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Moving Units
Moving Units
Offered by Bluefinch Media
Price: CDN$ 1.76
22 used & new from CDN$ 1.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Hey, not bad, Jan. 6 2004
This review is from: Moving Units (Audio CD)
For four songs under 5 minutes each, I'm not going to kill you with a massive word count here, but the Moving Units are definitely worth mentioning. Take equal parts Strokes and Rapture with a dash of Interpol, make them Californian, and you'd get something pretty close to this EP. Yep, there's ZERO innovation here, but they do it so much better than all the other 2nd-tier wannabe disco-punks that you'll forgive 'em (you'll put away your Erase Errata and Go Go Go Airheart albums for sure); at best, on track one, they nearly match their influences, with an infectiously danceable bassline straight out of "Echoes", some minor key wailing cribbed from "Turn on the Bright Lights", and a melodic chorus that's pure Strokes. If you like this stuff, it's guaranteed to hit the spot. No masterpiece, for sure, but at the price it's an absolute STEAL.

Late Piano Sonatas (Originals)
Late Piano Sonatas (Originals)
Price: CDN$ 23.11
29 used & new from CDN$ 7.73

5.0 out of 5 stars You call THIS unemotional???, Dec 23 2003
First of all, if you're a Beethoven neophyte still trying to pick up the basics and wondering whether his late sonatas are worth getting, I have one thing to say to you: drop EVERYTHING. You need his late piano sonatas, and you need them now. Not only are these works profoundly emotional in the way his late work almost always was, but they're technically dazzling and so inventive that later composers were still exploring the avenues he'd opened up for almost a century. In the monumental Opus 106 "Hammerklavier", Beethoven managed not only to write a piece so difficult that even the great virtuosi (except for Pollini, and that's one of the many reasons to buy this recording) tend to make a few mistakes, but also to practically invent Chopin in the process. In the Opus 111, the very last one, not only does Beethoven bare his soul with as much emotion as this tormented composer ever revealed, but in the process he blows apart sonata form altogether, does some things with rhythm in the second movement that wouldn't get picked up again until jazz came along(check out about 6:30 into track 8 if you don't believe me), and makes a shimmeringly gorgeous farewell, making those 20 minutes the best 20 minutes of piano music I'm aware of.
Pollini, never faulted for his almost-inhuman technique (as I said before, check out the Hammerklavier), is sometimes called unemotional because his playing is so razor-sharp, and because he refuses to let his playing fall into the trap of over-sentimentality. There are times this is true, mostly when he plays late Romantic works, which are SUPPOSED to be a little schlocky. Beethoven, though, is a different story: the paradoxical composer who managed to have all the power over structure of the Classical era before him, while using that incredible control (much like Pollini) in ever-more-innovative and personal ways to produce works evoking depths of emotion beyond anything that had been heard before.
What all this means, for this recording, is that Pollini manages to pull off the same paradoxical feat as Beethoven: having all the virtuosic skill, all the sense of the logic of these pieces, while pulling out some terribly profound feeling from these works. He does it by being so faithful to the score that, as one reviewer below did, you could read along without ever noticing a deviation from the composer's extremely precise directions (including some faster-than-traditional tempi that, in my opinion, make these works a lot more interesting than the wishy-washy feeling of performances by people like Kempff). On the other hand, this supreme grasp of the technical aspects leaves Pollini free to play it _naturally_, with the unexaggerated but supremely poignant emotion of someone who simply lets the music flow through them. Highlights include, well, everything, but especially the Opus 111(perfection!), the Hammerklavier, and the Opus 101. Truly a master performance, and I've never heard better.

