Mini Reviews - Feb 2006


Feb 3 2006, 13:35

Ok, I'm going to try and keep up with doing this throughout the year, whether it's about new releases or albums that I've just been slow in getting it doesn't matter, but I'm sure there's always going to be a few little gems hidden in the midst of garbage.

Cat Power - The Greatest

Well, what really can be said about Chan Marshall that everyone doesn't already know? She continually writes amazingly good music and this album is no exception. There's a couple of tracks that really lag behind the rest of the album, but literally a couple. It's no 'Moon pix', but it's close. For £8.50 or whatever albums cost new these days it's well worth the pennies if you've enjoyed her previous work and a great introduction if you've heard nothing of her before.

******** (8)

Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

Well who would've thought I'd enjoy a B&S album? Not me that's for sure. Never been a fan of them but this album's just an indie-pop beauty. It's not perfect by all means, and I still don't love the band, but it's one of those albums that'd put a smile on your face when you're listening to your walkman on a sunny Summer's day.

****** (6 1/2)

V/A - Tropicália - A Brazilian Revolution In Sound

I normally wouldn't buy this kind of thing, so I'm glad the album club sent it to me. I've very much a fan of English spoken music, although I have ventured out in the past couple of years a bit more, I still like stuff I can understand and sing along to. Anyway, enough about me.... This album is excellent. My favourite track was definately 'Quem Tem Medo De Brincar De Amor' by Os Mutantes and 'Procissão' by Gilberto Gil. I doubt I'll end up looking much further into any of the artists on the CD, but coming into it with an open mind and no prior knowledge of the actual music made it an enjoyable listen.

******* (7 1/2)

The Boxer Rebellion - Exits

Can't really remember how I found out about this band, but I got the 'Watermelon' EP not long after it was released and got the 'In pursuit' 7" when that came out, also won tickets to see them up in Cambridge once through their website but I couldn't go in the end so told them to give them to someone else, which was a bit of a shame. Didn't ever hear about this album being released though, quite fortunately as I managed to get it for £3, just a bit late. It's a strong album, one for fans of The Cooper Temple Clause's sound and in parts (unfortuantely) a bit like Oceansize. The only track that really brings it down is the last, 'the absentee', other than that it's quite samey so if you like one song you'll most likely enjoy the rest, you just may tire of hearing it. It's a decent length (40 mins) and does make a good listen though, so...

******* (7)

V/A - 20 Years of Dischord

How are you supposed to review this? It's three CDs that span for over three hours of listening pleasure and comes with an amazing booklet that has over 100 pages! I would review it piece by piece but I get completely lost as to where I am.
The discs feature classic bands such as Fugazi, Minor Threat, Shudder To Think and Jawbox, the relatively unknown, The Crownhate Ruin, Hoover, Circus Lupus and some oddities, The Holy Rollers, Red C and Rozzlyn Rangers (that's to my previous knowledge of the music anyway). Where can you start amongst that lot? At the tracks you knew already? At the bands you hadn't heard of? I really don't know. All I can really say is that it's a well made compilation for the £10. If you like anything that came from the DC punk/hardcore scene then you may as well check it out, there's bound to be something you'll find to your liking on there. It's a great collection from a great label with music spanning from the 80's to the 00's.

******* (7 1/2)

The Living Blue - Fire, Blood, Water

I saw somewhere that these guys were thought to be a rising band for the '06 so thought it best to check them out.
They're like a modern rock 'n' roll band. If anyone liked The Hiss's 'Panic Movement' album (personally I loved it) then you may enjoy this, although it's not completely the same style, it has the same feel for the most part. It gives me the impression of being the perfect decent album. Nothing special overall and nothing that you probably haven't heard already, but all the songs are good, none letting the album down.

******* (7)

Woody Guthrie - The machine kills fascists

I'm going to do this one disc by disc because I don't fancy listening to all three one after the other.

