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singles - july 2007

EL-P – 'The Overly Dramatic Truth / Smithereens' (Definitive Jux) 

Well here’s some value for money! Eight tracks from this Brooklyn boy on a single! The double a-side comes rammed with remixes and instrumentals. In addition to the two title tracks, there’s two remixes featuring the knob twiddling skills of British dub producer Bass Clef and American Cassettes Won’t Listen. Then the generous helping of four original tracks is backed with instrumentals of each track – oh Mr El-p, with these instrumentals you are really spoiling us! 

‘The Overly Dramatic Truth’ has a distinct ‘Stan’ like vibe to it. Full of self-hatred and loathing and a narrative written like a suicide note "You deserve the ignorance and bliss that I still wish I had. Don't you let me keep you here, don't ignore my greatest fear". Combine this with an undertone of rape "Fuck you raw now, it's my fault, fuck you raw dog, I can't stop should've listened, should've left I can't stop unless you jet" you get a smidgen of the disturbing but compelling effect Mr Mathers can summon up so well. The sample is deep and melodic and builds from the repetitive dirge driven verse to the heavy beat driven chorus. 

‘Smithereens’ opens bizarrely with the opening notes of Raindrops are Falling on my Head before wading through a plethora of sound effects and samples like a kid who just got a Casio keyboard on Christmas day, you know way too many it’s just down rite annoying. If you can ignore the pointless background noises then this ain’t a bad slice of East Coast Hip-Hop. Thick beat and El-P showing that he’s a pretty dam good MC, with some well delivered spits about drugs and the hard knock life. It’s just a shame there so buried under cheap sound effects to appreciate them. 

The excellent remixes are well worth investigating on their own, particularly ‘Flyentology’ featuring the one and only Trent Reznor on the vocal sample and some NIN alike dirty guitar riffage on the loop. 

As singles go, it’s not very often you get so much for your money. But at the end of the day, there are many more MCs out there more worthy of your hard earned investment. El-P is a Hip-Hop artist of a decidedly average nature in both the lyrical and musical departments, and he’s going to need to produce something with more mass appeal and quality, or originality than this to get up there with the big boys.    
watch video to 'Smithereens'

Martin Kendrick


Chronicles of Adam West - ‘We Walk Unbalanced’ Ep (Holy Roar Records) 

The press release is adamant that Chronicles of Adam West, a five-piece metal band from Basingstoke, shouldn’t be called grindcore. In short they’re not arty enough to be noisecore and not structured enough to be mathcore, but noisy as fuck. Their debut EP comes across as if they’re not even sure themselves, but they’re halfway there to finding a winning balance. Labels aside: songs like ‘The Applicant’ and ‘Showcat’ slow it down for a more progressive feel that doesn’t allow you to quite write off Chronicle of Adam West as just another metal band. Even if they are grindcore.

Willa C


Natty – 'Badmind / Camden Rox' (Mucha / Vibes & Pressure) 

Putting the dub-tinged groove into North London, Natty is a songwriter, musician and producer with a keen ear for hook and a honey smooth groove. 

Badmind is dub with a deep sexy groove Shaggy could only dream off. Iconic tinned percussion sounds and swelling samples. A vibe that could win over reggae, dub, ska and dance fans alike, part Clash, part Specials, part Damien Marley. All shoulder swayingly brilliant. 

Camden Rox sounds like Get Cape Wear Cape Fly covering Trojan classics. Perfect pop sensibilities (the opening chords sounding uncannily like Scissor Sisters Take Your Mama) through acoustic guitar vibes fresh out of the Windies, but a thoroughly English indie anthem about boring urban life and wanting to be famous. A true summer anthem that will fix itself on repeat on your chosen mp3 device and make the sun shine a little brighter every time it rolls round.  

Natty makes reggae with a much wider appeal lines it with indie and pop and makes it truly delightful. Destined for big hits and radio air play a muchness.  

