September 30, 2019

Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Pop
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© 1980-1990 Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
The last album with Rob Dean, Gentlemen Take Polaroids was also unquestionably the album in which Japan truly found its own unique voice and aesthetic approach. The glam influences still hung heavy, particularly from Roxy Music, but now the band found itself starting to affect others in turn. Even the back cover photo says as much -- looking cool in glossy, elegant nightwear, the quintet had a clear impact on Duran Duran, to the point where Nick Rhodes obviously was trying to be Sylvian in appearance. Musically, meanwhile, the swooning, hyper elegant Euro-disco sheen of Quiet Life was polished to an even finer edge throughout, the title track and the obvious descendant of "Quiet Life" itself, "Methods of Dance," in particular sheer standouts. Sylvian's sighing, luscious croon is in full effect on both, and the arrangements are astonishing, Karn's fretless purring between Jansen's crisp, inventive, and varied drumming, Barbieri's icy keyboards filling out the corners. What makes Gentlemen Take Polaroids even more of a success is how the group, having reached such a polished peak, kept driving behind it, transforming their exquisite pop into something even more artistic and unique. "Swing," in particular, is an astounding showcase for the Karn/Jansen team; snaky funk at once dramatic and precisely chilled, brass section blasts adding just enough wry, precise sleaze, Sylvian delivering with focus and intensity while not raising his voice at all. "Nightporter," meanwhile, is a hyper ballad and then some; a slow-paced semi-waltz with Barbieri's piano taking the lead throughout with wonderful results. Further hints of the future come with the album closing "Taking Islands In Africa," which Sylvian co-wrote with future regular collaborator Ryuchi Sakamato, and which wraps up the whole experience with a gliding, supple grace.

tags: japan, japan band, gentlemen take polaroids, 1980, flac,

Fool's Garden - Go & Ask Peggy For The Principal Thing (1997)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock
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© 1997 Intercord
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: fools garden, fool's, go and ask peggy for the principal thing, 1997, flac,

Fool's Garden - 25 Miles To Kissimmee (2003)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock
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© 2003 Lemonade Music
Review by Matt Collar for Allmusic.com

tags: fools, garden, fool's, 25 miles to kissimme, 2003, flac,

Biffy Clyro - Puzzle (Limited Edition) (2007) ☠

*Contains 1 bonus track and released with a bonus DVD (not included) 
Contains 14 tracks total.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock, Post Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2007 14th Floor/Beggars Banquet
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
Although emo is often thought of as a direct descendent of punk and alternative, the genre's tricky song structures oftentimes teeter toward prog territory. Case in point: Puzzle, the fourth full-length by Ayrshire, Scotland's favorite sons, Biffy Clyro. While the riffs and singalong choruses bear a resemblance to Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, it's no secret that the members of this trio obviously know the ins and outs of their respective instruments -- this is certainly not the sound of a band still finding its footing. "Saturday Superhouse" somehow manages to not sound far removed from all the fresh-faced MTV darlings, while also including enough interesting bits to not sound like a mere mainstream rock rehash. Harder to pin down tracks such as "Who's Got a Match?" bring to mind the quirky pop of Supergrass, and "Semi-Mental" is comparable to Weezer -- if they spent more time studying their Rush records instead of Cheap Trick ones. Released in the U.K. several months ahead of the U.S., Puzzle already has a head start in the buzz sweepstakes -- it's a certified smash overseas (nearly topping the album charts at number two, while "Saturday Superhouse" almost reached the Top Ten on the singles charts).

tags: biffy clyro, puzzle, limited edition, 2007, flac,

Filthy Christians - Mean (1989)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Grindcore
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© 1989-1990 Earache
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Funeral Nation - After The Battle (1991)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 1991 Turbo Music
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Japan - Adolescent Sex (1978)

*U.S. first pressing on C.D.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1978-1994 Caroline Records
AllMusic Review by Amy Hanson
Although Japan later became one of new romantics' poster children, their 1978 Adolescent Sex LP predated the movement by two years. A remarkable debut, the set snarls with leftover punk intent, a few glam rock riffs, and a wealth of electronics that not only reach back to the band's youth, but also predate much of what would explode out of the next wave of British underground. Sounding absolutely nothing like MTV's mainstream Japan, the quintet snarls across the opener "Transmission," all snotty lads and frazzled hair, setting the stage for what follows. Except, rather than toeing that line, the band pull some remarkable tricks out of their admittedly tight sleeves. The "wow factor" of an incredibly funky bass and guitar on "The Unconventional," repeated again on "Wish You Were Black," is not only a surprise but leaves one wondering if the band were closet Chic fans -- especially in light of the seven-minute jam "Suburban Love" that follows a little later on. Elsewhere, though, the band play closer to their roots while defining their own style, which includes David Sylvian's wonderfully sexy, tousled vocals -- most notably on the epic, and sexy, post-punker "Television" and a cover of the vintage showstopper "Don't Rain on My Parade." A more exciting album than just about anything else they'd ever record, Japan were young, hungry, and more than a little rough around the edges. Despite the slick R&B work twined in, it's important to remember that this band were in the sonic foothold of an early edgy era -- groundbreakers at their own inception. The sound, that look -- it fit them well.

