CLUAS Album Reviews

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Reviews of recent releases from CLUAS writers
By CLUAS Writers on Saturday, February 26, 2011
A review of the album 'Ritual' by White Lies  White Lies - RitualReview Snapshot: Has the second album curse taken its next victim? White Lies' new release promises big with some of the biggest names in indie lending a hand along the way. But can the champions of nu-shoe gaze really deliver on the follow up to ‘To Lose My Life’?.

The Cluas Verdict? 3 out of 10

Full Review: White Lies' new release ‘Rituals’ appear to be just that, a ritual. It's as if they took their previous effort ‘To Lose My Life’ - songs about love, songs about death - changed the wording around a bit, a dash more synths and, voila, album number two is born.

Songs about love and death mean nothing if no feelings are involved. It could be said that their style of expressionless vocals explains the lack of emotion...
By CLUAS Writers on Friday, January 28, 2011
A review of the album 'Our First American Friends' by Tubelord Tubelord - Our First American FriendsReview Snapshot: The debut album by Cockney math rockers Tubelord and is somewhat of a gem amongst a genre in which bands often find it difficult to stand out from the crowd.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review: Tubelord are already well known on the Irish alternative scene having gigged in a number of Irish cities. It's good to see they manage to capture the same energy on 'Our First American Friends, their debut album, as they do live.

In the UK the band has also been gaining quite a reputation where their first single 'Feed Me A Box of Words' was very well received by critics. 'Our First American Friends'  was also well recieved in Rock Sound magazine,...
By CLUAS Writers on Friday, January 28, 2011
A review of the album 'Chariot' by The Cast of Cheers The Cast of Cheers - ChariotReview Snapshot: A band that’s made many Top of 2010 lists (including my own) and now has been shortlisted for the Choice Music Prize. It’s a wonder The Cast of Cheers have come so far with little or no promotion. After all many people are still wondering where this Irish four-piece came from? And where can they get a hold of the album?

The Cluas Verdict? 10 out of 10

Full Review: You’ll be hard pushed to find a negative review of this album or of these guys live, they just steal your music players and the stage leaving you crave more of their addictive math rock tinged with indie-pop influences. It is a cross-over few would dare to try and even fewer would succeed in achieving.

The Cast of Cheers have proven time and again that they are set for big things with their catchy choruses and irresistible guitar melodies. Host to such a dynamic range of sound, you’re never completely sure what genre this band are trying to draw from.

By CLUAS Writers on Friday, January 14, 2011
A review of the album 'The King is Dead' by The Decemberists The Decemberists - The King is DeadReview Snapshot: Casual listeners to the Decemberists will be glad to learn that the group's sixth album, ‘The King is Dead’, is a return to their folksy beginnings, combining the group's not inconsiderable musical talents and country rock sensibilities with the inimitable voice and witticisms of front man Colin Meloy. And without an enchanted forest or pantomime villain in sight, perhaps we can all get back to liking them again. 

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review: It required a decidedly hardcore Decemberists fan to remain loyal to the Portland outfit following the inexplicable 2009 album ‘Hazards of Love’. A concept album about a forbidden relationship in a forest of the lead singer’s imagination, 'Hazards of Love' was an unremittingly self-indulgent project by the group that only served to repel the occasional listener and furthermore give the bands detractors, who had dismissed them as an arrogant bunch of sods, a fair amount of credibility.

By CLUAS Writers on Friday, December 17, 2010
A review of the album 'Teenage Elders' by Hipster Youth Review Snapshot: Teenage Elders captures the chaos of a Castlevania soundtrack without ever considering the likely effect upon its audience. A bad Nintendo acid trip of an album, lost in the one-dimensional platforms that inspired its inception.

The Cluas Verdict? 3 out of 10

Hipster Youth - Teenage EldersFull Review: In a business overrun with insipid intertextual references, artists should really exercise caution when they wander into the realms of retro. The advent of postmodernism opened up the floodgates of creative recycling, with the old and the new intermingling in an array of previously inconceivable combinations. At best, the trend presented the possibility...
By CLUAS Writers on Friday, December 10, 2010
A review of the album 'The Promise' by Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen - The PromiseReview Snapshot: An album of lost sessions from Darkness On The Edge Of Town that any of today’s pretenders to the throne would die-for. A collection of songs that ‘The Boss’ couldn’t find album space for now sees the light of day, over three decades later. It has certainly been well worth the wait.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review: After being proclaimed “the future of rock‘n’roll” in 1975 following the commercial success of Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen went back to the drawing board to dream it all up again. However due to legal disputes he was unable to release any new material...
By CLUAS Writers on Thursday, December 9, 2010
A review of the debut album from Les Shelleys Les Shelleys Review Snapshot: This is the debut album from the duo of Tom Brosseau and Angela Correa otherwise known as Les Shelleys. What you get here is a simple stripped down and very raw album full of impressive harmonies and some very high points. It does seem to lose its way towards the end but its still well worth a listen and I'm sure the live act would be very interesting to see.