The Hours: A Novel
The Hours: A Novel
by Michael Cunningham
Edition: Paperback
133 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, flat, shallow, pretentious., Sept. 15 2003
This review is from: The Hours: A Novel (Paperback)
No, I didn't like this book at _all_. I read it back to back with Mrs. Dalloway, so that the original would be fresh in my mind, and the contrast shows just how wanting this new take is. Plenty of reviewers have summarized the plot, so I'm going to cut to the chase: this book should either have been a lot longer, or a lot shorter. Dalloway got away with its wisp of a plot because plot wasn't the point, and its couple hundred pages were plenty to explore the richness of the quotidian in fascinating, quiet fashion, a feminine counterpart to Ulysses. The Hours, on the other hand, interweaves 3 stories in the same space, giving so little time to each that none of the characters acquire real personality or gather even a scrap of sympathy. Instead we get an intricately plotted (yes, I admit that Cunningham knows how to diagram a plot, but this book is like a soulless machine, and there are more suprises in most rereadings of novels than in the first read here) series of whining and sighing women and men. Furthermore, there is ZERO variation in writing style, pace, or tone, no humor, and simply nothing to keep one interested: people whine, and then they die and turn out to be related. To add to the insult, the present-day thread of the story is a pedantic game of "spot the transposition", as lacking in cleverness as the butchering of Austen's Emma into the movie "Clueless".
Now don't get me wrong, I like daring fictional experiments, as well as more traditional narratives, and if one places great weight in one element of writing--plot, characterization, style, philosophy, a message, even just plain fun--to the detriment of the others, that can be fine, even brilliant, but even the plot, the best element of this, is lukewarm at best. Dull, faintly depressing, _and_ stupid. An utter travesty he got the Pulitzer for this tripe.

Reveille
Reveille
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 11.30
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Shining Star of 2002, March 26 2003
This review is from: Reveille (Audio CD)
After two albums of clever noise, Deerhoof has the audacity to drop one of the catchiest albums of the last 5 years. Take formidable blasts of raw but soaring, often dissonant guitar, plenty of wild studio trickery, some seriously sugary melodies, and an incessantly cute Japanese chick on vocals, and you only have the ingredients, because the warped noise-pop coming out of your speakers will stick in your head for WEEKS. Very few of the songs sound anything like each other, and they're played so earnestly and unbelaboredly that it sounds as if the band could churn them out at this quality for eternity (and, well, the similar-but-even-more-accessible follow-up Apple O proves that they're far from done). Almost nobody sounds like Deerhoof, and if you like noise- or avant-pop, the music that makes you go giddy with simple enjoyment before you realize just how _interesting_ it is, click the buy button before you have the chance to change your mind. Trust me: this is a tremendous album that never feels like one. It's so simply _GOOD_ you'll forget it's also Great.

Confusion Is Sex
Confusion Is Sex
Offered by music4sure Ca
Price: CDN$ 19.08
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars You'd better be hardcore for this, but what an album!, Feb. 15 2003
This review is from: Confusion Is Sex (Audio CD)
Caution: if you have heart troubles, are in the final trimester of pregnancy, have asthma, a pacemaker, or suffer from anxiety attacks, please refrain from listening to this album. If your idea of great Sonic Youth is Goo, or even their more accessible works on Sister ("Schizophrenia", "Kotton Krown") or Daydream Nation ("Teenage Riot", anyone?), or if you have heart problems I suggest you quietly click the "back" button and find yourself some nice indie-pop, maybe Pixies if you're feeling adventurous. However, if your complaint with the canonical SY albums is that they seemed a bit genteel and droning, if your idea of great Sonic Youth is when they pull out _all_ the stops and eviscerate you with the loudest, nastiest noise they've got, then dear God have I got an album for you.
Confusion Is Sex/Kill Yr. Idols is a document of the earliest form of the band, back when they were a bunch of young punks bathed in No Wave's art school nihilism. Indeed, this is the only SY album in which they sound like punks rather than EX-punks. Back then, the trio never found a noise they didn't like or a tuneful chord they didn't hate. The songs sound like temper tantrums, so dissonant and ragged that Kim's usually-grating voice fits her offerings like a glove. Taken as a whole, the album makes a perfect soundtrack for some speed-limit-shattering night drive, or perhaps a ceremony involving human sacrifice. Highlights include the morose opener "(She's in a) bad mood", Kim's brutal cover of the Stooges' "I wanna be your dog", the hilariously obtuse "Confusion is Next" ("Sonic Tooth!!! Sonic TOOTH!!!"), and the absolutely BLISTERING "Kill Yr. Idols". Hold on through the ragged production, and there's much to love in these twisted and raging tracks.
This is NOT the same band that recorded Sister, and the kids who dropped these LP's would probably HATE the "radical adults" who brought us Murray Street. However, if you're looking for something more death-punk than college-rock, something to flail around spastically to when your roommate's just played one Yo La Tengo song too many, click the "Buy" button before some noise-phobic review lower down the page changes your mind and deprives you of one of the most viscerally entertaining albums I know.

