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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

ISOBEL CAMPBELL AND MARK LANEGAN - Ballad Of The Broken Seas, V2
Now at a special price - while stocks last! Take one member of Belle & Sebastian (fey haircut optional), add a hefty dollop of Screaming Trees/Queens of the Stone age (sweat optional), season with a blast of Glasgow gales and LA sunshine, then serve on a bed of juxtaposed styles. The sublime coming together of former B&S girl Isobel Campbell and veteran southern rock type Mark Lanegan, 'Ballad of the Broken Seas' represents the kind of bitter/sweet combination that when done right produces a bumper crop. It's done right... Opening with 'Deus Ibi Est', Campbell … Read more
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ISOBEL CAMPBELL AND MARK LANEGAN - Ballad Of The Broken Seas, V2
HOT CHIP - Coming On Strong, Moshi Moshi

HOT CHIP

Coming On Strong

Moshi Moshi

Format_dot_cdCD // £9.99

INDUSTRIAL / WAVE / ELECTRO

Cat. Number: MOSHICD6

Now at a special price - while stocks last! London 5-piece Hot Chip have had much critical acclaim over the last few months, here delivering their anticipated debut album "Coming On Strong" for the Moshi Moshi imprint. There's a quite lovable oddball quality to this album, hints of Prince, the Beastie Boys, Beck.... a souled-up folk vision of chilled out pop music with a twist. Check.
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LES SAVY FAV - Inches, Wichita Recordings

LES SAVY FAV

Inches

Wichita Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: WEBB165CD

They have been around for over ten years and they are still not superstars - what is wrong with the world? If you have ever wondered what Franz Ferdinand would sound like if they were slightly tapped and wrote songs with edge, attitude and some real punk flavour then Les Savy Fav are the band for you. Doing dancefloor rock the way it always should have been done; Inches is a collection of angular hits collected from their various 7" releases (hence the clever name...). What makes this album so great is its unrepentant party ethos, it is a record you could play to any hardened indie snob and illicit … Read more
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LES SAVY FAV - Inches, Wichita Recordings
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH - Some Loud Thunder, Wichita Recordings

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH

Some Loud Thunder

Wichita Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: WEBB117CD

Now at a special price - while stocks last! Having not quite delivered on the press-hype that surrounded their debut, it looks like the band have actually come up with the goods this time around. From the oversaturated sound of the suitably raucous title track you can hear a marked development in both the band's writing and their sound on record. There's far more sophistication here, and while previously it was vocalist Alec Ounsworth's wild vocal style that provided the group's most distinctive asset, Some Loud Thunder is loaded with idiosyncrasies and ambitiously out-there s… Read more
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CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH - Some Loud Thunder, Wichita Recordings
PETER BJORN AND JOHN - Falling Out, Wichita Recordings

PETER BJORN AND JOHN

Falling Out

Wichita Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £9.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: WEBB131CD

Now at a special price - while stocks last! The second of this week's Peter Bjorn and John reissues, Falling Out is the band's sophomore album dating back to 2004, which saw the band entering an actual bonafide studio. Apparently, most of the album was recorded in the same studio used by The Hives while the shouty garage rockers were on their Christmas holidays. John from the band even fesses-up to commandeering The Hives drumkit for their cover of The Concretes' 'Teen Love' which here is given a rabble-rousing post-punk makeover. Much like their similarly stunning debut album, Falling … Read more
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PETER BJORN AND JOHN - Falling Out, Wichita Recordings
HOT CHIP - DJ-Kicks, !K7 Records

HOT CHIP

DJ-Kicks

!K7 Records

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.49

INDUSTRIAL / WAVE / ELECTRO

Cat. Number: K7213CDX

Now at a special price - while stocks last! The enormously successful electropop stylings of Hot Chip have found them in constant demand ever since the release of their hit album "The Warning "a couple of years back. Now they've been recruited by the !K7 crew for the latest instalment of their DJ-Kicks series, a mix that kicks off with the slinky melodies of Grovesnor's 'Nitemoves' shifting unapologetically into Positive K's 'I Got A Man'. The narrative flow of the mix continues to refuse any impulse to settle down into a particular genre, skipping briskly through tracks by Subway, Soundhack and Tom Z… Read more
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HOT CHIP - DJ-Kicks, !K7 Records
BOOKA SHADE - DJ-Kicks, !K7 Records

