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Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra
Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything (Constellation)

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial OrchestraAlso known as (amongst other things) Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tr-La-La Band – one assumes the Tra-La-La band were not available this time around – SMZ are in fact based around the central core of Thierry Amar, Efrim Menuck and Sophie Tudeau of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the major difference in approach being the use of vocals (something GY!BE seldom utilize outside of samples), the whopping great walls of noise GY!BE often trade in are however present and correct, only here the post-rock sturm und drang is leavened by moments of gentle beauty and considered subtlety. Without doubt their finest outing thus far.
The Oracle

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****************************************************************** Linval Thompson & The Revolutionaries
Boss Mans Dub: The Lost 1979 Dub Album (Hot Milk)

Linval Thompson & The RevolutionariesWe’re in real danger of looking like we’re getting back-handers from the Hot Milk PR Dept of late but sod it, we’re still going to have to add this to the releases by Keith Hudson and The Mighty Diamonds already on our essential purchase list. Not a major name outside of reggae circles Linval Thompson is nonetheless one of those producers whose back catalogue is crammed with terrific sounds like this, damn near impossible to find, set which was recorded in 1979 and features superb dub versions of tunes produced by Linval with artists including Freddy McKay, Michael Black, Anthony Johnson, Sammy Dread and Cornell Campbell.
Drew Bass

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Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld
Still Smiling (Specula Records)

Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld The first thing that grabs you about Still Smiling is Blixa Bargeld’s voice. Obviously fans of the Bad Seeds will be aware that the man can sing, and of course alongside being the guitarist he was also lead vocalist in Einstürzende Neubauten – although a lot of that involved yelling to be heard over all the angle grinders. Sounding like a cross between Leonard Cohen and Alex Harvey (which frankly is vocal heaven around here) Bargeld’s lugubrious delivery, in English, German and Italian, is given acres upon acres of space due to his and Teadro’s spooked minimal orchestration and electronic washes. Disturbingly beautiful.
Ruby Palmer

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Tess Of The Circle
Thorns (Vintage Voice Records)

Tess Of The Circle Tess is Tess Jones and an impressive circle of musicians brought in to perform his songs and Thorns is produced by BRIT award winner, Chris Potter. However, the album has either missed its time or is a resurrection vanguard. To explain; songs like 'History' and 'Eyes Of A Clown' could be seen as old fashioned and certainly not Nu-Folk. Al Stewart, early Chris De Burgh and Gordon Giltrap are brought to mind with 'Say What You Want (Run)' and 'Girl In The Window' the best of the bunch. 'Vagabonds And Rogues' and 'No Place Like Home' could easily fit into a musical. It’s a mixed bag and Tess will divide opinion.
David Blue

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Travis & Fripp
Follow (Panegyric/DGM) )

Travis & Fripp Not the first improvisational link-up between Theo Travis and Robert Fripp (see also 2009’s Thread and 2010’s Live From Coventry Cathedral), but certainly the most interesting thus far as the trance like ambience of T&F pieces to date, utterly lovely though they are, receive an angular and thoroughly noisy shot in the arm on final track 'So There'. So There! indeed. The package is rounded out with a short live set recorded in a church in Cornwall, and if Mr Fripp is to be believed about giving up live work entirely (and we sincerely hope he is not), then this is as close to seeing the great man perform you are now likely to get.
Ray Harper

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Richard Thompson
Electric (Proper)

Richard Thompson The ludicrously prolific Richard Thompson returns with, what can best be described as, a stripped down, ‘recorded live in the studio’ set recorded in Nashville with Buddy Miller, which finds our hero exploring both his poetic lyricism and his blistering guitar chops. As always his songs are populated with flawed people, grim situations and violent repercussions (he’s never seemed to have any problems remaining in touch with his baser instincts for a committed Muslim). As is also always the case there are a clutch of songs here that will sit happily alongside his best work, and if anything his guitar playing is actually getting better with age.
Ray Harper

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Transept
Buff as Fuck (Dronehenge Records)

Transept The second outing from Norwich based Transept and once again unsettling drones and lurching rhythm’s are the order of the day, opener ‘Happysburgh’ taking fifteen plus minutes to slowly evolve into a shuddering racket (which sounds not unlike the far off echo of a washing machine on rinse-cycle being scraped with a sitar). But fear not there is beauty to be had amongst all the industrial sonority, not least the stripped back re-reading of ‘Death Of The Sea Sentinel’ from debut TRSPT001 (just called ‘Sea Sentinel’ here) and the fantastically woozy take on Art Garfunkel’s 'Bright Eyes' which leaves you feeling seasick but content.
Ruby Palmer

