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  singles - nov 2004

The Morningsides - Summer Song / A Molehill Is a Mound (RIYL Records)
As with a lot of my reviews, this one has been has been a while in coming, so I suppose and apology is a pretty good way to start…. Sorry.

Although it has been a while, I’m pretty sure that the nights had been closing in for some time when this reached me. Today it is snowing. I make this point because it somehow feels slightly wrong, yet so right that I should be listening to this record in these weather conditions….. ‘A long island iced tea please barman, and while you’re at it pop one of those umbrellas in it!’

If ever someone had distilled the essence of summer and pressed it on to a slab of vinyl, this is it. Top class summer pop, for these cold winter nights, as I’m typing I’m moving ever closer to the radiator to give me a seasonal jump…..mmmmmm.

There are elements of many bands within the sound, but to list them would be boring and time consuming, I’m off for a dip in the neighbour’s pool instead.

Drew Millward


The Violets / The Swear - Filthy Little Angels Singles Club #2 (Filthy Little Angels)
In the words of the great man himself, ‘I think I’m playing that at the wrong speed’…..

Ah, that’s better; oh, hang on, no it isn’t.

The Violets head up this little EP brought to us by FLA, and frankly after a minute of this I’m just hoping The Swear are a damn sight better. Sorry, maybe I’m being overly critical, and anyone with a love of female fronted punk with, ooh, lets say a 78/79 vintage, this may very well scratch your itch; for me though, it just aggravated the situation.

‘Feast on you’ has the pretence of being a frantic, angular brute, but is let down by sloppy playing, which leaves it sounding like a rather confused bitch of a song. ‘Come Home’ (I was praying for a James cover, but t’was not to be) on the other hand is shit.

The Swear …. Oh hang on, there is no real point in repeating my self, they are exactly the same as The Violets.

It is however pressed on a very nice colour of vinyl. I thank god for small mercies….

Drew Millward


The Wowz - Nicotine Bubblegum (Luv-a-Lot Records)
Maybe the packaging didn’t endear this CD to me (poor handwriting photocopied on pink paper… hmm?) but once inside that is largely irrelevant. What is served up here is a collection of sterling lo-fi pop nuggets, and frankly that is all there is to it. If you mind will allow it please try to imagine a hybrid of The Beatles, The Velvet Underground and Pavement and you could be getting close to what you will find here.

Good stuff, if you ask me…

Drew Millward


Undercut - Soul Mother Food (Distiller Records)
I once had an undercut, a fucking car crash of a hair cut. In my humble opinion, it is actually worse than the traditional mullet, not the trendy £70 mullet’s, I’m talking £3 down the barbers on a Saturday morning, possibly having you hair cut by a man called Derek, with a love for Embassy #1. Having said all that, my hair at that point in my life, was better than this band.

The title should have been a red flag to be honest but I braved it; oh, how I wish I hadn’t bothered. I feel ill.

Drew Millward


Soiled – Mindnumb (Elk Lodge)
Any CD with a song title like “Bad Vowel Movement at WP Primary” is worth further investigation and this 2nd EP from Teeside based Marcus H, aka Soiled (great name also), more than lived up to my expectations.

 Soiled combines a punk background with a bedroom DIY aesthetic, to create a beguiling collage of low-fi beatscapes and loops, which despite the rough edges manage to draw the listener in with their otherworldly sounds which lie somewhere between Autechre’s hectic beats and pops, and the God Machine’s low-fi ambient rock.

 The frenzied scuzzy beats and looped distortion of the title track is offset by the warm ambience of the sampled guitar in “Bingo Beauty”. There is a satisfying depth and variety to the 7 tracks here, which semm to subtly ebb and flow and morph together. The result is short at just over 16 minutes, but although some tracks are little more than sketchy ideas, the whole sounds cohesive and strangely hypnotic.

Leighton Cooksey


McQueen – Like I Care / You leave me dead (Furry Tongue)
Hooray! At last an all girl group that are not a ghastly affront to my hearing, McQueen could teach the Avrils of this world a lesson or two in sassy pop/punk.

 Their debut single is packed to the gills with attitude and catchy, punchy riffs that get straight to the point. They have been described as a mix of the Distillers and Foo Fighters, which sums up their sound perfectly. Good stuff.

