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singles - may 2007

Zico Chain- Where Would You Rather Be? 

This is a heavy yet melodic romp of glammy-gothy-punk inspired metal. Influences are easy to spot, with much similarities vocally and otherwise to Marilyn Manson et al and even a more subtle nod toward the Wildhearts, judging by the riffs and catchiness of the track. From the opening static noise to the the OTT shrieking of 'BORRREEDD' this is  reminiscent to tons of the 'nu metal' bands so popular several years ago, but minus the rap vocals and bad dress sense. As much as the format has been used, I like this track and it's provocatively good. An unchallenging single but a fun listen: an uncomplicated party track that should go down well at alternative club nights.
Watch video to 'Where Would You Rather Be?'

Ruth Holmes


The Ackleys – ‘Forget Forget, Derive Derive’ (House of Love) 

The exuberance and enthusiasm that the Ackleys approach their music with, combined with their youth (according to the press release two of their number are high school seniors, two are in college. I assume this makes them young, I've no idea not being familiar with intricacies of the North American educational system) means I don't think I can bring myself to say what I honestly think of this EP. Morally it would be akin to telling a young child that Santa Claus does not exist before relieving oneself on its presents. Or kicking the Andrex puppy to death for cash. I don't think I would want being nasty about the Ackleys weighing on my conscience.

With that in mind I will confine myself to saying that 'Forget Forget, Derive Derive' isn't exactly to my taste. In my opinion the infectious indie-punk that The Ackleys churn out with such evident glee is at best unremarkable at worst actually grating. But to ears rather less jaded than mine this sort of catchy upbeat songwriting could be the perfect soundtrack to a summers day. However the bottom line is that I can imagine every single song on 'Forget Forget, Derive Derive' being played on 'The OC'. If you think that's a good thing then The Ackleys may well be the band for you. That would however make you a prick. That's not being nasty to the band, rather the people who listen to them. Tenuous I know, but at least I'll be able to sleep at night. 

Michael Pearson 


Thirty Seconds to Mars- The Kill (Virgin) 

This is emo. That may be an insult or a compliment, depending on your personal viewpoint, but either way, it has to be said. The title is a dead giveaway, for a start. Now I have got that obstacle over with, though, it's actually quite alright. There is nothing particularly original about this but it's melodic and catchy, without having that god-awful cringe factor bands such as Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance undoubtedly possess. Actually..wait. Unfortunately the lyrics are cheesy as hell and ruin the credibility the song might otherwise have had. Overall though it's a good track, well produced and dynamically interesting. Radio-friendly but not totally mind numbing. 
watch video to 'The Kill'

Ruth Holmes


Ground Unicorn Horn –‘7″ Single’ (Three One G) 

Ground Unicorn Horn are one of an ever expanding number of bands featuring Justin Pearson of The Locust, Holy Molar and Head Wound City, amongst others. I’m very keen on all the aforementioned bands, but they aren’t a million miles apart in terms of the sound they pursue. As much as I enjoy spasmodic, deranged hardcore there’s got to be a limit how many bands playing very similar music one man can be in without boredom setting in. I’m off the opinion he should branch out into other genres. My suggestions would be skiffle or improv-reggae. 

Anyway perhaps it would be wise to discuss this specific release instead of simply grumbling in such an unfocussed fashion. As well as Pearson, Ground Unicorn Horn also contains a member of Moving Units, a member of The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower and a member of Friends Forever. The make up of the group gives a fair indication of their musical endeavours. The first of the two tracks, ‘Damn I Wish I Was Fat’, begins with a clipped, off-kilter guitar riff that is repeated cyclically throughout the song, becoming more substantial as the track progresses. The second track, ‘Someone Better Suck This Thing’, is more akin to Pearson’s Locust. Frantic, stabbing keyboards are very much at the fore although their sound is considerably more focussed than the comparison to The Locust suggests. In fact the best way of describing Ground Unicorn Horn would be a scratchy post-punk version of The Locust. An appealing prospect to any right thinking person. 

Michael Pearson 


The Outside Royalty – self-titled EP (self-released)

Beginning in a manner not dissimilar to the opening bars of Pulp's 'Common People', The Outside Royalty's five-track EP merges distinctly 'olde-world' strings and textures with new world sensibilities.
Hailing from Pittsburgh, this sextet moved to London late last year to further their career and, on the evidence of this fine record, may discover their leap of faith is repaid handsomely by an enthusiastic British public.
Following the bright chorus of opening track 'Falling (Part 2)', which combines orchestral tones with subtle moments of electronica, the mood shifts to a darker, more gothic tone for 'Voice Beneath the Rubble' where duelling violins and melancholic vocals successfully create an atmosphere of gloom, before the final line offers a glimmer of hope on what is billed as a 'saga of the soul'.  Next track 'Three, Two, of One' is driven by rolling drums and fuzzy riffs before 'My Constitution' gives a punk edge to the proceedings.
The EP closes with a fine rendition of Eleanor Rigby which, while retaining the violins and structure of arguably Paul McCartney's finest hour, injects fresh energy and a few bombastic drums on the chorus. Conveying the sadness of the lyrics with aplomb, Adam Billing manages the near impossible: pulling off a Beatles cover that could stand up beside the original.
The Outside Royalty's EP is available through

Chris McCague


The Ape Drape Escape - Traditional Music/I Took the Teeth From the Tiger (Launderette)

There's so many things to love about this record, not least that it is packaged a beautiful flock envelope emblazened with the band in fabric. Then traditional music pummels its way out of the speakers for the duration of its short lifespan, all snarling, fuzzy, punk glam with more than a hint of the  Lydon-esque to the vocals. There's also the funfair haunted house organ music drifting in and out, seemingly of its own volition.

