Tag Archives: review

Nobuteru Maeda – Nobuteru Maeda & His Blues Friends

Nobuteru Maeda ‎– Nobuteru Maeda & His Blues Friends [Sony Records ‎– SRCL 2566]

A decent blues-rock album. I don’t know very much when it comes to popular music in Japan, so on my last visit I picked up handfuls of random CD’s out of the bargain bins at various shops. This one was in the pack, and has been a great listen. I like blues rock as it is, and this is a good record demonstrating a Japanese take on it. Although most of the titles here are in English, don’t be fooled as the songs are all in Japanese. The instrumentation is good too, providing a very laid back lounge mood to the album overall. However at points it can feel quite dated, which does bring the rating down for me just slightly.

Various – Channel U Presents: Underground Chapter 2

Various ‎– Channel U Presents: Underground Chapter 2 [Long Lost Brother Records ‎– LLBUD1]

This release is probably not for my demographic. British, white suburban kid, early 20s. I’m not a big grime head, and for some reason find it difficult to find UK hip-hop that I actually enjoy – so a release that consists of a lot of grime and UK hip-hop will always be a difficult swallow for me. However I can appreciate good production, talent and general passion. Now most of the acts founds here are so underground that they barely registered on anyone’s radar, and gave up after a few releases – however there may be good reason behind that. The first half of this compilation is pretty good going – featuring names that were already or were going to become big names in the UK music scene. However the second half is terrible. Production is usually poor, singing/rap talent is sometimes so bad it’s X-Factor audition cringey and then the music videos are just something else. A lot of these acts do feel very lo-fi, they almost all feel like media student projects. I guess if you dig this type of music you can find something here, but I cannot and find the second half of this release brings it down.

Various – Loud Rocks Advance Sampler

Various ‎– Loud Rocks Advance Sampler [Loud Records / Columbia ‎– RPROCD 4435]

This album is a pure product of its time. I don’t think such a record could ever really exist at any other point in time in music history. Growing up through this period, and feeling strangely nostalgic for all things from the turn of the millennia I find this record very interesting. Yet although interesting, in the aspect of how it came to be, I do not find it in any way enjoyable. I love hip-hop from this era, the emergence and popularity of hardcore hip-hop. I love metal from this era, nu-metal and funk metal taking the throne of the heavy metal scene. Yet when some record execs at Columbia decided to actually combine the two, I feel that it sounded better in the board meeting than it actually does in the flesh.

It feels like I am listening to a constant loop of early 2000’s action movie trailer soundtracks.

Katy B – Little Red

Katy B ‎– Little Red [Rinse / Columbia ‎– 88883743952]

I thought terribly inane generic dance-pop had died out by 2014, clearly not. I can’t say much about this album because there isn’t much to say about it aside from the fact that it is boring as hell to listen to. The beats and rhythms go nowhere interesting and rarely fit well with Katy’s vocals. Lyrical content is pretty boring too, songs about falling in love on the dance-floor and such and various other themes that relate to nightclub life. The album tries nothing new, and just uses a tired formula almost a year old. Sounds like the work of a solo project from one of the girls from Girls Aloud or Sugababes – poor output from Rinse.

Jason Mraz ‎– We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things

Jason Mraz ‎– We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things [Atlantic ‎– 7567-89929-4]

This album is pure fun. Pure sunshine, and takes me back to my teenage years when this album came out. When this album came out I had recieved my first ever computer to call my own, met my first true teenage love and found this wonderful service called YouTube.

I came to this album like many through the popular track, “I’m Yours” a fantastic soppy love song. But I did not find the original first, no instead I was hooked on watching a cover on YouTube over-and-over again. As always one thing led to another and I came to this album, and it was great.

The thing about this album is that I /should/ hate it – its generic, it doesn’t break any new ground but its just unhateable. I was a Jack Johnson super fan at the time that I discovered this album, and that most likely played a big part as I was a big lover (and still am to some effect) of acoustic pop. So much so that two other artists who I thoroughly enjoyed at the time also appear on this album – Jack Morrison and Colbie Caillat.

This album bounces from track to track with extremely light and happy melodies however some tracks lyrics move towards more serious and troublesome themes – namely the track “Love For A Child”. I love this track, most probably because it tells a story and I love story songs, but it just has this wonderful bittersweetness to it. Another track that I thoroughly enjoy is Coyotes, it has this brooding emotion about it that I find difficult to explain. Of course set up against any other “menacing” track that I came to discover later in my music life, this track falls flat and sounds like any other pop song, but against the backdrop of the happy-go-lucky tracks presented this song punches hard.

