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  albums - sep 2004


The Projects – Let’s Get Static (Track and Field)
London’s The Projects have that sort of studied cool that all of the Capital’s bands of their ilk seem to pull of without trying. They look fantastic, for a start, and, my word, is ‘Let’s Get Static’ sounding good.

Rarely off the tasty stereo here in Nottingham for the past few weeks, this album is the sound of a band whose music is pop in the purest sense. Instantly catchy, unfussy – yet at the same time, bastard clever – and stylish, most of ‘Let’s Get Static’ hits the spot every time.

The first brilliant track is the mildly menacing ‘If There Are More of Us’, with it’s great refrain of ‘Our hearts/Are connected’….before the count to eight begins and the chorus swoops in, taking you with it.

‘No Revolutions’ is my favourite. With it’s chiming keyboard opening, the twin lyrics are sung so sweetly against a building backdrop of guitars and synth that this song fair brings a shiver to my spine.

For those bored with the endless noodlings of Stereolab, but who yearn for some POP in their synth-inspired indie, The Projects are the band for you, and ‘Let’s Get Static’ is easily one of the albums of the year.

Sam Metcalf

Arthur Yoria - I’ll Be Awake (12 Records Inc)
Ok, I like this guy already; there is a boy and a cabbage driving a car! That is ace! Best album I have ever heard……… Only joking. It was just the cabbage in a car, it got me excited.

But carrying on along a similar path, I really cannot fault this album. I have listened to it a few times and it just gets better each time. You will find it filed firmly under ‘Power Pop’ and in my eyes that is, by no means, a bad thing.

Each track here is real saccharine sweet pop music. Arthur’s voice reminds me of an amalgamation of Paul McCartney and E of Eels, and I guess the music is in a similar ballpark. World class pop melodies, with the slight left field leanings of Eels….. yup I’m happy with that image.

Pure Class. I’d go and get it if I were you…….. 

Well……. What are you waiting for, go, look on Amazon or something!

Drew Millward

Sun Brothers- S/T
The press release for this CD describes the music as “giant textured pop”. This gives an indication of the sound that these dashing young fellows are going for, although what makes it ‘giant’ is anyone’s guess. The sound they do end up achieving is distinctly MOR. A lo-fi Phil Collins is probably the best way to describe it. What is most frustrating about this release is that it’s not utterly shite; in places it has the grace and pathos of some of the Blonde Redhead’s recent releases. These moments are rare however, most of the time the music is incredibly pompous, and the attempts to create an epic sound fail miserably, it simply ends up as a mush of cheap sentimentality. The track ‘Breathe’ is particularly grating, with the vocalist imploring us to “breath sometimes” in annoying falsetto. This album has left me thoroughly depressed about the state of modern music.

Michael Pearson.   

Flipron – Fancy Blues and Rustique Novelties (Tiny Dog Records)
A veritable freak circus of an album, in which Flipron decide to scare the pants off us by taking us through a world I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist outside of Doncaster.

And so we have the not very welcoming ‘Rusty Casino’s Casino Rustique’, the alcohol-sodden ‘Big Baboon’ – a song about a soothing simian.

Err,..yes. Onwards if you dare. The music is a sort of knackered out blues, with a touch of jazz thrown in, but it’s all fucking frightening stuff. Consider, if you dare, a song called ‘(Dead Lovers, Reborn in the City, Reunite in Passionate) Impact’, and then forget about it instantly because you’ll never sleep again if you don’t. This is the sort of of music your Nan warned you about when you were younger, and, y’know, it’s not half bad.

Sam Metcalf

Dreamend - As if By Ghosts (Graveface)
This is the second release from Graveface Records to reach tasty in the last couple of months and exceeds the already high standard set by Black Moth Super Rainbow.

The packaging is excellent. Apparently each album cover features an original unique photo from the early 1900's (though mine was definitely some kind of 1950s childrens'  party) and also includes an original a ghostly negative of an early century scene.

The songs on the album demonstrate just as much beauty and detail as the sleeve. A combination of atmospheric guitars bathed in super echo, xylophone and thumping percussion knit together to produce a record that is seamless and flows from track to track.  This is the sound Mogwai would have made if they'd spent the last 10 years drinking tea instead of Tennants Super.

Go and buy this record and get not only a work of musical love but also your very own original artwork. Go on, that's an order!

