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  singles - feb 2005

Now It’s Overhead – Wait In Line (Saddle Creek)
A darkly atmospheric little single, that maybe brings to mind Echo & the Bunnymen in parts, but never really contains enough hooks to lift it above the rabble. The vocals hint at something greater than the music delivers, and that’s a little disappointing from a label that usually has something interesting up its sleeve. Whilst ‘Wait In Line’ is by no means offensive, it is hardly groundbreaking or even anywhere near exciting. And so to bed.

Sam Metcalf


 

Ben Gibbard and Andrew Kenny – Home EP Vol.V (Morr Music)
For those unfamiliar with the Home series the principle is this, to take two artists and get them to produce three new songs and a cover of the other artists whose appearing on the EP. Up on volume V is Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie/Postal Service fame and American Analog Set’s Andrew Kenny. The result is melancholy and warm in equal dosage and is proof of what a singer songwriter can really achieve. That’s right they don’t have to sound like the pap currently being pedalled by Damien Rice et al. Oh no, they can actually produce heartfelt songs that don’t make you want to reach for either a sick bag or an automatic weapon.

While Gibbard’s performance here is undoubtably the stronger of the two present, both are solid additions to two impeccable songwriters catalogues.

Luke Drozd


 

Crash Convention – The Watch Committee (Irresponsible Recordings)
‘The Watch Committee’ is very ‘now’. All tense, wiry guitars and glam harmonies mixed with punky vocals (albeit sung in a vocal that veers between Joe Strummer and Axl Rose at times). I guess this sort of thing goes down well in what passes for indie discos these days, what with its wig-out chorus and rabble rousing chant. Me? I prefer the back to basics punk skiffle of ‘Thick as Thieves’ if you must know. Get those quiffs in order, lads, and I may be back.

Sam Metcalf


 

The Kills – The Good Ones (Domino)
Coo…this is most sexy. Take the throbbing bassline from Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and scuzz it up a bit, then put a dirty, breathy female vocals over the lot, and, by crikey, you’ve got some top class snogging music. Note. Never go past first base when listening to any tasty recommendation. It will lead to tears before bedtime. ‘The Good Ones’ is most enjoyable, but you’ll need a cigarette and a shower after listening to it.

Sam Metcalf


Exit 52 - Dandelion e.p. (Pronoia)
If Quentin Tarantino is looking for a soundtrack to a new film then he need look no further. 'Dandelion' is awash with the sort of sounds and effects that would spill out of the ultra violent one's films with ease. Earthy vocals, a weird space synth, some Hammond organ and an outro with a super overblown proper organ synth - a big theatrical sound.

'Nineteen Eighty Three' sounds a bit Echo and the Bunnymen meets Madrugada while 'Meow' is aptly named with a wailing vocal over electro Spanish guitar. All of which makes final track 'Twelve bar' a bit of a surprise in that it is as near to a Blur track as you could get without being Blur - vocals, piano, guitars the lot. How odd.

Shane Blanchard


Ambulance Ltd – Stay Where You Are (TVT Recordings)
‘Stay Where You Are’ is a delicate little fella. Like a little kitten you daren’t pick up for fear of squashing it’s insides…ermm..yes. And, what’s more, it’s just as cute, even if a little more world weary. Ambulance Ltd, however, seem to have more in common with The Concretes than Belle and Sebastian or any of the tweesters on the scene at the moment. And for three or so minutes, that’ sort of a relief.

Sam Metcalf


Kaiser Chiefs – Oh My God (b-unique)
Featuring Jennifer Aniston on vocals. Not really. Leeds Kaiser Chiefs look set to leave the dim lights of Leeds for the slightly brighter lights on das kapital with ‘Oh My God’, which may well secure them a Big Proper Chart Hit. The song starts like ‘Loose Fit’ by Happy Mondays, but, thankfully doesn’t carry on and goes on to blossom into a louder version of an XTC song. It’s still quite good fun to be honest. I await for them to let me down badly with bad breath

Shane Blanchard


Mando Diao – ‘You Can’t Steal My Love’ (Majesty)
I’ve had a couple of Mando Diao releases pass through my hands before this one and I’ve generally found them to be pretty good. They know exactly what they want to be and where they want to go and though you sort of want to hate them you find them to be somewhat addictive. Sadly this isn’t true of the latest single ‘You Can’t Steal my Love’. Where before they screeched along bringing forth comparisons to the Stones or Creedence, they end up here sounding more like a mildly irritated lightning Seeds. It comes a goes it with only the minimal amount of bother of opinion.

