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singles/eps - december 2010

I Am Hope – The Fabrication Of Secrets

You can get away with an awful lot sometimes. Do you know the best way to do it? It's to be really good. If the first thing you think when you hear a song is “that's good” and not “They sound like...” then you are getting away with it. I Am Hope are almost really good. There's is the peculiarly British strain of Radio Rock that comes from not having enough sun but really wanting a convertible.

It works in I Am Hope's favour that their “Radio Friendly Rock” genre was only ever interested in whether the songs are good, and won't offend anyone. It must be

Oh faint praise! I don't mean to be too harsh.

There's nothing wrong with being popular. Writing a catchy tune is really hard. Writing a tune which doesn't immediately reveal what influenced it is, apparently harder than I thought. I hope I Am Hope show they can be even better. It'd be nice to see someone become big while also getting better...

Christopher Carney


FireFallDown – Stand Tall

Funk rock is still alive and well it seems, years on from the Chilis bursting onto the scene. ‘Stand Tall’ is a bit of schizophrenic beast of many personalities which fuses funk, hardcore, rap, and good ole rock elements. It’s a uniquely original yet bemusingly dated work. I’ll not let that influence my opinion though –many worthwhile things in life are dated. 7/10



Enter Shikari – Destabilise (PIAS)

Hmm, possibly Enter Shikari’s most shouty, boisterous single to date – more hardcore in ethic and grumbling guitars than the bleepiness of their preceding tracks. While they try to go for some kind of apocalyptic breakdown worthy of a Terminator soundtrack, the verses just sounds a little bit disjointed and unnecessarily staccato. But the typical Enter Shikaro screamalong choruses pull it all together nicely and save the day. 7/10



Syd Matters - High Life (Because)

Belying their Parisian heritage, Syd Matters have a more Art Garfunkel does Scando pop sound than you might expect. ‘High Life’ could have been the next song that St Thomas might have recorded. It’s got am uplifting pop-noir quality underpinned by that well-concealed Gallic chic. Quite lovely really. 8/10



Dels – Trumpalump (Big Dada)

Dels has a quite unique sound – fusing his moderately threatening rap style with the Casio-core bleepiness of Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard. On ‘Trumpalump’, both collaborators are in top form – Goddard turning out the ass-shaking beats and Dels vocal will steadfastly refuse you not to pique some kind of response. Nice remix selection too. 8/10



Seratonin – Live and Forget (Crash)

Rawk. Plain and simple. Seratonin avoid any airs and graces and proceed directly to blistering your ears with guitar squeals and Brian Johnson-esque vocals. It’s a marmite of a track – lots to like or equally not to like so I shall therefore award it a middling 5/10.



Cerebral Ballzy – Insufficient Far (Moshi Moshi)

Holy Christ. Is this proper old school garage punk I hear before me? This Brooklyn outfit actually manage to combine a jungle element of hyperactivity with their underlying punk sound and end up sounds like Bad Brains played at double speed and twice as loud. Impressively painful listening. 7/10



MelonHeadMan - Medicine Man

I’m sorry – I’ll apologise in advance. If you wear lots of leather, probably have a bad haircut, ride a motorbike over the age of 50 and frequent far too long in rock bars then you might like this kind of cliqued blues rock. Apologies to those of you in the aforementioned group who do not. Medicine Man might sound good if you’d necked a good few snakebites in some sleazy pub next to the 1995 Harley Davidson owners’ roadshow but it does nothing for me. 4/10


Ollie Stewart – Night Bell EP

It’s a large pond with a massive massive number of fish in it and so to make yourself known in the singer songwriter role at present is pretty hard work – we have to dredge our way through pounds of bottom feeding musical algae and plankton every week. Great tidings indeed then that Ollie Stewart is clearly a step above these other lesser lights.

There’s just an unmistakable air of quality about the opener ‘I See Love’ which cleverly combines lots of loops and beats and relegates Stewarts voice to a synthesised undercurrent (sorry, I thought I’d finished with these aquatic metaphors). ‘Savour Me’ is a darker story – more Massive Attack yet managing to soar with a stadium filling finesse.

