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singles - august 2006



José González – ‘Hand On Your Heart’ (Peacefrog) 

Another cover from the always bewildered looking Jose Gonzalez this time making an old Kylie ‘classic’ one of his own and it’s a rather nice effort too. Slowed down and tender it’s all very romantic and delicate if not a little wet. Track 2 ‘Down the Hillside’ proves a much better offering evoking a splendid John Martyn flavour while final track ‘Sensing Owls’ is just a little too nowhere to make a real impression. Basically it’s hard to describe the whole thing as much else but ‘nice’.
Watch video to 'Hand on Your Heart'

Luke Drozd


Mighty Six Ninety - Keeping You in Mind (Kids)

Could it be that the label which brought us the genius of iLiKETRAiNS and The Whip have now struck out with Mighty Six Ninety? This just sounds like a load of 80's synth pop nonsense too me I'm afraid. And meatier B-side 'With Me' sounds like a blatant rip off of The Cure. Highly disappointing.
www.myspace.com/mightysixninetymusic

SB


 

Coco Electrik - Apple Pie (Oscillation)

Seems like Coco Electric are stuck somewhere between being Goldfrapp and Betty Boo. A mix of overblown pomp and understated electro cheekiness. The Skylab remix of 'Apple Pie' is absolutely glam stomptastic though and would be worth the purchase alone.
www.cocoelectrik.co.uk

SB


Brainlove 7" Club No. 2 (Brainlove)
Shimura Curves - Stronger
Tim Ten Yen - When the Song Applies to You

Oh-oh. Dangerous ground for Blanchard this. After about 4 milliseconds it is obvious that Brainlove's 2nd release in their split 7" singles series is Casiocore tweepop. Before I have to defend myself against accusations that I am angry with the world (next fucker who says that gets a good kicking, right?) I am just not a big fan of this genre of music.

So just as Shimura Curves cheapo keyboard/laptop sounds have been joined to that arch-indicator of tweepop - the xylophone (why people, why are you all so obsessed with bloody xylophones?) and my toes are beginning to curl, some kind of wonderful choral vocal harmony in the manner of a Christmas carol wafts across the air like the smell of a  perfectly baked mince pie. Beautiful.

Similarly, Tim Ten Yen as well as being damn handsome, commences 'When the Song Applies to You' with a detached lo-fi ranting about an everyday mundane situation. I await the sequels how it feels 'When you Run out of Jam', 'When You Cut Yourself Shaving' and 'When You Stub your Toe on that Box that Sticks Out from Just under the Corner of Your Bed'. But at the 2 minute mark a key change kicks in and is accompanied by a bit of vocal effort and a smarty pants falsetto. A bit John Shuttleworth but much better.
http://www.myspace.com/timtenyen
http://www.myspace.com/shimuracurves

SB


The Needles – ‘Dianne’ (Dangerous Records)

This kicks off promisingly, like a cross between The Strokes and Altered Images. ‘Dianne’ is a respectable glampunk stomp, namechecking such luminaries as Jack White, Andy Gilchrist and Jimmy Knapp (?!). Ultimately it’s an energetic pop-punk slog through territory well mined by the likes of Weezer long ago, but pleasing enough. ‘Delivery Day’ plods a bit more limply, rather like an overexcited Razorlight , whilst ‘Black Belt’ rounds proceedings off with an inoffensive instrumental with a surf twang that could easily be a Ricky Martin or Shakira backing track. A mixed bag of average.

Craig Wood


Napoleon IIIrd-'Hit Schmooze For Me' / Pagan Wanderer Lu-'Repetition 1' (Brainlove)

Part of the Brainlove 7" singles club, this release pairs two of the most innovative leftfield electro pop recording artists in the land on just one perfect slab of vinyl. 'Hit Schmooze for Me' is, for a man who sounds like a robotic one man band in a junk shop, one of Napoleon IIIrd's more accessible tunes. Strangely maudlin yet uplifting at the same time - it is an ode to the life of a the dreary 9 to 5. 'Repetition 1' works in the opposite direction - starting out as a pleasant indie ballad which gradually fragments with some wonderfully spazzy samples and horns. Both similar yet distinctive songs, dripping with firmly British affectations.
www.napoleoniiird.com
www.paganwandererlu.co.uk

SB


Koufax - Isabelle (Rubyworks)

Like a bun fight in a honky tonk saloon bar, 'Isabelle' is all duelling pianos and the rich intelligent vocals of Robert Suchan. Towards the end of the track the pianos even start to spiral and climb in a jazz type shape reminiscent of early Bowie efforts, but the vocals always bring proceedings back to a more comfortable Cali-surf pop.
www.koufax.com

SB


Pretty Flowers - Riot EP (Bananaseat) 

Another punk band from the city that gave us punk who sing about riots instead of starting them. I’m tired, the whole concept is tired, its 2006 and they can fuck off. 

