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singles - december 2005



Sigur Ros – Hoppipolla (EMI)
By far and away the most accessible and commercial sounding record produced by Sigur Ros, and possibly the shortest as well. Is this new sounding accessibility a bad thing? I don’t think so. Their music remains to be a thing of beauty, so let’s not start thinking they’re going to be performing on T4 just yet, why? Cause they sing in foreign like. 
Watch video for 'Hoppipolla' [.wmv file]

Ron Beasley


 

Rogers Sisters – Emotion Control (Too Pure )
With a plethora of garage rock combos to choose from, you come to expect the ragged, spiky guitars, trashy rhythm section and yelping vocal delivery, as such, it is hard to trust your first judgment. Often is the case that many promises are made but fewer actually delivered. But this single by New York’s Rogers Sisters is as sharp and definite enough as they come, enough to hold your attention for the brief 5 minutes or so.  The yelping, conversational vocalists do a very good job of delivering the ambiguous and indecisive lyrics over a backdrop of effected guitars and simple Casio motifs. There is a definite undertone of urgency spread over these two tracks, but an urgency that is often difficult to capture on record and would be better understood in a live context. Played twice as fast and twice as loud, the clout and the sense of immediacy that this single hints at could really come into the forefront. 

HT


Speaker Speaker - Again and Again and Again
This Seattle based three piece could not be further removed from their darker hometown cousins Nirvana. Jeez, that must get annoying getting compared to Nirvana just because you are from the same city.

Speaker Speaker expel rapid fire 3 minute pop nuggets full of scratchy guitars and punk rock sensibility but in a way that your mother would approve of. Cool robo-alien style graphics too.
www.speakerspeakermusic.com

SB


 

The Strollers - Your Reminder has Changed
To coincide with the release of this EP, The Strollers published a statement in which the writer was bold enough to say that he hopes on day to give despairing critics a 'V- sign from a glossy magazine printed on ten pound notes'. After reading this optimistic prose, it was a shame to find their EP quite ordinary.

The music is never really disagreeable, indeed they play their instruments tightly and well together; the first track, 'Into the Dark' with it's guitar breaks, punchy vocals and pounding drums makes for a good listen.  

During the course of the EP, the lyrics are good but unfortunately they tend not to cut through the general banality of the music.

The Strollers boast that they are a learn- your- instruments- on- stage band, but is this something to be proud of? I'm not sure about that.  

I don't doubt the bands' capabilities of putting on an energetic and fun live show, but this EP is not really memorable in any shape or manner.  

Alex Clark


Lusk - Falling (Skribble)
For reasons best kept to myself, this CD has been on repeat in my CD player for about the last two hours. From this experience I can inform you, dear reader, that Lusk are an unremittingly intense female fronted rock band, with slight hints of stadium pomp and a mascara smudge of Goth about them. I thought I might have warmed to the single after this prolonged exposure but I'm still left a bit off the boil.
www.luskuk.com

SB


 

Film School - On and On
The genre title, 'post- rock' usually suggests something chaotic, apocalyptic, anarchic and it certainly nods towards something that is totally free of creative boundaries. So how would you go about grasping a music genre such as 'post- rock', tame it, mould and shape it to suit your music? Well you could do worse than start with Film School as a reference point.

On and On, the band's debut single opens with, I guess what you'd associate with a 'post- rock' record; it's roaming and brooding, and with it's ebullient guitar swells and voicings, it appears the listener is about to embark on an unrelenting journey through a stark and bleak sonic tundra. 

With music like this, I'm sure the temptation is always there to simply record epic, sprawling tracks with no musical direction. However, on the contrary, it seems as though Film School have bucked the trend and opposed to the occasionally bland, sonic sound- scapes which I've heard all too often from 'post- rock' outfits, this band are really doing something for the genre.

With their meandering, sanguine melodies, it's difficult to find a fault with their sound, indeed, the soave and sauntering voice of the Fender guitar plays a pivotal part in the single's B- side Plus One, It’s largely a morose sound, yet altogether joyous and pleasing at the same time.

