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  albums - may 2008

 
 
 

Petter & The Pix - Easily Tricked (Gung Ho)

Every few years, an album reaches these shores from Scandinavia, one which somehow defines a crucial moment in the Danish/Swedish/Norwegian/Finnish music scene and which causes a few ripples in our own grimy fashion-led English puddle. And most recently that album was Peter Bjorn & John's 'Writer's Block' which with its dipsy eccentricity and innovative production was, as anyone who has whistled along to 'Young Folks' will agree, a collection of songs of a far above the ordinary quality and a quite remarkable piece of craftmaship, from Stockholm . Not everyone in Sweden appears to agree though, and 'Easily Tricked' contains all the hallmarks of an expensive whinge at the expense of 2007s SXSW star turn. Sort of 'How Do You Sleep' - era Lennon, 9 tracks of it, and entirely in English.

The sleeve is the first clue to this. It is a glossy fold-out which probably cost more to produce than the album. Why then the dull, blobby graphics of what resembles a drowned puppy, when whoever designed the sleeve could've put an actually attractive picture which CD purchasers might actually want to buy all over the eight sides of cardboard? And the lyrical quotes don't exactly make me want to play the thing, in fact they sound like a transcription of 'Petter' making a seedily breathy dirty phone call. To his mum.

The music is, as the sleeve suggests, a bit dull. Anyone with access to a colour-by-numbers ProTools station could emulate the sluggish attempts at jazzfunk on display here, which are enlivened only by ringtone standard keyboard dribbles, the result sounding a little like how cat piss boiling in a microwave might sound, if anyone ever bothered to record that. And the vocals are a tuneless, reedy hiss lacking in any emotion, depth or even actual interest on 'Petter's part.

So why bother recording and releasing any of this at all? Let alone travelling to Reykjavik to do it? The group are intending to gig here in the UK and are quoted as saying 'we've been trying to copy you guys for some time and have got quite good at it', which could translate as 'we've no ideas of our own and the Casio workstation did it all for us, but we will quite cheerfully rip off any remotely interesting idea anyone else thinks they have'. So, if you work anywhere near a recording studio and are confronted with a group of glassy-eyed nordic types, one or two of them wearing ski-masks, then lock your doors firmly. And call the cops if you need to.


Jon Gordon 2008


 

12 Gauge Alliance - Conspire To Conclude 

I’m confused. A lack of a track list and actually at first no real idea of who this band was, made this one a bit of a kafuffle. A quick search on the Google with the few brief words written on the CD brought me to 12 Gauge Alliance from South Wales. 

My confusion continued when I decided to start what I could only call Track 1. A collection of electro beats with no vocals in its 3 minutes plus playing time that had seemingly been put on there by the producer “so they can be a bit like Enter Shikari” gave no insight into what 12GA are here to do. Track 2 (which I later found out was called Without Arms – then how do you play 12 Gauge Alliance?) shed some more light though. Sounding somewhere between Funeral For A Friend’s first EPs and The Dillinger Escape Plan towards the end of the song gave me my initial thoughts as to what their influences were. Track 3 sees the return of the electro again…a tad early for an interlude?  

I got to the point where I couldn’t stand not having track names anymore so I searched for a track list. The album is now called Conspire To Conclude and I found four tracks on their MySpace…such as the aforementioned Without Arms.  

Girls, Guns and Wild nights (never a good combination) however is what got me listening properly. A sung introduction for the first quarter of the song lulled me into a false sense of security before a sudden scream brings in a raging beast of a breakdown. Which was niiice. 

The rest of the album carries on along the same lines though, your typical Noughties Metal fare, broken up by occasional electro and melodic moments with nothing sadly to separate 12 Gauge Alliance from the rest of the fringe straightening, black clothed pack.

Chris Sharpe

 

Danava - Unonou (Kemado) 

As a responsible reviewer, you must be warned not to listen to this album under the following circumstances; by yourself, late at night, or whilst under the influence of any mind-altering substances.  But DO listen to it!  From the Elfman-esque second half of “Where Beauty & Terror Dance”, through the electro-synth opening and choral refrain of “The Emerald Snow of Sleep”, to the gaudy decadence of the album artwork itself, Danava’s “Unonou” is at once frighteningly vast and immensely enjoyable.

A baroque-tinged behemoth soaked in the absinthe of Ozzy’s wildest days and then sandblasted with desert winds whipped up by stoner legends Kyuss, Danava are actually four human beings and not doyens of another planet, as it might appear.  Hailing from Oregon via Illinois quartet Danava are, by their own admission, relishing the opportunity to experiment with this, their second album.

As with the aforementioned tracks, there really is no dip in form or obvious weak points on any of the seven tracks here.  “As High Or A Low” adds a strangulated horn section to the mix and pulls of the closest thing to a single but the farthest thing from a typical Danava sound.  The ferocious mid-section of “Spinning Temple Shifting” pummels at the senses with planet-sized riffs and the only respite comes with the epochal, crypt-dwelling organ of “Down From A Cloud…” but even that bursts forth in to brain-mashing outro that should be classed as Category B at the very least.

Sounding like Led Zeppelin’s “Achilles Last Stand”, closer “One Mind Gone Separate Ways” brings about the moment of realisation that this album is something special, a thirteen minute tour de force that should be played to alien beings when they ask what rock music is – they might implode at the sheer speed of the drumming, the quality of the searing solos or scratch their five heads at the inclusion of more horns, but hey, they asked!

“Unonou” is a refreshing counterpoint to all the manufactured, meticulously-planned rock that litters the music scene today.  It thrives on being unclassifiable and positively forces its way out of any pigeon hole it is placed in.  It doesn’t sound like Kyuss at jazz class.  It doesn’t sound like Ozzy fronting Rocket from the Crypt.  It couldn’t even be said that this would have been the album Black Sabbath would have made had they been from the dusty deserts of Nevada rather than the Midlands.  It is quite simply stunning.

