Exilent adventures

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IDM producer Tim Exile‘s new album, Listening Tree, has a bark worse than its bite.
Because although Tim Exile, real name Tim Shaw, clearly has all the necessary beats and bleeps at his disposal to bear a brilliant fruit, the album teeters on the edge of being fantastic without actually taking the plunge.
Exile originally plied his trade as a drum and bass artist, and there’s evidence of this at work at points throughout Listening Tree – it’s no coincidence that when he lets a beat ride, such as on When Every Day’s A Number, he’s at his most compelling.
And the DJ, also a trained violinist, is up there with the best when squeezing every last drop from his tracks, rather than simply looping and layering.
But listening to this it’s clear that he needs to get back to his roots – because there are too many tracks like Pay Tomorrow and the dire Bad Dust on Listening Tree which are just dead wood.

Fighting With Wire on fire

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DERRY rockers Fighting With Wire released their debut album earlier this month to little fanfare – so allow me to blow their trumpets a little now.
Because Man Vs. Monster is an incendiary alternative rock LP that deserves to fire up as many people as I can encourage to listen to it.
Sounding like an angry young Foo Fighters or Biffy Clyro, the group bash their way through fiery track after fiery track of top notch no-nonsense rock.
It’s not big – such as U2 – and it’s not clever – like The Decemberists, say – but for me, this is the most enjoyable album of the year to date.

Sewage in outlets

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ONE of the most irritating things about music journalism is genres.
When I was a hard rockin’ teen growing up, the world was easily divided into pop, rock, dance and hip hop – with jazz, classical, opera, folk and other sad grown up musics hiding in the shadows.
Now ridiculous genres like whizzgrind and twazzmodica spring into being every other NME.
They’re more trouble than their worth – I’ve had arguments, actual arguments, over what does and does not constitute math rock.
I say this because oxymoronic Londoners The Rank Deluxe release their debut album You Decide on Monday, showcasing a style they describe as “sewage”.
They can say what they like I suppose – it’s their business.
The sound of You Decide is actually a mess of punk, indie rock and reggae – a kind of soiled ska – which, as their two-toned moniker suggests, has good and bad points.
Certain tracks, such as frisky little opener Doll Queue, come ripping out of the speakers with all the ferocity of the group’s renowned live shows.
However others, like Stereotypes, simply don’t translate from the stage to the studio so well.
Ultimately it’s not all that deluxe, but not that rank either – but is it any good?
You decide.

Cook half-baked

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AS I pointed out in my recent review of Kelly Clarkson‘s All I Ever Wanted, I simply do not know what we’re going to do with all these American Idols.
David Cook, winner of series seven of the show, releases yet another slick collection of inoffensive pop tracks, this time in an AOR style, on Monday.
And I just can’t summon up the strength to find any way to appreciate his self-titled album on any level.
I am apathetic to the driving Nickelback-lite guitar anthems on show.
I am disinterested in his honey-dipped gravel tones, or the fact that credible artists including Our Lady Peace‘s Raine Maida have lined up to help out on David Cook.
I don’t even flinch when told he had released an album prior to winning the reality TV show.
He may be infinitely better than wet blankets like Leon Jackson – who the UK actually voted for – but as Jackson is already waiting in the dole queue in the UK less than two years after winning The X-Factor, then why should we let Cook and co into the charts.

Ashdowne on the up

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DESPITE only taking their first tentative steps into the big leagues with debut A Warning To The Curious – which was recorded before the band were lined up by a record company – Ashdowne clearly don’t lack ambition.
Recorded in a custom-built studio by the Mountsorrel and Leicester-based group, to say they like their songs big is like saying Shane MacGowan is partial to a drink.
The tracks on A Warning To The Curious lace their epic driving soft rock with strings, horns, pianos and even World War II news bulletins to stirring effect.
In fact, although this is the first offering from Ashdowne, perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay them is that A Warning To The Curious really sounds like the work of seasoned pros.
● Curious? You can already get the album as a digital download ahead of its release on Monday.

Not my stop

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EACH and every track on Metro Station‘s self-titled debut makes me feel old.
Very old.
The whippersnappers have concocted an Iglu & Hartly-style synth pop act that instead reworks the pop punk and emo outpourings of bands like Blink 182 and Panic! At The Disco.
With puppy dog eyes and asymmetrical lip piercings, the group sing about first loves and teenage kicks over slick, simple electronica.
It’s a surefire hit, and both Shake It and Seventeen Forever have chart-topper all over them – but I just can’t empathise with a band that sing lyrics like “whoa-e oh-e oh oh, I wish we were older”.

Metro Station on track

• NEXT stop, the top of the charts! Metro Station’s self-titled debut album is now in stores.
The pumping electronic emo album features hit single Shake It! and and forthcoming release Seventeen Forever.
• Monstrous metal band Mastodon have released a new album, Crack The Skye.
The thunderous progressive metal LP is the group’s most ambitious and rewarding effort yet.
• Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit show a different side on their latest album, Liver! Lung! FR!
The album is an acoustic rendition of their breakthrough album The Midnight Album Fight, recorded live at The Captain’s Rest in Glasgow.
• Only the finest hip hop and R&B cuts make it into Pure Urban Essentials Spring 2009.
The two disc album, out now, features Madcon, Flo Rida, Jordin Sparks, Estelle and Gym Class Heroes.
• Operahouse have released a brilliant new single, Genius Child, ahead of their new album’s release.
The group, who have been compared to Muse and Radiohead, release Escape From the Sun on April 6.
• In The Cold Wind We Smile, the debut album from rock trio The Xcerts, is out now.
Featuring their anthemic single Crisis In The Slow Lane, the album is sure to blow you away.
• Schizotronic dance producer Kid 606, who aims to combine as many different genres of dance into each track, has two new releases out this month.
The disturbing Mr Wobble’s Nightmare EP is followed by a full album, Shout At The Donor, in late April.
• Northern Irish singer songwriter Ricky Warwick has been charged with helping his national team to World Cup qualification.
The boisterous The Arms Of Belfast Town, out now, has been chosen as the official campaign song by the country’s FA.
• American Idol David Cook has released his eponymous LP in the UK.
A rocky collection of stirring tracks, it’s clear to see why David Cook was voted winner of the show’s seventh series across the pond.
• Rockers Rank Deluxe have released their ska-inflected debut album, You Decide.
You decide.
• If all of this is music to your ears, you can read more from the pop world online at www.echoisaacashe.blogspot.com

Xcellent effort

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UP-AND-coming rock trio The Xcerts‘s debut album should mark the band’s passage into the charts.
Because the band, although raw and rough around the edges, play some enjoyably raucous indie that comes across as a dishevelled collection of extracts of established acts like Idlewild and Snow Patrol.

The Scot rockers don’t play anything particularly ground-breaking on In The Cold Wind We Smile – but that’s nothing to frown about.
A trusted formula done well, The Xcerts are one well worth gleaning for your collection.

Hed Kandi sweetener

QUORN-born popstar Lynsey Shaw has lent her local vocal talents to a new dance track.
The track Read 4 More, by Disco International, will be showcased on the Hed Kandi Spring Mix album, which will be released in April.
The work heralds a new direction for Lynsey as a solo star, as well as her continuing work with her girl group Electric Dolls.
For more information on Lynsey, or to hear the track, click here.