Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.4
No Parachute - "Volume I" Shortly after reviewing the Men In Fur album I was contacted by it's creator Jayme Goukas to thank me and ask if I was interested in his pet project, a collection of indie vids to be called No Parachute. I said sure, but never heard back. Like all mysteries of life, it arrived in my mailbox unlooked for last week. Right off the bat I'd like to say, even if it sucked (and it doesn't) my kudos go out to him for trying, because this is a segment of our music that has been ignored for far too long. Tying an image, especially the people behind the music, to the music really does help worlds "getting" what the artist was "on" about as the brits say. The collection here is just short of an hour and a half and 26 vids. Three quarters of the bands I knew and of them a little over half the vid songs I knew as well. While many outside the US bands are represented, there is a decided lack of scandinavian bands. (maybe that is a niche I need to fill) The music starts with Snoozers Labor Day which my daughter knew and was quite excited about, and it was probably a good cut to begin with being as vibrant as it is. I would gauge most of the selections good, with perhaps only 4-5 vids/songs I'm not crazy about. However this does included a fair number of bands with some cache, such as Trembling Blue Stars, Architecture In Helsinki, Pia Fraus and My Favorite. (which is not only my favorite band on this but my favorite vid on it as well) The nod for most creative vid however has to go to the Maybellines and their beanie baby bank robbing animal satire. (although my kid loved the AIH and Pia Fraus cartoon vids the most naturally) I even found a great band I had not heard of, Palomar, a girl band out of NYC who have a modern bangles sort of sound and sing about tuna on here. (great, more stuff to buy). It's rare to love everything on any comp type of outing and this is no different, but it's about 75% good for me which is quite high marks. This is an absolute must buy and I eagerly look forward to the series continuing. Maybe I should write him about that swedish version....
Label ~ HHBTM, 26 Track dvd, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Barbara Morgenstern - Robert Lippok - "Tesri" I would have to imagine that the person who sent this in for review gave up long ago, but upon looking it is only dated 2005 so perhaps it wasn't that long. (well, OK, I checked and it was early 05, so that was a while ago) I really am not sure why it took so long as I did often listen to it, although I did often misplace it as well since it is only in a thin cardboard promo sleeve. The bonus however is it scored a 10, which makes it the first instrumental/quasi category album to do so. Why? Because it's musical, it's varied, it's recorded extremely well and in a word it's down right bitchin. I often like a nice instrumental album late at night, and I am partial to organic sounds used in creative melodic ways and this is without question the best such effort I have ever come across. Up until now my king had been the E*vax album "Parking Lot Music" which I do still like quite a bit, but that doesn't have the variety of sound, mood and song structure that is presented here. This album does not come off as a typical "Germanic" synth affair, as a variety of influences such as oriental and even "techno nerd" are apparent and there's also a lovely track called Sommer which is an original parody of the Motown influenced and bass heavy type of "shagging music" that for lack of a better name I'll call "Sextown" which was popularized on recordings like Blue 6's "Beautiful Tomorrow" (which I also own and quite like - GASP!) and it even has what appears to be black female background vocals. (Although it could be her for all I know and it's more like sensual humming than actual singing, to add to the sex factor no doubt) On yet another track, If The Day Remains Unspoken For (which happens to be a vocal track) they remind me very much of the 80's UK band the Christians and that is followed by Geisterjäger which is an instrumental right out of E*vax's book but perhaps even more engaging. On so many levels it doesn't get better than this: Variety, creativity, musical satisfaction and it's recorded extremely well to boot. Even if you are the kind of person who doesn't buy this kind of thing, you should buy this kind of thing, it's that good.
