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Various Artists - [PIAS] Alternative Spirit Album Review

When you think of the words alternative spirit you think -upbeat, raucous indie-pop music and that's exactly what this new PIAS compilation album provides. The album consists of 39 tracks from artists such as Roisin Murphy, Basement Jaxx and Fleet Foxes.

[PIAS] Alternative Spirit - Album Review

Alt-J's Left 'Hand Free' is a fun opening track with its catchy hooks and upbeat melodies - a perfect intro that leads into The Black Keys track 'Tighten Up' which is one of the compilations many highlights. With a raw, blues sound it's everything you'd want (and expect) from a Black Keys track.

One of the more guitar heavy tracks comes courtesy of Bloc Party and their contribution '3x3'. Its hard-hitting vocal and frantic playing remind us just how good their album 'Four' (which the song was featured on) was.

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Various Artists - XL Chapter VI Album Review

Being cynical, you could make plenty of assumptions about 2015's "Best of" charts featuring returns for the likes of The Prodigy, Leftfield and The Chemical Brothers. All worthy choices they may be (Okay OKAY except that Prodigy which album was rubbish) but the inclusion of a number of boppers whose best samples are definitely behind them in the gong list pointed to a little stagnation in electronic music around it's edges. Sure, there's been plenty of interesting stuff this year, but much of it wasn't club music in any real sense. This compilation is a good example. The XL label has been around for long enough for it to be 20 years since the last edition of this series was released, a pedigree which suggests they know how to turn water into wine regularly enough. They claim that their "..DNA is made up of weird, outsider, two-fingers-up electronic records that crawl out of the concrete and onto wax", a hefty set of self props, but ones mostly proven here by the intriguing choices the compilers have made.

Various Artists - XL Chapter VI Album Review

Firstly you've got to admire their refusal to pander to a specific niche, even in a genre riven by fragmental, insta-movements which germinate in closed forums and are over before you've even heard of them. Instead the selection here bravely spans all kinds of beats, times of night and vibes, looking backwards as well as into your next Friday night rave.

Let's also not forget one final thing: you need to be able to dance to this stuff - and this is where Chapter VI wins. Opener Special Request by Amnesia may sound other than it's odd garage bass flourishes like it was culled from a decades old previous release in the series, with it's spectral up front piano line, funky break and diva sample, but it's still midnight and on the money. Similarly bubbling with intent, MC Novelist rhymes over Mumdance's fuss-free bass lines on 1 sec like he believes it's all the time he's going to get to prove himself, whilst rLr's I Am Paint is fresh but weirdly alienated sounding dubstep filtered with jagged sample loops.

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Various Artists - Renaissance: The Mix Collection; Tale Of Us Album Review

The compilation CD is something of a dying art form nowadays, replaced instead with Soundcloud mixes, Mixcloud playlists and so forth; the lost art of assembling a physical release that people might genuinely be interested in seems to be a waste of time, money and energy altogether. Thankfully though, this isn't an idea shared by everyone, in particular the people at Renaissance Recordings, who have released an inspired mix collection featuring some of the biggest (and some not so big but still equally exciting) names in house and dance. 

Renaissance: The Mix Collection.. Album Review

Fashionable or otherwise, the Tale of Us mix is a great little teaser into some of the more obscure factions of house and deep house, with Gold Panda, Simian Mobile Disco, Daniel Avery and a Four Tet remix being some of the biggest names on the record. The lack of big names by no means spells bad things for the album though, as the newcomers take on the task of filling out the album with ease and impressive consequences.

Split into two discs, the first is a collage of ethereal, dreamy tracks stood tall next to more serious house bangers, Gran Cavaliere's opener 'Dancing Alma' setting the ball rolling with a lush undercurrent that runs through most of the earlier tracks. By the time we get to the crashing cymbals mid-song in 'Life and Death' by Tale of Us & Clockwork featuring The/Das, the pace begins to pick up, but it isn't until we reach the groovy beat and wobble of the bass on Roman Flügel's 'Cookies Dust' that things really start to escalate. Flügel's track blends effortlessly into the equally infectious 'Hardboy' by one of house's most watched up and comers, Scuba. Although he is only on remix duty on FaltyDL's 'Straight & Arrow', it is fitting that Kieran Hebden/Four Tet makes an appearance as his influence can be heard throughout the mix. The track is awash with his trademark vocal glitches and builds from a cavernous chiller to a seriously deep beat. 

