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singles/eps - august 2010

Stevie And The Moon - These Old Traditions (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

Jim Johnston


Larkin Poe - Spring

When I listened to the first song on the EP from the Lovell Sisters Megan and Rebecca, I cringed. I thought it was going to be full of Shania Twain-esque songs that I would not enjoy, but I found myself wrong. It is not often anymore that we get singers with a country-esque twang, but Larkin Poe, a 5-piece band lead by two of the Lovell Sisters, have this down to a tee and produce a nice warm sound that makes you think of sunshine and warm.

I can’t say much for the first song “Long Hard Fall” because it is not to my liking. However, the second, “We Intertwine” is capturing and emotional. Other songs like “Burglary” and “Shadows Of Ourselves” on the EP do not scream happy, but somehow the entire album maintains a chilled out and content feel throughout even though most songs sing of heartbreak and boys.

If you fancy a change in the music you listen to, then this EP is definitely worth it. And where I don’t particularly think these songs will get played on main radio stations, this should by no means be an insult to them. 6/10

Lib Grant


Never (Mind) The Stars - ‘France’ (Strfckr Records)

This is the second single from the Dutch band ‘Never (Mind) The Stars’ fronted by Simon Little. The band is signed to Simon Little’s own album label Strfckr records’.

After being impressed by their first single ‘Holiday’ I was happy to see the band coming back with their own take on how modern pop should sound. The greatness of the band is that they have made widely accessible tunes combining Electro, dance and rock which would not sound out of place in the charts on radio 1. Although they like to be seen as ‘anti-pop’ I feel that they are filling a great gap in the market where classic pop of the golden age should be. In no way am I comparing them to the pop of this modern era but that of past decades with the great beat, electro synthesizing and of course classic lyrical rhymes.

You can still hear influences from the likes of ‘Daft Punk’ and ‘The Future Sound Of London’ but I also like to draw similarities to bands such as the ‘Scissor Sisters’ with their catchy little numbers that just get in your head and bounce about for days.

Given a chance I could see Never (Mind) The Stars being the next ‘quirky’ band of 2010. The light hearted rhythmic sound gives me a happy smile and all the get up and go id ever need to bring back the sunshine to our classic English summers.

So I say a massive good luck to the band and a massive recommendation to anyone who hasn’t yet discovered them. 8/10

Imogen Davies


Jaga Jazzist - Banafluer Overalt (Ninja Tune)

Ask the average punter for any modern examples of 'jazz' and you'll most likely be directed towards the ivory-tinkling banality of messrs Cullum and Buble. This is drastically unfair though as such MOR munchkins have only been offered the term by the mass media due to their choices of instrumentation, dig beneath the shallow surface and it's just manufactured pop music with a brass band. Norwegian, nine-piece collective Jaga Jazzist however wear their moniker with pride and truly strive to do it justice while striking a remarkable balance between complexity and accessibility. The press release states the band aim to cross Fela Kuti with Wagner and on this evidence they aint too far off the mark! 'Bananfluer Overalt is a dizzying, epic collage of sounds which manages to sound both modern and classical without ever compromising it's stringent individuality.

Instrumentally and atmospherically the EP's neighbouring album One Armed Bandit (from which many of these tracks are pulled) had more in common with Miles Davis's 'In A Silent Way' than any modern album I could mention (which includes anything by jazz-prog pioneers Tortoise, who's own John McEntire produced the very record) but this EP if anything has more in common with the futuristic disco of Arhur Russel with the title tracks numerous remix's taking a more electronic slant. Jazz's structural hallmarks are all present and accounted for - tight, syncopated rhythms, complex, interweaving melodies and sharp shifts in tone all blend effortlessly and the musicianship never wavers below incendiary. The title track from the album (here in edited form) on its lonesome contains more sparks of invention than might be found in an average bands career with it's instantly memorable lead melody played by trumpet and keyboard, it really backs up the hook. The 7 minute album piece is a more fulfilling prospect (in fact I'd recommend that album every time over this collection) but the edited 3 minute blast here really suits the mood encapsulated by the collection.

