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singles/eps - august 2011



 

Bitter Ruin - 'Trust'

Bit of a cabaret turn these two. An achingly expressive female vocal and a flamenco-inflected skiffle tune that's sufficiently lively to retain the attention. Big things are predicted for Bitter Ruin, and they may yet appear on the kind of stages where everyone can see them.
http://bitterruin.com/

JG


 

Adalita - 'The Repairer' (Passport Music)

Vocalist with renowned Australian onetime Peel session guests Magic Dirt, Adalita (alright, I admit I'd never heard of Magic Dirt) brings a sultry guitar ballad to the table, electrified folk with an echoey psychedelic bit in the middle.
www.myspace.com/adalitamusic

JG


Annie Automatic - 'Burn This Prison'

Californian rockers turning in a tale of frustration, redemption, and some developing relationship difficulties. A snappy guitar line that can trace its roots back to My Chemical Romance holds all of this together, and Annie Automatic are themselves several riffs away from the merely formulaic.
www.myspace.com/annieautomaticmusic

JG

 

Damn Vandals - 'Can't Go Dancing When You're Gone' (Sexy Beast)

Damn Vandals just aren't taking things seriously, in a manner that goes beyond ading 'comedic' aspects to their songs. They sound like a quite good band, but one whose search for a hook on which to hang their own songs hasn't quite borne fruit. Will it or won't it and, importantly, do I or anyone else actually care very much? Damn Vandals may regret titling the singles arguably superior b-side as 'Hey Little Bunny'.

JG

 
 

Make Sparks - 'Your Hearts Are On Fire' (Mountain Halo)

The search for the new Biffy continues, and Make Sparks are at least sincere contenders for this particular honour. Fans of the Clyro will appreciate this hugely and the rest of us might tap our feet appreciatvely. I'd do something about that tinny cymbal sound though.
http://www.myspace.com/makesparksband

JG

 

Martyn – Masks / Viper (Brainfeeder)

His music is almost as understated as his stage name, probably needing to be played very loud ina club to make a lot of headway. I struggled with ‘Masks’ and its unremitting hook whereas ‘Viper’ is a much more layered effort with twinkling synthy repose a la Underworld acting as a counterpoint to the hard track. 6/10
www.3024world.com

SB


 

My Tiger My Timing – Endless Summer

‘Endless Summer’ combines some complex poppy hooks and sounds with a very basic childlike quality, probably stemming from its playground style vocal harmonies which normally would get o my nerves. But My Tiger My Timing’s delicate touch saves the day and delivers pop nugget. 7/10

SB

 

Sweet Sweet Lies – Capital of Iceland

It’s almost easier typing ‘Capital of Iceland’ than actually writing the name down. Sweet Sweet Lies sound like a band spawned in the back room of dock-side tavern and throw in a nice bit of double bass and fiddle work. 7/10
www.myspace.com/ssweetsweetliesmusic

SB


Elizabeth – Hazards, Horrors and Liabilities (Red Coat)

A fade in? That’s a bit lame isn’t it? Fortunately these Canadians step up to the bar in the ensuing 3 tracker, fitting in snugly between the wackiness of British Sea power and the commercial appeal of Interpol. Although ‘These Lines are Drawn in Black’ has a bit of a habit of meandering, ‘Radiowave Blockade’ and ‘Death of Plato’ are much more direct and interesting. 7/10
www.elizabethelizabeth.com

SB

 

The Zenon Band – Falling (Metrix)

OK, time to get all the excuses in first with this one. Of course it shouldn’t matter what the background of a band is, how old they are, which country they come from etc etc as long as the product is good. But...’Falling’ is horrible sub-Cowell pop performed by a right bunch of brutish looking Poles who appear to be sharing a collective mid-life crisis. I’m sorry, all those good intentions are blown but if you don’t want people to comment on your image then don’t plaster yourself all over the CD cover. 2/10
www.zenon-music.com

SB

 

Offshore – Pacer EP (Big Dada)

AKA Ewan Robertson, Offshore hails from Aberdeen, not renowned for its cutting edge music. As a result it sounds like Robertson has been able to develop his sounds as he sees fit and without constraint from whim or fashion. There’s a definite bleak northern city-ness to these tracks but also a playful, infectious groove. The big drums in ‘Pepper’ sound like an outtake from 2001 a Space Oddysey. Other bits are simple sonic experiments, struggling to hang on to any strong claim as ‘songs’ (‘Mintlaw’ for example). ‘East Coast Capital Connect’ has a wonderful electronic string sound to it, like a double bass being fired at by laser beams. It’s all quite atmospheric stuff. 8/10

SB

 

Voluntary Butler Scheme – To the Height of a Frisbee (Split)