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Various Artists - 'Dermot O'Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions 2013' Album Review

Dermot O'Leary's Saturday Sessions Allbum Review

Using a tried-and-tested formula of acoustic versions and covers, this most recent instalment of the series sees further performances for Dermot O'Leary's radio show now available to own.  The artists included cover a broad spectrum, from near-unknowns to arena fillers, and predictably results vary from the terrific to the terrible.

A brave and successful take on 'Eleanor Rigby' from Emeli Sande begins proceedings, while Will Young reminds us of his vocal talent on a lovely rendition of Blondie's 'Hanging On The Telephone'.  The classic Jackson 5 number 'I Want You Back' loses its magic in the hands (or should that be voice?) of Rachel Sermanni, but the running is immediately rescued by The Do taking on Kings Of Leon's 'Sex On Fire'.  They morph the rock anthem into a chill-out moment and in vocalist Olivia Merilahti have a fantastic talent.  Of those presenting their own material, Florence + The Machine and Jessie J give solid presentations of 'Never Let Me Go' and 'Price Tag' respectively, while Robbie Williams' altered performance of 'Candy' does well to take it away from sounding like an advertising jingle and make it a folk-style sing-a-long.

An ill-advised attempt at Blur's 'Song 2' from Plan B begins the second disc in horrendous manner, something that becomes all the more surprising once you hear the beautifully soulful version of 'Empire State Of Mind' gifted by Maverick Sabre.  Miles Kane gives a decent rendition of The 'Stones 'Play With Fire' before Dry The River provide a highlight of this release with a lovely cover of 'Homeward Bound', originally by Simon & Garfunkel.  A trio of British bands close out this record and, for an act with such a fierce live reputation, Kasabian's 'Days Are Forgotten' is limp to say the least.  By contrast, the Manic Street Preachers bring a raucous 'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough' and Athlete provide a stirring 'Wires' - a worthy selection as the latter book-end.

Alex Lai

Sony Music Presents 'Cooking Songs' Released 4 March 2013

Posted on31 January 2013

Sony Music Presents 'Cooking Songs'  Released 4 March 2013

Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album Review

Well, this is the soundtrack to a western, but it's also the soundtrack to the bloody new vision of Quentin Tarantino so while it hints at it, it's not exactly the most classical collection of dusty old desert songs you could imagine. It's a soundtrack that packs just as many punches as his movie and brands those wincingly visceral scenes into your mind as if it was an 'r' on Jamie Foxx's face.

Django Unchained: Soundtrack Album Review

From Ennio Morricone to Rick Ross it's a thrilling OST that somehow manages to modernise the western without completely ruining it in the process, I mean perhaps Rick Ross out of context is a little jarring, but John Legend's 'Who Did That to You?' is the smarmy second gun in Foxx's hand after you think he's all out of bullets. It's drawling guitar line wails with a lone gunman swagger as Legend's R&B vocals cry out with an over the top pulp. This more than any other song on the soundtrack encapsulates your thoughts of not what a Tarantino western is, but what it should be. 

It's difficult to pick out tracks here that are better than the rest, they're all good, but this isn't a record in the usual sense, it's a soundtrack, obviously, and therefore it's about the feeling it brings with it and Tarantino's choices of tracks like 'Freedom' ring with the authenticity of classic slavery hymnals. It's a record that feels as sadistic and redemptive as the tale is on screen and it's a testament to these musicians that you don't need to see the film to understand the tale. It's spliced with some of the finest cuts of dialogue and death from the movie which add an extra layer of texture to this inspired collection and mean that you get to hear Christoph Waltz say, 'five thousand dollar n***a, that's practically my middle name' as much as you bloody well please. 

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Les Miserables - Les Miserables: Highlights From The Motion Picture Soundtrack Album Review

From one end of the internet to the other, review upon review of this collection of Les Miserables songs is cluttered with well-informed opinion. Passionate fans of Schonberg's musical have debated, with fervour, whether or not the omission of songs such as 'Do You Hear The People Sing' has rendered the soundtrack lbum a no-go area, or a forgivable oversight. The well-informed fans, they are cooing over Anne Hathaway. They are open minded about Russell Crowe, though it irks them that other actors could have performed the songs so much better. Many of the reviewers, from one end of the internet to the other, have even performed in this world-famous musical themselves, so they know it inside out, they understand the physical and emotional demands on an actor when it comes to performing these much-loved numbers.

