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Friday, April 30, 2010


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In 1970 Ferrer returned to France, where he started working on what he perceived as his first "real" album. Serving brooding prog rock accompanied by more personal lyrics, Métronomie was co-created with long time friend Bernard Estardy.
Though the album went nowhere commercially, its not-so-representative leadoff track, "La Maison Près de la Fontaine," proved a huge mainstream success in France. This apparently irritated Ferrer, whose growing contempt for show business led him to view it as the umpteenth misconception of his artistic vision.
With time, Métronomie became a cult album whose progressive/psychedelic sweetness is still as fresh as it was when it was first released.
Véritable Variétés Verdâtres is not of the same caliber. Though it's not a bad album it certainly isn't as ambitious as Métronomie. Still, Nino's worst is better than what most other 70s mainstream French artists could produce and since VVV is not Nino's worst it has enough good moments to content the music lover.
May this double set serve as an intriduction to an artist too often seen as "the funny guy" because of his 60s hits "Mirza" and "Le Téléfon". A dire misconception of Nino Ferrer's work.

1. Métronomie
2. Les Enfants De La Patrie
3. Métronomie 2
4. Cannabis
5. La Maison Près De La Fontaine
6. Isabelle
7. Freak
8. Pour Oublier Qu'On S'Est Aimé

Véritables Variétés Verdâtres
1. Ouessant
2. Il Pleut Bergère
3. Joseph Joseph
4. Ah Les Americains
5. On Passe Trop De Temps
6. Mashed Potatoes
7. L'Inexpressible
8. Sud Express
9. Valentin


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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 La Belgique, 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.
It was a big challenge for Ghinzu to make this 3rd album; first because it took them 4-5 years to make it...and second, 'Blow' is an instant classic - how can you do something better?
But we're talking about gifted musicians who know where they want to go and what they want to do, they were audacious enough to look at themselves in a MIRROR and to produce an album that sums up everything Ghinzu are: powerful, magic, talented and funny.

1. Cold Love
2. Take It Easy
3. Mother Allegra
4. Mirror Mirror
5. The Dream Maker
6. The End of the World
7. This Light
8. This War Is Silent
9. Je T'Attendrai
10. Birds in My Head
11. Kill the Surfer
12. Interstellar Orgy


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Lords of Acid's 1997 release, Our Little Secret is an open book. Never daring to depart from lyrics that read like the stage directions of a porno flick, fans need only focus their attention on Lords of Acid's musical agenda. The songs still maintain the basic acid house recipe of fat, buzzy bass lines and disorienting rhythms. This album adds a little of all current dance music trends, from trip hop to drum & bass to keep the formula current. "LSD=Truth" rattles with amped organic drum sounds reminiscent of Meat Beat Manifesto. The first couple of tracks are drilled with speed metal guitars. Stylistically, this album is merely a tangent to Lords of Acid's debut album Lust. If this is your first Lords of Acid purchase, go with Lust--it's a better album. If you are collecting, the lyrical shock value will have worn thin on you by now, but the music is twisted enough to keep you engaged.

1. Rubber Doll (Opus)
2. Lover (Cantata)
3. Fingerlickin' Good
4. LSD = Truth (Solo)
5. Man's Best Friend
6. Cybersex (Sherzo)
7. Pussy (Round)
8. Deep Sexy Space (Chorale)
9. Doggie Tom (Overture)
10. (Concerto For) Me and Myself
11. Spank My Booty (Reprise)
12. Power Is Mine (Coda)
13. You Belong to Me (Theme)


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Not long after Ten unexpectedly topped the charts, Pearl Jam became notorious for their intense live performances. Even more notable than the group's unbridled energy was their willingness to stretch out their songs or throw in covers, reminding jaded audiences that rock concerts could be electric and energetic. Their Seattle peers were equally (sometimes more) compelling, but Pearl Jam skillfully made arena rock feel as intimate as a punk club show — something that no other band of their time could do. Instead of building this reputation throughout the course of the '90s, the quintet let it fade away as they became embroiled in a vicious battle with Ticketmaster that ultimately proved unfruitful. Not only did the court cases tie up several years of touring, they also refused to play any venue with contracts with Ticketmaster once it was finished — which meant they played off-market venues that were difficult to reach, thereby decreasing their potential audience substantially. Once 1998's Yield didn't move as much as anyone expected, the band released Live on Two Legs a few short months later. It was culled from Yield's supporting tour, and the difference is substantial — Pearl Jam still sounds good, but they lack the wild energy that distinguished their early years. Professionalism has its good points, however, and it's true that Live on Two Legs is eminently listenable, thanks in no small part to a fine track selection illustrating that the best moments of No Code and Yield rank with Ten, Vs., and Vitalogy. For all the good points — the tight interaction, the occasional nifty solo, Eddie Vedder's powerful performance — the album never quite catches fire. Instead, Live on Two Legs is a souvenir, a thank you to fans who have stood by throughout the years, and on those terms, it's successful.

1. Corduroy
2. Given to Fly
3. Hail Hail
4. Daughter
5. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
6. Untitled
7. MFC
8. Go
9. Red Mosquito
10. Even Flow
11. Off He Goes
12. Nothingman
13. Do the Evolution
14. Betterman
15. Black
16. Fuckin' Up


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Disc 1:

Heat is the sixth album by Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes. It reached number 2 on the ARIA album charts in 1993, and features the singles Sweat It Out, Stand Up, Stone Cold and Right By Your Side. Those who love classic rock will appreciate this album and Jimmy's raspy, rocky voice.

1. Sweat it Out
2. Wheels in Motion
3. Stand Up
4. Burn Baby Burn
5. Something's Got a Hold
6. Love Thing
7. Talking to You
8. Stone Cold
9. Wait for Me
10. Tears We Cry
11. Right by Your Side
12. A Little Bit of Love
13. I'd Rather be Blind
14. Not the Loving Kind
15. Knock Me Down
16. Catch Your Shadow

Disc Two:

Legendary Australian singer/rocker Jimmy Barnes, formerly the lead singer of Cold Chisel, asked the band Badloves to collaberate with him on his Australian top 5 double platinum album Flesh and Wood. In partnership they recorded a cover version of The Band's classic "The Weight" at Barnes' home studio in Bowral, just south of Sydney. "The Weight" was the first single lifted from the album and became a top 5 single hit on the Australian charts in 1993.

1. It Will Be Alright
2. The Weight (with The Badloves)
3. Ride The Night Away
4. Guilty (with Joe Cocker)
5. You Cant Make Love Without A Soul
6. Hell Of A Time (with Ross Wilson)
7. Brother Of Mine (with Tommy Emmanuel)
8. Fade To Black
9. Flame Trees
10. Still Got A Long Way To Go (with Diesel)
11. Still On Your Side
12. Stone Cold (with Don Walker)
13. Let It Go (with Deborah Conway)
14. We Could Be Gone (with Archie Roach)
15. Love Me Tender


MANTRA (1995)
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Straight edge has been a popular philosophy within portions of the hardcore community almost from day one, but New Yorkers Shelter arguably took it to its ultimate extreme with their incrementally strict interpretation of the concept, motivated by their Hare Krishna faith. If only their stylistic choices had walked as straight a path or showed as much creative integrity, because Shelter seemed to have an uncontrollable habit of switching musical gears with almost every new release, and 1995's Mantra was certainly no exception. The band's first album for Roadrunner Records, it countered the surprisingly mellow direction pursued by 1993's Attaining the Supreme with a partial return to their pure hardcore roots via welcome energy blasts like "Appreciation" and "Chance," yet also made plenty of room for surprisingly "establishment-friendly" melodic hard rock in "Here We Go Again" and "Letter to a Friend," as well as pop-punk like "Empathy," "Surrender to Your T.V.," and the title cut (which may or may not have been inspired by the mid-'90s successes of Green Day and the Offspring). Surprisingly, additional hardcore hybrids such as "Message of the Bhagavat," "Civilized Man" and "Not the Flesh" also contain serious attempts at honest-to-goodness rapping (!), and an inspired but confusing amalgam of all of the above crowds inside tellingly named album closer "Metamorphosis." This last song wasn't quite capable of elucidating (or justifying) the whys behind Shelter's head-spinning eclecticism to most conservative hardcore fans, but at least the quality of the material at hand — like the band's Krishna-driven message — was comparatively consistent (if at times tiresomely preachy) enough to make Mantra one of the band's strongest, most popular efforts.

