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singles - march 2007



 

The Svengalis – Sting in the Tale / Swimming Upstream (Villains & Rogues)

Packing more energy into five minutes than some outfits manage in the course of an album, this debut double-A side from London-based four piece The Svengalis is the sound of a band enjoying their music.

By crossing bright guitar riffs last heard on the Strokes’ first album with harmonies borrowed from the Beach Boys, Matt Svengali and his band of merry men create a warm and, at times, rather cluttered atmosphere. This is particularly evident on Swimming Upstream - the stronger of the two melodies - where the bass line positively bubbles beneath the soft vocals of frontman Matt Svengali. Meanwhile, lyrical themes of heartbreak and “degenerate friends” ensure that these songs avoid becoming too saccharine for their own good.

There is much to enjoy here: both tunes are engaging and summery amid plenty of breathless stops and starts. But even with the help of celebrity endorsement (Steve Lamacq), a more distinctive sound will be needed on future singles to ensure The Svengalis rise above the crowd.
www.myspace.com/thesvengalis

Chris McCague

 
 

Archie Bronson Outfit – “Dart For My Sweetheart” (Domino) 

Recent winners of a South Bank breakthrough award and allegedly a bit good when playing live onstage in a live, not pre-recorded scenario, this is my first exposure to the ARB and I have to admit to feeling a wee bit under-whelmed. They do a good job of sounding full yet sparse at the same time, coming on like The Birthday Party’s more sensible nephew, and I can imagine that the atmospherics they conjure up would be far more potent in the flesh, but on record it all sounds rather constrained.
www.archiebronsonoutfit.co.uk

Watch video for 'Dart For My Sweetheart'

Will Columbine

 

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – “Strange Form of Life” (Domino) 

If Will Oldham was actually a prince, what would he be the prince of? Porches? Dungarees? Premature hair loss? Let’s all think about that for a while. Anyway, I like this more than the last BPB single that I’ve long forgotten – it’s both prettier and more haunting. Let’s face it though, this is a classic case of preaching to the already long ago-converted, and Billy’s devoted fans will gobble up the three b-sides of old versions of new stuff and new versions of old stuff like rather famished locusts.

Will Columbine

 
 

Open Mouth/Dexy – split 7” single 

Open Mouth is Seymour Patrick, singer for Miss Black America, a band I’ve heard of but sadly never actually heard. Therefore, I can make no comparisons to his day job, although “Castle Keep” is probably as emo as you can get without a drum-kit to hand. The guitars are, however, by turns dreamy and savage, and overall I give it the thumbs up although following it with a 90 second instrumental is probably not wise, pretty though it is. 

Dexy has also made a bit of a name for himself, having supported The Spinto Band and played a festival slot prior to Bob Dylan. To these ears, “Waiting for an Accident” is the equivalent of Elliot Smith in a good mood and having a sing-song with the locals of an East End boozer. Believe me, it works. Packaging two artists together will inevitably invite comparisons but I’ll just say that they’re both good in their own ways and leave it at that.
www.myspace.com/openmouthmusic
www.myspace.com/dexyspace

Will Columbine

 
 

Joakim- Lonely Hearts (!K7)

The constant bleeping on the track suggests that there’s a life support machine on somewhere in the studio. Perhaps it’s the one keeping Joakim’s career alive. Ouch. Lonely Hearts isn’t really sure what it wants to be- the instrumentation is minimal, (drum track and syth with a brief appearance by a guitar) and the tempo is slow so it isn’t a club track. But it’s too fast to be a “chill-out” track, and the lack of melody stops it being anything else. It’s nice enough to listen to but its ambiguity makes it unfulfilling.
http://www.joakimikaoj.com

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Iain Archer - Minus Ten- (We Love You- PIAS/Wall of Sound) 

Minus Ten is three minutes of glorious, sweeping, melancholic Beach Boys, smoothed over Shins, heartfelt acoustic happiness. Faultless, aside from that damn feeling of hope (despite bitter coldness) it instils inside you after just one listen. Little Lately follows suit, displaying Archer’s voice that is so full of emotion is almost breaks on every word, coupled with a lovely wavy melody. As if he hadn’t tugged on heartstrings enough, When It Kicks In sounds so delicate it might smash into a thousand pieces if you mistreat it. The simple guitar picked melody sits perfectly alongside Archer’s pained voice and honest lyrics. Cockle-warming brilliance.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Courtney Tidwell- Don’t Let The Stars Keep Us Tangled Up  - Ewan Peasron’s Objects in Space Remix (Ever Records) 

Sadly there hasn’t been a terrible mistake at the printers, this really is four versions of the same song, with two of them clocking in at over eleven minutes. Despite its clumsy title, the original version of Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up is actually a nice slice of minimalist ambient pop, akin to the likes of chill-out merchants Zero 7. Courtney Tidwell’s vocals have an ethereal quality to them, and the track feels like basking in the sun on a summer’s day.