This is then upstaged by the obscurely named 'I Took the Teeth from the Tiger' which is remarkable in my mind for having a chorus sounding uncannily like Christian Slater in the Austin Powers movie. name-dropping aside, it is another example of a band who have more energy than busload of kids supping Lucozade in a Duracell factory. The Ape Drape Escape are to be feared and revered.



Moses and the Burning Bush – self-titled EP (self-released)

In 2005, Paul R (aka Moses and the Burning Bush) from Austin, Texas made a decision to never play music with humans again. The result is this six-track record created with his own vocals, guitar and two samplers.
I do hope that Paul reconsiders his decision as it seems that the lack of real-life accompaniment has strangled his creativity. There are some intriguing textures to be found amongst the dark, grinding guitars, including sounds akin to dripping taps on closer 'The Reincarnation of John Wilkes Booth' and train whistles on 'Hubert Humphrey'. It must also be said that the industrial strength beats of 'I Want This to End' make this a good song with which to dance the robot.
However, most of these tracks are at least a minute longer than they need to be and the monochrome textures begin to wear towards the end. The purposefully out-of-key vocals have been heavily distorted throughout - think Damon Albarn on the verses to Gorillaz's 'Feel Good Inc' tuned down an octave or two and put through a spin cycle.
Even washing machine programs have their moments of calm and Paul should consider introducing a few quieter elements to emphasise the length and depth of his many shadows.

Chris McCague


Retroscopic - You’ll Like Us In Three Years (No Label) 

The debut 10-track EP (where I come from, we call that an “album”, lads) from the famous Leicester rockers Retroscopic blasts ten tonnes of titanic aural madness straight at your eardrums and tries to make you fall over and beg for mercy. It’s outstanding…nah, only joking. One of them is actually from Derby.

Personally, I blame LostProphets. It’s because of them, and their ninja-dragon-train-shouting-at-buildings crap that this kind of shash gets released. What is it about crap places that make you want to produce head-down anthemic punk with shouting bearded cretins over the top of it? Corby had Raging Speedhorn, Glamorgan’s got The Automatic. Like the city that spawned them, Retroscopic are destined to flirt with relegation in the second division until their inevitable demise.

The songs aren’t bad, although they’re mainly tuneless, but that’s just it. There’s nothing to set them apart from their contemporaries. In an age where we’re exposed to more music than ever before in more medias than we can cope with, Retroscopic are going to have to improve dramatically in a minute space of time to justify an album proper.

‘You’ll Like Us In Three Years,’ the release declares. Well, I doubt I’ll have heard of Retroscopic in three years, and the big question is this: Why will I care in three years time, when I couldn’t give a toss now? I guess it’s just one of those age-old riddles… 

Chris Stanley


Hush the Many - Song of a page/In Bloom (Fandango)

Since their early tentative outings on the 'Mind the Sprawl' EP a couple of year's ago, Hush the Many have grown not only in stature as a band (to the point where label Fandango are releasing this EP), but also, you get the impression, as a band comfortable and confident in their sound and abilities.

From 'Mind the Sprawl', it was always 'Song of a Page' which made the most arresting impression, proving Hush the Many were more than just another acoustic band with some nice boy-girl vocals. It's poignant therefore that 'Song of the Page' should be the first single released and it has been beefed up in the last couple of years so that all of the quirky, staccato vocals that seem to wildly stagger and hang off the rhythm entirely at their own free will are now joined by a seriously menacing drum part, a caustic grinding guitar section and sharper string accompaniment - truly mesmerising.

All this off kilter, Bowie-esque folk psychedelia is offset by the wholesome beauty of 'In Bloom', recorded live at the End of the Road festival 2006. Nima's fragile vocals are perfectly accompanied by Alex's rich, pure voice which is enough to make anyone's heart melt. This really is a quite a special release and one which you should acquire immediately.



Muddlyloop - Bodysweat (Muddytrax)

The old producers to turn recording artists theme. And this is as scary as it gets. Like an amalgam of Diana Ross, Justin Timberlake and Trent Reznor - Muddyloop's falsetto vocals warble away in an electro groove stylee over a competent if dated soundtrack. I'll pass on this one thank you.



Breed 77 - Un Encuentro mini album (Albert)

Well this is Breed 77 re-releasing some tracks from their first three albums in their native tongue, which is apparently Spanish, despite the fact that they hail from Gibraltar, a British outpost dammit. Unsurprisingly for a band from Gibraltar, they specialise in rock but have been unafraid to absorb other local influences, Moorish, Flamenco etc into their very particular brand of music. I am still uncertain whether I would classify myself as a fan but I certainly admire their determination and commitment to pursue what is a genre defying sound. on the other hand, other than the change of lingo, this mimi-album will probably only be one for die-hard Breed 77 fans.



