Friday, June 30, 2006

CD review - Paolo Nutini: These Streets

Paolo Nutini is interesting acoustic pop, he's quite young and has a bit to learn. However if you like this sort of thing, then Paolo isn't bad, but it's not going to spring any surprises.

I'll give it 7/10.






Following acclaimed performances at SXSW and Radio 1's Big Weekend, there's a certain momentum building behind the Scottish 18 year-old. Despite his Paisley background, the exotic Nutini name comes from an Italian great-grandfather who opened the fish and chip shop in his home town.

These Streets chronicles the life of a teenager moving from familiar surroundings to bed-sit land in London. He sings with an innocent naivety on 'Last Request' and 'Rewind' about his turbulent relationship with a girlfriend, and an intriguing encounter with an older woman on 'Jenny Don't Be Hasty'.

Get out your flip flops and sunglasses 'cause Paolo Nutini, with his angelic sweet voice and gentle acoustic strums, has created a summertime record if ever there was one. It doesn't claim to push genre boundaries, or reinvent any wheels, but there are some nice melodies and pop choruses. File it alongside Jack Johnson et al. His youthful pin up looks and blend of acoustic pop will help These Streets to soundtrack summer parties and student dorms everywhere.

Download Autumn here for free (legally).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

CD review - Chris Stills

Chris Stills is an interesting artist, singing half in French and half in English in this album. I think that approach will alienate some listeners and perhaps prevent the album from reaching its full potential. It's a good effort though, with some great moments.

About the music rating: 7.5/10





If you were drawing up a shopping list of ingredients to make a great album it might go something like this. Take a lead musician made from good stock; son of French chanteuse Veronique Sanson and Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Nash, Stills and Young fame), to which add Jeff Buckley's drummer, co-write a song with alt-country legend Ryan Adams, add a generous dash of phenomenal producer Ethan Johns and pretty good voice to go with it.

Chris Still's second album is pretty good, though not quite the sum of its parts. On this record Chris wanted to explore the ties between the two different cultures that nurtured him – French songs and American rock. Consequently just under half the album is sung in French, co-written with native song-writers. Stills has more than a hint of Jeff Buckley about him (even the title of 'Say My Last Goodbye'). Perhaps egged on by the drummer they share, Chris uses similar vocal melodies and tricks, but feels more like a pretender to his throne than a rightful heir.

Elsewhere the album visits American alt-folk, leaving it stylistically a little disjointed. The Ryan Adams song, 'For You' is great, as is the 'Golden Hour', and the French songs may be too, but I can't understand the lyrics. Perhaps the best moment is the secret track where Chris sings The Band classic 'The Weight' in beautiful flowing French. From his heritage Chris Stills could be a real great, and while this is a good album with many strong points, he's still overshadowed by his parents.

1. Golden Hour
2. La Fin Du Monde
3. When The Pain Dies Down
4. Landslide
5. Démon
6. Say My Last Goodbye
7. For You
8. Interlude
9. Kitty Cathy
10. Story Of A Dying Man
11. Fool For Love
12. Deuxième Chance

Monday, June 26, 2006

Thom Yorke's "The Eraser" first listen

I have not got an advance copy of The Eraser, it's much coveted but doesn't sit within the indie/alt-country genre I usually review. But there seems to be a lot of interest, and the folks at Pitchfork have had a sneak preview and wrote a track guide on what to expact from the Thom Yorke's first solo record.


The Eraser is a sumptuous, Nigel Godrich-produced layer cake of plaintive piano, haunting synth squalls, and chugging guitars built atop skittish programmed beats and devoured by Thom Yorke's anguished ruminations on the pressures and paranoias attendant to fame and expectation. And no, it's not a techno record.

Here's a track-by-track first glimpse at The Eraser:
>Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, June 23, 2006


I've taken up a new fancy dress hobby.

Check it out here.

CD review - James Morrison - Undiscovered

James Morrison could get pretty big on the strength of Undiscovered. I'll rate it 7.5/10.