Leighton Cooksey


 

Feverdream – Freeze! ep (Coalition)
Apparently this three piece from Rotterdam only decided to learn to play music in 1999 and I for one reckon it’s a good thing they did. Freeze! Is made up of a number of five tracks recorded originally for release as singles and it shows in the quality that is on display here. 

The style is super-punchy – lots of full on guitar breaks and harmonics with catchy stop-start dynamics. They have also written the immortal lyrics ‘Shake Hands with my Johnson’ which I feel I am safe to assume does not refer to greeting a bottle of No More Tears baby shampoo. ‘More than a Theme’ is a true anthem – the screaming vocals of Rene and Saskia building perfectly with the menacing percussion. This just goes to prove you do not need a five piece band with piles of production if you have the tunes and attitude to deliver. Imagine a honed down Punish the Atom that will have you pogoing around your bedsit first thing in the morning and you will not be far wrong.

Shane Blanchard


The Four Marys – Sweet and Sour ep (self release)
The Four Marys are, sensibly enough, a four piece guitar band. They are not all called Mary but they are indeed all ladeez. And the third track of this ep title “Instrumental” is, you guessed it, an instrumental. This is what we want, music which does what it says on the tin! 

Semantics aside, this is also a rather good debut ep. Lovely scratchy guitar riffs which drive each track forward punctuated with anarchic vocals a little bit reminiscent of Sonic Youth or even early Pixies. Even the odd studio recorded handclap, ahhh. In fact I thought there was a definite retro vibe about the whole ep. Stand out tracks for me were definitely the title track “Sweet & Sour” but “Outside” might even have shaded it for me with its driving urgency and spiralling choruses. Top banana!

Shane Blanchard


 

New York – New York (demo)
This reviewing lark is getting easy – first the Four Marys and now New York who are from…you guessed it – New York! I guess they fall into that category of bands which don’t really fall into any category. Gifted musicians playing funked up bass riffs and popping choruses which the Bee Gees would be proud of combined with punk vocals, spartan guitars and even the odd bit of zany space synth. Hey, maybe it’s intelligent funk-punk and I’ve coined a whole new genre! I guess there is a bit of an influence from bands like The Rapture but New York are probably a little bit more out on the edge of that scene. Track 3, “No manners” sounds like it is definitely going to be an homage to The Doors then descends into more warbling space synth farce – go figure. Any band that uses cowbells and Moogs on the same track gets the thumbs up from me.

Shane Blanchard

Download 'Your Love' by New York

Freezerburn – Candela (demo)
There seems to be a slew of bands around at the moment who want to sound like Pixies, and Freezer burn are such a band. That’s not to say that they don’t do it very well indeed, mind. ‘Candela’ is a twisting little beast, that’s cold and brutal, yet somehow warm and fuzzy too. ‘Into Your Arms’ is a great Kim Deal song, even down to the vocals, and sounds a little like ‘Broken Face’. So, if you were a little disappointed by the recent lacklustre Pixies comeback shows, Freezerburn just might be the band to make you love that dirty grind again.

Sam Metcalf


 

Nikoli - Take It & Go/She Asks Me (East Park Records)
There is so much pop in the world; put whatever tag you want in front of it, Cheesy, Electro, Indie, we love it and it is a fundamental part of listening pleasure. 

Nikoli are not ashamed of their pop nature, and nor should they be. Producing good catchy tunes is no crime, and Take It & Go and She Asks Me have you singing along on the second play.  

Tiers of sound move in and out, bringing to the fore vocals, drums, guitars and piano. As She Asks Me commences a strong bass pulls out of the stereo and slaps on to the floor to hold you physically to the lulling guitar and vocal harmonies. The sound rolls around, as if you are being pushed amongst the band, journeying with them through the song. 

This single release is a pre-cursor to an album and the band intend to build on the sound that they are showcasing here. I would like to hear this developed in to an album, to hear the strong production values employed across a full hour and to see where they can take it. The quality of writing could create an album that takes pop away from the dire precedents set by bands like Keane and develops the band’s sound through the full duration of the album.   