Voxtrot - Blood red Blood (Playlouder)

Voxtrot are a band for those young folks unsullied by the traumas of the world, unashamedly cheery pop, expertly crafty and in 'Blood Red Blood' even incorporating a jazzy breakdown with crazy saxophone. The fact that Austin's finest sound almost identical on the b-side 'New Love' may be cause for early concern but otherwise exemplary pop-picking.



Amp Fiddler feat. Corinne Bailey Rae - If I Don't (Genuine)

Corinne Bailey Rae used to live downstairs from a mate of mine in a terraced house in Leeds, disturbing her at all hours of the day with her (admittedly well played) music. Now she is mithering Detroit legend Amp Fiddler in a track that lends more than a little to the Star Wars theme from Mos Eisley Cantina. This is something that the artists openly reference in their video for the track and shouldn't detract that is quite a lovely tootley, summery ragtime number where any vocal excesses are kept firmly in check and the backing band are given full range of their impressive skills. I must be going soft.
watch the video to 'If I Don't'


The Crucible - That's the Price I Choose EP

maybe my speakers are broken (or maybe my ears) but this 4 track EP sounds a bit weedy to me. The guitars sound a bit forced, like someone just learning to play and cranking out a succession of leaden riffs in a proggy manner. That is until the third track 'T.W.A., by which time the opening heralds much greater promise - there are some samples introduced to flesh out the sound and the bass line finally bounces along with a bit of energy rather than lurching along with the guitars. But it is 6 minutes long and the lounge style break at the 3/4 mark does not make the time pass any quicker. I don't think it is self absorbed but maybe ill conceived. Beautiful artwork though.



Kinky Durakee - Dedication (Joe Soap)

Stop sniggering at the back. A rock-pop mammoth the likes of which has not been seen since, ooh Dollar in the Eurovision Song contest? What supposedly is about getting on with things after a previous singer left the band just sounds like a big bitchfest to me. And a bitch fest set to a god awful backing track at that. Therapy would probably have been cheaper to pay for than releasing a single and I can't see Kinky Durakee (stop sniggering again) recouping many costs through sales with this effort. Awful ending too - sounds like someone forced the shitty synth down a plug hole.



Odain - Do you Niado (Lemonte)

Do I what? Certainly not, especially to this vocoded electronic tosh.



Husky Rescue - Caravan (Catskills)

Caravan is a beautiful whispy single which perfectly blends Nordic mystery with a more continental chic sound. There's even room for a little bit of beguiling slide guitar.

B-side 'Shadow Run' is even more hypnotic with its droning, pulsating intro minimally accompanied by a footstep percussion which eventually gives way to a heartbeat sound. haunting spoken word lyrics of the like used in 'West End Girls' by the Pet Shop Boys make this a very eerie and entrancing listen.
watch video for 'Caravan'



Elena - Here Comes the Rain (Delicious)

Has it started yet? Is it going to get going in a second? Hmmm, seems not. All the warbling chorus heralds is a noise like a Sioux indian war cry and the studio produced backing music might as well come from a karaoke machine. Uninspiring would be a kind description.



Dear Superstar - Promo EP (Casket/Copro)

First impressions of this EP - tinny. Which is a shame. Otherwise Dear Superstar exude confidence and creativity (though whether this is misplaced will be down to your own point of view). There's a disturbing amount of comparisons with Motley Crue from many reviewers though DS are clearly a bit heavier than your standard hair rock. Good riffs, if a little unoriginal and solid song writing but we really must move on...



Shit and Shine - Cunts with Roses (Noisetar)

I'm guessing that Shit and Shine may be struggling to get any radio airplay with this one. But it's bloody great! The track fades in as a wall of ear bleeding anarchic drums and thunderous bass over a general distorted growl and is only interspersed with a few vocal yelps and guitar tones. Yet slowly but surely patterns (I'd baulk from the word 'tunes') begin to develop and the ear becomes accustomed to the onslaught.

There's a major shift around the 7 minute mark where the noise is temporarily dropped out in the mix before returning to do some real cortex damage. There are some space effect pick slides and other production drop-outs but the insistent theme is the demonic drum pattern so it is fitting that the 28 minute track (yes, you read correctly) concludes in a fury of distorted snare sounds. Seeing this live must be quite something. Formidable.



Biffy Clyro - Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies (14th Floor)

Can Biffy do any wrong? Well this slightly crass title may be a start. And the intro to the track is like incidental music to a rock opera - all string and guitar complete with choral accompaniment. The more familiar sounds of Biffy Clyro that surface after 90 seconds make the intro even more extraordinary. Another solid effort from Ayr's finest though those strings do mean it lends itself to a Bond-esque grandeur. An early audition piece for the next film perhaps?



Architects of Victory - promo EP

Nice name. Architects of Victory open their EP with in 'Old Nick', a snarling beast of guitar trills and pummelled chugging power chords. The quieter bridges only serve to accentuate the sheer volume of the choruses though at nearly 6 minutes long maybe this is a little bit too epic.

'1914' is a confidently slow track  that slowly but surely breathes life. And it seems they have stolen all of Dear Superstar's bass - it spills out of the speakers like sonic boom. Not that this is just a pure doomathon. There are layers of vocals and skilled build of guitars that is very reminiscent of Alice in Chains work. Again though, 5 minutes plus may be a bit over the top.