I’m sure I’ve already heard this track somewhere, maybe as backing to an advert on telly seeing as it has a stupidly catchy little guitar riff. Like a reverby, psychedelic Cornershop. 7/10
www.myspace.com/voluntarybutlerscheme

SB

 
 

Twilight Singers – Blackbird and the Fox (Sub Pop)

Soul grunge is a pretty nasty description of this type of music but otherwise Rolling Stone’s description of Twilight Singers eclipsing singer Greg Dulli’s previous band Afghan Whigs is possibly correct. There’s an economy of effort and bombast but ‘Blackbird and the Fox’ still delivers a mighty kick. 8/10
www.thetwilightsingers.com

SB

 
 

Danny and the Champions of the World – You Don’t Know (My Heart is in the Right Place) (So Recordings)

‘You Don’t Know’ sounds like a combination of sounds from yesteryear. There’s elements of Rainbow’s ‘Since You Been Gone’ in the choppy guitar chorus, 50s pop and even a touch of the Tom Pettys. I am surprising myself by liking this a bit more than I was expecting to – must have been a good weekend. 7/10
www.dannyandthechamps.com

SB

 
 

Ruins of Earth - Misguided Lifeforms

The warning signs were all there – serif typeface, obscure rune-like graphics – this is metal alright. And yet again, despite liking a lot of what is going on musically, I’m left depressed by the identikit laryngitic vocals. Admittedly Ruins of Earth manage to combine a deep gruff lead with a higher lead (who coincidentally also sounds like he is about to vomit). Occasionally they work together to great effect and harmonise but more often than not they just rant along independently and disjointedly.

But I’ll end on a positive, musically this is really strong – it’s not all a sledgehammer of thrash, there are slower, more melodic sections which work brilliantly (listen to the moody ‘The Wait’ which combines light and dark expertly. 6/10
www.myspace.com/ruinsofearth

SB

 

Paul Weller – Starlite (Island)

A brilliant trippy, summery little skit here from Paul Weller who shows that there’s life in the old dog yet. It’s all Balearic chill out and as such attracts 5 additional remixes. 8/10

SB

 
 

The Lava Experiments – Love, Lust and Loss

This is an EP which sounds like it was initiated somewhere with long nights and short days. Although difficult to pigeon hole, there are elements of shoe gaze and maybe a little post rock at play here, but given a synthy twist. But the overriding element is probably the doleful sound of band founder Fraser Rowan’s vocals. He sounds pretty glum (perhaps a clue in the EP title) but occasionally there is twist such as in the slightly edgier ‘Frost is Back’ where Rowan is joined by bandmates Rory McGregor and Alan Wond in creating their most successful piece. At their best, The Lava Experiments are uplifting and energising. At their worst, well, they’re still pretty good – the songs are all well written and excellently performed/recorded. They could just have you reaching for the Prozac though.
www.thelavaexperiments.co.uk

SB

 
 

Trevor Loveys ft. Pati Yang – The One (Cheap Trills)

Cheesey dancey house nonsense here. 808 State were doing better 20 years ago (less formulaic, more edgy, more original, better guest vocalists, better remixes etc etc) so I’d stick with that. 4/10

SB

 

Lucy Love – Thunder (Superbillion)

Following on from the deliberately staccato vocal intro, ‘Thunder’ blossoms into an increasingly complex and driving drum and bass track. Not normally my thang but this is pretty infectious. And if you don’t immediately take to it, there are 7 other mixes to go at. 7/10
www.lucylove.dk

SB

 
 

Style of Eye – We Are Boys (Refune)

It’s normally a good indication that a track touted as a ‘club smash’ is normally best left just there – in a club. In fairness to Swedish DJ/Producer Style of Eye ‘We Are Boys’ is sufficiently darkly off kilter to give it a bit of a wider appeal than pilled-up dance hounds. Bt prolonged exposure will result in migraines so use sparingly. 6/10

SB

 

Modestep – Sunlight (Max/A&M)

I remember when you used to know where you stood with music. Indie music would have guitars, no synths; dance music would have synths, no guitars and singer songwriters would croon over any combination of horrible melodies in order to get their mugs all over the pages of the popular press. It’s all messed up these days when the likes of Modestep come along and pretty much do all three of the above at the same time (and quite well at that). Tsk. 7/10
www.modestep.co.uk

SB

 
 

Fire Flowerz – Fitness EP (Cheap Thrills)

Fire Flowerz? Z? Tracks called ‘I Need Your LV’ and ‘Bout You’ (no apostrophe in sight)? Tut tut – my frosty reception to this might well be thawed by listening to it in some sweaty club on the Italian Riviera but on an unseasonally cool night in West Yorkshire the burlbling house spilling out the speakers is not getting my foot tapping. 5/10

SB

 

