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singles - february 2006


Central Services – We’re All Smarter Now ep

Central Services have something to do with Math and Physics Club – I forget what now, but the fact is they’re just as good. Imagine the skiffle pop of MAPC combined with the laid back melancholy pop of The Young Tradition and you have Central Services.

Not that it’s all Nick Drake round these parts, you’ll also hear a Farfisa and come Butterflies of Love-esque retro pop. All in all, a most enjoyable jaunt.

Sam Metcalf


Test Icicles – What’s Your Damage (Domino)

My, how Domino have changed. I remember when it was all Flying Saucer Attack and fields. Now you have fashion rockers like Test Icicles. This is pretty much generic indie rock. There sounds like there’s an awful lot of effort going on here for very little gain. One for the haircuts and cut off leggings in the audience, I think.

Sam Metcalf


We Are Scientists - It's A Hit (Virgin EMI)

Well we've all heard W.A.S. by now and know pretty much what to expect. This single is no different - tight angular beat driven riffs and catchy sing along choruses. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it. A good tune but not really comparable with earlier singles 'The Great Escape' and 'Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt', it should keep the punters happy until a new album appears.



The Young Knives – Here Comes the Rumour Mill (Transgressive Records)

Of course The Young Knives were doing the old son-of-Jam judder-pop long before Franz Ferdinand and the rest of them came along. So perhaps now if the perfect time for them to make a comeback. ‘Here Comes the Rumour Mill’ is particularly charming in a very new wave kinda way. It’s no way near as desperate as the Kaiser Monkeys, nor as instantly graceless. It rattles along in a very old school way, with hints of Elastica thrown in for extra thrills. It’s rather pleasing to have them back, I have to say.

Sam Metcalf


Electroluvs - Boy Don't Bother / Teenage Timebomb (Xstatic)

As the name would suggest, an electro stylee Dubstar meets Hiem via Scotland type affair which is entirely ace with retro hand claps, lo-fi beats but with more than an air of glamour. Kaye's distorted vocals on 'Boy Don't Bother' give it just a touch of edginess to keep the pop melodies at bay. A lovely bleepy start to the month.



Navaro - High Wind (Halo)

Not the axe wielding ex-Jane's Addiction guitarist but shockingly bad MOR toss. Note to self: never trust mystical landscape/folksy hippy chick imagery combined with Celtic typeface on front covers. High Wind? Total guff more like.



Ruby Tombs - Those Who Can’t 

Those who can’t is the song I’ve been waiting for to kick all that boring indie shite up the arse for good. It starts off with a robot-disco dancing nightmare that spins out of control and explodes into a propulsive indie vampire fuzz racket! With its cramps style glamorous vocals and dissonant guitars, its just art-zombie rock in a jar!  

If this song gets the attention it deserves, I can just see all the rake thin, skinny suited indie kids running to the dance floor, po-going out of control to this sleazy sexy horror show…I’ll see you on the dance floor. 

Simon Hambrook


Sarah Harvey-Smart - Blinding (Halo)

Jesus wept...I'm not sure who Halo Records' target demographic is but I can almost certainly guarantee it is not the readership of tasty. Perhaps it is used as therapy in psychiatric wards to calm frayed nerves. Have we not moved on from Crystal Gayle in the last 30 years? In fact I prefer Crystal Gayle.



TEAM - Guilty Language of Gossip / One Side of the Conversation (Captains of Industry)

With perfect timing, TEAM enter the fray to provide the antidote to all this MOR crap. 'Guilty Language of Gossip' is a lurching delta blues infused, swaggering anthem which creeps up on with the all the stealth of George Galloway in a red catsuit. Not an obvious choice of single at all, this is a pretty uncompromising track and will struggle to get any airplay I would have thought.

By contrast 'One Side of the Conversation' is a rasping, drop-tuned head fuck of a song which just keeps smashing you in the face, leaving you bloodied and bruised before coming back for more with a steepling power outro that has to be heard live to be believed. Yes!



