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singles/eps - april 2015

Henry And Fleetwood - 'On The Forest Floor' EP

Atmospheric post-rock in the style of other Scots the Twilight Sad and Twin Atlantic, one of the duo is a harpist which brings a woodland tone to the songs and first track 'Olive Grove' is a delicately played and assuredly developed song with folksy vibes and that undeniably modern Scots touch to its melody. 'Forestry' takes a similar path and with some subtly unobtrusive electronics in the backing, 'Timber' is reminiscent of Mogwai the morning after a ceilidh and 'A Perfect Mess' only lacks actual bagpipes to fully complement the prevailing Caledonian vibes.


The Acorn - 'Influence'

Some musicians really know what to do with their drum machines and sequencers and Canada's The Acorn bring us a silky smooth slab of mellow techno that retains a danceable core despite its dreamy laid backness. A guitar breaks in every now and again to add some acoustic counterpoint to the fluid bassline and unobtrusively thudding backbeat. Liked it a lot on the first hearing and slightly more with each consecutive listen.


PINS - 'Too Little Too Late'

From Manchester, all female quartet PINS went to Arizona to record 'Too Little Too Late' (at the actual Joshua Tree studios) and they've got that grimy Elastica thing very nearly perfected. 'I know you said you were my best friend / but it's too little to late' runs the lyric over a video which features all four PINS basically telling the camera crew to point those lenses in the other direction, with teeth and knuckles bared. They're about to go off on tour with Wire, whom you would expect know what they are doing.


Allo Darlin' - Half Heart Necklace

Allo old school indie chops in the spirit of Allo Darlin's Fortuna Pop labelmates Comet Gain, fuzztone guitar and tambourine and everything. Partially Australian, all you new and ancient C86ers already know the words and tune to 'Half Heart Necklace' and those of you that don't are going to find them endearingly gauche in that floppy fringed, kohl-eyed, reading a novel on a train sort of way. One for the shoebox.


The New Investors – ‘Atún’

The New Investors is a recently-formed psych-pop band from Copenhagen, Denmark comprised of Glenn Müller (lead vocals, guitars), Søren Tiemroth (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Fredy Kaalhauge (bass, vocals), and Kristian Karup (drums). The band members released the single ‘Atún’ at the end of March and will drop their debut album this August. They mix indie and 60s-tinged psych-pop with California surf rock on their tunes and the unusual musical genre hybrid ‘Atún’ is a prime example of that. Think Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass Band blended with laid-back Dick Dale-like surf guitar to produce an exotic tropical sonic cocktail. The song is a bit aurally disjointed as it alternates between instrumentally different segments; one with Spanish horns, a soft syncopated beat, and little reverb guitar riffs; another with a strong surf guitar riff and pace and dreamy vocals punctuated with the enthusiastic exclamation “Hey!”. The result is a pleasant summertime amusement that should put a smile on the face of anyone who listens to it.

Jen Dan

Gretchen’s Wheel – ‘One More Mile’

Gretchen’s Wheel is the solo alt-rock/indie-pop project of Nashville, Tennessee native Lindsay Murray. On her recent album Fragile State she composed all the music, sings main and backing vocals and plays rhythm and lead guitar and keyboards, and programmed the drums. She received a big assist from Ken Stringfellow, a founding member of The Posies and producer (The Posies, R.E.M., Big Star). He produced Fragile State and came on as a guest musician, providing backing vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, bass, keyboards, drum programming, and percussion. Ira Elliot of Nada Surf also joined in as a guest musician on drums and percussion for 7 of the album’s tracks.

The most emotionally affecting and effective song off Fragile State, which embodies the album’s title is the melancholically mellow, smoldering alt-ballad ‘One More Mile’. Lindsay sings in a hushed, breathy tone with a slight tremble to her sober, slightly anxious vocals that recalls Margo Timmons. The song treads with a steady and soft drum and cymbals pace while briefly flourishing electric guitar lines keep the sonics bright and compelling. Lindsay sings with heartfelt emotion that “…I am going the wrong way…/ to a place where I don’t belong / and no one waits for me.” Near the end of the tune she pushes her vocals up into a lilting tone, reaching a cathartic turning point as she sighs “I’m free as can be.”

