August 31, 2020

The Current State of Mediasurfer.ch & Future Plans (Please Read)

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 . Where we are: I'm fairly certain that everyone who browses this website have noticed a sharp decline in new publications. Restrictions that were put into place due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation are still affecting the staff members on a personal level. Lass is still at her parents house while Sentinel is still caring for family members in need. Buccaneer has also taken this time to be close to his family, namely his wife and child. Another factor is also disrupting the current flow of the website but it's something that was planned for 2020 and it is close to becoming a reality.

. What is currently happening behind the scenes: It was previously mentioned by Buccaneer that Vinyl rips were going to be a big surprise for 2020. This is still going to happen. Buccaneer and Sentinel were going to be the 2 main suppliers of Vinyl rips since they own the most records. Because of the current predicament, Sentinel may be the sole supplier for the time being. Lass doesn't personally own any records but since she is currently staying with her parents, she has been helping them specifically her mother, digitize her record collection.

If  you follow Lass's posts, you'll know that she has a sizeable collection of 80's Synth Pop and New Wave music. Much if not all of what she is currently digitizing is of the same genre. While I have not received confirmation that she will be a supplier for the upcoming Vinyl section, I do know that she is currently using the same digital turntable that Sentinel and Buccaneer have purchased the year prior. Sentinel is currently digitizing some of his records as well and is experimenting with different settings. I was told that Sentinel is very confident that his current settings produce quality rips - so much that Lass is also using the same settings for her parents rips.

To avoid any mishaps and errors, the staff will be using the same digital turntable model as well as the same settings for the new Vinyl section. The model of the turntable, the settings that were used, photographs of both the records and the turntable will also be provided to everyone via the FAQ's section when the section goes online. This of course brings us to the next problem the staff is currently facing - cover art. Because the pandemic has disrupted the parcel service, the staff have been unable to find, purchase or order a scanner large enough and with a resolution high enough for the record sleeves to be scanned. Until an acceptable scanner or something else can be found, the Vinyl rips are currently on hold.

I received word from Sentinel that he may have found a work around to this. His goal is to begin publishing Vinyl rips within the next week. The first set of rips will be specifically tailored to our Mexican/Latin American audience. Other genres in his possession will also be published later on. The reason for this delay is due to Sentinel's desire to grow both that audience and those styles of music since, according to him "that style of music is for a specific audience"

Lastly, the staff has confirmed that only albums that were only released on Vinyl will make the final cut. That's right. Vinyl rips of albums that are already featured on this website will not be provided. So if you were expecting a Vinyl rip of say, Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusual" you are not going to get it. There will be exceptions but only slight ones. An example would be "Pentagram" by Pentagram - as in "Pentagram" not "Relentless" as I was told "Pentagram" features a different mix on Vinyl that was never reissued on CD. If Lass decides to be a supplier to the new Vinyl section, than some of her CD's that are too scratched to produce clean rips will receive a pass. I was told that "Rhyme & Reason" by Missing Persons falls into this category. With that being said, should this happen then a CD rip will not be published for that album or any other album if the Vinyl rip goes up first.

. Where we want to be during the next few weeks: If the Vinyl situation is resolved or is put on hold indefinably, expect more output from the staff. Lass has confirmed that she will be ripping the remaining Grunge CD's that she has in her possession - mostly music from the Sub Pop record label. If you're a fan of Grunge, Sub Pop or both, this is something to look forward to. Sentinel has confirmed that he will begin to rip the rest of his R&B collection as well.

Please understand. Although there is so much that the staff members want to do for Mediasurf it is currently difficult for them because of the current Pandemic. Above all else, the true goal is to salvage the remainder of 2020 since the beginning of the year proved to be the worst in the website's history. If the Vinyl section must be put on hold or pushed forward to 2021, the staff will do it. Increased output is what they currently want and what Mediasurf needs. We thank you all for your continued support and patience.

- Posted by Victor Vale on 8/10/2020 for Mediasurfer.ch

August 11, 2020

Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (2008)

