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singles/eps - july 2011



Ludwig Amadeus feat. Ikes – I’ve Been Up (Size 9)

How disappointing. Here I am, all full of new found enthusiasm at the start of a new month and the first thing I listen to is a dreary electro house pastiche that could have been recorded any time in the last fifteen years. There are two remixes also, neither of which really warrant a mention. 4/10

SB


 

Rendezvous – C Sharp (Moot)

Lurching from one electro disaster to another? Already? Afraid so. In fact ‘C Sharp’ is so cheesey that even Mrs B poked her head round the door of the office and asked what hell I was listening to. It’s part prog, part electro. Proglectro? Electrog? Little surprise that the two remixes by Carl Cox add some much needed savvy touches and a harder techno sound, in fact they are pretty damned good (and not recognisable). But it’s not enough to save the original I’m afraid. 5/10
www.rendezvousmusic.co.uk

SB


Jono McCleery – Wonderful Life/Garden (Counter)

I normally find covers versions a good cure for insomnia but Jono McCleery’s version of the 80’s classic by Black is startlingly good. A spartan, eerie sound envelopes the listener and draws you in to McCleery’s wonderful vocals. B-side ‘Garden’ is an original but is also very good. Urgent, wistful, exotic and absorbing in equal measures. 9/10
www.jonomccleery.com

SB

 

Theophilus London feat. Devonte Hynes & Solange Knowles – Flying Overseas (This is Music)

Not normally one for the whole rap-soul crossover thing, I have to admit to being impressed by this. There’s a continuous dark undercurrent through ‘Flying Overseas’ which perfectly counters any excessive schmaltziness which could otherwise creep in. 7/10
www.theophiluslondon.net

SB

 
 

Borderline Syndrome – Promo 2010

Forgive any absent minded, inadvertent minor racism here but is this what passes for normal in Greece, the home of Borderline Syndrome? Musically there are some interesting things happening here but the constant, atonal caterwauling of singer Sophia Sarri is real nails down the blackboard stuff. For every neat guitar lick there is a wailing banshee in the background – it’s a real struggle to get through, even ‘Shock Doctrine’ which is largely instrumental and made up of samples is given the Sarri sound. Most unfortunate. 3/10
www.myspace.com/borderlinesyndrome

SB

 

The Wind-Up Birds – Meet Me at the Depot / Popman (Sturdy)

The Wind-Up Birds are slowly but surely building up an impressive catalogue of tracks with their raw DIY sound and gritty northern vowels which slowly but surely build into intense fiery indie-noir classics. ‘Popman’ is a bit more direct, more punky than introspective and revisits the glorious days of getting your Dandelion and Burdock delivered to the door by a guy in a big lorry. Or, as the Wind-Up Birds inform us, ‘A Man with a van bringing pop to the people’. A gem. 7/10
www.thewindupbirds.co.uk

SB


Urban Myth Club – Surrender (TRL)

In addition to the luscious backing track, it’s the awesome spectral vocals of MizAgata that really set this song alight. It’s a bit trip hoppy in a Bjork/Sneaker Pimps/Portishead way but a whole lot more as well, including huge sweeping grandiose choruses that wouldn’t be out of place on a Bond soundtrack. 8/10

SB

 

The House of Flukes – You’re King (Wooden Clogs)

Urgh, clavinet plus shoo-wop plus music hall vocals does not get me going. I’d go as far to say I find this mildly annoying, at best. 5/10
www.houseofflukes.com

SB


Super Distortion – Autocue / Superbug (Pointy Bird)

How can you fail to warm to the music of Pete Bradley, a man whose’ other nom de plumes include ‘Man in Formaldehyde’ and ‘Art Giraffefungal’? Autocue is fully played out through a fuzz box which gives the bass a lovely gruff sound but still doesn’t end up sounding too muddy. It’s a touch proggy, a touch shoe-gaze. But talk about a contrast, the B-side ‘Superbug’ sees Bradley in more reflective move with a nice jangly folky song which more than occasionally veers off into 70s druid rock. It’s certainly not mainstream. 7/10
www.pointybirdrecords.co.uk

