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Sunday, February 28, 2010

RICHARD THOMPSON

RICHARD THOMPSON
WALKING ON A WIRE: 1968-2009 (2009)
256-320 KBPS

Richard Thompson has never had a for-real hit record (at least not in America) over the course of a career that's spanned five decades, but there are few musicians who are better respected by their peers or have a more devoted fan base, and not without reason — he's a fine singer, a superb, inventive guitarist, and a truly masterful songwriter. This may explain why Thompson, a man who could best be described as a "cult figure," is being honored with his third multi-disc box set. The 1993 set Watching the Dark was a brilliant overview of Thompson's body of work that included classic songs from all phases of his career along with rare live material, unreleased studio sessions, and even a few new songs. Released in 2006, RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson took a very different approach, instead collecting five discs' worth of unreleased material drawn from Thompson's own tape archives, which seemed designed to please obsessive fans at the expense of those who wanted a reasonably clear picture of the arc of his career. And now, Walking on a Wire: 1968-2009 takes the opposite extreme — it's a four-disc set that offers a carefully edited and intelligently compiled chronological summary of Thompson's recorded repertoire, from his early recordings with Fairport Convention to his 2007 solo album, Sweet Warrior. However, it doesn't feature a single recording that hasn't been released before, and the few tracks that could pass as rarities come from "authorized bootlegs" Thompson has released through his fan club and website (nearly all still easily available).
For many artists, this wouldn't be quite such a severe failing, but with rare exceptions a four-disc box set is most likely to be purchased by an artist's most loyal fans, and there's almost nothing on Walking on a Wire that wouldn't already be in the collection of a serious Richard Thompson aficionado, making this anthology seem both beautiful and redundant. But if you're looking for a convincing argument for Thompson's status as one of the great treasures of British rock and folk, Walking on a Wire succeeds beautifully. The programming gleans many of the most satisfying and significant moments from Thompson's recordings, and the material flows beautifully from one great track to the next, clearly reflecting the path his music has followed. The remastering is excellent, particularly on the earlier solo material, and Patrick Humphries' liner notes offer a superb thumbnail sketch of Thompson's life and music, while the booklet is filled with great rare photos. As the biggest and most comprehensive "Best of Richard Thompson" album ever, Walking on a Wire succeeds beautifully, and it's a wonderful and loving presentation of his art. But if you're already a fan, this will all seem very familiar, and while this is a splendid starting point for the uninitiated, persuading them they should start their Richard Thompson collection with a four-disc box set will probably be an uphill battle — though it's hard to imagine anyone who appreciates music that speaks honestly to the heart and soul not falling in love with this.

Disc 1
1. Time Will Show The Wiser - Fairport Convention
2. Meet On The Ledge - Fairport Convention
3. Genesis Hall - Fairport Convention
4. Crazy Man Michael - Fairport Convention
5. Sloth - Fairport Convention
6. Roll Over Vaughn Williams
7. The Poor Ditching Boy
8. The Angels Took My Racehorse Away
9. The Great Valerio - Richard & Linda Thompson
10. When I Get To The Border - Richard & Linda Thompson
11. Withered And Died - Richard & Linda Thompson
12. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight - Richard & Linda Thompson
13. Down Where The Drunkards Roll - Richard & Linda Thompson
14. The Calvary Cross - Richard & Linda Thompson
15. I'll Regret It All In The Morning - Richard & Linda Thompson
16. Old Man Inside A Young Man - Richard & Linda Thompson
17. For Shame Of Doing Wrong - Richard & Linda Thompson
18. Night Comes In - Richard & Linda Thompson
.
Disc 2
1. Dimming Of The Day/Dargai - Richard & Linda Thompson
2. A Heart Needs A Home - Richard & Linda Thompson
3. Don't Let A Thief Steal Into Your Heart - Richard & Linda Thompson
4. Strange Affair - Richard & Linda Thompson
5. Sunnyvista - Richard & Linda Thompson
6. Sisters - Richard & Linda Thompson
7. Rockin' In Rhythm
8. Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed - Richard & Linda Thompson
9. Man In Need - Richard & Linda Thompson
10. Shoot Out The Lights - Richard & Linda Thompson
11. Wall Of Death - Richard & Linda Thompson
12. Walking On A Wire - Richard & Linda Thompson
13. Tear Stained Letter
14. How I Wanted To
15. Hand Of Kindness
16. Beat The Retreat (Live)
17. I Ain't Going To Drag My Feet No More

Disc 3
1. Little Blue Number
2. She Twists The Knife Again
3. Valerie
4. Turning Of The Tide
5. I Still Dream
6. Waltzing's For Dreamers
7. Read About Love
8. I Feel So Good
9. I Misunderstood
10. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
11. Put Your Trust In Me
12. From Galway To Graceland (Live)
13. I Can't Wake Up To Save My Life
14. MGB-GT
15. Mingus Eyes
16. Beeswing
17. Taking My Business Elsewhere
18. King Of Bohemia
19. Don't Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes At Me (Live) - Richard Thompson with Danny Thompson
20. Razor Dance

Disc 4
1. Hide It Away
2. Last Shift - Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson
3. Big Chimney - Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson
4. Lotteryland - Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson
5. Persuasion (Live
6. Cooksferry Queen
7. Bathsheba Smiles
8. Hard On Me (Live)
9. G ethsemane
10. A Love You Can't Survive
11. A Legal Matter (Live)
12. Main Title From Grizzly Man
13. Al Bowlly's In Heaven (Live)
14. I'll Never Give It Up
15. Dad's Gonna Kill Me
16. She Sang Angels To Rest

Saturday, February 27, 2010

RAY LAMONTAGNE

RAY LAMONTAGNE
TROUBLE (2004)
320 KBPS

The best songs on Trouble, the debut release from songwriter Ray LaMontagne, draw on deep wells of emotion, and with LaMontagne's sandpapery voice, which recalls a gruffer, more sedate version of Tim Buckley or an American version of Van Morrison, they seem to belie his years. The title tune, "Trouble," is an instant classic, sparse and maudlin (in the best sense), and songs like "Narrow Escape," a ragged, episodic waltz, are equally impressive, with careful, cinematic lyrics that tell believable stories of wounded-hearted refugees on the hard road of life and love. Most of the tracks fall into a midtempo shuffle rhythm, so the words have to carry a lot in order to avert a sort of dull sameness, and when it works, it works big, and when it doesn't, well, LaMontagne is so serious and sincere about his craft that you tend to forgive him instantly. Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek guests on "Hannah" and the sad, somber lullaby "All the Wild Horses," playing fiddle and adding vocals, and producer Ethan Johns adds drums and other touches on most tracks. The sound is measured and sparse, with few frills (a five-piece string section is used on a few tracks, but is never intrusive), all of which supports the emotional urgency of LaMontagne's writing. "How Come" sounds a bit like a rewrite of Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright," and a couple of other cuts seem a bit labored, but overall this is an impressive debut by an extremely special songwriter.

1. Trouble
2. Shelter
3. Hold You in My Arms
4. Narrow Escape
5. Burn
6. Forever My Friend
7. Hannah
8. How Come
9. Jolene
10. All the Wild Horses

HOOKA HEY

HOOKA HEY
HOOKA HEY (2008)
320 KBPS

Spotted when they were still called Sentenza, the roots trio Hooka Hey gives us a clever mix of 70's rock and folk that reminds us of great old ones such as Led Zeppelin (Dead Ringer), Neil Young (Standing on the Outside) or Bruce Springsteen (Black Eye). That doesn't mean that the Frenchies do nothing but rely on their influences. Sure, the lads are not what we'd call original but they're skilled and entertaining enough to just be labelled as copycats and their debut album, produced by a Steve Albini disciple (Lionel Darenne) shows many promises as what their future will be made of. And it's not the magnificent ballad that A Brand New Place is that will deny them to consider the path ahead of them as golden. Actually, would they had been from a more credible rock nation, they would probably already been, if not popular, at least praised by those who make a band hype.
Don't miss your chance to discover a good little band that has no other ambition but to please you and do that perfectly.

1. Untitled
2. Dead Ringer
3. Standing On The Outside
4. Attraction
5. Kabuki
6. A Brand New Place
7. Black Eye
8. You Turn
9. Roof Garden
10. Peel
11. Chance
12. The Curse
13. Rely

GUSGUS

GUSGUS
POLYDISTORTION (1997)
320 KBPS

Gus Gus create a multi-vibe stir with Polydistortion. At times as cold and icy as their frosty homeland (Iceland), at other times a rumbling volcano of pyrotechnic rhythms, the CD is a study in the dynamics of the electronic. Atmospheric without ever being boring, Gus Gus rely on soul-filled or breathy vocals to turn their compositions into some of the more interesting and accessible aural amalgamations ever committed to disc. "Believe" is a rhythmic juggernaut, while "Gun" is a moody study of beats and texture. "Why" is particularly stunning, a sparse torch song carried along by a Fender Rhodes-style piano line. More eclectic than electronica, Gus Gus make aural sculptures out of rhythm.

