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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Back to main page

Jaga Jazzist
Live With The Britten Sinfonia (Ninja Tune)

Jaga Jazzist We have said it before but we are long time admirers of the multi-headed category defying, left-field Norwegian jazz-prog hydra that is Jaga Jazzist and were genuinely excited to learn that the guys and gals would be collaborating with the Britten Sinfonia and taking their walloping great Frank Zappa meets Lalo Schifrin meets Miles Davies noise into another realm entirely, and blow us down if they weren’t going to do it live! Somehow avoiding the obvious dangers of the several million people on stage crashing musically headlong into each other and these reinterpretations from their back catalogue range from playful to balls out bonkers.
Drew Bass

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Elton John
5 Classic Albums [1970 – 1973] (Commercial Marketing)

Elton JohnReginald Kenneth Dwight has been a bit of a panto dame for some years now, but t’was not always so and, moving swiftly past debut album Empty Sky (released in 1969), this VFM box collects together his five career defining albums released between 1970-73 including Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau, and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player all five of which are littered with pristine pop moments, pretty much all of which stand the test of time. Next up would come Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and superstardom beckoned. If you don’t have these albums this is the way to pick ‘em up cheap.
The Oracle

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Jakszyk, Fripp & Collins
A Scarcity Of Miracles (Panegyric)

Jakszyk, Fripp & CollinsSubtitled ‘A King Crimson ProjeKct’ – and certainly the inclusion of Tony Levin and Mel Collins in the line-up lends credence to the claim – this will probably be a little too laid back for most KC aficionados, lacking Adrian Belew’s clanking atonal counterpoint for one, but KC have never been opposed to the odd ballad and Fripps work with David Sylvian is also littered with textured ambience so this is no great leap into AOR as some reviews have been suggesting, although Jakko M. Jakszyk’s vocals are probably the smoothest thing to wash up against a Robert Fripp riff since Daryl Hall. File under ‘lovers prog’.
Ray Harper

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Joan As Police Woman
The Deep Field (PIAS)

Joan As Police WomanAdvance word on this third album of original material from Joan As Police Woman (New York-based singer /songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Joan Wasser) has suggested that, following a series of personal upheavals reflected on the magnificent if distinctly melancholy 2008 album To Survive, she has ‘got happy’ and commenced a new phase. If that’s the case, it sounds like a pretty conflicted, mixed-up kind of happiness, but it makes for some compelling music. The old-fashioned gift for songcraft remains strongly in evidence and is now allied to a soulful, funk-infused groove that reaches its apex on the glorious ‘Run For Love’.
David Davies

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Jónsi
Go Live (Parlophone)

JónsiAnd so, almost a year after the release of his first solo album, Sigur Rós’ front-man Jónsi does what he and his compatriots do best and offers us a beautifully packaged CD/DVD package documenting just how the studio material on Go - with the addition of five previously unreleased tracks - has evolved in the live arena. In fact that evolution can even be tracked from the DVD, which was filmed at a dress rehearsal for the tour back in March, onto the live CD material some of which was recorded as late as September. Simply put this is a fine companion piece to Go and is available from Jónsi’s website.
Ruby Palmer

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The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Orange (Shove!)

The Jon Spencer Blues ExplosionRight let’s clear something up here, all you blues purists out there (and a couple in the office as well), TJSBE are not a blues band any more than Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark are a bunch of violinists feeling their way around an unlit room. The blues are certainly an ingredient, as are rock’n’roll, funk and punk, but Spencer and Co.'s raw, feral, trash-tastic attitood with knobs on is decidedly NOT the blues, and Orange is probably the bands finest hour (run a close second by Extra Width), that said you could pick up any one of the back catalogue (all now re-released in expanded form) and still find much to love.
Ruby Palmer

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Daniel Johnston & Beam
Beam Me Up (Hazelwood)

Daniel Johnston & BeamThose of you that love Daniel Johnston’s extremely lo-fi approach of recording (some songs even sung down a telephone line), may feel that re-recording some of his greatest hits with an 11-piece Dutch orchestra might just destroy the fragile charm of his material entirely, a fear this reviewer shared. Well panic ye not, the orchestral accompaniment is entirely in keeping (more Jaga Jazzist than James Last), and Johnston seems to relish the challenge gamely reaching for notes he’s never going to reach and, in the case of the heartbreaking ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’, actually bettering the original.
The Oracle

