Articles: Album reviews

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Review Snapshot: Keith Downey’s Ireland based brain child Psychonavigation Records celebrates its 33rd release since setting up nine years ago. It's testament that, in an industry where labels - like acts - come and go,  that Psychonavigation Records is not only still going, but growing too. Cluas Verdict? 7/10 Full Review: Psychonavigation Records was born out of the frustration of a DJ who wanted to get unsigned music out there. It joyfully heralds various acts and DJs alike and gives them a platform to release their music. It’s an admirable as well as a very successful venture and some of the fruits are in this Y9 (ninth year) anniversary compilation. The first thing to note is that there is a broad spectrum covered in the record label. The opening track is a quiet atmospheric number from Buckminster Fuzeboard. It’s a nice opener. Nice percussion with a flute hook as an overtone. “Your Day in the Sun” by GEL-SOL follows. The ... [Read on]
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A review of the album 'Against Karate' by Let Our Enemies Beware Review Snapshot: Chatham (UK) based group Let Our Enemies Beware have been labelled a “Post Punk/ Rock Band” and have admirers with credentials, Zane Lowe among them. They describe themselves as “Noise Terrorists”. As an album “Against Karate” is as intriguing as it is tedious to listen to at times. Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10 Full Review: “I am Lono” kicks the record off. It's a brash thumping affair with chunky bass lines and screeching vocals. They make no bones about they are about early on. It’s not bad. It becomes clear after the short scream that is “Pow Right in the Kisser” (a reference to the old WWF commentator Gorilla Monsoon), that LOEB are not a punk band. If anything there is more of a heavy metal feel. The visceral rhythm section coupled with the meticulously delivered lead guitar drive this home on “Pers... [Read on]
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Owl City 'Ocean Eyes'
A review of the album 'Ocean Eyes' by Owl City Review Snapshot: The third album by the Minnesotan whiz kid Adam Young is a shining example of unashamed synth-pop. From euphoric rhythms to surprisingly clever lyrics, the record is nothing if not uplifting. Unfortunately, the last few tracks descend into tortuous repetition (some of the songs seem to be based on exactly the same chord progressions), and Young's accent can be grating. Nonetheless, this is certainly Owl City's strongest album yet, and it's worth a listen, if only for a pick-me-up.  The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: For those who are already familiar with the first two Owl City albums, released while he was still unsigned, this 2009 release won’t offer you anything new. Four tracks on the album (two mixes of ‘Hello Seattle’, ‘On The Wing’, ‘The Saltwater Room’) are simply rehashed versions of tracks from ‘Of June’ and &... [Read on]
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James Yorkston and the Big Eyes Family Players 'Folk Songs'
A review of the album Folk Songs by James Yorkston and the Big Eye Family Players Review Snapshot: An almost ideal combination of ye olde tunes with contemporary musical sensibilities, Yorkston and friends have created an album that is interesting and near irresistible. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: The title of this album is not only apt for its content, but also for its mood. Folk Songs, in title and nature, is simple, unassuming and charmingly frank. With eleven traditional tracks, it is an album of genuine grass-roots folk, marking it as occupying a different sphere to the Bob Dylans and modern folk artists. The question in listening to such as album is whether or not to hear it as part of, and on the same page as, the indie rock – or even folk rock – institution, or hear and value it as part of something separate, that of folk and traditional. The answer lies somewhere in the middle: Yorkston and Green's arrangements of these so... [Read on]
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Tommy Reilly 'Words On the Floor'
A review of the album Words On The Floor by Tommy Reilly Review Snapshot: The debut album from Orange Unsigned Act Winner Tommy Reilly adequately shows his tremendous songwriting maturity, cleverly expressing his thoughts about 'never getting the girl' in a frank and honest way. The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: So, Tommy Reilly. Yes, he won Orange Unsigned Act after originally being told by Jo Whiley that he "wasn't experienced enough." And yes, he is a talented singer-songwriter. But what's that Robin? He's not joining the "worlds-skinniest-jeans-in-indie" competition or adopting overly emotional, almost fake tones in his music? Joyously, he isn't. Having been put through his paces on Orange Unsigned Act, most notably writing the excellent “I Don’t Like Coffee” at very short notice, Reilly has proved he can definitely deliver. In fact, this album clearly shows it. Opening track &ldq... [Read on]
