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I was tempted to buy this album after hearing the singles "We Are The People" and the title track "Walking On A Dream" along with a recommendation from one of my best mates who said that it was one of the best albums he has bought this year. I have to say after purchasing it, I am impressed. The majority of tracks are of a high quality, there are a couple which could be better but there are none which are terrible. The first half of the album is probably stronger and I can see why comparisons have been made with MGMT. The CD booklet is good. It contains the lyrics and has some decent photos. Running time is just over 43 minutes, there are 10 tracks. Seven are uptempo, a couple are slow ballad style songs and there is something of a rarity these days in an instrumental track. The opener "Standing On The Shore" is a taster of much of what is to come. It is a lively enough affair and is probably good enough to be released as a single. It leads us on to the title track which is a very good song and is currently receiving a fair amount of airplay in the UK. I believe this may actually have been their first single and bearing in mind their more recent chart success I would suggest a re-release may be on the cards as it will do very well in my opinion. "Half Mast" fills the gap nicely between the title track and the big hit "We Are The People". If you have not heard the latter track you must have been hiding somewhere as it has been used as background music on tv as well as being popular on jukeboxes in bars and obviously on the radio. "Delta Bay" has some repetitive lyrics but is still worth a listen. It is followed by "Country" which is an instrumental track. I often find myself bored by instrumentals but this one is quite good. Next up we have "The World", the first of two slower tracks and in my opinion the weakest track here. I still think it might grow on me though. "Swordfish Hotkiss Night" is a rather bizarre title and the song is a little bizarre too, although likable I think. "Tiger By My Side" has a heavier and stronger bassline and is already one of my favourites. We finish with the second of the slower tracks "Without You". This is a better effort at a ballad and again I can see this being a single. Overall a good debut album. If you like MGMT and you like electronic music in general I would recommend you get this album. The lyrics are interesting if not always coherent, however this is common to many bands these days, Kings of Leon being a case in point, but this does not detract from the entertainment on offer. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Well it's almost a decade since Dido hit the big time with this album and I still maintain that this is her best so far. If you are looking for something to listen to on a Sunday morning after a hectic Saturday night out, or just want something to chillout with, then this is definitely the album for you. There are no thumping basslines here, so if that's what you were hoping for you can forget it. This is very relaxing stuff. Dido shows us her full range of vocal talents with some sublime and haunting songs peppered through the fifty minutes or so of music here. If you fancy some visual stimulation, the UK Edition is enhanced to include the videos for "Here With Me" and "Thank You". The booklet is of a high quality. Lyrics are included and there is a collection of photographs which show Dido as a young girl as well as more up to date photos. There are also some photos which look as though they include family members and relatives, probably her way of saying thank you for their support in helping her to be a success. The opening track is the atmospheric "Here With Me" which reached number 4 in the UK singles chart. The quality of Dido's vocals is immediately on show in this song which, even now, rates as one of my favourite songs by her. Next up is "Hunter". Also a single, reaching number 17 in the UK charts. This is a more uptempo number. It is one of the "happier" songs on the album with some nice opening guitar work and good lyrics. We then move on to "Don't Think". This is one of several tracks which deals with relationship issues. It is fairly uptempo again considering the subject matter, a woman scorned etc etc. "My Lover's Gone" is a slow sad song, lamenting possibly the death of a loved one "the last kiss" etc. It also emphasises Dido's great voice though and is a good song. "All You Want" is another ballad. This time telling the story of one night of unfaithfulness. "Thank You" is probably Dido's best known song from this album, it reached number 3 and has been eclipsed only by "White Flag" from "Life For Rent" in terms of commercial success. This time the subject is contentment in love although it is still quite a slow song. "Honestly Ok" tackles loneliness but is pleasant enough listening whilst "Slide" deals with tiredness and making mistakes. This is also one of my personal favourites. "Isobel" tells us about friendship and her Irish roots whilst "I'm No Angel" wants to get across the message that nobody is perfect, this is a beautiful and haunting song. "My Life" is probably my least favourite song on the album. I think it is a bit boring but at least it is short at less than three minutes. The final track is "Take My Hand" and is a good way to round things off. After a slow start it builds into a more uptempo track and is up there with the better songs on the album. Certainly worth buying if you are at all interested in Dido's music.