Kudos to Stewart for writing, composing and performing everything on this EP and this level of thoroughness comes over in the consistency of the quality of the material. ‘My Delight’ is a genius dark ballad – part Nine Inch Nails, part Steven Wilson and closer ‘Made at Dark’ is a truly epic crescendo. It’s amazing what you can do in a garden shed in Dorset. 8/10



Seeland – Under Abraham’s Mind (LoAF)

‘Under Abraham’s Mind’ could loosely be termed a concept Ep seeing as it concentrates on Seeland’s understanding of the meaning and composition of the cover version. We’re told much about why each track was chosen ahead of any others but from the space bleeps of Abraham, Martin and John to the psychedelia shoe gaze of Mindrocker to the goth-glitch of Underpass, Seeland put their very own mark on each track. Although they hang together as a very disparate group of songs, Seelands light touch just about holds them together to form a coherent EP. 7/10



Tahiti 80 – Solitary Bizness (Human Sounds)

Tahiti 80. If like me they are one of those names you are sure you’ve heard of before but have no idea what they sound like, then you will not be disappointed by this little beauty of a CD. ‘Solitary Buziness’ highlights the rich, luscious pop sounds infused with highly boppable beats and smooth as silk vocal textures. This EP plays like a Hot Chip album but without all the crappy tracks that they always seem to slip o between the good stuff.

Hailing from Paris and Rouen in northern France, much of this EP is formed in the bands own studio – the ‘Tahitilab’ and unapologetically sums up all that is cool in the Gallic disco scene. They even find time to throw a nod and a wink to the likes of neighbouring Belgium’s Deus in the slinky ‘A Night in the City’. This is reall very good – get yourself a copy. 8/10



Dive Dive – Liar (Xtra Mile)

Dive Dive are Frank Turner’s backing band – there’s a factoid for you. Slightly odd juxtaposed next to this shouty post hardcore track which on occasion is frankly a bit annoying. Yes, we get the message, you are a liar, a liar , a liar. It’s a bit of a non-event for me I’m afraid.



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

Just when the intro was leading me to believe this was going to be dire, the opening track contorts and twists in a most pleasing way for miscreants like myself and I am left in hearty admiration of Goodluck Jonathan’s mathy take on alt-rock. Despite the cardinal sin of missing supporting song list, I don’t need any names to note the occasional spot of ferocious Therapy?-style intensity or the intermittent lusciously sweet guitars which reverb around the mix. There’s some really good use of guitar interplay at work here – it’s not Jimi Hendrix but it is super inventively using the trusty axe. 8/10



Needs Must – Thank You For Choosing Us (Split)

Spot on describing the vocals in the PR as Weller-esque. Not so sure about the garage punk rock – sounds a bit more like the Futureheads to me. Not sure about this one – sounds a little bit thin on the ground – the bass dominates all the verses a bit too much and the Weller-esque vocal fails to make any impression in terms of range or emotion – it’s just like a monotone diatribe until a solitary ‘ein, zwei, drei, vier’ in the outro. 6/10



Nice Purse - Black Medal (TM Records)

I hear a lot of new stuff from the US, and not quite everything I hear has made the journey across 'the pond' intact, as it were. Nice Purse's album is one such eleven track near-disaster. It isn't a bad record by any means, it just suddenly grated on my listening equipment in a way that few albums I've heard recently have managed to do and before you sniff 'he's just writing it down backwards, I know he really likes the album but he can't quite bring himself to say anything enthusiastic about a band called 'Nice Purse'' (I can quite vividly picture the utter cynicism of what are, thankfully, a minority of the Tasty readership)
- well let me qualify my actual criticism of what some other writers and listeners might consider a perfectly acceptable song collection from some youthful and enthusiastic musicians.

It goes like this: anyone see the White Stripes during the 'Elephant' tour in 2003? Remember that support band? No, not the ones that did the Tom Petty and Ramones covers (they were The Go, if memory serves), the other ones. The three guys that looked like Donny Osmonds greatnephews and sounded like amplified lobsters boiling in their own ordure, produced by Dave Freidmann while drunk, and using taped samples of a cat getting run over by a lawnmower instead of a guitar? Whirlwind Heat, that was them, serious candidates for the worst band (UK or US) I ever saw or heard, ever. In the known history of both my reviewing career and every gig I saw before then, plus the known history of the entire universe. Who do Nice Purse remind me of on more levels than I thought myself actually able to experience music upon? Yeeeeeeeees, I was sober that night, definitely.