Label ~ Monika, 12 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Various - "4 Women No Cry" This album also arrived with the Tesri and it is supposed to be the first of a series of such compilations featuring the works of 4 unknown international artists. The disc starts with Argentinian singer Rosario Blefari who makes somewhat industrial edged synth pop with a lot of distended sounds that for me came together best on the track Melodia. Next up is Tusia Beridze who hails from Soviet Georgia I believe, and her music is a bit more polished and "international" sounding, with perhaps a tinge of eastern European sadness and techno ambience. With her the track Wound is probably my favorite. Third in line is French woman Èglantine Gouzy who comes off as a cross between Figurine and the Mexican artist Carrie, with Nurse Song being my favorite cut of hers, and she perhaps being my favorite artists here as well. We finish with Austrian Catarina Pratter who contributes two very short and two very long cuts, coming off on them almost like a cross between the Would-Be-Goods meets Portishead. I'm not sure which track of hers I like best, as I'm still trying to figure out if hers are the ones I'm most indifferent to or perhaps even like the most. All in all this is a reasonably good effort and as far as this type of thing usually goes it's perhaps a bit above average. I would place it in a category of approximately modern "new age" music with a techno tint rather than a nod to it's exclusive woman content due to the variety of languages or lack thereof. So if that genre appeals to you I think you'll find this a disc worth investigating.
Label ~ Monika, 20 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.5
Various - "Pop The Question" This is a compilation disc from Bookclub Records and features music made exclusively by married couples. I was familiar with about half the bands on here, which generally speaking is pretty good as it shows I'm not completely out of it and it also allows for some nice surprises and new finds. Of the artists on here that I do know I also knew the songs, so apparently the tracks here are not special for this release and this is just a generic "get to know you" type of thing that just happens to be about bands with married members. The only subterfuge on here is including the Shermans and the Charade, who are of course the same people. (and it's the kind of subterfuge I like) Other name bands include Lovejoy, Kanda, Boyracer and Watoo Watoo to name a few. Of the bands I did not know The Golden Circles stick out the most, and their track Gonna Love You has that early Shelflife "quasi" Siesta samba feel with great female vocals as is surely the hidden gem of this recording. Also catching my ear was the Pinks Keepsake which is a semi lofi brooding but twinkly pop nugget and Falling Out Of Love With You by Sun Hill which has to be the best "absurd" and quirky song on here. As far as comp albums go this is a pretty good one, and while it got a little leggy towards the end with 25 tracks I am sure you'll find at least a dozen (or in other words a regular full lengths) worth of songs you really like. If you wanted to give a gift to someone who perhaps doesn't know about this kind of music this would be an excellent sampler, and one I very much enjoyed.
Label ~ Bookclub, 25 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Various - "Sunsets And Silhouettes" I am sorry to have taken so long to get to this, as this is one of the better comp albums I have heard for some time now. I had a good feeling off the bat when the opener was by Fonda, a band I ain't fonda, and I found the song markedly different than their past work as I recall it and fairly good, even with the 60’s vibe. The disc is broken into 2 “halves”, sunsets and silhouettes of course. Sunsets is quite good, featuring a nice selection with highlights from Fiel Garvie and William Reids Sister Vanilla (a band formed with his sister Linda who sings) and a live song by Camera Obscura.The real treat of course is the cover of the Brilliant Corners She's Dead by Pinkie. No, it's not better than the original but it's a treat to hear. The second half also has some unexpected nuggets, my favorite probably being the Autumn Leaves See The Light Again? which is a great guy girl ballad with a western tinge. This half also features a Freeheat song, which is a Jim Reid side project but to me it's just self parody, and singing badly to sing differently doesn't help Jim, it really doesn't. You're a miserable sod whos’ once brilliant career is now over. Accept it and go sit down. There is also a track by Linda Draper called Colorblind from a previous LP which I like a lot, as it is far more upbeat than the contents of her newest lp. Comp albums are never perfect, and usually there are some great songs and some you suffer thru. There are a few I'm not fond of here, but no suffering, and in fact this is one of the better comps you’re likely to come across. Absolutely worth the price of admission, and about as good as a comp album ever gets.
