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singles - september 2005



The Golden Age - demo
Not content with providing some rather bizarre imagery in the form of a sinister gas-masked character wielding a vintage Duncan Fearnley cricket bat in front of a sign reading 'Girls', The Golden Age produce some cunning indie pop tunes that gloss over the gritty narrative lyrics about suburbia, urban decay and twenty first century life in a northern town.

Graced by consistently angelic vocals, not un-Morrisey-esque it's easy to miss the fact that the subject matter is depression, drugs and the town slag. 'Girl You Like Cock Too Much' is crooned with such loving against the choppy guiytars that you have to read the lyrics to confirm what you think you heard. 'Oh you love to be spanked, you dish out the wanks' has got to be a contender for lyric of the year.

Distinctly northern, and reminiscent of yesteryear's Landspeed Loungers from Leeds, The Golden Age is a piece of not so cunningly disguised ironic indie genius..
(www.thegoldenage.co.uk)

SB


White Stripes – ‘My Doorbell’ (Third Man/XL)
The second single to come off their latest full length ‘Get Behind Me Satan’, and also an album highlight, ‘My Doorbell’ is an awkward, loose gem in a similar vein to some of their past hits like ‘Fell in Love with a Girl’. Enough of an edge to be compelling, not too much to scare off the kids and quite frankly pretty damn good.

LD


Vasquez - Flesh & Blood/Ballad of The Reluctant Hero (No Whitewash)
The second single of the month from a Sheffield band and couldn't be further away from the gritty realism of The Golden Age. 'Flesh and Blood' plods away for nearly 4 minutes before giving way to 'Ballad of the Reluctant Hero' which gets going after about a minute with some gothy key changes and some serious Antmusic style tub-thumping before returning to its soporific verse. 25% good, 75% bland.

SB


Devendra Banhart – ‘I Feel Just Like A Child’ (XL)
‘I Feel Just Like A Child’ is the first single to come off the bearded troubadours new album ‘Crippled Crow’. It is a track packed with his usual folk ramblings with a surprising driving backing track and a real air of some of Dylan’s more psych moments. A little hippy fuelled piece of love that will be sure to win new allies as well as please those of old. It also features a few minutes of instrumental intro not present on the album version as a special Banhart treat. To top all this off the B-sides are new studio tracks from the album sessions also not present on the full record. ‘Stewed Bark Of An Old Tree’ is a circling simple number whereas ‘Shame’ has Beggers Banquet era Stones air presiding over it complete with a spot of slide guitar. Enough to make me want to grow a beard of my own…if I could.

LD


Benjamin Wetherill - Orange and Silver
It's shaping up to be a Yorkshire-fest this month as Leeds' Benjamin Wetherill releases 'Orange & Silver'. Alt-folk, folk, Americana or whatever you want to call it is very much in vogue at the moment but there is always room for a record of this quality in tasty.

Definitely veering towards a distinctly traditional English style of folk, 'Orange and Silver' is such a beautiful track it almost reduces me to tears. The pristine finger picked melodies are perfectly accompanied by Wetherill's distinct voice, at one moment trilling like bird and next whispering conspiratorially. On B-side 'John Barleycorn' the vocals seem to dance along to this traditional English folk song and leave you wondering why all music can't be this good.

SB


Jesus Licks - The Men Band You Can't Avoid
I didn't mind spending a while working out how to do the strikethrough on the word 'Men' in the title because it gave me a bit more time to work out what the Jiminy Cricket is going on here.

Although the slightly disembodied and at times discordant vocals are reminiscent of Nico-era Velvet Underground, the main use of banjo, cello etc gives this ep a definite folky vibe. Some of the lyrics are a bit difficult to make out but there is no mistaking the various gruesome ways that singer Dominique describes how she could wreak havoc in 'Accidentally Murdered You'. The meaningful narrative provides the perfect counterpoint to the minimalist intrumentation but can stay nice and light if required. in a niche all of its own.

SB


The Delights - Society/My Little Girl (Philosophy)
Yeah, yeah yeah! The band told me I would like this CD and they were right - it's a beaut!. 'Society' is an indie gem, a staccato slash-fest of choppy guitars perfectly punctuated by the girl-boy vocal frontline. It's  sounds like what the Pixies would have been like if they grew up in Scandanavia.

'My Little Girl' is a bit more grandiose, even a bit pompous with some Edge style guitar soloing halfway through but still a good track. Methinks things will happen for these folks.

SB


McQueen-‘Running Out of Things To Say’ (Furry Tongue Records)
This sounds exactly like early Hole. Fairly catchy if you like that kind of thing I suppose. Nothing more to say about it other than according to the press release Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson has been giving this single heavy rotation on his Six Music Plus show. I think that says it all. 

Michael Pearson.