It would appear that the label, Beggar's Banquet have made a shrewd choice of bands to sign in Film School. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from them in the future.  

By Alex Clark


Calvoon - ComeOnStrong2TheMaximum (Joyrider)
Geordie scamps Calvoon make an electro rock din that will get the neighbours  requesting an ASBO to make it stop. It's not intellectual, it's original and it's not musically accomplished. But if you just like good time high energy music then it might rock your boat. Me, I've got buses to catch and insurances policies to purchase - Calvoon must be a young man's game.

www.calvoon.co.uk

SB


 

Fanfarlo – Look Both Ways ep
I stumbled across this folk-pop duo, comprised of one Swede and one Englishman, quite by accident (well actually, a friend told me about them). Their website gives few clues as to what makes these guys tick, being mostly full of cartoons and piss-taking self-mythology, but the music speaks for itself. 

“Talking Backwards” simply has to be one of the most affecting songs I’ve heard this year, like a more scaled-down, vulnerable Arcade Fire, and with achingly mournful vocals. It’s hardly a criticism if the rest of the tracks aren’t quite in the same league, but what’s really remarkable is the depth of thought that has gone into every song…no such thing as a stale retread on this EP. Canny deployment of xylophone (“Two Months”) and recorder (“Tuesday”) make each track a mini-symphony. 

Fanfarlo are living proof that when two nations come together, beautiful things can happen.
http://www.fanfarlo.com
http://www.myspace.com/fanfarlo

Will Columbine


Mutt Ramon - The Colin Backwards ep
A rapid fire return from Mutt Ramon and this ep named after what looks like a ceramic hooped dog beast. 'Silver Moon Boots' is all clunking beats and chopping swooshes sparingly sprinkled with guitars and vocals. Introducing the brass section at the end reminds me of several Leeds bands who have a similar kitchen sink drama sound. But the 'Dog Song' is a dirty bass-heavy riff featuring the first man-dog vocal to pass the tasty turntable this year. And it all works rather funka-discoishly well.

And the Mutts dip into their seemingly inexhaustible range of styles even further with the electro synth ballad 'I Didn't Realise' to round up another accomplished ep. Fischerspooner-tastic.
www.muttramon.com

SB


 

Mark Timothy – EP
Possibly the most ambient collection of acoustica I’ve yet encountered, Mark Timothy at least deserves credit for not being yet another minor chord-fixated singer-songwriter who’s sole purpose in life is to try and be Jeff Buckley (seriously…is there any way we can make that a capital offence?). In fact, he’s a man with a plan; after the release of this EP in January, he’ll tour the UK, record an album with Dan Hulme (Beth Orton, Turin Brakes) and then tour again with a full band. 

Each song is comprised of nothing more than simple acoustic guitar and keys which make everything sound warm and intimate. The four tracks are all good, although they suffer for being very much one-speed, and it’s an odd choice to open with the brittle “Time” whilst relegating the slightly more rousing “Little Boy” (about the Iraq war) to the rear. The heavy use of delay on the vocals starts to outstay its welcome after a while. Hopefully the album will prove to be more diverse…but this is a promising start.
http://www.marktimothy.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/marktimothy

Will Columbine


Captain - Frontline (At Large)
Captain throw a few ideas into the pot including a school choir sound-alike chorus and some Prefab Sprout saccharine sweet vocals. But on this outing, Frontline doesn't sound like anything ground breaking or even that interesting to be honest. Chorus fade in, chorus fade out, squeaky keyboard part and predictable bass line. And who needs an instrumental version? Don't be so tight chaps. Lovely etched CD case though.
www.captaintheband.com
watch video for 'Frontline' [.wmv file]

SB


  The Spinto Band - Mountains and Brown Boxes (Virgin)
Mountains, The first UK release from Mississippi’s six piece band is very much  worth a listen. From start to finish it beams out a euphoric rhythm on the guitar that you can nod your head from side to side to, making you think you’ve left the world for two and a half minutes.  