Label ~ Planting Seeds, 18 Tracks, 2004
Various - "You're Still Young At Heart + Matinee 50!" These two releases are co timed to appear with one another, and both offerings celebrating the 50th releases of both the Shelflife and Matinee labels. In each case as well the albums feature bands of those labels doing covers versions of songs from other bands on their label. I'm not going to go into a track by track as there are too many songs on each. I will say that in both cases you get what you usually get with a broad range comp album. Some hits, some misses, and some filler. It is somewhat sad in this case as these represent landmark events, but both are missing bands I would have wanted to see an appearance by, and in many cases the choice of songs is not what it could have been. Political correctness I assume, as both labels probably let the bands cover whatever they wanted to. I would not have done it that way, I would have told them what I wanted them to cover. After all, the label is supposed to be the all seeing eye and that is one of the faults of the indie scene, too much freedom for the artists. (which doesn't help them actually) That's not to say there aren't some good moments here. On the Shelflife disc, Brideshead, Laura Watling and Den Baron all make yeoman appearances, Sometimes I Wonder gives a surprise gift of "My Fondest Wish" and the Shermans cut is nice as well. Charming do their brilliant 70's disco shtick to a Majestic song and turn it into solid gold, and the climax has to be Simpaticos cover of Charmings "Downtown". Not a bad disc all in all, but perhaps it could have been better, but I know, the business is hell. I'll give it an 8.8
The Matinee disc starts with Gregory Webster covering the titan of all the thousands of songs the Lucksmiths have written, "Untidy Towns". The cover is interesting if not the best band who could have done it, but it does reinforce just how brilliant the song is. Other good moments include covers by the Snowdrops, Slipslide and even the Melody Group whom I don't care for turn in a listenable version of "Emmanuelle Beart". The highlight has to be the Liberty Ship doing Kosmonauts "Desert Song". Not a bad effort, but again not a great one, and perhaps it falls a little lower than the Shelflife effort. I give it an 8.3. That said, and both being what they are, ratings are pretty much irrespective and if you buy this sort of music in the first place both collections are certainly ones you will want in your own collection as they are benchmarks of the scene as it stands today.
Label ~ Shelflife, Matinee, 19 + 20 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.2
March 51 - "Under the Covers" This is a compilation CD released by March Records to celebrate their 10th anniversary. It's supposedly limited to only 150 copies and is available only thu Futurepopshop, although T got this and I don't think he got it there. Anyway, the opener is Neil Diamonds I'll Come Running done by Benett whom I'm not fond of and naturally it isn't so great. The next track is a great cover, that being the Go-Betweens wonderful Streeets of Your Town done VERY well by the great in their own right Cherry Orchard. That's followed by a real trip down memory lane as Barcelona covers Altered Images big "hit" (and "sell out" song) I Could Be Happy and as one would expect Jen sings it, and it's nearly as good if not better than Claire Grogan did herself. It's a wistful treat as well as it will probably be the last bit of recorded music we shall get from that wonderful band. The next is an Allen Clapp cover of Vic Godards Nice on Ice which does sound a little dated but I suppose you'd almost have to expect that given the time line of the song, but it isn't too bad actually. (surprised someone hasn't covered Cruel To Be Kind yet). This is followed by an odd gear switch with our Lloyd Cole doing his best with Karen Blacks Memphis which is nice and strummy and Lloyd is quite heartfelt with it. Holiday is next and while I like them alot, their choice of covering the Beach Boys That's Not Me is a questionable one. I'm actually not fond of the Beach Boys and this is a particularly morose and un-musical song. Wolfie, whom I'm also not fond of are next and they cover the Ramones Beat on the Brat and, well, I could live without hearing it again too. Kleenex Girl Wonder clock in on number 8 and cover I Wonder by the Gants, both a song and band I never heard of. Sounds kind of 70's AOR like and it isn't too bad actually and in fact I think it could grow on me. Next is Mike O'Neill who I've never heard of covering a Paul McCartney song I never heard of either called Junk. Lets say it's aptly titled. The Ocean Blue brings us home here with a cover of the Smiths There is a Light That Never Goes Out which if it does anything really underscores just how great the Smiths really were. It's a very well done cover only I almost wish they'd have covered New Orders Love Vigilantes like they did when I last saw them live as I think they do it better than New Order even does. Anyway, for a "comp" disc this is quite good. It has 4 rotten apples but it aso has some rare and special moments which helps to boost it's value. Get it before they're gone.
