract new listeners. Some of the songs are more readily accessible than others. “Small” is a somber ballad that showcases Gibbons’ vocal talents with a sexy groove-vibe that will be familiar to fans. On the flipside of that, “Magic Doors” starts off with a 5-second Emergency Warning Test-tone that will discourage listeners from digging too deeply into this record if that happens to be the first track they hear.
Thankfully, most of Third falls somewhere between the two, and it grows on you the more you listen to it. After a week, I am glad to report that the aural strobe light in “We Carry On” barely registers anymore and my ears focus on the tribal beat and the melodic sway in Gibbons’ voice. This is my favorite song on the entire CD now, and easily the most danceable of the eleven tracks the band has assembled. The opening song, “Silence” has a seventies cop-show feel to it that made me want to throw on a pair of dark aviator shades and lurk around my neighbor’s backdoor looking for evidence of a coke deal or Cold War gold heist. Deep bass, always a Portishead staple, makes a comeback on “Hunter” and “Machine Gun”, but many of the other beats seem to come from traditional sounding instruments. While part of me really misses the 808s, tracks like “The Rip” and “Threads” still have the discordant beauty that made me fall in love with the band years ago. If you aren’t already a fan of this band, or even trip-hop in general, there’s nothing I can say that will make you enjoy Third. On the other hand, if you remember the way “Roads” or “Sour Times” made you feel over a decade ago, I think you’ll get into this new release. When Portishead drops this CD on April 29th, check it out and listen to it a few times before sticking it on a shelf and giving up. Go to the band’s Myspace page and listen to “Machine Gun” a few times before hand, and that might help overcome the initial “What the hell?” reaction I can almost guarantee you will have at first. Beyond that first listen, I promise fans that Third will germinate in your brain and you’ll soon remember the wonder and mystery that this band from Bristol has always inspired.

1. Silence
2. Hunter
3. Nylon Smile
4. The Rip
5. Plastic
6. We Carry On
7. Deep Water
8. Machine Gun
9. Small
10. Magic Doors
11. Threads


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Here comes the oh so sensual voice of Pauline Croze on her debut album, one that had quite a bit of success in France. Produced and arranged by Edith Fambuena (Etienne Daho, Les Valentins, Alain Bashung, etc.), Pauline's debut is a deliciously well-crafted pop/chanson album. If you're expecting something dark and twisted, pass your way, this is not what this music has in store for you. But, if you're looking for good songs that'll put a smile on your face, look no further, this one's for you. Whatsmore, it has a lot more depths that it initially shows which doesn't spoil the pleasure one bit. Sunny, charming and ultimately sensual, Pauline Croze's self-titled is a must try.

1. Mise A Nu
2. Dans La Chaleur Des Nuits De Pleine Lune
3. M'En Voulez-Vous?
4. Jeunesse Affamée
5. T'Es Beau
6. Quand Je Suis Ivre
7. Je Suis Floue
8. Je Ferai Sans
9. Larmes
10. Rita
11. Femme Fossile
12. Mal Assis


SIGNALS (1982)
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A pivotal album for Rush. Many fans consider this the beginning of the next exciting chapter of the band while others consider it effectively the end of their favorite rock band. While I can understand the frustration of the latter group it is my opinion that Signals is mostly an enjoyable success.
"Subdivisions" is a very special song to my heart. I get chills every time I listen to it. My absolute favorite Peart lyrics are here as he captures the complete isolation, loneliness, fear, and shame that some shunned young people feel at that age. I remember those years in the burbs well and understand the feelings they wrote about. And beyond the lyrics are the dark and foreboding mood that the keys create for me, like dark clouds on the horizon.
"Losing It" is the other standout track and one of Rush's most heart-wrenching emotional songs. Ben Minks electric violin fits the piece perfectly. The music is so wistful and underscores more of Neil's perfect lyrics, especially the end about ones dreams. Alex lets rip an imaginative solo before they sadly choose to let this great song fade out. They should have expanded this one a bit.
While clearly a success I don't believe that Signals is quite as good as the four albums that precede it and could not call it essential except to Rush fans.