Think flaming lips meets the weird experimental sounds of Brian Wilson, which is present on both tracks but more on B-side “brown boxes” because they play the Kazoo!.. I haven’t heard that on a song for a while?  All in all, a fresh 60’s sound and good start from the band set to break many a girls hearts with there adventurous and tight sounding melodies.  
watch video for 'Mountains and Brown Boxes' [.wmv file]

Simon Hambrook


  Modeliste- Luddenenden Foot EP
There's something missing from this 3 track ep. Here is a very good "wedding band" whom you would "get on down to" on the dance floor but would I buy it? -probably not. It's a funky little number which would be better appreciated and enjoyed Live. Having a good bop at a wedding is a good thing and Modeliste would appeal to all, young, old and the pissed.

'We need a dancer' (Track 1) starts well, lots of funk, trumpet and a catchy chorus. The Lick (track 2) has lame lyrics, is a little flat but does have some good moments. The instrumental section makes up for the tired and uninspiring chorus. Centerfold Lady (track 3) is more of a Jamiriquai commercial funk track with a jazzy swing to it. This is the cream of the three and worth trying a few smart moves at the next wedding reception.

Sarah McDonald


Röyksopp - What Else is There (Wall of Sound)
I have to admit to never having heard a great deal of Röyksopp in the past but this is a pretty decent introduction. A plinkety plink melody overlaid with Karin Dreijer's distinctive Scandinavian vocals provide a nice little wintry ambient dance number, especially on the Jacques Lu Cont Radio Mix. A bit like listening to house music in your local Ritzy but not feeling sordid and dirty.

www.royksopp.com
watch video for 'What Else is There' [.wmv file]

SB


The Schla La Las – Schla Demos (Truck Records)
There is nothing particular intricate about what The Schla La Las do, and that’s a very good thing. Theirs, if you didn’t know already, is the sound of the all-girl garage pop group, and I think they’re bloody lovely.

Calling these songs demos implies that they sound grubby or more lo-fi than the group’s normal output. However, when you’re the Schla La Las you always sound delightfully grubby and lo-fi. Think an even more disorganised Dressy Bessy and you just about have the sound of these songs. They’re wonderful pop pieces. And, just to top everything off nicely, Piney Gir is in the band. Does it get any better? I don’t think so…

SM


Ampop - My Delusions(Stimulus)
So Ampop seem to have swallowed the idea of 90's indie pop and fully digested it before passing 'My Delusion' onto CD. Could be the Lightning Seeds, Space, cast etc etc but with a slightly eerie vocal thing going on. Strings a plenty and a Beatlesesque beat to boot (try saying that when your drunk) are all thrown into the hat.

'Youth' is a far better ghostly apparition of a song until...yup, Radiohead finale. Worth a sneaky peep but don't linger you ghouls.
www.ampop.co.uk
watch video for 'My Delusions' [.wmv file]


The Technoillogical Myopia - Magma ep (Xana)
Yup, that is a mouthful of a band name and the press release is even more verbose - 'after successive listening and dragged like lava, the threshold between rock and electronica is diluted in the magmatic fluid of this eloquent proposal'. Eh?

So it's a good job the music is fantastic. A skilful hybrid of trip-hop and industrial dance, the Myopia evoke memories of Massive Attack, Curve and The Sneaker Pimps in that cool south coast way. The exception is 'War' which is outright PJ Harvey. But this is a slick ep and will be lodged in the tasty CD player for a while yet.
www.magmaep.com

SB


Pearly – Escape Trick
I wasn’t expecting much from this, to be honest. It’s got one of those horrific homemade, colour photocopied covers. But, bugger me, it’s lovely. ‘Escape Trick’ is lovely understated indie rock. Calling it indie rock probably doesn’t do it justice. But think David Bowie fronting Dinosaur Jr, and you’ll be nearly there. William Adnams sings in a very nice, shy English accent, and that always gets bonus points. Every months something you that think is gonna be shite turns round and bites you on the nose with its general greatness. This month, step forward Pearly.