Calla – It Dawned On Me (Beggars Banquet)

This is an unremarkable piece of average rock music from yet another glum bunch of black clad New Yorkians. So it will come as no surprise that it’s moody, it’s brooding with it’s mediocrity protruding.  After a fairly weak dribble of a title track, we are treated to an acoustic yawn along entitled ‘Contras Los Vampiros’, in which the vocals are so hushed, the delivery so delicate it could pass you by. Having said that, the third track is an alternative take on the first, which is better but not by a great deal. Despite this, the track goes someway to show that Calla are a more than competent group who are able to reinterpret their material to good effect. After listening to this several times and finding that it doesn’t get anymore interesting, it dawned on me that I’d probably never listen to it ever again.   

H.H Thornville


Hands and Fingers - demo ep

Hands and Fingers is the handy work (if you'll forgive the pun) of Stephen Hitchen who has put together three tracks of sparse electronic beats and squelches much in the vein of 'I Care Because You Do' Aphex Twin. By that I mean pretty accessible and melodic but with a definite melancholic under current. 'We Are Already Here' pulsates through 5 minutes of divine twinkling keys and warping beats whereas '7 or 22' is a strangely lo-fi yet disco friendly number. It's hard to fault this EP so I recommend you check it out.



The Violets – Descend/Carnival 

Not normally on a single do I play 17 seconds of the track then rewind it back again and again just to hear the most fierce guitar distorted noise ever! So I’m guessing by the time I’ve written this review I’m going to be on the net joining The Violets mailing list, going to all there gigs and bugging them to be my friend on myspace… 

Any way, when I let the track play in full, it forms into an indie punk dream. Lene Lovich’s vocals jump up and down and rip through ‘Descend’, making you want to get up and pogo along with her. This is equally followed by a thumping drum beat and a sharp guitar racket which pretty much sounds like he’s torturing it for doing something insanely wrong. It’s chilling stuff. 

The B–side, ‘Carnival’ could have easily been a hot contender for an A-side, starting with a minute of delayed spooky guitar riffs that’s supported by a marching drum beat. Your just waiting for a blinding chorus to come in and they don’t let you down because this guitar fuelled noise twists into head glittering punk rock brilliance. Clever lyrics, awesome guitars and pounding drumming, excellent… now what’s their web address?

Simon Hambrook  


Jaed - My Way (Instant Karma)

Start spreading the news...oh, sorry. Nope it's Melbourne-based noisenik Jaed mithering our eardrums again with another Hole-a-like single. As last month, not the worst but a bit too earnest to take seriously. She should get back to Anson's Corner or chill out in Lou and Harold's cafe for a bit.



Layo & Bushwacka! - Life2Live (Olmeto)

Although originally I though this was something to do with 1990's WWF wrestlers a quick listen quickly betrays this suspicion as incorrect. I always find it difficult to review music which is definitely designed to be heard over a massive sound system in a club rather than over a pair of PC speakers and this is no exception. I still really like it though and it's not a million miles away from sounding like Fluke's funkier moments. So if it sounds good in my spare room where I'm surrounded by a stack of drying washing and an incomplete Tax return then I'm guessing it will do the business in the clubs too.



The Playing Fields – s/t EP (Cactished) 

This London based band make a nice noise, very nice indeed. On these two tracks (Third track unfortunately wouldn’t play) things start slowly, before building up to a steady, dreamy, slightly melancholy sound that perfectly contemplates these dark evenings. Track two romps along, again, after slow beginnings, but becomes a song full of gusto and force. This is wonderfully paced and assured song writing. 

Ron Beasley


WhiskyCats - In This Chair (Medical Records) 

‘In This Chair’ is extra special. It combines the highest level of musicianship, intelligent lyrics and impeccable production with an invigorating vibe. Matthew Whitaker has the most beautiful voice with a very pure and silky tone. As if this wasn’t enough, the B-sides on the single are equally as charming and could easily be singles in their own right. ‘Boring Job’ is just as catchy and I am completely in love with the more chilled ‘Acoustic Night’. The latter in particular makes me daydream about wearing a posh frock in a smoky jazz den, sipping cocktails. I find it tricky trying to label WhiskyCats in terms of genre; they seem to fuse Latin, Jazz and an acoustic Joni-esque modal element effortlessly, resulting in aural perfection. Their cover artwork is pretty impressive too. I really have to see these guys live, ASAP – they sparkle. This kind of single is why repeat buttons on stereos were invented. Stunning.

