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  singles - april 2005

 

The Organ – Sinking Hearts (Sink & Stove)
My word, this is rather special. Devour The Organ now before they get eaten up by the hipsters, because they surely will. Each of the six tracks here exudes the kind of cool that is rare to find without the hype. Yet, hyped is the least that The Organ deserve.

An all-girl quintet from Vancouver, The Organ have made this ep in the old fashioned way. That being the fact that each track is a corker. They are slightly new wave, but please don’t let that put you off, because they write SONGS too, and make The Bravery look like the Teletubbies. Take a pinch of Joy Division, Slits, Smiths and 21st Century attitude and you’ve got a quite exciting band. My, I think I’ve just blown a gasket.

Sam Metcalf


The Grates - The Ouch. the Touch. (Captains of Industry)
Aaahh...what a lovely cutesey cover. Big shock then to hear the contents which is perhaps the most pared down post punk pop you might here this year. Production? Pah! that's for wimps. This sounds like it was recorded in my garage (though I doubt my dad would let these three Autralian oiks in there in the first place...)

But pick through the trebly drums and screechy vocals and there are some pretty nifty tracks here, if not easy enough listening for everyone. Thin I might struggle listening to an album but 10 minutes was not entirely unpleasant.

Shane Blanchard


 

Ninotchka – One Girl Rumba (Chinky Frog Music)
Sexy, cute and somewhat irresistible. But enough about me! Ho, ho, ho…..Ninotchka make the sort of sophisticated bubblegum pop as Death by Chocolate and are very, very good indeed. A duo from London and all over the place, this boy and girl have me smiling, dancing and generally falling over the place happy. They sound like St Etienne for the twee generation. Only more handsome. Embrace them!

Sam Metcalf


Soundstone - s/t - demo
A sprightly little demo from this Northern Ireland 5-piece. Tidy guitar riffs reminiscent of tasty March favourites 'Anithero' with lively vocals and a few quirky time changes to keep you on your toes. Not exactly ground breaking stuff at the moment, seeming to draw more on 70's rock more than anything more contemporary. That said, 'Jetlag' had more than an inkling of The Cult with more Billy Duffyisms in the guitar parts than you could throw a pair of leather pants at.

Shane Blanchard


 

Dirtblonde - The Hangmen (4-track Demo)

This really is corking. Submerged, but not fatally so, under an endearingly shabby production, the four songs featured on this sterling EP exude a gawky yet insouciant menace, each one a swingeing blast of machine-driven, snot-nosed, fuzzed-up gothabilly. During track one, the cooler-than-you singer sinisterly informs us that ‘the hangmen are outside’, and that ‘you won’t get out alive’ (well, they are from Toxteth), while Superfan sees her mordantly intoning the words ‘sugar, sugar’ in a manner guaranteed to set the alarm bells ringing. Black Heart more than lives up to its splendid title, sounding like Hey Mickey would have done had it been written by the Devil himself rather than Racey, and I’m Tired is just under two minutes of splenetic, three-chord wonderment. In all, a top-notch effort, to which the only fitting response is, quite simply, ‘ace’. And ‘Hail Lucifer’.

Ieuan Jones


The Swarm - A Demonstration of the Swarm (demo)
Oh yes, yes, yes! I am liking this very much. From the Stalinist imagery on the front to the Bleach-era Nirvana  guitar squall of 'War Course', this is the sound of a band who mean business. There is more than a Cobain-esque growl to the vocals which are an incomprehensible scream but are certainly delivered with conviction.

A bit of a slower pace and friendlier bassline for 'Rising Up Through Your Chest' but more slurred discordant lyrics and the same wailing guitar - this sounds like the whole thing could unravel at any minute like mutant DNA but things somehow manage to cling together. Impressive stuff. 'Shacked Up With the Flies' is just pain brooding and scary - the more I think about it, this whole demo is downright freaky - a live showing maybe required...