But with my rose-tinted glasses off for a moment, disconnecting myself from the sentimental properties of this album – would I enjoy it if it came out today? Unlikely, I don’t think I would vehemently hate it – but if you explained to me that it was just white guy rapping with an acoustic guitar I’d be rather unimpressed and would go back to listening to my main course of hip-hop and tragic indie tracks.

However this isn’t the case, this album just makes me happy – almost to the point of breaking face and wanting to dance around and be cheerful. I can happily listen to all 50 minutes of this release without much complaint, seldom reaching for the next track button. Do I listen to anything else Mraz has put out? Nope. Do I intend to? Unlikely

I don’t want to ruin what this mostly inconspicuous pop album means to me.

Also, Mraz looks terribly similar to someone I know from my hometown – spooky.

Fall Out Boy – Believers Never Die – Greatest Hits

Fall Out Boy ‎– Believers Never Die – Greatest Hits [Mercury Music Group / Decaydance / Fueled By Ramen ‎– 2725518]

A very strong compilation for seasonal fans of Fall Out Boy like myself. I remember Fall Out Boy’s Sugar, We’re Goin Down was one of the first songs I ever had on my new 512MB MP3 player, just at the point where I had moved secondary (high) schools. Fall Out Boy are very similar to bands like Linkin Park in being the sound of a generation, my generation. Pop punk and emo-pop was the soundtrack to those formative years where we are experiencing new feelings and thoughts, leaving our childhood behind to venture into more adult activities.

Fall Out Boy are one of the most famous bands from this era that almost any 20-something knows who they are and a few of their hit songs. At the time FOB were hot news I did try and indulge myself in their albums but I found myself only really listening to the same hit songs. Well luckily for me they released a greatest hits album in 2009, which allowed me to keep high quality copies of my favourite tracks without having to have 4 albums in my collection that I only enjoyed 30% of.

I can only really comment on the first ~60% of this album as these are the only tracks that interest me, by the point FOB had released 2008’s Fall Out Boy – Folie À Deux, edgy teenager me had moved past listening to FOB and began fixating on heavier content (both in sound and content). But I will never forget the memories that are attached to the hits from 2004-2007, and so this album is in my opinion 100% worth it for the nostalgia trip alone.

A great compilation for a part-time fan of Fall Out Boy, but offers nothing special for hardcore fans.

Bob Dylan – Legends

Bob Dylan ‎– Legends [Global Journey ‎– GJ 7776]

This is quite an unusual release. Global Journey are often known for putting out trash “new age” recordings of whale song, pan pipes or whatever else in the public domain they can get their hands on and then selling them for silly prices in garden centers, tea rooms and outlets across the UK. So to my surprise when I see this new series they have released, the Legends series. About 50+ releases of actual decent music, one of them being this release which is simply a re-issue of the original 1962 debut album from Bob Dylan. This is an original recording at a budget price (I paid around £2.50 as I bought mine in a multi-buy deal). So what do you get? Well the CD is a CD and there aren’t any strange artifacts or noise in the recording. The case is flimsy and cheap and bends easily in the hands. The booklet and inlay are also thin with no credits or any interesting information. So this is a good way to pick up a legendary album and that’s about it.

Charles Brown – Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies Volume 2

Charles Brown ‎– Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies Volume 2 [Blues Spectrum ‎– BS 102]

I’m still very wet behind the ears when it comes to blues music knowledge, but I like to think I know good blues music when I hear it. I picked this record up from a pop-up market at a church in Norwich where various old “antiques” and collectibles are sold. I’ve picked up some good records from here, and plenty not so good – not in quality of the product, more that the content doesn’t work for me.

When I pulled this record out of the £3 bargain bin section amongst many Perry Como and Neil SedakaLP’s I knew that I wanted it. Purely because in big retro letters it stated BLUES and OLDIES. However my heart began to fill with doubt – the sleeve was in a bad way, mottled and slightly discoloured and the whole record had an air of budget to it. I’ve bought budget records from the likes of K-TelHallmark Records and Music For Pleasure and had varied results from poor pressings to anemic compilations. To add to this doubt the record was rather thin and in your typical blank white paper sleeve. But I bought it anyway, I just loved it so much.

