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singles/eps - february 2015


 

 

The Afghan Whigs - 'The Lottery'

A band that's been around almost as long as the actual Afghan war, and their grungy 90s Sub Pop guitar grind has worn fairly well although it takes them a minute or two to get things moving properly, or is that just me missing where the tune actually starts. The video features their sound engineer Vince miming to the song at about 15 different gigs, and when it gets to about 3.02 listen out for the short but inventive instrumental break that proves the Whigs have something to show us even yet.

JG

 
 

Bear's Den - 'Think Of England'

It's a grey day round at Bear's Den's pad, and there's a strange hint of the influence of Arab Strap somewhere in this moodily paced tale of a songwriter with a hangover wondering what happened after he got back from the pub last night: 'do you lie back / and think of England / with fireworks flashing' he asks his partner, repeatedly. Sounds like a cue for a Beautiful Southesque duet I thought, but the question remains a rhetorical one.

JG


Animal Daydream - 'Easy Pleasures EP'

'The sound of Teenage Fanclub working their way through Bare Trees era Fleetwood Mac' says the PR and, I don't quite get the Fletwood Mac thing but there's certainly a flavour of Fanclub's pared down guitar histrionics, apart from the weird high pitched vocal that nearly ruins first track 'Canyon Rose'. Second track 'Glass Ships' is a bit more focused and while it's last track 'I Knew You Would Come' that most resembles vintage Fanclub, Animal Daydream are also channelling Big Star and Green On Red with an enthusiasm that carries the day for them.
https://soundcloud.com/animaldaydream

JG


 

The Purple Lights – Pressure

It’s always good when a band does their own thing and doesn’t worry too much about slotting neatly into any specific slot at the local record store. The Purple Lights have guitars and drums, a punk ethos, some reggae overtones and a fantastically catchy yelpy vocal ‘Under Pressure!’ That’s all in just one track. 7/10
https://www.facebook.com/purplelightsmusic

SB


Fighting Caravans – Bootmaker’s to the King

There’s an instantly gratifying lo-fi sound to this track which instantly reminded me of some of the bands who were kicking around Leeds years ago. The it dawned on me that the vocals were very reminiscent of Being 747’s Dave Cooke. But overall there’s no 747 frivolity here in ‘Bootmaker’s to the King’, it’s a crackingly moody alt-country indie mash up with some great guitar work. 8/10
https://www.facebook.com/fightingcaravans

SB


The Sea Kings – Decadence & Decline (Iffy Folk)

Decadence and Decline, ahh, we’ve all been there. Well, maybe not but The Sea Kings do sound like they actually have been there and this is their survival song. No pretence, just straight up rock n roll. A pleasant change in this age of complexity. 7/10
https://soundcloud.com/theseakingsmusic

SB


Ghxst – Nowhere EP (Club.The.Mammoth)

After favourably reviewing Ghxst’s ‘Dead Town’ last year I was looking forward to this one and it certainly didn’t disappoint. There’s certainly plenty more of the ludicrously bruising doom/sludge guitar drones and big echoey drums in ‘Slow Down’ and the title track but there’s also evidence of further emerging dynamics in the song writing which at places give off a deep, if admittedly distorted, blues vibe.

There’s also the happy intervention of the much more up tempo (well, it’s all relative) ‘No Luck’ which sees the Brooklyn natives inexplicably kicking a football about during a power cut – still, good to see the beautiful game represent. Then we’re back into full-on sludge noise mode for close ‘Galaxia’, a monstrous wall of noise which very much lives up to its epic title. This EP won’t be to everybody’s tastes but it certainly tickles my fancy. 9/10
http://www.ghxstmusic.com/

SB


All We Are - 'Stone'

Ever since their I heard their debut ep I've had kept All We Are within my hearing and while they're now a slightly different band to the folksy troubadors they started out as they've lost none of their charm, although tour slots with the likes of London Grammar and Warpaint have provided them with a kind of generic Foster The People sound which is what 'Stone' is about. They hold too dear a place in my mp3 player for me to turn greatly critical but it would sadden me a little to see them slide off into soundtrack anonymity, although they are doing it really well.

JG


Quiet Quiet Band - 'Battery Human'

Frenetic nouveau folk stylings that are perhaps the result of a tour bus collision involving the Levellers and Franz Ferdinand. Strident stuff from this Reading quintet whose choral vocalising brings added depth to their acoustic reveries. Fairly sure I've heard something of them before now which proves that the Quiet Quiet Band are something memorable, and their inspired folk rock does deserve a wider hearing.

JG


 

Ex Hex - 'Don't Wanna Lose'

Nobody likes to lose, Ex Hex, and with so many kudos from the media already gracing your press release (starting with the Guardian and working downwards) plus your smartly poised retake what resembles one of the lesser known songs of the Runaways, and the roller skates, you're already winners, leaving me to wonder what exactly I can add to the praises already heaped upon you. So I'll just say that Ex Hex are all female and play their instruments like men. Which is what someone once said about the Runaways.

JG


Saveus - 'Levitate Me'

Some musicians are content to just write a song and release it as a single. Saveus has written about four songs and crammed them all into one very bewildering three minutes in which 'Levitate Me' is alternately a ballad, a club track, a car advert and a stadium rock anthem. Can't wait for the album.

JG


 

Elevant - 'Open Heart Surgery'

IIt's a first person account of my grandmother getting a triple heart bypass in her 80s, and the inherent worries about death that come with it." says Elevant frontman Michael Edward. I misread that as 'in the 80s' but naming a song after a Brian Jonestown Massacre track is perhaps nearly as complicated as the actual medical process and Elevant don't sound a lot like the BJMs', their 'Open Heart Surgery' is melodic hard rock with a neatly turned acoustic midsection although anyone who has ever spent any amount of time in a hospital would probably prefer that the surgeons listened to Classic FM while doing what it is that surgeons do their patients. Michael Edward, I hope your gran is much recovered from her ordeal.

JG


OK Go - 'The Writing's On The Wall'

... and the paint and countless dominos and other objects are strewn across the floor of the OK Go studio again. No one can dispute the invention, care and hours of fine tuning of their absurd contraptions that OK Go continue to baffle us with, but they then go and just sound a lot like New Order (you'll need to close your eyes to really catch that) which, fair enough if you like New Order but I wouldn't mind if they put as much invention into their songwriting as their videos.

JG


Hawk - 'Clock Hands'

If Mogwai had a female vocalist, they might sound a bit like Hawk. 'Clock Hands' is a post rock track given a dreamy otherness by the Beth Gibbon's inspired vocal of Julie Hawk, who also wrote 'Clock Hands' and is obviously a significant talent with much to say to us. Which I hope isn't why the rest of the band buried her up to her neck on a beach and then played the video backwards.

JG