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review: The album starts with the simplistic minimalist "The world is waiting for sunrise" (listen to the track below) which not only sets the tone for the rest of the album but is one of the strongest tracks here. The core of Les...
By CLUAS Writers on Wednesday, December 8, 2010
A review of the album 'Dandelion' by Ayoe Angelica  Ayoe Angelica - DandelionReview Snapshot:  A wise academic once professed that true art should be recognised for its aesthetic value rather than any contrite notion of commercial viability. Ayoe Angelica personifies this perspective, producing an enchanting collection of songs that captures the spontaneity and experimental side of the artistic process.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review: In a consumer-driven industry, the artistic quest for originality seems to have taken a backseat to the marketable value of music. Many virtuous acts venture into the depths of big business determined to preserve their integrity only to bow...
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A review of the album 'An Introduction to' by Elliot Smith Elliot Smith - An Introduction To Review Snapshot: A number of seminal musicians emerged in the early 90s and died prematurely and where many of those musicians pushed the dynamics of their genres, Elliot Smith’s legacy was achieved via a house style that’s about as common as it gets: one man and his guitar. It’s now been seven years since the world lost something quietly elegant: a singer-songwriter gone before his time. This release is strongly recommended for those who have yet to pick at the surface of Elliot Smith.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

By CLUAS Writers on Saturday, December 4, 2010
A review of the album 'Opticks' by Silje Nes Silje Nes - opticksReview Snapshot: The Norwegian singer’s second album, Opticks, is a triumph in delicacy.

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review: Alongside flat packed furniture and, eh, I don’t know, fish, Scandinavia has also been exporting its fair share of singer songwriters over the last decade. And despite my blatant ignorance of the region, I do at least know that they tend to follow something of a formula. Scandinavian music, with notable exceptions of course, is often characterised by distant, dreamy voices and meandering musical pieces, usually involving minimal guitar riffs. And a fair amount of these folks have been classically trained. Ólöf Arnalds sophomore album received a glowing review on Cluas earlier in the year and she was classically trained in violin and singing. Silje Nes was classically trained in piano. The point is that these are talented and well educated artists.

By CLUAS Writers on Thursday, December 2, 2010
A review of the album ‘What It Means to Be Left Handed’ by Mice Parade Mice Parade - What It Means to be Left HandedReview Snapshot: With ‘What It Means to Be Left Handed’, Adam Pierce and his Mice Parade have made an album full of worldly influences and a list of guest performers that is the stuff of any indie kids wet dream. Pierce once again exceeds expectations with the records many layers and wonderful production, which take the listener on an intoxicating musical rollercoaster well worth the admission fee.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review: The term 'less is more' is certainly not one Adam Pierce makes his music by. His Mice Parade return with the boldly sprawling and intricate 'What It Means to Be Left Handed', a record crammed...
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, November 23, 2010
A review of the album 'For All you ABC-1’s Out There' by Illness Illness - For All You ABC-1s Out ThereReview Snapshot: 'For All You ABC-1’s Out There' captures the chaotic chemistry of two talented musicians searching for their musical path. Admittedly, the mediocre quality of the recording limits the band’s potential to make an impact in the commercial market at this moment in time. As an indication of things to come, there is certainly enough here to suggest that Illness are on their way towards future success. 

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review: History has shown us that culture is self-referential and reactionary, with new trends developing in response to the dominant art forms of the present day. The sentimentality of...
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, November 23, 2010
A review of the EP 'Yes Way' by School Tour School Tour - Your Way EPReview Snapshot: One artist’s ethereal exploration of electronic art and its borderless landscape. And while some may dismiss it as self-indulgent, the asking price (free) makes it recommended listening for any open-minded music fan. 

