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singles - november 2005



This Alltime Low - demo
This Alltime low hail from Chester but clearly eschewed a career in Hollyoaks and decided to learn power chords instead. A brutal mix of Therapy? and Anthrax (that sounds a bit like a doctor's prognosis doesn't it?) I'm perplexed to see that they have supported electro sleaze artists the Soho Dolls - strange gig line up that.

'Full Circle' has some rapid riffs and I think there's a possibility of double bass pedal action on the drums too. But the best bit is when really high in the mix it sounds like the producer is retching over his sound desk - excellent! 'Cuts' is a riffmongous thrashathon of tuned down guitars and more power chords. Not a lot new going on here really but makes me all nostalgic for the heady days of thrash metal again. I'm off to grow a goatee...
(www.thisalltimelow.com)

SB


 

Gemma Hayes – Happy/Sad (Virgin EMI)
Empires have risen, fallen or been blown to smithereens by the US government since Gemma Hayes last released a note of music. Apparently it’s all down to writer’s block. Thankfully, a swift move to L.A. proved to be the perfect cure and “Happy/Sad” is a pleasant and promising return to form. 

Eschewing the My Bloody Valentine dronings of yore, Gemma has this time opted this time for a more folky approach, with acoustic guitar propelled forward by a clattering beat and liberally garnished with chiming keyboards. Her voice, as ever, is lovely. Shame she couldn’t be arsed to write any proper b-sides though (does anyone really need an instrumental version?).
(www.gemmahayes.com)
(Watch video stream)

Will Columbine


Test Icicles – Circle. Square. Triangle. (Domino)
Another Domino band who are starting to gather their fair share of hype (that label must be rubbing its collective hands with glee at the moment). Faintly amusing name aside, Test Icicles look like Bloc Party without the drummer and sound like one of those terribly hip post-punk New York outfits. They have names like Devmetal and Sam E. Danger and have a reputation for chaotic live performances. 

Girls who wear badges and far too much eye-shadow will be scrambling over each other in the race to add this band to their MySpace buddy list. Myself, I need a little more than this mildly infectious crumb of disco-funk to convince me of their greatness although, as the unfashionable dad character from “The Mary Whitehouse Experience” would have said – “it’s got a good beat!”
(See the video - hi-res .mov file)

Will Columbine


  The Fondas - Be Alone (Levelsound)
A pretty agreeable single from South Wales slum rockers The Fondas. All the more amusing for being recognised as Norah Jones by my media player. Like a teenager losing their virginity, it's fast, furious, simple and over in 2.33 minutes. Less sticky, mind.

(www.thefondas.co.uk)

SB


The Cutters - three track promo
For all their hype of being 'a creative force that can liberate the melodies from within their minds and release them' this triplet of tracks falls a bit short of musical liberation for me. Sure I can see the references to bands like The Kinks, especially on 'Star' which features the simple chord structures of the 60's. But the whole bundle just seems a bit hackneyed. And the vocals seem just plain dodgy to me, permanently on the verge of being out of tune, more shouted than sung and with primary school lyrics. I make it sound worse than it is-if you like 60's throwback rock then you'll love this. Unfortunately I don't.

(www.thecutters.co.uk)

SB


Four Day Hombre - 1000 Bulbs (Alamo)
The slow burners of the Leeds music scene, Four Day Hombre, have been treading water a bit since winning Radio 1's 'One Music Unsigned', but with the release of '1000 Bulbs' (not to mention a gigging schedule that would cripple lesser bands) you get the sense that something big is about to happen.

Ringing guitars which break into great valvey waves of distortion provide the backdrop for the velvety tones of the vocals. For what it's worth, I thought the second track of the release, 'Drink', was the stronger with lovely swirling keyboards gift wrapping the whole guitar-vocal thing. I guess you'll just have to listen yourself and you couldn't ask for a better website to find out:
(www.fourdayhombre.co.uk)

SB


  Chapter XIII - The Last Time (Levelsound)
Either my PC is playing tricks or Levelsound need to get their digital signatures sorted out for their releases. This one is apparently by the Lincoln University Ensemble/Nelly - an unlikely duet I feel. But that is not the most surprising thing about this record, oh no.

