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singles - may 2006


 


 

The Resistance - Demo (Dead Media)

 Promising demo from a Cambridge electro threesome. '90 Seconds Over Nanterre' is a great opener, having Fatboy's winning way with a sample, though it could be a little heavier. Literalists will also be offended at its 105 seconds. 'The Baltic Fleet' apes Aphex and Berlin Bowie, all ghosts in the radiators and insects in the life support. 'Hawaii' thrubs and complains like a generator going twice as fast as it should, and would come alive with a suitably dirty vocal. Interesting tunes, evocative titles, even a press release that hints at a manifesto. Huzzah!

www.deadmedia.co.uk

Robin Fahy


Akira - Patriot/Atom

Akira do not follow any trends or musical fashions in any way and this split single just reinforces this point. Despite the disc getting glued into the hand produced packaging resulting in getting stuck in my CD player by globs of glue, 'Patriot' eventually managed to play and didn't disappoint. Mantra like solo vocals give way and build into wailing guitars with drum and bass solos which keep breaking up then building into viciously delicious finale. Like a warped amalgamation of three or four separate tracks all equally worthy of hassling your ears.

Atom is a much quieter affair (until the last couple of minutes when normal noise service is resumed) with a really strange clipped production that skips and breaks up. Or that could be the residue of the glue from the CD again. You just don't know with Akira.
www.akiraband.com

SB


 

The Kooks – “Naïve” (Virgin)  

By the time you read the review of this, this song will have imprinted itself in your brain as a permanent fixture and it’ll probably still be in the Top 5. It’s perky and bouncy and summer-y, but has one annoying factor – the singing man’s voice, well his accent really, reminds me of Dick Van Dyke trying to be a cockney in Mary Poppins, or Blink 182 in “I Miss You”. It grates on my lugholes. Still, this band has got everyone pronouncing the word Kook properly, so some praise there too.
Watch video to 'Naive'

Dave Procter


Revl9n - Someone Like You (Because)

No, not a typo but a bizarre spelling - the kerrazy Swedish cats. I mean, how on earth do you say that? But this EP is a lot easier to work out - a mighty fine symbiosis of screechy new wave guitars, electro bleeps and beats and some rather trippy Doorsian interludes.

'Spin' keeps up the tempo with some bass driven funk that seriously rocks out and the whole package is rounded off nicely with the synthfest that is 'Closer', despite the vocals sounding dangerously like Gwen Stefani. a minor indiscretion on an otherwise blissful creation.
www.revl9n.com

SB


 

Pilots of the South - 'Arbury Demonstrations' (R*E*P*E*A*T)

In the dark days before Gutenberg's movable type works of importance had to be transcribed again and again by teams of monks. However diligently they laboured errors would creep in, and be compounded through generations of a text. Something similar has happened here - the first two tracks - 'No One Cares' and 'Piccadilly' - are a chinese whispers account of Babyshambles. 'Keep On Talking' takes its cues elsewhere and is all the better for it, a fab slab of 70's white blues that doesn't hide its influences but isn't enslaved to them www.pilotsofthesixth.blogspot.com
www.repeatfanzine.co.uk  

Robin Fahy


Roebeck - Do You Remember? (69dB)

Light and uplifting dance synth, though I say dance in the loosest possible terms. Reminiscent of Air in the deftness of touch and production but with some more soulful overtones a la Massive Attack. Great to chill to on a summer evening.
www.roebeck.co.uk

SB


 

Miss The Occupier – “Wrapped In Plastic”/ Freezer Burn – “Dealing With Your Mental Illness" (Skribble Records) 

Lovely, double sided 7” vinyl action, I like these moments. Miss The Occupier give us a blast of noisy, 3 minute, Sonic-y punk. Very satisfying. Freezer Burn kick off sounding like The Wedding Present, then all hell breaks loose as the sonic cathedral pedal is stomped on, then it cools down a bit and goes a bit Cribs-y. It’s breakneck speed a gogo here mostly and the drummer plays like a new world record of bpm for a human could be achieved. They also find time to fit in a gentle, looping triple harmony part in the song as a, gulp, type of coda. Ideas you see and top stuff.