Final track 'Hate to Love' seems to bring together the themes from the preceding two tracks but for me in a rather unsatisfactory way, like the band are trying to ride more than one horse at once. They have so much to offer in both of the first two tracks that there seems little point in fudging the two together in a third. This shouldn't sound over-critical - Architects of Victory are definitely worth checking out.



Samsa – To Conquer (On The Bone Records)

A rather epic track from a band so early on in their career, To Conquer is a bit of a beast, building into a huge sound in the guitar heavy instrumental section. Although the vocals leave a bit to be desired, with song writing skills like this Samsa are on the way up. B-side Another Night is a more gentle affair that they probably could have tried a little harder on.

Catriona Boyle


CC Sound Factory - Shiok Waves (Sonic Vogue)

Not sure this shouldn't be in the albums section - it has got 9 tracks after all - but seeing as there are 4 mixes of the same song we'll just about slip it in as an EP. 'Crazy Nasty' kicks things off with CC doing a credible Britney Spears impression from 'Toxic' but actually sounding like she might actually be a little bit dirty instead of just plain loopy like Spears.

The original mix of 'So Shiok' is quite dizzying with a range of sounds and influences - think Aphex Twin's 'Phloam', Sheep on Drugs, Frankie Goes to Hollywood...they're all in there. And it is not as cheesey as this may sounds - CC continually distorts and contorts the vocals through a mirage of effects to keep it light and fresh. I also like the K.O. star remix which is seriously dark and hams up the percussion side of things while snarling its way through 5 minutes worth of, essentially, industrial pop. The DJ Saiba remix by comparison is quite horrible - happy hardcore/rave at ten million bpm.

'Thaw' is a completely different proposition - an instrumental based around keyboards and synths and goes to complete what is a pretty impressive set of songs from CC Sound Factory. That does sounds a bit like C&C Music Factory though doesn't it?



Unklejam – What Am I Fighting For? (Virgin) 

What Am I Fighting For sounds a bit like a Jamrioquai single but with slightly better vocals. A looped bassline with three notes, some ooh-ing and aah-ing , some tinny guitar and fairly little else. However, if that’s all you’re expecting then you won’t be disappointed.
Watch video to 'What Am I Fighting For'

Catriona Boyle


Star Chamber - Part One EP

Hmm, sounds a bit like a Simple Minds album track. Never really gets going apart from an old school outro which isn't a great start for the first song of an EP. Mind you - people buy Snow Patrol albums in their hundreds.

The second is at least a bit more upbeat and features a nice cossacky guitar line and completes the effect with sing along 'hey's in the chorus. then the chorussed guitar solo breaks in and you begin to get the impression that this is written more to satisfy the bands own musical curiosity than give anyone outside any enjoyment. But wait! There is a big finale complete with more eastern European vibes and before you know it you'll be eating pickled beetroot and drinking vodka for breakfast.

It's a crowded genre and that makes it tough to get noticed. Much of this EP is mundane. However there are glimpses here of something which sparks the imagination a little more than the run of the mill indie guitar band so stick with it.



Benjy Ferree – In The Countryside (Domino)

The Countryside is indeed rather reminiscent of being in the countryside. One is reminded of a happy farmer with rosy cheeks wearing dungarees going about his business by the jaunty rhythm and whistling.  I’m off to buy a farm…
watch the video to 'In the Countryside'

Catriona Boyle


Strange Mutant Virus - Is It Bardot? EP

I've just about had my fill already this month of bands who do nothing to inspire any kind of reaction at all. 3 tracks of this jingly stuff with a singer who doesn't sound like he is that bothered about singing in a band or not and I'm beginning to nod off. Going for the tried and tested repeat the same lyric ad nauseum throughout the song technique does nothing to rouse me from slumber. Pass me the Pro Plus.



Santa Dog – Big Bang (Sounds Experience)

I should have known something was up when the sleeve smelt a bit funny. And so does the music, metaphorically speaking. While there aren’t any glaringly obvious mistakes on Big Bang or Are You Hot Enough? after listening to both tracks at least three times, I’m really not sure I can tell you anything about them. There’s some guitars, some pretty strong female vocals, but apart from that, it was a fairly forgettable experience. Unlike the smell of the sleeve, they didn’t linger.

Catriona Boyle


Digitalism - Pogo (Virgin)

Seems for once the band lives up to the hype. While all the guitar bands are writing rock music to dance to, Digitalism are writing dance music to rock to. A lovingly tended gurgling synth line oscillates and shifts throughout the song underpinning the otherwise weedy indie boy vocals. i can't imagine falling in love with the track but it is one of those you always get up and dance to without ever knowing what it is called or who it is by.
Watch the video to 'Pogo'



The Kut - demo EP

Apart from committing the cardinal sin of not including a track listing on the press release - everything else about The Kut sounds pretty fantastic. A languid dubby bassline and squelchy drum pattern is draped with sexy vocals and coarse slashes of guitar that send shivers down your spine. It reminds me vaguely of long defunct Leeds act Bedlam Ago Go and proves that sometimes it is much stronger to take things slow rather than thrash out a track to get noticed. The other tracks are equally laid back and equally pleasing though they do lack that rasping cutting edge of 'The Vision'.



