Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Eels - Blinking Lights And Other Revelations

Since the sublime debut album "Beautiful Freak" The Eels have unfortunately been hit and miss. None of their albums have been dreadful, and all have had some killer tracks, but spiritual leader E has never managed to keep the consistency over a full set. The good news here is that E has finally done the trick...the bad news is that this only covers disc two of this special two disk set.

Again, that's not to say that Disc 1 is poor. In fact it is far from it with killer standout tracks such as Son Of A Bitch, Trouble With Dreams and Suicide Life, but it falls prey to the afformentioned inconsistency that plauged previous albums. However Disc 2 is perhaps the finest collection of songs that Mark Everett has ever put together. It's much slower and mellower than you perhaps might expect, but it is quite simply astounding from start to finish. I'm Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart and Ugly Love are probably the tracks that grabbed me immediately, but this disc is a rare thing of beauty.

It's said that E spent the last 7 years putting this together...well if that's the case, it was time well spent.

Icon's View - 4 1/2 out of 5

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Hives LIVE

Last minute changes of personnel saw the "Phenom" join the Dean and Gee 2005 tour for a slice of Sweden's finest, the Hives but in all other respects it was business as usual. Having relaesed no new material since the last time we saw the Hives in action (indeed, Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones was annoucned as their latest single, just as it was back in 2004 when they last hit these shores) this was pretty much a carbon copy of their 2004 show, but with some great tunes and a charismatic frontman this was still a great night of entertainment.

There is no doubt that the lead singer is a fruit-loop, but it's impossible not to get caught up in his crazy world of The Hives. When he asks you a question, you are going to answer it.

All the hits were played, and the pace never slowed down for a minute. Is it ground-breaking stuff? No. But all the same The Hives are a virtual guarentee of a great night out, and sometimes that is all you need.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Nerina Pallot LIVE

See that bit in my concert list where it says that this was technically a Paddy Casey concert? Well you can officially scrub the "technically" as we didn't even stay for Paddy after Nerina had done her thing.

And she did her thing bloody well. Sure there were far too many Irish scousers prattling on as she played,but it shouldn't, and indeed didn't, detract from what I paid to see. Equally at home strumming a guitar or playing the piano, Nerina exudes star quality at every turn, and has a wonderfully witty turn of crowd banter but its the songs, in their stripped down solo renditions, that really capture your attention. The lovely lass played my three favourite songs first, which I am sure was just a happy coincidence..., but it's a mark of how good she really is that rather than losing my interest after that, it merely went higher and higher.

I also got to meet her after her performance, and she signed CD booklets for both of her albums. She also put different messages on each, which surely is a sign of a great woman. I know what you are thinking now, you are thinking Dean is waffling and prattling on, but really, Nerina is great in every single way you could think of. So I'm telling you if you get the chance, check her out!

And finally, apologies to Paddy Casey for not sticking around to see his set. But then again, I was seemingly the only person in the auditorium who recognised him when he walked through the crowd prior to Nerina's set, so really, I think me and Paddy are evens! :D Oh and if anyone who reads this was at the concert and has an unwanted ticket stubb, please let me know...I'm sure I could find a good home for it.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Updated Concert List

As you might expect, this is an updated concert list.

18th February - KT Tunstall - Liverpool Academy 3
27th February - Electric Six - Carling Academy Liverpool
1st March - Natasha Bedingfield - Liverpool Royal Court
7th March - The Donnas - Manchester Academy
16th March - The THrills - Liverpool Academy
12th April - The Subways - 53 Degrees, Preston
19th April - Nerina Pallot - Barfly, Liverpool (technically this is a Paddy Casey concert, but I'm really only going for Nerina :D).
24th April - The Hives - Liverpool Academy
19th May - Girls Aloud - Manchester Apollo
22nd May - KT Tunstall - Manchester MDH
26th May - KT Tunstall - Carling Academy 2, Liverpool
27th May - Girls Aloud - Liverpool Empire
8th June - The Subways - Night & Day Cafe, Manchester
11th June - Ben Folds - The Lowry
17th June - REM (with The Zutons & Feeder) - Lancashire Cricket Club
15th July - Aimee Mann - Manchester University

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Do Me Bad Things - Yes

A nine-piece band from Croydon? Doesn't sound all that promising does it, but this album may well be one of the pleasant surprises of the year so far. Weird doesn't begin to describe the band, but as long as you listen with an open mind, and are prepared for a certain amount of silliness (I mean, come on, COWBELLS?), then you should find much to enjoy here.

Singles Time For Deliverance, What's Hideous and The Song Rides pretty much set the tone (if you didn't like them, well then you are better off looking elsewhere) but there is plenty to enjoy throughout the album if one can stomach heavy metal tunes with operatic singing! But seriously, beyond the laughs there are enough killer tunes on this stomping record to hook in pretty much anyone prepared to give them a go. Whether or not their rise will last though, is open to question.