1. Oh
2. Gun
3. Believe
4. Polyesterday
5. Barry
6. Cold Breath '79
7. Why?
8. Remembrance
9. Is Jesus Your Pal?
10. Purple
11. Polybackwards

TERRORVISION

TERRORVISION
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (1994)
320 KBPS

Terrorvision's second album gathers all of the band's junk punk, mock rock, and cartoon metal leanings into a ferocious, focused package designed to get entire stadiums moshing instantaneously. On How to Make Friends and Influence People, Bradford's finest rock like there's no tomorrow, tossing mega riffs over their shoulders like so much confetti. Their metal aggro has often served to cloak Terrorvision's yen for brilliant, cutting lyrics, but here, sharp as their hooks are, their songwriting is keener — full of a broad, Swiftian satire that rips into targets both soft and otherwise: from '70s obsessives ("Discotheque Wreck") to squatter hippies ("Oblivion") to notions of progress ("Stop the Bus"), among others. Musically, Friends is fun with the lid off as the band moves from whisper-quiet intros to full-tilt mayhem at the drop of a hat. "Stab in the Back" starts off sounding like the Happy Mondays or Jamiroquai before exploding with slashing guitars. And the hit single "Alice What's the Matter" alternates broody suspense and breakneck riffage to great effect. Terrorvision's smash-and-bludgeon aesthetic will no doubt endear them to metalheads even as their sad-dark visions of post-adolescent anomie find them an audience among those who prefer their rock not so dumb. How to Make Friends and Influence People, indeed.

1. Alice's What's the Matter
2. Oblivion
3. Stop the Bus
4. Discotheque Wreck
5. Middleman
6. Still the Rhythm
7. Ten Shades of Grey
8. Stab in the Back
9. Pretend Best Friend
10. Time O the Signs
11. What the Doctor Ordered
12. Some People Say
13. What Makes You Tick

Friday, February 26, 2010

THE TEDDY CHARLES TENTET

THE TEDDY CHARLES TENTET
COMPLETE RECORDINGS (1956)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

This release contains all of vibraphonist Teddy Charles' nonet and tentet recordings, consisting of the complete Tentet album and October 23, 1956 session, and two rare 1963 nonet studio dates featuring Eric Dolphy, Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams and Jim Hall, which have never been previously released on CD.
To sum things up, lets just say it's Teddy Charles's best album. In addition to a great line-up of soloists, it is the composers (Charles himself, Giuffre, Brookmeyer, Waldron, Evans, Russell) who make this a thoroughly interesting, classic collection. No routine soloing. Excellent value!

1. Vibrations
2. The Quiet Time
3. The Emperor
4. Nature Boy
5. Green Blues
6. You Go to My Head
7. Lydian M-1
8. Word from Bird
9. Show Time
10. Sheherazade Blue
11. Love for Three Oranges March
12. Borodin Bossa Nova
13. Dance Arabe
14. Lullaby Russe
15. Etude

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
SOUND OF SILVER (2007)
320 KBPS

Compared to the first LCD Soundsystem album, Sound of Silver is less silly, funnier, less messy, sleeker, less rowdy, more fun, less distanced, more touching. It is just as linked to James Murphy's record collection, with traces of post-punk, disco, Krautrock, and singer/songwriter schlubs, but the references are evidently harder to pin down; the number of names dropped in the reviews published before its release must triple the amount mentioned throughout "Losing My Edge." There's even some confusion as to which version of David Bowie is lurking around. One clearly evident aspect of the album is that Murphy has streamlined his sound. All the jagged frays have been removed, replaced by a slightly tidier approach that is more direct and packs more punch. Murphy comes across as a fully naturalized producer of dance music — especially on "Get Innocuous!" — as opposed to a product of '90s indie rock who has made a convincing switch-up. And yet, the album's best song is sad, should not be played in any club, and it at least matches the work of any active songwriter who has been praised. "Someone Great," a bittersweet pop song built on swelling synthesizers and a dual vocal-and-glockenspiel melody, could definitely be about a devastating breakup ("To tell the truth I saw it coming/The way you were breathing"), at least until "You're smaller than my wife imagined/Surprised you were human," which could mean the song either took a turn for the absurd or is about the death (and funeral) of a loved one. Either way, it is the most moving song Murphy has made, and it only helps further the notion that he should be considered a great songwriter, not simply a skilled musician with a few studio tricks and the occasional clever quip. The closer, "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down," seals it: "New York, you're perfect, oh please don't change a thing/Your mild billionaire mayor's now convinced he's a king/And so the boring collect — I mean all disrespect/In the neighborhood bars I'd once dreamt I would drink." If he keeps it up, he'll be writing songs for Pixar by 2020.
1. Get Innocuous!
2. Time to Get Away
3. North American Scum
4. Someone Great
5. All My Friends
6. Us v Them
7. Watch the Tapes
8. Sound of Silver
9. New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down

THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES

THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES
MORE NOISE & OTHER DISTURBANCES (1992)
320 KBPS

This has become my favorite Bosstones album, bumping 'Let's Face It' to a very close second. 'Where'd You Go' is probably my favorite Bosstones song and their version of Slapshot's 'What's at Stake', their finest cover. In fact, the first seven tracks on this album are fantastic, with the only slowdown occuring at the start of 'Guns And The Young'. It almost seems awkward to have the Bosstones delivering a serious message. Aren't these guys just about partying and ripping through their unique blend of ska-punk-rock? Nevertheless, a very excellent outing and definitely the first album I would recommend to anyone wanting to try into the Bosstones of anything labeled ska-core.

1. Awfully Quiet
2. Where'd You Go
3. Dr. D
4. It Can't Hurt
5. What's At Stake
6. Cowboy Coffee
7. I'll Drink To That
8. Guns And The Young
9. He's Back
10. Bad In Plaid
11. They Came To Boston
Bonus Tracks
Where'd You Go E.P.
12. Sweet Emotion
13. Enter Sandman
14. Do Something Crazy
15. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

TUE-LOUP

TUE-LOUP
LA BANCALE (1998)
320 KBPS

Intimate, dark, filled with hopes and anguish, the first album from Tue-Loup works damn fine. The 5 first songs are the perfect example of the band early works allying power (Morphlée), indolence (Putain d'été), playing with the listener. Whatsmore, this band knows how to make his indie rock groove (Venez voir le décor) and with a production that is both warm and organic, they crafted one of the best debut albums France has even seen in their category.
Of course, it's not all perfect and the second part of the album hardly rivals with the perfect opening five, still, there was quite a handful of promises in Tue-Loup's first long play. Promises that will soon proven to be fruitful in the band's following works.
If you like indie rock and want a different voice than that usually displayed by English and American bands, this is a must hear.

1. Les Vanneaux
2. En rasant les murs
3. Morphlée
4. Putain d'été
5. Venez voir le décor
6. Kaj Maj
7. Le noeud
8. La bougie
9. Mon amant de Saint Jean
10. Veltra
11. Quittons la France

Thursday, February 25, 2010

HINDI ZAHRA

HINDI ZAHRA
HANDMADE (2010)
320 KBPS

A newcomer in the French scene, Hindi Zahra signed to the prestigious Blue Note label which is quite an accomplishment for someone that new to the music business and heading from France.
On Handmade, Hindi mixes jazz, soul and folk in a hybrid which never sound forced or opportunist. She's not trying to impress anyone, just to get the best out of each of her compositions and succeeds at that. Handmade, an album that bears its title well as it was mostly recorded at home, is the strong reflection of a confident woman who does not forget to be feminine and shows it her music.
Versatile, superbly crafted and very endearing Handmade is the first great album of 2010.


1. Beautiful Tango
2. Oursoul
3. Fascination
4. Set Me Free
5. Kiss & Thrills
6. At The Same Time
7. Imik Si Mik
8. Stand Up
9. Music
10. Don't Forget
11. Old Friends

BELMONDO & MILTON NASCIMENTO

BELMONDO & MILTON NASCIMENTO
MILTON NASCIMENTO & BELMONDO (2008)
320 KBPS

Brazilian singer-songwriter Nascimento's reputation precedes him, so much so that one fears he'll never sound as important as he did with Wayne Shorter 34 years ago.
But this curatorial project by French sax and trumpet stars Lionel and Stéphane Belmondo, plus horns and strings, places Nascimento – who sings and plays acoustic guitar – in a sensitive orchestral context framed by twin versions of "Ponta de Areia" (his famous song covered by Shorter on 'Native Dancer'). That unearthly croon is lower now and the chamber-settings closer to Ravel than Brazil, yet this is beautiful music.

