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Alternative & Indie - Released March 3, 2018 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

4 stars out of 5 -- "URGE FOR OFFAL presents folk and punk rock-informed commentaries that wittily fixate on the pedantic surface to better reach the truths below…" © TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

Surprising just about everyone by suddenly reuniting in 1990 (minus keyboard player Simon Blackwell), Half Man Half Biscuit released their second proper album the following year and surprised their fan base even more. Gone is the scrappy, Fall-like grind of the band's early sound, replaced by a far more mid-tempo, lower-voltage and slightly folk-rocky vibe, closer to the likes of Lloyd Cole or the Woodentops. The change was enough to turn off those already nostalgic for the brashness of the C-86 era, but closer inspection proved that even though the songs are both slower and longer, that cosmetic change only gave singer/songwriter Nigel Blackwell a broader canvas for his increasingly complex, multi-layered lyrics. By this point in the band's career, Blackwell's lyrical focus is on turning ordinary everyday life into crackpot, surreal poetry through near-obsessive punning and pop culture references, but there's a newfound empathy to songs like "PragVEC at the Melkweg" and "Girlfriend's Finished with Him," mining genuine feeling out of the scenes of unemployed Liverpool life much as Chris Difford managed during Squeeze's heyday. Even more overtly comic tunes like the opening "Outbreak of Vitas Gerulaitis" have a more low-key, reflective quality, due in part to Blackwell's greater facility with memorable melodies. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

And Some Fell on Stony Ground is a welcome release for fans of the British post-punk band Half Man Half Biscuit. Although the record doesn't feature any new music, it is composed of non-album tracks, B-sides, and EP releases, and will appeal to completists. As with much of the band's output, their wit and humor is present, while some tracks also achieve real pathos. © Bekki Bemrose /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

Released in 1995, this double-CD set is the culmination of a series of albums that saw the longstanding Dutch punk institution head in a stridently avant-garde direction, beginning with the Joggers and Smoggers album and explored extensively with cellist Tom Cora -- from the punchy chaotic punk rock of the band's '80s releases to total free improvisation. Collected here are collaborations with avant-garde jazz musicians such as the famed Dutch percussionist Han Bennink (whose work in improvisation began with Eric Dolphy no less), the late master of cello and longtime Ex collaborator Tom Cora, and saxophonist Ab Baars, to name a few. The collection covers a lot of ground, from noisy vignettes in the vein of Fred Frith and Chris Cutler's workouts to subdued passages that recall even atonal avant-garde classical works; AMM and Derek Bailey also spring to mind. Instant is not all free-form, however -- in fact, the forms are held together by vague folk themes and the band's classic angular Captain Beefheart-like arrangements. A two-CD set is certainly substantial in covering the band's multifaceted work, and with a group this unique and with so many compelling approaches that mix folk, punk, free jazz, and ethnic forms in such a singular fashion, there are few other recordings of this nature around. © Skip Jansen /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

There's something in the accessibly deconstructive sound of the Dog Faced Hermans that's both immediately likeable and long-term gratifying -- their combinations of scratchy guitar work, liberal use of horns and other instruments uncommon in rock, and ultra-political vocal rants fall somewhere between very angular neo-punk and the most experimental sides of new wave, but in a fashion that's more likely to engage than distance the listener. Mental Blocks for All Ages' tight performance and groovy, rhythmic construction fit perfectly with the sharpness of their free-form guitar attack and political commentary, recalling everything from the Scissor Girls to the Family Fodder's more aggressive side. The band rampages through compositions so fiercely and effectively that the record lives up to its fractured, deconstructive ambitions. An excellent release. © Nitsuh Abebe /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

Despite the Liverpool connection, Half Man Half Biscuit rarely referenced the Beatles other than in the title of their first album, Back in the DHSS. When a band's favorite pop culture touchstones include Benny Hill sidekick Bob Todd, the Beatles are somehow just too obvious. And yet, a statue in Liverpool's Mathew Street, near the site of the legendary Cavern Club but not looking too much like the Beatles in fear of allegations of copyright infringement, was clearly ugly enough to make a tempting target, so HMHB borrowed the statue's name and that of their home district to title their sixth album. For the first time in their career, Half Man Half Biscuit released this album within one calendar year of its predecessor, 1997's Voyage to the Bottom of the Road (six years had elapsed between their first and second, and consistently after that, the band was on an every-two-years release schedule), and perhaps that accounts for the somewhat lackluster feel. Though Nigel Blackwell's pop-culture-riffing lyrics are as clever as ever (see "Four Skinny Indie Kids" and "Secret Gig" for particularly ace bits of scene-skewering), the musical emphasis this time is on the band's noisy guitar pop songs as opposed to the predominantly acoustic folk sound that permeated the previous album, and even die-hard fans might feel like they've heard these japes before. In this context, folk tunes like "Multitude" and "A Country Practice" sound slightly out of place. (Perhaps the answer might have been to release the two albums with the indie pop tunes on one and the folk-rock experiments on the other?) Regardless, there is enough of interest here to appeal to the converted, but newcomers should perhaps start elsewhere. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 6, 2017 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 3, 2016 | Setanta

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 27, 2014 | Setanta