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Reviews Written by
soulmoxie "A customer" (Ottawa, Canada)

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Born to Die (Deluxe Edition)
Born to Die (Deluxe Edition)
Price: CDN$ 9.99
21 used & new from CDN$ 6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind, May 25 2012
I consider myself really fortunate to have discovered this CD. This girl is unique: American imagery with a European sensibility, the absolute extreme in over-the-top romantic Weltschmerz (hey, look it up). Have heard nothing else like it. Deadly stuff. She's a pretty damned good videographer too: the video for "Video Games" is almost as good as the song itself. That song and "Born to Die" (the song) are going to live forever, and "Blue Jeans"... I dunno, it's possible, haven't decided yet. But I look forward to listening for the next few years in order to come to a decision....

Electra Heart: Deluxe Edition
Electra Heart: Deluxe Edition
Offered by langton_distribution
Price: CDN$ 42.70
3 used & new from CDN$ 42.66

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The sophomore let-down, May 25 2012
Marina has decided to go off on a new tack here and create a concept album about the "rise and fall" (Primadonna) of the "American queen" who is the "American dream" (Hollywood). So basically, the first half is brash and aggressive and ego-driven as Ms. Wonderful battles to the top, the second half is bewildered, bemoaning and despairing as she slides her way down, and "Fear and Loathing" closes things out in resigned but wiser acceptance. So she is deliberately creating her music within the limits of that storyline. And precisely because she is working within limits, I think the music suffers. It's pretty much flashy pop (best exemplified in "Bubblegum Bitch") interspersed with a few more reflective ballads, including what are maybe the two best tracks here, "Lies" and "Valley of the Dolls". But even the latter two are only near-knockouts, whereas just about every track on "The Family Jewels" is a knockout. That's because in her debut album she was not confined to a character but free to be anything and everything (mostly catty and witty and a helluva lot of fun). I'd go so far as to say there is probably more inspired creativity in "Mowgli's Road" alone than in this entire album.

Ironically, what the trouble seems to be is that she really DOES want to be Ms. Wonderful. She has been recorded as saying that she released Primadonna as the British single in a deliberate attempt to change her career, i.e. to BECOME A STAR (or more of one). Hence too the bland dance-pop of "Radioactive", released in the US but not officially part of this album (only on the deluxe version). The blonde dye-job and/or wig seems to be part of this campaign (and I for one don't find the new look flattering at all).

Ah, well, what can you do. "The Family Jewels" just raised expectations to an unrealistic level, I guess: there was no way she could match it. I could listen to that every 2-3 days; I'll probably listen to Electra Heart every 2-3 weeks. But she's still young and hopefully has a long career ahead of her: still plenty of time to reconnect with the spark of genius that blazed out ever so brightly two years ago.

Debt Collection
Debt Collection
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 39.01
4 used & new from CDN$ 10.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre musical noises through the shortwave set, Feb. 16 2012
This review is from: Debt Collection (Audio CD)
The Shortwave Set's debut in music is a self-consciously charming (but still charming for being self-conscious) conceit built around the strange contraption pictured on the cover. That machine is supposedly what produces the bizarre sounds on the album - the whizzes, clicks, stutters, sagging tape loops, needles traveling through empty grooves on phonograph records, sudden interruptions and omnipresent "bad" editing. It's picking up the music of the universe you see, which is floating around on every possible frequency. Thankfully there are also real songs with real melodies behind all the sonic clutter and flutter, it's just that they've sort of been chopped up, like a William Burroughs technique transposed to music. It is a really clever idea, and the band has executed it well - from their bedrooms, allegedly! It's definitely fun to listen to. Seems like it was a one-off, though: the last track is the only one that is almost "normal" (no effects) as Ulrika sings to a simple guitar accompaniment, but "Yr Room" cannot apparently survive the ambiance of the rest of the record, as she disintegrates into giggles and then a shriek of frustration as the Debt Collection closes. And by the time Replica Sun Machine comes along three years later, the conceit has been abandoned and the songs are pretty much straight-ahead. But the melodies on that one are so strong that they really deserve to shine through clearly. The Debt Collection, however, is a wonderful and unique animal. Recommended.

