Search Articles

Nuggets from our archive

2003 - Witnness 2003, a comprehensive review by Brian Kelly of the 2 days of what transpired to be the last ever Witnness festival (in 2004 it was rebranded as Oxegen when Heineken stepped into the sponsor shoes).

The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Album Reviews

21
La Roux 'La Roux'
A review of La Roux's debut album Review Snapshot: Electro-pop duo La Roux’s debut album is filled with the haunting vocals of Elly Jackson and the synthesized beats of Ben Laingmaid.&nb...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
13
Biffy Clyro 'Only Revolutions'
A review of the album 'Only Revolutions' by Biffy Clyro Review Snapshot: The Ayrshire trio Biffy Clyro return with an album filled with explosive riffs and lyrical genius, featuring Josh H...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
31

Cluas Snapshot: The Antlers’ second album is different. It’s a concept. The theme is tragic and complicated. It’s also phenomenally engaging musically and while one of the most difficult it’s also one of the interesting albums you’re likely to hear this year.

The Cluas Verdict? 8/10

HospiceFull Review: Hospice tells the story from Prologue to Epilogue of a couple’s journey through terminal illness, struggle, regret and grief amongst other things. It’s heavy. It’s very heavy in fact. The record opens with the grey overtone “Prologue” and even from this early stage, it’s clear the album could serve as a soundtrack for a movie. In fact a movie could be written using the story of the album. It slides gently into “Kettering”. The song describes one partner finding the other filled with tubes in a cancer ward. The “morphine alarms” sing and keep her sleeping. It narrates the anger felt by the patient towards the carer. It ends with one partner finding out the illness is terminal.

“Sylvia” begins in the same vein and then suddenly busts into life. Lyrically it’s virtually impossible to understand what’s been sung. The vocals are extremely low and this is my biggest criticism of the album. Musically it’s flawless but lyrically it’s impossible to engage with at times. I had to research the lyrics to find out what’s going on. Apparently it’s about the poet Sylvia Plath (the writer and poet who committed suicide by sticking her head in an oven and turning on the gas). This is described as detailed as this in the song. Musically it’s up and down, aggressive percussion and big horns, guitars and a charging rhythm. It’s actually a really catchy melody.

“Atrophy” is long, really long. 7 minutes 42 seconds long. It’s a slow mover. Again virtually impossible to hear what is being said. And for a concept album that is supposed to tell a story, it’s bloody annoying I can tell you. The listener wants to know what’s going on and musically it’s conveying the themes but the lyrics are inaudible at times.  Again through research I discovered a beautiful lyric that summarises the song well:  “I’m bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer”.

“Bear” is the first single off the album, and it’s incredible. It describes the couple in question going through the decision making process on whether they are capable of looking after a new baby.

“There’s a bear inside your stomach, a cub’s being kicking from within.
 He’s loud without the vocal cords; we’ll put an end to him.
 We’ll make all the right appointments; no one ever has to know,
And then tomorrow I’ll turn twenty one, we can script another show”.

The song goes on detailing the reality of a conflict between the couple regarding their maturity at handling the responsibility a baby brings. OK, so Silberman clearly doesn’t do things by halves. Thankfully the lyrics in this tune are audible, and mercifully so. It’s a fine song. “Thirteen” passes without incident.

“Two” however doesn’t. It’s a musical masterpiece. The acoustic intro draws the listener in, and the high low vocals of the verses merge with the drums as they kick in, fantastic. It’s the moment the doctor tells him that there is no hope for his partner and that “Enough is enough”. The song then compares how she had an eating disorder when she was younger and nobody noticed and excuses were made for it, her Dad was “an asshole”. It then goes on to describe their lives together, constant fighting in their room/home and marriage.

“There’s two people living in one small room, from your two half-families tearing at you,
Two ways to tell the story “no one worries”, two silver rings on our fingers in a hurry,

two people talking inside your brain, two people believing I’m the one to blame,
two different voices coming out of your mouth, while I’m too to care and too sick to shout”

“Shiva” comes right after death. “Suddenly every machine stopped at once, and the monitors bleeped one last time. Hundreds of thousands of hospital beds, all of them empty but mine”. It continues musically in the same vein, acoustic guitar and stirring vocals. It’s nearing the end of the road. “Wake” is the end. It’s the celebration or marking of her passing. Letting people in to remember and say goodbye.

