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'Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes' – what a surprisingly somber title for a record by Séan McCann. McCann, of course, first made his name singing and performing high-energy Maritime Canadian, English, Irish and French folk standards with Great Big Sea and, while that band would occasionally trip and fall into the odd introspective number, none have ever been so far down as the name of this album implies. The implication of such a title is that the party is long since...

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Wednesday, 17 February 2010
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It's unlikely to come as any surprise now, but there was a period about seven years ago when music fans – pretty much all of them – were watching orchestral pop and Elephant 6-associated band Beulah very, very closely. Riding a tide of critical adulation, the band had become something of a staple on many annual top ten lists, commercial appeal never really materialized which began to take its toll on morale in the band. It started to show too;...

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Wednesday, 17 February 2010
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"Review albums long enough, and eventually you start to get a feel for what the music's like just by looking at the album art,” a former music journalist once told me. “It reaches the point where you've got an idea of what you're in for before you hear a single note.” For what it's worth, I've never been able to pull that trick off – not with any amount of regularity anyway. In fact, some of the greatest professional mistakes...

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010
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No matter how young or old you are – whether you're an unrepentant idealist or a dyed in the wool cynic – a good, sweet song about love or the possibilities and excitement of it will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. The hope of love is the great unifier that captures everyone's imagination and when it appears in song and is done well, there's a chance it'll live forever. In listening to Slow Club's debut...

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Monday, 15 February 2010
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The excitement is building in Sunderland, UK. For the first time in five years, record store shelves will feature a new album from Sunderland-bred punk monsters Leatherface but that's only part of the excitement though. Certainly the excitement is building everywhere for the album, but the reason it's building specifically in the band's hometown is because this new release, called The Stormy Petrel, also marks the maiden release of material from Big Ugly Fish – the band's own record label,...

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Monday, 15 February 2010
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Eleven years ago, even some of the more devout fans in his base had written Carlos Santana off. When the guitarist performed at the twenty-fifth anniversary of Woodstock in 1994, his presence was totally overshadowed by the excitement surrounding the more modern acts on the roster that year and it had been seventeen years since Santana had released a gold record. While the guitarist could very likely have continued with a moderately successful world music career, the possibility of having...

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Sunday, 14 February 2010
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It's incredible how little it can take to augment the dominating impression that a musician leaves, there are instances wherein all that need be changed is the venue or arena in which the sound is captured. Take the work of singer Jay Malinowski for example; with Bedouin Soundclash, Malinowski has found fanfare producing densely arranged pop that crosses roots reggae with just the thinnest hair of punk. There has always been some heart in it, but it's still got the...

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Saturday, 13 February 2010
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Is it finally time for A Wilhelm Scream to get their proper due? Having plowed their own course in relative obscurity since the release of The Way To A Girl's Heart Is Through Her Boyfriend's Stomach at the turn of the century, the New Bedford, Massachusetts-based band drew a surprising amount of notice for 2007's Career Suicide so word did get out, but nowhere near the amount that songs like “Die While We're Young,” “Get Mad, You Son Of A...

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Saturday, 13 February 2010
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If there has been any constant that can be taken away from pop music, it is that each and every sub-genre always gets one good last gasp in before it goes underground to recharge the cells and burst forth renewed again at a later date. Don't think it's true? Just before punk 'died' the first time, The Clash got one more lick in with Combat Rock and simultaneously slammed the book closed on the first chapter of the story as...

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Friday, 12 February 2010
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Some records – whether they're brand new or not – have this sort of lived-in quality that will just set a mind at ease when they start playing. It might be the lyrics that speak just right or the guitar tone that feels like the listener is sitting in the eye of a storm, or a rhythm section that strikes just the right chord in a listener but, whatever it is, it just feels like home. That's the sort of...

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Thursday, 11 February 2010