SM


Little Man Tate - demo
Quirky kitchen sink guitar indie from Sheffield's Little Man Tate. Tales of transvestite bruisers, groupies, threesomes and loose women seem to abound, all performed with a cheeky chappy nod and a wink and no small amount of jerky guitar work. Won't win any booker prizes but all good fun.
www.littlemantate.co.uk
MP3 for 'Man I Hate Your Band' [.mp3 file]
MP3 for 'What What You Got' [.mp3 file]
MP3 for 'Down on Marie' [.mp3 file]


The Long Blondes – Separated by Motorways (Good and Evil Records)
If this isn’t the song that propels The Long Blondes into the big leagues then I don’t know what will. ‘Separated by Motorways’ is viciously funky, and I love how The Long Blondes never go on too long – always the sign of a good band. And The Long Blondes are certainly that. This single tells the tales of ‘two lonely girls on the run’, as the vocals are spat out like a young Siouxsie Sioux. And the drums make me want to dance. Yeah!

SM


Trabant - Maria/Pump It Up
What the? This track starts off like a sample from kid's show Chockablock before the full contents of a dustbin sampling machine is emptied all over the backing track. Some earnest yelps and screams from Trabant's Y-front wearing singer punctuate the melee but despite their obvious tongue in cheek approach, I'm not getting this. The big guitar rock outro only serves to fuel my suspicions that Trabant really do want to be a big rock band and only pretend to hide their ambitions under firework toting live stage shows.

Flipside, Pump It Up does nothing to dispel this inkling. It's just slower. Get back to Iceland you freaks.
www.trabant.is
watch video for 'Maria' [.wmv file]


The National – ‘Lit Up’ (Beggars Banquet)
Good solid American alt rock taken from their well received album ‘Alligator’. Great voice, deep guitars, wry lyrics. Excellent. B-side is a new track,  ‘You’ve done it again Virginia’ is slower, acoustic guitar, with a splendid piano backing, again excellent. 

Ron Beasley


Envelopes – Sister in Love (Brille)
A little bit late, but still worth including because it’s bastard fantastic. Seemingly omnipresent at the moment, Envelopes have a single here which defies apathy. It’s twee and raucous at the same time. It’s danceable yet huggable. It’s, quite frankly, amazing. Tight whilst all the time seeming that it might fall apart around them, ‘Sister in Love’ makes me tingle. And only the sight of John McDermott in full flight can do that nowadays.

SM


KOЯN - Twisted Transistor (Virgin)
First there was Forward Russia with their upside down exclamation marks, then Royksopp with their funny 'o's and now Korn with a backward 'R'. Sure makes things difficult for writing reviews.

To my ultimate shame and undoubted derision from fellow Tasty reviewers I think this is actually quite good. Even the piss poor artwork cannot hide the fact that this electro metal slab actually has a pretty neat hook and catchy lyrics. I'm off to buy some baggy jeans and hang out at Leeds Corn Exchange...
www.korn.com

SB


The Lodger – Watching (Double Dragon Records)
Much has been said about The Lodger being the next big thing out of Leeds. They certainly have the sound. ‘Watching’ is a rush of guitars and a very nice Joy Divisionesque keyboard behind some lovely northern accent lyrics. And what’s more, they don’t come across as complete twats like some of their peers in the city. I think The Lodger are too clever for mass marketing, but I’d be extremely happy if I was wrong.

SM


Blind Jackson - Face Fit For Radio / Some Things Will Never Change (Deadskool)
Last seen heading back to London in a clapped out van after delivering a storming performance at the Tasty all dayer despite monumental hangovers, Blind Jackson are welcomed back with this double release.

