Album Reviews: September 2005


Echo and the Bunymen - Siberia (Cooking Vinyl) 19/09/2005

T: This is the band's first album for four years, and it only serves to reinforce my opinion that Echo and the Bunnymen are one of the greatest groups of all time. They really ought to get more appreciation of that kind, but you rarely seem to get listed in the various "Top 100 Albums" polls that the music press is so fond of running. Why not? I'd have at leat three of their albums in MY top 100. This is another fantastic release by the sound of things. Good to have you back guys.

N: I don't think we're going to differ any here. This is a gloriously supreme example of a Bunnymen album. McCulloch's vocals are on form and sound rich and cracked. It's how I want to hear him. Songs that could have been written and recorded at the height of their fame. Maybe it's because I grew up with the band and remember them as an awesome outfit. Why now? Well when the form is this strong, why not? 9/10

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Queen Adreena - Live at the ICA (One Little Indian) 19/09/2005

T: I'm not generally a big fan of live albums, as you will no doubt already know if you're a regular reader of this site; however this one actually appeals to me a great deal more than others. The reason for this is probably because it has evidently been taken straight from the mixing desk and therefore the instruments are extremely clear and it shows off the talent and musicianship of the band as well as the faultless vocals of Katie Jane Garside. This, to me, is a far better idea than your usual Live albums, but like you just mentioned in conversation, there is very little crowd noise. I think we probably differ in opinion here, as I always find the audience a major irritation on these kind of albums - it makes me feel quite jealous and I'd rather have Katie singing to me in isolation than hear a bunch of lagered up gig goers shouting at her to get her tits out and so forth.

N: It's not the downplayed audience here that interests me, but why "Live at the ICA"?

T: Um..Why not?

N: I mean why was THIS peformance chosen over a multitude of other ones? That's what I was getting at.

T: Um...Why not?

N: All I'm saying is that there's no mention as to why this show holds particular significance, and as a listener I'd like to know that.

T: Perhaps it was just a particularly good one.

N: Well THAT'S what I want to hear. 7/10

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The Lucky Nine - True Crown Foundation Songs (Hassle Records) 26/09/2005

Rather heavier than their collective other bands, this is the work of A bass player Daniel P Carter, Hundred Reasons frontman Colin Doran and Cable drummer Richie Mills. Interesting.

T: You have to delve deep in this album to really understand it. It starts off as though the Lostprophets are having a set to with Soundgarden, and a very unpleasant one at that, but it DOES grow on you and you realise the screamo parts that are initially irritating eventually become essential to the whole make up. It's not all blazing riots of testosterone though and there are several easily hummable anthems to chant along and some surprising tender harmonies. Don't dismiss this album, it's a snail that grows uberwings.

N: Better than my opinion of Simple Plan, but I still don't like it. Heavy bassline and drums, with the vocal of a man who's trying his hardest to clear his throat. But that was the opening track. The rest of the album does tend to follow in the same vain, although at times straying into the region of an almost passable melody, nut then a melodic mainstay kicks in and tears apart what I'm almost hearing. I find myself tapping along at times, but nothing hearfelt is found - it just fails on that score.

T: So you're going to completely ignore what I said and have decided you WILL just dismiss it on your first listen?

N: As I said, I didn't even find a glimmer of something in there that would justify that. To advocate this I would point you towards bands like A, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, these had something at the core of their sound that at least set them apart, I don't hear that here and it just sounds like an album for the sake of it. Sorry. 5/10

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Various - Sounds From Monsterism Island (EMI) 26/09/2005

This is a compilation album that "works as a soundtrack to the World of Monsterism, created by the Welsh born, London based artist Pete Fowler. The album features psychedelic music from the 60s through to today".

T: A fascinating mix of songs, which, I am astounded to note, includes one of my all time favourite records - the little known gem that is The Rattles' "The Witch". Other golden nuggets include Martin Denny's "Sake Rock" which is a bit like the Take Hart theme tune on LSD, the cuckoo-clock like "Milky Whey" by John Baker and Jig-a-Jig's bizarre instrumental "East of Eden". I think if you play the album all the way through though, you'd probably be certified as clinically insane by the end.

N: As a compilation, I have to admit to being unfamiliar with its entire content. Echoes of familiarity, but that's all. That said, my introduction to the sixties monster glamour which is this album has been an enlightening one, but you're correct in the assumption of judging a person clinically insane given too much exposure. This really is wild. 8/10

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Goldie Lookin Chain - Safe As Fuck (Atlantic) 19/09/2005

N: Sounds like the GLC have stolen the Bloodhound Gang's muse whilst moving it across the Atlantic and letting the thunder run out of control on the journey over. "Chav" comes to mind, or put another way, the Barron Knights for the 21st Century, but this time street cred and with their mouths on the gutter.

T: I really do think this is an hilarious album - and like you said, gutter level humour, but if you don't laugh you may as well just have your mouth removed. How can you NOT at least crack a smile at lines like "If you leave me now, can I fuck your sister?" or the ludicrous lyrics of "HRT"? Or even the daft take on the Grange Hill theme tune or the out and out piss take of "R&B"? Let's be honest, if you saw these guys in a pub, you WOULD buy them a beer! 8/10

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Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (Bud Fox Recordings/EMI) 19/09/2005

T: Rather sugary late eighties style indiepop from this Swedish outfit. Pretty catchy, totally inoffensive but lacking in real emotion if you ask me. Background music for doing the dishes to.