Pete Ubu


 

Addicted - demo

Reach for the lozenges now. Another rock band with hoarse vocalist on the horizon. Even with this arch cliche in place, there is still something a little bit charming about Addicted though, a kind of bluesey naivety to their music. Just keep a lid on the pomp, boys.
www.theaddicted.net

SB


Lost Penguin-Mr Whippy/Disco Dazzler/Mr Whippy-The Matthew !WOWOW! Re-Whip (Pop Disc)

I'm a bit confused. What is the band/are the bands called? How many bands are their - just one? Lost Penguin? Who is Matthew !WOWOW! and is that his real name? Well I think it transpires that this is three songs by Lost Penguin of suitably sordid and cheapskate production to grace the pages of tasty. £4 keyboards are mentioned. We approve. But frankly there reaches a point when teenage 'concept' bands need to grow up and do some proper tunes. The remix by Mr. !WOWOW! is quite good fun - like the early Prodigy playing a rave in your local Toy r Us.
www.myspace.com/wheresmypenguin

SB


 

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – ‘Cursed Sleep’ (Domino) 

Whilst all us Bonnie ‘Prince’ fans wait with baited breathe for the first all new, all solo album since 2003’s ‘Master and Everyone’, titled ‘Then The Letting Go’, we have the first single to keep us going and hold back the excited froth.

Title track ‘Cursed Sleep’ is slick and elegant and has our sweet prince practically crooning along side gliding strings, gently distorted guitar and beautiful backing vocals (courtesy of Dawn McCarthy). It almost sounds like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy does Lambchop.

This is followed by a Waitsian conga-line stomp into darker waters that are the perversely wonderful ‘The Signifying Wolf’. Do you like my sealskin trousers? indeed.

Finally track three sees Oldham on familiar ground with ‘God’s Small Song’. Pained and gentle it is the sound of being gently sexually assaulted.

So after three songs of teasing how do I feel? Pleased yet still a little apprehensive. That said I really am one of those Will Oldham fans who truly believes he can do no wrong so I'm probably not the most objective reviewer but hey, tough shit.
Watch video to 'Cursed Sleep'

Luke Drozd


Chris Singleton - Worry Number One (Universal)

I really wasn't expecting much of this for some reason. Maybe because Chris Singleton has the misfortune to look like an ex-school friend who used to leave snotty tissues all over the place after he came to stay. At least we hoped it was snot - you begin to feel my pain about this? But for a man who seems to have a slightly over-developed interest in rail transport Chris Singleton has created quite an individual sound due to his own production technique of mixing traditional instruments with a barrage of electronic dubrees. Add to that a Slade-style glam rock driven rhythm and a song slagging off city workers who are obsessed with cash and you get the thumbs up.
www.chrissingleton.co.uk

SB


The Immediate - Stop and Remember (Fantasticplastic)

Multi tasking The Immediate are still at all that instrument swapping between and during songs. I've finally convinced Leeds veterans Farming incident to stop doing it and now these scamps need educating too - it never ends I tell. Good job then that their individual brand of perky angular indie pop is distracting enough to forget about their instrument misdemeanours.
www.theimmediate.tv

SB


Big Life Desire - Your Love Is (Whimsical)

Whenever the term 'distinctly English pop' is banded about, I tend to think about paraphrasing with the term 'wet'. You know the score, sweet tinkly second hand keyboard sounds and retired social worker vocals singing about how much they love aubergines or some such. Multiply all these traits by 10 and you will have the net effect  of Big Life Desire.
www.biglifedesrire.co.uk

SB


 

Drive DD - Frisky Disco (Absorb)

Ahh, cast your mind back to the truncated Skodas, the daft wigs and the mental samples to the big beat of Bentley Rhythm Ace. Well Drive DD is actually Mike Stokes of the same and is still apparently crafting dancey but geeky big beat tunes the like of which BRA made their name with. Not a patch on BRA's hits and with an ending that seems weirdly cut off, 'Frisky Disco' is still solid club fare.

SB


Peaches – ‘Downtown’ (XL Recordings) 

Taken from Peaches new, horribly monikered, album ‘ImPeach My Bush’ (which I spout off about elsewhere), ‘Downtown’ is very much more of the same. Slightly sleazy sounding electro punk / funk, that sounds at points not dissimilar to Madonna. Why Peaches is seen as innovative / important my remains a mystery to me, I assume it’s down to the gratuitous profanity that litters most of her records (not this one thankfully) and her ‘racy’ stage shows. Either way this is pleasant enough, but hardly groundbreaking, and within minutes of the single ending I’ve already forgotten pretty much anything about it. The B-sides are more of the same, with a bass-heavy remix of ‘Downtown’ for those so inclined.

Michael Pearson


Duke Special - Portrait (V2)

What the hell is it this month? Has there been some fire sale of plinkety pianos because everyone seems to be using them. Maybe a hangover from the success of Ed Harcourt. Another mediocre music hall style effort which has very few redeeming features. The fact that it is going to be released as download and on 10" 78rpm/33rpm version (the first since 1959 apparently) makes you suspect that the record company knew that it wasn't very interesting either.