Catherine Porteous


Archie Bronson Outfit - Dart for My Sweetheart (Domino)

Yup, the Domino production line continues and this time introduces us to a new genre completely. R&D anyone? No, not research and development but Rhythm and Dada apparently. I'm not sure a deliberate irrationality, anarchy, and cynicism and the rejection of laws of beauty and social organization are necessarily important in music. Sounds like a PR spin to post-rationalise and trumpet the band's sound.

Which is a shame because these three tracks do more than enough to gain merit in their own right (that of pure musicality) without having to resort to pseudo intellectual clap-trap. 'In the Shadow of Love' is a great bluesey piece and the title track would out-stomp both Gary Glitter and Adam Ant at any psychiatric convention.  Oh dear, I think I may have over exerted myself with long words - I need a lie down...



The Bloom - Rinsing Boots EP (White Label) 

Technically, The Bloom are decent musicians, but there’s something about this EP that is a tad disappointing. I enjoy the first few bars of each track but I get really irritated with the vocals (which I can’t understand a word of) that constantly switch between a kind of scat style and screeching thing. I do like the Hammond on ‘Soup’ and the tune ends with a pleasant bit of guitar. ‘Bless the funk’ starts nicely with a catchy bass/guitar riff, and the initial synth sounds are quite creative but the bridge doesn’t really… erm… bridge anything together smoothly. The trumpet and strings synths that are used later on in the track are quite horrific. ‘Aphrodesia’ has more promise and the piano is good in places. I was quite impressed with the ambitious ending and all those triplets. ‘Mind Those Busy Roads’ is probably the best track on the EP, with its creative use of panning and its ‘Shaft’ style wah-wah effect pedal, but I really can’t tolerate the screeching. ‘Rinsing Boots’ shows that the band have promise but they lack in some much-needed panache.

Catherine Porteous


You Slut! - Grit eyed & Greasy tailed EP

It's not often that of the hundreds of CDs we get sent that one instantly makes us sit up and say fuck me, this is good. So step up You Slut! as within minutes of this EP hitting the stereo rapid-fire emails were winging their way between various tasty hacks looking to spread the word of Derby's best kept secret.

It was recently our pleasure to put on a gig featuring some of the finest intelligent / precision / prog / insert genre rock bands around the UK including That Fucking Tank, Eiger and Lords. Take all the best parts of these bands and mix in a bit of Oxes (on speed) and you have yourself one dirty slut of a band. The danger I find with this type of music is that it can get a bit too intellectual and disappear up its own arse at times, like bad jazz. This is where Grit Eyed and Greasy Tailed is way above the competition - it really keeps the human element and actually sounds like it is meant to danced to and enjoyed. Extremely listenable and extremely fucking good. Go listen.



Jeniferever - Album Sampler (Drowned in Sound) 

Oh god, not another wispy Radiohead meets Keane, with cello and bad poetry? Yes.

Have they added the cello and string sections to induce and reinforce the emotional back bone of the lyrics and music? Yes.

Do they employ the use of a large drum sound and soaring synths laden with reverb to build giant crescendos taking the emphasis away from their mediocre talents? Yes.

Does the last song remind you of U2? Yes

Am I a bastard? Yes.

Can you polish up a hard poo?  I hope so.

Pete Williams


Fire Engines - Discord/Candyskin (Domino)

The Domino bandwagon rolls on, consuming all music with any vaguely punk, or post punk leanings. This double single sees them reaping the benefits from releasing two tracks recorded in Peel Sessions in 1980. And it's amazing how fresh sounding Fire engines still seem. Or is it that a lot of modern new wave is just yearning to be retro? Hmmm...

Either a fast, frantic lurch through the 80's Scottish post punk scene.



Wolf and Cub - ‘Steal Their Gold’ (4AD) 

These Australians are raw. I put this single on my stereo then went for my morning shit. Through the ceiling and the walls I could here a little bit of “At the Drive in” in there music. Not as complex but the same kind of energetic approach and the shouting singer could easily be from the blood brothers. I don’t know how far this band's going to get but hopefully they’ll make it over to England and hopefully they’ll be more about the music than the look.

