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singles - april 2007


 


 

Royal Vendetta - Soothsayer

'Soothsayer' sounds like it could be a track from The Music with its familiar 'The People'-esque guitar riff, while 'Broken Needles' and 'Cold Light Of Day' both sound like Kasabian album tracks. Usually I'd be wary of comparing a band to someone the band themselves list as one of their main influences, it can often be dismissed as lazy journalism, but if someone played one of these last 2 tracks to me and asked me who it was then my first two guesses would be that I was either listening to Kasabian or a Kasabian tribute band.

I can imagine Royal Vendetta giving a good show live and if you like either of the bands mentioned above then check them out and see what you think, but if you're after a new sound or a fresh approach to a crowded genre then on the evidence of these 3 tracks you'd be better off looking elsewhere.

Jam

 
 

Obsessive Compulsive - “The Corpses Of Thought" E.P (Self Released) 

I’ll admit, my first thought on female-fronted Obsessive Compulsive was ‘Christ, not some more misunderstood gloomy goth kids’. Yeah, it’s a little shallow, but the caption on their album sleeve ‘We prefer outcasts’ kind of encouraged me, (85,000 hits on MySpace? That’s a lot of outcasts). And that was before I’d even heard “The Corpses Of Thought.” 

But behind the purple dreads and sulky looks is a band with an E.P. to be proud of. Kelii has a good set of raspy vocals on her, and strong intelligent lyrics that rather than bitching about their dark souls, starts in on nihilism, such as ‘In your eyes I writhe in blood and death and demons!’ redeeming themselves with chants of ‘God-shaped hole’ over dark & dirty guitar riffs. After all, it’s only the E.P so watch this space (or void, whatever those crazy outcasts are calling it these days).

Willa C

 

LAP - “The Ignored Effect” E.P. (Populus Records)

Does anyone remember Trapt?

Yeah, I wish I didn’t either.

LAP- or LifeAmongPeople brought back some deja vu, only a little better and that’s what makes them more disappointing at the same time. The E.P sounds as if it was half-decent posthardcore played through bulletproof glass. The vocals sound like they were recorded on the other side of the room, and just about when you think ‘oh..oh..OH its getting tougher!’ the moment is lost and it sounds weak and distorted again. If this is the future of British music as it claim then screw it, I’m moving abroad to louder places.

Willa C

 
 

Bright Eyes - “Four Winds” (Saddle Creek) 

It’s been a long time since Oberst was making scratchy home recordings in his basement with an acoustic guitar, but in Four Winds he seems to have definitely brought himself back to folk music which was always a steady vein in his music, but disappeared towards the later albums under layers of experimentation. However, there is some of that on this album too. Oberst is back with the ever-changing lineup of his band Bright Eyes, now including members of Rilo Kiley, Sleater Kinney, Tortoise and Now it’s Overhead as well as solo artist Ben Kweller, and just as diverse a selection of instruments: banjos, violins, guitars and piano all appearing in a perfectly structured and uplifting song.   

It is best compared with Bruce Springsteens ‘The Pete Seger Sessions’ album. Where I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning was described as ‘the NYC album’, Four Winds has been described as yet to appear on the ‘travelling America album’ Cassadaga, to be released on April 9. It’s not quite country, and it’s not quite folk and with Oberst’s pensive lyrics and shaky voice it all becomes a harmony that captures the middle-America feel that is quickly showing Oberst as rival to Tim Kasher (of Cursive and Slowdown Virginia!) for the crown of the Omaha music scene.

Willa C

 
 

Saosin - Voices (EMI)

As though hewn from the same block as My Chemical Romance, Saosin hardly trail blaze a new path in post hardcore. But what they do they do rather well and 'Voices' is a fully committed voyage which hurtles through catchy pop choruses and darker verse interludes.
watch video to 'Voices'
www.saosin.com

SB

 
 

Vatican DC - Fountainhead (Red Flag)

'Fountainhead' is a rock beast (as well as a rather good book by Ayn Rand - seek it out punters). There is a swirling mass of Doctor Who style noise around the driving guitar and key chords which temporarily verges dangerously close on glam rock before rounding back into more hospitable waters. And the guitarist is Chris Gentry (of Menswear fame). Weird eh?

