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singles/eps - may 2012


 

Liz Green – Bad Medicine

“If my eyes turn black, and my teeth fall out, and my hair's all caught up in rags...don't give me any of that medicine you're making, for I'll spit it right back out. “

Liz Green's latest single 'Bad Medicine' resonates with an old-time music quality. An earlier self-release which also appears on the Manchester-based singer-songwriter's album 'O, devotion!' released on Picadilly Records, certainly one of this year's curiosities. Time's some kind of bendable commodity in Ms Green's world where blues artists Bessie Smith or Son House exist alongside present-day company like Jolie Holland and Madeleine Peyroux. Can you have a negro spiritual about an estranged Mancunian searching for redemption and freedom from pain? I guess that's why they call it the blues, whether it's in Louisiana or the north-west of England, and Green's odd quavering voice is every bit the modern-day singer with a story to tell. Supported with a band who also provide strings and brass, and the odd jug or two, shades of Tom Waits without the growling, this nostalgia trip is sonically rather like the T-Bone Burnett classic soundtrack for the Coen Brothers' film 'O Brother, Where Art Thou', songs from a different era served up for the present but happily spared the sight of George Clooney mouthing them … it'll be interesting to see where this singer takes her new material?

Matthew Haddrill

 

Moody Gowns – Stepmother/Bearfoot Beware

While ‘Stepmother’ is an undeniably witty and humorous bit of writing, musically I find it hard to warm to the spiky, militaristic sound. Conversely, Bearfoot Beware feel a lot more palatable with a slight reminiscence of the clever mathy pop of fellow Leedsers O Fracas but with nice heavy overtones. Really quite unusual sounding actually. Strange bedfellows for a split single but twice the chance you’ll like one of them. 7/10
www.moodygowns.com
www.bearfootbeware.co.uk

SB

 
 

Doug Tielli - Yes I am Lonely (Tin Angel)

More welcome oddness here from Canadian Doug Tielli who seems to have forgotten to tell the rest of the band to play at the same speed. Despite this seemingly schoolboy, all these disparate parts of falsetto, echoey ska guitar and general randomness somehow hang together in cleverly catchy tune. On B-side ‘Santia’, Tiella proves he can also do ‘normal’ with a beautiful earthy duet. Welcome stuff. 8/10
www.tinangelrecords.co.uk

SB


 

The Cast of Cheers – Animals (V2)

Following their frankly blistering last outing ‘Family’, The Cast of Cheers return with the nearly equally catchy ‘Animals’ They also seem to have turned into a more commercially viable version of Leicester indie band Crushing Blows. The sad side effect of this is that you may bump into fellow fan Fearne Cotton at The Cast of Cheers gigs. 7/10

SB

 

Don Niño – She is Resisting/Beats (Infinéon)

I know nothing about Don Niño other than what is included on the press release with this CD (which is not a lot). But these two tracks are a pleasant introduction on their own, sounding a bit like a Scottish folk version of Herman Dune (which is no surprise given the list of collaborators. One of those Cds where you will thoroughly enjoy the tracks then hardly be able to remember a thing about them 10 minutes later (but still worth investing the time to get the right accents over the n’s and e’s.) 7/10

SB

 

Donae’o – Big Ben (The Richard Bransom Riddin)

Presumably not some kind of ode to outsized and out of favour West Indian offspin bowler Sulieman Benn, this track is so far off my radar it’s a bit embarrassing even trying to right about it. Like Hugh Dennis on The Mary Whitehouse Experience, I feel like I’d be saying, ‘Hey, what’s this? It’s got a good beat’. This must not happen.
http://www.donaeo.com

SB

 

Robert Vincent – The Bomb EP (DB Industries)

Apparently Robert Vincent knew before he was five years that he wanted to be a musician. Pity then that he complicated things at 17 by becoming a father. There also seems to be a suggestion that good songs need to autobiographical or at least describe something about your life. Oh for days when musicians used to write about things like factories exploding or train crashes.