1. Subdivisions
2. The analog kid
3. Chemistry
4. Digital man
5. The weapon (part II of Fear)
6. New world man
7. Losing it
8. Countdown


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This album sounds just like a bubblegum or a lolipop would do if they were music. It's sweet, light as air, not very substential, it sure isn't everyday's musical meal, but it's joyous and entertaining enough to stand on its own.
While recorded and released in 1979 (30 years ago!), this is definitely 80s music with its typical synth sounds and silly lyrics. Would this had been English or American it would certainly had been a major hit. Well, it was in France but had hardly been heard of any place else.
Of course, you have the two hit singles, the sexually charged Banana Split and Amoureux Solitaires but most of the songs in here are quite good and will entertain those looking for something sugary. At that, Lio's debut album is a winner.

1. Amicalement Vôtre
2. J'Obtiens Toujours Ce Que Je Veux
3. Comix Discomix
4. Panthère Rose
5. You Go to My Head
6. Amoureux Solitaires
7. Si Belle et Inutile
8. Bébé Vampire
9. Speedy Gonzales
10. Petite Amazone
11. Banana Split
12. Oz
Bonus tracks
13. Teenager
14. Je Ne Sais Pas Dire Oui
15. Amantes Solitarios
16. Banana Split [Version Longue 1979]


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Shout at the Devil displays Mötley Crüe's sleazy and notorious yet quite entertaining metal at its best. When compared to its predecessor, Too Fast for Love, one can see that the band's musical range has certainly widened over the course of these two albums; the record features catchy, hard-rocking songs, but also includes an instrumental ("God Bless the Children of the Beast") and a powerful cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter." While such later albums as Dr. Feelgood would achieve a higher amount of critical acclaim, no Mötley Crüe album surpasses the quality of Shout at the Devil.

1. In the Beginning
2. Shout at the Devil
3. Looks That Kill
4. Bastard
5. God Bless the Children of the Beast
6. Helter Skelter
7. Red Hot
8. Too Young to Fall in Love
9. Knock 'Em Dead, Kid
10. Ten Seconds to Love
11. Danger
Bonus tracks
12. Shout at the Devil [Demo Version]
13. Looks That Kill [Demo Version]
14. Hotter Than Hell [Demo Version]
15. I Will Survive

Friday, July 24, 2009


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Many consider "Fantaisie Militaire" to be Alain Bashung's magnum opus and with songs such as "La Nuit Je Mens", "Ode à la Vie", "Dehors" and "Au Pavillon des Lauriers", I won't be the one to deny such a statement.
Bashung was, back then, at the peak of his art and surrounded by a first class team among whose Rodolphe Burger (of Kat Onoma's fame), Adrian Utley (Portishead's guitarist) and Edith Fambuena (a long time companion of Etienne Daho and leader of Les Valentins) have to be named.
There's no denying, also, that this album is a true work of art with music ranging from stringed ballads to classy rockers or trip-hoppesque chanson. Bashung has never been a man to stay put and do the same thing over and over again, "Fantaisie Militaire" is no exception to that rule. A must have.

1. Malaxe
2. La Nuit Je Mens
3. Fantaisie Militaire
4. 2043
5. Mes Prisons
6. Ode A La Vie
7. Dehors
8. Samuel Hall
9. Aucun Express
10. Au Pavillon Des Lauriers
11. Sommes-Nous
12. Angora


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This 1960 recording was a landmark album in John Coltrane's career, the first to introduce his quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones and the first release on which he played soprano saxophone. It also provided him with a signature hit, as his new group conception came together wonderfully on the title track. It's an extended modal reworking in 6/4 time that brought the hypnotic pulsating quality of Indian music into jazz for the first time, with Coltrane's soprano wailing over the oscillating piano chords and pulsing drums. The unusual up-tempo version of Gershwin's "Summertime" is a heated example of Coltrane's "sheets of sound" approach to conventional changes, while "But Not for Me" receives a radical harmonic makeover. This is an excellent introduction to Coltrane's work.