Stuart Bowen 

 
 

New Found Glory / International Superheroes of Hardcore - Tip of the Iceberg/Takin’ it ova (Bridge Nine) 

People thought it was very strange when New Found Glory and Bridge Nine records teamed up, but based on the evidence of this E.P it is a partnership made in heaven. The pop punk legends have once again produced the goods with six very catchy pop punk anthems but also a ‘posie’ hardcore spin on their music. It is almost as if New Found Glory have grown musically, abandoning a little of their old fun -loving music and instead changing more towards music with a message. If New Found Glory’s die hard fans were worried that by joining a hardcore record label they would lose their identity, then they need not worry as this is New Found Glory at their best.  Creating songs you can sing and dance along to, they are showing that underneath there is still a lot of the fun loving band that they have always been. The difference in the ’new’ New Found Glory is that they have introduced us to their alter egos -The International Superheroes of Hardcore. Fronted by New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert, The International Superheroes of Hardcore tackle issues of what is wrong with the music scene today but with a comical twist on their songs. The twelve song onslaught only lasts roughly fifteen minutes but once you have heard it, you will want to listen to it again and again. With fast pace trashing hardcore punk riffs, gang vocals and in your face lyrics, it’s hard to believe that it IS New Found Glory producing this type of music. With tracks like ‘Fashion Show’, ‘Superhero sellouts’ and ‘Madball’s got our back’ it is truly a very good hardcore album. The comical lyrics, however, make you think that the band didn’t really intend it to be taken too seriously. This two disc album is, in my view, a must buy, offering pop punk and hardcore mixed into one purchase. It is a great addition to any fans of Bridge Nine’s work and New Found Glory have shown they are the silly kings of fun loving pop punk music. If the fate of the world is ever in trouble, we will always have The International Superheroes of Hardcore.

Tim Birkbeck

 

Various: Something In Construction presents - Building With Strings (Something In Construction)

I like compilations. Always have done. Two things about them: 1) I get to hear some often quite interesting new bands & 2) those bands often select their best work, particularly when, as on this example, there are 19 tracks to choose from, and none of the bands (with the exception of Loney Dear, whom I only know by name) are anyone I've ever heard of. So on the CD player it went.

Surprisingly, the first track is also the weakest song on the album. Plushgun might aim to emulate the headier days of the Britpop 90s but 'Just Impolite' is a bit of a damp squib, a speedy techno blip which doesn't really emulate much at all. What an introduction for Christian Silva though, his 'Great To Begin' has the intro that SIC shied away from using as their opener : 'drank the mini-bar dry/learned to look at the sky' intones Silva over scorching artbeat guitars, a tale of a lost weekend he doesn't regret much.

Four or five tracks down the line and some worthwhile moments begin to emerge. Sambassadeurs 'Final Say' is swaying swirling power ballad. Twin Thousands 'Like You A Lot' recalls St Etienne at their most anthemic. Emmy The Greats 'Gabriel' is a sincerely touchingly heartfelt folk strum. The Boats 'Scenic Gorges' is a chaotic howl of inner city mischief.

I couldn't commit myself to one overall favourite track. This is partly down to the fact that the Alvin Band, Young Husband, and Other Passengers are all working in a similar field. That of the Epic Ballad, songs which clock in at over five minutes and whose grandiose ambitions are matched with the kind of overbearing production which very often either falls flat or blows out entirely. 'Tijuana', 'French Grammar', and 'A Room, A Canvas' are all of then equally superb pieces of work: the first is a lush soundscape that recalls Beefheart jamming with the Beach Boys : the second a thoughfully poised crash of baby grand powerchords: the third, a menacing drumbeat that builds into an overwhelming crescendo of furious guitar noise, while still managing to sound like a ballad.

There are ten or so other tracks, of varying styles, lengths and instrumentation. Making yourself heard takes something nowadays. Something In Construction will gain some satisfaction from their present roster of bands and musicians, I'm more than certain.
www.somethinginconstruction.com

Jon Gordon

 
 

Phil Campbell – After The Garden (Blacklist Records) 

Ah Mr Campbell, we meet again. My first meeting with Mr Campbell took place in a transsexual pole dancing club in Soho. I would like to clarify that neither him nor I were pole dancing. And neither of us are transsexual, as a far as I know. But the moral of the story is that the pole dancing club was a great venue for a gig, but Phil Campbell ruined said gig a bit with his whiny Paulo Nutini brand diet indie rock. And at least Paulo doesn’t try and hide his lovely Scottish accent. 

After The Garden is a collection of lo-tempo, slightly jangly, indulgently introspective somewhat tepid songs. Inoffensive and ear-friendly yes, inspiring, stirring, or life-changing, no.  

I assume the title of the first track, No Love Songs, is intended to be ironic, because the rest of the album is nothing but.  

Occasionally there’s a glimmer of something deeper than a puddle, and whilst Isn’t She Beautiful is a little schmaltzy, the emotion seems real.  

Let’s hope the strip club rubbed off on him a bit and he spices things up a little for his next offering.
www.philcampbellmusic.co.uk
www.myspace.com/philcampbellmusic 

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Thea Gilmore – Liejacker (Fruitcake Music) 

Thea has been bubbling under for quite some time, and despite being one of Radio 2’s late night favourites has never really broken through. Which is a shame, because she’s actually bloody brilliant. 

She possess what many female singer/songwriters are lacking – honesty, intelligence, and suitcases of talent. She’s not flashy or gimmicky, she doesn’t date someone in a band and she doesn’t dye her hair every two weeks. She is the ultimate breath of fresh air. 

Her lilting tones, combined with understated, simple accompaniment with just the right amount of sass sees her sit alongside veterans like Suzanne Vega and Linda Thompson. 

Black Letter is a driving track without, but without being overpowering and maintaining subtlety. The fuller chorus contrast the emotion in the verses, and she hits the nail that with KT Tunstall is constantly struggling to, with ease and grace. 

Sometimes beautiful and haunting (Dance in New York) and sometimes most certainly a women scorned (Roll On), Liejacker is almost Thea’s coming of age album. Everything she’s done previously all comes together on this record, and it feels as though it’s an album she believes in. 

If this doesn’t get on Wogan’s playlist then there’s simply no justice in the world.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

5ive - Hesperus  

5ive (not to be confused with the 90’s boy band) are an ambient rock two piece who have managed to produce a mesmerising sound. By only having a guitar and drums as the main features of the band they have followed other successful ambient bands such as Isis, Pelican and Bossk in creating a very heavy sound with very limited resources. Many people find music like this hard to get into as it doesn’t have any lyrics to carry it, but in this case lyrics would ruin the majestic sound that 5ive have managed to produce.  