Les Miserables OST - Album Review

Here at, we're doing things a little differently; you can get all the well-informed opinions you like from elsewhere. Our reviewer, it seems, has been holding the fort in some kind of cultural no-man's land for the last few decades and is approaching the Les Miserables soundtrack as a complete 'Les Mis' virgin. Above all else, they are hoping that they will be able to glean all that they need to know about Les Miserables from listening to the soundtrack, so that they can speak confidently about the Oscar-winning movie, come awards day, without actually having to go to the movie theatre.

So, Les Miserables virgin, what have you learned from listening to the soundtrack CD? Do you have a grasp on the basics of the plot, at least?
Frankly, no. I am aware that someone dies, partly because the music got VERY emotional and partly because I had already assumed that that was why they were all so miserable in the first place. Someone steals some silver at some point, there's a confrontation (I know this because there's a song called 'The Confrontation' - handy!) and there's a hearty amount of disagreement going on. You probably could just about follow the story, from the songs, but it's all too easy to get a little bit emotionally caught up in all of the warbling they do. It's no audiobook, I'll tell you that for nothing. It sounds very much like I would expect a hammy musical to sound, but sung by famous people from Hollywood, some of whom are talented vocalists.

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Various Artists - Montreal Bass Culture Vol. 1 Album Review

Imitation: that sincerest form of flattery, or so they say. Normally, this means that the content referred to is some pale facsimile of the original, like but on a bad day. So painfully underground it hurts, when one of the contributing artists on Montreal's Pointé label said they were releasing this compilation as a response to something the Brits had been doing "so well for so long", it has to be said not many people were expecting this package, one so routinely excellent that it deserves to exist far outside of the shadow of anything produced on these shores.

Various Artists - Montreal Bass Culture Vol. 1 Album Review

Of course, for some there's the usual spotters-only discussion about what "Bass Music" actually means, but who the hell cares about the answer to that debate? It's easier just to focus on the tunes brought to you here by people who are genuinely faceless (in a good way), making it easier to deal with any of your preconceptions up front. And Mon Dieu, those Canucks can do bass, whether it's in the amping footwork-esque sirens of Loungery Day's Kapow or running through the sweet, light acid-techno flourishes of KwikFiks' My Heart.

But it's not that easy to win us over across the pond. We're a bit, well, funny really; we get bored easily. So throw some diversity at us, the work of a different point of view of three, and we get happy. Truly here, then, we are blessed as Paveun breathes life into R&B on Let Me Down, warping its soul and then taking a blow torch to the nipples of its usual vacuum packed, sample heavy, auto-tuned grooves, making it darker, more desperate somehow. To follow that MDMA's Alten Schule sounds like a full on punch between the eyes from a rave cannon, huge blasts of sampled white noise and 303 squelches making us come all over all Darwen warehouse circa Xr2i.

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Various Artists - Christmas Rules Album Review

It's the most wonderful time of the year. That guy from the first series of Big Brother is starring as Dick Whittington's cat in the local pantomime, uncouth youths are pelting innocent people at bus stops with snowballs, and every café, store and doctor's office you go in you hear Noddy Holder screaming, "IT'S CHRISTMASSSSS!"   

Christmas Rules Album Review

Now, whether you're a fan of holiday music or not is irrelevant because, just like Brussels sprouts, it's an unavoidable staple of the festive season so you may as well just shut up, smile, and swallow it.  This "alternative" collection of time-honored classics and lesser-known ditties is brought to you by Hear Music, the label owned by Starbucks, and if I had to describe this album to you in one word, that one word would be, well, "Starbucks." 

The album gets off to a Fun start.  Not literally, it's just the band Fun covering Yuletide favorite 'Sleigh Ride'.  The fundamental problem with Fun's interpretation is that it doesn't sound like Christmas.  Unbelievably, some might say criminally, they didn't care to record the magical sound of sleigh bells.  It's all swirly synths and over-produced vocals and it doesn't make me want to drink mulled wine by the fire goddammit! 

