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Sauder Multimedia Storage Tower, Cinnamon Cherry
Sauder Multimedia Storage Tower, Cinnamon Cherry
Price: $43.01
8 used & new from $35.96

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quit changing the price, Amazon, January 27, 2014
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For $29.00, this storage tower is a decent deal. For $46, however, there are better options.

When this arrived on my doorstep, it was very well packaged, but still had a few flaws on the corners and edges of some of the pieces from shipping. Had I paid $46, I might have returned it, but for $29, I figured I'd just deal with it. Most of the damage is unnoticeable when everything is put together anyway. I would highly recommend this tower to anyone looking for cheap, but still nice looking media storage. Not when the price is over $29, however.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 28, 2014 1:43 AM PST

Cellet Universal Phone Holder with Large Suction Cup
Cellet Universal Phone Holder with Large Suction Cup
Offered by Direct To Customer
Price: $6.07
7 used & new from $6.07

3.0 out of 5 stars Eventually got it to work on the windshield, January 17, 2014
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Originally, I purchased this to stick to my dashboard. After trying and failing for a good 20 minutes, I gave up. I am convinced this will not stick to a dashboard of any kind. However, I did eventually get it to stick to my windshield and it has been there for over a month now without ever falling or needing to be readjusted. The thing you press to create suction is very poorly designed and has a terrible time staying put, but once you're able to get it to click into place, it does its job...just not on a dashboard. If I were buying again, however, I'd look elsewhere.

Price: $9.99
92 used & new from $4.58

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jack White: No Restrictions, June 14, 2012
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This review is from: Blunderbuss (Audio CD)
Jack White has one of the largest shadows in music today. Between his work with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather, his guest vocal appearances with the likes of Danger Mouse and The Rolling Stones, his production and composition work for a host of notable artists, and his own record label, Third Man Records, it's a wonder how he ever has time to sleep. With each project he becomes a part of, however, his shadow grows and comparisons to his past successes are more and more inevitable.

Since the formation of The White Stripes in 1997, Jack White has become a musical icon. His gritty, minimalist style with blues, punk, and rock influences has added even more variety since moving to "Music City," Nashville, TN in 2005. With "Blunderbuss," he finally has the chance to let his creative juices flow without being held to the constraints of a single project. The result is easily the most diverse album he has ever been a part of which also means there is less of a defined direction to the album than past releases.

Opening with "Missing Pieces," Jack White opens up about his experiences with women; including his recent divorce from Karen Elson. As a Rhodes organ presses him onward, White poetically declares "sometimes someone controls everything about you and when they tell you that they just can't live without you, they ain't lyin', they'll take pieces of you." Lyrically, "Blunderbuss" contains some of Jack White's finest work to date, but most of the edgy guitar riffs that put him on the map to begin with are replaced with laid-back analog grooves and an expanded instrumentation.

One of the few throwback moments for Jack White occurs on the album's second single, "Sixteen Saltines." Thanks to White's nearly shouted vocal delivery and heavily distorted guitar, "Sixteen Saltines" is sure to be the highlight of the album for anyone still mourning the announcement that The White Stripes are officially finished.

Although fans of The White Stripes may get preemptively excited for the remainder of "Blunderbuss" after hearing "Sixteen Saltines," Jack White did his best to quell their expectations by not releasing it as the lead single. Fans' first taste of the record, titled "Love Interruption," is a complete departure from White's past projects. Although White has had his quieter moments in the past, "Love Interruption" is almost entirely acoustic with White taking on a much less angst-driven persona. Nashville singer-songwriter Ruby Amanfu even offers a distant, wavering accompaniment to Jack White on the calm flow of the track.

As "Blunderbuss" takes shape, the Nashville influence on White becomes more and more apparent. From the pedal-steel of the title track to the violin, harp, and honkey-tonk piano mixed into the remainder of the record, there is far more of a country vibe heard here than on any Raconteurs album. "Hip Eponymous Poor Boy" and "I Guess I Should Go to Sleep" both sound as if they could be playing in the background of a saloon out west with only White's signature voice to remind us of the song's creator. When mixed in with the hard rock track "Freedom at 21" and the classic blues tune "I'm Shakin'," the album loses some of the flow that made all of White's past projects such enjoyable listens straight through, but there's nothing wrong with a little variety.