Lucy Gibson
www.itchyfingers.org


The Boyfriends – No Tomorrow/ I Love You (Filty Little Angels)
Imagine a fiercely hetero bloke finding out the “bird” he’d been lusting after for the last 20 minutes was actually a trannie, and you’re some way into understanding my reaction to the Boyfriends. Seduced by the goth-pop vocals, and the lively, accomplished musicianship (I’m trying hard to avoid Smiths comparisons but it’s almost impossible), you start to find yourself taken in. It’s only when you finally get a grasp of the lyrics that you realise you’re either listening to a lecture from your folks, or worse, Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society, (No Tomorrow) - or just a terribly clichéd love song (I Love You). I’d like to think I’d missed the sarcasm indicated by the sardonic delivery, but repeated listening reveals nothing  more. “I Love You” fares better with its distorted feedback intro and relentless driving beat, but at the end of the day, it’s the tunes and vocal delivery that impress, not the message.

Matthew Latham


 

Bearsuit – Chargr (Fortuna Pop!)
The Bearsuit group swing into action again, with a delightful piece of spastic indie pop. ‘Chargr’ is a rowdy little beast in parts, but…then…wait! It slips into the twee-est chorus this side of Tullycraft! Hurray! Meanwhile, over on that side they call b, ‘What, You’ve Never Seen Snow Before?’ is even better, and features a TRUMPET! Yes! It’s a right little roister-doister, that’d have me dancing in a jiffy. DJ’s of the world, be warned.

Sam Metcalf

Download 'Chargr' by Bearsuit


 

The Concretes – Seems Fine (EMI)
My word, this is amazing. Not having been caught up in the crush to buy The Concretes’ album some months back, I’m somewhat of a late starter, but ‘Seems Fine’ is a great way to lose your Concretes virginity. And, with my cherry popped, I’ll tell you that both songs on this ace single are worth your wages/dole. ‘Seems Fine’ is a chirpy chirpy cheep cheep, but my favourite is the oh-so-sad ‘Just Local’, which features some nice mournal brass, and sad but sexy vocals, and reminds me of some of the stuff that was coming out at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s. Magical, my friends.

Sam Metcalf


Creel Commission – Nature's Game.
Like an old worn woolly cardie, this is not particularly fashionable, but sort of snug and cosy nonetheless. “Cigarette” is a quite gorgeous piano driven piece of melodic pop whimsy, while “Natures Game” blends some splendid bluesy guitar work with an atmospheric stormy soundtrack and some tip top quality production.

 The vocals sound a little thin and whiney on this one for my tastes, but that never stopped Starsailor from shifting crateloads, so what do I know.

Leighton Cooksey


 

Bastion 4 – The Tale of Gideon Strange (Marshco Independent)
With a name like that I was expecting some kind of far-right skinhead band. But, no. Bastion 4 peddle an agreeable line in leftfield indie rock. And they remind me somewhat of Young Knives, who put out one great mini-album a couple of years ago and then disappeared. One might imagine that Bastion 4 would be better live than on record. Don’t let that put you off buying this little treasure though, despite an awful guitar solo half way through ‘Escape the Rot’ – a tale of trying to escape smalltown life. Solidarity, comrades…..

Sam Metcalf


 

Hiding Place – Cruel Kindness (RCA)
Whereas Bastion 4 do the rock thing very agreeably indeed, Hiding Place make a terrible racket, and warble on about complete shit throughout their crappy three songs. Ooh…the scallywags, they’ve got a ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ version of this song, with SWEARING on the latter. Tsk.

Sam Metcalf


 

Do Me Bad Things – Time for Deliverance (Must Destroy/Atlantic)
Queen are alive and well, and now go under the name of Do Me Bad Things, who’s ‘Time for Deliverance’ really isn’t my cup of tea. However, should The Darkness tickle your ivories, then you’ll love this, what with its falsetto vocals and suchlike. It gives me a headache, to be honest….