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Jonsi
Go (Parlophone)

JonsiMany of you will already be aware Jón (Jónsi) Thor Birgisson normally lends his mellifluous vocal skills to Icelandic post rockers Sigur Ros and prefers to sing in Hopelandic (don’t look it up, it’s a made up language). So how does his solo effort sung, in the main, in English compare to his bands efforts? Well, the results are certainly more accessible, almost pop in places, although the strings (courtesy of composer Nico Muhly), ensure the soaring plateaus beloved of Sigur Ros fans are present and correct, but Go is different enough to warrant the ‘solo’ tag, whilst being recognisable enough to satisfy old fans and welcome some new ones.
Ruby Palmer

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Jason & The Scorchers
Halcyon Times (Jerkin' Crocus)

Jason & The Scorchers The first album of all-new material from Jason & The Scorchers since 1996 featuring Jason Ringenberg and Warner E. Hodges from the original line-up with bassist Al Collins and drummer Pontus Snibb replacing the retired Jeff Johnson and Perry Baggs. Halcyon Times finds the godfathers of alt-country keen to rediscover their roots - opening track ‘Moonshine Guy’ pauses briefly for a blast from the band’s 1985 debut Fervour – tracks like ‘Mona Lee’ and ‘Mother Of Greed’ reminding us that The Scorchers were cow-punk before the genre existed. Fans will be delighted at the return to form and newbies should start here and then pick up Fervour.
Ray Harper

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Jaga Jazzist
One Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune)

Jaga JazzistA brief glance through our album archive section will reveal that we are long time admirers of the nine piece, category defying, left-field Norwegian jazz-progsters but even our high expectations have been exceeded on this, the most Zappa-esque of the bands releases to date. Mixed in Chicago by John McEntire of Tortoise, One Armed Bandit barely drops below full tilt from the off and, given that we are well aware of their pedigree and expect to be wrong-footed, still manages to deliver a handful of gob-smacking ‘what the f…’ moments. No better than their previous, exemplary, outings this is nonetheless a definite step forward you need to hear.
Paul Riley

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John Browns Body
Amplify (Easy Star)

John Browns BodyNot a well known name this side of the Atlantic John Browns Body - named in honour of the legendary abolitionist – are nonetheless on their sixth or seventh album (depending if you include live efforts) and are apparently a seriously impressive live prospect if you can track them down. Amplify is a less roots-centric effort than their previous outings, perhaps due to founder member singer/guitarist Kevin Kinsella leaving the ranks, along with bass player Scott Palmer who sadly died from cancer in 2006, but with rap, funk and outright pop leanings peppering the bright digital JBB sound this is a good entry point for newbies.
Drew Bass

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Rena Jones
Indra’s Web (Cartesian Binary)

Rena JonesBeen out for a while this one but if ever an album was a grower this is it, taking several months to fully work its magic Indra’s Web’s mixture of downtempo ambience and classical orchestration peppered with glitchy pulses and beats sort of sneaks up on you and then snogs you on the back of the neck. There’s apparently a good deal of Buddhist/Hindu gubbins about interconnectedness being channelled here so if you’re looking for a yoga tape look no further but you really don’t need any new age leanings to chill with this album, it may be ambient but unlike much of the downtempo music around it’s certainly not background music.
Drew Bass

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Jackie-O Motherfucker
Ballads Of The Revolution (Fire)

Jackie-O Motherfucker As their name might suggest Tom Greenwood’s Jackie O Motherfucker aren’t exactly courting mainstream success, indeed Mr Greenwood is apparently such a bugger to work with the ex-band members could easily field a couple of football teams. However this high turnover does ensure that you can never tell exactly what to expect from Jackie O Mother****er (as Windows Media Player would have it), other than it will be highly experimental, and this time out the end results sound like Faust jamming with The Residents. By turns woozily sweet and discordantly unsettling this is an album that definitely repays repeat listens.
Ruby Palmer

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Bob James
The Very Best Of Bob James (Salvo)

