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singles/eps - july 2010



Amongst The Pigeons – Repeat to fade (Marowak Records)

Right from the off Amongst The Pigeons’ use off ‘found sounds’ is evident: Opening song ‘Mocha To Go’ uses audio recorded at Belfast Airport to create the backdrop for this dark and intense start to the EP. It’s the perfect opening for what is to come, almost an “are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…” type of track. It settles you in your seat ready for the fifteen minutes of lo-fi electronica that follows. That’s not to say that the EP lacks energy, it is in fact very powerful and energetic at times. However it doesn’t make you want to dance around the room - it’s the sort of thing you could stick on after a night out and relax to.

The influences in the music are very obvious, weird break beats like Aphex Twin, deep house moments like Orbital and spoken word and synth pads like Art of Noise. But it doesn’t sound like any of those artists, it sounds very unique. Maybe it’s down to its simplicity, or maybe it’s because Amongst The Pigeons is like a culmination of all of those influences rather than just one or the other. Either way, ‘Repeat to fade’ is a brilliantly interesting EP. 9/10

James Borland


Fieldhead – Riser E.P. (Gizeh Records)

Fieldhead’s latest, and first release for Gizeh Records, features five tracks that began life as vocal donations from a range of gifted and intriguing vocalists. These contributions, often haunting and hypnotic, have been lovingly crafted and peppered with Fieldhead’s servings of sparse and chilling sounds to create an ambient dish of very high quality. So often misused, ‘ambient’ has become synonymous with bland, lifeless music packaged on all number of hideous supermarket compilations. However, this release is all that ambient was and should remain to be and its unsettling but dreamy vocals should never experience the indignity of being consigned to any background.

The eerie opener ‘Planks of Wood’ perfectly sets the scene; a sparse expanse rolling as far as the eye can see, soundtracked by an unsettling, constant drone and a slightly disturbing vocal. ‘An Arrow’ appears to signal a more positive feel, standing out as the E.P.’s central piece. The entrancing vocal of ‘Opened Window’ closes proceedings, bringing to an end a challenging but immensely rewarding listen. 8/10

Mark Whiffin


Holy State - s/t (Dance to the Radio)

Recently featured on a compilation by one of Radio 1's few decent DJs, Huw Stephens, Holy State sound a bit like Mark E Smith fronting a slightly moody Idlewild. The guitars are fuzzy, the drums are heavier than lead and vocals are delivered with an indifferent, untuned shout.

I can imagine that in the right time and the right place, these tunes would go down well. The band opened the DTTR stage at the Leeds Festival, and the band have festival written all over them. I expect a tour of Germany would go down a treat too; sausages, beer and moody rock music forming the holy triumvirate of German culture. But on record there's little to write home about.

One track pretty much slides into the next, and despite a surfeit of chords for this type of music, there's little in the way of melody going on. It's fairly harmless but uneventful listening, and when the CD spins to a stop I'm struggling to remember anything about the songs at all, other than echoes of the slightly peeved vocalist murmuring various inaudible soundbites, presumably while staring disconsolately at his shoes.

Oh, the last track had a trumpet on it. That was a good bit.

Chris Moffatt

 
 

Heart Shaped Circles – Evelyn's Vineyard EP

This is maybe the first bedroom bootleg EP I've been asked to review – and it's arguable that I'm the worst person to offer such a review to – renowned for picking unnecessary holes in people's hard work. But firstly, from the five tracks, a majority sound like they've been recorded in a bedroom. The third track “Fear” sounds completed in a studio, a gentle breathy acoustic track. However others sound like a real hash up of recorded tracks – a reasonably warm guitar contrasting with a distant nasal vocal. The vocals waiver in a charming teenage way although I have a suspicion this chap isn't sixteen. The song-writing is fairly basic and he's got himself some standard recording and sequencing software – so there's not a lot for me to shout about. I am adamant though that things would be considerably better in a live environment – and he could easily pick up a slot supporting Get Cape. It's that kind of acoustic music that younger teenagers go mad for over a Summer and then swiftly move on. I think this guy has potential but this EP doesn't do it accurately. 5/10

Thom Curtis

 
 

Strawhouses – Malaise

A rousing start to the week courtesy of Strawhouses’ dissonant, clattering ode to an ended relationship in ‘Malaise’. The edge is kept in play by short, sharp scrapes and stabs of electric guitar over the top of the rhythm being played out on the acoustic. There’s also a plaintive feel to the vocals which avoids the track becoming kitsch. 8/10
www.strawhouses.org

SB

 
 

