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singles/eps - september 2010



 

The Slips – 4 Elements to Make Good Music (Lucky Egg)

Dirty dirty dirty electronic music dished up here with a smattering of cod-chemistry. Good music apparently is constituted of hydrogen, helium, lithium and potassium. I’m no Heinz Wolf but I reckon that would be a pretty explosive cocktail and that is what you have here in this song which is unrelenting in its aggressive sound while still being pretty head boppy. 8/10
www.theslipsmusic.com

SB


 

Ozzy Osbourne – Life Won’t Wait (Columbia)

Ozzy Bloody Osbourne? Don’t be fooled – I’m a bit ashamed to say that I really like this. A gibbering buffoon on screen he may be but this track features such towering guitar work and Ozzy’s trademark caterwaul that it is hard not to be impressed. He doesn’t even say ‘Sharon’ once. 7/10
www.ozzy.com

SB


Eskmo – Cloudlight (Ninjatune)

Cloudlight is luscious, complex mix of glitch and dubstep which wouldn’t seem to out of pace on Warp records but equally, forges it’s very own niche. The brainchild of Brendan Angelides, Eskmo also deploy some nice remixing here from Lorn on the B-side ‘Come Back’. Thumpingly good and achingly cool at the same time – the sort of music you wish you could discover but which Ninja serve up consistently for you. 8/10
www.ninjatune.net

SB

 

The Christophers – 7/11

We don’t know much about The Christophers. One of the band looks a bit like Jerome from Flight of the Concords on one of their band shots but other than that, they are a bit of an enigma. What is clear from this single ‘7/11’ is that they are quietly proficient and strikingly good. It’s got a bleepy, disco indie funk sound to it – your perfect slice of 3 minutes pop perfection, right down to a little risqué guitar part in the chorus. Like tightly wrapped ball of lovable wool – you won’t be disappointed. 8/10
www.thechristophersmusic.co.uk

SB

 
 

Hjatalín – Sweet Impressions

They’ve been creating a bit of stir round the Tasty writers in recent months but I’m not sure I’m a fully paid up member of their fanclub just yet. ‘Sweet Impressions’ sounds like a bit of a low budget cross channel ferry cabaret number until the pretty female vocals cut across our gruff male lead. It’s full of optimistic rising scales and nicely orchestrated strings and horns but it never really goes anywhere until about half way through when everything goes a bit nuts. Actually, on second thoughts it is pretty good – it’s that kind of understated way of getting under your skin without you knowing about it that catches you by surprise. 6/10
www.myspace.com/hjatalinband

SB

 
 

I Am Kloot – Proof (EMI)

Nominated for the Mercury Music prize, Manchester’s I Am Kloot treat us to a rarity here by way of the single ‘Proof’ which is taken from the 2003 album ‘Sky at Night’ but never previously released as a single. It’s such a treat that the missus has just poached the CD out of my computer for ‘backing up’ purposes. Not quite my cup of tea but clearly appeals to girlies. 6/10

SB


 

Fortune – Under the Sun/Gimme (Distiller)

While you are waiting for the next Hot Chip album, you could do a lot worse than give Fortune a listen. ‘Under the Sun’ features similar luscious electro-lounge and easy going hooks to those that occurred so often on ‘Made in the Dark. B-side ‘Gimme’ is a little bit more up tempo, the ‘Shake a Fist’ of the album perhaps. Still, it’s all good stuff either way. 7/10
www.myspace.com/ilovefortune

SB

 
 

The Pictures – Killing Time (Par Avion)

This is slickly impressive from The Pictures, taking on influences such as Garbage, Eurhythmics and Sarah Blackwood’s post Dubstar project Client. Judith Algar’s smoky vocals and the clinical production make it difficult for The Pictures to raise any strong emotional identity in this track but you are left with a firm impression that they are a songwriting force to be reckoned with. 7/10
www.myspace.com/the-pictures

SB


 

Chancery Blame and the Gadjo Club – Tokyo Oh Oh/Where is My Mind?