Its all high tempo, boppy retro surf rock with oodles of woo-hoos and vintage keyboard sounds galore. Add some killer hooks and you have pop alchemy. It's quite an unusual sound, in no small part to Sy's distinctive vocals but in this case it is definitely better to stand out from the crowd.
www.blindjackson.com

SB


The Cribs – You’re Gonna Lose Us (Wichita)
Would it really be any great loss? In a half decent month for singles, this sticks out like a sore penis. It sounds like a Blur b-side from 1995, and that really isn’t any good at all, is it?

SM


The Sound Explosion - Apollo (Captains of Industry)
Hello, sounds like something has happened to The Sound Explosion over the course of the last year. 'Apollo' represents a far more mature direction than that showcased on the debut album but doesn't lose any of the energy and vitality that are so intrinsic to The Sound Explosion. A little bit darker but no less epic than their predecessors, 'Apollo' and 'Let It Turn Inside Itself' are great slabs of rock with layers of guitars and angry vocals. Another interesting step for the Newcastle teenagers.
www.thesoundexplosion.com

SB


Magnet – Fall at Your Feet (Atlantic)
Magnet continue their worthy but dull bid to take over the world by the power of the ballad. ‘Fall at Your Feet’ is okay in itself, but I can just imagine it being used in the next Richard Curtis film. Probably as Hugh Grant does his wacky English cad routine for the 14th time in the last half hour. I digress. But then I had to, to stay awake.

SM


Steveless/Syd Howells - Yo Ho Ho...A Selection of Christmas Treats (FuKu)
Treats? I understand that living in Swansea may be hard but this collection of festive tracks sounds like our band at school did when we used to play in my Dad's garage using a rusty old guitar, a Casio keyboard and a beer fermenting bin combined with a variety of metal forks and spades for percussion. My dad made us stop. If he hadn't we might have been sending CDs around the country today too...

But this is so amateurish that it is genius. It completely undermines the glitz and commercialisation of Christmas when you sing about Christ while playing a gong. This would beat Val Doonican on ITV for Christmas Eve...

SB


Paper Cuts - Born on a Slippery Slope / Stand Up Be Counted (Kids)
Clearly influenced by the current glut of post punk electro guitar type band thingies (or whatever they're called this week - see NME for details) 'Slippery Slope' kicks off with some typical electro bleeps and you think you are in for another typical retro electro band. But then the cheeky scamps impart some kick ass metal guitar and rock out. Highly unexpected and very good.

'Stand Up Be Counted' is also a good old rant. My ears hurt.
www.papercutsmusic.com

SB


The Victorian English Gentleman’s Club – The Tales of Hermit Mark (Fantastic Plastic)
A London art school band? How novel…The VEGB sound like early Pink Floyd, and if that’s your bag, then you’ll love this. However, if you’re not a fan of a band trying to be shite, then go somewhere else for your kicks. Really….cuh.

SM


Napoleon IIIrd – EP2 (Brainlove)
It’s no surprise Napoleon has toured with the Mystery Jets – this EP shares the same mash-up quality. The first track is precisely what you’d end up with if you got Cornelius to remix Dick van Dyke’s one man band efforts from “Mary Poppins” and added Peter Gabriel on backing vocals.  

This is followed by what sounds like Thom Yorke recording a home four-track demo over “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” by Pink Floyd, only to have the latter fade out halfway through and let it mutate into “Life in a Glass House”, only good.  

More a collection of good ideas being thoroughly bent out of shape than a conventional EP, but then that’s what’s so good about it. Without doubt the best thing to come out of Leeds since…ooh…the last best thing. Now if you could just topple those bloody Kaiser Chiefs while you’re at it…
http://www.napoleoniiird.com
http://www.brainloverecords.com

Will Columbine


Humanzi – Fix the Cracks (Fiction)
Ooh, the electric violin (I think) – a most underused instrument. Unfortunately, it goes a bit downhill from there. Humanzi make a fair old racket, but is it really necessary? Perhaps it’s to cover up the fact that they don’t really have any tunes to talk of.

