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  singles - june 2004


Broken Family Band - Poor Little Thing / I Send My Love to You (Harvest Time Recordings)
There is an old saying where I come from, ‘Bad things come in threes…’

This very may well be the case; this series of 7” singles is however an exception to the rule. And quite an exception they are.

I had read about this mail order collection of records, and was about to place an order, when, low and behold I was handed this; the first of the Harvest Time 7” series. It is like Christmas has come early.

To kick off this little bundle of fun we are treated to the Broken Family Band, for those who know them, you will be aware of how good they are. Although they hail from southern England, they may as well be from Kansas; the sound is pure Americana and owes more to Willie Nelson than to Nick Drake. Their booze soaked southern anthems belie their English origins, and here we are offered two songs that fit in to their usual sound perfectly.

The A-side is I am reliably informed, only available on this disk, and for that alone it is well worth ordering yourself a copy, and indeed a subscription to the mail order series. ‘Poor Little Thing’ is one of the sweetest songs I have ever heard, very much in the country mold, but with its pop sensibilities worn firmly on its sleeve. In a world far saner than our own this would remain at the top of the charts for the better part of six months, and without doubt make the world a better place. But instead, people would rather listen to Blue. People, in my humble opinion, are idiots.

The B-side is once again quite a treat, a cover of ‘I Send My Love to You’ by the Palace Brothers, with much more of a hint at their English heritage. There are not a huge amount of bands who could tackle a Will Oldham track and come away sounding like the victor, but here it seems that this is The Broken Family Band have achieved such a feat.


Drew Millward

Lionshare - The City Will Go / Out In the Woods (Harvest Time Recordings)
If the 7” from The Broken Family Band wasn’t enough, yet another beautifully packaged treat arrives in the same month. I had previous experience and knowledge of the former band; both live and on record, Lionshare however have come as somewhat of a pleasant surprise. The second band to be released in this succession of 7” singles hail again from Cambridge, and again purveyors of a very American brand of music, although this time it is an altogether gloomier affair, but I guess that is pretty much inferred by the titles of the two tracks.

This offering from Lionshare is my first experience of the band, and I can only hope it will not be the last. From the first listen to this disk, as with the first 7”, it finishes and almost demands a repeat play. Admittedly this is not one to get the party started, far from it, but this is piece of unadulterated joy and doom in equal measures.

The are some pretty clear musical reference points that probably warrant a mention there are definite hints of Will Oldham, Jason Molina, Alistair Roberts… well you get the picture. It has to be said that although there are influences of all of these, Lionshare clearly have a sound of their own, and if you are interested in the more doom laden, twisted, American gothic music, you could go a lot further wrong than to get hold of this single which, once again, is genius.

Beg, steal or borrow to get your hands on this collection of records, I cannot express how good they are…in spite of trying. And no, I have not been bribed; I just feel the world would be a better place if more people owned these records.

Drew Millward 

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MJ Hibbett & the Validators – Shed Anthems (Artists Against Success/Sorted)
It takes a special band to sing a song about the FIFA Fair Play Trophy, and then make you think, ‘My God, Hibbett, I agree with everything you say!’ This is what happens a lot throughout ‘Shed Anthems’ – the latest in a long line of genial records from MJ Hibbett and his lovely Validators. I could tell you a story about the first time I saw this band in Leicester years ago and though that they were called MJ Hibbett & the Vibtrators, but I won’t because that would be plain daft. Instead, I’ll tell you about the euphoric rush of ‘Things’ll Be Different (When I’m in Charge), in which Hibbett says he’ll tax djs to the hilt once he runs the world. And that’s fine by me. But in an ep chock-a-block of ace moments, perhaps the best is the one that doesn’t make you laugh out loud. That being ‘Billy Jones is Dead’ – a sort of ‘Where are they now?’ of all your old school mates. And those who’ve reached thirty and haven’t wondered if your school years happened in a different lifetime are complete liars. Or teachers. Whatever, Shed Anthems is completely bloody brilliant.

Luke Drozd


Adem – These Are Your Friends (Domino)
This is quite a lovely little single. ‘These Are Your Friends’ is as brittle as the England lower order, but, eventually, blooms into a sort of lo-fi Polyphonic Spree jaunt, before retreating back into its shell. I’m a bit peeved that I gave Adem’s album away to the boy Millward to review now. I’m sure he can’t be trusted with such excellence.

Sam Metcalf

Automato - The Single (City Slang)
Whoa there! I’m pretty much out of my depth here. Hip-Hop? Now I am no sort of authority on this stuff, but I know what I like, and this has really scratched an itch. I’m not overly keen on the remixes that are on offer here, but the first track is bloody good, the sound of a great band playing hip-hop, rather than some studio wizardry gives it a real organic feel. I suppose it reminds me of Jurassic 5 in that respect, and I’m sure someone who knew what they were talking about could come up with countless other comparisons, but I can’t.

 If I said the Beastie Boys, I would probably end up sounding like someone’s dad, so I won’t bother.

Two thumbs up! (I’m not very cool, and this music makes me realize that.)

Drew Millward


Cathy Davey – Clean & Neat (Regal)
I’m certainly warming to Cathy Davey. Her album, reviewed last month, showed signs of greatness, and this new single is most enjoyable. It’s a choppy little number, with Davey’s quite saucy voice going a bit mental at the end as she ‘do-do’s her way through the closing seconds. Imagine a marching band quick stepping to Pavement. Then go and buy this single.

Sam Metcalf

Hiding Place – At One Time or Another ep (RCA)
It was all going far too well, wasn’t it? Three really good singles listened to, and then ruddy Hiding Place come and spoil it all with their histrionic student metal. Hiding Place? Aye, they better find a good one when I set my Mam on them….