The intro is one of those which could go in any direction - metal, pop, r'n'b or rap. In the end I'm not sure what it is but it remains sufficiently dark to maintain my interest through it's thundering bassline and malevolent vocals, even when cheapo sounding keyboard tricks and slap bass interludes threaten to lighten the mood. Should e interesting to see what the rest of their album 'Dream Salvation' sounds like.
(www.chapterxiii.co.uk)

SB


Mutt Ramon - ep
From the very first bars of this ep you know that if nothing else, this CD is not going to be boring. Like a cross between The Research and Lardpony, much bleepiness and squelchiness in 'Physically Corrupted' gives way to a progressively harder electro, reaching the very German sounding 'The Commuter'. But just when you think that Bauhaus have been reborn with a penchant for small wooden horse/rabbit based toys, 'Blue or Grey' spills out some old skool indie jangly guitars and wistful vocals. Top stuff.

(www.muttramon.com)

SB


 

Artic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
A recent article in a certain national broadsheet revealed that several of the “movers and shakers” in the music biz are tipping Artic Monkeys to go absolutely stellar. Franz Ferdinand and Oasis are frequently mentioned in comparison, probably because of the fact that the band are from oop north and are signed to Domino. The future looks extremely rosy for this bunch of plucky young scamps…it’s just a pity that, on this evidence, the music doesn’t justify the hype. 

Fusing Libertines-esque rock with the sort of supposedly witty musings on life’s mundanities that have been done far better elsewhere (The Kinks, Pulp, Blur), “I Bet You Look Good…” isn’t fit to occupy the same jukebox as “Take Me Out”, and the b-side is nothing to get excited about either.

Will Columbine


Mono Taxi – Kind of Better  (Play It Again)
Mono Taxi play icy cool VU-ish pop which is rather quite nice actually. There’s nothing complicated about it at all, but then most of the best pop music is really quite simple when you think about it. ‘Kind of Better’ builds and builds nicely, with Stereolab-ish keyboards and a simple guitar coda. ‘Hardy Smile’ meanwhile ups the pace a little and is a little rockabilly teaser of a song. All in all, very good indeed. Hurrah!

Sam Metcalf


The Hungry I - The Car ep
From a warped and dark place comes 'The Car' by The Hungry I, the mainly lo-fi electronica cum hip hop of Jon Stolber. Unremittingly changing break beats fuzzed up to within an inch of their existence float along wearily alongside Stolber's ethereal vocals, like wading through a dream that you can never wake from.

Yet this isn't a dreary release by any stretch of the imagination. Circumspect, introspective and atmospheric perhaps, perhaps, but there is a joyful interplay between the languid beats and the minimal but effective strings and bleeps. Coup de grace is the title track which heaves along in its own splendour, a little reminiscent of Splinter-era Sneaker Pimps' darkest moments. This eventually breaks down after the incantation of Stolber's whispered vocals into a frenetic break beat. Dreamy stuff.
www.thehungryi.co.uk

SB


 

The Warlocks – It’s Just like Surgery
There can be few bands around as unapologetically derivative as The Warlocks, who’s entire reason for being seemed to consist of being California’s answer to The Jesus & Mary Chain, only with more guitars…lots more guitars! Consequently, listening to their earlier albums was always something of a guilty pleasure. I enjoyed the familiarity but simultaneously craved something a bit more unique. 

Perhaps the band themselves have come to recognise this too, which might explain the cleaner, more poppy sound on display here. No, they haven’t abandoned the drone-rock sound entirely, but the title track sounds as much like The House of Love as it does the Reid brothers.  “X-Ray Eyes” brings to mind “Loveless”-era MBV, and “Heart Thief” sounds like The Velvet Underground’s interpretation of “Dear Prudence”. Shame about the 8-minute bore-fest that is “Thursdays Radiation”.

Will Columbine


The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club – The Tales of Hermit Mark (Fantastic Plastic)
More art school rock, but this time it’s all pretty good stuff. ‘The Tales of Hermit Mark’ is a terse, tense grower which is probably best played whilst you’ve got a very serious face on you. You know that weird dancing that Siouxsie Sioux used to do? Well, you can do it to this, too. I image The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club will grow tiresome if they don’t move on from this kind of nu-wave jerkpop, but, for now, it’s all quite agreeable, thank you very much.

SM


Liner - Mirror
A lively well produced effort from guitar rockers Liner. Some of the song writing is exceptional with touches of early U2 coming through in the tub-thumping style of the bass drum and the disembodied sound of the guitar soloing. Whether it's distinct or exciting enough to stand out from the glut of similar stuff around at the moment is another question but certainly worth spending 15 minutes listening.
(www.linermusic.com)

SB


 

Breakmakers – Conscience
For lovers of windswept MOR everywhere. Really, this is no need for this kind of thing in a world that already has at least one too many bands called Keane in it. Oddly, ‘Conscience’ reminds me of a Christian rock song. But that’s probably because it’s Sunday and I have SINNED. Utter tosh.