SB

 

Shoot the Dead – Don’t Stop Dancing

You’ve got to hand it to Shoot the Dead, they certainly give it their all. It’s a kind of rock-dance hybrid that wouldn’t have been out of place in the 90s next to the likes of Senser. The parpy synth line is a bit reminiscent of Faith No More’s ‘From Out of Nowhere’ and the frenetic yelps of singer Andi are all her own. I particularly like the yelps – it sounds like someone is repeatedly standing on her toe or something. 7/10
www.shootthedead.co.uk

SB

 

The Kayas – I Have Been Waiting (Abblet)

From the press shot, The Kayas are still wearing retro Adidas gear, from their music they are still sounding like a hybrid of the Stone Roses and Oasis. Resolutely living in the past with their simple guitar lines and uncomplicated vocals. And it sounds great. 7/10
www.thekayasmusic.com

SB

 

The Winchell Riots – Figure 8s EP (Andrew the Great)

Very polished and slick, there’s still more than a little temptation to think the title track sounds like a watered down version of U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’. There’s also something very Bryan Adams about ‘The Man Who Mapped the Oceans’. And I’m not trying to be disparaging here – both these songs are incredibly complex and soaring, quite beautiful actually Just goes to prove you can be a bit derivative but still very good. 7/10
www.thewinchellriots.co.uk

SB

 

The Doomed Bird of Providence – The Fedicia Exine Remixes (Front and Follow)

6 remixes of the same track? It’s actually a bit more conceptual than that but basically we have 6 versions here. Not being party to the original it’s hard to say where the collaborators effects start and where The Doomed Bird creativity stopped. In fact I’m not having a great deal of success unpicking one version from another. However, as an entity I find it quite beautiful – it’s not exactly taxing as the drones and loops wash over each other, phase in and out etc but the overall effect is wonderfully soporific and enchanting. Excellent ‘going to sleep’ music, the best since The Orb. 7/10
www.frontandfollow.com

SB

 
 

Japanese Voyeurs – Cry Baby (Fiction)

‘Cry Baby’ takes up where ‘Get Hole’ stopped off – a glorious mixture of heavy grunge and saccharine lady-vocals. Guitar work in various places matches that of Nirvana, Tool, and Jesus Lizard – all good stuff. 8/10
www.japanesevoyeurs.com

SB

 
 

Mojo Fury – We Should Just Run Away (Graphite)

This is a really clever mixture of bubblegum pop and a much grittier alt-rock sound and it works on every level. The twinkly poppy synth intro sits lightly over a more sinister drone and this sets the tone for the rest of the track, even with the rockier choruses. Musically not too dissimilar to the now defunct Kinesis. 8/10

SB

 
 

The Castells - Romance

Spiky powerpop with a psyched up edge that instantly puts me in mind of The Coral and then the Teardrop Explodes. There is a Liverpool sound, and The Castells are laying it down with as much fire and determination as I've ever heard from the Mersey. Says here they're from Durham, that has to be Durham St in Wallasey then.
http://www.myspace.com/thecastellsuk

JG

 
 

Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks - Senator

Certainly puts it on the line, Mr Malkmus does, and this tale of political nastiness and getting busted probably won't get the airplay that would gain him an even bigger fanbase than I think he already has. The sound of one finger pointing.
http://www.dominorecordco.com/uk/landingpage/07-06-11/stephen-malmkus

JG

 
 

Astrid Wiliamson - 'Pour'

Really not sure where this is going. There's reverb all over the place, I can barely hear the delicate piano motif or Astrid's soulful vocal for the overdone mixing job that turns a heartfelt ballad into a bit of a dull, overworked triphop-by-numbers effort.
http://soundcloud.com/onelittleindianrecords/astrid-williamson-pour

JG

 
 