Anyway, all this preamble just acts as a slightly irrelevant prelude to the fact that Vincent has a rich, world worn voice which works well with his brand of folky country. And he’s also managed to copy Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ almost chord for chord in ‘You Wouldn’t Let It’ without anyone noticing. Cunning blighter. 6/10
www.robertvincentmusic.com

SB


The Proclaimers – Spinning Around in the Air (Cooking Vinyl)

An archetypal Proclaimers track if ever there were one. Feint overtones of Scottish folk but underpinned with a childlike simplicity which makes it unforgettable/suitable for Playschool, depending o your standpoint. 6/10
www.cookingvinyl.com

SB

 

 

The Wind-Up Birds – Cross Country (Sturdy)

It strikes me that The Wind-Up Birds continue to be a very good band. Although we may be forever set up to be disappointed by our heroes, the Wind Up Birds continue to buck this trend and produce excellent tracks and ‘Cross Country’ very definitely falls into this category. Musically a kind of proto punk which in itself is instantly listenable without being banal, the great string to the bow which sets these guys apart are the lyrics and vocals of singer Paul Ackroyd, a modern day Alan Bennett set to music. 8/10
www.thewindupbirds.co.uk

SB

 

 

Whores – Ruiner EP (Stressed Sumo)

On a label run by Therapy?’s Neil Cooper, it’s not surprising to find a band like Atlanta’s Whores who wouldn’t be out of place on a bill with Helmet or The Jesus Lizard. It’s all about the power and the dynamics – great slabs of fuzzed up noise pound into you with opener ‘Daddy’s Money’, softening up your epidermis ready for the next assault. Which is on you remarkably quickly and without warning – in fact I was midway through ‘Fake Life’ before I realised a new song had started. Not that this EP is monotonous – there’s a satisfyingly grungey overdriven, down-tuned vibe that while being heavy, is also pretty melodic and reminds me a bit of going to rock nights in Newcastle. I like it a lot. 8/10

SB

 
 

Allman Brown – Woman (SecondCousin)

‘Soulful side’, ‘dulcet tones’ and ‘acoustic bars of Paris and New York’ are phrases from the press release to make my heart go cold – this sounds yack. But words can be wrong and this track is actually a bit of an understated gem –never grabbing you by the neck and rubbing your face in it like a naughty puppy, more purring gently on your lap like a contented moggy. Limited use of vocal gymnastics, no real production gimmicks – it just flows naturally and effortlessly. 7/10
www.allmanbrown.com

SB

 

Junior High – PSA (Tapete Records)

One man’s sincere, catchy, 80’s infused electro is another man’s, err, cheese. Is that even some beat boxing in there? Well, it’s harmless enough fun so I’m not going to pick on it. I won’t be keeping the CD either though. 6/10

SB


All We Are – We Hunt (Payper Tiger)

Completely different from anything else reviewed (this evening at least), the dark psyche-space of All We Are is like nectar to the ears. Obvious comparisons with the likes of Sigur Ros abound (even though All We Are emerge from Liverpool) but there appears to be more to them than lush Nordic soundscapes. ‘Cardhouse’, for instance, has an anthemic quality to it more akin to Mumford and Sons (though I think it is a pity this is the track chosen as a single as the others have so much to offer). Take the achingly beautiful ‘Red Sky’ for instance – simple components perfectly performed – it’s just excellent. 8/10
www.soundcloud.com/thisisallweare

SB


Katzenjammer – Rock-Paper-Scissors (Propeller)

It’s all fiddle-dee-dee by Norwegian quartet Katzenjammer. Although not missing the marketing potential of having 4 scantily clad Viking ladies adorning the cover, Katzenjammer don’t exactly rock my world with this track, nice enough though it is. 6/10
www.katzenjammer.com

SB

 

Yes Sir Boss – Desperation State (Stone’d)

For those of you interested, Stone’d is Joss Stone’s record label. OK, let’s move on.