Despite a 10 minute brain wracking session I still can’t recall the name of the band that this sounds uncannily like. Not brilliant journalism there then. But I didn’t like the aforementioned anonymous band much either and this brand of ‘gypsy folk’ – a basic jaunty tune embellished with the likes of clarinets and accordions – doesn’t tick many boxes either. An interesting cover version of Pixies’ classic ‘Where is My Mind’ lifts the gloom – lending it a more maudlin atmosphere than the original’s nihilistic bombast. Top marks for attempting and succeeding with such a well loved favourite. 7/10
www.myspace.com/thegadjoclub

SB

 
 

DELS – Shapeshift (Ninjatune)

There’s lots in this track I like but my overriding impression is that it kind of labours along a bit. DELS rapping has clear diction and a great sense of rhythm plus the backing track courtesy if Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard is serious squelched up stuff and nonsense. But somewhere between the two they seem to fight and grate against each other making for a pretty difficult listen. 5/10
www.msyapce.com/imdels

SB

 

Seeland – Black Dot, White Spider (LOAF)

I think that maybe the fact that this track is presented with four remixes tells a story. ‘Black Dot, White Spider’ bubbles along quite nicely with its polite synths and simple drum pattern pattering away but it’s all so mild mannered you might expect it to be acting as the backing music for some informational video about how to lift heavy boxes in the workplace. The remixes are needed to add a bit of va va voom to proceedings and I can only see that as a weakness in the original recording. 5/10
www.l-o-a-f.com

SB

 

Crushing Blows – Tie Them Down and Get the Answers

It seems years ago now when a ragged CD-r from Derbyshire arrived at Tasty and left us beguiled and confused as to a) how such a talent as Chris Jones could suddenly appear from nowhere and then B) apparently disappear back into the ether without trace. Happy days then are upon us as Crushing Blows sees Chris team up with fellow midlander and improbably named Hurricane Andrew to form Crushing Blows.

Whereas ‘Tie them Down’ shares little of the minimalist style and caterwauling delivery of Jones’ ‘Lonesome Jonesome’ album, it does share his remarkable voice and gift for the slightly off kilter. It’s a full production full of complex tumbling guitar lines and bolstered by stack of impressive drumming courtesy of Andrews’ presence. There’s a compelling question and answer style to the vocal which culminates in some nice shouty choruses to fully wrap things up in a very pleasant return to action from South Derbyshire’s finest. 8/10
http://www.myspace.com/crushingblowsmusic

SB

 
 

Garforth & Myers – Bonfires EP (Self-released)

Garforth & Myers are a … “song writing partnership at the helm of a folk/acoustic collective involving musicians from all over the UK”… This four track EP shows great promise, crossing over from the folk/acoustic market to the mainstream sounds of Elbow and Snow Patrol. The songs are extremely well polished and meticulously constructed. The real challenge for Garforth & Myers will come in standing out from an already very crowded scene.

Mark Whiffin

 
 

Hey! Tonight - Don’t Let It Get To You / Say I’m Sorry (Catalyst Records)

If I said South Wales Valleys, what would you imagine? A few sheep grazing merrily on some green rolling hills? Raggedy pubs serving good ol’ pints to the locals? Rarebit? Gavin and Stacey? I can bet you fifty quid that it wasn’t a pop punk band that goes by the name of Hey! Tonight.

Combining dirty bass lines and rising rollercoaster riffs that pack a punch on the tantalising ‘Don’t Let It Get To You’, this is plenty to wake those gently dozing ewes on the riverbanks. The vocals are perfectly gruff, yet somehow vibrant as they seem to glide over the instrumental seamlessly, enriching the sound. B-side ‘Say I’m Sorry’ mixes a heady concoction of wailing riffs against a thunderous drum beat along with a stark attention to dynamics which make the transitions of sound in flow effortlessly.

Potential seeps through the pores of this tuneful five-piece – maybe a little more originality and tad more lyrical ingenuity and we could have a real stunner of a band on our hands.