1. Message of the Bhagavat
2. Civilized Man
3. Here We Go
4. Appreciation
5. Empathy
6. Not the Flesh
7. Chance
8. Mantra
9. Surrender to Your T.V.
10. Letter to a Friend
11. Metamorphosis

Thursday, April 29, 2010


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The Man-Machine is closer to the sound and style that would define early new wave electro-pop — less minimalistic in its arrangements and more complex and danceable in its underlying rhythms. Like its predecessor, Trans-Europe Express, there is the feel of a divided concept album, with some songs devoted to science fiction-esque links between humans and technology, often with electronically processed vocals ("The Robots," "Spacelab," and the title track); others take the glamour of urbanization as their subject ("Neon Lights" and "Metropolis"). Plus, there's "The Model," a character sketch that falls under the latter category but takes a more cynical view of the title character's glamorous lifestyle. More pop-oriented than any of their previous work, the sound of The Man-Machine — in particular among Kraftwerk's oeuvre — had a tremendous impact on the cold, robotic synth pop of artists like Gary Numan, as well as Britain's later new romantic movement.

1. The Robots
2. Spacelab
3. Metropolis
4. The Model
5. Neon Lights
6. The Man Machine


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Bruce Springsteen's debut album found him squarely in the tradition of Bob Dylan: folk-based tunes arranged for an electric band featuring piano and organ (plus, in Springsteen's case, 1950s-style rock & roll tenor saxophone breaks), topped by acoustic guitar and a husky voice singing lyrics full of elaborate, even exaggerated imagery. But where Dylan had taken a world-weary, cynical tone, Springsteen was exuberant. His street scenes could be haunted and tragic, as they were in "Lost in the Flood," but they were still imbued with romanticism and a youthful energy. Asbury Park painted a portrait of teenagers cocksure of themselves, yet bowled over by their discovery of the world. It was saved from pretentiousness (if not preciousness) by its sense of humor and by the careful eye for detail that kept even the most high-flown language rooted. Like the lyrics, the arrangements were busy, but the melodies were well developed and the rhythms, pushed by drummer Vincent Lopez, were breakneck.

1 Blinded By the Light
2 Growin' Up
3 Mary Queen of Arkansas
4 Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
5 Lost in the Flood
6 The Angel
7 For You
8 Spirit in the Night
9 It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City


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Haunting, romantic, and ultimately self-indulgent, David Sylvian's Gone To Earth is two albums in one. The first is a collection of gossamer adult pop with jazz, world beat, and atonal influences. Sylvian's world-weary voice quavers with emotion, and the tone of the disc's first half suggests Bryan Ferry doing some serious dream-journaling. Standouts are the brief but lulling "Laughter and Forgetting," the ethereal "Before the Bullfight," and "Silver Moon."
After that, things get a bit murkier with a set of nondescript instrumentals that seem ill-placed after 25 minutes of Sylvian's urbane vocal mysticism. If you're a fan of Eno's "Music for Airports," this section should appeal to you greatly. Otherwise, it will put you to sleep. If ambience is your thing, however (and, really, why would you be considering buying a David Sylvian CD if it wasn't?), this is a true classic.

1. Taking The Veil
2. Laughter And Forgetting
3. Before The Bullfight
4. Gone To Earth
5. Wave
6. River Man
7. Silver Moon
8. The Healing Place
9. Answered Prayers
10. Where The Railroad Meets The Sea
11. The Wooden Cross
12. Home
13. Upon This Earth


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Even had they never set foot in the Sooner State, the Starlight Mints would still face an endless stream of comparisons to fellow Oklahoma freaks of nature the Flaming Lips; when it comes to hallucinatory pop complete with sweeping string arrangements, poignantly strangled vocals, and lyrical references to giant centipede attacks, the comparisons pretty much come with the territory. Much to the credit of The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of, however, it took the Lips three or four records to get this good; embracing everything from rapturously Bowie-esque melodrama to odd Middle Eastern textures to pure noise cacophony, the Starlight Mints' debut maintains the element of surprise from track to track, as each song's journey from point A to point B proves as interesting for its ultimate destination as for the sonic detours it takes along the way.

1. Submarine #3
2. The Bandit
3. Sir Prize
4. Blinded by You
5. Valerie Flames
6. Sugar Blaster
7. Cracker Jack
8. Matador
9. The Twilight Showdown
10. Margarita
11. Pulling Out My Hair


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Martha Velez only issued five albums in her recording career of the 1960s & 1970s. But she has a cult fan following and her albums feature a host of guest musicians. Recorded in 1969, Fiends & Angels is making its worldwide CD debut & features Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Brian Auger, Christine McVie, Jim Capaldi, Mitch Mitchell and the list goes on.
the sound is straight out of the late sixties-a slight blending of instruments and voice that makes for a good,naturally warm sound. As expected,the quality of the backing band is great and helps place this album above the average run of the mill release. On various tracks its easy to hear which guitarist is playing,and while there are no long solos,the arrangements are just fine.
A lost gem you've got to listen to.

1. I'm Gonna Leave You
2. Swamp Man
3. Fool for You
4. In My Girlish Days
5. Very Good Fandango
6. Tell Mama
7. Feel So Bad
8. Drive Me Daddy
9. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
10. Come Here Sweet Man
11. Let the Good Times Roll


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Deconstruction was a one-off project of two former members of Jane's Addiction, bassist Eric Avery and guitarist Dave Navarro. The group was originally to have also included former Jane's drummer Stephen Perkins, but Perkins opted to join up with Perry Farrell in Porno for Pyros, as newcomer Michael Murphy took his spot in the trio. Deconstruction issued a lone, self-titled album in 1994 for Warner Bros., but failed to support the release with a tour — leading to the recording sinking from sight shortly after its release. Navarro would later go on to join the Red Hot Chili Peppers, record a solo album, and participate in several Jane's Addiction reunion tours, while Avery declined to take part in the Jane's reunions, opting to concentrate a new band, Polar Bear.

1. L.A. Song
2. Single
3. Get at 'Em
4. Iris
5. Dirge
6. Fire in the Hole
7. Son
8. Big Sur
9. Hope
10. One
11. America
12. Sleepyhead
13. Wait for History
14. That Is All
15. Kilo

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


LIVE (2009)

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In 2008, Tom Waits launched a sold out tour, garnering intense critical praise by the press which called it the best live show of 2008. It thrilled fans across the world. For the occasion, Waits played in some in cities where he had never played before. Now comes the document of those concerts, 17 performances hand picked by Waits from along the tour. Leaning heavily on songs from his ANTI releases including a haunting Trampled Rose from Real Gone and roaring Get Behind the Mule from Mule Variations. Waits also digs into the vaults for tracks like a reimagined Singapore from 1985's Rain Dogs. Glitter and Doom Live will reside in the Waits catalog alongside earlier live albums like Nighthawks at the Diner and Big Time, both discs held on par with his classic studio releases by fans.