Shane Blanchard

Guy Mankowski – The Intimates
This album begins very promisingly, with a largely instrumental track ‘Illumine’. This is sort of instrumental folk crossed with really mellow post-rock, kind of like Unwed Sailor. Unfortunately this is not indicative of the content or quality of the rest of the album. Guy (I’m sure he won’t mind the informality of first names) has an excellent voice, not dissimilar to Nick Drake’s or Jeff Buckley’s. In fact Nick Drake is evidently a massive influence, the rest of the album seems to be trying to re-create that sound, but including elements of indie-pop.

The problem is not with Guy’s voice, or songwriting, but the production, specifically the guitar sound. To be blunt the guitar sound is fucking horrible, and inappropriate to this style of music. It’s far too jangly, almost more suited to funk than the sound Guy seems to want to go for. The opening to the track ‘Lift The Tide’ is a case in point. Which is a shame because on the whole Guy has written some perfectly competent, if unoriginal songs, only to have them ruined by the production.

Michael Pearson

Sufjan Stevens – ‘Greetings from Michigan, the Great Lake State’ (Rough Trade)
Following the success of Sufjan Stevens ‘Seven Swans’ earlier this year, the good people at Rough Trade have decided its probably time the English public were allowed to sample the alums predecessor and so we have the official UK release of ‘Greetings from Michigan’.

‘Michigan’ is, as the title suggests, a series of songs about the state of Michigan, Stevens’ home state. Stevens dons his tour guide outfit and guides us through towns and cities, through people’s lives and jobs, and through times both good and bad. The result is a concept album weighing in at over an hour of unadulterated creativity.

From the first subtle tones that greet you on the opener ‘Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid)’ it is hard not to be fully immersed in the world that Stevens paints for you. As with an album like Laura Veirs ‘Carbon Glacier’ Stevens music is capable of being rooted very much in a sense of geography and emotions allowing you to feel the cold and desolation of the harsher Upper Peninsula in ‘Oh God, Where Are You Now’ or the desperation of the jobless in ‘Flint’.

That is not to say this is a downbeat affair. Yes it is steeped in Melancholy but the music, laced as it is with banjo, piano and horns, carries a positive feeling and Stevens hushed voice, teamed with that of his backing choir, shows a passion for the state that you can’t help but be embraced by.

Stevens claims this will be the first of an ‘album for each state’ project. A mammoth task by anyone’s standards but one that I will be monitoring very closely indeed. Come on and ‘Say Yes! To Michigan!’

Luke Drozd

TEAM - Penalyn (Captains of Industry)
The press release that came with this album goes on about setting suns, desert skylines and malevolent lingerings. You do not need to know this. What you do need to know is that this debut album from Leicester's premier purveyors of alternative guitar noise is likely to be one of the best records you will listen to this year.

Despite weighing in at just a touch over 30 minutes, the ten tracks on offer expand on the broad styles already showcased on the '[50 000] [Dead Sharks]' ep. There is a new  found bluesey swagger in the form of 'Resonate South' and '[50 000]' , the sort of sound John Lee Hooker might have made if his mum had bought him a distortion pedal for his 18th birthday. 'Shapessnakescake Games' delivers a heap of classic 2 minute punk metal and there is even room for what could be classed as slowy with Canada Fields.

The band's own production has clearly paid off as the record captures everything that a live  TEAM performance stands for: thinly disguised aggression underpinned with a ruthless tight efficiency. Dave and Scott's lyrical harmonies are perhaps one of the most unlikely combinations in music but they work their magic all the way through. And the guitars. So super-chuggy in 'Racing Line' and mixed in with the spazzed up vocal that they will make your boots shake.

For a band just over a year old the song writing is polished and innovative, the delivery ruthless. Can I recommend this album any more highly? Probably not.

Shane Blanchard

Blind Jackson – Album sampler
For some reason the press release boasts that the recording equipment used for these tracks has been previously used to record John Peel sessions, which is a pretty dubious claim to fame. I assume it’s in there so that if anyone simply glances over the press release and sees John Peel’s name they will assume that Blind Jackson have recorded a session with him. Whoever wrote it must be a person of very dubious moral character. 

The music itself is a kind of jangly post-punk effort, if you think Magazine and Hot Hot Heat you wouldn’t be a far off the mark. In all fairness though there is a lot more going on here in terms of influences, the track ‘In the club’ has a real ska sound to it. Rather worryingly the song ‘Mess it up’ sound very similar to Bradford’s finest, Terrorvision. Personally I find this sort of thing rather grating, but if you are of a jollier disposition than I, and are after music you can dance like a mad bastard to then it might be worth a listen. I believe it’s this sort of nonsense that Guardian music writers refer to as ‘edgy’. 