Shane Blanchard


 

The Bees - Chicken Payback
The Bees continue their rampage through the swinging sixties with new single 'Chicken Payback'. This rambunctious slice of fun is a song that could - given a dance routine - launch a nationwide craze. I can see the hipsters shaking their booties to this one on a sun drenched San Francisco day. It's as funky as a monkey with a tambourine and twice as cheeky. A song that deserves better than a cold March morning, this is one that should be blasting through PAs on sun drenched beaches, lazy summer afternoon barbecues and blissed out love-ins everywhere.

Paul Binnion


Akira - Insert. Repeat. Roll Over. Sleep.
More fantastic-ness this month making me realise why we sift though hundreds of CDs each year. Always a sucker for cool album art and a kooky title I was hoping the music would live up to the marketing and it certainly delivers.

This is impossible to categorise and the songs don't even seem to start or end, they just happen and produce a beautiful echo-filled background to the room. Pristinely clean guitars fight with the heart wrenching fuzzed-up vocals over the heart-beat of drums on 'Soho Was Always There for Me'. This seems gentle but isn't - a bit like some of the tracks on 'Everything is Wrong' by Moby before he took to writing car commercial music. I want more.

Shane Blanchard


 

The Happy Couple – Fools In Love (Matinee)
The first of a three pronged, triumphant singles attack from Matinee this month, The Happy Couple are all the way from the good old Ger, Man of Y and run the everso excellent Felicite singles club. ‘Another Sunny Day’, apart from being the name of one of my favourite bands ever, is the lead off track here, and, bugger me, if I don’t just want to run naked through the Nottingham summer sun – when it arrives – upon hearing it. Think sunshine – think The Happy Couple. But…wait! What’s this? It’s ‘Hopeless Cause’, and it’s oh so sad. But it’s still fuppin’ ace, and very, very Sarah.  But if it’s power pop thrills you want, look no further than the fantastic ‘Pop Kid’, which I am gonna play if I ever DJ again…on loop. All night. Magical, all round, really.

Sam Metcalf


The Fuzzylights - In Silence We Weep ep
It's true what they they - nice things really do come in small packages. This limited edition ep comes on one of those cute mini-cds and features original photo artwork hand assembled.

The music is a collage of strings and minimalist percussion, expertly woven into a rich and constantly evolving soundscape. Reminiscent of Detwiije and Deerpark, both reviewed elsewhere in tasty this month, the two tracks make for slightly uncomfortable listening at times, but that extra challenge only makes the experience more valuable.

Shane Blanchard


 

The Lucksmiths – The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco (Matinee)
A more mature sound from everyone’s favourite Australians. The title track has an almost C&W feel to it, but, never fear, underneath the slapping chaps there beats a pop heart, and it almost gets a little groovy right near the end. A dance mix surely awaits. As for the other tracks, well, ‘Young and Dumb continues the downbeat theme, whilst ‘The Winter Proper’ (which is SUCH a Lucksmiths song title!) is a beautiful little ballad about living alone and is might sad, I have to say. ‘I Started a Joke’ is another mournful little teaser, and, yes, a Bee Gees cover. Blimey. Needless to say, this is another classic Lucksmiths offering. Normal service is resumed
.

Sam Metcalf


Sonver - ep#2
There must be something in the water this month as yet another lo-fi instrumental gem passes over the tasty gramophone. Sonver describe their art as 'Sound Sculptures', a concise description of the mix of strings arrangements and guitar with occasional percussion that washes across the speakers.

This is perfect soundtrack material and that is exactly what Sonver have been doing, collaborating with film makers and visual artists to produce multi media live performances. 'Transparent Arms' introduces sub-continental scales over bass-rich break beats and more disembodied percussion to further disorientate your average NME reader. Engaging yet not intrusive, this won't be appearing on CD:UK. But his is music which ploughs its own furrow, zigging between genres and zagging through pigeon holes.