Take away all the complexities and 'what'll happen next' thrills though and what's remarkable is how Jaga Jazzist have managed to pull off such a memorable record with such disparate and esoteric ingredients. There is no vocal but every track contains at least one 'lead' instrument and more often than not the hooks are dazzling. I can't think of a more 'alternative' record that I wouldn't hesitate to lend to friends for whom the words 'jazz' and 'prog' would read like typos. Start with the album though, if anything this is just a bonus. 8/10
For Fans Of - Miles Davis, Tortoise, Fela Kuti

Benjamin Hiorns


Jukebox Collective – Icon Parade

Jukebox Collective are a Hackney-based “disco punk” band, who sound like a cross between The Rakes and The Rapture (they’ve clearly been digging through the ‘R’ section in their record collections).

Icon Parade is all urgent, tinny hi-hats, jerky guitars and danceably fuzzy keyboards. The PR that accompanied this track mentioned that the band are influenced by DFA records and James Murphy’s ‘sheen-free production’. They’ve got the synthy part down, but Icon Parade would really stand out if Jukebox Collective were influenced by the intricately layered production that James Murphy’s really famous for. 5/10

Dan Shields


Tricky – Murder Weapon

A tinkly music box version of My Way gives way to the sound of a gun cocking followed by the overwhelmingly chunky, surfy bass line from the Peter Gunn theme. As openings go, it’s pretty impressive. It’s moody and bassy and a little bit dangerous. This is the first single from Tricky’s ninth (!) album, Mixed Race and it’s brilliant.

It’s an unusual choice for a first single though firstly because it’s a cover, and secondly, because while this is most definitely, unquestionably a Tricky track, he’s hiding: behind someone else’s lyrics, behind a borrowed riff, behind stupidly loud drumbeats. His voice is way down in the mix, underpinning the main vocals with a bassy rumble. It’s as if he’s not owning up to it, but his fingerprints are all over the murder weapon (she what I did there?). It took me a couple of listens to get into it, but it’s easily the best thing I’ve heard in a while. 8/10

Dan Shields


Klaxons – Echoes (Polydor)

It seems that Klaxons big formula is building up a sample, catchy (if not instantly memorable) track and lacing it with liberal amounts of swooshes, skuzzy guitar interludes, chorus effects and general production broo-ha-ha. And it works a treat – ‘Echoes’ fairly shifts along on its recipe of thudding base and keyboard melody. 8/10



Timber Timbre – Demon Host (Full Time Hobby)

‘Demon Host’ gives ‘Timbre Timbre’ frontman Taylor Kirk pretty much free reign, being as the guitar and voice are almost completely unaccompanied. It’s pretty little lo-fi folk really – no bells and whistles, quite simple but quite charming. 7/10



The Strange Death of Liberal England – Rising Sea

‘Rising Sea’ possesses not only a similar nautical theme but also the complex art pomp style of much of British Sea Power’s work with ‘Remember Me’ in particular springing to mind. It’s rich and pop-catchy at the same time. 7/10



The Revellions – Sighs (Dirty Water)

I’m afraid that despite all of the Revellions cocksure attitude and bluster, this type of 60s copyism does nothing much to excite me. Also ‘Sighs’ is just a little bit raged around the edges anyway – the vocals a little strained and some of the instrumentals a little rushed and contrived. 5/10



The Bridgeheads – The Best Ones/Pi (Kubic)

Despite their curious make up (there’s no bass player and the guitarist plays without an A-string) these two songs from Bridgeheads promise great things. Hailing from Slovakia, their reduced instrumentation could have led to a Spartan sound but instead they manage to weave together some dark sounds, particularly in ‘Pi’ courtesy of clever layered effects pedals. 7/10