The remixes are, as suspected, boring and over long. Apparently all remixing consists of nowadays is using a drum beat, a few odd noises here and there, and doing very little else with the track. The instrumental version is nothing short of an endurance test. Aside from the original track, everything else here is unnecessary.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

El-P - Flyentology feat. Trent Reznor (Definitive Jux)

Two tracks with three remixes of both. My favourite review of this saw Trent Reznor described as an 'industrialist' - I was just picturing him marching through his satanic mills like Titus Salt. It's not entirely clear where Reznor's influence starts and El-P's ceases in 'Flyentology' but it does manage to tuck up the unlikely bed companions of west coast rap with a pulsating if not entirely industrial heavy beat in a rather cosy manner. Satisfyingly warped in a Nine inch Nails meets Ice Cube type of way.
www.myspace.com/elproducto

SB

 
 

The United Kingdom of America - Indier Than Thou (Manilla)

A very simple four chord riff and butter wouldn't melt lyrics conceal a long overdue super-snide sideswipe at the whole indie scene. I'm not sure the music would keep me riveted for long but clever lyrics just keep bouncing out of this track 'indieviduality', 'I get my clothes from Oxfam, apart from that top what I got from Topman' and 'look at my hair!' all describe the commercialisation of 'indie' music as the must have fashion accessory of the year. Neat stuff.
www.myspace.com/theukofa

SB

 
 

Abigail Hopkins - Set Them Free (Possessed)

'Set The Free' is a strange understated affair, full of atmospheric electronic beats and gentle vocals - a bit like listening to Imogen Heap while on Mogadon. A few sparse piano chords and disembodied vocal harmonies harmlessly fade away as the track fades away leaving you wondering if it ever even existed. Strange but vaguely compelling.

SB


 

Kila & Oki - h'Aon Dó (Kila)

My favourite track from their album, 'h'Aon Dó' blends the Irish and Ainu musical cultures together beautifully with the Tonkori getting equal precedence with the guitars and Oki's vocals hair along at a rap pace. Delicate but uplifting.
www.kila.ie

SB

 
 

Rose Hill Drive - Showdown

This is an impressive release from a trio of guys whose combined age still makes them younger than Keith Richards apparently! 'Slowdown' is a breakneck combination of rock and blues riffs that is delivered with conviction and no small helping of talent. As long as the band manage to avoid sounding like Ocean Colour Scene (the likes of which occasionally sneaks up during this single) then good things can only follow.
www.rosehilldrive.com

SB

 
 

Viva Stereo/Con Brio - 10x10:30 (De-Fence)

Always an exciting time at Tasty towers receiving offerings from Viva Stereo and this beautifully manilla packaged split CD is no exception. 'Alpha State' sees the continuation of their divergence from guitar music towards a warmer, electro fuelled sound. There are still nice sections of guitar filling out the track but the overriding essence is the warbling bass and velvety production over the mashed up vocals.

Con Brio aka Dave Millar forges recorded acoustic instruments into silky, effervescent electro with just a touch of Aphex inspired unpredictability. 'Indiana Bloom' sees order rise from the chaos of a seriously staccato beat and gentle, ambient keyboard loop. 'Deep Blue' is an equally schizophrenic track with electro clicks and bleeps mutating out of the clean ringing strings in a surprisingly coherent and enjoyable way.
www.de-fencerecords.com

SB

 

Five O'Clock Heroes - Skin Deep (Glaze)

Once the crisp yet rough and ready few bars of guitar opening give way to the tune proper, New Yorkers Five O'Clock Heroes quickly merge into the ever growing merry band of indie rockers with 'whoa-oh-oh' choruses and three minute pop songs dressed up as something edgier. If that's your bag then go for it, it's not bad but it's nothing that you couldn't already find in any indie bar on a Saturday night.
www.thefiveoclockheroes.com

SB

 
 

Busy P - Rainbow Man (Ed Banger/Because)

In the absence of any kind of biography or press release with this single I managed to glean little extra info from Busy P's Myspace page. But initial reactions that 'they sounded a bit foreign' were confirmed as it appears the artists reside in Pairs. There's something distinctly French about the way they break down their tracks with warped effects and slightly off-tempo beats - kind of like a deconstructed techno. This is the sound of a buzz saw being put through a synth while the carpenters mate bangs out his slightly out of kilter beats on various assembled scaffold poles. And damn good it sounds too - can just see myself dancing pathetically robotically to this.
www.myspace.com/busyp

SB

 
 

Deluka - I'll Wait (Killsound)

Blimey - it's a cut throat business this nu-rave electro pop malarkey. In a field saturated with young hipsters, Deluka don't just scramble to the top of the pile, they positively jump around on it smacking their contemporaries over their heads with their synths on the way. I'll wait has a mechanical beating bass of a heart, a jump start of a guitar riff and sassy vocal that sees them way up there with the likes of Dead Disco. Just one sound may not be enough - seek them out some more.
www.deluka.com

SB

 
 

Buckcherry - Next 2 You (Eleven Seven/Atlantic)

Todd and Nelson from Buckcherry had a stint playing with the Guns n Roses mutation that was Velvet Revolver. This should provide all the clues you need for the sound of this record - technically proficient, earnest west coast hair rock. Coming soon to a rock bar near you.
www.buckcherry.com
Watch the video to 'Next 2 You'

SB

 
 