SB


The Boy Least Likely to... - Hugging My Grudge (Too Young to Die)

I didn't mind some of BLLT's earlier singles but this single is a saccharin bridge to far and my teeth are already on edge. Plus it has a really annoying Moogy-sounding thing whining away in the background throughout like a stalling dentist's drill. Chilling.
www.theboyleastlikelyto.co.uk

SB


Colossloth - Fly Silver Corpse! Fly! (Skribble)

The first couple of minutes of this track from slurred Leicester experimental noise merchants reminds me of that episode of Peep Show where Jeremy is recording a backing track for Gog's Honda ad and Super Hans requests a sound of dread and foreboding. Well I liked it anyway. And the steady mechanical drone is continuous pretty much through the full 15 minutes. With the exception of some random Moogy warblings, a bit of discordant distorted guitar chord and the insistent drum pattern, 'Fly Silver Corspe! Fly!' is impressively resolute in its resistance to diverge from it's stoical and unbending path.
www.skribble-records.co.uk

SB


 

Gay For Johnny Depp - Put the Shiv To My Throat (Captains of Industry) 

This is Homo Hardcore that will quite willingly beat you off if you let it and for all the screaming and disjointed guitar riffs that go with the hardcore/emo scene Gay For Johnny Depp do lubricate enough to make it easy to swallow. ‘Put the Shiv’ has at its centre a rolling riff which drives along like a penis shaped tank, but the real surprise here is the remix by blacksmoke which is a project involving the people from the KLF of all places who manage to make “Put the Shiv…” possibly better whilst inserting it in to the genre of dance floor filler and for a hardcore song this uncompromising I say well done to them indeed. The end is especially good because it sounds like a very angry pirate.  

Pete Ubu


Whirlwind Heat - Air Miami (Brille)

Ooh - this is rather nasty. And produced on just a bass, drums and Moog? Sounds like it.
www.whirlwindheat.com
watch video to 'Air Miami'

SB


Her Name is Calla - Hideous Box EP (Negotiation)

An EP from Her Name is Calla is always a precious thing, this time in the form of a hand made limited edition package (one of only 500 made) wrapped in tea stained linen (trust me - it looks better than I can describe or my computer can scan). With a name like 'Hideous Box' it is no surprise that this is at the more macabre end of the Calla spectrum. The title track is a heady combination of The Velvet Underground, 'The End' by The Doors and eerie monastic chanting.

'With Eyes So Full of Sparks of Love' is a short but beautiful and haunting interlude of just gently picked guitar and vocals. Final track 'The Good Book' is more of an outro formed by a few piano chords and some ambient recordings, including a baby crying. Following the darkness of the preceding tracks this is feels literally like the dawn the of a new life and looks forward to their next, eagerly anticipated release.
www.hernameiscalla.co.uk

SB


 

Delta Mainline - The Beautiful Sunshine EP

Starting a track with an air raid siren and wah wah guitar is hardly genre breaking. Neither is the three chord rock progression which follows. Adding a bit of flute in the middle of what might be a mediocre Verve cover band track raises some eyebrows. But most of this is so derivative it just makes you wonder why bother? Title track 'The Beautiful Sunshine' oozes into existence quite acceptably with a clearing mist of echo and flute again, but only succeeds in unveiling a meandering track that even Barclay James Harvest would have edited down by a couple of minutes. Quite nicely atmospheric but as a title track either misconceived or wildly self indulgent.
www.myspace.com/deltamainline

SB


Captain - Glorious (EMI)

One of those singles you think you have heard a thousand times before but can't quite put your finger on where. Rik Flynn's affected vocals are ideally suited to the jerky 'oh oh oh' s in the chorus but overall the track is a little formulaic and over-produced for my liking. Like Simple Minds with a brand new synth.
www.captaintheband.co.uk
watch video to 'Glorious'

SB


 

Enter Shikari – ‘Mothership’ (Download only) 

Why the sweet lord of fuck does this melodic hardcore punk monstrosity have an early nineties rave backing to it. It sounds like they’ve lifted it off the latest ‘Bonkers’ compilation that those bastards who live behind me have just bought, those lot that constantly call their children ‘fuckers’. Oh how I wish they’d fucking move. Either that or someone ring social services and have them arrested. I’d do it myself but I’m scared they’d work out it was me and start popping turds through my letterbox.
www.7digital.com/entershikari

Luke Drozd


Kubichek/The Motorettes Split single (Kitchenware)

The Motorettes' 'Relax It's The 80s' sounds like a metal version of McFly doing REM's 'It's The End of the World As We Know It'. If you can get over this fact then you may well like their version of Kubicheck's 'Stutter'.

Kubichek treat us to 'Opening Slot', a rent a post punk angular effort that makes up for in vitality what it lacks in originality. And there cover of The Motorettes 'We Are Solution' sounds little different. What an unholy alliance.
www.themotorettes.com
www.kubichek.co.uk

SB


The Grates - 19-20-20

It’s the sound of summer with the Grates and 19-20-20. Patience Hodgson’s intoxicating and needy vocals can’t help but worm in to your flesh and linger there until you’ve sung 19-20-20 in your head so many times that those numbers loose all their meaning and become nothing more than a series of strange, undulating syllables.