Before its release, "Blunderbuss" seemed to be flooded with 5-star reviews and unanimous praise from critics. Although it is an excellent record, "Blunderbuss" is not without flaws. "On and On and On" lives up to its name by quickly dragging the close of the album to a crawl. The final track "Take Me With You When You Go," brings a bit of the lost energy back, but the odd vocal harmonization and random instrumental breaks all feel out of place, even on such a mixed bag as "Blunderbuss." This leaves the end of the record somewhat disappointing, even for listeners with a completely open mind going into it.

On "Blunderbuss," Jack White purges his brain of a multitude of ideas; weaving a variety of styles, influences, and instruments together. Thanks to some clever lyrics and a knack for lively mixes, the end result works surprisingly well. Sure, there may be a few bumps in the road, but for fans of any of Jack White's past projects, "Blunderbuss" is a must-own.

Track Suggestion: "Sixteen Saltines"
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 27, 2013 8:35 AM PST

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most Similar to Their Early Material, June 14, 2012
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This review is from: Valtari (Audio CD)
It has been nearly four years since we last heard from Sigur Rós as a full band, but Jónsi, the group's lead singer and guitarist, has kept exceptionally busy in the interim. With a solo record and tour in 2010 followed by writing the soundtrack to the film "We Bought a Zoo" in 2011, Jónsi has given Sigur Rós fans plenty of music to keep them occupied while they wait, but that wait is finally over. For many fans, however, the atmospheric nature of "Valtari," which is Icelandic for steamroller, may not be quite what they were expecting.

Having a record labeled as "atmospheric" would be a near death sentence for many bands, but not for Sigur Rós. Where their last record, 2008's "Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust," took the band's typically epic crescendos in a more pop-oriented direction, "Valtari" does almost the exact opposite. Opening with "Ég Anda," Sigur Rós quietly fades back into our lives like a mist building over water. Without any percussion to offer us a tempo, the first two minutes simply glide from note to note with Jónsi's distinctive high pitched vocals offering nothing more than a quiet "ooh" in the distance. Sigur Rós has plenty of subdued tracks in their back catalogue, but as the first song following the cheerful and frequently upbeat "Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust," it is somewhat surprising to hear the band make such an immediate change in course.

After just over three minutes, lyrics finally make their first appearance on "Valtari," but for anyone familiar with Sigur Rós, they know these lyrics are frequently sung in a made up language. Often referred to as "Hopelandic," Jónsi's choice of "words" is often meant more to convey an emotion than any real meaning. Although "Ég Anda" may not be as uplifting as the majority of Sigur Rós' last record, there is still a definite feeling of hope to the track before it abruptly cuts off and unravels into a dissonant blur of distorted bass.

The first single off of "Valtari," "Ekki Múkk," pulls the album back out of the depths of distorted bass with the aid of shimmering violins and the familiar crackle of a record player. On Record Store Day this year, Sigur Rós even released a vinyl version of the single that plays from the inside out; a unique twist on an already unique band. As "Ekki Múkk" develops, the feature becomes an acoustic piano and Jónsi's voice; the only two voices without a veil of effects to disguise them. Piano chords set an incredibly slow tempo, but with so many layers filling the gaps, it's easy to simply close your eyes and get lost in the mix.

The highlight of the record, "Varú," is the least like any other track on the album. Although the song slowly builds from a minimalist instrumentation like many Sigur Rós selections of the past, "Varú" is the only track on "Valtari" to be given the full grandiose treatment. Jónsi's voice swells with the strings during the choruses to create quite possibly the most beautiful moments of an already stunning album, but halfway through, drums take over the mix to the point of distortion and every other instrument follows suit. This is a definitive Sigur Rós crescendo and it is the only one heard during the eight-song set that makes up "Valtari."

There isn't another band on earth doing what Sigur Rós is doing. Sure, bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor paint beautiful pictures without the need for words, but the swells of sound that flow so seamlessly from track to track are undeniably Sigur Rós before Jónsi even opens his mouth.

"Valtari" closes with three instrumentals in the true definition of the word, but for a band utilizing a made up language, they could all easily be considered instrumentals. Although there is still plenty of beauty in each of these final selections, at over six minutes apiece, their lengths become apparent to the listener well before the end of the song. Having waited four years for a new album, many fans of Sigur Rós may be underwhelmed by the second half of the album, but on repeated listens of the album as a whole, it becomes easier to at least grasp the band's latest direction and accept it for what it is, atmospheric.

