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singles - september 2007


Ray Lamontagne: Three More Days

Personally I feel Ray Lamontagne’s second album ‘Till the Sun turns black’ should have been called ‘If it ain’t broken’ on the basis of this, the second single from the album. The growling singer-songwriter has followed up ‘Be here now’ with a catchy, jazz-influenced number about his impending return (in three days, hence the title) to his lover.

Andrew Bayliss


Eugene McGuiness - Monsters Under the Bed (Double Six)

What a delightful record. This debut single with its yelping chorus, clever lyrics, and inspired subject matter gets straight into your brain. A brave mixture of bleeping samples, simple beats and wonderful harmonies on the title track, backed with strange timing and lyrics on the b-side compliment this vocal talent wonderfully. The fact that he's only 21 years old makes me envious and amazed in equally large dollops. Definitely worth two quid of anybody's money. Both tracks on this single are very short, which is perfect really, it leaves you wanting more.

Ian Anderson


Pigeon Detectives - Take Her Back (Dance to the Radio)

There's a well known adage in geeky computer programming circles of 'garbage in, garbage out', the obvious premise being that if you feed a computer the wrong information to start off with, it'll basically shit all over your crisps and that.

If we apply the same principle to songwriting, and begin with some half
baked lyrics about a poorly thought out subject matter (age gaps in
relationships), add half a chorus, slow it all down a bit, and finish of with half a chorus again, there should only be one result. Another slice of brilliant music from the Pigeon Detectives! No actually. A predictably limp, lame, sorry serving of generic indie sludge.
Watch video to 'Take Her Back'

Ian Anderson


The Go! Team - Doing it Right - (Memphis Industries)

This is really really ace. A skewed slice of Northern Soul injected with impenetrable lyrics and a chorus straight out of the top drawer. The Go! Team have added meaty chunks to their sound and come back heavyweight.

B-side Milk Crisis is in a similar vein to the title track, again the lyrics are indecipherable, this time because they're rapping in Japanese, which works, and even sits nicely alongside some gentle piano and a slack breakbeat. This would be anthemic stuff, if you were Japanese!

Willow's Song is a demonstration that the Go! Team can still put together a captivating, lingering ballad and serves as a timely reminder of the versatility they've got. The album can't come quickly enough for me.
Watch video to 'Doing it Right' 

Ian Anderson


Xenmasterdelboy - Time is a Man Made Concept (Infernal Machine)

It's an odd thing this 'progressive' house music. s to me that it has sounded pretty much the same for the last 16 years - all the same sonic motifs - swooshing, phasing etc. I remember getting a mix tape from someone who was far cooler than me when I was still at uni and thinking that all this progressive house stuff was ground breaking, mind blowing even. And maybe it was. But at least on this CD Xenmasterdelboy has produced at least one stand out track (No. 3 in the absence of a track listing) which differs from its other slightly dreary cousins by being a bit more understate and slow burning.



Death of London - A Pound. A bite. / Dobermann - The Wizards of Speed and Time (Field)

It was a dark day in tasty towers when TEAM announced that they were taking a break from recording but every cloud has a silver lining and this one has been thoroughly polished with Brasso. Death of London features a couple of the former TEAM band members and discovers the darker dropped guitar tones which never surfaced in their former existence. Very Partchimp. Very heavy. very good yes.

Dobermann on the other hand, are the turbo charged Mustang in comparison to the shuddering juggernaut of rock that is Death of London. A much more rock n roll vibe and Dave Wright exercising his vocal chords in a much more wholesome way than in 'A Pound. A bite.' Two gems for the price of one from the ever impressive Field Records.



Black Tie Brawl - Promo EP

I was in two minds about reviewing this at all seeing as it failed to stir any great emotions in any direction for me. But as an emmigre myself, I thought it would be good to give these fellow North Lincolnshire boys some coverage at least. This rusty larynxed style of metal interspersed with 'melodic' parts generally passes me by and Black Tie Brawl have not upset this trend. Very much of a kind, tightly played but by no means original, Black Tie Brawl have established a solid sound for themselves but will need to push back the barriers a little bit more to really get noticed.



1877 - A Bitter Pill 

With the recent completion of Anton Corbijn’s ‘Control,’ the Joy Division biopic, I’ve a feeling there’s going to be an inundation of gloomy, post-punk, low-slung bass type bands. It’ll be like Interpol never went away (although, of course, I didn’t particularly care when they arrived in the first place). 1877 get a head-start on the other pretenders, with a rich baritone vocal and a liking for grainy wartime iconography.