Michael Pearson

Various - A Box of Odd (Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)
This seems to be a CD sampler for Sheffield label Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation, indeed their first CD release, having up until now a mere three 7” singles available. According to the sleeve notes part of their manifesto is to have “no songs that go on for more than three minutes”. Now on closer inspection some of the songs smash the three minute mark by as much as twenty or thirty seconds! Does this prove that their manifesto is hard to put into practice, untenable even?

But leaving behind such pedantry to discuss the music what is on offer here is trashy garage rock, with plenty of surf and psychobilly influences. This is a fine sound to go for if done well. The problem is that most of the tracks on here are distinctly average. The tracks by the Motherfucker’s are especially tedious. Not that they are bad, but there is nothing to put them above the average. Competent is probably the best way to describe it. 

However certain tracks do stand out. The Special Agents ‘Guitars that go twang! In the night’ sounds like the Munster’s theme music, which is definitely a complement. The Beachbuggy track ‘Deathray’ from the Albini produced album ‘Killer-B’, has a sleazy stomping groove which is oddly compelling. The wonderfully titled ‘Now I got worms’ by Texas Pete is a jaunty surf rockabilly number which is quite enjoyable. But these highlights don’t manage to raise this compilation above the average. Ultimately none of these songs make me want to don a gaudy Hawaiian shirt, quaff beer or ‘party’. Which I assume is the point.

Michael Pearson.

Gravenhurst -  Flashlight Seasons (Warp Records)
This is very much a last minute review, but I couldn’t let this issue of Tasty slide by without the inclusion of a review of this album. I just wouldn’t be doing my job properly, would I?

Although mainly the preserve of the more electronic end of the spectrum Warp have been spreading their wings a lot more recently, and given the strength of this latest offering we should all be offering up great thanks for this new found freedom. Gravenhurst is he project of Nick Talbot, on the strength of this album one can only assume some foul fate befell the poor chap recently, as this is one of the most doom laden recordings I have had the pleasure of listening to since ‘I See a Darkness’ got me in the party mood all those years ago. There is more than just the atmospherics that Will Oldham’s masterpiece and ‘Flashlight Seasons’ have in common, there are strong links between the two when it comes to the sound, structure and lyrical content of the music, and that is far from being any sort of criticism.

Although there is a strong feeling of the ‘American Gothic’ feel of Oldham or Molina, Gravenhurst is a much more Anglicized take on what is a very American musical form. The echoes of bluegrass and traditional country, are replaced by a much more English Folk element, and a would be naive to not mention Nick Drake as at least an evident influence, with more than a touch of Elliot Smith in places. You may have noticed a similar dark brooding connection between all the artists/bands I have mentioned, if you are feeling a little down in the dumps this is not a record to be listening to.

This has been on my record player solidly now for two days and I can see no good reason as to why it would be taken off soon. The quality of songwriting is of the quality that it seems as if these songs have existed for ever as if you have heard them in a dream before but could no longer remember them. It is rare that there is an album of this quality released by a British artist, and not an NME cover in sight. ‘Damage’ and ‘Damage II’ are some of the most heartbreaking songs you are ever likely to hear, the same could be said of the record as a whole.

I am off to drown my sorrows, as I mourn the passing of a month that has furnished us with albums that I will still be listening to in twenty years from now.

Drew Millward

Various - Hey! Where’d the summer go?
A compilation of tracks by bands I have never heard of from a label I’m clueless about, Humblebee Recordings. Although based on this compilation it doesn’t take a massive inductive leap to work out their modus operandi, lo-fi indie pop. You know the kind of thing, slightly melancholy pop music made by people who were forcibly buggered at boarding school and wear scarves irrespective of the weather. Not to resort to stereotypes or anything.

The tracks on here are, obviously, of variable quality ranging from the really quite good to utter dog shit. On the dog shit end of the spectrum the vocalist for The Lil’ Hospital has one of the most nasal voices I have ever heard, making their track ‘Pretty Kissin’ unbearable. Also the National Splits song is simply a mistake, a whining sub Brit-Pop dirge. On the really quite good end of the spectrum the State of Samuel track ‘Why’ has a quite nice Elvis Costello power pop vibe, which provides some much needed variety. Also The Diskettes song is excellent, lovely, sad, pop music. The interplay of male and female vocals, slightly reminiscent of the Moldy Peaches, is used to good effect on this track. 