The last track on this single is like the Doors with Jane’s Addiction, playing to a select group of friends in a sex den. But better.

Pete Williams


Gemma Hayes - Undercover (Virgin EMI)

My first exposure to Gemma Hayes (if you can rid yourselves of the image of me in a flasher mac) and I'm left firmly in two minds. She has a fine voice, capable of extracting the emotion from the most anodyne of tracks. And she will need it because this track to me is nothing more than Carpenters-esque easy listening.



We Yes You Know - ep

I've had this CD knocking around some time and given it a fair few listens but there is always something a little bit unsettling about it. I'm not sure if it's the weirdo vocals or the unexpected key changes. Or the tingly guitars or the B-movie sound effects...

There's a touch of The Adams Family about a couple of the tracks for the above reasons. But there reaches a point where it begins to grate a bit, mid-way through 'True / False' actually. It's one thing to want to try new things and show them off to people, it's another to force them down your throat. 'End of History' offers a brief melancholy respite and change of direction. Some good ideas here in general but a bit of race-tuning needed.



Letters and Colours - sampler CD

It's getting late and time to turn in with a good book but Letters and Colours offer up something interesting here to keep the sleep at bay. There's something definitely dark about this with more than a touch of late 70's bleakness a la Echo and the Bunnymen or Joy Division. There is a big nod to Ian Curtis in the drone-like vocals and the minimal production ethic brings back those good old Factory years.



The Stone Roses - Sally Cinnamon (Revolver)

A re-release from Revolver which provides yet Manchester references. Vintage Roses while they still had some boyish charm and weren't trying to kill each other. It sounds like a look towards a hopeful future compared with the darker days of the 70's before. It also marks the seminal rock 'n' roll moment of the band going into the Revolver offices and throwing paint around.

Yeah, so it's a back catalogue release but it is definitely a collectible. Two versions of Sally Cinnamon, 'Here It Comes', 'All Across the Sands', a DVD of the video, rare artwork and a free poster make this a must have for any Roses fans.



Theoretical Girl – Its All Too Much 

This debut from Theoretical Girl is as minimal as electro art pop can get. It is dominated by a sharp repetitive guitar that bends around a dark bass line and of course a drum machine – it wouldn’t be an electro pop triumph without one. Topped off with her saintly voice you cant really ask for more, that’s until you listen to B side’s ‘Theoretical Girl’.  

Over in two minutes , it shifts from an angelic voice to a distorted brooding tone. I kind of think this song should have been the demo’s A side. The guitars and bass lines are as twisting and dark as ever, but the lyrics are far more in touch with Theoretical Girl herself “I am theoretical girl/I don’t exist in physical world.”  

A very good promo indeed, maybe the wrong way round though. 

Simon Hambrook


Why? - Rubber Traits (Anticon)

A rather splendid effort here from US four piece Why? It's rather like what it would be like to be shut in a lift with Beck, They Might Be Giants and Brian Wilson. Frontman Yoni Wolf has some great lyrics which get heavy prominence in both the music, the packaging and a fantastic video featuring disturbing man meets dog type hound cartoons very reminiscent of Joel Veitch's work at This is instelf should be enough to buy the single Rubber Traits.



Dry County - Nothing Stays In Place (Lazybird)

Although this CD was actually produced in 2004 it is still well worth a listen. A rather bleak electronica interspersed with disembodied vocals and a trusty Speak n Spell sample kicks things off on 'Lost Now' which, at 6 minutes long, is probably two minutes longer than necessary.

If you can withstand the moribund atmosphere a little longer, 'Fell Into an Etch' introduces some interesting beat samples that seem to appear out of nowhere and wrap around the minimalist whooshes and bleeps. It's not until 'Kill the Cold' where some very unexpected acoustic guitar makes an appearance that any sense of warmth surfaces. Which is no bad thing. But a 'hidden' track at the end is always a bad thing, who wants to wait through 30 seconds of silence?



Dead Next Door - Time To Fight ep (Prison)

Loving the graphics and the EP title here lads. But for a band describing themselves as 'sonically charged rock n roll' this just sounds a bit lacking in energy and dynamism. It may be the unflinchingly unremitting vocals or just a poor quality recording but this whole EP just sounds a bit wishy washy and fails to really get me engaged throughout the 20 minutes duration.



