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singles/eps - february 2014


 

September Girls – Green Eyed (Fortuna POP!)

The last century has been great for women. We’ve won the vote, earned various rights to freedom, and been allowed to wear trousers without the threat of being lynched. Hell, there’s even been a female prime minister. But some things never change – one of them is that music is a male-dominated industry. So when an all-girl band which can actually produce real music emerges from the undergrowth, it’s a breath of fresh air.

September Girls take after the dark and brooding sounds of the Velvet Underground; drenched in reverb with lovely synths and harmonic, echoic vocals to accompany. Dressed all in black lace with constant indifferent expressions on their faces, all they need is some sort of Dracula’s lair and it’d be picture perfect. They’re part of the ever-growing post-punk trend, channelling bands like Toy (who are so shoegaze that they probably accounted for at least half of last year’s total hair product sales) or maybe Vivian Girls turned pessimistic. Either way, September Girls prove through talent and great tunes like Green Eyed that girls can rock as well as any band of men. 7/10

Helen Grimshaw


Gentlemen – Gentle Duke (Week of Wonders)

Guitar based with jazzy riffs, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think Gentle Duke was a little-known prog rock tune straight from the 70’s. The fact that the band members have come together from such diverse and widespread lands (UK, Italy and Australia, naturally) most likely adds to their eclectic and ‘kaleidoscopic’, Pink Floyd-ey grooves. Add them to your ones-to-watch list if you have long hair. 6/10

Helen Grimshaw


Rhoda May – Sessions EP

After wading through two tracks and 13 minutes of samey, wanky, guitar proggery I’m afraid I was considering giving up trying to muster the energy to carry on (what is with the trend for 8 track EPs?). But then, as if intervention by the gods of prog, the CD seemed to complete freeze my CD drive and stopped playing. So apologies for anyone who needed to know about the remaining 6 tracks – take solace in the fact that there was little in the first two which indicated a brighter finale. Not completely without merit but really not for me on this occasion. 4/10
www.rhodamay.com

SB


Ensh – Belgrade

The cosmopolitan background of Milenko Vujosevic leads to a pretty eclectic sound on this 8-track debut EP. Opener ‘Fiks’ is a disturbing mix of off kilter loops and urgent vocals which brings to mind the claustrophobic sounds of Xiu Xiu as a clear comparator and this remains across a number of the tracks on ‘Belgrade’. The vibe expands and lightens across a couple of the songs such as ‘Tourist’ even if the undercurrent of unease is retained via the lyrics. As a whole, it makes for quite a challenging EP and I’d question why it was not just packaged as an album, leaving the room to expand on and diverge from the themes explored. But I’ve got a feeling that Ensh would approve of people thinking it was not an easy listen – this is heavyweight music for lightweight times. 8/10
www.facebook.com/enshmusic

SB


St. Vincent - Birth in Reverse

According to her Wikipedia page, Joanna Newsom decided to come of age by camping out and fasting for three days. Towards the end, she was interrupted by a pack of wolves. She wasn't sure if she was hallucinating, but she was totally ready to face death in that moment. She'd forgotten that the landowner kept domesticated wolves - they just wanted to lick her face.

Whilst writing her new album, St. Vincent's Annie Clark got naked in the desert, and ended up running away from a very real rattlesnake. This early cut takes its lead from the edgier bits of Strange Mercy, whereas the other new track out so far, 'Digital Witness', could happily fit in on the end of the David Byrne collaboration, Love This Giant. 'Birth in Reverse' (a song title reminiscent of 2009's 'Laughing With a Mouthful of Blood') speeds things up, beginning, "Oh, what an ordinary day / Take out the garbage, masturbate." She doesn't describe everything she does during the course of a standard Monday, but you can bet it's a whole lot more real, and a whole lot more weird, than anything you, I, or Joanna Newsom got up to.