With each song lasting several minutes (shortest track being 2:08)  this seven track masterpiece comes to a close with an epic 12 minute track which is just a joy to listen to.  Guitarist Ben Carr shows what beautiful noises he can make with his guitar and being equally matched by drummer Charlie Harrold,  they really are a two piece who compliment each other perfectly to make this brilliant album. If you are unfamiliar with the ambient scene, then I would definitely recommend 5ive as a starting point, being neither soft nor too extreme. If you are a fan of bands like Isis and Pelican and are waiting for the next band to appear on the radar, then look no further than 5ive.

Tim Birkbeck

 
 

Clinic – Do It! (Domino Recording) 

Opening with a sprightly majestic harpsichord sequence, Clinic intrigue you into listening beyond ten seconds, by which time you've lost interest in waiting around for a point to skip, and leave it on. Clever. Soon we find ourselves amidst a crunchy rock riff. When the Kula Shaker-esque vocals kick in, we're beautifully entangled in an all together decent song, "Memories." It doesn't rock your socks off but it doesn't put you to sleep. Good though. 

Track two, "Tomorrow," remains upbeat and rhythmic, but is more of an acoustic number. I mean yeah bass and drums are still there but you've got acoustic guitars, a harmonica, and all altogether raw country sound.  

And so the album continues to produce similar music, with the exception of "Free Not Free," which, although it opens with a rock-tastic lick, turns into crazy lounge music; and "Shopping Bag," which sounds like it should be a Libertines demo. 

There are so many genres going on in this album, I'm well past fingers and toes and i'm not quite in the mood to acknowledge twenty-one. But it's truly mental. So my initial thoughts of Kula Shaker Mk2 have just been blown out the water. Although even they went through that funny stage. Undecided. 

It's really good though, I rate it. I wouldn't rave about it to my friends and make them sit down and listen to a song in absolute glory just to absorb every decibel of beauty, but I wouldn't switch it off if they walked in.

Thom Curtis

 
 

Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell (Memphis Industries) 

Tokyo Police Club got the world's attention with "Citizens of Tomorrow," which let's be fair, was awesome. And if you didn't like it, that doesn't matter. 

This is brilliant. 

The vocal tone is the only thing that confirms you're listening to Tokyo Police Club. Without that, you'd have no idea; this sound is fairly different from the first album, and it's incredible, it really is. A collection of catchy upbeat tracks, with crisp indie plucks and heavier rocky dabbles spliced between. Occasional synth/keyboard/percussive twinkle subtly beneath the guitars, which are flawless.  

To name stand-out tracks is difficult, as every single one is verging on phenominal. But "Graves" certainly rocks my socks, with its simple synth riff and pacey rock wonderment. "Tessellate" and "Juno" too, they're crackers. 

The album slows down for a mere two songs; and even they aren't particularly slow. The energy is maintained throughout, and by the time "The Baskervilles" draws to a sudden halt, you're worn out. There's a real feel-good atmosphere with this album, I can perfectly visualise chilling out in the sunshine with this on. Good times.

Thom Curtis

 
 

Lights. Action! - All Eyes To The Morning Sun (Xtra Mile)

To start with, there is no need for a band name as bad as this. Sure, there may be a few silly ones out there at the moment, but at least they're fun. Fun is something L.A! could definitely do with. Expanses of synthetic keys and odd vocal effects battle against plucky guitars and informed drums. This is one time in a while where a basic Rock 'n' Roll line up of guitar, bass, drums and singer would probably be more appreciative of the music. Here the less is more rule could apply itself well. The decent use of electronics such as the bleeps at the start of 'Story of a Broken Boy' could have easily been added in the studio during production without their sound being bloated with One Night Only styled stadium-humping keys the rest of the time. But it's unfair to only criticise the keyboard player here.

Vocalist Patrick Currier could, in time, be a voice of a new Kerrang! generation. At the moment the lyrics offer themselves flat, often decent couplets are ruined by one clichéd line. But I'm sure a lot of their fans will forgive them just this once. 'Hide and Seek' could've been a surprising mind expanding highlight of L.A!'s almost debut. Unluckily the huge organ sound (which is produced well by Adele's man in the studio Richard Wilkinson) takes over the first minute into a uncombable mix as voice is plastered over in a disgusting vocoder which smothers any naturals emotions which were put over this record in the first place (responsibility of producer, Richard Wilkinson).

Lights. Action! have potential, but as we know, we'll have to wait until the album proper to see whether they deliver. They'll be early-teen emo's knocking down their door if they don't...

Nick Burman

 
 

Various Artists - The Purple Collection

The Purple Collection is a showcase of local bands from Taunton. I can imagine some of these bands thrashing around and rocking out in yr Taunton Fine Ale establishment, but the idea of recording them to conquer the world... well, it didn't work out the best. Highlights include Royal Males' valiant take on slightly complex (well, complex guitar lines) indie rock and OMGPhil's attempt give us music derived from sweet little computer bleeps. Yet, um, a few of the songs (and there really aren't that many) do sound like they're leading with a vocalist who wants to be in a slightly humorous indie rock band, but can't do better than, um, The Enemy, or whoever is doing lad rock boringly this month. Which is a little harsh, because nothing here is that offensive. Maybe some of these bands could benefit from a real swish digital recording studio (!!), and maybe some don't deserve that chance, but The Purple Collection, although frankly dull in places, tries hard enough to be categorised semi-fun, and there are good ideas and "right hearts" in places.

Phil Coales

 
 

Sebadoh - Bubble & Scrape (Domino) 

Poor Sebadoh. They came out of the early 90s alt-rock scene but never really achieved the crossover success of the Flaming Lips, or the cult status of Pavement or Guided by Voices. Just as well for nostalgia then, because to coincide with their 'Don't Look Back' gig, (where bands play one of their classic albums in its entirety) Bubble & Scrape's been reissued. Sebadoh were always best-known for their lo-fi production and it stands out here, giving the tracks a real warm, tape hiss-y sound. Opener 'Soul and Fire' gives you a good idea of what to expect, Lou Barlow's introspective vocals purring over a fuzzy drone. Amid these songs theres the odd schizoid noise-fest, which, while they don't really add anything, do give the album a bit of variety. Theres a nice touch of psychedelica too. Lou sings about 'Sweet college girls & friends with fleas' on Fantastic Disaster and other songs come across like a teenage garage band from the 50s, bashing away for dear life. If theres one weakness to this album, its that the sheer amount of material on it (the original 17 now bumped up to 32) makes it come across as a bit unfocused, and the bonus tracks aren't really anything special. Still, the original album's a lost classic which deserves a second chance.

