albums | articles | contact | events | gig reviews | interviews | links | mp3s | singles/EPs | search

singles - january 2006



Jaed - Catherine/Gutter Girl (Instant Karma)

This is a thankfully brief and thankfully download-only single that lasts just under 4 minutes, but it’ll take another 4 minutes immediately after to make a Lemsip or herbal tea to eradicate the vile texture that this release leaves in your mouth. Musically, there are violent nods towards NOFX, Pennywise, L7 and the like, but this is punk so snotty it’ll have you reaching for your pocket-size handy wipes to blow any trace of this abysmal matter from your nasal cavities. Or maybe this is just the inevitable stinking cold that accompanies the start of many a December.  Either way, this is not a very pleasant affair, a cold, snotty waste of time; I’ll put the kettle on shall I?

H. H. Thornville


 

Fall Out Boy – “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” 

Platinum sales in the US…MTV2 award…yadda, yadda, yadda. This is ideal for those who like their rock overproduced and unthreatening or just hate emo and want more ammo for their argument. Not my cup of tea of all.

Will Columbine

 

Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Goin' Down (Mercury)

Jesus. It’s McFly with pubes. I’m sick of hearing this kind of faux rock/punk rubbish. It reminds me of watching crap daytime tv American sitcoms when I was on the dole. So I’m going to take it off.

Sam Metcalf


The White Stripes – The Denial Twist ( XL Recordings )

The villainous Jack White is looking increasingly like he should be been tying down a distressed damsel on a train track, smiling gleefully as the locomotive thunders full force ahead to her imminent doom. Usually, a hero will arrive in the nick of time, but on this occasion the dastardly scoundrel’s plans go according to plan, the said damsel is splattered across the sketchy black and white, dusty landscape. Jack cackles, dons his cape and hat and retreats to his castle rubbing his hands together to plot his next wretched scheme.  Or possibly to compose his next masterpiece.

There isn’t much that needs to be said about this single.  The quirky, piano lead pop-romp is the kind of effortless, off-kilter pop single that we’ve come to expect from the White Stripes.  As raw and unabated as anything they’ve ever released, and as ever the Stripes’ appeal lies in the simplicity of White’s song craft. In addition to the fantastic Denial Twist we are bombarded with the Stripes’ cover of the Greenhorne’s The Shelter Of Your Arms, in which we are treated to some increasingly brazen guitar playing that is as ridiculous as it is loud. This single goes some way to affirm The White Stripes as one of the most iconic, vital and exciting groups of the decade.

H.H Thornville


Mogwai – “Friend of the Night” 

Bridging the gap between 2003’s excellent “Happy Songs for Happy People” and the eagerly awaited “Mr Beast”, this delicately constructed little pearl showcases the gentler side of the ‘Gwai rather than the evil fiends who strive to make you shit yourself through sheer volume. The jury’s still out on whether the new album will be worthy of licking Kevin Shields’s whammy bar, but this sounds promising enough to my ears.

Will Columbine


Get Hustle – Rolling in The Ruins ( Three One G )

This offering, and I use the term loosely, is truly terrible, an abysmal mess of clattering drums, yelping lyrical nonsense and squealing feedback.  Seemingly no structure, talent or point to its entirety. This record makes me feel exceptionally  uncomfortable and somewhat terrified at the prospect of having to listen to it ever again. It’s like the reoccurring nightmare I sometimes get; where I have an intense itching on my belly button and after a few minutes of futile scratching it comes undone and my innards spill out onto the bedroom floor, leaving a pulsating mass of barely throbbing organs. This is the sound of throats slitting, of a backstreet lobotomy, of your brain collapsing due to carbon monoxide poisoning and the only solace I find amidst this bleak landscape of noise and misery is that it finishes. Less rolling in the ruins, more rolling about on the floor with your hands over your aching ears trying to protect your rapidly depleting brain cells, all the while screaming for mercy. Awful. 