Strollers-esque in vocal delivery and guitar work, the Grates must surely continue to play the bridesmaid and never the bride, as my feminist neighbour once said despondently, yet sincerely of the Strollers as she peered glumly into her perennially half-empty glass.

Alex Clark


 

The Half Rabbits - Tiny Knives for Tiny Minds (Punk Elvis)

The last offering from Oxford's Half Rabbits was one of my highlights of 2005 so this is another eagerly awaited release. And it doesn't disappoint as it dishes out another sliver of The Half Rabbits strangely affected brand of indie rock. Not ones for whimsical subject matter or fey pop gestures, The Half Rabbits deliver a brooding, grown up version of 'rock' music in which Michael Weatherburns's strange other worldly vocals provide the motif and the various members that make up this four-piece cross over in a magnificent cacophony of distortion underpinned by a strong dynamic. It's as if every moment of every song is played as if it is their last and there is no room for slack or wasted space - the sound of four minds exploding with ideas.
www.halfrabbits.co.uk

SB


Parka – “Disco Dancer”/Mr. Fogg – “Seciov” 

A split single from Worst Case Scenario Records featuring two very different-sounding acts:  Parka meld dance and rock in a style akin to We Are Scientists, while Mr. Fogg dispense with guitars altogether to come up with a more electronica-based sound. For me the latter had the edge, not that I’m going to go as far as to give them “love” as XFM apparently already have.
www.parkamusic.com

www.mrfogg.co.uk

Will Columbine


Donderdag - Saturday (white label)

Jingly girl-fronted indie pop a little like the Throwing Muses. Very pleasant but quite unremarkable.
www.donderdag.co.uk

SB


 

Herbert - Moving Like a Train (Accidental)

An understated soulful yet discotheque friendly bop along that brings to mind Alphabet Street era Prince. And for the record, I like Prince. Something and nothing - you wouldn't shout from the hills about it but you wouldn't run to them either.
www.matthewherbert.com

SB


Talk - Bypass Control/Return to Factory (Fortune and Glory) 

This single opens like a Radiohead song so much so that it’s the first thing you can think and first impressions being first impressions it doesn’t help when the dual guitar notes following shortly could have actually been sampled from a certain single from “The Bends”

It doesn’t matter though because the majority of the student population lap this shit up like mothers milk, lactating or not.

‘Return to Factory’ however is a saving grace and although i'm still twitching from a Thom York induced slow eye at least this track shows Talk expertly producing and programming, with a sense of timing in building up a song. It proves they are far from shit really.  

Pete Ubu


 

Ray Lamontagne - Trouble (14th Floor)

Ray Lamontagne has an undeniably fantastic voice for blues. But perhaps this is a little bit wasted on the lacklustre radio friendly single 'Trouble' which for all it's big string arrangements and soaring choruses pales in comparison to the much more minimal live acoustic version of 'Burn included as the B-side. But that's what happens if you gig with David Gray.
www.raylamontagne.com

SB


Speedreader – “In A Way We’re All Winners” EP 

Three pages of hyperbole and the listing of influences as cool as Mew, Stereolab, Super Furry Animals and the Elephant 6 collective may have raised my expectations somewhat. In truth, Speedreader can be broadly defined as Elliot Smith vocals over a lot of unnecessarily twiddly and ultimately rather boring prog. Each of the five songs on this EP stretch about a minute of ideas to several times that length, and there’s nothing big nor clever about that.
www.speedreader.co.uk

Will Columbine


Little Man Tate - House Party at Boothy's

Seems to me that Little Man Tate have generated a certain buzz about themselves which perhaps outstrips their true worth. They still have their trademark clever rhyming couplets but the music and delivery on this one just seem a bit too unashamedly laddish to have any lasting appeal.
www.littlemantate.co.uk

SB


 

Rob McCulloch - Something Abuse (GRCL)

Another feast of Richard Ashcroftalism and over-baked earnest vocals from Mr McCulloch. Not to mention a seriously leaden title track. Filler track 'Charm Less' is, at least more interesting than the run of the mill whinging indie that precedes it, being a quirky skiffle based number.
www.robmcculloch.com

SB


TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me (4AD) 

It’ll be hard to top this band this year and with this being the first single from the 2nd album “Return to Cookie Mountain” its obvious they’ve decided to step further away from obscurity and into the limelight.

Catchier then a (I hate to even say the words) Foo Fighters single but as clever as Sparks ‘Wolf Like Me’ is TV On The Radio’s most pop of all their songs. It still shows there intellect and talent in song-writing skills with a seamless breakdown in tempo in the middle but to me it doesn’t show TV On The Radio at their best.

With the b-side “things you can do” they show the other side of the band with well-orchestrated arrangements, in beats vocals and instrumentation.

As a single it’s a good taster without spoiling it for virgin ears and witha cover design by Vaughn Oliver also known for his work with the Pixies could be a precursor of things to come.

