It is inevitable to avoid comparisons with Opeth when talking about Novembre's music. Surely, the same qualities Opeth fans adore can be found in Novembre's music, Novembrine Waltz in particular. However, it would be rather ignorant to look up to this amazingly talented and overlooked Italian group as one of the countless Opeth followers. Novembre have been in it as long as the Swedes and were as much pioneers of the melodic, atmosphere kind of progressive death metal as the above-mentioned collective.
Jennifer Pike, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition at the tender age of 12, appears to have survived the perils of prodigyhood and entered her early twenties with musical intelligence intact. Here she offers a terrific program of music from the middle of the 19th century; all of it is abstract, but it brings vividly to mind the crucial trio of creative figures who met in the early 1850s: the ailing Robert Schumann, his musically frustrated wife Clara, and the young Johannes Brahms, mooning over the latter.
Tom Jones became one of the most popular vocalists to emerge from the British Invasion. Since the mid-'60s, Jones has sung nearly every form of popular music – pop, rock, show tunes, country, dance, and techno, he's sung it all. His actual style – a full-throated, robust baritone that had little regard for nuance and subtlety – never changed, he just sang over different backing tracks. On-stage, Jones played up his sexual appeal; it didn't matter whether he was in an unbuttoned shirt or a tuxedo, he always radiated a raw sexuality that earned him a large following of devoted female fans who frequently threw underwear on-stage. Jones' following never diminished over the decades; he was able to exploit trends, earning new fans while retaining his core following.
Buffalo Tom began life as a trio of pre-grunge, neo-psychedelic guitar maulers owing a heavy debt to Dinosaur Jr. (though one might argue that on Birdbrain they actually beat J. Mascis at his own game), but over the next dozen years they matured into a considerably more dynamic and intelligent band, capable of generating crunching rockers or acoustic ballads with equal precision, all of which possessed heart, soul, and a compassionate intelligence. Asides from Buffalo Tom compiles most of the band's best-known songs, including the top sides of their singles, radio emphasis tracks, a few fan favorites, and a cover of the Jam's "Going Underground" from a 1999 tribute album. While the album isn't sequenced chronologically, which would have made a greater case for their growth over time, it does a superb job of capturing the many sides of their musical personality, and it is both a fine summation of their first 11 years as a recording act and great introduction to one of the better bands to rise from the alt-rock scene in the 1990s.
The budget-priced From the Vaults collects ten tracks Tom Jones recorded over the years, but for one reason or another never released. It's hard to see why these stayed in the vaults – there may be no great lost treasures here, but much of this collection is certainly as good as most of his album tracks. There are a number of weak moments, to be sure (several tracks, such as "Standing Invitation" and "Shady Business," make no impression whatsoever), but covers of Dylan's "I Believe In You" and Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" are reason enough for hardcore fans to pick up this collection.