The 99s – Oh Me Oh My

There’s more than just an air of Dodgy and the Boo Radleys about this track. Unfortunately I was no great fan of their music and the same can be said of ‘Oh Me, Oh My’ and its effervescent poppy optimism. Don’t you know there’s a recession goddammit? Technically it’s very adept but it just a bit too goody goody for my liking. 6/10



Performance – The Unconsoled (Too Much Information)

I bloody love Performance. There’s no pretence about them they are just out and out pop glamour tastic and in Joe Stretch they possess one of the great yet unheralded front men in music today. ‘Unconsoled’ is exactly what we have come to expect from Performance – a tightly written, catchy pop song threaded through with a sinew of edginess. There’s an album to follow later in the year. 8/10



Lady Antebellum – I Run to You (Parlophone/Capitol)

That sounds a bit like some gynaecological description doesn’t it? But they’ve had a top ten hit, single of the week and various commendations apparently. Personally I think this is pop dross – I’d rather listen to Bryan Adams’ version any day. 4/10



Mirrorkicks – On TV

‘On TV’ is actually pretty ace considering the lukewarm reception I gave the band previously. It’s got a shimmering complexity which manages to combine all the best bits of The Police, Aerosmith and other unlikely influences to sound very much of today. Impressive stuff. 8/10



Twizzle – LDN Sign (Squarepeg)

Twizzle is from LDN, make no mistake. He’s even got an LDN Sign apparently. And his breathless style of rapping is pretty compelling next to the deliberately stuttering backing track. Not bad – even though the ‘dirty’ version featured Twizzle saying no one was f-ing with him this year – if that is the dirty version then how clean is the clean version? 7/10



Rubicks – Is this Love (Sharp Attack)

London 4-piece Rubicks truly are a band at the top of their game and ‘Is This Love’ is their bitter sweet proof. Multi-layered texturing, saw tooth strings, phasing beats, Vanessa Anne Redd’s plaintive vocals and a deep seated pop sensibility make this a classic. 9/10



Thee Single Spy – OK Corral (Elephant)

The overriding impression here is that Thee Single Spy sound like a slightly more grandiose version of West Yorkshire’s Being 747 or their precursors The Landspeed Loungers. Whereas Being 747 have a touch of gritty northerness about them, TSS offer a more expansive sound courtesy of their occasional brass section and various other layers of instrumentation. Despite the arrangements, it’s arguably a little bit countryish, as is the B-side ‘In Clay, In Cloud’ a slow burning melancholy tour de force. 8/10



Blabbermouth – Agoraphobia EP (Hobgoblin)

Steve Thompson’s incarnation as Blabbermouth has a definite olde worlde folk charm about it. It’s gentle lilting stuff, occasionally bordering on the sound of Damien Rice. Despite a couple of shakey moments around the higher notes of the title track this EP is a pretty pleasant listen, especially the slightly more off the wall track ‘Time Machine’ – part marching song , part children’s TV show theme. 7/10



La Cherish – EP

It seems that La Cherish have a penchant for bad names. Comprising of the survivors of previous band Gregoryz Girl, La Cherish seem to suffer equal shortfalls as their ancestors. I just re-read my review of the last Gregoryz Girl single and I was quite harsh. But to be honest, this EP by La Cherish is not very good either – the combination of the affected vocal vibrato and the simplistic pop musings does absolutely nothing for me. 4/10



Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern – Nothing You Can Do About It (Fortuna Pop!)