Bob JamesAlmost forty albums into a thirty year plus career and Keyboard whizz, composer, bandleader and go to guy for hip hop samples, Bob James get’s the rather spiffy compilation treatment, expertly touching on most of the relevant points in his career and neatly outlining why his smooth jazz styling’s are firmly placed in many a jazz buffs essential section when others of this ilk are regularly relegated to elevator music bargain bins. Most will probably best know him for his theme tune to hit US sitcom Taxi, but there’s a great deal more to James than that and this really is a very fine starting point for the uninitiated.
Paul Riley

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Martyn Joseph
Evolved (Pipe Records)

Martyn JosephWhen an artists chooses to re-record songs from thier back catalogue it’s often a sign that the ideas have dried up and the writer in question is running on empty. This however is not a barb you can aim at Welsh Folkster Martyn Joseph, mainly because he not only breathes new life into some of his best loved, and most thought provoking, compositions – the subject matter as relevant today as when they were first recorded - but the CD also includes rather nice stand alone art cards for each song. If you have yet to encounter Martyn’s work this is an excellent starting place, but beware, there’s well over twenty albums to discover.
Ray Harper

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Juxta Phona & Offthesky
!Escape Kit! (Somnia)

Juxta Phona & OfftheskyRelease number five from Somnia and the quality control remains elevated with this jazz inflected ambient dub journey from Juxta Phona & Offthesky. Readers who enjoy the dub-infused, glitched-out electronica of Stefan Betke (a.k.a. Pole), will find much to love here as the listener is lurched from precipitous drops to towering elevations.As usual the Somnia packaging is lovely and like the recent, and equally fine 'dreamtime submersible Evan Marc and Steve Hillage this is limited to 777 copies worldwide, printed using soy inks on recycled paper and then sewn and sealed in wax with cover art by Ray Massini.
Drew Bass

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Japanese Popstars
We Just Are (Gung-Ho)

Japanese Popstars This has been out for a while now but we make no apology for reviewing it as it may have passed you by and if you recall the heady days when outfits like Orbital, The Chemical Brothers or Banco De Gaia could work you into a positive old lather with riff driven squelchy electronica, constantly building beats and huge goosebump inducing breakdowns then you really do need to check this out. Of course there’s nothing to really beat hearing this sort of brain-frying clatter in a room full of sweaty people, but until the guys actually make it to a venue near you this will do very nicely indeed thank you.
Drew Bass

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Johnny Foreigner
Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light (Best Before Records)

Johnny Foreigner Feted by metal mags and several of our competitors in cyber-space, for once the fuss is justified, Johnny Foreigner are a Brum base trio who have been branded everything from frantic indie-rockers to turbo charged young guitar-slingers, which may well give you an idea where they're coming from but doesn’t recognise the clever Breeders-esque twists and turns, the Pavement style experi-mentalism or the occasional dose of XTC punk clatter, hell there’s even some Sigur Ros style dynamics in here, whilst still retaining a major sense of fun and an ear for a top pop chorus. If this lot aren’t destined for greatness hats will be eaten.
Ruby Palmer

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Mick Jagger
Very Best Of (Rhino)

Mick Jagger Poor old MJ, anytime he tries to log in a little overtime outside of his Rolling Stone day job he meets a positive tidal wave of disinterest and in some cases downright vilification, which is frankly a little unfair. Okay he’s recorded some stinkers (‘Let’s Work’ being a case in point), but then so have the Stones, and any album which can boast belting tunes like ‘God Gave Me Everything’, Don’t Call Me Up’ and the truly mighty ‘Memo From Turner’ (a track Bobby Gillespie has been trying to record his whole life) has a damn sight more going for it than much of the dross we’ve waded through this month.


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Joy Division
Closer (Warners)

Joy Division With Anton Corbijn’s biopic of Joy Division’s vocalist Ian Curtis currently doing the rounds it’s no surprise to see the bands two classic albums (and less classic odds’n’ sods collection Still) getting the re-release treatment and although others might argue for the 1979 debut Unknown Pleasures, we’d suggest that for the uninitiated the entry point is the, damn near perfect, 1980 release Closer, an album which would go on to influence acts as diverse as U2, The Smashing Pumpkins, Manic Street Preachers, the Editors and Interpol. Long term fans will find all three re-issues come complete with fascinating extra live material.