tags: japan, adolescent sex, 1978, flac,

Fool's Garden - Once In a Blue Moon (1996 Reissue)

*Reissued in 1996 by Intercord. Contains 14 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1993-1996 Intercord
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: fools garden, fool's, once in a blue moon, 1993, 1996, reissue, flac,

September 29, 2019

Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis (Deluxe Edition) (2016)

*Contains 2 bonus tracks. 13 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
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© 2016 Warner Bros./14th Floor Records
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar
Named after the three periods at the end of a sentence that indicate an omission or unfinished idea, Biffy Clyro's seventh studio album, 2016's delightfully compact Ellipsis, is a power blast of an album that finds the Scottish outfit knocking out a tidy set of crisp anthems. Produced by the band and Rich Costey (Muse, Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine), Ellipsis follows up the group's ambitious 2013 double album Opposites. However, it feels more connected to their breakthrough Mercury Prize-nominated 2009 effort, Only Revolutions. As with that album, Ellipsis showcases the trio's knack for crafting muscular punk-prog numbers with choruses that beg for stadium-sized crowd singalongs, just as they challenge fans with unexpected phrasing and the occasional odd time signature. Although there isn't anything as monumental as "Mountains" off Only Revolutions, there are still some decidedly infectious moments on Ellipses. Cut's like the lead-off "Wolves of Winter" and "On a Bang" are passionately delivered, wicked-tongued hard rockers that frame lead singer Simon Neil's addictive brogue yawp with spring-loaded basslines, hard-driving drums, and brutal, thickly compressed electric guitar riffs. Conversely, tracks like the yearningly romantic "Re-Arrange" and the acoustic guitar-based "Medicine" prove that, while Biffy Clyro can hang with the heaviest of guitar bands, they're also adept pop songwriters with emotive, poetic souls. It's a balance they perfect here on cuts like the driving Queens of the Stone Age-sounding "Animal Style" and the late-album standout "Howl." While the album title implies that Biffy Clyro have something more to say here, the truth is that Ellipsis is a pleasingly efficient album that never sounds incomplete or labored. If anything, Biffy Clyro have discovered new ways to boil down their more complex thoughts and emotions into snarling, meaty pop slogans. As Neil sings on "Howl," "So, I'm gonna howl like an animal/'Cause lately it's hard to let you know..."

tags: biffy clyro, ellipsis, deluxe edition, 2016, flac,

Died Pretty - Sold (1995) ☠

Country: Australia
Language: English
Genre: Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1995 Columbia Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: died pretty, sold, sold album, 1995, flac,

Fool's Garden - Dish of The Day (1995) ☠

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1995 Intercord
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: fools garden, fool's, dish of the day, 1995, flac,

Spearhead - Chocolate Supa Highway (1997)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1997 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny
What sets Chocolate Supa Highway immediately apart from the previous album Home is its sound -- boasting a murky, bass-heavy atmosphere clearly influenced by the rise of trip-hop, the album lends Michael Franti's politically-charged raps a cinematic distinction missing from his previous efforts. Spanning from R&B-textured urban grooves to jagged rap anthems, Chocolate Supa Highway is no less challenging or confrontational than its predecessor, but for the most time Franti's music bears an importance equal to his message.

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Biffy Clyro - Opposites (2013)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 2013 14th Floor
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar
Biffy Clyro's 2013 album, Opposites, is the band's sixth studio effort and follows up the band's hugely successful 2009 Mercury Prize-nominated release, Only Revolutions. Whether appreciated as a double- or single-disc album (the band released both versions), Opposites is a sprawling, ambitious work that once again finds the Scottish rock trio balancing its prog rock inclinations with its undeniable talent for mainstream, radio-ready pop. In that sense, Biffy Clyro are certainly one of the most album-oriented, '70s-style rock acts of their generation -- though their sound is hardly retro. On the contrary, with lead singer/guitarist Simon Neil belting in a thick brogue over the band's knotty, metal-influenced arrangements, Biffy Clyro come off more like a Scottish version of Fugazi than, say, a classic rock band like Rush, although there is a twinge of nerd-rock power here, too. There is something very concept album-esque about Biffy Clyro's Opposites, especially when taken in the entire two-disc format. It's very laser light show-friendly, as many of the songs here are heavy with loud guitars, frenetic drumming, and intricate, multi-layered arrangements. Primarily, however, the album rides on the kind of anthemic, crowd-pleasing pop songs that made Only Revolutions such a success. Where last time we got the melodic bombast of "Mountains" and "Many of Horror," here we get the equally as wide-eyed "Sounds Like Balloons" and the romantic, soundtrack-ready "Biblical." Ultimately, Biffy Clyro's gift as a band is to craft songs that balance immediately catchy hooks with complex arrangements that only help to reinforce the drama of the pop moment. Thankfully, there are plenty of these dichotomous yet rapturous moments on Opposites.

