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singles/eps - march 2012



 

Los Campesinos – Songs About Your Girlfriend

Pumped with the usual energy and music as we’ve come to expect from Los Campesinos, this record has maturity and brutality that hides beneath its fun exterior. “Songs I’ve written about your girlfriend, are just killing time whilst my heart is on the mend” is one of the many lyrics that highlight the band’s effort to sing about love, life and loss. But the sound is, as I say, hardly melancholic. The introduction sounds familiar to the sound of “You! Me! Dancing!” (you know, the Budweiser song) as the song begins with its tuneful and enticing rhythm guitar. Indeed the whole affair is engaging, what with its hurting lyrics and catchy song progression. This song is a glimmer of what summer will be like if you break up with your long-term girlfriend. But have a refreshing Bud nearby.

Matt Bull

 

Amadou And Mariam - Dougou Badia

After 14 years of releasing records and much longer making music, husband and wife duet still continue to produce fantastic music. This treat, Dougou Badia, features Santigold, who appears throughout their forthcoming album Folila. It is a beautiful compromise of traditional African and modern music – it pulls together everything good about music. We start the track with offerings of simple percussion and intricate, catchy electric guitar but get sucked in to their glorious mixture of emerging woozes, powerful vocals and perfectly balanced noise. This track will make you smile. And make you want to go to Mali. Listen to it.

Matt Bull

 

Exlovers – Starlight Starlight

After seeing Exlovers tour with Emmy the Great a couple of years ago and having completed their tour with Noah and The Whale, Exlovers are able to offer a refreshingly tight and catchy bout of dream-pop. This single is slightly more generic than their other offerings, and provides the listener with little more than repeating chords and lyrics. The song tries to allow the listener to reminisce and this is obvious when accompanied with their music video (below). But there is a fine line apparently between reminiscing and being disinterested and the distinction is a matter of opinion. Exlovers will be, and deserve to be, big. They share the sweet Americana sounds of Death Cab and Shins but still carry uniqueness and a desire for electric. I regret to say that this single doesn’t prove their uniqueness or, possibly, appeal. But I hope that listeners have the foresight to check out their other stuff.

Matt Bull


Decibels – The Lesser

A twinkly electro-indie mash-up, the kings of remixes Decibels release their début original single The Lesser, which is to be featured on Warp's Bleep compilation. Jumped up Talking Heads meets Postal Service with a burst of 2012 in there. It's got great tempo, sing-along vocals, groovy bass, sawing synths and melody galore. It's lo-fi ambient indie pop and it ain't half bad! This is almost certainly bound to crop up on Radio 1 and NME countless times – it's catchy, it's dancey, it'll be popular.

The single comes with a pretty good b-side too, more lo-fi and ambient than the lead track with good rhythm and groove.
www.thelesser.tv

Thom Curtis

 

Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive

A long-awaited comeback sees Willy Mason release a mature and rather ambitious record with Restless Fugitive. It seems that Mason has decided to give this story as much narrative as ever but to set more of a scene with his music. This record lasts a minute and a half longer than any of his previously released songs and shows a patience and wisdom that, although prevalent in his back catalogue, what not quite so obvious. Restless Fugitive is a steady song whose beat plods along but does so in a way to keep one eagerly poised for the next verse. If this is a sign of what is to come for his next album, the wait may well be worth it.

Matt Bull

Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive

I wonder, does Willy Mason spend time away from music in order to get better? I think he might. I've often thought that The Music Industry isn't very good for him. Maybe I just hope everyone I like is a little more gentle hearted than would be good for them.

I hope he sticks around a bit. I love him. Ever since Oxygen came out and he sang a song in the back bar of The Cockpit for some kids who didn't have tickets for his show. Ever since I saw him shout at a member of the Glastonbury crowd for insulting his mum. He's great. He seems like a stand up guy and I've always loved listening to what he does.

This return suggests that things may be a little gloomier these days. Still lovely and great to listen to, but certainly dark clouds and approaching thunder where there, perhaps, once was an autumn day. At least in this song though, the troubles are over.

The rolling bass and echo-y guitar certainly had me thinking of thunder and approaching rain. Perhaps it isn't a negative, though. As I write this, instead of gloom, I'm thinking of being caught under a sheet grey sky and shouting at the rain and the thunder. Not like Lear, but like a true wild thing. There is hope. I hope being back doesn't take too much of a toll. I hope he isn't already wishing he was back home.