Post War Years – White Lies (Wealth)

Post War Years – they’re very good aren’t they? ‘White Lies’ is blazingly bizarre mathy, boingy, ravey stuff that leads compels you towards the speakers but also leaves you scratching your head afterwards, wondering what the hell just happened. There’s some really accomplished musicianship at work under the surface here and that underpins this melee, bringing it all together on a jazzy bedding. Think O Fracas but fully sampled up. 8/10
www.postwaryears.com

SB


 

Subset – Ambrosia

There’s times when ‘Ambrosia’ sounds a lot like it should be the incidental music to some childrens’ TV programme (though probably one of the odd ones like Rhubarb and Custard) – the guitars are mangled through some seriously distorted effects which either fuzz them up or squeak them out. Not content with this level of sonic warping, there’s string-bending aplenty also. But funnily enough the whole thing hangs together quite nicely around the very simpe guitar lines and loungey musings of vocalist Romain...except until he completely rocks out at the end and sounds like a manic Cobain. Lots to like. 7/10
www.subsettheband.com

SB

 
 

Sia – Clap Your Hands (RCA)

Urgh. There’s something intangible which you can pick out of overtly commercial music within seconds of listening to it. With ‘Clap Your Hands’ things could go either way at the opening – Sia has an initially interesting vocal style but the game is soon given away when she reverts to an annoying nasally style which accompanies the disappointingly charty chorus which could equally have been penned for Shakira, Cole or Aguilera. 5/10
www.myspace.com/siamusic

SB


 

Katalina Kicks – 145 (Snappi)

Although it starts off sounding a bit like Billy Bragg ripping off Michael Stipe’s rap in REM’s ‘End of the World’, ‘145’ actually turns into a pretty handy punky thing. A bit reminiscent of early Manics, especially the squalling guitars towards the end – it’s short but tightly packed. 7/10
www.katalinakicks.com

SB

 
 

Hardcastle – s/t EP

For every ten over-hyped, over-plugged pretty boy indie band releases which we get sent to review, there’s thankfully at least one gem sent in speculatively from an individual. Rob Hardcastle is this diamond amongst the rough this week and this EP is the sort of stuff that makes writing reviews at 10.30 at night after a full day of ‘proper’ work all worthwhile.

Typified by a slightly off-kilter dissonant style, this EP is simple yet complex at the same time. There’s an old-style blues appeal to ‘Short Fat Head (on a tall thin man)’, god knows what he’s talking about but he swaggers through the song gracefully nonetheless. There’s also some technically excellent guitar playing throughout – ‘Message from A Friend’ and ‘Kaboutar’ being my personal favourites. Lovely work. 9/10
www.myspace.com/robhardcastle

SB

 
 

Hagana – Hagana EP

Although previously unheard of round these parts, for Hagana this EP marks a very impressive introduction. Although loosely fitting round an indie/metal genre, there’s a massive range of subtleties at work during these five tracks, each of which features hooks to die for. There’s quite a grungey, fuzzy vibe to opener ‘She Said’, but it is an upbeat version of grunge, not the die in a room on your own having overdosed on heroin kind. ‘Act Like A Shadow’ follows up at a furious pace with it’s simple guitar line – like a cool Status Quo or maybe QUOTSA.

There are elements of a quirkier rockabilly side shared with the likes of Cuddly Shark and this comes to the fore in ‘Back for More’. Metalbilly anyone? And to round things off there’s even a pretty little acoustic track with guest female vocals from Chloe Amber. Seek Hagana out – this EP is excellent. 8/10
www.myspace.com/haganaband

SB

 
 

Tiger Shadow – Stripe 2 EP

Another release in Tiger Shadows continuing experimentation in styles and approaches to recording sees ‘Stripe 2’ follow up its predecessor in an equally accomplished manner. Komla MC’s individualistic vocals work even better on this set of three tracks, perfectly blending into an increasingly complex musical canvas which this time accommodates some cello, strings and more synth. Give this EP a listen and you’ll be imressed at just how polished an effort this is. 8/10
www.tigershadow.com

SB

 
 

Alba Lua – Ballad of Joseph Merrick (Satellite of Love)

This is a big reverby, shoe-gazy affair which retains some pop sensibilities whilst spanning into an overall cinematic sound. This is perfectly encapsulated in the opening lines where fey xylophone gives way into big hazy vocal harmonies. Elements of Velvet Underground and Nico are obvious namechecks. One criticism in this three track EP would be that it’s a little bit one-paced but beyond that it’s quite a pretty little affair. 6/10
www.satelliteoflove.com

