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singles/eps - april 2012


 

Blood Red Shoes – Cold

One slightly unexpected perk about having to review this track via the YouTube video is the view into the minds of some of Blood Red Shoes fans. There is a long dialogue between the band and a commenter about sound levels and DR ranges. Jesus, with fans like that god knows what people who don’t like the band think. Anyway, I think this sounds bloody lovely from the Brighton duo and lovely Laura-Mary Carter’s breathy vocals work perfectly with Steve Ansell’s words, the dirty guitars and machine gun drumming. Cock-on in my opinion. 8/10
www.bloodredshoes.com

SB

 

Skarlett Riot – Villain

Honestly, it’s not just my heavy bias towards Lincolnshire based bands that makes me think that despite their dodgy name, Skarlett Riot are actually pretty good. The guitars on ‘Party Hard’ are excellent and despite a few early flurries where I thought the eponymous Skarlett was going to ruin it with some slightly awry vocals, things soon get licked into shape. In fact young Skarlett begins to steal the show by looking like a little impish pixie but sounding like a dirty harlot. Think a lady fronted G ‘n’ R and you won’t be far off. 7/10
www.facebook.com/skarlettriotuk

SB

 

The Cry Baby – Antibodies (Heavily Armed Toddlers)

I’m struggling to get over the infantile style of the vocals from Anna Waldmann on this without binning the whole track. It sounds like it should work with its dark trip-hoppy loops and keys but the whereas some might find Waldmann’s voice evocative, I just found it a bit grating. 6/10
www.thecrybaby.co.uk

SB


Something Illustrated – The Space In Between Us (Si)

More Edinburghers, this time in the form of five-piece Something Illustrated. Opening track ‘Shipping Forecast’ is exactly that – an opening sample of the shipping forecast – bravo. There are times when it sounds like the drums were recorded completely separately from the rest of the track as they skitter about at will, but the track is saved by the slightly darker scratchy guitars which come in during the 3rd verse.Other offerings include touches of prog rock and sometimes gentler ballads. It’s a little bit rough around the edges but definitely a decent starting point. 6/10
www.facebook.com/somethingillustrated

SB

 

The OK Social Club – The Shape of Things to Come (Platform)

Charming early summer stuff here from Edinburgh’s The Ok Social Club who seem to combine the sounds of We Were Promised Jetpacks with The Boo Radleys. 7/10
www.facebook.com/theoksocialclubofficial

SB

 

The Colour Movement – Future Man (Gods in the Records)

Could there be anything more heinous than the idea of a machine which does the song writing for you? Apparently this song is the result of a collaboration with some such machine and might explain its deathly lack of warmth and humanity. Not the future of music. 4/10
www.thecolourmovement.com

SB

 

The Milk – Broke Up the Family (Sony)

I didn’t find listening to this on CD quite as irksome as I did when I first previewed it on Soundcloud – not sure why but not a feather in the cap for Soundcloud I suppose. The Milk are a multi-faceted rock n rock beast fused with Motown and soul. Not that palatable to everyone but OK in small doses. 6/10

SB


Amongst Carrion – We That Should Not Be

What a bleak cover – some kind of 6 eyed werewolf covered in bees charging down a post apocalyptic city street. Soundwise it’s the same old noisy metal gnarly shouty stuff. 5/10
www.facebook.com/amongstcarrion

SB

 
 

The Slow Readers Club – Feet on Fire

Interesting – sounds a little bit like a less well rounded version of the Infadels. Catchy but a little bit clunky. Cool Lego video though. 6/10
www.theslowreadersclub.co.uk

SB

 

The Magnetic Fields – Quick

This is a song with synth-bass that doesn't make me want to go back in time and prevent synth-bass.
It's glorious. It is an effort to refrain from dissolving into cheap clichés. This is a song which is so good it is hard to write about it.

Go and listen to it. Go now. This review is short because by now you should have found a way to listen to Quick. Go! Go! Go! You could be using your time a little better. Be sure to come back and read more of the things I have written though.

Christopher Carney

 

Niki and the Dove - Tomorrow

Sequentially styled and edgy electropop that's already received a few enthusiastic nods from more influential critics, although it's leaving me slightly less than thrilled for some intangible reason. Perhaps this is down to Niki's breathless urchin vocal which recalls Lykke Li, whom I was never very keen on. It's alright as Radio 1 approved Swedish technobop goes but there's nothing to make 'Tomorrow' stand out from any of the two dozen similar tracks Annie Mac will play in the next month or so.

JG

 

Argonaut - Touch Electric

Grinding garage bluespunk that has one of the truly greatest lyrics of the year so far : 'when we love it makes me sick ...' seriously, no-one's written anything that profoundly romantic since about 1978, and none of Argonauts (all female) members were probably even born then. Also has an inventive sort of industrial mid section where many other bands put their guitar solos. Ones to watch, Argonauts are.