H.H Thornville


 

The Rolling Stones – “Rain Falls Down” 

In which the great minds who penned “Street Fighting Man” inform us that, like, television’s a bit shit these days, innit? Great…thanks for that.

Will Columbine


The Black Angels – E.P ( Light in the Attic Records )

Hailing from Austin, Texas, the Black Angels are a 5 headed rock beast that specialize in their own unique brand of ‘Native American Drone n’ Roll.  Bluesy, ballsy and brooding, this is 4 track E.P full of heavy duty psychedelic dirge that screams; why change chords when you needn’t? It is easy to be sucked in to the incessant mantra like lyrics, primal rhythm section and swirling keyboard sounds, but once the droning has subsided you’re left feeling none-the-wiser. As an E.P; the layers of noise mesh together nicely, the tracks are well ordered and serves as a rugged introduction to the Black Angels.  However, after a few listens the ‘drone factor’ on which these Angels pride themselves on does become a little tiresome, which makes me wonder if they could carry off a whole album in this fairly limited ilk. That said, there are vast quantities of potential that seep through the cracks in this release; potential that if realised could be of epic proportions. If you’re a fan of turning on, tuning in and droning out, their marathon 3 hour, multi-media extravaganzas that accompany their live performance will be arriving in the U.K sometime next year. 

H.H Thornville


 

Dragonflies Draw Flames –  Harboured Safe (Stressed Records)

I had DDF down as some kind of emo  Popsicles. Turns out I am mighty wrong.  The ep – some might say mini-album is full to the gills with proper introverted, sometimes downright maudlin, pop songs. Think Idlewild without the all the annoying bits and you’re pretty much there, or mid-period Edsel Auctioneer before they lost it completely.

Sure, sometimes the songs veer into the generic, but even then there’s enough here to keep me interested. ‘Leaving Book’ is particularly wonderful – like Morrissey with added fuzz. I’d love to see DDF live, and by crikey, I reckon I’ll make the effort.

Sam Metcalf


The Crimea – Lottery Winners on Acid (Warner Brothers)

The Crimea take time out from rocking out, to turn in a sort of Beatlesesque ode to the poor tax. It’s alright, I suppose. It reminds of kicking out time at the pub, bizarrely, and that’s not my most favourite time in the world, I can tell you. I imagine it’s the sort of ‘indie’ that Jools Holland is fond of. Expect to see The Crimea on telly at gone midnight any time soon.

Sam Metcalf


 

The Snowdrops – Sleepydust ep (Matinee)

Indie fop supergroup The Snowdrops return from hibernation with a quite beautiful five track ep. The title track reminds me somewhat of early New Order, and features the synthesised handclap, and for that reason alone should be applauded all the way to the bank. ‘The Cold To Snow’ (fantastic title) ups the glacial feel of this record and gives me shivers down the spine and everything.

‘The Boy With the Hummingbird Eyes’ is produced by Keris Howard who’s managed to make Dick’s voice sound even more fragile than it usually sounds. Bravo for that. It’s also the best track here, believe me.

If the winter is stretching out in front you like a miserable frozen lake, reach for this ep, put a warm jumper on and eat some chocolate. You’ll feel better again before long.

Sam Metcalf


 

The Fallout Trust – Washout (At Large Recordings)

So many fallouts, not enough time. This is marginally better than the above, but not by much. In fact, I don’t really see the point in this. They must know it’s fantastically dull. In a piss poor jazz-inspired Jam kind of way. Yes, that bad.
See video (.wmv file)

Sam Metcalf


Richard Ashcroft – Break the Night With Colour (Parlophone)

You know what you’re gonna get with Ashcroft, and he doesn’t let you down here. Or he does, dependin on which way you dress. ‘Break the Night With Colour’ is the country-ish ballad that he always seems to produce. It’s a trillion times better than most of the stuff I’ve reviewed this month, but then that’s damning with feint praise if anything is. Fans will not be disappointed, the rest of us will just shrug our shoulders and carry on.

