Nights In

RubyBlue's picture

KT Tunstall (review)

What's it called?: 
Invisble Empire//Crescent Moon
What does it sound like?: 
Although I love the Jane Weaver album, I had a lot more emotional engagement with this, fairly obviously due to the different subject matter. Caveat- a friend of mine died this week so listening to the first half of this just about did me in but it was quite cathartic. The album is in two halves- 'Invisible Empire' is about the death of her father, whilst 'Crescent Moon' explores the end of her marriage. So it's an emotional album but not despairing; 'Invisible Empire' for example touches on the challenges but also the freedom and possibilities of giving everything up and starting again. The voice sounds very pure and warm (it's stunning , actually) and the album has a light, airy, delicate and stripped-down feel with a bit of a country tinge. (Maybe this has something to do with it being recorded in the Tuscon desert?)The songs about grieving and the toll it takes ('Made of Glass', for example) are pretty raw but have a tenderness (lyrically quite hard to listen to).
What does it all *mean*?: 
A truly beautiful album: intimate, a bit fragile but expansive. The vulnerability and mutability of life and relationships; everything is uncertain. Thanks to Chubster for the recommendation; this one will stay with me for a long time.
Goes well with …: 
Goes well with- south coast drive in summer(Simon L); Rainy night in London (me); sad days, relationship endings. Lying in bed with the headphones on late at night.
Might suit people who like …: 
Nick Drake, Kate Bush, Judee Sill, Laura Marling.
Burt Kocain's picture

The Church

What's it called?: 
Further/Deeper
What does it sound like?: 
The Church. Which is a good thing. There's no way this sounds lacking in any department, even with the absence of Marty Willson-Piper. As is usual for a Church release, there are guitars all over the place, great slatherings of them, huge shiny sheets of them whipping across everything. There's no time to miss anything. It sounds enormous, a gigantic landscape stretching further and deeper ... you'll need headphones made out of Chieftain tanks. Full of sparkly detail, structured, layered ... and the songs ease themselves out of the sound like serpents. I've listened five times now (got a copy from Someone In The Business), and I know I'll still be listening until my ears fall off. The Church repays devotion - what they put in, you get out. But never the first time, they always hide the best stuff, like sonic landmines you stumble on eventually. Headbangers, pretty jangles, lush swoons. Oh - the first words you hear on this extraordinary album are "sinister bastard". Beautiful, non?
What does it all *mean*?: 
It means that my favourite band just got favouriter. If you've never heard them, this may be the place to start. It's that good.
Goes well with …: 
Headphones, solitude.
Might suit people who like …: 
Bowie, f'rinstance. If The Dame was doing stuff like this today (and there are reference points) the claims that he's still got it would be more than justified. But he's not. This leaves him in the dust.
bargepole's picture

Yes

What's it called?: 
Relayer CD/DVD-A/Bluray
What does it sound like?: 
If ever there was a Yes album likely to benefit from remixing then Relayer springs to mind, and here it is to coincide with its 40th anniversary. The only album to feature the more jazz/fusion influence of Patrick Moraz on keyboards, the album follows the 'Close To The Edge' formula of one long piece followed by two medium length ones. The cd presents a new stereo mix by the ubiquitous Mr Wilson, and what an experience it is - instrumental passages previously clouded in a rather muddy original mix are now heard in crystal pristine clarity for the first time. The DVD has a 5.1 mix of the album, and again this is an album that was crying out for the full surround sound experience, which is a complete revelation. For any doubters of the benefits of Steven Wilson remixing this series of Yes albums, and indeed others of the same era, then this album will clearly demonstrate the error of their ways - if you only buy one of these expanded and remixed albums, this is the one to go for!
What does it all *mean*?: 
The original album is supplemented by single edits of Soon and Sound Chaser. The DVD also includes an alternate album comprised of studio run-throughs, the latter two (Sound Chaser and To Be Over) being previously unreleased.
Goes well with …: 
For any fan of classic era Yes this is an essential purchase - the difference in sound quality more than justifies the modest price! The CD/DVD package is well presented with new expanded sleeve notes and additional art work by Roger Dean.
Might suit people who like …: 
As an added incentive,the Bluray adds a number of other transfers of the masters of the original LP, plus an instrumental version of the whole album, a live version of Sound Chaser taken from the Word is Live box set, and a demo of that same song.
minibreakfast's picture

