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 14, 2020

A - Hi-Fi Serious (2002)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
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© 2002 London Records
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
Great pop-punk records are actually a fairly rare creature in the overall picture of alternative rock. Despite the high volume of releases, whole years go by without a significant or exciting album being made in the genre. That is why the blissfully sweet Hi-Fi Serious is such a wonderful surprise. Whereas in the past A always showed potential, on this record they took that step forward that so many of their contemporaries are afraid to take. And what a step forward it is; gorgeous hooks, excellent production, and anthemic choruses that border on hair metal at times all add up to an irresistible sound that should appeal to any fan of the genre. By cutting away the snotty Green Day worship that makes so many of these groups obnoxiously coy, the group can explore other genres without any concern over sounding too ironic or goofy. They have definitely moved in a more commercial direction on this record, adding elements like synthesizers and heavily processed backup vocals that might damage their credibility, but make their music just that much better. The booty-shaking title track may be the best pop song the group has ever crafted, moving from the tense and driving verses to a swaggering chorus with such ease that it's a wonder they never displayed this sort of songwriting talent before. The fantastic "Nothing" feels like it could burst apart at any moment, but instead it holds together with a chorus that burns its way into your brain and refuses to leave. "Took It Away" feels like it's breaking apart toward the middle, then it makes a dramatic turn into a breezy Southern California section that brings the song to the next level. "Starbucks" is almost too catchy to be likable, but they manage to turn the song into a cutesy-but-endearing pop nugget by the end. And "The Distance" is either a pleasantly unique punk-pop anthem or the best hair metal song written since Poison's "Ride the Wind," and that is really the only way to describe it. Any fan of this genre who isn't afraid of a little experimentation should find themselves highly rewarded by giving this a shot. In a genre that is hideously oversaturated, it is a genuine relief to hear albums like this. It reminds the listener of how good this genre has the potential to be when in the hands of musicians that aren't afraid to be poppy first and punk second.

tags: a, a band, hi fi serious, 2002, flac,

Nachtmystium - Assassins - Black Meddle Part 1 (2008) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Black Metal
Style: Psychedelic Black Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2008 Candlelight Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Alternately hailed as a revelation or a betrayal, 2008's Assassins: Black Meddle, Pt. 1 is, like any musical watershed, a controversial and polarizing work. Not that anyone has any reason to be surprised at its audacious creative direction given Nachtmystium's inexorable rate of evolution over the years, as they swiftly began embellishing their initially "trve" and "cvlt" black metal origins with ever more adventurous progressive and psychedelic elements by the release of third album, Instinct: Decay. What's more, with numerous other black metal bands exploring similarly nontraditional influences throughout the '00s (e.g. Enslaved, Agalloch, etc.), one has to assume that the real reason behind these scattered cries of protest from the Nachtmystium faithful is simple nostalgia for the sounds of triumphs past, rather than any actual beef with the latest "meddling" taking place on Assassins. Chances are, though, that the vast majority of listeners will simply wonder what the fuss is all about when faced with suitably "blackened" opening snippet "One of These Nights" and its gale force winds, whispered incantations, and foreboding riff descended from Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave." Even the ensuing eight-minute title track launches off a perfectly legit necro-battery of blastbeat-driven black metal before eventually engaging in everything from punk-simple rock & roll riffs to electronic sound effects as it runs its lengthy course. Spacy electronics, gothic melodies, and hypnotic overtones continue to assail follow-up highlights such as "Ghost of Grace" and "Omnivore" -- the latter also being marked by oppressive low-end fluctuations reminiscent of industrial-tinged French outfit Blut Aus Nord. On the other hand, both the back-to-basics black metal onslaught of "Your True Enemy" and the deliberately gentle drift of "Code Negative" (heavily indebted to Pink Floyd, if you even have to ask) feel more like good excuses for creative mastermind Blake Judd (aka Azentrius) and colleague Jeff Wilson to improvise rather self-indulgent, yet fittingly melancholic guitar solos. And Nachtmystium's compositional thrill-seeking only escalates as they come to the album's closing "Seasick" trilogy, which contrasts crisp, angelic melodies against a more typically evil and bleary harmonic foundation for part one, "Drowned at Dusk"; whips out astonishingly jazz-flavored guitar leads and saxophone (yes, a saxophone!) for part two, "Oceanborne"; then commingles all of the above, plus shouted vocals recalling Floyd's "Nile Song," for the majestic third part, "Silent Sunrise." In the end, Assassins is over all too quickly, which says something about the lofty standards maintained throughout, and even more about the fruitless bellyaching surrounding its rejection of short-sighted, self-imposed black metal boundaries. Honestly, if Nachtmystium carry on producing extreme music of this caliber, most open-minded listeners will surely agree that they can meddle all they want.