Label ~ March, 10 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.7
Sound of Leamington Spa - "Volume Three" This series has been one of the more worthwhile pursuits in modern times, with it's aim being to expose many of the worthy but for one reason or another forgotten UK bands from the mid to late 1980's. I've heard (but not reviewed) the other two mainly because I don't often waste time reviewing comp discs as they are usually cheap and worth getting anyway, and it's the sort of thing people are drawn to on their own etc.. However, this time I am forced into a review because due to my efforts (AHEM) this disc includes a band near and dear to me, that being the Chairs. It's the first song by them to see the light of day since their last self released single in 1990. It's track 18, and is a previously unreleased number called Brave Little Soldier. I think it's just a brilliant song and I've been sitting on it since Dave Read sent it to me a few years ago, and I was really glad Uwe wished to include it on this Spa outing. I'm glad people will finally get a chance to hear it. (Lead singer Paul Sullivan is currently getting all the old masters redone and Firestation will be releasing their LONG awaited debut LP later this year or early 04) OK, enough plugging. So what about the rest of this? There are a number of bands who's names I have heard on here but wouldn't know to hear them (and a few I would). Overall, I like this as it has a very jangly, very (sorry to say it) C86 sound to it and while there are a few cuts I'm not partial to what I do like on it is good to very good with the odd gem. Most comps are hit and miss but this one is mostly hits. If you like the genre (and you must if you're here reading this) then this is a no brainer. Kudos to Firestation for doing this in the first place, and congrats to all these fine bands getting a second chance at public exposure.
Label ~ Firestation, 20 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.5
Various - "The Sound of Young Sweden Vol. 3" I tend to not review comp discs because there is really no point. They tend to be cheap enough and their purpose is for you to get to hear a number of bands and make your own decisions. I'm already telling you what to buy in the LP reviews so pointing out the bands here makes that sort of redundant. However, this disc is so outstanding and there are tracks not available anywhere else that it needed to be reviewed. It is made up of 7 bands each donating 2 tracks, and opens with Swedens next big thing, the Radio Dept and their VERY Mary Chain-esque Why Won't You Talk About It? which has all the feedback roar of yore down pat. It isn't a half bad song and while I like the genre I am worried that the best of the late70's early 80's UK guitar bands are going to be bypassed again when the next period imitations roll around. Their other song on here is a bit slower and more a fuzzy cocoon of white noise rather than feedback. The next band is Chasing Dorotea whom I've heard of but know nothing about. Their first track is a very slow ballad and the lead singer sounds exactly like Stuart Murdoch. The next is even slower and for me at least is too minimal, in fact, it's barely a song. Next comes Corduroy Utd. who's EP last year I liked a lot and their first track Little Elvis has an almost late 70's mod punk sort of sound which is a bit different for them and I quite like it. Their second track (these tracks are mixed up of course, they don't run in succession) also reminds me of that period somewhat and it also sounds a bit like the Avocado Club. Next is Punky's Dilemma who I have never heard of and their first cut, Century Of Time is a very groovy, slick indie guitar pop ballad type of song. Indie sexy and emotive and very hip. Their ironically titled second cut, Dream MTV is a sleepy sort of ballad which is nice enough. Band 5 is Laurel Music with our first female vocalist. The opener is a heartfelt almost alt. Country type balled, and so is the second with light piano and violin accompaniment. Both nice, the second especially so. Then comes Ambulance, and I ought to know who this is. A Lasse Lindh project? Well, that's what it sort of sounds like, and both songs are very good. Finally comes one of my very favorite bands, Starlet, and their opener Late March opens with a very unique piano line and is a great and touchingly beautiful song, the kind of thing Jonas is so good at. Their second track is I Want A Girl For My Birthday and it sounds vaguely like they did on their first lp, very jangly guitar, emotive melody and bittersweet vocals. I can certainly encourage you to get this disc, especially if you do not know these bands. All good stuff from one of the absolute best indie labels around today.