Sam Smith

What's it called?: 
In The Lonely Hour
What does it sound like?: 
BBC Sound of 2014 winner Sam Smith has been tagged "the male Adele" more than once, but where her emotional outpourings stemmed from a real traumatic love life, Sam admits to not yet having been in a relationship, so the guy breaking his heart here is the stuff of his imagination. After impressive guest spots on two hits (with Disclosure and Naughty Boy) expectations for this debut were high; co-writers include Eg White and newcomer James Napier. Sadly, cantering opener Money On My Mind is followed by a succession of rather safe, samey torch songs, mostly backed with sparse piano, acoustic guitar and tasteful strings, until the Alexander O'Neal-ish closer Restart finally picks the pace back up. Don't misunderstand - there's some good stuff here, but a little stylistic variation would have cast Sam's soulful cries (and the whimpers) in a more satisfying light. Hopefully he'll be allowed to take more risks on album number two.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Record-breaking album sales and two no. 1 singles make it clear what Joe Public feels about him. I'm not yet convinced, but he's still streets ahead of the 'all lungs no heart' X-Factor Brigade.
Goes well with …: 
The samey pace is a bit wearing, so perhaps the songs would shine brighter as part of a mixed playlist.
Might suit people who like …: 
Occasional weird pronunciation in pop music (sample: "Beleef me, I luff you"), Adele (with whom he shares some under-pronunciation issues), Emeli Sandé, Radio 2.
RubyBlue's picture

Jane Weaver

What's it called?: 
The Silver Bowl
What does it sound like?: 
I'd not heard anything by Jane Weaver at all until 'The Silver Bowl'. I put on yesterday and now I can't stop playing it. The title is inspired by the film 'In the Silver Globe' by Andrzej Zulawski (don't click away! Keep reading!) I've never seen the film so I can't comment on the extent of the influence.The first track, 'Argent', is about silver as a life-force and sounds like Lush in space backed by Neu playing 'HalloGallo'. 'Mission Desire' is just fabulous: Can crossed with 80s pop crossed with Curve. The second track , ‘The Electric Mountain’ reminds me of something; it includes a sample of Hawkwind’s ‘Star Cannibal’ so maybe it’s that. Vocally she is Lana Del Ray mixed with, oh I dunno, Karen Carpenter? 'Stealing Gold' is Lana Del Ray gone indie Morricone.
What does it all *mean*?: 
It's sort of electronica and spacey and light and guitary, too- very diverse and variously-paced. Thematically it seems to me to be about energy: life force, religious energy, chemical energy, and cosmic energy.
Goes well with …: 
A trip into the cosmos. Failing that, it's good daytime listening; takes you somewhere else whilst going about your mundane tasks. A bit of everyday transcendence.
Might suit people who like …: 
Space; Krautrock; Lana Del Ray; indie girls in spacesuits; Hawkwind. One of the albums of the year: interesting, tuneful and a bit cosmic (copyright Springer Bell). (I am trying to see how many times I can shoehorn 'Lana Del Ray' into any post.)

XTC

What's it called?: 
Drums And Wires (CD + DVD-A)
What does it sound like?: 
This was a pivotal XTC album, being the first with the mighty Dave Gregory replacing abruptly-departed Barry Andrews. Colin Moulding came to greater prominence as a songwriter, giving the band their first palpable hit (Making Plans For Nigel). They stepped firmly away from the punk-tinged atmosphere of their first two albums and emerged with a diverse sound palette, a BIG drum sound, and 12 great songs. So this is a fine choice to receive the Steven Wilson remix treatment. Playing all versions of each track side by side, the difference was clearly audible: compared to the new mixes, the original version sounds oddly recessed now; that’s how quickly my ears decided they loved the new mix. There's a noticeably greater dynamic range, and every instrument manages to be clearly distinct, without sounding artificial. Your ears can walk all around and through the mix at leisure, picking out a baseline here, a guitar dub there, a hi-hat there, then return to marvel again at the overall sound.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Beautifully packaged, and manages the enviable trick of making one of my favourite albums sound new and fresh all over again, yet without changing the essential character of the music. That’s quite a trick. "English Settlement" next, please!
Goes well with …: 
Made me aware that perhaps it's time to upgrade to a full Home Theatre 5.1 setup - listening to this (and other Wilson remixes) in stereo is stunning, but I'm itching to hear the full 5.1 experience. Oh, and of course, play this loud!
Might suit people who like …: 
Classic British pop, the more joyous end of post-punk, Swindon accents, enormous drum sounds, rummaging through loads of bonus features, helicopters...
JoLean's picture