Dave Procter


Hey Pablo! - The Allstar High School Debate Club ep

The second EP from midlands based bizarro-rockers Hey Pablo! Which leaves us with an interesting conundrum. To look at the kitsch 'wacky' packaging and 'zany' artwork you would be left thinking this is a pet project gone to far. But 'Police Car' is really good. Seriously. And even 'Rise Up' has a certain professionalism about it's rap rock crossover, a bit reminiscent of Faith No More/Boo Ya Tribe from Judgement Night.

'$5 Shake' sees Hey Pablo! striving for that early Chili Peppers funk rock sound but gets mired with some joke vocals. 'Dr Laydon's Theory' is pretty similar too, with some kick ass bass but bonkers vocals like 'Magic Johnson' from the Chili's 'Uplift Mofo Party Plan'. Great in parts, daft in others. Just what are you Hey Pablo!?
www.heypablo.com

SB


 

Tens and Units - Demo

Undistinguished emo pop. Of the five tracks 'Wish you were her' is the closest to a single and could slip easily into a eighties TOTP. 'Kingdom of England' pares things down without significantly foregrounding the vocals, lyrically reminiscent of b-side Suede (not an insult) or their coda The Tears. They could do with another couple of speeds - 'Eve's Song' gets closest, but it flirts awkwardly with trance when it should be moving in for the grope. www.myspace.com/tensandunits

Robin Fahy


The Vines - Anysound (Heavenly/EMI)

Short and sweet at 1 minute 58 seconds long, 'Anysound' is probably the high point of The Vines' 'Vision Valley' album. Scratchy guitars and crashing drums are mauled by Craig Nicholl's powerful rasping vocals. But then one man's powerful rasping is another man's forced and unwanted. You decide.
 

SB


 

Adam Kesher – “Where’s My Place” (Cherie Machine/Emergence) 

This is so now it’s painful. There is Talking Heads, Orange Juice, The Associates, Gang Of Four and much early 80s synth action. And some The Rapture. And, of course, plenty of disco hihat action. Last song “160” shows the most promise, but the rest shows someone a band that wants fame soon before this sound is tomorrow’s lift music.

Dave Procter


Uncle Ray - Miss You (Singer)

Uncle Ray is 'a disciple' of erstwhile Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller and has put together a whole album of 'chilled out' reworkings of classic Stones tracks including this one, 'Miss You'. It includes a full sax solo by Mel Collins which was cut from the original apparently. It all sounds like it should be banished to late night listening on Radio 3 to me.
www.singerrecords.com

SB


 

Miss Black America - 'Emotional Junkmail'

Ruby Slippers Records The sticker on this promo version of this single has a quote: 'The Best Band in Britain' - Rolling Stone. Nothing unusual in displaying this - hell, if I got a review like that I'd tattoo it on my face - but it creates unavoidable expectations. 'Emotional Junkmail' doesn't cut it. It's a satisfyingly lean slice of angst punk, and both it and b-side 'It's Alright' have vocals from Seymour Glass that hook consistently above their lyrical weight, but it's primitive stuff. This route one approach to rock is a light year from the nod and wink arch-ery that currently pervades the British indie scene, and has always found less favour here than in the US...home of the Rolling Stone. Going back to downloads 'Dot Dot Dot' and 'The White Noise Inc' makes their case rather better, showing greater dynamism and dimension, and this single at least suggests it's the recorded tip of a live iceberg.
www.missblackamerica.net
www.rubyslippersrecords.com

Robin Fahy


Dead Disco - City Place (Playlouder)

Uber-glam new wave cum electro rockers Dead Disco haven't been around long but are certainly causing pleasant ripples across the Leeds musical pond and beyond. I won't be the first person to suggest the Blondie-esque vocals and the tightly constructed song writing. 'City Place' seems to belt along, all glitzy and sophisticated but just lacks un peu de passion. No doubt that would all come to the surface when they play live.