SM


Treasure Chest at the End of the Rainbow/Mutiny on the Bounty – Split CD
Two bands on one CD…why can’t all record labels be this economical? The reason seems to be that members of both bands hail from Luxembourg and have all played with each other (in the musical sense, you dirty little monkeys!) in various other projects. MOTB seems to be an off-shoot project from Treasure Chest…, featuring former members. So now you know. 

Both deal in a melodic style of emo and, to be honest, I couldn’t tell where one band finished and another began. So I guess that means that if you like one, you’ll probably like the other.
http://www.tcateotr.com
http://www.mutinyonthebounty.com

Will Columbine


The Far Cries – Stepping (Play it Again Sam)
Woah! Metal! Make it stop! With a name like that I was expecting some kind of indie pop spectacular. Instead I have big slabs of noise that, well, perhaps isn’t strictly metal, but makes my hungover head hurt. Hey! They mention their own name in the lyrics. Revolution is surely only a middle eight away.

SM


Pharrell Williams - Angel (Virgin)
Sweet Jesus. Not one, not two not even three but a ludicrous four versions of the same nonsense to plough full. R&B twaddle like this may make it big in the charts and Pharrell seems to have some A-list collaborators like Gwen Stefani and Jay-Z. And it may just be me but is a lyric like 'she's got an ass like a loaf of bread and makes you want a slice' not only clumsy but a bit sexist? Back to CD:UK with you Mr Williams.
www.pharrellwilliams.com

SB


Zombina and the Skeletones - Staci Stasis (Ectoplastic)
Not my bag at all this but Zombina have made such a good effort with the comic book style press release that I will relent slightly on the bubble gum pop, doo-wap, plastic fantastic sounding stuff on the CD. Turn your guitars down a bit and get your drums up to a decent level and it might sound a bit less garagey. But I guess that is half the point of this release - a real D.I.Y. ethic. Pass me a milk shake and park me on a red vinyl diner seat and I might even tap my feet along to 'Red Planet'.
www.zombina.com

SB


Nosferatu 02 - demo
This is proper DIY when the hand written felt-tip notes on the CD-R are the only information I can find about the band. Frantic scratchy guitar and bounce along bass make up the numbers as a rapid fire vocal style belts along like MJ Hibbett on speed during 'A Footnote'.

'Man at War with Himself' has a staccato stop-start rhythm about it and the drums have that garage sound about them. The vocals are slurred in a bit of a MacGowanism during 'The Kids From Fame' and suddenly you feel like you might have experienced all the emotions of a night out on the beers in three short tracks. Some interesting ideas that deserve a better recording.

SB


I Am Zeitgeist - 4 track demo
I Am Zeitgeist start off this four track demo with an almost spooky sounding guitar riff that rips through “the Japanese Lovers” The lyrics are calm and melodic, yet change in an instinct to a rustic snarl. “Dopemine” again keep the keyboard esc guitar sound with a mix of scuzzy guitar solo’s and thumping bass lines. 

This is an impressive rock n roll demo, the sound is raw the vocals are cool and laid back, but at the same time, it does sounds like his vocal chords have been dragged through a thorn bush!...nice. 

Simon Hambrook


Jaed - Catherine / Gutter Girl (Instant Karma)
Riot grrrls. Well, Grrrl. Just the singer in Jaed is a woman (Vanessa Eve) and looks a bit like a stoned Tanita Tikaram. But following the juvenile 34 second long prelude that is 'Catherine', 'Gutter Girl' jumps out like vegan from a butchers. Nothing ground breaking here but pretty enjoyable spiky punk pop a la L7, Hole etc.