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Tricky
False Idols (False Idols/!K7)

Tricky Adrian ‘Tricky’ Thaws career to date may be littered with albums of varying quality but even his least impressive efforts have a couple of killer moments, and his previous few efforts on Domino (Knowles West Boy and Mixed Race) certainly suggested he was nearly back in touch with the muse he tapped into for his first three albums Maxinquaye, Nearly God and Pre-Millennium Tension. Well guess what? This is a belter, and yes if you loved his early albums then you are going to be delighted with this which neatly recaptures that claustrophobic paranoia, that unsettling mixture of mumbled whispers and sweetly soulful crooning.
Drew Base

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Tangerine Dream & Brian May
Starmus: Sonic Universe (Eastgate Music)

Tangerine Dream & Brian May Not perhaps the most natural of bedfellows but as both parties found themselves at The Starmus Festival - held in 2011 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first spaceflight – a live collaboration was mooted and the results actually work really well (fans of System 7 will immediately feel at home). Of course, given that the incredibly prolific Tangerine Dream are now approaching the 100 mark in studio/live albums (not including soundtrack albums) whether you want this will depend on how often you already have many of these tracks, but for the floating fan who may only have Phaedra or Rubycon this is worth investigating.
Ray Harper

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T Rex
Electric Warrior: Box Set (Universal Music)

T RexOkay so this album already exists in many different guises, and like most box sets loaded with demo’s, outtakes, videos and other gubbins it’s aimed at T Rex completists who really want to hear three versions of ‘Jeepster’. That said producer Tony Visconti’s re-mastered version makes this album sparkle, and make no mistake it was a shiny bugger to begin with. Easily Bolan’s finest album helped immeasurably by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman’s fantastic backing vocals (and Rick Wakeman plays on ‘Get It On’ fact fans). The words ‘classic album’ are bandied around far to liberally nowadays, this however is the real deal.
The Oracle

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TU
TU (Gonzo)

TUHere’s an idea let’s look for a band like the White Stripes or the Black Keys only instead of just lead guitar and drums let’s find one that is just bass guitar and drums, eh? Eh? Bit one dimensional you say? How about if they create a whole album with improvisations? No, don’t run away! ‘Cos the duo in question (Trey Gunn & Pat Mastelotto) first met during the rehearsals for King Crimson’s The Power To Believe sessions and have gone on to create a phenomenally huge and mind boggling racket by also utilizing, alongside the aforementioned bass and drums, samples and touch guitars with way too many strings and we ruddy love it.
Ray Harper

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Tractor
The Road From Townhead Mill(Ozit/Dandelion)

King TubbyHot on the heels of the really rather lovely Bickershaw Festival Boxset comes this lovingly produced item celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Road From Townhead Mill’s original release, a double gatefold LP on 180 gram red vinyl which unearths a mixture of past classics from Tractor’s career and includes previously unreleased recordings and also a CD containing the entire 73 minutes and 30 seconds of music found on the LP. Julian Cope said that Tractor were 'the sound of a soul approaching the canopy of heaven' and he wasn't far wrong. Check this out and see why John Peel paid for their P.A.
The Oracle


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VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL ****************************************************************** Robin Trower
What Lies Beneath (Repertoire)

Robin TrowerPart of a set of three re-released, re-mastered digipaks cherry picked from various points in Trower’s extensive career to date (the other two being 2005’s Another Day Blues and 1994’s 20th Century Blues), and whilst all three are well worth a listen if you only have deep enough pockets for the one we’d suggest What Lies Beneath as it’s the first time Trower himself can be found handling all vocal duties (think Mark Knoplfler meets JJ Cale) as well as trading in his beautifully bluesy trademark Hendrix-esque licks, but in truth any of the above albums would be welcomed by any fan of gutsy blues rock.
Raft Thong

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This Mortal Coil
This Mortal Coil [Box set, Limited Edition] (4AD)

This Mortal CoilCompiling all three This Mortal Coil albums (It’ll End In Tears, Filigree & Shadow and Blood), all re-mastered from the original analogue tapes plus a fourth album, Dust & Guitars, compiling all the singles plus several unreleased tracks and, needless to say, this being a 4AD release the design and packaging are delightful. The inspiration of Ivo Watts-Russell, the founder of 4AD, This Mortal Coil became something of an indie super-collective reconstructing, often brilliantly, cherry picked cover versions then linking with eerie and imaginative instrumental passages opening new ears to Tim Buckley, Syd Barrett, Alex Chilton and more.
The Oracle