We Write Letters - Flash!Lights

Previous release 'Grand National' was a solid indicator of the ability of this Edinburgh band. 'Flash Lights' is every bit as intense and structured in its incendiary glory and skillful interplay as its predecessor, and the mid song crescendo takes the song to heights of classical grandeur. We Are Letters are probably the best new band I've heard from anywhere this year: listen to 'Flash Lights', and should you remain unmoved by their melodramatic eloquence I then fear you lack a soul.
http://www.wewriteletters.co.uk/

JG

 
 

Inner Party System - Not Getting Any Better

Isn't it? You will keep pumping those bass beats up won't you? Takes something to get me onto the dancefloor but Inner Party System have done it. Smartly produced eurobeat that'll rock any clubnight. Corker. Bangin. Tuuuuuuuuuune.
http://soundcloud.com/ipsrmx/5-not-getting-any-better

JG

 

Cornelia - Aquarius Dreams

Peppy electronica that posesses no small amount of charm, is a proper pop song is alternately funny, kooky, and a bit sexy, and leaves the very clubby mixing for the alternate EP takes. Liking it.
http://soundcloud.com/cornelia/sets/aquarius-dreams-master/s-ftLeB

JG

 
 

Bronze Medallists – Mathematics (Tape Club)

Sounding a bit like a cross between Napoleon IIIrd and Hot Chip on a downer, ‘Mathematics’ is basically folk music played out electronically. B-side the equally mathematically themed ‘Binary Girl’ adds a bit more chutzpah but ultimately I find both of these tracks a little bit depressing. 6/10
http://soundcloud.com/facultydigital/sets/bronze-medallists

SB

 
 

Jenners Field – Drunk Drive (Eagle-i Music)

There’s something about the bassline here which instantly makes you think of a soundtrack to a road movie – great expanses of desert and long open roads. The vibe is quite dark, a kind of Joy Division cool brought up to date by band members raised listening to the likes of Interpol and The Killers. 7/10
www.myspace.com/jennersfieldmusic

SB

 
 

Cynic Guru – Catastrophe / Secret (The Birdman)

A curious Japanese/Icelandic/American hybrid, Cynic Guru seem to specialise in stomping, cinematic radio friendly rock music. As would be expected from someone who is part of an orchestra (lead singer Roland Hartwell plays Violin in the Iceland Symphony Orchestra) both tracks here are extremely well composed with swirling guitars, strings and vocals forming a very full sound. At times this can become it’s undoing as the sound is so polished it becomes a bit like background music. But there’s no shortage of intelligence and sophistication on display here, especially for a rock band. 7/10
www.cynicguru.com

SB

 

Francis Neve – I Won’t Make You Better (FRR)

More wonderful guitar work here (must be the weather for it) as Francis Neve deploys a ‘bedouin blues-inspired’ guitar sound and tribal chanting motifs. If that sounds a bit world music, it’s definitely not in the Sting or Paul Simon mould – the influences are firmly integrated into a western folk track – clever stuff. 7/10
www.francisneve.co.uk

SB

 

Captain Dangerous – Forgive Us We’re British (I’m Not From London)

Not surprisingly distinctly British in tone, ‘Forgive Us We’re British’ sounds a bit like The Rosie Taylor Project after a kick up their arse. Bristling with brass, strings and general joie de vivre, it’s perfect summery English pop. 7/10
www.captaindangerous.com

SB

 
 

Black Roots - 'Pin In The Ocean' (Bristol Archive)

From 81 or 11? Black Roots are back together and gigging, such was the response to their re-issued material from the early 80s, and let's face it, we all want to hear some proper old school reggae, with jumping guitar and drum lines, echoing brass sections and throbbing basslines, and so here it is.
www.bristolarchiverecords.com

JG

 

Le Reno Amps – Construction EP (Armellodie)

I somehow had these guys horribly wrongly categorised, having them down as quiet folky types. Opening track ‘God Loves a Trier’ sets the stall out being a brash, prickly punk guitar track – very early SubPop in sound. There’s a hillbilly twist to ‘Had It Enough’ – these two tracks combining the best parts of fellow Armellodites Cuddly Shark quite admirably. IN fact, throughout this EP, whether the outward appearance is beat, punk or country, it only forms a superficial veneer for the substantial pop underbelly in the songwriting. 7/10
www.armellodie.com