Still trying to shake off the shackles of Hefner (he try a different website address perhaps), Darren Hayman has assembled a set of musicians who are tasked with playing rock music via acoustic instruments. The result is pleasantly shambolic, sounding like a bawdy bar-room sing along (albeit with a lot of jingling and jangling going on). 7/10



Seeland – Local Park (LoAF)

This is a bit curious – a quintessentially English summer pop song but liberally interspersed with space synths and what sounds like pick slides. And it’s about heading to the park when the sun comes out. Quite a combination. 6/10



Huoratron – Prevenge (Last Gang)

Holy crap. This is no way to recover from a hangover on a Sunday morning. From the deepest darkest recesses of Finnish black techno hell Aku Raski unleashes this beast of a 7 track EP that will (I guarantee) get your ears bleeding and your feet moving in equal measures. And that is always highly commendable in my book. And it’s not just all remorseless beats – there’s all sorts of ridiculous (again, in a good way) bleeps and warps going on. I wouldn’t recommend this for a dinner party but I would recommend it. 8/10



Morcheeba – Even Though Remixes (PIAS)

What a ruse! You write one song and include that version on your album then you get some other mugs (no disrespect intended) to do some remixes then you go and sell those as well – brilliant business! In fairness one of the remixes is being given away free – too kind. Disappointingly for me it turns out that the Mustang remix is pretty good and gives the single a nice Ladytron styled sound. But at the end of the day it’s cheating isn’t it? 6/10



Darker My Love – Dear Author (Dangerbird)

Oops – this one slipped through the net in July, probably due to me thinking it was an album due to its luxurious manila CD sleeve. But better late than never and I quite like this one – west coast US psych-rock/shoe-gaze stuff. Plus its free to download from the Dangerbird website so go and get yourself a copy. 7/10



Adam Parker – Oh My

Quite a simple composition here comprising of some loops and a few acoustic strings but the overall effect is quite powerful. Worryingly erring on the side of ‘mainstream pop’ for Tasty’s pages, we’ll let it slip through the net seeing as the slightly staccato stop start nature of the rhythm will make it almost impossible for E4 to set it to any kind of Tv show as background music. 7/10



The Blue Eyed Shark Experiment – Tapdance (Sidewalk 7)

This clatters out of the speakers in a nicely shambolic off kilter way with a bit of Bolan/T-Rex/Steve Harley vibe about it (mainly courtesy of the honky tonk piano and fuzzy guitars). Then out of nowhere there is a spacey interlude – all Ziggy era Bowie. Bizarrely lethargic but in a charming way. 7/10



Frank Turner – Try This at Home (Xtra Mile)

I have a problem with the main message behind this song. Essentially ‘Try this at Home’ is a call to arms to any fledgling musicians to go forth, scribble their words, play a few chords and whatnot and go out and perform their ides. Fair point I suppose. But after you think you have penned your opus, before sending it in via MP3 for a free review/publicity please exercise a little quality control – just because you can do something doesn’t mean it is any good (we’ll have no empowerment round here thank you very much). Oh, and this song sounds like a cross between Carter USM, Billy Bragg and MJ Hibbett. 5/10



Jono McCleery – Tomorrow (Ninja Tune)

Ninja Tune have pretty high quality control and new signing Jono McCleery is no exception, with his beguiling lackadaisical vocals and thrumming double bass playing. That said, ‘Tomorrow’ does seem to stop before it really starts – it’s maybe a little bit too laid back in that respect. B-side ‘Alive Again’ is excellent also – there’re some nice guitar lines and a feint jazz vibe to some of the chord changes. It won’t get you up and dancing but it is perfect for Sunday morning paper reading. I appear to have become middle aged overnight. 7/10



Caspa – Back for the First Time / Geordie Racer (Sub Soldiers)

Pleasant enough electro/dub stuff here from Caspa. ‘Back for the first time’ rumbles along with its gut-troubling bass and sounds not dissimilar to The Chemical Brothers in places. On the donside the track does seem to lack a bit of focus, ambling along between its various passages with no real sense of progression or unity. B-side ‘Geordie Racer’ is much more direct and a bit more techno based – turn up the volume on this one to seriously damage your hearing with the bass. 6/10



Lonely The Brave - Backroads

Lonely the brave are an absolutely wonderful 4-piece from Cambridge who are releasing their debut EP “Backroads” in October. This five-track sample definitely gives a taste of the melodic and rocky sound they produce so well, inspired by the likes of Springsteen and This Will Destroy You.