Lines of Leaving - It's Not About Us Anymore

It's hard reading a press release that looks looks like the small print of the side effects of a prescription drug but the effort is made worthwhile with the news that in order to achieve their 2 stated objectives of 'making people more aware of the alarming problems of human kind' and 'getting people to empathise for the weak and powerless who can't stick up for their own rights', Finnish rockers Lines of Leaving 'invented their own kind of melodic, touching and catchy rock music'. Yeah - rock n roll! If this sounds a bit Wayne's World then perhaps you can forgive them as this is a charity single for the homeless of Finland. Jolly good show. And the music isn't bad either - a bit of a Muse/Placebo hybrid with largely gothic overtones.
www.linesofleaving.cjb.net

SB

 
 

Mancini - Up Country (Prophecy)

Sadly not a reprise by good old Henry (I could do with a bit of 'Pink Panther' right now) but an electro guitar duo who sound remarkably like Roxette at times. The track goes on and on too (well actually only 3minutes 30 but it seems like a long time - this can't be a good sign). A bit too plain to tickle my musical tastebuds.
www.myspace.com/manciniband

SB

 

Willy Mason - ‘Save Myself’ (Virgin) 

A few years ago, aged 19, young American singer-songwriter Willy Mason sent whispers of ‘next big thing’ and ‘the new Bob Dylan’ through the underground music scene. Although there was little interest in his debut ‘Where The Humans Eat’, the lyrics to his song “Oxygen” almost became an anthem in what is quickly becoming a soulless consumer-driven world. 

Mason has resurfaced with a new album and the single ‘Save Myself’. He offers simple, acoustic folk songs and subtle social commentary in a voice that sounds like it belongs to someone twice his age. The song opens with a simple set of chords repeating, and then you hear Mason singing his outtake on modern America in lines such ‘when I live in a country without history/one that’s buried its root with it’s identity/ we are still searching for liberty/ we are still hiding from reality’ while a smaller voice sings behind it ‘I gotta save myself, just save myself’ before lapsing into a slow and steady chorus. 

But who needs another kid with an acoustic guitar telling us to save the planet?

Well, sometimes the message really is in the delivery: there is something reassuring in Mason’s low, clear voice and his unpretentious manner, his youth, and the calm, laid-back vibe to the way he sings of society’s ills. It is music that convinces you that maybe it’s not too late to save ourselves.
www.willymason.com
Watch video to 'Save Myself'

Willa C

 
 

Free State Prophets - demo

It's never comfortable to single out one aspect of a band that seems to hold them back but in this case it is hard to avoid the fact that the strained, out of tune vocals are neither catchy or endearing and detract from a couple of good tunes. Time for an add in the back of NME.
www.freestateprophets.com

SB

 
 

Alkaline Trio - ‘Burn (Tim Armstrong remix)’ & ‘Hell Yes’ (Vagrant) 

After five albums and twelve years of dark ‘goth-pop’ (‘Popular in Germany!’ if anyone remembers the Suns emo/goth rant) tinged with morbid humour, Alkaline Trio have decided to release and album of rarities and B-sides on their ‘Still Remains’ records, including b-sides, songs from various compilations and split cds, three new live songs and DVD footage.

‘Burn’ is just funny at first, the confusing, slowed down and played over a chilled reggae beat but soon you get into the swing of things, and kicking back and listening to Matt Skiba lament ‘like hell we are anxiously waiting!’ over some Jamacian brass actually kind of works. Huh.

The album shows a clear timeline of their recorded material over the years, and how they’ve progressed as a band, none better than the track ‘Hell Yes’.

‘Hell Yes’ from the EP of the same title is an early recording and even though not as neat and evolved as Alkaline Trio’s later material, it’s a good song that illustrates the kind of catchy hooks that make you want to teeny-bop while crying ‘hail satan!’ - and that’s the same feeling that’s lead them here five albums and twelve years and to a well-deserved collection of B-Sides & rarities.

Willa C


 

Stylus Rex - Squelch Freak (BijouBeats)

It's funny how things have changed and how now it is so commonplace to hear electronic beats with a 'proper' indie guitar song that when an out and out dance track such as 'Squelch Freak' suddenly creeps in through the shadows it rarely raises even the slightest of heckles. And why should it? This track is six and a half minutes of pulsating, uplifting freaky squelchiness but with it's roots firmly entrenched in the simple and repetitive melodies championed by the likes of Joy Division. Or at least that is what you can tell yourself if you are still uncomfortable with this new fangled electronic music  in the hit parade.
www.myspace.com/stylusrex

SB

 
 

Breed - The Grace of Me (NZW)

The man behind Breed, Jocke Samuelson, had the fortune to grow up in the wonderfully named Swedish town of Norrk Ping. Obviously due to being constantly ridiculed about his address, Jocke sort solace in the rawk tones of Motley Crue and at puberty decided to blend them with his electronic gadgetry to produce 'The Grace of Me'. In another era this would sound a bit trite and distinctly Scando rockish (think Roxette). But at the moment you can get away with anything.
www.breed-swe.com

SB

 
 

Scarlet Blonde - Electric (HyperMEDIA)

Dreadful name for a band but then what chance did they stand when their parents christened them Ditch GBH and DawnyVic? However, the improbably sounding duo have managed to produce a decent track which sounds like the Human League or Heaven 17 with a distinctly modern twist. Not sure why there are a number of shots of the female front person sprawled on a bed in the press release though...