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Toddla T
Watch Me Dance (Ninja Tune)

Toddla T Tom Bell’s second album and with a ‘new-kid-on-the-block’ reputation as a top notch remixer and DJ (snapped up by Radio 1 no less), he’s got a lot to live up to, so you would have forgiven him for playing it very safe and offering up a straightforward radio and club friendly accessible collection. But thankfully he’s having none of it mixing thunderous grimey clatter with straight as a die R&B and old skool soul with clubby rave and all of this with apparently nary a thought for how it is all going to gel and not sound like a various artists collection, yet gel it does, so clearly there is substance to the reputation.
Drew Bass

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Thundercat
The Golden Age Of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder)

ThundercatPopped this on the office turntable and got one of those immediate Meerkat moments (heads popping up and looking about quizzically?) from the Todd Rundgren geeks. Produced by Steven ‘Flying Lotus’ Ellison, on whose Cosmogramma album bass player Stephen ‘Thundercat’ Bruner can also be found, TGAOA is one of those dips into the jazz/rock past (think Weather Report rather than Spyro Gyra) whilst remaining firmly rooted in the electronic present, the bass playing of Stanley Clarke springing to mind, and if the vocals occasionally veer alarmingly close to Level 42 territory the musicianship remains remarkable throughout.
Paul Riley

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Amon Tobin
Isam (Ninja Tune)

Amon TobinAmon Tobin has been steadily moving away from his jazzy drum and bass roots since 2000’s Supermodified and been progressively more challenging with each release, this time out taking the field recordings that powered the Foley Room a step further, the beats remain huge but are far more fractured than on his early work, seldom coalescing into recognisable patterns, choosing instead to lurch around like a dodgem car with palsy. With nods towards his label bosses (Coldcut) nature sampling work on ‘Timber’ and acts like Autechre and Boards Of Canada Isam is a worthy addition to a remarkable discography.
Drew Bass

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talanas
The Waspkeeper (Eulogy Media Ltd)

talanasRising from the ashes of industrial metal bods Interlock – front-man Hal Sinden is, rather fantastically, the grandson of veteran actor Sir Donald Sinden – talanas make a noise not unlike an unholy union betwixt Bauhaus and Porcupine Tree and entitle these bi-polar ditties endearingly daft things such as ‘like The Veil & It’s Behest’. Death metal train-spotters will doubtless love the bands links with The Meads Of Asphodel but the rest of you just need to know this blatters along like a wounded transformer, careering between headlong jackhammer grunt-core metal, convoluted prog and atmospheric goth-rock and is actually rather a blast.
The Oracle

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Traffic
John Barleycorn Must Die (Universal)

TrafficAs any Traffic fan will be aware this album began life as a solo Steve Winwood album (initially to be called Mad Shadows - with Guy Stevens occupying the producers chair), after the early demise of super-group Blind Faith, Traffic having ceased to exist in 1968. But when sessions failed to energise Winwood he recalled Traffic cohorts Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood for what would go on to become one of their most successful albums. The re-mastered original album now sounds better than ever and the additional takes and live cuts make this a great time to add this to your collection if you don’t already have it.
Ray Harper

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Twisted Sister
Your Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll (Armoury Records)

Twisted SisterThe second album by US glam metallers Twisted Sister and part of an ongoing re-issue campaign on Armoury Records (which also includes Come Out And Play and Love Is For Suckers) You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll, released originally in 1983, is probably the most consistently on the money album the band ever recorded (follow up Stay Hungry was the big hit but for many metal fans was a far more commercial sounding effort), with pretty much wall-to-wall heavy metal from the get-go including some huge fan favourites like the title track ‘The Kids Are Back’, ‘We're Gonna Make It’ and ‘I Am (I'm Me)’.
Ray Harper

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Transept
TRSPT001 (Dronehenge Records)

TranseptHailing from the decidedly un rock and roll environs of Norwich (mind you since the days of the Higsons, it may well have become a seething cauldron of white hot talent) Phil Archer, Alex Sanders and Liam Wells have thus far been lumbered with a prog-folk tag which, we’re here to tell you, is very small tag indeed for the sort of kosmiche space rock noise they actually make. Imagine the Fuck Buttons jamming with Acid Mothers Temple or Amon Düül II making music with things like bowed antlers, laser crystals, accordions and copper pipes (don’t panic, they do also use conventional instruments). It's also occasionally rather beautiful.
Drew Bass

