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singles/eps - august 2015


Black Honey – ‘Spinning Wheel’

Brighton’s own Black Honey, fronted by Izzy B. Phillips, is getting the blogosphere in a tizzy by posting its demos and finished songs on SoundCloud and racking up effusive listener and music press raves, especially for the epic tune ‘Spinning Wheel’ which has over 80.5K views. ‘Spinning Wheel’ has also been made available as a double A-side with ‘Madonna’ from Duly Noted Records. The psych-rock band with a retro flair packs it all in on ‘Spinning Wheel’, from 60s Nancy Sinatra-inspired vocals to Spaghetti Western reverb guitars to reeling surf guitar lines. It’s a doozy of a number, but it’s concise and compelling with a ‘fresh vintage’ whiff.

‘Spinning Wheel’ starts off low-key and unassuming with a barely heard crackle running through the audio as Izzy exclaims regretfully “Love is just a spinning wheel / turning like a tumbleweed / burning in… my heart.” Suddenly Western reverb guitar and cymbal bash burst forth, along with an energetic feline yowl from Izzy and a pronounced drum beat. She repeats the lyrical refrain, punctuated by her lively howls, this time in a heartfelt, exclamatory tone, amid the desperado guitar and synth frisson. It’s thrilling, vivid, and panoramic – like a ride across the wide plains of the Western U.S. circa the 1800s in CinemaScope.

Jen Dan

The Underrunners - Joyrider

Opens with high pitched riffage catchier than a wicket keeper. The bass reminds me of early day’s Joy Division followed by a vocal that is not that far off that of Psychedelic Furs singer Richard Butler. Lyrically enticing and stomp happy as the drummer beats her way throughout this post-punk gem. There’s a feel of ‘Isn’t Anything’ era My Bloody Valentine in some of the guitar work as it shoegazes it’s way through your skull. Jangly in areas, then jaggered as it cuts you to the bone. Keep an eye out for their debut album ‘No God No King’, which far from disappoints.

Gavin Tate

Lux Flux Feat: Chris Almond - Tired of Being Played

I’ve always been fond of experimental music that borders on avant garde and off-beat improv. Fad Gadget springs to mind here as well as “Feel Good Inc” era Gorillaz. A project put together by Manda Haywood who resides in Victorville, a city in the High Desert of Southern California. This track caught my attention, mostly due to it’s jazz interludes and bizarre changes. Chris Almond; a fellow compadre and an essential figure amongst the Jersey music scene lends his voice to the said track, which more than works. Be sure to check her soundcloud for some unique and intriguing sounds.

Gavin Tate

The Liquorsmiths – ‘Get Well Soon’

Drew Thams (vocals, guitar), Ryan Fisher (keyboards, drums, percussion), and Clayton Payne (drums, percussion) of the alt-folk-rock band The Liquorsmiths are based in San Diego, California and are set to release their 6-track album This Book Belongs To on August 21st via Inhesion Records. Known for their dynamic live shows, the band members have done two tours of the West Coast in the U.S. and performed at various festivals and are planning to deliver This Book Belongs To with the added bonus of a live EP.

Lead single ‘Get Well Soon’ is an up-tempo tune that is rife with insightful lyrics and emotive vocals from Drew. Two lines of lilting picked acoustic guitar strum are pitted against an urgently pummeling drum beat that continues at the same pace through most of the song. At first Drew sings in a low-key tone that “I feel so young when I’m with you.”, but his vocals eventually rise to exclamation level as he confesses “If it’s not sincere / it’s not worth a damn…” (or at least that seems to be what Drew intones as he trails off at the end of those lyrics). There’s a brief slow down in the rhythm where just the two guitars, some tambourine jingle, and Drew’s vocals mingle, but the more spare sound is quickly dispelled as all of the instrumentation comes back at the song’s conclusion.

Jen Dan

Shakey Tables – ‘I Like Your Shoes’

Shakey Tables is a rootin’-tootin’ NYC-based funk-pop/rock band that offers up fun, infectious, and upbeat tunes that can brighten up a dreary day, or at least turn that frown upside down while listening to a song like ‘I Like Your Shoes’. The band members Jaclyn Dima, Charles Becker, Mike Graves, Ruth Harke, and Andi Rae Healy got together in 2013, with their music centered around lead singer-songwriter Jaclyn’s compositions. In 2014 they gigged in NYC and the surrounding area and also performed at charity events to raise money for music education.

