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Tim Brough "author and music buff" RSS Feed (Springfield, PA United States)
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Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and Mirrors
Price: $9.99
80 used & new from $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars No Parlor Tricks Required, March 25, 2015
This review is from: Smoke and Mirrors (Audio CD)
Beating the sophomore slump and improving the game in the production department, Imagine Dragons aim for the blerachers in "Smoke and Mirrors." Someone must have told them to get int touch with their inner U2, because much of the album looks to build anthems from scratch. For a change the reach does not exceed the grasp. "Smoke and Mirrors" hits its mark more often than not.

The first single, "I Bet My Life" exemplifies this direction. Pulsing verses with a chorus that looks to hit the sing-along status where played, it adds some Mumford and Sons folk stomp to the mix while building to a crescendo climax. "Shots" has a guitar line worthy of The Edge, and "I'm So Sorry" brings back the distortion of the debut album with a raw intensity. But this time they sound like the screaming was intentional. That's a big difference from this album and the debut. The sucess of which seems to have given the band the courage to play every genre they aver had planes for in their incubation days.

That includes a bit of pomp to go with it. Who would have thought that the band that made the hooky "Radioactive" would end their second album with a six minute prog rock opus? (And maybe the only misstep on an album that is quite assured of its footing.) Or that hints of the electronic dance would underpin "Summer?" Even if once in awhile they dip into the well that is Coldplay ("Dream"), "Smoke and Mirrors" is a surprisingly good album from Imagine Dragons, as they test their musical mettle.


Avonmore
Avonmore
Price: $8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Avonmore Evermore, March 15, 2015
This review is from: Avonmore (MP3 Music)
There is still, always, that voice. The seductive, world weary croon that masters sublime mood and the occasional glimmer of funk-pop. The atmosphere of the best of Roxy Music and the various high points of his solo career, which has been maddeningly inconsistent. But at his best ("Avalon" will always be on my desert island list), Ferry has a grace few can equal. As he nears the age of 70, "Avonmore" strives to find those heights. Given his age, that old world weary man just slips into it like a glove.

Calling the CD "Avonmore" is hardly and accident. In much the same way that "Olympia" took a sample from "Avalon" to compose "Olympia's" "You Can Dance," the tempos and atmosphere are meant to evoke memories of that classic Roxy. However, the sound of "Avonmore" harkens more to "Boys and Girls" and "Bete Noire" than anything Roxy has recorded. Musically, I'd say he makes the mark about 50% of the time here. "Loop Di Li," "One Night Stand" and the title track are vintage Ferry, engaging pop with funky undertones, while "Lost" is the enigmatic Ferry (and also the shortest song here) and features Mark Knopfler on guitar. The cast also includes Flea, Nile Rodgers and Johnny Marr, even though you'd never know it because the sonics of "Avonmore" are just that consistent, even if the songs seem mostly to be retreads.

It's that consistency that lays a trap for the disc's final two songs. He covers Stephen Sondheim's "Send In The Clowns" and then Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary." Like his albums of classic cover songs during the Roxy era and his dreadful "Dylanesque," Ferry transforms these into his own. But covering Sondheim is a daunting task for just about everyone, and Ferry misses the target. It's just not a song to be Ferr-iszed. "Johnny and Mary" fares a little better by slowing Palmer's electronic groove down to a misty piano and bubbly synth. It makes the characters something of a middle aged couple who really do "need the world to tell him he ain't lonely." It's an odd way to end an album that, two songs before, had Ferry's position as an elder statesman of ennui secured. Adding these two songs at the end feels almost like an afterthought, like he just wanted to prove that he could take any song in the world and it would just drop into place. It doesn't work, and that is part of the reason I only rated "Avonmore" as an average, three star album.


I'm Not Bossy I'm the Boss (Deluxe)
I'm Not Bossy I'm the Boss (Deluxe)
Price: $15.99
34 used & new from $9.58

3.0 out of 5 stars In Charge, March 14, 2015
Sounding more supple and vested than anyone could have expected at this stage of her career, "I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss" finds Sinead O'Connor still exploring her themes of romantic bruising, the push and pull of theology and the inner turmoil that has marked her work since the beginning. Her voice has gained a rougher edge over the years, which is masked on this album by multiple vocal overdubs. The pure voice is no longer there, but she hasn't completely ruined it (ala Joni Mitchell). She also seems a little more playful, in the tone of the album's title and latex love goddess cover picture.

While that playfulness slips into the songs ("How About I Be Me") and occasionally upping the tempo ("Take Me to Church" another theology rant bucked up by self-empowerment), it makes the album a delightful listen. There's also the O'Connor who creeps under your skin, especially on the potent "Streetcars," which loses the multi-tracked vocals and allows her to use that powerful voice backed by little more than a piano and bells. It closes the CD with a reminder of just how potent an artist O'Connor can be when she's at her best.

