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Levi Stofer RSS Feed (Lawrenceville, GA USA)

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A New Hope
A New Hope
Price: $8.91

5.0 out of 5 stars An instant classic, September 19, 2013
This review is from: A New Hope (MP3 Music)
Rooted in blues and folk, John Leon Stanek IV makes his CD debut seem both timeless and fresh all at the same time. Expertly produced by Donovan Cox, the album has a modern edge while feeling like it could have easily been recorded analog in the 70's. And while fans of Led Zeppelin and Cat Stevens will all be very pleased with the sound, Black Keys and Mumford & Sons lovers will be just as satiated. From the acapella gospel-tinged opening line of "I believe something good is gonna happen" on "Take the Lead" to the country-stomp redemptive close of "My Inspiration," A New Hope is a 30 minute journey into the optimistic soul of Stanek. Some songs are sadder and more reflective than others (Should I Ever Wake, Something Beautiful), but all have the theme of Hope permeating through the tracks. Whether jamming out to the fuzz-rock of "Love!" or gently nodding to the time-to-move-on ballad, "Just Go," there is something inspiring for everyone on this record. And whether you believe in it or not, John's faith in God may give you the strength you need to at the very least, Smile.

God's Green Earth
God's Green Earth
Price: $15.53
3 used & new from $5.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful from start to finish, January 11, 2011
This review is from: God's Green Earth (Audio CD)
This is one of the best independently released albums I have ever heard... and I've heard quite a few. From the opening riff of Breakfast in Bed, something about the chord progression feels familiar, yet 3 minutes into it when the programmed drum beats begin to stutter violently and a string section crescendos along with dreamy synthesizers to a brilliant climax, you know you're in for a listening experience that demands your full attention.

The adventure continues with Jupiter and Beyond, a song that truly fits the term "space rock" if a genre for it ever actually existed. The song feels like it could have actually been on the soundtrack to 2010: A Space Odyssey. From here, the first single from the album Light of Day brings the guitar into the spotlight and rocks out while somehow channeling a Michael Jackson pop atmosphere. The Acrobat continues with the 80's vibe with a beautiful melody and a Def Leppard-esque guitar line.

From here, is the second single If Only. Written and performed almost entirely by Donovan Cox, this song is the heaviest on the album yet it is also the heart of the record. Relationships gone bad seem to be an underlying theme throughout, but the music is written with such sincerity and performed with such passion, that even if you haven't had your heart torn to shreds, you will still find something to relate to. Plus, it is catchy as hell. Depeche Mode and Linkin Park fans would rejoice on this track. The next song Farther follows the theme of If Only and takes it to an anthemic level of celebrating the freedom of being out of a relationship bound with chains. The layers of electric guitars soar with John Stanek's inspired vocals leading the way home.

The album mellows a bit on the next two tracks, but nevertheless they are no less experimental or revelatory. Seattle is a love letter to the Washington city citing shout-outs to local companies as random as Tooth&Nail and Starbucks. Traveller is the sexiest song about serial murder you'll ever hear and Reflection takes heartache to an existential ecstasy of backwards drum loops melding with frenetic violins that slowly fades out only to fade back with the reprise of Breakfast in Bed bringing the album full circle.

The fact that this material was recorded over a year ago and sat upon until Stanek & Cox decided to perfect and release the final tracklisting says a lot of this band. And the time it took was definitely worth the wait. I really hope God's Green Earth doesn't go unnoticed. This is a duo bursting with talent that deserves all the accolades imaginable. Check out God's Green Earth... this is music that can change your life.

In Rainbows
In Rainbows
Price: $9.00
106 used & new from $3.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of all worlds, February 13, 2009
This review is from: In Rainbows (Audio CD)
I am ashamed to say that I didn't give Radiohead's masterwork In Rainbows much of a chance on first release as I had been previously let down by the not-so-inspired Hail to the Thief back in 2005. But let me tell you this straight up... even if In Rainbows doesn't do much for you on first listen, on the third or fourth it will hit you like a ton of weird fishes. This is without apology the band's greatest achievement to date (which is saying a lot I know)... but seriously, this album is like taking the best elements of everything in their illustrious career, chewing them up, and then spitting them out in one big "rainbow" of colours.