Sam Metcalf


 

Boy Kill Boy – Back Again (Mercury)

I blame Franz Ferdinand for a lot of things. Boy Kill Boy capture the zeitgeist perfectly with ‘Back Again’, which features perfect English accented vocals and lots of jerky guitars. I bet they all have posh haircuts. One for the student discos.

Sam Metcalf


 

Morton Valence – Man on the Corner/Sailors (Bastard Records)

Debut single from British Sea Power-endorsed six piece from London. Morton Valence make electro indie pop, and they do it very well indeed, thank you very much.  Thankfully, the two tracks here are totally different. Whereas ‘Man on the Corner’ builds and builds, ‘Sailors’ is an instant pop thrill and features some wonderful watery sound effects. Very clever, you see. I expect, and want to, hear more.

Sam Metcalf


Spark of Life - Things Ain't What They Seem

A rumbling guitar based rock 'n' roll start to the new year that sounds like Ocean Colour Scene would have done if Simon Fowler had spent the last 15 years on 40 Lucky Strikes a day. Not good. 'Like a Stone' starts promisingly with some delicate picked guitar before being swallowed up by some gruff power chords. Shame.

SB


¡Forward Russia! - Twelve (Dance to the Radio)

Good old ¡! - seems like they've been around for ages but now all that hard work and touring seems to be paying off with plenty of publicity and this Paul Tippler produced single produced. It seems a little bit clinical compared with the original demo I downloaded way back when but after a few listens it is obviously the superior product. Infectious, angular, original and quite brilliant.
www.forwardrussia.com

SB


Smother - A New Formation of the Truth/Curiosity Killed the Sexes (Global Warming)

Funny looking bunch of potential Covent Square mime artists but Smother knock a pretty fair emo-smothered (forgive the pun) brand of rock that should see them make the leap to the mainstream with little effort. Intelligent lyrics, irreverent song titles (that's the first time I've ever used that word - makes me sound like Dennis Norden) and insanely catchy tunes. Definitely an early find for 2006.
www.globalwarmingrecords.com

SB


Elena - I Want You (Delicious)

Just when the pedestrian drum intro sounds like it is going to morph into something a little more interesting and electro some horrible growling vocal croaks its way into existence. Seems like Tanita Tikarum has been on the Woodbines since her last single. 'I Want You' to stop mithering my ears - the B-side is even worse.
www.elenaonline.com

SB


The Kooks - You Don't Love Me (Virgin)

Dammit - it's true what they say - The Kooks do write rather fine poppy sing along-a-thons that will have the youths bouncing in their (ironically) expensive Cons the length and breadth of the land. Definitely one of the best songs on the new album and easy to see where the Supergrass comparison come in. Please don't waste my time with an instrumental version though - I've got ironing to do.
www.thekooks.co.uk

SB


Missileer - Breathe (Notting Hill)

The choice of two versions of title track 'Breathe' sung by no other than Jo Price, voice coach to the stars on ITV's Soapstar Superstars and the misleadingly labelled 'bonus' track as well. Hmmm. Who on earth would want to listen to this? The woman can sing but I don't need to have a demonstration of every vocal technique available within a 10 minute CD while listening to a bunch of session musicians who would be better sent back to their day jobs writing tracks for the Sugarbabes and filming documentaries. Be gone!

SB


 

Her Name is Calla - The White and the Skin Nylon

This is more like it. Turn up the volume and poor yourself a glass of wine. Her Name is Calla return with two tracks which will make you weep. It may be tears of joy caused by the beautiful sound emanating from your speakers or it may be tears of sorrow from the doom laden guitars and vocal harmonies which layer like the voices of a thousand weeping widows. Immaculate.
www.hernameiscalla.co.uk

SB


The Boy Least Likely To - Little Donkey (Too Young to Die)