Jen Dan

Meresha – Lemonade City

Meresha is an enthusiastic and engaging self-starter from West Palm Beach, Florida who possesses a rich, soulful voice that belies her teenage years. She’s been composing and recording her own music for over 5 years and her 2nd pop/dance/electronic EP, titled New Revolution, is out April 14th. “Lemonade City” is the first cut off of it and it’s made for the shade on a hot summer day in the city. Meresha actually keeps her emotions in check for most of this urban electro-pop number, laying down a scintillating beat, deep reverberations, and squiggly electronic notes as she intones “swayin’ to them old-school beats in the summer breeze”. The song is charged with a restless, uneasy energy as Meresha edgily proclaims “you’ll die young if you follow our lead”, a reminder that there’s danger, as well as delight, to be found in the neighborhoods of ‘Lemonade City’…

Jen Dan

The Britanys – Want To Be

Lucas Long (guitar and vocals), Gabe Schulman (bass), and Steele Kratt (drums) formed The Britanys over a year ago, installed themselves in Brooklyn, and have dropped two EPs. The second EP, titled It’s Alright , was released in the fall of 2014. The band members are back with their latest single “Want To Be” and a new video to match. They tease and please with their nonchalant punk-rock/pop tunes and “Want To Be” is no different. It was recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn and moves along with a shambling pace and direction as Lucas sing-talks with a casual brashness, coming across hypothetically like Brett Anderson’s infant brother. The guitar line is sharp and bright, the drums and cymbal shimmer are mostly laid-back, but emphatic when they need to be, and Lucas whimsically sings “We want to be a little more fun” in a slightly sneering, softly nasal, teenage fine-whining tone. The video features band performance cuts and footage of the guys hanging out in the city. Check it.

Jen Dan

Bellybuttons - Mump EP

I like the effect Glasgow has had on the southern sensibilities of Bellybuttons. Variously described as ‘slacker-psych’, ‘bubblegum garage’ and ‘navel-gaze’ the musical co-operative that is Bellybuttons manage to sound edgy, wired and half-asleep all at the same time. With lo-fi drums hissing their way through the echoey guitars and two key vocalists sharing dream duties the effect of this 3-track EP is to entertain and derange in one sparkling fell swoop.

The opener ‘Guess’ sounds like Lou Reed guesting on a Ride work-out. Sneaky, chromatic chord-shifts keep you on your toes while the vocal takes you all the way down. The lack of any one writing ego releases the band to ‘talk to each other’ in a free but coherent way, like listening in on an esoteric conversation that you don’t fully understand but it makes you smile just the same. ‘Don’t feel so upset about all that national debt…’ Well, quite!

Second track Something About Nothing features a female vocalist reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor but without any political pretensions. It just is what it is. Dreamy, natural and gently threatening. A bunch of high, shiny close harmonies lift us into a more full-blown chorus while the fizzy cymbals and shimmeringly fractured guitar glide relentlessly forward.

Closing track Red Wing delivers us once more into the hands of ‘Lou Reed’, sumptuously growling while the guitars answer back paradoxically, confident yet uncertain, skilful yet tentative. This is musical collaboration at its best. Always on the edge of breaking down but never in danger of a fall. Like eating chocolate cake on a cliff-edge. 8/10


David Gaffney - When You’re In Love

If you have an ear for soulful music that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up higher than a sky scraper, you’ll more than appreciate this amazing 4 minutes of pure brilliance. Living between Liverpool and Berlin, he is one of the Channel Islands finest exports. I’d go so much as quoting him as Jersey’s answer to Roy Harper, and if you’re aware of his legendary status, you’ll see that as much of a complement. “When You’re In Love” is one of the greatest ballads you’ll hear today, and I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Gavin Tate

Calls Landing - Belgium

Begins sounding like last decades emo-prog band Thursday, but then flops a beauty. Your typical generic Karrang band singing about absolutely nothing. His voice sounds like it’s been dragged through the singer of Good Charlotte’s back garden, prior to him being elbow dropped profusely. The music is bleak and uninventive !! They’re definitely the type of band you would more or less chuck a bottle of piss at if you were at a festival.

