Wednesday, April 30, 2008

sometimes the fastest way to get there is to go slow

There's a little list on my personal blog somewhere of all the CDs that I have bought this year. Considering I have been remiss in reviewing any, I thought maybe the time was right for a little recap of the year in albums so far.

Not included here are anything that wasn't released in 2008, so that excludes great stuff I have bought like The Very Best of 10cc, David Jordan's "Set The Mood" (the 21st century Terence Trent D'Arby), Aqualung's "Memory Man" and the excellent debut album from Mumm-Ra....

Indie-pop comes no more fresh-faced and poptastic right now than North Yorkshire's finest bunch of 17 year olds, One Night Only. It's a vaguely Kook-esque sound, and whilst energetic and melodic it's also unfortunately rather forgettable. If it wasn't for the presence of the superb anthemic top 10 hot "Just For Tonight" there wouldn't be much to shout about here. It's a decent enough effort, God love them, and they're clearly enjoying themselves but it's not troubling the Mercury panel or the Grammies.

Alex Turner's side-project, the Last Shadow Puppets, is a different proposition all together, though. Despite it's brevity (it's a mere 34 minutes long), it's packed with retro-energy and class. It's a great record this as Turner and Kane transport you back to the mid-60s in their apparent challenge to write a Bond theme from that era. It's like the Arctic Monkeys attempt at writing a "Music To Watch Girls By" record, and Turner and Kane triumph unequivocally.

It's hard not to smile and warm to the Feeling. On "Join With Us" they have taken their brand of 70's inspired MOR and upped the ante yet further by making it even more lush and catchy than debut "Twelve Stops And Home". The influences remain - 10cc, the Darkness, Supertramp et al but their ability to craft these catchy and well-produced pop records make this one of the best albums I have bought in recent months. Great stuff.

It would be fair to say that Danish starlet Tina Dico is, at present, my most favouritest artist in the entire world. "Count to Ten" follows a number of shorter EP releases and somehow manages to better her previous brilliant album "In The Red" (a feat I wouldn't have considered possible). The excellent title track sets the standard and from the great "Sacre Coeur" to the haunting and heart-rending "Love Is Cruel To The Sensitive Kind", it's by far my album of the year to date.

Six years since the release of their last album "Hard Candy", the Counting Crows return with their new studio album. The "Saturday Nights" refers to the upbeat, rock nature of the first half, and "Sunday Mornings" to the second, more mellow half. I've always preferred them in their more reflective, acoustic mode and the second half of this record showcases the Crows at their best. It's actually a pretty good record this but if you're not a fan, this isn't going to convert you.

I can't say I'd historically ever have bought a Michael McDonald record, but this was recommended to me (by producer Simon Climie he says, namedropping horrifically...!) Some of this is a little bit like McDonald doing glorified karaoke, but it's saved from being hopeless lift music by McDonald's superb voice and his take on a couple of great covers. His version of Climie's own "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" is a highlight, as is the newly penned "Still Not Over You (Getting Over Me)". As background music it works pretty well, but don't tell anyone I bought it, eh?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

fight for ourselves

In 2003, "G-Man" (real name Graham Pidgeon) joined the Tony Hadley tour crew and has been an integral member of the crew ever since.

Last year, Graham started having problems with migraines, sickness and a loss of balance. His last show was on 29th September 2007 and on 5th November 2007 doctors diagnosed a large brain tumour which was removed in a 7 hour operation. he hasn't worked since.

His recovery started well, but he has since required further major surgery, has suffered two small strokes and has had a large amount of radiotherapy in an attempt to stop the tumour returning.

In order to help Graham and his family, Tony is holding a benefit concert at Rock City in Nottingham on Monday 12th May. Tony and a number of special guests will be performing with proceeds going to help Graham and his family at this difficult time.

Tickets available here - come and enjoy a great night (I have seen Hadley live and he is a great performer, and a host of spcial guests should make this a night to remember. You can't go to your grave without seeing "Gold" performed live, surely?) with all proceeds going to an excellent cause.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree.

The latest offering from Alison and Will has been frequently mooted as a radical change of direction for the pairing. One listen to first single "A & E", from the album and one could hardly disagree, especially when comparing it to their previous big singles, such as "Ooh La La" or "Number One". But it's not really such a diverse direction for them to take.
Whilst they are best known for a sound that blends glam rock with a synthesized dance sound, many people listening to this new album will wonder why they've chosen to go in such a Lo-Fi direction. In fact, it's not so dissimilar to their debut album, which gained lots of critical acclaim, but got shunned by the music buying public.

For listeners looking for more funk for their spunk in the guise of Goldfrapp continuing the disco, glam rock, funkiness feel then I'm afraid this latest album isn't gonna charge their batteries. In fact, it's more likely to be a slow dissolve.
It's low key.
It's low-fi.
It's ambient.
It's a little sullen.

There's a distinct lack of programmed beats and charging bass-lines. There's guitar a plenty, but delivered in a mellow and acoustic way, instead of striking and 'Whah Whah'. Synths still play a large, healthy role, but in a more melodic style, adding shape and volume to the songs, instead of driving them onto the edge of the local dance floors. Alison's voice is as sweet as ever, but given this type of material, she sounds even more gorgeous. She sings the words as if she wants you to fall in love.

It's a wonderful collection of songs that compliment each other so well, it makes much more sense to listen to the album as a whole. I'd say there's a good choice of songs to release as singles from this and it's difficult to pin-point just a handful over the others, because they all have something lovely to offer.
In short; a melodic, stripped down and lusciously ambient feeling album that's as dreamy as a night in front of the TV with the love of your life.

Simply lovely.

Try these on for size:

Cologne Cerrone Houdini
Some People