Articles: Album reviews

26
Kate Bush '50 Words For Snow'
Review Snapshot: The release of new music from Kate Bush is always a monumental event. Seldom is wonderful, but '50 Words For Snow' is her second release this year, and her first studio album of new material in seven years - and as always with Kate, it’s quality not quantity that matters. The CLUAS Verdict: 9 out of 10 Full Review: The album title says it all. This isn’t a Christmas cash-in, but a seasonal album and the topic is definitely snow. The opening number ‘Snowflake’ sets the tone for the album with Kate playing piano while duetting with her son Albert (Bertie) who takes on the soprano role of Aled Jones singing “we’re over a forest / there’s millions of snowflakes” while Kate’s beautiful voice only adds to the mystique and beauty, with a sense of motherly love throughout. On ‘Misty’ Kate falls in love with the Snowman. While some might suggest double entendres to some of the lyrics &ldqu... [Read on]
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24
Album Review - Why? 'Alopecia'
Review Snapshot: A mix-up of genres and emotions, where bright melodies sit beside bleak lyrics- and why not? The third album from this Cincinatti band is difficult but ultimately worthwhile listening. Diverse, ambitious and brilliant. The CLUAS Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full review: Why? are a band devoid of a genre. Call it alternative, rap or even hip-pop, but either way Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf and his band of not-so-merry men have created an infusion that’s as engaging as it is difficult to listen to. 'Alopecia' is the band’s third venture (the second as a four-piece) and although the basic formula doesn’t vary much from their previous albums (‘Oaklandzulasylum’ and ‘Elephant Eyelash’) there’s a very tangible change in tone.  The album really plays in two parts, which have been mixed up at random. On one side you have the melodic, free-flowing pieces that are bright and optimistic; while on ... [Read on]
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27
Mister Heavenly 'Out of Love'
Mister Heavenly 'Out of Love' The CLUAS verdict: 8 out of 10 Full Review: Artists tread a fine line when they dabble with the idea of a super group. The end product will invariably be judged by their former glories and, in many cases, will not survive such a comparison. Thankfully, Nick Thorburn (The Islands), Ryan Kattner (Man Man) & Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse) surpass expectations with their incendiary incarnation Mister Heavenly. Inspired by their shared love of doo wop and avant garde indie, Mister Heavenly exist within a genre of their own creation: doom-wop. Their debut release Out of Love is a modern revision of the 50s pop era, full of macabre tales of heartache and disaffection. Their playfully ironic love songs are written for a generation more accustomed to text message breakups than Dear John letters.  The two-stepping “Charlyne” is a satire of the sweetheart ballad with a surf rock vibe in the style of The Beach Boys. A ... [Read on]
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21
Marc Carroll 'In Silence'
Review Snapshot: Carroll’s rhythmic arrangements and calming husky tones will accommodate most tastes as the album gently works through a plethora of genres, but it both requires and deserves your full attention. Best enjoyed on a long quiet car journey.  The Cluas Verdict:  7 out of 10 Full Review: It’s a joy finding something new­­­­­ to mull over, although in this case ‘it’ is hardly new as singer/songwriter Marc Carroll has been carving out his musical career for over 20 years, albeit with modest commercial success. ‘In Silence’, a collection of his work to date,  both requires and deserves greater attention. The collection begins with ‘The Boy Who Dreamed’, an instrumental of gentle inoffensive folk melodies before elevating into ‘Love Over Gold’ the second track and my first opportunity to sample Carroll’s striking vocals and confident delivery - its rou... [Read on]
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28
Bobby 'Bobby'
Review Snapshot: On their self-titled debut album, Bobby have created an absorbing, multi-layered record, one that definitively disproves the oft-quoted cliché that 'less is more'. Cluas Verdict: 8.5 out of 10 Full review: In some respects, Massachusetts band Bobby have emerged from the wilderness. They were not subject to the the sort of media hype that occasionally pursues up and coming bands, often to their detriment, like a lion stalking a young zebra. In fact relatively little was known about the ensemble, save for the former musical exploits of certain group members. And for a while there wasn't even a photograph of Bobby around, which further shrouded the band and their record in mystery and intrigue. It is befitting then that Bobby's music lands as alien and mystical as the group did. It is lush and layered, complex, bittersweet and, most importantly, emotionally engaging. With album opener, 'We Saw', the listener is promp... [Read on]