*U.K. pressing. 
Contains 1 bonus track and 16 tracks total.
Country: Australia
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 2008 Modular Recordings
AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman
In Ghost Colours announces itself, calmly but majestically, with a wash of hazy voices and fluttering keyboards giving way to crystal-clear acoustic strums, languid indie pop vocals, a sturdy dance-rock groove, pulsating electro-disco synths, swirling Caribou-style psychedelics, and an ethereal, vocoded chorus melody. Squeezing all of that into one song -- the effervescent "Feel the Love" -- is an ambitious move: in most hands it would come out sounding like a bewildering mess but Cut Copy manage to keep it light, breezy, and utterly ebullient. Even more impressive is that they're able to replicate the trick repeatedly across this remarkably assured sophomore album. Colours boasts at least a half-dozen potential summer anthems for dancefloors and headphones alike, seamlessly strung together with subdued interstitial mood pieces that help make it more of a nuanced work than a straightforward collection of relentlessly upbeat dance jams. Undeniably, though, the dance jams are at the heart of the album, from the unstoppably glittery opening trio (leading up to the anthemic slow-burn disco of single "Lights and Music") to the rough-edged rock drive of "So Haunted" to the pure synth pop bliss of "Far Away." Indeed, this is in many ways a perfect summation of the dynamic, multifaceted, hipster-associated independent dance music of the 2000s, a motley interweaving of pop, rock, and electronic dance elements into a kaleidoscopic array of interconnected styles, some strands of which have been summarily, imprecisely tagged ("disco-punk," "electro-house," "new rave,") but which as a whole remain resolutely, gloriously nebulous and undefined. (Though nevertheless undeniably prevalent, and never more so than in 2008, following triumphant runs by LCD Soundsystem, Justice, and Simian Mobile Disco.)
Cut Copy's music bears all the prominent hallmarks of its era: giddily omnivorous stylistic appropriation, a sensuous, sybaritic (though not, in their case, seedy) demeanor, and the distinct evocation of bygone decades, most palpably the ubiquitous post-punk/post-disco '80s, without succumbing to the pitfalls of overzealous eclecticism, empty hedonism, sugary glut, and blatant derivativeness. Or rather, they do show traces of all of these things, but they play each one off as a strength, always in moderation, and never to the detriment of the music. The eclecticism is there but it's fluid and cohesive rather than distractingly showy; their influence-dogging plays like affectionate homage rather than pointless mimicry; there's an abundance of gleaming, even gaudy surfaces, but they're just too rapturously enticing to entertain qualms about superficiality. It surely helps that they have one of the primary architects of this sprawling scene, the DFA's Tim Goldsworthy, on board as a producer and mixer. More importantly though, beneath its perfectly formed surfaces this is truly an album of songs -- a surprisingly rare thing in this milieu -- with simple but resonant melodies, carried by Dan Whitford's appealingly casual delivery, which help alleviate a slight tendency toward sonic sameness. This is evident not only on the gentler guitar-based numbers, like the loping "Unforgettable Season" and the oddly country-inflected "Strangers in the Wind," which temporarily scale back the dancefloor euphorics, but the out-and-out burners as well, combining with the peppy basslines and nagging chorus hooks to create something all the more transcendent. To be sure, In Ghost Colours is a triumph of craftsmanship rather than vision -- a synthesis and refinement of existing sounds rather than anything dramatically new and original -- but it is an unalloyed triumph nonetheless, and one of the finest albums of its kind.

tags: cut copy, in ghost colours, colors, 2008, flac,

Suicide - Suicide (1977)

*U.K. first pressing on CD. 
Contains 7 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Electronic
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© 1977-1986 Demon Records
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Proof that punk was more about attitude than a raw, guitar-driven sound, Suicide's self-titled debut set the duo apart from the rest of the style's self-proclaimed outsiders. Over the course of seven songs, Martin Rev's dense, unnerving electronics -- including a menacing synth bass, a drum machine that sounds like an idling motorcycle, and harshly hypnotic organs -- and Alan Vega's ghostly, Gene Vincent-esque vocals defined the group's sound and provided the blueprints for post-punk, synth pop, and industrial rock in the process. Though those seven songs shared the same stripped-down sonic template, they also show Suicide's surprisingly wide range. The exhilarated, rebellious "Ghost Rider" and "Rocket U.S.A." capture the punk era's thrilling nihilism -- albeit in an icier way than most groups expressed it -- while "Cheree" and "Girl" counter the rest of the album's hard edges with a sensuality that's at once eerie and alluring. And with its retro bassline and simplistic, stylized lyrics, "Johnny" explores Suicide's affinity for '50s melodies and images, as well as their pop leanings. But none of this is adequate preparation for "Frankie Teardrop," one of the duo's definitive moments, and one of the most harrowing songs ever recorded. A ten-minute descent into the soul-crushing existence of a young factory worker, Rev's tense, repetitive rhythms and Vega's deadpan delivery and horrifying, almost inhuman screams make the song more literally and poetically political than the work of bands who wore their radical philosophies on their sleeves.

tags: suicide, suicide album, 1977, flac,

Adam & The Ants - Prince Charming (1981)