Conquering Animal Sound – Bear (Gizeh Records)

In the past year, the hushed looped female vocal, accompanied by a beats and crackle score supplied by a male hunched over a laptop, seems to have become almost clichéd. However, the innovative sounds produced by many of these acts means further comparisons are indeed hard, and unfair, to make. Conquering Animal Sound hail from Glasgow and ‘Bear’ is the first taster from their forthcoming debut album ‘Kammerspiel’ (also on Gizeh records). Anneke Kampman’s dream like vocals are captivating and at times almost hypnotic, due partly to the loop effects subtly employed. This is a very strong release and one that hopefully heralds the arrival of an equally stunning album. 9/10

Mark Whiffin


We Are Enfant Terrible – Wild Child / Flesh ‘n’ Blood Kids (Last Gang)

First things first – We Are Enfant Terrible are bloody great. In an apparently effortless way that only three cool kids from Paris could achieve, both tracks on this release fizz unsuppressed, bursting with energy and cool in equal measure. WAET balance that difficult tight rope of cheesey 8-bit spoddiness and swaggering indie cool without breaking sweat. 9/10



The Book Club – The Fantastical Adventures of Mr K (Linky)

The Book Club are an instantly likeable band. Opener ‘Perspex Princess’ pulls no punches – a kind psyche-rockabilly hybrid which would not be out of place on an album by fellow Sheffielders The Arctic Monkeys. They share that same Rickenbacher guitar sound and pithy lyrics. But while they are instantly likeable and the tracks are definitely catchy, they are missing that killer tune which can really launch a band. But the ‘Fantastical Adventures of Mr K’ is only their second release so maybe that grondbreaker is just around the corner. 7/10



Feeder – This Town / Down to the River (Big Teeth)

What a bundle of terrific oddness this is. ‘This Town’ sounds like some kind of seventies glam stomp but a seriously beefed up version courtesy of Chris Sheldon’s meaty production. It bounds along with the energy of a band half the age of Feeder. This is perfectly countered with the more expansive and serious ‘Down to the River’ which offers up a side to Feederwhich I did not know existed – kind of half way between Andy Cairns nouvo goth delivery from ‘Church of Noise’ era Therapy? and Michael Stipe. Unexpectedly rather marvellous. 8/10



Belladonna feat. Michael Nyman – Let there Be Light (Belladonna Records)

I am frankly staggered that someone as lauded as Michael Nyman was somehow convinced to offer his services on this track by Italian alt-rockers Belladonna who have single handedly taken the theme from ‘The Piano’ and ladled crashing chunks of guitar and goth opera vocals all over it, rendering it a clunky, flawed collaboration.



Junkboy – Pieces in the Sky (Enraptured)

Somewhat of a south coast supergroup, Junkboy return with this beautiful slice of pop-noir where twinkling verses give way to be soaring choral string arrangements that are both uplifting and a little bit foreboding. It sounds equally like a previous incarnation of the Emmerdale theme and some gritty cop show from the 70s, pastoral and urban in one, modern and retro. 7/10



Josh Bray – Whisky & Wool

It seems to be almost de rigueur that modern folk/blues artists have to somehow include the word whisky in their work at some point. And whilst falling into this verbal pattern, Josh Bray does manage to alleviate any other such hackneyed attributes by performing in a lovely, understated way, very Ray Lamontagne or Damien Rice. ‘River Song’ is pretty timeless and ‘Bigger than Both of Us’ is equally familiar while still being performed in such a way as to make it sound welcome. There’s no pretence in Bray’s voice – it just got a naturally warm tone that is very listenable. 7/10



To Bury a Ghost – The Hurt Kingdom

Even if you don’t recognise the name of Jon Stolber in the sleeve notes, you’ll recognise a couple of the tracks from his previous incarnation as Hungry I. ‘Birthday’ has definitely featured in Tasty before but this new version, now bolstered by fellow musicians Rupert Boddington and Marc Bransgrove delivers an even bigger punch. These works are largely orchestral in arrangement but combine a post-rock tension and the great success of the new band members is really let the original compositions expand and soar.

Stolber’s vocals remain at the epicentre of this swirling wind of musicianship, breathy and atmospheric like The Sneaker Pimps or fellow East Midlanders Her Name is Calla.

‘The Hurt Kingdom’ is wonderfully dark and well defined – it surely sounds like the result of many years work, no room for a lazy fill-n track here or an ill-considered outro there. And to cap such an effort, the artwork is beautiful; photography, graphics, typeface and even a printed and watermarked tracing paper slip sleeve. This is what people talk about when they mention a labour a love. 8/10



The Jolly Boys – Perfect Day (Wall of Sound)

Surely the best mento-cover version of a Lou Reed track ever? Consider this – The Jolly Boys formed in the 1940s – they don’t just look back to songs which they are thinking of covering, they’ve had chance to look forward to them, experience them first hand, then look back and review before deciding which tracks they’d like to cover. As it goes I don’t think this is the most successful effort from their recent album – it’s a bit more literal than some other covers they perform, but the sheer musicality in their voice and performances cannot be missed. 7/10