Martin Kendrick


Shortwave Fade-Demo EP 

Shortwave fade hail from Leicester and have been crafting their big songs for quite some while now. These tunes bear comparison with the sonic undercurrents created by the Doves and Mansun, with whom SF share a love of the epic. That’s epic with a little E by the way, not the E that was conceived by later period Simple Minds and..... No, SF come over a little like an East Midlands Editors onCover Your Eyes, without the toughness, a little more polished. Synth washes galore and some nice key changes. Vocalist Chris Holloway excels on this cut, with a middle eight that incorporates a lyric about burning down and reconciliation. Still dreaming of ghosts, the band go looking for the big music, that oft abused eighties musical term of reference that bears relevance in this context. Coming on a little like the mighty Chameleons whilst cooking up an intense and carefully crafted mix, SF could follow dedicated proggers such as Mew to greater heights. There is a comparison here, but the Fade make no compromises, and that’s what makes them stand out from the pack.

John Kertland


Lily Green - demo EP 

Lily, unlike the slightly more famous Lily, started life as a classically trained musician. Feeling restrained however, she decided to make inroads into different more 21st C musical areas.

The resultant debut release promises a lot. “Patience” brings to mind the vocal twists and diversions of PJ Harvey at her best. With Us Or?  over eggs the issue and doesn’t quite do it for me, but redemption comes in the form of the gorgeous harpsicord ballad that is Hold On. Moving onwards, Your Hands is a spooky and fractured tune, and could either be about a henious murder or a love lost. An exciting an experimental side is evident throughout the EP. Seemingly not afraid of potentially losing the listener, this can be a bumpy ride at times, but worth sticking out.Third to last track, Two Worlds, recalls the recent Klima offering in tone. Lily’s voice processed and melding with the veil of electronica very effectively. The idea of Lily is an exciting one, and like Colleen, she crafts some lovely textures that challenge and distract at turns. A feminine riposte to current guitar hegenomy and worth seeking out.

John Kertland


Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent 

By the time you read this, you’ll have probably heard ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ about ten thousand times. Arctic Monkeys have been Britain’s favourite band now for a year and a half, so chances are that you’ll have formed an opinion by now. There’s little within ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ that will change your mind. It’s an ode to that period in a couple’s life when they lose that, ahem, little spark in a certain room of the house. For what it’s worth, I think it’s ace, and kudos to Alex Turner for either being so candid, or at least tackling the least rock ‘n’ roll subject it’s possible to write about.

The question is where Arctic Monkeys go from here. Two great albums, a clutch of awards, a headline appearance at Glastonbury and a Shirley Bassey cover later, at current rates they’ll be releasing an album by the time the kids go back to school. Whatever they do – implode, go stratospheric or go mad and eat their new bass player in an orgy of drugs and gluttony – be thankful that in just eighteen months they’ve progressed enough to release a great song like this. Exceptional.  

Chris Stanley


Biffy Clyro - Folding Stars (EMI) 

The Clyro, as no-one but ‘cool’ Radio 1 DJs call them, have been threatening to break through into the mainstream for a while. Their debut was launched upon us in 2002, when no-one much cared because they weren’t called ‘The Biffy Clyro’. But like Snow Patrol and countless other bands with Celtic affiliations, their time has come after much lurking in the shadows.

   This is mainly due to quirky single ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies.’ If you haven’t invested in their album ‘Puzzle’ yet, then you may be surprised at how different those two songs are. ‘Folding Stars’ is, for three sweating Scotsmen, very sweet, twinkly and faintly twee, and it’s radio-friendly filler, nothing more. Will they implode like the folding star they sing about? I’ll say no, because the drummer looks quite hard, but I may have my fingers crossed behind my back.  