Dame Shirley Bassey – The Living Tree (Lock Stock and Barrel)

Bad mouthing Dame Shirley Bassey wouldn’t just be bad mouthing one rather ballsy Welsh lady, it would be bad mouthing an entire generation, an institution, a part of British history. And I’m just not prepared to do that. Luckily, I don’t need to. The original version of The Living Tree is the Dame at her best. Wonderfully rich vocals, some rather inappropriate lyrics for a lady of her age (‘sorry ass’ anyone?) and a bass line that harks back to the day when Bond themes were good (as in when Shirley Bassey was doing them).  

I can however, bad mouth the four remixes. Now I know these days Ms. Bassey makes her money from the success of the dance floor filling remixes of her tracks. Which really is a shame because a.) the guys that have done the remixes haven’t really tried very hard, and b.) the original is far far superior. 

 The Superbass Extended Vocal Mix (what a mouthful) adds a synth beat, a few flurries of strings here and there, and messes about with the vocals a bit. Thrilling stuff. The better and more humorously named Shaken & Stirred Club Mix is a little more interesting, although it’s unrecognisable as a Shirley Bassey track until nearly 2 minutes in. With a funk inspired bass line and more of a melody this track is able to stand on its own rather than just a remix.  

Stuart Critchon’s mix sounds rather too similar to a Dido track. A floor emptier rather than a floor filler. And the Superbass Vocal Remix lacks the ‘super’ somewhat.  

Someone should really tell Dame Shirley that she doesn’t need all this remix rubbish. There are plenty of people (and not just octogenarians) that appreciate this lady’s talent without an uninspiring drum loop in the background.
Watch the video to 'The Living Tree'

Catriona Boyle


Killola - Barrel of Donkeys

God knows what the title is all about but you won't have time to ponder it as Los Angeles based Killola throw all their synths, squelching bass lines, yelping vocals and sonic kitchen sinks at you. It's a total triumph as a high octane girl-trash rock song that leaves you gasping for air.

All of which makes 'I Don't Know Who' seem like a superfluous add-on - it's a bit like Gwen Stefani doing Nirvana's 'Heart Shaped Box'. In fact, I'd go beyond Gwen Stefani - like Aqua doing 'Heart Shaped box' - and that is not something that the world needs.



Mr Hudson & the Library - Ask the DJ (Mercury)

I've not been overly taken with Mr Hudson's previous singles but 'Ask the DJ' more than hits the mark. Their willingness to throw in too many different styles and use a who's who of instruments on each song can leave a disjointed effect but this single is held together with a jaunty, summery, lilting chorus that will have you wobbling your head around in approval.
watch the video to 'Ask the DJ'



Shy Child - Noise Won't Stop (Wall of Sound)

New York two-piece Shy Child are undeniably cool. An unusual combination in being a keys and drums partnership, Nate Smith smacks the toms around most capably while compadre Pete Cafarella forces compelling gurgling, bleeping soundscapes out of his synths. 'Noise Won't Stop' is a great seething mass of dancey energy with just a touch of Bhangra and funk.

B-side cause and effect is equally as good, if not better. it has all the old school charm and glamour of electro with a cutting edge contemporary feel. I'm hooked.



Gabrielles Wish - Cunning Stunts (Small Adjustment)

Do you see what they've done there? Only the same thing as at least three other bands (according to Wikipedia). Fortunately the track is better than the title - a bit like a rapid fire English take on Pearl Jam's 'Do the Evolution'

B-side 'A Kind of Existence' is another gem - a tingly, icy instrumental on very simple synths. It's bleak and atmospheric - like a Vangelis soundtrack.



Pepe Deluxe - The Mischief of Cloud 6 (Catskills)

there seems to be a bit of a theme at the moment for introducing Latina and South American beats and vibes into dance music and Pepe Deluxe has certainly done it in 'The Mischief of Cloud 6' which also combines quite a pleasing retro atmos. Like a cross between the Doors, Come Dancing and Santana.



Tim Deluxe feat. Simon Franks - Let the Beats Roll (Skint)

An accidental collaboration apparently. 'Let the Beats Roll' was originally destined to be an instrumental before Audio Bullys front man Franks poked his head round the studio door and asked to do some vocals over the top. The results are a track that will be equally at home in the clubs or blasting out the car stereo this summer. The old school whooping and the squeaky synths are very acid house but Franks laid back delivery makes sure this track doesn't remain the sole property of the glow-stick brigade.
watch the video to 'Let the Beats Roll'


Prinzhorn Dance School - Up! Up! Up!/Hamworthy Sports and Leisure Centre (DFA/EMI)

Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn seem to have re-created the sound of Room 19 - the Music room at my old secondary school. With a rattly old drum and just a spartan bass line they traipse out three minutes of raw but strangely melodic recording.

I'm not sure what the significance of 'Hamworthy Sports and Leisure Centre' is but the formula is similar with Prinz and Horn's voices working well off each other - like a non-rocking Victorian English Gentlemens Club. It's hard to tell if this is very smart or just a couple of people who think they are being very smart in using such a spartan technique. the decision will ultimately be yours.
watch the video to 'Up! Up! Up!'