tags: nachtmystium, assassins black meddle part 1, 2008, flac,

Nachtmystium - Addicts - Black Meddle Pt. II (2010) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Black Metal
Style: Psychedelic Black Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2010 Candlelight Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Who says playing it safe is the only way to make it in the music business? At least for American black metal institution Nachtmystium, widespread recognition has coincided precisely with their increased creative risk-taking -- even as the dreaded (and largely unwarranted) cries of "sell-out" echoed amongst the more intransigent element of their fan base. Here's a group that was at first merely praised for competently copying the dominant Norsk black metal hallmarks (instead of embarrassing themselves like most American pretenders of the time), before revealing the first signs of greater imagination via 2006's lo-fi, pulp-prog, eye-opener Instinct: Decay. But it wasn't until the release of 2008's Assassins: Black Meddle, Pt. I that Nachtmystium finally enjoyed a true commercial breakthrough, when bandleader, Blake "Azentrius" Judd, began channeling some striking psychedelic and art rock influences into his band's lingering black metal foundations (primarily from Pink Floyd, not unlike Norway's Enslaved). In other words, Judd's master stroke essentially consisted of injecting fresh ideas from other musical genres into the saturated black metal templates, and there's no letup to this strategy on Assassins' 2010 successor, Addicts: Black Meddle, Pt. II. Here, along with returning psych rock elements (see "No Funeral," "Then Fires," etc.), minor electronic nuances ("Blood Trance Fusion"), and even Middle-Eastern wails (haunting the doom-like march of "Every Last Drop"), the most stunning alien musical organism infecting the host is…new wave? That's right, although the bulk of Nachtmystium's lyrics still profess their allegiance to the dark side, and standard black metal hallmarks like Judd's raspy croak, buzzsaw riffs, blastbeats, and disorienting waves of guitar distortion continue to abound (e.g. "High on Hate," "The End Is Eternal"), there's no disguising the realization that a track like "Ruined Life Continuum" would sound perfectly at home on an album by the Cure if shorn of its necro-metallic camouflage. There are also undeniable mainstream rock & roll undercurrents -- not just "black & roll," real rock & roll -- buttressing songs like "Nightfall" and the title track (observe its emotionally melodic solo -- not exactly grim!) -- and all of it works magnificently well, it must be said. These qualities help certify Addicts as another unmitigated triumph for Nachtmystium, arguably even superior to its wildly acclaimed predecessors, thanks to its collective daring, unprecedented stylistic variety, and, well, big balls!

tags: nachtmystium, addicts black meddle part 2, 2010, flac,

August 13, 2020

Arcadia - So Red The Rose (1985)