The rest of songs lie between these two extremes, and are fine if you’re a fan of this genre. Having not mentioned this band thus far I’m afraid I’m going to have to now; if you like Belle and Sebastian you will like this. If not avoid it like the plague. One plus point is that it’s excellent value for money, twenty four tracks and I think it costs around eight dollars. That is if you can stand twenty four tracks of this stuff. I can’t and am going to listen to some Slayer before I start to contemplate the purchase of a scarf.

Michael Pearson

That Fucking Tank -A Document of our First Set (Jealous Records)
John Peel once said something like ‘there’s more bands per square metre in Leeds 6 then there is anywhere else in England’. That Fucking Tank are one of the ongoing hoards of truly fresh and astonishing bands still pouring out of the area. And with this release we have their debut EP.

Comprising of two thirds of Kill Yourself, That Fucking Tank are a drummer and guitarist duo hell bent on producing noisy, angular but danceable instrumental rock. ‘A Document to Our First Set’ proves that That Fucking Tank are any bit as good as other bands with similar M.O.’s. like the bastard children of Q and Not U and Oxes, the five tracks present here groove, churn and lurch along to form one of the most compelling debuts you’re likely to hear for a long time to come.

My advice to anyone is simple: Go to see them live and buy this EP. Its probably going to prove to be one of the best releases of the year. Yes, That Fucking Tank are That Fucking Good.   

Luke Drozd

Friends – Late Night Early Morning (Summerhouse)
Survivors of many an underground release, Friends suffer from having a name associated with a shite sit-com. The only way to overcome this has been to have released a succession of pretty fantastic albums, and ‘Late Night Early Morning’ is just one of those.

Those au fait with the Friends sound should be in no doubt that this is yet more fantastic, very English, indie pop. All the way from the twisting, turning ‘The River Flows’, through the glacial, summery ‘Some of the Things – which might just be the sweetest love song ever written and makes me a bit goose-bumpy, all the way through to the three minute warning of ‘Dark Side’, which is a glorious thrash, with those ever so catchy descending chords. My, that was a long sentence.

The fact of the matter remains, that if you want to listen to one of the best, intelligent indie pop bands since Kitchens of Distinction buggered off, then you should worship at the temple of Friends. They’ll never be as annoying as six twats in a New York flat.

Sam Metcalf

Hellset Orchestra - Demo
The Hellset Orchestra are purveyors of frankly bizarre ditties that sound like the soundtrack to some obscure Hammer Horror movie, complete with gothic sounding organs and a Frankenstein sample on the appropriately monikered “ ‘Come into my lab’ he said”.

Presumably whoever (or whatever) was behind this curio had their tongue firmly planted in their cheek, because it’s about as scary as Kenneth Williams in Carry on Screaming, and twice as camp.

 Like Electric six it treads a the fine line; depending on your point of view it either totally rocks or it’s utter pants, however, what swung it for me was the moment towards the end of “Thank God it’s Judas” when it appears that Animal from the Muppets has made a cameo on drums.

 Whether or not the joke could be sustained for more than the length of a couple of EPs remains to be seen, but if you are looking for a musical interlude for the middle of a Vincent Price double bill, this is just the ticket.

Leighton Cooksey

Thee More Shallows  - More Deep Cuts (Monotreme)
When Thee More Shallows’ debut came out a few years ago, its delicate whimsy caused it to pretty much live in my CD player for a hell of a long time. Since then the wait for the follow up has seemed endless and nerve racking. Could they really manage to make an album that was as good as ‘A History of Sport Fishing’ again? So when the wait was finally over and a copy of the new album ‘More Deep Cuts’ arrived on my door mat, it was a good few days before I dared listen to it for fear of disappointment. As it turns out my fears were thankfully unfounded.

With ‘More Deep Cuts’ we have a collection of intelligent, thoughtful songs inflected with wit and poetry. Musically Thee More Shallows pour together strings, guitars and programmatic noises and beats to form what is some of the most absorbing music currently being made. What this record shows is that ‘A History of Sport Fishing’ was very much the beginning of what Thee More Shallows has to offer. The collection of songs present on ‘More Deep Cuts’ is truly an example of their best work to date. From the moment it begins with a bizarre gradually accelerating programmed beat you know this is different. Songs of paranoia, loneliness and mass graves are abound but they are each so beautifully conveyed you find yourself submerged in a hazy, contented state, and with ‘Freshman Thesis’ we have Thee More Shallows crowning glory so far. A song full of downtrodden bitterness that starts off whispering in your ear like a conspiracy you shouldn’t be part of, and ends in distorted pounding fuzz. The lyrics to this and every song always help to elevate the music as well. Just listen to the immaculate and minute observations present here and it is clear that you are in the present of true storytellers.

