Ok, so it’s been near to Sunderland-staying-up-impossible to get in contact with the clandestine crew this month, but better late than never (“we’ll be the judge of that”, comes a shout from the back).

Over the past few months, and especially since contributing to their new-found confessional conduit 020.com, many theories have surfaced about CD Club’s true identity: some say that in direct sunlight they’re skin shines like silver and that they are able to breathe for hours underwater; some have claimed to have seen the group howling at the moon whist hunting in the Canadian tundra; some have had dreams in which the boys have spoken to them in the form of monkeys, dogs and parrots; some even claim that they are in fact the ten most powerful men in the world, using the mindwash of music as a fa?ade to veil their covert manipulation of the fiscal, educational and spiritual empires of the world. Some simple say that they are just a bunch mingers in desperate need of a girlfriend or two.

Whatever the truth, the lads have been in hiding due to thrashing January’s bumper crop of album releases. With a new year new standards have been set. Mankind needs music to function, but without a comprehensive instruction book, who else but this furtive clan is going work the controls?

Shaky Hands and the Silver Fox were both absent this time around. There was something to do with a wedding. Maybe they’ve taken advantage of the recently-enacted Civil Partnerships law, or maybe one of them is best man to the other, no one really knows.

Rhys-o-matic (5th gear nomad)
Module – Remarkable Engines/Movement
“Quick, someone call UNKLE and DJ Shadow to tell them that their downbeat time machine has been nicked and taken to New Zealand, which, you’ll be amazed, has nothing to do with Zane ‘I am on the Down’ Lowe.
This beautiful debut is indicative of the NZ as a whole – it has style as varied as it’s cultures and unsurprisingly isn’t available over here yet. I picked up my copy over there, but you will need (addictively need) to get your copy direct from NZ over the internet (http://www.module.co.nz/ ). Considering the favourable exchange rate, it’ll probably only cost you about 30p INCLUDING the postage and package anyway.
This mostly-instrumental album Massively Attacks areas once occupied by Kruder & Dorfmeister, the Orb, New Order, Lemonjelly, The Beloved, and even Bob Marley with introspective dub, hands-to-the-lasers-electro, 80’s spank-rock and violin-and-synth trip-hop. The track to keep an ear out for, especially for the eerie vocals supplied by Jessica Chambers, is the mega-moody ‘Twilight Stolen’.
The album also comes with it’s very own bonus 7-track EP entirely comprised of original piano music, conveniently entitled ‘Movement’.
These ‘engines’ truly are ‘remarkable’ and this is due to their extreme versatility. Thitz royt….Neu Zulland uz bick”.

Von Pijinstein (Too shy-shy, hush-hush, eye-to-eye)
Richard Ashcroft – Keys to the World
“When I think of Richard Ashcroft’s solo career sine The Verve split in 1999 I’m reminded of former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh and the last Ashes series against England on Australian soil in 2002-2003.
Leading into the series Waugh had been heavily scrutinized by selectors and the media over his advancing age and lack of recent form, having not performed consistently with the bat since the previous ashes series in 2001. In the first test at the Gabba he performed poorly only posting 7 & 12. At Adelaide he came up with 34 and at the WACA he eked out a nervy 53. By the Boxing Day test at the MCG Waugh was under intense pressure to perform. It became a topic of national obsession. Could warrior Waugh summon his skills once more and dominate like days of old?
With his captaincy and career on the line Waugh came out to a packed house and smashed 15 fours on the way to a scrappy 77. Waugh had fashioned a stay of execution. The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief. Everything came down to the 5th test at the SCG. It had become Waugh’s Helms Deep. This was it. Now or never. With Australia in trouble at 4-146 on the second day still trailing England by 200 runs Waugh walked out on to his home ground. The stage was set. With the pitch breaking up and the English bowlers charging in Waugh doggedly started to scratch out runs here and there. Pushing the ball out in to the gaps and calling for the quick singles.
As Waugh accumulated, the crowd knew something special was on. The tension inside the SCG was building and it seemed to spill out of the ground and wash into streets of Sydney. It felt like every man, woman and child had found a TV or radio and wouldn’t budge from it. The city and the nation stopped as Waugh dispatched the bad balls and moved into the 90’s. As the last over of the day started Waugh was on 95 and on strike. By the last ball he was on 98, the English fielders spread. This was it. A nation focused on one man. Smash! Waugh flays the ball to point boundary and punches the air. Sydney erupts. He passes 10,000 test runs in the innings, equaled Bradman’s century tally, saved his captaincy and surely became the number one candidate for world president.
Ashcroft’s solo career is in a similar position to Waugh’s after the third test. This third album shows hints of former glory but is a long way from retaining his position as the Messiah of British Indie rock. His early work with The Verve had fight, passion, glory… it was worthy of his Messiah status. He literally nailed himself to the cross.
It’s clear that a stable family life and wealth have had an adverse effect on Ashcroft’s ability to add an edge to his music. Keys to the World is like listening to Bob Dylan or Tom Petty but lacks a tortured soul except for track 3: ‘Break the Night with Colour’.
I still believe Richard Ashcroft can produce the type of work we associate with The Verve. Just wait for the mid-life crisis, the divorce, the bankruptcy and the bad times. Then we’ll see him walk out into the middle of the British music scene and smash a 100 runs to all corners of the ground.”