The Human League – Night People (Wall of Sound)

Yes, the Human League. And for a band who has been away for 10 years this track is certainly no disgrace. But then the stars are probably aligned at present – there’s so much 80’s disco and dance influence in modern electronic music that we have come about circle and The Human League’s boy-girl sound over a contemporary synth track is right on the money. 7/10



Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith – Not in Love

A mutual Smith-Castles love-in has resulted in this re-working of the original ‘Not in Love’ track from the Crystal Castles 2 album. And it’s a doozey. Big bad Bob adds just a touch of pop sensibility to it and helps defrost Crystal Castle’s sometimes frosty sound. In fact, if you had missed Crystal Castles for the last few years you could easily be forgiven for thinking this was a prime piece of Cure Action. 9/10




Breton – Counter Balance EP (Hemlock)

This is genre splicingly brilliant as Breton manage to combine elements of math rock (just listen to those guitar pieces in ‘RDI’), grime a la Teebs and programming to dizzy the senses. The title track introduces a bit more of a hip hop vibe and ‘Hours Away’ is coolly urban while still delivering some intelligent techno influences. 8/10



Bang on – Hands High (Big Dada)

Dirty hard-hitting stuff here from cutting edge Scouse rapper Elliott Egerton who, understandably, has decided to change his stage name to something a bit cooler. Mr On! Is so on his game here, spitting out his rhymes like a verbose Steve Gerrard that you could be forgiven overlooking the equal impressive underlying dubstep creations of fellow Scouse collaborator Dixie. Now to eject and give the bass speakers a bit of a rest...7/10



Sweet Gorilla – Feels like I’m Still in Love (Lydian)

Looks like Sweet Gorilla have blatantly stolen some of their graphics from somewhere – I’ve yet to decide if it is Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes or it’s a photoshopped montage of a gorilla wearing Darth Vader’s helmet. Either way, this song sounds like Neil Diamond backed by a cruise ship house band. 3/10



Wheels – Feel About Me (This Feeling)

From their press shot you could confuse Wheels with The Verve and on first listen there is a definite Britpop meets XTC influence here. But damn me if this isn’t one of the catchiest tracks I’ve heard this month. Can’t understand a word he is saying but if I did I might just sing along too. 8/10



Girl Afraid – Believe What Comes Next

The title track here sounds a little bit like the band were struggling for writing and recording time – it just seems to splurged out in one long stream of consciousness where the time changes, breaks and other individual parts have little individual identity of their own until the crunching guitar bridge kicks in after 2 minutes. ‘The Many Moods of Larry David’ feels like a much better piece of song writing to me but again, I find it a bit vocally innocuous. 6/10



Claire Nicholson – Toothpaste and Whisky (Canned)

Our second song title with Whisky in the title this month and little surprise it’s a folk blues crossover as supplied by Claire Nicholson. Sorry but I’m finding little to write home about here – it’s pretty standard fodder. 5/10



Stateless – Ariel (Ninjatune)

This definitely sounds a bit different from the previous Stateless stuff I’ve heard – there’s massive kick drum and some interesting music box melody tinkling along over the gutsy dubstep beats. It’s all going well until it just fizzles away in a disappointing fade out. 7/10



Lupen Crook – Dorothy Deserves (Beast Reality)

Maybe the spattergun vocal delivery and the criss-crossing rag tag rhythms give the impression that this is a bit of a motley crew, a modern day Levellers perhaps. But if you scratch under the surface there’s quite a bit technical expertise going on here so the skill is surely in the fact that you aren’t left wondering how many words a second can physically be sung, but more just marvelling at the way it sounds. 7/10



Dogshite – s/t EP (Beetroot)

This is a tough one to call. Despite an outwardly punk sound, Dogshite’s female vocalist introduces a deadpan delivery which is completely at odds with the anarcho energy of the music. This I like. What I dislike is a general lack of thoroughness more akin with a mediocre pub band. Maybe its part of the band’s ethos not to try too hard but there’s little slack moments that drop in every so often – vocals go off-key, the guitar fuzz effect is really cheap and nasty and some of the bass is a bit baggy. It’s for that reason that although ‘You Can’t Control My Freedom’ has all the potential to be the nest song on here by far, actually final track ‘Affirmative’ with its unstuttering drive and Joy Division minimalism takes the crown. 6/10



The Loves – December Boy (Fortuna Pop!)

