EStil’l (till l%() MYTHOLOGY Alex Ross, Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear '[)(:l ....

Alex Ross is one of the most outstanding artists in comics, and his fully painted panels added a richness to the medium, invigorating the genre and reintroducing art to the world of superheroes. Coming to prominence with his full painted Marvels (1994) followed by Kingdom Come and Uncle Sam, his work became the benchmark for artistic endeavourandlush atmospherics. An artist hasn’t shaken up the genre this much since Simon Bisley’s exaggerated hyper- real Slaine: The Horned God got the whole comics world salivating.

Ross brings a realism seldom seen, using life models to achieve the most accurate of

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effects and poses, drawing the fantastical into the real world. And this beautifully presented hardback is a fan-boy’s wet dream, and insight into Ross’ techniques is gleaned in an interview by Chip Kidd and photos from Geoff Spear. But it’s the art that will really grab you in this book, which collates some of Ross’ best works, concept drawings and covers from across the DC Universe. His love of the classic Golden and Silver ages shines through with every brushstroke, and his respect for the geniuses behind the original concepts and glory years of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the classic Justice League of America line-up is evident in the love and craft he invests in every painting.

It’s packed with extras such as new interpretations of unforgettable comics covers (his version of Action Comics No 1, Detective Comics No 27 and the first ever Marvel/DC crossover featuring Spider-man and Superman, for example) and photos of the models he uses

Batman and Robin add to the mythology

for each character (something that all Alex Ross fans must have been intrigued by as he thanks his ‘cast’ at the end of each of his works). There are also some wonderfully camp photos of men dressed in tights trying to look macho, particularly an amusing snap of his mate Frank Kasey lying on a coffee table in full Superman flight pose.

His respect for the heroes he represents is no more evident than on his large scale prose series in collaboration with Paul Dini (Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, etc), adding a modern sensibility to historic characters. And here we have one of the extras that really make this a must have - a new story for Robin by the pair. Chip Kidd and Ross also bring to life a brand new Batman/Superman crossover available exclusively in this tome.

True insight into one of comics’ greatest artists and a wonderful collection of sublime art and exclusive extras make this irresistible to his legions of fans. (Henry Northmore)


Meltdown (Infectious) COO.

With the majority of Britpop bands crumbling around them. you may ask if there's still a place for Ash. the prettiest act of the pack. The answer is in this. their fourth LP. and it's a resounding. rock-fuelled "oh yeah'. Their most addictive melodies and soaring choruses are surrounded by pile- driving riffs, rich harmonies and thundering drums: the truly self assured sound of a reinvigoratetl band. l-leavier than anything they've done before but as tuneful as ever. Meltdown is their finest and most fully realised work to date. and as long as they keep writing them like this there will always be a place for them in pop. (Camilla Pia)


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012 World (Interscopei .0.

Following in the same vein as their debut Dew/Is N/g/it. DH? World is a mixture of crude. lewd. dark and downright unpleasant. Unsiirprisingly. the Eminem influence permeates the entire collection which suffers from that hip hop perennial: a lack of self- editing and woeful skits something that should be outlawed from all hip hop albums anyway. The beats bump between grimy Wu Tang style and playground bleeps. the humour is sick. the misogynism is rife but there are a few gleaming moments of magic —- and Eminent is

at the heart of most of them but only a handful are up to his usual standard. Patchy. (Mark Robertson)


Hopes and Fears (Islandi COO

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Could they be any more earnest? On evidence of this well-m2‘tnnered. uplifting debut. it's doubtful. Keane (:Ouldn't be further from petulant Irish footie star they share a name with you'd struggle to find an ounce of uncalculated rage between them. This is slick. epic and wholly familiar affair, which only Just avoids being upsettingly derivative. There are moments of Ultravox and Olle about their charming. guitarless world and they tick so many emotive boxes of their highly successful predecessors: Radiohead. Coldplay. Travis and U2. they pretty much can't fail. We might not need them to but it's obvious that Keane are thinking big already. (Mark Robertsoni

ELECTRONICA TWO LONE SWORDSMEN From The Double Gone Chapel (Warp) 0..

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it: THE DOUBLE sons ciiii

No one can dispute the fact that Andrew Weatherall is one of the seminal figures in dance culture. In sparing partner and fellow Swordsman Keith TOHHISWOOU (aka Radioactive Man) he's found his ideal (oil.

This is sludgy. grimy. dub in a similar vein to Death in Vegas on slow- mo. Those muted vocals

are Weatherall himself and there's less reliance on banks of computers with drums, guitar and bass forming the backbone of the mix. It‘s stripped down, grunged up electronica, an unrelentingly morass of sound. Downbeat in the extreme, it suffers from this lack of breadth. (Henry Northmore)


THE WALKMEN Bows and Arrows (Record Collection) 0...

Surely not another NYC 'the' band. you may cry before collapsing into a pile of Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs records on your floor . . . but you'd do well Just to listen, because the Walkmen are the best of the bunch yet. Bows and Arrows is the stunning second effort from the five-piece. who formed in 2000 from the core of Jonathan Fire‘Eater and the Recoys.

La/y vocals which crack in all the right places wind their way through tense guitars and pounding rhythms to make a shadowy, messed up. intoxicating listen that shows up the rest of the garage rock lot for the novices they really are. Forget about them. the Walkmen are the future. (Camilla Pia)

OFF KlLTL—R FOLK DEVENDRA BANHART Rejoicing in the Hands (XL Recordings) mu

We can't call Devendra Banhart a singer; songwriter. because although he does both those things very well. the term conjures up such dullards as David (Bray and Damien Rice. and his staggerineg good sound is galaxies away from them.