Pete Ubu


And What Will Be Left of Them? - Wet Week in July (The Little Hellfire Club)

A free download single to celebrate the launch of the Little Hellfire Club label sees proto punk new wave icons And What Will Be Left of Them chewing out an achingly cool number that sounds like Debbie Harry duetting with Iggy pop, and that, my friends cannot be a bad thing.
www.awwblot.com

SB


 

Deaf Stereo - House on Fire / Blackout Falls

The first 30 seconds of this throw up so many incongruous sounds that actually seem to work together that you have little idea of what direction 'House on Fire' is going to head into. Rumbling bass, the cheesiest electro handclaps, various electro affectations. The influence of The Rapture seems to be heavy. So where does this track end up going? Well, nowhere at all really once the vocals kick in. There's so much other good stuff going on that the vocals would always struggle to maintain a footing and when they disappear again for the outro it just makes an even bigger case for remixing this as a dance record with minimal vocal. 'Blackout Falls' by comparison seems to be able to integrate the vocal much more successfully by pinning back some of the other instrumental trickery. Pity then that it just cut off at 3.22 minutes without reaching a natural conclusion.
www.myspace.com/deafstereo

SB


My Awesome Compilation – “Awake” 

Great, some Billie Joe Armstrong/Blink 182 no-mark bleating lines like “All you ever wanted was all you ever gave” over a bunch of panpipes. What the hell does that actually mean anyway? It means that I’m not listening to this again, that’s what.
www.myawesomecompilation.com

Will Columbine


tKatKa - Bedroom Dust (Junkbait)

Two tracks here from Shoreditch's finest labcoat wearing, ambo-electro noiseniks tKatKa that will knock spots off most of the stuff you'll hear this month. There's even a sample from the 80's cartoon Ulysees (that of the terrible dubbing). There is a heartbeat-like driving bassline that ropes in all the other disconnected squeaks and bleeps and thoroughly lashes them together into a taut epic.

SB


Joan as Police Woman - Eternal Flame (Reveal)

Like Corrinne Bailey-Rae without the god-awful easy listening songs, Joan Wasser has an engaging voice and this is not a cover of the Bangles, thank christ. Things are always just a little bit off kilter with a tremolo running through the melody and even room for a funky bass male vocal at the end of the track. Then she spoils it by murdering Lord David Bowie's masterpiece 'Sweet Thing'. No!
www.joanaspolicewoman.com
watch video to 'Eternal Flame'

SB


Moneen – “If Tragedy Is Appealing, Then Disaster’s An Addiction” 

Why do some emo bands insist on giving their songs such ridiculous titles? Well, in this instance, it’s perhaps the only memorable thing about an otherwise instantly forgettable track.
www.moneen.com

Will Columbine


Marla Singer - Levitate With...

Seems to me from this triplet of tracks that Marla Singer rely heavily on their strong basslines to drive their tracks along. Which is a good thing because although they are reasonable enough, and Stevie Rees tries to inject some interest with his voice, the general sound is a bit ambling for my taste. And why do they need to invent pseudonyms like 'The Junket' and 'The Vibe'? Muppets.

SB


 

Lydia - Gloria Can't Dance (NZW)

Desperately leaden euro-rock accompanied by trite-as-you-like lyrics and a Scando-howl chorus that would compete with Europe's 'Final Countdown' for shear cringeworthiness. Give it a miss comrades unless you love leather trousers, wear bandanas and are not averse to waving a lighter in the air at gigs without even a hint of irony.
www.lydia.nu

SB


Clocks – That Much Better (Hungry Kid)

This is a sweet little thing. In the very best traditions of eccentric pop, Clocks use delightful REM-ish harmonies combined with stop-start, off-kilter rhythms on the title track, whilst ‘In My Arms’ is more of a psychedelic thing. But there’s nothing really retro here, just great, great pop songs. Straightforward, with no tired frills. Hurray for that.

SM


 

We Are Wolves - LL Romeo (Playlouder)

Oops - this single got caught up with a bunch of albums so this about a month late. But if it hadn't been any good then I wouldn't have even bothered backtracking. We Are Wolves hail from Canada but unlike most Canadian stuff which we get which seems to be either folkish or post rock based, 'LL Romeo' is a chock full of skuzzy synth and manic viocals. Maybe it's due to the French influence in Montreal but this has a very underground European feel about it and is all the better for it.

SB


The Resistance – s/t 

The Resistance prides itself on communicating an anti-authoritative message to the listener through sound alone. Yup, no lyrics, just pulsing feedback and jangly guitar that sound like the kind of thing New Order and a hundred other electro groups have done already. I’m sure The Man, whoever he is, is shitting himself.
www.deadmedia.co.uk

Will Columbine


 

The Spinto Band - Mandy (Virgin)

The best track by far on the album 'Nice and Nicely Done', 'Mandy' is a beautiful mandolin arrangement with overtures from one of those theremin thingies and spacey flower power vocals. Uplifting and catchy - this is almost impossible to dislike - even for me.
www.spintoband.com

SB


Helen Boulding – What a Fool (Maid in Sheffield)

Sheffield’s biggest womanpop export since, ooh, Phil Oakey comes back with some more Jools Holland-endorsed (probably) songs. ‘What a Fool’ is pretty much inoffensive, but I can’t really say it stands out, and wouldn’t sound out of place on the Trent FM Breakfast Show. This is not an endorsement by any stretch of the imagination.