Yet another search engine you may say, haven't we got enough. Well yes there are certainly plenty of options already out there however, they don't all reward you for using them, this is where Swagbucks comes into the equation. Swagbucks is powered by Google and Ask so you cannot go too wrong there. Being a regular Google user it is natural to compare Swagbucks with that in terms of depth of information available. My only disappointment here is that the engine seems very much geared towards users in the USA. There is no swagbucks.co.uk as far as I am aware. This may change as things develop as you need to bear in mind that this is a relatively new project. I have been registered with them for around three weeks now and looking across the Internet I can only see references going back to December 2008. What are the main ways of earning with Swagbucks? Well the obvious one is to just do a search as you would normally. At random you will find yourself rewarded with swagbucks. An image of a bank note appears on screen above your search results showing the number of swagbucks earned. You are given the option to then return to the full search results or to click on a link which sends you a confirmation of your reward to your email inbox. Most rewards I have seen so far have awarded either 1, 2 or 5 swagbucks. Winners names appears on screen in real time whether you are in the search screen or the Swagbucks home page. Your earnings are automatically added to your account. Another way to collect swagbucks is by collecting swag codes. These codes are available across the Internet and can appear anywhere and at any time. They are only available for a limited period, as short as 30 minutes in my experience. The besy way of ensuring that you collect as many codes as possible is by downloading their toolbar. This sits at the top of your browser window like any other toolbar you may use. The advantage of using this is that it includes an inbox/swagbuck code alert box which is labelled as being "from TSG" or "The Swag Guy" as he is known. When a message appears in that box you need to open it asap and copy the code before transposing it the "Enter Swag Code" box on the Swagbucks homepage. Once the code has been accepted the total number of swagbucks earned to date will flash at the top of the screen. Full details of other ways to earn swagbucks are contained within the sub menu headed "Ways To Earn" on the homepage. There is a Swagbucks Facebook page and widgets are available which you can add to your social network profiles to again alert you to the availability of swagbucks. Members are allowed to give subtle hints as to where on the net you can find rewards however blatantly stating where you can find a code may lead to a ban according to the small print. When I want to redeem my rewards is there a good range of items available? can I earn cash? how many swagbucks do I need before I can redeem? There is a wide range of gifts and items available, the only drawback here is that many of them are currenly only available to users in the US, such as I-Tunes downloads and selected gift certificate options are for US retailers. You can redeem your swagbucks via PayPal - currently 70 SB will get you $5. I have 36 SB so far and I may choose PayPal when I redeem. Technically you only need one swagbuck to be able to redeem. For this you would typically be able to claim a single track MP3 or a wallpaper for your laptop or PC. For 10-15 SB you could get a trading card of your favourite baseball or American Football player. My experience of Swagbucks has all been positive so far. There are no obvious security concerns and everything does appear to be run in a very professional manner. I can only see it getting better as it evolves and hopefully going forward we will see a more international flavour appearing. I would certainly recommend that you give this a go as you have nothing to lose.
I have seen a few adverts around and about for the Brothers range of cider so when the opportunity arose to try it for myself yesterday I decided to give it a go. I believe there are five flavours to try - the two available to me were Lemon & Pear and Toffee Apple. I believe the other flavours are Pear, Strawberry & Pear and Original Apple. I went for the Toffee Apple on the basis that I like toffee and have a somewhat sweet tooth, even if I am diabetic. I had a quick sniff, before pouring the drink over the ice in my pint glass, just to check the strength of the toffee aroma and have to say that it was very obviously that the product had toffee in it. I was not disappointed with the taste. It was a lovely sweet tasting cider, might be a little too sweet for some people's liking but right up my street. If you like cider then you will probably like this one. I am looking forward to trying some of the other flavours now to see if they are as nice as Toffee Apple. The price I paid was £2.65. I thought this was reasonable for the product I received, a 500 ml bottle, and would not put me off buying it again. The labels on the bottle are well designed. The level of alcohol content (4.0%) is clearly displayed on the neck label along with an image of three people stood leaning against a bar with one other person behind the bar. For this particular flavour the main label on the front has a distinctive image of a Toffee Apple (obviously) and with the slogan below proclaiming that the drink was "First Enjoyed In A Field In Somerset". This makes sense seeing as the label on the back tells you the product is manufactured in Shepton Mallet and was first made in 1992. I would certainly recommend you try Brothers if you like cider.