The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations (Vagrant)

Deeply rhythmic, rich, guitars and tinkling ivories accompany singer Craig Finn's grizzled vocals in a rampant no-holds-barred assault of epic rock. If the idea of a Springsteen/Waits/Meatloaf supergroup makes you giddy then purchase immediately. If not, then think about something far more pleasant.
Watch the video to 'Stuck between Stations'



Does it Offend You, Yeah? - Weird Science (Chrysalis)

'Weird Science' sounds like Daft Punk at their most edgy - all snarling synths and electro squishiness. One of those tracks that you can only dance to in jerky movements like a chicken. Oh right, that's just me is it? No matter - dance I will as it is well nigh impossible not to get the feathers strutting just a little to this one.
Watch the video to 'Weird Science'



Pigeon Detectives – I’m Not Sorry – Dance to the Radio 

Having been a fan since the Pigeon Detectives were all skinny ties, white shirts and playing in the Primrose, I’m maybe slightly biased on this one. That said; I’m also adequately positioned for a bit of that most established and ingrained of English traditions, pedestal bashing. 

The problem is, the sheer yelping delight of the record smashes apart my longing to sneer at their ‘Ricky Wilson Recommends’ nametags. 

The intro could have come straight from ‘Is This It’ and there’s no getting away from the obvious comparisons to the Strokes sound back from when they could write a fresh tune. 

The indolent vocals hide the lyrical simplicity leading up to the tautly delivered swell of noise which briefly punctuates, before the chorus breaks with abandon. 

There’s potential for the track to get lost in the middle with a meandering solo, but the thunderbolt intervenes again, crashing in and relentlessly bringing the curtain down on this made for radio slice of punk-pop. 

The album lands at the end of the month and while I’m Not Sorry won’t have those who have known the band for longest in a keener state of anticipation, it might well enamour a whole new audience. A perfectly judged release.
Watch the video to 'Wait for Me'

Ian Anderson


Monkey Rope – Heart Attack / Supreme / Beginning 

I don’t like this. If it had come out in 1996 people wouldn’t have liked it then. The songs aren’t very good. I don’t want to keep listening to it because I’ve heard it all more times than I’ve wanted to already. Tepid, unimaginative, poorly executed indie-nonsense.

The last song is a 5:29 minute long acoustic plod. I just can’t bear it.

These songs are awful. The singing is awful. Nothing is good about these three songs.

Christopher Carney


Mother Vulpine - Keep Your Wits Sharp (Her Words are Quick / For a Friend You've Got a Knife Through Your Tongue (On the Bone)

Holy crap - Mother Vulpine are serious. Slightly pompous titles apart, they sounds like a seething, sneering beast of angular rock. There's some splendid baggy guitars like local contemporaries This Et Al and intricate slashes of tingling riffs that lacerate their way through the gut pummelling power of the bassline in 'For a Friend...'.

To say Mother Vulpine have an urgency about them is an understatement; 'Keep Your Wits...' sees the vocals spat out in such a rush that they tumble over and get swamped by the many layered swathes of guitar that accompany the whole track. The exception is the ferociously restrained break-down which prickles malcontent. Only downside I can see is the two tracks are very similar to each other in sound - I had to constantly keep checking the track listing to work out which one I was listening to. That aside, this is a brutal statement of intent.


Groove Armada – Get Down featuring Stush – Sony/BMG 

As masters of exactly this kind of sound, radio friendly, accessible, party music, Groove Armada enter stage right with a skank and shuffle. Flexing around a prodigious stabby bassline is the patois patter of Stush.  If you’ve heard MIA, then you’re there. Broken English, shout outs, summer, a match made in heaven. 

Simple breakbeats punctuated by yelps and squelches give way to an infectious synth, “we jus’ dip.. go down”, and so it all tumbles along.  

This sounds fresh, for now, which is some achievement when you consider how many times the formula has been trotted out. Its not pushing things forward, but then, its not trying to either. 

Calvin Harris brings his take on the GA sound, and it’s the standout remix, alongside some limp drum and bass and general club fodder. 

Fire up the barbeque!
Watch the video to 'Get Down'

Ian Anderson


Tim Ten Yen - Girl Number One (Fleet Street)

This could not be further removed from Mother Vulpine but it still has it's own special charm. Tim Ten yen is the self styled 'Sensational Singing Salaryman', wearing his work suit on stage and writing unashamedly happy music. This is basically Casiocore and there's more than an element of Schmoof et al about this. A bit like Neil Hannon, but on a budget.
Single Reviews 2007



LCD Soundsytem – All My Friends (dfa) 

This is the sound of a band with growing confidence in their ability. There’s echoes of Trans Europe era Kraftwerk in the simple but achingly addictive piano loop. Intertwining with cleverly produced beats that pulsate and fade, melding with the rising guitars and building to a cleanly executed chorus. Reminiscent of the Cure in their less myopic moments, this is exuberance displayed without arrogance. 

Executed cleanly and effortlessly, the slow burn release of emotion of the full length version is lost in the concentrated radio mix, but it remains a joyously captivating record. 

The pace quickens slightly, the intensity builds, but there’s no rousing finale. Simply because there’s no need for one.
Watch the video to 'All My Friends'

Ian Anderson


Von Sudenfed – Fledermaus Can’t Get It (Domino) 

Mark E Smith, the erratic, quasi-genius, lends vocal contributions to this debut from Von Sudenfed. A claustrophobic revival / rehash of the once innovative stylings of Lo-Fidelity Allstarz, Smith’s filtered vocals punctuate some flagging beats and uninspiring bass. 