*U.S. first pressing on CD. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Pop
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© 1981-1986 Epic
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Kings of the Wild Frontier brought Adam and the Ants massive popularity in England, and it brought enormous pressure for Adam and guitarist Marco Pirroni to stand and deliver another slice of dynamite. The first single, the punchy horn-laden "Stand and Deliver," suggested that they were up to the task, but when Prince Charming appeared in late 1981, it was pretty much universally panned and it still stands as the weakest record from Ant's classic period. With its ridiculous song titles and cover photos, which suggest that the Ants were moving away from Native Americans and toward pirates, it's hard not to view it as a descent into camp, yet Adam claims in the liner notes for Antbox that he believes that Prince Charming is "a very serious record based on very classical, historical themes." That may be true on certain tracks, but it's hard to see where "Mile High Club," "S.E.X.," "Mowhok," and "Ant Rap" fit into that scheme, but he's right about the intent -- this is a markedly different record than Kings, intentionally so. The group have not only moved on in image, they've also left behind their signature Burundi beats while upping the cinematic qualities inherent in their music. So, "Five Guns West" and "Mowhok" are given neo-spaghetti western backdrops, while eerie guitars, mariachi horns, and trilling vocals underpin "That Voodoo." There are a lot of little details like that to dwell on in the production -- "Picasso Visita el Planeta de los Simios" sounds absolutely terrific -- but apart from "Scorpios," "Stand and Deliver," and the cheerfully ludicrous "Ant Rap," the songs just aren't there. Kings had style, sound, and songs, while Prince Charming simply has style and sound -- which, in retrospect, isn't all that bad, but it's also not hard to see how it sparked a backlash at the time.

tags: adam and the ants, prince charming, 1981, flac,

August 10, 2020

The Stranglers - Dreamtime (1986)

*European first pressing. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1986 Epic
AllMusic Review by Alex Ogg
After Aural Sculpture, this came as a major disappointment. It's not awful, but neither is it in any way essential. The attempts to go ethnic on the likes of "Mayan Skies" and the title track (taken from the Aboriginal concept of an unconscious journey) are pretty embarrassing. There are a couple of good songs, like "Always the Sun" and "Nice in Nice" (a less than contrite look back at the riot in France which got the band thrown in jail for a few weeks), but that's simply not enough for a once great band. And Hugh Cornwell's rhyming of "And who gets the job?/Of pushing the knob" on the former turns an otherwise beautiful song into silliness.

tags: the stranglers, dreamtime, dream time, 1986, flac,

The Stranglers - La Folie (1981)

*U.K. first pressing. 
Contains 1 bonus track and 12 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1981-1987 EMI Records
AllMusic Review by David Cleary
La Folie is a welcome album in the Stranglers' oeuvre, mainly a collection of tight, punchy songs that often suggest the forthright approach of American new wave bands. With one exception, the songs are shorter and more pointed, harking back to the comparative conciseness of some of the tunes on the band's first two albums, Rattus Norvegicus and No More Heroes, though acidic lyrics still predominate. "Non-Stop" is a typical example, featuring a half-spoken vocal that suggests Lou Reed, a Cars-influenced organ sound, and a bouncy, dance-derived drum beat; this particular song is atypical, however, because it employs a blues-oriented progression. An interesting excursion is encountered in the song "Golden Brown," a subdued, jazz-influenced number with purring vocals, a coolly executed synthesizer/harpsichord backing texture, and a periodically stumbling beat. Only the plushly understated title track suggests the sprawl typical of the group's immediately preceding releases. This fine album is well worth purchasing.

tags: the stranglers, la folie, 1981, flac,

The Stranglers - Feline (1982) ☠

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Synth Pop
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1982-1990 Epic
AllMusic Review by Alex Ogg
Another Stranglers concept album, but a much lesser work than forerunner La Folie. While not an instant classic, it does repay repeated listening -- especially the rustic English charms of "Midsummer Night's Dream" and the more Eurocentric "Last Tango in Paris" and "All Roads Lead to Rome." Instead of the belligerent tunefulness of yesteryear, the Stranglers were trying to expand their sound and reach. Too often on this lackluster effort, however, it comes across as boring and unengaging.

tags: the stranglers, feline, 1982, flac,

Various Artists - The Very Best Alternative/Grunge Ballads (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Grunge
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© 1995 M.M.
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: various artists, the very best alternative grunge ballads, 1995, flac,

Phleg Camp - Ya'red Fair Scratch (1992)

Country: Canada
Language: English
Genre: Noise Rock
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© 1992 Cargo Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: phleg camp, yared fair scratch, ya'red, 1992, flac,