This album is a superb follow up to the debut "Definitely Maybe". There are 12 tracks two of which, the untitled songs 6 and 11, are really subtracks which either link the songs either side or lead in to the following track. The running time is, give or take a second, 50 minutes exactly. It contains four singles that all reached either number 1 or 2 in the UK singles charts and contains probably the band's best work alongside the aforementioned debut album. People will probably be more instantaneously familiar with a greater number of tracks on this album than on any of their other albums. I would say this album cemented Oasis' place as one of the very top acts of the era. The booklet contains some interesting portrait photos and also the lyrics although they do not appear in track running order, except for the opening and closing tracks which do appear in the anticipated places. "Hello" is a rousing opening track and a great song. Not sure I would expect an Oasis song to include an excerpt from a Gary Glitter track but it does take a sample from "Hello I'm Back Again". "Roll With It" is a classic and I don't think there is anything else you need to say about it. "Wonderwall" is another classic and it is a travesty in my eyes that the Mike Flowers Pops cover version matched the chart position of number 2 of the original version. This is one of the best and most well known tracks of the 90s and contains lyrics that many people can no doubt identify with from some stage in their life. This was a platinum seller and fully deserved to be. "Don't Look Back In Anger" was the second number 1 single from the album, some achievement in modern times when you consider that it was the fourth and final single to be released. "Hey Now!" contains some great lyrics, although I'm not sure what they mean. Next up is the first of the "mini" tracks. It is basically a short sharp rock blues jam before we move on to "Some Might Say", their first number 1 single and an awesome song. "Cast No Shadow" is slightly more refined but still quality. This is followed by the bouncy singalong "She's Electric". This track shows for me, as on the previous album, the influence of The Beatles with their family life based lyrics, telling the tale of a cousin with "one in the oven" although Liam laments "but it's nothing to do with me"! The title track is next and lives up to the quality of the previous tracks. It features what sounds like a police helicopter and screaming guitars to open with. What then follows is a mini jam turning into the sound of waves lapping against either a boat or the seashore. This blends into the opening of the final track "Champagne Supernova". I love this song. It might last seven and a half minutes but I never get tired of hearing it. Whether it is anything to do with Paul Weller being on lead guitar, I'm not sure. It is a song that is still played on a regular basis towards the end of the evening in many bars and clubs, due to it's popularity. Not many non-single tracks can say that. I would highly recommend this album to anyone who does not yet own it. It's a classic.
It's hard to believe that it's almost a decade since Coldplay released this their debut album, and what a good album it is. The opening track is the very melodic "Don't Panic". I heard this song many times before I knew the title and assumed it was called "we live in a beautiful world" because that is the main lyric that runs throughout the song. It's a shame the track is so short at around 2 mins 16 seconds as it is one of the best songs here. Next up is the more uptempo "Shiver" which was the first chart success, albeit minor, reaching number 35 in the UK singles chart. This lasts just under five minutes and is a hint of what we have come to know and love about Coldplay in more recent times. "Spies" is a good song and is even better live whilst "Sparks" is a more melodic ballad. This one is a bit dull in my opinion. "Yellow" comes next and is the track that really brought the band to the publics attention. It is an outstanding song that more or less everyone must know. I still class this as one of their best songs even now. "Trouble" was the follow up single to "Yellow" and it would have been a travesty if it had flopped. Thankfully it didn't, reaching the Top 10 like its predecessor. Contains memorable lyrics about being tangled up in a spider's web. The title track is not really a track, it lasts around 45 seconds and is more of a link between "Trouble" and "High Speed". The latter relates to the lyrics and not the pace of the song. "We Never Change" is a very soulful and slow song. It gives Chris Martin a good opportunity to show off his strong vocal talents. The opening reminds me a little of "Wires" by Athlete, I wonder if they took any inspiration from Coldplay. To close the album we have "Everything's Not Lost" and it isn't. This is also one of the best tracks. Starts out like something you might hear late evening in a piano bar or music club. It bursts into life halfway through and is also a good live track. You think the track is over at the five and a half minute mark but keep listening as there is an extra minute or so of music tagged on afterwards. This album is great if you want something to relax or chill out with. The lyrics are very strong although a little on the dark side. They certainly won't make you want to dance. The overall album length is just under 42 minutes so it's not too long. The booklet is very basic with a few photos and no lyrics.