1. Ponta De Areia
2. Canção Do Sal
3. Milagre Dos Peixes
4. Oração
5. Travessia
6. Morro Velho
7. Nada Ser Como Antes
8. Berceuse/Malilia
9. Saudade Dos Avioes Da Panair
10. Ponta de Areia

SEGURIDAD SOCIAL

SEGURIDAD SOCIAL
¡QUE NO SE EXTINGA LA LLAMA! (1991)
320 KBPS

Seguridad Social comes from Spain, but its 20-year career trajectory follows a common pattern; starting off with punk and ska in the early '80s, the group moved to a harder rock sound later in the decade. Singer and chief songwriter Jose Manuel Casañ dumped the original lineup in 1991, and the revamped Seguridad Social enjoyed a few years of mass popularity before a quick decline and rejection as being old-fashioned by the new alternative audience in Spain.
This 1991 release is the proof of how well crafted the songs of these lads were and is, with its follower - 1994's Furia Latina - the best they ever put out so, if you want latin rock, don't look elsewhere, this one's a winner.

1. Chiquilla
2. Un Pensamiento
3. Ay Tenochtitlan!
4. Culo De Mal Asiento
5. De Cara Al Mar
6. Solo Tu (Eres Mi Pasion)
7. ¡Que No Se Extinga La Llama!
8. Cabezas Huecas
9. No Verte Mas
10. Reggae Conexion

THE RENTALS

THE RENTALS
RETURN OF THE RENTALS (1995)
320 KBPS

Alongside his stint as the bass player for the ever-beloved Weezer, Matt Sharp found time to put out a record from a little side project of his, and unknowingly dropped a surprisingly influential album on the ears of many a listener. Taking a bit of the harmony loving pure-pop songwriting skills honed in his other band, Sharp topped off the Rentals with plenty of Moog powered keyboard flair and ended up with an album that ushered back in a new wave of cheesy electro-keyboard pop with a restored spirit and a knack for unforgettable hooks. From the radio hit "Friends of P" to the clunky opener of "The Love I'm Searching For," Return of the Rentals has few moments that aren't bursting with catchy choruses and lovelorn sentiments. Helping out is a cast that includes Weezer drummer Pat Wilson, and most noticeably, That Dog's Petra Hayden, whose sugary vocals make for some of the disc's most timeless moments. Convincing a new generation of kids that new wave could still be cool, the Rentals' first record may have been a fluke, but it really doesn't matter. Sure, their later recordings were nowhere near as innocent and memorable, but this record is a real benchmark of carefree pop from the '90s and shouldn't be forgotten anytime soon.

1. The Love I'm Searching For
2. Waiting
3. Friends Of P.
4. Move On
5. Please Let That Be You
6. My Summer Girl
8. Naive
7. Brilliant Boy
9. These Days
10. Sweetness And Tenderness

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT
AMMONIA AVENUE (1983)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

With this album title and cover you can guess that this album is something about environmental issue to save the planet and make the world green. That's actually that make people like the albums of The Alan Parsons Project which typically thematic with rhythmic music plus nice melody in pop rock setting. Yes, the lyrics are about the fear of end of humanity as a result of pollution of the nature. It's scary isn't it if the world turns into an ammonia avenue? That's the key message that Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson tried to convey.
The album starts off with radio hit (at least it was popular at my home country) "Prime Time" in relatively upbeat style with good vocal line. "Let Me Go Home" is a rocker with electric guitar work and pop-rock beats. "One Good Reason" contains computerized music especially on drums and some effects. "Since The Last Goodbye" sounds like a ballad with acoustic guitar work and mellow vocal line in good melody. "Don't Answer Me" was another pop hit. "Dancing On A Highwire" has a good acoustic guitar work that brings the music into a more upbeat music with tight bass lines, typical of The Alan Parsons Project. "You Don't Believe" is another electronic outfit with some music was composed with computer program.
"Pipeline" is a very nice instrumental with good guitar and keyboard work, performed in spacey nuance with solid beats. Keyboard effects overlay the music nicely. Saxophone enters the solo and leads the music. The concluding track "Ammonia Avenue" is my all-time favorite Alan Parsons Track. It starts with melodic piano touch followed with acoustic guitar work that brings the vocal to enter the music. Oh it's one of the best songs that The Project has ever had. "And who are we to criticize?" is a memorable and catchy lyrics in one of the segments. The song flows in coherent way and it's very natural; so any one who listens to this song would love it very much. The song is also enriched with excellent orchestration. The acoustic guitar solo in the middle of track augmented with orchestra is the best part of this song. Excellent!
It's not the band's best album but it's a good one to have.

1. Prime Time
2. Let Me Go Home
3. One Good Reason
4. Since The Last Goodbye
5. Don't Answer Me
6. Dancing On A High Wire
7. You Don't Believe
8. Pipeline
9. Ammonia Avenue
Bonus Tracks
10. Don't Answer Me (Early Rough Mix)
11. You Don't Believe (Demo)
12. Since The Last Goodbye (Chris Rainbow Vocal Overdubs)
13. Since The Last Goodbye (Eric Guide Vocal - Rough Mix)
14. You Don't Believe (Instrumental Tribute To The Shadows)
15. Dancing On A Highwire / Spotlight (Work In Progress)
16. Ammonia Ave (Eric Demo Vocal - Rough Mix)
17. Ammonia Ave (Orchestral Overdub)

CRAIG ARMSTRONG

CRAIG ARMSTRONG
THE SPACE BETWEEN US (1997)
320 KBPS

This CD is an intensely packed popourri of urban atmosphere, weather/seasons/time as well as feelings of love, sadness and anxiety, loneliness and belongingness juxtaposed. At times dramatic but not overweeningly so, the album is finely produced and the musical transitions flow very well together without relying too much on mechanic, or non-organic if you will, elements. It has silence.
The songs inspire creativity and contemplative modes and the cherries of the cake are for me the almost movingly soulful "Let's Go Out Tonight" that reminds one of dawn, or city after the rain, or two strangers or lovers meeting, and "This Love" that captures the feeling of ascendancy and determination, even sacrifice but also frustration experienced in love. Early Tangerine Dream meets Delirium and Enigma with an orchestra plus some other "humane" elements. Great stuff, much recommended.

1. Weather Storm
2. This Love
3. Sly II
4. After the Storm
5. Laura's Theme
6. My Father
7. Balcony Scene
8. Rise
9. Glasgow
10. Let's Go Out Tonight
11. Childhood
12. Hymn

SARAH MCLACHLAN

SARAH MCLACHLAN
SOLACE (1991)
320 KBPS

Solace, Nova Scotian Sarah McLachlan's second album, is considerably more mature and musically sophisticated than her 1988 debut, the promising if limited Touch. In fact, this disc is a must-have for McLachlan fans whose first encounter with her work was with her extremely popular later releases, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and Surfacing. The opening track, "Drawn to the Rhythm," is a habit-forming gem of a song that soars on her smooth and heady soprano and Ronald Jones's addictive drums (though the drone of the billatron in the chorus seems incongruous). The rumbling, electric "Into the Fire" grooves with a funky bass line; the lovelorn "Path of Thorns" and "I Will Not Forget You" are straight-ahead and bluesy. Always wise beyond her years, McLachlan displays a new awakening with introspective songs such as the Sinead O'Connor-esque "Lost" and "Shelter." The hymnlike "Mercy" is the least interesting song--spare in comparison to the others--but it is a wondrous showcase of her multifaceted voice. Without a doubt, Solace is a testament to McLachlan's ever-swelling talent.

1. Drawn To The Rhythm
2. Into The Fire
3. The Path Of Thorns
4. I Will Not Forget You
5. Lost
6. Back Door Man
7. Shelter
8. Black
9. Home
10. Mercy
11. Wear Your Love Like Heaven

STEPHAN EICHER

STEPHAN EICHER
LOUANGES (1999)
320 KBPS

After the commercial failure that 1000 Vies was, mosty because of the electronic textures he used that did not please his audience, the Swiss singer/songwriter Stephan Eicher came back with an album which gives us a solid return to the sound developped in his most successful opuses, 1991's Engleberg and 1993's Carcassonne. Written in Brittany, recorded in Engelberg and mixed in London with Daniel Lanois' collaborator Malcom Burn, Louanges is a delight for Stephan's fans. With its usual mix of pop, rock, chanson and folk, this album works from start to finish. Whatsmore, Philippe Djian's everyday poetry still fits Eicher's songwriting like a glove. Put it like that, Louanges is a very nice album those familiar with the man's art will delightfully consume and a good introduction for anyone who haven't yet heard what he is capable of.