The EP is not just about loud music though, they also include two wonderful acoustic tracks “Backroads” and “Call Of Horses” which both give a different sound to the vocalist Dave Jake’s voice and shows off the guitarist Mark Trotter’s guitar playing.

I genuinely think that this band are going to be something big, and if I’m at all wrong, well that is just embarrassing for me, because these guys are extremely talented. 9/10

Lib Grant


The Winchell Riots - The Red Square EP (Andrew The Great Records)

Hailing from Oxford, a 21st Century musical hotbed of talent and innovation, The Winchell Riots have something rather special to offer. ‘Love, The Great Olympic Sport’ initiates proceedings and it suddenly become clear that these vocals have a very peculiar range, but it is somehow sweetly intense as it lies between blazing riffs and a giganticness that is paralleled by bands like Muse. Another detail that becomes apparent very quickly is the ability of this band to sew their songs together, letting them flow to unite neatly. This is shown by the wonderful ‘My Young Arms’ linking themselves to the previous track with a delicate hold as the music sways gently before blossoming into an epic finale of vigorous crashing and cascading.

‘Glasgow Spaceflight’ begins as a reflective vocal ripple through a desert soundscape with synths and a lingering drum beat before rolling gradually into a build up of enthusiastic ardour that soars as it escalates with the repetition of ‘in a beautiful light’ getting more meaningful and more persuasive every time. Always a fan of strange sound bites at the beginning of songs, the underwater pressure pumps and breathalysers of ‘Red Square’ are something I love before they develop into chords that sound like a stone thrown into a pond as they ripple out into the waiting emptiness that unfolds into a controlled explosion of thoughtful pace and stunning musicianship. All of this recorded live, making everything seem more expansively breathtaking.

Each song from The Winchell Riots is turbulently majestic and inescapably memorable; every song has been crafted to the highest degree of precision to create an EP that is so close to perfect, I might just have to admit it as so.

Eloise Quince


This Human Disease – Dead Before Dawn

It’s metal alright with some excellent guitar sounds – evoking heavier Therapy? and lighter Pantera. But I’m a bit bored of these growling vocals. Then whoa! There’s a rap interlude and I’m taken back to eh Judgement Night soundtrack which paired loads of rap artists with loads of metal bands to great effect. Again, nice flanger pedal action and melodic bass in ‘Viral’ before the vocals kick in and spoil it (though in fairness there is a little bit of ‘proper’ singing thrown in.) Disappointingly the final track is also the weakest, plodding along a bit like a Nirvana B-side played at the wrong speed. A mixed bag then. 6/10



The Holidays – Golden Sky (Passport Label)

Although the percussion opening is almost identical to ‘Dolphin’, ‘Golden Sky’ shares very little else with Shed Seven’s opus. In fact I got so distracted by ‘Dolphin’ that I felt the need to dig out my copy and give it a good listening to – excellent work fellas. ‘Golden Sky’ is also laudible though I’m not sure I’ll be trying to retrieve it in 20 years time. It’s a summery vibe which you may expect from a band based in Sydney, perfectly summed up in the press release as elec-tropical. Who needs blogs when press releases are this accurate. 6/10



Paul Roderick – People IQ (Megabop)

This is really quite weird and wonderful, like listening to an old longwave radio programme when you would regular get about 3 or 4 different stations all merging and interfering with each other. In this case, there’s the ska station, the space synth station, the 100 greatest tuba hits station and radio 1 all battling with each and amazingly not sounding too incongruous. 7/10



Flash Fiktion – Leni/Science of Sleep (Split)