Chris Stanley


Held By Hands - Held By Hands 

Calm down, dear, it’s only a demo! Held By Hands are a newly-formed band from Leeds, where everything, as Kaiser Chiefs tell us, is brilliant. And then they go and proclaim everything is average nowadays, which is just confusing. This demo, truth to tell, is very much at the lower end of the average spectrum. Matthew Johnson, who is the driving force behind the self-titled demo, may be a decent songwriter, but due to the fact he’s singing next to a broken fan at the other end of a wind tunnel, I can’t comment.

The four tracks on the EP are much of a muchness, very minimal and accompanied by quiet vocals. I think we’re aiming for a kooky Beta Band word of mouth style route to a major label deal, but like I say, until it’s recorded with someone who knows which end of the mike picks up the sound, I’m at a loss to commit myself further. The CD asks us to play it loud. Baby, not even a PA rig the size of Bono’s head could make any difference.  

Chris Stanley


Cobson - Cobson demo EP 

I know there are two types of music France produces. There’s Johnny Halliday, and his rock ‘n’ roll revival shash that sells by the bucketload, and confrontational rap that’s brilliant in edgy black and white flicks about police brutality and ‘the youth’. But I know little of French ‘indie’ music. I know there was a swap deal in the 1990s where we had a band called Saint Etienne and they were allowed to have one called Aston Villa, but other than that, nicks.

Cobson may force a sea change in my attitude. They’re a three-piece from Montpellier in the south of France, and I’m not just going to give them a good review because I’m off on holiday there and I want to borrow a tent. No, Cobson are currently label-less outside of France but they have the chops to at least cross the channel. This EP demonstrates energy and melody with surprisingly big dollops. Cobson make a racket despite having no bass player, kind of like The White Stripes but with a knowing twist. We’re only in demo/download territory here, but check them out if you’re after something slightly different and ooh-la-la.

Chris Stanley


Brenda - Brenda 

Everyone knows a Brenda. I live across the street from one, but I don’t know if I like her enough to champion her as a band name. Still, Keane named themselves after their nanny, and Brenda did look after me once while my mum was in hospital, so maybe she deserves it. It would probably be some jaunty up-tempo number like Paul McCartney would record, not a howling, abyss-like collection as this band have created.

There are four songs, and the record lasts almost as long as The Clash’s debut. Brenda don’t do snappy. That said, the raga-like workouts out existential rock to be found on this debut EP are pretty good, with not a lot to say for themselves but fine background music indeed. I don’t know where exactly they’d work, since a festival crowd would get bored easily of what is essentially an extended jam session, but with some guidance and a producer who can tell the lads when to stop, we could be blessed fairly soon with the British answer to The Mars Volta.  

Chris Stanley


30 Seconds From Mars - From Yesterday

Ok, lets get this out the way, it's neither easy to forget or ignore the fact that a hollywood pretty-boy actor is fronting the band when they're throwing silly money (equivalent to the GDP of a small African country*) at a video. Ah, the video, i'm sure it's meant to be grandiose but really it just comes across as, well, a bit pretentious and detracts from what is otherwise a decent song. Although I'm not a fan of the video, i do like the song. It has an anthemic feel to it with a massive chorus and i can imagine fans of radio-friendly rock will lap it up like a dog on a hot day, while those that shun the light of the mainstream may not be so keen.

* this is a lie, although it was somewhere in the region of $13million apparently!
Watch the video to 'From Yesterday'



The Half Rabbits - The Final Days of Rome (Pelvis)

Another triumph from the band that refuse to write a bad song. 'The Final Days of Rome' is a 3-track EP which drips with more spine tingling guitar riffs in 15 minutes than you would get in the lifetime of most bands. The rock noir modus operandi is set out early in the piece with 'This Changes Everything', a swirling climactic epic of a track built around gut shudderingly intense ascending guitar line choruses interspersed with demi-deranged vulnerable vocal verses before cascading into a triumphant finale. It's been one of my favourite tracks for months, ever since it appeared on their MySpace page so no surprises here that it gets a resounding thumbs up.