BOOKA SHADE

DJ-Kicks

!K7 Records

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.49

TECHNO / HOUSE

Cat. Number: K7222CDX

Now at a special price - while stocks last! Some uncommonly good selections on this latest in the DJ Kicks series. Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger have picked out some wildcard, not very DJ-friendly tracks to throw into their mix. Perhaps because they're another one of those techno groups who don't also happen to DJ, they feel perfectly at home with throwing Bridget Bardot, John carpenter and Richard Hawley into their selection. Don't fret though, for every track by The Streets or Yazoo, you get a Carl Craig or Matthew Dear production. Also notable is the always-welcome inclusion of Aphex's 'A… Read more
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BOOKA SHADE - DJ-Kicks, !K7 Records

Monday, 19 May 2008

O FRACAS - Fits & Starts, I CAN COUNT

O FRACAS

Fits & Starts

I CAN COUNT

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: ICCM005

This Leeds quartet scored themselves a single of the month accolade in March's edition of Artrocker, thanks to the jerky, slightly discordant charms of 'Brouhaha', which taps into the same shadowy corner of Britpop as the Young Knives did on their earliest efforts. Shortly after that comparison presents itself, things get a little more complex and more difficult to categorise, with the verse part in 'Fact Finding' fusing modern African pop rhythms with hollered vocals and gruff, distorted bass. While so many American bands seem to be merrily throwing together Afropop influences in a fairly cartooni… Read more
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O FRACAS - Fits & Starts, I CAN COUNT
PETER WALKER - Echo Of My Soul, TOMPKINS SQUARE

PETER WALKER

Echo Of My Soul

TOMPKINS SQUARE

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: TSQ1752CD

This is the first new album by Peter Walker in 40 years. Having been reintroduced to the wider world by the Tompkins Square label on their A Raga For Peter Walker compilation (featuring Thurston Moore, Jack Rose, James Blackshaw and Steffen Basho-Junghans, among others), the label commissions this new full-length work from the guitarist who was once Timothy Leary's 'musical director' (God knows what that involved). The music on Echo Of My Soul finds Walker drawing great influence from the flamenco world, calling upon the scales, techniques and nylon strings you'd associate with that music's… Read more
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PETER WALKER - Echo Of My Soul, TOMPKINS SQUARE

Thursday, 15 May 2008

ALAN LICHT & AKI ONDA - Everydays, Family Vineyard

ALAN LICHT & AKI ONDA

Everydays

Family Vineyard

Format_dot_cdCD // £9.99

EXTREME / NOISE / COMPUTER MUSIC

Cat. Number: FV58

"Debut collaboration of New York artists and long-time duo partners Alan Licht & Aki Onda, whose combined history connects artists straddling the pop and experimental worlds, including Fennesz, Loren Connors, Takemura Nobukazu, Lee Ranaldo, and Toriko Nujiko. In the past decade their montage-inspired solo work -- Licht's permutational guitar and tape pieces on Rabbi Sky and A New York Minute, Onda's field recording recontextualizations on Bon Voyage! and Ancient & Modern -- has co-existed with their experimental sound/visual projects Text of Light (Licht) and Cinemage (Onda). Everydays is … Read more
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ALAN LICHT & AKI ONDA - Everydays, Family Vineyard
SCOTT KELLY - The Wake, Neurot Recordings

SCOTT KELLY

The Wake

Neurot Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: NR060

Scott Kelly is better known as the frontman in experimental metal band Neurosis, but The Wake marks his second lone venture, as a solo artist. Kelly's clearly aiming for Mark Lanegan territory with his deep, low rumble of a voice, but there's simply an absence of memorable material on the album. For Neurosis followers, perhaps these songs would make sense within the context of Kelly's wider body of work, but to the uninititated there's every chance that this will be dismissed as a rather weak acoustic set, featuring poor, uninspired guitar work, although Kelly certainly has the voice of someone who has one or two stories in them.
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SCOTT KELLY - The Wake, Neurot Recordings
LIQUID LIQUID - Slip In And Out Of Phenomenon, Domino Recording Co
Featured CD

LIQUID LIQUID

Slip In And Out Of Phenomenon

Domino Recording Co

Format_dot_cdCD // £7.49

DISCO / BOOGIE / FUNK

Cat. Number: REWIGCD34

Liquid Liquid, the no-wave band so good they named them twice, get their first three, groundbreaking EPs re-released as part of this great retrospective on Domino, which also compiles a number of previously unreleased and live recordings there are ten bonus cuts in total). The influence of the New York post-punk band can be heard throughout today's more rhythmically-oriented rock bands, from the DFA roster to !!! and The Rapture, but beyond that, as if the impact (however furtive) this band had on popular culture wasn't clear enough, a quick listen through 'Cavern' reveals th… Read more
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LIQUID LIQUID - Slip In And Out Of Phenomenon, Domino Recording Co
BONNIE PRINCE BILLY - Lie Down In The Light, Domino Recording Co
Featured CD