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The Third Eye Foundation
The Dark (Ici D'ailleurs)

The Third Eye FoundationFans of Matt Elliott’s dark Third Eye Foundation incarnation - the grandpappy of urban dubsteppers like Burial - will be delighted to learn that the man has returned to the darkly disturbing electronic music he abandoned for more song based albums (also well worth tracking down), and we are very happy to report the general sense of unease which pervades the skittering bass heavy beats, spooked operatic ambience and, occasionally, outright demented all-out breakbeat assaults remains the sort of music you really don’t want to hear when walking around miles of empty moorland. Unsettling but essential listening.
Drew Bass

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Richard Thompson
Dream Attic (Proper)

Richard ThompsonIt is easy to imagine that after nearly 30 studio albums, not to mention countless side projects, Richard Thompson might feel the need to approach the business of making a new album in a different way. With Dream Attic, he took the bold step of recording 13 freshly-written songs in front of a live audience during a short run of full-band shows earlier this year. Fiery and infused with some of Thompson’s most powerful solos in many a year, the result is almost universally glorious, with ‘Demons in Her Dancing Shoes’ and ‘A Brother Slips Away’ among his finest-ever moments (2xCD version including equally fine acoustic demo's).
David Davies

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Walter Trout
Common Ground (Provogue Records)

Walter Trout Twenty solo albums and a body of work with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Canned Heat have turned Walter Trout into a guitar behemoth. Common Ground is the 20th album and he still sounds as fresh as he ever did, consistently raising the bar for all those who wish to join him in the upper echelons of blues rock guitar players. From the thumping opener 'May Be A Fool' to the powerful finish of 'Excess Baggage', Trout rarely lets up. Particular highlights are the barrelhouse blues of 'Hudson Had Help', the bawdy blues rock of 'Loaded Gun' and the standard electric blues of 'Wrapped Up In The Blues'.
David Blue

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Travis & Fripp
Live at Coventry Cathedral (Panegyric)

Travis & Fripp What do you get if you cross a metonymically precise guitar legend with a prodigiously talented sax/flute wielding jazz type and a huge great ambient space? Yup, Live At Coventry Cathedral, and whilst a night of improvised explorations recorded in 2009 may send many scrabbling for the mouse (especially those hoping for any King Crimson style careering prog racket), if you enjoyed Fripp’s work with Brian Eno – like No Pussyfooting and Evening Star – then you will certainly want to add this to your collection as it repays repeat listens and the alternate take on KC’s ‘Moonchild’ is delightfully deconstructed.
Paul Riley

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Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures (Sony)

Them Crooked VulturesDelivered with a minimum of fuss, fanfare or foofarah the debut album of Them Crooked Vultures (which, unless you have been living in hole, you will doubtless already be aware is Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones) proves to be equally light on frippery, in short this bugger rocks like a cable car in a force nine, in fact just exactly what you might imagine the whirlwind thuddery of Grohl, breezeblock rumble of Jones and chest compacting riffage of Homme would sound like. Add the odd funky keyboard stab, brass band outro and Tex-mex middle eight and you have one of the best rock albums of the year.
Ruby Palmer

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13th Floor Elevators
Psychedelic Circus (Retroworld)

13th Floor ElevatorsYet another of the Retroworld releases, this one featuring live cuts by the kings of psychedelic rock the 13th Floor Elevators which, given the paucity of live material available from Roky Erikson and Co., is a welcome release. Much of the material is drawn from a 1966 San Francisco concert (previously available only on a bootleg entitled Avalon '66) and the sound quality, whilst occasionally a little wayward, is not at all bad. Given the huge number of truly dreadful Elevator cash-in releases around fans may be a little reticent to part with their dosh for this but rest assured there is much here to enjoy.
Ray Harper

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Robin Trower
RT@RO.08 (Freeworld)

Robin TrowerMost recently heard on Bryan Ferry’s Dylanesque and Seven Moons with Jack Bruce – and most of you will certainly be well aware of the fact that he initially found fame with Procol Harum – Trower is actually a madly underrated guitarist (alongside Roy Buchanan) who’s style is not unlike guitar legends Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan only, unlike all of the previously mentioned, he’s not only still with us but still playing like an absolute demon. The poor between track editing is a minor niggle, and we couldn’t get the computer vids to work at all, but no matter, this is a belting double disc live set.
Ray Harper

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Joanne Shaw Taylor
White Sugar (Ruf Records).