'Louis' Revenge' sees a much more pared back sound but does include the welcome introduction of some unhinged female backing vocals chanting 'yes, no, yes, no' in a suitably scary schizophrenic way. Choppy, intense and slightly threatening.

Once again the guitars just tumble out of the speakers in closer 'Attention: This is Your Conscience Speaking'. Sometimes they are shredded distorted walls of noise, other times barely noticeable high pitched trills. There's plenty of bass flying around in a near free-form way but it never strays so far as to become self indulgent.

This is not 3 minute throw away pop. I make no apologies for the gushingly positive reviews - The Half Rabbits are are formidable musical force and demand your attention.



The Mummers - "2 Survivors" 

The title track is a sweet dose of soaring and swooping orchestral pop that evokes a Sunday afternoon spent flying kites on the heath or flying a hot air balloon. B-side "Lately" sounds like a slightly lazier version of Bjork's "Play Dead" and it doesn't help that the female vocalist has so painstakingly modelled her singing style, inflections and all, on the Icelandic nutcase. Also, if you're going to put such effort into making the music sparkle, why ruin the effect by giving your band such a crap name? That aside, there's a lot of promise on display here.

Will Columbine


Eugene McGuiness - "Monsters Under The Bed" (Domino) 

At this point, I've received so many frothing emails from Domino about Eugene that I'm almost convinced he's the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Yet, despite his many accomplishments, it's not been widely reported as to whether the Son of God ever knocked out a classic three-minute pop ditty before (last?) supper. Come on then, Mr McGuiness...I'm all ears. Well, the title track's perfectly serviceable; it's got a Smiths-y verse and a middle eight that recalls the Super Furry Animals. I'm sure the flip-side, "Myrtle Parade", was written by Damon Albarn over ten years ago - it's definitely got that Parklife-era swagger and Eugene sings just like Mr All-Bran. Solid stuff then, but nothing more. Still, there's always carpentry if it doesn't work out, right?

Will Columbine


Mellotron Overdrive - ‘Inquasionable’ (Weightlight) 

There only problem with being a two-piece is a) you will be constantly compared to every other two-man-band out there and b) someone will always inevitably shout out ‘GET A BASSIST!’ at your shows.

Mellotron Overdrive’s title-track single ‘Inquasionable’ has a catchy rhythm but is a little monotonous, but just about saved by some fancy drum-work in the middle. Extra tracks on the single ‘Public Relations’ and ‘Every Corner’ pretty much follow the same formula, now again speeding up or slowing down the same riff for, y’know, a little bit of variation. Oh, you rebels, you.

Willa C


Zico Chain - ‘Anaemia’ (Hassle)

You might have heard this song already, since it was played on the Radio One Rock Show. But if you haven’t think of low raspy vocals under a thick layer of “hard rocking duuuuude”.  So like anything else considered hard rock, if has the heavy hooks and singable chorus (with the baffling parting line ‘so long my anaemia!’) but not really anything else going for it.

Willa C


Unkle – Burn My Shadow

Having had a big frothing at the mouth session over Unkle’s last single/packaging pulchritude, I am pleased to report that “Burn My Shadow” is equally as sexy and packed full of goodness for yer lugholes. But there’s more – Cult and Doors’ frontman Ian Astbury is on vocal and guitar duty. Sadly, he’s not on full “yay-uuuuuuh” form, and takes a more restrained approach to his delivery, but his voice still dominates proceedings. The title track has nice pace to it, heavily driven by fuzzed-up bass and Astbury’s voice, and there’s a bloody cowbell in it and some sort of incantational backing vocals. Quite simply, ace. Third track “Unkle Surrender Sounds Session #5” has ‘dance tent at 3am at festival’ stamped all over it. Bleeps, wibbles and all sorts of electronic tomfoolery are all present and incorrect. 10 minutes has never seemed so short…
Watch the video to 'Burn My Shadow'

