Review: Balkan brass sideshow is a blast

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IF YOU’RE looking for some music that’s exciting, energetic and just a little bit bonkers, then I suggest you get on board the Gipsy Balkan Caravan of the Boban and Marko Markovic Orchestra.
This Gipsy Manifesto LP is the group’s first album in four years, and you imagine they have been doing nothing but touring around performing their raucous, joyous Balkan brass in the interim – they clearly enjoy what they’re doing.
This collection starts off at a blistering pace with Caje Sukarije, which mixes brass with beats and a boing boing noise, and each and every track up until 2/3rds through either matches this pace or puts the foot even further on the gas.
It’s full on, and fun – but at 16 tracks long it is exhausting, like being around a host who’s trying a bit too hard to entertain. I think my three-year-old maybe enjoyed it more than me, perhaps as it sounds like tuning in to a crazy, confusing foreign kids TV show at times.
So while an upbeat diversion, perhaps this Orchestra is best suited to being a fun sideshow than a main attraction.

Haiku Reviews

SLAP on the wrist, I’ve been struggling to keep up with the volume of review requests I’ve had through recently and haven’t managed to review all the albums I should have done.
So to make it up to any acts who’ve slipped through the net in recent weeks, I’ve penned a haiku review of some of them.
Here they are –
Saint Max And The Fanatics – Saint Max Is Missing And The Fanatics Are Dead
Derivative rock,
Made much less derivative,
With inventive horns.
Fighting Fiction – The Long And Short Of It
Rabble rousing band,
With political insight,
Distracted by girls.
HAIM – Days Are Gone
Eighties tinted pop,
Perfect for the summertime,
Released in Autumn?
Deaf Havana – Old Souls
Wanted to review,
Postman delivered the case,
With no CD in.

Review: Samuel is a rising star

INTRODUCTORY EP Falling Star showcases someone who’s sure to be a rising star, even if he’s not quite at his heavenly best yet.
Samuel’s short and sweet iniation is a production of electronic bleeps and bass which although serving a purpose, are only a launchpad for the artist’s vocal.
Because in the crowded constellation of soulful electronic artists, where the likes of Jamie Woon and James Blake shine bright, the raw yearning tone of Samuel’s voice should set him apart.
His pipes are rich and emotional, but with an unusual edge – at times he sounds like Frank Ocean, at others he finds unusual sounds, like the hints of Ezra Koenig I detect on Death Star Wonder.
Samuel should be a rising star, and this is a decent launchpad for him – he needs to add fuel to this with his full offering now.

Review: Scroobius Pip and Dan le Sac need to sync

I ALWAYS get disappointed when listening to a Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip album for the first time, and Repent Replenish Repeat was no different.
It’s a funny little paradox – I love the work of both acerbic hirsute frontman Pip and shady knob twiddler le Sac individually, but rarely do they seem to both fire on all cylinders on the same track.
For example, Pip’s standout tracks here – evilly dark and dextrous opener Stunner, or the sublime storytelling work of Terminal – don’t coincide with the best instrumentals underneath – such as the slinky groove of Nightbus Sleepers.
The comparison of these pair’s fluctuations is only amplified by the fact that both are completely on point on closing track You Will See Me, which is a mle ahead of the rest of this album.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good album, possibly a great album after a couple more listens – it’s just a frustration that these two can’t get in complete sync more often during its course, because when they do they’re peerless.

Review: The Pure Conjecture need to prove themselves

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SUPERGROUP The Pure Conjecture – made up of members of British Sea Power, The Brakes, Electric Soft Parade and more – pick an unusual choice for an opener to their second album.
Because there are interesting ideas all over their second LP, Gendres.
I Just Want You To Love Me and Surfin’ Sunset have overtones of surf rock, Opinion Fatigue drips with Pet Sounds harmonies, Dictators has its sound subtley but brillantly warped, etc.
But the band choose a mediocre indie track, Roadworks On Memory Lane, a forgettable track about being completely unremarkable, to start.
This kind of sums up this collection for me – despite all the good things going on here, this soft soul indie rock record has an aura of unremarkbleness all over.
The Pure Conjecture may be a supergroup on paper, but on this evidence to argue they’resuper on record would be speculative at best.

Review: Chilled out Moby leaves me cold

INNOCENTS, the new album from Moby, couldn’t be more chilled out if you kept it in the fridge.
Hell, you could use the case to keep small, circular edible products fresh, like garlic sausage perhaps, so chilled is this release.
And when you press play on the opening track, Everything That Rises, there’s the promise of something good here – trouble is, so chilled out as Moby is here, it never really bothers to arrive.
By the time Almost Home arrives and Damien Jurado’s Bon Iver lite – Pas Bon Iver perhaps – is piping out of the speakers, you realise that proceedings and never going to warm up.
The theory is shortly proved, when the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne performs the jarring, below par single The Perfect Life.
That’s not to say this album isn’t without merit – some of the latter tracks, such as A Long Time and Mark Lanegan collaboration The Lonely Night, do fulfill the promise of the opener – but by then, the listener has been left cold.

Review: Strumpets only worth a fling

BELGIAN Argentinean rock group Strumpets have a classic feel to their sound.
Everything from their choice of artwork and the font of the title to the sound that comes drifting out of the speakers would suggest that this was an album crafted in the days of Fleetwood Mac and Steeleye Span, not 2013.
Because there’s a vintage vibe to Rubies & Ruffians – there’s a lazy, airy feel to the guitar work here, and harmonies the Beach Boys or The Beatles would have been proud of, with touchstones of ’60s psychedlic pop too.
But there is something not quite classic about this release, the nonchalent air of the recordings not quite connecting with me, the album not quite the sum of its parts.
This means that while Strumpets are well worth a fling, they are still only likely to ever be a passing passion.