Disc 1
1. Lucinda/Ain't Goin Down (Birmingham 07/03/08)
2. Singapore (Edinburgh 07/28/08)
3. Get Behind The Mule (Tulsa 06/25/08)
4. Fannin Street (Knoxville 06/29/08)
5. Dirt In The Ground (Milan 07/19/08)
6. Such A Scream (Milan 07/18/08)
7. Live Circus (Jacksonville 07/01/08)
8. Goin' Out West (Tulsa 06/25/08)
9. Falling Down (Paris 07/25/08)
10. The Part You Throw Away (Edinburgh 07/28/08)
11. Trampled Rose (Dublin 08/01/08)
12. Metropolitan Glide (Knoxville 6/29/08)
13. I'll Shoot The Moon (Paris 07/24/08)
14. Green Grass (Edinburgh 07/27/08)
15. Make It Rain (Atlanta 07/05/08)
16. Story (Columbus 06/28/08)
17. Lucky Day (Atlanta 07/05/08)

Disc 2
1. Tom Tales


DIVE DEEP (2008)
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Longtime Morcheeba fans that found their sunshine bright album The Antidote a complete disappointment couldn't ask for a better follow-up than Dive Deep. Making that other unloved effort seem like a mislabeled side project, Dive Deep finds multi-instrumentalists the Godfrey brothers returning to the murky, moody kind of downtempo and trip-hop of their early days, just without original vocalist Skye Edwards, or for that matter, Antidote's vocalist Daisy Martey. Instead, they go about it Zero 7 style, utilizing a series of guest vocalists including smooth rapper Cool Calm Pete, alternative singer/songwriter Thomas Dybdahl, and most surprisingly, pop/rock veteran Judie Tzuke, who brings a welcome, folk-tinged sound that serves to connect the dots here between soft rock and Portishead. Tzuke's "Enjoy the Ride" and "Blue Chair" are the mellow highlights to curl up with, while Dybdahl's trilogy of songs -- "Riverbed," "Sleep on It Tonight," and "Washed Away" -- finds his poetic musings on all things melancholy perfectly packaged in Morcheeba's lazy sway. Special mention goes to newcomer Bradley Burgess who delivers "Run Honey Run" with all the hippie grace this John Martyn cover deserves. If Burt Bacharach and the bedazzling side of '60s rock influenced The Antidote, Martyn, Bert Jansch, and Fred Neil are the more earthy and literate artists brought to mind by Dive Deep. The change does the Godfrey brother's music good, bringing it more in line with the Morcheeba name and the masterful good songs/good vibes combination that made their first two full-lengths so haunting.

1. Enjoy the Ride
2. Riverbed
3. Thumbnails
4. Run Honey Run
5. Gained the World
6. One Love Karma
7. Au-Delà
8. Blue Chair
9. Sleep on It Tonight
10. The Ledge Beyond the Edge
11. Washed Away


JAWBOX (1996)
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Aside from slicker production from John Agnello and more direct lyrics, not much separates Jawbox's only non-transitional record from For Your Own Special Sweetheart. It could be argued that the band could have gotten a little too comfortable playing together or just plain too damn skilled. At times it sounds so effortless that you wonder if they could have sleepwalked their way through the recording. Granted they never sound as if the passion isn't there, but the clean, dirt-free production might detract from that to a casual listener's ears. The band's arrangements are just as strong as ever, perhaps more so. But another issue is an apparent too-worked-over nature. Were overdubbed acoustic guitars really needed? Were all those additional layers really necessary? They sound like a kid who breezes through an anatomy exam, finishing half an hour before anyone else — the kid decides to stay at his desk and scribble the internal organs of a nurse shark, rather than risk the embarrassment of looking like such a smarty-pants to the rest of the class.
More frustrating than anything else was that the slicker-sounding record left no impact on modern rock radio. But then again, just how many Top 40 hits deal with topics like all the B.S. and fake national pride U.S. students are fed in their history classes? And how many times do you hear a song with schizo time signatures and a chorus that goes something like "Take the big man down/Forktie/Chump crown"? It's no "Semi-Charmed Life," after all. Though this sadly ended up being the band's swan song, there really was no way for the band to top themselves. No point in going back to college when you graduated magna cum laude.

1. Mirrorful
2. Livid
3. Iodine
4. His Only Trade
5. Chinese Fork Tie
6. Won't Come Off
7. Excandescent
8. Spoiler
9. Desert Sea
10. Empire of One
11. Mule/Stall
12. Nickel Nickel Millionaire
13. Capillary Life
14. Absenter
15. Cornflake Girl (Tori Amos cover)


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A quartet hailing from Chapel Hill, NC, the Kingsbury Manx make music in the classic English pop tradition. On its self-titled debut, the band seamlessly blends its home country's indie rock trappings with overseas influences. The Kingsbury Manx is the aural equivalent of a cozy winter fire, with English flavors cloaked in warm, humming organs, acoustic guitars, and tender melodies. It's an unassuming, musically whimsical, minor triumph.
Throughout, the band spins quaint melodies that date back to the days when the concept record was the ultimate test of a group's possibilities as well as its limitations. The tunes have a ring of familiarity, although their sources cannot be directly traced. The Manx may have pilfered a book of Christmas carols for the opening "Pageant Square." "Fanfare," on the other hand, sounds like a slice of early Pink Floyd. On The Kingsbury Manx, these songs are of a piece with more modern material like the instrumental "Blue Eurasians." This song is the indie rock equivalent of an aimless "jam" and can be equally indulgent and uncommunicative; however, the Manx keep a hand on the reigns and adhere to structure, ultimately sticking to a more passive ebb and flood of dynamics. The members have the sort of pedestrian voices common amongst the '90s wave of British groups like Ride and Slowdive. This suits the material fine, and only becomes a problem on one song — beginning with an effortless interplay of cascading guitar tones which are kept as the song's backdrop, "Piss Diary" finds the vocalists singing a chorus of Simon & Garfunkle-esque harmonies almost out of their range.
The Kingsbury Manx's debut is a success largely because ambition and capability are rarely out of balance. Mining simple melodies to build textures and develop songs, the group avoids the sort of garish missteps made by more zealous, less accomplished pop acts.

1. Pageant Square
2. Regular Hands
3. Piss Dairy
4. Cross Your Eyes
5. Blue Eurasians
6. Hawaii in Ten Seconds
7. How Cruel
8. Fields
9. New Old Friend Blues
10. Whether or Not It Matters
11. Fanfare
12. Silver Trees

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


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Newly revised, this is the definitive version of a Zorn masterpiece! Loosely inspired by the remarkable worlds of Henry Darger, Lewis Carroll and Unica Zürn which throw childlike innocence against a backdrop of violence and perversion, Chimeras is one of Zorn's greatest works in the classical tradition. A work of fantasy and imagination scored for a Pierrot Lunaire ensemble plus percussion, the work has been resequenced, remastered and a brief, fleeting newly recorded postlude has been added. Dramatic and colorful, Chimeras is a work filled with femininity, innocence, beauty and violence.

1. One
2. Two
3. Three
4. Four
5. Five
6. Six
7. Seven
8. Eight
9. Nine
10. Ten
11. Interlude
12. Eleven
13. Twelve
14. Postlude


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Bob Dylan returned from exile with John Wesley Harding, a quiet, country-tinged album that split dramatically from his previous three. A calm, reflective album, John Wesley Harding strips away all of the wilder tendencies of Dylan's rock albums -- even the then-unreleased Basement Tapes he made the previous year -- but it isn't a return to his folk roots. If anything, the album is his first serious foray into country, but only a handful of songs, such as "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," are straight country songs. Instead, John Wesley Harding is informed by the rustic sound of country, as well as many rural myths, with seemingly simple songs like "All Along the Watchtower," "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine," and "The Wicked Messenger" revealing several layers of meaning with repeated plays. Although the lyrics are somewhat enigmatic, the music is simple, direct, and melodic, providing a touchstone for the country-rock revolution that swept through rock in the late '60s.

1. John Wesley Harding
2. As I Went Out One Morning
3. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
4. All Along the Watchtower
5. The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
6. Drifter's Escape
7. Dear Landlord
8. I Am a Lonesome Hobo
9. I Pity the Poor Immigrant
10. The Wicked Messenger
11. Down Along the Cove
12. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight


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Opeth's fourth studio album see's them expanding their sound, continuing in a prog trend. This album starts to show off some of Mikael's more emotional, mellow vocals. I think on the first albums he wasn't very confident with singing, he usually favoured death metal screams (which i also love). He has such a beautiful singing voice and it stands out well on this album. I think this one is a lot mellower than the others, especially their previous effort, "My Arms Your Hearse". This album has a lot more balance on it. The metal sections are still strong, powerful and blow the listener away. The death metal screams work really well when they are used. There are more acoustic breaks and classical guitar passages, as well as their trademark gloomy aura that sounds like a ghost in the fog (which would explain why all their album covers have ghostly presences on them).
Opeth's sound has very much matured on this album, their blend of metal and classic acoustic passages and breaks are a lot more consistent than before. This album shows off Mikael Akerfeldt to be (in my opinion) the best songwriter in the field of death metal. Opeth give us so much variability in their guitar sound that it can appeal to fans of heavy metal as well as those that like amazing acoustic work. Mikael can safely go down as one of the best acoustic players out there, combined with his incredible voice, he has a magic touch which puts him up there with the big players. He is very original and such a treat to listen to.
"Still Life" is Opeth's step into a brave new world (compared to the three albums before this). It is very confident and they have obviously settled into a comfortable sound and formula for making a great record that conquers both balance and fluidity. This album is very mature and an amazing listen in terms of metal as well as progressive rock.