SB


The Hungry I - Birthday

A recently unsettled existence which has seen The Hungry I creator Jon Stobler move from the south coast up to Edinburgh and back down to the dubious delights of Northampton surface on this brooding and unsettling release. Opening with some grandiose, almost Bond-theme horn sounds, 'Birthday' contorts and switches between what sounds like several separate songs. But they all slide past each other in an ethereal soundscape made up of eerie falsettos and huge reverb.

'The Jaws of Love' sounds like something is playing at the wrong speed then does the schizo thing again before culminating in huge orchestral choruses. Final track, a remix of 'The Idiot' inhabits a much bleepier synthetic electro territory and is probably the nearest thing to an easy listen on this EP made up of massive compositions and moods.
www.thehungryi.co.uk

SB


 

Ben Harper – “Better Way” (Virgin) 

2 mixes of the same song, a song of hope and positivity – the Peace Mix is all sitar drone, slide guitar, overlapping vocals and folky to fuck drumming on what sounds like cardboard boxes. Pretty ace then. Disappointingly, The War Mix seems to be exactly the same, except for the nicking of “Sympathy For The Devil”’s bassline in parts. Oh there’s some more slide and some plinky plonky piano, which sounds like me playing piano, such is its occasional randomness. Not as good as the Peace mix then, but when is War ever better than Peace?

Dave Procter


Justice vs Simian - We Are Your Friends (Ten/Virgin)

Yes yes yes! Parisian discoteers Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Auge have cooked up another winner with this bumpy funky reworking of Simian's 'Never Be Alone'. Seriously good - I defy you not to dance or at least wiggle just a bit.

SB


Wallspace - How's Your Love Life (Laughing Outlaw)

'How's Your Lovelife' is a raw brute of a single which could just as well have been crafted in the mid sixties using big valve amps and antique recording equipment. Savannah Elias provides a female equivalent to Mick Jagger and the basic drum pattern shared with The Stone Roses' 'I am The Resurrection' hammers on right through the whole track. Nothing much new to hear then but a decent effort all the same.
www.wallspaceband.com

SB


 

Lo Slung (Feat. CoCo Electrik) - 'Pretty'

Don't share a mic with these guys, you'll catch something. Sleazy, lascivious funk akin to Add (N) to X with the infection rate of Junior Senior. At some point between b-sides 'C'mon, Do You Like It?' and 'Girls Don't Like Guys' I got lost in a metaphor about Prince out at sea in an ashtray, caught in the perfect storm... Forthcoming album 'The New Black' promises a collaboration with Jamie Cullum - I fear for his soul...

Robin Fahy


Vformation - Little Heart (Double Dragon)

Little Heart is a generous mix of twinkly guitar and thunderous bass, drum and distorted choruses. Simple yet not formulaic, bludgeoning yet delicate, 'Little Heart' is a track of sublime contrasts.

'Open the Oceans' is a much more jerk-pop affair, more angular and sinister but certainly no worse off for it. A pair of gems.
www.vformation.net

SB


 

The Human Value – “Give Me” (Big Deal) 

A 4 track fuzzed up beast of an EP, clearing out the wax, and it’s dark. The vocals are Siouxsie Sioux and PJ Harvey, the beats are more punk and mushy. Nice.

Dave Procter


Champion Kickboxer - Perforations (Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)

Sheffield eccentrics Champion Kickboxer release this classic as a free download only single from the SPC website. I don't think there is any other band quite like Champion Kickboxer (or indeed, as tall). With their highly considered twiddly guitar motifs and deliberately stilted vocals which suddenly explode into a kaleidoscope of harmonies this will be one of the most interesting records you'll hear this month. So go on, download it.
www.theespc.com

SB


Oom - Poison (Series 8)

Anyone who listened to the Nyquist Theory compilation album will be familiar with the staggering work of Oom. 'Poison' follows up on the success of 'Black Heart' and sees a continuance of the bittersweet theme. Seriously menacing and catchy electrics which have been beefed up by some live guitar and drums are the perfect counterpoint to Debbie Clare's soothing vocals. It's easy to see how she managed to blag a guest vocal on the latest Massive Attack album.