Probably the biggest influence for folk artists, Woody apparently wrote in the region of 1400 songs! These CDs contain just 66, but that still amounts to over two hours.
The first disc has some great songs including, 'along in the sun and the rain', 'this land is your land' and the brilliant 'car song' ("engine goes brrduu, brrduu"). The recordings can be a bit crackly, but considering the fact they were recorded in the 1940's you'd expect some to be a bit iffy, they're still highly listenable though. It's not going to take everybody's taste by storm but if you fancy a bit of a sing-a-long a lot of these songs will get you bringing out the acoustic guitar and singing.
The second CD isn't as good as the first but it keeps up his catchy songwriting style, but I'm starting to get bored.

Tarkio - Omnibus

I have mixed emotions. I thought it'd either be typically Colin or completely different, but it's stuck in the middle ground. At points it sounds so country and the next it's into The Decemberists sound. I don't think the ordering of the CD was at it's best, and like someone said on the Hush Records forum, I think it would've been a lot more interesting to have it in some kind of chronological order so you can see how he progressed to The Decemberists, would've flowed a lot better as well probably. I realise it's not just Colin playing, but the majority of people are going to buy it because of him. Best track has to be 'Carrie' - absolute genius, love the track (2nd CD's better).

****** [5 1/2 - 8 (first disc - second disc)]

Jack Johnson & Friends - Song-a-longs and lullabies for the film 'Curious George'

I'm currently only three tracks in, but I can already tell you this is a vast improvement from 'In between dreams', which was a bit of a setback (in my opinion) in his music, but this has already shot him back into my good books.
Hmmmmm, listening to the second half of the album, I realise it's aimed at kids, but '3 Rs' is awful. Despite that, there's a great cover of The White Stripes' 'We're going to be friends' and the majority of the rest of the album is just pretty. The iTunes copy I got came with a colouring book as well :D Doubt I'll ever print it off but it could waste away a few more hours of my life.

******** (8)

The Connells - Ring

An album that's been meaning to grace my CD rack for years, to be a bit more precise it's probably about a decade (since the release of '74-75'). It does disappoint in some areas but impresses the heck out of me in others. For some reason I get horrible visions of The Magic Numbers when I'm listening to some songs (not a fan) and they tend to be the tracks that I'm not so keen on. I really only bought it for '74-75' as that's the only track I'd heard, so it's always nice when you enjoy a couple more tracks.

****** (6)

Martin Carthy - The Definitive Collection

An album that was picked up after that folk show on BBC4 (mentioned at the bottom) thinking that he sounded pretty good. Having got the album I'm not so keen. I like folk music, I really do, but I'm not the biggest fan of typically folk folk (if that makes sense), and this album comes across as typically folk with all the bog standard trimmings. I respect the man for the name he's made for himself and the inspiration he's given to others, but this album didn't do too much for me, maybe it'll be a grower.

***** (5)

Mel Gibson and the Pants - w/guitar

Hey Andrew

This is exciting for us. You are officially the first person to order something from us from another country. You must now spread the word, so you can say you were actually the first

Then that is what I'll do.
I've been after more by this band for a couple of years now, since I first laid my hands on a copy of 'Ladies and gentlemen'. It has in no way let me down, it's just solidified my thoughts about them creating something original (at least in my knowledge). It's a fusion of rap, electro and rock, and before you ask, no, not nu metal. This definately won't be for everyone and at points is hard, but since I've been after it for so long, it was certainly enjoyable for me.

******** (8)

Parks & Recreation - What was she doing on the shore that night?

Wow! This is the best Hush release in (possibly) forever. Now, I'm not one for over-shadowing albums like 'Old moon in the arms or the new', 'Castaways and cutouts' or 'Cultural norms' in a hurry but this album is special. It's basically a full band project from Michael Johnson (Reclinerland) and throughout the 9 tracks it produces some doozies. If you've been a fan of any Hush releases (especially by Blanket Music or Reclinerland) then I highly recommend this as your next purchase.