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Various Artists - Annie Mac Presents 2012 Album Review

As the face and voice of Radio One's more cutting edge dance grooves, Annie Mac has established herself as one of the station's more credible ambassadors in recent years. Her rite of passage dates back well before Radio One came knocking at her door. Having learned about the perils of the music industry from brother Davey McManus and his bands' The Crocketts and The Crimea's minor successes and ultimate failings, it's hard to imagine the self-confessed former Camdenite party girl to have been under any illusions regarding her own future status.

Annie Mac - Presents 2012 Album Review

These days her show stands out like a sore thumb among the predictable slurry of boybands, watered down R&B and major label puppets permeating the majority of Radio One's playlists. Along with Rob Da Bank and Huw Stephens, she's one of a select few capable of holding their heads up high as devout champions of new music and 'Annie Mac Presents 2012', her fourth compilation since launching the 'Annie Mac Presents.' series in 2009, proves testament to that.

Comprising of a mammoth thirty-seven tracks across two CDs and almost three hours' worth of music in total, 'Annie Mac Presents 2012' might not quite be this year's definitive dance compilation but it certainly stakes its claim with serious intent. Opening proceedings with the more leftfield 'Sleaze' by Knife Party which segues effortlessly into Steve Aoki's 'Beat Down' and the Diplo produced Nicky Da B cut 'Express Yourself', it's anything but an everyday trawl through a typical nine-to-five playlist for the station that likes to celebrate itself as the bastion of new music.

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Various Artists - Rough Trade Shops: Bella Union 15 Album Review

While the major record labels have been in financial decline for over a decade now, mainly bemoaning the increasing influx of illegal internet downloads for their peril, many independents have thrived, largely by operating purely within their means and little else. One such imprint to have prospered is Bella Union, the label founded by former Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde in 1997. Having initially created the label as a medium for putting out their own music - Raymonde's first solo record 'Blame Someone Else' being the first release on Bella Union - it was the early signings of The Dirty Three and Lift To Experience that set the cat amongst the pigeons as it were. Although Guthrie essentially took a backseat in 2000 to concentrate on his solo career, leaving the running of the label almost solely to Raymonde, Bella Union has gone from strength to strength in releasing records by then-unknowns such as Beach House, Fleet Foxes and Midlake while recently putting out pivotal long players from the likes of The Walkmen and Explosions In The Sky.

Rough Trade Shops: Bella Union 15 Review

It's perhaps rather fitting then that Rough Trade; themselves figureheads of all things independent, should choose to honour Bella Union's fifteenth birthday as the latest incumbents of their "Rough Trade Shops." compilation series. Collecting together a whopping thirty-four tracks from Bella Union's extensive back catalogue, all recorded and released by a selection of the many artists to have graced the label, it's an eclectic and somewhat flawless mix documenting the history of one of the UK's finest independents.

Picking favourites is a thankless task when faced with so many to choose from. Indeed the absence of some of Bella Union's finest artists; Lone Wolf, The Kissaway Trail and Phil Selway are among those not included here; highlights the quality Raymonde and to a lesser extent Guthrie have assembled over the past decade and a half. 'To Guard And To Guide You', the penultimate track from Lift To Experience's classic and only long player 'The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads' serves as a timely reminder for one of the greatest debuts since the turn of the century. Midlake's 'The Jungler' from 2004's 'Bamnan And Silvercork' hints at the greatness set to follow and subsequently occurring in later years.

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Various Artists - Late Night Tales: Metronomy Album Review

Following in the footsteps of the likes of Belle & Sebastian, The Cinematic Orchestra and Four Tet, Metronomy take the curatorial baton for this Late Night Tales compilation/DJ set. Through the tracklist of their self-curated Late Night Tales release, Metronomy show multiple sides to their personality through quite a diverse selection of tunes.

Various Artists - Late Night Tales: Metronomy Compilation - Album Review

Outkast's 'Prototype' opens the compilation with spacey echoing guitar then heavily reverbed vocals before bass and beat kick into a smooth chilled vibe. It's a steady pace and gentle groove to open which segues seamlessly into Tweet's 'Drunk' which continues with a similar steady pace and almost trip hop like spacey feel. This is followed by a strange and slightly uncomfortable segue into SA-RA Creative Partners' track 'Cosmic Ball' which opens with a 'cosmic' sounding speech excerpt. The track continues as sax led jazz with busy drums and spacey synths underpinned and anchored by a barely audible walking bass line.