SB

 
 

Blue Sky Archives – s/t EP

It may well be irrelevant to the music but this CD comes packaged in a beautiful sleeve. It might be easy to concentrate on Lauren Mayberry’s taut yet vulnerable vocals as the lynchpin in this five-piece’s make-up but that would be vastly underestimating each members individual input. Describing themselves as post-rock pop, ‘Crash Your Face’ sets the scene with aplomb, perfectly building andfilling the spaces around Lauren’s voice with an increasing set of strings and general harmonic noise. But the real success of the band will probably lie in their refusal to fall into typecast rolls – ‘Sleeves Rolled Up, The Team Rolls Out!’ follows straight up with a male vocal, no less endearing than the female one we started with. And as a final treat, both voices are rolled out together in the beautiful and euphoric closer, ‘The Highest of Fives’. 8/10
www.myspace.com/blueskyarchives

SB

 
 

Breton – Sharing Notes EP (Breton Labs)

Good grief – another 6 track EP – this month is full of them and my CD player is beginning to overheat. But this one may be the best yet, and especially if you buy the physical version – it comes pre-mounted on a hand-made circuit boards complete with step by step directions of how to turn it into a synth – that certainly beats recycling my discs as bird-scaring devices.

It’s hard to follow that news above but Breton’s sound is equally interesting. There’s plenty of use of loops and samples (possibly not produced on homemade synths) which underpin a rather disenchanted and world weary sounding vocal track in ‘The Well’. Good as it is, fortunately not all the tracks are so bleak, and some border on a more upbeat disco sound akin to Hot Chip if they were impersonating Kraftwerk. There’s a great juxtaposition of very glitchy synths and string samples in the title track whereas ‘Episodes’ brings us bristling post punk sonic barrage full of squeaks and fizzing synths. IN short, Breton are pretty bloody good and exude an effortless cool to boot. Don’t you just hate people like that? 9/10
www.bretonbretonbreton.blogspot.com

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Rapids! – s/t EP

This six track EP augments the three tracks previously released on the Maps EP with 3 new songs to bring us something pretty close to a full album. ‘Fuses’ works in a familiar math rock way to the following tracks – it’s stark yet emotive and Rapids! Are masterful in this type of delivery. One weakness I’d suggest about this Ep as a whole is that it is a little bit samey – similar motifs are used throughout and it would be nice to expand the range a little. Admittedly ‘Economics’ pushes the envelope a little further than its predecessors with a more overtly heavy guitar line but it is a very tentative step and could be expanding upon on. Even so, a strong work. 7/10
www.myspace.com/listentorapids

SB

 
 

Amadou and Mariam – Africa (Because)

Cashing in on the post World Cup buzz and their performance at the opening ceremony, Because records favourite world music cash cows, Amadou and Mariam release ‘Africa’ to the masses. Sounds like the soundtrack to a tourist board video to me – and that’s probably exactly how it was conceived. 5/10

SB

 
 

Ambershift – Another Trigger (Elvet Bridge)

This debut single has lots going for it. The great guitar intro which leaves you feeling that the guitar is actually barely in tune (though it definitely is, it’s just cleverly played to push the consonance to the limit). The mixing courtesy of Chris Sheldon is excellent and the pace is unremitting. There’s just one fly in the ointment here for me and that is the sound of Dave Lord’s voice. Don’t get me wrong, he can certainly carry a tune but his vocal style sounds like it would be more at home with something a bit proggier. It might just be my personal taste but I’m struggling to get over it. Still good though. 7/10
www.ambershift.net

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Alev Lenz – Alte Schonhauser EP

There’s definitely mileage in the comparisons with Regina Spektor and Tori Amos but when Lenz started off singing ‘I Don’t want to write about it, I don’t want to sing about it’ there was a small part of me that was agreeing with her – just don’t bother love. ‘Write About it’ is a hyperactive whirling dervish of a song that frankly leaves me feeling a little bit exhausted. Grateful then we were to make it through to the slowey ‘Dance’ which although pretty staid ballady stuff, is nicely animated by Lenz’s impressively oscillating voice. But by the time I’ve waded through ‘Band-Aid Man’ and ‘Song for the Sea’ I’m getting a bit dizzy. Contrary bugger me – first I complain that Rapids! Don’t try enough different styles then I moan about Alev Lenz trying something new on every track. I think it’s just a bit too much in combination – at least three of the songs on here would work well as singles or as part of an album but on a 5-track EP – it’s all a bit bewildering. 6/10
wwwalevlenz.com