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31
Milk Maid 'Yucca'
Review Snapshot: An uninspiring new project from Nine Black Alps' former bass player Martin Cohen, Yucca's fuzz-pop is tedious and unengaging. The Cluas Verdict? 4 out of 10 Full Review: At a time when British rock music was feeling pretty good about itself as a slew of post-Libertine style bands dropped records of varying quality to the enthusiastic music press, Nine Black Alps were something of an anomaly. Most apparent was that, unlike most of his contemporaries, singer Sam Forrest didn’t perform in a heavily-accented style. Instead he drained any evidence of their Mancunian roots from his voice as the band looked to early-nineties grunge music for inspiration. Their output was sometimes absorbing, but these footpath-crumbling rock anthems didn’t sit well next to Franz Ferdinand’s disco stomps or Maximo Park’s choppy pop that were fashionable at the time. Despite some initial positive write-ups for their first album Everything Is, Nine Black ... [Read on]
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26
Chain And The Gang 'Music's Not For Everyone'
A review of the album 'Music's Not For Everyone' by Chain and the Gang Review Snapshot:  The follow-up to 2009’s 'Down With Liberty... Up With Chains!', and Chain And The Gang’s shtick has worn thin. The Cluas Verdict? 3 out of 10 Full Review:  Ian Svenonius, a cult songwriter/front-man and creative multi-tasker, returns in his Chain And The Gang guise to continue pedalling his theatrical punk manifesto. This, as on their debut offering, is borne-out in the band’s ironic anti-freedom sentiments and fatalistic lyrics. As on Chain and the Gang's first album, Svenonius uses musical genres previously seen as socially conscious or rebellious (for example seventies funk on 'Livin’ Rough' and '(I’ve Got) Privilege') and distorts them with his defeatist stance.  This is problematic on various counts.  Firstly, the mixture of genres has a jarring effect on... [Read on]
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25
Wild Palms 'Until Spring'
Review Snapshot:  Despite occasional glimpses of promise, the debut album from British band Wild Palms loses its way somewhere between ambition and execution. The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10 Full Review: There is a lot to like about Wild Palms brand of music. Whilst drawing on an array of influences and blending genres as traditionally opposed as pop rock and shoe gaze, the group still manage to arrive at their own unique sound, a characteristic sorely lacking in many of their contemporaries. As well as having an imitable voice in lead singer Lou Hill, the album is also littered with catchy hooks and clever musical experimentation. So why then, having given the record fair chance, did I find myself so unmoved by the experience and even a little frustrated? Well for one thing the group don’t appear to have settled on a direction. There is an imbalance between simple, radio-friendly pop tunes and long, drawn out tracks that fluctuate in intensity onl... [Read on]
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23
Dan Sartain 'Legacy of Hospitality'
A Review of the album 'Legacy of Hospitality' by Dan Sartain Review Snapshot: The perfect starter kit for Sartain virgins, this long album may be a lot to digest but it is the perfect showcase for the singer/songwriter's diversity. The Cluas Verdict? 7/10 Full Review: Dan Sartain is anAmerican rock singer/songwriter from Birmingham, Alabama and while he has not achieved the heights of fame that he may have been originally been aiming for, he has proven to be a talented and lucky man in the music world. Since 2001 he has released six studio albums, the most recent being Legacy of Hospitality.   The album is being presented by camp Sartain as a companion to previous album Dan Sartain Lives and even something of a document of the musician’s career: it containing tracks that succeed even his early self-produced titles as well as alternative versions of songs from his previous offerings.  On listening to the current LP... [Read on]
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19
Foo Fighters 'Wasting Light'
A review of the album 'Wasting Light' by Foo Fighters Review Snapshot: Let me start with something that may be controversial for many  fans of the Foo Fighters: this might just be their best album since 'The Colour and The Shape'. I’m just saying.    The Cluas Verdict: 9 out of /10   Full Review: What you see is what you get with the Foo Fighters, one of America's last standing (real) rock bands that haven’t changed their form since Dave Grohl kicked off with his post-Nirvana days with the Foo's debut.   This, their seventh album, drops twenty years after Grohl worked on ‘Nevermind’ with Kurt Cobain, but this is only noteworthy because Grohl has recruited both Butch Vig and Krist Novoselic to play a part in the album's production. Pat Smear, who hasn’t stepped in on a Foo’s album since 1997’s 'The Colour and The Shape', has also been re-... [Read on]
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