Whilst pondering why we are reviewing a Christmas single in January you may also like to think about why everyone eats sprouts at Christmas and how to exchange the unwanted gift of a Lloyd Grossman his and hers matching liquidisers for something more useful. For my part I shall wonder what the point of this is. Bah humbug and all that. It is free to download I suppose...
www.theboyleastlikelyto.co.uk

SB


The Boy Least Likely To - Bits of the Best Party Ever ep (Too Young To Die)

For all their over-use of bells and bizarre banjo/folky arrangements which make them sound like a latter day version of the Wurzels at times, this EP is worth buying for at least two reasons. Reason 1 is that 'Be Gentle With Me' is a pop nugget. Reason two can be distilled into just a few words which make up a line in 'Monsters' - a song about how loathsome children are. I present you with, 'dipping their pissy little fingers in the pick 'n' mix'. Absolute genius!
www.theboyleastlikelyto.co.uk

SB


 

Mooli - One Design ep

Two piece Mooli produce a synth-laden sound that makes you wish it was summer and not the height of winter. With a laid back south coast trip-hoppy vibe perfectly complimented by Clea Llewelyn's dusky vocals, 'One Design' sets us off at a languid pace akin to Portishead. But each track on this ep takes us in a slightly different direction but all immaculately produced. 'Save You' is a little more upbeat and not could be mistaken for a lost Morcheeba track - no bad thing. Closing track 'Underneath the Same Sun' sounded suspiciously like it was going to turn into 'Torn' by Natlie Imbruglia at one point but safely evaded this obvious direction. A promising offering.
www.moolimusic.com

SB


 

Monkey Swallows the Universe - Jimmy Down the Well/Sheffield Shanty (SPC)

Beguiling lyrics, spazzy hand claps and jingly indie acoustic guitar are the order of the day on 'Jimmy Down the Well', helpfully ushered along with a smattering of brass for that genuine oop north feeling.

'Sheffield Shanty' is a fantastic sounding slice of acoustic guitar weaved into a most beautiful composition by the silky vocals. Or perhaps that should be wrought into a highly polished set of cutlery, seeing as the song is about Sheffield. Then again, probably not.
www.myspace.com/mstu

SB


 

The Scarlet Tuesday / Balor Nights - A Perfect Quarter / Just Cos Keenan Says So (Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)

We should know what to expect from Thee SPC by now and this release certainly lives up to expectations. Two frantic offerings of indie pop that will have the punters in Offbeat shaking their floppy haircuts in delight. 'A Perfect Quarter' features some twinkly synthetic electronic sounds over the boy-girl vocal banter and recorder solo (I kid you not). The balor Nights are a much more pared down sound with a 60s sensibility. Shake your pants!
www.theespc.com
www.thescarlettuesday.com
www.balornights.com

SB


 

Clearlake - Good Clean Fun (Remixes) (Domino)

No release notes, no sleeve, no packaging just a disc with the intriguing sounding titles including 'Chicken Lips Remix' and Caribou Remix. Don't know if this is going to be released or is just a stop gap between the single release and the eagerly awaited new album but it mashes up 'Good Clean Fun' good and proper. You'll just have to wait for the new album to see if Clearlake have mutated into an industrial dance outfit for good.

SB


Joseph Arthur - Devil's Broom (14th Floor)

Multi-talented Joseph Arthur returns with this country infused single. Like a good Burgundy, it is full bodied, rich in taste, smoky and complex. But also like a Burgundy, too much of it would leave you with a banging headache.
www.jospeharthur.com
watch the streaming video (.wmv file)

SB


The Call - Push On EP

Not to be confused THE The Call from California, This The Call are from North Yorkshire. Still with me so far? That's more than I was after the opening title song which literally just faded away after 3 or 4 minutes of meandering rock ballad and vocals from a singer who will be keeping Strepsils in business for a good time to come. Sadly things don't really pick up enough for me to get involved - this is well written and competently performed but it's just so prosaic and produced within an inch of its life that I can't understand why anyone would be bothered to listen to it. Not a complete dead end but definitely room for improvement.
www.thecall.co.uk

SB


The Sunshine Underground - Commercial Breakdown/The Way It Is (City Rockers)

The lovely The Sunshine Underground carry on riding the crest of Kaiser's generated 'Leeds scene' wave and come fresh from winning the Mickey Mouse, sorry, Leeds Independent Music Award for Best Live Act. Anyone who has seen them play live will no why as they give off more energy than an explosion in a Lucozade factory.