Chick Corea's 'El Bozo (Part 1)' then opens with an unaccompanied abrasive solo synth sound which sounds sombre tones before an interjection of eighties synth craziness a la Herbie Hancock. The mix then segues from the strange synth notes of El Bozo into the string riff of 'Blue Flowers' by Dr Octagon, a rap track which changes the gear of the compilation once again though its violin riff seems to continue this cosmic, spacey kind of theme beneath rhythmic scratching. There's a brief snap back to the eighties vibe with a synth heavy blend beneath speech during Lonzo & The World Class Wreckin Cru's 'Cache Vocal', before Metronomy include their own exclusive cover of the Jean Michel Jarre track Hypnose. During the cover version, Metronomy continue the spacey electronic vibe of the compilation with their trademark layered synth style, though it's good to hear the band delve into deeper moving film music away from their experimental electro pop; the cover version has a real intensity and atmosphere that much of their own original work lacks. 

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Various Artists - Songs Of Anarchy: Music From Sons Of Anarchy Seasons 1-4 Album Review

Hit Television series Sons of Anarchy has everything; countless complicated and fascinating characters, interwoven plot lines and an excellent soundtrack to boot. Combining a number of the finest songs ever written with some of the most talented musicians from all walks of musical life, Songs of Anarchy: Music from Sons of Anarchy Seasons 1-4 is a collection of some fifteen tracks that instantly take the listener back to the fictional California town of Charming and the tales of its inhabitants.

Various Artists - Songs of Anarchy: Music from Sons of Anarchy Seasons 1-4 Album Review

Dave Kushner, guitarist for Velvet Revolver has to take a lot of credit for the fantastic music associated with the hit series. Initially co-writing the show's theme song, he co-wrote much of the music involved with the first season before the 'house band' as it were became a separate entity entirely and the Forest Rangers, the band that play on the majority of Songs Of Anarchy were born.

The album opens with the show's now iconic theme song This Life, Curtis Stigers' excellent voice sitting perfectly alongside swampy guitar work that hearkens back to the days of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Ray Vaughan. This heralds the soundtrack proper, entering a collection of interpretations of some of music's classic songwriters' biggest hits. First is Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man, most notable for the performance of actress Katey Sagal (who plays Gemma Morrow in the show) providing a soulful rendition of the 1968 hit. She also lends her talents to Leonard Cohen's Bird on a Wire and an excellent version of Abel Meeropol's poem Strange Fruit. Classic Gospel song John The Revelator, previously interpreted by everyone from REM to guitar virtuoso Steve Vai is given a whiskey oaked yet faithful retelling by Curtis Stigers and the Forest Rangers.

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Various Artists, Isles Of Wonder Album Review

Isles Of Wonder is somewhat of an oddity. It's a soundtrack to a Danny Boyle production, but it's also a historical document of a moment that galvanised the British public on a world stage. Now that the Olympic fervour of London 2012 is fading, it's interesting to note that part of the legacy of the Games hangs on Isles Of Wonder. The double disc collection is a concrete reminder of the night in July that saw millions of people around the world glued to their TV's. A resounding success in its own right, the opening ceremony was at its heart an ambitious theatrical production. While Isles Of Wonder conveys the drama of the occasion, it suffers a little in the absence of its intended visual cues.

That's not to say of course that Isles Of Wonder is a disappointment, it's just a little under whelming at times. It provokes a mental game of spot the difference too. None of the takes here were those performed at the ceremony itself, instead for example there's soundcheck versions of the Arctic Monkeys. While you try to place the tracks to the memory of what you saw on the night, the album still has the power to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Emeli Sandé's modern and minimalist reworking of 'Abide With Me' is one such magical moment here. Equally the especially composed Underworld track 'And I Will Kiss' features some impressive percussion work, notably from Evelyn Glennie.

The track listing follows the proceedings of the ceremony itself, which provides the only other problem. While the transition between so many musical styles as dictated by the magpie eye of Musical Director and Underworld mastermind Rick Smith made sense in the Olympic Stadium, here it can feel a little jarring. Frank Turner's contribution 'I Still Believe' is a great song in its own right, but feels a little disjointed from the Four Nations Choirs medley that follows it here. Frank would be more at home later on the first disc alongside the Arctic Monkeys. While it's a minor gripe for a compilation, a little bit of creative shuffling could have made Isles Of Wonder flow more coherently as an album in its own right.

