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  singles - sep 2004

Champion Kickboxer - Like Him & Her & Her & Me (Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)
‘Mariah Carey’s breasts hang in the mist like big balloons’

If there is a better way to kick off a song I am yet to hear it. To boot it’s a song about the supertram, fittingly entitled ‘Supertram’, cool huh?. This is the B-side and by no means an inferior song to the A-side of Champion Kickboxer’s debut 7”.

By no means as puzzling as their label mates Chuck, but still definitely coming from the left of the Indie field. I trust everyone is with me in hating the largely encompassing label of ‘Indie’? Good.

This is a good dose of old-school indie in the mould of a much happier Fall, or a much better Franz Ferdinand. Its spiky, it’s northern, it will make you dance and think. For a first attempt, this is really pulled off with some real verve and talent.

Great songs served on a lovely slab of white vinyl. Just a shame there isn’t more….

Drew Millward


 

Marlowe – Popularity Gel (Probe Plus)
Marlowe clearly think that they’re a little bit sexy, but no-one’s as sexy as Justine Frischmann singing ‘Line-up’, and this isn’t even a pale imitation. The odd inclusion of a trumpet half way through doesn’t help matters much. Imagine being trapped by a particularly tempting lady boy at ten to two in a crap night club, and
you’ll have the equivalent of this single.

Sam Metcalf


 

Chuck - No, Not Ah (Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)
The record is on some seriously heavyweight blue vinyl. That is nice. There is also some tasty surf guitar, and songs about getting wet and cold in the North Sea.

I’m really drawn in by this lot; I can’t really make head nor tail of them. It is some pretty bleak very English, northern surf music. …. I think.

Imagine if you will, if ‘Man or Astroman’ were from Burnley, and had developed a taste for some fine ale.

This is ace, and that is it……go before I change my mind.

Drew Millward


 

Radio 4 – ‘Party Crashers’ single (City Slang)
With ‘Party Crashers’ we finally have the new single from New York’s Dance Punks ‘Radio 4’. It’s been a long wait and an eventful time, for both New York and America as a whole, since 2001’s ‘Gotham!’ and both the hiatus and the events seem to have affected their new material for the better.

‘Party Crashers’ is a no nonsense mix of crunching guitars and rhythm laden disco that is instantly addictive. There is no denying that they doff their caps more than a little to the likes of Gang of Four but that’s no bad thing, not when it sounds as good as this.

The ‘Ashley Beadle’s NY Dark Vocal Mix’ of the title track has a long title to match what turns out to be an overly long remix.

The final track ‘Rise Up’ gets this release back on track with a song that if you don’t feel the need to whip on your dancing shoes and shake your fat ass, well, you’re just not human.

A taster of what to expect from the new Radio 4 album and I for one am more than a little excited.

Luke Drozd


 

Republic of Loose – Hold Up! (Big Cat)
The sort of ‘kooky’ shite that first year students at Nottingham Trent Uni would probably dance to the first few times they go to Rock City. This really is piss poor funk crap. It makes my blood boil, but at a very low temperature, I hope you understand.

Sam Metcalf


The Betes Noires - EP1/EP2 (Self Released)
They are from Belfast, you know. There are three of them. There name is French for ‘Pet Hate’ (Only I am yet to work out how to use accents over ‘E’, I am after all a fucking idiot)…… I am going to stop being quite so literal for now. I was being that way to illustrate a point, I was doing a literal review of a literal band. Don’t for one minute think that that is a bad thing…. Oh no! What I mean is that The Betes Noires are a band that plays music that is beautiful in its simplicity. A tight three piece band playing really well crafted music, songs that rely on song writing and not the academics of music, they don’t hide behind a wall of sound to disguise their inabilities to write a great song.

Throughout the CD there are glimpses of many different sounds coming from the band but all unified by the fact that the strength of songwriting is as strong as any popular rock act I can think of that are bothering the charts these days. There are flashes of later day Idlewild, aspects of Queens of the Stoneage and Therapy? And to top it off a twist of U2, not U2 now, but back when they were actually a decent band who could knock out a tune or two. I suppose that is what sets The Betes Noires apart from most of the sack that we get sent each month; they actually have the songs.

Thanks, that’s cheered me up no end.

Drew Millward


 

Monkey – Spider in the Water (Sugar Low Records)
Aahh...this is much better. ‘Spider in the Water’ doesn’t try and be something it clearly cannot be, and just glides by, using tools such as the synthesised trumpet and a cracking jangling guitar. Think lazy summer days, getting ice cream all around your gob, and sitting outside a pub contracting a healthy dose of sunstroke. Meanwhile, ‘Brand New Blues’ is the sort of lo-fi electronic pop thing that the kidz are going fucking mental for these days, and so, to fit in, I’ll say it’s ace too.