Prior to this album I was never a fan of Muse. I thought they were very "arthouse" without much substance. This album however changed my attitude towards them, so much so that I am more or less certain to buy their next album when it is released in a couple of weeks time and may go back and listen to "Absolution" which was the previous album. This album spawned 5 UK hits singles, 2 of which reached the top 10 and 2 others which reached the top 20, "Invincible", the other single even reached number 21 so was hardly a failure. "Take A Bow" is a more than satisfactory opening track. People who are familiar with Muse's music will probably class this as a typical Muse track. Although there is no title track, "Starlight" contains the title within the lyrics and is a very good song. Next up is "Supermassive Black Hole" and I think this is the track that probably turned me on to Muse. It is probably their most commercially aware song to date and explains why it is their biggest hit so far having reached number 4. I had always felt the vocals had been overlooked in favour of the instrumentation in the past but this track changed all that for me. This is my second favourite track on the album. "Map Of The Problematique" is a rather dark tale exploring relationships and their difficulties. The lyrics here are quite deep as they often seem to be. "Soldier's Poem" is a much slower track with a hint of "Bohemian Rhapsody" harmonies about it. A very short track at just over two minutes, there are obvious political references here. Continuing in the more relaxed vein "Invincible" takes a while to get going but is not a bad song either. "Assassin" rattles along at a fair pace whilst "Exo-Politics" is similarly aggressive and sees more deep lyrics, there is a hint in the title after all. "City Of Delusion" has a gentle opening before building up the tempo a little. Don't be put off "Hoodoo" by the spaghetti western style opening. What follows is very good. "Knights Of Cydonia" finishes things of in style. I think it is the medieval feel to the song that does it for me and it just explodes into classic rock at the end with superb vocals. This is my favourite song on the album and in my opinion the best Muse song to date. I hope there will be more tracks like this on future releases. The album lasts just over 45 minutes in total and I think this is just about the right length. I can see why Muse might be classed as a Prog Rock band but for me it is more inspiring than what might have been classed as part of this genre 20 or 30 years ago. I'm not a big fan categorising music anyway and my opinion is that Muse are unique in some ways in the current market. I would certainly recommend this album. It must be some good as it was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize and it may have won if Arctic Monkeys debut album had not also been on the list.
It's hard to believe that Oasis released this, their debut album, 15 years ago now. What a fantastic debut it was as well. Some might say, no pun intended, that it is actually their best album to date. Very few artists have made the kind of impact Oasis made with their first album either before 1994 or since, you could argue Arctic Monkeys perhaps but you would be hard pushed to disagree otherwise. All four singles are top notch tracks and "Rock n Roll Star" and "Slide Away" are probably good enough to have been released as singles as well. Looking back at the chart performance of the singles it must be said that although "Live Forever" reached UK Number 10 and "Cigarettes & Alcohol" reached number 7, if you hadn't checked these stats out and had been asked to guess how well they had done, you would have put them both down as top 3 hits. They are two of the earliest anthems from the mid-nineties Brit Pop era and are instantly familiar to anyone who knows anything about music. "Shakermaker" and "Supersonic" are also excellent efforts and the latter can often still be heard blasting out from any jukebox of repute. How can you not love a song that mentions Gin & Tonic, Alka Seltzer and the Big Issue! You can't help to be drawn to the lyrics which describe everyday life. This is possibly another reason for the constant comparison with The Beatles. I feel this is particularly evident on the final track "Married With Children" which deals with domestic issues. There is a fair bit of variety amongst the eleven tracks. You can contrast the short and poppy "Digsy's Dinner" with the heavier "Bring It On Down". The former track contains some elements, particularly the opening, that can later be heard on the track "She's Electric" from the sophomore album "(What's The Story) Morning Glory". There are no weak tracks on this album. "Up In The Sky" is perhaps not as well known as some of the other songs but nonetheless is a good uptempo rocky number. If there is to be any criticism of "Columbia" it is that it goes on maybe a little too long at around five and a half minutes, although "Slide Away" is the longest track at over six minutes. This album laid the platform for Oasis to go on and be one of the most revered and successful artists of all time. Whilst I'm sure the band are grateful that Alan McGee from Creation Records went along to see them at King Tuts in Glasgow, I'm sure the feeling is mutual.