SB


Guile - My Salvation (Salvation)
Not a bad outing by Cannock based 4-piece Guile who do a deft piece in dark atmospheric and minimalist rock. But if you've already got Six by Seven's 'The Way I Feel Today' then save your pennies - you will hardly tell the difference.
www.guilemusic.com

SB


Redshed - Boundaries ep (This Sound)
Arriving in one of those new fangled DVD style folding cases, 'Boundaries' throws up some interesting questions. It's nice when bands make an effort with their packaging but I'm bit uneasy when this much plastic ends up in my bin (which, I'm sorry to say, many review submissions do.)

So thank the Lord, this ep is really rather good and will probably make it into the CD rack (well it would if it would fit - bloody box). A complex sound quite difficult to categorise, there are lots of 16-beats and harmonising double guitar parts which underlay the often chant like repetitive lyrics. This gives it a bit of an East Coast USA vibe, like a ska version of We Are Scientists during 'Boundaries'. All very good and accompanied by some cracking barnets and a singer who looks like Martin Freeman.
www.redshedlive.co.uk

SB


Fickle Public - Just Like I Got Used to saying Courtney Cox Arquette (One)
Youch! Monstrous stadium sized power chord riffism with a Weezer influence? Hmm, there's something familiar about this sound but then the power riff breaks down like a pensioner's pacemaker with a dickie Duracell. It's so sporadic that you could be forgiven to think that someone is trying to tune in your CD player to Kerrang FM. Very odd and quite pleasant.
www.ficklepublic.com

SB


Rob Nichols - Words and Numbers (Sandsong)
From a Leeds music scene that boasts some truly innovative and impressive acoustic artists such as David Thomas Broughton and Benjamin Wetherill, Rob Nichols' variant on the genre is a little bland and MOR for me. The vocals are little bit too world weary and earnest though the use of film samples as background to the lilting melodies provides a little bit of stimulation. But at 24 Nichols is still young so maybe some more serious substance will develop in years to come.
www.sandsong.co.uk

SB


Pale Man Made - Night Club Fight Song (Pinch)
I can see where all the Joy Division and Fall comparisons come from but if you'll forgive the pun, Pale Man Made pale into comparison beside singer/guitarist Christianne's other band, The Four Marys. 'Duplicity' may have the oh-so poignant boy-girl vocals that flowery shirt-wearing indie fops will love but I'm not won over. I am a simple beast and need my music to beat me over the head, not coax me out of my bedsit with the promise of Belle and Sebastian night at the local indie disco. Neither track on this single has enough urgency or immediacy to keep my attention for long., no matter how sweet they might be.
www.palemanmade.co.uk

SB


Charger/Bird of Paradise - split single (Calculated Risk)
Sludge metal - what a fantastically descriptive genre! This is like wading through sonic primeval slime but without the benefit of eventually emerging as some kind of half swimming half crawling fish-beast. You can almost imagine the two bands comparing notes on who can be the heaviest, who can use the lowest guitar tuning, who can squawl the most gutteral screams through the slabs of guitars.

'Ornine Utopia Anthem' is at least a little bit varied (and not ten minutes long). More upbeat and progressive in nature. Still hard work though.
www.calculated-risk.co.uk

SB


The Heart Strings - ep
All twinkly keyboards, parpy horns and school band drums, The brothers Roache knock out the sort of tune that would keep Granny happy at Christmas. Woulodn't be my choice of musical entertainment but better than listening to Jim Reeves.
www.theheartstrings.com

SB


The Django Black Ensemble -demo
Not, as you may be forgiven for thinking, Sting's latest venture in world music, The Django Black Ensemble purvey south coast surf pop the likes of which might be better suited to appearing on an episode of the OC than a CD player in Leeds in December. 'Coastal Concert' has a hook remarkably similar to 'The End of The World as We know It' by REM. And 'Ghosts of Rock n Roll' sounds remarkably similar to 'Coastal Concert'. All recorded in a padded cell judging by the sound of it. Oh well, come back in the summer and see if it sounds any better then.
email: djangoblackensemble@yahoo.co.uk

SB


Czskamaarù - ep (Offoron)
Very little to go on here - no real PR blurb, a non-functioning website, not even a sleeve - just a CD-R. So better wade straight into the nitty gritty of the tunes then. At first listen, Track 1 seems to fall squarely into the 'post-rock' category but an interesting breakdown into a piano outro keep things a little interesting. Track 2 features a rare outing for an electro harpsichord sound effect before swelling into an atmospheric dark number full of reverb and echo.