BONNIE PRINCE BILLY

Lie Down In The Light

Domino Recording Co

Format_dot_cdCD // £8.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: WIGCD222

Sneaking up on you with all the stealth of a Raconteurs album, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy returns with a brand new album - not a covers album (like the recent Ask Forgiveness) and not a sketched collection of demos (like the even more recent Wai Notes), but a proper studio-recorded follow-up to 2006's The Letting Go. Musically, Lie Down In The Light is a lot less flashy and polished than its Valgeir Sigurdsson-produced predecessor, dropping the string sections and carefully sculpted electronic elements in favour of a more traditional country sound, the most recent precedent for whic… Read more
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BONNIE PRINCE BILLY - Lie Down In The Light, Domino Recording Co
PEDRO - You, Me & Everyone, Mush

PEDRO

You, Me & Everyone

Mush

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: MH255CD

Pedro has long been dogged by the 'a bit like Four Tet' tag, but hopefully this new Mush LP will finally cement the producer as a creative force in his own right. Well, if it doesn't the upcoming remixes for Radiohead and Foals should do the trick (mind you, remixing Radiohead? That's one of Kieran Hebden's regular gigs, isn't it?) You, Me & Everyone sounds a good deal more elaborate than previous efforts, and in production terms it's a culmination of years spent honing the craft. Importantly, the sheer simplicity and elegance that characterised Pedro's eponymous debut remains in check, but there'… Read more
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PEDRO - You, Me & Everyone, Mush
ERIC CHENAUX - Sloppy Ground, Constellation

ERIC CHENAUX

Sloppy Ground

Constellation

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: CST052-2

Following up on his Dull Lights LP from 2006, songwriter and guitarist Eric Chenaux finds himself on Sloppy Ground, although that title probably isn't doing him sufficient justice. This doesn't sound particularly aligned with any other current threads within the singer-songwriter field, and Chenaux's peculiar, tangled up arrangements present his music in a slightly askew, very personal fashion with well-mapped out, yet slightly ramshackle full band arrangements backing up his voice and guitar. It's worth drawing special attention to Chenaux's guitar playing: so few songwriters would approach … Read more
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ERIC CHENAUX - Sloppy Ground, Constellation
PORT ROYAL - Flared Up : Port-Royal Remixed, Resonant

PORT ROYAL

Flared Up : Port-Royal Remixed

Resonant

Format_dot_cdCD // £5.99

ELECTRONIC

Cat. Number: RESCD027

You'll notice that "Flared Up" is a remix collection based not upon Port Royal's most recent album, last year's Afraid To Dance, but rather their debut full-length, Flares. This much-delayed project has been in the works since the summer of '05, so it'd be entirely reasonable to expect something pretty special as the end result. FS Blumm opens the album with what sounds like a brand new composition of his own, doodling eloquently through acoustic drones and tangled free-time harmony, only for post-Chiastic Slide IDM to become the order of the day thanks to Russian electronics her… Read more
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PORT ROYAL - Flared Up : Port-Royal Remixed, Resonant
THEE OH SEES - The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In, Tomlab
These guys seem to have a new name, or at least a different way of writing their name, for every release they've had out. This time around it's The Oh Sees, and main guy John Dwyer is clearly on fine form. Sounding positively hi-fi, the band coat their brash, garagey sound in a spring reverb and moderate, filtered distortion, casting an only mildly mucky vintage finish over the record. The music itself carries a dirty, DIY Detroit-style boogie sound, coming across like a particularly hip rockabilly band on 'Adult Acid', whilst going a bit space rock on the … Read more
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THEE OH SEES - The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In, Tomlab

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

SANTOGOLD - Santogold, Atlantic

SANTOGOLD

Santogold

Atlantic

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

INDUSTRIAL / WAVE / ELECTRO

Cat. Number: 5144283082

Santi White stands at the very summit of the hype mountain, with seemingly all corners of the music press commending her as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale musical climate. It could be argued that this debut album has less to do with freshness and invention than it does a schizoid approach to writing and production, one which only serves to obscure a potentially strong, individual voice. You'll notice an unusually high number of comparisons made in this review (and other Santogold reviews on these pages) with numerous other artists, and while that might indicate a certain amount of lazy … Read more
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SANTOGOLD - Santogold, Atlantic