Icon's View - 3 1/2 out of 5.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Madeleine Peyroux - Careless Love

It is no exageration to say that someone listening to this CD for the first time, with no knowledge of the artist in question, could believe that this was some remastered version of some classic 1920's or 1930's album long since forgotten about. Whilst this is very much a modern album, featuring tracks made famous by the likes of Leonard Cohen and Boby Dylan, there is that authentic air of Billie Holliday and Bessie Smith always permeating through.

Quite how this is seen as the "true" style to Norah Jones' "commercial" efforts is beyond me, but it is clear that Madeleine is donig the music she loves and she's doing it bloody well. My particular favourites include "Dance Me To The End Of Love" which surely makes any man listening want to do whatever she asks of them and "Don't Wait Too Long", which is, ironically, one of the few original tracks on the album. Where it falls down is the over-abundance of slower melancholic songs, which whilst being authentic, don't do much for me.

But having said that, the very fact I like this album, when the "style" is certainly not one that I am over-enamoured with, perhaps shows just what a classy piece of work this is. If you have any liking whatsoever for the era of Billie Holiday, then this is certainly an abum for you.

Icon's view - 3 1/2 out of 5.

Nerina Pallot - Fires

Dear Frustrated Superstar was one of the best albums of 2001, and was one of the best debuts by a female singer songwriter that I have heard. Of course the problem was that not too many other people heard it, which always led me to fear that a follow up would never be released. Well it's taken four years, but Nerina Pallot has finally gotten around to releasing Fires, her second, and equally breathtaking, album.

This is just full of great track after great track with memorable tunes, and great lyrics. From the opening track Everybody's Gone To War, with it's memorable "I've got a friend, he's a pure-bred killing machine...and he'll be dead by Christmas" lyric this is just pure class all the way.

Standout tracks for me are Halfway Home, Idaho and Geek Love, which, with it's catchy chorus lyric of "So hey, you, could you give it a rest. Just take me home and get me undressed", could be the hit single which finally, and justifably, let's the rest of the world in on the charms of this great singer-songwriter. This is quite, simply, a must buy.

And on a final note, I "made her day" when I exchanged messages with her so that's just another reason to love her.

Icon's View - 5 out of 5

The Subways LIVE

First things first, 53 Degrees in Preston is a pretty rubbish venue. And a weird shape as well.

But now that's over, lets concentrate on what was a pretty awesome concert. Normally, watching a band whose songs you don't know can be a pretty baffling experience, but track after track here was top quality, with hardly a ballad/slow song in sight.

"Oh Yeah" is one of the most exuberant singles of the year so far, but it was by no means the only highlight of the set. Heavy, without losing the pop sensibility that I love so much, this was a great night. If there is any justice in this world (sorry Lemarr) The Subways should be a name on everyone's lips by the end of the year!

And Charlotte is Grade A teasely! Good job I spotted her first hey Gee man?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Shakin Stevens - The Collection

Well, what can I say about this one?

Since I was about 2 years old, Shaky has been one of my favourites. Hell, I once wrote to Jim'll Fix It in hope of meeting the great man (I didn't, but I did get sent a signed photograph) and Shaky did send me a get well card when I was hopsitalised. But that is hardly the point here is it?

Quite frankly, this does exactly what is says on the tin. It's collects 25 of Shaky's greatest hits (including FOUR number one UK singles) and is pure joy from start (This Old House) to finish (Merry Christmas Everyone) and proves exactly why Shaky was THE biggest selling solo artist in the UK charts in the 1980's.

My personal top 5 Shaky singles would be (in no particular order) A Little Boogie Woogie (In The Back Of My Mind), Lipstick Powder & Paint, A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around And Fall In Love), I’ll Be Satisfied and, perhaps my favourite of all A Letter To You. Throw in the best Christmas record EVER, and a free DVD collecting 12 Shaky promo videos, and you have one bloody brilliant package. Buy it NOW!

Icon's View - 5 out of 5!!!!!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Martha Wainwright - Martha Wainwright

There was certainly a lot of hype and expectation riding on the release of this album. With her mother, father and brother all successful (artistically at least) recording artists, the pressure was surely on. But then again, maybe not. Martha's view's on her parents are plainly on show in the song "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole", and perhaps Martha simply doesn't care for the inevtiable comparisions with her family.

Thankfully shorn of the over-blown, some would say pompous, arrangements that her brother Rufus favours, this is a good album, without ever really threatening to really live up to the expectations some placed on it.

When it's good, as in the afformentioned BMFM, "Ball and Chain" and "TV Show" it's very good, but that level of quality isn't sustained over the whole of the album. It's a promising debut, at times hauntingly beautiful and at others filled with raw, flamed propelled, energy, but, and perhaps this is just me here, I was expecting more. It's well worth a listen, but you get the feeling the best is still yet to come.

Icon's view - 3 out of 5