Showing posts from November, 2010

Blow Up Hollywood - Fake

A recent rediscovery for me are this nigh on un-categorisable and enigmatic band from New York. Fronted by Steve Messina (voice/guitar), ably assisted by Thad DeBrock (guitars, processing), Dave Eggar (cello) and Daniel Mintseris (keyboards), the band give no information on personnel on their album covers, and very little on their website, the info here comes from

They revel in their anonymity, are not easily pigeonholed and have produced a highly varied body of work since 2002. The band have gone from orchestral minimalism to ambient to prog, and have even tackled the dreaded concept album.

This, their second album, was released in 2004, and is a lovingly produced musical journey through love and loss. Fake it certainly is not. Haunting, melancholic and uplifting by turns, there are ten songs on the album, five with vocals, five instrumentals. A simple but effective musical motif runs through the album like lettering in a stick of rock …

Merry Xmas Everybody!

...or not if you loathe reality shows, especially the lowest bland denominator X Factor. This showbiz behemoth has dominated Xmas music sales for what seems like forever with it's soulless tat. That strange beast the General Public, who watch this show in their millions and then buy the trash it churns out can't be all wrong can they? YES THEY CAN. I've just watched the Robert Plant Electric Prom that was broadcast on BBC4 last week. Now over 60 and exuding a calm authority coupled with an ongoing enthusiasm for searching out new ways to present some classic old countryfied material, with the odd Led Zeppelin classic thrown in for good measure, this guy has something that X Factor contestants will never have unless they have already "paid their dues" or if they go on to forge an extremely unlikely 40 odd year career in music - soul. Call it mojo, feeling, spirituality, it's something a game show contestant whose only experience in music is squawking along to …

Amplifier - Insider

I want to like this band, I really do. You see, my best mate raves about them and I like to support struggling bands, so I've just pre-ordered their forthcoming labour of love The Octopus, which comes with 70 page book all made without the help of a record label no less. You have to admire ambition like that, and at £30 I'm hoping it's an improvement on their previous full album, Insider, released in 2006.

In preparation for receiving this mighty work, I thought I would give their sophomore effort Insider a spin. This is an album I've often overlooked in favour of their more immediate self titled debut. The three piece make a good fist of wall of noise guitar rock with the odd sound effect thrown in for good measure. The problem I have with this is a distinct lack of light and shade and a lack of dynamics which leads to it all sounding a bit samey from about halfway in. There was only one modern(ish) three piece guitar/bass/drums band who managed to keep my attention  …

No-Man - Together We're Stranger

This is No-Man's fifth album originally released in 2003. No-Man is a collaboration between vocalist and lyricist Tim Bowness, and Steven Wilson, or "The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz" and this album is a collection of minimalist near ambient and sometimes avant-garde soundscapes over songs that drift along in a dreamy but never unfocused way.

Tim's lyrics are heartfelt paeans to the break up of a relationship as the title track suggests, and melancholy memories in the gorgeous ten minute Photographs In Black And White, amongst other introspective and abstract delights. His voice breathily wanders in and out of the guitar and soundscapes ambient mix, and a harmonium is in there too....and a clarinet...lovely.

If I were to compare Tim's voice with anyone, it would have to be David Cassidy - I kid you not! He has the same range and breathy style. The comparison is purely in a sonic sense, as there any similarity ends.

Reference points include The Blue Nile, and, …