The Loves all seem to get one well and draw in favours from various well-connnected friends to appear on this Spector-esque track. I’ve tried repeatedly (and failed nearly always) to enjoy this kind of fey pop. With the news that The Loves are likely to call time on their ten year career in February 2011 it seems that I am not alone. 5/10



The Wind Up Birds – Courage, For Tomorrow Will Be Worse (Sturdy)

A second strong outing from The Wind Up Birds here. On this occasion I am left wondering if the band features a couple of town and country planners within their employ seeing as two of the four songs are about urbane decay, slum clearance etc. The WUBs are definitely angry men and they make no attempt to hide their ire. But it’s not just a simple outpouring of spite – it’s clever lines about call centres and peoples’ apathy in letting local shops fail. Set to quickfire riffs and just the right amount of backing vocals I think The Wind Up Birds are rapidly becoming one of my favourite current local bands. 7/10



Dust On The Breakers – American Reclamation EP (Rainboot)

Mean people would say Dust On The Breakers are getting heard because this year was The National’s year. The parallels between DOTB’s mature American rock and the band of the year’s style are obvious. Dark and deep atmospheric songs, acoustic or modestly arranged tones that tend to break out when the anger rages. However, DOTB are quieter and focus more on despair than anger. Where The National breaks out into cold anger, DOTB remains in an ambient and introverted atmosphere.

The American collective’s (the line-up is composed by members of little known American bands, e.g. Jeff Linsenmaier from the Czars and Tim Husman from Crooked Fingers, and is also supported by a range of guest musicians, e.g. The Fray’s Ben Wysocki) most remarkable pieces are “Charred Metropolis” and “Frontier”. The first of these because it not only comes close to The National, but also very close to The Cardigans. Vocalist Anna Slade backs up singer Jeff Linsenmaier like it could be on a reversed duet of a Cardigans B-Side. The strongest song on their EP is “Frontier” that really could be a Cardigans’ song. The tone is very introverted; the absorbed-in-thought male-female voices create a highly intense fragility and makes you believe this a musical version of a sun set over the Rockies. However, a little more dynamic could have brought some variety: The all-of-a-sudden piano staccato on “Summer Rainstorms” is on the right lines, but during this epic crescendo the song loses its hook; the most memorable part of the solemn down-tempo ballad “Quiet Please” is the intimate bridge, the rest of the song, however, remains very depressed. DOTB come to their virtuosic top during the five minute nightmarish but shimmering instrumental outro of “Quiet Please” which marks the end of American Reclamation. Not a masterpiece yet, but a good companion for your dark hours.

Wolfgang Günther


The Cult of Dom Keller – EP1 (Apollo Audio)

Its funny the things in music that the printed press tend to skate over these days. In the UK, time was that there was a good chance your snotty little band from Nottingham would get reviewed in some way or another in the weeklies if it was good enough. And while a number of Psych/Garage acts (Wooden Shjips for instance) have been allowed to poke their head above the parapet and receive more media attention, nowadays the weekly press is solely represented by the NME, and the problems it has had in maintaining some sort of circulation, (and by extension, its own existence) mean that music like this generally just doesn’t get a fair crack of the whip in terms of exposure. Thankfully though, we have the internet and we have Tasty, which means I can sing the praises of this claw hammer of an EP.

This is full on headache inducing, blood-pissing-out-of-your-nose-and-ears noise. The song being merely a bit-part player in what can only be described as ‘the experience’, you are transported through a seamless 20 minutes of aurally stunning soundscapes. Vocals tend to supplement the sound only and are barely audible most of the time. Essentially, if you feel any sort of affinity for Space Rock and the music of 13th Floor Elevators, BRMC, early Jonestown Massacre, or The Warlocks, then this EP will be right up your strasse. In many ways it succeeds on a level that more commercially successful bands such as Black Angels do not; this feels like the resources to make it were strictly limited, and as a result it sounds much more authentically skuzzy. That’s not to say that it sounds cheap – the drum sound for “Goatskin Dream” is quite, quite astounding and many higher end studios should be looking at this recording in envy. A quite fantastic beginning for this band. 8/10.



The Kickliner - The Kickliner EP (Rainboot)

Grittier and rougher, The Kickliner have announced themselves with this stunner of an EP. A much fuller sound than was heard back in March with the EP ‘Seventeen’, the new layering of timbre has created a much more dynamic sound, especially in ‘17th Floor’ where the use of distortion and crashing cymbals has never been deemed more appropriate.

Still with a lyrical passion for love, loss and everything in between, the poetry is a modern take on life, even though it uses the fundamentals of human nature for a story. ‘Amsterdam’ shows off this perfectly as well as revealing The Kickliner to have a taste for acoustic ballads, or as close as they get with this band, shaking off heartbreak and lost love with the flick of a tambourine and the pluck of a string. Much in the same vein is ‘This Is A Gift’, that gently croons through alliteration and minor chord changes before falling into a melting chorus.