The tracks themselves are all pretty much spot on though, while they're predominantly not live recordings, they still communicate the excitement of the event itself. Much of the credit goes to Boyle's decision to rope in his old friends Underworld to provide the backbone to proceedings. Smith weaves recurring motifs throughout (bells being just one example) with creative and humorous flourishes (the shipping forecast that appears in Nimrod can't help make you smile), all of which add to the very British sense of occasion.

The second disc focuses on the music used to introduce the athletes to the stadium. Heavily reliant on reworked gems from Smith's Underworld back catalogue along with High Contrast material, it's an atmospheric mix tape that wouldn't be out of place in your local gym. While it lacks the eclectic musical nature of the main theatrical event, it's actually the disc that you're more likely to return to for repeat listens.

What Isles Of Wonder lacks by being divorced from Boyle's visual feast, it certainly makes up for with its ambitious nature as a slice of Olympic history. While it may make some odd omissions (I can't be the only one surprised back the lack of Paul McCartney here), there's very little to quibble with in the track selection. If you want a musical snapshot of Britain in the early 21st century and how we got here, Isles Of Wonder paints a compelling portrait of a country celebrating its rich heritage on a global stage.

Jim Pusey.

Various Artists, Communion: New Faces Album Review

The broad church that supports the collective assembly of Communion Records was only formed 6 years ago through the vision of Ben 'Mumford' Lovett, bassist Kevin Jones and producer Ian Grimble. From its early roots as a club night, it has now flourished into an umbrella that nurtures, produces and records some of the most interesting and individual emerging talents around. Communion Records has already had a helping hand in the development of Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Matthew And The Atlas, Alessi's Ark, Pete Roe and Lissie to name but a few. 'Communion: New Faces' represents the label's third full-length compilation and contains no less than 20 tracks from a diverse string of like-minded artists.

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Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac Album Review

Tribute albums are often considered musical minefields. All too often, a collection of a band's contemporaries take apart a selection of their classic tracks before being packaged and released in their own right. Occasionally, these albums offer a handful of excellent cover versions but the majority take away more from the originals rather than offering something new and exciting. This release sees Fleetwood Mac's back catalogue get a 21st Century reworking.

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Various Artists, SID Chip Sounds: The Music Of The Commodore 64 Album Review

If, like me, you were a child of the 1970s, it's likely that your first dalliance with a strange gadget known as a computer would be the Sinclair ZX81. Or if you were really lucky maybe the Commodore Vic20 even. As the 1980s progressed, so did new technology and in January 1982, Commodore launched its newer, enhanced model, the C64. At the time considered something of a market leader thanks to its 64k memory and unique sound and graphic capabilities, the C64 undoubtedly served its purpose as the launch pad to the all-singing, all-dancing world of the PC we know and can barely function without today.

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Various Artists, Songs Of Anarchy: Music From Sons Of Anarchy Seasons 1-4 Album Review

If ever there was a title that told you what you were getting, this is it. Taken from an American drama television series, these tracks are just a sample of those from a show that regularly utilises music to help set the tone.

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Various Artists, New Heavy Sounds Volume 2 Album Review

Sadly, it is not at all uncommon to hear some out of touch oik of a journalist declaring that 'rock' or even 'guitar music' is 'dead'. While I would certainly agree that guitar music does not feature quite so prominently in the charts as it did some ten years ago, to even think about suggesting that rock music is on its way out is a daft thing to do. Rock music is not dying; you just have to look in the right places for it. New Heavy Sounds Volume 2 is one such place.

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Various Artists, Movement 1977-1979: BBC Radio 1 Peel Sessions Album Review

John Peel's revered Radio 1 show pushed boundaries: it played music no other programme (or at least no other legally broadcast programme) would touch. Peel's early embrace of punk rock, together with its various splinter movements, is often cited as an example of his vision and open-mindedness. Too often, in fact. While Peel was alive, he played music of all kinds, constantly seeking new and interesting sounds; but interviews with him, and articles about his life, frequently focused on his love for a handful of bands and songs. His untimely death did little to re-shift this focus. What would you expect to find on this compilation? Something by The Fall, of course, together with 'Teenage Kicks' and all the other songs in the Peel-approved canon, even though the idea of an established canon of approved acts could not be further removed from the man's own view of music.