It's nearly impossible to grade a band such as Sigur Rós against other bands or even against themselves. If "Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust" is your favorite Sigur Rós record, then you may be a bit disappointed by what "Valtari" has to offer, but whether you're new to the band or have been following them since their first album was released in 1997, "Valtari" only gets better with every listen.

Track Suggestion: "Varú"

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Work, No Real Stand Out Singles, June 14, 2012
This review is from: Here (Audio CD)
It has been almost three years since Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released their debut album. For those of you who had the pleasure of hearing it, the hit single "Home" is likely still stuck in your head. With their long-awaited follow-up record finally here, the biggest question seemed to be as to whether they would be able to build upon their success with a now familiar audience. Unfortunately for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, that answer is likely no.

Much like Arcade Fire and The Polyphonic Spree, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are not lacking when it comes to band members. With 11 members at last count, Alex Ebert, the band's lead singer, and company make each song feel like a sing-along. Sometimes they harmonize and sometimes they just throw in the occasional whistle or hoot in the background to add a live feel to their studio recordings, but each member plays a crucial role and helps the music to stand out from a standard four-piece rock band.

Although the number of members makes them relatively unique, to get radio play, the songs have to be more than just unique, they have to be catchy; that is where Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros fall short. "Here" is not a bad record. In fact, as an album, "Here" is significantly more consistent and enjoyable from start to finish than "Up From Below" was in 2009. However, there is one extremely significant missing piece and that is a standout single.

"Home" still receives a great deal of radio play even today because it is completely engaging. It is almost as if you can hear each member of the band smiling as they sing. With an infectious whistle and a unanimous shout of "hey" urging the track onward during the chorus, "Home" encourages crowd participation whether you're seeing the band live in concert or just singing along with the album in your car.

On "Here," the tracks are a little more subdued. The debut single, "Man on Fire," sounds like a small group singing along to their favorite Johnny Cash track. This is not a bad thing, mind you, but even on hit singles like "Ring of Fire" and "Going to Memphis," Cash was never one to sound cheerful. There is still fun to be had during the listening experience Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros offers, but even as "Man on Fire" is building to its climax of diverse instruments, it never quite reaches the emotional heights of "Home."

Following "Man on Fire" on the album is "That's What's Up," a track with the bouncy bass line of The Beatles' "Octopus' Garden" and the vocal work of a farming family singing together on their back porch. Like the preceding tune, "That's What's Up" is very enjoyable to listen to, but it never really grasps the attention of the listener. The foot-stomping beat might have you tapping your foot along by the end, but the variety of voices singing during the chorus is somewhat distracting, especially with slightly delayed entrances by some of the participants.

As "Here" progresses and takes shape, there is a great deal of variety thrown at the listener. "I Don't Wanna Pray" would fit right in with an early-American folk record while "One Love to Another" utilizes a nearly by the book reggae formula. The whistling that put Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros on the map even makes a return appearance and helps to close out the record, but as the slowest of the nine songs on "Here," the whistling heard on "All Wash Out" does little to remind fans of what made them fall in love with this band to begin with.

If you are already a fan of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, "Here" is much easier to swallow than it is for new listeners. With the variety of styles and instruments applied to this oversized band, they are able to make songs that would have been popular in the early 1900s feel fresh and new. However, for those unfamiliar with the band, "Here" is not the kind of record that captures new audiences on a single listen. Lucky for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford and Sons' new record is not due out until September the competition for new folk-based music on the radio is still somewhat limited.

Track Suggestion: "Man on Fire"
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2013 11:55 AM PST

Price: $11.88
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost As Good As Fantasies, June 14, 2012
This review is from: Synthetica (Audio CD)
Founded in 1998, Metric has been around for quite some time now, but it wasn't until their fourth record, "Fantasies," was released in 2009 that they finally started getting the recognition they deserve. With a new wave edge to their otherwise alternative rock sound, Metric's strength comes from lead singer Emily Haines. Haines' double-tracked vocals may remind fans of Shirley Manson and Garbage's second record, "Version 2.0," but despite the similarities, Metric is far from simply being "the next Garbage."

It isn't easy to follow your best album to date, especially when you already had three records before it, but Metric still manages to succeed with "Synthetica" despite fans' lofty expectations. That isn't to say that "Synthetica" is better than "Fantasies," but with the exception of a few slip-ups midway through the album, it definitely comes close.