Dave Procter


The Gentle Good – Dawel Disgyn

More bi-lingual folkiness from the Principality. For anyone who likes the output of Leeds’ Peter Wright, David Broad and Benjamin Wetherill, you’ll be well pleased you got your mitts on this EP. Title track has some sort of glockenspiel going on, with beautiful violins making occasional appearances. Throughout this EP, there’s some really lovely harmonies going on and always plenty of melody and great guitar picking. And then there’s the sweetest and saddest cello threading its way through “Amser”, don’t worry if you can’t speak Welsh, I can, you’ll get the feel of what’s going on, and that’s what music’s about isn’t it? Buy.

Dave Procter


Nova Robotics - Subterfuge 

Anyone who caught Earl Hickey and his brother Randy doing the robot to Styx’s ‘Mr Roboto’ on a recent ‘My Name Is Earl’ might realise that androids and everything concerned with them are big business nowadays. This summer, we’ll be treated to a nowhere-near-as-good-as-the-programme-that-inspired-it version of Transformers; and a car manufacturer is using dancing cars to illustrate just how lithe they can be. Let’s face it, if a robot can dance along to ‘Jacques Your Body’ by Les Rhythmes Digitales then we’re all screwed, I reckon.

Nova Robotics are one, maybe two (I wasn’t altogether sure) musicians who create soundscapes in their bedroom. And good at it they are, too. Their minimalist, spare style disguises a serious musicianship, and of the six tracks available on this debut release at least three sound like Radiohead B-sides that only Thom Yorke and a few avid fans might listen to.

That might be doing ‘Subterfuge’ a disservice, since it’s an assured record, but aside from mysterious titles and esoteric influences there’s a lack of diversity. If it’s supposed to be a complete piece, then fine, but each track sounds too similar to the one that preceded it to make it stick in the memory. Not a world-beater then, but then again sometimes we all need a touch of humanity in this crazy world. And if Robin Williams said that at the end of ‘Bicentennial Man,’ I’m giving up watching films.  

Chris Stanley


The Machine - The Machine 

Boasting influences as diverse as Kraftwerk and Smokey Robinson (not that they’re especially esoteric, but there’s a kind of unspoken gulf between the two), The Machine want you to dance and they’re about to force you to do it. Not in an odd way, which leaves you needing therapy, but through sheer beat-creation. Their debut EP contains a mission statement consisting of three cuts of amphetamine-fuelled dance.

Truth to tell, they’ve missed a trick, in that their first choice is ‘Love In A Dead End Town,’ which given their undoubted craftsmanship is too light and insubstantial to cause much fuss. But second track ‘A Night To Remember’ is an absolute slayer, like Hard-Fi being smacked about a bit by New Order. It rocks, completely and undoubtedly. Final track ‘Sheila’ is fine, too, but there’s only one choice for their first single, methinks.

If you’re a little bored of trying to work out which dance genre you should like, try The Machine’s fun and direct approach to classic dance-floor lunacy and maybe, just maybe, we can convince people not to bring back crap techno from Ibiza like some persistent flesh-eating bacterium.  

Chris Stanley


Fran Rodgers - I Fell to You Under Winter Sun (On the Bone) 

The whole stripped-down, acoustic folk thing can often end up sounding a bit limp on record but Fran Rodgers has the sort of voice thats more than capable of standing up by itself. Anything but fey and whimsical, she ends up sounding more like a female Leonard Cohen and a lot more world-weary than her 23 years would suggest.  What with the gospel-style backing, 'I fell to you...' ends up sounding positively spiritual.

Andy Glynn


The Bees - Listening Man (Virgin) 

I've got to be honest and say that the Bees have pretty much passed me by since 'A Ainha Mwena', so its a bit of a surprise when this cut of prime, louche northern soul comes swaggering out of my speakers instead of the scruffy hippies I was expecting. Sounding like they genuinely haven't got a care in the world,  and as geographically far from 'new rave' as its possible to be, 'Listening Man's' almost spitefully retro and all the better for it. Makes me want to go to a barbecue. In shorts.