August 09, 2020

The Afghan Whigs - Do To The Beast (2014)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 2014 Sub Pop
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
Of the bands that came from the "heavy alternative" scene typified by the Sub Pop roster in the late '80s to early '90s, the Afghan Whigs were one of the very best, and also one of the least likely to connect with a mass audience -- their music was strong and powerful, the songs were outstanding soul-inflected hard rock, and Greg Dulli's nicotine-bathed voice was the perfect fit for their musical approach, but they were willing to dig deeper into the dark spaces of self-loathing and needy emotional manipulation than anyone else in rock, and as a consequence their finest and most compelling album, 1993's Gentlemen, was often hard to hear for all its grim fascination with the ugly side of the male psyche. It seemed the band couldn't go any deeper, and they didn't on their final two albums, 1996's Black Love and 1998's 1965, but after a heroically received reunion tour in 2012, the Afghan Whigs returned to the recording studio and have offered up a work nearly as dark and unsettling as Gentlemen, 2014's Do to the Beast. It sounds a good bit different than their previous work: vocalist and songwriter Dulli and bassist/multi-instrumentalist John Curley are the only original members of the band on board, and the sheets of electric guitar generated by Rick McCollum are particularly missed, replaced with a larger ensemble (including lots of keys, occasional strings, and busy percussion) that boasts a broader dramatic scope than the classic Whigs sound but fails to connect with the same ferocity. Dulli's phrasing and sense of drama are as solid as ever, but his instrument is significantly grainier than it has been in the past, and he has a bit of trouble making this material signify (the fact that his vocals are frequently deep in the mix doesn't help much). And Do to the Beast chronicles a relationship just as damaged as you'd expect from Dulli, but the songs don't quite cohere into a larger statement with the grace of his best work, even if the performances and arrangements manage to be something more than the sum of their parts. Do to the Beast is an ambitious attempt to re-create the feeling of the Afghan Whigs while retooling their sonic fingerprint; the final product is intelligent and often fascinating, but it doesn't deliver like the Afghan Whigs do at their best, and ultimately comes off as a brave but somewhat unsatisfying experiment.

tags: the afghan whigs, do to the beast, 2014, flac,

The Afghan Whigs - In Spades (2017)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 2017 Sub Pop
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
With their second album since reuniting in 2012, it's clear that Afghan Whigs leader Greg Dulli has decided to give the band's sound an overhaul that's likely to be permanent. One of the more puzzling things about the Whigs' 2014 comeback LP, Do to the Beast, was that it didn't sound an awful lot like the band's best-known work, and that's once again the case with 2017's follow-up In Spades, though both albums have Dulli and his obsessions written all over them. The songs still dwell on the dark side of the human psyche and the ugly aspects of romantic relationships (a theme Dulli couldn't abandon if he tried), but musically Dulli has taken his fusion of R&B and indie rock and retooled it. The proportions feel the same, but the ingredients are fundamentally different, with less emphasis on guitar-based grit, and keyboards and strings taking their place. In short, Do to the Beast and In Spades sound more like Dulli's work with his side project the Twilight Singers than the Afghan Whigs, and it's worth noting bassist John Curley is once again the only other Whigs veteran in the lineup (and the absence of guitarist Rick McCollum is a reminder of how fundamental he was to the group's sound in their heyday). That said, In Spades is a much better Twilight Singers album than the relative misfire of Do to the Beast, generating a greater amount of power and evoking a sinister atmosphere that was decidedly overcooked on the previous album. "Arabian Heights," "Demon in Profile," and "Copernicus" diverge from the sound of Afghan Whigs' masterpieces like Congregation and Gentlemen, but the songs connect in the way Dulli's best stuff does, and if he's chosen to bury his own vocals in the mix, the odd production choice works in this context. In Spades confirms Greg Dulli is still a talent worth following, and if this strays from the template of the classic Afghan Whigs sound, it's not like that group was ever a democracy in the truest sense. It's Dulli's band, and what he's delivered here honestly satisfies.

tags: the afghan whigs, in spades, 2017, flac,

The Boo Radleys - C'mon Kids (1996)

*U.K. first pressing. 
Contains 13 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Noise Pop
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© 1996 Creation Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Wake Up! brought the Boo Radleys pop success that they weren't sure what to do with. After embracing the album's number one success, the group eventually recoiled from the spotlight and Martin Carr wrote C'mon Kids as a direct response to the group's celebrity status in the U.K. Simply put, C'mon Kids is an attempt to scare away any of the fellow travelers who welcomed the sunny-sounding pop of Wake Up! It's a gnarled, twisted, and distorted album, as dense as Giant Steps and as loud as the Boos' early EPs. And, if you can make it through the murky guitars, fragments of songs, altered vocals, and tape effects, some melodies and creatively crafted songs make the album nearly as rewarding as Giant Steps or Wake Up! It takes time to get into C'mon Kids, though. At first, it's disarming to hear Sice scream his vocals and the Boos play heavy riffs. After a while the melodies begin to reveal themselves, as do the clever song structures and inversions of the band's psychedelic hooks and folk tendencies. C'mon Kids might not be as accessible as even Giant Steps, but it displays a feverish sense of purpose and a perverse willfulness to refashion their sound, making it an easy album to admire, if not love.