I really can’t express how much I love this record. It serves as a document as to what everything about an album should be.  A remarkable achievement.

Luke Drozd

The Twilight Singers – She Loves You (One Little Indian)
Without reading the press release – which, of course, I’ve lost – I’m not really sure what the purpose of this album is.

No matter, for on the whole, it’s usually enjoyable, or at least more enjoyable than an album of cover versions should ever be. For examples of this look no further than the wrought, spine-tingling version of ‘Strange Fruit’, or the ace version of ‘Hyperballad’, which makes Bjork’s effort finally sound like the kid’s playground anthem it surely is. Hell, Greg Dulli even makes a Fleetwood Mac song sound listenable. Extra points for attempting ‘Summertime’ and making it sound like a heroin comedown. Whatever one of those sounds like, I know not, but my Nan always warned me it might sound like this.

One gripe might well be the consistently terrible production, which makes much of this record sound like it was put together down a very deep well. No matter, for all else is most admirable.

Sam Metcalf


Whirlwind Heat - Flamingo Honey (XL)
Ah, Whirlwind Heat, you weird little chaps. This is a mini album of 10 tracks a lone minute in length but of varied tone and quality.

A band whom obviously have a lot of fun making music, Whirlwind heat have a sound hard to pin down. Some like ‘The Bone have a sort of pop amble to them but then suddenly you’re thrown into the moog led noise of the quite brilliant ‘Meat Packer’.

This is, for want of a better phrase, a bit of a giggle, with some genuinely enjoyable moments of off-kilter Pop with a leaning towards the Dismemberment Plan’s more discordant offerings. However with it being so short its hard to get a good feel for the record or settle into any of the individual tracks. I do however await the future Whirlwind Heat releases with much (confused) interest.

Luke Drozd

Pinkie – Sharon Fussy (Planting Seeds Records)
It starts and ends with a flock of seagulls wailing. The bird, not the band. And the bits in between are just about as perfect as it gets.

So, if you’re feeling a little frail or fragile, ‘Sharon Fussy is for you. Take its tender hand and skip through the melancholy daisy field of ‘Someone I’ll Never Be’ or ‘Say After Me’, but be aware that this album will never break sweat. And that, my friends, is a very good thing indeed.

The seagulls are apt. Alex Sharkey lives in Worthing, where this album was, I take it, writte and recorded. Listening in, it seems as though Sharkey did a lot of walking around this southern outpost before submitting anything to tape. So, is this is a concept album? Nothing so vulgar, but, if it does have a central theme, it’s that of loss and of one left behind. I might be hopelessly wrong, but that’s what it means to me, and it’s very special indeed. Cherish this perfect record.

Sam Metcalf

Andrew Morgan - Misadventures in Radiology (Broken Horse)
Its not very often an album grabs you by the jugular the moment you first put it on, commanding you to take notice and listen. Well that’s precisely what you get from the first note of Andrew Morgan’s debut pop epic, ‘Misadventures in Radiology’.

This is an album many years in the making which has gone through highs and lows and nearly wasn’t completed at all, and because of all these factors that came along with its conception, it sounds like a pure labour of love.

It is an album of grandiose and often theatrical sounding pop music soaked in years of layers of strings, guitars and piano. However it achieves the sound without ever sounding self indulgent or overblown. Morgan’s voice has a beautiful breathy quality to it like he’s singing just behind you the whole time. It is undeniably similar to the likes of Connor Oberst or Elliot Smith in its qualities. It also comes as no surprise to learn that the album was recorded at Smith’s ‘New Monkey’ studio before his untimely death. Fraught and emotionally charged lyrics draw the comparison closer. Lines like ‘And as I stagger around London / With tear betrayed eyes / There’s more hole than heart left’ from ‘This Awful Room’ could have come straight from the mind of Smith himself.

Dark, discordant but filled with love this is a bold statement of arrival from Morgan and an album that can quieten and mystify. If anyone can fill the gap Elliot Smith has left for many music fans, it’s Morgan.

Luke Drozd

The Shivers – Move All You Wanna (Modnight)
Blimey! The Shivers are MODS! And they’re pretty damn good too. ‘Move All You Wanna’ has more in common with the All Girl Summer Fun Band or The Icicles than it does the blooooooody Jam or something equally as shite. ‘Tiramisu’, for example, is full of the stop/start, ramshackle garage pop that often comes out of the US.

On other occasions, such as the racey ‘Pixydust and Voodo’ The Shivers make me want to dance that funny jerky dance that you can only do after about ten pints of lager, and this is very good thing indeed.

