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tasty 16 - singles reviews

  - The Icicles
- Clinic
- The Bellrays
- The Hives
- Hundred Reasons
- The Butterflies of Love
- Melaton
- Clean
- Mid State Orange
- Me Against Them
- Suffragettes
- Leaves
- Fonda 500
- The Somatics
- British Sea Power
- Wilt
- Blusher
- Ciccone
- AM 60
- Stewboss
- Tempertwig
- Six by Seven
- Billy Bragg

The Icicles - Pure Sugar ep (Drive-In Records)
The Icicles are obviously quite mad and quite clever at the same time. Why else would they dress as extras from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory yet make some of the most vital, exciting, joyous and evocative indie-pop available today.

That this is their first ep is stunning. Mixing both  childhood memories with the trials and tribulations of teen years is the order of the day. And so on tracks such as ‘Lemonade & Somersaults’, the Icicles remember endless summer holidays spent in the front yard with your mates. And it’s spot on, so accurate that it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as long lost recollections of cut knees and dinky toys come flooding back.

Then there’s the insanely catchy ‘New Haircolour’ - a song about how dying your hair makes you feel better. Simple as that but with handclaps and THE cutest Farfisa going on in the background.

And they even have the torch song in their armour. ‘So Sad’ could easily be a Dusty Springfield OR a Smiths track, whilst ‘Skater Boyfriend’ is just plain funny. You really should buy this ep, your life simply isn’t complete without it. 


Clinic - Come Into Our Room (Domino)
More weirdness from Clinic and their excellent ‘Walking With Thee’ album, this is a menacing little number that continues to throb through your head even after the last notes have dripped from the speakers.  Can anything be more scary than a bunch of Scousers in medical gear singing about coming into your room? I don’t think so.


The Bellrays - Fire On the Moon (Poptones)
Well, it certainly rocks and sounds like it was recorded...well, not even in one take. In truth, the Bellrays are nothing more than a metal band, and if I ‘don’t get it’, then I’m glad. I wouldn‘t want it...anywhere near me.


The Hives - Main Offender (Poptones/Telstar)
Now this is more like the real deal. Proper garage rock with production that sounds even dirtier than  The Bellrays effort. But this lot get me confused....and the Vines...the hives, the vines, the hives, the veins, the haves, the have-nots....arrggghhh....


Hundred Reasons - Silver (Columbia)
Seemingly making a name for themselves through 3 trillion date tours and consistently decent singles. This is such a single, a clever Snuff-like punky thing, with a ending so rousing that it fair rattles the ear wax loose. A tasty recommendation if ever there was one.


The Butterflies of Love - The Mutation (Fortuna Pop!)
Mogadon surf tracks are thin on the ground these days, so thank goodness for The Butterflies of Love. ‘The Mutation’ is gentle enough to appeal to indie-fops and dark-hearted swamp rockers alike. There’s not a lot to this song to be honest, but then there doesn’t need to be. Perfect for bathing in goats blood to...whilst sucking on a copy of The Icicles ep, of course....


Melaton - Falling Star ep (S2)
Professional angst rock - the recipe? Take the nihilism of Radiohead, the sensitivity of Travis and the atmospherics of Coldplay. Well, why not? That’s what  Melaton have done on this depressingly cold ep. Shudder.


Clean - Room 16 (Sugarshack Records)
Wicka-wick-wicka! Is there any better sound than the sound of a scratchmeister at work? I think not and Clean deploy the skills most generously. ‘Room 16’ is a tricky little beast to trap - it starts off like the Beastie Boys, chucks in a few samples and glides along on the back of a dubby bassline and tasty little vocals. Very good actually. Yes.


Mid-State Orange - Flag Festival (Drive-In Records)
Having just discovered Drive-In Records, I must say they put out very fine records indeed. And this is one of them. Six of tracks of that musical crossroads where Stereolab meets indie-pop, this ep is headed up by a title track so summery it could easily go on holiday in Union Jack shorts and still not lose its charm. The other five tracks are none too shoddy either - a most charming offering.


Me Against Them - Your Beach is Mine (Star Harbour)
It took a few listens but I love this. It takes the piss out of this annoying wave of garage rock charlatans by actually not sounding like they’d really rather be making a different sound. Yep, it seems to me that Me Against Them, who sometimes sound like the Pixies, and isn’t that a fine thing, have been making this kind of warped indie-rock for yonks. Thanks to others, not even half as talented, their time may well yet come.

The Suffrajets - Hold These Eyes ep (Poolside)
Bless their little cotton socks. The Suffrajets are three 19 year old ladies who want desperately want to be part of the nu-metal crew....or should that be cru...and just when it seems it’s not going down wiv da kidz any more too. Where to go then for three Limp Bizkit fans? Well, judging by this little collection of sub-Joan Jett dirges, not very far at all. Time to reinvent themselves as the female Strokes before it’s too late.

Leaves - Race (b-unique)
If only Leaves had chosen third track, ‘Perfect’ as a single I might just have fallen in love with them. As it is, i can only report that this band also make the bland sort of noise associated with Coldplay, Radiohead etc. Why do they torment me so? WHY???