Aretha Franklin

What's it called?: 
The Great Diva Classics
What does it sound like?: 
It sounds like a wonderful soul singer screaming over some of your favourite songs produced by Clive Davis (responsible for Aretha's 'Freeway of Love' period). It also sounds like a wonderful soul singer screaming over some songs you don't like. Think Gladys Knight & the Pips' Midnight Train to Georgia is just too soulful? Never mind, here's Aretha to emote all over it & step on those wonderful backing singer parts. Not heard enough drunk women do I Will Survive on terrible hen nights? Step this way! Wanted a more tinny production for Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman? You're in luck! I really don't see the point in this at all, but will say that Aretha's voice is not completely shot like some of her contemporaries. On the plus side, I finally know what the lyrics to Rolling in the Deep are, as at least Aretha Franklin has not yet succumbed to singing with a sock in her gob a la Adele (and I quite like the way it segues into Ain't No Mountain High Enough).
What does it all *mean*?: 
We'll always have that run of Atlantic LPs. Put Aretha Arrives or Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You instead. Having said that, it's had quite good reviews and I've only heard it once. I may come back next week & beg Ms Franklin's forgiveness.
Goes well with …: 
Well, it *doesn't* go well with headphones, London buses and a breakfast bacon sandwich, I can tell you that.
Might suit people who like …: 
Big voices stepping all over the lyrics and phrasing of a song. Celine Dion. Glenn Ponder's Savoir Faire. X Factor 'Soul Week'
bargepole's picture

Mike Oldfield

What's it called?: 
The Studio Albums 1992-2003
What does it sound like?: 
As the title suggests, a collection of the eight albums released between 1992-2003. This includes four well known works and four lesser known ones. What do you get - the excellent Trevor Horn produced Tubular Bells vol II,the Ibiza influenced vol III, the rather Christmassy Millenium Bell and the 2003 rerecording of the original Tubular Bells album, with John Cleese in the Master of Ceremonies role made famous by the late Viv Stanshall. Additionally, there is the Arthur C Clarke inspired Songs From Distant Earth,plus Voyager, Guitars and Tres Lunas. Nicely packaged in a sturdy presentation box, each album comes in a reproduction of its original sleeve. An absolute bargain at the price!
What does it all *mean*?: 
Of the lesser known albums, Voyager is a Celtic influenced mixture of original and traditional material, Guitars is a midi based album and Tres Lunas was the accompaniment to a now long forgotten interactive game.
Goes well with …: 
If you like your Oldfield, this box set is a snip. It gives a chance to catch up on the more 'low profile' albums of the late 90's, the best of the bunch being Songs From Distant Earth, which is probably the most typical Oldfield album of the bunch.
Might suit people who like …: 
A mixture of traditional and more progressive rock stylings, instrumental music in general with the odd poppy bit thrown in along the way. And of course Tubular Bells remains to this day an essential and ground breaking classic piece of music!

New Orleans Soul

What's it called?: 
The original sound of New Orleans Soul - 1966-76.
What does it sound like?: 
The wonderful Soul Jazz Records have come out with another of their inspired compilations - this time of Soul from the Crescent City. Most of these songs were unknown to me but that doesn't stop them sounding like instant classics. The playing throughout is wonderful and I defy anyone to listen to this without having a frug around the room. It is music to dance to, music to party to and music to get drunk to. It's hot, funky, sweaty and just the thing to get me out of early Sunday evening torpor. Familiar artists are Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas and Ernie K.Doe but there is enough talent on board to ably demonstrate that there was another less familiar side to New Orleans that shouldn't go unrecognised. Well done to Soul Jazz for bringing it together.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Sometimes I need dancing music and this fits the bill just fine. As good as Tamla is,for me this Southern Soul is an entirely different proposition
Goes well with …: 
The Country Funk collections and the Kent/Ace Country/Soul releases - I listened to this music in the house but ideally it should be in a sweaty club but those days are a distant memory.
Might suit people who like …: 
I know mini breakfast and Tiggerlion will be taken with this collection. Anyone with an interest in Southern Soul music.