On the opposite end, she's trod this ground more than a few times and there's not much here thematically than you've heard if you've been a longtime follower. I like the song "8 Good Reasons," but I am weary of her railing against the music industry. She's had a career that many singers would die for, even if she's not the Miley Cyrus type that she's publically chastened. But as she states on the CD's inner sleeve, "This Album is Dedicated to Me." She still has melodic fire and opinions to be outspoken with, and with "I'm Not Bossy..." O'Connor makes a nice return to form in the manner in which she wants to make it.


Hold My Home
Hold My Home
Price: $10.00
37 used & new from $6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Adult Kids, March 13, 2015
This review is from: Hold My Home (Audio CD)
The Cold War Kids have hit their stride, since "Mine Is Yours" and "Dear Miss Lonely Hearts." On the new (2014) "Hold My Home," they continue their streak of mainstream alternative albums. The album starts off strong, with three killer tracks, where the band embraces their inner U2 and shoot for the stadiums. "All This Could Be Yours" ("All That You can't Leave Behind," anyone?) really has echoes of Bono and the boys. They are also literal types, where "Hot Coals" begs the question "whatever happened to the strong and silent type?" And to put the point into proper perspective, there's "Harold Bloom." He's an American literary critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University (thanks Wikipedia).

"Can you be wise if you never leave the room?
There will always be another Harold Bloom
to criticize your every move."

Yes, the Kids have some fight in them. "Hotel Anywhere" looks at the process of achieving your goals, with lead vocalist Nathan Willett's call that he writes and paints, lives and breathes and "it's incredible how little I need." They also have grown braver with the stylistic choices, with the finale, "Hear My Baby Call" approximating a blues groove. With the diversity of music but clarity of purpose, "Hold My Home" is another solid effort from the Cold War Kids.


What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
Price: $11.88
54 used & new from $6.55

4.0 out of 5 stars What a Beautiful World We Live In, March 12, 2015
After pounding out an R.E.M. sound-alike in 2011 in the form of "The King Is Dead," The Decemberists back up a bit for the more middle of the road "What A Terrible World, What A Wonderful World." There are some subtle changes, like heavier strings and horn charts, which are good. The band that crafted CD long suites now starts off an album with a song where the band apologizes for making a commercial for Axe Shampoo ("The Singer Addresses His Audience"). They know they aren't the same band that cut the masterful "The Crane Wife," and openly admit such.

What they are for "What a Terrible World..." are a crafter of songs. They've found a sweet spot between the ornate structure of those early albums to a sense of pop melody. It makes a love song like "Philomenia" all the more jaunty and "Lake Song" a hip folkie haunter. The band also sound more integrated this time around, where "The King Is Dead" was a showcase for Chris Funk, here, piano dominates many of the songs. Me. I kind of like when they get into that folk vein, as one of my favorites here Colin Malloy almost making a sea shanty song out of "Better Not Wake The Baby."

"What a Terrible World..." will probably polarize fans who can't get over the fact that the band hit an early peak and then decided to try other things. As for me, I can respect that The Decemberists are not content to stay in one place for every album. Maybe they still aspire to be R.E.M. or even 10,000 Maniacs (some of the poetic lyrics recall the Maniacs'). What ever direction they travel, I am happy to follow as long as the music is this good.


Autoamerican
Autoamerican
Price: $7.99
63 used & new from $2.72

4.0 out of 5 stars And it's finger popping., March 11, 2015
This review is from: Autoamerican (Audio CD)
Coming off the rocking success of "Eat To The Beat," Blondie hit 1980 ready to do whatever struck their fancy. The result, "AutoAmerican,' was a hodgepodge of styles, everything from disco, rap, rock, cabaret, a surprisingly well done showtune from "Camelot," even reggae. The album starts of eclectically enough, with the mostly instrumental drone of "Europa," which ends with Debbie Harry robotically speaking about phase gridlock and being left on your rims. Getting that out of their systems quickly enough, "AutoAmerican" breaks into a disco groove with "Live It Up," which seemed, in comparison the such monsters as "Heart Of Glass" and "Call Me," a bit tepid.

Which sets the tone for much of "AutoAmerican." Blondie was so all over the map that many of the songs kind of pale in comparison to other songs from earlier albums. The hits off the album itself show those flaws in sharp relief. The number one "The Tide Is High" (a cover of a Jamaican band called The Paragons) took reggae and used Harry's breathless vocal to make a striking pop song that stuck to the roof of your brain like the best of their singles. Then there was the truly unique "Rapture," in which a mostly underground and novelty form of music suddenly found itself at number one. It could easily be the first rap/rock crossover single. and still holds up remarkably well after over three decades.

