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I'll freely admit I came to listen to Neil Young properly before Bob Dylan, how that happened I will never know, but ever since then there has yet to been one Dylan record to convince me he has created an album more superb than Neil Young's Harvest.
Sure people can criticize it as MOR bland music, but they are frankly idiots without a valid opinion!
*calms down after a moment*
Okay okay to slate this album is to miss the point, Neil Young essentially redefined "Americana" or "Folk Rock" or whatever the hell they call it these days. The songwriting is utterly superb, A Man Needs A Maid's underlying note of loneliness as he realizes he can never reciprocate love to the Needle and The Damage Done lament for lost friends.
I cannot, I really cannot state how much this album means to me. It carried Goldrushes quality and quite possibly bettered it. The final track Words is, in my opinion, the greatest guitar excursion Neil ever wrote.
Being a massive music nerd, one of the biggest attractions to this album for me was the replacement of all bass guitar with a Moog Synthesizer. Now don't let that put you off, this is not a George Benson album!
A ten song album clocks in at an admirable 55 minutes, the first track Nervous begins with clattering waves of sea and voices before the a great thumping guitar and drum beat that the bass line dances over and Joan Wasser sings with the sweetest voice. It's frankly such a perfect combination that they get away with six minutes of virtually little variation, those sly foxes!
Track two rolls in with a great drum beat and piano pattern, you know the chorus is going to be great even before it starts just by this confident swagger. Again her voice is breathtaking. Action Man, Flash feel born to sit with each other, a sensation of some almost great wave builds slowly, the first half ends on Run For Love and happily delivers that great wave of relief and pleasure.
It's very noticeable no track is under four minutes long, each song comes across like an extended study on how confident and capable a songwriter Joan Wasser has become by her third album.
I first encountered Dr John a few years ago when he meandered onto the stage during the filming of the classic movie The Last Waltz, if you like the Band you will agree, he sat down at the piano and played a fun time honky tonk song with the band. Catchy, cheesy, old school and fun. Perfect. Then I forgot all about him.
Now he is "back", emphasizing old hip and ice cool again. This time though the big turn is the addition of newcomer Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame, and quite frankly this is sounds like a master stroke. A slow burning album I must admit first, these slowed funk grooves take repeated listen to ingrain themselves into your very thinking. After a week it was my go to album for any mood!
Dr John or Mac Rebennack is in fine fettle, the sounds have not morphed into dated excursions off nostalgia. Each song blends in together perfectly, old but with a great fresh feel that is owed to some fabulous record quality. Dan Auerbach's Black Keys trademark guitar can be found often, rubbing shoulders with much looser drum patterns and big ol' horn honking. It's the sort of album he will probably be writing in 50 years time. But let's not forget Dr. John is the boss here, hissing and praising with that ragged Louisiana accent has made the album of the year!
Not wanting to fuss around here, I love this album!
Okay, now the review.....
So I was in student mode, scouring amazon for albums at 1p and among the bargain basement shop of horrors was an album title that lets just say caught the eye. I snapped it up for nothing and thought no more of it. When the bundle arrived, I unexpectedly listened through each album of dud noodling jazz fusion until Fiona Apple kicked over the coffee table. From the very first moment of On the Bound, the pace may not be furious but the over compressed crunch of the drums and the dramatic stabbing of piano layered with various distorted, melodic goodies is outright amazing. And her voice, wow, this sultry tone telling me "maybe some faith will do me good" before unleashing a fiery refrain in the chorus of "you're all i need!". How this girl was not talked about was almost criminal.
It totals a tight 10 songs, To Your Love or Love Ridden or the Way Things Are could easily be my favourite but not a song lingers in poor quality.
Anyway, I shouldn't need to convince anymore. Just buy it!
I first came across the name of newcomer Anna Calvi amidst cries of plagiarism, a little too much PJ Harvey/siouxsie su/etc, indeed on first listen of the song Jezebel I wasn't much impressed. Nothing catchy or new. But, I have never been known for a precise first impression....
A few months later, a friend was raving platitudes about this artist Anna Calvi and quickly placed his copy of her album in my possession when I did not agree. At first I started to give it some minutes while I worked away on the computer or other tasks, things that hasten to reduce the finer details of any music.
The first two tracks slipped by unnoticed, but within a minute of number three this enormous wave of chorus reaches me and knocks backs any distracted thoughts. Suddenly this artist wasn't so unremarkable, the track was called Desire and has quite possibly the most infectious chorus I have heard in a long time. It seems so strange, I repeat the first two tracks and find a sullen songwriter, capable of eye catching guitar refrains and darkened tones. But desire isn't dark or sullen, it feels uplifting and fun. Perfectly placed to open my eyes to the next few tracks, Suzzane and I's great stomping drums and rolling guitar blend with her warm voice.