SB

 
 

Band of Horses - Funeral (KIDS)

Plucked from the mighty Sub-Pop label by KIDS, Band of Horses' 'Funeral' has a delicate quality, in the main due to Ben Bridwell's fragile vocals, while maintaining a stadium filling, shoe-gazing pomp. Like a some kind of grandiose therapy session.
www.bandofhorses.com

SB

 
 

Cherry Ghost - Mathematics (Heavenly)

This sounds a bit like a cleaned up version of a Napoleon IIIrd track. The percussion is a bit warped, squelchy and scratchy, the vocals are terse, if not strained and the layers of interesting loops and samples are substituted with a string section and backing singers. It alludes to wards lost grandeur, like a rusting seaside pier. Fans of Ed Harcourt will lap this sound up too.
www.cherryghost.co.uk

SB

 
 

Dinosaur Jr - Been There All the Time (PIAS/Wall of Sound)

It's with a heavy heart I have to report that yet another band has reformed no doubt to cash in on the current insatiable appetite of the record buying public. On the plus side, J Mascis and friends have kind of been fiddling around the whole time in the background with solo stuff and this is maybe alluded to in a not very subtle way in the song title. They still have their guitars turned up VERY loud, they still verge on the self indulgent with their occasionally over-elaborate guitar breaks but then that is what Dinosaur Jr fans have always bought into. 'Been There All the Time' won't disappoint.
http://dinosaurjr.com

SB

 
 

Sword - Freya (Kemado)

Hello hello? Sounds like Texan riffmasters The Sword have gate crashed the recording session for Pearl jam's 'Even Flow' and laid a shitload of extra guitar tracks over it. That is until The Sword pummel their way out the studio by the sheer ferocity of their axemongous Sabbathy assault. This is ball breaking metal of the heaviest type.
www.myspace.com/thesword

SB


 

Joan as Police Woman - Flushed Chest (Reveal)

Better known for her work with other artists (Scissor Sisters, Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright etc), 'Flushed Chest' comes from the ludicrously successful debut album 'Real Life'. It's gentle and sincere with a warm brass section and demure delivery. Best served in a smoky bar with lashings of whisky.

SB

 

Arctic Monkeys – “Brianstorm” (Domino) 

Try convincing the British public that the Artic Lorries are (dare I say it?) somewhat overrated. Believe me you’d win more friends by denying the Holocaust. Still, “Brianstorm” wins my vote through sheer power alone, charging straight at your eardrums like the Four Horsemen, and promising a more successful return to the spotlight than The Strokes managed a few years back.
Watch the video to 'Brainstorm'
www.arcticmonkeys.com

Will Columbine

 
 

Luminous Frenzy - Three Cliffs Bay (Freeport)

See past the slightly ropey band name and 'Three Cliffs bay' delivers what may well be one of the highlights of the year so far. The vocals tremor almost nervously over the light touch of a keyboard melody before the guitars wax up in the production towards a swirling white noise before abating and waning back to a near inaudible whisper, like the waves washing on the beach of the bay in the song title. Mesmerisingly David Lynchian.

SB

 
 

Savannah Knight – “Rock Your World” 

Apparently we have Blu Cantrell to thank for encouraging Miss Knight to pursue her musical dream, so she’s definitely due a Chinese burn next time I bump into her. Imagine this scenario if you will…Mel C accidentally swallows a Vocoder before deciding to get all Jamiroquai on our asses, and “Rock My World” is the bastard offspring. It will go down a storm in cheesy nightclubs, trust me.
www.fifthelement.biz

Will Columbine

 
 

The Acutes – “Set On You” 

There can’t be many duos able to conjure up as joyous a racket as The Acutes. It’s good to see that, since reviewing their last single, they’ve still got more energy than they know what to do with, although “Set On You” is a rather one-dimensional effort. It seems they’ve saved all their ideas for ‘mini psychedelic opera’ “Rumba”…”, which is certainly better but won’t have Pete Townshend looking nervously over his shoulder any time soon.
www.myspace.com/theacutes

Will Columbine

 
 

The High Wire – “Saint Bees” 

Anyone remember a band called January? Well, The High Wire sound a lot like them…shoegazing with a country influence, a dash of Mercury Rev and a sprinkle of Spiritualized. It has to be said that the gospel-lite “You Don’t Know What I Know” is a tad over-derivative of Jason Pierce’s mob, but the truly gorgeous boy/girl harmonies on the title track easily make this my single of the month, even before I’ve heard the competition.
www.thehighwire.net

Will Columbine

 
 

Silver Sun – “Fallen” 

I love the fact that Silver Sun don’t even try and disguise the fact that they’re a bunch of gawky power-pop pervs. Buy this single and you get two prime slices of rawk riffery from their current LP “Dad’s Weird Dream” (the best being “See Me in My Dreams” which almost manages to out-Weezer their US counterpart), as well as some smutty and amusing sleeve-notes. My advice, however, remains the same – buy the first album and have done with it.
www.silver-sun.co.uk

Will Columbine

 
 

Junior Boys – “Dead Horse EP” (Domino) 

A collection of remixes isn’t going to be the first port of call for newcomers to Junior Boys world (there’s a clue in the title), but the first two tracks, “In the Morning” and “Like a Child”, come straight off the album. The former sounds like Daft Punk holding court at an acid-house rave, whilst track 2 is like a less pop-orientated, more chilled Hot Chip, which, I suppose, makes them Cold Chip.