Andy Glynn


Electric Soft Parade - Misunderstanding (Truck) 

No-one ever said every band has to change the world, but you sometimes got the feeling from the ESP that the release of the second Bluetones album has been the greatest even in their lives so far. 'Misunderstanding's' a pleasant enough 3 minute burst of indie-pop that doesn't outstay its welcome but leaves you struggling to remember it once its finished. Luckily they manage to redeem themselves with a wonderfully bleak cover of the Associates 'Blue it is' on the B side, that shows a side to them that they should let out more often. More sad lounge music, chaps.
Watch video to 'Misunderstanding'

Andy Glynn

The Go Team - Grip Like a Vice  

Rocking and old skool vibes, a huge nod to ‘The Number Song’ (DJ Shadow), steel drums, carnival whistles, plus a touch of Chemical Brothers style collapsing drum breaks, The Go Team stick up a massive two fingered salute to the difficult second album cliché and offer a taste of what they’ve been cooking up for us. A summer induced waft of a home cooked soul stew filling the nasal cavity, with it comes the immediate yearning for a real taste, a huge bowl full of Go Team broth. Sadly, they ain’t serving none of that for a few weeks yet, but I’m booking my table.
Watch the video to 'Grip Like a Vice'

Ian Anderson


The Black Ghosts - Its Your Touch - Southern Fried 

A vocal led house track, with a strung out underlying melody. There’s no bassline to speak of, and the beats have been on a strict diet, thus rendering it slightly anonymous. The vocals themselves are repetitive, but infectious, like tuberculosis and exalting, unlike tuberculosis. Unfortunately they don’t stop the whole thing melding into the background, which might be ideal if you are a DJ in a nice little chilled back room of a sweaty club, where this track deserves to be aired.  Its nicely done, in a an understated, effortless way. 

The Ashley Beadle remix strings the whole formula out for a full eight minutes, which is ideal if you’re a DJ in the back room of a sweaty club, who needs to use the toilet and get back to the decks before the music stops, if you’re not, or if you’re on the dance floor, you might get a bit bored.

Ian Anderson


Aria C Jalali - Postmodernism EP - Filthy Little Angels 

West coast lo-fi, that sounds like it hails from another era, when the American dream hadn’t been chastened by Vietnam, Nixon, antipathy and stoicism, this is good stuff. Occasionally meandering into T-Mobile advert territory, but usually left-field enough not to sound too much like made for TV commercial breaks and beats, the fact that it’s all one man’s work, on many instruments with varying degrees of competence, somehow makes it more exciting.

I really enjoyed the whole EP, even the indulgence of instrumental pastiche King Polxenes. Melodic, relaxing and just about interesting enough not to wash over you. Lyrically its somewhere in the ether, metaphorical nonsense abounds, but it doesn't really matter too much. Sonically its not amazingly well produced, with some fizzing and slight glitching. The glitching adds charm, as do the slightly obscure arrangements, but the fizzing meld of sounds is a bit too lo-fi and some attention needs to be paid to it. Small niggles though since the whole EP is more than worth it for the title track. If you like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, you should give Aria C Jalili a punt.

Ian Anderson


Billy Ruffian - My Secret Life - Dirty Little Angels 

Is there room for another angular pop-punk bunch of pretentious over-dressed, over-hyped, no doubt good looking, guitar twitching, Black Wire wannabes with a drum machine who probably couldn't punch their way out of a paper bag? Probably. Normally rational people have an insatiable appetite to have these kind of modern day spivs in horrible shoes on their myspace friends lists. Nobody can be arsed to buy their records, but look at their hair, wow! 

If there is room, then it'll be Billy Ruffian elbowing their way in, on the latest tide of crushed bollock filth. 