Dr Dave (He’s a baby)
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
“Arctic Monkeys’ debut is definitely the best album you’ll download this year, maybe. But try and forget what hype and comparisons you’ve heard already. Anyone who has picked up a music magazine in the last six months or has a rudimentary knowledge of mp3 downloading may well have been bored of the Monkeys before the album was even released. Whether the preview tracks were accidentally leaked onto the web or a clever marketing ploy by their record label Domino Records, (who also have Franz Ferdinand signed) the Monkeys come to the dance floor boasting a massive following already.
The Yorkshire four-piece’s sound is not entirely new and Alex Turner’s upfront lyrics have the mark of another son of Sheffield, Jarvis Cocker. Turner makes a point of writing about what he knows even if that is Chavs and taunting police officers. The album rattles along and the ride is all but over by the time you’ve got to work. Although few things deeper than the boom of ring tone music or why girls (with an obvious exception) get a strop on so easily are on your mind, you’ll know these boys can write a song. Those who search out all the tracks that didn’t make the album will know there is more to come from the Monkeys. Dare I say it, a second coming?”

Trucker (The Northern Soul)
The Strokes – First Impressions of Earth
“The Strokes’ ‘New York cool – don’t give a fuck’ attitude busted indie music right open in 2001 with their uber-progressive ‘Is This It?’ album and now they’ve done it again. Young middle class, art school grad distorted melancholy vocals have been replaced by somewhat older, pop superstar clean-tone melancholy vocals spelling out the thoughtful sadness of what seems like a much rougher ride. Influenced by a number of contemporaries but still delivering that distinctive Strokes sound The Strokes have delivered another progressive album that will be remembered as being shackles-off coming-of-agism. And if it’s not; they won’t give a fuck.”

Ghost (Diamond geezer in the rough)
The Rakes – Capture/Release
“I was a bit naughty with this one because it wasn’t technically released only two months ago (see CD Club rules). However, since the album came out in August of last year, it’s been an itch I’ve just kept scratching and scratching until it turned into a full-blown rash. A rash that cannot be cured for the remainder of my short life and can only be alleviated by listening to the album more and more.
If Artic Monkeys are championing the grim-up-northness of these Great British Isles then The Rakes are doing the same for Lon-dan Tehrn. When Nanna rings you from back home and asks what you’ve been up to lately, just send her this album. It’s what London is all about”

Badger (Psychosomatic Saffa insane)
We Are Scientists – With Love and Squalor
“These reasonably competent American copycats were fortunate to accept the award for Best Newcomer at the Brits a few weeks back. The only thing is, they did it on behalf of those pole-hugging Northern primates, whom they recently supported on an NME tour, because the Monkeys were too up their arses to accept it themselves.
Their name alone gives you some indication of how wimp-rock this is. You only need take note of their librarian image, long manky hair, songs about forgotten love and promo pictures of them holding kittens to clarify the suspicion that they will probably be most popular with the GSCE crowd.”

el Pres (Ambassador for New Zealand music)
Crazy P – A Night on Earth
“Your ‘Night on Earth’ literally begins with a G-up from the Bee Gees/Jackson 5 infusion ‘Lady T’, a perfect getting-ready-to-go-out singalong. Once spruced up and out on the town you are then lead straight onto the dancefloor, circa 4am, with the pulsating ‘When I Cant Get Down I Get Up’.
Coming out of the club into daybreak, your soundtrack continues with a bit of trespassing on Daft Punk property on ‘Bumcop’ before you start to slump thanks to the album’s title track, a Morcheeba-have-invaded-the-studio couch-dweller.
The general mood gracefully plateaus on ‘Turnaway’ due to Danielle Moore’s very ‘na-na-na’ Kylie-esque vocals and a deep Donna Summertime bass. Twinkled-toed, star-gazing ‘Music’s My Love’ translates nicely into ‘having a bit of a sit down’ followed superbly by some blatant intro-theft on ‘Life is My Friend’ from Royksopp’s ‘What Else Is There?’.
Overall, there is nothing outstanding by way of poetry here but with the odd wailing waaaahhhhaaa and da-da-da-da-oh-yehs, this is jolly good Big Chill.
Since dropping the ’Enis’ part of their name, Crazy P seemed to have grown up a little. Hoorah for the adults. S’all good!”

A-Train (Drop him like he’s hot)
Silver City – Silver City
“I don’t really have much to say about this album except that Grandmaster Flash might want his baseline back. I thought my iPod was stuck on repeat but apparently it was used on more than one track. And why not?!
What you have here is a nostalgic look back at an age we’d rather forget. Synth-whine, low-fi drumming, compliant violins and a few guitar solos that are reminiscent of the drug scene in The Breakfast Club. Even Wham get a mention with some sketchy George ‘Hyde Parked’ vocals.
Silver City tries its hardest to peddle its electro-funk twizzle and loop onto us, but we’re wise to their ways. Lazy and familiar! But then that’s why I like it. It’s ace”.