The song builds, breaks down nicely and promises a rousing finale. An opportunity missed as it settles back into the mundanity of the opening gambit. 

Max Tundra’s cut-up style and intricate broken samples on the remix work the vocals into a melodic accompaniment to clever synths. Then, just as the malformed clattering starts to grate, the track is pinned down by a rolling beat as it pounds to a satisfying climax. One for the DJ’s. 

The only other original offering, Hooloo Rock is a pointless pastiche which says nothing at all.

Ian Anderson


Pete Green – Everything I Do is Gonna Be Sparkly (Atomic Beat Records)

Forgive the overtly twee title of this debut single from Atomic Beat Records, because it’s ace. I don’t know how many of you are au fait with Pete Green, but he was once in Birmingham twee-ers, The Regulars, and has now been doing his own thing (sistah) for a few years.

‘Everything I Do…’ features the trademark Green strumming and the unique, wry yet cute look at life that has made his live shows such a success. Green’s beloved Grimsby Town get a look-in on the b-side with the rather ace, ‘Ballad of Phil Jevons.’

Green’ll never be a superstar – his jumpers are way too sensible for that -  but it seems fitting somehow that his debut single is also the virgin release from Atomic Beat. Cherish them both.

Sam Metcalf


Pocketbooks – Cross the Line (Atomic Beat Records)

It is my opinion that Pocketbooks are just about the best group in England at this time, and ‘Cross the Line’ does nothing to dispel this. Everything about Pocketbooks is perfect, from the obvious world-weariness to the pretty, pretty music, to Emma Hall’s voice.

If anyone had seen Hall sing 18 months ago, they’d be hard pressed to believe it’s the same person. On ‘Cross the Line’ her voice makes the song; it’s wonderful.

I hope Pocketbooks get the recognition they deserve, but it a perverse way I want them to be our secret forever, because they’re very much our band. And those don’t come along too often.

Sam Metcalf


X-Press 2 - Witchi Tai To (Skint)

A supremely disappointing offering from X-Press 2 after their promising previous single 'Kill 100'. This is sugary sweet horrible pseudo Euro-pop that would not have been out of place at Eurovision itself. Doesn't matter how many remixes you have if the track is rubbish in the first place. Back to the drawing board.



My Sad Captains – Bad Decisions (Fortuna Pop!)

Oh my word, this is rather wonderful. Imagine a summer day spent playing football with your best mates, whilst your girlfriend says you’re the best person in the world, even though you’ve just booted the ball at her head. ‘Bad Decisions’ sounds like Pocketbooks covering a Kenny Rogers song, whilst ‘Here and Elsewhere’ is probably even better than that, what with its added melancholia. A super little single.

Sam Metcalf


Star27 - 1,2 Begin Now EP (Caroline True Records)

Opening with 'Bukowski's Secret' kind of reminds me of whatever it was George Bush was calling the start of the Iraq invasion - Operation Awe or something wasn't it? I've checked the playing speed and it seems to be correct which can only mean that it is the 6-piece Star27 who are hurtling along at a million miles an hour with piano and vocals racing to see who can complete each line first in an interesting effect.

It's like the nerves have settled by the time 'Soldier On Son' comes on, altogether more composed and controlled and a good track as a result. The rambling piano heavy melodies return in the final two tracks though and along with interludes, bridges and time changes this makes things all a little bit too busy. Maybe lopping out some of the excesses would improve matters.



Future of the Left – adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood (Too Pure)

Yikes. A MASSIVE riff bolts forth, followed by the sort of voice not heard since Slayer went soft metal. Future of the Left may have a great name, but this download only single is hardly the great leap forward I’d been hoping. Do you see what I did there?

Sam Metcalf


Madding Crowd - Modern Man

Call me a stuffy old traditionalist if you will but 'Modern Man' sounds like Gilbert & Sullivan-do-indie to me. I'm sure that there's HMS Pinafore in that melody somewhere. And 'Up in the Air' has Gerry Rafferty style saxophone interludes like in Baker Street - oh my god - this is like a tour through the deepest darkest corners of my childhood - make it stop.



Elvis Perkins – All the Night Without Love (XL)

I wasn’t expecting much, but Elvis Perkins has managed to come up with some acoustic pop that’s as good as any of the guff that the ATP-hordes are listening to these days. ‘All the Night Without Love’ sees Perkins strumming away like a good ‘un, whilst his somewhat fragile voice does its best Nick Drake impression. And that’d good enough for me.

Sam Metcalf


The Neutrinos - Girlfriend's Got a Gun

'My ex-boyfriend's girlfriend's got a gun'...with a statement of intent like that you've got a lot to live up to. The Neutrinos manage to ladle on the Pixies style deep rich bass and guitar sound and along with some withering vocal harmonies, by George! The Neutrinos have themselves a hit.



Dragons – Condition (Ohm)

Welcome to later period Joy Division. Specifically the song ‘Isolation’. Honestly, if Peter Hook wasn’t a big rich bugger already, he could top his pension up by suing Dragons. It’s a bit embarrassing, really.