tags: the boo radleys, c mon kids, come on, 1996, flac,

The Boo Radleys - Kingsize (1998)

*European first pressing. 
Contains 14 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
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© 1998 Creation Records
AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid
The band that was hoping for a fresh start on Mercury Records in the interview herein has been dropped instead. They promise an eventual U.S. release for their new opus, but I wouldn't bet the ranch house. The Boos' U.K. success has oddly never translated here, and it seems as if, like Columbia before them, Mercury gave up before they even started. Bastids. Too bad, too, for what might become the first import-only Boos record is one hell of a return from the OK but somewhat confusing C'mon Kids. The once-again self-produced Kingsize manages to perpetuate its predecessor's predilection for peculiar surprise, but reinserts the crucial missing piece, the very strength of the band throughout its history: basic songwriting. C'mon Kids was wonderfully schizophrenic, and it had its moments like the Cheap Trick-ish title track. But MARTIN CARR is really best when absorbed with the sort of starry-eyed melodies that seem just crafted for SICE to croon, in his leisurely, crying voice that enchanted on so many of the band's finest outings, from "The Finest Kiss" all the way to "Reaching Out From Here." Carr and his three mates aren't trying so hard here, either. They let each song breathe, like on Giant Steps, instead of mildly suffocating the animal with their own eagerness. It starts right from the onset, with the band's two best songs in four years. Punctuated by a thick background forest of four violins, two violas, two cellos, and four brass players, the stomping "Blue Room at Archway" soars celestial-bound on a hook so clean, and a vocal so effortless, it screams the "pop" they're so roundly loved for but have been neglecting. The 12 strings 'n' horns folks stay on for "The Old Newsstand at Hamilton Square," their dulcet and jazzy tones slotting perfectly with the band's supple, firm playing on another hands down winner. (They're a knockout on "JIMMY WEBB is God" too.) Ahh, reverie. And so it goes from there. It's as if Carr was a hot-streak gold miner who emptied out his strike, briefly tapped out, and then suddenly-presto!-hit on a vein as bountiful as his previous (Boo) run. Some of the golden nuggets hit stride running, such as the whimsical but lovely "High as Monkeys" and "Comb Your Hair"; others, such as the flute and keyboards soaked "Monuments For a Dead City," take their damn sweet time fermenting. Singing along with the chorus of "Adieu Clo Clo" is likewise compulsory. No Boos LP is 100% perfect: "Free Huey" is about as awful a choice for a single (why!!!???) as can be conceived. Boo! indeed. Not because it's a spastic, hard-dance tune, but because it's a well-below average one that underachieves like, say, "Ride the Tiger." Massive Attack is not nervous. That and a few of the more slow, psychedelic numbers in the middle can be a little numbing. Other than that, the Boos are still too fresh-faced on the outside, and too full of complexity and depth in the inside, not to reclaim their spot as one of the great bands going. Welcome back, boys, glad your march towards oblivion back home was such a short one, because your prospects here suddenly seem so dim. Spend the bucks, buy the import!

tags: the boo radleys, kingsize, king size, 1998, flac,

August 08, 2020

The Boo Radleys - Everything's Alright Forever (1992)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Shoegaze
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© 1992 Creation/Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
Happily settled on Creation Records -- their understandable spiritual home, given the My Bloody Valentine connection - on their second album, the Boos create a fine but limited ode to the icons of fuzzpedals, melancholy and hooks. At the time of release, Forever seemed little more than yet another blissout-by-numbers, but looking back on it there's more here than on first blush. Still, Forever is more an anticipatory release, signaling the great leaps forward to come rather than standing on its own. Carr in particular is still clearly enthralled by Kevin Shields' groundbreaking guitar work, with queasy riffs and shadings plentiful throughout. Producer Ed Buller does a solid job in tweaking the then-standard Boo sound, capturing the group's straightforward rock side and its experimental tendencies with inventive, lush arrangements. Check out "Lazy Day," a brief but effective number where Carr's nuclear-strength guitars are interrupted by sudden shifts to vocals and acoustic strumming with a rapid, breathless pace. Sice is the group's secret weapon; his sweet, choirboy vocals add gentleness and serenity to the proceedings, particularly "Does This Hurt?," the album's most memorable number. Based on a fine all-around band performance and Carr's gorgeous feedback shimmers and skyward solos, Sice's heavenly singing provides the perfect hook at the center of it all. Other high points include the opening "Spainard," with a lovely performance heightened by guest trumpet from Kick Horns member Roddy Lorimer. Forever lives up to its title well enough: everything's alright, but not yet truly astounding.