I got it home along with 20 other records I had picked up that day, and began to listen to it and its FANTASTIC! It doesn’t pop, crackle, there is no audible noise and the selection of tracks on offer here are great. I don’t know much about the content on the record, but I enjoy it – its that smoky room blues music that I crave at the moment. Definitely recommended.

Fun. – Some Nights

Fun. ‎– Some Nights [Fueled By Ramen ‎– 7567-88262-8]

It feels almost like yesterday that you could not escape Fun.‘s radio hit We Are Young – and as always here at the sound.and.vision HQ I am rather late in keeping up with the joneses. I don’t know why I am still surprised to find what I call “new” releases in charity shops, considering I regard a 5 year old release “new” – either way I picked this up for a small sum in a bundle lot. I was never a big fan of the original hit when it came out, as those who have read my other reviews know any pop music made in the last 10 years rarely is; however I am always keen to give everything a try.

Well let me say this – Some Nights is an album I could have quite easily not have heard, any my life be indifferent. I am tired – a long day staring at a computer screen with wonderful white fluorescent lights shining above me would most probably be the cause for that, however this does not usually cause too much of a problem for listening to new music. The only thing is that I usually have less tolerance for stuff I don’t enjoy. Unfortunately for the artists, performers and bands whose new releases I listen to of an evening – I am always bloody tired. Well sadly this release did not help my tiredness, it simply irritated me and was “tiresome” to listen to. Normally I continue to listen to the release while I type my review but this time I have stopped it, my ears only receptive to the quiet draft my desk fan is generating and the rather peaceful whistle of the hot water boiler running.

I get why this album was a hit, I get why people like it – it certainly has that “fresh air” feel to it. Its very… poppy. It’s very bouncy with every song sounding like it is out of a theatre production. I think that is why people like it, and I, at this time (and most probably into the future) do not. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of theatrical music and depending on the show you may find me in the audience of a show – but I have to be in the mood to listen to it, and sadly I am not in that mood. But I regard myself as a smart individual and try and see past my current end-of-the-week fatigue and consider if I would listen to this record again. No. No is the answer, I do not see myself listening to this record ever again. Nothing personal against any of the performers, there is just nothing that clicks and as there are hundreds of other releases that are destined for these tired ears I am not going to waste time re-listening to something that simply didn’t catch my attention the first time round.

Sadly for “Fun.” their fame has been rather short lived, and they have fallen out of the general consciousness of 2017 as they have not released another album and all of the members have gone on to do other things. Maybe they could do a come back tour in 10 years time for all their teeny-bopper fans, that is of course if teeny-boppers existed in 2012. Even so, it would be a short show with material from one album to perform (with some padding of their original independent release).

To sum up? A very theatrical pop record, which did in fairness stand out against the other drab shite on the radio at the time. Sadly this success didn’t make a big enough splash in the mainstream pool as we are still as a race subject to terrible chart radio at the moment.

Various – Crystal Top Music Presents

Various ‎– Crystal Top Music Presents [CrystalTop Music ‎– CTM-CD004]

I love compilations such as these. These are the compilations I strive to find in dusty record stores, damp charity shops and at the bottom of destroyed cardboard boxes at car boots. Compilations like these that are so varied, spanning various genres, filled with new music that you’ve likely never heard of before, introducing you and your friends to new acts and performers you’d have otherwise missed.

Sadly I didn’t find this compilation at a record store, nor charity shop or car boot – instead I had to resort to ordering it online.

Ok give me my due, this was the first compilation like this that I ended up owning. Without this release I would have never guessed such varied compilations existed in the world, as prior my only exposure to compilations were the more common mainstream pop offerings such as NOW and Smash Hits.

Of course as is always the case releases special as this have a story behind them. I cast my mind back almost 10 years ago now, I was old enough to watch “grown-up” American drama’s like LOST and Prison Break with my mother that were aired on satellite television. She had found out about a new show, Hidden Palms. I loved this show, I don’t know why in hindsight it doesn’t hold up that well in comparison to the US blockbuster series I would come to watch in the decade to come, but more than the show I loved two other things. The first was the scene of Amber Heard running through a field of sprinklers in a white dress, and the second was the theme song, “Blind” by Mega Bass.