This time though, they're hyping themselves as anti-scene. A slightly myopic stance since their music places them firmly, both feet, leaden in the middle of their self certified sinking ship. Its certainly mixed up. The message is: the scene is shit. The music is: that of the same derided scene. 

The killer for me though is the pseudo public school mock shit that's mumbled over the microphone by some faux dandy in a cheap suit. 

I've never hated anything so much since, fuck, I dunno, I've never hated anything so much. 

Mark E Smith likes them and they seem to want to be the Fall.  Too late, lads, and too little.

Ian Anderson


Envelopes – Life on the Beach (Brille)

To say this is different to previous Envelopes offerings would be an understatement. Here, they come on like early Pixies, and whilst that’s a welcome thing, no-one quite does Pixies like Pixies. And not even Pixies do Pixies like Pixies do nowadays. Where’s the pop of ‘Sister in Love’? I want my old Envelopes back.

Sam Metcalf


Tunng – Bricks (Full Time Hobby)

In which Tunng continue to dominate the world of psychedelic nursery rhyme. This is an odd choice of single, in that it neither dominates your ears, nor turns you into a massive, foaming at the mouth spaz, like what all good Tunng songs should do. However, it’s better than most of the generic indie plop around at the moment, and so you should buy it. Twice.

Sam Metcalf


The Pigeon Detectives – Take Her Back (Dance to the Radio)

Talking of indie plop. The Pigeon Detectives make music for trainee lawyers who think they’re a bit edgy, don’t they? This is so lumpen it could be used as a traffic calming measure on a sink estate.

Sam Metcalf


Maximo Park – Girls Who Play Guitars (Warp)

Is it me, or do all Maximo Park singles sound like this? Y’know, the stop-start jaggy guitars? The sub-Kaiser Chiefs chorus? The very, very arch vocal affection. It almost makes you long for the return of The Futureheads. Almost.

Sam Metcalf


Assembly Now – Graphs, Maps and Trees (Assembly Now Recordings)

Assembly Now clearly aren’t that stupid at all. This is very… erm… now, although it brings to mind local bands like Plans and Apologies and Mascot Fight, and is therefore saved from the dustbin of history by my kind hand. However, must do better.

Sam Metcalf


Elvis Perkins – While You Were Sleeping (Too Pure)

Oh, this is very lovely indeed. Perkins does that nu-folk thing very nicely indeed, and has a more interesting voice than most of the beardy types that inhabit that world. And then the brass comes in! And it’s like this is the most wonderful song in the world. And you should all go out and buy it and cultivate some facial hair. Beautiful.

Sam Metcalf


Bats for Lashes – What’s a Girl to Do? (Echo)

Having known people I’d liked who liked Bats for Lashes, I’m mildly let down by this. It sounds like a goth Black Box Recorder, and that’s no good for a man of my age. I’m sure it’s supposed to be mysterious and kooky, but instead it leaves me completely cold. For Goths with middle management jobs everywhere.

Sam Metcalf


Voxtrot – Firecracker (Play Louder)

Now I really don’t get it. Why are this band so feted? This record is desperately poor. It sounds like Deep Blue Something’s fifth single off an album. ‘Honey Bee’ is marginally better, but they remind me of something really bad that I can’t quite put my finger on. Answers on a postcard, please.
watch video to 'Firecracker'

Sam Metcalf


Mexicolas – Shame (In Exile)

With all the energy and aggression that one may expect from Nick Olivieri era Queens Of The Stone Age, Mexicolas release their debut single Shame with a riff big enough to make Jack White want to move into a shed. During the 2mins 40 seconds the track lasts you can just feel a constant rush of energy through your body that says if you were on a motorway you would be speeding at that moment. The featured B Sides are Sticks And Stones, which again features an amazing riff with another brilliant chorus, and Darko which is a beautiful show closer and running at 3.55 the longest track on the single. Mexicolas are living proof that 3 man rock bands can still kick ass.