One of the things missing from "AutoAmerican" was the rock. There's nothing here to compare to the explosive "Dreaming" or the muscle of "The Hardest Part" from just one album back. There are a couple tries, like the wild abandon in "Walk Like Me" and the horn driven "Go Through It." It also shows up on the bonus tracks, where the extended version of the number one "Call Me" blows away many of "AutoAmerican's" weaker moments. Harry was at Force 10 against Giorgio Morodor's Eurodisco pumping pulse. Which means that the best of the album are the singles, one of which is a bonus track. It didn't much matter at this point as the band was beginning to splinter (Frank Infante had to sue to be on the album) and the limp "The Hunter" would quietly close this chapter on Blondie. (They've made a couple of very strong reunion albums, including "No Exit" and "Panic Of Girls" in the new century, however.)


Stainless Steel 304 Spring Snap Hook Carabiner with Screw Lock, 2 1/4 Inch -Set of 4
Stainless Steel 304 Spring Snap Hook Carabiner with Screw Lock, 2 1/4 Inch -Set of 4
Offered by soan deals
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Compact and usefull, March 9, 2015
The compact size of these carbiners makes them handy for small carry items, like a knapsack or carry bag. They are solid, more so than your typical aluminum hooks that come standard with most carry sacks.The screw lock secures a quick release snap, making your item easy to secure, but also quick to remove. Recommended.


3 Inch Aluminum D Shaped Colored Carabiner with Locking Screw & Key Ring-Set of 12/ Used for Fishing, Traveling, Camping Hook, Hiking, Key Ring Holder, ...etc (not for climbing)
3 Inch Aluminum D Shaped Colored Carabiner with Locking Screw & Key Ring-Set of 12/ Used for Fishing, Traveling, Camping Hook, Hiking, Key Ring Holder, ...etc (not for climbing)
Offered by soan deals
Price: $12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Aluminun D Shaped Carabiner, March 9, 2015
These D-Rings are pretty lightweight, and the "key ring" is the kind of thing wire ring a car dealer uses when you drop off the car for a some work. (IE:flimsy.) The screw lock is OK but I would not trust it to hold anything heavy duty. It even says on the item itself, not for climbing. So don't expect it to support heavy construction. In fact, the item is pretty much a novelty, as I don't thing I'd use it for much more than a belt loop carrier for, say, a water bottle or a houseplant holder. The colors add to the novelty attraction.


American Beauty/American Psycho
American Beauty/American Psycho
Price: $9.99
74 used & new from $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Juxtapositions, February 24, 2015
On their last CD, Fall Out Boy announced their mission was to "Save Rock And Roll." On the follow-up, "American Beauty/American Psycho," it sounds like they're still headed out on that path. There's some righteous rock here. And there seems to be a theme here, it's all about the juxtapositions.

For example, the title track. You're blending a Brent Easton Ellis horror novel with a Grateful Dead album of classic Americana. Add Patrick Stump bouncing the word "Psycho" into a bouncy sing along, and you have the makings for a concert staple. The same with "Uma Thurman." Placing the "Pulp Fiction" star inside a song that mashes in the theme to "The Munsters" is something close to a work of genius. Then there's the heroics. Suzanne Vega's "dit dit doo doo" hook from "Tom's Diner" teases the intro before Stump challenges the listener. "You Will Remember Me...for Centuries" Stump wails to music meant to be played over a sports highlights reel. Same goes with "Immortals." Fall Out Boy are back to make rock that knows no limitations (there's nothing here that resembles a sappy ballad), and you'll have a very good time if you just let yourself follow along.


THE PALE EMPEROR [Deluxe Edition]
THE PALE EMPEROR [Deluxe Edition]
Price: $16.99
34 used & new from $10.00

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Retaking The Throne, January 20, 2015
Sporting a deeper groove and riffs that would make a voodoo bluesman proud, Marilyn Manson takes back his seat at the table for "The Pale Emperor." With 2012's "Born Villain," Manson seemed to be getting his full swagger back, and here he takes full advantage of his place as elder statesman and lead crank in the old school of LA evil that Manson had as his own court back in the "Dope Show" days.

The sound is sleeker and more percussive than usual, adding menace where before might have been labored screaming. Manson, to his credit, still uses all sorts of voices for dramatic effect to get what he wants, but instead of hectic he goes for menacing. "Killing Strangers," "The Pale Emperor's" pulsing opening cut, sounds like it slithered its way out of some hell-hounded biker bar, made even more so by Manson's insistence that "we got guns, you better run" growled in a nasty fashion. He's no longer tethered to a media that demands that he produce a hit "single," leaving him to operate as an outsider of sorts in his advancing years.

I mean that in a good way. The man who was once blamed for mass school shootings now plies his trade in TV and movies along with his music. (His multi-episode stint on "Sons Of Anarchy" was actually kind of funny.) So he can be, as he puts it himself, "The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles," all while sounding like he can still raise the devil when he wants to. He may sing that he's ready to meet his maker, but with "The Pale Emporer," Marilyn Manson still makes like he could scare that man off for a few more rounds. It's also been said that much of the album's songs were single takes. All the better to grit and glitter you with.


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