The rest of the CD features tumbling keyboard melodies and Chris Corner sound-a-like vocals. in fact their is a bit of a Sneaker Pimps vibe about the whole thing. It's not going to get anyone dancing in the HMV aisles but it makes for fascinating proggy listening.

SB


The Evenings - Louder in the Dark ep (Brainlove)
Christ only knows how the first track came to be known as 'Fizzy Piss (When Adults Act Like the Children They Really Are)' but it sure is a top name. It features a tumble dryer load of samples and effects that sounds the Adams Family theme tune on smack before imploding in a red dwarf of synthy bleeps and squeals.

'I Didn't Remember' is obstinately more poppy and new romantic as if to prove that The Evenings are not just crash bang wallop, but more like a light-hearted 65 Days of Static.

'Paste' it's getting positively mellow and ambient man. I'm expecting whale noises next...but it's not to be as half way through a pounding beat like a thousand Tommy Walshes marching in their wellies breaks into the swirling melodies. The Evening seem to have scant regard for regular song writing formats and go for breaking things up as often and arbitrarily as they like which is really refreshing in the current verse-chorus-verse art rock / post punk times.
www.theevenings.co.uk

SB


Clearlake - Good Clean Fun (Domino)
In their latest attempt at global domination, Domino Records release this gem by Clearlake. A bit more sophisticated and smooth than some of their other stuff at the moment (like Test Icicles for instance), 'Good Clean Fun' has a retro vibe that sounds like Ride at the height of their powers. It just rocks on for the full 4 minutes cranking out the psychedelic scuzzy guitars. Ace.
www.clearlake.uk.com

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Devendra Banhart -Heard Somebody Say
As singles are becoming more and more pointless I wondered why the Hobo Gypsy chose this song for release at first. Because it doesn’t really show him at his best for me. It’s a very simple song, with a piano riff that has the haunting effect of a shitty school assembly piano in your very school, then baljit kapoor farts and you make the secret someone's farted sign with your little finger. And seaun lung does armpit farts with his graceless tact. The point is this song and its simplicity is why I say it's good, kind of Sunday morning song. But needless to say there's a treat for Banhart fans on the single because “chicken” is a great song reminiscent of old blues 78’s the kind Robert crumb loves so much. It's good.

Pete Williams


Akira - I Think of You As Miss Universe
This is a bit of a surprise following their previous single which was an atmospheric tour de force. 'I Think of You...' sounds like a jam between someone learning guitar through a 10 watt amp and a gorilla trying to destroy a drum kit. Add Joel's ghostly vocals and this makes one weird composition.

The remix of 'Soho Was Always There For Me' is far more accessible, welding Arabian scales with a bass heavy beat over the tortured vocals. Almost unrecognisable from the original, it sounds like Massive Attack crossed with Asian Dub Foundation -and that's got to be a good thing.
www.akiratheband.com

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Fran Rodgers - Let the Rain Fall
'Let the Rain Fall' Fran's second CD opens with the beautiful haunting hymn-like 'Morning Prayer' which although short and sweet instantly demonstrates the power of Fran's voice. In this opening track she has layered harmonies on top of her own voice, something which is continued throughout the four tracks and which works beautifully due to her distinctive vibrato and impressive vocal range. The spirit of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell is definitely weaved throughout the core of a couple of songs amid the traditional/contemporary folk mesh that Fran's music embodies.

I did feel at times that the songs could have gone other places or have simply been a little more dynamic with regards to song structure but the songs are pleasant to listen to and Fran has a voice that just sings itself.

Suzanne Marron