Will Columbine

 
 

Unklejam- Love Ya (Virgin) 

Unklejam have been branded as somewhat unclassifiable, an exciting new sound. But then isn’t everyone these days? These tracks do very little to prove their blurb right. Points are knocked in the first track Luv Ya, for the continual use of that oh-so inspiring lyric “shake it girl like it’s your birthday”. More points off for the hugely tired call and response- “let me hear ya scream!” (probably works better live guys), and some unsavoury grunting noises. Not worth shaking anything to.

Cry sits along side the slightly higher end of the R n B/soul scale, with some warm full vocals and nice use of saxophone.  

From this EP it seems instead of creating something new, Unklejam have merely mushed a load of already existing genres together and created some fairly middle of the road stuff. Pleasant enough to listen to if you enjoy a bit of Justin Timberlake, Amerie et al and shaking it like it’s your birthday from time to time, but not anything to get excited about. 
Watch video to 'Love Ya'
www.myspace.com/unklejam

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Dragonette - I Get Around (Mercury)

I sniff a hit here. Dragonette have that star quality that sees bands plucked from obscurity and catapulted to their own festival headlining slot. Not that Dragonette were that obscure to start with - singer Martina has already had a hit single guesting on Bassment Jaxx's 'Take Me back to Your House' and they will soon be touring with the Sugar Babes.

But is it any good? Well, actually yes - the track is electro glitch with the vocals sporadically veering off and getting mangled up in a distorted mix with the synths - pretty nifty. If anything it is a bit over-produced to pander to a pop market - the choruses are so clean and sanitary that you could eat your pot noodle off them. Tie will tell what else Dragonette have in the locker but I for one, hope they don't go down the boring pop route.
www.dragonette.ca

SB

 
 

The Duloks - I'm Gonna Follow Your Star Trail (Art/Goes/Pop)

Proving that less is more, the Duloks knock out a midget gem of pop (in every respect given their diminutive stature) with just a bit of simple keyboard and haphazard drum beats. Even the vocals sounds like they were recorded down one of those bean-tin telephone's that your dad makes you when you are a kid because he doesn't want to stump up the cash for a proper walkie talkie set. What? Was that just me?

Their press photo showing them looking like 70s porn stars in gym kit and their general willingness to dress up in the name of putting on a good show belie the fact that they sound quite serious on record. Not sure if that was deliberate but I can't see them as the happy go lucky party girls that everyone is talking about. They are, however, very good.
www.theduloks.com

SB

 
 

Soft Hearted Scientists - Siberia (My Kung Fu)

For all their harpsichords, echo-on, echo-off production, reverse guitars and general tinkling percussion, it is still impossible for Soft Hearted Scientists to make the seven minutes of Siberia seem anything but a bit repetitive. It's all a bit hairy and folky and there is definitely no need for an instrumental version as well.
www.softheartedscientists.com

SB


 

The Scare - Bats! Bats! Bats! (Dance to the Radio)

I don't know what has got in The Scare's pants to make them wax lyrical about our dear winged mammal friends but it may be the same thing that has them powering out of the speakers in a INXS go metal kind of way. Which makes sense because they come from Australia. It's all good power chord and smashing drums stuff. Did you know that many bats have to hang upside down so that they have enough time to flap in order to fly and if they fall to the ground they may never be able to get airborne again? Fact.

SB

 
 

The Low Miffs - Earl Grey (Art/Goes/Pop)

I think The Low Miffs may be a little bit too smart for their own good. The constantly shifting time patterns of 'Earl Grey' might be technically pretty clever but they make it damn hard to listen to. They also plateau off during the main guitar chorusy bit which actually makes it sound as though it is slowing down - surely not the desired effect. It's a bit Bryan Ferry does rock opera too - I'm not convinced.
www.thelowmiffs.com

SB

 
 

Three Mile Island - Fractured EP

Only a metal band could name themselves after the worst nuclear incident in US history. 'Cimarron Street' is a typically low-slung guitar chugathon that never lets you get your breath between hatcheting up the riffs and drums. 'The Rising' is a a bit more brooding and low key...initially. There's a beautiful richness to what sounds like a strummed bass that reverbs out of the speakers before vocalist Tony Harvey annihilates the relative serenity with a cathartic roar. Yikes.
www.threemileisland.net
www.myspace.com/threemileislanduk

SB

 
 

Breed 77 - Look at Me Now (Albert)

Breed 77 seem to knock out singles as quickly as I eat Jaffa cakes (and that's damn quick I'll have you know). And this may be the single too far - a lumbering soft rock, lighter waving affair that may explain Breed 77's success in the German charts. Add to this a shocking cover version of The Cranberries' 'Zombie' and this makes one scary package.