Teen Dream
Teen Dream
Price: CDN$ 25.00
37 used & new from CDN$ 16.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Skip the DVD, Nov. 17 2011
This review is from: Teen Dream (Audio CD)
This is a very intelligent album of space music (inner space: the only kind left to explore, as J. G. Ballard used to say). Slow and pulsating, on the whole, reminds me a lot of the Cocteau Twins, though not quite as over the top instrumentally. My favorite tunes are the opener, Zebra, which is sheer perfection, and Used to Be. Note however that the version of the latter differs from the track on the commercial video release: there has been a substitution on the slow bridge: "Coming home, any day now" is new material. Personally I prefer the commercial video track. That video also had the appeal of a scenario which actually features the two musicians, which is very attractively shot & quite lovely to look at. Which brings us to the DVD accompanying this disk. A bunch of different directors were hired to produce treatments of each song on the disk. Most of this stuff is utterly self-conscious and pretentious, as only artists can be pretentious. A lot of it is totally at odds with the music, some is vulgar and garish, as if there were some deliberate attempt to mock and undercut the ethereal qualities of the music. The best of it is totally abstract ("Zebra"). Ironically, Victoria Legrand herself probably does the best work here, with her hula-hoopers in bronze bodystockings for "Silver Soul". And there is NOTHING here depicting Victoria and Alex themselves, apart maybe from what appears to be a computerized representation of Victoria's face for "10 Mile Stereo". Why the commercial video for "Used to Be" (discussed above) was not included on this DVD, I have no idea. It might possibly have saved it (all on its own), made it worth buying. As it is, this DVD is largely garbage and not worth the few extra bucks. So you have been warned. Get the CD, sit back and enjoy. The CD is gorgeous.

The Rip Tide
The Rip Tide
Price: CDN$ 20.00
17 used & new from CDN$ 14.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Beirut, or the Blessed Relief of Horns, Oct. 4 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Rip Tide (Audio CD)
It's taken this album to make me realize how much the music I listen to is dominated by guitars. I believe the closest thing to a guitar on this is a ukelele. The Rip Tide arrives therefore like a breath of fresh air. This is my first exposure to Zach Condon & the lads (coming via a recommendation from Chris Stein & Blondie), so I have no great familiarity with the earlier stuff (though after this I am sure I will have). From interviews it appears the previous work is very heavy on the instrumentals & oom-pah-pah; with this latest one Mr. Condon has aimed at stripping things down a little & focusing on melody before all else. And these are some very beautiful songs indeed, they take you somewhere else, maybe the land of blissed-out horns? Plus that vulnerable baritone of the singer, which can be quite moving. This is some very attractive - and unique - music. Ordering of the back catalogue has already commenced. A very refreshing change of pace. Recommended.

Price: CDN$ 15.00
23 used & new from CDN$ 1.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, July 21 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is not Metric, this is not Metric, warn the aghast popsters. No, it is not Metric, but it is the pure, stripped-down creative genius upon which Metric is based. So simple and quiet, yet so devastating. I shiver in awe every time I hear "Crowd Surf Off a Cliff" - that voice, that piano part. It is always so interesting to have these proto-documents from artists that have made it in rock or pop: it's like going to wellhead, finding out where it all comes from. (Another example: Martina Sorbara's "The Cure for Bad Deeds": her later reincarnation -- Dragonette). Now if we could only have "Cut in Half and Also Double", which is well-nigh impossible to find. Emily, could you please pull a "Grow Up and Blow Away" and see that "Cut in Half" is reissued? I doubt it can be as good as Knives, but it sure would be lovely to find out.