SB

 

Mr Scruff – Wobble Control (Ninja Tune)

Does exactly what it says on the tin really – there’s plenty of weebly wobbly synth in this, controlled to various amounts ranging from a pretty funky dance groove to slightly meandering acid jazziness. 6/10
www.mrscruff.com

SB

 
 

Born Blonde – Solar (Moriarty the Cat)

This is a track which is great to listen to very loud – all swirling layers and pretty psychedelic in places. There’s a little bit of The Stone Roses about Born Blonde, just lacking in the big catchy choruses. The result can leave you wondering just exactly where you are in the song but if you get over the disorientation, just enjoy the ride. 7/10
www.bornblondeofficial.com

SB

 

Enter Shikari – Quelle Surprise

Although I find it a little bit difficult taking Enter Shikari seriously when they rap and end up sounding a little bit like The Stereo MCs, fair play on this one a they ramp things up with some ear shredding riffs and throat ripping vocals. Add into the mix some excellent synth patterns and samples and the result is a crossover track to be reckoned with. 8/10
www.entershikari.com

SB

 
 

Brooke Fraser – Betty

Brooke Fraser has a wonderful rich voice and ‘Betty’ is a decent enough song, something about hiding birthmarks that look like Canada (that’s pretty specific). Yes, pretty enough without being remarkable. 6/10

SB

 
 

Birds vs Planes – Sew Up the Sky (Music Bakery)

Maybe we never give it enough consideration how bands from more provincial locations ever get noticed. Take the excellent Birds vs Planes from Carlisle. You can bet your life that if they had come from London they would be on the lips of everyone in the know (or at least the lips of those in the south east biased press). Then, what a stroke of luck! Radio 1 chose the unlikely Cumbrian town to host this year’s Big Weekend and pow! Everyone has now heard of Birds vs. Planes. Well, maybe not everyone but it’s certainly got to help and singles like ‘Sew Up the Sky’ certainly won’t hurt either. 7/10
www.myspace.com/birdsvsplanes

SB

 
 

Morton Valence – Sailors (Bastard)

We could be sailors, just for one day? A little tinge of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ here for sure but in fairness to Morton Valence, they serve it up with a nice slice of fuzz and a near glam approach. 7/10

SB

 

We Are Losers – Sunset Song / Cheerleader (Dance to the Radio)

I know that We Are Losers are supposed to be lo-fi but the sound quality on this is pretty appalling and does not enhance the notion that WaL sound like an unpolished Supergrass. More indie jangleness in ‘Cheerleader’ which again persists with the standard issue ‘woh-oh-oh-uh-oh-ohs’. Unconvinced. 5/10
www.myspace.com/growuptobelosers

SB

 
 

Various: Brew Split 10” feat. Kong, Castrovalva, That Fucking Tank, Shield Your Eyes (Brew)

Holy crap – after turning up the volume to hear We Are Losers, Kong’s typically acerbic opener is going to require some apologies to my neighbours. Following that, Shield Your Eyes sounds quite soothing their stoner garage jam sound. That Fucking Tank provide their normal precision and peculiar take on prog metal. I’d say things are rounded off by Castrovalva but I get the feeling that Castrovalva would not want to be thought of as complying in any way, preferring to spit out their ska/drum and bass/metal hybrid for as long as anyone will listen. A varied and challenging pick ‘n’ mix – chuck out the nasty liquorice ones and you’ll be sorted. 7/10
www.brewrecords.net

SB

 
 

Wakey! Wakey! – Light Outside

Terrible name, Wakey! Wakey! And it is apparently the ‘project’ of New Yorker Michael Grubbs. Not sure what the difference between being a band/stage name/project is; saying project makes it sound more like a work in progress. I was left unimpressed initially but as the song built and built I had to admit to becoming increasingly impressed with the layers of keys and vocals. 6/10

SB

 