Eloise Quince

 
 

Harper Simon – Berkeley Girl (PIAS)

It’s a double edged sword being the son/daughter of someone as famous as Paul Simon. On the one hand it opens lots of doors for you. On the other hand everyone is always going to compare you to your parents. And seeing as you’d struggle to slide a very fine cigratette paper between Paul and Harper’s vocal tones, I’m afraid that this song was always going to sound like a lost track from yesteryear – pretty enough acoustic guitar and voice but not forging any kind of path of its own. 6/10

SB

 
 

Angha – West End Girls (L4M/Angha)

Deary deary me – this really is drivel. Very catchy but drivel all the same. Angha ‘love west end girls’ – presumably west London and not Benwell in the west end of Newcastle. And they keep drilling out the mantra ’West End Girls’ over a party pop electro beat..on and on and on...4/10
www.myspace.com/anghaproductions

SB

 
 

Paul Weller – ‘Fast Car/Slow Traffic’/’Andromeda’ (Island)

This is so un-Welleresque that I actually like it. Both tracks on this double A release are really quirky for the ex-Jam front man. Andromeda sounds more like a Bowie tribute and lists along triumphantly with cheapo piano and gloriously croony Weller vocals. ‘Fast Car/Slow Traffic’ on the other hand is a fast paced, drunken melange of clicky riffs, broken glass percussion and choppy vocals. It’s all very schizophrenic and manicly addictive. 8/10
www.paulweller.com

SB

 
 

Goodluck Jonathan – This is Our Way Out EP (Something/Nothing)

This is very nice work here from Brighton based Goodluck Jonathan. Although they definitely include shades of fellow south coast luminaries Hold Your Horse Is and Everyone to the Anderson, whereas these two bands err more towards the shouty noisy punk end of the spectrum, Goodluck Jonathan tend to gravitate more towards the mathy stuff. There’s plenty of samples kicking about, little neat guitar lines and the occasional echo of reverb. Yet the choruses still kick home with some power – a trick which brings to mind Leicester’s defunct Tired Irie. Conversely they are not afraid of breaking out with a storming intro and then carefully deconstructing it into its constituent parts before re-assembling it in an even more ferocious style – it’s all highly impressive stuff with more than just a simple single oeuvre appeal. 8/10
www.myspace.com/goodluckjonathan

SB

 
 

Out Like a Lion – Back to Front EP (All Aboard)

Bristol four-piece Out Like a Lion combine to form a formidably slick and infectious mathy rock-pop which interestingly is not that far away from the multi-genre pleasing Goodluck Jonathan. ‘Back to Front’ is a minor tour de force, being the almost perfect indie pop song while retaining a nice guitar edge. The little guitar parts in ‘Assembly Room’s instantly rekindle memories of Tubelord’s ‘Night of the Pencils’ – no poor comparison either. There’s even a token bonus acoustic track proving just how infuriatingly good Out Like a Lion are. Damn them. Bless them. 8/10
www.myspace.com/allaboardrecordsrecords

SB

 

Sennen – Innocence EP (Hungry Audio)

A stepping stone between previous album ‘Age of Denial’ and future tours/releases, the ‘Innocence’ EP is probably more of a collector’s item than any real effort to win new fans. The title track is one of the poppier offerings from ‘Age of Denial’ – a little bit Teenage Fanclub and resolutely cheery. The other ‘Age of Denial’ émigré ‘SOS’ is a kind of Death in Vegas shoegazy affair steeped in reverb and nice flange effects. It’s also highly likely to be the corporate paydog for the band (and possibly is bankrolling this rather luxurious EP package) seeing as it was picked up and used in the HBO TV series ‘True Blood’. Kerrrching.

Far more solemn in tone and as such offering an interesting counterpoise to the opening tracks is ‘Don’t Put Your Love to Waste’ – a bit like a Mogwai track with all the guitar feedback removed. And as the press release says – the 7 minute plus of ‘Sennen’s Week Away’ is a bit self indulgent, but not uninterestingly so. It’s heartbeat like percussion breathes life into and holds together the phasing guitars and drones. 8/10
www.sennen.org.uk

SB

 

Spring Offensive – The First of Many Dreams About Monsters

‘Dreams About Monsters’ clocks in at an impressive 13+ minutes in duration and is unadulterated concept. The band have gone to great pains to make sure we know we are not listening about the psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, her hypothesis on the five cycles of grief or even the act of grieving itself. They even go as far to say that they wish they’d never even mentioned the concept. In explaining their thought processes they seem to throw up as many contradictions as they answer. Ultimately Spring Offensive are a delight musically and it’s perhaps a red herring to get too involved with all this conceptualisation. Sure there are the five distinct parts of this track (though not in any particular order to coincide with Kubler-Ross’ proposals) and they string together reasonably successfully, evoking sorrow, hope, despair. But I think if you release such an epically long track then you are automatically opening yourself up to claims of self indulgence. I just hope these claims and assumed motives don’t outstrip the musical quality. 7/10
http://www.myspace.com/springoffensive
Download 'The First of Many Dreams About Monsters'