Sam Metcalf


Mesh 29 - Over the Barricade (Media Addiction)

Mesh 29? Sounds like some kind of building material to me. But it's not. File firmly under foppish piano driven ballad rock a la Keane, Coldplay etc. I'm sure they are nice guys but there is nothing of interest to be heard here.



The Orange Lights – Let the Love Back In (Blackbird)

Ones to watch in 2007, apparently. To me, they sound like they were watching Embrace support U2 in 2002 and haven’t moved on. Utter shite.

Sam Metcalf


Kris Drever - Harvest Gypsies (Reveal)

I'm assuming Drever is talking about the time of year the gypsies are around and it is not a call to arms to scythe down a bunch of vagrants? Either way, this is a thigh slapping summery song with boom chacka slap bass and nice twiddly guitar bits. It does seem to circle a long time before ever actually getting anywhere but certainly not unpleasant on the ears.



Bjork – Earth Intruders (One Little Indian)

This is most jaunty from Bjork. Instead of writing one of those dull ambient borefests, she seems to have gone back to the pop. Which is charming news. ‘Earth Intruders’ is a rhythmic romp through a Creatures-esque nightmare soundtrack, with Bjork’s little rap in the refrain sounding everso cute. You could never not like her, could you?

Sam Metcalf


Tall Pony - I'm Your Boyfriend Now (Cherryade)

Wow - this is lo-fi, even for the experimental Cherryade label. But even though it sounds like it has been recorded on a dictaphone, 'I'm Your Boyfriend Now' is a clever piece of cynicism about the nature of being in a relationship. A deadpan mantra of demands from the male party such as 'you will not talk too much, especially in the morning', 'we will talk about wars, cars and football', 'I am your boyfriend now, say goodbye to your mother' would be comical were it not for the slightly disturbing alien background track. Quite brilliant.

EP 'fillers' 'Big Guns' and 'I hate Your Family' display a similar fascination with lo-fi and simple song construction, though the former has a grandiose quality due to big distorted drum sounds. If Tall Pony only get three tracks out every three years then at least they are this good. I'll leave you with this line from 'I Hate Your Family'...'You think you are interesting and unusual but you're just thick'...amen to that.



Jesse Malin – Broken Radio (One Little Indian)

Malin makes the transition full time to the new C&W star with ‘Broken Radio’ which, whilst it might appeal to ageing Springsteen fans, leaves me utterly cold. Why someone so young and attractive wants to make such a limp penis of a song really is baffling.

Sam Metcalf


 Bonde Do Role “Office Boy” (Domino) 

The Brazilian invasion continues with this brightly coloured bunch of disco freaks that are obviously looking to cash in on the popularity of their chums CSS. Indeed, their mates from back home even give them a leg up in the form of a remix. Unfortunately, it’s a million times catchier than the original. Oh dear.

watch video to 'Office Boy'

Will Columbine


The Chemical Brothers - Do It Again (Astralwerks) 

Yes, they’ve done it again! Released virtually the same tune, I meant. With the best will in the world, The Chemical Brothers have become largely redundant in modern terms. They can headline whatever festival they like, they made obscene amounts of money from remixing and greatest hits albums, and they’ve even had the piss ripped out of them by Lucas and Walliams. What’s left?

I suppose anything they release might be of interest, and Do It Again isn’t a bad tune, it’s just largely forgettable. Obscure artist singing over the top of it? Check. 4/4 big beat tempo? Check. Kitchen sink chucked in just in case? Triple check. Large arena tour off the back of it? Inevitable.

This would have been mega in 1997, and you can’t begrudge The Chemical Brothers that. They’re competent at what they do, and loads of people like them. They’re just not vital, and when you’re trying to get people to dance to your tunes, that’s something to be concerned about.  

Chris Stanley


The Rosie Taylor Project – “Scotland Sketches Demos EP” 

Is The RT Project aiming to be the Belle & Sebastian of Leeds? Here we have four rustically charming forages into the realm of chiming indie-pop; plenty of squeaking and slightly out-of-tune acoustic guitars, hushed vocals and the odd trumpet here and there. Very pretty stuff, and if these are just demos then their debut single should be worth keeping an eye out for.

Will Columbine


Wild Beasts – “Through Dark Night” 

Bloody hell, you’ve got to wonder what checklist Domino are working with when it comes to signing bands…how exactly do you get from Arctic Monkeys to Justin Hawkins having his scrotum mangled in a vice against a background of ineffectual rockabilly? I mean, I’m all for musical diversity but I fail to see the logic. Still, says here that Wild Beasts aren’t concerned with being part of a scene. Well, mission accomplished, boys…now go and stand quietly in the corner.

Will Columbine


Spitfire Charlie – “Hard To Let You Go” 

Since reviewing their previous demo last year, Spitfire Charlie seem to have moved on somewhat from merely replicating what is currently popular in the charts, casting their nets a little further influence-wise. The lineage of both tracks on this demo can be easily traced back to The Buzzcocks with maybe a little Futureheads and Bloc Party thrown in to keep it relevant. SC sound like a band that have a lot of energy, chemistry and a top quality singer to boot, which means that, even when the end result isn’t particularly original, you can’t help but enjoy them.

Will Columbine