tags: the boo radleys, everythings alright forever, 1992, flac,

The Boo Radleys - Giant Steps (1993)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 17 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Shoegaze
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© 1993 Creation/Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
Titling an album after John Coltrane's masterpiece may well seem the height of pretension, but heck, it never stopped the Replacements from a similar move vis-a-vis the Beatles. As it is, the title is perfectly justified -- Carr, a Coltrane aficionado among many other things, here finally leads his band from the promising to the truly inspired. With the inventive, groundbreaking Lazarus EP as a touchstone (the title track is included here in an unfortunately abbreviated form), the Boos self-produce themselves to new heights. The genius of the Boos definitely lies in their ability to adapt many a different touch and make it their own, taking what are often straightforward, hooky pop songs and turning them into something more, an ability Giant Steps shows in spades. The old fuzz blast is here, but less beholden to the likes of My Bloody Valentine, instead drawing on Carr's wide-ranging tastes (Beach Boys, psych-pop, Human League/New Order-inspired arrangements) to reach different, individual conclusions. From the near free-noise wash of "Run My Way Runway" to the soaring pop blast of "Barney (...and Me)," a poignant, nostalgiac lyric backed by a thrilling overall performance, the band does little wrong. Brown and Cjeka effectively incorporate dub/reggae rhythms, as "Lazarus" itself showed they could do, blending in loping, funky skank to "Upon 7th and Fairchild" and the fantastic "Butterfly McQueen." Carr's guitar work is much more distinctly his own throughout the album, with often volcanic, inspired soloing adding a huge, echoed sound to many of the songs. A number of guest performers help, notably Steve Kitchen on brass; his trumpet and flugelhorn parts and flourishes add jazzy touches throughout, at times reminiscent of Miles Davis' work on Sketches of Spain.

tags: the boo radleys, giant steps, 1993, flac,

The Boo Radleys - Wake Up! (1995)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 12 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
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© 1995 Creation/Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
With their third album, the Boo Radleys abandoned the overt noise that obscured the pop sensibilities of their early work and scaled back the ambitions of Giant Steps. The result is Wake Up!, a glorious, brightly colored gem of a pop record. From the Beach Boy harmonies and trumpet fanfares of the opening "Wake Up Boo!" to the closing epic, McCartney-styled ballad "Wilder," the group winds through many styles of British pop. Much of the darkness -- both musically and lyrically -- of their previous music has been lifted; in its place is a sterling piece of pure pop, with all the big choruses, bright melodies, and simple hooks that word implies. Giant Steps had elements of this grand pop, yet it tried too hard. Wake Up! doesn't try for as much, and in doing so, it achieves more, both musically and commercially -- upon the release of the album and the "Wake Up Boo!" single, the Boos became genuine Top Ten pop stars in England. The Boo Radleys were always a band with ambitions. The only difference with Wake Up! is that they finally fulfilled them.

tags: the boo radleys, wake up, 1995, flac,

Devilhead - Your Ice Cream's Dirty (1994)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock, Lounge
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© 1994 Loosegroove Records
Review by Pete Crigler for Daily Vault.com
Hearing this record for the first time was a hell of a surprise. I went into the record with one idea and came out of it with that idea totally warped and twisted. Devilhead was started by the brothers of the late Andy Wood of Mother Love Bone and were signed by Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s upstart label Loosegroove. The record was mostly ignored at the time of its release and there’s a damn good reason why: it’s without a doubt, one of the worst records ever made!
From the first song, “Too Much Protection,” it’s clear that the band was just goofing around with vocals and almost anything else possible, right down to the very low-fi production. Vocalist and main lyricist Brian Wood is the main culprit here, as he’s the face of the band and everything seemed to be riding on his shoulders. His guitar-playing brother Kevin is the only decent musician in the revolving lineup of musicians that made up the band.
Brian was also the singer for the Soungarden side band Hater, from which several other members of Devilhead came. Hater, being a much better band that at least seemed to care about what their album sounded like, managed to crush Devilhead musically. On this album, Devilhead tries a little bit of everything. There’s the attempt at passing for punk on “Don’t Make Me” and the quasi-balladry on “There,” complete with slurred, almost Waits-ian vocals which just make the listener reach for the skip button.
In order to drive the point of obnoxiousness home, the band’s six minute epic, “Polly” feels like six minutes, drawn out and ridiculously stupid. It feels to me that the band were signed because of their history with Gossard; then they went into the studio and did whatever the hell they wanted and Gossard put it out. On “Troubled Moon,” the band even goes out of their way to sound like Brad, Gossard’s own side project that was getting some notoriety at the time.
On their self-titled song, Brian Wood sings like a lousy lounge singer while the band rocks a mid-tempo beat behind him – and guess what? Nothing exciting happens! It just sounds like ‘90s mediocrity. “We Like You” sounds like macho swagger in the shape of a crappy rock song. The coup de grace of the record is ironically titled “Funeral March,” and it feels like one as well. The last five songs on the album are stupid little throwaways designed to be hidden tracks but feel just like added torture.
In essence, although Devilhead made one more album in 1996, don’t expect hardcore and devoted grunge fans to be begging for a reunion album or tour any time soon. If it wasn’t for Oasis’ Be Here Now or Black Flag’s What The…, this album would go down as the worst album I’ve ever heard.