SB

 
 

Musée Méchanique – Fits and Starts

This reminds me a little bit of Sparklehorse, that kind of definitively American sound which is all very pretty but which I could never really get along with. Sure there’s a nice tinkly mid-summer feel about this but I don’t think I’d give it a second thought after September. 6/10
www.myspace.com/museemechanique

SB

 
 

The Duke and the King – Shaky (Loose/Silva Oak)

This is one of those times when the press release gets it bang on – its countrified soul – and I couldn’t think of a better description. There’s maybe a feint hint of some kind religious music (though not in a hold your hands up gospel kind of way). The sound of the track is fluidly melodic if a little monotonous apart from a brief saxophone break about three quarters of the way through. 6/10

SB

 
 

Tom Jones – Lord Help / Run On (Island)

‘Lord Help’ follows the recent ‘Praise and Blame’ in which Jones got serious for a bit and put together some tunes which were a little bit more than his normal Vegas cabaret act. But there’s something strange about Jones doing blues in this track – his vibrato voice just wobbling at odds with the more direct bluesey sound. Things are a little less incongruous in ‘Run On’ due to the more skiffly beat but essentially the problem is the same - the voice dominates all else, the making of the man and also this releases failing. 5/10

SB

 
 

The Jolly Boys – Rehab (Wall of Sound)

It’s amazing what you learn when trawling through the week’s singles releases. I’ve never even heard of Mento music before but I am now educated to the sounds of the Jolly Boys. Mento, apparently, is a traditional form of folk music from Jamaica which draws on both the African influence from the imported slaves but equally the lack of Spanish influence in this island historically. It has that lilting rhythm associated with ska and reggae but is softened by much more acoustic guitar and a softer sounding vocals sound. If you’d never heard the Amy Winehouse original version of ‘Rehab’ you would be forgiven for thinking this track was as Jamaican as Usain Bolt. You could listen to it just to hear the best pronunciation of the word rehab (‘reee-abb’) ever committed to record. 7/10
www.jollyboysmusic.com

SB

 
 

Houdini – Smokers Cough (Haircut)

Although they namecheck the likes of Future of the Left, Fugazi and Shellac as influences (all good), ‘Smoker’s Cough’ sounds much more like a version of Offspring recorded with all their compression effects turned off. But be not put off as this is also good. Offspring knew how to write a tune and this more spacious sound production gives Houdini a sound a bit like an electrocuted Adam Ant. I suspect this is a very good band indeed and will be watching out for my copy of the next album. 8/10
www.houdiniband.co.uk

SB

 
 

Jets to Zurich - Crimson Tide (Catalyst Records)

Temperamentally atmospheric, this whirlwind of gruff vocals framed by a ruthlessly paced backdrop of thunderous crashing, arrives in a somewhat melodic way, hitting you straight in the centre of your unwitting little face.

Considering Jets to Zurich are only a year on from their initial creation, this is sneaky peek of coming attractions is looking very promising indeed.

Eloise Quince

 
 

Howls – Hammock (Regal)

Bandmates Dan Carey and Stephen Fretwell’s mutual love-in can take second place as Howls sound is equal parts boppy bonhomie and awkward detente. The bass is bright and bubbly but the vocals and mournful guitars add a welcome morbid layer. It’s as near to English Morricone as you will get. 7/10
www.howlshowlshowls.com

SB

 
 

Sound of Guns – Elementary of Youth (Distiller)

No ear-lulling intro here – Sound of Guns bound straight into the main event with big bombastic drums and the signature guitar hook for the song right from the get-go. It’s a simple composition but it’s got that big sound of Doves or Editors. Fists pumping the air coming to a festival near you very soon. 7/10
www.myspace.com/soundofguns

SB

 
 

Pendulum – The Island (Earstorm/Warner)

Interesting move this as it looks as though Pendulum are trying to gatecrash the Balearic club scene with one of their more considered tracks. And by considered, I mean they don’t have stacks of synths bouncing off each other – this is more like an old school house track with proper soulful singing and everything. It’s probably my favourite ever Pendulum song but is it the cutting edge of British electronic and prog & bass music? 6/10
www.pendulum.com

SB

 

Sons of Itto – This is Progress?