*U.S. first pressing on CD. 
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
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© 1985 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Kelvin Hayes
Arcadia was the arty quarter of Duran Duran's side project. Members Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes were left to complete it after Roger Taylor left the group. They still strove to create the "western evocative of east" blueprinted by Japan's Tin Drum. They didn't achieve it with this, but it's certainly the best album Duran never made. Like earlier work Rio, the sleeve perfectly describes the record inside. The opener "Election Day" is darkly romantic irking toward erotic and has brass stabs not dissimilar from their Bond score View to a Kill. The following songs are lighter: "Keep Me in the Dark" and the U.S. single "Goodbye Is Forever." "The Flame" has a sharp beat and sultry bass groove that nods at Nile Rodgers. Two dream works, "Missing" and "Rose Arcana," precede "The Promise," which guests Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, Sting, and Herbie Hancock. "El Diablo" has a latin flavor but still sounds like two Englishmen daydreaming of an escapade to El Salvador. Finally, to the dramatic splendor of "Lady Ice," a fantastic conclusion to a very good album. Thankfully, Arcadia chose not to pursue this album like their other Duran offshoot.

tags: arcadia, so red the rose, 1985, flac,

Nu Shooz - Poolside (1986)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Freestyle, Pop
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© 1986 Atlantic
AllMusic Review by Ron Wynn
The Oregon husband and wife duo of Nu Shooz made a quick impact on the pop and R&B/dance scene in the late '80s with their debut release on Atlantic. It had a coy charm, fueled by the successful singles "I Can't Wait" and "Point Of No Return." Valerie Day's voice had a bubbly innocence and was mixed in such a way that it sounded almost ethereal. Their synthesized backbeats had a certain freshness, and the production and arrangements were the right mix of light and steady. It was amazing how quickly the formula fell apart.

tags: nu shooz, new shoes, poolside, pool side, 1986, flac,

Flowerhead - ...ka-BLOOM! (1992) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1992 Zoo Entertainment/BMG Music
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: flowerhead, flower head, ka bloom, ka-bloom, 1992, flac,

Animotion - Strange Behavior (1986)

*First pressing. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock
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© 1986 Casablanca
AllMusic Review by Dan LeRoy
The sophomore effort from L.A. new wavers Animotion locates the exact midpoint between trendy synth pop and AOR crunch. Slickly produced by the well-traveled Richie Zito, the ten songs alternate bright keyboard stabs with guitarist Don Kirkpatrick's power chords, and every track has a hook that sounds market-tested -- making Strange Behavior play like the soundtrack to some mid-'80s action flick. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, since a few songs have real staying power -- in particular, song doctor Holly Knight's "I Engineer," with its chanted chorus and take-charge message. But, unfortunately, none of the tracks possess the same sleazy charm that made Animotion's 1985 single "Obsession" a pop and dance chart-topper. Hearing vocalists Bill Wadhams and Astrid Plane tossing bad pickup lines at each other on that song was a big part of its appeal, but here the pair is mostly disconnected, alternating leads and only playing off one another on "Out of Control," with much less impressive results. A little warmth -- or just carnal heat -- from the two would have gone a long way on this album, which is ultimately too cool and polished for its own good.

tags: animotion, strange behavior, 1986, flac,

Black - Comedy (1988)

*European first pressing. 
Contains 12 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop
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© 1988 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Seeking a U.S. breakthrough, A&M Records held Black's second album, Comedy, back from release until a re-recorded 1989 version of his U.K. hit "Wonderful Life" could be added as the leadoff track. There is also a remixed version of the U.K. hit "Sweetest Smile," which, like "Wonderful Life," previously appeared on Black's debut album, Wonderful Life. Also included were the more recent U.K. chart singles "The Big One" and "Now You're Gone." All of which means that, in its U.S. version at least, Comedy was almost more of a hits compilation than a formal second album. That, however, lent it a certain consistency, and in its newer songs, the album showed Black moving away from the cocktail jazz and doomy lyrics of his debut and toward a more eclectic sound, as well as lighter, more romantic sentiments.

tags: black, comedy, 1988, flac,

Black - Wonderful Life (1987)

*European first pressing. 
Contains 15 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop
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© 1987 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
This smoky-voiced singer/songwriter, whose sophisticated jazz-pop songs and dramatic vocal delivery place him somewhere between Bryan Ferry and Morrissey, hits his peak with the driving "Everything's Coming up Roses" (not the Jule Styne song).

tags: black, wonderful life, 1987, flac,

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,