'Coming Alive' is a much more rock orientated  number in which the live drums really make their presence felt with a rockabilly style beat. This sits a little bit uncomfortably with the atmospheric soundscapes which sandwich the track on this ep. The acoustic version of 'Drive' really lets Debbie showcase her vocal range and highlights the crisp songwriting of the band.
www.oomroom.co.uk

SB


 

The Horse And His Boy - 'Relics' (R*E*P*E*A*T)

There are two types of melancholy. The first, the expression of universal woes, timeless gut punches we can all raise a salutary glass to - as evinced by Macgowan, Cohen, maybe even James Blunt. Then there is the other, the self pitying ramble that has your friends putting their phones on divert. Horse and his Boy maunder tunefully but largely unappealingly. 'So Unnatural' is the best, the least solipsist, but a refrain of 'Is there really any point in trying?' will test even bleaker folk than me. To be fair some of the damage was done by a press release which seemed written by Dr Raj Persaud: 'The tracks are themselves some sort of music therapy, for without expressing pent up emotions you run the risk of self destruction.'. And on line two...
www.horseandhisboy.co.uk
www.repeatfanzine.co.uk  

Robin Fahy


Sucioperro - Dialog On The 2 (Captains of Industry)

As mentioned elsewhere in the album reviews I don't really get Sucioperro's brand of math-cum-emotive rock. There are plenty of taut, fast riffs but the vocals do come over all emo which seems at odds with some of the heavier parts. Each track cuts back and forth between riffs and time signatures so even when Sucioperro hit on a winner it is short lived. Witness for example the schizophrenic 'Conversation with a Wasp' where a central section of jack hammer dropped guitars gives over to an angelic alter boy vocal. Maybe if I wore wrist bands?
www.sucioperro.com

SB


Ed Harcourt - Visit from the Dead Dog (Virgin EMI)

'Visit from the Dead Dog' is is a largely piano driven song considering it features the guitar of Graham Coxon. But the guitars are kept pretty low in the mix well below the 2001 Mercury Prize nominee's trademark breathy vocals. A tootling little song, a bit lacking in substance to get me excited but not awful either.
www.edharcourt.com

SB


 

The Raconteurs - Steady As She Goes 

More hyped than a riot, the Raconteurs arrive on our shores in a blaze of publicity. A modern day ‘supergroup’ of sorts, containing Jack White, (a man whose doubtless talent is hampered by an ability to distinguish between blues and bluesy,) and some other blokes, most notably Brendan Benson. 

Apparently the Raconteurs owe their existence to the fact that Benson and White wrote this song together in an attic and were so impressed that they just had to form a band. That is like me deciding to run a marathon simply because I’ve bought a decent pair of trainers. 

It is a reasonable song though, a sort of fluffy rock. Catchy and mindless it does the job, but you can’t help thinking of them as the sort of band that session musicians tend to form. They’ve one good song and then…what? 

The b-side reinforces this idea: ‘Bane Rendition,’ a truly pointless instrumental. It sounds like a ‘Teach-Yourself-The-Guitar-Effects-Pedal-CD’ (chorus and reverb edition.) 

Timelessly mediocre, unfortunately this is definitely less than the sum of its parts. 