Christopher Carney

 

St Spirit – Pigeon EP (Distiller)

St Spirit are one of those bands with poise beyond their tender years. Although still very much in their youth, their songs describe the human condition with an emotion and bitter sounding spitefulness that sounds like it was rendered from the mouth a 60 sixty year old alcoholic. There’s a hint of the dork-grandiose a la Radiohead in ‘New Skin’ and ‘Tooth and Nail’ retains some of that heart wrenching sounds from their previous single ‘Build a Life’. Powerful and polished stuff. 8/10
www.stspirit.com

SB

 

Janice Graham Band – No Money Honey (Acid Jazz)

At the risk of sounding like a right old bastard, what the hell are these fresh faced Manchester youths doing singing about prostitutes? They only look to be about 15 years old. Tsk, the youth today. On the other hand, for their tender years they have a mature musical style, cunningly mixing dark Specials-style ska, light punk with a bit of Rickenbacker inspired indie. Quite unusual. 7/10
www.acidjazz.co.uk

SB


The Cast of Cheers – Family (School Boy Error)

This is simply aceicles. Clickety mathy guitars not heard since the demise of Tired Irie (maybe Foals had a stab at it), stop frame video like Peter Gabriel and a cascading melody that although seemingly not going anywhere in particular lets you enjoy the ride nonetheless. And for once all of the 6 mixes are equally listenable in different ways. Listen. 9/10
http://www.thecastofcheers.com/

SB

 

Mystery Juice – Eye for an Aye (Red October/Fence)

Nothing like anything else I’ve seen the Fence Collective involved in, the description of psychotic blues would normally have my toes curling in readiness of cringing disappointment. But despite the unlikely setting of Edinburgh providing the backdrop for these delta sounds, Mystery Juice somehow manage to pull this one off. There’s genuine simple quality to their music which prevents it from sounding like a trite wedding band and even their dalliances into a funk groove do not have me switching off. Maybe there’s hope for me yet. 7/10
www.mysteryjuice.bandcamp.com

SB

 

Auction for the Promise Club – One EP

First impressions of this are mixed. For a start off, where the hell is the CD? Took me age to free it from its (admittedly) luxurious pack sleeve. Then you read the first quote on the press release dwells on the ‘good looks of Zoe’ as a major selling point. Not great.

But musically, first impressions of ‘Under China’ are that of a slightly heavier Sky Larkin. All of these tracks do indeed sound eminently marketable, even the slightly quirky electro-Cossack vibed ‘Liquid’. Garbage for the 21st century (the band that is, not the waste). No problems securing a domain name with that moniker either. 7/10
www.auctionforthepromiseclub.com

SB

 

Black Casino and the Ghost – Falling into Pieces (Lucky Machete)

Released on the 14th December? Oops. Tardiness aside, my first impression of this is a quirky gypsy infused rabble. I like the ridiculous way that ‘Falling into Pieces’ lurches from haunted house verses to rocking guitar and awesome vocal choruses. You can’t fail to be impressed by the vocals of singer Elisa Zoot. Or indeed, by her name.

There are no real weak songs on the EP but instead swathes of orchestrations and off-kilter arrangements. It’s strangely not of this time (listen to ‘Odyssea’) yet reassuringly not a pure pastiche of yesterday’s styles. Oddball cleverness matched with obvious talent. 8/10
www.blackcasinoandtheghost.com

SB

 
 

Letters – The Halfway House

Very much out of the same stable as their Scottish contemporaries Frightened Rabbit, this is the best Letters single I’ve heard yet. A lovely saw tooth string piece over the chorus adds extra depth to the already existent gallons of emotion. 8/10
http://soundcloud.com/soundandvisionpr/letters-the-halfway-house

SB


Masters in France – Fall Down

What a curious thing. It spends most of its time sounding a bit world music – all choppy, clipped very high guitars and the vocals even sound a bit like Sting. Then it moves through a chorus that is so slow paced it is almost as though the band have given up and gone home before it returns with a much harder, frankly rocking out, finale. Good work. 8/10
www.mastersinfrance.com