It's not without its flaws, the second half of the album falters with only I'll be your man as a stand out. Blackout comes across problematic with the almost poppy "ooooh's" sounding very out of place.
All in all I now look forward to reading the date for Anna Calvi's next adventure
Freely admitted I am biased by nostalgia probably, this was the first album I actually properly owned (lets forget that brief, ahem, status quo greatest hits moment). An artist name mentioned by a school friend, it was a moment of unprepared decision making when I spotted this particular album in the store afterwards. There is something so curious even about the front cover, it appears as a photograph snapped on a whim whilst two people cross paths in the streets. The tiny, frail lady almost emerging out of his steps.
Anyway the songs!
"Tell Me Why" - A rolling acoustic number with some downright wonderful harmonies with Nils Lofgren, a great taster for what is to come and a reminder that with other cohorts Crosby, Stills and Nash they have never even written anything close to this. Quick and selfless
"After the Gold Rush" - The title track and a seminal song in its own right, backed with piano and of all things a fugelhorn. The wonderful melody just knocks you out on first listen
"Only Love Can Break Your Heart" - I find this song is the acid, if you aint singing the chorus this album isn't for you! The country bar backed feel of the verse is nice but it steps up a million levels (this you slowly find is the unique Neil Young song) as he reaches for the high notes in his trebly tones and with Danny Whitten accompanying in the chorus (And what a chorus!!) the song finds a sincerity impossible to recreate
"Southern Man" - After pulling out a set of well crafted acoustic numbers the fourth track launches out in a ragged and menacing sway. Lynyrd Skynyrd may felt provoked to respond but they have never created anything as "rock'n'roll", yet country roots can be heard but in a way that is so astonishing i wonder what it would have been like to hear this upon release. The guitar ruthlessly bludgeons riffs and solos with panache that you can't help but admire.
"Till the Morning Comes" - Leaving the listener completely wrong footed, on the edges of their respective seats thanks to the previous track they are are rewarded with a jaunty 1 minute throwaway which finds time for another fugelhorn!
"Oh Lonesome Me" - Easily the weakest track on the album, a cover track sounding like an off cut from another album. The band labours with the lumbering pace and frankly Don Gibson's song writing doesnt compare to his own.
"Don't Let It Bring You Down" - Back on track, this time as if blending the previous distinctive moods, the song is a crafted acoustic number but carries a certain menace similar to southern man.
"Birds" - A song which does not get nearly enough praise and on hindsight sits amongst his best work, the piano based track upon an ending relationship has an absolutely beautiful chorus with Danny Whitten in harmony finishing on the lament "its over"
"When You Dance I Can Really Love" - In the same vein as southern man, a country rock track that sways with distorted menace but which maintains refrained and never quite unleashed as the previous track. Still great fun!
"I Believe in You" - Another classic, rolling country tempo with a fabulous chorus.
"Cripple Creek Ferry" - Repeating the pattern the second side finishes with a light hearted jaunt to relieve the mood.
I can yammer on about this album but my words do it no justice, Neil Young proves himself to be a master song writer and it will blow you away
The joys of computers and their various guizes are all very wonderful most will admit but alas a time comes when you need mobility!
Mentioned in previous articles I am a keen recording hobbiest which has recently led me to certain intriguing situations where in I found myself capturing various sounds outside, this has many problems in itself with microphone and editing techniques but the first major obsticle was an external storage device that didn't require the need of a mains power supply.
I admit i am personally not very knowledgable about the minute details of computer machinary, but after research i discovered that you can have the possibilty of a usb style flash memory hard drive with huge storing capacity. This brought me to the curious idea of doing it myself, I simply bought an external case and ordered the same drive within my laptop. Which just so happens to be this! The WD Scorpio Blue 500gb hard drive.
At the very respectable price of £50 all together i had a case and drive, for a novice like myself the idea seemed really challenging but in the end the design practically made everything a breeze. Literally taking minutes to install thanks to the wonderful push in connector.
The device itself is great! For recording it is really quiet, not noise has ever been discernable (more than i can say for a few other computer drives i dealt with previously). The design seems robust to withstand moderate use and most importantly after a few months use has failed to break.
After a disappointing experience with a previous router, it was hoped that this more modern counterpart would solve our wireless broadband queries. Previous to buying it the last router, which sadly I cannot remember its make or model (banished from my memory more like), had seized up and collapsed after 6 months of operation. We switched to DLink, having heard promising reviews about the company, and hoped for the best.