1. The Moor
2. Godhead's Lament
3. Benighted
4. Moonlapse Vertigo
5. Face Of Melinda
6. Serenity Painted Death
7. White Cluster


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The first two songs on this New York college sophomore's debut album are the best, layering happy funk on the sampled foundations of the Doors' "Soul Kitchen" and Donovan's "Sunshine Superman." Coppola, a chanter, rapper, and singer from Long Island, New York, affixes a cow picture to her album sleeve, poses in kinky hair like Coolio, names the album for a Spanish phrase meaning "goat sucker," and creates catchy melodies to complement all this playfulness. "I'm a Tree" is a summer single worthy of the Jackson 5's "ABC" or Hanson's "MMMBop," and Coppola's DJ complexity occasionally aspires to the level of Beck or M.C. 900 Ft. Jesus.

1. I'm a Tree
2. Legend of a Cowgirl
3. Naked City (Love to See It Shine)
4. It S All About Me, Me, and Me
5. Piece
6. Karma and the Blizzard
7. One of These Days
8. Pigeon Penelope
9. Soon (I Like It)
10. Forget Myself
11. Da Da

Monday, April 26, 2010


RELAPS (2008)
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Founding members of the Rock In Opposition movement, Univers Zero have continued to change and grow and develop over their entire career, while still keeping a ensemble sound and spirit that is easily recognizable. Relaps presents something that Univers Zero's fans have been hoping for for decades; a peek into the recorded archives of one of the greatest avant-rock ensembles since mid 1970s! This CD documents the final 1980s line-ups of Univers Zéro before the band's long sabbatical from recording and touring. The live sound is excellent throughout and the CD features a 16 page booklet with a informative history of the band during this time period as well as rare, never-seen photos. The line-ups featured on Relaps are the quintet who recorded UZED and the septet who recorded Heatwave. The material is drawn from those two albums, with the live setting providing some different arrangements and even greater fire to the pieces; I found the pieces taken from Heatwave to be particularly inspiring and outrageous. There is also a short, otherwise unheard composition included here. While UZ continue to play truely awesome gigs and develop the material that will be found on their next studio album, Relaps provides a chance for the listener to catch up with some never-released and exciting recordings from a truly classic band!

1. L'Etrange Mixture du Docteur Schwartz
2. Presage
3. Parade
4. Ligne Claire
5. Emanations
6. Heatwave
7. The Funeral Plain
8. L'Etrange Mixture du Docteur Schwartz (free-style version)


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With its cinematic origins The Odd Couple is the natural title for the second album by a pair who seem to spend as much time in wardrobe as the studio and whose recordings are often compared to film scores. Their greatest hit, 2006's "Crazy" was even built around a chunk of a spaghetti western soundtrack. Yet after the success of 2006's excellent St Elsewhere, the collaboration of singer Thomas "Cee-Lo Green" Callaway and producer Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton has become a permanent institution. The Odd Couple certainly lives up to expectations, and though there is no obvious smash to match "Crazy", it's a smoother affair than their often hyperactive debut, the unsettling "Open Book" aside. Highlights include the excellent, agitated lead-off single "Run", a smart slice of off kilter pop-soul, and its most obvious successor, the instant classic "Surprise". "Going On" manages to weld an eighties pomp-pop introduction to a surprisingly vulnerable Cee-Lo performance while the plaintive, bluesy "Who's Gonna Save My Soul" catches him at his most soulful. "Whatever" is a cute, rather bratty sixties pastiche halfway to Britpop (though no Englishman ever used the expression "y'all") while the warped bubblegum pop of "Blind Mary" and the more traditionally ominous "Would Be Killer" are opposite sides of the same twisted coin. Informed by rap and dance, but occupying their own unique genre, Gnarls Barkley continue to soundtrack the movie that, so far, exists only in their heads.

1. Charity Case
2. Who's Gonna Save My Soul
3. Going On
4. Run [I'm A Natural Disaster]
5. Would Be Killer
6. Open Book
7. Whatever
8. Surprise
9. No Time Soon
10. She Knows
11. Blind Mary
12. Neighbors
13. A Little Better


SAIL AWAY (1994)
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Great White must be one of the best American hard rock bands from the dreadful "hair metal" era. Wanna know why? Well, simply because when most of the other bands from that scene played party rock'n'roll with a bigger sound, GW had a little something extra, a.k.a. the blues, to enrich their sound and make it less of a "Mode du Jour"... On Sail Away, the guys took a bold move by tryin' their hands on mellower material. Indeed, most of the tracks featured here are acoustic numbers works! And with the addition of the live CD, where singer Jack Russell makes his first imprinted impression of Robert Plant (Babe [I'm Gonna Leave You]) and a few of the bands classics thrown in for good measure, it's a package which will please the blues, rock and hard rock lovers.

1. A Short Overture
2. Mother's Eyes
3. Cryin'
4. Momma Don't Stop
5. Alone
6. All Right
7. Sail Away
8. Gone With The Wind
9. Livin' In The U.S.A.
10. If I Ever Saw A Good Thing
Bonus Disc
Anaheim Live
1. Call It Rock N' Roll
2. All Over Now
3. Love Is A Lie
4. Old Rose Motel
5. Babe (I'm Gonna Leave You)
6. Rock Me
7. Once Bitten Twice Shy


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Working from the same basic formula that made their debut a winner, Dodgy perfected their approach with their second album, Homegrown. The trio's hooks and melodies are sharper, making songs like "Staying Out for the Summer," "Melodies Haunt You," "So Let Me Go Far" and "Making the Most Of" indelible slices of energetic modern rock. There are still a few stray moments where the band gets by on sound, not songs, but Homegrown is overall a tight, invigorating record.

1. Staying Out for the Summer
2. Melodies Haunt You
3. So Let Me Go Far
4. Crossroads
5. One Day
6. We Are Together
7. Whole Lot Easier
8. Making the Most Of
9. Waiting for the Day
10. What Have I Done Wrong?
11. Grassman

Sunday, April 25, 2010


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Nearly three decades since they first came together during informal sessions at O'Donoghue's Pub in Dublin, the Dubliners remain one of the most influential of Ireland's traditional folk bands. Unlike their counterparts the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners have never strayed from the raw looseness of the pub scene. Whereas the Clancys were well-scrubbed returned Yanks from rural Tipperary, decked out in matching white Arab sweaters, the Dubliners were hard-drinking backstreet Dublin scrappers with unkempt hair and bushy beards, whose gigs seemed to happen by accident in between fist fights.
Get a taste of the real celtic music with this 4 CDs set featuring 80 songs that smell like Guiness and make you want to drink, dance, yell, fight and love.