Joanne Shaw Taylor Don’t tell Joanne Shaw Taylor that she plays like a girl. She has spent the last couple of years dispelling this cliché and White Sugar will go a long way towards helping this misconception - that’s if playing with Dave Stewart and Jimmy Cliff by the age of 17 hasn’t already done so. Legendary producer Jim Gaines has got the best out of Joanne and the beefy opening track, 'Going Home', is a fine example of her work (her smokey voice and excellent guitar playing has led her to being described as the love child of Dusty Springfield and Stevie Ray Vaughan). Other highlights include 'Bones', 'Time Has Come' and 'Blackest Day'.
David Blue

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Ten Years After
Evolution (Ten Years After)

Ten Years AfterSome people may baulk at the idea of a Ten Years After album without Alvin Lee but this isn’t the first and, judging by the results, it certainly won’t be the last time that original TYA members Leo Lyons, Ric lee and Chick Churchill work with Lee’s fiery young replacement Joe Gooch. There are no great surprises stylistically, the TYA blueprint remains, as always, bluesy rock and roll but as they say if it ain’t broke - and none of the ten tracks on offer here sound like they’re in need of repair - don't fix it, and if Evolution isn’t likely to be making many new converts it will certainly be well received by the long term old guard.
Ray Harper

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Tricky
Knowle West Boy (Domino)

Tricky Regardless of what many a reviewer is saying about the career of Adrian ‘Tricky Kid’ Thaws he hasn’t actually ever made a ‘bad’ album – although some are certainly patchier than others – he just set the bar so high with his debut Maxinquaye that he has been playing catch up ever since. Which brings us to this, his eighth, album and once again it’s loaded with woozy, grimy dub-ridden, lyrically obtuse gems (only Tricky would rhyme Duracell, Durex and vex), his trademark spooked whisper occasionally even breaking into actual singing alongside a slew of guest vocalists. If you want to know where Burial got his best ideas look no further. Drew Bass

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Tindersticks
The Hungry Saw (Beggars Banquet)

TindersticksThe seventh album from Nottingham’s premier croon-poppers – and their first since 2003's decidedly patchy Waiting For The Moon - sees a reduction in the line-up (the band are now just a trio, Stuart Staples, Neil Fraser and David Boulter), and a relocation across the channel to the home of Brie and wild boar salami, but no real change in the basic approach, which will be a massive relief to the faithful, especially those worried by the departure of the man behind their trademark lush orchestrations (multi-instrumentalist Dickon Hinchliffe), long term ‘sticks watchers even mentioning this in conjunction with late nineties high point Curtains.
Ruby Palmer

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Ticklah
Ticklah Vs. Axelrod (Easy Star Records)

Ticklah It must be pretty crowed inside the head of Victor Axelrod as Ticklah also resides therein and it’s this meeting of mind(s) that’s produced this modern, dub heavy, roots-reggae classic – no real surprise when you discover he not only has a collaboration list as long as your arm (Lily Allen, Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse) but was also a prime mover behind the Dub Side Of The Moon album. As if all this roots bounty wasn’t enough Axelrod also tackles reggae versions of Eddie Palmieri Latin classics ‘Mi Sonsito’ and ‘Si Hecho Palante’, both of which leave you keen to hear him have a crack at a whole album of Latin-reggae.
Drew Bass

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Serj Tankian
Elect The Dead (Reprise)

Serj TankianOne of the most thought provoking of the US hardcore metal outfits System Of A Down have been cranking out high speed, high quality, highly politicised, Middle Eastern influenced rock since the mid ‘90s. Now on indefinite hiatus the bands Serj Tankian is the first to surface with solo material and, no surprises given that he is the vocalist, it sounds a lot like SOAD. The odd scales, manic interludes, heavy riffing and ear for melody are all here, as are the pointed lyrical barbs and some nods to classical and music hall, apparently the talented bugger also played pretty much everything himself as well.


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Richard Thompson
Sweet Warrior (Proper)

Richard Thompson Two years after the by-turns gorgeous and muted acoustic effort Front Parlour Ballads, Richard Thompson plugs back in for the rollicking Sweet Warrior. Much has been made of the Iraq War-baiting ‘Dad’s Gonna Kill Me’, but it’s only one highlight of a set that also yields the stately ‘Poppy Red’, maritime-flavoured adultery tale ‘Johnny’s Far Away’, and the expansive ‘Guns Are the Tongues’. Elsewhere, RT guitar obsessives will be kept happy by the clawing solos and riffsmanship of opener ‘Needle and Thread’ on an album rich in witty wordplay, fine musicianship (take a bow, drummer Michael Jerome) and sheer bloody enthusiasm.