This release sees 'Commercial Breakdown' given a nice production spring clean from the original version featured on the 2005 Dance to the Radio compilation and lets vocalist Craig seriously get his lungs around the chorus. 'The Way It Is' and an extended mix of 'Put You In Your Place' provide a much more funked up, dancey and intelligent direction, very much in the vein of The Rapture with mucho cow bell action. Put on repeat and enjoy.
www.thesunshineunderground.co.uk
watch streaming video to 'Commercial Breakdown'

SB


Joff Winks Band - Share My Blues (JWR)

Whilst displaying a worrying concern for the state of modern childrens' television programming (perhaps the Joff Winks band should have a chat to The Boy Least Likely To...) this release manages to combine the genres of power ballad and prog rock with remarkable aplomb. 'Share My Blues' is ostensibly a bit cringeworthy but is left so open ended and is performed so earnestly that I'm left feeling that actually, it's pretty good. Not a million miles away from Four Day Hombre.
www.joffwinksband.com

SB


Arctic Monkeys - When the Sun Goes Down (Domino) 

Erm… the Libertines spring to mind here. Not surprising really - it’s a slight rip-off.  Nevertheless, I like this single a lot. The lyrics are very smart and I love Alex Turner’s accent, especially on the word ‘scummy’. (I doubt this will be that popular in the indie clubs though, only because the first minute or so is a bit slow and thinky and that wouldn’t be a good thing if you were stuck waiting to dance, but… cue drums/tempo change… you can shimmy in the 2nd half. Phew. Hopefully you won’t have looked like a total eejit on the dancefloor). Lots of beautiful harmonic morsels in this, complete with the perfect ending that’s pleasant and chillaxed like its beginning. These guys are bloody good musicians.
>see video

Catherine Porteous


 

Test Icicles -What’s Your Damage? (Domino) 

There’s a really great riff in this but I still manage to be bored by the tune overall. The production seems to be quite polished and I think it would benefit from being rougher, or something, to make the music in line with the style of vocals. The screamy bits do my head in but I’m confident that any emo (or are they called ‘scene’?) kids will love this. My throat hurts every time I listen though (it’s psychosomatic). I need a lozenge now.
>see video

Catherine Porteous


 

Starsailor - This Time (EMI) 

This is a nice and pretty tune. Gentle on the ears and all that. I especially like the piano and hammond elements which give a little bit of added sparkle that is lacking in the music of most generic indie bands kicking about at the moment (that I can think of). The lyrics go along the lines of ‘I won’t let it kill me this time’, so consider this one when you’re wallowing in your sorrows, or bored to tears during a really long car trip - it’s refreshingly uplifting. I’m looking forward to hearing the Sugababes cover which is going to be the B-side of this single, but I can’t help but think that’s kinda copying the Travis/Britney thingy.
> see video (.wmv)

Catherine Porteous


Beth Orton - Conceived (EMI) 

Gorgeous. I could happily listen to this over and over and it would grow on me more and more. It is tastefully arranged and the strings are absolutely beautiful. Beth’s voice is just perfect. I was never really blown away by her earlier stuff, even though it was always technically good, but this is really special. I haven’t noticed her around for ages and was wondering what had happened to her. I guess in the meantime her music has matured (and maybe I have too?) and I’m sure this single will reaffirm the fans’ faith in her. This is my most favourite single in donkeys. I’m no longer jealous that all the blokes used to fancy her – now, I respect her wholeheartedly as a songwriter and musician. I’ll get her new album for sure.
> see video (.wmv)

Catherine Porteous