Now the issue with this theme song was it was a real pain the ass to locate on the internet, not because it was 2007/8 internet or because I was 14 and unable to use Google properly. No because unfortunately the band decided on an extremely generic name for themselves, which would bring up numerous happy hardcore acts instead. I searched on and off for a while to find this track, at the time I used to locate most of my music on the wonderful Limewire/Kazaa Gold software. With endless supply of “free” music I began to develop a hunger for new and different music, and so I began using iTunes to discover a lot of new music. It was here that I managed to locate this track, but it only ever appeared on this compilation. I was a kid, of course I had no money to pay the £0.99 for the track definitely not in the dreaded .m4a format that did not work with my Creative MP3 player. So I kept it in the back of my mind where this track appeared, never forgetting.

Fast forward a few years to 2010, at this time I had a small job which meant MONEY! What did I spend my money on? MUSIC! Mostly CD’s at the time, a few records as I was just getting into that. It got to the point that instead of buying bus fare which could speed up my 2 mile walk to town by a good hour, I would prefer to save that money for buying music. Smart. Anyway, I knew I would not find this record in any HMV in the UK, nor in any charity shop or at any car boot. So I began to look online, I don’t recall it taking long to find it on Amazon UK and I was amazed. Gobsmacked, only £3! (I was easily surprised back then, fearing that such a small fry-record release from the far away lands of the United States would cost a bomb in jolly ol’ Britain)

So I still have this CD in my collection, I don’t think I will ever get rid of it. It is a great compilation in my opinion, but it is not perfect. There are a few dud tracks but there are some great entries on here. Remember I purchased this CD for ONE track only, so who knew what I would think of the other 10.

Here are my favourites:

Momma’s Boy, Elizabeth & The Catapult
At the time of getting this CD I was entering my sour period in my music tastes, preferring more “mature” music that still had the edge of sarcasm, frustration and anger of the pop-punk and emo music I had been gorging myself on years prior. A long way off from discovering the joys of Fiona Apple or the Eels, I discovered this track. As the first track I listened to this before the track I had purchased it for and wow, I loved LOVED it. I loved Liz’s passive-aggressive, almost mean spirited lyrics that just came as nasty stabs at the protagonist in the song. I loved how I found an “angry” song which did not involve screaming, thrashing guitars and fast paced drums – no this song has a beautiful female vocalist and an upbeat melody that contrasts against the lyrical content. Fantastic, this was evolution for me.

Blind, Mega Bass
If it wasn’t for this track, if it wasn’t for Hidden Palms, if it wasn’t for US TV, if it wasn’t for Amber Heard – I would have never even picked this release up, and maybe never had bought another compilation/sampler ever. I love this track, its a shame that the band have never (according to Discogs) put out anything else but this track (band member and vocalist Aiden Hawken had another track on this release, and his own solo career). In my mind this song is late 2000’s Californian coast music, light, airy, streaks of electronica but nothing overpowering – if I had to classify it it would most probably slip somewhere between trip-hop and the vague Indie Electronic genre.

Foreign Country, Christina Courtin’s Running Kicks
Although I didn’t take to this track as much as I did the first track on this release, Foreign Country soon became a favourite of mine. I would say this track is what sent me down a path of finding female lead acts with an unusual vocal style leading me to acts such as Soko (5). Also I fell in love with the line, “If I was a foreign country – would you come visit me?”

Late Night With Christina, Aidan Hawken
Ok maybe I took to this song so quickly because Aiden is the vocalist of the track that brought me to this release in the first place. But I really enjoyed this light, easy going folk indie/americana track and it worked well to fuel my new found passion in those genres. Although this is track is not one of my favourites from Aiden in himself, I have included it in this highlights list as it did bring me to his work.

Tobaco Y Ron, Luz Mob
I am still terrible with my knowledge when it comes to Latin music. But I do really, really enjoy this track. It’s just a fun, summery track that works well in the mixing pot that is this sampler. There are other Latin tracks on this album but this is always the one that stands out.

This compilation to me is summer. I don’t know if there was a theme indented for this compilation or not, but to me it will always symbolise an American summer – something I would not experience until a good 5 years later. This compilation may not to be to everyones taste, and sadly it appears that CrystalTop Music did not do as well as hoped but like I have explained in this short review this compilation has a special meaning to me, making it pretty much invaluable to me.