Admittedly the internet in my area is poor, slowly catching up with the city thankfully though; the only real desire for this product was to provide a good wireless connection as many people in the house were avid laptop owners and found the thought of camping in the studio all together a little unappealing. So I paid around £60, a hefty sum it felt for a something that merely broadcast a Wi-Fi signal (didn't open your favourite tin of beans or anything!) .
The overview stats on it were promising; the router design incorporates three separate antennas for better broadcast which was very attractive for the size of the house in comparison to single antenna routers. As well as providing a wireless connection to the internet, over five people have connected in such way simultaneously and found it works fine; it also featured four connection ports for the faster wired broadband.
Initial signs were impressive, it was easy to install and set up (and do I love an easy installation). It worked without problem for around six months again, however this time a different fault arose. Out of nowhere the internet would appear to stop working, all lights gave indication that the router was fine but on further inspection the wireless availability did not function even though one could still access the internet through a wired connection. This wireless fault would persist for a few days before appearing to work again; it is a most bothersome problem and one which dampens my opinion of what I previously thought a fine machine.
I would recommend it as a choice to check but if you find a seeming better router do not choose this.
Ah this is such a nostalgic lump of wood, my first ever acoustic guitar that I bought myself. Previous to that leap of desire I had been burdened with an ancient Epiphone acoustic, an instrument that had floated around the family and even at one point had its neck washed with fairy liquid. To put it gently the guitar was a nightmare, action hanging against the ceiling and cracked fret board galore. So putting it down was something I took too long to do, now what was it like?
The Takamine had me at hello, though I'm not a fan visually of cutaway acoustic guitars (always remind of some boyzone mush ballad) but there is just something so earnest about its shape. A small, not overburdening size and upon a few gentle strums I found the action and all-round playability to be stunning. The details of its rosewood neck or the beautiful maple body were of little concern now that I had played it once.
After bringing it home, around £250 at the time, I really have begun to treasure this instrument. The inbuilt tuner is so handy and does not suck battery power hard; the pickup attached on the other side of the bridge also allows you to plug in to an amplifier if ones need ever requires it. I feel the pickup is a slight dissatisfaction in comparison to its acoustic sound but that is a minor point.
This is a fabulous instrument that I don't think I will ever part with.
Driving a car can be most stressful at times, all that remembering where to go malarkey mixed in with beeping horns and the driving bit. It is even worse for country boys like myself that when going up to any sort of big city I invariably melt under the pressure, not to mention somewhere like Dublin where all hell breaks loose and every car is your enemy in a marathon battle to make it to the market.
So it was with relief to find a kind soul had wrapped a little box with my name inscribed upon it, inside I found this product from which I will be reviewing. The MyGuide SatNav system. Oh boy.
First the good news, the system has an easy to use layout and it doesn't take long at all to get used to setting and storing directions. It was also has a pretty fun multimedia feature, utilising a detachable memory card, that lets you build a music playlist for the car.
However it did have a few drawbacks, for instance audio setting appears to disregard the variable control and will switch from silence to ear deafening loudness. On top of that the battery life is very poor, virtually draining within a day and has to be left on the charger when needed (not exactly convenient).
On the whole it has been an okay SatNav but the problems worsened when the MyGuide company appear to be non-existent so I have had no luck getting map updates for the computer making it pretty redundant.
Along with my dual C1000S I also purchased this little wonder microphone, even with my woollen ear I could realise the limits of whacking a 58 in the kick drum 'cause that's all we had. It is specifically designed for optimum bass response, and has become known a bit like an industry standard for kick drums and sundry booming things. You can buy it individually for around a £100, which if it can solve your awful kick drum problems later in the mix then it is an absolute steal.
When I unpacked the box you have to admire the construction of the microphone, excellently sturdy and a wonderfully curious design shape. Although I must admit the previous seventies incarnation, the D12, is just a down right timeless looking microphone and the D112 doesn't really come close to matching it stylistically at least.
In use what a revelation! The kick drum "oofs" instead of a meagre "eef" (In about 10 minutes I will probably have no idea what I am saying either), it is a rather beefy sound and although the midrange boost seems to give it a baseball effect that cannot detract from its impressive ability. I have branched outwards, using it on various amplifiers for either bass or guitar and this microphone is always capable of surprise for something so "one dimensional".
In conclusion, after trying a few other specialist bass microphones, I have to say this really is a phenomenal microphone. It would be great to get a go at its predecessor but still this has been a corner stone for many sessions.
Ah I have many fond memories of this microphone, a significant stepping stone in your cultural learning about the audio engineer. It was when I first discovered the power of stereo microphone techniques, and if I'm guessing correctly I could have used a cowpat for two microphones and still be blown away, but still these guys where there to help me. So! Let's break em down arrg aye.