1. Ce peu d'amour
2. Hell's kitchen
3. Démon
4. Sans vouloir te commander
5. Si douces
6. Louanges
7. La fin du monde
8. Le même nez
9. Clear my throat
10. Venez danser
11. Campari soda
12. Going home

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

YOUSSOU N'DOUR

YOUSSOU N'DOUR
ROKKU MI ROKKA (GIVE AND TAKE) (2007)
320 KBPS

Like his last two releases for Nonesuch, 2002's Nothing's in Vain and 2004's stunning Egypt, Youssou N'Dour's Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take) is a glistening, polished work that perpetuates the singer's recurring role as one of Africa's greatest gifts to music. Where Egypt was something of a side trip for N'Dour, a tribute to his Sufi faith, Rokku Mi Rokka takes on more of a mainstream melodic pop sheen, with an eye toward the northern desert country for inspiration. N'Dour, in addition to using his regular musicians, reunites here with members of his early-career Super Etoile de Dakar band as well as other players with whom he's been comfortable for years (gotta love Ali Farka Touré sideman Bassekou Kouyate on the four-stringed n'goni), so the results are familiar and the groove locked in tight. Neneh Cherry, who performed a duet with N'Dour on 1994's hit "7 Seconds," returns for a rap on the album-closing mbalax-funk anthem "Wake Up (It's Africa Calling)," which implores the Western world to stop taking Africa for granted and look to the continent for positive vibrations. The opening track, "4-4-44," is a celebration of 44 years of Senegal's independence, bathed in driving, repetitive keyboard riffs, a persistent rhythmic punch, and a midsong horn blast that provides a sudden Memphis-esque R&B kick. As always, much of N'Dour's songwriting addresses tradition and its role in an Africa struggling toward modernization. There are songs of love and songs of politics and spirit. "Tukki" is little more than a simple paean to the joys of traveling, and "Xel" exhorts humans to do the obvious: use their brains and think. But then there's "Sportif," with its drum lick right out of a New Orleans second-line march, whose sole purpose is to remind countrymen that there's no need to take it personally if a favorite wrestler loses a match — it's only a sport. Go figure. Nonetheless, Youssou N'Dour is never less than thoughtful and intriguing, and his voice is never less than gripping. Rokku Mi Rokka is another gem from an artist who has come to define the African music renaissance.

1. 4-4-44
2. Pullo Àrdo [The Shepherd]
3. Sama Gàmmu [My Rival]
4. Bàjjan [The Father's Sister]
5. Baay Faal
6. Sportif [Sportsman]
7. Tukki [Travel]
8. Létt Ma [Indecision]
9. Dabbaax
10. Xel [Think]
11. Wake Up (It's Africa Calling)

BEIRUT

BEIRUT
GULAG ORKESTAR (2006)
320 KBPS

While it may sound like an entire Balkan gypsy orchestra playing modern songs as mournful ballads and upbeat marches, Beirut's first album, Gulag Orkestar, is largely the work of one 19-year-old Albuquerque native, Zach Condon, with assistance by Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel, A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw). Horns, violins, cellos, ukuleles, mandolins, glockenspiels, drums, tambourines, congas, organs, pianos, clarinets and accordions (no guitars on this album!) all build and break the melodies under Condon's deep-voiced crooner vocals, swaying to the Eastern European beats like a drunken 12-member ensemble that has fallen in love with The Magnetic Fields, Talking Heads and Neutral Milk Hotel.

1. The Gulag Orkestar
2. Prenzlauerberg
3. Bandenburg
4. Postcards From Italy
5. Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)
6. Rhineland (Heartland)
7. Scenic World
8. Bratislava
9. The Bunker
10. The Canals Of Our City
11. After The Curtain

Bonus Disc
Lon Gisland E.P.
1. Elephant Gun
2. My Family's Role in the World Revolution
3. Scenic World
4. The Long Island Sound
5. Carousels

NO KNIFE

NO KNIFE
RIOT FOR ROMANCE! (2002)
320 KBPS

As striking and original as Jawbox's Grippe, Fugazi's The Argument, and the Mars Volta's Tremulant EP, No Knife truly comes into its own with Riot for Romance!, the San Diego band's fourth album. Passionately crossing Wire, Gang of Four and the Clash, Riot for Romance! proves the band to be a worthy successor to the much-lauded At the Drive-In. The record begins with the angular title track, a stunning and previously unheard-of juxtaposition of post-punk and reggae — perhaps No Knife's best song — that evokes the brilliance of the Clash without ever sounding the least bit derivative. "Permanent for Now" is a wailing and off-kilter, oddly uplifting tune that sounds like no other. "Swinging Lovers" has a manic guitar edge that beautifully recalls early-'90s punk. By the time the album reaches its fifth track, the simple, fragile love song "Feathers and Furs," it's clear that No Knife has escaped all of the genre labels previously heaped upon it, standing out as a spectacular and uncompromising rock & roll band by anyone's standards.

1. Riot for Romance!
2. Permanent for Now
3. Swinging Lovers
4. Parting Shot
5. Feathers and Furs
6. The Red Bedroom
7. Brush Off
8. May I Call You Doll?
9. Flechette
10. This Moonlife

WHITE TOWN

WHITE TOWN
WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY (1997)
320 KBPS

Jyoti Mishra's second full-length album under the "band" name White Town continues the move away from the indie guitar pop of his earliest releases, first seen on 1996's Abort Retry Fail? EP. Simply recorded, mostly on a Macintosh computer in Mishra's bedroom, with Mishra playing everything except four tracks' worth of guitar, there's a pleasantly homemade feel to the album; hand percussion, piano, and acoustic guitars coexist with the synths and samplers, but even the few entirely electronic tracks have a warm, organic vibe. The album's best-known track, of course, is the enormous hit "Your Woman," a playful piece of gender-bending built around samples from Lew Stone's 1932 jazz hit "My Woman" and the static that opens the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." An infectious piece of pure synth pop, "Your Woman" sounds like it could have been released on Rough Trade around 1981. It's an entirely atypical track, though. Most of the rest of Women in Technology consists of low-key, soft pop songs like the tender, almost jazzy "A Week Next June" and the romantic opener "Undressed." Other songs, like the puckish "The Function of the Orgasm" and "Theme for an Early Evening American Sitcom," have the D.I.Y. feel of White Town's earlier records, albeit with a more synthesized tone. Women in Technology is a good-to-great album, though it's easy to see how the masses charmed by "Your Woman" might have been disappointed by that track's lack of resemblance to the rest of the album.

1. Undressed
2. Thursday at the Blue Note
3. A Week Next June
4. Your Woman
5. White Town
6. The Shape of Love
7. Wanted
8. The Function of the Orgasm
9. Going Nowhere Somehow
10. Theme for an Early Evening American Sitcom
11. The Death of My Desire
12. Once I Flew

Monday, February 22, 2010

ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS

ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS
RAISING SAND (2007)
320 KBPS

What on paper looks mis-matched can often be utterly right. Raising Sand has to be one of the best ever examples of this. Most people would have bet on Plant’s ex-band mate, John Paul Jones, as being the one to have forged this big league bluegrasss pairing. After all he's worked with Chris Thile and Nickel Creek as well as Uncle Earl, and plays a mean mandolin himself. But no, it's the grizzled, leonine king of cock rock who gets to get up-close and personal with the Union Station legend. And thank goodness it was, because Raising Sand is a damn good album.
The selection of songs proves to be just as inspired as the pairing. With material by the Everlys ("Gone, Gone Gone"), Townes van Zant ("Nothin’") and even one from Plant’s last collaboration with Jimmy Page ("Please Read The Letter" – completely improved from its original incarnation) it would be hard to go that wrong, but the best of an embarrassment of riches has to be Krauss’ rendition of Tom Waits "Trampled Rose". Spellbinding doesn’t even come close to describing this.
The album’s other main star has to be T Bone Burnett. His production adds a veneer of authenticity and his choice of musicians is spot on at every turn. Marc Ribot (guitar) along with Dennis Crouch, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, Norman Blake, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren, and Riley Baugus make this a stunning, dark, brooding collection, comparable in tone to Daniel Lanois' masterful job on Dylan's Time Out Of Mind. It captures a gothic southern vibe effortlessly.
Hearing Krauss emote so bluesily on tracks like "Rich Woman" is a revelation, while her coruscating fiddle on "Nothin'" is rawer than you’d ever expect to hear from such a pillar of the new bluegrasss community. Raising Sand is proof that even with such dynamite raw material sometimes things really do add up to far more than the sum of their parts. Superb, in every way…

1. Rich Woman
2. Killing the Blues
3. Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us
4. Polly Come Home
5. Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
6. Through the Morning, Through the Night
7. Please Read the Letter
8. Trampled Rose
9. Fortune Teller
10. Stick with Me Baby
11. Nothin'
12. Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson
13. Your Long Journey

FRANZ FERDINAND

FRANZ FERDINAND
TONIGHT (2009)
320 KBPS

Franz Ferdinand are definitely not for dissapointing their fans, and yet this album is just as accessible as their debut and 'You Could Have it So Much Better' except there is a more dominant electro/new wave feel with 'Tonight' that anyone can easily get into (and should).
'Tonight' offers a different, more sexier and darker side to Franz Ferdinand. Still, they never seem to loose themselves to experimentation; you know who you're listening to and that this is for sure a Franz Ferdinand album. 'Ulysses' is catchy, no doubt, probably not as much as their previous singles,'Take Me Out' or 'Do You Want To?', but it's still a good song. 'Turn It On' is also good, but it's a better segway to 'No You Girls', a quite swaggering tease of a tune; it's a brilliant pop song, and possibly the album's highlight. 'Twilight Omens' and 'Dream Again' are a wonderfully dreamy pop tunes. 'Live Alone' is probably another album highlight, a very meaningful and very dancable elctro-diddy. 'Lucid Dreams' is way different from what listeners had previous heard on the net (though it was considered a demo). It's still a great song and Franz's longest, running at nearly 8 minutes; the last 3 minutes are pure elcectronica bliss. The album closes with 'Katherine Kiss Me,' a classic Franz ballad, acoustic, mellow, and a reminder that FF has still a bright future ahead.