Gavin Tate

Piano Wire - Into The Orchid

The opening bass line sounds like something off of The Cure’s ‘Faith’ album, but then spirals in to a destination once established by Queens of the Stone Age many moons ago! Huxley’s voice floats over a field of hook laden garage riffage, with Wezzer style bridges. The pace kind of pulls you in on “Into The Orchid”, and grips you. Lyrics: “Choke you when I fall back” followed by immense guitars. It’s great to see a q

uarter of The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster still making great use of themselves. I wasn’t sure when I first heard the Piano gang, but this single has won me over for sure.

Gavin Tate

Red Snapper – Wonky Bikes ep

Seems there's a bit of unfinished business for Messrs Ayers, Friend and Thair aka Red Snapper. The three tracks from their latest ep Wonky Bikes are taken from the album Hyena, last year's 70s funk-fusion homage to the Senegalese road movie 'Touki Bouki (or 'The Journey Of The Hyena')', considered by many to be among the band's best work. The acid jazz of Red Snapper always seemed a bit out of place among IDM studio-based bands of Warp records in the 90s (Aphex Twin, Autechre etc.), so after a brief hiatus between 2002 and 2007, no surprises when they moved to London-based Lo Recordings, a label that celebrates club and live music among its roster of slightly leftfield electronic recording artists (Four Tet, Grimes etc.).

The live version of 'Wonky Bikes' showcases Red Snapper's forte for energetic and frenetic performance. The song celebrates the “Voodoo Funk” of Hyena with its balafon-generated percussive effects undercut with guitar, fuzzy bass and other odd sounds. On 'Traffic', drummer Rich Thair gives his favourite album track the remix treatment with some serious electro-jazz drumming, the Afrobeat-inspired original given a stylish dance-driven makeover and a massive injection of bass. St Petersburg-based DJ and producer Kito Jempere has turned wonky beat 'Blue Chest' into a thrusting dance anthem, all dubbed out with Russian commentary. Red Snapper's Wonky Bikes ep is the third release from Hyena, so almost certainly a stepping-stone to upcoming releases … where next?

Matthew Haddrill

The Zacas - Bored With Me

Two brothers from South Africa 'going back to the roots of acoustic music' so there's a complete lack of any other instrumentation aside from a smartly played guitar and a vocal, and it's a pleasant enough tune that provides an introduction to SA's latest musical export. I expect they'll add the synths and strings at a later date.


Lea Porcelain - 'Similar Familiar'

From Germany, Lea Porcelain describe themselves as influenced by Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen and there's a whiff of Divisionness around 'Similar Familiar' although the vocalist happily avoids the only too usual attempt at a note perfect Ian impression (Editors, Interpol, there have been others) so what we get is a big synth noise with a hooky backline and it only slightly sounds a lot like JD and nothing at all like the Bunnymen. although fans of German music will want to add Lea Porcelain to their collections regardless of declared influences which, given the echoing sepultural vastness and mitteleuropean glamour of their sound should also include Simple Minds and Vienna-era Ultravox. alongside Depeche Mode, OMD and Gary Numan.


New Arcades - 'Let's Get Away'

Modern sounding synthpop designed solely for going clubbing on the beach this summer, something like Sigma's 'Nobody To Love' with a vocal and a less housey rhythm, although no less funky for that. We know what you're doing this summer, New Arcades.


Mylets - 'Arizona'

'Talented beyond his years' says the PR and, probably celebrating his 21st birthday during his upcoming European tour Mylets is as adept a musician as many 22 and 23 year olds are, turning in a fast paced slice of atmospherically charged electronica fuelled guitar and bass powered synth pop that'll doubtlessly prove as crowd pleasing in Eindhoven as in Budapest as in Leipzig. Ends a bit suddenly though, Mylets seems to have been in such a hurry in the studio that he forgot to push the 'fade button' at the end of the track, which could have the regrettable consequence of making that its most memorable part. 'Heard that Mylets dude?', 'yeah, the one that goes 'crunk' right at the end'. Cool.