MJL


Placebo - Song to Say Goodbye (Virgin)

Seems like while Placebo have been away they have picked up on a few tips from The Killers about how to put a hook in a song. Seems like the synths were nicked good and proper. Other than that, the normal Placebo style emo and hackneyed lyrics about making mistakes and bad lifestyle choices blah de blah...There is the curiosity of a Radio edit which is actually longer than the album version and an instrumental which is a different length than both the others. How interesting.
www.placeboworld.co.uk

SB


 

Job For A Cowboy – ‘Doom’ (King of the Monsters) 

Brutal stuff indeed from Job For A Cowboy. The first ‘song’ is an incredibly predictable keyboard introduction, the sort of thing Arkangel would be proud to put their names to. However when the first track proper, ‘Entombment of a Machine’ kicked in I felt like my lungs were going to collapse. As a friend of mine so eloquently said upon hearing this “it grabs you by the balls”. ‘Doom’ combines elements of metallic hardcore, technical metal bands such as Dillinger Escape Plan and in terms of some of the vocals, death metal. They don’t sound dissimilar to Cephalic Carnage. Unfortunately, like Cephalic Carnage and a great deal of music of their ilk, the initial impact soon wears off, and it rapidly becomes rather tiresome. To continue the earlier testicular metaphor, the grip on ones balls is rapidly loosened. ‘Doom’ is only an EP and I felt I’d heard more than enough of Job For A Cowboy by the time the final track finished. Not that it’s bad by any stretch of the imagination, fans of the material that Relapse records tend to release would do well to check this out. However this didn’t quite manage to maintain my interest. Must be getting old, bet the kids love this shit. 

Michael Pearson


Howie Beck - Don't Be Afraid (Ever)

Beck's vaguely retro and slightly winsome folk indie is a bit too bland for my liking. A bit too 'I love you, you love me' to get really excited about. That said there are some highlights - the trombone sections in 'Alice' provide an unusual fill for instance, but mainly this is pretty sedentary folk.
www.howiebeck.com

SB


The KBC - Sherlock Groove Holmes (PlayLouder)

Preston three-piece knock out a fantastic jerk pop anthem in 'Sherlock Groove Holmes'. Much high-hat action, multi riffery and funkalicious bass sections make this a track to play over and over. Much in the style of The Sunshine Underground or The Rapture, this is an exciting frantic four minute introduction to the band.

SB


Gotan Project - Differente 

If you check out the album reviews you’ll see I tackle the long-player there as well. Read that instead. Don’t get me wrong, I like the album, the music and this song, but I can’t understand why you’d want to own this as a single. Save up and buy the album instead. 

MJL


Mishkin - Elevate

For all of its intricate guitar picking and effects trickery, 'Elevate' never really seems to go anywhere in its ample 6.12 minutes lifespan other than a bit of a rock out a from the 3 minute mark. This gives the song a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde effect but I expect the baggy jean brigade will love it. But they are doing it with guts and passion, even if it is a bit strangled by some shoddy production. 'Bruised and Hairless' is a heavier staccato speed metal thing with rumbling basslines which speeds up and slows down more times than you can say 'would you like a throat lozenge?'. Heavy as John Prescott's wallet.

SB


Little Man Tate - What? What You Got / Young Offenders (Yellow Van)

Another triumphant real-life musical drama from Sheffield guitar monkeys Little Man Tate. Get a hook, write and sing about the things you have seen your life and record. Simple innit? Although equally fast, 'Young Offenders' is a bit more of a bluesey attempt which actually ends up sounding like a bit of a cowboy film soundtrack during the chorus - no mean feat.
www.littlemantate.com

SB


 

Atki2 – ‘Guilty Pleasures’ (Werk) 

According to the press release ‘Guilty Pleasures’ is largely about the thorny topic of masturbation. Now upon listening to ‘Guilty Pleasures’ the topic of ‘self-abuse’ does not seem to be particularly addressed. My disappointment at this was thankfully tempered by the quality of the material. Atki2’s music is a mixture of Arabic folk and the kind of fucked-up dance music that Warp records mainly specialise in. Excellent stuff, which DJ Rupture fans would do well to check out. I’d even go so far as to describe this as ‘banging’. 

