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All reviews - Movies (107) - TV Shows (28) - DVDs (14) - Books (35) - Music (49) - Games (24)

Surfacing review

Posted : 14 years ago on 22 July 2008 04:18 (A review of Surfacing)

'Angel' was the first song I heard by Sarah McLachlan. It wasn't even from a CD of this album, but from the soundtrack for 'City of Angels' and that song will always have a special place among all her songs for me. Sarah McLachlan was reaching the heights of her popularity with the release of this album. At just ten tracks long, it's a short album compared to her earlier releases and not nearly as consistent an album as 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy'. It does contain some of her best songs to date.

The highlight, both lyrically and musically, is the opening song, 'Building a Mystery'. Brilliant lyrics and alt rock inspired music that complements her voice make this a winner. She follows it up with 'I Love You', a lovely slow ballad with an atmospheric musical arrangement. The album has several more good songs, including the aforementioned 'Angel' almost at the very end.


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Not her best album, but pretty good.

Posted : 14 years ago on 21 July 2008 06:07 (A review of Afterglow)

Sarah McLachlan's best work came in the mid 90s with 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy' and 'Surfacing'. She wrote great songs and she still does. There are some excellent songs on this album, most notably 'Fallen', 'Train Wreck' and 'World on Fire'. Her angst is still intact and her vocals are beautiful and emotional.

Her music, however, seems to have slipped into a comfortable rut in this album. There's very little (or absolutely nothing) of the folk rock influences or atmospheric arrangements of her earlier work. She had started down this path in 'Surfacing', but that album had enough highlights to balance. I read somewhere that she composed all the songs on a piano for the first time, instead of her guitar. Maybe she should go back to the guitar and regain some her rock groove rather than slide further into this comfortable rut, which will eventually lead to a completely boring album.



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Fumbling Towards Ecstasy review

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 20 July 2008 04:30 (A review of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)

Sarah McLachlan produced her finest, most consistent album very early on in her career. She has a well developed sound that allows her lovely vocals to shine on every sound. She has rarely deviated from this formula in the rest of her career, only added some studio magic to the mix.

The songs on this album are gems, starting with the instantly attention grabbing 'Possession'. The album keeps sailing along on good songs, right to the very end. 'Fear', the second to last track in the original US release, is one of the best songs on the album. Such consistency, with both more up-tempo songs as well as her sparse ballads, was not to be found in any subsequent album she produced.

No review is complete without a glowing tribute to her beautiful voice, delicate and expressive as it is. She's not prone to diva-esque flourishes but rather imbues each song with the perfect range of emotion it needs.


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Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live In Los Angeles review

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 16 July 2008 07:28 (A review of Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live In Los Angeles)

It's amazing how an artist can sound so much better live than he does in the studio. I've heard two studio albums by John Mayer, the first being pretty mediocre pop and the second being pretty good pop, occasionally blues inspired. However, it is his two live albums that I think are really outstanding, this one and 2005's 'Try' with what he calls 'The John Mayer Trio'.

John Mayer is a very good songwriter but his albums frequently lose their way in some mediocre music. Somehow, that flaw is vastly mitigated in his live performances. In this concert, he plays three distinct sets - an acoustic set, an electric blues set with the rest of the 'Trio' and a third and final set with the band.

The first set is amazing, it's direct and uncluttered and he sounds good, really good. The second set is amazing as well and he demonstrates what a skillful blues guitarist he is. He is good enough to be invited to Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar festival. The songs are mostly from 'Try' which isn't a bad thing at all.

The third set sees him returning to a more conventional setting, with a band, and playing his more popular songs. He sounds much better than he does on his albums. There is a slight raw edge to his music, naturally imparted by playing live. The overly processed feel of his albums is gone and this allows his songwriting to shine. As I said before, he writes good stuff, and now it has an excellent setting too.

The DVD is a better buy than the CD if you have a 5.1 sound system and it's nice to see how diverse the three sets really are visually as well as musically.