Sam Metcalf


Hey Pablo - The Moon on a Stick ep (Skeletor)
I'm not sure what it is about the West Midlands but this must be about the 4th or 5th 'comedy' record from that neck of the woods in the last few months. Maybe Goldie Lookin' chain have a lot to answer for. Then again, 'Bring the Beat Back' isn't that comic, but quite ostensibly based around the sound of the Beastie Boys. Thereafter the record falls into farce with 'humourous' samples and a track in 'Wannabe Superstar' that sounds like Presidents of the USA, if they were just annoying instead of talented. Pity really because some of the tunes are pretty good.
(www.myspace.com/heypablo)

SB


 

Scary Kids Scaring Kids – The Only Medicine
My ears, my ears! My indie pop ears! Is this what passes for emo these days? Someone screaming, then someone else coming in with the melodic vocals? I dunno. I bet they don’t eat meat and baulk at the idea of drinking beer, too. Then there’s  fucking dreadful guitar solo. I’m off to listen to Go Sailor!

Sam Metcalf

Murkin - The Halloween Party ep
Apparently 'anti-pop' is a movement against what pop music has become. On this evidence Murkin are more anti-music than anti-pop. If they 'exist to rattle cages' why are they venting their spleen in a mock operatic style about, evil of evils, a Halloween Party? Ooh, that's gonna rock the establishment. Then again, I might have just missed the point about some ironic joke thanks to an overly earnest press release. Or maybe it's just bad beyond belief.
(www.murkin.8m.com)

SB


Silver Sun – Immediate (Invisible Hands)
Good lord, they live! ‘Immediate’ sounds a little like Weezer, it sounds a little like XTC, it sounds a little like every other Silver Sun record. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s certainly not the thrill I’m looking for these days. I really do have to wonder who will actually find this essential listening, because it just drifts by without really doing anything particularly special at all. In fact, I can’t believe I’ve used all this space up talking about it. End.

Sam Metcalf


This Et Al - Wardens/Rotary Queen (Jealous)
I would be first to admit that I used to give This Et Al a bit of a hard time because I thought some of their earlier stuff was a bit too prosaic and shoe gazy. But if they shoved my words down my throat with their previous release 'You've Driven for Miles and Still Not Remembered a Thing' then with this single they've packed me off to land of music reviewers who don't know a thing. Where 'Wardens' is frantic punchy jerk-pop romp, 'Rotary Queen' is just plain massive - a huge sounding epic of  a song which keeps twisting and turning as it drives its way to an apocalyptic conclusion and coda. I am fully won over and if if big things don't happen for This Et Al soon then I'm an even bigger fool than when I didn't like them.

(www.thisetal.com)

SB


 

Rogers Sisters – Emotion Control (Too Pure)
This is just way too cool. Atonal, and all the better for it, ‘Emotion Control’ sounds like Dolly Parton on smack. Yep, that good. The vocals are so pissed off that you swear she’s gonna come out of the stereo and glass you with a babycham bottle. And, frankly, I’m sick of that always happening to me. So, hurrah, to the Rogers Sisters for not bottling me and for writing such an ace ode to isolation and frustration. This is more like it!

Sam Metcalf


The Conway Story - Photogenic (Independent)
The Conway Story return with piece of nasty but nice agit rock in the form of 'Photogenic'. harder edged than most of the previous stuff I've heard from them, this is very much in the mould of bands of the moment like This Et Al and ¡Forward Russia!. B-side, 'October' is more of the familiar soft rock that we've heard before. Hopefully they won't just be trotting out the nice polite stuff on their upcoming support tour with the Bluetones.
(www.theconwaystory.com)

SB


Funeral For a Friend – History (Atlantic)
This is quite easily the best FFAF song, but it has just been pointed out that it sounds like McFly, and that’s quite true. So, I’m afraid I can’t write anything too nice about. I do give bonus points for the sleeve which features some workers squaring up to the police during the last Great Miners Strike. However, I fail to see how it relates to the song. But maybe I’m just being thick.