SB

 
 

Ebb - Life is on TV (Gaymonkey)

I'd read the previous tasty review of Ebb's album Loona before slottig in this disc so was ready for the torrent of clicks and blips which awaited. Which is a pity because that meant it took me about 4 minutes to work out the the CD was skipping uncontrollably before ejecting itself from the drawer. Sorry - you can always have a listen on Myspace...
www.myspace.com/ebbmusic
www.ebbmusic.com

SB

 
 

Andrea Wilde - I'm In Love

Not another schmaltzy love song but a potted history of the artist's passion for voyeurism apparently - ooh I say. Seems like Ms Wilde has managed to splice two fine influences in the form of Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Soho Dolls in her sordid little voyage through dirty electro pop. Fine stuff and a cool press release fro Emms Publicity too - like a page ripped from a diary. Wouldn't want to be Andre Wilde's neighbour though.
www.myspace.com/awildeone

SB

 
 

Gunning for Goliath - Anaemia Promo

Gunning for Goliath do not waste any time in announcing their intentions with this EP as the double kicked bass drum seems to break in before the play button is even pressed. This is frantic, frenetic stuff (though it does go a bit Sabbathy towards the end).

Melodic metal or post hardcore - you decide. It all becomes a bit samey due to the intense pace. There are snippets in 'Murder and Paradise' where the band actually dares not to hit the drums and riff at a million miles an hour and this breathes life into the track where others seem to suffocate under the weight of the sheer wattage spilling out of the speakers. But if you like getting deafened at gigs then this will be right up your street.
www.myspace.com/gunningforgoliath

SB

 
 

Dumb Instrument - Songs Ya Bass Vol. 1 (Hackpen)

Not some kind of new urbane street speak but a gently lilting, near-spoken word journey through modern Scottish life courtesy of singer Tom Murray and his band of musicians on piano, bass and fiddle. The story telling is clever, such as 'Oor Wullie's Baldy' but the jazzy keys and soporific bass and strings of 'What if Cliff' make this all a little bit too gentle for me.
http://dumbinstrument.com

SB

 
 

Grammatics - The Shipping Forecast (Dance to the Radio)

'The Shipping Forecast' is one of those tracks that dances perilously close to the edge of being so choppy and elaborate that it runs the risk of becoming unlistenable. Some parts are math rock, augmented by slicing cellos, others are chock full of intricate fiddly guitar fills and skits. The rhythms do little to smooth out these rough diamonds but here the crystal clear vocals step in to lubricate the whole thing and balance is restored.
www.myspace.com/grammatics

SB

 
 

Marsha Swanson - My Life My Own

With a funky bass track and competent musicianship throughout this dainty number, Marsha Swanson knocks out another radio friendly ditty that would grace any early evening TV show. Swanson's vocals sometimes sound a bit too soaring and reedy for this subdued track but the airy vocal harmony at the end of the song makes up for it.
www.marshaswanson.co.uk

SB

 
 

Exile Parade - demo

'Still Number One' is like a case study in music that bores me silly. Asinine riffing, gruff 'earnest' vocals and a bloody annoying sing along chorus that is so clearly geared to the mass audience in a Kaiser Chief style 'whooooaaaa' chorus that you'd need to be deaf not to miss it (thankfully). 'Bicycle Thief' starts off promisingly with a kind of shambolic Charlatans vibe before deteriorating to the same hackneyed rock n roll as 'Still number One. Will be big in the US no doubt.
www.myspace.com/exileparade

SB

 
 

Paul Hartnoll -Please (Kids)

Being one half of Orbital has its advantages - attracting guest singers being one. Step up to the mic non other than The Cure's Robert Smith. In between back combing his hair and applying lippy badly, Smith delivers a pretty strong performance though I'm sure he is recycling old Cure lyrics from Disintegration.

As well as a mighty 7 remixes of 'Please' there's an exclusive non-album track in 'Old School Tie' which is OK - very Orbital as you might expect. In fairness this release is not up to the standard of 'Patchwork Guilt' but would make a decent album filler.
www.myspace.com/paulhartnollmusic
Download 'Please' for free from http://www.blinque.co.uk/paulhartnoll

SB

 
 

Sister Mary Elephant - Just a Dream (Talking Elephant)

A heady mix of prog rock and dubby reggae bass sounds is a bold move by Sister Mary Elephant. This track sounds very 'urban' if you get my drift - like it was spawned in some south London lock-up. I can picture the video now - shot among the high rises and tumble down concrete pedestrian precincts...

I was sure I was going to hate this, even up until writing the last paragraph of the review -but there's something a little bit special about the disillusionment and misery mixed with the upbeat reggae. Promising stuff.