That’s about where it stops, I’m afraid. The Buckinghamshire five-piece have good ideas but they don’t seem to play together as a unit, and as such much of this release sounds atonal and arty for the sake of it. They do carry a genuine menace and intensity, but sacrifice quality control for volume and unnecessary loops and beats. Sometimes, when your parents refer to the song you’re listening to as a racket, they’re on to something. 

Chris Stanley


Purity - Liberation / Driving Me Insane (Purity)

I have no idea why but I was expecting something nice and relaxing, the musical equivalent of a floatation tank if you will, from this split single. Instead Purity have pounded a hole through my karma with their extremely high energy progressive house music which definitely takes the 'repeat the lyrics enough and they will remember them' tactic to the extreme. I mean, the only lyric is in the title 'Driving Me Insane' as well - you are hardly likely to forget. Enjoyable but difficult to pass a Rizla between this and Xenmasterdelboy.



Colours Run - The Sticks 

Yet another package and yet another band from Manchester – it’s a wonder anything gets done in the city, the amount of people who make music there. Regardless of location, any band who reveals a kinship with either Radiohead or Jeff Buckley already starts five steps behind everyone else simply because you have a preconceived idea of how they’re going to sound.

Happily, Colours Run don’t adhere slavishly to the slow-fast/quiet-loud dynamic of so many imitators and while their songs aren’t revolutionary, they’re certainly worth twenty minutes of your time. ‘Old’ in particular has the sort of chord changes in it that James Blunt would kill to be given by his songwriters, and the title track of this 5-track EP is a typically raucous celebration of outsider chic with intelligent harmony. So we have an enigma – which Radiohead will Colours Run turn out to be? The quiet miserablists, or the rockin’ geniuses?

At the moment, Colours Run have a place all of their very own, and even if it’s just room to nudge a shoulder between two musical giants from nowhere near Manchester then that’s no mean feat.  

Chris Stanley


Secret Police - Bootie Call (Vinyl Destination)

After a brief confusion caused by lack of typographical clarity which meant I thought this song was about some suburb of Liverpool, 'Bootie call' settles into well trodden indie guitar territory - with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jnr musical references aplenty. 'Underground' is the obligatory ballad to complete this music-by-numbers release. hard to fault but equally hard to warm to in its own right.



Iodo - True Love Waits   (Three Short Words) 

Four young chimps from Lincoln with access to brass both literal (cornet) and metaphorical (for laptops and programming tools), Iodo make noise both tuneful and baffling and as a consequence, sound like a particularly brain-fried Tuesday afternoon in the company of William Burroughs.

I’ve yet to decide whether it’s a good thing. Like a lot of people, I like jazz but not when it’s too weird, so in effect there’s jazz (nice bit of trumpet and brushed snare drum) and “jazz” (total fucking randomness, noise pollution and above my head). On this particular release, Iodo play a bit of both and I can just about manage to stomach it, but it’s tough work.

As long as they enjoy it, great, but I get the feeling Iodo are better at designing album sleeves and coming up with song titles than actually thinking of anything to say. They’re too intelligent for my own good, clearly. 

Chris Stanley


Bobby Cook - Deja Vu (Dance to the Radio)

A very pleasant and, for a man who carries off a passable Robert Smith impression, wonderfully upbeat track here from Bobby Cook. There's a dizzying flurry of arrangements at work which sees the staple guitars richly augmented by theremin, strings, bells and god knows what else. If you are a fan of Ed Harcourt then you'll lap this up.



Headlines - Takeover (Science Fiction Theatre) 

For a band with a crap pun for a name and one really famous single to boast of, XTC aren’t half doing a great job of influencing the alternative music scene these days. Of course, they influence Headlines as much as any other band, and as such ‘Takeover’ isn’t that far removed from anything The Futureheads or Maximo Park are producing to larger and more clued-in audiences.

Having said that, ‘Takeover’ contains as much potential energy in its three-odd minutes as a toddler full of popping candy and has a catchiness about it that should see a sizeable number of indie kids gravitate towards Headlines. I’d rather it was played on Kerrang radio than a single second of My Chemical Romance’s angst-by-numbers, and playing it in the local disco will ensure the cool kids all look like tits trying to work out its jerky rhythm. All in all, pretty ace.

Chris Stanley


Alex Gopher - The Game

Very, very cool for someone with such an unfortunate name. A simple ballsy bassline, breathy vocals and an increasingly spazzy synth part build to form a refreshingly crisp 2 minute slice of of electro-indie that could only have come from France. The remixes are invigorating macerated works of genius too - ignore at your peril.