The Reveurs - 'Take A Bow'

I wonder if it's somewhat predictable of me to write, when hearing a new track by a new band with a quite obvious influence, that it 'sounds a lot like ...' in this instance Kings Of Leon? In a good way, I hasten to add but the influence is more than obvious including how the song is put together, last verse included. I heard a band doing some really good Kings Of Leon covers recently and the Reveurs are going to show everyone how it should be done, one of these days.


Doug Burr - 'White Night Black Light'

Just give Doug Burr a listen, swamp folk from the backwoods with a Beefheart edge and a convincingly frenetic rhythm that'll have you running around the garden looking for giant salmanders while reciting HP Lovecraft short stories to next doors hedge. Before the darkness finally descends and you beg the Lord's forgiveness for necking an entire half bottle of JD in an attempt to commune with the lost soul of Roky Erickson, nip back indoors and play 'White Night Black Light' again, and wonder what'll happen if you listen to one of Burr's albums. Stirring tales from Texarkana, you really thought no one made music like this anymore.


Sea Bed - 'Caves'

There's definitely some quality new club influenced music around and 'Caves', with its effect heavy bassline and thumb shredding emulator riffs is yet more proof that indie electronica has a presence again. Actually sounds as if at least part of it was recorded underwater.


Lila Rose - World on Fire

World on Fire by Lila Rose is an impassioned, hypnotic, subtly disturbing song, accompanied by a strong video from her collaborator Daniel Garcia.

The theme is apocalyptic, with the earth seen as the mother, and the mother as a bound naked woman, ropes across her breasts, bound to a cross.

Lila appears underwater herself, along with images of a new-born baby and foetus, reminding us of the dark oceanic origins of the earth and the maternal care she now needs.

Musically the rythmns evoke tribal origins, simple and thunder-struck, with shades of massive Attack and Bjork in the accompanying atmospheric sweeps. Echoes of Enya in there too, especially in the vocal layering, which shows off an impressive vocal range.

The lyric is tight and well structured, emotional without being sentimental, and brings a vitally important subject into fine poetic focus.

The ultimate message is one of precarious hopefulness, if only we can ‘Hold, hold, hold’, which is the repeated choral mantra. “Here’s a glimpse of goodbye, As we walk this fine wire.”

This is not an easy subject to tackle but these few minutes say more than some green politicians could muster in a week. A perfect marriage of sound and vision 8/10


Squarepusher – ‘Stor Eiglass’ (Warp records)

The opening track on techno/drum ‘n’ bass/jazz pioneer Tom Jenkinson’s new album Damogen Furies (released April 20th) more than lives up to the author’s description of the album as being a brutal, visceral and hallucinatory experience. ‘Stor Eiglass’ features knotty 4/4 rhythms and a mix alive with punishing synth lines and atonal bleeps and must count as one of Squarepusher’s most direct tracks to date. This single, and Damogen Furies as a whole, may well prove to amongst Jenkinson’s most accessible releases and could well mark the point at which fans who lost patience with his jazzier and more avant-garde excursions get back on board. Awesome stuff.

Matt Brown


Ghostpoet – ‘X Marks The Spot’ (Play it Again Sam records)

Since bursting on to the scene in 2011 with his Mercury-nominated debut Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, London-based vocalist Obaro Ejimiwe has tried to expand his sound from the drowsy hip-hop/electronica that he was initially know for. ‘X Marks The Spot’ (taken from his third album Shedding Skin) therefore sees him branching out into alternative rock territory, with a three-piece band adding new wave guitars and hypnotic rhythms to his downbeat, almost spoken-word vocals. As admirable as it is to see an artist developing and widening his sound, I much preferred the groovier and more optimistic feel of some of his earlier tracks; this single didn’t really offer enough aspects of melodic or lyrical interest to rise above its morose tone.