Sam Metcalf


The Decider - Unshakeable 7” (Topplers)
Don’t fuck around with Joy Division. Is this some sort of bad joke? The Decider have taken the novel approach of not writing their own songs, but changing the words to ‘She’s Lost Control’…. And fucking it up, good and proper.

I thought that judging by the art work of the record we would have some acid house, but instead we have this sack of shit.

The other songs on offer here sound like the type of stuff Black Grape would have thrown away, let alone the Happy Mondays.

I don’t even know what this is….. Oh, hang on, yes I do…. Its pig shit.

Drew Millward


Ali MacQueen – Red Lights/Miss Whiskey
Ali MacQueen has attempted very different approaches to the two songs that make up this double A-side 7”, his debut I believe. Which is all very well and good, variety is, after all, the spice of life. However in this case it hasn’t quite worked out, being generous I could describe these songs as average. Being honest I will describe them simply as shit. The first song ‘Red Lights’ could only be described as bland anthemic indie. Can’t really say anything else about it. The second song is an attempt at alt-country, which is as dull as the first song. What really pushes this into being god-awful is the guitar histrionics towards the end of the track, tacked on unnecessarily it adds a naff eighties stadium rock vibe to the proceedings. Sorry I can’t comment any more on the music, writing this much about it has been a struggle. This is just boring as fuck. 

Michael Pearson


 

Loud Clappers – At the Smash Party EP (Right Right Records)
The Loud Clappers show us on ‘At the Smash Party’ that they are a band who knows just what it is you need to make a good Alt. Rock song.

The five songs present here are well-crafted, well performed and most importantly enjoyable. Echoing the quirky,  Indie Rock side of Clem Snide with a slight hint of Jeff Tweedy’s song writing from recent years thrown in, this is just a good solid Indie record and, believe you me, only the most stony faced of men will be able to resist singing along to the closing number ‘Engine Driver’.

Luke Drozd


Land Of Loops / Buckminster Fuzeboard - S/T Split EP (Unhip Records)
Well this is an interesting proposition, and if I’m honest I’m really at a loss as to what to make of it all. The two bands/individuals featured here are very much cut from the same cloth, and if I’m honest it is not a cloth that would be to everyone’s taste, certainly not denim that is for sure. Possibly olive tweed perhaps.

The songs on display here really aren’t songs at all, but rather sound collages, samples and beats interspersed and played out in a very relaxing and groove ridden way.

There are two songs from Land of Loops here, that both, to me anyway, seem really to grate, all pseudo-retro sounds from what sounds like a casiotone that my brother got for Christmas one year, only just when you come to terms with the fact that this isn’t going to be a wholly pleasurable experience some samples of Bollywood musicals kick in. And when I say kick, I mean it.

Buckminster Fuzeboard treads a very similar path to LoL, but seems to achieve the feat in a much more successful way. Although very much still in the electronic mould, gone are the cheesy Casio demos and in come some pretty mellow electronic beats and samples. This is quite nice stuff, and music I imagine you may well find being played over that part in ‘Home Front, In the Garden’ where they reveal what they have done. Mmmmmm, coffee table. There is a description I the press release that labels this ‘unhip-hop’ which I think fits the music perfectly.

I once lived with a boy called Jeremy, I imagine he would have loved this stuff, he wasn’t the coolest person I have ever met, hence the reason I like the description so much.

There is very obviously a market for this type of music, I just can’t quite work out where or indeed who it is. Hmmm. One I may well come back to.

Drew Millward


 

Three Man Amp – Harbour demo
Apart from having a terrible name, Three Man Amp make a really poor rock/metal racket. The vocals are wayyyyy too high up in the mix on this demo and that may be swaying my judgement slightly…but only slightly, for am I not known for my rockist ways. I’m sure there’s someone, somewhere who loves Three Man Amp. But I am not he. Soz.

Sam Metcalf


 

Ciccone – Look at You Now (Human Recordings)
After being hanging around the underground for what seems like an age, Ciccone finally come up with the goods. ‘Look at You Know’ is perfect bubblegum pop, much in the vein of Kenickie, or even, gulp…Sleeper’s finer moments. But don’t tell them I said that. What’s more, Ciccone’s singer has the most alluring voice of the month. Well done, whoever you are!

Sam Metcalf


 

Lucky Jim - All the Wires in the World (Happy Capitalist Recordings)
The world may have lost its head. Bush may well be re-elected to be US president. Plans may fall from the sky in Russia, but there is one thing we can all rely on, and that is the continuing quality of the output of Happy Capitalist. Just as I was thinking it had been a while since my last delivery from them, along comes the new EP from Lucky Jim, which unsurprisingly enough is ace.