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Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock review

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 14 July 2008 11:16 (A review of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock)

I haven't played any guitar hero game before this one and I went in expecting a lot. I wasn't disappointed by the game - to a point. The gameplay is easy to pick up and it is consistently fun. Ultimately, the game lives and dies by the music selection. For me, at least, this is where it falls short of perfection. I like most of the songs available but not all of them. Obviously, your mileage may vary. Despite that, it is lots of fun to play and unique in my game collection (till I grab Rock Band).


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Taking a leaf out of the Matrix playbook

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 13 July 2008 09:16 (A review of Batman Gotham Knight (Single-Disc Edition))

The Wachowski Brothers pioneered the idea of having animated shorts by multiple directors/studios set in the same universe as their movies. The Animatrix was the product of that effort and what an effort it was. It explored the deeper recesses of the Matrix universe - things that didn't find their way into any of the movies, even as side plots.

Gotham Knight attempts to do the same with the current Batman movie universe started by 'Batman Begins' and continuing later this year with 'The Dark Knight'. It doesn't reach the same heights as The Animatrix when it comes to exploring previously unexplored parts of the universe (primarily because there isn't that much to explore), but it's a very good collection of stories nevertheless.

The DVD consists of six twelve minute animated shorts exploring some familiar characters (the Italian mafia, the Scarecrow, Killer Croc) and some not so familiar ones. Most of them are a centered around action but each of them has a distinct and interesting plot. The six stories are varied as well, which keeps the experience interesting. My favourite is 'Working through pain' which explores Bruce Wayne's attempts to control physical pain.

If you're a Batman fan and are eagerly looking forward to 'The Dark Knight', you'll do well to check this DVD out. Everyone else can probably skip this.


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Viva Algeria review

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 11 July 2008 06:04 (A review of Viva Algeria)

Set in Algiers, this thriller revolves around three women - a young woman who is the mistress of a rich doctor, a prostitute and a retired cabaret singer - who live in the same apartment complex. It puts a very different face on the country from what I expected. The music throughout the movie is also excellent.


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Volver review

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 11 July 2008 06:04 (A review of Volver)

Pedro Almodovar loves to make movies centered around mother-daughter relationships. The movie is a mix of drama and dark comedy, possibly his best movie next to 'Bad Education'. Penelope Cruz plays a woman whose parents died in a fire. The circumstances surrounding the incident are gradually revealed as the movie progresses, along with several complications in the lives of the women in the movie, ending in a surprising conclusion. Great acting backs up the director's masterful handling of the clever and well written script.


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Under Suspicion review

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 10 July 2008 04:01 (A review of Under Suspicion)

Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman deliver excellent performances in this tense drama centered around a police interrogation. There's no physical pain inflicted, only the relentless mental pressure of a interrogation that leaves no stone unturned to get an upper hand on the suspect. Freeman is brilliant as the calm and collected cop who boxes in his suspect, Hackman. Monica Belluci is also great eye candy as Hackman's wife.


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Finally, a killer PS3 racing game

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 7 July 2008 05:28 (A review of Colin McRae: DiRT)

I've tried a few racing games before this one but came away unsatisfied for one reason or the other. This is *the* racing game for the PS3 I've been waiting for. The events have amazing variety, both in discipline as well as circuits. The game looks gorgeous on my HD television. The learning curve is not too steep and you get better and buy better cars that further improve your performance as you go along. I'm only 20% of the way through after about three and a quarter hours of racing. This game should keep me occupied for a couple of weeks.

A couple of minor quibbles. Some of the events are just boring, especially when trying to drive a massive truck or a buggy through a long dusty desert track. Racing the trucks through the desert is especially painful, since they're massive, slow and tend to tip over. The best events are with the more conventional cars, especially the 4WD cars that handle amazingly well. The second thing I don't like is the loading time, maybe I've been spoiled by the super quick loading times of games on the Wii.


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