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  singles - may 2004
  - The Nova Express
- Dogs Die in Hot Cars
- The Hotels
- Yellowcard
- The $hit
- Hope of the States
- Thief

- Twenty Twenty Vision
- The Killers
- InMe
- Cathy Davey
- Ash
- The Strollers

- A Day Late

The Nova Express (Dead Bees)
‘The Nova Express EP’ is this French quintet's debut Ep on the new French label Dead Bees.

This is indie as it is meant to be. Powerful and subtle in similar quantities, these four songs offer beautiful, dark compositions. Comparisons can be drawn to bands such as One Man and His Droid and The Unfinished Sympathy, but perhaps with a slightly more downbeat edge.

On the strength of this brooding EPI look forward to future releases from this band and the Dead Bees label as well.

Luke Drozd

Dogs Die in Hot Cars – Godhopping (V2)
You know those bands who are on ‘showcase’ programmes late at night on ITV? If you do, you know all about the craptacularly named DDIHC. This is ‘jaunty’. And if that doesn’t scare you to your core, then the music will – a sort of derivative funk rock that was last heard in the Old Angel in Nottingham in 1993. Bad news all round, I’m afraid.

Sam Metcalf


The Hotels
These London based chaps have apparently been at this for sometime according to the press bumf I've been sent to accompany this their latest demo, more than ten years to be precise.

Better than you’re the usual material labelled as ‘indie’ rock out there, this demo showcases some textured, thoughtful song writing. Songs are given the time they deserve to build and recede in a sort of melancholic wave.

There are a lot of influences bandied around by this band to describe themselves and there are certainly elements of the guitar work that are reminiscent of Lift To Experience’s more laid-back moments, but for me the music seems best described as an angular, archaic version of the Doves. Enjoyable, mature indie rock.

Luke Drozd

Yellowcard – Way Away (Parlophone)
Ooh…do you know, I don’t know if it’s the punk gene in my left ear, but I quite like this. It’s the sort of song I’d play if I had as soft top red corvette (or whatever you call cars)…and if I could drive. Y’know bezzing it down the A46 at 55mph, with the wind in your hair on your way to Blundell Park by way of Cleethorpes sea front for a quick dip of the old tootsies. Yes, this is that good.

Sam Metcalf

The $hit - We Don't Give a Fuck About Soul
Ahh...time was, way back at school in, well let's say a while back, we were let loose on the school's ramshackle collection of cutting edge Casio keyboards (you remember the ones with preset demos and the like) and asked to produce our own tunes. Marvellous days. And days which The $hit recreate for us on this record completed by mega distorted guitars and super fuzzed up vocals all recorded in somewhere with the acoustics of a shoebox.

I quite liked both the sentiment and the punky pace of the title track but 'Kick Yourself' and 'Dead x30' didn't really grab me. Methinks The $hit don't really take themselves that seriously but frankly any group wearing a selection of 3D glasses, Scream style masks and rabbit ears scare me. The 'I Love $hit Music' pin badge in the promo pack is genius though!

Shane Blanchard

Hope of the States – The Red The White The Black The Blue (Sony)
There is much nonsense written over crippling average bands these days, and HOTS (woo!) are one such afflicted band. This bloke sounds like that gimp out of Stereophonics, and this is so wraught and dragged out that it sounds like a cat playing a violin whilst being castrated. And on a Monday morning, that’s not what I want to hear, soz.

Thief - demo
Thief hail from East Yorkshire and this demo features their three most recent recordings. Opening on a track called ‘This Sound’, this failed to instantly engage me. This is basic Indie fare that leaves no real lasting impressions. Things do pick up with the following tracks however and at times they have a kind of early nineties Indie feel a bit like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (though that’s probably just me).

These songs never really grab the listener and in places it’s verging on indie by numbers. These are songs that really want to have bigger balls than they actually do.

Luke Drozd

The Killers – Mr Brightside (Lizard King)
This is quite the best single this month, least that’s what I reckon anyway. ‘Mr Brightside’ glides by in a sort of Joy Division-meets-Blondie way, with a delightful synth in the background making for a gorgeous, all encapsulating early 80s experience. Quite why I had this lot down for some kind of nu-metal bores is beyond me. Now, back to dancing….

InMe – Faster the Chase (Music for Nations)
Oh, do giver over. This sort of hairy metal is for times gone by, surely. InMe? BinMe, more like.

HAL - Worry About The Wind
What on earth is happening? Bubbly flower pop exponents such as the Delays, The Thrills, Keane, Franz Ferdinand and HAL are providing the calm after the storm of the new rock revolution, especially in the case of the latter band, they are producing music that fans of any genre will have trouble turning their back on. Utilizing the experience and know how of esteemed Blur producer Stephen Street; Hal have a polished and mature sound that would take most bands of this elk two or three albums to achieve. The Dave Allen fronted quartet who hail from just outside Dublin possess the clarity of vocals of The Thrills (Conor Deasy), the tingling instrumentals of the Delays and the dash of melancholy of Snow Patrol, as well conjuring up images of all your favourite pre 70s pop bands.  