Shane Blanchard


 

Math and Physics Club – Weekends Away (Matinee)
So fragile, they might just break if you love them too much, Math and Physics Club make the sweetest little ditties. This is their first Matinee release, and they’ve set a pretty high standard. Theirs is the sound of The Harvest Ministers, East Village and maybe even The Lucksmiths. The title track is the best here, and is that most beautiful of things – the road trip song. I look forward to this band’s next moves with moist palms.

Sam Metcalf


This is a Public Relations Exercise - What You Need to Hear
If deliciously chaotic guitar parts, ridiculous time changes and pile driver drums are your bag then you'll love this. Poor singer, Fats, must have a seriously sore throat after this verbal assault.

On the other hand, to paraphrase Mr Iggy Pop, you could consider this a load of trashy old noise. Danceable in parts, the time changes chop around so much that it would be difficult to get anything more than the most staccato mosh pit going. And those vocals really begin to get on your tits after three or four songs.

It's on a knife edge but for ridiculous exuberance I'll give it a tentative tasty thumbs up.

Shane Blanchard


Phonofiction - After the Adrenaline/Therapeutic Indications
The first track on this demo is one of such fragile beauty and vulnerability that it is hard to believe it is even related to the second track. When '2' clocked up on the CD player display and the music restarted, images of wide open US roads, cups of coffee in diners, tumbleweed, Aviator sunglasses, convertibles and cowboy boots sprung to mind.

So back to 'After the Adrenaline', a mix of neon-synth, haunting synthetic beats and squelches all laced together with keys and lo-fi splendour, eventually giving way to a more traditional guitar part. Very, very good. A bit miserable but everyone needs a moan every now and then.

Shane Blanchard


Demon Summer - Burn (Waterside)
After the first couple of heartfelt, piano-led soft rock bars have passed through the old Tannoy speakers I'm getting a strange sense of deja vu. Nothing in particulary just an all encompassing indifference. What's going to make me take notice of this? Absolutely nothing as it turns out. No offence, probably great if you've just recovered your hearing after deafness for 15 year. but for anyone else, we've heard it all before.

Shane Blanchard


  ¡Forward Russia!/This Et Al - Split 7" promo (Dance to the Radio)
The first release on Dance to the Radio sees tour buddies and punctuation-abusers ¡Forward Russia! and This Et Al showcase their wares to a nation keyed up to the supposed new-found Leeds scene trail blazed by the Kaiser Chiefs.

'Nine' stands up in its own right demonstrating the agit pop sensibilities that have seen ¡Forward Russia! storm onwards and upwards lately. Not their strongest track for me but would still knock spots off a lot of the stuff we've listened to this month. This Et Al are a different beast. More bombastic, seemingly bigger production and great swathes of guitar noise interspersed with machine gun drumming. This pales next to 'Nine' for me but, hey, two tracks on one single release can't be bad.

Shane Blanchard


The Sweet Chap – The Girl With The Curl (Protest Recordings)
How bizarre…how bizarre. Was this recorded underwater? Is that Prince under a different name? Whatever the answer to all of these questions, there’s no doubt that this is a very odd rekkid indeed. Is this the new funk? Do they wear red cod pieces, like Larry from Cameo. I need to know before I spontaneously combust. Confused is not the world, comrades.

Sam Metcalf


Modey Lemon - Sleepwalkers (Birdman)
Aside from having one of the most pungent press releases I have ever received (some serious toner has been used here), Modey Lemon despatch the kind of electro-guitar hydbrid that makes you wonder what happened to music before the Moog was invented.

'Sleepwalkers' is unrelentless in it it's pace and crashing drums. Perhaps the influence of Pittsburgh's steel industry has pervaded the rhythm section as 'Rocket Stew' sounds like it was recorded in a foundry next to some seriously heavy machinery. Mighty stuff for sure to appeal to fans of The Bravery, Engineers etc

Shane Blanchard


 

The Race – Go Figure demo
Bombast! I say…BOMBAST! I kneel before thee, like a puny indie pop fan before a Muse fan. I am not your equal, because I cannot stand to hear another one of those loud/quiet rock opera songs. You will forever be my master. But I don’t give a shit because I’ve got my Milky Wimsphake records, whilst you’re just shouting into the wind. Adios.