SB


Black Hats – Kick in the Doors

Buckle up, lacquer down the hair and generally brace yourself. ‘Kick in the Doors’ is hardly clever but it is certainly energetic from the off with its clarion call synth intro, through its stomping verses and finishing with its bristling outro. 7/10

SB

 

Toy Horses – Play What You Want (Albino Sparrow)

Old school quirky English indie pop – no wonder Stephen Fry is such a fan of Toy horses. I’m less convinced but open to further persuasion - their clever vocals are particularly endearing. 6/10

SB

 
 

Spring Offensive – Carrier

I’m not sure this is even supposed to count as a release seeing as it is just the B-side to the forthcoming single ‘Worry Fill My Heart’ but I like Spring Offensive so what the hell. And ‘Carrier’ is a typically beautiful single in its own right. Outwardly miserable, Spring Offensive remind me a little bit of a lighter Iliketrains. Some folks just hear the miserable bits (like the guy who urged them to ‘cheer up motherfuckers!’ on Youtube, but they nearly always feature some kind of euphoric finale or message below the surface as they do with ‘Carrier’. Lovely stuff. 8/10

SB  

 

Crocodiles - Sunday (Psychic Conversation # 9)

Crocodiles return to the fore with this noise drenched slice of shoegaze revivalism taken from upcoming album Endless Flowers. Sounding like an edgier and rougher version of fellow revivalists Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Crocodiles find the balance between unhinged dive-bombing guitars and uplifting pop melodies that makes for a brilliant track that whisks you back to the reckless freedom of those long summers past. 8/10

Antonio Tzikas


 

Severin – High Shot (Tip Top)

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness as Adam Richman often says. But exclamations are due – this track is a belter. With its robotic heartbeat underpinning things, the airy female vocals and synthetic yelping noises just about hold their own about the scratchy guitars. Equal, if not better, is the Voyeurist Remix. Look out for the debut EP ‘Everything Breaks’. 9/10
www.facebook.com/severin666

SB

 
 

Cast – Time Bomb

Yep, that’s right, the same cast as the one you are thinking of (you know, with that singer who looks like he lives in the dark under a rock). But ‘Timebomb’ is a brand new track so let’s try and be a little bit subjective. Nope, still don’t like them much (though if you were looking for someone to play at the Davy Jones memorial concert then the sound would be right at home). 5/10

SB

 

Sennen – Vultures (Indelabel)

Sennen are quite clearly a serious band and this is a very serious track. Every bit as grandiose and sweeping as ‘Age of Denial’, it sports that same ill-fated urgency. With B-side ‘Holding On For You’ there is a glimpse at a more spacious, less claustrophobic sound. The sounds for the forthcoming album ‘Lost Harmony’ are looking good. 8/10
www.sennen.org.uk

SB

 

General Fiasco – Don’t You Ever (Dirty Hit)

General Fiasco sound like they have borrowed Falco’s synth from Future of the Left. But there’s no clever tongue in cheek here – ‘Don’t You Ever’ sounds like it is being sung by an Axl Rose impersonator (a rare time when the instrumental version included is a welcome addition). 6/10

SB

 
 

Paul Curreri – Poor Little Motorbike (Tin Angel)

Sounding not unlike Mark Lanegan is an obvious good start and the fact that ‘Poor Little Motorbike’ probably sounds unlike anything else you’ve ever heard is no bad thing either. Bluesey guitar skiffs sent against distinctly African rhythms? It’s a weird one alright and does not always work out – there a few uncomfortable moments where the two worlds collide a little uncomfortably. But fair play for giving it a go. 7/10
www.tinangelrecords.co.uk

SB

 

Damn Vandals – The Beautiful Mind EP (Sexy Beast)

A glorious rambunctious offering here from Damn Vandals which sees them straddle the sounds of Ian Curtis, name-sakes The Damned and even more bizarrely, comedic tongue in cheek act The Graham Parsnip Think Tank (must be the crooning). ‘Beautiful Mind’ is just a track which demands attention. In comparison the middle of the EP struggles to meet these high standards but ‘Trouble With Jesus’ provides the perfect return to form to complete the release with. 8/10
www.damnedvandals.co.uk

SB

 
 

Model Society – Horizons (Label Fandango)

