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singles/eps - feb 2013


Junip – Line of Fire

From their self-titled second album, due in April, comes this beautiful and provoking single, Line of Fire. It’s a song that suggests that you do not take advantage for granted “What would you say if you had to leave today…even though, for once, you’re shining?” It is very refreshing to hear their material again as Jose Gonzalez’s voice makes the sound so vibrant and deep. It is slightly more beefy than his solo efforts but just as solid as Junip’s debut. Junip often write records that entice you in and will often introduce more instruments or emotions as songs continue, and Line of Fire is no different. What I particularly like about this song is its ambition. As it is almost six minutes long it leaves plenty of room to engage with it, and, importantly as the title track, it makes me want to hear their new album. I suggest you download this single for free on their Soundcloud page, and whilst you are at it, listen to Junip’s last album and see what I mean when I talk about their comparative beefiness.

Matt Bull


Johnny5thWheel and the Cowards – Diary of a Liar (Sotones)

I think I’m fairly confident in saying that you probably won’t hear too many tracks like this in 2013. ‘Diary of a Liar’ is sprinkled with pixie-dust harpy sounds, breathy vocals, lo-fi drum machine and just a little bit of brilliance. Please listen. 8/10



Vimes – House of Deer

Although not as immediate as their last single ‘Upstairs’, ‘House of Deer’ is possibly even more arresting, even a little bit disturbing due to its combination of wide open spaces but deep thrumming basslines. It just gently simmers along with a beautiful simplicity that sends you back for more and more. 8/10



Argonaut – Monet (Criminal)

It took some getting to (god bless Virgin Media and their unlimited but flakey internet connections) but it was worth the wait. Eerie Cure-esque guitar and no recognisable song structure – all big ticks in my exercise book. And then it was’ve got to admire the Argonauts wilfulness. 7/10



Masters in France – Flexin

Awesome awesome awesome. Of course it helps you to have an Ikea backed ad campaign behind you but make no mistake, ‘Flexin’ is the kind of weirded electro direction that Hot Chip occasionally venture brilliantly towards before veering back towards normality. Just a pity that the whole of Soundcloud seems to have crashed while I was listening to it. 9/10



The Nuts – Angelina Jolie

Uncomplicated, Arctic Monkeys-esque fun from Littlehampton’s The Nuts. I like it – it’s not pretentious or trying to be cool, it just rattles along and brightens up two and half minutes of your day. 7/10



King Dinosaur – How to Feel EP (Artillery)

This one from Brighton’s King Dinosaur sees an interesting mix up of British Bass and two step with a more poppy, even chill out Balearic vibe. The result might leave hardcore fans of both camps unhappy but to me it both makes the urban sound a lot more accessible and injects some much needed vigour into the chill out seen. I’m surprised Ninjatune or Big Dada haven’t been sniffing around this one. 7/10



Dinosaur Jr - Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know (Jagjaguwar)

Second single and opening track from the band’s tenth album “I Bet on Sky” which shuffled it’s way quietly into the record shops last September. Possibly quietly because there’s no shitting record shops left. Anyway, it’s jangly Dinosaur with mellotrons, not the heaviest thing they’ve done and shows shades of J Mascis recent work with the not-too-dissimilar Hush Arbours. Lyrically, he hasn’t felt any great particular need to address anything other than his usual favourite topic - getting fucked about by someone. All that said, I like this a lot. An infectious minor ascending chord sequence, with Mascis crooning over the top about feeling a bit let down. Again. What's not to like? 8/10

Rory Mac


Dead Wolf Club – Strange Letters/A vs E

Since I reviewed Dead Wolf Club's début album last year, it was one of my favourite albums of last year, they haven't done anything to change my thought that you should watch out for them. This double A-side continues that trend.

Strange Letters is lively and intelligent, while A versus E is brooding and cheerily dark, the double A-side has whetted my appetite for their forthcoming album. I'm dangerously close to eulogising about Dead Wolf Cub, really I just think I keep being proven right. They're really good and you should check them out. In a side bar, they also write a decent press release (a rare thing) and I'm a fan of anyone who counters a suggestion that you shouldn't damage your guitar by saying that they sacrificed them to rock.

Christopher Carney


The Graveyard Band - s/t EP

Firstly, this isn't really what you'd call an EP. Six tracks makes a mini album in my book. Secondly, how does anyone wanting a copy ever find it unless they're within the Graveyard Band's immediate vicinity? Unless you were gig going around any of the Scottish venues where the GB's are establishing a reputation for themselves then you'd probably miss out on some neatly performed alt. folk that's yet to find its way south of Carlisle - look them up on Bandcamp is the likely answer but if there's ever an actual graveyard for new bands ...