SB

 
 

Zebedy Rays - The Shape to Shake

Apparently Zebedy Rays 'put on the most exciting shows the city has ever seen'. A proud boast until you realise the city they are talking about is Worcester. Says it all really. You can hear the quality of each band member in 'The NHS' without them ever really gelling together which is a pity.

'Home Sweet Home' seems to lurch into existence before settling into a slightly more edgy rhythm. But still the parts are disparate and not combining in a very melodic way. Could be the production - sounds a bit like the engineer fell asleep and accidentally pushed all the sliders up to max on every channel. Fortunately 'Night Owl', aside from its heavy bass line, is a little bit more varied and builds up a bright tension through its gathering guitar lines. But again it never really takes off despite the band obviously really going for it by the end. A case of could do better.
www.myspace.com/zebedyrays

SB

 
 

The Tribunes - Both Eyes Blind (Honest Jon's)

Imagine The Streets' Mike Skinner has stumbled into a smokey jazz-blues bar in New York. He's drunk, he's politically active and he's pissed off. It shouldn't work, the tootling sax and the gently insistent cymbal with the spare piano parts every so often - all backing the spoken word delivery. But it does and it sounds pretty cool. Pity about the ending which just dwindles away disappointingly but otherwise very interesting.
www.thetribunes.org

SB


 

Aeon Spoke - Pablo (at the Park) (SPV)

Blimey - I'm obviously not down with the kids. Or at least a lot grumpier than the kids. Comrade Catriona managed to find the positives in Aeon Spoke's album review but to me it just sounds like a bunch of miserable whingey sods who have penned together a tune around the chorus for 'I'd Do Anything for Love' by Meatloaf without any of the passion. I'm sure they are singing about something very poignant but this is so dreary I just can't be bothered to listen.
www.aeonspoke.com

SB

 
 

Ash - You Can't Have it All (Infectious)

Did you know Ash have been on the go for 14 years? 14 years! Amazing really. And this single sees a return to the original threepiece since Charlotte Hatherley jumped ship. there seems to be a rekindled sense of fun and urgency in the bouncing bass line of Ash - more Muse than moody. The chorus is a little bit Kooksy, proving that Ash are down with the kids too. Good solid stuff.
www.ash-official.com

SB

 
 

GoodBooks - the Illness (Columbia)

Cow bell - check? Slashy guitars - check? Chacka chacka beat - check. Goodbooks tick all the right boxes to get into the NME but there's also a really pleasant languid quality to the vocals which is refreshingly laid back in comparison to lots of the current crop of try hards. A tricksy layered vocal harmony towards the end throws up another pleasant surprise leaving an overwhelmingly warm sensation in the cockles.
www.ilovegoodbooks.com

SB

 
 

William - Playground (Tough Love)

The frenetic guitar work on Playground seems to carry this single almost single handedly - axeman Dan Sheridan must have strong hands because the pace never relents. In comparison, the beats sound a tad boxy and the vocals are a little vague. But then some would say they are cool and understated - all about different tastes in the end innit?

B-side 'Porco Dio Schweinenhund' is much more interesting - with the sporadic bass lines working with the rotary guitar riffs and minimal vocals which possess a slight fey Molokoness. This tracks showcases a second string to the bow of William and will certainly get me perking up my ears for future releases.
www.myspace.com/williamtheband

SB

 
 

Mumm-Ra - She's Got You High (Columbia)

Indie popsters par excellence produce 3 minute pop gem? Correct. Tingly guitars and regional accents ('She's Got You Hoy') dished up on layers of lovely harmonies. Timed for the long, warm days of summer perfectly.
www.mumm-ra.com

SB

 
 

The Sessions - What is this Feeling, Cherrystones remix (Indio)

A scuzzed up grouchy sounding remix that pulsates on a solid bed of electro beats and bleeps, 'What is this Feeling' seems elevated somewhat above the standard crowd of Stone Roses/Primal Scream copyists. Not sure if the original mix would have been quite as uplifting but this makes a for a very nifty little electro rock track - a bit like some of Stereo MCs' more adventurous work.
www.thesessions.co.uk

SB


 

Original Cast - What Am I Supposed to Do? (Violation)

There's a whole mix of stuff here that in combination should sound bloody awful and at times it does. East 17, The Streets, Hard-Fi, a happy house piano line - need I go on? But occasionally it all clicks together and works - the pre-chorus sounds really committed and aggressive (a la Leicester's Tired Irie). Time to concentrate on less croonage and more tunage.
www.originalcast.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Mules - We're Good People (Kartel)