"Synthetica" starts relatively slowly considering the overall pace of the album, but the first two minutes of "Artificial Nocturne" are nothing more than a few synthesizer chords and a vocal introduction from Haines. Just when things begin to feel too drawn out, the drums make their first appearance and Metric's fifth album officially begins. As the album progresses through the heavy guitars of "Youth Without Youth," the danceable beat and catchy chorus of "Speed the Collapse," and the gradual energy build-up of "Breathing Under Water," "Synthetica" seems to do nothing but improve, but then things begin to unravel.

Following "Breathing Under Water," the repetitive "Dreams So Real" is instantly forgettable, but unfortunately for listeners, the same cannot be said for "Lost Kitten." How Metric goes from such a brilliant beginning to the equivalent of Lana Del Rey singing bubble-gum pop in less than ten minutes is mind-boggling, but that is exactly what happens in the middle of "Synthetica."

Eventually, the savior of this record is none other than Lou Reed, who has recently had a knack for ruining everything he touches (see: Metallica & Lou Reed's "Lulu"). His appearance on "The Wanderlust" is just jarring enough to recapture listeners' attentions for the remaining two tracks which are far more comparable to the beginning of this album than the middle.

As "Nothing But Time" and the album both draw to a close, it is hard not to think about what could have been, but "Synthetica" is still an exceptional follow-up to "Fantasies." Clearly Metric still have plenty to offer their fans and with the single strength of this record, the number of those fans will only increase.

Track Suggestion: "Breathing Underwater "

There's No Leaving Now
There's No Leaving Now
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Beautiful Album, June 14, 2012
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This review is from: There's No Leaving Now (Audio CD)
Although he may look small compared to the 8 foot 3 inches tall Sultan Kosen, the current tallest man in the world, The Tallest Man on Earth is the artist name for Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson. Since the release of his debut self-titled EP in 2006, Matsson has released two EPs and three full-length records under the moniker. Known for his distinctive vocals that may remind listeners of a young Bob Dylan with a slightly harsher edge, The Tallest Man on Earth built his name touring with the likes of Bon Iver and Jon Vanderslice before his second album, 2010's "The Wild Hunt," began opening new doors for him.

"There's No Leaving Now," picks up right where "The Wild Hunt" left off with mostly acoustic guitar-driven performances that frequently involve complex finger-picking techniques. The fact Matsson is able to play such complex parts while singing only makes the listening experience that much more impressive.

Although the base instrumentation is typically the same as his previous releases, "There's No Leaving Now" often adds additional instruments into the backdrop of the music which sets this set of songs apart from previous singles like "The Wild Hunt" and "King of Spain." Opening with "To Just Grow Away," a keyboard can be heard in the distance adding just a touch of extra color to the mix. This layer may not even be noticeable to those unfamiliar with Matsson's previous efforts, but anyone who owns "Shallow Grave" or "The Wild Hunt" will recognize there's something new here.

Further along in the record, the instrumentation additions become more obvious. The slide guitar on "Bright Lanterns," for instance, turns a relatively simple acoustic track into one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Then, on the title track, Matsson trades in his acoustic for a piano which is an abrupt change of pace, but thanks to his ever-present distinctive vocals, it easily fits in with the other nine tracks despite the selection's central position on the album.

With a plethora of acoustically based singer-songwriters in the world, it is difficult for any of them to stand out among the pack. Kristian Matsson's voice may be a little hard to get used to at first, but it is also what makes him memorable. Like his previous releases, Matsson's vocals are still the focal point on "There's No Leaving Now," but the added layers behind it makes this release his greatest achievement to date.

Track Suggestion: "Wind and Walls"

My Head is an Animal
My Head is an Animal
Price: $9.00
77 used & new from $4.89

184 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Debuts in Quite Some Time, April 5, 2012
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This review is from: My Head is an Animal (Audio CD)
In 2010, Of Monsters and Men won Músiktilraunir, Iceland's nationwide battle-of-the-bands competition. For those that may not think of this as an impressive feat, keep in mind Iceland is the country that has given us the likes of Sigur Rós and Björk. Drawing early comparisons to Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Of Monsters and Men is an alternative folk sextet led by the vocal pair Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar órhallsson. After a race between labels to sign the band, Of Monsters and Men landed with Universal Music Group and now their highly anticipated debut is finally here.