Michael Pearson


Arctic Monkeys - Who The Fuck Are The Arctic Monkeys (Domino)

A touch of irony at work here methinks. Leading off with album opener 'The View From the Afternoon' gets things rocking in a South Yorkshire way on safe tried and tested territory. The remaining four tracks are all new and an perhaps interesting tester to see what the Monkeys can come up with for that 'difficult 2nd album'. There is a definite travel related subject matter perhaps testament to the bands current hectic travelling on the road. There's also a more soulful and introspective take on things with out all the big singalong choruses. I'm not sure if they'll make the cut for the 2nd album but certainly worth a a couple of quid if you are a fan.
www.arcticmonkeys.com
See video to 'The View From the Afternoon'

SB


 

Telepathe – ‘Farewell Forest’ (The Social Registry) 

This four track EP from Telepathe combines tribal drumming and left-field electronica in a manner not dissimilar to Gang Gang Dance. In fact with vocals in part tribal chanting and part Bjork-esque wailings, the similarity to Gang Gang Dance is more than slight. No matter though, Gang Gang Dance are a damn fine band, as are Telepathe. 

Michael Pearson


Archie Bronson Outfit - Dead Funny (Domino)

I love Archie Bronson Outfit. Everything they do contains more energy than a warehouse full of Lucozade and 'Dead Funny' is no exception. This is a raging stomp through massive drum beats, rattling guitar chords and dada-esque vocals. It may sound like a bizarre pair of comparisons but it evokes the likes of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' and also proper deep American country and western. There's a hoedown in a pharmaceutical factory style vibe about it and that has to be a good thing.

Watch video to 'Dead Funny'

SB


 

Monolog - Sticktease ep (Tender)

Monolog aka Mads Lindgren from Denmark, possesses a dizzying array of technological gadgetry, most of which seems to have been put to good use in producing this intricate 20 minute ep.

Swirly percussions which seem to phase between compression and deep echo occupy a good part of the CD and on 'Travel Song' there is practically no melody other than that offered by the various percussive clicks, bleeps and rhythms. This isn't as bleak as it may appear and a minimal amount of shimmering sound is laid over this background of beat to produce a rich and complex composition.

There are heavier moments such as 'Prinshaglgevaer' which is more mechano-industrial to begin before outroing with some gentle sampled guitar parts. There are obvious Aphex Twin and Foetus comparisons throughout though the breakbeats of 'Heartbox' come over as a more original take on the genre. It is also the only departure on the EP from a varied but consistent palette of sounds and techniques which perhaps could have been varied a bit more during the earlier tracks. Good no-wave jazztronica stuff all the same.
www.tender.nu

SB


Christiansilva - Break From the Past (Something in Construction)

What a strange beast Christiansilva seem to be with this sprawling hybrid of a Queen meets Kiss meets Gary Glitter prog-glam falsetto stomp. God only knows what they were thinking of.

By contrast there are four B-sides which are infinitely more agreeable. 'One Little Atom' is many things- catchy, lo-fi and warped to name but a few. 'How to Be A Man' sees the falsetto lost and the power chords dismissed and replaced with a fine little acoustic number. A bizarre 40 second choral number about 'Dustmites' is finally followed by the melancholy 'Can You Feel It?' which is intimate and orchestral all at the same time. Not a band to do things by halves then.
www.myspace.com/christiansilva

SB


 

Torpedo Boyz - Any Trash Professor Abacus (Loriana)

Top 100 in the German Club charts and selected to front a Cheerio breakfast cereal campaign? Need I say more?