********* (9)

Kind of Like Spitting - The Thrill of the Hunt

Ah ha, it came, and how happy I am to finally have it. With all the controversy on this album being taken up by the image of the naked boy chasing a kangaroo that Ben and Dave wanted on the front cover, it ended up being placed on the back of the insert. A good compromise I feel. The album features covers of 'You' (Bad Religion), 'A song for you' (Leon Russell), 'Thirteen' (Big Star) and 'Lay some happiness on me' (by names I do not recognise). Three of these have been available before via the Redder Records site but they work really well amongst the rest of the album. It's again a direction away from 'Bridges worth burning' which is both great and a shame at the same time as their writing gets better, but some of the tracks on 'Bridges...' are definately my favourites.
The songs are great from start to finish, and although it's not an instant favourite of mine, it's yet another great addition to the catalogue (along with four up and coming vinyl releases on Art of the Underground).

******* (7)

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly./Dave House - split 10"

Well it's only four tracks long so the review will reflect the length...
Limited to 500 copies I decided to nab two (sorry people that didn't get one) as I'm sure GCWCF will continue to rise the ranks of the British scene this year. I started playing it at 33rpm thinking that it sounded right (and damn good) on the Cape side, but when the vocals came in I realised how wrong I was, at 45 it sounds even better. The fact that there's an original from each band and a cover of one of the others' track makes it a good listen, although I'm not such a huge fan of the Dave House material.

****** (6 1/2)

Saturday Looks Good To Me - Sound on Sound

I have listened to this in pieces but wasn't really paying any attention, so I'll come back to it.

The Undertow Orchestra - Live at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, 14-02-06)

Well this isn't a release, but thankfully Brad recorded it and put it up, and you've really got to love him for it. It features David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, The Headphones), Vic Chesnutt, Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), and Will Johnson (Centro-matic) and is truly worth the time to download all 35 tracks.

The Beautiful New Born Children - Hey People!

Hmmmmm, don't really know what to make of this, I've listened to it twice now and both times it's been over before I've managed to get stuck into it. Being only 23 minutes long it'll either wear you out trying to catch it or you'll need to have it shoved on repeat a couple of times to really get caught up in it. Their songs only lasting for two minutes each do leave you with a feeling they're a mixture of The Strokes and xbxrx, so you know, slightly heavy, slightly catchy songs yet at the same time slightly annoying. Maybe an overuse of the word 'slightly' there, but it's a word that works well for them.

***** (5 1/2)

More to come this month.......

The Wireless Stores - Dust Ghost
Monkey Swallows the Universe - The Bright Carvings
Leadbelly - The Definitive Leadbelly
Ambulance Ltd - New English (EP)

And hopefully a few others I'll try and get my hands on.

Ordered myself an Ebow the other day as well, hopefully I'll actually use this (my wah and distortion pedals have barely been touched).

For March and beyond.....

Corinne Bailey Rae - s/t
Psapp - The only thing I ever wanted
Juana Molina - Son
V/A - Exit Music: Songs of Radiohead (leftfield interpretations)
Letting Up Despite Great Faults - as yet untitled 5 song EP

There's a great show on BBC4 on Friday (repeated Saturday) nights that started yesterday about the history of folk and how it progressed, don't suppose anyone saw it? Part 2 is next week and it starts about midnight, I highly recommend it, it should be the 60's next week and lead into the 70's and beyond for the final show (personally the episodes I'm more interested in). Anyway, I'll try and add any good recommendations I take from it (if I can remember to watch them).


  • tooscaredtotry

    Greatest: Definitely no 'Moon Pix', but I'm glad there's someone else who really likes it. Where is my love was a let down. Life Pursuit: I like this album a lot more than Catastrophe. I don't know if you have any of their back catalog, but I like this album almost as much as Fold Your Hands. I know almost none of the other arists. :(

    Feb 3 2006, 14:51
  • andrewbiles

    It could've been 'where is my love' then that was the bad one, going to have to listen to it later whilst paying attention to song titles. Never really enjoyed much of B&S's singles so I don't own any other albums. would probably go and get that one with 'Arab strap' in the title as that seems to be the most popular (going by things I've read in the past). If you want some links or a couple of mp3s from the other lot just say, they're all worth checking out.

