Articles: Album reviews

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Bandjo 'Bandjo'
A review of Bandjo's debut album Review 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 prog-rock. The duo consists of Stockholm’s Jacob Haage and Fredrik Johansson. They debuted in 2008 on the B-side of label Force Majeure’s compilation: "Force Majeure; Force Vol.1: Tung... [Read on]
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17
Yosei 'The Wind-Up Waltz'
A review of the album 'The Wind-Up Waltz'by Yosei Review 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 string/horn section, folk bands without new ideas can be enjoyable, but never inspiring. The Wind-Up Waltz defies this trend. Built on a folk foundation laced  with jazz influences, the latter heard intermi... [Read on]
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15
Anna von Hausswolff 'Singing From The Grave'
A review of the album 'Singing From The Grave' by Anna von Hausswolff Review 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 in her apartment with compositions vocally and on the piano, before eventually expanding to a recording studio. Though her expressive vocal give the impression of someone far beyond her 23 y... [Read on]
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10
Max Richter 'Infra'
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. In fac... [Read on]
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09
3OH!3 'Streets of Gold'
A review of the album 'Streets of Gold' by 3OH!3 Review 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’.  Named after their postal code in Colorado, the boys claim to not take themselves or the industry seriously.  True to form, the album, which is jammed with popular e... [Read on]
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05
Teron Beal 'Liquor Store'
A review of the album Liquor Store by Teron Beal. Review Snapshot:  Songwriter to the stars certainly doesn’t keep the best for himself as Teron Beal releases his debut solo effort. The Cluas Verdict? 2 out of 10 Full Review: Teron Beal is a little celebrated American singer-songwriter who has spent the last 20 years in the shadows writing songs for the likes of Pink and impressively, Michael Jackson. Quite an achievement for someone who was born when the king of pop still had an afro. Not many people have achieved such things in such a young life, however he has still gone relatively unnoticed by the wider public, and the question is; will his debut album, “Liquor Store”, change this? The album is heavily influenced by Prince, with many of the tracks featuring a similar vocal style to the tiny purple one, as well as comparable rhythmic structure. The most obvious song to compare to Prince is debut single, “New Girl.” The melody i... [Read on]
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04
Little Children 'In Silence'
A review of the album 'In Silence' by Little Children Review Snapshot: Linus Lutti or his musical alias Little Children, has been known as the quiet antithesis of the screaming, noisy model that had been previously established. This low-key approach can often be more astounding, more lingering, than you could ever imagine.  The forthcoming album, “In silence” will stay with you long after it ends.  The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: “Demons” opens the album and it is the perfect introduction to a voice that will stop you in your tracks. Sparse guitar and a gentle flute accompaniment compound the sadness that drifts through this song.   “With heavy steps I follow, pray for love, pray for sorrow, don’t go, don’t go, baby the walls are shrinking faster”    “Hold On” introduces a more upbeat sound to the album with pulsing bass guitar throughout. This... [Read on]
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28
The Crayonettes 'Playing out: Songs for children and robots'
A review of the album 'Playing out: Songs for children and robots' by The Crayonettes. Review snapshot: Former punk queen Anna Spencer and folk singer Kathryn Williams combine their hatred towards CDs for children to make an interesting first adult-friendly and intelligent album aimed at kids. Cluas Verdict?: 7 out of 10. Full Review: The Crayonettes is the union of popular folk songstress Kathryn Williams and lead singer of Newcastle Punk band, “Delicate Vomit”, Anna Spencer. The concept of the album is just as endearing as the actual songs. The two music veterans have relatively recently become mothers and discovered a mutual disdain for the common and fervent Children’s CDs. They wanted to produce an adult friendly children’s album to create a blissful haven for the tortured ears of mothers and fathers. Each track on the album is aimed at children while maintaining a bearable tune, covering the usual topics, questions about animals, op... [Read on]
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28
My Jerusalem 'Gone for Good'
A review of the album 'Gone for Good' by My Jerusalem Review Snapshot: The critic in me has heard it all before but the music fan doesn't care making Gone for Good a rather perplexing beast. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: This review is brought to you by the thesis I've spent most of my summer working on.  It will come in three parts, the reasoning for which will become clear as you read. It should, if the people I've interviewed are correct, cover the three key roles of the music reviewer and, therefore, provide the perfect music review. The Critic: In this role, it is important for the reviewer to go beyond the pleasure of the ears and express judgement and argue the reasons for what he hears. The problem with this approach is that we are all limited by knowledge. There are those of you reading that may well have a vastly inferior/superior mental database from which to compare and contrast music. As a critic, it's my job t... [Read on]
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27
Olof Arnalds 'Innundir Skinni'
A review of the album 'Innundir Skinni' by Ólöf Arnalds Review Snapshot: Dreamy beauty graces this short but sweet album by Iceland’s Ólöf Arnalds. Her voice represents a fairy world with the accompanying artists and her own instrumentation providing a stunning backdrop to her kingdom. Heavenly. The Cluas Verdict? 9.5 out of 10 Full Review: It’s not often I spend my time imagining an elfin creature sitting on a toadstool, swinging its legs, guitar in hand. But Ólöf Arnalds is this little elf. Her latest album Innundir Skinni evokes images of another world, an emerald landscape shining in the midst of a kingdom of fairies. I know, I know. But it is the most beautiful world I’ve come across this year. One voice enters our consciousness with the opening track. A powerful a Capella Ólöf begins on Vinur Minn and is then joined by guitar, percussion, strings, and additional voices. Th... [Read on]
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