This sounds like it was recorded in the backroom of a speakeasy - all collusion, nods and winks, a turn of phrase here a tip of the hat there. The strings are uncomfortable and the vibraphone/theremin only adds to the uneasiness. Quirky would be a generous description. 'Problems with Exits' continues the mood of Victorian parlour music before CSS inject some much needed funkability and listener-friendly grooves over the top. It's a true triumph of the remix to really work with the vocal part and nurture it through quite a dancey track as though it was always conceived as one.
www.themules.co.uk

SB

 

Envelopes - Smoke in the Desert, Eating in the Sand, Hide in the Grass (Brille)

Don't be fooled by the Blondie-ish opening to this track - The Envelopes soon veer off in a completely different direction circling Talking Heads and swerving dangerously close to Men at Work. 'Party' pairs some simple shaka beats with an percussive guitar riff and 'Gouge Away' sounding bass line. The Pixies references are no doubt emphasised by the boy-girl vocals but you get the strong feeling that we may have stumbled into a heavy influence on Envelopes.
www.myspace.com/envelopes
watch the video to 'Smoke in the desert...'

SB

 
 

The Psychotic Reaction - A Moment of Clarity

I was so damn sure fromt he name that this was going to be a metal fest that I almost got a new tattoo especially for it. And I probably should have got one because the three and a half minutes of sheer joyous pop that spouted forth would easily have soothed any pain away. It's a slow guitary start but then the simple organ sounds kick in a the whole kaboodle boils up like an over-heated pan of milk. It's playful and catchy and all the better for being DIY and a little bit rough around the edges production wise.

Proving it's no fluke 'Overdraft Blues' is more leftfield but equally creative with a wobbly bass sound, a keyboard line and a guitar line that acts as the beat and extra bassline. I know it sounds weird - it is but it's bloody clever too. Who'd have thought such exciting things would come from Whitstable?
www.thepsychoticreaction.co.uk

SB

 
 

Astariel - Let's Kill Fame

Quite an in your face title and an unfeasibly harsh sound that jars and scrapes pseudo industrial sounds against more poppy electro beats. This is more Nine Inch Nails than Numan, more Front 242 than Fischerspooner. In fact 'Hearts at Stake' is very 'Pretty Hate Machine' era NIN - vulnerable and threatening at the same time. It's a style and an approach I like but, like me, it's a bit dated. More of a theatrical curiosity in crumbing old auditorium than feature film at the latest Odeon, there is a certain tragic poetic grandeur to this.
www.myspace.com/astariel

SB

 
 

Ray Lamontagne - Jolene (14th Floor)

The third single from Lamontagne's album 'Trouble' and thankfully not a cover version of the Dolly Parton track. It feels a bit like a third single too though - Lamontagne's trademark vocals come through but aren't really tested that much, the resurgent themes of desperation, rejection and redemption reappear and let's be honest - he's good but Damien Rice is just a little bit better at writing songs isn't he?
www.raylamontagne.com

SB

 
 

Marie Miller - No Ordinary Girl (Small Dog/Universal)

I'm feeling a little guilty about liking 'No Ordinary Girl'. It's a bit too slickly produced, the cover art is a bit too artificial and air brushed and Marie Miller sounds a little bit too much like a manufactured pop diva in the press release, but this can't hide the fact that it's a pretty catchy track. But B-side 'How Do I get There' sounds like it came straight off TMF and goes to show that although appearances can be deceptive, often they really do tell the tale.
www.myspace.com/mariemillermusic

SB

 

Stateless - Exit (!K7)

Although hailing from our supposed new hotbed of musical culture, Stateless are about as far removed from everything else which comes out of Leeds as it is possible to be. Swirling atmospheric trip hop akin to DJ Shadow, soulful and complete with real strings and a real sense of grandeur, 'Exit' seems destined to be the track which takes Stateless to a wider audience. Stateless are certainly a welcome variation on the otherwise indie guitar dominated Leeds scene and on this showing there's no reason they shouldn't mither ears on a much bigger stage.
www.statelessonline.co.uk

SB

 
 

Silverfall - 3 track sampler

Another day, another singer songwriter. Jenny Bailey and her band may have put together some tracks with a lot of personal feeling and experience here but starting with 'Don't Cry Now Michael' and continuing with 'Hey Now' these ballady, piano based tunes are just mighty dull. These songs possess a dreariness that would be hard to achieve if you were actually trying to - and I don't say that just to sound cruel or clever. There's just absolutely no spark here and I'm left feeling a bit depressed after listening.