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

FERN KNIGHT - Fern Knight, VHF

FERN KNIGHT

Fern Knight

VHF

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: VHF110

This eponymously titled disc is actually the third album by Philadelphian folkists Fern Knight, who led by Margaret Wienk trade in the kind of psychedelic folk defined by their neighbours and kindred spirits, Espers. In fact, Fern Knight's past year or so has been spent as part of The Valerie Project alongside Greg Weeks, who also produces this record. The fact that cellist and singer-songwriter Wienk wears a bit of a Lord Of The Rings outfit on the sleeve will no doubt scare off a lot of people, but Fern Knight's openly anachronistic sound is pretty difficult to resist. Very much under the i… Read more
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FERN KNIGHT - Fern Knight, VHF

Monday, 12 May 2008

ISOBEL CAMPBELL AND MARK LANEGAN - Sunday At Devil Dirt, V2
For a man who looks like he's been deceased for the best part of a decade, Mark Lanegan isn't half busy at the moment. Hot on the heels of his Greg Dulli collaboration as one half of the Gutter Twins, Lanegan gets back together with Isobel Campbell for a sequel to their acclaimed, Mercury Prize-nominated Ballad Of The Broken Seas. As suggested by Isobel Campbell's Daisy Duke makeover on the sleeve, this album is firmly rooted in Americana and country, albeit at the darker peripheries of the genre. Together, these two have come up with an album of tense, cinematic so… Read more
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ISOBEL CAMPBELL AND MARK LANEGAN - Sunday At Devil Dirt, V2
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - More News From Nowhere, Mute
Nick Cave shows dazzling form on this single, one of the most memorable cuts on the marvellous Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! Album. 'More News From Nowhere' finds Cave setting his wonderfully wordy reflections against a stately rock & roll chug, assuming the voice of a narrator who visits his past loves and former lives, all reviewed in a poignant, yet ultimately unsentimental fashion. The writing is about seven or eight times better than just about any other single out this week, but what else would you expect from this guy? He just seems to get more and more formidable as the y… Read more
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NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - More News From Nowhere, Mute
HOT CHIP - One Pure Thought, Emi

HOT CHIP

One Pure Thought

Emi

Format_dot_cdCDS // £3.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: CDEM748

The latest single to be lifted from Hot Chip's massive Made In The Dark album, 'One Pure Thought' comes with an almost unmanageable quantity of B-sides spread across its various formats. The song itself is another romping dancefloor pop song that (as tends to be the case with Hot Chip) gets all the electronic stuff right but sounds rather flimsy when it comes to vocals and guitar, which as per usual are a bit of a shambles. The robust melody and strange electro-reggaeton rhythms of the beat make up for the dodgy non-electronic performances, which lets face it, are all part of this most un-rock… Read more
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HOT CHIP - One Pure Thought, Emi
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - Narrow Stairs, Atlantic

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

Narrow Stairs

Atlantic

Format_dot_cdCD // £14.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: 7567899465

On Narrow Stairs, Death Cab For Cutie consolidate their transition from indie big fish to major label stars with an album that seems to be consciously, defiantly alternative. Choosing an eight-and-a-half minute krautrock song for a single is a fairly bold statement in itself, and however much of a grower 'I Will Possess Your Heart' turns out to be, it's still nowhere near as infused with Death Cab's peppy pop brilliance as just about everything else on this album. The single seems to strive towards the same motorik ambitions as Wilco's 'Spiders (Kidsmoke)', or perhaps more appropriatel… Read more
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DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - Narrow Stairs, Atlantic
NAT BALDWIN - Most Valuable Player, BROKEN SPARROW

NAT BALDWIN

Most Valuable Player

BROKEN SPARROW

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.49

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: BSR4052

One-time Dirty Projectors member Nat Baldwin teams up with Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor (who assumes production duties) for this unique singer-songwriter venture. While most songwriters might wield a guitar or piano, Baldwin chooses a double bass as his main instrument, sounding like a lower register Arthur Russell across several of these songs, notably the magnificent opener 'Lake Erie' with its choppy bowing rhythms and drifting, almost Buckley-esque vocal. while songs like 'Te Felled Trees' harness a focussed pop format, Baldwin does depart from the safety of that format on the avant-… Read more
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NAT BALDWIN - Most Valuable Player, BROKEN SPARROW
HAINO KEIJI & YOSHIDA TATSUYA - Uhrfasudhasdd, Tzadik
A sequel of sorts to their New Rap album, this new offering from Japanese underground heroes Keiji Haino and Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida finds the long-term collaborators scaring up some heavy going 21st century blues, and noise-fuelled prog-jazz with more than a hint of manic psychedelia infecting the whole surreal affair. The two musicians switch instruments and musical styles and disciplines at a rate that's difficult to keep up with, but the combination of Haino's screaming guitars and the punishing drums of Yoshida makes a formidable central format for the record - these… Read more
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HAINO KEIJI & YOSHIDA TATSUYA - Uhrfasudhasdd, Tzadik
CLIPD BEAKS - Horse Lords, LOVEPUMP UNITED