I’m not sure that I’m ready to convert to the Sta-prest cause just yet – I don’t really have the arse for it, but if The Shivers are what passed for Mod these days I might stop laughing at people on scooters. It’s a start, isn’t it?

Sam Metcalf

Justin Rutledge - No Never Alone (Shady Lane)
I can’t be the only person in this world who has been increasingly disappointed by Ryan Adams career. When ‘Heartbreaker’ was released there was something so immediate and truthful about it that you couldn’t help but embrace it. Adams subsequently has produced a series of records that consistently fail to live up to the example set by that record and a void was created as we waited for something to follow.

Now what never occurred to me was that this void would be filled not be Adams but by another, namely Justin Rutledge. ‘No Never Alone’ doesn’t simply have the quality and scope that the best of Adams’ stuff has, it possesses more of both. From the first track ‘Too Sober To Sleep’ we are greeted by a series of painfully open songs about love, loneliness and all that comes with them. Yes I am well aware that this is nothing new and that anything even leaning towards Country has all of the above, but when it’s done this well that really is of no consequence. And besides, when you’re graced with lines like ‘Goddam my liver when it’s thirsty / Goddam my wallet when it’s dry’, how can you resist. Its Rutledge’s way with words that always shines through on this release, elevating it far beyond other melancholic Country amblings. On ‘Lay Me Down Sweet Jesus’ we get what sounds like a traditional Country lament and you’d be forgiven for thinking this tune has been sung on dusty porches in Tennessee for decades. Listen to the lyrics however and it becomes clear that this is a prayer for a new era; ‘Lay me down sweet Jesus / In the holy war zone / By Jerusalem’s cancer / By my baby’s blood’. This idea of being rooted in tradition but always maintaining a contemporary edge is a binding element throughout the entire record.

This is also an album of variety, where full band tracks, solo guitar musings and instrumentals have been perfectly placed to ensure you can’t help but listen to it in its entirety as a whole work.

 To top it all it also features what may be may favourite song of the moment, ‘The Suffering of Pepe O’Malley (Pt III)’, a song that makes you want to grab a whiskey and sing along whilst doing your best to hold back the welling of ears you can feeling building. A track with one of the greatest titles ever and that features the rabble rousing line ‘There’s only booze hounds here’. How can you resist.

Quite simply one of the finest examples of a singer/songwriter, and one of the strongest albums, I’ve heard in a long time.

Luke Drozd

The Telepathic Butterflies – Songs From a Second Wave (Rainbow Quartz)
Hey, hey, hey! Take me back to 1967, daddio. For the TB’s…erm…the last 25-odd years haven’t happened. Not that that’s such a bad thing, as this excellent album could easily be the best Beatles album that was never made.

Although lumped in with the 21st Century wave of psych-rockers, The Telepathic Butterflies have more in common with indie-pop, or even the Posies than a bunch of purple cord wearing acid kings. Or indeed, The Beatles.

Throughout this album, but particularly on tracks such as ‘Four Leaf Clover’, Rejean Ricard’s guitar sound is very much George Harrison. Meanwhile, ‘Love (is) For Hire reminds me of the Beatles’ arch enemies, The Brach Boys.

Although winter is approaching faster than my cat to the back door when it’s hungry, The Telepathic Butterflies have made the perfect summer album for the winter. Contrary, but clever.

Sam Metcalf

Radio 4 - Stealing of a Nation
Being the owner of a record shop must be an increasingly frustrating job. As bands cast creative nets further and further a field, how do you go about categorising music? Buggered if I know. And here to make life even more difficult is Radio 4 and there new album ‘Stealing of a Nation’. Disco Punk Groove Dub Rock anyone?

This is the follow up 2002’s politically charged ‘Gotham!’ and its immediately obvious these boys still have a lot to say about the state of the world and a need to dance whilst its being said.

From the opener, and first single, ‘Party Crashers’, it is clear that Radio 4 have spent the time since their last offering honing their sound to be more than merely a band standing in ‘Gang of Four’s shadow. This is a track that stomps and grooves along shamelessly and sets the tone for what is to follow.

Radio 4 subsequently display a talent and taste from Punk through Reggae to Disco. And while this could end up sounding bloody dreadful (and for other bands treading a similar path has) Radio 4, as with fellow New Yorkers !!!, somehow keep it in check. That is not to say this is perfect for on (very) occasional moments it doesn’t necessarily gel as well as it should but these are too seldom to really matter.