I think there is something about the name Emily/Emilie that strikes a chord in songwriters, and The Kickliner are no exception. Fantastic ‘Emilie’s Room’ is disjointed enough in the echoing vocals to keep a detached narrative, but there is something distinctly personal in the chasing riffs that cannot be avoided. Juxtaposed to this heartfelt tune is ‘Seventeen’, almost a classic now for this band with the glorious riff ringing out, shining above the steady drum beat and raspy vocals tell tales of growing up in all of its uncouth glory.

This band get better and better.

Eloise Quince


Imp – Just Destroyer EP

Quite possibly the most unique, unconventional EP to cross my path for some time. It’s difficult to sum up as there’s no overall feel to this, more an eclectic mix mashed onto a CD.

Track 1 opens with fuzzy guitars. And continues in that vein. What more do you want? Lyrics? Sorry, not here. Try track 2.

Which gives you the lyrics you crave but sounds like a Japanese Haiku.

Track 3 delivers lethargic indie pop which never quite reaches an anthemic climax but certainly hints towards it.

Track 4 throws it all together with lyrics limited to high pitched ‘oohs’ throughout.

And then closing track 5 which seems like another instrumental until 3 minutes in and suddenly have a minute of the repeated line “I saw your face walking down the street and I thought,” then screamed to varying degrees, “What is going on?”

Couldn’t have put it better myself. An apt way to close such an EP. Strange, out there, very much off the beaten track but, ultimately, not in a bad way. 7/10

Jim Johnston


Piskie Sits – The Way I’d Like To Go EP

Hailing from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, with a band name almost like a Scooby Doo end of episode quote, listening to this 4 track EP it’s difficult to place Piskie Sits within their northern roots sounding as they do very much part of the American Alt rock scene.

The sound is very much fuzzy and uncomplicated, being restricted to guitars and drums, the tunes tend to work leisurely towards crescendos without ever actually getting there. Think The Strokes on valium or The Smashing Pumkins at their most laidback and you’ll be getting somewhere near to the sound of this.

Not setting the world alight, but definitely better than average. 7/10

Jim Johnston


Mark Corbett – Crocodiles EP

From the first listen it is clear that Corbett has a very simple take on folk music and this simplicity makes it easy to warm to him. Despite a couple of rather crackly recordings (presumably these weren’t deliberate as they definitely detract rather than add to the tracks), Corbett’s minimal palette of guitar, voice and occasional beat roll along as pleasing as a salad the day after Boxing day. Could definitely do with losing that crackle in the sound though. 7/10



The Superimposers – Christmas Again

There’s something odd about listening to Christmas songs three days after Christmas – they don’t quite seem so festive anymore. And it’s not long before the bells (tubular and jingle) are thrown in to the mix with minimal effect on this particular Scrooge. Far better is the psyche-pop of ‘Chasing Christmas’ which if it were stripped of its vocal samples would stand up perfectly well as a (gulp) real song in its own right (surely a song shouldn’t need a theme as crutch?). Gah! Return of the bells in ‘Would it Be Christmas’ (though in fairness the whole song in played out on a music box so it would be hard not to sound just a little bit belly). 6/10



Sudanese Playboys – Raised on Alcohol

It may be my over-sensitivity to Christmas songs at present but on first inspection I thought the cover of this CD depicted a Santa with a sack of toys on his back. Closer inspection reveals a soldier in infantry uniform plying a red guitar. Great, not a Christmas song then.

Instead Sudanese Playboys combine a British indie sound with some more middle eastern style melodies. This could work well but it is delivered with a bit of a lacklustre effort which despite sounding crisp, just makes the songs here sound a bit dull. 5/10



Butterfly Fan the Inferno – Brassneck (BFTI)

It’s a bit of an unwieldy name and to be honest the music is a bit similar too. There’s lots of technical proficiency and choppy timings which give a bit of a ska feel to ‘Brassneck’ before the big rock guitars kick in, but a little similar to Sudanese Playboy, these tracks just fall a bit flat. 6/10



The Wave Pictures – Jonny Helms Sings (Moshi Moshi)

The Wave Pictures are cool aren’t they? I’ve definitely heard cool people talking about them. They are now so cool that they are getting their drummer to sing on this little release. That is definitely cool (think Phil Collins after all). Shame then that ‘Now You Are Pregnant’ and Sleepy Eye’ sound like the Arctic Monkeys with all the good bits stripped out. 4/10