1. The Molly Maguires
2. Champion at Keeping Them Rolling
3. The Lark in the Morning
4. The Lowlands of Holland
5. Lord Inchiquin
6. The Newry Highwayman
7. Springhill Mining Disaster
8. Boulavogue
9. Joe Hill
10. My Darling Asleep/Paddy in London/an T-Athair Jack Walsh
11. Smith of Bristol
12. The Town I Loved So Well
13. Fiddlers Green
14. Killieburn Brae
15. The Rare Old Time
16. The Musical Priest/the Blackthorn Stick
17. Biddy Mulligan
18. Spancil Hill
19. The Saxon Shilling
20. The Parting Glass

1. Free the People
2. The Greenland Whale Fisheries
03. The Lord of the Dance
4. Skibbereen
5. The Thirty Foot Trailer
6. The Downfall of Paris
7. The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
8. Alabama'58
9. The Louse House of Kilkenny
10. Avondale
11. The Prodigal Son
12. Scorn Not His Simplicity
13. The Spanish Lady
14. The Old Triangle
15. Ojos Negros
16. Drops of Brandy/Lady Carbbery
17. Cunla
18. The Unquiet Grave
19. Sam Hall
20. Molly Malone

1. Building Up and Tearing England Down
2. Song for Ireland
3. Matt Hyland
4. Doherty's Reel/Down the Broom
5. The Captains and the Kings
6. The Night Visiting Song
7. The Waterford Boys/the Humours of Scariff/the Flannel Jacket
8. The Jail of Cluain Meala
9. Down by the Glenside
10. Farewell to Carlingford
11. Donegal Danny
12. The Hen's March to the Midden
13. The Gartan Mother's Lullaby
14. The Bonny Boy
15. High Germany
16. The Ploughboy Lads
17. Last Night's Fun/the Congress Reel
18. Johnston's Motor Car
19. A Gentleman Soldier
20. God Save Ireland

1. The Fermoy Lassies/Sporting Paddy
2. The Black Velvet Band
3. Mcalpine's Fusiliers
4. Dirty Old Town
5. Belfast Hornpipe/Tim Maloney
6. Kelly the Boy From Killane
7. Take it Down From the Mast
8. Finnegan's Wake
9. The Comical Genius
10. The Four Poster Bed/Colonel Rodney
11. Hand Me Down Me Bible
12. All for Me Grog
13. The Wild Rover
14. Blue Mountain Rag
15. Whiskey in the Jar
16. Seven Drunken Nights
17. Home Boys Home
18. Three Lovely Lassies From Kimmage
19. The Holy Ground
20. Monto


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Cut from the same cloth as bands like Great Big Sea, Black 47, and the Pogues, the Young Dubliners put some rock 'n' roll in their Irish ditties. Here on its sixth album, the L.A.-based band looks back to the old country, mostly reinterpreting some of the Emerald Isle's greatest songs. Pogues fans will recognize such classics as "If I Should Fail To Fall From The Grace Of God" and "Pair Of Brown Eyes," and there are two Dubliners songs too, but the rest are traditionals as well as one original and one song adapted from a Patrick Kavanagh poem. Likely best enjoyed in the company of friends, this album is prime fodder for night of drinking in the pub thanks to the sing along choruses and big crunchy guitar parts. It's a fair piece from the tradition, but this band manages to keep the communal aspect of Irish music intact, and that means this tribute hits just the right note.

1. Follow Me Up to Carlow
2. If I Should Fall From Grace With God
3. I'll Tell Me Ma
4. Weila Waile
5. Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore
6. McAlpine's Fusiliers
7. Ashley Falls
8. The Foggy Dew
9. A Pair Of Brown Eyes
10. The Leaving Of Liverpool
11. The Rocky Road To Dublin
12. Raglan Road
13. The Auld Triangle

Saturday, April 24, 2010


FREE WILL (1972)
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Gil Scott-Heron's third album is split down the middle, the first side being a purely musical experience with a full band (including flutist Hubert Laws and drummer Pretty Purdie), the second functioning more as a live rap session with collaborator Brian Jackson on flute and a few friends on percussion. For side one, although he's overly tentative on the ballad "The Middle of Your Day," Scott-Heron excels on the title track and the third song, "The Get Out of the Ghetto Blues," one of his best, best-known performances. The second side is more of an impromptu performance, with Scott-Heron often explaining his tracks by way of introduction ("No Knock" referred to a new police policy whereby knocking was no longer required before entering a house, "And Then He Wrote Meditations" being Scott-Heron's tribute to John Coltrane). His first exploration of pure music-making, Free Will functions as one of Scott-Heron's most visceral performance, displaying a maturing artist who still draws on the raw feeling of his youth.

1. Free Will
2. Middle of Your Day
3. Get out of the Ghetto Blues
4. Speed Kills
5. Did You Hear What They Said?
6. King Alfred Plan
7. No Knock
8. Wiggy
9. Ain't No New Thing
10. Billy Green Is Dead
11. Sex Education: Ghetto Style
12. ...And Then He Wrote Meditations


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Tinariwen strip rock down to its basic building blocks of rhythm, guitars, and voice. On their second CD there are no fancy studio tricks or multiple overdubs. They stick to what they've shown they do well — keep the music raw and emotional. While there are similarities to the desert blues of Mali, these Tuareg nomads from the Western Sahara are as much as rock band as the Stones at their best, capable of conjuring up magic with a guitar riff or lick. Oftentimes, the music has the same bluesy, undulating, hypnotic rhythm of a camel crossing the sand, as on "Aldhechen Manin." But they can also crank the amps and unleash something to tingle the spine and feet, which they do on "Oualahila Ar Tesninam," as frantic and primal a piece of rock & roll as you're likely to find. There's even a touch of rap on "Arawan." But there's a complexity in their basic approach, the interlocking layers of electric guitars and the plaintive, defiant voices. To listen to Tinariwen is to believe once more in rock and its power. This is angry and passionate; it's dangerous music in the very best sense. Western bands might have forgotten how to rock as if their lives depended on it; Tinariwen can teach them.

1. Amassakoul 'n' Ténéré
2. Oualahila Ar Tesninam
3. Chatma
4. Arawan
5. Chet Boghassa
6. Amidinin
7. Ténéré Daféo Nikchan
8. Aldhechen Manin
9. Alkhar Dessouf
10. Eh Massina Sintadoben
11. Assoul


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Beck has always been known for his ever-changing moods — particularly since they often arrived one after another on one album, sometimes within one song — yet the shift between the neon glitz of Midnite Vultures and the lush, somber Sea Change is startling, and not just because it finds him in full-on singer/songwriter mode, abandoning all of the postmodern pranksterism of its predecessor. What's startling about Sea Change is how it brings everything that's run beneath the surface of Beck's music to the forefront, as if he's unafraid to not just reveal emotions, but to elliptically examine them in this wonderfully melancholy song cycle. If, on most albums prior to this, Beck's music was a sonic kaleidoscope — each song shifting familiar and forgotten sounds into colorful, unpredictable combinations — this discards genre-hopping in favor of focus, and the concentration pays off gloriously, resulting in not just his best album, but one of the greatest late-night, brokenhearted albums in pop. This, as many reviews and promotional interviews have noted, is indeed a breakup album, but it's not a bitter listen; it has a wearily beautiful sound, a comforting, consoling sadness. His words are often evocative, but not nearly as evocative as the music itself, which is rooted equally in country-rock (not alt-country), early-'70s singer/songwriterism, and baroque British psychedelia. With producer Nigel Godrich, Beck has created a warm, enveloping sound, with his acoustic guitar supported by grand string arrangements straight out of Paul Buckmaster, eerie harmonies, and gentle keyboards among other subtler touches that give this record a richness that unveils more with each listen. Surely, some may bemoan the absence of the careening, free-form experimentalism of Odelay, but Beck's gifts as a songwriter, singer, and musician have never been as brilliant as they are here. As Sea Change is playing, it feels as if Beck singing to you alone, revealing painful, intimate secrets that mirror your own. It's a genuine masterpiece in an era with too damn few of them.

1. The Golden Age
2. Paper Tiger
3. Guess I'm Doin' Fine
4. Lonesome Tears
5. Lost Cause
6. End Of The Day
7. It's All In Your Mind
8. Round The Bend
9. Already Dead
10. Sunday Sun
11. Little One
12. Side of the Road


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Calvin Russell is back with a new album recorded in Austin, Marrakech and Paris with producer and guitarist Manu Lanvin.
At 65, the Texan country-bluesman delivers his usual mix of blues, rock and country, one that made him famous iin France and Europe but failed to gain him more than a local audience in his homeland. His deep and touching voice is still here and so are the lyrics which tell the tales of everyday people as well as the story of his life.
Along the 12 songs of Dawg Eat Dawg, you'll hear a man that manages to mix the best of tradition and modernity. You'll also find the theme song from the latest "Lucky Luke" movie (directed by James Hutt and featuring Jean Dujardin, "Gangster of Love) as well as a duet with French actor Gérard Lanvin, "5 m²" inspired by the words of Charlie Bauer who was Jacques Mesrine's, the French public enemy #1 in the 70s, partner in crime.