After the raging success of "American Idiot" there was always going to be a lot of expectation in terms of the next Green Day album. With 18 tracks and a running time of just over 69 minutes you certainly get value for money. I also like the idea of splitting the album into three "acts". The album opens with the very short but punchy "Song Of The Century" before we move into Act I - "Heroes And Cons" and the title track itself. At just over 5 minutes it is pretty much what we've come to expect from GD. Next up is "Know Your Enemy". The first single from the album. Although it failed to make the UK Top 20 it is another good quality thunderous track. "Viva La Gloria" has a mellow opening which lasts about a minute before we return to the usual pop/punk style we are familiar with. "Before The Lobotomy" follows a similar format but reminds me a little more of the type of track that appeared on the previous album. "Christian's Inferno" is more poppy and perhaps a bit more radio friendly. "Last Night On Earth" has a Beatles-esque feel to it. It is more mellow and is the kind of track they might play at a live show after performing a few of their more thrashy numbers. Into Act II - "Charlatans And Saints" and the first song in this section is "East Jesus Nowhere". I like this one and think it would make a good single. Easily identifiable as a GD song it wouldn't have been out of place on "Dookie". "Peacemaker" is another enjoyable poppy number with a hint of Irishness about it due to the introduction of some fiddling in the background. "Last Of The American Girls" is a typical piece of Americana. It is pleasant enough with the usual political undertones in the lyrics. "Murder City" is a more punky and thrashier track reflecting the lyrics once more. "Viva La Gloria (Little Girl)" uses the piano to give a Vaudeville feel to the opening of what is yet another good song. "Restless Heart Syndrome" contains more piano for what is as close to a ballad as you will get with GD until just before the 3 minute mark where the song explodes somewhat. Act III - "Horseshoes And Handgrenades" opens with the rousing track of the same name. The "American Idiot" style riffs go hand in hand with the angry lyrics and swearing to make this the best track on the album in my opinion, this is GD at their best. "The Static Age" is again uptempo but a little less angry although still with some swearing. "21 Guns" was the second single from the album and although it was a relative commercial failure, peaking at number 36 in the UK Singles Chart, it is up there with "H&H" as one of the best tracks here. If you've not heard this before and liked "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" or "When September Ends" I think you'll like this one. "American Eulogy" starts with a partial reprise of "Song Of The Century" before bursting into part one of the song called "Mass Hysteria". This is quite punky and evolves into the angry part two called "Modern World" before regressing to "Mass Hysteria" again at the end. I think this idea works well. I think the band do as well having split songs into multiple sections on the previous album. The final track is "See The Light". Album closers are often weak and seen as an afterthought or filler but this is not bad and stands up ok against the other tracks. This is a good album. Not quite as good as "American Idiot" but then again how many groups would have been capable of matching what was achieved with that album. If you like this album then I would recommend you go back and purchase some of the back catalogue if you haven't already done so. You may also like Blink 182, Sum 41 or Offspring if you like this kind of music and want to experiment more - alternatively if you have cable or satellite TV tune into the "Scuzz" music channel for more ideas.
The fourth album and so far most commercial release by Kings of Leon. As soon as I heard "Sex On Fire" on the radio for the first time I immediately thought they had targetted a new audience in an attempt to sell more records. I think the fact that the track became their first UK number one single proves my point as they had not even had a top 10 single previously. This is in no way a criticism as this is a fabulous album crammed full with brilliant tracks from the atmospheric "Closer" right through to "Cold Desert". "Sex On Fire" had a lot of my friends talking about what a great track it was as soon as it was released, not something that often happens. It's a track that always seems to get the party going when played on a night out even now and it is several months since it came out. In my opinion "Use Somebody" is every bit as good and I was a little surprised that it didn't also top the chart. Third single "Revelry" is quite good but doesn't quite have the quality of the other singles. Something else that stands out for me on this album is Caleb's vocals in relation to the lyrics. Anyone who owns any of the previous three KOL albums, like I do and would recommend them all especially "Aha Shake Heartbreak", and has read the lyrics will realise there is much more clarity in terms of his singing of the words. Whereas he has previously tended to miss out some of the words when singing this is not the case here, perhaps more so in terms of the singles. Then again this is perhaps because the songs on this album are better written. Don't get me wrong I love all their albums so far but this one has the edge. My personal favourite track is "Crawl". My least favourite track is "Notion" which is one of the more mellow tracks but is still an ok song. "I Want You" is also more mellow and is a bit different to what I have come to expect but is nevertheless a really good song, as is "Be Somebody". If you have only heard the singles but liked them I would recommend you buy this album. As a big fan I would recommend you buy it anyway. I would be surprised if you were to be disappointed.