I’m in two minds about how I feel about Mando Diao and I think their debut album ‘Hurricane Bar’ will be in my mind the deciding factor. Will their confidence and egos mean we have a confrontational rock gem or will it have meant the creation of another group of self-important bastards? Time will tell.

Luke Drozd


 

Clayhill – Moon I Hide (Eat Sleep Records)
A squelchy, smoochy big ballad type thing, that only leads me to the inevitable word. That being: ‘Keane’. If that turns you on, fill yer boots. Then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, Clayhill go and do an outrageously bad version of ‘Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’, and strip away any of the beauty of the original. It sounds like it’s being sun and played by a bloke in the corner of a trendy bar in London. The fuckers.

Sam Metcalf


Maximo Park – Apply Some Pressure (Warp)
Quirky pop/rock in a messy kind of way, that will no doubt make some 18 year old male university undergraduate jizz his pants, but I can’t say it catches my attention. It’s by no means the worst single I’ve ever heard, but it doesn’t win any brownie points for the revelations it uncovers. Yawn.

Sam Metcalf


Engineers - Forgiveness (Echo)
Commanding and earnest early days Tim Burgess mingled with Todd Rundgren type vocals produced by singer/guitarist Simon Phipps; emphatically elevate this foray into the human conscience and repentance to emotive levels. This quartet unifies Manchester and London, almost with the same level of success that a merger between Manchester United and Chelsea would produce. Ethereal instrumentals seep into your mind and sooth your soul, with the same calming influence that ocean noises are renowned for.  

Two moving and soothing b-sides help to make up over ten minutes of floating escapism, as you become entangled in the web of rhythmic subtlety woven by this authentic indie outfit. ‘Stake To Glory’ stands out for the deft and subtle touch of percussionist Sweeney, providing a nifty reminder to kids out there that not all drumming is about bare chested tattoo bearers thumping ferociously, as though they were old housewives beating a dusty carpet. For some, it is an art form.
www.engineersweb.net

Dave Adair


Charlotte Hatherley – Bastardo (Double Dragon)
A great name for a single, and quite a good single, too. Remember ‘Lovelife’-era Lush? Well, that’s what ‘Bastardo’ reminds me of. The lyrics tell the tale of a no good dirty rotten man who leaves poor Charlotte before she’s woken up in the morning (the fool!), and it rhymes ‘lothario’ with ‘bastardo! Hurrah! I like Charlotte Hatherley. Partly for the fact that she doesn’t seem to want to be in Ash much, and partly for the fact that she’s really quite good. As is ‘Bastardo’.

Sam Metcalf

Watch 'Bastardo' video here - 56k dialup / broadband


 

The Bilderberg Group – This City!
A delightfully housed demo cd, the initial thrill dies somewhat with the first listen to the music. The cumbersome ‘This City’ is a pretty awful stab at what I shall call ‘indie jazz’. And I hate anything to do with jazz. I can’t help thinking that The Bilderberg Group have got the track listing wrong. As much I as admire the sentiments of ‘This City!’ – which basically mourns the lack of original town planning, I’m more partial to ‘Live Music’, and especially ‘Working Weak’, both of which have something of The Fall about them. That’s where the answer lies, The Bilderberg Group! Stop listening to Jamie Callum!
 

Sam Metcalf


The Sound Explosion - Street Freak/Night Train to Morning (Captains of Industry)
I love Ben Myers' press releases for Captains of Industry - they deserve reviews in their own right. This is no exception and The Sound Explosion are described as ' a windmilling, strobe lit cacophony of hair and limbs' - Ben, I'm moving over, you should be writing these reviews.