‘Horizons’ is like an English punky version of The Killers. Without the melodies. However, I do love the rumbling murmuring where a chorus of disenchanted voices mumble along threateningly. 6/10
www.myspace.com/modelsocietyband

SB

 

Sharliza Jelita – Claustrophobia (Label)

‘Claustrophobia’ is a bit of a sonic overload with all sorts of discordant effects and synths overlapping, sometimes jarring, sometimes harmonising all over the shop. But there’s something wonderful about the primitive way that the track is put together that allows it to hang together and gets you extend an olive branch to all those potentially migraine inducing keyboards. 8/10
www.sharliza.com

SB

 

Dick Venom & the Terrortones – Rockin’ Rollin’ Vampire Man / Sticky Pants Trance (Jailhouse Morgue)

For what is hard to avoid as a bit of a gimmick, ‘Rockin’ Rollin’ Vampire Man’ manages to actually sound OK thanks to its punk outlook. Beyond that I’m struggling to picture this band as much more than a novelty act. 6/10
www.dickvenom.com

SB

 
 

We Are Augustines – Chapel Song (Oxcart)

A bit like a thinking man’s Kings of Leon, We Are Augustines come storming out of their barn door with this cracking little tune and in Billy McCarthy they have a singer who you can’t help believe every word he utters. Epic but not grandiose, ‘Chapel Song’ is a little slice of wonderfulness at the start of a dreary March. 8/10
www.weareaugustines.com

SB

 
 

Lights – Where the Fence is Low (Last Gang Entertainment)

Someone must have got us mixed up with the MTV post bag. The unbelievably named Canadian chanteuse Lights Poxleitner peddles electro pop, albeit with a growly bass in ‘Siberia’. Expect to hear this track gracing Skins very soon. 6/10

SB

 

Maybeshewill – Red Paper Lanterns (Function)

This track lifted from Maybeshewill’s third album (I Was Here for a Moment and Then I was Gone) sees a bit of a shift in direction for the band. More cinematic in quality it sees them diverge from their sometimes brutal power and concentrate more intently on layering of melodies. Personally I’m more for the combination of power and melody in previous tracks such as ‘This Time Last Year’ and ‘How to Shake Hands with a Ghost’ but ‘Red Paper Lanterns’ is still a fine track in its own right. 7/10
www.maybeshewill.net

SB

 

Canterbury - Ready Yet?

Following up on 2009s debut album, Thank You, Canterbury are proving to be the masters of building anticipation for the release of their second full length, Heavy In The Day, this summer.

Ready Yet? is the second single from said record and trust me, you’re going to need your best dancing shoes for this one. The track kicks straight in with a rhythmic guitar riff straight out of the Foot Tappers Guide to Hip Thrusting (Note to self: Copyright book title), with vocalist, Luke Prebble, adding the polished, infectious vocal melodies that have contributed to Canterbury’s ever growing fanbase. The track continues to bounce along in a similar vein until before you know it, you find yourself hovering over that repeat button.

With recent tours with The Blackout, and You Me At Six, it was inevitable that a sold out headlining tour was to follow. With increasing airplay on national radio and television stations, perhaps 2012 will be the much-deserved year of Canterbury.

Lee Swinford

 

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – ‘Stick Figures In Love’ (Domino Records)

I used to love Pavement. Malkmus’ songs and their shambolic but perfect delivery of them combined to produce five of the greatest indie records of the 90s and at least two unassailable classics. Since forming The Jicks, Malkmus has maintained the casual genius of his lyrics but the music, whilst being more technically impressive, has sometimes lacked the charm of his previous band. Their last album ‘Mirror Traffic’ from which this single is taken is at least in part a move away from the long jams back towards glorious slacker pop – ‘Stick Figures In Love’ features a series of beautiful, melodically unpredictable verses broken up by fuzz guitar breaks and is over so quickly you immediately want to put it on again. Usually, saying that an artist could do this in their sleep is a criticism but in Stephen Malkmus’ case it seems like the highest compliment. 8/10

Matt Brown

 
 

Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’ (Island Records)