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Talk Talk
Natural History: CD & DVD (EMI)

Talk TalkDon’t let any of the revisionist’s tell you differently, dance music aside, the ‘80s was a musical black hole, overproduced, over-dressed and thankfully so over. That’s not to say there was no worthwhile pop music being made, Mark Hollis’ Talk Talk (along with bands like Japan), were creating great music despite the hideously, and almost immediately, dated drum and keyboard sounds, and this collection shows a band swiftly outgrowing the likes of Duran, Spandau and Co. Hollis is one of the great lost writers. VFM is added in the form of a second DVD of videos, some actually pretty bloody good.


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Amon Tobin
Foley Room (Ninja Tune)

Amon TobinMaster manipulator Amon Tobin eschews his usual 'record sampling' style for a more organic approach using microphones to capture found (and created) sounds much like the ‘foley artists’ – those who create sound effects for films – the album is named for. Constructed from insects, animals, machines, vehicles, clockwork toys, chick peas and even some actual musical instruments (courtesy of the Kronos Quartet), the results are exciting, brooding, beautiful, claustrophobic, occasionally tumbling away into indulgent cacophony and, given that this is Amon Tobin, driven by huge great walloping beats.


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Trans Am
Sex Change (Thrill Jockey)

Trans Am One of the downsides of refusing to be pigeonholed, like Trans Am’s 'guitar racket meets krautrock approach' – which has often seen the band alienating dance fans whilst leaving traditional rock fans cold – is you’re never quite sure where to look for the albums in record shops. Sex Change does little to address this with yet more riffage strewn electronica lurching from the heavy metal thunder of ‘Shining Path’ to the Electro squelching of ‘Obscene Strategies’ and motorik beats of ‘Exit Management Solution’. Still, who needs record shops when you've got downloads, and you've gotta love a track entitled ‘Tesco V. Sainsbury’s’.


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The Triffids
Calenture (Domino)

The TriffidsLong a cult act in their native Australia, The Triffids were just beginning to win greater recognition on the festival scene when they disbanded in 1989. Now, eight years after the death of singer/guitarist David McComb, Domino looks set to win the band a wider audience through an extensive reissue campaign. Their penultimate studio album, 1987’s Calenture is a strange but alluring beast, encompassing quirky rock, soul and string-backed melancholia. Augmented here by B-sides and a bonus disc of demos, the album is heaving with well-crafted songs – not least the gorgeous ‘Save What You Can’ – and is eminently worthy of (re)discovery.


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Talking Heads
The Collection (EMI Gold)

Talking HeadsCollected from the bands latter years with EMI (although live cuts like ‘Psycho Killer’, ‘Burning Down The House’ and ‘Girlfriend Is Better’ from Stop Making Sense allow the compilers to dip into the bands Sire/Warner years), these years are generally held to be the bands most overtly commercial. It’s hard to imagine who will actually buy this with so many compilations already out there but there is absolutely no doubting the quality of the content with tracks cherry picked from Little Creatures, True Stories and Naked the latter clearly signposting the direction in which Byrne was headed next.


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10CC
Greatest Hits…And More (Universal)

10CCListen to any ‘classic oldies’ rock station for a few days and the chances are that you will eventually hear one or more of 10CC’s handful of prime-era chart-frighteners. ‘Art For Art’s Sake’, ‘Things We Do For Love’ and several others from the same period are so catchy, sonically-polished and damn well listenable that their appeal is never likely to diminish. As this double-CD of hits, rarities and solo/off-shoot tracks further confirms, 10CC – Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley – were master craftsmen of a high order who never forgot that pop music should, above all, be fun.


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Tortoise
A Lazarus Taxon (Thrill Jockey)

TortoiseThose of us that ‘get’ Tortoise have been waiting for this 3 CD/1 DVD box-set for some time – real train-spotter stuff, rare singles, foreign releases, tour EP’s compilation tracks and unreleased material – and the results have been well worth the wait. Having devoured this melange of lo-fi, minimalist, avant-electronic, dub-jazz in one sitting this reviewer then insisted two friends do likewise and found himself being roundly castigated. They are of course fools, and probably like Dire Straits. Oh, and the packaging, photography etc is a thing of beauty, and not, as one ex-friend would have it, ‘mundane black and white cobblers’.