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David Gray 'Draw the line'
A review of David Gray's album 'Draw the line' Review Snapshot: David Gray's "Draw the line" - new songs, new band, new outlook. Same old same old. The CLUAS verdict? 5 out of 10 Full Review: Nothing screams late nineties quite like David Gray’s “White ladder”, a “classic” album that worked basically because its lo fi songs captured a moment and because Gray himself consciously, or unconsciously, lightened his own musical mood. Gray has trod so much water since “White ladder” that he has developed webbed feet. Noughties follow ups, “A New Day at Midnight “ and “Life in Slow Motion” are as workmanlike and well intentioned as they are forgettable but his “Lost Songs” collection of outtakes was a peak. His own wife said ”Lost Songs” should be accompanied by a government health warning but it worked because he submerged himself so totally in his own mis... [Read on]
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VV Brown 'Travelling Like The Light'
A review of the album "Travelling Like The Light" by VV Brown Review Snapshot: A continually interesting album using older influences in a modern manner, placing VV Brown head-and-shoulders above the "soul revival" stratum. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: In the past few years there has been no shortage of pop artists willing to dig into the past for inspiration, drawing from classic sources for songwriting ideas. Like most things in music, this has provoked some fierce debate; are the modern artists legitimately drawing influence from previous musical styles, or pilfering the ideas of the past to cynically create a brand identity? While the truth is likely to be somewhere in between (few artists truly disregard the power of presentation) one question arises either way: does the retro fascination produce creative, enjoyable music? Like the question of authenticity, it can go either way; for every faithful summoning of soul (music an... [Read on]
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 Cluas Snapshot: Often beautiful with delicate vocals yet at times infected by cretinism lyrically, Ellipse is a mixed affair. The album is littered with whispy harmonies with keyboards, cellos, clarinets and whatever chopped up cuts and beats were left in the studio, Heap doesn’t make it easy for the listener and the album takes at least 3 listens to get any sort of feeling from it. The drivel that served up as lyrics doesn’t help either. The Cluas Verdict?: 4.5/10 Full Review: “First Train Home” opens with cool velvet vocals. It has immediate appeal with its snappy verse and catchy chorus. It’s a winner and casts no doubt over the decision to have the track as lead single. However there was more than a sniff of a mid - nineties Donna Lewis hit in the chorus melody. “Wait it Out” follows, a track dominated by keyboards and a combination of different instruments, the layered vocals help to make it a catchy number. The ... [Read on]
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05
Calvin Harris 'Ready for the weekend'
A review of the album 'Ready for the weekend' by Calvin Harris Review Snapshot: "Ready for the weekend" is a disco pop sugar rush. Set a late noughties  badly lit overcrowded nightclub to music and you get the picture. "Kid A" it ain't. But that's not a bad thing. The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10 Full Review: If you're on the top deck on the bus home on a Friday evening and if you're sitting near the back of the bus where the cool kids sit and if you're distracted by two mid teen shop girls with fingerless gloves and if they're simultaneously gossiping, checking text messages, and chewing gum and if they're listening to an MP3 player on a mobile phone with one girl jiggling one earphone wedged in her shell like and the other girl fiddling with the other earphone and if they're la-la-ing and saying "this one is f**kin' great" there's a strong possibility they're both listening to Calvin ... [Read on]
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05
Prefab Sprout 'Let's Change the World with Music'
A review of the album 'Let's Change the World with Music' by Prefab Sprout Review Snapshot: Just like Brian Wilson's long-lost 'Smile' album, 'Let's Change the World with Music' has been in the vaults for 17 years, so has it been worth the wait, or will it feel dated to everyone, including Paddy McAloon? The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: So much over the years has been written and said about this long-lost album, the fact that it was recorded and rejected by the record company back in 1993, and chronologically belongs between 'Jordan The Comeback' and 'Andromeda Heights'. It may be nearly 20 years old but music does not always grow old. On the opening number 'Let There Be Music' it begins with a robotic voice quoting words from the first book of genesis, “in the beginning was a mighty bang” but within 15 seconds you hear the beautiful tones of Paddy's vocals that we all fell in love... [Read on]
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