Francis Neve – Brian’s Drying Up (FFR)

This is a very introspective form of lo-fi pop tinged with just a smattering of acid-jazz. Dull as ditch water. 4/10



Slide on Venus – Put Music to Your Troubles (Sovstar)

Due to the haphazard nature of the singles reviewing process lately I have thoroughly misplaced the press release which accompanied this 5 track EP from the French power-pop 4 piece Slide on Venus But unusually for this kind of emotion-laced stuff, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for ‘Put Music to Your Troubles’. You can’t beat a good tune and SoV seem to just churn out the cracking riffs with the regularity of The Manics or The Foos. There is the occasional moment when lead vocalist Alban de Luca’s voice just gets a bit too overwrought for my liking but you can’t deny the fact that he has a distinctive sound. 7/10



Crazy Arm – Amber Town / Sweet Storm (Xtra Mile)

Don’t think I’ve heard of roots-punk before but if this is what it sounds like then I think I am a bit of a fan. Think of a rocked-up version of Mumford and Sons maybe. There’s every indication that Crazy Arm are big Springsteen fans both in their delivery and choice of covering one of his songs in ‘Amberstown’. ‘Sweet Storm’ is more standard folksy fair, albeit played at a breakneck pace and with a conviction that creates a dramatic atmosphere. 7/10



The Hush Now – On Holiday

From its humble lounge-groove beginnings, ‘On Holiday’ explodes into a full-on horn-laden, jingle bells copying little song that is unabashed in its cheesey grandiosity. The Hush Now may well be the new Divine Comedy. 6/10



Lotte Mullan – Can’t Find the Words

Despite sounding a bit like a single malt from the outer Hebrides, Lotte has penned a nice poignant tack here bemoaning her own cowardice in not telling people she cares about what they really need to know. It makes for a quite an interesting twist on the usual self-centred nature of most lyrics (assuming you consider her to be feeling bad for her friends rather than wallowing in self pity at her own lack of courage) and the very simply composed accompanying track gives the words room to be heard. 6/10



Verse Chorus Verse – Scorched Earth EP

One for the post-rock fans of you out there but maybe also a few others as well will warm to this immaculately composed and produced 3-track EP. Whereas ‘Carelessness Causes Fires’ and ‘Walking Home’ err towards the more prosaic end of the post rock spectrum (though are beautiful in their own ways), EP opener ‘My Home Now’ hits out as a euphoric clarion call. Julian’s vocals are soaringly impressive, like a Matt Bellamy with all the pomposity kicked out of him and the guitar work is precise and equalling uplifting throughout.

On a (possibly unrelated) note, band member Hannah Higham shares her name/is the author of one of the most well thought out arguments about music criticism on the web in the Guardian article ‘To Criticise the Critics’. We could spend hours every week justifying the existence of Tasty fanzine, blogs in general and individual complaints about apparent harsh reviews of individual acts. We won’t be doing that but would recommend you read this article and the comments. 8/10



The Pipettes – Santa’s on His Way (Fortuna Pop!)

Take one of the most Twee bands from tweesville going and ask them to do a twee song about Santa and you get uber-twee. I can’t stand it (and we all know Santa doesn’t exist). Bah! Humbug! 3/10



Conchitas – House on Fire (Delicious)

Awesome! Conchitas and their Pat Butcher-voiced singer Elena keep writing their music, keep sending in their singles to Tasty and we keep dissing them. And so they should – we are only an opinion after all. And although it’s a bit like a wooden electro pop version of Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex is on Fire’, ‘House on Fire’ is possibly their best effort yet. Well, their least worst. 4/10



TrueBeat – Shanty Town (TB)

I’m guessing that ska/metal/punk crossover is a bit of an acquired taste and it’s taking e some getting used to. But despite the outwardly spiky composition and lashed together variety of styles, after a few listens you can work out this is actually a very cleverly crafted record with good hooks. 7/10



Sick Puppies – All the Same (Virgin)

Forming a mildly more successful Australian/US combination than Kidman-Cruise, Sick Puppies sound like a band who have pillaged their parents’ Metallica collections then been brought up on radio friendly power pop. It’s really nicely done with some great choppy time changes but I’m seeing soft focus, slow motion videos and a heavy bending towards a commercial market. 6/10



Sealings – s/t EP (Tye Die Tapes)

An aberration on my part. Despite being greeted with the news last month that Sony were no longer going to produce the Walkman (did anyone even know they were still making them?) I am an ardent fan of the cassette tape and all the joys and horrors which it inspires. Unfortunate then that due to the esoteric nature of the medium, the standard Tasty gramophone was not up to the job and the cassette was whisked away to the inner sanctum of the Tasty bedroom where the specifically purchased combination DAB radio/cassette player (now there’s a weird combination) resides. And there it has stayed until now, forgotten about in the dark Perspex door of dubious quality.