I own all three Live Lounge albums to date and would say they have got better with each release. There is a good mix of revamped versions of well known tracks by the original artists combined with interesting cover versions. This particular album also showcases the talents of a few artists I previously knew little about namely Elliot Minor, Ida Maria, Santogold and Bat For Lashes although a friend had actually recommended the latter to me. As these artists all perform covers versions on here it has left me intrigued as to the quality of their own material and I'm sure others will feel the same about the artists who appear that they know little about. Most of the tracks here have been big hits so you will be familiar with all but a few of the 40 offerings. Another interesting feature is the inclusion of two versions of the same song, one a cover and the other a new version by the original artist. Check out Sam Sparro's version of "American Boy" then listen to Estelle's new version of her own song and see which you prefer. Most of the cover versions are pretty good but be prepared for a few surprises. In my opinion some covering artists would be natural choices e.g. Newton Faulkner covering Kate Nash's "Foundations" or REM covering Editors "Munich" which I think is excellent. On the other hand I wouldn't expect The Script to cover Enimem on "Lose Yourself" which I think works well, or The Feeling to cover Kelly Rowland's "Work". There are some songs I don't like which I have a different opinion of now having heard the Live Lounge version. One in particular is "Blinded By The Lights" by The Streets. I think this version is much better. Other highlights include an uptempo version of "Mercy" by Duffy and a great version of "Shine On" by The Kooks. Tings Tings cover of "Standing In The Way Of Control" includes a sample from "The Power" by Snap and the vocals in "Violet Hill" by Pendulum have a Dave Gahan/Depeche Mode feel to them, especially with a synthesizer backing throughout. Each of the three albums in the Live Lounge Series have been bought for me as a gift at Christmas however, if they hadn't been gifts I would have ended up purchasing them anyway. I would be surprised if any real music lover, especially one who likes live music, didn't like this album.
The best things about Halifax Joint Committee buses are the prices, the drivers and the sense of tradition when riding on such an old vehicle. The prices are cheaper than the First Bus & Arriva services that are available in Calderdale. Whilst they are a little more expensive than the T J Walsh minibuses that run on some of the same routes, the HJC buses have the advamtage of being more spacious, with the majority of their buses being double deckers. The only drawback from a ticket perspective is some of the day tickets available on the other available services are not valid on HJC services. Whilst HJC does not service that many routes I am lucky in that they do service places I visit regularly. The number 36 that runs between the Calderdale Royal Hospital and Rye Lane is also very handy for town and is the service I use most often. There are also service numbers 28 & 34 which service Boothtown & Claremount, from the Town Centre and the 509 which runs to Bradford via Shelf from Halifax Town Centre. The main drawback with these services, like the TJ Walsh services, is that they are daytime only services, finishing around 6pm and do not run on a Sunday. The drivers are extremely friendly and will stop and wait for you when you are crossing the road trying to get to the bus-stop, not many services will do this for you from my experience. I am not perturbed by the smells referred to by other reviewers, sometimes this is caused by the people on the bus so could apply to any bus service, nor for that matter by the general condition of the vehicle. If it gets me from A to B on time that's all that matters, and to be fair the majority of buses do seem to run to time and rarely seem to miss altogether. If you're not too snobby, want to be reasonable comfortable and want to save a few pennies a week then the HJC bus service is the one for you.