Panic of Girls (Fan Pack)
Panic of Girls (Fan Pack)
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 115.25
4 used & new from CDN$ 74.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Blondie is back!, July 8 2011
I was somewhat amazed to discover Panic of Girls advertised here: so nice to learn Blondie are still in the game EIGHT years after "Curse". Eight years is not 17, but it's still a long time... This is a nice, relaxed, eclectic little package which strolls through the genres as it wishes. It's not really all that comparable to the other 2 post-reunion CDs, not as melodic and song-structured as No Exit, not alternately sweet and hard-driving like Curse. This band still knows how to surprise. We got rock, pop, reggae, Spanish salsa, a French ballad: one thing that's NOT here is Jazz Passengers-type vocal stylings by Deb as on the last two tracks of Curse. Just as well, I say. Rather have Latin salsa any day.
The big magazine that comes with the fan pack is really nice to have: it's got interviews, historical reviews of all the albums, history of the band, Debbie in film, Debbie as female pop icon & trailblazer, lots of new photos, you name it. What it does NOT have is any news about what happened to Jimmy Destri. You have to go to his website to find out he has become a licensed substance abuse therapist after going through his own particular drug ordeal. Apparently he "was asked" about rejoining around 2008, but must have declined, as that was when new keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen came in. The good news is that Katz-Bohen has written two VERY good pop songs for this album, one of which is damned near perfect ("What I Heard"), a fact which obviously was not lost on the other two ace songwriters this band has. This goes some way toward mitigating the loss of Destri's skills in that department... not ALL the way, but some way, and it is most welcome. But one wonders about the failure to mention Destri in the mag, except historically: I sure hope this is not a repeat of the ostracizing of Infante & Harrison, that would be a TOTAL bummer...
Clem is obviously busy exploring world music these days (remember "Jen-Jen" from Necessary Evil?): he's responsible for the gorgeous "Girlie Girlie" reggae being here (how anyone could dis this song - and it's been dissed in the UK - is beyond me), as well as Zach Condon from Beirut ("Sunday Smile" with its lovely trumpet part), & the Gainsbourg-flavoured "Le Bleu". It all just makes the disc all the more tasty. After the pure rock of the first three tracks, things seem to settle into this world ambiance. No complaints from me here. I think the best vocal performance from Deb is "Words in my Mouth" (Don't Put), where she adopts a character and plays it out perfectly.
All things considered, then, this is a very good, self-assured product from what continues to be one of the best pop bands in the world, and amazingly, a band that is still growing. Material has already been written for the next album! Please don't let it take another eight years! (after all, Deb just turned 66 - how much more time can they have?). Don't know if it's a "classic" as some reviewers are touting, but it sure is damned good. And it's good to have Blondie still with us after all these years!
P.S. The fan pack is considerably cheaper to order directly from Amazon UK, and they are fast about mailing it too.

Helplessness Blues
Helplessness Blues
Price: CDN$ 19.94
27 used & new from CDN$ 10.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, May 30 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
Never have I so eagerly awaited a follow-up effort as I have Helplessness Blues. The Foxes' first CD & EP were so totally different from everything else on the market that I couldn't wait to hear their further explorations of their vision, for that is what Robin Pecknold is, an American visionary. The only comparison that comes to mind in terms of uniqueness of vision is maybe the first records of The Band, all those years ago, even though the music of the Band was so very different. But in terms of originality, as well as their interpretation of various American archetypes and myths, the Foxes warrant comparison with The Band. The music here is considerably denser, fuller, than the first album, and the harmonies even more lush, more gorgeous. All I can say is they have totally met the expectations kindled by the first album, and then some. This is spiritual music, "soul" music, of the highest order.

The Family Jewels
The Family Jewels
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 13.41
68 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb stuff, May 30 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Family Jewels (Audio CD)
I am amazed to see there are no raves for Marina yet on this site, so I feel honour-bound to get the ball rolling. The "Album Description" here puts it very well: she is absolutely delicious & has a personality that comes across in spades. You feel that you would just love to know this girl! Pop tunes that are lively and energetic and invigorating, even through the last three tracks where things turn a little darker. Do yourself a favour and check out the video for Shampain. She deserves to be as big a star as she wants to be. Highest recommendation.

Playboy & Playgirl
Playboy & Playgirl
Price: CDN$ 45.45
17 used & new from CDN$ 7.19

1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth bothering with, May 30 2011
This review is from: Playboy & Playgirl (Audio CD)
I foolishly bought this on the basis of its reputation at, which puts the band in the top tier of alt dance-pop groups. Found Playgirl at a cheap price in the store, so I chanced it. Well, the music is pretty cheap too. Paper-thin melodies, uninteresting chord changes, riff-sequence structure that is mindlessly repetitive, a recurring fast drum shuffle which is annoying and way too up front in the mix, cloying and self-consciously cute female voice. It's like music manufactured to follow some deluded recipe for fun. But it's not fun because there's no guts to it, nothing organic. Just look at the artwork & photos, inside and outside: it's all pose, style, fashion. Artificial. I gave it one listen-through, then decided I should give it another chance a few days later. By about track 5 on try no. 2, I felt I was wasting my time. If you want dance music with some drive and guts, try CSS. Those girls sound like they MEAN IT. I ordered "Sound of Music" through the mail, and I just hope that it is SOME improvement on this crap. If not, it will be joining Playboy on a trip to the second-hand CD store.

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