tags: biffy clyro, opposites, 2013, flac,

September 27, 2019

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Willy & The Poor Boys (1998 Pressing) ☠

*Reissued in 1998 by Fantasy. This pressing has been digitally remastered at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley by George Horn. A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Rock
Style: Classic Rock
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1969-1998 Fantasy
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Make no mistake, Willy & the Poor Boys is a fun record, perhaps the breeziest album CCR ever made. Apart from the eerie minor-key closer "Effigy" (one of John Fogerty's most haunting numbers), there is little of the doom that colored Green River. Fogerty's rage remains, blazing to the forefront on "Fortunate Son," a working-class protest song that cuts harder than any of the explicit Vietnam protest songs of the era, which is one of the reasons that it hasn't aged where its peers have. Also, there's that unbridled vocal from Fogerty and the ferocious playing on CCR, which both sound fresh as they did upon release. "Fortunate Son" is one of the greatest, hardest rock & rollers ever cut, so it might seem to be out of step with an album that is pretty laid-back and friendly, but there's that elemental joy that by late '69 was one of CCR's main trademarks. That joy runs throughout the album, from the gleeful single "Down on the Corner" and the lazy jugband blues of "Poorboy Shuffle" through the great slow blues jam "Feelin' Blue" to the great rockabilly spiritual "Don't Look Now," one of Fogerty's overlooked gems. The covers don't feel like throwaways, either, since both "Cotton Fields" and "The Midnight Special" have been overhauled to feel like genuine CCR songs. It all adds up to one of the greatest pure rock & roll records ever cut.

tags: ccr, ccr band, creedence clearwater revival, willy and the poor boys, 1969, 1998, flac,

Various Artists - Ultimate Dance Party 1999 (1998)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: House, R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop
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© 1998 Artista Records
AllMusic Review by John Bush
Ultimate Dance Party 1999 is a collection of urban and pop hits from 1998, including "Walkin' on the Sun" by Smash Mouth, "Still Not a Player" by Big Punisher, "I'm Leavin" by Lisa Stansfield, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" by Busta Rhymes and "Free" by Ultra Naté, among others.

tags: various artists, ultimate dance party 1999, 1998, flac,

Wheatus - Wheatus (2000) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2000 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Wheatus is a showcase for the songs of singer/guitarist Brendan B. Brown, who has a taste for catchy, guitar-driven pop/rock, a gift for gab, and a snotty attitude. "Teenage Dirtbag," Brown's anthem for high school losers (featured, appropriately, in Amy Heckerling's film Loser), which combines humiliation with humor and even a happy ending, is carried along on familiar riffs, a hooky chorus, and smart-aleck lyrics. And that's the story for most of the songs on this album, though Brown reveals broader experience in a heartfelt cover of the Erasure hit "A Little Respect" and sounds less like a high school student than an aspiring rock star impatient with his record company publicist on "Hey, Mr. Brown." Whatever their nominal subjects, from the perils of obsessive romance ("Love Is a Mutt From Hell") to a white boy's hapless attempts to acquire hip-hop culture ("Wannabe Gangstar"), Brown's songs appeal because of their peppy pop/rock energy and the clever lyrics. This is a guy who refers more than once to Iron Maiden but whose music is more suggestive of Cheap Trick (especially on "Leroy," which recalls "Surrender"), and all the better for it. Bassist Rich Liegey, who left the band before the release of this record, has one song, "Punk Ass Bitch," that shows he's no slouch as a songwriter either and makes you wonder what his next project will be. But Brown is more than capable of handling the load, and with any luck this relatively short album will be the beginning of a great career.