Firstly, a sneak peak at its standout features:
-Optional ability to power it from a 9V battery
-Cardioid or hyper cardioid polar pattern depending on attachment
-Back-electret capacitor microphone
As noted in the first feature this microphone carries a big old ace in its sleeve, a condenser that can be battery powered is a wonderful tool for field recordings (mobile work in unhelpful conditions, like a shop or the gates of hell) and at such an affordable price it really is an attractive offer. As I have had no experience using it in field recordings I cannot assume of its ability in that area, I did however attempt to put in a battery which was most definitely less than convenient.
In the studio area it really was a breakthrough for me with that sudden bright, clear sound in your recordings that dynamic microphones had struggle to cope with. Having two was great for overhead drum recordings in stereo and anything else I can demono-fy. As a beginner condenser it helped me more than I am aware but today listening back, in my older cynical self, I can hear its problems. The microphone can make instruments very brittle sounding, all emphasised high-end, and I have found its uses become less and less with such a specific sound.
Overall I would definitely recommend this as an option to aspiring recording hacks who are just starting out, there is however in today's market so many low budget competitors I am unsure if I would choose it first.
As well as dithering around recording music I also am an avid fan of playing live music in venues, i.e. the grotty pub down the road tour every summer on holiday. What I have tended to notice is that these smaller gigs all vary wildly in quality live sound equipment, ranging from one man packing a slice of pizza and his beer belly to crazy die-hards who give a damn and even bought a reverb unit, so with that in mind in any band the members would collect together and buy some modest but reliable gigging gear.
This of course means you go out and buy the best damn SM 58 money can buy. A microphone very similar to its less dress cousin, the SM 57, here are some stats;
-Dynamic, moving coil inducing etc etc
-Cardioid polar pattern
-Frequency response from 50 to 15000Hz
As the stats suggest, and you will notice when using, this microphone does have a great capability for capturing a range of instrument sources and in a live gig can find itself being utilised on amplifiers, spitting hellfire vocals, drums or anything! This makes it frankly a gold mine, for live events quality does not have to be optimum so therefore it is able to get away with any "flaws". It also is designed with a built in shock-mount which allows for the cool cats to sing with it in their hands.
Though I was less forgiving about the SM57 its older cousin has, in my opinion a better rejection pattern, and really is a perfect microphone for any live situation
As I have started to accumulate a number of audio tech reviews, you know that because you have read them isn't that right, searching out the experiences I can offer up I almost forgot one really important product. In quest for a decent selection of microphones I would bite the hand off any poor soul wielding a fuzzy dictaphone, I had great joy trading cash for a dozen dynamic microphones out of a church, but out of the blue I was offered a classic AKG C451 for nothing! A friend (haggard live pro moving into the chip shop career) cleared out his stuff and I appeared to be the beneficiary of an awesome tool!
So basically in summary the C451 is a pencil condenser microphone, the small diaphragm in the C1 cardioid capsule is renowned for its excellent ability to capture sources with high transients (a drum cymbal for instance). I like a greedy kid at the sweet shop put it to work as soon as possible, what a revelation! It was like a cloud concealing high frequencies were dispersed and a clear spectrum began to emerge, drums had never sounded better. On acoustic instrument the richness of the wooden bodies was transposed into pure ear candy.
But alas for every high the flaws started to creep in, I began to notice an irritating humming from the microphone once connected that intensified immeasurably at the touch of skin. This problem was solved sometimes by slightly unscrewing the cap, a solution but none the less disappointing to have to be used.
Overall it is a fabulous microphone, the humming noise most likely has occurred over the years after heavy use (its actual age is still unclear) so yes if you find a chance to buy one, and I know its mind boggling the different variations on the same thing, BUY ONE!
Though the pros are numerous, university as incurred a ridiculous expense. Paper.
Each year deems a truck load of essays and reports to be written up and handed in, of course they provide printing services but at a hefty cost that made me doubt the actual benefit of the provision. So I chalked up the £40 to buy a wireless printer/copier, knowing in the long run this should even out as ink cartridges total to around £20 and a local print shop refills them too.
What can I say the printer is a joy and does everything it needs with supreme efficiency; the noise is minimal when printing and the photocopier addition has been a wonderful solution to the odd requirement. It really opens my eyes to the fact that no printer should be sold with a copier, why bother with the hassle of two machines when one does it all.
The machine is so simple to use my 7 year old cousin has even started gleefully photocopying her hands, not sure who left the black and white butt crack in the tray though....
I whole heartedly recommend this machine! The wireless allows you to have multiple machines in your house print without moving, the design is not overbearing and the price (I have seen them listed around £80 but you can find them much cheaper) is great. Plus nothing has yet broken, fingers crossed of course...