1. My Favorite Things
2. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
3. Summertime
4. But Not for Me


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As the progressive rock is dramatically absent around 1980, Saga still continues to produce excellent modern progressive rock: they still show the way that leads to an avant-garde progressive rock full of modern keyboards. Saga's style here consists in very structured and melodic arrangements made of delightful modern keyboards and rather hard rock electric guitars.
Compared to the Saga's first album, the keyboards on "Images at twilight" sound a bit more modern, futuristic and anthemic. With 2-3 keyboardists in the band, one has to have great expectations, and actually the listener should not be disappointed regarding the keyboards refinement and pertinence. Saga mostly reached his typical modern sound and style here. There are many very good guitar solos, often synchronized to follow the melodic keyboards. The lead singer has an excellent voice a bit like the Spandau Ballet's singer. The overall sound is very modern for the year. "Images (Chapter one)" has excellent, catchy, magic, futuristic, addictive and heroic keyboards: impressive! All the tracks are excellent.

1. It's Time (Chapter Three)
2. See Them Smile
3. Slow Motion
4. You're Not Alone
5. Take It Or Leave It
6. Images (Chapter One)
7. Hot To Cold
8. Mouse In A Maze


TALK SHOW (1997)
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If you're a fan of the Stone Temple Pilots' pop side, you may well find Talk Show the great album that band never quite made. Here the Beatlesque hard-pop that increasingly distinguished STP's work from Tiny Music onward is in the ascendant--most notably on Everybody Loves My Car and Hide. At the same time, there's a lot of variety. Leadoff track Ring Twice gets your attention straight away; along with So Long, it has all the hallmarks of a great STP rocker, and singer Dave Coutts sounds most like Weiland here. (He's a fine vocalist; listen to Hello Hello and Behind to get a good sense of his range.) Everybody's the would-be single. Peeling an Orange, Wash Me Down, Filling the Fields and especially Behind show off the band's softer side to excellent effect.

1. Ring Twice
2. Hello, Hello
3. Everybody Loves My Car
4. Peeling an Orange
5. So Long
6. Wash Me Down
7. End of the World
8. John
9. Behind
10. Morning Girl
11. Hide
12. Fill the Fields


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No one really knew what to make of Haysi Fantayzee when they hit the airwaves in the early 1980s, and I'm not so sure we're any better off now. Take one part synth-pop, two parts new wave, and a dash of country thrown in here and there for good measure, and top it all off with some Buffalo Gal-esque duds, and that's Haysi Fantayzee.
Interestingly enough, I think most of this cd stands up reasonably well to the test of time. "Shiny Shiny" and "John Wayne is Big Leggy" are just plain fun, without a lot of to 80s musical trappings you find in, say, Duran Duran or OMD, that make you wince and wonder "Good lord, what were we thinking?"

1. Shiny Shiny
2. I Lost My Dodi
3. More Money
4. Jimmy Jive Jive
5. Sabres of Paradise
6. Sister Friction
7. Shoofly Love
8. Chizoola
9. John Wayne Is Big Legg
10. Here Comes the Beast
Bonus tracks
11. Holly Joe
12. Okay Big Daddy
13. John Wayne Is Big Leggy [Remix]
14. Holy Joe [12" Single Remix]
15. Shiny Shiny Dance [Remix]
16. Shiny Shiny Bon Temps [Remix]
17. Sister Friction [12" Single Remix]


JAM (1992)
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Jam was the Little Angels' third album for Polydor Records and their first recording with new drummer Mark Richardson, who had recently replaced Michael Lee. Lee had been sacked for auditioning for the Cult without the band's permission, and apart from replacing him, the band continued with founding members brothers Bruce John and Jimmy Dickinson, Mark Plunkett, and lead vocalist Toby Jepson. Jam could almost be described as a lost classic of the hard rock genre, except at the time (the beginning of 1993) it was hardly lost, becoming a number one album for the band, albeit for just one week and holding two rather unwanted chart statistics: one of the biggest falls from the top position; and the shortest number of weeks (five) ever spend in the entire chart for a number one album. Yet soon after this major success, the Little Angels faded quickly back into obscurity, having toured as support for both Van Halen and Bon Jovi. Jam had all the ingredients of a major rock album — powerful melodic guitar-based songs, especially the album's opener, "Way That I Live," and its first single release, "Too Much Too Young," an anthemic singalong with Bryan Adams on guest vocals. Alternating with the rock tracks were softer ballads "Womankind," which not surprisingly became their biggest hit single, "The Colour of Love," and "Sail Away." Then after a brief interlude with the short guitar instrumental "S.T.W," it was back to the AOR format on the song "Don't Confuse Sex with Love," which inexplicably ended with a sample from Big Bopper's hit "Chantilly Lace," and the album closed with a rocking cover of the Kinks' "Tired of Waiting for You." A surprising major hit album, unfortunately all but forgotten years later.