Hiss Golden Messenger

What's it called?: 
Lateness of Dancers
What does it sound like?: 
My first instinct was to avoid this album at all costs because I really do not like the Band name. Then I read Uncut reviews and was intrigued. My resistance evaporated and I went and bought it. I am really glad I did. The songs, the playing, everything about this album is perfect. M.C. Taylor who leads the band has a wonderful voice, very emotive but not in a grandstanding way and the whole feel of the songs is American wilderness, big skies, driving with the top down and the wind in your hair. Standout songs on first listens are Mahogany Dread and Day O Day (A love so free). The playing is lovely throughout - chilled organ and piano adding a nice feel to many of the songs. There are a couple of louder numbers halfway through the album that raise the tempo and illustrate the breadth of the band. Excellent stuff.
What does it all *mean*?: 
2014 has been a great year for new (to me) artists coming out of the USA and the music scene over there seems infinitely more healthy than ours in terms of artists willing to take chances and do something different.
Goes well with …: 
Today I am working from home trying to help a sore throat and this music is soothing enough to help that- have been playing it in the car all week and that is perfectly fine too. Hiss Golden Messenger whilst driving through the Snake Pass yesterday.
Might suit people who like …: 
There are distinct echoes of The Band, Midlake and War on Drugs in part. If you like those artists you will like this album. A couple of songs M.C.Taylor sounds similar to Bill Fay too which is no bad thing in my book.

Llio Millward

What's it called?: 
Heat Of The Fire
What does it sound like?: 
This is a record which starts deceptively: after a short a capella intro (the 8 full songs are separated by such "interludes", some in Welsh), the first two songs (Power Play and What Did I Do To You) are abrasive, hell-hath-no-fury numbers, notable for the spiky, Tom Waits-influenced arrangements and Llio's commanding vocals, imperiously belted out and full of righteous power. They provide an arresting opening, before the tempo slows, bringing us to what are to me the highlights: three exquisite ballads which showcase Llio's exceptional control, feel and pitch. I Matter To Myself is a stunner, a simple, heartfelt lyric of loss elevated to something special by the beauty of the melody - and some sumptuous chord changes - and an arrangement that features Llio's impressive ability on violin and piano. Grace maintains the high standard, while Deep Waters sounds like a jazz standard. The voice, slightly reminiscent of Lisa Stansfield at times, has great dynamic range and presence.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Interest declared: Llio is a friend. That brings perils, of course, and it's always a relief when a friend's record not only is Not Shit, but actually exceeds expectations. Although this is her debut album, she's an experienced performer; it shows.
Goes well with …: 
As mentioned above, there is a distinct tonal shift. The first two songs would quicken the pulse on your journey home; listen to the rest having kicked off your shoes and poured a large glass of wine.
Might suit people who like …: 
There is a strong jazz sensibility throughout the album, and connoisseurs of jazz chanteuses with strong voices will love this; those who like original singer-songwriters will also be richly rewarded. If you like both, what are you waiting for?
tiggerlion's picture

Prince & 3rdeyegirl

What's it called?: 
PLECTRUMELECTRUM
What does it sound like?: 
WOW! From its storming start to its final flourish, this is a full-on, muscular album, peppered with pyrotechnics & Princely quirks. He's always enjoyed a Hendrix jam but he's more than matched by Donna Quaint, who first came to his attention when she won a Hendrix soundalike competition. Those two 'front men' might share the vocals and the licks but, recorded as live, it's Ida Nielson's enthusiastic bass & Hannah Welton's energetic drumming that steal the show. The titles scream in upper case and the words spill into each other. There is a thrilling consistency here lacking on its sister album, albeit fewer real peaks. It shares one song with Art Official Age, FUNKNROLL, which is much more exuberant and coherent here. There is a serious misjudgement, the dreadful STOPTHISTRAIN, but, otherwise, across twelve tracks and clocking in at under forty minutes, it's a breathless and exhilarating listen, making me regret missing out on those Hit & Run gigs that led up to this album. WOW indeed
What does it all *mean*?: 
Prince has always needed side projects to stimulate his creative juices. It would be careless to overlook this worthy addition to his cannon. We should be grateful to 3rdeyegirl for bringing Prince back to close to his best. Rock isn't dead. Yet.
Goes well with …: 
This one needs big floor speakers and a volume knob that goes to eleven. They say middle aged people shouldn't wear leather, but PLECTRUMELECTRUM tempts me. It sounds as though it would sound best in a medium sized live venue with a bottle of Jack.
Might suit people who like …: 
Chaos And Disorder. Guitarists who sound a bit like Hendrix (isn't that true of all lead guitarists?) If you delete the obvious aberration, you have a product to compete with Royal Blood, Black Keys and Jack White for rock album of the year.
Hawkfall's picture