Considering the recent success of debut records by Mumford and Sons as well as The Head and The Heart, fans' expectations for Of Monsters and Men are understandably high. With a wide variety of instruments including brass, accordion, glockenspiel, melodica, piano, and guitar filling any of the gaps left by the stellar vocal harmonies, Of Monsters and Men have clearly latched onto a winning formula within their genre. The two lead vocalists could both easily carry an album on their own, but it is the blending of their voices that sets Of Monsters and Men apart from any act that could be considered their competition.

There are many moments, however, when one of the two voices is given the lead. The result is as much a pleasant change of pace as it is a means for building the overall emotion of the song. For instance, on "King and Lionheart," Nanna takes the opening of each verse alone, but Ragnar's voice is gradually blended in more and more. The instrumentation of the track grows substantially behind the voices as well so by the time Nanna and Ragnar are both harmonizing every word together, the energy of the entire song has flourished.

Similar to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' debut, "My Head is an Animal" remains far more positive and upbeat than Mumford and Sons' "Sigh No More." The album's opener, "Dirty Paws," is a song about war, but when that war is between bees, birds, and furry animals, it's hard not to smile as you listen. With a chorus of "la la las" and the occasional chant of "hey!" the band practically forces their audience to sing along.

Even the album's slowest moments have aspects that move the music forward and keep it from ever feeling tired. The track "Slow and Steady" lives up to its name in pace, but a heartbeat kick drum accompanied by a shimmering, reverb-laden electric guitar adds just enough to the harmonized vocal work to keep the five minute track from becoming labeled as filler.

The debut single from "My Head Is an Animal" is "Little Talks" and has been making its way around U.S. radio waves since August of last year. Fans of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros will quickly hear similarities to the song "Home" thanks to the call and response between the two singers, the remaining members' chants during the chorus, and most importantly, the trumpets. Of Monsters and Men are well versed in the success of their predecessors, but there is still plenty of imagination in their lyrics and blend of instruments which keeps "My Head Is an Animal" from ever feeling like a copy.

With music that builds such as many of the songs on "My Head Is an Animal" do, anticipation is an element that bands often overlook. In some cases, a band will just add to the number of instruments or increase the volume without building any anticipation of things to come. The music can still be enjoyable, but if the moves are predictable or there is nothing to surprise the listener, it's harder to make the song stand out. On "Dirty Paws" and "Love Love Love," the band uses pauses in the music just long enough to make the listener wonder what happened. It's amazing how such a simple gesture can so greatly affect a song. Following these pauses, everything feels bigger and bolder. Although this technique is more common in a live setting, to hear it on a recording makes the first listen especially exciting.

"My Head Is an Animal" is a fun record. That alone deems it worthy of a listen, but there is far more to it than mostly positive lyrics and sing-along choruses. There is also a certain musical chemistry between the members of the band that finds its way into the recording. The harmonies, not just between Nanna and Ragner but the entire band, are extraordinary. Every voice, both vocal and instrumental is given its chance to shine and when they're needed, reverb and delay effects never grow to a point of distraction. Like Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More," "My Head Is an Animal" introduces a band experienced beyond their years. To release a record like this at any point in a musical career is exceptional, but to release it as a debut is astounding. There are still plenty of records to look forward to in 2012, but look for "My Head Is an Animal" to make many "best of" lists come December.

Track Suggestion: "Little Talks"
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2013 12:33 PM PST

A Different Kind of Truth
A Different Kind of Truth
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Ol' Van Halen, March 28, 2012
The last time David Lee Roth sang on a Van Halen record, Ronald Reagan was president, the summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, and the space shuttle Discovery took off on its maiden voyage. The year was 1984 and Van Halen's sixth studio album, creatively titled "1984," shot up the charts thanks to now classic singles like "Jump" and "Panama."

Now, 29 years later, Van Halen is back with three of the four original members. The only remaining holdout is bassist Michael Anthony, who was replaced by Eddie Van Halen's 20-year-old son. Although a classic band reuniting is nothing new these days, Van Halen doesn't try to reinvent themselves to capture a new audience. No, "A Different Kind of Truth" is an album for the now middle-aged original fans who still love to rock and those of us who feel we may have been born in the wrong decade for the music we love.