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review: In the past, an artist would commence his creative journey by relocating to a distant rural landscape, disconnected from the distractions of the modern day. In severing his ties with society, he opened the possibility of an unimpeded exploration of the self, re-emerging finally with a product as yet unrealised by the outside world. Yeats’ finest work arose in Inishfree; Led Zepelin’s III found its feet in a remote Welsh cottage...
By CLUAS Writers on Sunday, November 14, 2010
A review of the album 'Leche' by Gregory and the Hawk Gregory and the Hawk - LecheReview Snapshot:  Leche is the third studio album from Meredith Godreau or, as she is better known, Gregory and the Hawk. The quirk that can be heard in her previous albums and EPs remains an overwhelming character in her latest release but that could be the problem here; little else has changed either. And instead of leaning on her influences, it sounds like she’s just copied them. 

The Cluas Verdict? 4 out of 10

Full Review: The opening song ‘For the Best’ has some really excellent lyrics, something fans of her will be familiar with. One problem with this song is it’s heavy similarity to anything ‘early Tori Amos.’

“I really want to find a bar, and mix some fear up with a friend...
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, November 9, 2010
A review of the album 'Rock Dust Light Star' by Jamiroquai Jamiroquai - Rock Dust Light Star

Review Snapshot: The seventh album from this popular electro-funk band.  Brimming with jazz, funk, and catchy disco floorfillers,  Jay Kay has a long way to go before hanging up his oversized hat.

Cluas Verdict: 7 out of 10

Full Review: It's easy to forget how long Jamiroquai have been going.  ‘Rock Dust Light Star’ is the seventh album from a band that have been knocking out the albums since the early 90s.  Despite the 6 albums already under their belt, a plethora of MTV awards and let's not forget a Grammy, the band clearly have no plans to slow down & are keen to showcase that with this latest offering.  So...
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, October 26, 2010
A review of the album 'Perch Patchwork' by Maps & Atlases Maps & Atlases - Perch PatchworkReview Snapshot: New to the indie scene, Chicago band Maps & Atlases mash a folk rock sound with the math rock genre to produce a well-thought out and emotional debut album. A recurring theme of bitterness around break-ups is often disguised by a cheery nature in what could be one of the must-have indie albums. 

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review: Folk rock has been an increasingly popular genre for the past two years. Whether you consider it from a mainstream point of view (Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling) or if you are more inclined to take an Indie perspective (Frank Turner) it has no doubt been growing in influence. This year sees a new...
By CLUAS Writers on Sunday, October 24, 2010
A review of the album 'Come Around Sundown' by Kings of Leon Kings of Leon - Come Around SundownReview Snapshot: Come Around Sundown is the 5th studio album from Tennessee Rock band  Kings of Leon. After a previous release that was less than impressive, anticipation was high. And Come Around Sundown does not disappoint. It feels like a super-album, taking all the best bits from their previous releases and combining them to give fans something they have never heard before.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:The single from the album is “Radioactive.” It was a weak release considering the standard of the rest of the album. It also doesn’t entirely fit in with the album’s sound and though it’s a great song on it’s own, it shouldn’t be used as the benchmark...
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A review of the album 'Surfing the Void' by The Klaxons The Klaxons - Surfing the VoidReview Snapshot:  'Surfing the Void' is perhaps on the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year, with the band's debut earning themselves the much coveted Mercury Prize. However the past three years have seen an insurgence in the world of indie music, begging the question Is there even any room for the Klaxons any more? The answer is not too positive, based on this release.

The Cluas Verdict? 3 out of 10

Full Review: Three years of anticipation have been building around this album, the follow on from the Mercury Prize winning 'Myths of the Near Future'. With tales of drug binges and hallucination conversations with god, the hype surrounding 'Surfing The Void' had built to fever...
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A review of the album 'Science and Faith' by The Script The Script - Science and FaithReview Snapshot: On Science and Faith, The Script have continued where they left off with their debut album. Catchy melodies, lyrics that you won’t need a dictionary to explain, and songs that won’t change the world. But I mean all this in the best possible way. The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10 Full Review: While the world waited for the “difficult second album”, the Script have played it safe and repeated what made them successful in the first place. Opening with a very long intro ‘You Won’t Feel A Thing’ sees the rockier side to The Script, with them sounding not unlike No Sweat did two decades earlier, while Danny sings “I’ll stand in front / I’ll take the blow for you”.