Thirdly, who else was expecting a full blown Gothic noise assault when they saw this turn up in the listings? Yes I know it's a memorable name, but graveyards are places I tend to avoid and I probably wouldn't hang around were I to hear music emanating from one, even breezily pleasant songs such as the six tracks on this release. Come to think of it, aren't there laws against performing music in burial grounds? There probably are in Scotland.

Anyhow, don't let my initial thoughts put anyone off what's a really quite accomplished debut release from a band a lot of people are going to hear more of in 2013, and probably next year too. None of my minor criticisms, which I'm sure I'm not the first to raise, seem to have prevented the Graveyard Band from gaining a bit of a following around Scotland and with an upcoming series of headlining slots including Glasgow School of Art this spring it seems certain the Graveyard Band are to make their presence felt away from their usual haunts. The new Travis? Stranger things have happened, Horatio (he says misquoting Shakespeare).



Sultanov – Keep on Running (Sultanov)

I didn’t realise that Leo Sayer was still putting records out. When you list the fact that Sultanov is the grandson of internationally celebrated Azerbaijani painter Tahir Sultanov as a key relevant fact on the press release, you know in your heart of hearts that the music is not that noteworthy. However, it’s got a sunny disposition so chin up. 6/10



Waking Theo – Reborn

Recovering as I am from a rather nasty cough and sore throat, Craig Gordon’s hoarse vocals make me wince. That said, there are some nice dynamics at play between Gordon’s guttural roars and guitar slabs of ‘To the Lions’. Mentholyptus anyone? 6/10



Daniela Brooker – Heartbreaker

Clearly not related to acerbic wit and general sociopath Charlie Brooker, Daniela Brooker seems to have managed to do a cover version of any one of a million soppy middle of the road 70’s girl next door pop disco tracks. It’s the fuzzy guitar what does it but at least the guitar is a bit quirky, unlike the remainder of the track. Now go away. 4/10



Huey and the New Yorkers – The Way it Was Before/Fall Into Me

None other than Huey Morgan of Fun Lovin’ Criminals fame. It’s amazing how much musical latitude you can be granted after selling a few million records. ‘The Way It Was Before’ is nothing more, nothing less than a lazy bar room drawl. It doesn’t really emote anything which is its main failure. If nothing else you’ve got to admire Huey’s chutzpah.



Soft Bullets – Posterity

One half Air Traffic frontman Chris Wall and one half US instrumentalist Dan Capaldi, Soft Bullets are very aptly named. Very firmly keeping a foot straddled in both the indie and electro camps, ‘Posterity’ fizzles along before fizzling slightly more energetically towards the end before fizzling out. Much like the fireworks we used to have in my back garden as a kid and I enjoyed those very much also – things don’t always need to end with a bang. 7/10



Bullet For My Valentine - Riot

Following up on 2010’s Fever, Bullet For My Valentine are dividing opinion ahead of the release of their fourth full length, Temper Temper, this February.

According to the press release, Riot is the “first official single” to emerge from the new record, which is odd because the single that inspired the album title, Temper Temper, was given a digital release, video, and national radio airplay in October of last year. Oh Bullet, you crazy opinion dividers.

Anyway, Riot is everything that you’d expect from a band that has shaped the UK metalcore scene for the best part of ten years, except something vital appears to be missing. The production is splendid, yet the track almost fades into obscurity even before the only redeeming feature, the solo, blasts it’s way in.

It all begins with an open-note staccato riff, which is broken up at the end of each phrase by a few melodic notes on a higher string. Well it is metalcore after all. However, this riff makes the unfortunate mistake of rearing its average sounding self several times throughout the song. Even by BFMV’s standards, this is a little too predictable. Oh, and whilst we’re on the subject of predictability (thanks for bringing it up), the lyrics, and in particular, the ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ style ‘whooooaaaaas’ do little to add to the apparent weakness here. Did I mention the solo? That’s pretty cool.

As a fan of Bullet For My Valentine, let’s hope that the album, Temper Temper, has a bit more beefiness about it.

Lee Swinford


The Red Paintings - Streets Fell Into My Window (Bird’s Robe Records)

Released as a taster for their forthcoming album, Australian based The Red Paintings have recently toured the UK and EU.

‘Streets Fell Into My Window’ could be described as an epic slice of alternative rock. Sounding like ‘Album Of The Year’ era Faith No More rocking out with Mew this track would feel comfortably at home on many of the mainstream American rock radio stations. The song is well polished and much time has obviously been spent on its mixing and mastering. If the album reaches a similar quality peak it could be a very enjoyable listen.

Mark Whiffin