1. Ulysses
2. Turn It On
3. No You Girls
4. Send Him Away
5. Twilight Omens
6. Bite Hard
7. What She Came For
8. Live Alone
9. Can't Stop Feeling
10. Lucid Dreams
11. Dream Again
12. Katherine Kiss Me

WALL OF VOODOO

WALL OF VOODOO
CALL OF THE WEST (1982)
320 KBPS

Wall of Voodoo's second full-length album, Call of the West, was a noticeably more approachable work than their debut, Dark Continent, and it even scored a fluke hit single, "Mexican Radio," a loopy little number about puzzled American tourists that's easily the catchiest thing on the album. But while Wall of Voodoo's textures had gotten a bit less abrasive with time, the band's oddball minor-key approach was still a long way from synth pop, and frontman Stan Ridgway's songs were Americana at it's darkest and least forgiving, full of tales of ordinary folks with little in the way of hopes or dreams, getting by on illusions that seem more like a willful denial of the truth the closer you get to them. There's a quiet tragedy in the ruined suburbanites of "Lost Weekend" and the emotionally stranded working stiff of "Factory," and the title song, which follows some Middle American sad sack as he chases a vague and hopeless dream in California, is as close as pop music has gotten to capturing the bitter chaos of the final chapter of Nathaniel West's The Day of the Locust. In other words, anyone who bought Call of the West figuring it would feature another nine off-kilter pop tunes like "Mexican Radio" probably recoiled in horror by the time they got to the end of side two. But there's an intelligence and wounded compassion in the album's gallery of lost souls, and there's enough bite in the music that it remains satisfying two decades on. Call of the West is that rare example of a new wave band scoring a fluke success with what was also their most satisfying album.

1. Tomorrow
2. Lost Weekend
3. Factory
4. Look at Their Way
5. Hands of Love
6. Mexican Radio
7. Spy World
8. They Don't Want Me
9. On Interstate 15
10. Call of the West

MAGELLAN

MAGELLAN
TEST OF WILLS (1992)
320 KBPS

Third album of their career named Test of wills from 1997 is a step forward in Magellan's musical adventure, this time the album must be considered a real test for them if for the public aswell. This time Magellan has lefting aside the symphonic/neo elements of previous two albums and concentreted more on heavy prog even in places prog metal at it's best are added. To me this is third as best after Impending ascension and Impossible figures, delivering some outstanding moments tipycal for Magellan sound but a little diffrent aswell. Again the influences are Yes and Kansas but this time are added more like Jethro Tull and even Rush. As on previous album s the epics, the longer tracks are the best same is the case here, the title track Test of wills must be considered a real prog metal piece with solid musicianship and crafty moments. The rest of the pieces are aswell great like, A social marginal again heavy prog with prog metal lening but same the symphonic elements are not forgotten but puted diffrent and melted very well with the rest, here is some realy awesome crunchy guitar riffs and excellent druming, the drum solo of the beggining of the piece is great. Some Jethro Tull elements are here like on Walk Fast, Look Worried , the beggining is almost the same with Dun Ringill from Stormwatch, same folky acustic atmosphere and on last track Critic's carnival with some flute who innterludes very well with the rst of the instruments, realy like the master Anderson, quite intristing and well executed. So a pleasent album for me, among their best in my opinion, even is more metalized as previous and next efforts Test of wills is a album to have if you like Magellan, the symphonic arrangements are in less quantity but they are and are melted very well with the overall sound of the band.

1. Gameface
2. A Social Marginal
3. Walk Fast, Look Worried
4. Test Of Wills
5. Bully Pulpit (Part 1)
6. Jacko
7. Crucible
8. Preaching The Converted
9. Critics Carnival

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NINA SIMONE

NINA SIMONE
TO BE FREE:
THE NINA SIMONE STORY (2008)

320 KBPS

There's no question that Nina Simone is richly deserving of a three-CD, 51-song box set such as To Be Free. From the late '50s until her death, she was one of the great unclassifiable pop singers of the 20th century, and if her voluminous recording career was erratic, the first 15 years at any rate had many highlights. Any complaint about this particular package has more to do with the balance of eras represented than the quality of the contents, which is generally very good. If one is to criticize, however, it's that it does seem heavily weighted toward her 1967-1973 recordings for RCA, which take up about two-thirds of the three audio discs. Perhaps that's because it's on the RCA/Legacy label, but certainly a good case could be made that her pre-1967 recordings for a variety of other companies (most often Philips) were worthy of greater representation. To focus on the positives, however, most of disc one does include strong pre-RCA tracks from the first decade of her recording career, including some of her best-known classics of the time, like "My Baby Just Cares for Me," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "See-Line Woman," "I Put a Spell on You," and "Four Women." While the RCA era arguably saw her move too much into pop-oriented production on occasion and too many covers of pop/rock hits, the selections from that era are chosen with intelligence, including a good number of live tracks. The two post-1973 cuts — one from 1978 and one from her final proper album, 1993's A Single Woman — seem like afterthoughts to ensure that most of her career was covered in some way, but that's justifiable considering that the last three decades of her life saw little in the way of noteworthy recordings.
Though there's not much in the way of rarities, the set also does contain half a dozen previously unreleased live tracks of merit; four songs from the hard-to-find album A Very Rare Evening, recorded live in Germany in April 1969; and a couple (a live cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and an alternate version of "Ain't Got No — I Got Life") that fit the rare tracks definition. This is a very good box set illustrating Simone's facility at jumping between and blending numerous genres, including soul, pop, rock, jazz, Broadway, classical, and even (on the previously unissued 1973 live performance "Nina") world fusion music of sorts with backing by sitar and kalimba. Essential for both beginners and connoisseurs.

Disc 1
1. Mood Indigo
2. I Loves You, Porgy
3. My Baby Just Cares For Me
4. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
5. You Can Have Him (Live)
6. Wild Is The Wind (Live)
7. Trouble In Mind (Live)
8. When Malindy Sings/Swing Low Sweet Chariot (Live) [previously unreleased]
9. See-Line Woman
10. Pirate Jenny (Live)
11. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
12. I Put A Spell On You
13. Ne Me Quitte Pas
14. Feeling Good
15. Four Women
16. My Man's Gone Now
17. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
18. To Love Somebody
19. Sunday In Savannah (Live)

Disc 2
1. Mississippi Goddam (Live)
2. In The Morning
3. Ain't Got No-I Got Life [alternate version]
4. Do What You Gotta Do
5. Seems I'm Never Tired Loving You
6. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
7. The Times They Are A-Changin'
8. Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)
9. The Other Woman (Live)
10. I Think It's Going To Rain Today (Live)
11. Save Me (Live)
12. Revolution (Live)
13. To Be Young, Gifted And Black
14. Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair (Live)
15. Westwind (Live)
16. Who Knows Where The Time Goes (Live)
17. Suzanne (Live)

Disc 3
1. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (Live) [previously unreleased]
2. Just Like A Woman
3. Here Comes The Sun
4. Tanywey [previously unreleased]
5. Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter (Live)
6. My Sweet Lord/Today Is A Killer (Live)
7. Let It Be Me (Live) [previously unreleased]
8. Poppies
9. Mr. Bojangles (Live)
10. I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl (Live)
11. Nina (Live) [previously unreleased]
12. Zungo (Live) [previously unreleased]
13. Baltimore Listen
14. A Single Woman

BOURVIL

BOURVIL
BOURVIL (1997)
320 KBPS

André Bourvil, born André Robert Raimbourg (July 27, 1917, Prétot-Vicquemare, France – September 23, 1970, Paris) was a French actor and singer best known for his roles in comedies, most notably in his collaboration with Louis de Funès in "La Grande Vadrouille" or "Le Corniaud" as well as many other popular films which helped him establish his reputation both as a comic talent and in more serious roles as in "The Longest Day" or "Le Cercle Rouge".
While most people know him for his acting career, at least outside of France, Bourvil was also a singer and it actually was as a singer that he first entered the artistic domain. His songs altern between comedy and tenderness and he excelled in both. Not a great vocalist, he nevertheless managed to become a popular artist with songs such as "La Tendresse", "Les Crayons", "La Tactique du Gendarme" or "Ballade Irlandaise" among many others. Those interested in classic chanson must try this sweet, if incomplete, compilation.