Label ~ Labrador, 14 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9
Various - "Sweets of Siam, A Bangkok Pop Comp" Ahh, the sweets of Bangkok. You can't even say it without thinking that dirty thought. Again, this was another thing I came across by accident, and figured I'd give it a try. There's no point evaluating every track as most of the stuff probably isn't available anywhere seperately, unless you live in Bangkok. T and I listened to this as we painted his new bangkoking place (which I am still probably doing, even as you read this now). He actually admitted it wasn't bad which is a stretch for him, but was especially taken by the Penguin Villa track How Do I Know which is good, and sounds almost like something from the Shelflife label. Moor's deeply crooned Will You Marry Me reminds me of Staurt Moxham and is probably my favorite. (They also have another cut on here which is good) So does Penguin Villa for that matter, and their other song is pretty good as well. On a whole this has some odd moments, but it also shows pop and melody are universals among man regardless of language, and as far as comps go this is about as good as they get. On a whole it's very similar to bands on the Shelflife label as I said except it isn't sung in english, so if you're a fan then it's a no brainer. In any event this was pretty cheap and if you feel like being adventurous without putting much at stake then this is about a safe a "risk" as you can take.
Label ~ Apricot, 15 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Various - "Yes New York" What goes around comes around. That adage is frighteningly true. What I really find most odd however is that as the greatness of the 80's fizzled out in the mostly musically vacant 90's I never guessed that the needle would get reset to the 60's, and especially not to the lounge type of stuff that has been popular in the past few years. And as that is now running it's last course it is amazing to find the scene following along exactly as it did 30 years ago, and now the glam/mod New York scene of the early-mid 70's is indeed again raising itself from the depths. The Strokes of course being the poster boys and most well known of this movement. What's also scary is the Chairs will be getting their album finally made this year as well, and they are very akin to Elvis Costello and the mod scene. Everything has it's time I suppose but the cyclic nature is surprising. What's next, a Madness revival followed by Aztec Camera and the Smiths? I could live with that... Anyway, lets get to this disc. I won't go into every band, but overall the portrait they paint is indeed a revival of times that were, and those on here are all tilling the same field by and large. While New York glam was never my favorite and I'm not nuts for the Strokes, there are a number of songs on here I find I like. Most notable is Save Your City by Radio 4 which is almost Joy Division like and for me is by far the best cut on here. (do a search and find their website and see the video too) I also like the over the top punk-esque vibes of the Rogers Sisters on Zero Point which sounds like it is a classic I forgot. Next Plateau by Longwave is also a very nice song, and I think the only true ballad to be found on the disc. Perhaps showing a glimpse of things to come is Olio and their song The Rapture which sounds about as Cure like as it is possible to get, vocals (especially) and all. While I only like about half of this disc, what I like I like a lot. So I think what's most important is not whether this disc is good but what it portends as a whole. I for one am glad to see it happening. When it happened 30 years ago it kick started what had become a horrid state of musical affairs, as the drugs, flowers, stupidity and rabid liberalism of the 60's generation was just killing everything and the New York scene then was in direct response to it. A bold, vitriolic reply to the inane petal pushers. And all that was great for the next 15 years after we owed to it. So here we are again, the world in chaos, the petal pushers running rampant and sixties music poisoning every lp, when suddenly there comes this collective voice like a shock from the depths. Indeed, there is a fresh breeze blowing from a new direction. Will we be lead to the promised land again by these young men? God, I certainly hope so.