ARTIST James Morrison

ALBUM Undiscovered

LABEL Polydor

PR Infected PR


I have to own up to a guilty pleasure. Since I got a copy of Undiscovered I can't help donning my headphones and spinning the wheel to hear 21 year old James Morrison's voice.

You see it's not the type of album I usually like. It's got female chorus girls on backing vocals, Nashville strings, major-label muscle and marketing from a young heart-throb with a big name producer. But the kid has talent. He has an ear for a melody and a remarkable voice. Think somewhere between Ray LaMontagne, Al Green and Otis Redding but he's not trying to pastiche the American past, instead he's confronting his own fractured upbringing.

James has opted out of the manufactured route, preferring to write all his own songs, concentrate on lyrics rather than rhymes and do things the hard way. He's not a pop idol protégé, rather someone who busked every day for a year, won over uninterested audiences and flogged CDs to every A&R man he could find. His soul blues songs have maturity, an undeniable pop sensibility and the sound of someone who for the first time loves his life.

Download Better Man here for free (legally).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On this the longest day

U2 - Indian Summer Sky

In the ocean
Cut, swim, deep the sky
Like there, I don't know why
In the forest, there's a clearing
I run there towards the light
It's a blue sky...
In the awful holding deep decide
If I could, I would
Up for air to swim against the tide
Hey! Hey! Hey!
Up toward the sky...
It's a blue sky...

To lose along the way
The spark that set the flame
To flicker and to fade

On this the longest day

So wind blow through to my heart
So wind blow through my soul
So wind blow through to my heart
So wind blow through my soul
So wind blow through to my heart...

You give yourself to this the longest day
You give yourself
You give it all away

Two rivers run too deep, the seasons change
And so do I
The light that strikes the tallest trees
The light that wait for I
The light...waiting
Up toward the sky...
It's a blue sky...

To lose along the way
The spark that set the flame
To flicker and to fade

On this the longest day

So wind go through to my heart
So wind blow through my soul
So wind go through to my heart
So wind blow through my soul
So wind go through to my heart
So wind blow through my soul
So wind go through to my heart...

You give yourself to this the longest day
You give yourself

Monday, June 19, 2006

CD review - Sufjan Stevens: The Avalanche

I'll have a bunch of new reviews on the blog soon. To start with, here are my thoughts about the new Sufjan record. I was a big fan of the Illinois album, giving it number one in the top 10 records of 2005, and the Avalanche is no dissapointment. I'd rate it 8/10.


ARTIST: Sufjan Stevens

ALBUM: The Avalanche: Outtakes and extras from the Illinois album

LABEL: Asthmatic Kitty/Rough Trade

First things first: the 21 songs on The Avalanche were culled from the Illinois album. Therefore we shouldn't expect them to measure up, let alone surpass their brilliant parent album. Having said that, as substitutes go, they'd give the starting 22 tracks a run for their money.

The Avalanche kicks off with the title track, first released as a bonus on the vinyl edition on Illinois. It was originally cast to be the lead on Illinois but fell from grace and now perfectly serves as a meditation for the process of cleaning up and dusting down the b-sides for the album: "I call ye cabin neighbours," the song bemuses, "I call you once my friends."

As Illinois was originally planned as a double album before common sense kicked in, the mood and feel of The Avalanche is identical. Almost every song on the Illinois album has a counterpart on the outtakes. Carl Sandburg arm-wrestles Saul Bellow. The aliens landing near Highland salute Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. The loneliness of "Casimir Pulaski Day" deepens even further in the foreboding soundtrack to the autobiographical "Pittsfield."

I want to reconstruct the Illinois album as the double-epic it should have been. One song that definitely should have made the cut is "The Mistress Witch from McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself). It's a haunting song based on some personal experiences that Sufjan would rather not elaborate on. With as many as 21 tracks, there are bound to be a few filler tracks; the three (!) versions of Chicago spring to mind. The acoustic version is better than the original, the 'adult contemporary easy listening version' is an in-joke from Sufjan at the accessibility of his music, while the third 'Multiple Personality Disorder version' is fun to listen to once, but not more than that.