tags: devilhead, devil head, your ice creams dirty, cream's, 1994, flac,

Ankla - Steep Trails (2006) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Language: English, Spanish (Español)
Genre: Groove Metal, Latin Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2006 Bieler Bros. Records
Review by Lana Cooper for Pop Matters.com
What does it take to breathe new life into a genre that is seemingly resistant to change? In the surprisingly ever-elitist world of metal, it's no easy feat to introduce something different without meeting the standard aversion to new ingredients being added to the formula. Even harder, is to do so without being branded with the dread epithet, "sell out." That's not to say that it can't be done. Ankla's debut album, Steep Trails, skillfully blends traditional thrash metal with Latin rhythms, which makes for astonishing results.
Spanish for "anchor", Ankla is itself anchored down by former Puya guitarist, Ramón Ortíz. Fed up with the nü-metal limitations of his old band, Ortiz formed Ankla as an outlet to create something fresh. But it's never as simple as "heavy" in the overly-compartmentalized world of metal. While bands such as Ill Niño and Puya have incorporated a small dose of Latin flavor and guitar-stylings into the sphere of nü-metal, the unflinchingly rap-rock vocals contain them strictly within their own category. Similarly, Brazil's Sepultura stood as North America's first real class in South American Metal 101. Their merger of groove metal with Brazilian and African tribal music innovated new pathways in the genre. Keeping within the same family (almost literally, with Sepultura vocalist Max Cavalera leaving to form the outfit), Soulfly continued tribal metal fusion, although neither Cavalera-fronted band truly integrated more traditional (as opposed to tribal) Latin music with metal.
That's where Ankla comes in. Without knowing the impetus behind the band's formation, Ankla is recognizable as precisely the type of project put together by musicians driven by the passion to create something different in a genre littered with laughable clichés that pack more punchline than punch. On Steep Trails, Ramón Ortíz and company combine the metal-mainstay of throttling riffs with traditional Spanish guitar and percussion blended with tribal drumming. In addition to Latin sounds, Ankla also adds traces of Middle Eastern music to the mix, most noticeable on "Still Alive" and "Scattered Existence".
Clearly the band's most outstanding feature, Ortíz's guitar work achieves a rarity in the world of metal and thrash. Simply put, it's innovative. On songs such as "Seasons Never Change" and "Deceit", the guitarist demonstrates both his range and proficiency. "Deceit", in particular, showcases the best facets of his work, beginning with Spanish guitar that transitions smoothly to the crunching, bottom-heavy riffs that chug out the song's beat. To throw out a few of the requisite comparisons in an attempt to pinpoint Ortíz's style, the guitarist combines the heavy Latin overtones of Carlos Santana with Steve Steven's hard rock bag of tricks and tremendous Spanish guitar work, and then tops it off with the pyrotechnics, speed, and ass-kicking power of the late, great Dimebag Darrell.
As multi-layered as its founder's guitar style may be, Ankla pushes the envelope even further by including not one, but two percussionists in its lineup. Pepé Clarke Magaña tackles the rapid-fire drums that are a staple of metal music, while Oscar Santiago is the group's other percussionist responsible for enhancing Magaña's beats with more traditional Latin rhythms usually not found in such a heavy atmosphere. Scattered throughout Steep Trails, evidence of the effectiveness of Ankla's dual-drum assault makes itself known. Both drummers' styles work exceptionally well with one another and add a unique dimension to the band's sound. "Your Grace Makes Me Sick" is propelled forward by its machine gun fills with light touches to the cymbals before crashing back with punishing, heavy hits at just the right moments of the song. Latin bongos join the fracas, supplementing the rattling snare and lending more depth to the track's hard-hitting power.
The disc's intro, "Sinking", pulls together the best elements of Ankla and gives the listener a good five across the eyes, er… ears, rather. The track starts off with a brightly-colored Spanish guitar solo as the tribal-meets-traditional drums click behind Ortíz's riffs. Adding to the polished, yet primal effect are lead singer Ikaro Stafford Santana's vocals, kicking in with a throaty grit that still allows the listener to understand most of what he's saying. In a genre clogged with Cookie Monster sound-alikes, that's always a plus.
There are moments throughout, however, when Ankla falls off the cliff that Steep Trails places before them. At times, it seems that the band tries too hard to stake their claim and brand a new style, incorporating elements for the sake of adding them, rather than fitting them together cohesively. On "Suelta El Ankla", following the grinding, hard thrash that stands as the track's backbone, Ortíz throws in a beautiful yet disembodied flamenco solo at the song's coda. While the piece certainly shows off the guitarist's considerable skill, it seems out of place and could have been more cleverly woven into the fabric of the song.
While certainly breaking new ground, Ankla doesn't entirely break cleanly away from the nü-metal mold. On several tracks, Stafford-Santana's roar gives way to rap-rock vocals and a small handful of songs come off as overly-formulaic. The disc itself is musically sound from beginning to end, regardless of whatever style the band attempts to carry per track. Lyrically, however, Steep Trails produces some uneven moments. Whereas most of the songs contain thought provoking lyrics that work with the music, rather than against it, "Flush" stands as an example of the metal cliché of over-repetition of phrases.
In attempting to create something new, there are always a few stumbling blocks. Some experiments work whereas others fail. Overall, in spite of some minor faults, with Steep Trails, Ankla builds a solid foundation for a new direction of Latin metal and delivers a disc that would satisfy even the most critical of change-resistant metal fans.