SM


 

The Pigeon Detectives - You Know I Love You (Dance to the Radio)

This single has some absolutely lush guitars working all the way through with a lovely clean valve amp sound. It is also a really well crafted pop song. But I still find the vocals a little bit stilted to make The Pigeon Detectives one of my faves. Maybe it will come with time.
www.thepigeondetectives.com

SB


El Perro Del Mar – “Dog”/”Shake It Off” 

Don’t be fooled by the name: this ain’t no Euro trance outfit but, in fact, ethereal, choir-like vocals of the female variety drifting over strummed guitar and organ. From Sweden. No prizes for guessing what the subject matter is. “Shake It Off” offers more of the same only not as good, and both songs kind of hang in mid-air not doing much but sounding very pretty all the same.
www.elperrodelmar.com

Will Columbine


¡Forward, Russia! - Eighteen EP (Dance to the Radio)

A Dance to the Radio one-two here and also the second review of the same single in two months. Why twice you ask? Well I must have got some advance thing or other the first time which only had the marvellous 'Eighteen' on it. This little beauty by comparison, not only has that version of 'Eighteen' but also three superlative remixes including edits by Yess Boss and Napoleon IIIrd. And that's not all. There are studio versions of 'Six' and 'Fourteen' too. What an absolute belter. And if that doesn't get you excited about the Russia then perhaps you should just stick to buying Shakira records.
www.forwardrussia.com

SB


She Wants Revenge – Tear You Apart (Geffen)

God, there are some awfully-named bands around at the moment, aren’t there. ‘Tear You Apart’ starts off like it should be on The Cure’s ’17 Seconds’ album. Then there’s some pretty funny robot vocals. They’re not supposed to be funny; they’re dead serious. But they’re hilarious. Those in the audience that wear bad mascara and hang around the city centre on Saturday afternoon will love it. That’s all you need to know.

SM


 

Good Shoes - All in My Head (Brille)

Good Shoes seem like a lively bunch in their pop punk energetic way. Tingly guitars and the spasmo vocals of Rhys Jones rule this triplet of songs. Not sure if they have any lasting appeal but they sure keep you awake.
www.goodshoes.co.uk

SB


Field Music – “If Only the Moon Were Up” 

A whole hay bale of praise has already been tossed in the general direction of Field Music, perhaps the most Geordie-sounding outfit since The Futureheads, and to whom they sound markedly similar only more threadbare. Alas, sonic punch is not the only thing they want for, as this EP finds them trying a variety of approaches without succeeding in finding one solid identity; surely a prerequisite for a signed band? I fail to see what all the fuss is about.
www.field-music.co.uk

Will Columbine


 

The Knife - We Share Our Mothers' Health (Brille)

Perhaps a more poignant title than it first appears as The Knife are Swedish brother and sister duo Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson. They also have a gift for the unusual, recording part of the album 'Silent Shout' under a church and another part in a disused carbon dioxide factory. Al of which periphery confuses the fact that 'We Share Our Mothers' Health' is a startlingly progressive and multi-layered effort which will get clubbers on their feet and home musos nodding their ear-phoned heads in equal amount. A beguiling mix of Scandic female vocals and the tribal chant of Olof (presumably?) all dancing along a rich bed of bouncy synths and drum patterns. Compared by others to Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin I think this simile is inaccurate as they possess a much more complex and enriched sound than those two acts. Perhaps the previous reviewers were confused by the three equally enjoyable but more derivative remixes which accompany the main event. Ace.
www.theknife.net
Watch video to 'We Share Our Mothers' Health'

SB


 

The Early Years - So Far Gone 

The Early Years have come a long way in six months, since their EP, All Ones and Zeros was released. The band has taken on fresh sense of maturity through experience and as a result, their sound is defined, tighter and altogether less ambiguous.  

This three-track single is very much a natural progression on from what the band were doing with All Ones and Ones. Rats is a fairly grey and maudlin song about yep, you guessed it, a fractious relationship. But it’s the benevolent guitar swells beneath the music, leading into an explosion of brash audio gear-jamming which tears the song away from the listless work of the common singer/ songwriter.  

So Far Gone is intriguingly broken down into two parts, appearing either side of Rats. Part II is largely an accentuated re-working of the first instalment. Those reverb-soaked guitar stutterings at the songs’ opening just pound the wind from your lungs.   

The Early Years have a very definite signature sound and so long as they deliver their album at the right time, when there is a gap in the market for such a product, and so long as they don’t buck to corporate and mainstream arm-twisting they have the power to be the best counter-rock group on these shores.