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These Furrows – Without Manner (Underdogs/Robot Needs a Home)

It’s normally a cert that I’m going to like pretty much anything involved with excellent Leicester label Robot Needs a Home but I’m struggling a bit with this one. These Furrows wilfully mix their mathy rock with a bit of post punk leaving ‘Without Manner’ feeling a little bit disjointed. Lots of nice bits in there but as a whole it’s not really hanging together that well. 6/10

SB

 
 

Lupen Crook – World’s End/Devil’s Son (Label Fandango)

‘World’s End’ is a pretty little song with aspirations of grandeur as the big vocal choruses kick in. It’s all very praiseworthy without ever getting enthusiasm hitting fan levels. I’m really not sure about the B-side ‘Devil’s Son’ – it’s a bit awkward and pub rock cover band. 5/10
www.lupencrook.com

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The Justice Force 5 - Fight the Fight / J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Force Dance (Xtra Mile)

The Justice Force 5 look like fun. They have members who include a dark knight vigilante and time travelling scientist. They wear costumes. They even have a nemesis. Unfortunately ‘Fight the Fight’ just isn’t a very good song. ‘JF Dance’ sounds a little bit better – starting like an amalgam of Rage Against the Machine and Atari video games as performed by Flight of the Concords but at the end of the day it’s just a bit gimmicky. 5/10
www.myspace.com/thejusticforce5

SB

 
 
Eliza Doolittle – Pack UP (Parlophone)

Like a more wholesome Amy Winehouse and a sassier Kate Nash, Eliza Doolittle enters the scene. ‘Pack Up’ is sample heavy (courtesy George Henry Powell) but I’m not sure it all hangs together that harmoniously – the sample ‘Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag’ is a bit invasive to Doolittle’s sweet vocals, though she does manage to pull the whole thing through to a somewhat contrived conclusion. 6/10
www.elizadoolittle.com

SB

 
 

Nadine Khouri – A Song to the City (One Flash)

Another pretty but ultimately uncaptivating opener doesn’t set things off well. There’s a nice slide guitar and slow melancholy about ‘The Arms of Love’ but there doesn’t appear to be a whole load of song structure about it. But there’s plenty of other stuff on this 5 track EP by the Lebanese émigré to keep you interested. It’s not just sappy singer songwriter stuff – there’s a real feeling of dolefulness about it whilst remaining upbeat. Closing track ‘Invisible’ is stunning – sometimes the strongest words are softly spoken. 7/10
www.myspace.com/nadinekhouri

SB

 
 

The Fanclub – Madman / Bitter Boys and Graceless Girls (Underdogs)

What a triumph this track is. ‘Madman’ is a big soaring indie pop gem which always steers clear of being pompous thanks top to its sharp stop start tempos. And co-track ‘Bitter Boys and Graceless Girls’ fully showcases vocalist Josh Todd’s impressive voice. Excellent. 9/10
http://thefanclubmusic.co.uk

SB

 
 

Arp Attack - Cut Shapes EP

Formerly Jazica (who knows why they changed names but they have done so in the space of time it’s taken us to get round to reviewing this CD which is stamped with their original name), the newly monikered Arp Attack are still rather good. It’s electro/indie crossover in the style of CSS or Yeah Yeah Yeahs. At the moodier end of the spectrum is ‘Sugarcane’ which swirls triumphantly through its brief lifespan while ‘Laidback’ is much poppier. Front woman Frankie Murdoch gets all the plaudits but she’s underpinned by some pretty slick production and performances from fellow band members. They ‘ve just played T in the Park so they will also now be skilled in the art of performing while have a constant rain of Tenant’s Pilsner raining down on them. Always useful. 8/10
www.myspace.com/arpattack

SB

 
 

The Last Republic – (C’Mon) Flood the Gates

What the...? The Last Republic sound like they are fronted by a young (pre-hospitalised at least) Bono. There’s also a whiff of the Killers about them. So there you are – The Killers fronted by Bono – a heady concoction and probably enough for you to form an idea about already. Personally I like it. 7/10
www.thelastrepublic.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Graceful Slicks – demo EP

I think it’s pretty obvious from the outset of this one that if you are a fan of slightly psychedelic, stoner shoegaze then you will be in for a bit of a treat from The Graceful Slicks. The highlight of the demo comes at the end with an 8 minute long opus ‘Theory of the Times’ that mesmerises with its repeating bass line and reverb. Some other aspects of the demo are a little forgettable – there’s only so much baggy guitar that you can listen to without becoming a little indifferent, but there are enough nice motifs coming through in each track to make it a pleasing listening experience. It’s maybe a trait of this type of music that you can’t get really excited about it, it’s more of a slow soothing sensation which washes over you – perfect for a chill rainy night in at Tasty towers. 7/10
www.myspace.com/thegracefulslicks