tags: wheatus, wheatus album, 2000, flac, self titled,

Biffy Clyro - Only Revolutions (2009) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Post Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2009 Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Understandably pleased with the success of their mainstream breakthrough album, Puzzle (2007), Biffy Clyro don't change much on the follow-up effort, Only Revolutions. Like Puzzle, it finds the Scottish alternative rockers at their most immediate and accessible. Once again they work with producer Garth Richardson and smooth out the rougher aspects of their early recordings, the Beggars Banquet albums Blackened Sky (2002), The Vertigo of Bliss (2003), and Infinity Land (2004). They restrain their prog tendencies, keeping the songs short and concise, and amplify their melodic side, recording with a full orchestra. They include a few mellow tunes on Only Revolutions, "God & Satan," "Many of Horror," and "Know Your Quarry," yet Biffy Clyro are still at their best when they let it rip. "That Golden Rule," "Bubbles," "Mountains," and "Booooom, Blast & Ruin" are highly charged rockers that race along quickly and shift gears often. These album highlights are edgy and rock hard, yet they're graced with memorable hooks and melodies at the same time. Now and then the band's pop/rock is off balance, for instance the album opener, "The Captain," which leans too far toward pop for comfort. Among the standout rockers, the previously released "Mountains" from 2008 and the lead single "That Golden Rule" are both great, and "Bubbles" is even better. Featuring Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age on second guitar, "Bubbles" has it all -- hammering riffs, adventurous jams, ear-pleasing chorus, sharp dynamics -- and it's the album's longest and most satisfying song, rocking for a full five minutes whereas most other songs on Only Revolutions are over and done with a minute or two sooner.

tags: biffy clyro, only revolutions, 2009, flac,

September 26, 2019

Mother Tongue - Mother Tongue (1994) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1994 550 Music/Epic
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
This eponymous major-label debut was also the last offering from Los Angeles groove rock outfit Mother Tongue. Most notable about this 1994 550 Music release is the dirty funk-rock guitar playing of Jesse Tobias. Tobias -- who was actually a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a few days before the group drafted Dave Navarro -- eventually joined up with Alanis Morissette and toured with the singer in support of her mega-hit record, Jagged Little Pill. Tobias and his Mother Tongue bandmates slog their way through mostly average funk-tinged retro-rock on this release, eliminating any mystery as to why the guitarist quickly left the group to join Morissette before it was apparent that the songstress would become a success. Despite a few choice riffs courtesy of Tobias, Mother Tongue languishes in too many self-indulgent "jam" arrangements that go nowhere to be given any kind of recommendation. The group disbanded pretty quickly after Tobias' exit, as what little interest there might have been in the band must have been extinguished in all quarters shortly thereafter.

tags: mother tongue, mother tongue album, 1994, flac,

The Nixons - Foma (1995) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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: Selected by Lass
© 1995 MCA Records
AllMusic Review by Erik Crawford
In the latter stages of the grunge era a plethora of bands arose from the ashes of mediocrity to establish themselves with minor radio hits. The Nixons fell into this category when their radio single "Sister" achieved moderate success. However, once you get past the sentimental radio hit there are several tracks on Foma more deserving of attention. "Head" is a roller coaster ride of anxious buildup, explosive release, and then more buildup and release. "Smile" provides catchy lyrics sung with emotion-laden vocals. Arguably the best song on the album is "Trampoline," which takes the best characteristics of "Head" and "Smile" to produce a well-crafted piece of songwriting complete with numerous flashes of guitar virtuosity. The Nixons are at their best when Zac Maloy's vocals are wrenching to compete with the wailing guitar licks provided here by Jesse Davis. Foma opens with a scream and then delivers a hard rock romp that will delight fans of the heavy alternative genre.

tags: the nixons, foma, 1995, flac,

September 24, 2019

Biffy Clyro - Blackened Sky (2002) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Post Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2002 Beggars Banquet
AllMusic Review by Dean Carlson
Scotland's Biffy Clyro had been linked to the sportswear punk of blink-182, Green Day, and Sum 41 and were championed for sounding more raw and less obvious than any of their contemporaries. But while their debut, 2002's Blackened Sky, hunched over with a gray, very American anger, it also lacked the ideas or abnormal structures of favorites Fugazi and Mudhoney. "Hero Management" was probably the most successful mixture of spangly basslines and damp indie rock, but, unlike Seafood, an outfit they're more accurately compared to, the band came across as all of the least interesting aspects of American grunge released a decade too late.

tags: biffy clyro, blackened sky, 2002, flac,

Biffy Clyro - The Vertigo of Bliss (2003)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 2003 Beggars Banquet
Review by Betty Clarke for The Guardian.com
Subtlety isn't something you often find, or arguably want, from a rock band. Gentle hearts are normally strangled by screaming guitars. But Biffy Clyro are different, juggling anger with adoration as they take indie sensitivity and embolden it with blistering rock fury.
Recorded in one day, The Vertigo of Bliss crackles with certainty. The Ideal Height twists into a stream of fuzzy, chugging guitars before falling to a reflective melody.
Questions and Answers is a catchy cacophony, Simon Neil's vocals looming low under the high harmonies of Ben and James Johnston. "You are the summer I'll feel for ever," Neil sings in Eradicate the Doubt, his warm and cuddly notions needled by awkward guitars, heavy drums dragging him into a boy's own adventure of haphazard rhythms and conflicting chords. Inventive and sublime.

tags: biffy clyro, the vertigo of bliss, 2003, flac,