SB

 
 

Disco Drive - All About This (Tough Love)

What a great pair of tracks this is by Italian postpunkers Disco Drive. Very New York in style, this three piece work their magic seemingly independently of each other but then come together with mesmerisingly good harmonies anchored by pin sharp song writing. The outro to 'Factory of Minds' is absolutely superb with an acapella hand clap breakdown finishing things off. If you like The Rapture you'll lap this up.
www.myspace.com/discodrivepunk

SB

 
 

Minotaurs/Blackflower - Partisan/Crying Shame (Sweet)

Impressive split single release from North East based Sweet Records. First up we have 'Partisan', a slice of irresistible indie-pop cleverness from Minotaurs. Built around a swirling guitar riff with more twists and turns than a corkscrew, this stuff is so infectious it should come with a health warning. Simply ace.

Second, but by no means least, we have Blackflower's 'Crying Shame'. Pounding, energetic indie-pop with a spiky lead guitar melody and melancholic lyrics delivered with such emotion that you expect the singer to explode at any point. Compelling stuff.

Two great tunes, and definitely two bands to keep tabs on.
www.myspace.com/minotaurs
www.myspace.com/blackflowermusic

Tony Robinson

 
 

The Black Ghosts - Anyway You Choose to Give It (Southern Fried)

An unashamedly catchy disco filler, 'Anyway You Choose to Give It' has a squelchy synth line and continuous throbbing beat that initially tempts you to dance but eventually gets a little tiresome. Maybe it's the almost continuous onslaught of vocals that never let up - sometimes less is more.
www.myspace.com/blackghosts

SB

 
 

Polytechnic - Cold Hearted Business (Shatterproof)

Sounds like someone has been listening to their Dad's Rolling Stones collection. 'Cold Hearted Business' is a little disguised homage to Keith, Mick & Co. - quirky and upbeat enough for the disco but not offering a lot on the record player at home.

SB

 

Bonde do Role - Solta O Frango (Domino)

I'm obviously just not hip enough. Although this mash up of Latino beats, squelchy synths and party rapping in Portuguese by Brazilian three piece Bond do Role is apparently 'the sound of now' it just sounds damn annoying to me. I'm off to wash my chinos...
Watch video to 'Solta O Frango'

SB

 
 

Gethin Pearson & The Scenery - Hang On...Hang On (TPF)

Pearson is a young man with a deep seating in country music and his gentle, lilting melodies and winsome song writing will please many who follow that genre. 'Lost at Sea' is a simple guitar and kick drum number that is set apart from the mainstream due almost entirely to Pearson's distinctive vibrato vocals.

However, it is in 'Shatter Proof' that Pearson introduces a slightly different indier edge that has a lovely gentle yet angst atmosphere. The constant and prominent vibrato may put some people off but Pearson will certainly be compulsive listening for plenty of others.
www.gethinpearsonandthescenery.com

SB

 

James Yorkston - Woozy with Cider (Domino)

7 Remixes? 7 Bloody remixes?! 'Woozy with Cider' is a lovely track mixing Yorkston's spoken word soliloquy over an electronic glockenspiel melody which runs almost constantly through the song. Lilting and literally woozy. But the remixes, while being a nice little added bonus probably aren't individual enough to warrant taking them all in with one sitting.
watch the video to 'Woozy with Cider'
www.jamesyorkston.co.uk

SB

 
 

HiFlyer - Antarctika (Reiker)

I'm sorry but I've had enough of poppy piano driven mainstream balladeering to last me a lifetime. There may come a time in my life when I want to dip my musical ear in the murky waters of this type of song writing again, but for now it is leaving me completely turned off, as bereft of ideas for writing as they are bereft of ideas musically. And they can't spell Antartica properly.
www.hiflyerofficial.com

SB

 
 

The Wombats - Backfire at the Disco (Kids)

Like a Daily Mail book review, I'd have to describe this 'an enjoyable romp'. The Wombats sound like the sparkly young pups that they are and 'Backfire at the Disco' documents the breakdown of a potentially successful date by the time the pair go clubbing. This would not happen to any of tasty's writers, we are all banned from dancing. There's a bit of The Sunshine Underground going on with the vocals which all seem to be belted out at volume 11.
www.myspace.com/wombatsuk
watch the video to 'Backfire at the Disco'

SB

 
 

Goldmund -‘The Heart of High Places’ (Type) 

For those of you who, like me, fell in love with Keith Kenniff aka Goldmund’s full length release ‘Corduroy Road’ nearly a year and a half ago, the release of a 7”of six brand new piano solos is an exciting prospect indeed.

Building on the ideas and sounds within ‘Corduroy Road’, Goldmund crafts short delicate and uncluttered pieces that come off as sounding like an overheard snippet from a lost movie soundtrack from European cinema.  Short, intensely beautiful and yet another glimpse into the talented mind of Keith Kenniff.

Luke Drozd

 
 

Damn Arms - Homewrecker (Something in Construction)

I like a bit of Damn Arms and this is no exception. Fuzzy, frantic vocals and general hyperactive busyness as always in 'Homewrecker' and the B-side 'Wooden Leg Civil Claw' is even better, a bass driven chant and synth fest of epic proportions.