The Sailplanes – Books About Cities E.P 

The Sailplanes start this 4 track E.P in kind of a ropey way. With a rather annoying guitar effect that doesn’t really fit the sound at all for most of the first track ‘Sideways on’. A sort of disgruntled bird noise?? All in all, the guitars can get edgy and sometimes romantic. When listening to it over and over again you still feel that it could have been a lot more in your face, but the music is stripped to the bare minimum from the art rock sound that it has been described of.  

Simon Hambrook


Placebo - Because I Want You (Virgin EMI)

Jack hammer drumming, Molkovisms a plenty, rising guitar scales...everything you would expect from a Placebo record really. Which you could look at in two ways - if you are a fan you would not be disappointed, if you are looking for something new and fresh sounding then you're better looking elsewhere. And absolutely no need for an instrumental version unless you run a karaoke club.



Mandala - The Tears of a Thousand Angels ep

The first of a double EP by London-based Mandala sees what could be labelled modern folk though definitely with a traditional slant and utilising a large range of instrumentation and musicians. These multi-layered arrangements vary from the competent to the sublime and would make a fine instrumental release on their own.

When the vocals do appear (which is increasingly sparingly as the EP progresses) I am not totally convinced by them. Although both the male and female parts are proficiently performed they have the overall effect of pushing the music beyond melodic folk and more towards a lounge bar fantasy sound. In fact listen to the title music to Hotel Babylon on the BBC for an idea. But this should not detract from the overall effect. I think there maybe more to come from Mandala if they could harness the vocal in a way that really complements the other sounds.



Queen Kong - The Leech

More tech noir from Ireland, this time in the form of Queen Kong. Not a great name but the content more than makes up for any shortcomings at the christening. What appears a a four track demo actually includes 4 videos and also another 20 MP3s by the band, representing their full recorded output. Ambitious stuff.

As is the music. I couldn't quite work out why Queen Kong wished 'Kraftwerk were a Mike Patten scam all along'. I mean, who wants to see German electro bods drinking piss from their own shoe? But after a couple of tracks the analogy makes more sense. The fusion of that precise and cold electronic sound with a more human element to form a complete visceral entity that rocks, especially during 'Death Threat'. But there is a poppier finale with 'So Brand New' which could be a real club hit (if you go to very strange clubs). Excellent stuff.



The Shocker – Up Your Ass Tray 

Nope, I don’t know who L7 are, or used to be. Neither do I remember a certain member throwing her bloody tampon into a crowd…hmmm could it be because you sucked?  

So I’m not really bothered what Jennifer ‘Precious’ Finch is doing these days. But for everyone else’s interest she’s singing and playing the guitar in ‘The Shocker’ well when I say singing, I mean whining like she’s got two plugs stuck up her nose.  

All in all…with the pointless lyrics and dodgy 80’s metal riffs and not to mention the lairy biker boy/girl shouting, it sounds like they all signed up for a Motley Crue tribute band.  

Simon Hambrook


Bubba Sparxxx - Ms. New Beauty (Virgin EMI)

Ah, I see by adding the 'Ms.' rather than 'Miss' Bubba Sparxxx has avoided being sexist...errr, well sort of. If you don't count singing about booty dancing (which I understand is all the rage with the young folk and not actually sexist at all). You wouldn't get it down at Gullivers in Grimsby I can tell you...

Does include a couple of 'edits' (note: not mixes, but edits) including a really bizarre 'Explicit a capella' edit. Or put another way, the album track minus music - amazingly generous.



The Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle With Me (Too Young To Die)

This could not be any more removed from Mr Sparxxx above. The most gentle work of an already pretty gentle band, 'Be Gentle With Me' is all banjo and chime bells with a lovely falsetto chorus that sounds like a sing along at closing time in a Dublin pub.



Trabant - Loving Me / Galdur (Southern Fried)

More bleepy earnest disco rock from Iceland via be-y-fronted middle aged sex gods Trabant. It's a bit of a niche market that Trabant are trying to sell to but I suppose they are very good at what they do. It is a full on rock n roll attack complete with a guy on decks throwing in some mixes and samples. I don't think there'll be any Tom Jones style knicker wetting but good fun all the same.