In summary, if you yearned for more from the Illinois album, then this is an early Christmas. If you haven't heard Sufjan, check out his other work first, but other artists will labour in vain to create anything as good as the scraps from Stevens' table.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ryan Adams rock action

A while ago I did a piece on Ryan Adams when he came to the Cambridge Corn Exchange on the Rock N Roll tour (read it here). I took some photographs at the gig and have just uploaded them to my account.

To view the album click on the picture below, and leave a comment to tell me what you think.

Men are from Mars

So you thought Google Earth was cool? Why not see what life on Mars is like?

Visit Google Mars and look at life (or lack of) in elevation, infra-red and visible spectrums, courtesy of Google and NASA.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Counting Crows/ Goo Goo Dolls / Working Title tour dates

The Working Title, (see review of About Face here) have been added to support one-hit-wonders the Goo Goo Dolls and the fat, dreadlocked Counting Crows. Actually I rather like the Counting Crows when they're not being as upbeat as on Hard Candy. The tour dates are below and The Working Title's album has been held back until 18 June for unknown reasons.

w/ The Goo Goo Dolls and The Counting Crows:

7/14/06 - Columbus OH - Germain Amphitheater
7/15/06 - Burgettstown PA - Post Gazette Pavilion
7/21/06 - Detroit MI - DTE Music Center
7/24/06 - Toronto Canada - Molson Amphitheater
7/28/06 - Hershey PA - Hershey Park Arena
7/29/06 - Boston MA - Tweeter Center
7/31/06 - Uncasville CT - Mohegan Sun
8/1/06 - Gilford NH - Meadowbrook
8/3/06 - Babylon NY - Jones Beach
8/4/06 - Babylon NY - Jones Beach
8/6/06 - Atlantic City NJ - Borgata Events Center
8/7/06 - Saratoga Springs NY - SPAC
8/9/06 - Bethel NY - Bethel Woods
8/11/06 - Scranton PA - Ford Pavilion at Montage Mountain
8/12/06 - Holmdel NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Summer reads

I have my last exam tomorrow, after that I'm going to have some free time for once. My mind has turned to books to bring on my summer holiday to Italy. It's the only couple of weeks a year I seem to be able to start and finish a book. I know for sure a few books I want to read, but I'm looking to the blogosphere for reccomendations.

jLike I said earlier, I have pre-ordered J-Pod and am very much looking forward to "Microserfs for the Google generation", although I have yet to read a review.

Secondly, I think far too long has gone by and I still haven't read The Great Gatsby. David says it is his favourite novel so I really must see what all the fuss is about.

Apart from those, I have some space in my bag and some time booked, so what do you reccomend? Please leave a comment and enlighten me. Any books you just can't put down?

Friday, June 09, 2006

The first iTunes magazine download ever!

I haven't been blogging much recently. If you've missed it then sorry. You see I have exams at the moment and they've been occupying most of my time. I had one on Wednesday on Criminal Law and one today on Equity and Trusts. Only one more to go, and that's on Monday. In the mean time, here's some interesting music news.

The FADER, the definitive voice of emerging music, announced that its "Summer Music Issue" is now available in its entirety for free download at iTunes. The FADER's annual summer issue, one of the most anticipated issues of the year and featuring the best of what the season in music has to offer, will be the first full magazine posted on iTunes. The issue will also be featured in iTunes' "New and Notable" podcast section, and is available at

"We're about bringing attention to the emerging artists and musicians that we love, and are always looking for a way to get the word out," said Andy Cohn, publisher of The FADER. "The print magazine will always be our focus, but this is an incredibly unique opportunity to reach a whole new audience and bring additional attention to the artists that we're covering." Cohn added, "By partnering with us on the project, Southern Comfort continues to show its support for emerging artists and its forward-thinking approach to unique marketing streams."

About The FADER
Founded by Rob Stone and Jon Cohen in 1998, The FADER magazine is the definitive voice of emerging music and the lifestyle that surrounds it. Through in-depth reporting and a distinct street sensibility, The FADER aggressively covers the most dynamic breadth of music and style emanating from the fringes of the mainstream to the heart of the underground. The FADER is the authority on what's next.