This is the fourth single from the band’s most recent album ‘A Different Kind of Fix’. It was apparently on the soundtrack to one of the Twilight films (not being a teenage girl I wouldn’t really know) and the single comes with some pretty nice remixes by Scuba and Tom Vek. The song itself is actually really lovely – pristine acoustic guitar and drum loops combine with layers of repetitive vocals to give a beautiful euphoric feel similar to how you’d imagine Fleet Foxes would sound if Four Tet produced them. It’s nothing particularly original and probably won’t have much impact on the radio but I really liked it. 8/10

Matt Brown

 
 

Julia Stone -Let’s Forget All the Things That We Say

I love Angus & Julia Stone but my heart lies with Julia, mostly because Angus is a miserable bastard, although he sure can write a song. Julia snared me with the song Private Lawns when I first ever saw her and Angus (her brother, if you were wondering), and it was her breathy, floaty voice that did it for me. Her voice is strange, and it shouldn’t be good, but somehow it is, and this song is not a disappointment on that front. I can’t wait for the whole EP and hope she records an album.

The song is just keyboard (which Julia plays) but backed by jaunty drums, which save it from being *too* lo-fi. But it is very low-key, which I like, and which I think is typical Julia. She also has a very typical way of singing with strange splits in both words and sentences, which is present here, it adds something to the lo-fi feel. The songs builds through evocative lyrics about the winter to an ending of a chorus of sorts, repeating the name of the song. I love this, because it feels like a real story being told.

I can’t wait for the rest of the EP if this is anything to go by. Julia has something special.

Rebecca McCormick

 

Karin Park – Fryngies

I don’t know what the hell a Fryngie is but it sounds pretty marvellous. Karin Park builds o her debut UK release Tiger Dreams with this little beauty which zooms around, skitters about and soars with Park’s spine tingling delivery. 8/10
www.karinpark.com

SB

 

Sixtyfours – Up To No Good

If you were being lazy (and I am certainly that) then you’d quite easily compare Sixtyfours with Fun Lovin’ Criminals – ‘Back to 88’ has that classic hip hop meets funk sound which fell strangely out of vogue post Huey and pals. But essentially it was always about very gifted musicians meshing together two seemingly incongruous styles with great success and Sixtyfours very much follow in these footsteps. Occasionally teetering on a harder edged rocky sound, particularly in ‘Rule the World’ which is nearer to Senser than FLC, Sixtyfours demonstrate a lithe musical flexibility. 8/10
www.sixtyfours.co.uk

SB

 
 

Elekropusher – Good Morning EP (Cheaper Thrills)

Not for the faint of heart, at first listen this reminded me a bit of Beni Benassi then it introduced a load of technoey drum drops, beats and glitches which frankly scrambled my mind pretty thoroughly. ‘How can anyone listen to that?’ I can hear my dear old Gran exclaiming and you’d find it hard to disagree unless you hear in binary in a series of clicks and blips. But there is something pretty cool about all the same, verging on sounding like some of the equipment which was used to make it is actually broken. 7/10

SB

 

Brave Face - 'Something Old Something New'

Mid-tempo ballad that veers ominously near to dullness, has an alright tune but requires a bit more imagination in the production department, such as a lengthy progrock keyboard break or some backwards guitar to really propel the song beyond just sounding a bit average.
www.facebook.com/braveface

JG

 
 

Backnbloom - 'Venice'

Quirky electropop that flys off in several directions simultaneously and really does end too soon for its various ideas to properly develop, so you'll just need to play it again to catch any of the parts you thought you liked on that all-too-brief first hearing. Colourful arty video to go with it too.
http://backnbloom.bandcamp.com

JG

 
 

Rufus Wainwright - 'Out Of The Game'

This is annoying me loads. Who is Rufus Wainwright? Is he related to Loudon Wainwright? Mark Ronson is producing and Wainwright is playing the London Lyceum in April so he's obviously a famous person, albeit one I've never heard of until now and I know why, as his dull and tuneless MOR muzak is so mind numbingly boring that I've probably fallen asleep whenever I've heard it.
www.rufuswainwright.com

JG

 

Zoo Zero - Green Apples EP

Spiky pop noise that rattles along brightly as if there were a 6 in the year (eg: 1966, 1996 etc), modish britpop, emo tinged thrash punk, stylish electropop - there's seemingly no end to Zoo Zero's versatility and their album, whenever it appears, is quite probably one of the year's best.
http://zoozero.bandcamp.com