The Dear Elaines - Whatsoever-Never   (Workaholics On Holiday!) 

Sometimes you get a release to review that’s just beyond belief. On occasion, that’s a good thing, because you obviously weren’t expecting it to be a delight and it turned out you were wrong. Other times, you have a pretty good idea you’re not going to like it. Unfortunately, that’s what ‘Whatsoever-Never’ turned out to be. I wanted to like it – it’s a fantasy band consisting of one member, Danish multi-instrumentalist Martin Nielsen, and multi-instrumentalists tend to make me go all wibbly simply because I can just about play the chords to ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Beatles.

But I do know about reviewing music and I can’t kid you. Nielsen himself admits that this particular release by The Dear Elaines is a lo-fi, badly recorded effort with a view to a proper release later in the year, so what we have here is a taster. Excuse me, but I think I’ve missed the point. I wouldn’t expect to submit a review on the back of a Corn Flakes packet, scratched into the card with a blunt pencil. It wouldn’t look good, and any valid points I had to make would be ignored.

So that’s my advice, really. ‘Whatsoever-Never’ has decent ideas and a beautiful song in ‘Whatever Happened To Jesamine?’, but it sounds like it was recorded through a tin can telephone on the top of the Empire State Building during rush hour. Consequently, it’s lacking purpose, point, and right this moment, any positive feeling from yours truly. 

Chris Stanley


Various - Four by Four (Broken Tail)

Alan MX - Strange Bird
The Wookies - Hosepipe Ban
Ben Marwood - More Good Propaganda
Heartwear Process - Humble Pie

What a criminal shame it's taken so long to get down down to this little beauty in the Tasty CD pile. Alan MX's lo-fi electronica would be worth getting the CD alone. 'Strange Bird' is a wonderfully baroque sounding slice of pop that leans towards Napoleon IIIrd but replaces Boney's love of brass with a deluge of synthy keys and strings - superb.

The Wookies peddle a warm light hearted folky sound which even allows us to forgive the odd Chris Martin-esque vocal affectation. Ben Marwood deserves instant credit before even listening to his track for his open hatred of The OC. Finally Heartwear Process bring Four by Four to a close with a bit of epic pomp and bluster in their eerie 6 minute opus 'Humble Pie' which twists and turns more times than hurricane Felix.

All this for a measly £3? Broken tail, you spoil us.



Thousands Of Reflections - Drones And Sharp Teeth 

There’s something odd going on in Nottingham, and it’s very much to my liking. It must be something to do with young lads turning their backs on the football, which isn’t exactly scaling the heights at the moment. Regardless, the self-produced stuff I’ve heard from the city in the last few months has been dark and wonderful, and it was with trembling fingers that I placed this EP in my player. Coincidentally, I’ve got an appointment booked at the doctor’s to check for early signs of Parkinson’s Disease.

Tasteless medical japery aside, it wasn’t what I expected. Not to say it’s bad, because it’s clearly not, but according to the press release ‘Drones and Sharp Teeth’ sets out to eschew the verse-chorus-verse structure Kurt Cobain so despised and give free rein to musical expression. As a result it kind of falls between two stools – too melodic to be epic, and too unconventional to be chart-friendly. Not that that matters but it could be crucial to Thousands Of Reflections if they want to make a living out of playing music together.

But to put their mind at rest, there is certainly a place for spacious, grand enterprise in rock, and fans of say, Tool, Perfect Circle, Sunny Day Real Estate, Cave-In and latterly, Jeremy Enigk will lap this mother up. Thousands of Reflections are a band with a fine future ahead of them, and only those blonde twins out of Big Brother could fail to see why. 

Chris Stanley


The Skies - Bring It On

Leather pant wearing, snakebite drinking Whitesnake fans will like this. Adding to the list of bands like The Answer and The Sound Explosion who think a classic rock and roll sound is the way forward, the trouble is you either agree with this theory or you don't - there's no room in the middle.



Smith 6079 - Kill Romeo (MyMemory)

This Orwellian inspired band from Manchester seem to harbour some serious intent to make it big. 'Kill Romeo' is a simmering wash of guitars which all but immerse the heavily distorted vocals way down in the mix. Which shouldn't work, but it does. Reminds me a bit of Eminem's 'Stan'. It's a festering sore on the face of the current pretty boy indie scene and whether you like it or not, you won't be able to ignore it.