Absolut Kravitz - Breathe (Absolut)

I like vodka. I have a particular penchant for Absolut. I also may possess a Lenny Kravitz CD somewhere (we all have our skeletons in the closet). But this I find a very disturbing trend. An artist releasing a track which is (if you believe the media guff) 'intended to form the artists interpretation of the Absolut brand'. Or, put another way, 'we're going to piggy-back our brand on an already well known artist in order to invade an otherwise untarnished media. Shame on you Mr Kravitz. Shame on you Mr Absolut.



Hardkandy - Advice (Catskills)

The latest Hardkandy single features the popular vocal skills of Terry Callier who must have fitted this recording in between his latest Massive Attack effort. An even slower tempo ballad type number than 'Three Days' this single has the added bonus (if you look at it that way) of no less than 7 remixes of the same track. The basic radio edit is a pretty solid acoustic guitar/vocal version but a couple of the remixes are pretty good too - the 'Hardkandy Rerub' version somehow manages to inject a bit of a Madchester swagger into what would seem to be a completely inappropriate song for that treatment. It's not going to set the world on fire but for a single, over 36 minutes of music is pretty good value at least.



The Spinto Band - Direct to Helmet (Virgin)

I'm not sure I really get The Spinto Band but this quirky single with B-movie samples and a electric flamenco-ish guitar is quite pleasing for a Saturday morning. There's even some ELO sounding harmonies knocking around - most harmonious!



Big Strides – Let’s Get Nice (Tall Order)

Oh no. It’s funky. And there’s a bit of jazz. This is possibly the worst record I’ve heard in years. And I’ve listened to some shit, believe me. My ears have started bleeding.

Sam Metcalf


Freelance Hellraiser - Want You To Know / Pound For Pound (Ugly Truth)

A strange combination of songs here - 'Want to Know' is a kind of melodic happy go lucky indie to invoke summer days, swallows diving, the thwack of leather on willow, you get the picture...

By contrast, 'Pound For Pound' is a dirty, scuzzy, Euro-electro beat fest spilling over with Moogisms and squelchy bass. Definitely my favourite of the two on this release which, as Gilly Goulding may say about a well picked Pinot Noir, the CD is a good all rounder.



Humanzi – Long Time Coming (Fiction)

More new wave sounds, this time from Humanzi, who mangle their guitars like a bastard on the title track, before going all late-Joy Division on ‘Out on a Wire’.  ‘Fix the Cracks’ is so tense it might have a breakdown in the queue at Asda before some misplaced synths get in the way and calm it all down. The other two tracks are pretty poor to be honest, but Humanzi have displayed that they might just stand alone from the other guitar wielding indie sluts trying to get into the charts at the moment. Wll done to them.

Sam Metcalf


The Television Personalities - All The Young Children on Smack (Domino)

Never ones to pass up on cashing in on any breaking news or media mêlée, Domino see fit to release 'All The Young Children ON Smack' - a very lo-fi number featuring just a gruelling drum beat with a rambled vocal over the top. Probably not the commercial appeal of Arctic Monkeys but look out for Domino's next headline grabbers - 'All Lib Dems are Gay', 'Price of Gas Through the Roof' and 'Evil Muslim Cleric Jailed for Looking a Bit Shifty'.
watch video (.wmv file)



Maximo Park – I Want You To Stay (Warp)

Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Yeah, yeah., yeah. I like this more than other Maximo Park songs, it has to be said. It reminds me slightly of 17 Seconds-era Cure, but with some Depeche Mode keyboards. So, you know the drill by now. Unfortunately, the nice northern accent seems to have disappeared, but you can’t have everything from your nu-new wavers these days, it seems.

Sam Metcalf


Mighty Six Ninety - Believable (Kids)

San Diego's Mighty Six Sixty release this inoffensive guitar indie single which is heavily influenced by The Smiths I the guitar part with long ringing notes dancing across the comparatively moribund vocals.

Flip side 'Northern Border' adds a few samples for a bit of variation but fails to get out of the mainstream indie crooning niche.