JG

 

Crybaby – I Cherish the Heartbreak More than the Love that I Lost

There’s something more than just the whimsical song title that is a little reminiscent of Morrissey and The Smiths here. The doleful yet weirdly uplifting style is pure ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More’. 7/10

SB
 

 
 

Esperanza Spalding – Black Gold

Nurdling loungey musings from the impressively afroed Esperanza Spalding. Not normally my thing at all and definitely not garnering any interest this time. 4/10

SB

 
 

Alto 45 - Robot Heart (Happy Capitalist)

I remember Alto 45 from way back. Sadly, I can’t remember what I remember about them other than I liked them – their music does not seem to have stuck in my mind at all. Good timing then that this charming little single comes out of the traps this March and gives us all a reminder. ‘Robot Heart’ is suitably farcical content matter for the geek chic sound of Alto 45, it sounds a little like Champion Kickboxer would if the whole band did PGCEs and started teaching physics for a year. Welcome back. 7/10
www.alto45.bandcamp.com

SB
 

 
 

Damn Jammage – She Drowned

The quirky, kooky, ‘odd-ball blues 6-piece’ Damn Jammage have a touch of the melodramatic about them which brings to mind the likes of Hellset Orchestra. Unfortunately it’s only a touch of melodrama, mainly brought about by the unhinged vocals, otherwise nothing much to write home about here. 6/10
www.facebook.com/damnjammage

SB

 
 

The Voyeurist - 'Chase(R)'

Electronic ballad that's posessed of a potentially danceable rhythm track but you'd probably prefer chilling out to The Voyeurist's own wall-of-circutry tale of whatever it is the lyrics are about. 'Chase' has the verging upon epic quality that all great electropop shares and the track is a free download in anticipation of the duo's forthcoming 'Hexed' EP.
http://soundcloud.com/anoraklondon/the-voyeurist-chase-r

JG

 
 

A Fight You Can’t Win – Every Last Breath

AFYCW make no apologies about their retro influences – Queens of the Stoneage, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth etc. They’re all good bands that I like so we should be onto stable ground here. For reasons unknown my first listen to this actually started with track two ‘Short Hair/Sharp Teeth’ which I found to be immensely agreeable and dirty, almost proto-industrial guitar stuff. It was a bit of disappointment to then redirect to opener proper. ‘Shedding Skin/Making Bones’ which sounded a little thin on the ground in comparison and tends to skitter about rhythm wise.

Our final two tracks just further confirm the initial findings – there are moments of great clarity and grungey rock outs (think Flood era Headswim during ‘Shout First/Last Words) but there are also a few weak bits. Generally very much a B+ though. B+/10
www.afightyoucantwin.com

SB

 
 

Jake Morley – Feet Don’t Fail Me Now (Sandwich Emporium)

Mmm, a sandwich emporium sounds lovely. Doesn’t quite ready you for the off-kilter pseudo gospel leanings of ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now’ though. I thought I’d listened to this before and not cared much for it but on this listen I’m won over – it’s cleverly layered yet simple guitars and choral harmonies accompanied by hand claps sounds a little bit Outkast while remaining 100% Jake Morley. Unexpectedly cool. 8/10
www.jakemorley.com

SB

 
 

Housquare – Old Gem EP (Cheaper Thrills)

Sirens, electro keys, hand claps? I’m back upstairs in a very seedy bar in Cleethorpes in 1990, I’ve drunk too much Hofmeister and I think I may be sick. Fortunately I’ve moved on (I get sick drinking all sorts of different lager now) and so has music so why is this EP so stuck in the past? I’ve just been listening to some 808 State back catalogue stuff and frankly even that is way advanced compared to this. 5/10

SB

 
 

Missing Andy – Money

This track is unashamedly full-on – electric piano whirring, big choruses and excellent vocals from the lead singer. Bless them, they’ve even included the lyrics on the slip case ‘Money Money, Money Money’ etc. I can’t fault the blighters – great tune delivered with chutzpah! 8/10
www.missingandy.com

SB

 
 