Now this is more like it. Sons of Itto are a bit ridiculous. For instance the lyrics to opening track ‘Barry White’ are ‘It Feels Like Barry White when you are not around’. That’s it in total. Furthermore what the hell does it mean? But conversely, Sons of Itto are also deadly serious – Barry White is accompanied by a searing pared-down guitar/bass/drums attack that probably hasn’t been bettered since ‘Nurse’ era Therapy?.

The whole album has a lovely garage sound to it – not in a cheap production sort of way but in exactly the way that makes you want to pick up a guitar and play in a band with your mates. It’s a simplicity that few can pull off – the likes of Fugazi and Future of the Left being some notable examples. There’s also a bit of a change of pace in store with the title track which is an introspective piano led piece just when you were expecting a scuzzy barnstorming closer. I like that bloody mindedness. I like Sons of Itto. 8/10
www.myspace.com/sonsofitto

SB

 
 

Junkie Brush – What You See, What You Hear (Rivet Gun)

Opening track ‘Sickening’ instantly puts me in mind of that kind of aggressive rock/punk rock that we have recently reviewed from the likes of Tupolev Ghost and Fashoda Crisis. The way ‘Sickening’ melts directly into second track ‘Fuelled in the Mind’ is neatly done too. Again there’s an element of Helmet, Therapy? and even Ministry at work here (must be all the shouting through a distortion effect). But above all this is metalled up punk music played with a heavy dominance on the guitars. It’s all brought together nicely with a simmering finale in ‘You Are a Target’ which sounds just bloody great – all funky basslines and threatening guitars – it’s exactly what I liked to listen to when I was 18. All of which means I had brilliant taste all along, finally the modern world has caught up to my taste or that Junkie Brush and me are completely off the planet. I don’t care – no-one will be prising this CD out of my hands. 8/10
www.junkiebrush.co.uk

SB

 

The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car (FatCat)

Is there another band out there at the moment that can inspire such emotion with their music as The Twilight Sad? I very much doubt it. I remember being blown away by them when I saw them live a few years back but it’s just as powerful in recorded format too and ‘The Wrong Car’ may be the glorious maelstrom which marks their peak. Backed with three equally strong tracks in ‘Throw Yourself in the Water Again’, Mogwai’s glitchy remix of ‘The Room’ and Error’s reworking of ‘Reflection of the Television’ this is a must have CD. 9/10

SB

 
 

Hares - 'Pink Radio' (The Hunt)

Bands can describe their own music, list their influences, refer to their previous work, but there isn't ever any substitute for quality songwriting and Hare's frontman Rob Skipper has very neatly assembled an airplay friendly ballad that ought to guarantee itself proper levels of attention from radio DJs. It's really a very good song, cleverly arranged with moody guitar snubbing grinning piano, a male/female duetted vocal and a barely audible flute adding subliminal mystery to an already captivating tune. B-side/2nd track 'Crossroads' is even better, and I await Hares album with unfeigned interest.
http://www.myspace.com/haresband

JG

 

The Xcerts – Young (Belane) (Xtra Mile)

This is the album where The Xcerts sound like they have grown up. Bizarrely it also sounds a little bit retro – harking back to the grunge years of the 90s. There’s a definite Dinosaur Jr twang about a few of the guitar licks and an overall scuzzy, angry feel to the music. However there’s a lovely shouty vocal breakdown in the mid part of the track which effortlessly melds these old and new worlds together an makes sense of the whole song. A confident return. 7/10
www.thexcertsband.com

SB

 

Nadine Khouri – Rouge (Flash)