1. Like A Revolution
2. 5m²
3. Halloween
4. To You My Love
5. Texas Blues
6. Sweetest Tenderness
7. Rolling Wheel
8. Gangster Of Love
9. Are You Waiting ?
10. Dawg Eat Dawg
11. Too Old To Grow Up Now
12. 5m² (Feat. Gérard Lanvin)


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In the five years between their debut album and 1999's Eyewitness, it's obvious that Shades Apart have learned how to write consistently catchy melodies. Eyewitness is a little too polished to be a straight-up punk rock record, and it sounds a little too indie to fall into the generic post-grunge category — it falls somewhere in between. But even if they aren't exactly treading musical territory that's uncommon for the '90s, what matters most is that the band has written a strong set of songs, and that's ultimately what pushes the record over the top.

1. Edge Of The Century
2. Sputnik
3. Stranger By The Day
4. Valentine
5. 100 Days
6. Chasing Daydreams
7. Know It All
8. Time Machine
9. Second Chances
10. Starry Night
11. Gabrielle
12. Speed Of Light

Friday, April 23, 2010


THE TURN (2008)
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When a musician can boast such a command of melody and a voice of such soaring intensity as Fredo Viola, you could be forgiven for anticipating a record that's all too eager to stake out its comfort zone and defend it to the death. Yet while most singer/songwriters who know how to craft a tune are content to do just that, tipping the hat here and there to the sacred conventions of Nilsson, McCartney, and Wilson, Viola uses that facility purely as a launching pad for some of the most audacious and thrilling vocal arrangements to be heard on a pop record for many a year. Viola says he initially multi-tracked his voice to fill in for all the instruments he couldn't play. Yet in doing so he has inadvertently evolved a technique that, while it evokes sources as diverse as tribal chants, doo wop, Ligeti, Gregorian chant, and the Beach Boys at their most psychedelic, ultimately leaves you with that rarest of feelings — that you are in the presence of something truly original. The Turn certainly contains enough evidence that, should commercial realities ever begin to bite, Viola could easily make his way as a master tunesmith. Even such two-minute pop marvels as "The Original Man" and "Friendship Is" are nevertheless brimming with harmonic and rhythmic twists. Yet while the voice is Viola's weapon of choice, his instrumental arrangements — mostly keyboard-based — are full of immaculately tailored sonic adventure. Only the strummed acoustic guitars of "Red State," a somewhat timid choice for a single, share a border with the merely humdrum. At its peak, however, The Turn is genuinely breathtaking. The title track is a thing of sinuous beauty, while "Robinson Crusoe"'s evocation of childhood games is one of the most uplifting slices of pure pop melody cloaked in luscious textures since "Penny Lane." Best of all is "Death of a Son," a pocket symphony that evolves from a state of choral grace to an exuberant celebration crackling with handclaps and (literal) fireworks. All told, The Turn is a triumphant reminder of pop's golden age, not in any nostalgic sense but in the way it captures that magical moment before commercialism and innovation became mutually exclusive concepts. So often in these days of bedroom studios, you get the feeling that experimentation is nothing more than a handy smokescreen for the inability to write a coherent melody. Fredo Viola is confirmation, if it were needed, that there's a very real distinction to be made between pushing envelopes for the sake of it and letting the imagination soar.

1. The Turn (A Pagan Lament)
2. The Sad Song
3. Friendship is...
4. Red States
5. The Original Man
6. Risa
7. Robinson Crusoe
8. K Thru 6
9. Moon After Berceuse
10. Puss
11. Death Of A Son
12. Umbrellas


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OK, "Like A Hurricane" and "Star Of Bethlehem" have been available on CD for years ("Decade"), and "American Stars & Bars" is sort of a Frankenstein effort, combining material from the aborted "Homegrown" album and featuring a mish-mash of Crazy Horse & Stray Gators with Emmylou, Linda and Nicolette thrown in. However, forget all that. The three essential "Lost CD Tracks" are: 1). "Hey Babe"...Nice easygoing Neil that would have sounded perfectly at home on the "Comes A Time" album, 2). "Bite The Bullet"...He must have been channeling BB King when he recorded the solo on this, because it is atypical of his "spray the air with random notes and feedback for ten minutes" style: brief (30 seconds or so), precise, and it stings like a big ol' mother bee. Plenty of bad attitude whammy bar vibrato being squeezed out of his beloved "Old Black" on this one, folks. Nicolette (and particularly Linda) shout / chant "Bite The Bullet" like a crazed mantra as Neil and the band slash and burn through three and a half minutes of the toughest, loudest, cleanest music he's ever recorded. EVER. Listen to it and you'll know why some people use the words "Neil Young" and "Lou Reed" in the same sentence. Finally, 3). "Hold Back The Tears"...which backs off a bit in intensity from "Bullet" but still features many of the dynamics that make that track great (Linda and Nicolette, and a memorable chorus). Legendary stuff that still smolders 26 years later.

1. Old Country Waltz
2. Saddle Up the Palomino
3. Hey Babe
4. Hold Back the Tears
5. Bite the Bullet
6. Star of Bethlehem
7. Will to Love
8. Like a Hurricane
9. Homegrown


CONTRA (2010)
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The scholarly Upper West Side Soweto of Vampire Weekend’s debut sounded self-assured, but on Contra, they step out of their ivory tower with just as much confidence. In all senses of the term, this is a sophomore album. The band still flaunts the collegiate sense of discovery that made Vampire Weekend charming — and sometimes too precious — but with more maturity and creativity. Another Discovery is just as much of a force on Contra as any of the band’s much-noted influences (Afro-pop, Paul Simon’s Graceland): Rostam Batmanglij’s electro-hip-hop-pop project with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles, which released its album LP after the pair found acclaim with their day jobs. While Vampire Weekend aren’t as shiny and sugary as Discovery, some of that adventurousness rubbed off on Batmanglij’s Contra production, which plays to the band’s biggest strength: inspired juxtaposition. The album’s artwork, which pairs a blonde WASP princess in a popped-collar polo shirt with the term given to Nicaraguan rebels, hints at the flair with which Vampire Weekend play mix-and-match on Contra. They throw listeners into the deep end with “Horchata,” which features a four-on-the-floor beat, thumb piano, rubbery synth bass, and massed harmonies — almost everything except the spry guitars that helped define their first album. “California English” goes farther, tweaking Ezra Koenig’s yelp with Auto-Tune, the bête noire of those who value “realness” in their music; for Vampire Weekend, it’s just another instrument for them to play with. On paper, Contra’s hybrids seem more contrived than they actually sound: “Giving Up the Gun” fuses baile funk, house and stadium rock into a sweet melody propelled by choppy rhythms. “Diplomat’s Son” is even more far-fetched and fantastic, adding samples of M.I.A. and Toots & the Maytals — exactly the kind of things you’d expect to hear on a young globetrotter’s iPod — to nostalgic chamber pop. The album bustles with so many sounds and ideas that it challenges listeners to decide where to put their ears first, particularly on the single “Cousins,” a blur of guitars and jump-cut drums that sounds like abstract punk. Despite this busyness, Vampire Weekend are looser and less cryptic than on their debut, allowing them to tell stories like “Holiday,” an Iraqi war protest set to skanking guitars (ever the font snob, Koenig can’t resist mentioning a headline in “96-point Futura”). Even the few quiet moments are complex: “I Think UR a Contra” closes the album by wanting, and hating, the kind of privilege that brings “good schools and friends with pools.” And though the band is committed to change, the same joy that soared through Vampire Weekend pops up on “White Sky,” which boasts a melody so irrepressible that Paul Simon just might want to borrow it. With Contra, Vampire Weekend make Auto-Tune and real live guitars, Mexican drinks, Jamaican riffs and Upper West Side strings belong together, and this exciting lack of boundaries offers more possibilities than anyone could have expected.