Brad Bailey


Her Name is Calla - Condor and River (Loom)

Another hand-assembled beauty from Her Name is Calla, this time one of just 250 and complete with some beautiful black and white photographs. Musically, this is probably HNIC at their most post rock - a full 18 minutes of it. 'Condor' is broken up into passages - the opening section being like the sound of a thousand electronic cicadas with a brushing of guitar. After 5 minutes there is a serious drum interlude which passes into a clean piano-led piece like clouds clearing after summer storm. The choral vocals become increasingly intense and anguished as the track progresses, gradually accompanied by a haunting trumpet and increasingly intense keys until they are joined by a shimmering drum beat. The whole effect is entirely mesmerising and haunting, particularly after the deliberately soporific introduction. The EP does not pass out in an equally anonymous manner, instead employing a wall of electronic violence in the form of outro 'River'.

The overall effect will as always be down to the individual listener. Some people will find the lengthy status of the track self indulgent and wilful while others will find it a mastery of dynamics. But regardless of this, the usual fragile quality and beautiful Calla sounds should win through even the harshest of critics.



Elektrons – 'Get Up' (Wall of Sound) 

Club bouncing, crowd rocking dance floor hip-hop stuck somewhere firmly between Pharoahe Monch, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes and M.O.P. But they’re not from New York or L.A.; they’re from Manchester our kid! 

The very second you press play on ‘Get Up’ you do just that, you loose all control of your right arm as it flies into the air and starts doing that lever motion. It makes you feel like all the classic old school hip-hop tunes do, it’s rammed with energy and a pair of neon flares full of soul expressing funkadelica. 

The textbook three-chord keyboard riff coupled with the Marvin Gaye with a Gospel choir sized backing vocal sample give it its US flavour. Although this is compounded when you find out that rapper effortlessly gluing the anthem together is in fact Soup from Jurassic 5.  

As perfect a bouncing hip-hop anthem as any of it’s legendary predecessors. Manchester hasn’t got down like this since Wigan pier and the Hacienda. Be prepared for fleets of muscle cars driving down Oldham Street at two miles an hour with the hydraulics working over time and this tune booming from the sound system. And pretty soon it’ll be happening just about everywhere. Keep this tune to hand for the one day of summer we might actually get, then play it till it wears out, you’ll love every beat of it! 9/10    
Watch the video to 'Get Up'

Martin Kendrick


FELIX DA HOUSECAT – 'Future Calls The Dawn' (PIAS) 

The Godfather of electroclash returns ahead of his forthcoming and prog-rock like titled third album ‘Virgo Blaktro & The Moviedisco’ with an Ibiza ready summer dance floor anthem. 

A space-age trance banger with hints of Daft Punk vocal compression that flows with uplifting tropical beach nighttime vibes. Like the climax to an Ibiza party on the beach at 5am, summoning the rising of the scorching summer sun. 

The kind of track that could make Felix even more of a big time Dance name, text-book classics like this could easily launch him into the Morrilo, Tiesto, Corsten type leagues with a big summer under his belt and an album on the way (or at least get him into DJ Mags top 100 in any case!) Because ‘Future Calls The Dawn’ ticks all the cardboard boxes. 8/10             

Martin Kendrick


Dizzee Rascal - 'Sirens' (XL Recordings) 

Taken from Mr Rascal's new album 'Maths and English', 'Sirens' is a brilliant piece of dancefloor friendly garage / grime (or whatever this is classed as). Frankly the sheer quantity of sub-genres leaves me confused and nauseous;  classification for classification's sake. Either way 'Sirens' combines substantial beats, wailing police sirens, and an eighties-style guitar riff with predictably high quality MC-ing. It's far more 'banging' than anything from his previous album 'ShowTime'. Unfortunately the B-side ‘De4N’ is rather weak and meandering, but 'Sirens' alone makes this a worthwhile purchase. 

Michael Pearson