Phil Coales

 
 

Wooden Shjips - Everybody Knows

If you really like Wooden Shjips, this is the song you'll have playing at your wedding.

Phil Coales

 
 

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Cinnamon and Lesbians

It's been five years since his friend and collaborator David Berman disbanded the Silver Jews, in order to fight serious evils, like the gun and tobacco lobby. The main thing you need to know about this promo single from the master of non-sequiturs' Wig Out at Jagbags, with its hook of "Take what you need / Life should be free", is that its release was celebrated in New York with the release of a special tie-in cream flavour. Rose and cinnamon.

Phil Coales

 

Stanley Brinks and the Wave Pictures - Orange Juice

Stanley Brinks is brilliant in defiance. "But I'll get by with a little bit of you, alcohol tobacco caffeine, ephedrine and orange juice." Last time I saw him play, it was the tobacco, and it nearly got him kicked out of the venue. Fittingly for one of indie rock/folk/whatever's most resilient and belligerent outsiders, this two-track single accompanies the full collaborative album Gin - and the b-side is about his hangover.

I've always preferred the Wave Pictures' collaborations with the man who used to be Andre Herman Dune to their stuff with Darren Hayman. There's just something great about the bloody-minded repetition, that has the whole band dancing in the kitchen together in the video, chanting, "The radio sucks balls!"

This is basically what Lil Wayne's 'Pussy Money Weed' would sound like if, if Weezy F. Baby had been brought up in a village somewhere near Loughborough.

Phil Coales

 

Pixies – Magdelena

‘You’re the meanest, and the leanest’ – yes! The Pixies are back and they are sounding as good as ever on EP1 and EP2. ‘Magdalena’ includes some ridiculously skronky bass and eerie vocals which sound like they were recorded in the tunnel where the video is set. Does anyone have an apartment in Barcelona for me to stay in for Primavera? 8/10

SB

 

Volcanoes – When We Melodise

Lovely stuff here Yorkshire’s Volcanoes. When We Melodise has a Scandinavian feel about the cleanness of the strings and harmonies. At times the vocal harmonies sound like a wolf howling, at others like a bunch of choirboys. 8/10
http://volcanoesband.co.uk

SB


 

The Kut – No Trace (Criminal)

A quick backcheck and I uncovered the unbelievably fact that The Kut have been knocking around for over 5 years. Not surprising however, is that they’ve always got a favourable hearing in Tasty and ‘No Trace’ sees them at their finest yet. Easing into the whole grungey, Hole-y sound, they now sound like a band comfortable with themselves and who suddenly may find themselves in the middle of the whole grunge revival. Or maybe that second point is wishful thinking on my part. Either way, ‘No Trace’ is ace. 8/10

SB

 

Forever Pavot – Miguel el Salam (The Sound of Salvation)

I’ve died and gone to sixties soundtrack heaven. Even the production on this track sound like it isn’t making use of any modern technology. Interlaced throughout all this is a vague North African/Arabic psychedelic vibe. Very bloody cool. 7/10
https://soundcloud.com/thesoundofsalvation/a1-miguel-el-salam/s-xSfiu

SB

 

Greguy – Minor Injury EP (Bearsuit)

As we’ve come to expect from Bearsuit Records, this release does not disappoint. But no home grown indie pop for us this time, ‘Minor Injury’ is made up of languid Gallic cool courtesy of Grégory Vrecsics and it gently leads the listener through the six tracks of melting synths and whispy vocals. Keyboards play a very clear part in the ensemble, used either clean or equally astutely as retro synths. There’s no stand out track as such, just a sense that the whole EP has been lovingly created.
https://bearsuitrecords.bandcamp.com/album/minor-injury

SB

 

Postcards from Jeff – A House (Alien Boutique)

The gently bubbling percussion underlying this whole track eventually began to get on my nerves as did the lacklustre vocal effort. All a bit disappointing really. In fact, I’d go as far to say that I felt pretty miffed about the whole listening experience.5/10

SB