The band recorded its debut album, A Shakey Table Situation, last year with producer Dave Brandwein (of the 11-member act Turkuaz) and the energetic, retro-pop/rock album is available now. The first cut off that platter is ‘I Like Your Shoes’, an appealing number that struts confidently with a flexible bass line, funky guitar licks, crisp drums, simmering cymbals, and a variety of horn punctuation. Quick, sing-talking female vocals harmonize engagingly as Jaclyn admits “Your shoes are my weakness.” and declares “Don’t worry ‘bout walkin’ home / ‘cause I like your shoes.” Sounds like an episode of Sex and the City and it’s just as colorful and lively as that TV series.

Jen Dan

Grant J. Healey of GUM - Shakermaker “Oasis Cover”

It’s one thing covering a Creation Records classic and it’s another thing covering a Creation Records classic and making it sound like another of Creation’s groups that is the solar opposite in style of Manchester’s 90s hooligan icons. Mr Healey has only gone and made Britpop kings Oasis sound like Shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine, yet it works! The production is beyond epic, which is probably an understatement. Psychedelic spells soaked in reverb with drowned out vocal patterns that would have Mr Bean jizzing in his pants. Find this on Youtube and forever do a sit down piss.

Gavin Tate

Wire - High

Judging from this release, the influential post-punk pioneers have still got the ability to surprise. “High” is reminiscent of early New Order, somewhere along the lines of “Everything’s Gone Green”, but with a slicker production. The synth arpeggiator works a treat here and you can almost hear a dab of what sounds like The Smashing Pumpkins “1979?. I still play the ‘Chairs Missing’ album religiously and have been very cheeky with the amount of idea’s I’ve stolen from it. I suppose that’s what makes Wire so amazing. Just listen to their epic outlet “Three Girl Rhumba” and then 90s anthem “Connection” by Elastica and that say’s it all.

Gavin Tate

Joykill Collective – ‘Battle Cry’

Joykill Collective was at first a solo project created by Leif (vocals, guitar, production) who resided in an artistic commune in Northampton, England. The project coalesced with the addition of Leif’s friends and associates as they formed a loose artistic community that not only played and recorded music together, but designed music videos, debated politics with each other, growed their own food, and worked and lived together. Jakob Loveless (backing vocals, guitar, noise), Lewicius (backing vocals, guitar, bass, drums, percussion), Ricky (bass), Ben (song-writing), and Andy (visuals) count themselves as members of now-traveling group and together they are releasing their politically-conscious single ‘Battle Cry’ on August 21st. A debut album from the collective is expected in the near future.

As the members state on Facebook, they are an alt-rock collective with a DIY spirit and a political edge. They are dissatisfied with right-wing politics and media and don’t shy away from expressing their views through their music. ‘Battle Cry’ is a timely reminder of how far modern society has gotten off track and while it doesn’t give details, it goes for the big picture as Leif sings it’s “…a disaffected call to arms.” The calmer verses with a measured drum beat and Leif’s muffled vocals give way to supremely swirling distorted guitar riffs, a pronounced drum beat, and cymbals smash on the chorus. At the end of the song Leif shouts out amid other voices and the sonic backing that “This is a battle cry!”

Jen Dan

Sonic Hearts Foundation - 'Godspeed'

Taking the entire post-rock idea and adding a songwriting impetus to that sound, Sonic Hearts Foundation are a bit of a find and anyone whose own musical taste runs to the entire Mogwai/Slint species of aural assault is going to like 'Godspeed' a lot, with its cataclysmic guitar riffs, crashing percussion and anthemic soundscaping.


Moon Types - 'Know The Reason'

Moon Types take the indie pop sensibilities of Belle & Sebastian, speed it up a bit, add a trumpet, some wistfully turned lyricism - 'you want to know the reason bumblebees can fly' and it's headlong into the tweezone without as much as a twinge of remorse for this enthusiastic sounding Swedish beat combo, recreating the heady daze of mid 80s indie as if they were about to support the Jasmine Minks on a series of tour dates and actually signed to Fontana records. If you ever wondered what it really sounded like, Moon Types can answer almost any question. Except the thing about bees.