    Feb 3 2006, 19:05
  • cybaea

    Interesting review here: I'm still ripping my Album Club harvest so I haven't heard this one yet, but it sounds like the sort of album that music downloads was invented for: we only need the good tracks, not the rubbish. Was the bonus album any good?

    Feb 4 2006, 10:00
  • andrewbiles

    I thought the good definately out-weighed the bad on it though, so one that I'd rather have the CD of. I do agree with that blog though at the end where they say that the first album you hear by an artist tends to be your favourite, as for the most part it's true as you're going to compare all their other material to that one. The Domino bonus disc thing's pretty decent as is the Tropicalia CD (which I'm surprised at - not usually my thing). Was more interested in that Domino one though for the new Psapp and Juana Molina tracks over everything else. Arctic Monkeys is getting put in the post tomorrow and I'm going to ask for Ray Davies 'Storyteller' or The Wireless Stores 'Dust Ghosts'. Will be interested to see what you think of the AC CDs once you've had a chance to listen to them.

    Feb 4 2006, 13:10
  • tooscaredtotry

    Tropicalia essentials? I love that cd.

    Feb 4 2006, 13:38
  • andrewbiles

    'Tropicália - A Brazilian Revolution In Sound', which is probably the same idea/thing with a different title.

    Feb 4 2006, 13:50
  • shifto112

    This Album Club thing sounds better and better the more I hear about it, shame I have no money... And I'd like to know how the Ebow turns out, I quite fancy the idea of that, always been meaning to try out some kind of bow with my guitar after hearing what the guy from Sigur Ros can do with it, though I heard you'd have to put a lot of resin on the bow and that damages the guitar or something like, I haven't. But this thing sounds quite interesting. Similarly to you, my multi-effect Yamaha Magicbox pedal hardly ever gets used either... I'll have to get that new Cat Power one soonish, I have Moon Pix and I think it's great.

    Feb 4 2006, 20:30
  • tooscaredtotry

    Oh! I didn't notice that you had updated the entry. My bad.

    Feb 4 2006, 22:09
  • andrewbiles

    shifto112: Slightly worried about the ebow now, was looking around on their site after I ordered it and apparently they don't work at all on acoustics. I don't think I've played either of my electric guitars in about 5 months, so I'm questioning that purchase. Might have to work out a way to adapt it to work with acoustics (there must be a way). In all honesty about the CP album, if you only have 'Moon pix' I'd recommend 'Myra Lee' or 'The covers record' before buying this new one, but it's not a bad album at all. tooscaredtotry: No problem, probably updated it as you were typing.

    Feb 5 2006, 0:47
  • shifto112

    [quote][b]From the Ebow FAQ][/b]: [i]Will the EBow work on Acoustic?[/i] If you have a magnetic pickup in the sound hole, the EBow should respond as it would on a solid body electric, though the strings tend to decay more quickly and activate more slowly. Acoustics with bridge transducers, piezo pickups or microphones will be much quieter and, of course, there is no HotSpot, which is necessary for bowing strokes and spiccato. However, you can get a very clean, natural sounding string tone. When moving from string-to-string on an acoustic without a magnetic pickup in the sound hole, you should mute the SupportStrings to reduce the noise of the EBow on the strings.[/quote] I'm not really quite sure what any of that means but good luck with it. And yeah, I've been warming to a couple of songs from the Covers Record so just depends whichever album I see cheap.

    Feb 5 2006, 9:43
  • solutiondevices

    Get Cape Wear Cape Fly/Dave House split looks ace. Ordered it, and hopefully they'll have it in stock.

    Feb 5 2006, 21:13
  • andrewbiles

    ^ If not I ordered two (haven't got them through yet though). shifto112: Sounds as though a pickup of some kind is probably needed.

    Feb 6 2006, 14:15
  • djjz13

    iv got my GCWCF/DH 10, its awesome, i will probably post a review on my page

    Feb 17 2006, 2:09
  • andrewbiles

    Got mine this morning as well. Not such a huge fan of 10s but it will be a good listen. They shouldn't re-release the EP though, just sort out an album.

    Feb 17 2006, 8:59
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