Label ~ Wolfgang Morden, 16 Tracks, 2003
End of Various
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.9
Vapnet - "Jag Vet Hur Man Väntar" Vapent is the most recent band from sweden bucking the trend and singing in their own language instead of english. Translated, their name means "The Weapon" and the album is called "I Know How To Wait". The songs on the back cover are named after streets in their home town, but inside in the lyric book they have alternate titles (which we won't get into here). Call them what you like but one thing remains certain, they and this album are simply brilliant. In fact the day it arrived I must have listened to it 5 times thru over and over. The language barrier is pretty much a non issue, because within days of getting it I found myself singing in swedish, I have no idea what. While it would be nice to know what the hell it is I'm saying it doesn't detract from what are catchy, melody driven and inspired guitar pop songs on an album which is very earnest and could perhaps be most closely compared to the swedish band Starlet, with perhaps some of Jens Lekmans musical irony. It would be a real mistake to avoid this because it is not in english, and for that reason alone I wish it was. I know people won't get it when they would have otherwise and that's a genuine pity. Take the chance and dive in, I guarantee you won't be sorry on what is without question one of the years 10 best albums and currently available in our Popsicle shop.
Label ~ Hybris, 10 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.2
Vigil - "Exquisita Decadencia" I heard a clip from this online and the salsa-riffic song Tiesco del Rey immiediately reminded me of that wonderful Buggs Bunny cartoon where he mimicks Carmen Miranda. (don't laugh, that one's my favorite) I love when he's doing the hootchie-koo while Elmer is stage left sharpening a knife to the salsa beat. This album is entirely instrumental music, and was written with the intent of the songs capturing different moods. This band is from Spain I believe and I really like this album alot. You could even play this for your parents and they'd think you went "straight". (although that is a scary thought) I was never into the Laurence Welk scene, but this LP is quite nice, the songs are mostly peppy or nicely dreamy and even wades in James Bond soundtrack stylings at times. I'm also reminded of that scene from a Pink Panther movie when he's at the nudist camp holding a guitar in front of himself and walking by a band which is all naked and the brass is blaring away. Don't know the name of that track but it's a great song, I love it. Anyway, I do know what music I'm decorating my Christmas tree to this year. Johnny Mathis, step aside.... Perhaps just good music can transcend all cultural boundaries. This certainly has that in spades.
Label ~ Siesta, 12 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 7.1
Visitors - "Miss" I wonder how long the 80's will continued to be dredged to see how many bands nobody seems to remember can be brought up. The material contained herin dates to about 86-88 and not surprisingly sounds like it. There are countless bands I could say this sounds like and make references like C86 or Shoegazer but it's all been said and it's all been done and what it really comes down to is is this really that special and do you really need more of it? If you already have alot of stuff from that period, then my feeling is no. I like the opener Goldmining and Alice Aisgill is a bit sparkly and nice too but after that this LP is pretty much a semi interesting affair. I mean, it's OK, but it's nothing to get worked up about either, not like how the Siddeleys LP is completely great and you wonder how that got overlooked. In this case it seems about appropriate. If you really and simply must own everything from the 80's then of course this will need be on your list, but having been there, done that, I'm not set to sidestep back to a band that didn't get my interest the first time.
Label ~ Matinee, 11 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9
Vitesse - "Chelsea 27099" I remember alot, but I'm not the vapid trekkie sort that absorbs every font of knowledge about something I like. So it was that some time after hearing this album I was watching one of my truly favorite movies, Hitchs' "Rear Window" and it gets to the part when Jimmy Stewart looks Lars Thorwalds phone number up and says, "It's Chelsea 27099", a sort of fuzzy pause and an explosion rocked the back of my head and I said, "I'll be damned!" (I probably will be, but not for this least of things) I rushed to look at the LP just to be sure, and darned if that wasn't it. Well, a bit of trivia if you to didn't know. Anyway, when I first heard the opener to this, When Nothings Changed I was a bit blown off my feet. It's a soaring, majestic journey to the dark side of pop that hasn't been seen since Joy Divisions Love Will Tear Us Apart and the beat is so right I can easily see our Ian Curtis doing his choppy dance step to this song. This is without question the best record of it's kind which has been done in a long, lone time. At times perhaps it gets a bit samey, but this is the kind of the thing that you have to be in the mood for, like Joy Division was. There are some truly giant songs on here like A Telegram, The Telegraph which is so good it's like a 10++++... If you'd like a little gloom to lift your day, then look no farther.