Strange Days – Songs for Mr Sloane (SFMS)

There’s something strangely warming about a couple of guys who used to write music together then went their separate ways for the best part of 25 years, including regular jobs, families etc before getting back together to put out an album. And the three songs on this EP reflect that long gestation period – it’s classic English songwriting. There’s something in both ‘Silence’ and ‘Strange Days’ which reminds me of Clearlake’s Jason Pegg – a kind of underlying strength and purpose without being brash. 8/10
www.songsformesloane.com

SB

 
 

Pop Levi – Motorcycle 666 / Rock Solid (Counter)

You could criticise Pop Levi for occupying a place where his clear love of all things Bolan and glam Bowie eventually restricts his ability to make his own mark. You could argue that, but you’d be wrong. Pop Levi injects a funk vibe and also adds a contemporary twist to the fuzz bass sound. He’s also mad as sack of badgers to boot – admirable qualities in pop. 7/10
www.poplevi.com

SB

 
 

The Count and Sinden – Future (Domino)

I think you can file this one pretty firmly in the ‘only to be listened to in a club environment’ category. It’s a thumping arms in the air rave-off – there’s not a lot of subtlety to it but it would certainly get you moving. 7/10
www.myspace.com/countandsinden

SB

 
 

Films of Colour – Capital / Persinette

Despite all their intricate layering of vocals, guitars and synths and their use of words which I have to look up the meaning of (‘persinette’ anyone?) there’s something a little bit skittish about these two tracks. They are outwardly pretty and remind me a little bit like a very serious version of Coldplay. But it’s almost as though all the composition begins to takeover any real meaning or immediacy in the songs. That said, the outro of ‘Persinette’ is pretty storming. 7/10
www.filmsofcolour.com

SB

 
 

The View – Cutting Corners EP (Sony)

I’ll confess that I just don’t get the hype about The View. To me they sound like a bit of a polished pub band and this EP does nothing to dissuade me otherwise. Whether it’s their piano led tunes or their more Celtic orientated tracks, it’s all a bit of a hackneyed bore, typified by the sub-Fleetwood Mac style ‘Sideways’. 5/10
www.theviewareonfire.com

SB

 
 

Futureproof – One More Chance (Lab)

Gip – I just had to try really hard to stop a little bit of sick coming up there. Odious chart-friendly pap produced by Nigel Neath (he of Take That and Backstreet Boys infamy). A whoh-a-whoh. Bollocks more like. 2/10

SB

 
 

Sophie Barker – Bluebell (Ho Hum)

Heavily whammy-pedalled guitar over a dubby trip hop beat, ‘Bluebells’ morphs into a strange kind of Morcheeba meets Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody Does it Better’ finale, complete with jabbing brass. Odd but strangely endearing. 6/10
www.sophiebarker.com

SB

 
 

Transfer – Losing Composure (Cool Green)

America and Brandon Flowers might love them but I’m a little more luke warm to the charms of Transfer. Quite liking the skittish, vaguely Scottish sounding drums and the reverby guitars but in between there is a bit of a void which needs filling to prevent the verses from becoming non-events. 6/10
www.transferband.com

SB

 

Fear No Fish – Now or Never (Baltar)

Another dross band name, maybe it’s just because they are so damn hard to come up with anything original these days. But this EP is expertly crafted with very nifty soft rock tracks of the likes that Biffy Clyro peddles. The best is kept for last in the form of ‘Broken’. But you maybe get the feeling that if nothing has happened in the last 10 years of the bands existence then maybe nothing extra will happen now. Sad nearly men perhaps but worthy of attention nevertheless. 7/10
www.fearnofish.bigcartel.com

SB

 
 

Rams Pocket Radio – Dieter Rams Has Got The Pocket Radios (Reel to Reel)

Despite taking the rather unorthodox route of taking a 1950’s product designer for inspiration, this EP is a mini tour de force, replete with a euphoric piano-led joie de vivre that delivers more than just vacant bluster. Nice slip case too, though a song track name or two wouldn’t have gone amiss. 7/10
www.facebook.com/ramspocketradio