We said what? It’s always a bit alarming to see yourself quoted on a press release – what if you were having a bad day and completely misjudged something? Fortunately we’re contrary buggers anyway and reserve the right to change our minds several times- doesn’t stop other people complaining but it is part of the normal human condition. However, it seems we may have been spot on about Khouri – she really is a whispering assassin. This track, lifted from the ‘A Song to the City’ is all brooding malevolence – brings to mind ‘Dry’ era PJ Harvey. I am left wondering if it woudn’t have been nice to hear Khouri suddenly explode into a caterwauling vixen but that’s not what she’s about. This is more like lounge music for malcontents. 7/10
www.myspace.com/nadinekhouri

SB

 
 

Timber Timbre – Until the Night is Over (Full Time Hobby)

Timber Timbre are as playful with their musical styles as they are with the wordplay of the name. This track is a little bit psychedelic with the tones of electric piano weighing heavy but the vibrato also lends a sense of the gothic to it. Suitably dark for something originating from the northern latitudes but maintaining a melodic sense of humour. 6/10
www.timbertimbre.com

SB

 
 

Paul Menel – Twenty One

Paul Menel has been working with Gavin Monaghan (hasn’t everyone?) and this curiously upbeat yet maudlin song is one of the results. ‘Twenty One’ refers to someone dying aged 21 (I think) and is set to what sounds like a slightly updated version of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman production method. It also has one of the slowest fade outs I’ve ever heard – it must fade out for about 30-40 seconds – surely some record. 5/10
www.myspace.com/paulmenel

SB

 

The Scottish Enlightenment – Little Sleep (Armellodie)

There’s something in the water north of the border at present whic is seeing a whole host of bands turning out emotive, heartfelt music that no other area is coming close to touching. Maybe it’s all those years of being subservient to the colonial powers inthe south. Either way, ‘Little Sleep’ is a gorgeous shimmering beast which instantly reminds of The Twilight Sad, though possibly a more restrained version. There’s also a more playful aspect to The Scottish Enlightenment as witnessed in ‘Get My Limousine’ - a cutting parody of all the X Factor hopefuls who are convinced that they deserve to famous.

There’s a vitality and pathos about this EP even when dealing with awkward subjects. How many artists have written a song about the treatment of the elderly in are homes? Not many spring to mind but David Moyes’ (no football related giggles please) simple vocal over piano arrangement in ‘Drip Feed’ is incredibly powerful. ‘When You Hate Me’ and ‘San Germain is Thick Tonight’ do little to convince me that this release is anything short of an epic tour de force by The Scottish Enlightenment. 8/10
www.thescottishenlightenment.com

SB

 
 

Warpaint – Ashes to Ashes / Sister Crayon – The Bewley Brothers (Manimal)

Details of who Warpaint and Sister Crayon are elude me due to lack of press release and East Coast trains sketchy wi-fi connection. We are told that all profits go to the Warchild Charity (though who actually makes any profit out of releasing singles anymore?). But in choosing to cover Bowie these bands have a) chosen excellent tracks but b) given themselves a stiff task to put their own stamp on them. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is an insipid failure – don’t mess with genius. Sister Crayon fare slightly better, giving their own tripped out vibe to the classic but still leaving you craving Bowie’s strung out original. 6/10

SB

 

Headtapes - Within these Walls (Doga)

No track list to accompany this one so a bit of abstract overall atmosphere description will have to suffice. First thoughts? Very proficient production and song writing very much in the mould of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘The Slip’ – a good start. The originator of this music is the one man studio band Gareth Wright who has chosen to rename himself simply as ‘G’, I guess Garth Wright is not very rock and rol but ‘G’? It’s little pretentious, non?

Back to the music, Gareth (who I will insist on calling him) also demonstrates a knack for using a more croonerish vocal delivery than good old Trent Reznor (or ‘T’) ever delivers and hence the comparisons with a hardcore version of Soft Cell or New Order. But one thing is pretty clear to me here – this is really good stuff – if you can write songs, sing pretty well and produce like a demon you will be heading in the right direction. Headtapes may suffer from not being instantly as recognisable or as cool as some of their electronic contemporaries but musically they are right up there. 8/10
www.headtapes.com

SB

 
 

Diarmaid O Meara – Max 020 (Mastertraxx)

There’s little doubt that Diarmaid O Meara is the best thing to come out of Ireland since Eoin Morgan. If O Meara can switch-hit a 90 mile per hour ball down to square leg thn he would be even better than Eoin Morgan given the fact that he is one of the leading purveyors of techno around at present. But unless Andy Flower throws up an unexpected selection shocker for the Ashes tour party this afternoon and selects O Meara for his cricketing debut then we’ll just have to marvel merely at his musical ability.