Sleaford Mods - 'Live Tonight'

You know, the big difference between the Sleaford Mods and their prime influence, the Fall, is that the Fall were never allowed to slide into self parody in the way that Sleaford Mods are putting themselves across. 'Live Tonight' hasn't really anything going for it, and lacks the Fall's wordplay and imagery, which was what actually made them listenable, while draining every drop of Andy Capp schtick from their surroundings. 'Live Tonight' might want to make a more definable link to 'Dragnet' era Fall but after several years of perfecting their sound, it's flat and dreary tonight, and after so much actual hype in the music press I detect a certain and hidden joie de vivre that only stems from the Seaford Mods enjoying a private joke at the expense of those outside of their core audience. And what's Shakin' Stevens ever done to Jason Williamson? Or the other bloke? If you are going to present a self parody, there needs to have been something there to parody in the first place, and even the McLaren managed Pistols had to come up with something of actual musical worth when the hype overtook their own images, which is what just happened to Sleaford Mods, except it hasn't, and if it isn't too late for either of them how about making an album that doesn't reek of tuneless masochism and have practically everyone that hears it thinking 'I could do better than that'. Including me.

Keep listening to the Soundcloud link to hear Jane Weaver singing a song.


Rosie and The Goldbug - 'Hey You'

Lyrics are important. 'Listen to me / you're a natural disaster' sings Rosie to the unseen, unheard target of her plans for a glitzy technopop makeover, and you can just anticipate the audiences at Goldbug gigs singing along heartily which is either an ironically phrased ploy on the part of Rosie or just designed to cause arguments, although RATG could and probably will get a few freshly recruited insectoid acolytes singing along with them.


Cave Mouth - 'Deep Water'

Cave Mouth must find themselves wondering, with influences diverse as QOTSA, Jack White, Busta Rhymes and Jethro Tull, is the result of this a danceably propulsive funk melange, or just barbecue background muzak? They certainly bring the new funk vibes with practised commitment, and 'Deep Water' ticks more than enough of the boxes in the Groove department. Sort of needs something though, and the live version of this track probably does go into the kind of instrumental tangents that take the Family Stone sound past its rhythmic basics, such as a lengthy farfisa keyboard excursion or/and a slide guitar solo that would fully reveal the also present influences of Beefheart, Zappa, Tom Waits and Earth Wind and Fire.


The Ordinary Boys - 'Four Letter Word'

Remember this lot? Think carefully, about a decade ago, one of those guitar bands that were everywhere, that had formed in the wake of the Libertines and were making articulate powerpop that did more than just dent the mainstream, bands whose names you recognised, the Pigeon Detectives, 22-20s, Mylo, a host of others and definitely the Ordinary Boys, whose mainman Preston went on to appear on Big Brother and went into writing songs for others, which has included actual number one single 'Heart Skips A Beat' for Olly Murs. With all this going on it won't surprise anyone that 'Four Letter Word' is a masterful slice of finely tuned and anthemic Emo tinged guitar pop, and as good as anything the Ordinary Boys released in their original form. Which was always better than just alright.


Sweat Lodge - 'Bed Of Ashes'

Every month I get a metal track and from Austin, TX here's Sweat Lodge bringing the baddest vibes they know how. I wouldn't say I was ever very much of an Ozzy Osbourne fan, which some of Sweat Lodge definitely are, but they pull it together with more than a touch of skill and make a credible trad metal noise. Definitely ones to watch, as the saying has it.


The Elwins - 'So Down Low'

Is it okay for a band to sound quite a lot like The Strokes? It is when they rewrite 'Reptilia' in the way The Elwins are going about it, gritty and edgy and just that added energy in the song that the Strokes sort of seemed to run out of after 'Hard To Explain'. Also, it's very okay when they make animated video of the quality of the one accompanying 'So Down Low' which requires repeated viewing to capture its varied nuances. Actually they don't sound very like the Strokes, if you keep both eyes open.


Luna Programme - 'To Hold'

'Every song by the Luna Programme is written and recorded in an hour' the press release for 'To Hold' tells me. It also tells me that the spoken word introduction to the song is an extract from 'Les Chats' by renowned 19th century author Charles Baudelaire, who may have taken more than 60 minutes over the one or two paragraphs taken from a French audiobook recording that make up the first part of 'To Hold'. This is all information really, Luna Programme are a skilfully adept band by anyone's standards, and the amalgam of Comet Gain and Stereolab they've put together is really quite impressive, if a bit short although 'To Hold' seems to be an album track rather than a single, and I'm unsure where you can actually find it, although it is on Soundcloud somewhere.