Andy Glynn

 
 

Half Man Half Biscuit - CSI Ambleside 

Its customary for a HMHB review to start with something about the 'funny lyrics', and while thats not wrong, it seems a bit unfair that they're forever destined to be filed next to Weird Al Yankovic in the annals of rock. Alex Turner writes a song about a hooker and suddenly hes a fucking poet? No this is social commentary, my friend. The dull, the mundane, Primark FM - thats Britain. Never mind the comedy, this is our greatest band, period.

Regulars will know the drill by now; Nigel Blackwell unleashes his bile on the ills of modern life. Subjects this time round include, middle class yoghurt-weaver types, the numerous places a fluorescent vest will get you into for free, and the girl's names that songwriters have unfairly ignored.  'All of our songs sound the same,' he cries on 'Lord Hereford's Knob' before launching into a medley of old tunes. A lesser band might call that 'Meta'. But thats kind of the point isn't it? They might not be the most original band, certainly not the hardest working and this probably isn't even one of their best albums, but I can't imagine ever having this much fun listening to Santogold or whoever the the new flavour of the month is. Perhaps I'm just getting old? 

'In the heart of darkness, there are no hassle-free cabinets'

Andy Glynn

 
 

The Thirst – On the Brink (Wooden Records) 

Despite the copious name dropping in the press release (Ronnie Woods’ and Pete Doherty), this band are actually someone worth gossiping about. Mixing reggae, rock, ska and indie, The Thirst are strong competitors to the Maccabees/ Cajun Dance Party brand. The guitars are tight, clean and delivered with a lot more care than most, the drums are subtle but definitely presence, and the lyrics are the witty observational type that made everyone fall in love with Alex Turner. 

The complex rhythm and tempo changes on Ready To Move will have you reaching for the rewind button whilst your brain attempts to catch up with what just happened.

Brazen and confident, On The Brink has bucket loads of swagger for any album let alone a debut. It needs a second listen to fully appreciate the humorous lyrics, but the music alone will grab you by the scruff of the neck on the first play.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Rosabella Gregory – Uncovered  

Anyone remember Michelle Branch from a few years back? She had that annoying song with the piano riff that as a.) a little bit too easy to copy, considering she was supposedly a prodigious piano player and b.) so catchy it was probably constructed in a laboratory? Well after Ms Branch disappeared back into obscurity, the onslaught of copycats began – female singers who wrote their own song, played their own instruments, and didn’t pander to their management quite as much as their counterpart pop puppets. It seems Rosabella Gregory is a few years too late. She plays the piano (not particularly well), she sings about whatever happens to be floating around her head (mainly boys) and her voice could do with a little post-production work, but clearly hasn’t had it. 

If you can make it past the sappiness, and somewhat Mariah Carey influenced first track, Still, then you won’t make it much further. Track 2, India/China beings almost identically to still, and continues in the same vein. Lyrically, it also has a whiff of the Kate Nash’s about it: “I jump in a taxi, I’m on my way home/The dog’s pleased to see me, and mum’s on the phone.”. Undoubtedly its suppose to be ironic, but falls miles short. 

The piano playing is flashy in a way that requires little talent, and the songs are mundane and shallow. Certainly not worth uncovering.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Essie Jain -  We Made This Ourselves (The Leaf Label)

I wasn't sure what to expect from this debut album by New York based England-born Jain, and still don't know if it matched with what I am now listening to. Opening track Glory draws you right in close to her. It is simply beautiful, and works away to spark the imagination through invented and remembered film sequences with equal measures of whimsy and youthful optimistic love. Jain's vocals are warm and welcoming and backed almost exclusively by a simple line on the acoustic guitar. A similar thing happens with the second track, but this time with piano. And then, in come the harmonies and counter lines and a hint of brass. The song progresses and swells and becomes triumphant, the brass come forward, the piano is more pronounced, and Jain sings beautifully with herself.

This indeed is the way the album lays itself out. A drum kit appears now and then, but sounding like it sits in the corner of the room with just a couple of microphones on it, which in this context, is perfect. Strings provide both occasional foundation, and sustained embellishment. The clean electric guitar is just enough to pick out some finer details and move proceedings along. All in all, this is minimal music. It could have been very easy for Jain and guitarist Patrick Glynn to keep adding and adding and adding, but they did not. The main focus here, in the folk fashion from which this music seems to originate, is clearly the vocals. The instrumentation underpins those vocals and does so with modesty. Jain tours the UK with a small collection of cohorts between 26th and 30th May. See for yourself, or close your eyes and just be swept away.
http://www.essiejain.com
http://www.myspace.com/essiejain

Thom Corah

 
 

The Loose Salute – Tuned To Love (Heavenly Recordings) 

This album was already looking promising thanks to its lovely cover which sports a rainbow. (Yes I know... covers... judging... but I’m usually right). Luckily the album does little to persuade me otherwise with it’s airy, lo-fi, indie-pop tunes. 

Perhaps somewhat over-indulgent in nostalgia at times (Photographs and Tickets), The Loose Salute are a slice from the same loaf as Belle and Sebastian, Boy Least Likely Too, and perhaps the Byrds. Easy on the ears and the mind, their classic melodies and hooks will have you floating away for no apparent reason. 

The Loose Salute are a little bit like a digestive biscuit – nice enough, dependable enough, but no exciting cream filled centre.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Anäis Mitchell – Hymns for the Exiled (Righteous Babe Records) 

Firstly I’d like you to take a moment to appreciate the two dots above the ‘a’ in Anäis, which is spent a fair amount of time trying to find. And make no mistake, I only did it because Anäis herself has taken the time to make a sublime album.  

1984 is a brilliantly innovative cross between the tune of Prince’s 1999 and references to George Orwell’s 1984, resulting in the line: ‘we’re going to party like its 1984’. Who said disco couldn’t be intelligent. 

It’s a simply made album, recorded in a barn with just guitar and vocals, making it charming, quaint, and quintessentially folk. However, Hymns for the Exiled goes a little deeper than your average folk album – more Joni Mitchell than Fairport Convention, and Anäis displays the singing and songwriting skills of someone a lot older than her relatively few years. Loveliness not to be taken lightly.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

The Vines – The Best Of (Heavenly Records) 

The Vines appear to have a bit of a cult status that mainly stems from Arctic Monkeys claiming the band was their inspiration. Think how good Arctic Monkeys would be if they’d have a decent band to look up to.  At 17 tracks, taken from only 3 albums, this is a rather lengthy ‘best of’, 12 would’ve been more than sufficient for us to appreciate their ability to occasionally write a good riff, scream a bit, and generally play a bit of garage rock. 