SB

 
 

Man Aubergine - ‘Bastard Brother / Twin Sister’ (Run of the Mill) 

A band playing a curious mix of pop, folk and prog, Man Aubergine appear to be a band content on ploughing their own musical path. Side A, Bastard Brother is bizarre ditty that showcases  MA’s delight in creating tight hooks and flippantly twisted lyrics.

Side B, Twin Sisters begins with a gentle banjo before bursting into anthemic folk as infectious as syphilis that calls to mind Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves  of London’ and with a chorus line like ‘She’s in love with her own twin sister’ its impossible not embrace their wily charms.

Man Aubergine, consider me hooked.

Luke Drozd


Air Traffic - Charlotte (EMI)

My first real listen to Air Traffic and I've got to say I'm highly impressed. It's hard to stand out from the crowd as a four piece guitar band but Air Traffic have a sprightliness and crisp guitar sound even in this ode to unrequited love. A masterful use of dynamics and tempo to boot - I can even listen to the instrumental version of this without getting bored. Fab.
www.myspace.com/airtraffic
Watch video to 'Charlotte'

SB

 
 

The Twilight Sad - ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy’ (Fat Cat) 

Having recently been privileged enough to have caught The Twilight Sad live and witnessed their blend of folk, post rock and pop in the flesh it was  some excitement that I received the promo for the debut 7” and, joy of all joys, they have managed to capture the same urgency and splendour their live sound has and commit it to record.

Both tracks here display a sense of sonic depth mixed with a pop sensibility that manages to create a tone both accessible and razor sharp. If this is the quality of the rest of the album due out later this year then we are certainly in for a treat. 

Luke Drozd

 

Radar - War Out There (EMI)

Digital ska is a very good description of this single. Sadly I didn't come up with the term but it fits like a glove so why not re-use it. The ska keyboard sounds provide the bulk of the backdrop to the vocals in a move which could be straight from a Gorillaz album. Little surprise when you consider the incestuous connections of the production team behind the group. The remixes on the other hand are well worth the purchase alone - especially the Central remix which is a warped beast that would be more at home in the Sheep on Drugs back catalogue.
www.radar.tv
Watch the video to 'War Out There'

SB

 
 

Animal Collective - ‘People’ (Fat Cat) 

There are few things in my currently rather pathetic life that excite me more than a package arriving from Brighton’s finest, Fat Cat Records. The only thing better is opening it up and discovering it contains a new Animal Collective  release.

Seemingly of late they are a band going from strength to strength including their solo ventures and ‘People’ is no expectation.  The title track is a hazy and dub inflected number covered in yelps and screams so joyous its impossible not to end up grinning to yourself in some dreamy coma.

Ep highlight ‘Tikwid’ follows and is one of the finest examples of modern and complex pop I heard in a very long time. Addictive and shimmering it is a beacon of light shining straight into your joy receptors.

Topped off with the curious wonder that is ‘My Favourite Colors’, a song that sounds like an old music hall record filtered through the darkest depths of Brian Wilson’s mind and a live take of ‘People’, this EP is yet another reminder that no-one out there does it quite like Animal Collective,  probably because only they know what ‘it’ is.

Luke Drozd

 
 

Michael Andrews - Just a Thought/Orange Meets Lemon (We Love You)

The little known co-artist on the Donnie Darko version of Tears for Fears' 'Mad World', Michael Andrews releases these two winsome tracks which have a slight touch of Cat Stevens about them. 'Just a Thought' has a faintly eastern European sounding guitar line to back Andrews very gentle voice. 'Orange Meets Lemon' is driven by a double bass and has a very languid lounge bar style about it. Not exactly dynamic but satisfyingly chilled out for a Sunday evening.

SB

 

Pull Tiger Tail - Let's Lightning (B-Unique)

Pull Tiger Tail have certainly been mixing with the right types to get plenty of media exposure - tours with Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly., We Are Scientists and Pigeon Detectives among them. Which is a good thing because for all their lively jingling guitars and earnest ranting they aren't amazingly distinctive from every other young indie guitar band doing the rounds at the moment. All this youthful exuberance makes 'Let's Lightening' seem a bit frantic and out of control rather than pacey and energetic.
www.pulltigertail.net
Watch the video to 'Let's Lightning'

SB


Robyn - Konichiwa Bitches (Konichiwa)

Steeped in the trappings of a record deal with a major and a mainstream r 'n' b recording history, Robyn decided to buy herself out of her record contract and start her own label so she could exercise greater artistic control over her career. Bravo Robyn. 'Konichiwa Bitches' then, is presumably the result of this strike for freedom. Although still loosely based in r 'n' b, Robyn has a lazy, slurred delivery and combines it with some quirky b-movie style electronics. I don't think it is distinctive enough to drag hordes of indie kids into r 'n' b venues but it is at least an individual take on the genre. Still depressingly full of trite 'urban' lyrics though.
www.robyn.com
watch the video to 'Konichiwa Bitches'

SB

 

