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singles/eps - april 2014


Francobollo – Steven Hawkins (Moonshiner Records)

The Swedish-bred 5 piece have unveiled their latest single Steven Hawkins, which steps away from 2013’s Nirvana and sometimes Pavement-esque We’re Going to…Rio! and into a pastel-coloured world of eerie sweetness. They’ve proven with this single that the favoured adjective when describing the band is ‘quirky’. A stop-start bouncy rhythm, subdued strumming combined with frontman Simon Nilsson’s airy, light-hearted croons make for an oddly youthful and unusual sound.

But the true allure of Francobollo lies in their nonchalant attitude towards absolutely everything they encounter; something which can be picked up on through their music loud and clear. They don’t care if they throw talking bricks at children; just so long as they’re having fun. A trait to be admired greatly in a band.

Helen Grimshaw

Off! - Hypnotized

I haven't got a damn clue what to write about OFF! I've seen them live and I've heard most of this album, I've listened to this song a bunch of times (and watched the video). I haven't necessarily listened to it because I can't get enough. I just needed a way in. I needed a way in to instant, fast, angry, shouty, 3 minute punk-rock. I don't know what on earth that means.

There're some guys you've heard of in Off! You should definitely check out this stuff if you know who I'm talking about or not. You could find this stuff either side of knowing who Off! Are and you'd still be fine.

This song makes me want to skateboard, it makes me want to go skateboarding. OFF!'s type of anger is fun. I'm super glad they're around.

Christopher Carney

The Tapestry – Right as Rain

There are unavoidable comparisons here with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Kaiser Chiefs and The Sunshine Underground but that doesn’t mean to say it’s a bad thing. Choppy guitars, big choruses and funky riffs in the verses – this is a ready made hit. 7/10


Ward Thomas – Footnotes (WTW)

Americana Blues from the hotbed of Hampshire anyone? In fairness, if you hadn’t read their bio, you’d never know that sisters Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas were English – the tracks have a musical quality steeped in the Nashville sound. I defy you not to start tapping your foot along to The Good and the Right (or possibly patting the side of your Mack door as you cruise along Route 66).

Where things wear a little thin for me is in the genuine soul behind the music. This kind of country is rooted in working class suffering and hardship. The double barrelled Ward Thomases have suffered a family divorce but then ‘father built his London business and or Mom [sic] went back to school to get her art degree’. Hardly Grapes of Wrath stuff is it? So don’t over-think it – just enjoy the tunes with an empty head. 6/10


Ted Zed – Alien Monday

It’s a simple slow burning idea and the sound of ‘Alien Monday’ really captures that feeling of Monday morning commuting alienation that Ted Zed was going for. Mixed up with a few psychedelic sound effects and electronic weebles gives it a bit of orginality too. Still, a bit depressing that a 20 year old feels moved to write about this sort of thing – someone buy him an Interail ticket urgently. 7/10


Augustines – Now You Are Free

A strangely cathartic and uplifting track which sits rather strangely against its languid electric bass line. But start queuing up those festival appearances now – ‘Now You Are Free’ has all the makings of a huge summer anthem. 6/10


Howling Bells – Your Love

Deep rich reverby sounds again from Howling Bells and taking on the whole psyche vibe from their Liverpool recording venue. It’s all so effortless and natural you can just let the single wash over you and suddenly before you know it – it’s gone. 7/10


Embrace – Follow You Home

Never ones to push the musical envelope to excess, Embrace return with ‘Follow You Home’ another one of their simple 3 chord songs which features an insanely catchy chorus for the masses. Like the Kaiser Chiefs before them, Embrace have no fear of (forgive clumsy grammar) embracing the populist standpoint and occasionally this happily coincides with a pristinely crafted indie pop song like this one. 7/10


GHXST – Dead Town

The initial disappointment of realising this was not a track by the Swedish metallers Ghost was quickly dispelled by this awesome, dirty noise from New York based grunge rats GHXST. No higher praise to be had than reporting that it piqued my interest sufficiently to investigate other tracks by the band – also excellent but none as good as Dead Town so listen to this one. 9/10


Whales in Cubicles – We Never Win (Club the Mammoth)