Musically, something interesting happened about 2.30 minutes into opening track ‘Not Guilty’ which broke the slightly irksome horn-riddled ska of the track. It kind of went into a guitar led overdrive – there – I’ve given my game away, I like guitars. So for me the rest of the EP was a bit of a chore – excessively ‘quirky’ and vocally yelpy. Sorry. 4/10
www.yessirboss.com

SB

 
 

Monument Valley – Your Cover Blown (Everybody’s Stalking)

Masses of reverb in the cathedral like production give this track an element of grandeur which is curiously offset by the much closer vocals. The result is mixed – it’s neither euphoric nor cinematic, it’s more like trying to drive under the influence of too much Lemsip – strangely mesmeric but momentarily harrowing. 7/10
www.monumentvalley.co.uk

SB

 

Bang on! – Fars Yer Whop (Big Dada)

Strewth and blimey – my hard pressed ears are not capable of withstanding this warbling, bass heavy mangle of voice and beats. Headache. 5/10

SB


 

Trentmoller - 'My Dreams'

Remember when Primal Scream covered Lee Hazelwood's 'Some Velvet Morning' with Kate Moss on vocals? This is a bit similar, except you probably haven't heard of Danish sequentialist Trentmoller or his vocalist Marie Fiske or perhaps even of the Gun Club, the 80s US band whose song this is. Available on 7' vinyl, and with a less electronic version of the song on its b side whose vocal does sound a lot like Lee Hazelwood, albeit with a throaty northern european accent.
www.hfn-music/inmyroom

JG

 
 

Variety Lights - 'Silent Too Long EP'

Former member of Mercury Rev and his new friend bring the noise with this crunchy synth stomp, done mostly on vintage synths and really not sounding anything like Mercury Rev, at all. Available on luminous green vinyl if that sort of thing interests you.
http://soundcloud.com/firerecords/sets/variety-lights-silent-too-long/

JG

 
 

Jonathan Boulet - 'This Song Is Ragged'

A quirky mix of double timed drumming and xylophone, Jonathan Boulet thumps as much of a tune as he can out of his instruments until, right at the very end, he runs out of tune entirely. Available as a free download so don't complain too much.
http://soundcloud.com/modularpeople/jonathan-boulet-this-song-is

JG

 
 

Being There - 'Since I ...'

Not getting this one entirely. A cover of a song written by a member of the spectacularly obscure US indie mavericks Guided By Voices, it's quite probably a faithful note-by-note reconstruction of Tobin Sprout's original track but, (and I mean this in a supportive way) why bother? Being There turn in some alright acoustic Americana but I'd rather hear one of their own songs.
http://soundcloud.com/nadia-young/since-i-by-tobin-sprout

JG

 

Leopard Of Honour - 'Gas Giants EP'

Pleasant if unremarkable actual pop song from this Mancunian electronicist, in the manner of M83 or a more laid back Calvin Harris, and the one track I've access to is probably only the first of a half dozen or so remixes so I'll just leave it there.
http://soundcloud.com/leopard-of-honour/gas-giants

JG

 
 

Anja McCloskey – Italian Song (Sotones)

Even before reading the press release for this I was thinking summertime, campfires and that outdoor party by the river in the movie Chocolat. And like that party, this track unravels in a pleasingly free-spirited outro (though with fewer flames than Johnny Depp’s barge).
www.anjamccloskey.co.uk

SB

 
 

Jack Beats – You Should Know (Sony)

Summertime house music to get hot bodies writhing on dancefloors. Personally I’d rather sit on the veranda with a nice cold gin and tonic but you can’t knock the chutzpah of these guys – the ‘bass drop’ (as they say) is particularly nice. 6/10

SB

 

Finn Bonel – Wedding Song (Fat Controller)

I love all the Indian influences in this track – the sitar, the table and tambura generate a completely luscious exotic sound. The only problem is the song itself which is dull as dishwater and not improved by Bonel’s disinterested sounding vocals. 5/10
www.finnbonel.com

SB

 

Tom Jones – Hit or Miss (Island)