Disc 1
1. Adèle
2. C'est La Vie De Bohème
3. C'est Une Gamine Charmante
4. En Revenant De La Revue
5. Allumett' Polka
6. D'où Viens Tu?
7. Berceuse À Frédéric
8. Fredo Le Porteur
9. Du Côté De L'Alsace
10. La Tendresse
11. Le Hoquet
12. Le Pêcheur
13. La Dondon Dodue
14. La Mandoline
15. Je Suis Content, Ça Marche
16. C'est Pas Le Pérou
17. Elle Faisait Du Strip Tease
18. Le Voleur De Pervenches

Disc 2
1. Les Crayons
2. Les Papous
3. La Tactique Du Gendarme
4. Les Rois Fainéants
5. C'était Bien (Le P'tit Bal Perdu)
6. Mon Bon Vieux Phono
7. Mon Frère D'Angleterre
8. Ballade Irlandaise (Un Oranger)
9. Prends Mon Bouquet
10. A Joinville Le Pont
11. Les Abeilles
12. Mon Village Au Clair De Lune
13. Nous Vieillirons Ensemble
14. Nénesse D'Epinal
15. T'épier
16. Tatane
17. Vive La Mariée
18. Les Haricots

FERNANDEL

FERNANDEL
LE FLAMBOYANT (2008)
320 KBPS

Fernand Joseph Désiré Contandin (8 May 1903 – 26 February 1971), better known as Fernandel, was a French actor and singer. Born in Marseille, France, he was a comedy star who first gained popularity in French vaudeville, operettas, and music-hall revues. His stage name is the diminutive form of his first name in Occitan.
Unlike Bourvil, his repertoire is mostly comedy-oriented which will make it hard for non-French speakers to get into. Worth a try anyway especially considering the historical value for those who want to learn more about the history of French chanson. And for those who understand "la langue de Molière", there are quite a good laughs to gain on this double set.

Disc 1
1. Félicie Aussi
2. Ignace
3. Hector
4. Je Connais Des Baisers
5. Un Dur, Un Vrai, Un Tatoué
6. Ernestino
7. Seccotine
8. On M'Appelle Simplet
9. Pour Etre Ordonnance
10. Redis-Le Me
11. Ma Créole
12. Faut Pas Bouder Bouddha
13. Ne Me Dis Plus Tu
14. Barnabé
15. Francine
16. La Caissière Du Grand Café
17. L'Accent
18. Aujourd'Hui Peut-Etre
19. Les Gens Riaient
20. Le Tango Corse

Disc 2
1. Un Homme
2. Les Dégourdis
3. Je Vais Au Zoo Avec Zizi
4. La Fille Du Teinturier
5. Idylle A Bois-Le-Roi
6. Je Suis Une Petite Nature
7. Politesse
8. La Chanson Du Forçat
9. J'Aime Toutes Les Femmes
10. J'Ai Mon Coeur Qui Fait Tic-Tac
11. L'Amour Est Un Mystère
12. C'Est Comme Ca A Calcutta
13. Je Ne Peux Pas M'Expliquer
14. La Bouillabaisse
15. Les Jours Sans
16. Le Papa De Pepa
17. On N'Est Jamais Seul
18. Lequel Des Deux
19. Elle A Tout Ca
20. Cocococo Cococococotte

Saturday, February 20, 2010

THE PRODIGY

THE PRODIGY
INVADERS MUST DIE (2009)
320 KBPS

The anger is back. This is the key attribute of the music that drove the masses worldwide to The Prodigy a decade ago. It was angry. Steaming. Explosive. Even the track names sparked controversy. With really only "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned" to gap the time since the rage nirvana that was "Fat of the Land", there were justifiable worries about the direction of something new. Fans will be pleased to know that, instead of another questionable attempt to reinvent themselves, The Prodigy have walked back a few steps and decided to charge forward from there.
Anger. It really is all about anger. A lot of the old appeal was listening to the music and feeling that it was a bunch of guys who wanted to scream at the universe. In 2003 it's almost as though they got together and thought "let's just record a bunch of stuff that's been our minds and sounds cool" and triggered an identity crisis by accident. Not this time. There is so much anger in this album, it tugs at your very soul-- see 'Omen' and 'Run With the Wolves' in particular. Now older and more matured, the group has surrendered the need to have a shock factor in their music and have gone ahead to work on the finer details of the art instead.
Not every track is 100% pure rage coming out of your speakers, but you don't get any real chances to relax. It's The Prodigy as they originally intended you to enjoy them. This is a lovely message of "thanks for waiting and putting up with us", though they certainly don't need to make any kind of apology. The music speaks for itself. It's not a revolutionary release like what we saw in the 90s but the vibe and background feeling are here again.

1. Invaders Must Die
2. Omen
3. Thunder
4. Colours
5. Take Me To The Hospital
6. Warrior's Dance
7. Run With The Wolves
8. Omen (Reprise)
9. World's On Fire
10. Piranha
11. Stand Up
Bonus Tracks
12. The Big Gundown
13. Wild West
14. Omen (Live)

Bonus Disc
1. Invaders Must Die (Liam H Re-amped Version)
2. Invaders Must Die (Chase & Status Remix)
3. Omen (Noisia Remix)
4. Omen (Herve's End of the World Remix)
5. Warrior's Dance (Future Funk Squad's 'Rave Soldier' Mix)
6. Warrior's Dance (Benga Remix)
7. Warrior's Dance (South Central Remix)
8. Take Me to This Hospital (Rusko Remix)
9. Take Me to This Hospital (Sub Focus Remix)
10. Take Me to This Hospital (Josh Homme & Liam H's Wreckage Mix)
11. Take Me to This Hospital (Loser's Middlesex A & R Remix)
12. Invaders Must Die (Yuksek Remix)
13. Thunder (Bang Gang Remix)

THE FUGITIVE KIND

THE FUGITIVE KIND
STONE AGE (2008)
320 KBPS

The Fugitive Kind is born of ex-Overhead singer Nicolas Leroux's need to express his deepest emotions in music. While Overhead has been compared to a lighter Jeff Buckley, Nicolas' new band, The Fugitive Kind, recalls me more of Damien Rice or Jason Mraz in that the (indie) folk elements of Leroux's chops take the lead. Accompanied by ex-Overhead musicians (bassist Richard Cousin and drummer Cyril Tronchet) and two newcomers, Landscape's Steffen Charon and Carp's Benoît Givarch, both on guitars, The Fugitive Kind remains, above, all the work of its leader who controlled all the creative process for a moving and successful result. Sadly, released over a year ago, this sweet album didn't sell very well nor did it receive the praise it deserved. Anyway, the music, in all its beauty and subtlety, is now available at Moodswings and I advise you all to give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

1. The Fugitive Kind
2. A Different Man
3. Is this the Wrong Tide ?
4. Winter Blast
5. Stone Age
6. Innercity
7. The Thrill
8. Chances are
9. From the Night drives
10. New York

SKIN

SKIN
SKIN (1993)
320 KBPS

Great bands release great debut albums and Skin's debut is no exception to the rule. From the killer opener 'Money' to teh soulfull closer 'Wings of an Angel', the quality never lets up. The rhythm section of Andy Robbins (bass) and Dicki Fliszar (drums) combine to form a solid base for Myke Gray's versatile guitar work. Over all this is Nev MacDonald's bluesy, soulfull voice that wrings every drop of emotion from the great songs like 'Shine Your Light', 'Colourblind' and 'Which are the Tears'. All ofthe elements shine under the professional sheen provided by Keith Olsen's production which never dilutes the underlying strength and power of the band.
Highlights? The album is a highlight in itself but, if forced to choose, it would have to be the powerhouse rendition of 'House of Love', the good-time singalong of 'Look But Don't Touch' and the sublime 'Tower of Strength'. Anyway, if you're into beautifully crafted bluesy hard rock, this one's a winner.

1. Money
2. Shine Your Light
3. House Of Love
4. Colour Blind
5. Which Are The Tears
6. Look But Don't Touch
7. Nightsong
8. Tower Of Strength
9. Revolution
10. Raised On Radio
11. Wings Of An Angel

WALTER TROUT BAND

WALTER TROUT BAND
TELLIN' STORIES (1994)
320 KBPS

Walter Trout has been a fixture on the electric-blues scene for years, but many of his later albums are inconsistent. The playing is always vintage Trout, but on virtually everything in the last decade there are peaks and valleys. If you never heard the original Walter Trout Band lineup on "Telin' Stories", you have missed the genesis of the artist. It's the cradle of his rock, and this CD kicks from beginning to end. Each song is completely different from the next, at least for a blues rock record, and there's no gristle in this meat. Solid blues with power and believability, opening to closing. Highly recommended.

