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singles/eps - september 2013


Genna Marabese – The Birthday Party

Imagine being led into a dark, gothic room where massive chandeliers dully illuminate your surroundings along with a roaring fire in the corner, and stuffed animals’ heads decorate the walls along with other frightening and oddball objects, as you come to the conclusion that you’re eerily unsafe here. This is the dark, twisted world to which The Birthday Party will take you.

This latest 4-track EP from the young and ‘alternative’ singer-songwriter, Genna Marabese, introduces the listener to her more frightening and brooding sides, ticking off her obvious influences on a checklist.

70’s art rock can be heard on opener Deal With the Devil, and one can pick up the likes of Lou Reed and the grinding guitar sounds of, say, Television, all accompanied by a fantastic piano hook. Geli Raubal just screams Bowie and the glamorous rock and roll which follows. The party is called to an end with Date Rape, with its haunting bass lines and continuous, mysterious beats which drive the EP to a close. Everything, however, is held together by Marabese’s fantastic sneer of a voice, dripping with attitude and passion.

With a debut EP like this under her belt, it would be idiotic for Marabese not to make an impact; the girl has obvious flair and talent. The Birthday Party is the marvellous work of a girl with all the right influences to make up something so brilliantly terrifying that you just have to crave for more.

Helen Grimshaw

Violent Soho – Covered in Chrome (I Oh You)

I’ve been checking back and it looks like a generally give Aussie bands a bit of a hard time – sorry about that. But this is entirely different, this is terrific. It’s not just Luke Boerdam’s raspy vocals – there’s a luscious crunch to the guitar lines which make up the chorus, a grungey bombast that The Smashing Pumpkins coined years ago. A proper outro too - great stuff. 8/10


Top Less – Danger Love

Formed in Scotland but now residing in Canada, Top Less have that expansive airy sound that you associate with the likes of, well, expansive echoey airy type bands. Nice folky strings underpin this record and make a pleasant change from the usual synths deployed by the likes of MGMT et al. 7/10


Lapland – Unwise (The Lights Label)

The project of singer songwriter Josh Mease, Lapland’s sound belies Mease’s Brooklyn origins. Bubbling synths give this track a definite heartbeat and the echoey vocals provide the soul. A beautiful background but a bit ponderous to make a lasting impression. 7/10


New Mantra – Apex

Brighton based Sam Cooper’s New Mantra pseudonym is a curious beast. Seemingly like much of the other material on offer this month, there’s an overriding shoegaze quality to this. But in an unexpected twist there seem to be passages of sample sand mixes which slide over each other, giving an impression at times of two or more tracks melting into each other. Just as fluidly as the tracks mould together they slip away in the fade out giving an alluring impression of fleeting impermanence.



Psapp – Everything Belongs to the Sun (The State51 Conspiracy)

I bloody love Psapp even though I’m not much of a fan of cats. And now the nation’s premier purveyors and precursors of ‘Toytronica’ return with one of their best tunes to date. ‘Everything Belongs...’ thrums along in a typically complex layered Psapp way, although this time there is a dark undertone at work. Next to the childlike playfulness of all the found sound samples, this works brilliantly. 9/10



Future of the Left – Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow

Always an event met with equal measures of wonder and fear, this latest FotL outing is heavily in the percussive shouty camp rather than some of the band’s more melodic turns. In fact it’s pretty minimal and even the swathes of overdrive in the climax only serve to act as a neat full stop to the song rather than build some complex finale. Interesting times ahead with the new album ‘How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident’ out in October.



Crushing Blows – Unknown Animal / Dream On/Dream Off (Snug Recording Co)

Coupling one of the most distinctive vocals around with their trademark eerie keys, ‘Unknown Animal’ picks up where Crushing Blows last left off and only serves to enhance their reputation further. This time released on their own studio label, Chris Jones cries at time sound like a wounded hippo and the synths pump out a very much 80s vibe but it works together brilliantly then unravels brilliantly with a few keys.

‘Dream On/Dream Off’ is a much more rounded ‘song’ in the traditional sense, as though just to prove that C-Blows can write a tune with a pop hook just as easily as the best (even if this pop song is over 7 minutes long). The dirty guitar breaks and the massive tumbling drums (Steve Lillywhite era Simple Minds?) again cut against Jones’ falsetto words like a sledgehammer smashing a meringue. Loving it. 9/10



Falling Off Maps – Honest (Square Peg Round Hole Recordings)

Awkward, reflective, angular indie is something we British do well and Falling Off Maps are no exception, taking a leaf or two out of Radiohead’s book and adding their own bleak skifflesome twist. 7/10



Stalker – Kelly Brook

As the subject of the song herself has been quoted as saying ‘It’s a good tune’. But the production quality leaves a bit to be desired – ends up sounding like MOR truck driving country music done on the cheap. 6/10