Articles: Album reviews

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A review of the album Battle For The Sun by Placebo Review Snapshot: If this is how good Placebo sound when they choose to write about 'stepping out of the darkness and into the light' can somebody please arrange to shower Brian Molko with sunlight for the foreseeable future?  An album full of urgency and optimism, Battle for the Sun has the potential to be regarded as Placebo's finest work. The Cluas Verdict? 9.5 out of 10 Full Review: After 13 years, 5 studio albums and 10 million album sales, you would have to wonder what possible reasons Placebo have to keep going, especially after the loss of major label backing and Steve Hewitt, the band's drummer for the past 11 years.  Wonder no more, the reason is clear; after spending over a decade dealing with life in the shadows, Placebo, and Brian Molko in particular, have decided to focus on optimism and positivity, the result of which is Battle for the Sun (released June 8). Thos... [Read on]
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Laura Izibor 'Let The Truth Be Told'
A review of the album Let The Truth Be Told by Laura Izibor Review Snapshot:  Pretty face on the cover? Check.  Impressive voice? Check.  Middle of the road, vaguely familiar sounding songs? Check.  It appears we have found this years Nora Jones/Alicia Keys/Dido The Cluas Verdict? 3.5 out of 10 Full Review: I've always believed that musicians should put more thought into their album titles, especially albums they know will be critically reviewed.  Let The Truth Be Told, really?  Okay, the truth is that, despite being touted as the next big thing since winning the 2FM Song Contest at the age of 15, Laura Izibor has produced an album that is the musical equivalent to magnolia paint.  In other words, Let The Truth Be Told is blandness personified.  No doubt then, it will be huge. You see, Let The Truth Be Told is not an album, no, it is very much a product (what credible musician finds it... [Read on]
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Subplots 'Nightcycles'
A review of the album Nightcycles by Subplots Review Snapshot: At times melodic, at times fractured, Nightcycles is at all times a beautiful and ambitious debut long player and, for that, Subplots must be applauded. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: While it is fairly obvious that Phil Boughton, Daryl Chaney and Michael Orange listened to a lot of Radiohead while they were growing up, it would be unfair to peg Subplots as yet another Radiohead wannabe.  Having set tongues wagging and ears twitching with the excellent We Carved Our Names in Glass EP in 2008, the band have released an album that shows them as a trio not afraid to plough their own furrow. Recorded over an 18 month period with Ciaran Bradshaw (Dark Room Notes, Oliver Cole) it's no surprise to learn that the 10 tracks that make up Nightcycles were recorded at the same time as last years EP and the single Alarm. Opening with the sparse yet melodic 16:9, ... [Read on]
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A review of the album 'Posthumous Success' by Tom Brosseau Review Snapshot: The sound of a singer-songer in creative transition and perhaps finding his true voice. This album’s folk foundations are weak when exposed to attentive listening, but Brosseau’s other aspect is an alt-rock swagger that infuses this record with wit and personality. The Cluas Verdict? 6.5 out of 10 Full Review: The self-deprecating title of Tom Brosseau’s third album suggests that this North Dakota native may be of that rare species: a male acoustic singer-songer with a sense of humour. And for the most part this is true. ‘Posthumous Success’ is a likeable sort of record that brings a refreshingly alternative range of influences to bear on the familiar old folk-pop format. ‘Big Time’, with its wry declaration of wannabe ambition, shudders with a treated electric riff that would sound at home on stage at the Enormodome. There’s a trium... [Read on]
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A review of the album 'Royal Family - Divorce' by Storsveit Nix Noltes Review Snapshot: Balkan folk instrumentals tarted up with punk riffing and a brief spell of shoegazing squall. The genre sound is done well but the lack of variety in the tracks means your interest will wear off very soon, though it's probably good fun live. The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10 Full Review: The band’s name is sufficiently Scandinavian and melodic to suggest that they deal in catchy tunes – and with that allusion to Hollywood hellraiser Nick Nolte, arse-kickingly catchy tunes at that. Plus, that album title can only be said in a Lydon-esque sneer. This seemed promising. Imagine our disappointment, then, to hear a full album of instrumental Balkan folk. For that, dear friends, is what ‘Royal Family Divorce’ by Icelandic post-rock supergroup Storsveit Nix Noltes gives you. If you’ve ever seen a film by Emir Kusturica, then you’ve hear... [Read on]
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Official Secrets Act 'Understanding Electricity'