Let's start with the lyrics and vocals by Mr. Yorke. Of all comparisons, I am happy to state that this shares most in common with 1995's The Bends in that Yorke is writing about personal themes again, maybe even more personal than on that landmark recording. Songs like Nude, House of Cards, and All I Need sound like he's singing directly to someone, expressing intimate feelings of loneliness, shame, and love. These were elements that were either fragmented or completely missing from albums like Kid A and Amnesiac. However, the experimentation of those equally great recordings still remains an integral part of Radiohead's arsenal of talent. Jonny Greenwood brings in string arrangements, trippy beats, and that haunting ondes Martenot he has mastered so well over the years. Meanwhile, it is apparent the rest of the band has had an equal part in the genesis of the songs just as they did in 1997's critical darling, OK Computer. Special emphasis must be given to Ed O'Brien's background vocals which have become a huge part of the band's live performance and are quite lovely in contrast to Thom. Phil and Colin continue to be the steady backbeat to the most adventurous rock band since Pink Floyd and they do so gracefully, without trying to steal the show.

And that just might be the greatest compliment I can give to In Rainbows. Every member of Radiohead is talented enough to flaunt their gifts like most rock bands on radio tend to do. But instead, Yorke and company practice the gift of restraint and focus on the needs of the song. Limiting the cd to 10 tracks is proof of this discipline and it pays off more than can be imagined. After the 43 minutes are over, it leaves you wanting more and more....

Radiohead: The Astoria London Live
Radiohead: The Astoria London Live
DVD ~ Radiohead
Price: $19.34
69 used & new from $1.46

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars VERY GOOD, December 25, 2005
The year was 1994. Radiohead was soon to release their brilliant sophomore album "The Bends" coming off of a large tour promoting their debut smash "Pablo Honey." This concert mixes material from both. While I am definitely more of a fan of The Bends than Pablo Honey, it is always a delight to see "Creep," their infamous hit single. Several other tracks from the first album stood out as well (most notably "You" and the grand finale of "Blowout" which is worth the price of admisson by itself.) Other highlights included "The Bends", "My Iron Lung", "Just", and a truly hypnotic "Street Spirit." Any fan of Radiohead would be insane not to own this (if not just to see Thom with his hair died blonde and Phil WITH HAIR.)

Overall, the songs range from good to mind-blowing which leaves the show with a rating of VERY GOOD. Jonny Greenwood is spectacular with the rest of the group feeding off of his wild energy. And as always, Thom Yorke is so entertaining to watch. This is what rock and roll is all about.

Aha Shake Heartbreak
Aha Shake Heartbreak
Offered by B68 Solutions Limited
Price: $9.49
78 used & new from $0.98

36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT!, May 17, 2005
This review is from: Aha Shake Heartbreak (Audio CD)
I find it interesting that most of the reviews for this cd are either 5 stars or 1 star. Ah, those crazy Kings of Leon. You either love em or hate em. Of course, many of the 1 star reviews are attributed to the capabilities (or lack thereof) of burning the cd to IPods and MP3 players, etc. While that may be annoying, I personally can't relate because I simply downloaded the album from the internet and it works just fine on my cd player.

And oh how fine Aha Shake Heartbreak truly is! On my first listen, by the time the opening track Slow Night So Long ended, I was grinning ear to ear. Finally a band that not only knows how to rock, but knows how to have fun! It's like the Beatles and the Stones have been resurrected through these kids. Every damn song on this album is sure to make you want to sing, smile, and... well, shake. Seriously, everytime I hear the drum and jingle bell intro to Taper Jean Girl, I want to get up and jump up and down on my car. If only I could do that while my car drives by itself.