Alex Clark


 

Liam Frost and the Slowdown Family - The City is at a Standstill (Lavolta)

This might be a simplistic appraisal due to the piano based nature of this track, but the instrumentation reminds me a lot of Ed Harcourt. Big keys, sting sections, lots of high hat - all the elements are there. Occasionally Frost lets his voice really soar at the end of some of his rapidly delivered verses but this track seems to be over before it ever gets going.
www.lavoltarecords.com

SB


The Common Redstarts – Save it For Your Friends (Seeca)

I can’t help but think that I heard this on the first Strokes album five years ago. That is all.

SM


Jackson Analogue - Stop (Island)

Truly epitomising the spirit and sound of vintage big-balls rock and roll not really recaptured since the demise of Led Zepellin or alternatively a helplessly provincial pub band clinging onto their sound of yesteryear. I'll let you decide.
www.jacksonanalogue.com
watch video to 'Stop'

SB


Assembly Now – It’s Magnetic (Kids)

A perky little thing from Assembly Now, which doesn’t sound a million miles away from NOW!, but has enough early Manics about it to make it a whole lot more charming. It also a lovely little guitar solo running throughout that reminds me of Seafood, or something like that. If I was 16 again I’d be dancing along to this and thinking it was the future. Crazy, eh?

SM


Palace Fires - Nothing Comes Close (Bespoke)

The one thing that strikes me above all others to come out of this single is that Palace Fires have in vocalist Ed Bannard a man who sounds unnervingly like Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees. And that is undoubtedly a plus point for me as Lanegan has one of the warmest and listenable voices I know of. There are even a few sneaks of similar guitar work to Screaming Trees in 'Nothing Comes Close'. If you never heard Screaming Trees then you should get this record. If you have heard of them, you should get it anyway because it is damn fine. If that was not enough, the CD sleeve has been hand-scorched to weather the edges - nice touch. Left lumps of charcoal al over my scanner though...
www.palacefires.co.uk

SB


The Reverse -  A Clean Incision (Run Out)

It’s really wonderful to know that The Reverse are still with us. tasty favourites of yesteryear, this is a band who have continually made quality darkpop music, with the emphasis on song writing rather than haircuts and clothes from Top Shop on Oxford Street.

‘Carry the Light’ carries on this tradition. Sparse in arrangement, but always slick and tense, that’s The Reverse, and that’s what’s carried on throughout this most enjoyable ep.

In times when style is winning the conker match over substance, The Reverse have been pickled in vinegar and then stuck under the grill for half an hour. Oh yes.

SM


Hot Chip - Colours (EMI)

I have to admit that Hot Chip's gentle brand of synth pop a la The Research, The Boy Least Likely To, Psapp etc has yet to really catch my imagination that much. As such, this is a reasonable effort but isn't gonna get me rushing off to the 'H' section at HMV. Does come with a tinkly DFA remix included though.
www.hotchip.co.uk
watch 'Colours' video

SB


 

Junior Boys - In the Morning / The Equalizer (Domino)

A new signing to Domino and it brings an interesting electro-house fusion that is rarely attempted and even less often achieved successfully. The vocals are minimal but warm in a way that is unusual for the wickedly catchy clicks and cuts of the music.

'The Equalizer' is a chillingly taut track which perfectly balances the icy chimes and keys with vocalist Jeremy Greenspan's glacier melting voice.
www.juniorboys.net

SB


Kid Casanova - The Kids in this Town (Something in Construction)

Shouty indie rock from New York. It's not bad but it's not as good as the Cribs. No doubt we will soon see hordes of drunken blokes sloshing their warm paper cups of Carling all over each other while shouting along to the words at a festival near you.
www.kidcasanova.com

SB


Dani Siciliano - Why Can't I Make You High (!k7)

It's a brave move to showcase what is essentially a bluegrass record. But amid the big plonking bass and hand claps there is a a curiously warped genius at work. Don't ask me to describe it - it is not possible. But well worth a listen.
http://www.myspace.com/danisiciliano

SB


Charlotte Gainsbourg - The Songs That We Sing (Because)

If you are the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, you are one of the biggest stars of meodern French cinema and you get to work with Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hanlon and French duo Air, then you had better produce something bloody good. And oh my god - this is good.

The distinctive breathy Gainsbourg vocals with the clever witticisms penned by Cocker and Hanlon work a treat over these two different sounding tracks. 'The Songs That We Sing' is driven by a dynamic string piece that kilters along without the need for Gainsbourg to ever really stretch her vocal range. 'Jamais' is a much slower, bluesey piece that fills with rich piano and wonderfully relaxing vocals. Formidable.
www.because.tv

SB


The Organ - Memorize the City

The music prangs from my speakers and I’m sitting here in my sunglasses and Bermuda shorts as the latest bright-as-bright-can-be single from The Organ plays. 

It’s a safe bet that Roger ‘Jim’ McGuinn’ll be shaking in his spangling boots as his Zenith Royal belts this one out; I’ve yet to hear another guitar committed to record that sounds razor-sharp as the one which adorns Memorize the City. 