JG


Mutado Pintado - King of the Worker Bees EP

Transplanted New Yorker Matthew Hardwidge is bored at work and doesn't much like getting the tube across London, so he's written this laid back ragga inflected spoken word piece with which to express his alienation and contempt for the economic system which forced him to give up his Manhattan art scene lifestyle for an actual job in a restaurant in Clerkenwell. This would succeed if it either 1) was a bit more 'experimental' or 2) had a properly sung vocal but I'm afraid that I'm lacking in sympathy with Matthew and his cake problem.

JG


Lower Dens - Propagation

Swaying, atmospheric post-rock inflected ballad from this US four or five piece (the press pic is a bit confusing) whose measured, minimal sound contains its own vast landscape of effects driven guitar and dreampop pyrotechnics, a band you are assuredly going to hear more from as 2012 progresses.
http://www.lowerdens.com

JG

 
 

The Ready Stance - Wrecking Ball

Full on countryfied guitar tune that can trace its lineage right back to Big Star and Green On Red, plus the Lemonheads or somesuch, a familiar sound but The Ready Stance are making more than just the right noises here and 'Wrecking Ball' has the reverberating authenticity all the best of those mid west guitar bands share.
www.readystance.com

JG

 

What the Night Brings – Bound By Apathy

No prizes for subtlety here from the heart of the Home Counties but an impressive array of blistering guitar effects and some fearsome drumming may get you crapping your pants in excitement. Obvious comparisons to Pantera do not flatter to deceive. 7/10
www.facebook.com/whatthenightbrings

SB

 

Slugabed – Sex (Ninjatune)

From the sublime to the ridiculous (or in fact, the other way round after listening to the mighty What the Night Brings). Slugabed’s ‘Sex’ drips suave electro sophistication with a side serving of funk thrown in. 7/10
www.ninjatune.net

SB


 

Junior Electronics – Zero Distress

Junior Electronics is the solo work of Joe Watson of Stereolab fame and at first listen ‘Zero Distress’ sounds just a bit clunky and awkward. But you get the impression after listening to the dead pan vocals as well that this is entirely the point – it’s not meant to flow, it’s supposed to be a bit gawkish. 6/10

SB

 
 

D1 – Devotion EP (Cheap Thrills)

So this is basically an ‘original’ track heavily featuring samples from the classic ‘Devotion’? Not sure I’m down enough with the kids for any of this EP, no matter how bassy or jungly or anything else it is. 5/10

SB

 
 

Nyteowl – Love of Mine (Love Interest)

Squelchy synthy loveliness in an eighties style here from Minnapolis producer Nyteowl who combines a bit of retro cheese with a self assured swaggering modern cool. 7/10
www.soundcloud.com/nyteowl

SB

 

Skinny Lister – Plough & Orion / If the Gaff Don’t Let Us Down (Sunday Best)

I very much like the prettiness of girl/boy vocals and the simple melodies of ‘Plough & Orion’ which shows Skinny Lister can be effective without being showy. By comparison I quite dislike the bawdy shanty-esque ‘If the Gaff Don’t Let Us Down’ – what a contrary bugger. 6/10
www.skinnylister.com

SB

 
 

The Ghosts – Ghost (Pocket)

Like a neatly trimmed beard, ‘Ghost’ provides a simple embellishment to an otherwise unremarkable number of features. Fizzly synth lines, simple guitar hook and a decently memorable melody pull all the aspects of this together in one neat package. 7/10
www.cannonballpr.com/the-ghosts

SB

 

Errors – Tusk (Rock Action)

As you would expect from one of Rock Action’s bands, Errors provide an enticing listen. A serious tune via twinkly keys over a fuzzy bass line – it’s like Mogwai being covered by Hot Chip. 7/10
http://soundcloud.com/rock-action-records/sets/errors-tusk-radio-edit/s-QsEh2

SB

 

Soul Circus – Burn the Map/Consequence of Youth

Clearly conceived to have the massed outdoor hordes gently bobbing around at the back yet throwing themselves over unfeasibly high fences at the front, ‘Consequence of Youth’ is an obvious indie pop festival pleaser which in recorded format just leaves me feeling it’s a little bit lacking in substance. ‘Burn the Map’ follows a similar, if slightly more considered pattern though there is a greater dynamic range at least. Either way, if you get them both there’s a free Matlow’s Swizzle stick in it for you (I kid you not) so get down to local internet music cum confectioner pronto. 6/10
www.soulcircus.co.uk

SB

 
 

Stanley – Join Hands (Stanley HQ)

‘Join Hands’ is the lead track from Aberdeen-based Stanley’s debut album ‘Animals with Amazing Diguises’ and if it is a taste of what is to come then we are in for a bit of a treat. It’s impossible to pinpoint any one influence but there are plenty of sonic tools and cunning musical directions all being deployed at once here. It’s a rollocking, gothic stomp imbued with Stephen Podelsny’s rich vocals which cruise majestically from deep and calm to manically falsetto. 8/10
www.stanleytheband.com

SB

 
 

Alex Butler – Come Out of Your House

Jerky English guitar pop which shares that same lyrical cleverness and provincial vocal deployed by the Arctic Monkeys (though admittedly Butler is from a bit further north in Newcastle). It’s always going to be popular so why resist? 7/10
www.alexbutlermusic.com