Sam Metcalf


Hey Negrita - Old Britannia (Fat Fox)
An extremely cool fake vinyl black CD is sadly the best thing about this release. The honky tonk electric piano and almost apologetic 'woo-hoos' in the chorus cannot save these three forgettable songs from reminding us why Chris Rea no longer releases records (does he?). There is a video though, if you can be bothered watching it (might make the music pass a bit quicker I suppose).

Ooh - just spotted an unmissable opportunity in the press release. Apparently Hey Negrita are planning a full tour of UK prisons - they should do - this is criminal. I thank you...
(www.heynegrita.com)

SB


 

Various – More Soul Than Wigan Casino (Fortuna Pop!)
In which Kicker, The Butterflies of Love, Comet Gain and Airport Girl cover old Northern Soul songs. Kicker are up first with their bloomin’ ace take on The Inciter’s ‘Since You Left’, which is first class indie pop soul, and has an ace organ bit in the middle that gives me the shivers somewhat. The Butterflies of Love aren’t the best band in the world, in my opinion, however, they make a decent job of Mary Wells’ ‘Two Lovers’ and turn it into a true, sob-into-your hanky break up song. Next are the mighty Comet Gain who give us an ace version of Dena Barnes’ ‘If You Ever Walk Out of My Life’ and finally the sadly missed Airport Girl’s version of Benny Spellman’s ‘Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette), which is beyond sad. A most joyous compilation.

Sam Metcalf


The Ocean Floor - The Whole Animal ep
Having lost the press release I'm going at this a bit blind but hey, it's good so why worry. 'Spill' opens the ep with big echoing production setting a string arrangements as the back drop to some fragile vocals, 'The Relevant' form follows up this echo fest with a track that is almost folky and winsome, as is 'The Whole Animal.

All in all highly listenable and contemplative, if not arresting.
www.theoceanfloor.co.uk

SB
 


Vatican Jet/The Smokestacks–Plan B/ wecandrinkourwaythroughthis (Engine Room Records)
This is a fine example of the stomp-a-longness of the Jet. Short, simple and straight to the point, and with a singlalong “wooh ooh ho ohh ho oh ooh” type chorus that given a small amount of ale, should have everyone joining in, in one way or another. Talking of drinking, the acely titled Smokestacks’ single sounds to me like it could become the soundtrack to the frantic last orders dash to the bar. No mess, no fuss, straight in there rock’n’roll with some lovely 60s keys. Nice.

(www.theengineroom.org.uk)

Dave Procter


  The Golden Virgins - I Am a Camera (Bunker UK)
Mackem lads, The Golden Virgins manage to fuse scuzzy guitars with 80's synth in this unfaultable romp that sounds a bit like U2's version of the Mission Impossible theme put through the mincer. They could do with a bit of a haircut, mind.
(www.thegoldenvirgins.com)

SB


The Composers – A Way Of Being Free (Discoteque Recordings)
An interesting EP this, and as the enclosed release suggests, this band sounds nothing like other East London bands, not that we at Tasty are cool enough to live down there anyroad. What we have on here are definite sniffs of Pulp circa “Mile End”, especially on “Evacuate London Town”, although the delivery is more Mozzer than Cocker. There’s also some cheeky bits of Beatles and Blur. “The Vein Jane Blues” also, and for the second batch of records in a row, recalls The Jazz Butcher. Maybe it’s time for the southern Mark Smith to return, eh?

(www.the-composers.co.uk)

Dave Procter


Sugarshack - Persopolis Will Burn Again ep (Cellar)
With an ep name as grand as that and their music described as instrumental stucco (for staring at the ceiling to) it may be no surprise that Sugarshack fit loosely into the post rock genre.

'Persopolis...' is 6 tracks worth of pristine instrumentals with names like 'Nobody Congratulates the Automatic Pilot', which builds into a filthy wall of noise and 'A Perfect World Would be Lit By Birthday Candles' which is a bit more serene. The title track is therefore a slightly unexpected but beautiful finger picked guitar piece a smidge over two minutes long. Fans of Mogwai, Slint etc will love this and even a few doubters would be won over by what I would expect is a powerful live performance.
(www.sugarshack.cjb.net)

SB


  David Knowles - House (Stovetop)
It's not often that Tasty is asked to review good old fashioned cassette tapes and this tightly packaged gift also comes with a few loose leaves of prosaic poetry too.