One Click Corvette - demo

One Click Corvette's sound is clearly an amalgamation of all the artists they admire, in differing proportions with each song. 'Impetus' being high up the list for Jilted Generation era Prodigy, 'Live Fast' for Orbital, 'Mean it All' for Lionrock/Death in Vegas with a bit of Front 242 thrown in etc. As such none of this remotely threatening to be ground breaking. However, what this actually does demonstrate is a keen attention to detail in these near perfectly crafted tracks, almost like an introduction to the best electronic music from the last decade. This is the sort of stuff that you'd want to hear played loud in a club rather than out of a pair of PC speakers and that's got to be a good thing - music should be a social beast. It's also just the sort of thing I like so I'm quite happy thank you very much.
www.oneclickcorvette.com

SB

 
 

Collaborator - Nothing at All

It's all well and good to have a hobby you love and can enjoy in the privacy of your own home. But when you start to hurt people then it's time to stop. On the basis of this being a truly painful listen maybe it is time for Collaborator to desist. Seriously shaky vocals and a completely non-ironic rawk-god piano-guitar axis of evil ensure this falls soundly in the pub band bracket, and a bad pub band at that.

SB

 
 

Go Cadenza - All the Same

For a song that sounds like a Bonnie Tyler b-side, 'All the Same' promises great things from the press release such as being 'the most refreshing and liberating band you will have come across for a long time' - maybe if you've been living in a sealed cellar in Middlesbrough for the last 15  years. the hyperbole doesn't stop there - 'This 5-piece band has the potential to imprint its music on your soul and become the soundtrack to your life'. If this happens please promise to organise an exorcism for me.

Not that Go Cadenza are bad, they are just travelling down a route extremely well trodden by the likes of Coldplay and Keane (yes, this comparison is relevant). Except that Coldplay are better (and I wouldn't say that very often). 'Hot Air Balloon' typifies the problem - quite a nice little track but it never takes off and really soars like it could do, always tethered firmly to the ground of safe but uninspiring. With a little more effort maybe Go Cadenza could forge something, but this single does nothing for me.
www.gocadenza.com

SB

 
 

Authors of Malicious Code - Part One

Staggering - this CD actually smells of celery. Maybe something to do with the printing process but definitely an avenue to look into - the whole music/vegetable crossover potential.

'Part One' is the first of the planned four releases this year from the Leeds based quartet and shows enough promise to keep an eye out for later work. There's also a reassuringly modest press release where the band just admit they like to make music and if anyone else likes it then that is good too (take note Go Cadenza). 'Seed' is a satisfyingly direct lurch through a post punk landscape of urgent jabbing guitars and insistent basslines. The riffs are kept nice and simple and remind in places of early Therapy? before they became obsessed with emulating Metallica. 'Ribbons' starts well with growling bass riff before settling into a more orthodox 4 minutes of dark indie guitar work.

I do have some minor gripes. I don't like the recording/production at all - it sounds like a toy drumkit was used and the vocals sound thin, reedy and permanently distorted. But these are all things which are easily remedied so on balance a tentative thumbs up.
www.myspace.com/aomc

SB

 

Mark Ronson - Stop me (Columbia)

I always think there is something slightly dishonest or lazy about cover versions but in fairness this is sufficiently distinct from the original to warrant some attention. Indeed, even the great Mozzster himself has  apparently given it his seal of approval (though I'm not sure this would satisfy tasty's very own quiff-sporting Smiths-expert-in-residence Comrade Metcalf). I always found the original version strangely uplifting and euphoric whereas this big beat version with strings and brass seems strangely melancholy. And the mixing of The Supreme's 'You Keep Me Hanging On' just seems a bit contrived. Don't mess with the Moz - that's my advice.
www.markronson.co.uk

Watch the video to 'Stop Me'

SB

 
 

Bryan Ferry - The Times They Are A-Changin' (Virgin)

Ha! Bang on cue from one be-quiffed warbley-voiced crooner to another. And this one must be smelling paydirt with an album of Bob Dylan covers on the way too. Extremely disappointing Bryan, perhaps you should spend more time at parenting class to prevent your fox-chasing oikish offspring breaking into parliament, tsk.
www.bryanferry.com

SB

 
 

Forgotten Sleep - The Hard Sell (Running Dog)

Forgotten Sleep sound like a band in a rush to do things. Although it's only a little over three minutes long they cram an awful lot of good stuff into 'The Hard Sell'. Light hearted quirky, poppy tunes suddenly get underlined by massive wedges of growling guitar - they don't half make a racket for just a threepiece. 'Say Something' is equally accomplished bringing together the three unlikely components of another ball breakingly good guitar riff in the chorus, a fine bubbling bass line and an angelic choral vocal cameo, presumably from Hannah. Dammit, this is  good track - takes me back to the finest of  Soundgarden's layered guitars. There's also plenty of glimpses of other more contemprary tasty faves such as Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Twinkie and The Half Rabbits.