1. Way That I Live
2. Too Much Too Young
3. Splendid Isolation
4. Soap Box
5. STW
6. Don't Confuse Sex With Love
7. Womankind
8. Eyes Wide Open
9. Colour Of Love
10. I Was Not Wrong
11. Sail Away
12. Tired Of Waiting For You (So Tired)
13. Reprise/STW

Thursday, July 23, 2009


PIN UPS (1973)
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Pin Ups fits into David Bowie's output roughly where Moondog Matinee (which, strangely enough, appeared the very same month) did into the Band's output, which is to say that it didn't seem to fit in at all. Just as a lot of fans of Levon Helm et al. couldn't figure where a bunch of rock & roll and R&B covers fit alongside their output of original songs, so Bowie's fans — after enjoying a string of fiercely original LPs going back to 1970's The Man Who Sold the World — weren't able to make too much out of Pin Ups' new recordings of a brace of '60s British hits. Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane had established Bowie as perhaps the most fiercely original of all England's glam rockers (though Marc Bolan's fans would dispute that to their dying day), so an album of covers didn't make any sense and was especially confusing for American fans — apart from the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" and the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things," little here was among the biggest hits of their respective artists' careers, and the Who's "I Can't Explain" and "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere" were the only ones whose original versions were easily available or played very often on the radio; everything else was as much a history lesson, for Pink Floyd fans whose knowledge of that band went back no further than Atom Heart Mother, or into Liverpool rock (the Merseys' "Sorrow"), as it was a tour through Bowie's taste in '60s music. The latter was a mixed bag stylistically, opening with the Pretty Things' high-energy Bo Diddley homage "Rosalyn" and segueing directly into a hard, surging rendition of Them's version of Bert Berns' "Here Comes the Night," filled with crunchy guitars; "I Wish You Would" and "Shapes of Things" were both showcases for Bowie's and Mick Ronson's guitars, and "See Emily Play" emphasized the punkish (as opposed to the psychedelic) side of the song. "Sorrow," which benefited from a new saxophone break, was actually a distinct improvement over the original, managing to be edgier and more elegant all at once, and could easily have been a single at the time, and Bowie's slow version of "I Can't Explain" was distinctly different from the Who's original — in other words, Pin Ups was an artistic statement, of sorts, with some thought behind it, rather than just a quick album of oldies covers to buy some time, as it was often dismissed as being. In the broader context of Bowie's career, Pin Ups was more than an anomaly — it marked the swan song for the Spiders from Mars and something of an interlude between the first and second phases of his international career; the next, beginning with Diamond Dogs, would be a break from his glam rock phase, going off in new directions. It's not a bad bridge between the two, and it has endured across the decades — and the CD remasterings since the late '90s have made it worth discovering all over again.

1. Rosalyn
2. Here Comes The Night
3. I Wish You Would
4. See Emily Play
5. Everything's Alright
6. I Can't Explain
7. Friday On My Mind
8. Sorrow
9. Don't Bring Me Down
10. Shapes Of Things
11. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere?
12. Where Have All The Good Times Gone


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This is the music I've been waiting for from Eddie Vedder. The richness of voice matched with the passsion of his performance and lyrics with substance touch me in ways that Pearl Jam does not. He has produced other music with those elements, but here his warmth and sincerity are not competing with heavy rock sound. A few of the songs really remind me of John Lennon. No Ceiling would fit right in on Revolver. The first few months I owned the album, I considered it quiet and contemplative. After seeing four of his solo shows, I turn it way up and it has a whole different energy. The shortness of the album has an easy fix: hit play again.

1. Setting Forth
2. No Ceiling
3. Far Behind
4. Rise
5. Long Nights
6. Tuolumne
7. Hard Sun
8. Society
9. The Wolf
10. End Of The Road
11. Guaranteed


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This is a KISS album for those who don't like KISS. Granted, it's a mixed bag and some other bands might have done a way better job with the exact same material but it's not the disgrace too many reviewers have said it was. For starters, the choice of Bob Ezrin at the production was a clever one, the man certainly knows how to handle ambitious rock music (see Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare), whatsmore, his previous work with KISS (Destroyer, 1976) certainly eased the band in their attempt at a conceptual work. Suffice to say he certainly was the strength uniting the band in a time when all seemed to fall apart and if it didn't help KISS get the artistic respect they were looking for and is one of the poorest album sales throughout the band's history it's still a pretty good album those looking for a little more than just a KISS album should check out. Just keep in mind that it gets better with each listen and forget the band name on the cover and you might very well be up for a nice suprise.