Crisp guitar lines and a clear songwriting direction here from Whales in Cubicles who cleverly link together a number of slightly disparate parts – rapid fire vocals, machine gun snares etc – to form a fine finished work. 8/10


Knuckle – Living Hell

What a great name for a band. And a further bonus is that their stripped down 2-man dirty blues is also a joy to behold. Nothing technically profound but purely visceral so that even the parts where the time changes in the chorus start to break down don’t even matter. 8/10


Bleech – I Just Want You

Lovely lovely Bleech. Crunchy grungey guitar mixed up with clean 3-way vocal harmonies, humorous sex education video samples and proper going-for-it headbanging in the video. What’s not to like about East London’s finest? 9/10


Collapse Under Empire – Stairs to Redemption

Hamburg based Collapse under Empire combine the more cinematic aspects of both post rock and industrial music to create a very persuasive and epic sounding, even Floydian inspired piece here, accompanied by a suitably epic video. A touch earnest perhaps but you cannot fail to be persuaded by the singular, angular intensity of the simple distorted guitar slashes that punctuate the closing parts of the song. 8/10


Unmagma – Rotation/Live and Let Die (Emerald and Doreen)

Buzzy, atmospheric dreampop from Ukranian-Canadian duo Unmagma here. ‘Rotation’ combines a steady drone with reverby guitars and a repeating electronic siren sound to be more urgent-sounding ‘Live and Let Die’ and it’s free ringing guitars/echoey drum lines. A wonderful way to pass 10 minutes. 7/10


Radkey – Digging the Grave (Littleman)

One of Faith No More’s lesser-known wonders, ‘Digging the Grave’ is a short, punchy but but pretty simple track. As is this faithful reproduction courtesy of Radkey. In fact it is so faithful that despite all its proficiency (even down to the Patton-esque caterwauling) that you wonder what the point of the cover is, other than a slavish tribute. Personally I prefer my cover versions to have a little bit of originality stamped on them. 6/10


Axons – Still Light

In between being a civil rights lawyer and one half of Love and Radiation, Chicago’s Adele Nicholas manages to squeeze in recording some solo work under her Axons guise. ‘Still Light’ is a nice floaty track with bubbly electro keys and ethereal vocal track – it fades in and it whispers out – gently massaging your eardrums rather than assaulting all your senses.


Nine Black Alps – Supermarket Clothes (Hatch)

Lovely stuff here from Nine Black Alps who pay homage to the spirit of Dinosaur Jr while injecting their own subtle nuances into the garage grunge sound. The guitar break at around 2 minutes in is a thing of great discordant beauty. Look out for the new album ‘Candy for the Clowns’ coming out towards the end of April. 8/10


Pixies – Greens and Blues

Another track taken from January’s ‘EP-2’, @Greens and Blues’ is a much gentler affair than its predecessors, seeing Frank Black in more reflective mood and Joey’s guitar following suit, bathed in oodles of reverb. It’s no ‘Magdelena’ or ‘Bagboy’ but it’s bloody lovely all the same. 7/10



N-A-I-V-E-S – WIGO (Conflicts of Interest/Lottarox)

There’s something about this lot which reminds me a bit of Haus, albeit a less successful version. The most interesting sections of this are reserved for times when the beats seem to overlap in a completely unstructured way that will leave you sifting through various tabs seeing if you have accidentally opened a Herbie Hancock video on YouTube somewhere. 5/10



Dan Bettridge – Darker Days

It’s a bit of a cliché when we write about how a young man sounds older/more world weary than his tender years due to some smokey dulcet tones but it’s definitely the case here. But after a briefly interesting reverse recording at the commencement, this track never really regains the same level of attention. 6/10



Mountain Bird – Violent Night (Universal)

What better way to round off a night of reviewing than lovely luscious dreampop from Swedish lovelies Mountain Bird? What? ‘Violent Night’? No – I don’t want to be thinking about that before turning in with my Horlicks. Fortunately this track is wonderful enough to take your mind off any nastiness, oscillating between sweet twinkles, machine gun snares and overdriven walls of guitar. 8/10



28 Boulevard – Electric Feet

Wow – so everyone wants to be back in the 90s. That suits me as so do I and this glorious slab of fuzzed up euphoric sludgey rock reminds me of every sticky floored, watered down beered, overly dark indie disco that I’ve ever been to. 9/10