Shout Out Louds - The Comeback (EMI)
This Stockholm based 5-piece have been garnering all kinds of praise lately following a pretty arduous touring schedule and has resulted in a support slot for the Magic Numbers. But to be honest, this single is a bit pedestrian. The guitars plod along and the vocals song just a bit too world weary. Three versions of the same track, however remixed, is too much for me, especially when one is an instrumental that would make even Ash's modest composition skills seem like Beethoven's.

SB


Noblesse Oblige - Quel Genre de Garçon/Lil Dirty (Horseglue)
If nothing else, Franco-German duo Noblesse Oblige should be congratulated for gaining the the comment 'crap beyond estimation' from the NME. Never one to follow the popular music press, tasty was naturally intrigued.

While the NME were right that N.O. will not be the next Coldplay, surely there is room enough for a bit of Euro electrono-art rock in HMV? Well, to be honest, 'Quel Genre..' was way too out there for my provincial tastes. but 'Lil' Dirty' and 'Useless Man' were a different kettle of synths completely. A lot darker, a lot faster tempo and a lot less retro sounding, it seems NME don't know a good bit of electro when they hear it.

SB


Downdime - Seeds of Hopelessness (Squirrel)
A quirky little number that builds up the slabs of guitar distortion as the track goes on but keeps the whole thing nice and light with some casiocore style keyboarding shenanigans. Play the whole mix at a hundred miles an hour and you've got yourself some pretty damn fine cheeky indie pop. 'Existence is Missing' doesn't vary from the formula by far, except this time it is the keyboards being distorted - zany! Blimey, I'm knackered just listening to them...hold on...'Shine' finishes things off with a lovely psychedelic meandering piece that is as gentle as it is threatening before erupting into guitar fury that gradually recedes to perfect poppiness. A fine record indeed.

SB


Glassfactory - demo
Oxfordshire young pups Glassfactory chug out the guitar licks like veteran rockers and cleverly mix up the melodies with some cunning key changes and stop start tempos. Don't know if it was the production in the copy I got but the vocals seemed a bit washed out and anonymous. 'Long Sunday' has a lilting kind of bluesiness to it that reminds, dare I say it, of 70's rock like Led Zepellin. An intriguing prospect.

SB


The Beat Poets - Staring Stars Down/Bloodline
Blimey. For a bunch of moody looking buggers, The Beat Poets must have topped up on a year's supply of Pro Plus as they thrash out this double AA single release with the gusto of Vanessa Feltz in a cake shop. I defy you not to tap your feet to 'Staring Stars Down' and 'Bloodline' has a quaint 80's feel about it, with hints of bands like Gene Loves Jezebel and some definite Billy Duffy Cult-esque guitars. The vocals reach unfeasibly areas of pitch and control. All in all, a pretty impressive release.

SB


Peace Burial at Sea - They Kill Us For Sport (Captains of Industry)
More great moody art rock from North East gloomeisters Peace Burial at Sea. 'They Kill Us For Sport' is chiefly a minimalist piano driven track which even throws in some weirdo picture house horror movie key changes amongst the early Bowie type atmospherics. 'B-movie Karma' has the obligatory bleepy B-movie sound effects but is a much more overtly aggressive track with squalling guitars and banshee vocals. Not to be listened to alone in a dark house.

SB


Kelman - The Happiest Man Alive (Liner)
Aah, the lovely Kelman. The brothers Gooderham keep it simple with a bit of brushed snare and the odd bell over the bare guitars. But with the lush vocals of Wayne more treacley than my gran's treacle pudding this is perfect music for drifting off to sleep to on a hot summer's day while lying in a rowing boat on some pond somewhere. Not if you are near any wears or waterfalls obviously - that would be dangerous.

SB


red.star.line - Pure/Rewards For Informers (Pronoia)
For once I seem to be consistent. I listened to this and thought the guitars and drums were positively incendiary but hated the forced growly vocals. A quick check back to my last review of red.star.line and, guess what? same rules apply. Which is a shame, because I really like the music. Still, horses for courses I suppose - someone might like it. Cool silvery packaging too...

SB


Communication Error - demo
Whoa there tigers! Communication Error have decided to bring every single effect and bit of production trickery to bear on just two tracks in a touch over 10 minutes. Like a bunch of hyperactive 5th formers locked in the music room, Amersham's finest fuse electro bleeping and thumping with scratchy live guitars, housey piano, dub bass, synth pop, fairground organ and anything else they have to hand. Some of it has the pompousness of early Kraut rock and other bits the weirdness of Bentley Rhythm Ace. Sometimes more is less though so it will be interesting to see which strand of these tangles styles eventually surfaces as the winner.

SB


Sandira - Blood Rose (Corrupt Drive)
Take a deep breath. Multicultural Sandira,  have produced a record that makes my skin creep it's so cringe worthy. To me at least. Horrific vocals, drums that sound like someone pounding tins of Duckhams and melodies that have been done to death a hundred times before. They say that the footballer Jay jay Okocha was so good, his parents named him twice. Sandira doesn't even have a surname - nuff said.

