Entries for July 2007

Articles

23
Björk 'Volta'
Review Snapshot: This reviewer's first childhood memory was hearing the Beatles' "I want to hold your hand" and he's been in love with pop music ever sionce then,"Volta", Bjork's sixth album, is the worst album this reviewer has ever heard. The CLUAS Verdict? 0 out of 10 Full Review: Very little music actually depresses me – not even the suicide note that is Joy Division’s “Closer”. A couple of tracks in it has “Isolation”, a bit of a stomper, although its subject matters are alienation and despair. I loved The Smiths but, as Noel Gallagher rightly pointed out, many of their actual tunes are foot tappers. Old grumps like Joy Division, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, John Martyn, the Floyd, Suede, and Lou Reed have looked on and walked us through the dark side, but these musicians’ portrayal of unhappiness and depression is sometimes so beautiful and evocative that the music becomes something to be ch... [Read on]
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23
Review Snapshot: The new White Stripes album shows off its blues and folk influences the way a pre-pubescent boy wears a fake moustache. An uninspired and uninspiring rock trudge that's not half as odd or interesting as it seems to think it is. The CLUAS Verdict? 5 out of 10 Full Reviews: In the sleevenotes to 'Icky Thump', Jack White admits to being an impressionist. Fair play to him for his honesty; this record sounds like one long Led Zeppelin homage - blues-rock guitars and little else. White's songs are as flat and unremarkable as ever but this time around there's no 'Seven Nation Army' killer riff to carry them off. Like with Morrissey, his titles are more interesting than the songs themselves - 'You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do What Your Told)' and 'A Martyr For My Love For You' are unmemorable plod-rock. Only the mariachi-style 'Conquest' is quirky and appealing - but that's a cover ve... [Read on]
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23
Review Snapshot: A fine work of Cohen- and Reed-influenced lo-fi folk-pop from a globetrotting chanteuse. One to put alongside Feist as this year's coffee-table albums of choice, perhaps? The CLUAS Verdict? 7 out of 10 Full Review: Born in Israel, raised in the Netherlands, matured in Paris and domicile in New York, Keren Ann Zeidel is a successful chanson francaise singer in France. This, her fifth album, is in English and it's good enough to get attention as international as its recording (in studios in Paris, Tel Aviv, New York, Rekjavik and Los Angeles). Keren Ann's music is not as eclectic as her globetrotting - she sticks mainly to intimate folk-pop, a lo-fi Feist, if you will. For the most part, most noticably on 'The Harder Ships Of The World', she seems heavily influenced by Leonard Cohen's world-weary writing style and murmuring delivery. Other times, as with many Paris-based female singers these days, Keren Ann also draws heav... [Read on]
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23
Review Snapshot: Three years since ‘Infinity Land’ the curiously named Scots trio Biffy Clyro return with ‘Puzzle’. Less complex and slightly more accessible than their three previous albums to date, ‘Puzzle’ is still one of the most inventive and ambitious guitar albums you will hear all year. The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10. Full Review: Is the simple pop melody, superimposed on a swathe of hard-rock guitars and thumping drums, the perfect rock equation?The myriad genres and sub-genres that clog the crowded world of alternative music will always confuse and enthral in equal measure. It’s easy to get lost within the surfeit of styles and attitudes, of empty poses and rock-careers built on a strict drug regimen. Ever since Bob Mould’s Husker Du started gluing pop melodies to hard guitar signatures, tuneful yet emotional hard rock will always grab the listener with an immediacy that other styles never will. Husker Du were the ... [Read on]
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23
Review Snapshot: Funeral For A Friend return with a rock album that shows them trying to be taken serious, but it's hard to when the songs are just not there. The CLUAS Verdict? 4.5 out of 10 Full Review: On Tales Don’t Tell Themselves Welsh band Funeral For A Friend move away from their emo beginnings and become an all out rock band. As part of this transformation and they have also attempted to create a concept album. This, their third full length, is a story about a fisherman, named David, who is lost at sea. Excited? The album starts well with the epic opener ‘Into Oblivion (Reunion)’ raising my hopes for this album. Both ‘The Great Wide Open’ and ‘The Diary’ are also highlights on this album making the first third of this album actually pretty solid as Funeral For A Friend rawk out. After that however, it all goes down hill. ‘The wheels fell off’, as some might say. The album just seems to blend into a mesh... [Read on]