Galveston
Galveston
by Sean Stewart
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, maddening but understandable ending, Aug. 17 2002
This review is from: Galveston (Mass Market Paperback)
When I saw this book, I'd never heard of Sean Stewart. I was just wandering around an SF bookstore when I saw this with its various awards noted beneath. Tim Powers is awfully good competition for the mythopoeic award, and the World Fantasy Award usually picks something good, so I decided a paperback was well worth the risk. After approaching the beginning with more curiosity than comprehension, I found myself engrossed in this magic-ridden world, and the characters (more fleshed out than many real people seem to be!) kept my eyes locked on the pages. One warning: this book will depress ... you in a lot of parts, but that's part of what makes it so bleedin' good.
I read this book in an absolute frenzy, even a feverish one. However, as the last 40 pages came up, I began more and more to fear an unsatisfying ending. There were simply too many threads in the air to tie them up right. As those pages dwindled, a whirlwind of events bring things closer to satisfaction, but not enough to begin the stirrings of anger when 10 remained. By the last line, however, he had managed to bring the tale to an understandable close, if not a beautiful finale. I was mad enough that I tossed the book down in disgust, but captivated enough to run back through the pages for minute upon minute after I completed it. I still don't know whether it was the best way to go, but I know that the book as a whole was brilliant, it seriously deserved the WFA, and I just can't stop thinking about it. Please read it, but not if you're looking for the feel-good book of the year.

Isle of the Dead
Isle of the Dead
19 used & new from CDN$ 19.55

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 great book, 1 good chunk of Zelazny., Aug. 17 2002
This review is from: Isle of the Dead (Paperback)
I'm writing this because nobody else bothered, and a writer of his caliber deserves reviews on everything he ever produced.
Well, this is the trouble with double editions: it's impossible to issue a single rating, especially when the two works have markedly different levels of quality, as in this one. So, I'll just do the two separately.
Isle of the Dead: Really ... cool. THIS is why we read Zelazny 30-odd years after he set this stuff to paper. Of the SF novels of his I've read, this belongs on that top tier, shared with Lord of Light and at most one or two others. Where sometimes his dazzling style wanders a bit into navel-gazing(which is why he was so bloody good at short stories: they minimize such tendencies), here the descriptions are sharp, the narrator is one of his classics, and the ideas are captivating. The controlling metaphor is pretty cool, the action is exciting, and the psychology of the narrator kept me riveted. In short, this novel is EXACTLY what one thinks when s/he thinks of "good Zelazny". 5 stars.
Eye of Cat, on the other hand, seems more like what happens when the old master just sits down and decides, "hey, I'll write a story about X". It's still good; I mean, the man's talents wouldn't have let him write complete tripe if he tried. There are some very interesting moments, too; Cat is a striking presence, and some of the throw-away lines are great. His exploration of "primitivism", however, is patchy, and some parts aren't very convincing; in certain spots he even sounds almost a bit bigoted (people from old tribal cultures can't order their thoughts?), even though it is clear he has respect for Native American cultures. Also, parts of the plot meander and drag. All in all, it's a must-read for those of us hungry for more books that have that signature Zelazny style, but if it weren't in this double, I'd tell you to leave it for later.
So: one good + one great novel by Roger Zelazny makes this a good value and a must-buy, but remember, it's the second, shorter one that's the best part.