Get Free, Ride and Highly Evolved are the Vines at their finest, and hit all the right spots – this is why Alex Turner and co formed a band. Past about track 5 though, it’s all down hill. They pull out the ballads, the Nirvana-sound-alikes, and the songs Craig Nicholls wrote whilst going through ‘that breakdown’.  

The Vines’ cult status also stems from the fact that they made 3 albums, in very quick succession, and then disappeared in a puff of somewhat heartbreaking smoke. But with their fourth album in the pipeline, perhaps the band will return to actually earn their status.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

The Details - Draw A Distance, Draw A Border (Parliament of Trees)

Hailing from one of the colder places in the giant icebox that is Canada, The Details are on a mission to make you feel all warm and fuzzy wuzzy inside. True, they are a fully-fledged alternative rock band much of the time on this debut LP; assured and tight to boot. But they can do that cozy, sensitive, slow-burner type of song too, which might land them a gig on any one of a dozen Hollywood or US TV soundtracks. Five or six tracks here would work as the 'fade to black' number for House or ER or, well, anything on HBO really.

And they deserve to get such attention, because few bands have such control of atmosphere, dynamics and song structure on their first proper release. Opener 'Always, Always, Never, Never' builds like a lost track from U2's seminal 'Joshua Tree', before being swallowed up by energetic, indie stomper 'Reunion Souvenirs'. Later, 'Underground' echoes Athlete at their best while 'Capture and Develop' uses the loud/soft/loud technique beloved of The Pixies, Nirvana et al to expose (ahem) the virtues of photography. 'The Height of Land' pilfers its inspiration from 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' by the aforementioned U2, but the Irish legends are merely one of many rock acts that are referenced in the course of the album.

The slower tracks such as the absurdly titled 'I Asked What We Should Do. You Said, "I Just Don't Want To Think"' and 'Floor Plans' hold up well, thanks to some innovative drum patterns and vocal mannerisms that could belong to Adam Duritz in his more youthful days. The lyrics and subject matter are a cut above your average fodder too, if you care about that sort of thing, but then most things here are a little bit special. Damn, they can even make country-rock sound alright on the anthemic 'Hit Parades'.

Its admittedly a single or two short of being a classic debut, but Winnipeg has given birth to a fine band which, with the right song at the right time, could be the next Counting Crows. Don't say I didn't warn you.
www.thedetails.ca

Chris McCague

 
 

Bayard Russell - "Selftitled" (independent)

Using little more than a laptop, keyboard and the odd real instrument, Bayard Russell has single-handedly cobbled together a rather charming, lo-fi collection of folk-electronic tunes, most likely at his Mom's house. The result has far more soul than you might expect, but suffers from a hit-and-miss approach to synth programming and vocals that seem reluctant to ease out of first gear.

At times, the soft, understated vocal delivery dovetails nicely with the minimal synth work. The uber-cool 'Uh-huh' is a case in point, being the closest thing I've heard to an indie nursery-rhyme, with its stupidly simple melody and 2 minute running time. Despite being crafted on a laptop, one track at a time, the song has a charming, faintly comic edge that fans of so-called 'Geek Rock' bands like Weezer might just adore. Just as cute are the cascading synth patterns of quirky opener 'Living At My Moms', which return in 'A Candle That's Burning' alongside an acoustic guitar to create a warm and summery torch song for the student crowd.

Not everything works though. The over-loud snare beat in 'Crazy For You' beats the rest of the arrangement into submission, before an impossibly fast keys solo flutters around your head like a mad bird trapped in a very small cage. And, as the album progresses, Russell's voice gives up its weaknesses: the double-tracking on 'My Heartbreak' might be an attempt to cover up some shaky pitching, but it just makes things worse. Attempting to juxtapose moody strings and a Vengaboys-style beep-beep-beep riff on 'I Will Chase You' was not the greatest idea either.

Poking holes in what is tantamount to a full-length home demo is not playing fair, however. For the most part, this is a charming and quirky collection which deviates from any mainstream college movement by design. Given a few years to develop stronger melodies and vocals, with perhaps an additional band member or two, Russell could yet turn these genre-defying ideas into something that ventures beyond the confines of the student union.

Chris McCague

 
 

The Ladybug Transistor – Can’t Wait Another Day (Fortuna Pop!)

It’d be wrong to say that it’s very “late 90’s”. This type of music: good pop, made by guitar bands, has been around for a long time on either side of that period.  It is the music of bands who love Terry Hall, The Lightning Seeds, Lloyd Cole…only, in this case…not as good.

I’m well bored. In trying to become “in every sense classic” (this is the stated aim on the promo) they have become, in every sense, dull. I don’t know what they sounded like before. I hope better, although that suggests that some fans are going to be disappointed.

There are too many long outros that repeat a line, or a chorus. There just aren’t enough ideas per song. They start, keep going, don’t change and then outro for interminable periods.

So Blind is OK, but it’s the 9th track.

With guest appearances from Architecture in Helsinki, Aislers Set, The Clientele, Kevin Barker, Heather McIntosh and Jens Lekman this could have been something very good and the problem isn’t too many cooks, it’s not enough ideas. Instead it is, at best, something nice for existing fans of this kind of thing (although they will very get bored eventually). This isn’t very good.

Christopher Carney

 
 

The Wave Pictures - Instant Coffee Baby (Moshi Moshi)

It's a well-trodden path, that of the folksily eccentric and mildly acerbic social commentator. Starting with Ray Davies, this particular strain of singer-songwriting can include many greats and lesser-knowns - names such as Weller, Cocker, Gedge, and now, David Tattersall? The Wave Picture's main songwriter is clearly intent on taking a place amongst some very well established luminaries, and 'Instant Coffee Baby' is the sound of stops being pulled, of mantles being claimed, of inner suburbia unwinding after a mildly neurotic day at the call centre. Xylophones and horn sections optional.

Now first impressions can count for much here, and as my kitchen CD player blurted out opener 'Leave The Scene Behind' I was suddenly gripped by the sensation of a three-piece band actually set up in my own house, such is the sharpness of the musicianship and the immediacy of the 'live-in-the-studio' type production. That and the less than predictable guitar solo which ends the track, a gleeful squall of distortion quite at odds with the frenetic strumming which precedes it, and which reminded me to turn the oven down slightly.