The single...
By CLUAS Writers on Monday, August 23, 2010
A review of the album 'Open Your Arms' by Lucknow Pact Lucknow Pact - Open Your Arms

Review Snapshot: An enjoyable effort that crosses the epic/pop divide, while for the most part negating the more tedious components of that style.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review: Of late there has been a flurry of bands offering up a sense of the majestic in mainstream music. From the lamentable (The Killers) to the appealing (Glasvegas), and often crossing over with a shoegaze aesthetic, the sound has manifested itself across the board, from pop to post-rock. Lucknow Pact should be counted as another edition to the cult of “the big sound.”  Open Your Arms is composed of songs that sound like contained epics, with everything expected of that aesthetic: trails of echo, synth swathes...
By CLUAS Writers on Sunday, August 22, 2010
A review of Bandjo's debut album bandjo - swedish prog rock, album coverReview Snapshot: This welcome slice of Swedish prog-rock oozes sophistication, its ominous gems like shining soundscapes. Synth, 70s, flute, oriental notes – is there anything the duo haven’t covered on this album? A mere seven tracks long, this first full-length album from Stockholm’s finest leaves you wanting more.

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review: Bandjo. The name suggests a cowboy kicking back with his beaten up banjo, tinkling a few chords while chewing on straw.

That’s certainly why I didn’t expect Bandjo to be a prog-rock Swedish band. The name may not fit the bill, but their name fades into meaninglessness when you focus instead on their unique blend of post- and...
By CLUAS Writers on Wednesday, August 18, 2010
A review of the album 'The Wind-Up Waltz'by Yosei

Yosei The Wind-Up WaltzReview Snapshot: A beautifully restrained album, an exercise in the art of cool playing and the emotion that can be generated through the subtle rather than the loud.

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review: The large number of semi-folk bands present in the alternative music scene is a good thing (for me at least, it being one of my favourite styles of music) their very prevalence can be slightly overwhelming. Working from a similar, constraining stylistic map, a set of clichés have led to a sense of unoriginality creeping in when listening to certain acts. From either deliberately wacky or maudlin introspective lyrics to the standard reliance on either bland minimalism or an over-produced...
By CLUAS Writers on Monday, August 16, 2010
A review of the album 'Singing From The Grave' by Anna von Hausswolff Anna von Hausswolff  SInging From The GraveReview Snapshot: Swedish singer/songwriter Anna Von Hausswolff aims to impress with her debut album “Singing from the Grave”. Light sweeping piano compositions and convincingly powerful vocals provide a strong opening, with first single ‘Tracks of Time’ proving to be the highlight of the record, one that is never quite matched. A record of potential that doesn't fully deliver.

The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10

Full Review: 'Singing from the Grave’ is the first release from Swede Anna Von Hausswolff, a sometime architect student, who has become one of the most talked about artists emerging from the Nordics. She began her venture into the world of music alone...
By CLUAS Writers on Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Max Richter

A review of the album Infra by Max Richter Review Snapshot: While not pushing the boat out too far with this piece, Max Richter, a composer famed for his work with such bands as Future Sounds of London, has constructed an evocative and sensitive piece filled with emotion and imagery.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:

It’s hard to avoid the first thought that enters the mind when listening to this track: films. But comparing this stand-alone studio album is not an insult. In fact the thought merely betrays its true nature: a ballet, conceived alongside choreography by Wayne McGregor and artist Julian Opie for the Royal Ballet. This music on this album is developed somewhat from the original opera, so that it stands alone and perfectly valid as a studio album in itself. Yet to immediately associate it with soundtracking is a testament to the strength of imagery and atmosphere with which the composer has imbued it, not a belittlement of it in itself....
By CLUAS Writers on Tuesday, August 10, 2010
A review of the album 'Streets of Gold' by 3OH!3 album Streets of GoldReview Snapshot: With a confident blend of so many new music styles its fair to say 3OH!3 are distinctly different from other chart contenders.  However the sophomoric attitude and appalling lyrics are so bad you’ll quickly wonder if it’s all part a great commercial con.

The Cluas Verdict: 3/10

Full Review: It’s not easy to be critical about a band that constantly defends their product as fun.  Fun however sells albums and rakes in the cash for the record companies. (Chart topping twins anyone?) so at the risk of being a party pooper I had an in-depth listen to 30H!3 to see if I could decipher the glitter from the gold.

Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte of 3OH!3 recently released ‘Streets of Gold’. ...