The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Album Reviews

30
Frightened Rabbit 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks'
A review of the album 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks' by Frightened Rabbit Review Snapshot: The Scottish five piece have returned with their much third anticipated album. ...

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30
Laura Marling 'I Speak Because I Can'
A review of the album 'I Speak Because I Can' by Laura Marling Review Snapshot: The second album from folksy songstress Laura Marling highlights why I fell in love with her music in t...

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30
Ellie Goulding 'Lights'
A review of the album 'Lights' by Ellie Goulding Review Snapshot: Bland production, innocuous songs, unimaginative reheating of last year's mainstream breakthrough&...

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22
Duke Special 'The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen'
A review of the album 'The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen' by Duke Special Review Snapshot: Ireland’s most versatile and underrated musician excels with a trilogy of...

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12
Pet Shop Boys 'Pandemonium'
A review of the live album/DVD 'Pandemonium' by Pet Shop Boys Review Snapshot: Over 100 minutes of pure bubble-gum pop, absorbed in a rainbow of multi-coloured lighting, with a c...

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12
Norah Jones 'The Fall'
A review of the album 'The Fall' by Norah Jones Review Snapshot: A lot has changed about Norah. There is a real notion that she has grown up, and she wanted this to be heard...

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09
David Bowie 'A Reality Tour Live in Dublin'
A review of the album 'A Reality Tour Live in Dublin' by David Bowie Review Snapshot: Possible the last ever Bowie Concert to be captured live, before an Irish audience who play ...

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09
Marina & the Diamonds 'The Family Jewels'
A review of the album The Family Jewels by Marina & the Diamonds Review Snapshot: Put a striking Greek girl in Wales who grows up to have a London accent and you get Marina Diamandis, bet...

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08

A review of the album 'It's Blitz!' by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah YeahsReview Snapshot: Have Karen O’s NY art-rock knuckleheads sold their guitars and bought turntables?

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review:

“It’s Sh*t!”

It’s not quite actually. It might have been a title worth a (mild) chortle if that were the case. However if you’re already a fan it could be your initial reaction. Those familiar with their brash and rattling sound, roughly cut between the dusty granite canyons of New York and inspired by the “avant-punk” of sultry lead singer Karen O’s Ohio, may feel this lightning bolt of an album singe their senses and offend their rock sensibilities.
 
It is an alien discomfort, the reverse to seeing your beloved nerdy bestest-friend you used to play war-games with come home from college recast as a woman-melting Don Juan. In "It’s Blitz!" the band pump voltage into their previous experimentation with studio sorcery.
 
TV On The Radio magi Dave Sitek is tossed into the blender as producer. As for Nick Zinner, to some the “best guitarist in rock’n’roll right now”, out goes his ogrish six-string (almost). Instead he wields a dizzying array of bleeps, blips and synth sound waves, unrecognisable to Zinner’s early frustrated guitar licks: all fuzz, dirt and restrained sexual energy.
 
This continues a recent neon-streaked trend. Jumping the packed bandwagon that recently rolled out of an 80s wormhole with La Roux et al, Karen O unveils her love of the Giorgio Moroder-mastered disco of Donna Summer. Funky opener Zero, an essensual (eh, is that clever? How otherwise does a language evolve) new party tune, and Dragon Queen ecstatically demonstrate her penchant for dance and orgasmic screeching.
 
Just as the buzz-cut commentary of Dull Life and Shame and Fortune hint at recidivism and a return to guitar, the album zaps back into a mix of I Was A Cubscout-esque soft electronic balladry that the YYY’s hinted to in the past with the likes of Dudley.
 
The band continue their creative ascension with closer Little Shadow. Although it’s not the immediately accessible, sand-blasted diamond of their earlier garage racket, the band ask you to “follow” Karen and co as they climb that “ladder to the sun”, exploring the bionically-boosted vestigial reaches of their talent.
 
Lead single Zero could prove a catchy call-to-arms for a new generation of electro-punks to get their disco-rock “leather on” and the striking album cover is sure to go down as an important still in the great TV wall of noughties’ images. The painted-nail fist crushing the egg is powerful and ludicrous, perhaps symbolic of the band’s sound: shopping feminine strength to male brutality and creating a luscious over-kill of noise.
 
Ciarán McCollum

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15

A review of the album 'Two Suns' by Bat for Lashes

Bat for Lashes - Two SunsReview Snapshot: ‘Two Suns’, released by Bat for Lashes in April 2009, was recently nominated for a Brit award. From the first song a haunting sound, almost hymnal at times, is created. It's not an initial jaw dropper of an album however it will grow on you. Soon enough you’ll find yourself wandering around humming the songs off this album unknowingly. Lyrically beautiful and musically underrated, it is deserving of much more praise than it has received. An album that rightly propels this songstress into the limelight. 

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review: Bat for Lashes is a one woman show; Natasha Khan is the singer/ songwriter and multi instrumentalist behind the name and she recently received a much deserved nomination for Best British Female Solo Act at the 2010 Brit awards. ‘Two Suns’ - her second album - was released back in April 2009 and slowly, but surely, has been rising in popularity. I’ve grown to love it over the last nine months and the recent Brit nomination is my excuse to review it now.  

Inspired by her travels and composed across the globe - from the Joshua Tree desert in California to the hills of the Welsh Country side to the hustle and bustle of New York and London - ‘Two Suns’ invites us to join the protagonist on her travels from a cityscape to a countryscape which is particularly evident from ‘Two Planets’ and ‘Travelling Woman’. The album begins softly with ‘Glass’ as she immediately draws us into the haunting atmosphere that envelops it and doesn’t stray far from this temperament throughout. Voice is Khan's primary instrument, it inviting us into her world from the get-go with a soft vulnerability that enthrals the listener. The opener begins acapella, draws us in hook line and sinker (“I will rise now / And go about the city”).
 
‘Daniel’ is relatively up tempo in comparison to the rest of the album. My favourite song, I even found myself singing the chorus over and over again not just to myself but to strangers with that name. The first single release, it is about her childhood crush, Daniel LaRusso from the Karate Kid.  
 
She talks a lot throughout of Pearl, her alter ego. She distances herself from this character while at the same time acknowledging that Pearl is one side of her personality. Again this mirrors her city/ country scape juxtaposition. ‘Siren Song’ and ‘Pearl’s Dream’ - both of which have Pearl as their protagonist - are lyrically beautiful, portraying the sense of loneliness, longing and bewilderment that oftentimes accompanies one on their travels.  
 
The final song on the album, ‘The Big Sleep’, features Scott Walker and the only instrument is a piano. It has a hymnal quality to it (as does much of the album) and leaves the listener back to where they started.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed this album however it’s a grower. Upon first listen it is quite forgettable but once it has been through the CD player a few times it will be very difficult to take out.  The haunting sound of Natasha Khan's voice, consistent throughout the album, has what it takes to give the willing listener a healthy bit of escapism. 
 
With the recent Brit nomination received by Bat for Lashes it seems that Khan's efforts as a composer, vocalist and instrumentalist haven’t gone unnoticed. With any luck she will gather some attention and praise, much deserved.

Teresa Loftus


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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.