I would never buy one of those tacky tee-shirts proclaiming "I Love Prague" but I do love Prague, so much so that I have been there either eight or nine times now for short breaks. I may have lost count of the number of visits but each time I have been back I have found something new to enjoy. If you enjoy a quiet drink in classy surroundings or a trip to a castle or shall we say the more adult side of life then Prague has it all. The only word of warning I would give you in terms of going to the castle is that it used to be closed on a Monday so please check before visiting as it is a long walk up a steep hill to be disappointed. Having said that there are some wonderful views looking back down the hill. Other reviewers have mentioned the weather and yes it does rain and it can be cold, even in May, but in my opinion Prague is not somewhere to go for the weather. Having said that I have not been in mid winter but I am sure it is very picturesque when there is snow lying on the ground. The architecture is absolutely superb. The National Opera House is a good example but there are so many wonderful buildings to look at. Even if you are not interested in architecture you will find it difficult not to be impressed by what you see. There are numerous restaurants and bars to visit. Whether you wish to visit one of the many traditional Czech bars or one of the themed tourist bars such as "Caffrey Bar" or the "George & Dragon", both of which are just off the main old town square, you will be made welcome. If you want to spend a little less on drinks you are still better off using the traditional bars as opposed to the aforementioned theme bars where the prices are typically similar to what you would expect to see in the UK. For other entertainment I would certainly recommend a boat trip down the Vltava followed by lunch in one of the cafe bars that stand alongside the river. Both are easily accessible by crossing the Charles Bridge and taking a trip down one of the numerous sets of staircases that shoot off from the bridge. Whilst on the bridge you may wish to listen to one of the many buskers or have your portrait drawn by an artist. On an evening you will often see fire-eaters & the occasional sword swallower. Imagine a foreign version of Covent Garden and this will give you a good idea of what to expect on the Charles Bridge. Whilst my travels have been so far confined to Europe, I have visited quite a few capital cities and this is the best so far. A couple of final things to watch out for. Be careful of pickpockets & don't exchange money in the street. If you are going to use the excellent tram service or the metro, do buy a ticket. If you don't and get caught you will be fined, I've seen it happen! If you get the opportunity to go, whatever time of year, you must go.
Having been very impressed with "Songs About Jane" there was never much doubt that I would purchase "It Won't Be Soon Before Long". I have to say that whilst this album does not quite reach the highs of the previous album it is still packed with good songs. There are few weak links if any. There are not as many stand out tracks this time around. The big hit "Makes Me Wonder" is the best track in my opinion. The other UK hit singles "If I Never See Your Face Again" and "Wake Up Call" are perhaps not quite on a par with the first single but are still good enough to have achieved higher chart positions than they did, especially the latter track. "Won't Go Home Without You" surprisingly failed to make the Top 40 in either the UK or US but is also a quality track. I also like the rockier edge of "Can't Stop" and would like to see them come up with more tracks like this. If you prefer something a little slower or more mellow then "Goodnight Goodnight" is the track for you although I wouldn't quite describe it as a ballad. That description would perhaps be more appropriate for the soothing "Better That We Break" or "Back At Your Door". It would be easy to dismiss this album as bland simply because there are many bands around who aim their product at a similar market, but there is a consistency throughout this album that others will find difficult to match. The number of tracks and length of the album is just about right. I often find myself pressing the fast forward button on the latter tracks of many albums but that is not the case with this one. Often bonus tracks are poor but "Until You're Over Me" in particular is actually quite good. There may even be a brief hint of Prince in Levine's vocals on that track. I expect Maroon 5 to be around as a successful act for some time to come if they can continue to produce music of this standard. Overall this is an album well worth buying. If you like "Songs About Jane" you will like this.
Prior to the release of "Good Girl Gone Bad" I was unsure of the talents of Rihanna. Whilst being a big fan of the earlier jaunty UK number 2 hit single "SOS",I found the her first hit "Pon De Replay" somewhat irritating. Having purchased the Reloaded version of her third album I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of quality music contained within and have been won over by her talents. The collaborations with Jay-Z, Ne-Yo and Maroon 5 all work very well. Most of the tracks are uptempo but there are two or three slower tracks including the delightful "Take A Bow". My view is that "Say It" is the weakest track on the album but it is by no means a poor song. If you are not a fan of sampling it may take a little of the shine away from the end product, in particular I refer to the sample from Lionel Richie's "Running With The Night" which seems to be in the background throughout the whole of "Push Up On Me". Whilst for many the anthemic "Umbrella" would be an automatic reason to buy this album, I would suggest that "Don't Stop The Music" and "Disturbia" are just as good a reason for making a purchase along with the aforementioned "Take A Bow". Being a fan of Maroon 5 also means that "If I Never See Your Face Again" is a personal favourite track. Strong throughout, I think Rihanna may struggle to emulate what she has acheived with this album when it comes time to release album number 4.