The song is better than their previous release, Brother, but I can’t help but feel that as long as they live by the tight adherence to the Johnny Marr/ Debbie Harry fantasy collaboration, they’ll be lumbering themselves with a very particular fan base. 

The fantastically named, No One Has Ever Looked So Dead, is a fairly drippy ballad which, of course – of course, is about a relationship that’s not meant to be and for this dour Yorkshire sceptic, it comes over as a little sickly, but the music is favourable and that haunting electric organ is, as ever, at work chilling me to the bone.

Alex Clark


X-Press 2 - Kill 100 (Skint)

Seems like the south coast's finest record label can still recognise a good dance floor-filling tune when it hears one. Despite potential confusion with S-Express (surely not worth the risk), Skint's latest venture sees a wonderfully understated single that pulses and gyrates it's way from start to finish just filling the air with sinister undertones and ethereal whispers. the Carl Craig remix is also an acidy killer.
www.xpress2.com

SB


Loney, Dear - The City, The Airport (Something in Construction)

Weird how records seem to come in batches and here we have another synth-led indie folk outing. This time it is Sweden's DIY scenesters Loney, Dear who supply the track which swells up into a maelstrom of distortion while retaining it's steady poppy demeanour with horns and bells. All very summery.
www.loneydear.com

SB


Film School - 11:11 

A journalist friend of mine once said that at any one time in music, 99% of what’s happening is shit. He added that the remaining one per-cent made it all worth-while. I tend to agree with him.   

I’m not going to speak about the B-side of this single. That’s not important. Walked Til Sunday only warrants scant attention here because11:11 is one of those elite members of that evasive one per-cent club. 

The repeating, tumbling bass riff, matched by the guitar gets into your skull and believe me, it takes months to get out. I reviewed their debut album at the beginning of this year and just when I thought I’d got that riff out of my head, this single fell through my letterbox and it began all over again.  

That riff was back with a vengeance; back with a swaggering, cocksure attitude that bowls aside all pretenders who believe they have that certain something required in music.  

The guitar splurges, the pulverising chords, the hypnotic vocals and that bass riff. It takes hold. It takes months to get that sound out of your skull. 

11:11 is sheer, fucking bliss.

Alex Clark


Firebrand Boy - Orange (Pale Fox)

A luscious slab of Mariotone driven indie pop from Glaswegian 19 year olds Firebrand Boy. This limited edition release also comes as a beautiful vivid orange vinyl - surely a sign that their record label is willing to cough up the readies and support an artist they really believe in.

The title track 'Orange' is a gentle little number which seamlessly oozes with squeaks and bleeps while retaining an air of effortless melody. 'Three Mile Wish' by comparison is an uncompromisingly Casiocore 8-bit party. The two further remixes of Orange stand up in their own right, especially  the Sean Kirwen remix which is a bit reminiscent of Fluke at the peak of their powers. Top stuff.
www.myspace.com/firebrandboy

SB


Adem – Launch Yourself (Domino)

The time should be ripe for Adem, but the breakthrough seems to remain as far away as ever. Which is shame, because this is a man that has more about them than most of the nu-folk lot put together. ‘Launch Yourself’ is a laid back, almost doleful number which makes the most of samples. Remixes from Four Tet and Hot Chip might make Adem the hippest cat in folksville. Here’s hoping…
www.adem.tv

SM


 

Iron Maiden - The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg (EMI)

Ha! Despite yet another PC breaking CD from EMI's copyright protection I have to admit a little bit of twisted satisfaction in eventually getting a single from Iron Maiden to play. I mean - it's Iron Maiden! Big Dave Suddaby of Nettleton, North Lincs would be wetting himself. Anyway, the track...

At a mere 7 and half minutes long of vintage Maiden, this is somewhat of an opus, complete as always with a bit of Dickinson crooning and total guitar shredisation. In fact it's so long that it comes with a 'rock club' edit of only 5 minutes long so you can get your sweaty mops banging in public too. You've got to love the Maiden!
www.ironmaiden.com

SB


Stars of Aviation – Marie et L’Accordeon (Kitchen Records)

Beautiful Francophile lounge pop from Stars of Aviation. Currently creating something of a stir on the London pop scene, this band sometimes come across as trying to force the lounge pop stuff, but second track here, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ , is a wonderfully frail little folk pop tune which brings to mind The Pines at their spine-chilling best. More of this sort of stuff, please.

SM


 

The Distance - When the Wheels Came Off (Tokyotron)

This level of high tempo British indie pop is normally far more up the street of tasty fopp-in-residence Metcalf but it's hard not to be carried along on the wave of charm and energy of this track. Like The Lodger but less miserable.
www.the-distance.co.uk

SB


The Dears - Ticket to Immortality (Bella Union)

A touch of pretentiousness here perhaps with a title like that? Perhaps. Some lovely rounded tub thumping drums and uplifting vocal harmonies that weave in and out of the occasionally twanged guitars carry this through like a Stereophonics laxative though.
www.thedears.org

SB