Some people may not like these guys because of Caleb's voice, which is scratchy and pretty unintelligible. But once you get past the fact that you can barely understand anything this guy says, you come to realize it doesn't matter. This is pure rock n' roll, people. Best rock album I've heard in a LONG time. Best of 2005.

Sigur Rós
Sigur Rós
Price: $11.18
118 used & new from $1.96

17 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WHA HAPPENED??, February 28, 2005
This review is from: Sigur Rós (Audio CD)
This CD was one of the biggest letdowns to me in recent memory. I absolutely love Aegitis Byrjun (their previous album) and found it to be one of the most moving, original recordings of the past decade.

When I heard that Sigur Ros was following up with an album with no titles, no decipherable language, and an ambiguous title "()", I was expecting something amazing....

... or at least up to par with Aegitis Byrjun. Well, sadly, it's nowhere close. The main problems with () is not with the lack of words or titles (as many seem to criticize as being pretentious), but with the unmemorable melodies, lack of diversity, and overall.... it's just boring! None of the tracks get above a tempo of "slow as hell" except track 8 (but by then, it's too late - we're already asleep). All of the songs sound way too similar in sound - nothing to differentiate one song from another. In Aegitis, there were different sounds (cello-bowed guitar, organ, harmonica, flutes, orchestra) and styles (hopeful, melancholy, angry, ethereal, etc) to each track. () just picks one... melancholy. And while they can be damn good at melancholy, this album just doesn't have a melody worth remembering. Each song bases off of a simple structure that slowly builds for 6 minutes and doesn't change anything other than volume. This could be cool if the simple structures were interesting (again, go back to Aegitis Byrjun), but they just aren't. A couple of tracks (3, 4) come close, but no cigar.

I really wish this were not a step in the wrong direction for Sigur Ros because they're one of those original and interesting bands that I want to love. I just can't bring myself to enjoy this album though. Sorry, guys. Here's hoping the next one is worth all the hype.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2008 11:47 PM PDT

The Bends
The Bends
Price: $15.45
208 used & new from $0.01

245 of 269 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's a reason the average review is 5 stars on amazon, November 29, 2004
This review is from: The Bends (Audio CD)
The Bends. Radiohead's most accessible album. Radiohead's most underappreciated album at the time of its release. Dare I say Radiohead's BEST album?

I dare.

Yes, OK Computer purists may find my statement inaccurate, but let me just ask you this, Radiohead fanatics... If you were to loan any Radiohead cd to someone who never heard their music before, which would it be?

Personally, The Bends was my introduction to the band in 1999... and I'm glad it was. Maybe 4 years too late, but hey - it's never too late right?

Anyway, this album is classic. Yorke is at his most comprehensible and his lyrics are more human than on future releases. This is the singer/songwriter at his most passionate. Deep, elegant songs like Fake Plastic Trees and High & Dry soar like the best U2 songs (One, With or Without You, etc).

Jonny Greenwood's uses of spacy guitar and keyboard effects adds mood to the pieces while the rest of the band gels together so well, you don't even notice it.

If you're looking for a rock album that you can really fall in love with, rock out with, sing a long with... you get the idea. You can't go wrong with the Bends.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2014 8:10 PM PST

Offered by CAC Media
Price: $34.99
115 used & new from $0.01

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Brian Wilson really IS a genius!, November 5, 2004
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
As someone who is not a fan of the Beach Boys (not even Pet Sounds) I was able to listen to Smile objectively, leaving all the hype of the back-story behind.

My expectations were low, honestly, and even after first listen, I was not blown away. It was three days later though when the melodies were popping in my head that I realized the power of Smile. I went back and listened again. The album is simply irresistable. There's something truly magical about it just like there was something magical about the Beatle's Abbey Road.