The Pigeon Detectives – Lost (Dance to the Radio)

You always know what you get with The Pigeon Detectives which can be either reassuringly similar or dismally repetitive depending on your point of view. And ‘Lost’ is little different. There’s a nice drum track and a singalong chorus (well, you don’t sell loads f records by writing songs which are challenging now, do you?) In an unusual attack of tolerance I do not find this too offensive. Must be the male menopause approaching. 7/10
www.thepigeondetectives.com

SB

 
 

The Zombies – A Moment in Time (Bocu)

The Zombines are apparently touring the world at present, celebrating their 50th year. Wouldn’t this make some of the band members about 70? Bearing that in mind, this is pretty impressive. I mean, I don’t think my Dad could do it (and he has a couple of years on Colin Bluntstone and Rod Argent). A decent bit of folk rock from the old crinklies. 7/10
www.thezombies.net

SB

 
 

Mamas Gun – Reconnection (Candelion)

I’ve given Mamas Gun a pretty rough ride previously on Tasty. In fairness, this is because I’ve thought they suck. However, ‘Reconnection’ is a step up as it simultaneously manages to be a bit rousing and restrained at the same time, avoiding the overt pomposity which can accompany some of their other tracks. 6/10
www.mamasgun.co.uk

SB

 
 

MiSK – Frog March (Cheaper Thrills)

I really like this – it’s old school acid house which reminds me of my mate Howard dancing around like a sweaty whirling dervish in the Riverside Club in Newcastle. That’s not instantly an attractive image but good times my friends, good times. 8/10

SB

 
 

Young Rebel Set – Red Bricks (Big Flame)

Mumford and Sons have done the legwork and now the likes of Young Rebel Set can take advantage. New folk is the new err, rock n roll. Big foot stomping arrangements and massive orchestration courtesy of the massed seven-piece from Stockton. Gently rousing in a stadium-filled fist punching air sort of way. 7/10
www.youngrebelset.co.uk

SB

 

Daedelus – Overwhelmed EP (Ninja Tune)

First thing that struck me about this EP was that the opening notes of ‘Overwhelmed’ were basically a weirded out version of the four-note theme from This is Your Life. Extremely weirded out, it has to be said. It’s a million times better than his previous ‘Tailor Made’ release which therefore scores him an impressive 6 million/10.
www.daedelusmusic.com

SB

 
 

Scams – Helicopter Parents (Devil Duck)

Impressively assured is the kind of description you’d more likely associate with a new car advert than an indie rock track but there’s no escaping the fact that Scams sounds like they were formed for the purpose of skirmishing in the fray of popular press and TV appearances. Equal parts catchy pop and edgy indie rock – it’s hard not to be impressed by ‘Helicopter Parents’. 8/10
www.wearescams.com

SB

 

Josh Bray – The River Song

Damien Rice-lite anyone. ‘The River Song’ is a pleasing piece of folky/alt country-ness but it hardly pushes at any boundaries. 6/10
www.joshbray.co.uk

SB

 
 

Nerina Pallot – Turn Me On Again (Polydor)

Being told that this track was produced by Bernard Butler hardly sets the heart racing – I witnessed one of the dullest ninety minute live performances I’ve ever seen courtesy of Mr Butler. It’s hard to lay the blame for this damp squib clearly at the door of Bernie but there’s something a little flat about ‘Turn Me On Again’. It really shouldn’t be flat – there’s a bit of verve about Pallot’s performance and it’s a racey enough subject. It’s just flat as a fart. 5/10

SB

 

Rise to Remain – Power Through Fear (EMI)

Kudos indeed to the good press folk of Chuff Media who have come up with the greatest description of the vocals in ‘Power Through Fear’. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ‘scabrous, abrasive growls’. Superb work. Musically the track is pretty fierce and allegedly the lyrics are picking up on some disaffection. Doesn’t make me want to thrown a bin through Curry’s shop window but it does mildly get the blood racing. 6/10
www.risetoremain.com

SB

 
 

Artful – Could Just Be the Bassline (Workhouse)

Someone must have got us confused with Mixmag or something – I’m pretty sure I’ve never said anything complimentary about UK garage and I’m not about to start now. 4/10
www.artful.dj

SB

 

Poly Styrene – Ghoulish (Future Noise Music)

I know very little about Poly Styrene but if she was to leave this as the sole example of her creativity then I would remain supremely impressed. It’s twinkly, Blondie-ish yet contemporary and even a little bit shoe-gazey. A fitting epitaph. 9/10
www.poly-styrene.com

SB

 
 

Moonbootica – Battle No. 1 (Cheap Thrills)

The best thing about this is the name of the band. ‘Battle No. 1’ is an awkward disjointed collections of beats and badly integrate samples. 3/10
www.moonbootica.com

SB