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Daniel Johnston
Welcome To My World (Eternal Yip Eye Music)

Daniel JohnstonHaving been introduced to Daniel Johnston here at TM-Towers via the excellent documentary The Devil And Daniel Johnston (see here), we immediately set about tracking down a CD that might do the same job as the film and help introduce a wider audience to this remarkable singer songwriter. Not a new release but a great starting point which will undoubtedly lead many of you (as indeed it did us) to search out more – check out the website – from the positive tidal wave of often naive, regularly insightful, occasionally childlike but always lyrically direct DIY tunes Johnston has released over the years. We’re fans, so should you be.

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The Jam
All Mod Cons: Deluxe Edition (Universal)

The JamThe third, and almost certainly the best, Jam album wherein the band finally found both confidence and direction after the rushed and lacklustre This Is The Modern World - although there was still plenty of great material to come after '78 – given the ‘deluxe’ treatment, which in this case means extra singles, b-sides, demos and a Don Letts’ directed DVD built around all three band members being interviewed and some great old footage including TOTP’s appearances, videos and live film (and what a live band they were) plus an exclusive new acoustic version of 'English Rose'. If you don’t own this now is the time to do so.


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Japan
Best Of Japan (Virgin)

JapanFinding themselves - through an accident of timing, management prodding and over-polished production values - part of the hideous 'new romantic' movement (who the hell would willingly cliam aliegence to a scene that included Haysi Fantayzee, or Classix Nouveau?) Japan struggled to distance their infinitely deeper, more subtle, and thoughtful output from their lumpen peers. Do Ultravox, Duran or Spandau have transcendentally beautiful moments like ‘Nightporter’ or ‘Ghosts’ in their back catalogue? They do not, and as the individual band members solo efforts went on to prove those depths would just get deeper and more fascinating.


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Juliette & The Licks
Your Speaking My Language (Hassle Records)

Juliette & The LicksIt’s generally a pretty good rule of thumb that when an actor strays in the music world (and indeed visa versa), unpleasantness ensues. There are of course notable exceptions to this rule – who would have thought Cher would be such a good actress? – exceptions to which you can now add actress Juliette Lewis ‘cos a short-on-ideas, long- on-production vanity project this ain’t. Equal parts Patti Smith pose, Iggy Pop swagger and knuckle cracking punk ramalama YSML proves Lewis can both write and hold a decent tune (she even touches on Rickie Lee Jones in This I know). Dontcha just hate people that can do everything?


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Jaga Jazzist
What We Must (Smalltown Supersound/Ninja Tune)

Jaga JazzistRegardless of how impressive you might have found previous JJ efforts, like the astonishing A Livingroom Hush, there’s no substitute for seeing them all (the current line up hovers around the ten mark), squashed onto a stage creating a pulsing vortex of astounding noise – from Lalo schfrin-esque jazz to scattershot breakbeats and all points in between. No substitute that is until now, with the release of their fifth album, probably the most organic, piece of work they have attempted to date. Imagine jazz-driven post-rock, or big-band prog and you’re still shy of the mark, Jaga Jazzist simply ooze creativity, and this is pure class.


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Carolyn Dawn Johnson
Dress Rehearsal (Arista)

Carolyn Dawn JohnsonGiven that there’s so many drop dead gorgeous female singer songwriters around right now dealing in soaring, soft-rock meets country-esque, balladry – more than at any other point in music history to date in fact – you might be forgiven for wondering what Carolyn Dawn Johnson can offer you that isn’t already out there, and the short answer is nothing. However that’s a bit like saying why bother with Jerry Lee Lewis when you have Elvis and if this is your thing (Norah Jones meets Aimee Mann via Sheryl Crow) then you will find plenty to excite you on Dress Rehearsal as Ms Johnson attempts to replicate her Canadian and US success here.

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Jaga Jazzist
Magazine (Smalltown Supersound)

Jaga JazzistReminiscent at times of the Mothers Of Invention in convoluted mode - especially on 'Jaga Ist Zu Hause' and 'Plym' - the giant unwieldy Jaga Jazzist collective finally release their '98 album Magazine in the UK. Oddly enough, given the bands fearsome live rep the flattest moment here comes courtesy of a live squonk through 'Swedish Take Away' and 'Seems To Me' is so slight it could disappear in the face of a minor sneeze, However 'Serafin I Jungelen' and the Henryk Gorecki inspired 'Magazine Part I & II' - written by ex Jazzist Jørgen Munkeby and performed by Shining - round things off in fine old style.

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