All of which takes some following, but these Geordies are good. Old school rock and roll performed with the kind of verve only 19 year olds could muster. This type of thing doesn't really ring my ding-a-ling to be honest but if you go clubbing dressed in a skinny tie then you'll love this.

Shane Blanchard


 

The Ga Gas – Sex (Sanctuary)
Well, it doesn’t come much more dirty than this. I feel like I’ve just watched my first porn film whilst babysitting at my Uncle Tony’s again after listening to ‘Sex’. The Ga Gas are clearly demons in the sack and this filthy rock epic is designed to get the knickers hitting the deck. I’m off to wash my hands.

Sam Metcalf


The Jim Muir Slideshow – Popular Art/As Equations (Bowmans Capsule)
In comparison Jim Muir is a lovely fluffy kitten, and this cuddly ep only shows why. Amid a gargle of synthesisers, Muir seems to be cut from the same cloth as Tim Closs and Tears In X-Ray Eyes. If anything, Muir is more obtuse and shy. This is particularly shown on the charmingly coy – and wonderfully titled – ‘I Don’t Want To Be a Man’ which gives you some of the same shivers that much of the new Milky Wimpshake album does – but in a much different way, of course! As shy as sheep. But all the better for it.

Sam Metcalf


 

Paddy Casey – Saints and Sinners (Sony)
If this could get any more Irish it’d pour you a pint of Guinness and sing ‘Mandinka’ by Sinead O’ Connor. I find this a little dull, to be honest. I mean, it’s all very pleasant and everything, but it’s the sort of thing you’d hear on Jools Holland. And therefore it must be stamped on immediately!!! Soz, like.

Sam Metcalf


Embrace – Looking As You Are (Indiependiente)
Nothing changes much round these parts. In Embrace’s mind it’s early 1995 again, and Oasis have just released ‘Live Forever’. ‘Looking As You Are’ features – and get this – an orchestra section! Well, fuck me backwards! Here comes the revolution, folks, and Embrace are gonna lead us to a new, anthemic future.

Not really.

Sam Metcalf


We Will Be Pilots - We Are Not the Doctors / Pretend it Doesn't Hurt (Captains of Industry)
Bugger me, this is good. One of those high octane, breakneck 90 second rides through thrashed out guitars and distorted vocals that leave you breathless. Think Punish the Atom meets Idlewild in a dark alley. The trick is it's all done within some cheeky 3 minute pop song format with great underlying tunes. I'm looking forward to seeing them play. I'm also quite scared.

Shane Blanchard


 

The Morrisons – The Psycho Surfin Sampler
The Morrisons are proper jangle pop veterans – as in they were there and they DID IT! Oh yeah. And it shows. The four tracks here are very much late C86 period excellent. ‘Southband Train’ rocks in a gentle way and does bring to mind the fact that no-one – AT ALL is making this kind of music at the moment. And that’s a great shame.

‘This Life’ is full of holes and sounds like it was recorded in a wheelie bin. Or maybe it’s just because I’ve been listening to the bloated shite that Embrace turn out. ‘Arrow In Your Heart’ sound suspiciously like The Liberty Ship – and that’s no bad thing – whilst closing track, ‘Hear She’s Begun’ ends this ace cd in a quiet, but very lovely way. They really don’t make them like this any more. Unfortunately.

Sam Metcalf


 

Sandhill - Looking Through Your Window (Self Released)
Bouncy and clattering gyration friendly disco indie/pop and droplet of skiffle, proffered by this Geordie quintet is kicked into the end zone by the endearing James Skelly style vocals of Johnny Smith to produce a vibrant feel to the title track.  Drummer Paul Slinn, nephew of an Ian Drury and the Blockhead’s member utilizes his rhythm stick to positive effect, as he lifts the slower and spindling ‘Sheila’s Gone’. 

This thrilling quintet is making noises and they are being heard by the right people, as is evidenced by an appearance on Xfm’s Exposure. Tightness and composure are apparent in this brief gaze over the Sandhill. It just remains to be seen if they can maintain this over the years and if they are prepared to go down the slowly, slowly route to recognition, as the likes of Keane and REM have had to do. 

www.sandhillmusic.co.uk

Dave Adair