SB

 
 

Francesqa – We Lived EP

Grotesque name but a pretty slick EP here from Oxfordshire’s Francesqa. ‘Ghosts’ simply slides out of the speakers, a pre-formed, ready to go radio friendly rock song. The trip to Devon to record with Peter Miles has paid dividends with each song perfectly recorded, almost too perfect. It’s a little too bland for my tastes until we get up to ‘Crooked Little Sun’ which rocks out in a less sanitised way. The closing track is a bit of a slow-burner epic too – cue lighters in the air. This is a formidable EP and clearly Francesqa are a fine band who would embarrass some of their contemporaries in the talent stakes. Will they ever make it big – quite probably, but they will have to change their name.
www.myspace.com/francesqua

SB

 
 

Delta Maid – Broken Branches EP (Shake a Bush)

I’ve received this EP three ties from different sources which normally means that a) it is being heavily plugged or b) someone doesn’t know how to mail merge properly. But forgive me if I am wrong – ‘Broken Branches’ is nothing more than a good old country and western track? And why should we expect anything other from an artist named Delta Maid? We do move more firmly into a blues footing with ‘Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down’ but again, it’s just your bog standard blues. So what’s the hook, the USP, the reason I’ve been inundated with PR then? Well as far as I can tell it is because Delta Maid is from Liverpool, not Louisiana. So other than this geographical oddity, I find it hard to get impressed by this EP. 5/10
www.myspace.com/deltamaid

SB

 
 

Debunkt – Spiritual Suffering EP (Lobe)

Anyone familiar with any of Matt J Watts’ work in his Dogmixer guise will be expecting a treat here knowing that Debunkt is his latest incarnation and they won’t be disappointed. Flitting between the intelligent and techno ends of the broader dance genre, ‘Spiritual Suffering’ is rich with danceable yet musically memorable parts with the exception of the outro of ‘Super massive black hole’ which fizzles out very unsatisfyingly as someone just turns off the drum pattern. ‘Ritlain Kid’ is a real stonker combining the best parts of Underworld with an edgier industrial undertone and spacey Ozric Tentacle interludes. There’s two alternative version of both these tracks plus the title track; more than enough to get your teeth into and entirely possible to listen to in your bedroom without the need of a club PA. 8/10
www.debunkt.co.uk

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Cables Cause Fires – s/t EP (Shifty Chicken)

There’s a big disparity here between the raucous, unrefined vocals here and some of the guitar work which is nothing short of sublime. Take ‘To Be a Gentleman’ – little more than a footy crowd shout but guitar that would make Johnny Marr swoon. The informal nature of much of the vocal and the backing vocal give this EP the feeling of a jam session, albeit delivered with clinical precision in the guitar area. I’m finding it very impressive but struggling to like it. Time will tell after a few more listens. 6/10
www.cablescausefres.co.uk

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Orphan Boy – Pop Song (Concrete)

It’s been a shite year for Cleethorpes. First the misleadingly-named Pleasure Island was apparently shut down (then even more disappointingly re-opened). Then the footy club from neighbouring Grimsby whose ground is actually located in Cleethorpes got relegated out of the football league. In fairness I can’t think of many happy memories of Cleethorpes for ages – the image of alien grey turds washing up on the beach when I was a nipper, the banks of fog which regularly roll in off the Humber when even 500 yards inland is a 30 degree scorcher. The massive rat which I saw scurrying outside Arnold Palmer’s crazy golf course would probably go down as a highlight. But now Orphan Boy may have achieved redemption for this original seaside town they forgot to close down.

‘Popsong’ is the single which Orphan Boy will release as the intro to their new album ‘Passion, Pain and Loyalty’ and it is stacked full with the kind of irony and passion that can only be related by someone who grows up knowing where they live is a bit cack but loving it anyway. It’s a bit like a mix of The Smiths and The Killers. One up for the Meggies. 8/10
www.orphanboy.co.uk

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The Douglas Firs – Haunting Through EP

The Douglas Firs is the working name for Neil Insh and Haunting Through is the fruits of a 7 year labour of love recorded across a number of locations, mainly in Scottish churches. But fear not, it isn’t religious music. ‘The Quickening’, with no other obvious references to Highlander is like a 7 minute cut and paste of shorter themes, but a cut and paste where the utmost care has been taken to make sure the paper is fully gummed and the torn edges are perfectly aligned to ensure a seamless join. It’s gently folky with a number of choral vocal harmonies and background applause provided by a number of Insh’s collaborators. Is that fireworks at one point or the cracking of an amp lead? There’s deliberate ambiguity throughout and its effect is quite charming.