SB


 

Cynic Guru - Drugs (Fat Northerner)

Classically trained violinist fronts Icelandic alt/pop/rock band is not a hopeful start. But this is not Vanessa Mae thank christ. 'Drugs' is a suitably trippy stomp through a bizarre range of influences such as Tears for for Fears and even Primal Scream while the vocals are phased in and out of the actual music during the track with an arresting and disturbing effect. And like most music emanating from Iceland these days, this is excellently composed, produced and recorded. I feel a bit ashamed but I think this is really rather good.
www.cynicguru.com

SB


The Spinto Band - Did I Tell You (Virgin EMI)

Jerky staccato falsetto vocals and stop start guitars are the name of the game from these precocious youngsters from the US. Sounds like this tune should belong on the title track of one of those shity TV shows such as Saved by the Bell. It's that annoying. Nice doggie on the cover though.
www.spintoband.com

SB


Dastards - The Trouble EP (Stretch)

Vocalist Wake has a really strange vibrato wobbly voice somewhere between Brian Molko and Ralph McTell - a pretty unusual combination. Which is more than can be said for the tracks on the EP which is fey indie jingling affair with the addition of a bit of phasing. There is no stand out track among them, all twanging along in much the same way. Sends me to sleep to be honest.
www.dastards.com

SB


Page 44 - The Grey Room

I think this wonderfully DIY offering comlpete with hand written CD-R and original Staples jewel case may have been lurking anonymously in the pile of singles demos for a while now. But it's often these little fellas without all the fancy artwork that yield the real gems. Not so this time unfortunately as 'The Grey Room' is a lesson in mediocre guitar based rock that has been done to death. Pearl-Zeppelin-Reef-alikes are ten a penny. Maybe they sound better live. Maybe not. At least they didn't waste a load of cash pressing CDs.
www.page44.co.uk

SB


Century Man - Look Away Now (Triggermouth)

A classic four piece vox/guitar/bass/drums which starts very promisingly with some seriously bubbling bass and pace. 'Look Away Now' is only two and a half minutes long and crams in a stack of energy and excitement which, after the third play, eventually makes it to the end without the sound breaking up in my CD player. Worth the wait though.
www.centuryman.co.uk

SB


Jose Gonzalez - Crosses (Peacefrog)

More sublime sublime indie-folk from Argintinean-Swede Jose Gonzalez on this 2-track single. His distinctive layered vocals are accompanied by a beautifully taut double guitar part on 'Cosses' whereas 'Storm' is a more melancholy and minimal track. Both are fantastic. Both should be listened to.
www.jose-gonzalez.com

SB


Fell City Girl - Swim EP (Lavolta)

'Swim' opens with some twinkling guitars and languid beats that provide the backdrop to Phil McMinn's sensitive-type vocals a la Pablo Honey era Radiohead. 'There Are Statues' has a bit more of an urgency about it but follows in much the same vein, perhaps a little more post rock orientated, as, even more so, is 'Send in the Angels'.

But the by far the best is left until the end when the stop starting guitars of 'We've All Felt the Voltage' eventually explode into life and uplift what could otherwise be quite a shoe gazey EP to something a bit different. But it's a genre that is already packed with competition that is not a million miles different (Snow Patrol, Redjetson et al.) so for all their undoubted talent. it's tough to see how Fell City Girl will make a lasting impression.
www.fellcitygirl.co.uk

SB


Masque - Peacekeeper EP (Topplers)

A not so subtle anti-Imperialist swipe at our not so glorious world leaders in this four track EP from Glasgow's Masque. Leading off with a cheesey marching band intro which may well be metaphor for blatantly following whatever leaders tell us to believe, 'Induction' soon crashes into violent electronic hailstorm of sound. First song proper, 'Let's Play God' features the trademark overdubbed vocals which are overlaid a background track muck akin to something The Revolting Cocks were doing in the nineties. but this has been all mashed up and re-assembled into a Frankenstein's monster of a song.

'Peacekeeper' picks up where 'Let's Play God' left off in pummelling home the anti-war message with a similarly nihilistic lyric and RevCo backing track. Where things do take a departure is final track 'Just Believe What You're Told' which is an incongruous acoustic rant in a Billy Bragg stylee. Oops - no it's not - half way through our balladeer is replaced with an industrial clatterbang of beats and the mantra 'We Are the Good guys, They are the Bad guys, we must destroy them' plus a million samples of the word 'terror' taken from any number of populist television and radio programmes.