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Triosk
The Headlight Serenade (The Leaf Label)

TrioskNamed after a quote from Clockwork Orange, The Headlight Serenade is ostensibly a jazz recording, but as with most worthwhile music being made in the margins these days that is far from the whole story as unsettling electronica and skittering percussive penumbra rub shoulders with traditional piano/double bass/drum line-up, creating soundscapes that are both beautiful and sinister. You occasionally find yourself wishing things would break into a full scale clatter (last track ‘Fear Survivor’ has a bash but even this wilful racket slides into subtle piano motifs), this is however a minor gripe about an otherwise fine album.


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The Television Personalities
My Dark Places (Domino)

The Television PersonalitiesEnglish post-punk singer/songwriter Dan Treacy – the man/band behind the splendid ‘Where's Bill Grundy Now?’ EP (’78), home to unsung punk classic ‘Part Time Punks’ – has been battling a myriad of demons over the last twenty-odd years. With mental health, heroin, amphetamine and alcohol addiction problems, brushes with the police and periods of sleeping rough Treacy’s is not a life tinged with pop star glamour and as you might imagine, given his recent past, this is not an easy album to listen to. At it’s best it sounds not unlike a melancholic amalgam of Syd Barrett and Robert Wyatt at it’s worst it’s just bloody sad.

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***************************************************************** Talking Heads
Naked (EMI)

Talking HeadsReissued as a double-disc set featuring the album in both remastered stereo and surround sound versions, Naked marked the band’s retreat from the mainstream after the MTV-friendly perfect pop of Little Creatures. Frontman David Byrne’s then-burgeoning passion for African and Brazilian music led to some beguiling arrangements; ‘(Nothing But) Flowers’ is particularly striking, all congas and rippling highlife guitar. The horn-driven ‘Blind’ and bonus track ‘Sax & Violins’ are the other top picks from a set that suffers from a mid-album sag but ultimately established a template for Byrne’s post-Heads debut, the remarkable Rei Momo.


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Tortoise & Bonnie Prince Billy
The Brave And The Bold (Domino)

Tortoise & Bonnie Prince BillyYou might imagine Will (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) Oldham and Chicago post rock experi-mentalists Tortoise’s first excursion together would be a leftfield mishmash of jazz, electronics and lugubrious vocalising, which in a very real sense this is, but what is perhaps surprising is the choice of material as the guys plump for a typically warped take on tracks by artists as diverse as Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Devo and Richard Thompson. Kicking off with a cracking version of Milton Nascimento’s ‘Cravo E Canela’ Oldham and Tortoise take gleeful liberties with the source material and, on the whole, achieve very pleasing results indeed.


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Richard Thompson
Front Parlour Ballads (Cooking Vinyl)

Richard ThompsonSo the long-promised acoustic album finally arrives, recorded not in Thompson’s no-doubt fragrant front parlour but in the garage of his California home. If the first half of the CD is a little patchy, the second yields a run of five songs – peopled by various tragics and the otherwise confused – that count among Thompson’s very best. ‘Mutton Street’ and ‘Should I Betray?’ are peerless character studies driven by Thompson’s ever-stringent guitar, but even these are eclipsed by ‘A Solitary Life’, an evocation of a life-avoiding loner so brilliantly sustained that you suspect this remarkable songwriter might have reached a new peak


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Richard Thompson
The Old Kit Bag (Silverline: DualDisc)

Another Silverline re-release, adding extra VFM to TotalMusic-Online favourite Richard Thompson’s excellent 2003 album The Old Kit Bag, with the addition of the entire Album in 5.1 Surround Sound and live performance videos of ‘Outside Of The Inside’ and ‘Jealous Words’ (recorded in Providence U.S. July 24th 2003), lyrics for all titles, reviews of the album and a brief biography complete the package. Once again this can’t be said to really take full advantage of the DualDisc format but audiophiles will lap up the surround sound and it’s well worth plumping for this if you have yet to pick it up for the extra sound and video content.

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Toots And The Maytals
Roots Reggae (Trojan)

Toots And The Maytals Frederick Toots Hibbert, Henry Raleigh Gordon and Nathaniel Jerry Matthias/McCarthy, were the single most important Jamaican act of the ‘60s and early ‘70s, and when Marley led the charge beyond Jamaica’s borders everyone was certain the Maytals would follow. Lending an ear to this magnificent box-set will leave you wondering why that failed to happen. Featuring four of the bands original seven releases - The Sensational Maytals, The Maytals’ Greatest Hits, Stoot Slatyam and Roots Reggae (plus their classic ‘69 albums, Sweet And Dandy and Monkey Man) - this collection is a reggae collectors dream

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10,000 Things
10,000 Things (Fiction)

10,000 ThingsIt’s widely accepted that most musical styles are cyclical, if it’s happened before chances are it will happen, albeit in a slightly updated form, again. However this rule seemed not to have held true for the legions of ‘70s era raggedy arsed, shambolic rockers best epitomised by the Faces. Untrue that is until now, although if the truth be known 10,000 Things are actually more akin to the bastard sons of The Incredible Alex Harvey Band, documenting the grubby, temptation-strewn, beer, spit and sawdust dregs of society with humour, plenty of yelling and, yup, loads of raggedy arsed, shambolic rock.