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Various Artists, Watch The Closing Doors: A History of New York's Musical Melting Pot - (Compiled by Kris Needs) Album Review

Fresh of the back of the Dirty Water compilation series Kris Needs takes on his most ambitious compilation series to date. Watch The Closing Doors: A History of New York's Musical Melting Pot is a six volume, double CD series, charting the musical and social history of New York from the mid-40s through to present day.

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Various Artists, 37th State Album Review

There is no denying the influence of afrobeat currently in modern music. This sound born in Lagos, Nigeria and created by the master himself Fela Kuti, has inspired the 37th State project, an afro-centric take on new urban music. Initiated by Stephane Malca, a composer/producer with roots in funk and hip hop, this musical venture emphasizes on the Nigerian music heritage, from old school afrobeat to nu soul and hip hop. Some of the most prominent artists of Fela Kuti's legacy such as Dele Sosimi and Tony Allen are featuring on this album, along with Keziah Jones, Tony Kofi or Ty, and many more talents from the British new urban scene.

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Various Artists, Gnomeo & Juliet, Film Soundtrack Album Review

There is no denying that Gnomeo & Juliet has been quite successful at the box office, but did they really need to bring out a soundtrack too? It sounds like a good idea I'm sure, but I am more than a little sceptical.

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Various Artists, Leader of the Starry Skies: A Tribute to Tim Smith (Songbook 1) Album Review

For those of you unaware of the criminally underrated genius of Tim Smith, he has been the lunatic mastermind behind The Cardiacs for 30 years now, influencing countless scores of musicians along the way, From Oceansize to The Wildhearts. As well as his work with The Cardiacs, Tim has also produced numerous records and directed videos for the likes of Sepultura. To say he is revered in underground circles would be to put it lightly. Sadly, in 2008 Tim suffered a severe stroke, and this compilation - put together with all of the bands donating their time and contributions for free - will raise funds for his on-going care; a worthy cause indeed.

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Various Artists, We Were So Turned On: A Tribute To David Bowie Album Review

The influence of David Bowie on popular culture and music shows no sign of abating, even some forty-three years after his first record landed confusingly on an unsuspecting audience still very much in thrall to all things Beatles, Stones and Elvis. His chameleonic persona, ever changing from album to album both from a musical and aesthetic perspective, has made Bowie one of this and past generations most evocative pop stars. His legendary status pretty much assured back in 1972 (if not earlier) courtesy of the groundbreaking 'Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars', a legacy that has subsequently continued via a plethora of landmark records ever since. While there's a school of thought that the quality control of his creativity has subsided somewhat since 1983's 'Let's Dance', its fair to say that even as recently as 2002's 'Heathen' he's still prepared to take risks, even if the results don't always match the ambition.

Continue reading: Various Artists, We Were So Turned On: A Tribute To David Bowie Album Review

Various Artists, Vampire Diaries: Original Television Soundtrack Album Review

While the teenage vampire programme and film makers are in total overdrive to fulfil the current Twilight obsessed market, The Vampire Diaries has gone beyond this fad and made for strangely compulsive viewing. No mean feat for a cheesy teenagers programme whereby it's difficult to differentiate between the popular and the geeks because everyone is so annoyingly beautiful. The music has in no doubt added to its popularity and for avid viewers there is now the soundtrack album.

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Various Artists, Disco Fever Album Review

Disco is the genre of music we all hear towards the end of the night at clubs, and at celebrations such as weddings and parties. It is essentially good times music. The very essence of disco is fun and confident. Created in New York in the sixties and seventies as a statement from gay and cultural groups against the rock domination, it was meant to create a statement.

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Various Artists, Dermot O'Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions Album Review

Everyone loves a good compilation, don't they? Step forward good old Dermot O'Leary with an easy listening double CD spectacular. It's the second offering from the award winning Saturday Sessions, which showcases new and established talent. There's a range of original material and covers all played in a laid back fashion, which makes it perfect for your aural pleasure.

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Various Artists, An Taobh Tuathail Compilation Review

Review of the compilation album An Taobh Tuathail released through Psychonavigation Records.

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Various Artists, Bridge School Collection Vol 2, Album Review

Various Artists
Bridge School Collection Vol 2
Album Review

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