While ‘Future State’ may be nothing more than a bit of experimental noise sampling loosely roped together in the guise of a ‘song’, the beautiful sound of an antique piano is very tightly bound with an overlay of samples, loops and vocals in ‘Grow Old Go Home’. It’s the most coherent track on the EP but nevertheless still treats us to another slice of deliberate untangling as it winds its way towards the end with a simple drone.

In contrast to the apparent tautness of its predecessor, EP closer ‘Soporific’ has an ethereal. Reverby quality which becomes progressively animated by Insh’s vocals and dull, thudding drums. ‘Haunting Through’ may prove a little challenging to your average Pendulum fan but for anyone with even a passing interesting in the experimental and avant garde, The Douglas Firs will be an undiscovered gem. 8/10
www.myspace.com/thedouglasfirs

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The Superimposers – The Beach (Wonderfulsound)

There’s a crystalline clarity to the production of this despite the big sound of the Phil Spector-inspired drums. The Superimposers gently lead us through a 3 minute journey of perfect pop. It’s not my bag but it definitely is very good. 7/10
www.wonderfulsound.com

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Mum Locked in Castle – Lions Led EP (Medium Rare)

There’s at least two things going for this EP within seconds of inserting it into the CD drawer. Firstly I like the name – loosely purposeful yet equally nonsensical. Secondly there’s the deep grumbling guitars tat greet us coupled with some intermittent vocal caterwauling – always good. Then when you think you have got the measure of ‘Forgotten Prayer’ as a pretty dmn fine rock number in the vein of Angel Dust era Faith No More...there’s a jazz breakdown. What?! It takes me back to Danish band Saybia and their equally refreshingly naive (in a good way) cross genre stuff. But Mum Locked in Castle manage to trump them by introducing a bit of Spanish guitar too. OK...

But despite feeling thoroughly exhausted by the opening track, I find myself warming further to the following tunes – all obviously heavy yet introducing care free moments all along the way which elevates MLiC above your standard scream – there’s actually quite a lot of accomplished musicianship in here. There are a number of interesting jazz-funk breakdowns throughout, all played in a heavy Primu- esque way. It’s awkward, angular and quite difficult to listen to at times – but it certainly makes you sit up and take note. Mum Locked In Castle – I salute you. 8/10
www.mumlockedincastle.com

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Pendulum – Witchcraft (Earstorm)

Pendulum Pendulum Pendulum. Whereas initially you might be forgiven for thinking that they have discovered their Dads’ record collection and are about to embark on some prog-rockathon, soon enough the Pendulum formula re-surfaces with its breakbeats and annoying uber synthetic synth. I’ve tried to fall in love with this band but I just can’t get away from the fact they keep on churning out very similar stuff which remains consistently sub-Prodigy and lightweight. No doubt the hundreds of thousands of people going to see the at festivals this summer disagree. 5/10
www.pendulum.com

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Battle for Prague – Red Sky Stares

The overall impression of this EP is that it is quite an intense piece of work. I’m not sure this is what Battle for Prague were striving for but it is what they have achieved. Musically many people have likened them to Kings of Leon. Most likely due to the languid vocal style of Greg Cox. But I’d put them more towards a stoner sound such as Leeds’ Wonderswan.

It’s a strange description to be both intense and languid at the same time yet I cannot get away from this atmosphere. There are some light moments and there’s some really nice drumming towards the end of modern spirit but it seems that there is an almost constant undercurrent of fuzz, distortion and feedback sitting just below the surface and that hems everything else in a little. The exception would be ‘We Used to Drink’ which is basically clean sounding for a large part of its duration until a muddy guitar part comes into the outro.