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Price: CDN$ 17.69
21 used & new from CDN$ 12.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, but not for everyone, Jan. 16 2002
Let's pretend, for a moment, that you're listening to Aeroplane for the first time, having heard nothing at all from this alternately praised and despised album. The first thing to notice is the faintly catchy acoustic strumming of "King of Carrot Flowers, part 1". In bursts a slightly nasal voice that was never intended to sing, an odd accompanying wind or brass instrument that strangely matches it, and nonsensical lyrics reminiscent of Syd Barrett but with more sex. Just when you're getting used to this little piece of quirk, Part 2 begins, and a lo-fi electric guitar begins arpeggiating uncertainly. The voice is back, and this time it's nigh-excruciating as singer Jeff Mangum belts out "IIILooooooovveYYOOOOOOOOOUUUUJEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESUSCHRIIIIIIISSSSTT" in a register far above his capacity. At this point, the listener either runs screaming, never to touch the album again, or (and this is the path you follow) s/he "gets the joke" and bursts into fits of laughter; Mangum sure has balls. Aeroplane gets mentally filed into the "Novelty" section.
No sooner do you dismiss this act as a good joke than Neutral Milk Hotel shatters the conception by bursting into the dreadfully catchy and piledriving near-punk of Part 3. As a plethora of sounds and instruments clank and whirr along, the band reveals its ace in the hole, a brass band that brings even more of a mad, carnivalesque tenor to the song. Maybe this band can rock after all, you think, however weirdly. Could they possibly be _serious_?
The final piece to the puzzle comes with the next two songs. The affecting (and affected) "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" is quite possibly the finest piece of music ever recorded involving a musical saw(three-part saw harmonies, no less!), and the surreal lyrics finally coalesce into a theme, as fine a musical take on "carpe diem" as I remember in rock. By the time Two-Headed Boy Part I rolls around, the songwriting's become almost unbearably good, the singing's become almost unbearably strained, and the instruments have just gone nuts. The sense of yearning is palpable, but something odd's going on. Sure, there's the acoustic guitar being played as violently as in any punk song, but is that the brass band shifting into a New Orleans funeral march? Indeed!
The remainder of the album is a kaleidoscope of oddity, pain, love, young sex, Anne Frank, flowers, flames, spines, and death. Rather than being any one of the the things suggested in the previous paragraphs, Neutral Milk Hotel is ALL of them. Mangum is joking lightly and deadly serious, celebratory and mournful, mad and sane, sober and wild. Illustrating the contradiction are the songs that can make me cry even though I couldn't understand the lyrics if my life depended on it. This album encompasses it all, and just when it all seems like it's going to fly apart, the tortured conviction of Mangum's voice and the utter catchiness of the music win out. _Aeroplane..." is a terrific album if you're willing to accept it on its own terms, and I pity anyone who misses out on it; in all the flailing weirdness, it somehow becomes universal.
PS: The voice becomes incredibly endearing after enough listens.

Saarbruken 1979
Saarbruken 1979
Offered by @ ALLBRIGHT SALES @
Price: CDN$ 58.84
9 used & new from CDN$ 20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Zappa blows East Germany's mind, Nov. 20 2001
This review is from: Saarbruken 1979 (Audio CD)
An amazing album, worth buying even if you've got all the songs in other forms. There was magic that night, and the band was just on FIRE. The Nanook suite is absolutely stunning, with more energy, virtuoso playing, and humor than FZ's ever managed before or since. "Magic Fingers" gets elevated from standard Zappa jazz-rocker to a tear-the-roof-off masterpiece with an unforgettable riff. At least half a dozen others are just as good; on another note, playing this would be the perfect way to get someone into 70's Zappa.
Sound quality is excellent for a boot; sure, there are no illusions that this is the studio, but it IS a soundboard recording, and that shows up in the good mix (everything's audible and pretty balanced).
As live Zappa goes, this is definitely in the top tier and one of the first few I'd buy, along with (as your taste in Zappa's various periods runs) Bongo Fury, Make a Jazz Noise Here, and maybe Tinseltown Rebellion.

Saarbruken 1979
Saarbruken 1979
Offered by @ ALLBRIGHT SALES @
Price: CDN$ 58.84
9 used & new from CDN$ 20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Zappa blows East Germany's mind, Nov. 20 2001
This review is from: Saarbruken 1979 (Audio CD)
An amazing album, worth buying even if you've got all the songs in other forms. There was magic that night, and the band was just on FIRE. The Nanook suite is absolutely stunning, with more energy, virtuoso playing, and humor than FZ's ever managed before or since. "Magic Fingers" gets elevated from standard Zappa jazz-rocker to a tear-the-roof-off masterpiece with an unforgettable riff. At least half a dozen others are just as good; on another note, playing this would be the perfect way to get someone into 70's Zappa.
Sound quality is excellent for a boot; sure, there are no illusions that this is the studio, but it IS a soundboard recording, and that shows up in the good mix (everything's audible and pretty balanced).
As live Zappa goes, this is definitely in the top tier and one of the first few I'd buy, along with (as your taste in Zappa's various periods runs) Bongo Fury, Make a Jazz Noise Here, and maybe Tinseltown Rebellion.

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