Luke Drozd

Coastal – Halfway to You (Words on Music)
I dunno, if like me, when you were a angry teenager, that you used to put some music on to fall asleep to – Slowdive were always good for the job – just so that you could listen to as much music as possible during the day? You did? Oh, gooooodddd. Because Coastal are the new band it’s ok to fall asleep to. And I don’t mean that in a nasty way, oh no no no no no. I mean in the way that ‘Halfway to You’ is chockablock full of those dreamily slow songs that Low try and make and fail. Coastal pull it off every time though. See ‘We Won’t Last Another Year’ for confirmation of Coastal’s ability to lift the mood using song that has roughly 1bpm, or the dreadfully sad ‘Drift’, which is even SLOWER.

Suffice to say, you’d go loopy if you tried to listen to a Wedding Present album after this. Because it’s quite beautiful.

Sam Metcalf

Secret Machines - Now Here is Nowhere
I’m always worried for bands that have to release an album surrounded by hype and high expectations and Secret Machines definitely are one such band. With a lot of people awaiting the release of the debut album ‘No Here is Nowhere’ the pressure was really on for them to live up to these expectations and deliver the musical goods.

From the first tight groove laden opener that is ‘First Here is Nowhere’ it is clear these expectations have been met. It’s a nod to musical eras both past and present as riffs chug and repeat without ever seeming boring or monotonous. This may not be a very cool comparison to throw in, especially so early in the review, but I can’t help but hear a leaning to Queens’ early back-catalogue. The bass line throughout his track is just the sort of solid Prog. Deacon used to dole out so proficiently.

This isn’t to say this is in anyway derivative or a poor example of Prog. for those ho weren’t there the first time around. Far from it in fact. As subsequent songs come and go it becomes clear that Secret Machines wish to forge a path of their own. But it would be hard not to sense a certain allegiance to that era of Rock when the likes of King Crimson and Pink Floyd where noodling their way into the worlds musical psyche. It does this however whilst always retaining a fresh and new sound. Quite a feat really. It should also be made clear that this isn’t merely nostalgia on display. Songs like ‘Leaves Are Gone’ display bittersweet contemporary pop sensibilities that evoke much of the wok of Ben Gibbard.

This is an album full of a series of great moments that may seem like they shouldn’t sit together comfortably on one record. However, this they do. Songs like ‘Nowhere Again’ and ‘Lights On’ will be firmly lodged in music lovers internal jukeboxes the length and breadth of the country. Secret Machines are, to quote the band, quite simply ‘blowing all the other kids away’.

Luke Drozd

Daniel Patrick Quinn - Severed from the Land (Suilven Recordings)
Well this is a bit of an odd one. Only six tracks long, but an album. Recorded in a bedroom but sounding far more polished. Only the fifth release from Suilven but including a beautiful copper card cover featuring (what I assume) is the artist's own sketches.

With titles such as 'A Wide Wooded Valley', 'Nine Standards Rigg' and 'Ettrick Pen' this could easily fall into folky nonsense that you would imagine a wooly-hatted hiker to listen too between 10 mile yomps. But it's not all walking. Despite expressing a penchant for walking the hills Quinn has created a rich tapestry of soundscapes by weaving synths, cello, guitars, trumpet and well nigh any other instrument he seems to have been able to lay hands on.

Tracks are almost psychodelic in nature and ebb and flow like the seasons themselves. My personal fave is Nine Standards Rigg which features a rambling lyric about marauding Scotsmen and standing stones - not your normal song writing material.

So why not try it? It's really rather splendid and you might just find yourself  listening to it every five minutes like I have been doing. Fell walking, of course, is still voluntary.

Shane Blanchard

Johnny Domino – Solid Ground (Artists Against Success)
These Johnny Domino are an all-powerful groove beast. Smoking a pipe. This was evidenced recently at a tasty fanzine gig in Leeds, when the East Midlands quartet shook their funky thang to great effect.

‘Solid Ground’ builds on these phat foundations and tops up on POP! For this is easily the Dom’s most accessible album to date.

The band have tightened up a great deal since their last album, and this is showed best in tracks such as ‘I Heart 1883’, which remind me of The Fall at their poppy best, and ‘U R My Oar’, with it’s almost Stump-like rhythm and great keyboards. It’s maybe Marc Elstons keyboards that have improved the most since the last time we heard from JD. Whilst on previous albums they’ve merely added to the sound, this time around they often lead from the front.

However, always at the front of the stage is vocalist Jim Convery, who is both scary and engaging at the same time. Seeing the band live confirms this, but it’s no mean feat to come across like this on a record.