The music is definitely happy and the little eccentric touches will make even the saddest person smile. Delving deeper, there is a theme about travelling across America (from Plymouth Rock to Blue Hawaii) and all of the things in between. Silly songs about barnyard animals and vegetables fit right in and sometimes, it almost seems like Wilson created this album with the mindset of an impatient 6 year old. The songs change melody every 45 seconds all the way through. One would think this would be a jarring experience, but like side B of the above mentioned Beatles album, Smile flows seamlessly and never makes us bored.

It is truly a brilliant recording and would have rivaled Sergeant Pepper had it been released in 1967. Honestly, in my opinion, it would have been better.

So am I now a Beach Boys fan? I'm certainly a Brian Wilson fan. The man has proved his genius and I'm sure he will probably be rewarded with many awards.

Concert for George
Concert for George
DVD ~ Andy Fairweather-Low
Price: $26.98
47 used & new from $8.74

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful tribute, January 28, 2004
This review is from: Concert for George (DVD)
Whether you loved George Harrison or not, you will feel the love that all the participants in this concert have for the man. A very moving tribute concert put together by one of George's closest friends, Eric Clapton, it was a magical night.
Everyone from Paul and Ringo to Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to Monty Python to his own son Dhani (who looks just like him!) were on stage giving their all for George.
The whole concert was great, but there were a few highlights for me personally. Monty Python's "Sit On My Face" and "Lumberjack Song" were a pleasure to see with Tom Hanks filling in for John Cleese. Tom Petty's renditions of "Taxman" and "I Need You" were perfect as well as the little Travelling Wilbury's "reunion" with Jeff Lynne filling in for Roy Orbison. McCartney's ukelele version of "Something" was very touching especially when the full band came in mid-way through the song. By this point, there were 5 drummers and at least 7 guitarists playing at once! Then, Clapton gave a very emotional performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - extended guitar solo and all. Very moving. One unexpected highlight was Jools Holland and Sam Brown (man can she sing!) performing the last recorded Harrison song "Horse to Water". Performance-wise, Sam Brown stole the show! But it wasn't about who was better or worse. There was a true humble feeling of nothing but love for the quiet Beatle.
The very best moment for me was Billy Preston singing "Isn't It a Pity" (my personal favorite Harrison song). That's the moment that brought me to tears.
If you loved George, it is inevitable that you will come to tears at some point watching this DVD. If you are new to Harrison's work, you will be truly inspired by the beauty of his music. This is not to miss!

Physical Graffiti
Physical Graffiti
Price: $13.66
146 used & new from $3.20

146 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zeppelin's peak, January 14, 2004
This review is from: Physical Graffiti (Audio CD)
Containing some of Zeppelin's very best tracks, "Physical Graffiti" is definitely worth the price of two discs. Like most double albums, it can get a little excessive... but if you've purchased their first 4 albums and still can't get enough, this is a must have! "Kashmir" is essential by itself and possibly the best song the group ever recorded... a majestic epic that fuses rock, blues, and middle eastern influnces... all the things Zep is known to do best! Then there's the blistering "Trampled Under Foot" which has one of Page's best riffs of all time and a funky clavinet played by the multi-talented John Paul Jones. Plant is in top form on the spiritual catharsis of "In My Time of Dying" with John Bonham providing the raw energy all the way through.
Disc one is more consistent, but disc two offers a wide variety of gems such as the building ballad "Ten Years Gone" which offers some of Robert's best lyrics to date, the fun old-timey feel of "Boogie With Stu", the countrified acoustic track "Black Country Woman", and the wild "Wanton Song". Many of these tracks have the feel of b-sides (which is essentially what they were) and makes them even more fun to listen to.
One of the few double LPs to truly be worth purchasing (along with the Beatles White Album, Stevie Wonder's Songs In the Key of Life, George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, and Pink Floyd's The Wall), Physical Graffiti is the high water mark of Led Zeppelin's career.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2014 8:18 AM PDT

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