Tuesday 3rd June: Today, I unexpectedly found myself in the vicinity of one of York's HMV stores and decided to have a wander in to see what was new and/or on offer.
Sandi Thom - The Pink and the Lily.
Sandi's debut album, Smile, It Confuses People (2006), was, whether you believe the hype or not, an extraordinary release combining a great voice with some well-written songs containing original themes and lyrics. While it is, perhaps, a little unfair to review the follow-up after just one listening, I found it to be simply more of the same, just without the originality. It was always going to be difficult to match the first album and, being honest, this is simply more of the same folk/rock/pop. Gone is the freshness and, except for a few of the songs, the lyrics are a lot less catchy. Not that this is a bad CD. Sandi's voice, for the most part, remains strong and very listenable, except for the last two songs during which it turns into a bit of a dirge.
Overall, the album seems to be a lot more complex than Smile, both musically (which works) and lyrically which, for me, loses some of the accessibility of the first album.
Highlights for me (so far) are the title track, Success's Ladder and Remote Control Me - the latter two showing that Sandi can still write good lyrics about original themes.
It may be that, with repeat listening, The Lily and the Pink, may grow on me but, so far, it isn't a brilliant second album, merely an adequate one.
The Pigeon Detectives - Wait For Me.
In order to take advantage of HMV's current "2 for £10" offer, I needed a second CD to add to the Coldplay - Live 2003 CD/DVD that I had already picked up. Browsing the offer, nothing really jumped out at me until I saw this 2007 debut album from the Leeds indie rockers. As far as I could remember, the only thing I had previously heard from The Pigeon Detectives was a brief clip of a song shown as part of a local news item but I decided that, at £5, I was willing to take a risk.
I'm happy to say that, if I had bought this last year, it would probably have been quite high in my albums of 2007 list. Although there's a hint of a punk (not one of my favourite genres) influence in both the vocal and musical styles, the overall feeling is a high-energy rock. From my collection, the nearest similarity would be One Night Only (although, admittedly, their debut release is from this year so it could be said that they are the imitators).
Bouncy tunes, including lovely guitar playing and staccato drum-lines, and catchy yet simple lyrics make for pleasant listening on all the songs, with one or two (notably I Found Out) verging on anthemic.
It may not be very original but it is very good.
Some other recent purchases came about from a visit to Tesco, who had some very cheap 3CD box sets on sale. Added to my collection were:
Chris Rea - The Ultimate Collection (1978 - 2000), which speaks for itself.
Essential Metal Anthems - 45 tracks from the biggest, heaviest and hardest names in metal, from Motorhead to Deep Purple, including a number of tracks which, from the titles (and, in some cases, artists), I don't recognise.
The Prog Rock Album - at £3 for 16 tracks, surely a bargain. Again, includes a number of bands I have never heard of.
Rock Anthems - 54 tracks from EMI, some of which seem a little bit too pop to be rock (Katrina and the Waves' Sun Street, anybody?)
The Very Best Power Ballads - 50 tracks which do exactly what they say on the tin, but some of which I haven't heard for years.
Greatest Rock Ballads - 36 Romantic Epics.
Yeah, OK, there are a number of tracks that appear on more than one collection (and quite a few which seek to redefine the term "rock") but these are great compilations for sticking in the car's CD player for a long journey. Anyway, fifteen disks containing over 250 tracks for around £37 must be a bargain in anybody's book.