Mstation Pop etc Commentary, Reviews Valid RSS pre Dec 04 reviews are here

Mon, 01 May 2006


Prince, 3121
LP, Universal

His royal funkiness is back with something that starts at the nursery and keeps the light touch and limited bandwidth going pretty much all through. It's scratch the booty rather than shake it.

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Placebo, Meds

Dark tinged light metal that rocks along in a moderately intelligent way with some nice tunes and riffs on the way through. There's a duo with Michael Stipe in there too.

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Low, The Great Destroyer
LP, Sub Pop in USA, Rough Trade in UK/EU

Low, of the long melodies and sweet harmonies, created a bit of lowkey fuss when this was released over a year ago in the US. There was big, thick, guitar in there! Rock out guys! Well, in fact, it is very much a Low thing and they haven't actually gone heavy metal or anything and at least half the songs have more muted guitar work.

It is a sweet thing. In tracks like the opening 'Monkey' the distortion adds a nice edge while Alan and Mimi craft their harmonies over the top with Mimi sounding particularly angelic.

You can catch a conversation with Alan as well as bits of the opening and closing tracks from next month's (June 06) main Mstation Podcast.

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Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin, Fictions
LP, Capitol

Ages ago, Steely Dan produced a scrumptious-looking model-du-jour from LA. The result was, as you'd expect, a pretty nice album in all sorts of ways but it didn't enjoy huge commercial success and I can't remember her name now, but I should.

Jane Birkin wasn't produced by SD. And she's not du-jour at all. She's English, was born in 1946 and was the long time partner of Frenchman Serge Gainsbourg with whom she managed to create a scandal and lots of free publicity with a song called "Je t'aime moi non plus" in 1969. And this is a French album with no particular pandering to the world market except for songs presented in English. Here's an excerpt from a biographical page about her ...
'Jane, who had spent so many years of her career performing and reworking songs by her legendary Pygmalion, Gainsbourg, branched out in a new direction on her album, "Fictions" (released in March 2006). For the first time in her career, she went back to singing almost exclusively in English and explored new musical territory thanks to collaborations with artists from the new music scene on both sides of the Channel. Anglo guest songwriters included Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), who contributed a poignant ballad about childhood entitled "Home", Beth Gibbons (ex-Portishead) who penned a song called "My Secret" and the Canadian Gonzales (who also arranged the album) .wrote "Living in Limbo." Other highlights on "Fictions" included cover versions of "Alice" (Tom Waits) and "Mother Stands for Comfort" (Kate Bush). French songwriters also starred on JaneŇs new album, Dominique A contributing the superb "Ou est la ville?", Cali giving Jane "Sans toi" and Arthur H penning the remarkable "La reine sans royaume." These musical vignettes, tinged with a certain melancholy and nostalgia, made "Fictions" one of JaneŇs most intimate and personal albums to date.'

Some of the songs are French chanson-like and some are more rocky in the crafted Steely Dan way that reminded me of the LA woman. They don't actually sound like SD songs at all I should add. There's also an electro-dancy song 'Ou est la ville' (where is the town) which is nicely put together.

So what's that all got to do with Steely Dan and the forgotten model? (thunderfinger)

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James Holden

James Holden, At The Controls
2 CD's, Resist Music

Moody beats from progressive house DJ James Holden. "Progressive" suggests there's some art to be found floating around, and indeed there is ... but in a nice way. There are 32 tracks all told.

Oh yes, and the next promo we get that's altered to make it worthless (this one has periodic annoying voiceovers) goes straight in the rubbish bin.

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Ian Gillan

Ian Gillan, Gillan's Inn
LP and DVD, Immergent

So why should we pay attention to the guy who wrote Smoke on the Water and sang with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple? If you don't like guitar or metalish things then there's no reason why you should. If you do, even just a little bit, this double-sided disc (CD and DVD) is a lot of fun. We have Satriani, Michael Lee Jackson, Uli Jon Roth, Steve Morse, Jeff Healey, Dean Howard, Tony Iommi and Redd Volkaert amongst others, playing tight heavy stuff with some lightning breaks thrown in.

The really nice thing about the whole thing is its honesty -- no efforts to be trendy, no faux electronica, no PC themes (fuck off weenies), no short hair! It's a rollicking celebration of big guitar, big steps, and big hair days, as well as being a blues tribute in a kind of a way. And boy is it tight! There's also a cast-of-thousands remake of Smoke on the Water. (thunderfinger)

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Domino Sampler

various, They'll Have to Catch Us First
LP, Domino

This is a sampler from Domino which includes Franz Ferdinand, The Kills, Four Tet, Sons and Daughters, Psapp, Clearlake, Adem, and Juana Molina amongst others. This is the same label that brought you the Arctic Monkeys but they're not here.

It's a pretty interesting collection of indy world stuff -- mostly guitar-based with the exception of a bleep-funk track from the Junior Boys which is cool. And there's the guitar soundscapey stuff from Juana Molina as well.

Quite a nice package. (Dr Boots)

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Ben Harper

Ben Harper, Both Sides of the Gun
LP, Virgin

Funky licks and dirty guitar with blaxsploitation fashion sense.

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33Hz, Hot Flashes/Crazy All the Time
6 track 7" or download, defDrive

Cutesy-pie disco dance funk stuff from NYC with remixes from Zoo Brazil, Christopher Just, Magik Johnson and Rob Mello. Have some Earth, Wind, and Fire moments.

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