In terms of music it is so lo-fi and personal that it is almost impossible to describe. A bit like an experiment in a sixth form music lesson, it's neither good nor bad. It just is - the greatest thing being that there are no delusions of grandeur, no yearning for rock and roll stardom and no hankering after the front page of the NME.
(www.stovetoprecords.com)

SB


 

Shooting At Unarmed Men – ‘The Pink Ink / Enamel’ (Too Pure)
Very good rock music. Not a particularly illuminating comment I’m aware, but an accurate description of the two tracks on this single by Cardiff’s Shooting At Unarmed Men. One of them used to be in Mclusky apparently. But moving on from such trivia the first track ‘The Pink Ink’ is a brilliant piece of off-kilter guitar pop. Scratchy post-punk guitars, almost annoyingly catchy and over in roughly two minutes. Mint. The second track ‘Enamel’ is a somewhat slower number. Begins quietly and then develops into a driving angsty Americana type effort. If that rubbish description didn’t help, then this track would not have sounded out of place on the last Shipping News records, or indeed could be by any number of bands on Touch and Go records. Most enjoyable and I’m actually quite looking forward to hearing their album. 

Michael Pearson


 

Oxes – S/T EP (Monitor)
The Oxes return! After three years of patient waiting we are finally being treated to the new Oxes release (although weighing in at only 22 minutes in length it may not be enough for some punters).

So those boys fabled for excellent live shows and a dash of controversy bring riffs back to the fore front of Rock n Roll, in fact this EP can probably be seen as a slightly different sound for the group. Yes its still instrumental danceable rock but if anything it’s probably a slightly more straightforward all out rock tour de force than previous Oxes releases. It is still however a strangely addictive and wondrous record of noisy initiative that will hopefully please old fans whilst providing an introduction to the dilettante. Well worth the wait.

Luke Drozd

 

Minotaur shock – ‘Muesli EP’ (4AD)
Muesli is the follow up EP to highly acclaimed full length ‘Maritime’ released earlier this year and pretty much carries on over the foundations that release laid. Opener ‘Muesli’ is a new edit of an album track, one of my favourite from the record actually (which as a side note was one of about 40 of my CDs that were stolen from my girlfriends house by scum. Lets hope they have at least found what they stole enjoyable but I fucking doubt it. They got a best of Kenny Rogers too which should learn em), it is an electronic sea shanty that bobs along the electronic ocean waves with a salty buzz. The following track ‘Beau Nash’ is wonderfully up beat with a kind of skittish march feel throughout. A darker tone then inhabits 'Marnie' named after and inspired by the Hitchcock film and you can’t help feeling that this would be the perfect musical accompaniment for a 2005 remake. Finally ‘Ta’ gives us what the man behind Minotaur shock David Edwards describes as ‘an attempt to make broken machines sound fixed’. It is a sort of glitching slice of baroque programmatic and slightly discord music that rounds off yet another sound release from Minotaur Shock. Whatever Edwards decides is his next step musically I'm sure it will be worth our attention.

LD

Spoon – Sister Jack (Matador)
Fairly standard American pop/rock, neither excites nor disappoints. If you already like Spoon then you’ll like this. 

Ron Beasley


The Black Tulips - s/t EP
Hyper squidgey basslines overlaid with the helium tinged tones of vocalist Alexandra - you'll either love this or hate this. Art-punky and frenetic, committed and trashy all at the same time. Me, I'm just reporting the facts - you won't get me off the fence. But I am confused why The Black Tulips logo features a purple tulip. Nearly as odd as the band appears. If you can stomach the vocals for more than one listen then I think you'll like this.

SB


Ideamotion - demo
Three four minute pop nuggets of radio friendly post Coldplay pap? Well, not quite. Just when you think that opening track 'Last Dance of the Pagans' is just going to noodle along there are some huge drums which blunder across the track in an archaic finale.

'Relapse' has a more retro feel, maybe Echo and the Bunnymen in the guitar arrangements but a bit one paced until again, half way through a guitar bridge some interesting percussion give the track the kiss of life.

And finally, 'Fool Clown' returns some lovely folky handpicked guitar and a lo-fi, simple production (though admittedly, with some inadvisable vocal harmonies). A mixed bag then, won't blow your socks off but wont make you stick pins in your eyes either.

SB


Keren Ann - Chelsea Burns (EMI)
Not a story about a latter day fire of London, but a tale of the atmosphere around singer songwriter Keren Ann's New York neighbourhood. Her dusky, breathy vocals saturate the simple piano chords, only occasionally broken by a fleeting whisper of strings and harmonica. Curiously beguiling and unsatisfying at the same time, it might be interesting to see if she progresses as an originator or falls by the corporate wayside of MOR folk pop.

SB