1. I Can Tell
2. Tremble
3. Wanna See the Morning
4. I Need to Belong to Someone
5. Runnin' Blues
6. On the Rise
7. Time for Movin' On
8. Head Hung Down
9. Please Don't Go
10. Tellin' Stories
11. Somebody's Cryin'
12. Take Care of Yo' Business

Friday, February 19, 2010

ALBERT MARCOEUR

ALBERT MARCOEUR
PLUSIEURS CAS DE FIGURE (2001)
320 KBPS

Compared to the two previous Marcoeur posts here at Moodswings, "Plusieurs Cas de Figure" may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with Albert's evolution through the years. True enough, it would be quite worrying if a 2001 release sounded exactly like one from 1976 or 1978 and, indeed, this album may have been from a different artist or, at least, from another life of the same artist. Of course, Albert's wacky humour is still here but the music is more relaxed and... accessible. Not to say "Plusieurs Cas de Figure" is for every set of ears, it surely is not, but, for those of us able to stomach the weirdest avant-garde, the most extreme noise barrages it almost sound like Bon Jovi does to a heavy metal fan. That said, Marcoeur's art still bears a real artistic ambition too few French artists diplay and "Plusieurs Cas de Figure" shows that perfectly. If one would want to enter Albert's world, this album would be the easier way to do so.

1. Ulysse et Linus
2. Anne chez elle
3. de Pierre à Jean-Paul
4. Le pyjama
5. Mon petit neveu
6. B.B.
7. L’argent des gens
8. Que c’est beau !
9. Album de photos
10. Lady Di
11. Robert et les insectes
12. Ulla, Lula, Lola
13. Eddie

SAM PHILLIPS

SAM PHILLIPS
OMNIPOP (IT'S ONLY A FLESHWOUND LAMBCHOP) (1996)
320 KBPS

Sam Phillips remains a highly praised artist by critics, but woefully under-supported by the masses. She intentionally flips back and forth between 'commercial' releases and then 'experimental and artistic' releases. Her debut "Indescribable Wow" was a commercial release, which contained some of the best pop songs every written. Then, she took an experimental and artistic turn with the gem "Cruel Inventions". Then, she came back with the commercial "Martinis and Bikinis", so now we are back to the 'experimental and artistic' with Omnipop. This CD is way out in left field and themes mostly on sexuality and it really works. My favorite cuts are the first song, which to me, is one of her best. She took the word 'entertainment' and left off the 't' on the end and look what you got: "Entertain-men", which is the focus of this song - how life can sometimes revolve around what entertains men, especially where women are concerned. Is it just me or does Sam's voice sound so incredibly sexy when she sings "Watch me... Watch me... Ahhhhh.... Oh let me by your TV, AAHHHHH"!?!? I love the freshness and artsy-ness of "Plastic is Forever". I absolutely loved the sexy and jazzy "Help Yourself". Die-hard fans will find "Power World" a familiar Sam Phillip's trademark. You can always count on Sam to never sound the same, and this one is her most intriguing release to date.

1. Entertainmen
2. Plastic Is Forever
3. Animals on Wheels
4. Zero Zero Zero!
5. Help Yourself
6. Your Hands
7. Power World
8. Skeleton
9. Where Are You Taking Me
10. Compulsive Gambler
11. Faster Pussycat to the Library!
12. Slapstick Heart

KEANE

KEANE
PERFECT SYMMETRY (2008)
320 KBPS

Keane bids adieu to uplifting ballads and ushers in a different style -- '80s-influenced pop -- with Perfect Symmetry. While the album isn't solely devoted to exploring that new genre, it's certainly the focus, and "Spiralling" appropriately kickstarts the set with whooping vocals and retro synthesizers. "When we fall in love," sings Tom Chaplin in his Wembley-geared voice, "we're just falling in love with ourselves." Coming from the same mouth that once crooned the over-earnest strains of "Somewhere Only We Know," those lyrics are wholly different -- a sign that four years spent in the shadow of U2, Coldplay, and other like-minded bands have convinced Keane to make their own Achtung Baby. Of course, that album saw U2 turning sonic experimentation into something entirely inventive, which Perfect Symmetry doesn't quite accomplish with its own mixture. This isn't quite art, after all; it's mostly just fun, shot through with a self-consciously cheesy approach that's engineered to sound little like the department-store rock of 2004's Hopes and Fears. "Fun" seems to be at the top of the band's agenda, though, and Perfect Symmetry accordingly succeeds in doing away with most of the pre-conceived notions that accompany Keane records. The "old" sound doesn't even surface until midway through the album, when the album's title track offers up a combination of sparse piano notes (later giving way to dense, double-fisted arpeggios) and a meteoric melody in the chorus. But that's the exception, not the rule, and Perfect Symmetry sounds more comfortable during its truly unexpected moments: the spacy blips and bleeps of "You Haven't Told Me Anything," the synthesized anthem "Again and Again," and the energetic "Wooooooh!" that opens the entire album. The band's underlying strength remains Chaplin's ability to turn a melodic phrase with grace and dexterity, which fails to lose its vitality no matter the musical context, but Keane's willingness to take these left-hand turns deserves its own share of accolades.

1. Spiralling
2. The Lovers Are Losing
3. Better Than This
4. You Haven't Told Me Anything
5. Perfect Symmetry
6. You Don't See Me
7. Again & Again
8. Playing Along
9. Pretend That You're Alone
10. Black Burning Heart
11. Love Is The End

GUTTERBALL

GUTTERBALL
GUTTERBALL (1993)
320 KBPS

This debut from the vintage indie supergroup Gutterball will be welcome by most of the fans of the various members' former bands; and with those outfits being the Dream Syndicate, the Long Ryders, the Silos, and House of Freaks, that's saying quite a bit. Give credit to Steve Wynn and Bryan Harvey, who fashion a consistent program here throughout the album's 12 cuts. Maybe not another Days of Wine and Roses, but a solid release all the same.

1.Trial Separation Blues
2. Top of the Hill
3. Lester Young
4. Motorcycle Boy
5. One by One
6. When You Make Up Your Mind
7. Think It Over
8. Falling from the Sky
9. Please Don't Hold Back
10. The Preacher and the Prostitue
11. Patent Leather Shoes
12. Blessing in Disguise

Thursday, February 18, 2010

UNIVERS ZERO

UNIVERS ZERO
UNIVERS ZERO (1977)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Some very peculiar rock music hybrids emerged in the 1970s, but none was any more peculiar than Univers Zero, a classically influenced group of primarily Belgian musicians. Sometimes compared to the slightly earlier and enormously influential King Crimson, Univers Zero was actually much more extreme. While Crimson used Robert Fripp's lead guitar and Ian McDonald's Mellotron to approximate a symphonic rock sound rooted in the 19th century romantic tradition of Richard Strauss, Mahler and Wagner, the earliest versions of Univers Zero were not only more purely classical in their instrumentation (bassoon, violin, viola, cello, harmonium, spinet piano), but much more contemporary in their musical appropriation of the dissonant, jagged 20th century classical styles of Stravinsky, Bartók, Ligeti, and Penderecki, among others. The other constant and distinguishing quality of Univers Zero was the longtime preoccupation of drummer/leader Daniel Denis with the early 20th century fantasy/horror writer H.P. Lovecraft — as indicated by the names of his two predecessor bands, Arkham (the mythical town where most of Lovecraft's stories were set) and Necronomicon (a mythical Lovecraft book of forbidden secrets). Some critics regard Univers Zero's music as pretentious and gloomy, but it's never pretentious in the easy, predictable manner of most progressive rock, and as for the gloom, there's actually a kind of jaunty gallows humor in many of the pieces on this debut — particularly in the two by guitarist Roger Trigaux, which feature march rhythms somewhat suggestive of Shostakovich or Prokofiev. The rhythmic energy and dissonant riffs, the distinctive sound of the bassoon and strings, and the tricky, fragmented time signatures make for a challenging and highly distinctive listening experience.

1. Ronde
2. Carabosse
3. Docteur Petiot
4. Malaise
5. Complainte
Bonus Track
6. La Faulx (Live)

SLEEPING PEOPLE

SLEEPING PEOPLE
GROWING (2007)
320 KBPS

Growing advances Sleeping People as a band in every way. It's faster, more aggressive, more thoughtful and more dynamic than their debut. Engineered by Ben Moore (Hot Snakes, The Black Heart Procession), the songs are pushed to extremes, sparking an addictive adrenaline high that is ultimately eased by Rob Crow's surprise appearance at the conclusion of the album, his saccharine vocals providing a perfect, blissful freefall. Growing is Sleeping People at their most inspired. It is a document of a sometimes frantic, always fearless band who sounds best when they're only pretending to be in control. Like the band itself, Growing embraces change with an improvisational flair that is both confounding and consuming.