The longer time goes on, the whiter Tom’s hair gets and the darker his skin seems to appear. He’ll soon be a dead ringer for a sun bed loving Morgan Freeman impersonator. As for the track – am I the only one who thinks that Jones has lost his voice a bit? Without that trademark power, this is just a pretty little tune which sounds a bit like The Charlatans rather than the classic it could have been. 7/10

SB

 
 

Princess Chelsea – The Cigarette Duet (L’il Chief Recordings)

Speaking as someone who has had more than the occasional disagreement with ex-girlfriends about their smoking habits there’s a bit of resonance about this track. It’s also unbelievably quirky (in a good way) due to its simple but nostalgic composition. Truly a little gem. 8/10

SB

 

The Subways – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Cooking Vinyl)

You know what, this is not half bad at all. I recall sending various Tasty reporters around the country to cover a few Subways gigs a while back and they normally returned with disappointed reports. But there’s nothing to dislike about this, even the slightly dated vibe just makes me feel nostalgic rather than bored. 8/10
www.thesubways.net

SB

 

The Slow Show – Brother EP (Smoked and Uncut)

First things first – you may have to check your facts to prove to yourself that this is not Eddie Vedder’s new EP – the singer has an uncanny similarity. The music is also similarly absorbing with a bit of a morose undertone. But it’s substantial, stadium filling stuff – I can see the thousands of lighters held aloft in the air as the band supported Elbow recently. 7/10
www.theslowshow.co.uk

SB

 

DJ Food & The Amorphous Androgynous – The Illecktrik Hoax (Ninja Tune)

I love DJ Food and this further collection of mash ups and reworkings of tracks from his album ‘The Search Engine’ includes some further beauties. But is it maybe time to put that album to bed now and start on something else? Good though they all are, I am beginning to find it hard to identify one track from the next, one remix from the next, one collaborator from the next. Hmm, food for thought but if you’ve not had all the recent releases then this one certainly wouldn’t shame any record collection. 8/10
www.ninjatune.net

SB

 
 

Vera Grace – Rotations

I can definitely hear some similarities between Vera Grace and Fierce Panda noise monkeys Hawk Eyes. Vera Grace have got a few killer riffs going on and make a heck of a racket while generally maintaining a melodic outlook. But they sound like they would benefit from a few years of development and diversification, the likes of which definitely benefited Hawk Eyes from their original inception as Chickenhawk through to their present day ear melting pomp. Sometimes less is more and the contrast that brings opens up other possibilities in dynamics and tension. But definitely on the scope for the future. 6/10
www.facebook.com/veragraceband

SB

 
 

Hawk Eyes – Just One More Thing

Speaking of Hawk Eyes...what a curiosity. I had to check several browser windows to make sure that I wasn’t playing about three tracks at once as it certainly sounds that way on ‘Just One More Thing’. Three tracks at once, and all of them very noisy. 6/10
http://hawkeyesmusic.bandcamp.com/

SB

 
 

Populator – singles

I’m a bit confused by this one as I thought I was getting some new tracks from Darlington’s synth posters Populator. Turns out I’m sure I’ve heard a couple of these before. Even so, all good electrically driven pop goodness and not a hint of earnest over the top hammed up vocals – Messrs’ Amicucci (x2) and Moon just sound like they genuinely enjoy all this retro bleepiness and I can forgive them that (even if ‘Dance with Me’ sounds just a little Eurovision). Being a miserable sod, the darker ‘The Universe Can Dream’ is my favourite. 7/10
www.populator.co.uk

SB

 
 

Shibuya Crossings – Gamla Stan/I’ll Meet You At The Station (Typically Magic)

Don’t be misled by the insistent, monotonous drum beat. As ‘Gamla Stan’ continues it becomes more and more obvious that this is quite a track by Shibuya Crossings. Steeped in mid-nineties influences (Sparklehorse, Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub to name but a few) there’s an easily missed strength through gentleness about this that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. 7/10
www.shibuyacrossings.com

SB