SB

 
 

Silicon Vultures - EP (Captains of Industry)

I'm not sure this EP shouldn't come with a health warning as I suspect any prolonged listening to Silicon Vultures would probably end up in hearing problems and possibly mental health issues. Delaney Jae's vocals (in the loosest sense of the word) are impressively abrasive and do nothing to blunt the aggressive slashes of scuzzy guitars and scratchy synths. Unsurprisingly at times this leads to some parts sounding a bit malformed, like a dysfunctional teenager of angsty rage. Occasionally it all comes together nicely in a fiery, fearsome ball of sonic fury that will give you nightmares. But most of the time it is somewhere between the two extremes - neither particularly well conceived but not hideously disjointed either.
www.siliconvultures.com

SB

 
 

Kingskin - Humpin Mojo (Zebra)

Good grief - this sounds like a 90s supergroup caught in the recording studio. 'In the Way' starts the trend, being only two letters different from the Chili Peppers album 'By the Way' and sounds remarkably like the Chili's 'Shallow Be Thy name' from 'One Hot Minute' - all popping bass and scratchy guitars.

There's some Reef-based stadium rock knocking about and the title track not only sounds like Whale's 'Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe' in name but also in tone. You didn't really expect to get away with that did you? On the other hand, despite it's obvious derivations from other bands, Humpin Mojo does have some very funky riffs and there is a large amount of technical proficiency at work on those fretboards. If I hadn't heard stuff like this 15 years ago I might have joined the hordes from Kerrang in voting Kingskin Best Unsigned band.

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Myriad Creatures – EP (Jackalope)

Myriad Creatures surprised me, I don’t know why really but the songs were pretty good. Brisk guitar riffs and a nice all round sound. They are however one of those bands that you can’t really find words to describe them. I suppose more a bad than a good sign. I like it but probably wouldn’t invest. I prefer music to be a bit edgier, with something a bit different, maybe it’s just that I’ve forgot what a band sounds like that doesn’t use synths. The vocals are really nice and their sound is tight, nice to have on your mp3 player, jovial bus music perhaps? 2.5/5

Gareth Ludkin
www.myspace.com/funkyasfudgefanzine

 
 

Sovereign Heights – 81

The artwork looks like it’s been printed straight off the computer and the music sounds like it’s been ripped straight from an 80’s cheese record. The beats/ synths leave a LOT to be desired, and it’s a pretty amateurish attempt at music. I’ve heard far more inventive ‘please hold’ music and my local sports centre plays better jingles!!! 0/5

Gareth Ludkin
www.myspace.com/funkyasfudgefanzine

 
 

The Pocket Gods – Sandringtonsput (nub country)

Ouch! Well straight away the vocals are hurting my delicate ear lobes, they clearly decided that lobbing a load of effects on the vocals would make the songs better. But no they don’t. The majority of the songs are fairly drab, repetitive occasions and lack imagination and quality. Not a Fan. 1/5

Gareth Ludkin
www.myspace.com/funkyasfudgefanzine

 
 

Guile - EP

There's still an awful lot of Six by Seven to guile but they are beginning to really hone their own shoegazey style of indie rock. Stand out track on this EP is the monumental 'Love Around Here' which marries up droney reverbing guitars, world weary vocals and a clouting drum effort to produce a spiralling Doors-like psychedelic hazey crescendo with a hint of bluesiness. '140 Hurts' is a slow, dolefully bluesey track with a very pleasing chord progression against the slide guitar and 'I Walk Alone' is brooding, whisky fuelled rant against the wrongs of the world. It's opening track 'Rock n Roll' which is a bit too, well rock n roll and suffers from the noisy production qualities of Guile's early releases that provides the only disappointment of the EP. So that's 3 out of 4, 75%, got to be a thumbs up any way you look at it.
www.guilemusic.com

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Scout Niblett – Dinosaur Egg (Too Pure)

Nottingham’s Niblett is renowned for being difficult, and this comes through in her music. ‘Dinosaur Egg’ is remains resolutely tricky – sort of like an even less accessible Polly Harvey – and is hardly likely to get you out of your armchair. But I guess that’s not the point. Niblett remains an enigma to me, I’m afraid. That’s not to say she won’t have you rapt.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Stillman - In the Margin (TRL)

There's a refreshing couldn't-give-a-damn attitude about 'In the margin' as Stillman unself consciously wades through faux harpsichord, synths and strings while the trusty theremin makes a welcome, if otherworldy, return in the background. There's just something intangible about Stillman which puts him outside the normal singer songwriter bracket. Keep an eye out for him...
www.stillman.mu

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The National – Mistaken for Strangers (Beggard Banquet)

It seems The National have lost none of their dark allure. Whilst the title track is pretty generic, the real star here is ‘Black Slate’, which is the best Tindersticks track I’ve heard for some years. The National remain one of the most consistent bands around, and one the most originally beautiful ones, too.