Sam Metcalf


 

Bjork – Who Is It (One Little Indian)
If Bjork is to persist with this electronica rubbish then she can thank herself for once being in the godlike Sugarcubes, for she has fallen way down my love list since then. The grammatically challeneged 'Who is It’ once again has Bjork warbling across a load of bleeps and loops which make very little sense to these ears. I can forgive the woman who sang on ‘Birthday’ almost anything, but you’re testing my patience, dear…

Sam Metcalf


 

Goldie Lookin Chain – Your Mother’s Got a Penis (Atlantic)
Welsh comedy rap does not have the best heritage in musical history, but GLC – and I can’t type that without thinking of Ken Livingstone – are here to change this. ‘Penis’, as I shall call this single because I’m like that, is rather funny and these boys seem very keen on the ‘p’ word, and you have to admire that. If I was 14, I’d think that GLC were the best band in the world and would probably write their name on my pencil case, because when I was 14 all I had to rely on was Morris Minor and the Majors who were, sadly, shit. GLC are not.

Sam Metcalf


 

Ash – Renegade Cavalcade (Infectious)
Ash must be bored if they’re releasing this as a single. Do they want to spend the next month miming to this on telly? I don’t want to spend the next month, or even minute, listening to it. Dull as a Pot Noodle.

Sam Metcalf


 

Brakes – Pick up the Phone (Tugboat)
‘Pick up the Phone’ starts off a some speed, and makes me wonder whether I’ll last the whole song. It doesn’t matter because it only lasts 30 seconds. ‘I Can’t Stand to Stand Beside You’ is ACE and ends up sounding like a really great Prolapse song, and so I love it. Brakes, though, are clearly quite mad, but this is something I expect of my pop stars.

Sam Metcalf


 

Ella Guru – Park Lake Speakers (Banana Recordings)
I’ve really grown to like this band after dismissing them as being a bit shit a few months ago. ‘Park Lake Speakers’ is beautiful; a whispered folk/country song, which is just perfect for a winter’s night snuggled up with a bottle of cheap wine. Not that I expect any of tasty’s readers to buy cheap wine, I know you’re all booze connoisseurs, least you better be….

Sam Metcalf


 

Graham Coxon – Freakin’ Out (Transcopic)
In which Coxon adopts a ridiculous mockney accent once again, which threatens to ruin an otherwise enjoyable pop punk little song. I particularly like the bit where his voice echoes in the chorus. It reminds me of ‘Blockbuster’ by The Sweet, and that’s always a good thing, right?

Sam Metcalf


The Hot Puppies – Green Eyeliner (Purr)
Apart from having a great name, The Hot Puppies come across like a cooler Sleeper, and maybe even a better Blondie. ‘Green Eyeliner’ is catchy in the extreme and features an icy cool vocal that is scary and endearing at the same time. The rest of the ep is a bit so-so, sadly, and at times The Hot Puppies can come across like a nasty sixth form band. But, with my nice head on, I’d listen to this again and again. Good for me.


 

Vatican DC – Say Nothing at All (Red Flag)
I think this is what passes for emo these days. You know those hordes of kids with dyed black hair who look really miserable whilst trooping round your home town? Well, they’d love Vatican DC. ‘Say Nothing at All’ drips of angst, and isn’t a bad little mover in its own way. But I don’t think I could get away with dying what little hair I have left these days, and so am left to pass a promising start by Vatican DC over to a younger generation. Life is hard.

Sam Metcalf


  The Long Blondes – New Idols/Long Blonde (Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)
Pink vinyl, a photo of the band members outside Roxy Disco (Sheffield?) and an exclusive collectors card featuring ‘Emma’ from The Long Blondes. Presumably you would have to buy 5 copies of the single, to collect all 5 members of the band? It’s very ‘PINK’ and sugary. The inlay bits n’ pieces make you think you have missed out on some kooky bygone era.

‘Attention, fetishists of glamour, lust and vinyl!’

Anyway, if I was at Roxy Disco then I’m sure I would have a dance along to this A side. It’s very much American swing rock, of the ilk that is currently everywhere - echoes of 60’s rock n’ roll, but here with female vocals. The B-side, ‘long blonde’ is a basic lively drumbeat accompanied with enthusiastic guitar chords. Not that dissimilar from The 5,6,7,8’s in style.

If you’re looking for something different, meaningful or a bit edgy then this would not satisfy your appetite. Nonetheless, it’s catchy, and easy to listen to.