Matt Brown


Len Sander – ‘Mendrake’

Contrary to the implication of its name, Len Sander is not a singular singer, but a Swiss electronica band made up of Blanka Inauen (vocals), Simon Inauen (keyboards), Alessandro Hug (percussion, keyboards, electronics), Flavio Schönholzer (bass, electronics), Dennis Schärar (guitars), and Markus Brütsch (drums). The band members released their darkly enticing debut album, Phantom Garden, just over a month ago and have now dropped a video for the single “Mendrake”. The constantly restless and visually disorienting video was culled and created by Janic Halioua from hours of footage.

The low-key, but mesmerizing “Mendrake” consists of a quick clip of glitchy, percussive electronic blips that dot the sonic landscape, along with slower, short swoops of guitar lines. Keyboard notes flit in and out and a reverberating sound builds up to noise levels as Blanka sing-talks in a cool tone that “When I am disguised / I can be whoever they want to see”. A nocturnal atmosphere pervades the track as it alternates between a concussive beat and calmer lulls of just Blanka’s voice and echoed, sporadic electro-notes.

Jen Dan

Mark Maze – ‘The Devil May Cry’

London-based dance-pop singer-songwriter Mark Maze was born and raised in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Leicester and it was through his experiences growing up in this area that he realized that he wanted to focus on bettering his life and realizing his dream of creating his own music. At first he joined an R’n’B vocal group, but the record label management was too restrictive and he soon took off to work on his own material. The result is the catchy and compelling debut album, Uncomfortable Truths, which was released this past January. Mark mixes his perceptive and vulnerable lyrics and soulful vocals with a grittier dance-pop production that encompasses hard beats, rock guitar lines, shimmering synths, and fanciful electronic flourishes.

Standout song and opening number ‘The Devil May Cry’ is an absorbing piano ballad that’s fused with electo-pop sonics and, most of the time, an up-tempo dancefloor pace. Rich, flowing piano notes and Mark’s emotive, but slightly restrained vocals are brightened by dawning synth strings that build in intensity. Midway through the track a gritty, propulsive electro-shock beat kicks in as Mark steamily intones “It tastes much sweeter / when the fruit of love’s forbidden.” The restless pace is augmented by swooshing ‘falling star’ sonics, electronic squiggles, deeply struck piano notes, and sheet metal reverberations. A fleeting lull appears with just light piano notes and Mark’s voice, but it’s gone in a flash as the main dance-pop sound is again increased with a circling electric guitar line and back-up vocals as Mark cries out in an impassioned tone “ The devil may cry / ‘cause what I’m touchin’ isn’t mine…”

Jen Dan

Sad Disco – ‘Only Like It’

The Athens, Greece-located, synth-pop/dance-pop duo of Dim Bin and Theod Kopoul has released a self-titled debut album on Undo Records and the songs on it combine foot-tapping beats, 80s synths, bittersweet moods, and thoughtful lyrics. Dim and Theod just dropped a video for their third single, ‘Only Like It’, off and it’s one to sway along to in the late night clubs of cities around the world. It features an incessantly repetitive, but awesomely infectious chorus of “I only like it when you do it my way / Does it feel right?” that recalls the vocal tone and catchy, sing-along style of chorus bits from Does It Offend You, Yeah? and similar bands. Time to put your hands in the air, and wave ‘em like you do care…

Jen Dan

Champs - Vamala

I don’t know how to describe this song other than lyrically diabolical and musically horrendous. This 2 piece pair of knickers originate from England’s southern detachment aka The Isle of White and if this is what’s currently coming out of the place, then I hope The Bee’s make a comeback fast. It’s as if Jedward woke up one day and decided they would venture in to the world of music, but fell out of their tree house and broke both their necks rupturing their lungs in the process.

