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singles/eps - dec 2011


The Xcerts – Slackerpop EP

This latest offering from the young Scotch trio is an accompaniment to this year's Scatterbrain album, from which Slackerpop is one of the singles. The single itself is devastatingly catchy, and is presented here on this EP with four reworkings of other Xcerts tracks.

First things first, the title track – Slackerpop. A high-octane start, pacey, in your face, distorted erratic vocals occasionally broken up my a melodic bridge line. It then momentarily drops into a gentle pre-chorus before returning to blow your mind with the chorus itself. I caught these guys as Manchester Orchestra support for two nights of the tour and it was this track that threatened my sanity for the weeks following. There's a drawn out “woo” (hard to replicate melody via words) which is infectious. The song returns back to the thrash-pop verses; which you could easily try and relate to Biffy Clyro but, well that's a little obvious and nationality put aside I'm not sure how truly accurate it is. If it is, it's simply similar to the vibe of some of their older material. A bit more gutsy, you know. Regardless, that is one dangerous chorus they've got there.

And then, onto the reworkings. Extra treats for existing fans and, if you aren't already familiar with the band then a quite delightful insight into what they're all about. These alternate versions are slightly gentler and down-tempo in comparison to the originals, with Gum, He Sinks He Sleeps and Young off of the Scatterbrain album, and I See Things Differently from the début album In The Cold Wind We Smile. Personally, I think these new versions are as good, if not better than the originals. Gentle ever-so-Scottish vocals creep over deep plodding guitars and simple rhythmic sections, Twilight Sad-esque, each and every song featuring extremely strong choruses – there is no doubting the catchy hooks scattered throughout this EP. All in all, an exceptional collection of tracks, arguably some of their strongest to date with the title track Slackerpop leading the assault.

Thom Curtis

Overweight – Chapter 11

Proving there is more to come out of Belgium than dEUS and waffles, Overweight enter
the scene as a kind of power pop-ska crossover band that effervesces a boisterous joie de vivre. Whilst liking their upbeat sound, it’s not until the final track ‘No More’ until they break out of the tried and tested brass plus guitars formula. 7/10


Jack Beats – End of Love

What a curious beast this is – kind of deranged cheesey euro-house, a bit light technoey and a bit Frankie Goes to Hollywood. And all the better for it – just the way to bounce out the December blues. 7/10



Ice Choir – Two Rings

20 years after it landed on our planet, synthpop is still being sneered at from behind guitars and analog mixing desks in many corners of the music world. And true, there's something questionable about a totally simulated orchestration of sounds spewing out romantic goo - its about as convincing as the serenades of a starry-eyed robot. However you can't accuse the music of not having character - the fact that it's simulated doesn't prevent this, it’s actually the reason it has character in the first place.

"Two Rings", the debut single from Ice Choir, sees leading synth-tweaker Kurt Feldman jump ship from his shoegazing past to embrace synthpop head-on. Despite having his feet firmly planted in the legacy of bands like Talk Talk and Tears For Fears (as well as a healthy dollop of New Order), this release's sugary, saturated production is much more technically evolved than that of its forefathers (although it does shamelessly incorporate most of the clichés - for the example the novelty snare reverb tail). Feldman's voice is smooth and unchallenging - almost like another synth line. But then synthpop fifty years after the advent of the synth isn't meant to be challenging, it's just a T shirt.

Lawrie Donohoe


Sport of Kings - Logic House EP

Logic House EP is an annoyingly pleasant yacht-rock EP from Brooklyn’s Sport of Kings. It opens with ‘Free Jazz’, a smooth number with lashings of relaxed brass of a xylophone-type-thing. Lounge jazz minus the lead piano, if you will. It’s a fast grower though; especially when you watch the video too. The vocal is warm, the pace is steady, and the melody is memorable. The vibes continue into ‘1964’, ‘Preface’ and ‘Some Histories’, although the first two tracks are by far the strongest. Whilst the latter don’t offend in any way, the first two have some dangerous hooks to get you caught up in. I’m still a little bit annoyed that I like this, it’s not my usual cuppa char but hats off to them, I sing this to myself in the street. The EP ends with a radio edit of ‘Free Jazz’ which is extremely useful as it cuts off the unnecessary intro. 7/10

Thom Curtis


Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA...What A Life! (UNKLE rework)

Although the less odious of the Gallagher brothers, it is still a Gallagher nonetheless. That said, UNKLE’s mix of ‘AKA...’ makes the originator almost irrelevant – this is a thumping, swirling beast of a track that is impossible to dismiss. Think early Chemicals tracks or a toughened up Fatboy Slim. 8/10



Films of Colour – Slow Burn

Rogues. Turns out this is nothing more than a cover version of Bowie’s ‘Slow Burn’ from his exceptionally underrate ‘Heathen’ album. That said, Films of Colour have given it a turbocharged makeover (although the choruses find themselves coalescing into a bit of a big swirling mass). Positive signs for Films of Colour then, and we hope they become more popular so that we can hear more of the fantastically named singer Andy Clutterbuck. 7/10



When Words Fail – Eyes on Everything EP

Great chunky guitar lines and not completely indecipherable vocals elevate When Words Fail above a lot of the dirge that gets passed of as British melodic rock (i.e. it’s both more melodic and more rock then the norm.) They also sound like they have a bionic drummer which is always fun. 7/10



The Collectable Few – Model Behaviour

Very much bassline dominated, ‘Model Behaviour’ draws a nice line in Rapture-esque guitar pop before lurching less successfully to the more shouty version expounded by the likes of The Pigeon Detectives and The Futureheads.7/10



Little Comets – Worry (Dirty Hit)

‘Geordie Mavericks’ apparently. They’ve certainly got an idiosyncratic sound in ‘Worry’ – Caribbean reggae lilt and slightly skronky guitar lines make for an interesting trip. 7/10



Hook and the Twin – We’re So Light (Feraltone)

Nice synthy vibes here from Hook and the Twin – kind of 80’s Heaven 17 meets less fog-horny version of Florence and the Machine. 8/10



Phantom Limb – The Pines

Kicks off like a nice summery shoegaze affair with a strong vocal then drifts into a soul-country track complete with banjo before sounding like Rod Stewart. Which is a surprise because I would have sworn the singer was male and not a lady called Yolanda. 6/10



Cass McCombs – Robin Egg Blue (Domino)

Did every lonely troubadour start out happy? I think that may be where the melancholy comes from. The memory of those times when things weren't “Also sad.”

This is one song. I like it because it references St. Jude and he's my hero. Other than that it sounds like general American Folk-Rock. Not generic. General.

Christopher Carney


Wild Beasts – Reach A Bit Further (on Domino)

I reviewed the Wild Beasts album. I thought it was lovely. This is one of the songs that should be a single. It is, so they know what's going on. After some time away, that singing style and the music have fared well. The song even sounds familiar. I really shouldn't be listening to songs about yearning though. All Wild Beasts songs feel like there is yearning involved, sometimes.

The lyric for the chorus is fantastic too. An obvious choice as a single for no bad reason.

Christopher Carney