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Amon Tobin
Chaos Theory (Ninja Tune)

Amon TobinOstensibly the soundtrack to the new Tom Clancy inspired computer game Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory – Lalo Schifrin was pencilled in as a prospective composer at one point – Tobin apparently approached the project like he was scoring a Dario Argento movie. All of which would amount to sweet fanny adams if the music wasn’t up to Tobin’s usual beat laden, darkly atmospheric best which rest assured it is. Clattering and lurching around in a fine old style fans of the mans more break-beat driven material will still find much to love here and the album comfortably transcends it’s joystick related origins.

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Tears For Fears
Everybody Loves A Happy Ending (Gut)

Tears For FearsWhether due to two of the most spectacularly bad haircuts in the history of music or just because they failed to impress some punk casualty NME journo with the right list of influences Tears For Fears were never, ‘cool’, which given their cracking grasp of ‘big-pop’ is frankly sad and after bashing their heads against a wall of indifference Roland Orzabel and Curt Smith fell out big time and called it a day. Having put aside their differences - and still happily remaining in thrall to those big Beatle-esque melodies - they are now back and maybe this time will get the happy ending they deserve.


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Talking Heads
The Best Of… (Rhino)

Talking Heads Leaving aside the record industries predilection for repackaging the buggery out of everything for the moment – and it’s hard to image there is anyone out there into Talking Heads that won’t already have all of this – this really is THE definitive Talking Heads collection for those of you keen to own moments cherry picked from their whole career. Psycho Killer, Once In A Lifetime, Burning Down The House, Road To Nowhere are all present and correct, as are less feted, but equally exquisite moments like Found A Job, Life During Wartime and Blind.

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Thee More Shallows
More Deep Cuts (Monotreme)

Thee More ShallowsCompared favourably to Grandaddy, Sparklehorse and Yo La Tengo on their last album A History Of Sport Fishing, Thee More Shallows are certainly paddling in the same pool as these illustrious peers but to simply lump them into a spurious alt-rock grab bag is to do them a disservice. On this release they also indulge in some impressive use of noise, al la Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor as the stark beauty of the songs are often undermined by an unsettling undercurrent that whips your legs away just as you begin to feel you're on solid ground.


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Travis
Singles (independiente)

Travis Like the recently resurrected Embrace, Travis looked set to break big-time after capturing our hearts and twanging our sing-a-long-a-vocal-chords on tracks like Why Does It Always Rain On Me, Sing and Turn, in fact if drummer Neil Primrose hadn’t chucked a spanner in the ‘impetus’ works by breaking his back (and the band hadn’t laudably put everything on hold to wait for him to get better), Fran Healy may well have been trotting up red carpets with Gwyneth Paltrow instead of old misery guts Martin. Do yourself a favour, pick this up and remind yourself just how good Travis really are.

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Richard & Linda Thompson
Hokey Pokey; Pour Down Like Silver (Island)

Richard ThompsonA pair of 1975 albums receive the expanded reissue treatment, along with the classic I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight. While Hokey Pokey boasts some strong moments, it now feels like a minor work – not something that could be said about Pour Down..., recorded later the same year but seemingly the work of different people. The profound effect of the Sufi faith on Richard is evident in an extraordinary set of songs that seems to be trying to say the unsayable. The highlight is ‘Night Comes In’, whose sense of mystery doesn’t nearly exhaust itself over eight minutes.


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Glenn Tilbrook
Transatlantic Ping Pong (Quixotic)

Glenn TilbrookHaving established himself as a solo force with his 2001 debut, Transatlantic Ping Pong finds Tilbrook adopting a more experimental approach, adding all manner of unlikely variations to his trademark, harmony-laden rock. Lead-off single Untouchable is the most conventional thing here; by contrast, lush standout Lost In Space features Innervisions-style Moog vamps and some fine dub-style drop-outs. There’s also another instalment in the ongoing, on-off relationship with Chris Difford, one new co-written track not preventing Tilbrook from ever-so-politely telling his erstwhile Squeeze collaborator to fuck off on Neptune.


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