A review of the album 'Understanding Electricity' by Official Secrets Act Review Snapshot: Reasonable debut from the London art-rockers - with synth-stylings of the New Romantic era allied to the post-punk guitars of Franz Ferdinand, this release suggests a decent future for the group. However, given the lack of moments of true genius, one wonders if this album will truly catapult them into the indie stratosphere. The Cluas Verdict? 6.5 out of 10 Full Review: Good God, it’s like the ‘80s never went away. The last time the country struggled through such an economic crisis, the airwaves were populated by a plethora of dubiously-attired, synthesizer-based acts. Arriving on the scene with their meticulously-coiffed hair, Adam Ant facepaint and clipped English accents, it would be very easy to dismiss Official Secrets Act as an anachronism, a hark back to a bygone age of legwarmers and Spandau Ballet. (Although they’re back too, aren’t ... [Read on]
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Silversun Pickups 'Swoon'
A review of the album 'Swoon' by Silversun Pickups Review Snapshot: Competent but slightly dull sophomore release from the California-based four-piece. Following on from the success of ‘Carnavas’, their debut album, ‘Swoon’ is polished and well-played but lacks the irresistible hook of their early single ‘Lazy Eye’. The Cluas Verdict? 5.5 out of 10 Full Review: So long as Brian Aubert sings angst-filled lyrics in a reedy-voiced manner to the background of heavily-distorted guitars, there will always be a Smashing Pumpkins reference waiting to be mentioned when discussing Silversun Pickups. From the opposite side of America they may be, but aside from the voice, guitars, female bass player and the same initials (am I stretching this?) there was the gorgeous ‘1979’-esque mellow groove of their breakthrough single ‘Lazy Eye’. With their second release Silversun Pickups seem to have edged away slight... [Read on]
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A review of the album Upside to the Downside by Jabbas Review Snapshot:  Upside to the Downside doesn't break any new musicial boundaries but its infusion of edgy urban beats and toe-tapping electro-pop ensures that there's pleanty to keep all but the most fickle of listeners coming back again and again. The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10 Full Review: Jabbas is a very aspirational young man.  Before I began to listen to his debut album, Upside to the Downside, I was challenged to cut up everything I thought I knew about rock, pop and dance and throw the pieces into a pot of glue.  Indeed, even then, what came out would only go some of the way to explaining what Jabbas sounds like.  An interesting challenge when you're dealing with something as subjective and emotive as music, I'm sure you'll agree but it is also an exercise well worth undertaking, especially when the album in question, for the most par... [Read on]
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Herm 'Monsters'
A review of the album Monsters by Herm Review Snapshot: Monsters is an excellent album whose only fault is that it contains so many disparate song styles that it sometimes sounds more like a 'best of' than you would expect debut record.  The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: Herm (known to the passport office as Kevin Connolly) is, as he likes to say, the result of a short-lived relationship in the late 70's between Her and Him; writing his first song at the age of 8, about alcohol addiction.  More than that, Herm and his Hermanos are a blend of like-minded afficionados of folk, pop, rock and everything else they can get their hands on.  They follow up their well received Rosemary EP with Monsters a fine, if slightly disjointed, debut album. Opening with The Way, a song Johnny Cash could have sold 10 million copies of had he written it, Herm diplays his one man orchestral skills (guitar, keys, percussion and vox) to grea... [Read on]
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Grammatics 'Grammatics'
A review of the album Grammatics by Grammatics Review Snapshot: Grammatics’ mishmash debut album can sometimes be embarrassing in its attempt to cover a lot of ground, leaving you thinking that too much of an influence is a bad thing. Anyone got a Solpadeine?  The Cluas Verdict? 5.5 out of 10 Full Review: ‘Bona fide genius.’ So said the NME of Grammatics’ debut album, entitled, er, Grammatics. Far from genius, this album is a muddle of sounds that never seemed to have been introduced to each other before the recording process. As a fan of experimentation, I thought this blend of violins, deep and dirty distortion, Foals-like harmonics and falsetto would leave me feeling full. Instead, the album gave a sense of never understanding its purpose, or truly feeling its sound. Lead singer Owen Brinley describes his participation in the band on MySpace as a ‘squeal,’ which I take to be an appropriate and not wholly ironic description of ho... [Read on]
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