1. Horchata
2. White Sky
3. Holiday
4. California English
5. Taxi Cab
6. Run
7. Cousins
8. Giving Up The Gun
9. Diplomat's Son
10. I Think Ur A Contra


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Young Team, Mogwai's first full-length album fulfills the promise of their early singles and EPs, offering a complex, intertwining set of crawling instrumentals, shimmering soundscapes, and shards of noise. Picking up where Ten Rapid left off, Mogwai use the sheer length of an album to their advantage, recording a series of songs that meld together -- it's easy to forget where one song begins and the other ends. The record itself takes its time to begin, as the sound of chiming processed guitars and murmured sampled vocals floats to the surface. Throughout the album, the sound of the band keeps shifting, and it's not just through explosions of noise -- Mogwai isn't merely jamming, they have a planned vision, subtly texturing their music with small, telling details. When the epic "Mogwai Fears Satan" draws the album to a close, it becomes clear that the band has expanded the horizons of post-rock, creating a record of sonic invention and emotional force that sounds unlike anything their guitar-based contemporaries have created.

1. Yes! I am a long way from home
2. Like Herod
3. Katrien
4. Radar Maker
5. Tracy
6. Summer (priority version)
7. With Portfolio
8. R U still in 2 it
9. A cheery wave from stranded youngsters
10. Mogwai Fear Satan

Thursday, April 22, 2010


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Although Autobahn was a left-field masterpiece, Trans-Europe Express is often cited as perhaps the archetypal (and most accessible) Kraftwerk album. Melodic themes are repeated often and occasionally interwoven over deliberate, chugging beats, sometimes with manipulated vocals; the effect is mechanical yet hypnotic. Thematically, the record feels like parts of two different concept albums: one a meditation on the disparities between reality and image ("Hall of Mirrors" and "Showroom Dummies" share recurring images of glass, reflection, illusion, and confused identities, as well as whimsical melodies), and the other the glorification of Europe. There is an impressive composition paying homage to "Franz Schubert," but the real meat of this approach is contained in the opening love letter, "Europe Endless," and the epic title track, which shares themes and lyrics with the following track, "Metal on Metal." The song "Trans-Europe Express" is similar in concept to "Autobahn," as it mimics the swaying motion and insistent drive of a cross-continent train trip. What ultimately holds the album together, though, is the music, which is more consistently memorable even than that on Autobahn. Overall, Trans-Europe Express offers the best blend of minimalism, mechanized rhythms, and crafted, catchy melodies in the group's catalog; henceforth, their music would take on more danceable qualities only hinted at here (although the title cut provided the basis for Afrika Bambaataa's enormously important dancefloor smash "Planet Rock").

1. Europe Endless
2. The Hall Of Mirrors
3. Showroom Dummies
4. Trans Europe Express
5. Metal On Metal
6. Abzug
7. Franz Schubert
8. Endless Endless


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Five years after The Time Machine, Alan Parsons returned to the producer's chair refreshed and ready to go with an arsenal of new songs. The immediate standout is Parsons' highly updated super-polished sound, and to expect less from Parsons would be an insult to his legacy and reputation as one of rock's most respected producers and engineers. As usual for a Parsons project (pun intended), guest appearances once again run the gamut. The Crystal Method, David Gilmour, John Cleese, Nortec Collective, and Orson Welles all make contributions, with some most definitely faring better than others. The Crystal Method seem downright out of place on "Mammagamma 04," and so do their driving breakbeats and filtered basslines. Evidence of overreaching to keep up with the current chillout trends and Middle Eastern influences du jour are also present in "Return to Tunguska," which sounds like Pink Floyd's classic "One of These Days" in its mid-forties sipping a café latte. But those are mere distractions from Valid Path's overall haunting beauty, especially for those who have been loyal to Parsons over the duration of his career. While the changes may not appeal to some or even lure any new listeners, die-hard fans will revel in this and its replay value over and over again with great delight.

1. Return to Tunguska
2. More Lost Without You
3. Mannagamma `04
4. We Play the Game
5. Tijuaniac
6. L'Arc En Ciel
7. A Recurring Dream Within A Dream
8. You Can Run
9. Chomolungma


NOAH'S ARK (2005)
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A unicorn, a rainbow spitting zebra and what looks to be a horse sprouting a third eye are engaged in group sex on the illustrated cover of CocoRosie's second album. If that leads you to expect something playful and magical but also starkly screwed-up from the recording inside, you are on the right path. With assistance from Antony and Devendra, Ark is easily one of the most rewarding releases of 2005. The core of the music is made by singers/multi-instrumentalists Sierra and Bianca Cassidy, formerly estranged sisters who bonded over music and made their magical debut in a Paris flat. Their music has a lunatic music box feel that ought to appeal to fans of Bjork and Joanna Newsom, while the lyrics mine transgressive territory more often found in a book by JT LeRoy than a pop song. The true stars of the album are the singers' lovely, ethereal voices, which refract a '30s jazz-blues idiom through a strangely deadened, forever-sad delivery. It's the vocal equivalent of the toymaker's creations from Blade Runner and it is simply beautiful!

1. K-hole
2. Beautiful Boyz
3. South 2nd
4. Bear Hides and Buffalo
5. Tekno Love Song
6. The Sea is Calm
7. Noah's Ark
8. Milk
9. Armageddon
10. Brazilian Sun
11. Bisonours
12. Honey or Tar


SURREAL (1999)
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The emotional and angst-filled voice of singer/songwriter Anday McCarron is the secret weapon that separates this debut album from other alternative rock albums of the late '90s. It is like a fifth instrument that goes from croon to yowl to roar in seconds flat. Performing songs like exorcisms, you cannot help but feel the pain and sorrow he expresses. Although largely ignored (the label failed to support the record), Surreal contains some stellar modern rock gems that combine heavy rock, glam, and post-punk dissonance. Driving guitar riffs are the mainstay of the album, although the band will occasionally hit the breaks and pull out the acoustic guitars. From start to finish, the album delivers catchy hooks without straying from the grunge/alt-rock lyrical formula. The themes and topics of the songs are predictable. Rejection, depression, and abuse are all covered here with the blessing of a Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder. "Surreal" provides the harrowing tale of a prelude to a suicide, while "It's So Perfect" rails out against the reality of domestic abuse. Sound familiar? McCarron delivers his doom and gloom message with lyrics like "What's the matter now? You're not so pretty today" and "it's so perfect that it probably isn't real." Songs like "Dumb" and "Dirty Word" are a rocking roller coaster ride of emotion and feeling. The band builds its momentum in "Because Today" by starting slowly and softly then suddenly pummeling the listener with a mountain of guitars. Love or hate McCarron's voice, it is a shame more people were not exposed to this album, as it definitely is one of the more original sounding albums of its genre.

1. Surreal
2. Dumb
3. Because Today
4. Dirty Word
5. It's So Perfect
6. Special Life
7. Playing Jesus
8. Kick In The Head
9. Spaced Out Hat
10. Sick Friend
11. Halo

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


PATA PATA (1972)
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Following a three-decade-long exile, Miriam Makeba's return to South Africa was celebrated as though a queen was restoring her monarchy. The response was fitting as Makeba remains the most important female vocalist to emerge out of South Africa. Hailed as the Empress of African Song and Mama Africa, Makeba helped bring African music to a global audience in the '60s. Nearly five decades after her debut with the Manhattan Brothers, she's as essential as she was then.
Miriam passed away about two years ago but her music remains as vibrant and lively as it was when it was first released.

1. Pata Pata
2. Ha Po Zamani
3. What is love
4. Maria Fulo
5. Yetentu Tizaleny
6. Click Song Number 1
7. Ring Bell, Ring Bell
8. Jol'inkomo
9. West Wind
10. Saduva
11. A piece of Ground
Bonus Track
12. Malayisha


DESIRE (1976)
320 KBPS

If Blood on the Tracks was an unapologetically intimate affair, Desire is unwieldy and messy, the deliberate work of a collective. And while Bob Dylan directly addresses his crumbling relationship with his wife, Sara, on the final track, Desire is hardly as personal as its predecessor, finding Dylan returning to topical songwriting and folk tales for the core of the record. It's all over the map, as far as songwriting goes, and so is it musically, capturing Dylan at the beginning of the Rolling Thunder Revue era, which was more notable for its chaos than its music. And, so it's only fitting that Desire fits that description as well, as it careens between surging folk-rock, Mideastern dirges, skipping pop, and epic narratives. It's little surprise that Desire doesn't quite gel, yet it retains its own character — really, there's no other place where Dylan tried as many different styles, as many weird detours, as he does here. And, there's something to be said for its rambling, sprawling character, which has a charm of its own. Even so, the record would have been assisted by a more consistent set of songs; there are some masterpieces here, though: "Hurricane" is the best-known, but the effervescent "Mozambique" is Dylan at his breeziest, "Sara" at his most nakedly emotional, and "Isis" is one of his very best songs of the '70s, a hypnotic, contemporized spin on a classic fable. This may not add up to a masterpiece, but it does result in one of his most fascinating records of the '70s and '80s — more intriguing, lyrically and musically, than most of his latter-day affairs.