Things slow down for a shoe-gazy interlude in 'If I Wait To Long' before the EP rounds off with 'Year of the Dog' a suitably growly new wave track bringing in a bit of electro trickery. I'm impressed, very impressed.
www.forgottensleep.com
www.myspace.com/forgottensleep

SB

 
 

XisLOADED vs I AM THE DOOR (Sugar Shack)

Yes, they have returned. Although I failed to catch more than a passing glimpse of XisLOADED the first time round, this sudden exposure has proven an eye-opener. Taunting the listener with a single track from their upcoming album ‘Trench’ (released on 23rd April), this ltd edition split 7” single (500 copies only on red vinyl, get in there fast!) with label buddies I Am The Door is a tantalising snippet of what we can expect from the Bath 4-piece in 2007. ‘Momentum Fails’ is a solid chunk of grunge-soaked pop melody, with a guitar lick that’ll stay with you for hours. As the song closes around a prog-esque outro, we get one more chorus, almost as if to remind us that they can still rock. The contribution from label mates I Am The Door is a decidedly more disco affair, not normally my kind of thing but ‘Our Own Radio’ is a catchy tune with the strong vocals especially standing out.

With riffs-a-plenty and a hook that would reel in the biggest of cynics, XisLOADED look certain to create waves in 2007. Here’s to it.
www.myspace.com/xisloadedtheband
www.myspace.com/iamthedoor
www.myspace.com/sugarshackrecordsuk

JimmyP

 
 

The Disappointments - No Charades (Fierce Panda)

If you come from Stoke then it's a damn good idea to try and find something that gets you out and about a bit. The Disappointments are three angry sounding young men who thrash out their frustrations (stop sniggering at the back) on their fast paced, serrated punk rock tracks, very much in the style of Rancid. It's fully committed but I still have the same problem as I used to have with Rancid - when everything is as full on as this, it's like being beaten into submission when you want to be or not - there's no room to sit back and take a breath. on the other hand ,. it's better than listening to fucking Keane.
www.myspace.com/thedisapopintments

SB

 
 

The Hussy’s – Tiger EP

Four throwaway dollops of Scottish teen guitar girl-pop, affected by the same jauntiness as The Fratellis and the humour and feistiness of The Chalets. At their best they recall The Grates and some of the playfulness of Bis. They reference Napoleon Dynamite and start one song (We Expected) with the line ‘you got accepted for Cambridge Uni, fell in love with a long haired loonie’. As you might guess, this is going to win over a few schooodents and youths and there’s nowt wrong with that but ultimately this is inane and a decade out of date, recalling the more throwaway moments of Catatonia and the youthful exuberance of Shampoo but without the balls. Harmless but will annoy the fuck out of you eternally if it manages to get playlisted on Radio 1.
Watch the video to 'Tiger'

Craig Wood

 
 

Dogs - This Stone is a Bullet (Weekender Records) 

I’m really wary about bands like this – you know, the ones that claim to be rejuvenating British rock; whom are promising the best bits of their best contemporaries, only their offering will be ballsier with music louder, faster, better and lyrics which the common man can enjoy a closer kinship with. In short, they’re gonna be a breath of fresh air and won’t you know it… 

Fortunately for the listener in this instance, This Stone is a Bullet is a rip-roaring three minutes of adrenaline driven rock with not so much as a nano-second wasted. They’re not original… of course they’re not, but you knew they wouldn’t be. They share in common the excitement of the Jam with the power of the Who, which by my reckoning makes them as fresh sounding as the boozer’s lament, but they’re a damn fine example of modern British rock and I’ll give ‘em that.

Alex Clark

 
 

Amida – “Arts & Crafts” EP (Plastilina Records) 

Thank goodness for indie-pop; a genre you can always rely on for its limited ambition, DIY mentality and songs that can say so much in so few words and so little in so many words.

But wait a second, some people are saying that indie is on the way down; that as the word “indie” is being used more frequently about bands that look like they’ve been made in a factory by someone whose sole intention is to find the (yawn) next big thing, real independent, underground music is being driven away in favour of a watered down version, bereft of even the merest hint of passion and feeling. 

A point they may have, but with bands like Das Wanderlust, Decoration and Buen Chico making brilliant pop music for pop music’s sake, I don’t think it’s time to start worrying that what once was a driving underground phenomenon has now turned into a corporate trend which will be forgotten next month. In fact, I would advocate that the “indie scene” (if that’s what it is) is in fine health and that Manchester 5-piece Amida are a welcome addition to the crop of bands. 

Amida’s Arts & Crafts EP has six shining examples of the sort of short, jangly, laidback music that isn’t afraid to be happy, albeit dourly; it’s the aural equivalent of a lazy summer, and as we’re only in March, it wouldn’t be unsurprising to find that a couple of months down the line, the name Amida a well regarded one amongst the so-called right people. 

With a vocal style across between Dave Cooke and Malcolm Middleton of Being 747 and Arab Strap respectively, Amida’s John Ammirati writes lyrics that are slightly nonsensical at times (“all this talk and indecision made her forget her long division”), but never grate, and fit perfectly with the delightfully simple instrumentation, with exactly the right amount of fancy guitar solos (i.e. none). 

As final track Virtue Was Your Downfall’s charming yet slightly discordant guitars reach their climax – or anti-climax – it seems hard to imagine that you’ve just listened to 6 tracks of music. Now everyone knows that short songs are the best. Of course, there are exceptions, such as The Fall and most post-rock, but it’s still lovely that the longest song on this EP is just 2 minutes and 18 seconds long. Song length, though, is incidental when they’re of this calibre. Give Amida a listen.

