Category Archives: Albums

Road to Copenhagen 2014: Donatan & Cleo – “My Słowianie” (Poland)

2014 sees the welcome return of Poland, last seen coming last in a 2011 semi-final and pulling out due to the financial constraints of co-hosting Euro 2012 with Ukraine. It’s not difficult to see why the interest in Eurovision wasn’t there for a more prompt return, with the nation failing to qualify on six of the seven occasions it was required to.

PolandThat said, they’ve had some decent songs over the years, such as 2006’s “Follow my heart”, 2008’s “For Life” and 2010’s “Legenda”. It’ll be interesting to see if they will ever hit the heights of their 1994 debut that saw them come 2nd.

They’ve opted for internal selection this year, and gone for popular duo Donatan & Cleo, extolling the virtues of Slavic girls. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but a brilliant blend of urban swagger and Eastern folk music definitely wasn’t it.

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Album: Union J – “Union J” (2013)

Before I skip the country, I should really review a bunch of albums I’ve had sitting on my iPod for ages – I suppose none of them particularly excited me, but none of them are bad, and Eurovision got in the way (and it will again). But having listening to them on the big journeys this weekend, I think it’s time.

union j albumSo, Union J. Where do they fit in these days? I suppose they’d been pushed in the hope that One Direction-sized success might appear, coming from similar roots. The band auditioned as three-piece “Triple J” (Josh, JJ & Jaymi), while fourth member George auditioned as a solo singer. Both acts got through the auditions but failed at Judges’ Houses.  After another group were removed from the contest, they were invited to continue as a four-piece, and ultimately came 4th in the series.

I have a soft spot for them, perhaps in the same way as I did for The Wanted; there is the excitement of what they might bring out in the future, after this initial ‘safe’ boyband album prepares the ground. They seem like thoroughly likeable guys, and not yet the overstyled messes of One Direction. Sales-wise it’s not quite working out yet but they’ve got a second album on the way, hopefully benefitting from The Wanted’s departure. But what about this album? A slim 35 minutes and 10 tracks makes it hard to get bored, and I enjoyed it more than I expected after my first listen. Continue reading

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Album: Haim – “Days are gone” (2013)

Haim? Who are Haim? Or more accurately, why would I know anything about them? Well I’m not sure really, I first heard of them when they topped the BBC’s speculative Sound of 2013 poll as likely to be the coolest act of the year ahead, according to ‘music industry experts’, whoever they are. I don’t usually pay much attention to those polls as there’s a bit of a vested interest here, like the “Critic’s Choice” BRIT award, just an award to someone a big label is crazy keen on getting some promo for ahead of the launch.

haim days are goneI hadn’t been blown away by the first songs I heard, though I remember being surprised how reasonable it sounded instead of the usual try-hard stuff that gets shoved down our necks now, naming no names (except Sam Smith, Jake Bugg etc.).

I finally heard “The Wire” and really enjoyed it, and felt that listening to something critically acclaimed wouldn’t kill me probably. So here we are. Continue reading

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Album: The Wanted – “Word of Mouth” (2013)

Well I guess it was always on the cards, and the writing was probably on the wall with the tepid reception to their second album “Battleground”, and their string of fleeting singles that led up to their third album.  The Wanted are going on ‘hiatus’ after a tour to support this album, though that’s probably it, isn’t it?

the wanted word of mouthA shame really, they are one of my favourite boybands of recent years, and showed repeated flashes of brilliance. They’re a lot more up my street than One Direction anyway – and yes, I know it seems impossible to mention one without the other despite a lack of any other connection, but it’s a fairly empty market for boybands.

Having hit paydirt with an international hit, “Glad you came”, the potential for global fame was too much, and The Wanted join the long list of British pop groups who spread themselves too thin for the cause of a US crossover, and paid the price. But let’s not dwell on this doom and gloom, they might still get their tops off (or more) for a charity shoot. Not to mention, their latest album is actually rather good, and exactly the album I wanted them to make. Continue reading

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Album: Tori Amos – “Under the Pink” (1994)

I bet you’re thinking – “WHAT a devoted blogger, another album review already?!”. Well I must admit I reviewed this album all the way back in February 2009 on a messageboard, in the first of my trips through an artist’s back catalogue. Tori was an intriguing woman, and finally I was getting around to exploring her collected works, in a logical fashion.

tori amos under the pinkAs my writing hadn’t scaled the sophisticated heights then that it has today, it was a bit of a bare-bones review, and the last of these artist write-ups for me to migrate over to this blog. I covered “Little Earthquakes” in… JULY?! (WTF) and so it’s time to get this show back on the road. A decent time to do it as well, next week is the album’s 20th anniversary!

So kick back and enjoy my failed attempts to decipher whatever the hell she’s singing about. I think I like the album more these days than the first time around, particularly as her “Gold Dust” collection showed just how strong some of these older melodies are. Continue reading

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