There are four songs on offer, and from start to finish it is a real joy to listen to. What Luck Jim have produced her are four brilliantly lo-fi melancholic pop tunes, all of a quality that it makes me sad to think that a huge amount of people will never hear them. Luck Jim are what the world needs, I’m pretty sure that it would be a much better place if more people owned this record.

It’s just sweet….

Drew Millward


Jowe Head - Merman Blues (Topplers)
I saw this had come from the same label as The Decider, and rightly my heart sank.

Art School in-joke gone too far? Clueless ness? A rich benefactor? I really cannot and will not review this. I don’t have the time or inclination……

What I can tell you is that it is really poor, very poor indeed.

If you are looking for the worst label in existence may I recommend Topplers.

Drew Millward


 

The Departure – All Mapped Out (Parlophone)
The sound of ’82 is alive and well and The Departure have jumped someone else’s train. ‘All Mapped Out’ sounds like Franz Ferdinand playing a Wire song, and, whilst this might have sounded like the revolution was just around the corner 18 months ago, now it sounds a little desperate. A lot more interesting than many of the other singles this month, but that’s really not saying something.

Sam Metcalf


 

Razorlight – Vice (Vertigo)
If Razorlight are anything more than the Boomtown Rats in disguise then you can spank me with a wet haddock, because I can’t hear it. ‘Vice’ is yet another deadly dull rock ‘n roll song. But that’s why their fans think they’re the best thing since Whiskas foil sealed pouches I suppose. I’m afraid some of us are more sophisticated than that. How superior, mother.

Sam Metcalf


 

Death Cab for Cutie – The Sound of Settling (Fierce Panda)
At last! Some pop music. This is one of the boppermost tracks from ‘Transatlanticism’, ‘Settling’ stays around just long enough for it to worm its way into your heart. What’s more it has lots of ‘ba-bas’ in it, and the way to a man’s heart is through his ba-bas. And I don’t mean sheep. Let’s hear it for the ‘Cutie!

Sam Metcalf


 

O Fracas - Demo
Whoa there! This is great. Real spazzy guitar and ridiculous drumming, and an almost vaudevillian vocal. This is pretty special. This is not the first time I have been baffled with this bunch of reviews, but this is a real turn up for the books.

There five songs on offer all of a quality that far exceeds the confines of a self released demo. The quality of the recording is far superior to many demos I get to hear, which is a big plus point, but obviously that is nothing without the song writing to back it up. Which incidentally O Fracas have in spades.

They seem like a band that have either honed down their sound from years of hard work or determination, or are still learning, and really don’t know any better. Their sound is one that is random and flighty, taking in some of the highly technical guitar sounds of some of the Chicago bands like Don Caballero, but then turning to produce something that is in basic terms a traditional swing song. It’s this fine line of youthful exuberance and intense technical proficiency that makes O Fracas such a joy to hear.

See I’m not always negative.

Drew Millward


 

Of Montreal - I was a landscape in your dream / Where Eagles Dare (Harvest Time Recordings)
Well such is life that all good things must come to an end, and as such I have received the final instalment of the Harvest Time trilogy. But I suppose if you have to go, it is best to end on a high.

This third 7” in the series is again of a very high quality, as can be expected from the label, and Of Montreal. Anyone who is familiar with Of Montreal will know what is in store, the beeps and bops all put together nicely to create some lovely heart warming pop songs you would be proud to take home to your mum, and this case is no exception. ‘I Was  A Landscape In Your Dream’ is a really sweet pop record, samples and heartfelt lyrics build up to create a song which you feel you have been listening to since you were four, yet still seems strange. It is a thing of true beauty.

The B-side is a cover of The Misfits, although an unlikely cover it works like a dream, and is one that would happily sit in the middle of a damn good party mix….hmmm

I would like to thank all the bands and Harvest Time Recordings for releasing such a superb collection of records, and making my life a little bit easier.

Drew Millward


 

Geezers of Nazareth – Gold Rush (Bored)
That really is an appalling name, isn’t it? Luckily, GON do not disappoint, as their music is only of the piss-poorest variety. To try to explain just how bland ‘Gold Rush’ is would send me to sleep, and probably you, too. And then we’ll never sleep tonight, and that just won’t do. Take this away from me.

Sam Metcalf


 

Luxembourg – What the Housewives Don’t Tell You (Dogbox)
At least Luxembourg have a little bit of class about their overblown indie bluster. They look a mean, moody bunch, and on the title track they come on a little bit like Morrissey fronting Muse. This, I realise, sounds terrible, but somehow it tickles my fancy no end. In the sense that I still quite like frontmen that take themselves far too seriously. ‘Close-Cropped’, meanwhile, features the dirtiest guitar line this side of Guns ‘N Roses, but is quite a perky pop song underneath it all. Back at the ranch, ‘Pin Me Down’ spoils things a little bit by slowing it all down far too much, but I’ll forgive them, because I like bands that never smile. Smiling’s for Bobby Crush, and don’t you forget it.