1. Centipede's Dream
2. James Spader
3. Yellow Guy/Pink Eye
4. Mouth Breeder
5. ...Out Dream
6. Three Things
7. Grow Worm
8. Underland
9. It's Heart Loves Open
10. People Staying Awake

HOPPER

HOPPER
DEERGIRL (2008)
320 KBPS

It's now been more than 10 years that Au­ré­lia Ri­vage et Do­ro­thée Han­ne­quin (also known for their other project The Rodeo) entertain the Parisian indie lovers of their american-influenced rock music combining tension and sensuality. For this new album, their second, they went to Seattle and worked with Ryan Hadlock known for his collaborations with Blonde Red­head, The Black Heart Pro­ces­sion, Foo Figh­ters, The Gos­sip, The Strokes or Sound­gar­den. The result is a vibrant and raw album that recalls bands such as Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth or the Breeders. The girls sometimes slow it up a bit like on Rainy Days Smell Like Blue recalling those who've heard it the band's early demos. All in all, if not essential, this album will please the American indie rock lovers with its apt songwriting and neat musicianship.

1. Ariane's Thread
2. Rock 'n Roll High
3. Rainy Days Small Like Glue
4. Mal­colm
5. To­mor­row Is Mystery
6. The Other Me
7. Tell Everybody
8. We Trust In Love Wi­thout Your Drugs
9. Life Is Not A Test
10. Since You've Slid Into Eter­nal Slum­ber
11. On The Road

THE WHITE OCTAVE

THE WHITE OCTAVE
MENERGY (2001)
320 KBPS

Artsy post-hardcore, The White Octave give the tired genre a breath of fresh air, keeping the intensity and purity of the sound, while adding an emo and experimental twist to it. The White Octave are the type of band that takes chances, not afraid to rip into bloody screams and hardcore rage before pulling out and whipping up some quiet, yet equally as powerful sounds to blow your mind. This is a record that will captivate and become one of your favorites.

1. The Constant Is Zero
2. Splashed Into Serpents
3. Animal Chin
4. La Vista
5. Wait
6. The House Is Flatlined
7. Powerlines
8. Move in Time
9. Weight
10. Menstrumental

AVANTASIA

TOBIAS SAMMET'S
AVANTASIA
THE METAL OPERA (2001)
320 KBPS

The Metal Opera part 1 was actually not as operatic as I expected. I enjoyed this one more than the sequel because this actually has the right to be called a metal opera, even for its flaws. The choruses are more interesting than standard Edguy work and the instrumentation is intricate, with an electric, metallic sound. Also, this part of the Metal Opera has a story that the listener can follow without having to read eight pages of information in the CD booklet.
This is still essentially an Edguy album with a host of guest singers. None of them bring anything new to the table. Because the music was written by Sammet, they are all singing in his style. Their voices may sound different, but they left behind their unique styles to sing the way Sammet does. The amount of guest singers makes this more operatic than a standard Edguy album, but it doesn’t qualify as a full Metal Opera to my ears. It would be more diverse if it were truly operatic, and it is possible to achieve that without sacrificing accessibilty. There was no need to dumb down the other talented singers in this music. Sammet could have incorporated other power metal bands’ sounds here to build a gorgeous and unprecedented masterpiece. Farewell is probably the best example of this for its folk elements, putting it on another level from the rest of the album.
When Hansi from Blind Guardian guested on Vain Glory Opera you could hear a unique addition to Edguy’s standard sound, but perhaps that’s why Sammet didn’t have him work on the Avantasia Operas. His name is smeared all over this work. While it holds up very well against other power metal albums, it doesn’t sound as unique as it could. I’m not talking about going overboard like Rhapsody with narrations and such, but it could have been a more interesting work of art if Sammet had not smothered it.

1. Prelude
2. Reach Out for the Light
3. Serpents in Paradise
4. Malleus Maleficarum
5. Breaking Away
6. Farewell
7. The Glory of Rome
8. In Nomine Patris
9. Avantasia
10. A New Dimension
11. Inside
12. Sign of the Cross
13. The Tower

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT
VULTURE CULTURE (1985)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Some people commented that the music of The Alan Parsons Project started with a heavy influence of Pink Floyd through its debut album "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" and it evolved further. On this album you would hardly find any kind of Floyd influence because as far as I know there had been nothing about Floyd which had consistent beats like The APP music. But that's again, people's perception.
This album is more on pop than any category of music but it's not bad at all even though it's not the best of The Project albums. It is a continuation of "Ammonia Avenue", its predecessor. Some songs were written during the same period as "Ammonia Avenue" and "Vulture Culture" was released shortly after "Ammonia Avenue". "Let's Talk About Me" is an energetic opener in rock style with good vocal line. Nothing is interesting about the second track "Separate Lives" except its acoustic guitar fills which augment the vocal line. "Days Are Numbers" is another good track to enjoy. The rest of the tracks represent typical pop-rock orientated music of The Alan Parsons Project.
It's a good album even though it's not essential and not the Project's best. For those of you who enjoy slow rock with pop touch you might like this album.

1. Let's Talk About Me
2. Separate Lives
3. Days Are Numbers (The Traveller)
4. Sooner Or Later
5. Vulture Culture
6. Hawkeye
7. Somebody Out There
8. The Same Old Sun
Bonus tracks
9. No Answers Only Questions (Final Version)
10. Separate Lives (Alternate Mix)
11. Hawkeye (Demo)
12. The Naked Vulture
13. No Answers Only Questions (The First Attempt)

BRIGITTE FONTAINE

BRIGITTE FONTAINE
LIBIDO (2006)
320 KBPS

For her 16th album, Brigitte Fontaine took inspiration from Libertine novelists of the XVIIIth Century and the result displayed on "Libido" combines both wickedness and gravity in a music that Mrs. Fontaine defines herself as "baroque’n’roll".
More focused than "Kékéland", an album which showed many outside collaborators (Noir Désir, Sonic Youth, Loo & Placido…), more balanced than "Rue Saint Louis en l'Ile", released in 2004, "Libido" is also a more homogeneous album. Le musical couple she forms with Areski Belkacem has tightened up its craft and with baroque orchestrations, beautiful string-works, piano and harpsichord, it's a delight to the ear.
In fine, it gives us an album of a woman who's not afraid to claim she likes men even though she only loves one: Areski Belkacem, and a daring yet beautiful listening experience.

1. Château Intérieur
2. La Metro
3. Cul Béni
4. Elvire
5. La Nacre Et Le Porphyre
6. Barbe A Papa
7. Mendelssohn
8. Les Babas
9. Ex Paradis
10. La Viande
11. Mister Mystère
12. Noces

COUCH

COUCH
PROFANE (2001)
320 KBPS

After reading a fair amount about the group and having heard two full length releases by them now, I think I can fairly easily say that they're a group who doesn't like clutter. When I say that, I don't mean it in a bad way, but if you listen to their recordings I think you'd know what I'm saying. Musical elements all seem to fall into place somewhere and while Profane is definitely a more lush sounding release than their last release Fantasy, they still keep things fairly orderly. That's not to say that they haven't progressed, though. Although it only contains 8 tracks and is shorter in length, Profane defintely propels the group in some new and interesting directions.
Those changes can be heard immediately after pressing play and hearing the first track entitled "Plan." Although some of the familiar elements are there, the song lurches along with feedback-soaked drums and keyboards that switch off between sounding like a harpsichord and a piano. It's that fuzz on the drums and the slightly loose production quality of the track that gives things sort of a rough edge that the group hasn't really worked with to date. That sound continues on the very next track as well, and the percussion is even more huge on "Alle Auf Pause." After a rumbling, almost hip-hop beat, things calm down a bit with the addition of other instruments, but things keep banging underneath and provide a nice juxtaposition against the pretty guitar and bass melodies.
The album quiets down considerably after that, and on "Was Alles Halt" they give the track a more electronic feel with very slight programmed percussion and bass work that tiptoes around while the repetitive guitars sound almost haunting. The group even goes with sort of a jazzy feel on "Meine Marke" before again cranking up the volume on "Kurzer Punkt." On the track, they sound like Tortoise getting their intensity level amped and even though the track doesn't have any lyrics, it might just have you bouncing along with it.
The album ends with two slower numbers, including the six and a half minute "Doch Endlich." It's hypnotically repetitive as it plods along and adds more and more elements until drums are crashing down and keyboards are droning at the end around the original guitar melody. They close things out with another almost jazzy little number in "Farbe." The echoed-out drum beats give the song sort of an electronic feel again, and add just the right amount of a catch. In the end, it's a pretty darn good little album.

1. Plan
2. Alle auf Pause
3. Was alles hält
4. 12 sind nur
5. Meine Marke
6. Kurzer Punkt
7. Doch endlich
8. Farbe