Dios Malos – I Want It All (Full Time Hobby)

Good grief. I know this is supposed to sound all 70s and everything, but this is sickly in the extreme. It sounds like a bad Alvin Stardust singing the hits of Denim. Get it away from me. Immediately. Else I’m telling Gary Glitter..

Sam Metcalf


The Whip - Frustration (Kids)

Whereas the original version of 'Frustration' sounds like something akin to a mundane New Order tribute band, thank the lord for the lovely Performance characters who manage to whisk it up with a frenzied remix. The remix knocks spots of the original in my eyes and could definitely lead to me slowly vibrating back and forth in the staccato action I call dancing.



Nightmare of You – The Days Go By Oh So Slow (Full Time Hobby)

Ooh, you miserable buggers. Someone’s been listening to Morrissey, and possibly copying his lyrics. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, and ‘The Days…’ rattles along at a pleasant pace, and manages to sneak around in your head for a fair while after you’ve first heard it. But it also sounds a lot like ‘We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful’, and that wasn’t the best Morrissey single. I want to like this, but  when I’m going to see the real thing in April, it’s hard not to compare and contrast. Sorry, like.

Sam Metcalf


Mandala - Before Memory ep

I'm afraid the heartfelt crooning which I found objectionable on 'The Tears of a Thousand Angels' seems to appear far more often and persistently on this EP. Nothing wrong with the odd short blast and the music still has a kind of sea shanty meets pub folk band feel. But there are definitely times when it veers off into noodling jazz lounge bar territory which leaves me noodling off for the skip button.



Ellenby - Run Away EP (Levelsound)

Ahh, a band, not a Mr/Mrs Ellenby. It's a kind of male/female combo thing which produces not offensive ballady type acoustic songs with a sparingly used bit of wistful harmonica. Bit too much 'yeah yeahing' for my taste - sounds like Liz Young has fallen inside a tumble dryer at times.



Little Fish - Revolution EP

For reasons best kept to herself, Little Fish is actually called Julia Sophie. I think I prefer Julia Sophie. But either way, there is something of interest here with a pared down production and vocal attack reminscent of 'Rid of Me' era PJ Harvey.

'Ashes' is a more lamenting tune but again the likeness to PJ Harvey comes out in the vocals. Quite bleak and minimal with little other than acoustic guitar ringing through this is quite a beautiful song but I would like to hear Little Fish mixing up her volume/attack and adding a few more mellow moments to really create an arresting contrast.



Rival Joustas - demo

Uncompromising guitar parts, high in the mix are order of the day here. Roping in some precise and quirky time changes further makes you sit up and take notice. But I'm really not sure about the production - the vocals seem too disembodied from the music and jar a bit.

But in general this demo is bristling with energy and ideas that a few knob tweaks and slider nudges could weld into a wonderful thing.



Envelopes – Free Jazz (Brille)

Possibly the best proper indie band to emerge over the last six months, Envelopes follow up the cutesome ‘Sister in Love’ with the even more cutesome ‘Free Jazz’. And if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then you’re very bastard wrong and should go and listen to some grindcore, or whatever it is the longhairs are listening to today.

‘Free Jazz’ bounces out of the speakers, and reminds me a little of Sugarcubes on their first album, especially with the gobbledigook lyrics. There’s also bits of Bearsuit in there somewhere, and some ace keyboards. All in all I want to hug it.

Sam Metcalf


Massive Attack - Live With Me (Virgin EMI)

Bristol's best-loved trip hoppers seem to have taken time our from their constant internal wranglings to pen this single featuring the velvety vocal of Terry Callier. Pretty much standard Massive Attack fare really, soulful, immaculately produced and very moody.



Dem Franchise Boyz - I Think They Like Me (Virgin)

Oh yes, Urban music eh? Frankly this stuff gives me a headache. Did make laugh that the artists are named 'Jizzal Man', 'Parlae', 'Pimpin' and 'Buddie' when in fact their real names are really Bernard, Maurice, Jamall and Gerald. What would their mothers say? And another 'a capella' version which is blatantly the album version without any backing track. Come on...
watch video (.wmv file)