Steve Smyth – Endless Nowaday

Australian Steve Smyth is awful, every other ball of his crap legspin doesn’t even land, his batting is as erratic as the rainfall graphs in his home state and his face looks like a gargoyle guzzling on vinegar. What? That’s Steve Smith with an ‘i’? Oh, sorry. This Smyth is another hairy Aussie though and infinitely better at his chosen trade. A strange mix of upbeat finger picking and down tempo chords gives this a timeless quality all gently massaged by Smyth’s velvet vocals. He still can’t catch though. 8/10
www.cannonballpr.com/steve-smyth

SB

 
 

Moonbootica – Iconic (Cheap Thrills)

It’s amost inevitable that if you call something ’Icononic’ or ‘Legendary’ that it won’t be. This track from Moonbootica is no different – glimpses of promise but never really hits the heights I would expect from something that is ‘Iconic’. 5/10
www.moonbootica.com

SB

 
 

Paul Weller – That Dangerous Age (Universal Island)

Oh dear, this is not good. Its content dealing with the frustrations of a middle age wage-slave may be entirely appropriate to the artist because this track is a poor comparison to the previous Weller single I reviewed in August 2011 (‘Starlite’). 5/10
www.paulweller.com

SB

 
 

In Place of Hope – In Place of Hope

One man’s throat wrecking noisy double kick drum nonsense is another man’s Beyoncé. Is that really the voice you speak to your mother with? 5/10
www.facebook.com/inplaceofhopeuk

SB

 
 

Isolated Atoms – Illuminate (Progressive Pure Sounds)

There’s something satisfyingly comfortable about a band that do nothing at all to shock you or surprise you. And this is not meant in a bad way – you know the sort of tunes where you can work out exactly where the melody should go, how many verses there should be, the exact position of the solos etc. It’s not rocket science – U2 have been doing it for years. Such is Isolated Atoms’ gift (yes, I say gift). It’s essentially indie synth rock which reminds me of some early Simple Minds stuff and other gothy artists like The Cult. So whereas earlier I was slagging off Housquare for sounding like music from my youth, in this case I am going to positively applaud Isolated Atoms for the same. Contrary bugger I am. 7/10
www.facebook.com/isolatedatoms

SB

 
 

The Detours – Ignite EP (Contraflow)

I can’t count myself as a fan of this upbeat emo-rock stuff and so The Detours struggle to capture my attention for long. That said they are at as proficient, if not more so than lots of their contemporaries s o should be worth a listen. That sounded like very hollow praise didn’t it? 6/10
http://soundcloud.com/wearethedetours

SB

 
 

Future of the Left – Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman (Xtra Mile)

Suitably rowdy stuff here from Falko and chums which sees a welcome return to acerbic, snappy form and pre-cursor to the new album ‘The Plot Against Common Sense’. And he says ‘tits’ at least once during the song – don’t play it in front of your Mum. 7/10
www.futureoftheleft.net

SB

 
 

Firefalldown – These Wounds (Love Music Movement)

I might ave a bit of a duff copy here but the sound of this track is a bit weedy and thin – where has the bass gone? I’m also slightly alarmed to hear that the singer is a drug addict turned missionary and consequently ‘These Wounds’ is a bit overtly preachy and full of good intentions – ‘ my love for you’ musings etc. But they good musicians without a doubt and the tune itself is pretty strong. 6/10
www.firefalldown.com

SB

 
 

Whipping Boy – No-One Takes Pictures Anymore/Earth’s Last Picture (Rocket Girl)

This double A-side is Whipping Boy’s first outing for over 12 years – no-one could accuse them of not preparing properly. But by god you can tell they have been crafting, beavering and festering in their own bile for that time as these two condense a decade worth of thoughtfulness and musical influence. ‘No-one...’ is the happy, fey younger brother while ‘Earth’s Last Picture’ is the disillusioned and bitter elder adopted bastard child. 8/10
www.rocketgirl.co.uk

SB

 
 

A Plastic Rose – Build From the Ground Up (Di Di Mau)

There are a lot of mentions of Snow Patrol on the press release for this one seeing as the band are just about to go on tour with them. Exciting times for this little known band from Northern Ireland but don’t skip to the next review straight away just because I mentioned Snow Patrol. There’s a stadium friendly euphoria sure enough but also a much perkier approach to ‘Build From the Ground Up’, more akin to The Strange Death of Liberal England than Snow Patrol. 8/10
www.facebook.com/aplasticrose