‘Worry About The Wind’ is a neat track that will see more lighters ignited at a gig than in smoker’s corner at workplaces around the UK at 10.45am on a Monday morning. This track whilst being uplifting instrumentally has mournful and worrisome lyrics at times; 

“I keep on thinking about worrying about that time;you kept on running out, didn’t count the cost.”  

The B-side ‘Out Tonight’ will have producers chasing The Thrills out of the studio after recording their next album saying “Excuse me sirs, you forgot this?’, as it is a cousin of Santa Cruz both instrumentally and in the longing and uplifting nature of Allen’s vocals. HAL do not sound as forced as The Thrills, but in this day age it is questionable as to whether this trait is a plus or negative? 

Dave Adair

Cathy Davey – Come Over (Regal)
A most enjoyable single, which reeks of Blur’s more wild moments and has a hint of Tom Waits too, especially the title track. Cathy Davey also has quite a swoonsome voice, half cute, half threatening – much like Lupe from Pipas. My favourite is ‘My Surprise’ – a perfect little lullaby for such a lovely summer's day. Well done Cathy!

Ash – Orpheus (Infectious)
Much energy is expended from the boy Wheeler in turning out another MTV friendly number 17 smash, but one wonders why. Perhaps – and who could blame him – he likes being in a band with the very fragrant Charlotte. Maybe he wants one more chance to wear a vest and sweatbands before he turns all old – god, I know I do, but I fear my nipples will never see the inside of a vest again – or maybe he’s doing it for the kids, man. One things for sure, Ash are nowhere near as exciting a prospect as they seemed all those years ago when I was last spotted shaking my thang to them. And every band wants my thang shaken at them, natch.

Sam Metcalf

The Strollers - A Short Demonstration (demo)
You know that kid at school who was even less cool and hard than you were (difficult to believe, eh?), and sometimes he would try to hang around with you, thinking that it was a step up the hierarchical ladder. You could beat him up, and you knew it, but, you couldn’t. In a peculiar way you pitied him and to some extent admired him for trying, even though he kept protesting his dad owned a helicopter.

These feelings came flooding back when the CD and accompanying press pack arrived from ‘The Strollers’ (not the part about being able to beat them up, the pity and the admiration. And forget the bit about helicopters). For a band who feel their music says so much, the ‘press release’ is a little dense and packed with a fair amount of fanfare. If the music is so excellent, surely that should be enough; I have no fucking interest, what so ever, in whom a band has supported/if they have spoken to influential promoters/ if the NME like them. That fucking bum rag of a publication has a lot to answer for.

‘Looking at The Strollers, all kitted out in seventies hair and vintage leather, you could be forgiven for thinking that they had cut a deal with NME to be their 2004 cover stars’

What in the name of god does this tell us about the band’s music? Where is the mystique, the aloof attitude? There are members of some of my favourite bands who I could fall over in the street and not recognize. That’s the way it should be. That’s how you put music first, not sending lists of spurious credentials and photos to magazines, fanzines and labels in the hope of getting featured in fucking NME. And if this truly is the driving desire behind the band then I wish you all the luck in the world, and hope the inevitable backlash after 4 months grace proves not to sever.

After such a rant I suppose I should mention the music, as that’s what it’s all about. There are three tracks on offer here, two of which leave me cold, I’m afraid. It’s not to say they are bad by any stretch of the imagination, they just aren’t for me. There are echoes of Oasis but with a little more of garage slant on the first track (Modern Man’s Son), while the third is a ballad Noel would be proud of. I fucking hate Oasis.

‘She’s Inside Out’ however is bloody great, if you can imagine The Buzzcocks covering The Beatles or Jerry and the Pacemakers; you should have a good idea what it sounds like. With songs like this there really is no need for posing.

Drew Millward

A Day Late - Demo
A Day Late are a two piece describing their music as ‘acoustic melodic punk’. The three tracks showcased here all lean heavily toward the likes of Dashboard Confessional or the Get Up Kids more acoustic moments (and I mean heavily!). Its still early days for these guys having only been together for four months but this is all just a bit too heartfelt with a capital H for my tastes. This kind of thing has been done many times before and it’s wearing a little thin now. There’s obviously some talent in there though, but they need to dump the faux American accent and try to find a sound of their own.

Luke Drozd

Twenty Twenty Vision – (Sampler from the ‘Wonderfully Titled EP’)
Singer songwriters with an indie/ lo-fi leaning, hey, there’s a lot of them about and Adrian Lomas (aka Twenty Twenty Vision) is yet another hoping to join their ranks. There are comparisons made, in the biography supplied, to the likes of Belle and Sebastian and Elliot Smith and, although the latter comparison doesn’t quite ring true, there are certainly elements of Belle and Sebastian’s sound present here. The thing about the other acts producing this sort of lo-fi indie pop (or whatever the balls you want) is the quality of their songs. In order for this kind of music not to end up sounding boring and wet and merely drifting into the ether, the songs must be strong and beautifully crafted and sadly this isn’t really the case here. Don’t be mistaken, I’m not saying this is a bad release; with the first track ‘In You I Hide’ certainly standing out from the three present here.

However it’s not that strong a release either. At 24 Lomas shows signs of genuine promise as a songwriter, but when the competition is as strong as it is he’s still got a bit of a way to go yet.

Luke Drozd