So, if you aren’t already a convert to this particular brand of pissed-up pop, then you flippin’ well should be. ‘Solid Ground’ tells you that. And so do I.

Sam Metcalf

Giant Sand - Is All Over…The Map (Thrill Jockey)
It’s been a long time since we had an album of all new Giant Sand songs. We had Covers Magazine and a series of other Gelb-ian releases, but we’ve actually been waiting since 2000’s ‘Chore of Enchantment’ for the next instalment proper from Giant Sand. Well its time for a collective sigh of relief to be released because the new album from Howe and cohorts is finally with us. About bloody time.

‘Is All Over…the Map’ apparently sounds to like the last five years according to Howe. What this means for us is an album that is nearing epic proportions in its musical scope. In a song like ‘NYC of Time’, Howe leads us through rock, avant-garde and splashes of lounge in the space of just a few minutes. That’s a hell of an undertaking for anyone. Its songs like this that give the record and overall feel somewhere between Giant Sands previous crowning glory ‘Chore’ and last years ‘Blacky Ranchette’ album.

Yes we have smatterings of dusty rock straight from Howe’s porch in Tucson, as in tracks like ‘Cracklin Water’, but we also have another side of Mr. Gelb too. The one unleashed on rocking numbers like ‘Remote’. What this shows is a man who, in his late forties, is truly on top of his game.

As ever it’s no one element that allows any record born from the mind of Howe Gelb to achieve its results. Although these albums would not exist without the man himself, they always feel like a collaborative effort. Howe growls and strums away whilst the likes of John Parish, Scout Niblett and his Danish band help to shape and mould the final product

At times hideously infectious, as in the slack, string slapping moment that is ‘flying Around the Sun,’ and at others just plain beautiful, this is an album that’s going take some bettering with whatever project follows, and yes I’m going to say it, I’d even say its better than ‘Chore’.

Giant Sand have hit upon something wondrous and, to paraphrase the man himself, just in the ‘NYC of Time’.

Luke Drozd


Odessa Chen – One Room Palace
England, a supposedly civilised country. A country, we are told, to be proud to be a part of, where we have freedom and choice. If this is truly the case then why in the world does a musician with the level of talent possessed by Odessa Chen not have a label or distribution in this country? Absolutely criminal.

Chen's talent is in crafting ghostly, uncanny songs flooded with drama and feeling. Evoking the Album Leaf fronted by Scout Niblett she can construct songs capable of soaring and being intimate in equal measure. Chen possesses a voice that is intense and powerful yet capable of absolute delicacy. At times intensely sad and often warm and charming, and offering a skewed view of a less than simple world, ‘One Room Palace’ highlights Odessa Chen as a shining light in Americans independent music scene.

Luke Drozd


Razor Bianca – Sixguns of the Soul Demo
The live review on the back of this CD’s slipcase promises ‘Mother Fucker heavy’ riffs and a ‘solid groove’. What we actually receive is somewhat short of either of these.

Razor Bianca are a band whose songs never seem to have any real desire or passion to them, they simply exist. The three songs present, although never actually bad, merely amble by and are also hampered by somewhat poor production leaving the mix disjointed with dull sounding guitars and flat vocals.

The live review also promised feedback, a synth unit and loop effects, none of which I could find on this recording

This CD generally has the sound of anyone of the hoards of student based rock bands up and down the country but to be fair, this release probably isn’t highlighting Razor Bianca at their best and judging by the press perhaps their live sound is where Razor Bianca really shine.

Luke Drozd


Alex Gomez – Always Never (Delta Electric)
“Lets just call it Punk Blues” reads the press release that came along with this CD and a fairer description of Gomez’ music you will not find.

Gomez occupies the ground between Kelly Joe Phelps’ early slide work and the twisted industrial sounds of Johnny Dowd. Slide Blues tunes are churned and wrenched from his guitar while he spits and rasps over the top venting about women, drugs and life in general.

‘Always Never’ is an uncomplicated album best listened to loud and when Gomez gets it right he can really nail an absorbing, soulful and also contemporary Blues song. This is shown in full effect on the ballsy Blues of ‘Back to the Grind’ and the more down-tempo but equally compelling ‘Rolling Stone’.

It is down to only a couple of moments that this album is sadly let down. The opener ‘Macon Bacon’ shares the same vocal pattern to its chorus as ‘I Like Candy’, a song I truly detest and so making this track an instant no starter for me.

However when all is said and done ‘Always Never’ proves to be an instantly captivating experience. Trashy, depraved and bluntly honest, Gomez is helping to give Blues a contemporary edge it often seems to lack.

Luke Drozd