SB

 
 

Shields – All I Know (Euphonios)

There’s something lovingly familiar about this track but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Either way, it’s clearly been lovingly crafted and positively bubbles through its lifespan like a brightly blooming musical flower. Or something. 8/10
www.behindshields.com

SB

 
 

The Helmholtz Resonators – Scars (Trashmouth)

This reminds me a little bit of an electronic version of Sheffield’s Champion Kickboxer. It’s kind of doleful yet deceptively euphoric with an overriding sense of melody. Simple and sweeping, it’s a song for long outdoor summer evenings. 7/10
http://www.helmholtzresonators.com

SB

 
 

Jenny Gillespie – Belita EP (Narooma)

I was hoping for something a little more interesting than this after hearing the start of the opening track ‘Creature of Our Own Make’. It featured a nifty combination of glitch effects and generally shambolic instrumentation which brought to mind the likes of Jose Gonzalez and Adem. But as the EP progresses, ‘Belita’ leans more towards a traditional, and slightly less interesting, traditional folk sound (though ‘Cheating Gong’ features a pretty lovely muted finger picked guitar sound intro). 6/10
www.jennygillespie.com

SB

 
 

These Monsters – Live Some (Role Model Corporate)

I saw These Monsters play live a few weeks back and got a right shock. I seemed to recall them being a bit of a complex post rocky type outfit complete with a brass section. Either a) I was completely wrong (very likely) or b) they have completely changed into a rawk beast. Well, they are part way there. ‘Live Some’ sounds a little bit like Hawk Eyes lite – just a bit less chunky and layered but with just a few more ‘musical’ inflections – These Monsters know their jazz chord progressions. But all said, ‘Live Some’ will still scare the neighbours. 7/10
www.thesemonsters.com

SB

 
 

Bleech – Mondays (Billie)

There’s slightly more going on here than the simplicity of the chorus would have you believe. It’s instantly catchy but veers away from the obvious in several places which is a nice little touch. 7/10
www.facebook.com/bleechofficial

SB

 
 

Films of Colour – Running / Creature of Habit

Films of Colour sound like a band perfectly honed for a summer of festival appearances where their anthemic tracks like ‘Running’ will prosper (just ask Snow Patrol). I like it quite a lot but feel I’d have preferred it in a bit more of a stripped down version. ‘Creature of Habit’, despite sounding a bit like Coldplay, I find myself warming to more and more. 7/10
www.filmsofcolour.com

SB

 
 

Runaround Kids – You’d Feel the Same (Philophobia)

Holy christ – someone has slipped at the mastering desk and pushed all the levels up to an ear splitting maximum. Regardless of what you might think of this slightly anarchic surfy garage rock, you’d struggle hearing past the incredibly condensed sound here. 6/10
www.runaroundkids.com

SB

 
 

Fuxa – Our Lips Are Sealed/Crystal Blue (Rocket Girl)

Anyone out there know of the original version by the Go-Gos? Nope, we neither. But quick Google did not have me quickly signing up for the Go-Gos back catalogue. Fortunately, Fuxa’s version featuring Sarah Peacock (Seefeel) on vocals is a million miles away. Ethereal and gently haunting, it’s a little gem. 7/10

SB

 
 

I Like Trains – Mnemosyne (I Like Records)

Not only have they dropped the little ‘i’s and big other letters (which is a great relief to my somewhat scrambled typing skills) but with ‘Mnemosyne’ I Like Trains appear to have reinvented themselves musically too. Always at the moodier end of the musical spectrum, ‘Mnemosyne’ sees a much mathier approach than I’ve heard from the band before. Gone is the choral brass, replaced by neatly clipped guitars (to match the band’s new neatly clipped beards and quiffs judging by the press shot). So how does all this marry up with Dave Martin’s characteristically sombre vocals? I bloody love it. 9/10
www.iliketrains.co.uk

SB

 
 

Fossil Collective - 'Let It Go EP' (Dirty Hit)

Tuneful alt-folk with a rhythmic edge and no swirling production effects to draw attention away from what's a quite good song. Also accompanied by an animated video which took several months to produce, Fossil Collective are definitely aiming towards something and sound like the actual opposite of fossilised. Their Soundcloud page only contains the EP title track, so I can only assume that the rest of the EP is as pleasantly listenable as 'Let It Go'.

JG

 
 

Japandroids - 'The House That Heaven Built' (Polyvinyl)

Stomping emo-tinged powerpunk that I'd get a bit more from if I wasn't so blatantly reminded of the very similar (and big favourites of mine from all of 6 years or so back) Japanther, who did this sort of thing with a touch more invention and scuzzed up originality, to a point where I'm suspecting an actual connection in the production department, that or legal action pending somewhere.
http://japandroids.com

JG

 
 

The Pond - 'Circle Round A Tree' (One Little Indian)

You already know if you are going to like this. Folk musician Kathryn Williams and two friends go a bit 'psychedelic' in much the same way that Donovan did, plus club remixes. Everyone at Radio 6 already likes it, thereby rendering my own opinion entirely superfluous.

JG