With a classic lineup in tow, Van Halen set out to make a classic record and they did just that. The band doesn't just take things back to "1984," "A Different Kind of Truth" goes all the way back to their self-titled debut. With some of the tracks originating from early demo tapes, Van Halen filled the gaps with tracks written in the same style.

One such recently written track is "Stay Frosty," a song reminiscent of "Ice Cream Man" off of their 1978 debut in both name and instrumentation. Eddie Van Halen breaks out the acoustic guitar for the intro, just as he did on "Ice Cream Man," but it isn't long before he's finger tapping his way across the neck of his electric. It's no surprise he can still play, but David Lee Roth's voice sounds as if it hasn't aged a day. His mixture of spoken and sung lyrics mixed with the occasional screams of "wooo" or "look out" offers listeners a certain level of nostalgia Sammy Hagar was never able to achieve with the band.

For anyone familiar with the Sammy Hagar years of Van Halen, it quickly becomes clear on "A Different Kind of Truth" that David Lee Roth is much better at bringing out the best in Eddie Van Halen's abilities. He does this by constantly fighting Eddie for the spotlight. Every track seems to be a battle for supremacy, but never in a bad way. Each break in the vocal action gives Eddie Van Halen a new chance to show off, but Diamond Dave's knack for a clever and creative delivery of often humorous lyrics offers plenty of competition.

On "You and Your Blues," for instance, Eddie Van Halen interrupts a relatively straightforward track with one of the more impressive instrumental moments of the entire record. When the vocals return, David Lee Roth screams out the first line of the chorus, "woman, you suffer from a color," with a little more aggression than his previous efforts with the same words. The battle is still won by Eddie, but the album-long war is far from over. In the end, the only true winner is the fans. If you loved Van Halen in the '80s, you will definitely enjoy this record.

Track Suggestion: "Stay Frosty"

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sequel to Saint Bartlett, March 28, 2012
This review is from: Maraqopa (Audio CD)
Although he is now 10 albums and 15 years into his career, Damien Jurado is still a relatively unknown artist. The same can be said for producer Richard Swift who, including "Maraqopa," has now produced Jurado's last two records.

For many artists, this could become disconcerting, but not for Jurado. With each album since his 1997 debut, "Waters Ave S.," Damien Jurado has progressed as a musician and evolved as a songwriter.

"Maraqopa" is, in a way, a sequel to 2010's "Saint Bartlett," Jurado's first record with Richard Swift. As the album strolls through each of the 10 tracks, a vast variety of styles, textures, instruments, and moods are explored. "Nothing is the News" opens the album with a track that might feel more familiar on a Pink Floyd record. Jurado's reverb-saturated vocals play second fiddle to competing solos played simultaneously along with ambient sound effects.

Swift's utilization of panning the guitars to the left or right speaker allows both parts plenty of time to shine and gives the listener something new to explore with repeated listens. This is not the same acoustic folk artist fans of Jurado have become accustomed to and as "Maraqopa" unfolds, Jurado sets out to break every preconceived notion listeners have had about his music.

One of the more unique tracks on the record is "Life Away From the Garden." Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, the song would comfortably fit within the majority of Jurado's catalog, but instead his voice enters into a call and response with a children's choir while stabs of a rock organ create syncopation with the drum track. The resulting balance of instruments and voices gives the whole track a dreamy quality reminiscent of "Cloudy Shoes," one of the leading singles from "Saint Bartlett."

Damien Jurado has certainly come a long way from his days in the Seattle punk band Coolidge. Although much of his earliest solo material was straightforward acoustic folk with hints of both country and Americana, his partnership with Richard Swift has turned his music into an elaborately layered affair. From the shimmering xylophone and synthesized whistles of "Reel to Reel" to the calm organ sections of "Everyone a Star" and "So On, Nevada," Jurado's instrumentation has progressed to the next level while still leaving plenty of space within the mix for his thoughtful wordplay.

It's amazing that an artist as talented as Damien Jurado with a catalog of material as diverse as his has yet to start selling out larger clubs or theaters, but his time will come.

Fans of "Saint Bartlett" will have no trouble falling in love with this record, but for those listeners unfamiliar with Damien Jurado's music, pick up a copy of 2008's "Caught in the Trees" before this album to get an idea of how far he has come in such a short time.

Track Suggestion: "Reel to Reel"

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