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Breton – Interference (FatCat)

I’m not sure what makes Breton a subversive art collective but they’ve nailed this track. A satisfyingly squelchy analogue inspired sound sees lots of sounds and loops slide across each other, very much in the style of the title. They don’t so much harmonise with each other as co-habit enduringly. Also a nod to electro goth bands like Depeche Mode – skip the edit version and proceed directly to the full version. 8/10
www.bretonlabs.com

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Martyn – Hello Darkness (Brainfeeder)

I thought I’d seen this slip cover artwork before somewhere – it’s exactly the same as Martyn’s last release in August last year. Maybe this leaves more time for this innovative producer to shut himself away in his studio and concoct these dark, claustrophobic tracks. 6/10
www.brainfeedersite.com

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Envy the Fallen – Hoist the Colours

Although not really my bag, this is pretty impressive stuff from south coast metalcore mongers Envy the Fallen who mix their ferocious riffs and double kick drum beats with the occasional and most welcome presence of proper singing. But mainly it is the typical groling you expect from the genre. 6/10
www.facebook.com/envythefallen

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MiSK – Jazz Hands/Open Doors (Cheaper Thrills)

What a couple of cracking tracks here from Dublin-based MiSK. The stabby keys of ‘Jazz Hands’ get you bobbing about and then the moody chilled out late night sound of ‘Open Doors’ bring you back down. Impressive stuff. 8/10

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Salim Nourallah – Unstoppable (Tapete)

Forming somewhat of a super-group to record this track, Salim Nourallah then keeps things pleasingly simple with this upbeat little summer song. Sometimes no gimmicks are required. 7/10

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These Furrows – No Invitation No Welcome / 3:16 (Underdogs Music)

Unmistakable British indie pop here not dissimilar to Yorkshire’s Buen Chico. Occasionally the band open up into something a little more substantial and verge on rocking out but there’s a pleasing evidence of self restraint which keeps things nice and tight without getting too grandiose. 7/10
www.thesefurrows.co.uk

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Billy Vincent – Bottle Top

Very emotive stuff here from London Five-piece Billy Vincent. The tremulous vocals play off the gentle guitars nicely while the drum production adds a bit of oomph. 7/10
www.cannonballpr.com/billy-vincent

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Emporium – The Umbrella Shop (Whimsical)

A 14 year anniversary? There seems to be no suggestion for a gift between tin at ten years and crystal at 15 years – perhaps that’s why the vocals gloriously meander around like a lost sheep inside the slightly proggy, psychedelic musical musings of ‘The Umbrella Shop’. Quite strange but not totally unendearing either. 6/10
www.whimsicalrecords.co.uk

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Yppah feat. Anomie Belle – Film Burn (Ninja Tune)

A suitably filmic return from Yppah in ‘FiIm Burn’ which draws heavily on the style of Underworld and other intelligent techno acts while being underpinned by Yppah’s very own discordant musical world view. Actually - that’s the Kwes remix – damn shuffle play. The title track proper is a much gentler, more traditional approach featuring the vocals of Anomie Belle and quite reminiscent in sound of Bonobo with the heavy beats and trip hop vibe. It slowly builds with an increase in skittering drum beats and emphasis on electronics. Nice works all round. 8/10
www.ninjatune.net

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Wiley – Evolve or Be Extinct / Skanking (Big Dada)

Sorry but I just can’t get on with the Two Bears so I’m skipping straight past that remix. What’s next up? ‘Evolve or Be Extinct’. Crikey – Wiley has got a lot to say for himself – he must be well out of breath after that little rant. Hmm, a touch too urban for my idyllic rural tastes. 4/10

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The Darlingtons – Bats (Ordered)

Busy and very proficient indie guitar work here from The Darlingtons. It’s not exactly knock your socks off original but the band have got the gift of finding a hook and hitting it until you submit to their charms. 7/10

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Ane Brun feat. Jose Gonzalez – Worship (Balloon Ranger)

In my eyes Ane Brun is pretty terrific and the idea of adding in Jose Gonzalez was never going to make this song any worse. Jose’s mellow vocals prevent things from sounding a little two bleak while Brun adds the gravitas. 8/10
http://anebrun.com/

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B. Traits feat. Elisabeth Troy – Fever

Horrible beyond words.

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