1. Fanfare
2. Just A Boy
3. Odyssey
4. Only You
5. Under The Rose
6. Dark Light
7. A World Without Heroes
8. The Oath
9. Mr. Blackwell
10. Escape From The Island
11. I


INFINI (2009)
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Infini will be the last Voivod studio album. The band used the final songs and riffs written by late guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour before his death in 2005. Just as they did with 2006's Katorz, Voivod had to meld Piggy's material into finished songs, not an easy task.
Voivod's strength is being able to put a unique twist on several different genres. Their progressive interpretations of thrash, metal and rock have created some groundbreaking music over the past couple decades. There are some really strong tracks on Infini, such as the album opener "God Phones."
Other standouts include the catchy "Treasure Chest" and "Earthache," which has a doomy, retro feel with thick, sludgy guitars and a moderate pace.
There are some filler songs as well that may not have made the cut on a traditional Voivod album, but the band wanted to share Piggy's final compositions with the world. Infini successfully closes out Voivod's long and influential run, leaving a lasting legacy on metal.

1. God Phones
2. From The Cave
3. Earthache
4. Global Warning
5. A Room With A V.U.
6. Destroy After Reading
7. Treasure Chase
8. Krap Radio
9. In Orbit
10. Deathproof
11. Pyramidome
12. Morpheus
13. Volcano


BLOW (2004)
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A Belgian rock band, Ghinzu (if it sounds a bit familiar, it's because they were named from a popular brand of TV infomercial knives that could cut through cans) formed in 1999. Sticking with their own label (Dragoon), Ghinzu avoided signing issues when the need came to release their debut, Electronic Jacuzzi, in 2000. (The album would get a reissue with an altered track listing in 2004.) After a pair of highly successful live shows, and a new album out (2004's Blow) in countries outside of Belgium, Ghinzu began making waves in the central European pop world, eventually landing a gig opening for the reunited Stooges in 2005. In 2008, Ghinzu was to be found in the studio, working on full-length number three, and plotting further domination of Belgian rock. Fans of Muse would be well advised to check this album out.

1. Blow
2. Do You Read Me
3. Jet Sex
4. Cockpit Inferno
5. Until You Faint
6. Dragster Wave
7. Sweet Love
8. High Voltage Queen (The Reign Of)
9. 21st Century Crooners
10. Mine
11. Horse
12. Sea Side Friends


JOKER (2005)
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One of the most charming voices of the new French chanson, Clarika released her debut album on François Hadji-Lazaro's independant label Boucherie Productions (home of some of the finest alternative French rock bands from the 80s: Mano Negra, Pigalle, Garçons Bouchers, Happy Drivers, Sttellla, Roadrunners). It was in 1993. So, you see, Clarika was hardly a newcomer when Joker finally came out in 2005. In fact, it was her 4th album and first on the label ULM.
Her music would define as a mix of chanson and pop served by her voice and her tender and humorous lyrics. There's no comparing Clarika to anybody else as she has a personality of her own. Suffice to say that those who like Jeanne Cherhal, La Grande Sophie or Olivia Ruiz will all find someone to their liking on this album. Whatsmore, two duets with veterans (Bernard Lavilliers and Michel Jonasz) add a little grain of salt to Joker which would be entertaining enough without those two songs anyway. Enjoy.

1. Je Mens
2. Joker
3. Attache-Moi
4. Les Patineurs
5. Ne Me Demande Pas
6. Patricia
7. De Quoi C'Est Fait
8. Toi Pour Moi
9. La Bimbo
10. L'avant-Dernier
11. Je T'Aimais Mieux
12. Non Ca S'Peut Pas (w/ Bernard Lavilliers)
13. L'océan Des Possibles (w/ Michel Jonasz)
Bonus tracks
Live in Brussels
14. Ne Me Demande Pas
15. Joker
16. Non Ca S'Peut Pas