Sam Metcalf


Ambrose Tompkins - Every Now and Then (Regular Beat Recording)
Aahh...after the noisiness of This is a Public Relations Exercise, the indisputable loveliness of Ambrose Tompkins. The title track fades in with it mandolin led melodie and minimal vocal harmonies. It makes you think of summer days and bubbling brooks. Some shock then when 'Wonky Twaxles' swaggers in all drum machine and eastern samplers, but in its own hypnotic way this is just as good.

'This' once again stakes a claim for the mandolin as a contemporary instrument, not something that your Grandad might drag out of the attic for a Christmas knees up. The vocals have a Jeff Lynne quality to them and the production gives the whole ep a state of yesteryear while still full of new ideas. Perfect spring listening.

Shane Blanchard


 

The Violets – Mirror Mirror (Angular Recording Company)
Now, someone’s got a crush on Siouxsie Sioux, haven’t they? There’s no shame in it, she’s a fine looking lady. But, y’know there’s more to life than copying filler tracks off of ‘Tinderbox’. There, I’ve showed my age and dodgy goff past. If only The Violets were more honest. Short, spiky, punky and little bit ‘of the night’, this is the sort of stuff that was being played when I first ventured to Gullivers in Grimsby. It scared me then…but it bores me now. Soz, like.

Sam Metcalf


Masque - Sometimes I Might (Topplers)
Eeek. Post-Ministry electro-industrial synth sounds sung by the Proclaimers on crack. In an age of internationalisation and linguistic regularisation, the overt Scottishness of the lyrics is a breath of fresh air.

That said, there is some real nastiness thinly masqued (do you see what I did there?) just beneath the surface. Whereas Sheep on Drugs did similar sort of stuff but with a bit of a smirk, 'Sometimes I Might' is an outpouring of pure angst and cynicism. George Dubya comes in for some particularly rough treatment, but then he deserves to. Not one for Daily Mail readers. Top marks to Topplers for their rip of Tesco Value logo.

Shane Blanchard


 

The Donnas – If Don’t Want To Know (If You Don’t Want Me) (Atlantic)
More metal than Sleater Kinney, but just as enjoyably, The Donnas wake us all up with another quality single. I wouldn’t argue with this lot if they gave me a bollocking, and so, I’m gonna say, that yes, The Donnas, I do want to know you. You’re rather good. Do I get a biscuit?

Sam Metcalf


 

The Wonderstuff – Bile Chant (Independent Records)
Whether or not this is as good as anything off ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ or ‘Hup’ seems a little irrelevant. Of course it’s not as good. But, Miles Hunt still sounds like he means it. At least more than any of the half-arsed chancers who think that a daft haircut and a guitar that daddy has bought is gonna mean instant adulation. ‘Bile Chant’ is no ‘Unbearable’ or ‘Golden Green’, but it’s not The Bravery. Thank fuck for that, eh?

Sam Metcalf


The Mules - Grab Your Musket e.p. (Organ Grinder)
Do not listen to this with a hang over. The Mules would seem to be pretty deranged, which is probably a good thing for a rock band. A bizarre mix of keys, Moog, harmonica and even frantic fiddling are all thrown in to the mix. Some highly energetic vocals have the added charm of descending into Reevesian pub singer mode at times - completely incomprehensible and brilliant. The Mules are the product you would get if you locked Blind Jackson and The Pogues up in a recording studio with a bucket full of crack cocaine.

Shane Blanchard


 

Queen Adreena – FM Doll (One Little Indian)
Mmm….Katie Jane Garside…I used to have SUCH a crush on you when I was a nipper. You still look lovely, but your music is rubbish, isn’t it? Still, at least you’re appearing in a very fetching bra in the video on this single. Bravo!

Sam Metcalf