tags: ankla, steep trails, 2006, flac,

August 07, 2020

Celtic Frost - Monotheist (2006)

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Doom Metal
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© 2006 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Celtic Frost's much anticipated 2006 comeback album, Monotheist, is everything you'd expect from the band who managed to attach the term avant-garde to ugly ol' heavy metal. It's unconventional, unpredictable, challenging to a fault, head-scratchingly weird at times, frequently brilliant, and anything but perfect. A simplified stylistic description would have it pegged as some sort of modern gothic doom album, but simple descriptions have never really fit the bill with Celtic Frost -- whether relating to their greatest triumphs, To Mega Therion and Into the Pandemonium, or abject disasters, like the infamous Cold Lake. The inherently complex Monotheist is no different, and the shared weight of the band's hallowed legacy and inevitably tall expectations don't exactly help the album's inauspicious start, either. Despite an energetic burst of old-school blackened thrash, opener "Progeny" stands out mostly thanks to those recognizable CF qualities: Thomas Gabriel Warrior's muscular rasp, crusty and brutal guitar tone; and the ensuing "Ground" bores down on interminably ponderous riffs and tediously repetitive lyrics ("Oh, God, why have you forsaken me!") just long enough to leave one seriously worried. Luckily what the trio (currently comprising founding members Warrior and Martin Eric Ain, plus new drummer Franco Sesa) can't quite realize through brute, stultifying force, they ultimately accomplish via subtler means. A foreboding, instantaneously infectious melody threads its way through even the heaviest portions of "A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh," and haunting female voices duet with Warrior's alternately deadpan and surprisingly fragile, quavering tones over gothic stunners like "Drown in Ashes" (featuring well-placed synthesizers) and the very unusual (even for this album, even for Celtic Frost) "Obscured," where a semi-industrial ambience actually recalls Berlin-era Bowie! Several subsequent tracks carry on suffering from excessively tiresome doom droning, but almost invariably contain that unexpected twist (like the clanging of rusty bells that introduce "Os Abysmi Vel Daath") or clever bridge ("Domain of Decay") to make them special, or at the very least interesting. And with the ambitious closing triptych comprising the cyclopean vistas and terrifying shrieks of "Totengott," the marriage of harmony and feedback across the 14 minute "Synagoga Satanae," and the elegant symphonic denouement (there, the classical music angle, at last) of "Winter," Celtic Frost's return should satisfy even the biggest cynics with the scope of its imagination and sheer audacity. Those qualities, as much as great music, have always represented the cornerstone of Frost's unique body of work, and Monotheist -- unrealistic listener expectations or not -- is a more than worthy addition to it.

tags: celtic frost, monotheist, 2006, flac,

Daisy Chainsaw - For They Know Not What They Do (1994)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Noise Rock
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© 1994 One Little Indian
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: daisy chainsaw, for they know not what they do, 1994, flac,