CLIPD BEAKS

Horse Lords

LOVEPUMP UNITED

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: LPV015

After spending half a decade messing around (and at some stage releasing an EP on Tigerbeat6), Californian experimenters Clipd Beaks have at last gone and made themselves a debut album. The band's music is fairly difficult to classify, but their sprawling garage rock clatter has a certain amount in common with Religious Knives, although this quartet take more direct pointers from punk, hardcore and metal tendencies. The band's aggressive noise jams occasionally relent long enough for you to glimpse at a greater level of depth, lurking below the surface: you'll encounter some deliciously grimy s… Read more
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CLIPD BEAKS - Horse Lords, LOVEPUMP UNITED
TITUS ANDRONICUS - The Airing Of Grievances, Troubleman Unlimited

TITUS ANDRONICUS

The Airing Of Grievances

Troubleman Unlimited

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: TMU195

In 'Titus Andronicus' Troubleman have found themselves a great (if surprisingly straight) indie rock band. This New Jersey quintet don't sound nearly as despondent as some of their song titles may suggest: both 'No Future Part One' and 'No Future Part Two' carry a suggestion that there's something genuinely uplifting and special about this band, regardless of whatever superficial gestures towards misanthropy might litter the album. Some of this stuff could have come from the Arcade Fire book of epic songwriting, with album closer and single 'Albert Camus' sounding not entirely … Read more
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TITUS ANDRONICUS - The Airing Of Grievances, Troubleman Unlimited

Thursday, 08 May 2008

CAFENEON - Cafeneon, STATION 55

CAFENEON

Cafeneon

STATION 55

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: S55005

Belgian popsters Cafeneon sent out a nine-track demo that eventually found its way into Cristian Vogel's hands. The techno star immediately offered his not inconsiderable services as a producer, having already dabbled in the indie universe via his Radiohead, Thom Yorke and Maximo Park remixes. The two parties sound great together on tracks like 'L'Instant', with its breathy laidback French language vocals and nonchalant, wall of noise guitars, though 'Orange' probably makes for a more natural meeting point between Vogel's electronics and the band's own dynamics, setting arpeggiating synth passages aga… Read more
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CAFENEON - Cafeneon, STATION 55
VARIOUS / LTM - Oh It's A Lovely War (Vol 4), LTM Recordings

VARIOUS / LTM

Oh It's A Lovely War (Vol 4)

LTM Recordings

Format_dot_cd2CD // £12.99

EARLY ELECTRONIC / SOUNDTRACKS

Cat. Number: CD41011

This double disc, fourth volume of songs and sketches recorded during the First World War paints quite a picture of life at home and in the theatre of conflict. Songs include diatribes on the tedium of plum & apple jam during rationing for the troops. "Jam for breakfast, jam for tea / but we never get a bit of strawberry" yearns Fred Hilton at the beginning of the first disc. I suppose some wartime hardships are less well documented than others: apparently it's one thing to be shot at in rat-filled trenches, but quite another to have your spreads interfered with. This compilation … Read more
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VARIOUS / LTM - Oh It's A Lovely War (Vol 4), LTM Recordings

Wednesday, 07 May 2008

NO AGE - Nouns, SUB POP

NO AGE

Nouns

SUB POP

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: SPCD772

No Age started accruing major indie kudos around the time they were releasing their early EPs and singles (later compiled under the Fat Cat release Weirdo Rippers), but none of that early hype has come close to the fuss stirred up around the release of this first album proper, on Sub Pop. Sure enough, Nouns finds the duo doing all the right things: their abrasive guitar sound seems to be reinforced with the gravitas of bands like Sonic Youth and The Ramones, even dabbling with occasional forays into psyched guitar ambience and coming up with re-sampled distortion drifts like 'Keechie' and the quasi-Animal … Read more
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NO AGE - Nouns, SUB POP