So, to evening the next, and a stroll over to the Wave's place for a convivial chinwag over a couple of bottles of red and the faint whiff of nappies. Now, David Tattersall's lyrical concerns range over a number of areas but 1) smoking 2) drinking and 3) literary allusions to sexual intercourse are quite definitely recurring themes, and if I had to single out one particular lyric then my first choice (based on one very close listen to the entire album) is the title track's mid-section which contains the lines ' there is light in any one of these tunnels/spurting up the stained funnel/of your Italian ex-boyfriends coffee machine/which I stole when he went to Bologna' and which also contains all the ingredients of a soap-type storyline, declaimed over a skiffle-nouveau backdrop and leading seamlessly into next track 'Avocado Baby' which is equally as intriguing if a little less frantic. Coming in at a very tight second are the 'pack of orange spaniels' of track 11; really, you need to hear 'I Remembered' for yourself.

And while the three piece rattle out a noise that owes much to rockabilly and contains some notably quirky basswork from Franic Rozycki, Tattersalls lyrics unravel into tales of despair and longing in rural Leicestershire, replete with twists of surreal imagery which occasionally border on the mildly bizarre, or the simply baffling : Ian McEwan taking Gene Vincents' place in front of the Blue Caps? We have, none of us, heard the last of this bunch.
www.thewavepictures.com

Jon Gordon

 
 

Royworld - Sampler 

I just can’t say ‘no’ to cheesy, melodramatic pop music; so, it’s a big ‘yes’ to Royworld. Also, I think I may have started a love affair with Rod Futrille’s voice, which I can’t say is something that happens frequently: it’s the peculiar - even non-sexy - growling that does it for me. It started when ‘Man in the Machine’ was released earlier this year, and, now I have five more songs complete with Rod’s endearing vocal idiosyncrasies to ponder over. Fortunately for Royworld, it is precisely this tool that saves this London four-piece from the endless pool of similarity that many artists in the indie genre slip effortlessly into.   

The song-writing has a meticulous intensity. With songs, such as, ‘Elasticity’ exploring getting older against your will, the slow-moving and poetic ‘Wish Ourselves Away’ and panic-driven track, ‘Brakes’, which breaks the trend with its acoustic guitar sounds and its epic plea for control in amongst its melodic success. Royworld have balanced ‘cheese’ in their piano-driven songs to, cheekily, stand under the indie umbrella. However, once the novelty of Rod’s voice has worn a little (if such a thing is possible?!), the songs lack variation. Nevertheless, Royworld have proven that their ability to write decent pop songs propels them into the busy music marketplace armed with melodic shields and outlandish vocal defence. 

Jenny Williams

 
 

Joey Negro and the Sunburst Band - Moving with the Shakers 

It’s times like these that, dangerously, I think that platform boots and killer flares are a good idea. As soon as the funk kicks in, I’m there: in the disco zone. But this album isn’t that generic: here, funk goes to the seaside.  

Songs such as ‘Shabadowah’ have an ambiance reminiscent of Joey Negro’s mainstream success with Jakatta’s ‘American Dream’: funk is blended with more contemporary Ibiza sounds. It complements the funk-disco vibe well, offering some satisfying variation. David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ gets a funk-lift in track 5 (although I do have a bee in my bonnet about artists covering David Bowie: he is a master after all). ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ is brilliant. It’s opening has some vocal chanting (a sort of cool and hip version of Adiemus). They get all soulful on us in ‘Put a Lyric In It’, with an irresistible guitar riff and ‘Movin’ With The Shakers’, with its ebbing and flowing strings and melody, fills me with an overwhelming desire to be on a beach with pina colada in hand – and I don’t even like sunbathing!  

Not many albums have seventeen tracks and there is probably a reason why: the album could probably have been condensed into about ten radio edits. Instead, they’ve kept in some instrumental focussed interludes, like, ‘Monterey’, ‘Journey to the Sun’ and, the self-explanatory track, ‘Free Bass’. But it works, offering a more engaging listen and some funk-tastic (sorry – couldn’t resist) instrumental solos. Perhaps, more of the electronic interludes within the tracks would’ve developed the album too.  

So, don’t be afraid to embrace the boogie. From disco dance floor to Ibiza chill-out sounds, you can’t help but move with the Shakers; no one can be sad listening to this sun-bursting band. I’m feeling better already.  

Jenny Williams

 
 

Jackdaw 4 – Bipolar Diversions – Not Lame Recordings 

Today I have decided to structure my review like a Jackdaw4 record or maybe it will end up confused and bewildering like pretty much every track on the album perhaps it might come across like a Jack Kerouac excerpt but devoid of his amazing talents there are times when it won’t certainly there is no time to stop and catch a breath beautiful explosions of immaculately produced pop it’s a bit like being on a rollercoaster there are times when this will work every new idea must immediately be spliced into whatever previously existed Freddie Mercury being bludgeoned by Mika exhilarating and slightly scary but being stuck on a rollercoaster for forty minutes would make anyone feel sick.

Ian Anderson

 
 

The Sword – “Gods of the Earth” 

Considering the sheer excellence of their debut album, a record that captivated from start to finish with its heavy melodies and riffs that felt both familiar yet fresh, The Sword could have romped home by simply doing the same thing all over again. Well, they sort of have…so how is has it come to pass that “Gods of the Earth” ends up being such a disappointment? The basic template – Sabbath meets ‘Lord of the Rings’ – remains intact occasionally bolstered with extra flourishes such as flamenco guitar (“The Sundering”, “To Take the Black”), yet the magic is somehow absent. 

To give them their due, The Sword still know how to kick off a song in style – the earth-shaking drums at the beginning of “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” and the spiralling guitar lead that opens “Lords” are testament to that fact – but somehow the rest fail to engage, much less provide an opportunity to reach for the air guitar. It’s telling that the best tracks (“Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephrians”, “Maiden, Mother & Crone”) are the ones most reminiscent of past glories; everything else just seems dull by comparison and, before you know it, the final note has faded away without you really noticing or, dare I say, even caring.

Will Columbine

 
 

Cazals - What of Our Future    

Ah….Cazals…. Their catchy indie/dance/rock truly was what the doctor ordered. Yes, there are millions of other groups combining this mix at the moment, but very few seem to have created anything as infectious and catchy as Cazals. Their mix of dance and rock has won them friends in high places, none more so than Daft Punk, whom they supported earlier this year. And it seems that it wasn’t only Daft Punk whom they have impressed. Their label Kitsuné (Digitalism, Hot Chip) went out of their electronic comfort zone in order to sign them at the end of last year. With advert appearances for Sony Ericsson already under their belts, and an appearance in the new film ‘Beyond the Rave’ in the near future, surely the sky is the limit in terms of their success.   