SB


Infrasonic – Western Eyes/Nuclear Sun (White Angel Records)
Press release claims that “Western Eyes” is a “U2 ish stadium rocker”, which shows how little press people know about music. It’s nothing like U2, a saving grace in one respect, but it’s well, not very interesting, and the vocals stray into Matt Goss territory at times, which we can all do without. “Nuclear Sun” is “more alternative”, apparently, but sadly is doing nothing for this reviewer. Press people, eh? Have they got any idea what they’re talking about, or are they just bull shitters? Do they really think we don’t listen to the songs and then laugh at the accompanying notes? Precisely.
(www.infrasonicmusic.com)

Dave Procter


Her Name is Calla - Paraplegia
Someone must have nicked their dinner money when they were at school because this collection of 3 songs is unremittingly bleak. And what a good thing too. Having played with the likes of Picastro, Bikini Atoll and Redjetson, you get an idea for the moody, minimalist  atmospherics at work here. But for three men so young the work is refreshingly committed and mature. There's touches of Led Zepellin pomp creeping in during 'Hidden Body' as the guitars and strings build up to a flamenco style crescendo. 'Your Life in Pictures' is nearly 8 spine chilling minutes long and 'Hideous Box' has some kind of gothic splendour about it. I'm off to sob inconsolably...

SB


Casual Saints - Bones in the Sun (Fat Northerner)
Benefiting from a bit of a quirky ska edge and an undoubtedly Scando guitar and vocal sound, Casual Saints are treading a fine line, just the right side of the agit pop phenomena of Kaiser chiefs, Bloc Party et al. There's even a bit of retro eighties indie feel about a couple of the tracks with their bom-ba-da-dom bass lines and cheapo guitar sound. Plus, they are funny, have been attacked with a hammer and experiment with facial hair - all worthy attributes. Oh yeah, 'We'll Be Alright' - vintage Shed Seven (and I like Shed Seven so that's a recommendation, not a criticism).

SB


Hush Collector - Flowby ep (Candy Cone)
Yet more lush south coast ambient rock massages tasty's ears, this time in the form of Hush Collector from Brighton. This ep creates a vast panorama of sound that is still personal enough fit snugly in your living room. The vocal harmonies in 'Mountain Song' are at once both discordant, threatening and gently soothing. And 'I Go Blind' could be a timeless English folk song. I feel all warm and gooey.
www.hushcollector.co.uk

SB


The Voltaires - Anti-Love ep (This is Art)
'Anti-Love' is all lo-fi vocals and three chord guitar glam punk rock. The Voltaires have the looks and the logo that mean business but do they have the songs? I'm not entirely convinced but 'Clocks' is a pretty damn fine stab at persuading me - all sleazy rock-n-roll with the world's most unashamedly unskilful harmonica break. Maybe. But 'Automatic is a bit of a lumbering sub-Stones dirge that has me doubting again. Damn you Voltaires!
www.thevoltaires.net

SB


Luxembourg vs Great Britain (Shifty Disco)
Jeez, tuneful, bombastic, complex, warbling sing along-tastic! Anyone who ever heard Leeds' Landspeed Loungers before they split will have a good idea what this is like - just add sci-fi sound effects,lo-fi squishes and swooshes and Jimmy Somerville falsetto for good measure. I think L. vs G.B. scare me a bit.

SB


Kat Vipers - Mother Superior (Py Records)
As the mist swirls around the gravestones and the crows scatter from their lofty perch amongst winter's dead trees, our heroine Kat Vipers enters stage left...er, sorry, got a bit carried away there during the first 4 minutes of 'Mint Tastes Like Lemon' as I thought it was the soundtrack for a horror film. But there' still nearly 5 minutes of the track left, replete with operatic vibrato and proper piano playing, not your Coldplay three chord wonders. The tasty cd player thinks I've lost the plot and tuned into Classic FM...

'Lady Purple 6 5 11' leaves me none the wiser after another 7 minutes, other than to spot that there's an element of jazz beginning to percolate through the piano which phases in and out almost at random.

Buckle up, we're heading into the 11.32 minutes long final track. More doom-ridden piano and ethereal vibrato vocals are the order of the day, steeped in echo and reverb. I'm not sue I'm qualified to comment on this - I think it is really unique and surprisingly listenable for something that has no standard arrangement or formula. But I think I want my mummy now...
www.katvipers.com

SB


This Et Al - You've Driven for Miles & Not Remembered a Thing/All You'll Ever Be is a Dancer (Double Dragon)
It's been a funny old affair I've had with This Et Al. At times I've truly been on the verge of adoration for tracks like 'He Shoots Presidents' yet at other times i can only muster indifference to some of their more ponderous offerings. But I think this release may be the one that seals my affection. It's gloriously shambolic and disjointed with crunching guitars that scythe across what remnants of a song structure are left after the umpteenth time change in 4 minutes. A beast of a release.

www.thisetal.com

SB