That is until now, when we have finally rediscovered the tape and all its glory. Sealings are a noisy bunch, perfectly suited to the crackle and wah of cassette. Side one veers from the pysch-rock of ‘Panadol’ and into a spiky surf-garage sound of ‘Audition’, exactly what home recording was made for. Side two...well, you’ll just have to excuse me a minute while I get up and flip it over...ah, yes, it’s similar but in reverse, culminating in the spacey ‘Factory’. It all just reminds me of a time when new music was all about attitude and ideas, not appearance, demographics or getting Mark Ronson to produce it for you. 8/10



The Superimposers – Ashley Beedle remix EP

3 different remixes here of ‘Tumbledown’ by the Superimposers. I’m not that familiar with the original so suffice to say Beedle’s interpretations are completely new to me. There’s a temptation to coin them as Krautrock but I’m not sure simply adding an ‘ein, zwei, drei’ overdub constitutes Kraut rock – the mix is too soft for that. They well and swell rather than batter and barge – pleasing yuletide fare actually – this would not be an unpleasant record to play in the background while your Gran opens here sugared almonds. 6/10



The Brights – Footsteps (Lemonpop UK)

‘Footsteps’ has that bright, distinctly British indie-pop sound a la Housemartins, The Bluetones etc. But this track is a bit of a dodo – the vocals keep lurching off at a tangent and so the whole thing tends to just meander along without much purpose. 4/10



Is Tropical – South Pacific (Kitsune/Cooperative)

There’s a big Is Tropical fanbase among the Tasty writership (if such a word exists) so better be careful what I say here. ‘South Pacific’ demonstrates a band who can make the simplest of song structures and melodies sound interesting by using a variety of lo-fi electro beats and bleeps to animate things. I don’t think it’s great but it certainly doesn't bore me. 6/10



Paris Suit Yourself – Lost My Girl (Big Dada)

PSY cannot be accused of not pushing the boundaries. ‘Lost My Girl’ sounds like a demented version of dEUS caterwauling and baying to the full moon. It’s ridiculously melodic yet cunningly powerful, using tribal yelps and harmonies to build up a full sound over the scant lo-fi percussion. Oh, and then there’s a skiffle breakdown to complete the track. Obviously. These guys are scarily creative but I don’t think I’d want to be stuck in a lift with them. 8/10



James Vincent McMorrow – s/t EP (Vagrant/Believe Digital)

I’m often bemoaning the quality of singer songwriters (well, I’m actually bemoaning a lot of things a lot of the time but I just put that down to a personality defect) but with James Vincent McMorrow there can be no complaints. He has a soulful voice which brilliantly brings his folky songs to life and the tracks hold a tension that sets them way above your standard crooner. Praise indeed that after a full morning listening to music the moment I go and make a sandwich (normally something to which I give my full attention) I find myself humming along the tune from ‘This Old Dark Machine’. The two 8 track demos are even more startling due to their stripped down quality and leave you marvelling at just how good JVM sounds. 9/10



Mike Marlin – Stayin’ Alive (AMP)

It’s a cover version of The Bee Gees classic. Not sure why or how it showcases Mike Marlin’s talents given that he himself describes his sound as ‘nothing like the Bee Gees’. So ‘Stayin’ Alive’ with a deep voice then. 5/10



Miles Kane – Inhaler (Columbia)

So the front man of The Rascals and Last of the Shadow Puppets has gone out on his own. I couldn’t really get on with either of those two bands and instantly this has a similar sound, like Kane wishes he was a extra on the set of Bullitt or a henchman in Al Roberts rooftop restaurant in Get Carter. Pacey and catchy but still just a bit too derivative for my liking. 6/10



Viva Stereo – Endure the Dark to See the Stars (De-Fence)

It’s been quite a trip following Viva Stereo. From their early days as a more ostensibly indie band, through a progression towards a much greater electronic and remix element as the band members were scattered across the UK. And now we have ‘Endure the Dark’ which sees a startling return to a live sound, possibly the most raw sounding release yet. And what a tour de force it is, slowly majestic and blessed with fragile vocals courtesy of Ambrose Tompkins’ Rob Waddington. Things look bright for the upcoming new album. 8/10
Download ‘Endure the Dark to See the Stars’(MP3)