Debut album ‘What of Our Future’ seems to echo this recent surge to the heights of the industry. Its 40 minutes of indie –pop brilliance with slight dance hints. On the first listen, this record could be discarded as another average indie release, but when you listen further, you seem to grasp the true initiative behind these songs. They are structurally imaginative and complex yet it’s a thoroughly listenable release. It’s depressing lyrically, yet joyful musically. It’s a profound, almost confusing mix, yet Cazals seem to have got it nailed- it’s brilliant. From start to finish, it’s a polished effort, expertly recorded and mixed by the bands very own bassist, Martin Dubka. Previous releases ‘To Cut a Long Story Short’, and ‘Life is Boring’ are highlights, but it is new single ‘Somebody, Somewhere’ that stands out from the bunch… a future anthem in disguise? We can’t know for sure, but it is a slice of indie pop brilliance none the less- easily danceable, easily one of my favourite songs of the year so far. Furthermore, new material, such as ‘Comfortable Silence’ further strengthens my case for this album being one of the best debuts so far this year. On a slight negative side, album closer, ‘Time of Our Lives’ is rather dull and uninspiring. Also, some of the lyrics are incredibly bland, and sadly echo many other songs of the present time that continually moan about British life. ‘Life is boring, can’t stand getting up in the morning’. Come on guys, your not going down that path are you? Apart from that, it’s a great album with four or five cracking songs and five or so other really good ones…definitely not ground breaking or new as such, but definitely worth a listen.  
www.myspace.com/cazalsuk

Sean Phillips

 
 

El Perro del Mar – From the Valley to the Stars (Memphis Industries)

El Perro del Mar’s album is a collection of light, uncluttered and haunting songs. Many of the tracks focus on high, thick vocal harmonies spread on top of an organ or a piano. While this minimal accompaniment and the soft vocals create a pleasing sound, some of the songs do eventually start to blur together. Instrumental songs ‘You Belong to the Sky Now’ and ‘Inside the Golden Egg’ do not seem to particularly add anything to the album, and just seem to be repeating similar sounds heard elsewhere.


However, while many of the songs are based on unforgettable harmonic vocals with keyboard accompaniment, the imaginative use of orchestral instruments scattered throughout the album adds something extra to the formula. The plucked strings and the flowing melody in ‘To Give Love’ create an uplifting, carefree feel. As a contrast, the bass line and the horns in ‘How Did We Forget?’ suggest a slightly more contemplative mood. The upbeat feel of ‘Glory to the World’ and ‘Somebody’s Baby’ make them instantly more noticeable.


‘From the Valley to the Stars’ occasionally stretches ideas and themes further than they can realistically go, but the majority of the songs are uplifting, emotional and create a sense of hope.

Yasmin Prebble

 
 

The Laurel Collective - Feel Good Hits Of A Nuclear Winter' (Double Six)

This time last year, the Laurel Collective held a total of nineteen members. At the last count, it contained six. Shades of that Itunes advert, the one with the enormous one-note electric orchestra. And, if that enormous electric one note orchestra suddenly decided to perform a homage to System Of A Down covering Hundred Reasons first album and remixed by Steve Hillage, then the results might sound very like this 8-track opus from the ever shifting numbers of the Laurel Collective.

Now the press release for 'Feel Good Hits Of A Nuclear Winter' describes it as a mini-album. This is sort of nearly right but my own interpretation has FGHOANW more resembling a concept album, listening to how the tracks develop from relatively straightforward guitar based numbers with relatively straightforward themes - songs with titles such as 'International Love Affair' and 'Vuitton Blues' - as around halfway into the CD Laurel Collective develop their momentum and those guitar based numbers metamorphose into full-blown ProgRock symphonies with titles such as 'Epsilon' and 'Hercules', which are built around intricate guitar and rhythm patterns and shuddering backlines of electronic noise, bringing to mind one of my own favourite NewProg bands, Modey Lemon. And the sound of musicians both pushing their own boundaries and keeping things together on the production side is always worth a listen.

There's every indication that the Laurel Collective are only scratching the surface of their own material here, and FGHOANW is at the very least a highly effective introduction to a band who almost cetainly make for a dynamic and inventive live act, whether they're entirely happy with their album or less than so.
www.myspace.com/thelaurelcollective

Jon Gordon

 
 

Johnny Foreigner- Waited Up ‘til It Was Light

After the success for their mini-album-Arcs Across the City which was released last year, Johnny Foreigner are back, ready to wield their fun, screamy, dirty rock once more. Production wise- It’s a more mature record, yet Johnny Foreigner appear to have lost none of their original charm. Previous singles ‘Our Bipolar Friends’ and ‘Sometimes, In the Bullring’ sound fresher, but still have that gritty, playful sound. What appeals most to me about this album, is that Johnny Foreigner seem to be creating great music and enjoying doing so, because they want to- a stark contrast to many bands nowadays that seem to be in it simply for the fame and money. Where to many guitarist and lead vocalist Alexei Berrow’s contribution may appear to be a combination of out of tune screams and stabs at the guitar, it’s a clever mix that adds edginess to Johnny Foreigner’s sound that is virtually unheard of in this day and age. ‘Eyes Wide Terrified’ is the amazing song we all made it out to be and ‘Salt, Pepa and Spinderella’ is an absolute gem. It’s a great debut from a great band, and their energy from the live scene has translated well onto record. My only reservation is that after 30 minutes of listening to Johnny Foreigner, I’m not really sure how much more I can take. It’s an intense, in-your-face record right from the off, but after a while I feel that you almost get slightly bored of the style, which is a shame, because it’s great fun up to that point.

Sean Phillips

 

Lowgold – Promise Lands (Goldhawk Recordings / Cooking Vinyl)

We have been told many times never to judge a book by its cover. Lowgold encourage us to disregard this: the cover of ‘Promise Lands’ depicts a city half bathed in sunlight, and half covered by a heavy black cloud. This image closely echoes the music the album contains, as the songs are contemplative and mournful but seem to be underpinned by hope.