It’s a very heavy record, and very thoughtful. At times it can be frustrating. It isn’t made easy for the listener, but the challenge is worthwhile. It’s one of the finest albums this reviewer has heard this year.

Kevin Coleman


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
21

A review of the album 'Post Electric Blues' by Idlewild

Idlewild - Post Electric BluesReview Snapshot: One could be forgiven for thinking that this latest offering portrays Idlewild growing old gracefully, but realistically this is the sound of a band who are trying to reinvent themselves. It doesn’t come close to the indie rock genius of the “The Remote Part” and the happy-go-lucky “Make Another World”, or the intrigue of the confused “Warnings/Promises”, but rather depends on several different influences to produce a fresh sound. Does it work? Yes, but only just. 

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review: As the album opens with “Younger Than America”, you instantly notice this is truly & recognisably Idlewild, a vicariously riffed tune, and one that will once again accuse them of being, albeit in a good way, influenced by REM circa the Document era. Add to that, an effective backing vocal by our own Heidi Talbot (who aided and abetted Roddy Woomble’s 2006 solo country-ish effort “Secret Of My Silence” to magnificent effect, more on that later). 

More of the same on “City Hall”, classic Idlewild. Baring in mind this is their 6th album, it still works in so far as the song exudes their undying zest for what they do. “Dreams of Nothing” echoes sentiments of “Century After Century” from the “The Remote Part”, picking on what made them underground greats while avoiding overdependence on it.

Nevertheless, the album is not without its pitfalls, “Readers & Writers” is chart-popped up to an ultimately ineffective extent with oversold bombast on its chorus; it’s only the album’s second track and in early listens, you worry that Idlewild may be trying to become commercial - which just isn’t them. The same could be said of the late-on “All Over the Town”. It would sound great live but forces little effect elsewhere. Another poppy effect on “Circles in Stars” features a distorted doubled up vocal that asks "why, why, why?" Woomble’s vocals have always been charismatic enough without having to resort to this sort of thing.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of this album is the alt-country influences evident from Woomble’s solo effort that are breaking & entering their way through here – it doesn’t work on “(The Night Will) Bring You Back to Life”; it’s lyrically weak and the music doesn't sounds like anything like the Idlewild we’ve come to know and love. It improves on the album’s outro though as “Take Me Back in Time” features jangly guitar and a hum-drum backing vocal that possibly betrays the album as a whole but nonetheless remains a pleasing ending.

While the album’s blessing is that “Take Me Back To The Islands” is undoubtedly one of the best tracks on offer, the fact that it sounds like it was hand-picked from “Secret Of My Silence” is also a distant curse - you can’t help but wonder if these contrasting influences are pulling the sound of this band and its lead singer in opposite directions.

All in all, there’s enough here to satisfy dedicated fans and a lot of experimentation and credit to them for that; after all, bands who don’t reinvent themselves inevitably fade into the background or fade away altogether (just ask any Strokes or Garbage fan).

Definitely Idlewild’s weakest offering since the Remote Part, but a satisfying listen at the end of the day.

Jimmy Murphy


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
20
Mumford & Sons 'Sigh No More'
A review of the album 'Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons Review Snapshot: This London folk foursome presented their first album, 'Sigh No More', at the beginning of this month, follow...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
19
The Swell Season 'Strict Joy'
A review of the album Strict Joy by The Swell Season Review Snapshot:  At times underwhelming and familiar, 'Strict Joy' brings nothing new to the table and deals with much of th...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
16
Pearl Jam 'Backspacer'
A review of the album Backspacer by Pearl Jam Review Snapshot: If you want the smooth waves of the surf, some rocking little riffs and more fine songwriting from Eddie Vedder, then Backspacer is f...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
16
Fnessnej 'Stay Fresh, Ey'
A review of the album Stay Fresh, Ey by Fnessnej Review Snapshot: A compelling collage of sounds from a German five-piece whose name is almost impossible to pronounce. Part chip-tune, part post-ro...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
14
AFI 'Crash Love'
A review of the album 'Crash Love' by AFI Review Snapshot: The Californian rock veterans make a triumphant return with their eight studio album, proving precisely why they've lasted so...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
09
Arctic Monkeys 'Humbug'
A review of the album 'Humbug' by Arctic Monkeys Review Snapshot: The Monkeys have certainly taken a step forward with this album. Unfortunately, they seem to have stepped into a world of ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
Page 8 of 22First   Previous   3  4  5  6  7  [8]  9  10  11  12  Next   Last