1. Hurricane
2. Isis
3. Mozambique
4. One More Cup Of Coffee
5. Oh, Sister
6. Joey
7. Romance In Durango
8. Black Diamond Bay
9. Sara


320 KBPS

Though it can reasonably be argued that rap grew almost directly out of funk and its particular beat, there are a lot of overlaps with jazz, particularly the bop and post-bop eras: the uninhibited expression, the depiction of urban life, just to name two. Jazz samples have also had a large role in hip-hop, but the idea of rapping over actual live jazz wasn't truly fully realized until Gang Starr MC Guru created and released the first in his Jazzmatazz series in 1993, with guest musicians who included saxophonist Branford Marsalis (who had previously collaborated with DJ Premier and Guru for the track "Jazz Thing" on the Mo' Better Blues soundtrack), trumpeter Donald Byrd, vibraphonist Roy Ayers, guitarist Ronny Jordan, and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith, as well as vocalist N'Dea Davenport (also of the acid jazz group the Brand New Heavies) and French rapper MC Solaar. While Guru's rhymes can occasionally be a little weak ("Think they won't harm you? Well they might/And that ain't right, but every day is like a fight" are the lines he chooses to describe kids on the subway in Brooklyn in "Transit Ride"), he delves into a variety of subject matter, from the problems of inner-city life to his own verbal prowess to self-improvement without ever sounding too repetitive, and his well-practiced flow fits well with the overall smooth, sultry, and intelligent feel of the album. From Jordan's solo on "No Time to Play" to Ayers' vibes expertise on "Take a Look (At Yourself)" to MC Solaar's quick and syllabic rhymes on "Le Bien, le Mal," Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 (and what turned out to be the best of the series) is a rap album for jazz fans and a jazz album for rap fans, skillful and smart, clean when it needs to be and gritty when that's more effective, helping to legitimize hip-hop to those who doubted it, and making for an altogether important release.
(On February 28, 2010, Guru went into cardiac arrest and, following surgery, fell into a coma. He woke from the coma but died on April 19, 2010, after a long battle with cancer. R.I.P.)

1. Introduction
2. Loungin' (Featuring Donald Byrd)
3. When You're Near (Featuring N'Dea Davenport)
4. Transit Ride (Featuring Branford Marsalis)
5. No Time To Play (Featuring Ronny Jordan and D.C. Lee)
6. Down The Backstreets (Featuring Lonnie Liston Smith)
7. Respectful Dedications
8. Take A Look (At Yourself) (Featuring Roy Ayers)
9. Trust Me (Featuring N'Dea Davenport)
10. Slicker Than Most (Featuring Gary Barnacle)
11. Le Bien, Le Mal (Featuring Mc Solaar)
12. Sights In The City (Featuring Carleen Anderson And Courtney Pine)


FOCUSED (1998)
320 KBPS

This is another fine effort from Cobham, who continues to turn out quality recordings that have gone largely unnoticed by both critics and consumers. Beginning with Incoming, Cobham toned down his thunderous approach in favor of a more controlled and complementary style. His compositions also reflected consideration for the development of his fellow bandmates. Focused continues this trend with an overwhelming sense of honesty. Joining him are his former bandmate Randy Brecker and fellow collaborator, drummer/keyboardist Gary Husband. Most of the tunes here are over seven minutes long and allow each member to fully develop their statements. Brecker is particularly stunning on "Nothing Can Hurt Her Now." Gary Husband backs up Cobham's accolades of him as being a thoughtful keyboardist. Carl Orr makes his presence felt as well, proving adept at both jazz and fusion guitar styles. There is also plenty of Cobham here to satisfy his drum following; however, there is a level of maturity and depth here that sets this session apart from his previous efforts.

1. Mirage
2. Sleaze Factor
3. Walking in Five
4. How Was the Night?
5. Three Will Get You Four
6. Nothing Can Hurt Her Now
7. Disfigured Mirrors
8. Avatar


320 KBPS

You've probably heard a lot of mixed reviews about this one. Critics bash it for being slow and unorganized, but fans love it for its dark tones and eerie singing. If you are expecting Throwing Copper out of this record, you will be very disappointed. It's a whole other beast.
The album is very slow, sometimes unbearably slow. However, the slowness of many of the songs are what makes them so effective. The guitar effects may seem excessive at first, but they are what really makes this album great. Chad Taylor is one of the most underrated guitar players of the 1990's, and he really shines on this record. His solos may not be prolific, but the notes are perfectly chosen and sound incredible. Patrick Dahlheimer's bass playing is often subtle but is equally brilliant. Like Taylor on the guitar, Chad Gracey is easily the most underrated drummer of the 90's. His snare drum sound is so recognizable and there is not a drummer around who can do so much with the snare drum alone. Ed Kowalczyk is great as the lead singer, but on some songs, his lyrics fall flat. On the song Century, you may find yourself amazed to hear words like "I can smell your armpits" and "Puke stinks like Beer."
The album highlights are Rattlesnake, Lakini's Juice, Ghost, Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe, Turn My Head, Heropsychodreamer, Freaks, and Gas Hed Goes West. Overall, this is a great 90's record and I think you will be satisfied if you get it.

1. Rattlesnake
2. Lakini's Juice
3. Graze
4. Century
5. Ghost
6. Unsheathed
7. Insomnia And The Hole In The Universe
8. Turn My Head
9. Heropsychodreamer
10. Freaks
11. Merica
12. Gas Hed Goes West

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


320 KBPS

This is something of a return to standard operational form for Magazine, who thawed after recording Secondhand Daylight to throw together an energetic batch of colorful and rhythmically intricate songs. It's an unexpected move considering that they enlisted Martin Hannett (Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Crispy Ambulance), master of the gray hues, as the producer. A looser, poppier album than its predecessors — somewhat ironically, a cover of Sly & the Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" is the most subdued song — it features the rhythm section of John Doyle and Barry Adamson at their taut, flexible best and guitarist John McGeoch at his most cunningly percussive. Save for the called-for razzle-dazzle on "Sweetheart Contract," keyboardist Dave Formula takes more of a back seat, using piano more frequently and no longer driving the songs to the point of detracting from the greatness of his mates, as the most frequent complaint of Secondhand Daylight goes. Howard Devoto's lyrics are also a little less depressive, though they're no less biting. The closing "A Song from Under the Floorboards" — another near-anthem, an unofficial sequel to "The Light Pours Out of Me" — includes sticking Devoto-isms like "My irritability keeps me alive and kicking" and "I know the meaning of life, it doesn't help me a bit." His themes of distrust and romantic turbulence remain focal, evident in "You Never Knew Me" ("Do you want the truth or do you want your sanity?") and "I Want to Burn Again" ("I met your lover yesterday, wearing some things I left at your place, singing a song that means a lot to me"). "Because You're Frightened" is the closest they came to making a new wave hit, zipping along with as much unstoppable buoyancy as Lene Lovich's "New Toy" or the Teardrop Explodes' "Reward," yet it's all fraught nerves and paranoia: "Look what fear's done to my body!" Song for song, the album isn't quite on the level of Real Life, but it is more effective as a point of entry.

1. Because You're Frightened
2. Model Worker
3. I'm a Party
4. You Never Knew Me
5. Philadelphia
6. I Want to Burn Again
7. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
8. Sweetheart Contract
9. Stuck
10. Song from Under the Floorboards
Bonus Tracks
11. Twenty Years Ago
12. Book [B-Side]
13. Upside Down
14. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) [A-Side]
15. Light Pours out of Me [Version]