Lowgold play melodic soft rock, tinged with sadness. The majority of the songs are undeniably the perfect soundtrack for a rainy day, with ‘Dead Sea’ and ‘Nothing Stays the Same’ being only marginally more upbeat. The soaring guitars and vocal harmonies of ‘Burning Embers’ also temporarily lift the mood of the album.


If you are looking for a joyful accompaniment for a sunny day, ‘Promise Lands’ will not deliver, but Lowgold make a good attempt at creating introspective, Coldplay-esque soft rock.
www.lowgold.co.uk

Yasmin Prebble

 
 

dEUS - Vantage Point (V2)

Belgians are famous for their Trappist ales, putting mayonnaise on their chips and giving the world Jean Claude van Damme. Perhaps now it’s time for one of their many emerging bands to cross from the sidelines to the mainstream. 

dEUS have been around in one form or another for two decades, and Vantage Point could reasonably be called their most accessible work yet. For reference points, think Captain Beefheart, Todd Rundgren, Frank Zappa 

Single Eternal Woman borders on “pop” with its major chords, hooky piano line and delicate harmonies. Oh Your God is radically different; abrasive How Soon Is Now era Johnny Marr guitar clashes with spoken-word vocals and some earnest thrashing of the skins. 

Favourite Game is altogether more radio friendly but still has a nice bluesy edge to it (Doves doing a QOTSA cover, anyone?) while The Architect is a confident stomp through the back catalogue of Roxy Music. 

Popular Culture is a suitably grand endpiece, complete with xylophone, strings and chords borrowed from mid-period Oasis. 

This album walks the right side of the pretentious/spectacular tightrope that is prog-rock, and dEUS have done well to avoid the temptation to follow Elbow down the route of lowest common denominator, crowd pleasing MOR.

Chris Moffat

 
 

A Human - Third Hand Prophecy (Wall of Sound)

Just because an album is hard to categorize doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good. The problem with A Human is that it can’t quite decide if it’s dancefloor friendly electro or intelligent rock, and it ends up being a strange muddle of the two. It’s not light and hooky enough to be great dance music, but neither is it heavy enough to be Nick Cave-style rock.

There are stories here, true, but the stories aren’t particularly interesting ones. There are echoes of 80s synth-pop legends like A-Ha and Duran Duran in the sound, but the quality of the music is nowhere near as good; there’s neither humour nor soul to hold the ear.

The Fraudulent Truth of an Office Worker is a promising title, but comes across like Hot Chip played at half speed. Post Post Modern Anxiety Blues is superbly produced by Tim Holmes with crisp beats and a dirty double bass riff, but sadly the sub-Hard Fi lyrics and lack of a decent melody drag.

Horse With No Name is another track with a promising start but a lack of depth. This album sounds half-finished, half-hearted. All the elements are there – close your eyes at the right moments and vocalist Dave Human has a touch of Ian Curtis about him – but the whole isn’t greater than the sum of its parts. It’s strangely depressingly; like smashing open a piñata and finding empty sweet wrappers inside.

Bedsit On Fire has a disturbing tang of Gary Glitter about it, while album closer Sun Will Rise is the kind of self-indulgent twaddle that The Charlatans have become prone to in recent years. At over 11 minutes long, it’s somewhat taking liberties with the listener.

Legend has it that the band met in a pub in Clerkenwell. Shoreditch might have been a more appropriate meeting point. This record is all façade and no substance.

Chris Moffat

 
 

James Pants - Welcome (Stones Throw)

James Pants is a strangely titled but hugely talented synth soul musician from Texas, USA. Like Prince, Michael Jackson and a select group of artists before him, he’s a multi-instrumentalist as well as a writer, able to swap effortlessly between drums, keys, guitar and vocals.

Real name James Singleton, the style is hard to pin down but sits somewhere between De La Soul, Daft Punk and XTC. Singleton describes it in his own words as “80s boogie”. Elements of obtuse post punk are tempered by smooth soul riffs and bubbly retro synths. The whole thing sounds like the best L.A. pool party you’ve never been to.

Theme From Paris would fit nicely onto the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s next movie, while Cosmic Rapp is so 1982 it hurts.

My Girl ups the tempo, its foot stomping beat coated with lashings of Casio tones. I Choose You is altogether more electro but, unusually for the genre, is full of ideas and doesn’t outstay its welcome.

You’re The One is a jazzy treat, and Showerparty will make you yearn for a new Boards of Canada album.

This album is a genuine original. The tracks are succinct, there’s plenty of musical invention and the artist isn’t tied to one genre. The vocal mix can be muddy in parts and the album might benefit from remastering, but there’s little else to dislike about this courageous debut.

Chris Moffat

 
 

Alex Gomez -  Outdoor Kitchen (Deltalectric)

The Blues can seem like an impenetrable minefield to the average music fan. On the one hand, we know it has produced some outstanding and influential music (Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf) and some equally superb vocalists (Bessie Smith, Nina Simone), but at the same time it’s one of those sacred things that cannot be criticised. Like religious faith, Delia Smith or the Queen Mother, it’s beyond condemnation. An attack on the blues is an attack on music itself.

It’s important, then, to remember that blues is just a form of music like any other; there are great tunes there, as well as poor ones. No art is beyond subjective critique.

Portland has produced some great artists. Alex Gomez is not one of them. His own brand of punk-blues may be original, even pioneering, but it makes painful listening. Imagine a drunk tramp babbling over the top of a primary school violin class while their teacher drags her fingernails down the chalkboard, and you’re almost there.

The music is physically repellent. At several points it sounds like you’re listening to the reality TV show from hell, such is Gomez’s desperate attempt to imitate his blues heroes. His pained vocal inflections sound more like someone in dire need of a toilet than any kind of spiritual resolution.

Track by track the album drags on, one song being so similar to the next that it’s hard to tell where one starts and the last crashes to a merciful ending. The lyrics on Working Girls are completely indecipherable, the vocal production being so poor, but what can be pieced together sounds dangerously misogynistic.

Road To Hell is what Jeremy Clarkson might come up with given an electric guitar, a day in a studio and way too much caffeine. And if any listener makes it as far as Down The Bayou, you feel they should be given some kind of reward (ear defenders, perhaps?).

Gomez would presumably see a dislike of his music as simply the closed mind of an unappreciative soul, and accept it as a veiled compliment. Punk and blues have this in-built defence mechanism to work against any attack. So let’s just say Outdoor Kitchen makes an excellent drinks coaster, and leave it at that.

Chris Moffatt