Patrick Dowson

 
 

Havana Guns - N.Y.C.S. (Cigarette Music) 

If I am entirely honest I had heard of Havana Guns but never heard any of their music, after listening to them just once I was really hooked. With the likes of the Long Blondes, The Like, The Gossip and New Young Pony Club bursting through on the indie scene it has paved the way for hundreds of all girl bands, or bands with a girl lead singer to start releasing tracks. Only a few of these bands will last or even make a track but The Havana Guns look to be a little different as it would be very difficult to say something bad about them - they are that good! Both songs are very catchy and the band only made 500 copies of this song so it’s well worth getting even if it’s just for an investment. Go out and buy this now!!!
www.havanaguns.com

Lewis Carter

 
 

Buen Chico - Gold From Lead (Faith & Hope)

A slightly lighter than normal outing for Buen Chico sees the poppy 'Gold from Lead' bounce out of your speakers and ping around your room for three fun filled minutes. 'La La La (I Can't Hear You)' is a bit more garagey and. if I'm honest, my favourite of the two tracks. It has a creaking, stuttering guitar line that eventually galvanises into a surf pop chorus as Morgan bereaves the missing content of some of his musical heroes of yesteryear. It's a bit Supergrass but the way the guitars break down and build up is genius.
www.buenchico.com

SB

 
 

Meg - You Are The Teacher 

Well this is one of those 4 piece indie bands that grow on record label trees. No doubt that this band will be tipped for great things, then fizzle out and play local pubs. None of the four songs on the album are what you would call technically or musically gifted or even that good. All four songs come across as pop/emo/indie, the first song Kelly you are the teacher is a little bit whiney and reminds me of Busted which is never ever good! Take a listen as I might be wrong and you might really like them

Lewis Carter

 
 

I Was a Cub Scout - I Hate Nightclubs (Abeano Music)

Bejesus! Already another single from the trend-setting knob-twisters, I Was a Cub Scout. This duo are confident beyond their years are their latest and greatest, ‘I Hate Nightclubs’ is testimony to that. These two young men are awesomely accomplished at what they doing, that is a seamless hybrid between raunchy teen-punk and effervescing electro.  

The sentiment of the song is a little wishy-washy and the punk element slightly pedestrian, but the electronic-coasting gives the piece its much needed third dimension and the wing-power to elevate them above the quagmire of orthodox punk. 

And I echo the comments I made in my review of ‘Pink Squares’ – considering how young the two are, they’re prowess could be ungodly in ten years time.  

Alex Clark

 
 

Russell Joslin - EP

Russell Joslin can produce driving rhythms with interesting acoustic flourishes. The sound of his voice suits the music, but he sometimes sounds like he's singing out of his register. The result is some of his lines sound a little bit whiny, but this is ultimately forgivable because his choice of rasping words and the style of the song suit each other.

Track 2, Blind Tour Guide is similar to Story Gang, which preceeds it. Not necessarily a bad thing, it comes in a more melancholy flavour with cool supporting harmonies both for the acoustic guitar and the vocals.

Don't be fooled though, things take a turn for the optimistic by the time you get to Tinsel And Metal, my personal favourite, which waltzes along with what sounds like an upbeat, summery take on acoustic led folk. It comes as pleasant refreshment after the more sobre opening tracks.

Sea Shanty No.1 is a high-pitched Spanish folk vibe, with flowing words layered on top of a quick chord sequence. Joslin sings another tale of woe, this time introducing menacing percussion that starts off in the distance but approaches like a storm. Which I thought was cool.

You're Pretty Tall When You Stand Up is a brooding song, and Joslin returned the rasping lyrics that are slightly less kind on the ear, but it doesn't detract from the fact that he's clearly a solid talent when it comes to being a singer song writer who's able to tell you a story that any listener finds themselves relating to on some level.

Nick Wood

 
 

Holy Molar –‘Cavity Search’ (Three One G) 

Holy Molar are something of a super group made up of some the finest bands from the fringes of punk and hardcore; more specifically one of Get Hustle, three members of The Locust and one of das Oath. My suspicion was that Holy Molar would sound like a mixture of these three bands, and the first track ‘Cavity Search’ confirmed my suspicions. It’s lurching spasmodic hardcore, accompanied by primitive stabbing keyboards and what sounds like a Theremin at points. All the while das Oath vocalist Mark McCoy’s vocals shriek, wail and moan over the top of the music, creating an even more frantic cacophony. This pace doesn’t continue for the remainder of the EP, by the final two tracks the tempo is considerably slower. This however has the effect of making the whole affair seem even more unhinged, it’s deranged carnival music for hardcore kids. ‘Cavity Search’ is witty in terms of the samples and electronic elements, demented, and brutally aggressive. If you’re a fan of The Locust or Genghis Tron this will more than likely make you turgid / moist (delete as appropriate). 

Michael Pearson

 
 

Martin Grech - The Heritage (Martin Grech Songs)

Largely conceived on the remote O Sea Island in the Thames, 'The Heritage' is a sublime piece of folk music that stands out head and shoulders above the current slew of folky singer songwriters for its starkness and intensity. Immaculate entwined finger picked guitar builds up to a rousing chorus before b-side, the spartan 'Ashes Over Embers' delivers an effective and moving outro.
www.marchofthelonely.com
www.myspace.com/martinegrechofficial

SB