Sam Metcalf


 

The Random - Tonight (Nede)

This is, without doubt, one of the worst tracks I've listened to this month - how disappointing. Pedestrian (and walking with a stick at that) riffs provide the backdrop to the god awful atonal vocals which growl their way through 3 minutes of my life which could be better spent. Now if you'll excuse me I have dishes to wash.
www.therandommusic.com

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Voxtrot – Blood Red Blood (Playlouder)

Currently the darlings of the indie-pop scene on both sides of the Atlantic, Voxtrot are just a little bit too polished for me. ‘Blood Red Blood’ reminds me of mid-period New Order… possibly ‘Face Up’. Seems to me that Voxtrot need to come up with a killer album to justify the hype, cos at the moment I’m remaining well on the fence.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Anemic - Train to Hell (Sugarshack)

Having taken the slightly unusual step for a metal band of relocating from Los Angeles to Bristol, Anemic sound similarly directionless in 'Train to Hell'. Caught between the twin pulls of radio friendly screamo and hard metal, 'Train to Hell' ends up just being one of a million other ponderous guitar tracks from guys with nice hair and eye make up. The chorus lacks any kind of punch and just ends up lumbering along to form a rather unwieldy bridge to the next chorus when it should really be soaring.
www.myspace.com/anemic

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Little Barrie - Pay to Join (Genuine)

Despite an initial knee jerk reaction that brought back memories of having to listen to hours of the dreaded Jamiroquai while at university (and listening under duress I might add), 'Pay to Join' gladly did not turn out to be quite so awful. This brand of soulful bass driven pop seems so much less self congratulatory than the nonsense spewed by Jay Kay. But it does still remind me of cool cats doing their funky pointy dancing shit and that is still a concern.
www.myspace.com/littlebarrie

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Blackstrobe - Shining Bright Star (Playlouder)

As long as you aren't expecting any massively meaningful lyrics, you are familiar with the work of Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails and you like your industrio-pop music with a tinge of danciness about it then you will not be disappointed. And there's a massive 7 different mixes of this track on the single so you will never get bored while you darn up all those pesky holes in your fishnet fingerless gloves.

SB

 
 

The Rapture – Pieces of People We Love (Vertigo)

It starts of with a Glitter Band drum beat. Blimey. And then it does nowhere. This is a massive let down from a band that are – at the very least – always interesting. This song just sort of meanders along in an icy, post-punk way that ends up annoying rather than pleasing. It’s like taking a gulp of tea and finding out it’s only lukewarm. Yes. That bad.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Polly Paulusma – The Woods (One Little Indian)

She likes the outdoors, does Polly. ‘The Woods’ mentions all sorts of wildlife, and is really quite beautiful in an off-kilter acoustic way. And she has a lovely voice, too. Oh yeah, and she’s very easy on the eye. Anyway, yes, this is GOOD.

Sam Metcalf


 

Monkey Swallows the Universe – Little Polveir (Loose)

Quite why the world isn’t in raptures for this band by now is beyond me, but they will be soon, I suppose. ‘Little Polveir’ is named after a racehorse, of course, and builds on MSTU’s reputation as some of the best songwriters around at the moment. The band’s ability to seamlessly swap between uptempo guitar pop and melancholy acoustics remains unchallenged, and this excellent new single simply reinforces that. Wonderful stuff.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

The Noisettes – Sister Rosetta (Vertigo)

A skimpy little rockabilly number is always welcome, and ‘Sister Rosetta’ is no exception, and it even includes a delightfully, noisy, trashy guitar in the chorus. Like Joan Jett fronting The Cramps. And that sounds good, doesn’t it?

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Jamie T – Sheila (Virgin) 

This is a really good mix of upbeat sing-a-long choruses, catchy melodies and simple beats. “Sheila” is one of the first tunes ever written by Jamie, this is evident as it depicts a raw tale of drunken tragedies with the simple but effective effort that a solo artist can put in, before they become commercialised. The beat and bass continues solidly throughout this track, but the raw lyrics stand out a mile, mixing hip hop elements with pop and rap, but in an individualistic way. 
www.jamie-t.com
Watch the video to 'Sheila'

Lid

 
 

Orphan Boy - Postcode (Concrete)

I've tried, I really have. Even after about ten listens I'm still finding this hard going. The 'Leader of the pack' drum intro, the Sigue Sigue Sputnik vocals and the big ringing guitar lines are still rattling around in my head but this sounds like the first attempt by a garage band to record their rehearsal on a four track. there's a punk element and even a touch of Ian Curtis unhingedness to some of the vocals but it is all a bit disjointed for me.
www.myspace.com/orphanboyuk

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The Culprit - The Stable Sessions (self released)

This is one good EP and not something that I would normally find myself listening too. The Culprit mix up various guises of metal, screamo and hardcore but in a coherent and melodic way that leans towards a poppy Deftones. The production is top notched and the dropped guitars really crunch through 'Blackball', more than ably supported by the harmonic joint vocal parts that are actually sung, not just hollered. All three tracks are bristling with invention and power.
www.theculprit.co.uk

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