Well, I’m really quite liking ‘Leni’, despite the fact that I was expecting something a lot different according to the press release. It’s kind of like Beck on speed doing a Nirvana cover version. It’s flip side is also better than expected (though I still have little idea about what solipsism means). It’s kind of trippy and perfectly sonically evokes the warped world you enter when you drift off to sleep and fact and reality become blurred. Very promising stuff from this London-based three-piece. 7/10



Naked Remedy – s/t EP (Weekender)

This is a nicely packaged EP, interesting graphics and Naked Remedy sound like a pretty proficient band. But there’s a nagging backward-looking feel these tracks that is a bit disappointing. Clearly indebted to the likes of Led Zep and Wolfmother, the Naked Remedy sound is very clearly a dated rock. But in ‘Remedy’ there’s also the feeling that the track never really gets going. ‘Freedom’ is a big blues infused piece which again refuses to ignite any passion.. It leads me to conclude that rather than aping the past, Naked Remedy would be better placed deploying their musical talents finding a sound that truly reflects them rather than the sound of yesteryear. 5/10



Not Squares – Release the Bees (Pogo)

You’ll be instantly hit with the glamour disco sound of ‘Release the Bees’ which could have been taken straight off the latest Kylie album until out of the blue it all gives way to a glitch beat and Faithless style soliloquy about releasing the bees. Overall you’d have to say it sounds like a very upbeat Underworld track and that has got to be a good thing. 8/10
watch video to 'Release the Bees'



Dial F for Frankenstein – USA

We’re a sucker for good band names here at Tasty and they don’t get much better than this. Dial F... also deal out a healthy dose of grungey fuzz that kindles the likes of Wonderswan as comparisons. There’s some lovely little bits in the chorus when it seems like the band are dropping their instruments every so often and consequently fit in a nice half beat. Clever stuff. 7/10



Feeder – Renegades (Big Teeth)

Another strong, if slightly mechanical outing here from Feeder who verge on the border of sounding like The Levellers-do-metal with ‘Renegades’. That said it’s an enjoyable 3 minutes of tunage and Feeder put it all together like the polished act they are. 7/10



Love Amongst Ruin – So Sad (Ancient B)

Somewhat of a triumph here from erstwhile Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt who takes on the front man position in Love Amongst Ruin. Fortunately the sound of ‘So Sad’ is a lot less glam rock than the name of the band – it’s a nice semi-industrial grungey track that would not be out of place on a Nine Inch Nails album. But there’s also a concentration on melody that prevents ‘So Sad’ just becoming a noisy grindathon. The jury is still out about Hewitt’s vocal ability but this is mixed in such a way that you would not pay too much attention to them anyway. Me likey. 8/10



O’Casan – When You’re Around

When You’re Around is a super radio-friendly rock anthem. I mean that in the most negative way possible. The problem is, the track is so catchy it should come with a health warning attached to it: ‘Caution! May invoke involuntary foot tapping.’

Seriously though, the more I think about it, the more confusing it is that O’Casan are unsigned, they’re a major label’s wet dream. They’re a trio of hyper photogenic, buff guys who can apparently churn out infuriatingly catchy, super-slick pop-rock. The only gripe I could possibly dig up is that When You’re Around is a little bit over-produced, almost a bit too clean but there’s no escaping the fact that it’s an immensely likeable tune. 7/10

Dan Shields


James Owen Fender - The Cloud (Plumpton Records)

After being dogged by incredibly bad luck trying to record a debut album for Island that never saw the light of day, James Owen Fender, not to be beaten, now releases his first single on his own Plumpton Records label.

James’ style mixes Bragg/Monkeys style lyrics sung in his broad Leeds accent with a warm and inviting self production job that makes for accessible songs you can tell mean a lot to their creator but are all together plainly average. James could be grouped along with the Monkeys, Jamie T, The View and Kate Nash as the spokespeople for their demographic, geographically as well as socially, though unfortunately the popularity of that strand of pop has been and passed. 5/10

Antonio Tzikas