Label ~ Hidden Agenda, 12 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Vitesse - "What Can Not Be, But Is" Not sure I'm putting two and two together on this LP between the cover and title. As the last one had a meaning it took me a while to get I'm wondering if I'm missing something here. Anyway, this is the third effort from this band and I'd have to say that the deep, dark mood of theirs is more present, well, maybe it just seems more genuine this time than it did before. The sound itself is less frantic and is definetly more polished in it's presentation. There's also 2 covers, one an OMD song and one by Springsteen. Track three Late Morning is the first appearance of what perhaps is their characteristic signature sound on this outing, and the track is quite good. It's followed by the cover of OMD's 2nd Thought which is done well enough. On My Way To Redemption we finally get some of the "dark" meat that makes this band so tasty. It's a flurry of keyboard noise flittering at you with deep and almost pained, plaintive vocals. Good stuff. It's funny, this album shares that same quirk the coming of age album often has. I'd say on a whole this is definetly a better album than their first, yet it doesn't contain any songs like A Telegram, The Telegraph which had really slayed me. I do like track 7 Understand alot, and there are certainly a bunch of quite good songs here, but no killers. It's just all good, and where their first became an lp I picked tracks off of, this I'm quite sure will be one I'll listen to alone. Recommended.
Label ~ Acuarela, 10 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.4
Vitesse - "You Win Again, Gravity!" As long as I'm reviewing redundancies what better Lp to do next than this? (The cover is even reminding me of their last Lp) This is outing number four from this band and while I liked the last LP well enough, well, this is like a dark and luxurious wallpaper. Yes, it's nice, and it pleases, but like wallpaper it never changes......the pattern just keeps repeating over and over and OVER. So while it's lovely, it is only so from a single perspective. I will say that on this outing they are trying to be much more accessable, as the mood is not so nearly dark as it has been in the past and the elements and "hooks" are brighter and more obvious. I have heard this LP compared to New Order but to me the melody lines they use don't tend to mirror anything New Order ever did, however there are moments, like the bass line on In Time which certainly does smack of it. It is not as common as other reviews would make it seem however. In many respects like the new Birdie LP, this is without question the closest thing to a mass appeal LP they have made. There is something about their style however that does not lend itself to variety, but of course it is what makes them them. And again like Birdie there are no titanic tracks here, no anthem to hoard and treasure thru the years. Yet it probably is their most coherent and mass appealing record to date. So again, if you're new to the neighborhood this is the door you want to knock on first. If you've been around the block then all I can say is you could certainly do worse with your music dollar.
Label ~ Hidden Agenda, 16 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.2
Von Trapps - "This Is The...EP" I was surprised that I ordered this because I don't often hop on 4 song EP's from bands that don't even exist anymore, I don't even recall the track I heard that made me want to get it either, and finally my first listen to it when I did get it didn't sit so well. Time has passed and I have heard it a few times. (not hard with 4 tracks) I think it's mostly the first song Go With Me I am not so fond of. The rest of it isn't too bad, and I kind of hear an irish folk rock sort of posture, and the vocals even at times bring to mind the Sundays or the Cranberries. (only slightly, but the flavour is there) So it really boils down to is this worth it for 3 half decent songs. No, I don't think so. I understand the desire to get the material out, and that only 4 songs existed, but it makes it a tough sell especially when you know there won't be anymore if you like it. This isn't too bad but had I to do it over I wouldn't get it.
Label ~ Self Release?, 4 Tracks, 2003