Fonda 500 - Computer Freaks of the Galaxy (Truck Records)
For true class and originality read Fonda 500, who make the sort of bubblegum kraut rock Stereolab used to peddle before disappearing up their own arseholes. ‘Computer Freaks..’ manages that most rare of tricks - it’s cute and frightening at the same time. And it also rocks big ass, which always helps. There’s a couple of other tracks here - the second - ‘The Colours and the Bird Songs Are One and the Same’ uses the vocoder in way that would make Cher wring her own neck in shame and wibbles and wobbles all over the shop, wandering every now and again to pitch into an immensely funky interlude. ‘The 500
Mobile’, however, is genuinely frightening, the sound of the band losing patience with a telephone interviewer. They’re from Hull...but you can’t have everything - cracking stuff.

The Somatics - Lemonade (Beggars Banquet)
Whereas Fonda 500 are operate in the frazzled genius arena, The Somatics are altogether a classier bunch. They first came to tasty’s attention last year when they released a wonderful single called ‘Last days in a
Small Town’ on Shifty Disco. Beggars obviously heard it too, and snapped them up. ‘Lemonade’ is equally as beautiful - a spine tingling shard of music, that brings to mind very early Suede in places. They also know how to prog-out a bit - last track here, ‘Almost an Introduction’ clocks in at over 11 minutes - and features bits and bobs of noises from all over the place. I’ll forgive them their little yes fantasies if they want to keep producing stylish pop on a regular basis...I’m not a difficult person to deal with you see...

British Sea Power - The Spirit of St Louis (Rough Trade)
Quite frankly, very exciting. In a time when guitar bands are seemingly shit scared to step out of some pre-defined NME guidelines, then BSP are indeed a breath of fresh air. ‘The Spirit of St Louis’ is all over the shop, and could easily give The Birthday Party a run for their money in the ‘mad breakdown’ stakes. However, BSP also now how to write the most beautiful pop songs. Evidence of this is found on the flip in ‘The Lonely’, which glides by in a summer holiday kind of way. Beautiful and threatening at the same time, British Sea Power may well play on your fears, but to not end up loving them would the scariest thing of all.

Wilt - Take Me Home (Mushroom)
Wilt are at their best  when they make it all edgy and simple, like on ‘Pennyblack’ here. Otherwise, it’s all a bit too generic indie rock for my liking. If they actually turned things down a little and concentrated less on admiring their own  collection of power chords then this might be a little more interesting than it actually is.

Blusher - Arnolfini ep (Wine Cellar)
Once managed by Ricky Gervais were Blusher. But that’s behind them, and on this resolutely old skool indie ep, the band display their knack for turning in a performance more akin to Kate Bush fronting a group of Camden regulars. Or Echobelly. The choice is yours, either way, this is rather good.

Ciccone - All Stacked Up (Muff)
They think they’re a punk band. Tenpole Tudor perhaps. Bad beyond words.

AM 60 - Big As the Sky (Shifty Disco)
What sounds like the frog equivalent of Barry White croaks in time in the background, whilst AM 60 play a little pop ditty about wanting someone to spend the rest of their lives with someone. And my word this person must be someone, because, by the sounds of it, they’ve no character flaws whatsoever. I reckon these pop stars make it up as they go along - no-one’s that perfect...apart from me of course....ahem, anyway, I particularly like the ‘pop’ sounds that come in every now and again. How’s that for a succinct review eh?

Stewboss - A Little Goes a Long Way (Flying Spark Records)
I think Stewboss (and wouldn’t many of us like to do that?) may be talking about talent. Not that I’m insinuating anything I hope you understand - it’s just that this group of Yanks are so dirty, grimy country rock boys that it’s hard to think that they don’t play chewing on a piece of straw whilst milking a cow. Not my cup of tea, you could say. Give them a biscuit for that name though.

Tempertwig - An Anthology of Broken Stuff - demo
Now if I was nowt but a nipper and wanted to start a band, this is what I would’ve wanted it to sound like. And perhaps,. when I was the same age those in Tempertwig my band would’ve, for this band tread the beautiful sunshiney land where the Wedding Present, Joy Division and Fugazi come together to morph into one huge beast of a band.

Fantastic dynamics, wonderful subtlety and a great voice that doesn’t try and actually sing - and there’s not enough of that about these days., Tempertwig, will, when I rule the world, be on the national curriculum. Three tracks from greatness.

Six by Seven - All My New Best Friends (Mantra)
Not the best track off the album, but then certainly not the worst single around at the moment, ‘All My New Best Friends’ won’t win 6x7 any new friends, but then, judging by the lyrics, they don’t really want any more hangers-on at the moment. Second track ‘I Want to Destroy You’ is Olley’s black humour at its very best. It’s a wonderfully light Beach Boys thrash, that hopefully, may lead the band into other directions. It’s wonderfully and should have been the a-side, but that’s this band all over. Awkward buggers.

Billy Bragg - Take Down the Union Jack (Cooking Vinyl)
Ahh...Mr Bragg. Your sentiments may be welcome, but what should we replace it with? Your version of nu-Englishness? I think not. Read elsewhere in this issue for more on Bragg’s new political stance. As for this single, brought out in time for the Jubilee charade, well, it sounds like it was knocked together in about ten minutes, but Bragg retains one of the best voices in British (oops...sorry Billy, English) pop. Long may he reign.....but with different politics.