SB

 

Amon Tobin – Surge (Ninja Tune)

Err, wow. This is a pretty dazzling track from Brazilian producer Tobin. If I thought that Donovans had got the monopoly on wonky synths this month then Tobin has just gently wheeled in a barrow load of sonics that defy categorisation. Big chunks of synthing bass underpin the airier clicks and blips and various remixes add points of further interest, not least the Emika remix which completely subverts the grinding electronics with her delicate Czech vocals. Stunning. 9/10
www.amontobin.com

SB

 
 

Deeds of the Nameless – Exit Wound (LDZ)

Not your run of the mill pub rock this one, ‘Exit Wound’ is a much more considered piece, at times like The Screaming Trees, at times like Metallica. As such it sounds a little bit like an anachronism, but it’s a good one nonetheless. 7/10
www.myspace.com/thedeedsofthenameless

SB

 

The If 6 was 9 Project – Hippie Daze (HolGoun)

God awful name, and that’s in a month when we’ve had more than a few duff monikers. IN fact there’s so many things about this band that just seem odd – this is their debut single yet they’ve already toured in India and Turkey (hardly your standard itinerary). I also thought the vocalist was a warm voiced woman, not a blokey. But above all of this, ‘Hippie Daze’ is a lovely slice of rock and roll in the Led Zep mould. 8/10
www.thatsmyband.com

SB

 

Promethee - s/t (Bad Mood)

Name three bands from Switzerland. Go on, I challenge you. Well, here’s at least one you can put on that list. Shame then that it is some noisy oiks who employ a laughably gruff vocalist to growl out some indecipherable incantations over their music. Non-plussed as normal by this stuff. Nice cover art though.3/10
www.myspace.com/prometheemusic

SB

 

Donovans – FX1 EP (Cheap Thrills)

More endearingly bonkers Parisian dance music here, though I’m not sure quite how you would dance to it. Like a robotic nightmare, Nicolas Nekmouche and David Said have got hold of some very nutty sounds then buggered about with them until they sit in some loose semblance of a song structure. It’s more like a collection of warning tones from a series of electronic devices than it is musical but I don’t mind that. ‘Fallen’ proceeds along similar lines, if a little more Mr Oizo. 7/10

SB

 

Joel Sarakula – Bohemian (Art Parade)

Joel needs to get himself a bigger apartment. Or he’s learned to levitate. Or someone is a bit crap with the old photoshop because he looks like he’s about to bash his head on the ceiling in the packshot. Perhaps he was deliberately combining all three of the above in order to try and bash out a memorable hook from his head for this tune because it is sadly lacking. Just very MOR guitar singer songwriter stuff, gentle and a touch insipid. And repeat riff...5/10
www.joelsarakula.com

SB

 

Alexander Price – Kitchen Sink Drama EP (The Birdman)

For all the name-checking of cool club nights, famous collaborators and general man about townery, Alexander Price’s leading track here ‘Love Song’ seems to lend more from Gallic synth maestro Jean Michelle Jarre than Hot Chip. This is electro pop very much towards the pop end of the scale and isn’t at all bad for it. 80’s Sheffield influences also abound but all galvanised by a harder, contemporary drive to the music. I don’t know for sure, but I’d hazard a guess that Mr Price may well be gay judging by his musical leanings. But even the most mannish of men would be struggling not to be impressed by the heavy hitting Diarmaid O’Meara mix of Price’s cover of Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Rent’. 7/10
www.alexanderpricemusic.com

SB

 

Cyberpunkers – Fuck the System EP

Tut tut. Two very angry Italians have certainly created a right racket here and thrown in some very naughty words to boot. Maybe it’s a bit lost in translation but such taglines as ‘Fuck the System’ are just so vague as to be meaningless. And musically this is just so acerbic that it makes for quite an unpleasant listen, making PWEI seem as smooth as Burt Bacharach. Lots of remixes though – you certainly get value for money when you buy this din. 5/10
www.cyberpunkers.com

SB