Sam Metcalf

Cape - 100% Rockstar (There Is An Alternative Records)
Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if welsh rocker Kelly Jones of Stereophonics fame were to start a band blending together Guns and Roses, Therapy?, Terrorvision, Led Zeppelin……oh and The Stereophonics?

Yes, I hear you say? Then why not pick up a copy of the new Cape EP 100% Rockstar, which features many elements of the afore mentioned bands, and more!!!

Oh it’s not quite that bad…

Although its not my cup of tea, this is by no means bad (it just seems worse after listening to the Jamie Says single for the 8th time; go buy it!, the production and songwriting are of a high enough standard that Cape could actually reach an audience bands like this so richly deserve. But in all seriousness, if you do like that bands that are mentioned (Terrorvision…anyone? Middleman?...somebody?) do check out Cape.

If you do read this then I apologies unreservedly for the sarcastic introduction.

Drew Millward

Lowfive – Too Much of Nothing (Music for Nations)
Lowfive make Hiding Place sound like The Smiths. Lowfive’s singer sings the word ‘society’ as ‘sooocyerrtaaayyy’. At this point the cd comes out of the player. Keep calm…deep breaths…

Sam Metcalf

Jamie Says - S/T EP (Sorted)
Oooh! It’s a good month. And this little belter should kick us of in fine style. I know nothing of these fellows what so ever, maybe others should learn from this approach. Maybe they (he?) is (are?) from Leicester? Who knows. And indeed who fucking cares this is great! Proper ramshackle bedroom pop/punk, this is the sound of youth, and reckless abandon, and as such will serve as a reminder of better times for anyone who has ever been youthful, reckless and abandoned.

I am almost speechless and verging on tearful. This plain and simply is one of the most joyous sounds I have heard in a long time.

And I get accused of being too negative!? 

Imagine if you will…..Being sixteen again, but without all the shit that comes along with that situation.

Drew Millward

Isobel Campbell – Time is Just the Same (Snowstorm)
After all that rhubarb, this is such a gentle release. Isobel Campbell, possibly the most lovely women in pop, is singing sweet lullabies to me and I like it very much. Over the course of this five track ep, Campbell takes in all manner of the pop vernacular, from the gentle rush of ‘Time is Just the Same’, which is perhaps the summermost song I’ve yet to hear. The sweetest single of the month by far.

Sam Metcalf

Morrissey – Irish Blood, English Heart (Attack)
The fact that this song has been around for the best part of two years should not diminish from its general ace-ness. ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’ really is one of those Morrissey songs that sends shivers down your spine, or at least it should, with the lyrics as combative as ever and backed up by a wall of guitars that sound like they’re gonna come and chase after you. His best single for yonks…and not even a patch on some of the stuff on the new album. Happy days are here again.

Sam Metcalf

M83 - America EP (Labels)
America is the brand new Ep from those French electro chaps M83. It's a four track offering weighing in at 30 minutes of technological wonder. The proceedings begin with 'America', an edited version of a track from last year's 'Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghost' and it is here that the standards are set. Is it good? No. It's GREAT and speeds by in an electronic blur. Their are obvious comparisons to be made with My Bloody Valentine and many of todays electronica acts, but for me they share equal amounts in common with the likes Calexico or Constellation's Polmo Polpo. Like these two bands M83's real strong point is their ability to make almost cinematic soundscapes, all be it with these boys these are landscapes that have been animated using a Commodore 64. They do this to full effect on the closing track 'Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts' (not featured on last years album of the same name) a seventeen minute epic.

M83's music is like an eighties sci-fi, set in the present, with no visuals. As their web address says, 'i love M83'.

Luke Drozd

Son of the Mourning- ‘Forest Bank’ EP
The Punk and Hardcore scene has long been saturated with large amounts of lack lustre and uninspiring outfits and a mere smattering of extremely talented ones. From the sounds of this, the Manchester based group’s second release, Son of the Mourning look to be the latter.

This is hardcore played with passion and finesse. Guitars wail and careen around one another before pulling back in to a more serene sound and mood. Vocal duties are split allowing for an intense scream to be perfectly complimented by a more gentle addition when it is required. Generally though this is music that stamps along at an alarming rate with general disregard for anything in its way.

The true ability of the band to put together a well crafted song is demonstrated by the third track here ‘To Accept on Face Value’ a rip roaring sucker punch of a track and displays this bands ability to echo work of such bands as Beecher or Botch without sounding like just a derivative version of them.

This is not to say this is flawless. The band do suffer weaker moments where a song maybe doesn’t quite marry together as well as you may hope but these are few compared to where they get it right. This is no holds barred music for anyone out there who likes heavy music played as it should be, uncompromising, fast and loud.

Luke Drozd

Bonemachine - ‘Another Day Over’ (Hackpen)
Bonemachine’s debut single sports a sound that’s very fashionable at the moment. Its eighties synth pop but dirtied up ala The Faint, and by the sounds of this release they’re a band that likes to brood.

The title track ‘Another Day Over’ is built around a repetitive, bass driven backing that swells and recedes while a crooning vocal line drifts over the top.

The second ‘This Ocean’s Angry’ does little to build on this and sadly Simon Brookes semi-wail does begin to become reminiscent of the vocalist from Muse.

‘What Happens Now’ is true b-side material that holds very little interest for me and the same is true with the final offering, the piano remix of the title track.

The production on this is of a very high standard though, complementing the music perfectly and when they get it right they can sound sleazy and dark and make for a compelling listen .I have know doubt that this release will be well received by a portion of the public but sadly I’m am not one of them. This has a tendency to veer towards indie warbling rather than the nasty little piece of work it could and should have been.

Luke Drozd