This is not a leap out and grab you type of CD but it does feature a number of nice moments which grow on you (the drumming particularly is great). 6/10
www.myspace.com/battleforprague

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Fell on Black Days - Bring Out Your Dead

Fell on Black Days have a drummer who can drum very fast (presumably courtesy of double kick pedals, not due to a human mutation embellishing him with four feet). They also have a singer who can growl through about 20 minutes of lyrics non-stop. And they also have a guitarist who can tune down his axe to chug away at pace then intermittently make it squeal like one of those exciting pieces of electronic equipment which were all the rage in the lairs of mad scientists in the 1960s. You get the picture? But I am pretty sure that if you are a fan of this sort of metal then you will really like this EP- I don't count myself as an expert but this is much more varied and energetic than a lot of the black and speed metal which we get sent here at Tasty. I'm now off to bathe my ears. 6/10
www.myspace.com/fobd

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The Wanted – All Time Low (Geffen)

So many aspects of this get me sharpening my pencil in anticipation of something odious. Nasty name and horrific band shot – all five look like they have been jettisoned from some boy band and have spent a week in a tanning salon. They are even being marketed as ‘not a boyband’ – ie we’re to believe they are a bit too rough and tumble to be called a boyband and they do have a stylist but sometimes they might even disagree with which hair product they are recommended/sponsored by. All said and done, ‘All Time Low’ isn’t a bad track. But it is pop and it is sung by a bunch of boys in a band (only one of whom has the beginnings of facial hair). 5/10
www.thewantedmusic.com

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Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill (Parlophone)

Gorillaz got slated for their Glastonbury performance and if they played this I’m not surprised – it’s really quite poor. I’ve never been that convinced by the whole idea of Gorillaz as a concept band and when you strip away all the guff, if this track was released by anyone else it would sink like a stone. I’m not bothered about receiving free Gorillaz video games or watching their cartoons – just start off by writing a few tunes. 4/10
www.gorillaz.com

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Black Mountain – Old Fangs (Jagjaguwar)

Black Mountain seem to specialise in a dirty rock sound which wouldn’t be out of place if Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse was taken over by an Alice Cooper convention (‘Roadhouse!’). But you know what? For all their individually cheesey bits, Black Mountain manage to pull this whole track together really nicely. The spacey synth offswtes the chunky power chords and the male-female vocals stop it becoming a macho leather-trouser-thon. It’s really quite good. 8/10
www.jagjaguwar.com/blackmountain

SB

 
 

Tom Jones – Did Trouble Me / Don’t Knock (Island)

I like a bit of Tom Joes but I always get the feeling that he is secretly laughing at as all, worshipping him as some kind of amazing voiced sex-god. And this is a perfect example – ‘Did Trouble Me’ is presumably Jones getting back down to some kind of musical purity following his dabbles in the covers area. But it’s hardly Johnny Cash – I find it difficult to hear any real emotion there, despite his big booming voice. It’s all a bit Vegas showcase (live by the sword, die by the sword). Ditto for ‘Don’t Knock’, except in a more upbeat style. And I’ll be really controversial here – I think Tom’s voice is going and this isn’t a great vocal performance. Let the stone throwing begin. 5/10
www.tomjones.com

SB

 
 

Charlie Indestructible – My Sweet Revenge EP

Whoa – this is a pretty epic start. Not just the borderline pretentious title ‘Step One is Establishment, Step Two is Sabotage’ but also the nice two part guitar – one tuned down to churn your guts and the other played really high to get in your head. Great start but still not sure who this Charlie character is who keeps cropping up in the lyrics. ‘I’m Back Billy and I Want You’ is a scratchier, more schizophrenic affair that further highlights Mark Sowden’s quite impressive vocals and the equally impressive sibling drumming of brother Tony. As a song though it is a bit choppy and doesn’t really move anywhere.

And so by the time we get to the title track, we are quite used to the Charlie Indestructible sound and you will probably have already made your mind up about them. I really like it though I’d prefer to see Mark’s vocals mixed up a bit more and less of the rock god warbling. Credit where credit is due – there’s guttural screaming included here so they’ve already heeded my advice. Can’t complain then. 8/10
www.myspace.com/charlieindestructible

SB

 
 

Amari – Tiger (Riotmaker)

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the mix-mash of sounds which Italians Amari manage to scramble together on this record. There’s a real joyful naivety about them as they merge Hot Chip style electronic, hip hop and even some honky tonk piano, all delivered with a slight Italian accent. And the more I listen to ‘Tiger’ the more I like it. 8/10
www.myspace.com/gliamari

SB

 
 

Andreya Triana – A Town Called Obsolete (Ninjatune)

She’s been popping up all over the place lately and that’s no bad thing when Triana possesses a voice ranges from feint and fragile, croaks with emotion and has no problems powerfully packing out the choruses. Put this together with Bonobo’s top class backing track and you have a late night beauty. 7/10
www.myspace.com/andreyatriana

SB

 
 

Young Guns – Crystal Clear (PIAS)