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23
Review Snapshot: From the same label that gave us Bjork, The Shamen, & Chumbawamba, with this album B.C. Camplight is assured of household named status. A possible Pet Sounds of the noughties. The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10. Full Review: Just like many artists before him, Brian Christinzio (or B.C. Camplight to us) set out in life to make the perfect pop record. On his debut album ‘Hide, Run, Away’ was a good try, but now on his second album he’s certainly getting closer. Opening with the brilliant ‘Suffer For Two’ Christinzio’s harmonies and piano playing make this sound like an unheard Brian Wilson gem. There’s reminiscence for Pink Floyd on ‘Lord I’ve Been On Fire’, and ‘Soy Tonto’ would sit well on any lounge lizard album. Despite struggling with his own mental illness, he worked as a volunteer in mental hospitals and a New Jersey Jail, specifically to collect stories that he could ... [Read on]
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23
Review Snapshot: Even Rick Rubin’s magical production skills can’t save this mediocre album as Linkin Park set about looking for a new direction, and new fans, but in the process, forget the 40 million that fell in love with their previous sound. The Cluas Verdict? 3 out of 10. Full Review: One of the most anticipated albums of 2007 sees American sextet Linkin Park team up with Rick Rubin, the man with the midas touch, as they try to expand on the success of Hybrid Theory and Meteora. Recorded over 14 months, ‘Minutes To Midnight’ sees Linkin Park taking a chance at trying to re-invent themselves, but putting a weak instrumental ‘Wake’ as the album opener doesn’t do them any favours. By track two ‘Given Up’, the screams of “tell me what the f**k is wrong with me” doesn’t make the song a memorable one, and on ‘Bleed It Out’ Mike Shinoda raps over some out of date 80s clapping sound eff... [Read on]
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23
CLUAS Verdict: 8 out of 10 Prince once again demonstrates why he is the pre-eminent popular musician in American life on this big name tribute to 1970s songwriter Joni Mitchell Originally planned for release in the 1990s, this tribute to Joni Mitchell by some of the biggest names in the music business such as Elvis Costello, Brad Meldhu, k.d lang, Annie Lennox and her former lover James Taylor conforms to type by being neither flesh nor fowl. Lovers of Mitchell's spare arrangements and tensed up, anguished vocals will find these interpretations over produced and slick and fans of the contributing artists will equally wonder why their heroes recorded songs by an artist better known for her lyrics than her melodies. The low point of this record is an appaling rendtion of 'The Boho Dance' by Bjork and the absolute highlight is 'A Case of You' by Prince which flows out of the speakers like Manuka honey. The man is a solid gold genius and this cut sounds like it ... [Read on]
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23
CLUAS Rating: 3 out of 10 Spidey finds his inner dark side: cue rather predictable 'alt'-'rock' mixum-gatherum. Of the new songs, only Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound vaguely motivated. Snow Patrol parody themselves; The Killers photocopy U2. Apart from YYYs and 'The Twist', not worth the listen. Plot summary of 'Spiderman 3' (as deduced from the soundtrack): He can save the world (U2-soundalikes The Killers) but Spiderman just can't tell his feisty girl (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the only interesting new track here) his real feelings (Snow Patrol, sounding like a 'Gift Grub' version of themselves). Instead, he spends his evenings spurting out icky white gunk (Jet, The Walkmen). Suddenly he's faced with a mutant villain who irritates innocent victims to death with his nuclear-powered smug wackiness (Flaming Lips, irritatingly 'wacky' as ever). There's a surprise plot development ('The Twist' by Chubby Checker, sounding ... [Read on]
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17
Review Snapshot: Anyone coming to Cornelius' new record in the hope of hearing 'Fantasma'-esque spaced-out pop thrills will be sorely disappointed. 'Sensuous' is an album of sonic experimentation and 'harmonic dissonance' which is every bit as pretentious and unlistenable as that suggests. The CLUAS Verdict?  3 out of 10 Full Review: Japanese indie-tronic artist Cornelius is a big pop star in his native country. Here in Europe he's a cult figure best known for his 1997 album 'Fantasma', a wonderful blend of Beach Boys-worshipping  psychedelic pop and spaced-out electronica. Irish music fans will also remember a now-legendary double-bill with The Flaming Lips at the Olympia in 1999. His new album, however, will not live as long in our memories. As far removed from pop songs as possible, 'Sensuous' is a self-indulgent album of experimental noodling with aspirations of being a cutting-edge work of sonic art. In rea... [Read on]
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