Rachel Campey


 

Letetsuo – I Understand If You Speak Slowly (Mummy Where’s the Milkman)
I sort of like this, not especially for the music, but for the fact that it’s a proper underground record that lets my musical snobbery coming rushing to the top. ‘I Understand…’ is almost sinister, and tense enough alright. ‘Leaping Cod Blues’ rocks out a bit more, like The Cramps playing The Cure’s ’10:15 Saturday Night’. All in all, there’s much weirdness to be enjoyed here. And it’s not often you can say that any more…

Sam Metcalf


 

Havana Guns – She Always Goes Down (Cigarette Music)
Well, what were you expecting? Not this, that’s for sure. This a most enjoyable ep. Now that Chrissie Hynde has taken to getting on stage with Rod Stewart, there’s a real need for a band like Havana Guns, despite their terrible name. Ignore the Blondie comparisons, Havana Guns are far better than that. ‘Sister Brother’ is particularly triumphant and ends in wave of chiming guitars and squeaking organ (steady!). Yes. Well, I expecting a horrible metal band. What a lovely surprise.

Sam Metcalf


 

Pale Man Made – Show of Hands (Pinch)
Another pleasant surprise. In hail of monotonous guitars and squelchy keyboards come Pale Man Hand, and they remind me muchly of Saloon, or Fonda 500 or even Stereolab at their best. But with EDGE. I love the male/female spoken vocals, but then I always have done. ‘Winning Streak’ starts off with a sample, but don’t let that put you off, because it then goes on to become a great Prolapse track.

Y’know, I think I love this band very much.

Sam Metcalf


 

The Conway Story   - Even When The Wind Blows (Kooba Cuts)
A four piece from London, this is the debut single from The Conway Story.  A complete sound and without doubt well produced this offering simply misses the mark some what.  Despite a memorable tune, one dares to suggest this is perhaps due to the tracks repetitive vocals rather than their uniqueness. Unfortunately the b-side really just leaves an impression of a painful wallowing in unnecessary melancholy.  

“You don’t need a river down your back, you don’t need a man that can’t see that, you don’t need a perfect love affair, but you might need me there”   
……..….. mmm perhaps not boys.

Mel Hedley


 

The Hazey Janes – The Hazey Janes (Measured)
I suppose this is more of a mini-album, but never mind. Would it be a slight on this band to say that they make nice, but not spectacular music? I suppose it would, but I’m afraid that’s the case. The guitars jangle, the guitars GROWL! But oh so nicely. Then, I’m afraid we descend into country music hell. I imagine this band to be social workers. May I go to hell for saying that.

Sam Metcalf


 

Rolling Dog  - And The Villagers Did Rejoice (self release)
A very lively and catchy opening tune to this impressive debut EP from a band not quite fully in adulthood, it is unsurprising they have had a successful string of sold out gigs with their bouncy drumbeats laid against some almost at times brit-pop-esque lyrics. Followed by the equally as sound No Reason Why and Come On Now, the influence of the mid-nineties indie revival is clear, but not disenchanting. Take my heart Away is a particular little gem with a hint of good old Rock n roll, making this EP a good starting point for the 5 piece. 

For a self produced EP, this is a collection of tracks oozing with confidence. I challenge you to not find at least a small toe tapping..…and the teenage villagers did rejoice.

Mel Hedley


 

The Black Keys – Get On Your Life (Vertigo)
‘Kinell! This rocks HARD. And then! What’s that!? Beach Boys vocals. Well, for a bit anyway! This is sort of entertaining, in way that you don’t know where it’s gonna punch you next. Hang on, this bit sounds like Def Leppard. Let’s hear it for one-armed drumming pop kids! I’m off to headbang!

Sam Metcalf


Hell is for Heroes – ‘kamichi’ (Captains of Industry)
I have been underwhelmed by previous offerings for Hell is for Heroes so I was intrigued but hardly excited to hear the new single. I was foolhardy to be dismissive so soon. From the off this single proves they are a band who have grown and developed to produce a sound that’s urgent, angry and melodic. ‘Kamichi’ is loud, tight and just a serious lot of fucking fun. I advise you get on to www.captainsof.com and download it now.

Luke Drozd