Now relocated to European techno capital Berlin, Maxx020 somewhat disappointingly features 3 versions of the ‘Disco Murderer’ track featured on the ‘Structured Noise’ album. Not that it’s bad track – if you haven’t heard it already then you are onto a winner. But for a full EP I’d like to hear more than just two new tracks. They come in the form of ‘November’ – quite a minimal, considered offering and the more tribal ‘The Source’ which verges towards the Jeff Mills levels of intensity and really fizzles an crackles with intent then seemingly disappears for about minute before bursting back into life. This is the good stuff my friends. 8/10
www.diarmaidomeara.com

SB

 

SomaHigh – Something About You (Animal Farm)

There’s a bristling ambition and energy about SomaHigh which drags you along kicking and screaming with their brand of fast paced punk rock. That is, until the title track ends incredibly abruptly and leaves you thinking, ‘oh, that was good’. No need to drag it out eh? ‘Flashback Tuesday’ is equally as good, featuring a Scooby Doo chase scene guitar riff and a small air of Arctic Monkeys about it. There’s also the unusual coupling of this hyperactive musical sound with the occasionally introspective vocal style which is more Thom Yorke than anything else. From what I recall of ‘Brave New World’ soma was not a drug of choice but was pretty much foisted on the populace. However, I would happily partake in a little bit of this legalised SomaHigh. 8/10
www.myspace.com/somahigh

SB

 
 

Rescue Cat – Luxury Pop (Invader)

Gah – tracklisting only listed on the CD crime alert. That aside, I’m not sure I’d need any names to qualify this as clearly yearning back to the 80’s. If you peel away the better layer of production than was around 30 years ago I’m not sure what you get here. It’s very much Howard Jones/Nick Heywood. Does that make it ironic and cool or just bit cheesey and cheap? This might depend on the age of the listener but as soon as the Stock Aitken and Waterman drum pattern kicked in on the second track I had already made my own mind up. 6/10
www.myspace.com/rescuecatmusic

SB

 
 

Max Raptor – Ghosts (Naim Edge)

In a week where heavy guitars have been strangely absent, Max Raptor serve up the shortfall in this 3 minute piece of melodic punk rock mayhem. In fact it’s melodic enough that this tune might even appeal to those who would shirk anything heavier than The Killers. I even detect\a bit of rock-noir in some of the guitar musings. Nice stuff. 8/10
www.myspace.com/maxraptor

SB

 

Owen Pallett – A Swedish Love Story EP (Domino)

Owen Pallett is getting all sorts of plaudits at present but I’m really struggling with this one. Far from being the sweeping strings which the press release promises, ‘A Man with No Ankles’ features some string work which grates on me like finger nails down a blackboard. Presumably the accolades are all coming from the fact that Pallett mixes pop sensibilities with classical aspects but I’m finding this ll a bit too hyperactive and annoying. Sorry Owen – I’m going to have to take this CD out straight away before I am forced to fillme own ears with cement to protect them. 4/10
www.myspace.com/owenpallettmusic

SB

 
 

Various: Arctic Circle and Humble Soul present...Outer Circle

Artists from three cities asked to perform tracks highlighting something about the city they come from – that’ a pretty loose concept and sure enough, despite her pretty voice and gently rendition, Nancy Elizabeth gives the game away by saying that she ‘just wanted an excuse to cover Smiths song’ (Please Please Please). The exception to this route is presented by Homelife who wrote ‘Manchester Hosepipe Ban’ – a surreal Hawaiian styled instrumental to record events fromthe heatwave in the north west earlier this year. Denis Jones delivers a very convincing cover of John Mayall’s ‘Lonely Years’ complete with recording on 50’s microphones. Most successful track though is probably Eyebrow’s ‘Built in a Day’ which utilises a lovely disembodied brass section over oodles of reverb and atmosphere – it’s very abstract and the abstraction lends itself to engendering thoughts about their home town of Bristol more than a simple cover version could ever do. 6/10
www.jointhecricle.net

SB