Goat

What's it called?: 
Commune
What does it sound like?: 
The first words that come to mind are "Psychedelic", "Prog" and "but with tunes". The Guardian describes their music as "weaving together rock, Afrobeat, funk, chants and tribal drums into an intoxicating, psychedelic stew", which is a fair description, though it makes them sound a bit dry and earnest. Which they're not, the music has a light touch and is full of catchy riffs, chanted singing and time signatures that Frank Zappa probably had on his To Do list. Some of the songs have lyrics that could fit on a King Size Rizla, which may make sense as it's probably where they were written down on in the first place. The album is 38 minutes long and fairly flies by: "Talk to God" and "Words" kick things off in style, and "To Travel the Path Unknown" slows things down nicely Planet Caravan-style. There's a slight mid-album lull, before the wonderful "Hide from the Sun" gives the album its second wind and carries us to the end. It's great fun.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Difficult to say. The band itself look like what you imagine Slipknot would if they came from Brighton, and seem to be big on paganism and all that, but who cares when the riffs are this good?
Goes well with …: 
King Size Rizlas, probably. Will add colour to a 40 minute commute.
Might suit people who like …: 
The Mothers of Invention, The Knife, Kraftwerk and Tinariwen. The single "Words" sounds like Jefferson Airplane soundchecking with Venom's "In League with Satan". It's heady stuff.
tiggerlion's picture

Prince

What's it called?: 
Art Official Age
What does it sound like?: 
Fun, frivolous, funky, flirtatious, freaky, futuristic and fabulous. The effin' little genius is back. Sure, you have to get past the kitchen sink opener and spoken word scene setting but, otherwise, Art Official Age is an album of real substance, with a lightness of touch to please both hardened fans and interested bystanders. There is a playful dance number that would grace Lovesexy and three or four revealing, seductive ballads. Religion has tempered the horny toad but hasn't prevented him from being able to do it 'metaphysically'. The two female vocal talents are crucial and the co-producer, Joshua Welton, gives the Prince sound a modern day sheen. It all culminates in a slinky funk duet, Time, in which Prince straps on his bass, I mean really straps it on, & channels Larry Graham on Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Self Agin). It's the kind of track that hits the brain, the heart and the pelvis all at once. It's wonderful to hear him happy doing what he does best. Welcome back.
What does it all *mean*?: 
I haven't enjoyed a Prince album so much for decades. I didn't realise that there had been such a weird, R&B hole in my life. I now feel my life is more complete. Back at the slave-drivers, Warner Bros, it should get enough of a push to be hit.
Goes well with …: 
Mr Nelson, himself, goes very well with Andy Allo. Her honeyed voice is a perfect foil. Art Official is a proper headphones album with lots of tiny details scattered like diamonds across a deep, velvet drape enveloping the ears. Crank it up loud.
Might suit people who like …: 
Prince of the eighties. Seriously. Well composed, confidently played, professionally produced, beautifully sung, R&B songs with lyrical wit and charm, tinged with a touch of rock. This should be enough to keep us going until Bowie's next album.
bargepole's picture

Queen

What's it called?: 
Live at The Rainbow '74
What does it sound like?: 
Perhaps the popular image of Queen these days is the Live Aid conquering, globe straddling colossus of the 1980's - but in the beginning Queen was a rock band, and a hard rock band at that. This long awaited album showcases the still up and coming band at a pivotal point in their career. Recorded in November 74 just after the release of the Sheer Heart Attack album,this set presents crunching performances of the best material from their first two albums, plus unsurprisingly a healthy chunk of their newly released album. The rock solid rhythm section of Deacon and Taylor, the virtuosity of May's guitar playing,the range of Mercury's vocals and the stunning repertoire of original material all combine to produce a high energy performance, which belies the band's youth at the time. The album is also available as a 2cd set, the second cd being another Rainbow show - this one from March '74 on the Queen II tour - a show that was originally intended for release as the band's third album.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Hearing these performances 40 years down the line is to hear a band ready to spread their wings and take the next step on the road to fame and international stardom. Oh,and it also reminds you that this band could rock out with the best of them!
Goes well with …: 
If you like Queen or hard rock, seek this out. The extra cd has added attraction of the final live outing of The Fairy Fellers Masterstroke and also the non-album B side See What A Fool I've Been, along with the first live release of Great King Rat.
Might suit people who like …: 
Forget the various post Mercury incarnations of the band, and listen without prejudice - if you're of a certain age it will roll back the years,and if you're not you'll have the pleasure of discovering what all the fuss was about!

Pages

Cheap Ugg UGGs Outlet Cheap UGGs cheap ugg boots cheap nfl jerseys wholesale