I don’t normally go in for all this adolescent scream stuff but with ‘Crystal Clear’ Young Guns are just a bit more gutsy than most and treat us to some great chunky guitar to help us forget what will I all likelihood be some banal heartfelt lyrics. One down side might be the slightly muddy mix – everything seems very compressed together but overall Young Guns come out of this one no small amount of credit. 7/10
www.myspace.com/youngguns

SB

 
 

Junkboy – Friends Part 2 (Enraptured)

Another impressive outing from Willkommen collaborators Junkboy who paint a very summery picture in their subverted Wilson-esque style. It’s got a lovely thematic edge to it provided by a slightly doleful brass part and silky boy girl vocals. 7/10

SB

 
 

RIO – Mr Unpredictable (Rare Breed)

RIO has certainly packed a fair bit into his young years. He’s lived in St Lucia (and represented them at footy against Cuba), was born in Moss Side (so is probably quite hard) and even had a trial at Man City. ‘Mr Unpredictable’ is a multi-genre track with RIO on MC duties over some nice grimey backing tracks. In this case, the Zed Bias remix outstrips the original, introducing a bit of a warped electro dancehall vibe. 6/10
www.myspace.com/riostreetsmart

SB

 
 

Stephen Dale Petit – California (Universal)

Despite a somewhat unlikely nod towards 2Pac this is by far the best track I have heard from Stephen Dale Petit, the man who made his name busking on the London Underground. IT’s a pretty simple guitar part on this one but it benefits from a big crunching production and massive drums. Far from ground breaking but it certainly rocks. 7/10
www.stephendalepetit.com

SB

 
 

Johnny Get The Gun - EP

"Apparently Johnny Get The Gun have “inhaled the song writing know-how of UK heavyweights such as Radiohead, Blur and Muse” according to their PR firm. I’m used to these kinds of people hyping up their acts but bare face lies aren’t so common and this one is a whopper.

Firstly, the debut ‘mini-album’ (basically, it’s just an EP) from Essex boys, Johnny Get The Gun, isn’t terrible. It isn’t really anything. That’s to say that it’s pretty much average in most ways. Opening track You Will Be Mine is indicative of the band’s sound, fast distorted guitars and slow lyrics which remind me of the English lessons where I learned how to make things rhyme. Throw in a chorus of “Da Da Da Da”s and you have a track that screams “please like us!” It isn’t bad; but it isn’t the best of starts.

Second track All Good Things is a ballad, kind of, at least it is in parts. Think of the kind of teen friendly rock groups that were coming out of America ten years ago, the ones that spawned McFly and Busted, and you get the picture. It’s a step up though and hints that the band have some music talent hidden under all the clichés. Man With A Dream is different again, almost as if the boys wanted to cram as many of their influences into a six track EP as they possible could. In their attempt to write another pop song they throw in yet more clichés, namely the extend pause and another ‘catchy’ chorus, this time it’s “La La La La”s though, not particularly original. At this point I’m ready to give up and write this off as another EP recorded with the aid of ‘Writing Rocky Teenage friendly Pop songs for Dummies’, copious amounts of misplaced angst and a copy of the Saves the Day back catalogue.

Tracks 4 and 5, Give You More and Problems, are better but again the lyrics are simplistic at best and lack any real craft or depth. This will no doubt come with experience but right now it’s not there no matter how much their PR firm tells them, and us, that it is.

The highlight of the EP is the last minute of final track This Night To End, not because I’m ecstatic that it’s about to finish but because it is the first time that I’m listening to a track and not thinking ‘this sounds like lots of other bands from about ten years ago’. Having influences is fine, even sounding a bit like bands you like is fine, but at some point every band needs its own sound and Johnny Get The Gun still need to find theirs. They can take heart though; at least someone has mentioned them in the same sentence as Muse and Radiohead even if they were paid to say it."

Daniel Heaton

 
 

These Old Traditions – Stevie And The Moon (Catapult Music)

There’s something good going on in Scotland at the moment. I’m not entirely sure what it is but it is surely worth further investigation as the quality, quantity and variety of music spilling out from north of the border is currently akin to a tsunami driving south.

Such as this 6 track offering from Stevie And The Moon. The title of the EP, These Old Traditions, sums it up perfectly. Lyrically folk, but musically much more towards the soft acoustic ballad, this is a gentle, soothing, pop-y, and ultimately uplifting journey through the heart felt angst and inner wonderings of Stevie.

Not quite music to change the world but certainly music to enjoy the current world to.6/10
www.myspace.com/stevieandthemoon

Jim Johnston