Gavin Tate

Happyness - A Whole New Shape

The bass intro is not that far off from PIL’s “Low Life“. And then follows a wave of washy shoe-gazing guitar with spurts of dream laced samples. This sub-pop South London trio have almost re-invented Dinosaur Jr by sounding exactly like them bar the immense guitar skills. Nobody in this life will mimic the sounds that J Mascis unleashes! Saying that, I did enjoy the effort and even though the grunge revival is never ending, I have heard quite a few surprises lately.

Gavin Tate

Muse - Psycho

It doesn’t take long in to this song before I’ve made up my mind that it is beyond dog shit. The truth is, I’ve never liked this band and never will. You could respect them for the way they’ve carried themselves over the years but at the end of the day, they’re a band for the musically uneducated and masses of long haired rock havens still blabbing on about how amazing Eddie Van Halen is. I’d rather get raped with a wooden spoon than listen to this.

Gavin Tate

Fossa - Five Day

If you’re in to repetitive dream pop, you’ll be sure to like this number by the minimal London quartet. Not really my thing but I can appreciate the dynamics and progression that surrounds them. One thing that really stands out is the high pitched lead guitar and stabbing sounds at the end, though It would be difficult to pigeon hole as I can’t think off the top of my head anyone they sound like other than maybe I Am Kloot? I knew from the word go that this tune would end with a great climax.

Gavin Tate

Gaz Blackburn - Dead Reyt

I’m reminded of The Real People from the opening bars of “Get On With Your Life“ by the West Yorkshire hopeful. A cascade of harmonies and hook laden 90's Britain guitar follow suit. The bass line is ace, though I can’t help but think of Eagle Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight“. Next up is “Keep It Real” which starts with an immense string section with a flood load of words and the occasional piano! I like the layering of delayed guitar towards the end. “Marchin’ On“ makes me picture a flee of street band soldier drummers backed with their colleagues on brass surrounding a parade float carrying Noel Gallagher’s new album tapes. Finishes with “Monday Morning” which sounds like something Northern Uproar pushed out 20 years ago.

Gavin Tate

Other Lives - 'Reconfiguration'

Other Lives turn in an atmospheric number that only lacks a screeching great guitar solo to let reviewers describe it as an actual reconfiguration of the heydays of 1970s prog rock. Very moody and glancing over its shoulder at Kasabian, it's a good enough song but there's probably a more appropriate choice of single on Other Live's as yet unreleased album. Quite what anyone will make of the video in which a fencing match turns into a balletic performance is another matter.


Axis/Orbit - 'Around'

I was expecting some electronica but 'Around' is a grungy garage rock number with a BRMC influence, and perhaps going back further to the bluesy jams of Uriah Heep and the Groundhogs with a proper guitar solo using effects pedals and everything. Definitely a 70s influence around this month.


Miss Vincent - 'How Much Further'

No, not St. Vincent, Miss Vincent are a punk rock band from Southampton, or more accurately a harder edged Emo band although the four Miss Vincents were probably still in their prams when My Chemical Romance were thrashing it out in technicolour a decade ago. 'How Much Further' is noisy and tuneful and developed beyond a mere thrashabout, I expect the Joiner's Arms roof is missing a slate or two after their most recent gig.


The Harry Macintosh Project - 'Such Is The Vulture's Love' EP

Conjuring all manner of wildlife documentary images, the sound of a stricken wilderbeest at the mercy of the feathered scavengers of the savannah. The Harry Macintosh Project are doubtlessly planning some conservation of their own, beginning with 'Error Terror' and its double timed drumming and lyric about a rucksack. If you need to hear a song titled 'I Spent A Night In A Washing Machine', call the Harry Macintoshes. Don't forget to ask them if it was switched on.



Steve Hackett - 'The Wheel's Turning'

You might have expected the original guitarist of 70s prog giants Genesis to settle quietly into his later career but 'The Wheel's Turning' is a bit of a spectacular reminder of what a Les Paul was designed for, right up to the really, really good bit right at the end. The animated song video that looks as if it was made on Microsoft Office has lyrics onscreen so you can sing along as well as air guitar yourself into a dislocated shoulder.