Sam Metcalf


 

We Start Fires – You Turn demo
WSF seem to have been around for some time now, knocking on the door of indie stardom, but ultimately not being able to push through the catflap. ‘Your Turn’ mixes the spunk of early Hole with the pop cuteness of Kenickie, which I realise is a bit of a lame comparison, but it’s the best I can do this early. Help We Start Fires escape the indie ghetto some time soon.

Sam Metcalf


 

Thee Unstrung – Contrary Mary (Poptones)
This starts off quite perkily, much like early Supergrass stuff, but then descends into a piss poor sub-Ramones dirge, which really isn’t what’d needed at the moment. If you’re gonna call a song something as trite as ‘Contrary Mary’ then, I’m afraid, the music has to be right up there…not right down there with the likes of Razorlight and other such shite. Must try harder.

Sam Metcalf


 

Special Needs – Francesca (Poptones)
Apart from having one of the best names ever, this band also make very fine, ninety degrees pop music. Like a spastic Showaddywaddy, ‘Francesca’ punches and scratches your face, before exploding into a big psychedelic squall, and then ending up as a very cute little love song. All in all, fucking fantastic.

Sam Metcalf


 

The Paddingtons – 21 (Poptones)
They have a very twee name, don’t they? But don’t let that fool you. Oh no, because they rock like a demonic rocky thing. And they’re from HULL! Try not to hold that against them whilst you’re listening to their punky rush, because, underneath all the immature shouting and the playing of guitars in a rebellious manner, there lies a very good pop band crying to get out. Put them in the airing cupboard over the winter and wake them up come March, and the Paddingtons might be very good indeed.

Sam Metcalf


 

Adem – Ringing in My Ear (Domino)
Magical stuff from Adem who is/are making some of best quite-core pop music at the moment. ‘Ringing in My Ear’ is nearly not there at all, but just manages to linger long enough to worm its way into your heart. ‘Friends, Beware’ is possibly even better, with it’s bluegrass guitar and lovely scratchy instrument thing. A lovely as home made chips and a game of Scrabble.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Clayhill – Northern Soul (Eat Sleep Records)
Very earnest MOR gubbins, to be honest. The only redeeming feature that this song has is that it’s something to do with Shane Meadows, and, as we all know, he’s a bit of alright. Apart from that, if I want to listen to this kind of rhubarb, I’ll go and firebomb the Running Horse in Nottingham. I mean, ‘go for a drink in’, obviously…

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Automation – Hate Sound
There is something of the night about Automation. Not that they look or sound like Michael Howard or anything, but in the way that they make the sort of music you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley, unless you had all your mates with you, and a party pack of Pringles. ‘Hate Sound’ is probably the sort of music Echo and the Bunnymen would be making now if Ian McCulloch wasn’t such a contrary old goat. ‘Hate Sound’ is spiky around the edges, sounds like melodic breaking glass and is as sinister as squirrels. And maybe that’s why I like it so much…

Sam Metcalf

 
 

The Pocket Gods – I love the world. Demo.
Easy to sum this up; Brit-pop. The first song ‘I love life’ has that Brit-pop trademark of meaningless anthemic choruses that are easy to shout/sing when drunk on premium lager. The other two songs go for a far more introspective vibe, but simply drone on unspectacularly. I had completely forgotten both songs within seconds of them finishing. I am honestly baffled as to why this has been made, as far as I was aware music has moved on from this sort of thing. To be fair this really isn’t my kettle of fish, and if you like bad mid-nineties style indie this should drive you into frenzy almost sexual in nature. At least it’s short, brevity is, as they say, a virtue.  

Michael Pearson.

 
 

Izabo – Morning Hero (BMG)
This year’s Space? Izabo certainly sound like our hopefully forgotten Scouse anti-heroes. ‘Morning Hero’ has a touch of the East about it, and I mean Skegness. This isn’t too clever at all. It’s ropey, tacky and is more than just slightly ladened down with the word ‘novelty’. My morning hero is Eamonn Holmes, I don’t know who Izabo are on about….

Sam Metcalf


 

The Projects – Ulysees in the Supermarket (Track and Field)
From the amazing ‘Let’s Get Static’ album, ‘Ulysees..’ is a creeping, twisting bugger that sounds a little like a souped-up Stereolab. When I first heard this, I thought the lyric was ‘New Look suits/In the supermarket’. Now, I thought, that’s novel, singing a song about a ladies’ discount garment outfitters. Silly me. Fancy Prolapse singing the songs of The Prodigy. Listen to The Projects and dream. Outstanding.

Sam Metcalf