N: That was what I'd been searching for - nice but just rather plain. You say eighties - it's one of those albums you hear produced doing a drought in musical tastes. I think we hear it about this time each decade. Nice, but it's just going through the motions. I've got hundreds of these albums on the shelves. 6/10

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Elbow - Leaders Of The Free World (V2) 12/09/2005

"Elbow release their eagerly anticipated third album", why is it that this thought didn't inspire an immediate fizziness inside? Now that's a question I find hard to answer, especially as we've reviewed their earlier albums to great acclaim, so this was something I really couldn't fathom. Maybe it was the 2 years that had elapsed since 'Cast Of Thousands' was introduced that had just made me forget. Those 2 earlier albums had been reviewed by us and received pretty stonking reviews on both occasions, so maybe a better gauge would be how I ripped this album from its packaging, flinging it onto my CD player like I was expecting some kind of fix-like experience.

The moment the early strains filtered through my 'cans', did I experience the richness that my ears were being fed and alright put another way I was mainlining this new album with the eagerness of a junkie who'd missed his candy for too long. Now that's not saying that this is an album produced by a bunch of drug crazed muso's, far from it, just one where production duties had been shared amongst the band, culminating in the kind of album they wanted it to produce, fat and living a life that's far beyond the straightforward. Where guitars become more than just instruments and speak to their audience, where the pianos keys dance, all captivated by vocalist Guy Garvey, who at times has a sound and power similar to that of Peter Gabriel.

This album doesn't pamper to any idea of fashion, or need to justify itself, producing just a great product, whose weight is not just in the music, or lyric, or passion in its making, it's far more than that. On recording this album they also worked in tandem with visual collaborators , The Soup Collective, who spent time filming, drawing, photographing and painting the band in the studio, compiling a DVD that will accompany the release, but it's the music element I came here to witness and truth is I've fallen in love again, just don't tell the wife. 9/10

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The Scaramanga Six - Cabin Fever (Wrath) 12/09/2005

The much anticipated follow up to 2003's "Strike! Up the Band", and just as an added bonus, there is an MPEG video of the gorefest that is "The Poison Pen".

T: Wrath Records have been one of the most consistent labels recently for putting out quality music, and it would seem this is no exception. If Scaramanga Six were asked to make the incidental music to a new horror film, you could bet your life it would be one of the most frightening movies ever made. This is a compliment by the way, in case you're wondering. Raw, dramatic and pulsating, with such an intensity that draws you in and demands that you listen. Have you noticed that we haven't actually skipped through the album on this one, like we do with most other reviews? That's because it has more depth.

N: Now this is something we weren't expecting - a musical journey that really belies any exact pinpointing on an album that hops from one crazy turn to the next. All you've said and more, plus a liking for all that was sixties flamboyance and late seventies brash juxtaposed on this album. Gorgeous. 10/10

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The Black Velvets - The Black Velvets (Vertigo) 12/09/2005

One of those bands whose career reads like a fairy story - signed within a couple of months of forming and played dates with The Who and The Killers amongst others.

T: Like a much heavier version of Slade jamming with Guns 'n' Roses, but with less memorable tunes and only an eighth of the attitude. They have the potential to be huge, but they appeal to me about as much as sticking my love length in a bowl of acid. Is it just me or do all their songs sound exactly the same?

N: Now, on hearing their latest single, I was hoping this wouldn't be the case, but you've got them summed up in just a handful of words. Did you catch by any chance these Slade wannabes' nod to Oasis on track two "Get On Your Life"? Otherwise, not terribly inspiring. 3/10

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Iron Maiden - Death On The Road (EMI) 29/08/2005

A double live album recorded at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany. The show was apparently even more theatrical than usual, so we'll see whether the men in the stalls are suitably impressed.

T: I've always looked at "Live" albums as being a bit of a "Look what you could have won" statement, as utilised by Jim Bowen on regular occasions. Maybe that's why I can never get into them - if I'm not there, I don't want somebody else's documentation of what a great night it was. A bit like not being well enough to attend a party and then being played an audio tape the next day by your mate who went and found it was an all girl orgy. Annoying. Iron Maiden are no doubt an excellent live proposition, but it just ain't the same on record.

N: Yeah ok, if you were at the show concerned, this is an excellent keepsake of your cash spent, and as live albums go, the production here is better than many I've heard, with audience and music playing their part and adding to the feel. 7/10

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Electric Light Orchestra - All Over The World (the very best of) (Epic) 06/06/2005

Yes, we know it's been out for AGES over here, but we were sent this from the other side of the pond where it's only just come out, so we thought we ought to play fair and give it the quick once over...

T: I don't care HOW uncool I sound, how many teenagers laugh at me and stick pencils in my eye, or how many times I get wedgied for admitting it - ELO were one of the finest bands of the seventies and would easily make it into the Tone E Top 50 Bands of All Time list. Go on then, laugh.

N: If I laugh at you, then you're gonna have to return the favour I'm afraid. Hailing from the days of Mr. Lynne's comedy Afro, this album is a must for any self respecting record collection. Kicking off with the breathless "Mr. Blue Sky", to be followed by another 19 classic tunes of varying degree, the only downside was Lynne vocalising on "Xanadu". Olivia did it far better.

T: If I may make ONE criticism though - there are rather too many omissions of some of MY favourite singles for me to call this a perfect album though - "Last Train To London" isn't there for starters - and that to me is one of their greatest moments. The fact that "The Ultimate Collection" released a few years ago covers EVERYTHING the band ever released makes me feel that the latter is a far more worthy collection. 8/10

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