Does four tracks of the same subject matter which almost literally (well, sonically at least) hammer home the same message constitute overkill? Possibly. But some messages are worth making a point over.
www.topplers.net/masque

SB


Shoreline – ‘From Eden, Home & In Between’ (Yesternow) 

The first release from Yesternow, a label dedicating itself to the production of acoustic music in all its guises, Shoreline’s debut release is a record of soft quintessentially British folk music.

Opener ‘Lightning’ is a simple track featuring harps, bouzouki, acoustic guitar and vocals and while being quite nice it fails to really be anything more than that. However by half way through the following track ‘Shipwrecked’ its hard not to have fallen for the delicate building harmonies and repeated vocal hook. ‘Sounds like’ feels a little too twee to ever be truly endearing whereas ‘Kings’ shows a nod to the likes of Vashti Bunyan and Espers.

All in all a rather pleasant release which shows a huge amount of potential for Shoreline providing they manage to steer themselves from the jagged rocks of twee folk ramblings.

Luke Drozd


Finlay Morton - Billy Bird (Stoneroom)

Deep panic sets in after 5 seconds as  Celine Dion style pipy things accompany the pedestrian guitars and the oh-so earnest story-telling vocals of Mr Morton. This is some kind of horrible country-folk cross over concoction that is too horrible for words.
www.finlaymorton.com

SB


The Knockouts - Album Sampler (Toppler)

A purely instrumental band? And not dance-based? Surely some mistake? Apparently not as former Luton post-punkers 'Thrilled Skinny' have evolved into The Knockouts and eliminated the words. A bold move which the Tasty jury is still out about. No amount of Theramin activity can make up for the limitations in contributing sounds though the deliciously scuzzy third track sounds like it was recorded on a dictaphone and mixed in a Kenwood Chef. Generally it's an analogue surf punk vibe that you'll either groove along to or get bored of very quickly.
www.theknockouts.org.uk

SB


Quack Quack – ‘Mars / The Great Catsby’ (Run of the Mill) 

There are few things quite as exciting as the prospect of a new release from Leeds premier kraut rock visionaries Quack Quack. Following on from their excellent debut release we have here a wee slice of vinyl featuring double A-side ‘Mars’ and ‘The Great Catsby’.

‘Mars’ is already a firm live favourite with its double drumming shenanigans and John Carpenter-esque haunting keys and shows Quack Quack to be more than mere mortal men. With its throbbing bass and complex rhythms it ensures a sense of foreboding that your legs tell you only a slow sexy dance will help to lift.

‘The Great Catsby’ is the sound of audio treacle sifted through Blackpool Pleasure Beach straight into your brains pleasure receptors. With the gentle electronic backing of the intro to its wonderful bass break in the middle it’s a complex and wondrous surreal pop instrumental that leaves a more than pleasant aftertaste.

This single is the reason you have a stereo and if you don’t buy it you probably don’t really like music at all. Quack Quack wish to show you a good time so just relax, that’s it relax. Slip off that tie and let them unbutton your shirt. It’s going to be all right. You know why? Because Quack Quack know exactly what they’re doing.

Luke Drozd


Phoenix - Long Distance Call (Virgin)

There's a wickedly roguish keyboard melody which seems to creep in and out of this otherwise guitar bop single from Phoenix that keeps the attention span going just long enough to avoid the skip button. Unashamedly upbeat and summery. Bah!

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Luxembourg - We Only Stayed Together For the Kids (Dogbox)

Blimey - this is brill. The title track is like Bryan Ferry singing pulp songs and is full of poppy musical complexity which is only surpassed in its complexity by its catchiness. A bitter sweet ironic take on the age old conundrum of a dying relationship.

'A Secret Public' does not disappoint either and features a vocal that sounds as clandestine as its subject matter. A rip roaring chorus featuring of all things a bit of saxophone (which is kept well in check by the production) bring this little gem of a release to a fine close.
www.luxembourgband.com

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