Meat for a Dark Day - Vanity Unfair/Three Mallards (Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)

Despite the goth-sounding name, Meat for a dark day are a lyrically sharp band who specialise in kitchen sink tales and swaggery guitars. "Vanity Unfair" is a punchy, snappy song which recalls the witticisms of Pulp or Blur - unsurprising given that the single was produced by Ross Orton, who has also worked with Jarvis. Three Mallards slows the pace a little, with a mournful, driving sound, which forms an interesting contrast to the A side. Invited to support Low at the Shepherd Bush Empire, it will be interesting to see where this band heads next...

Natalie Davies


Heartyeah - Chris Huelsbeck / AAAend (Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)

Heart Yeah are a band who apparently formed through a love of shoegazing, chart topping pop and loud house, and their range of influences is evident in "Chris Huelsbeck", a synthesised romp through the most dance music from the past twenty years. The screaming vocals recall The Rapture at their shoutiest, and build up over a pulsating beat of reverberating guitars and squealy electronic noises. Not one for the faint-eared, but a danceable stomp-along nonetheless.

Natalie Davies


The Ironweed Project - Boom Boom Clap (Fat Northerner)

More ghetto style blues from The Ironweed Project where a Robert Johnson style blues riff is underpinned by an r'n'b bassline and a load lyrics about car stereo systems...quite a niche. But there's very little progression going on - the track just seems to start and stop a bit arbitrarily. Good voice though.



The Steers - Rewind Repeat (Kids)

A touch of Beetlebum-era Blur about this one, not just from the estuarial English but the crisp clicky guitar chops. Good harmless fun stuff.



Little Dragon - Twice Test (Peacefrog)

Uber cool Swedish funkateers Little Dragon have a sound which is very difficult to categorise or even describe, putting together unusual combinations of sounds in their precise yet understated compositions. Reminds me a bit of Dani Siciliano in that although I feel compelled to listen to it, I never really warm to it.



Isosceles - Get Your hands Off (art/goes/pop)

Mucho Casio tones on this one along with potential for pointy dancing in shirts and trousers which are really just too tight. Throw in a bit of wobbly B-movie sound effect and you have a damn catchy pop tune, not a million miles away from the stuff A+E Line are doing. Also my favourite type of triangle to boot.



Soho Dolls- Right & Right Again (Filthy Pretty)

For all the vagaries of their ever changing personnel and constant repositioning of themselves in the musical market place, Soho Dolls sure do write fabulous pop songs. A sinewy guitar hook, the usual weebly synth trickery and Maya's welcome knack of sugar coating an eye-watering kick in the balls with her silky voice all make for a winner.



Jack Viper - Devil May Care

Jack Viper seem to have stolen the opening from Guns and Roses' 'You Could Be Mine' and certainly aren't presenting anything else that doesn't sound like it was recorded in the early 1990s. It's alright saying that you are sticking a middle finger up at fashionable mediocrity but then you had better make damn sure that you are doing something special and I'm not sure that Jack Viper are anything better than the mediocrity they are supposedly bucking against.



The Crucible - Maybe Reality, One Day

Far too much Metallica has been listened to before recording this ode to 'Nothing Else Matters' I reckon. It's all very crisply performed and produced but you are just waiting and waiting for the big noisy guitar break and bang! There it is. Special mention should be made to the impressive tub thumping going on but it can't disguise the fact that the loud bits aren't quite loud enough and the quiet bits are still a bit too noisy.



Alex Cornish - My Word What A Mess (Bellevue Records) 

I had the pleasure of reviewing Mr Cornish’s last single release, ‘This One’s For You,’ and in effect this next download-only single is the last step in the phoney war before he drops the bomb, debut album ‘Until The Traffic Stops.’ There’s nothing I can say that will make any difference, since Alex no longer needs the help of an independent fanzine in my opinion.

‘My Word What A Mess’ is an intelligent choice of single, progressing from his last and showing he’s capable of much more than strumming. This single is top, the album should be outstanding if he’s on this kind of form and anyone who disagrees may as well not bother having ears. 

Chris Stanley


The Brownies – Means To An End (NRONE Records)

Do you have a little bit of repressed Anger back there? If so, perhaps The Brownies are the band to release it for you in 4 short tracks of aggressive, punk enthused anger. The CD and 7” single are to be released on 29th October and certainly don’t hold back with their in your face music. The Brownies are a passionately explosive band. Their music is for those with a little bit of repressed teenage. I enjoyed it as a passing flash of excitement but a sustained onslaught of this music I feel would diminish the pleasure. The best song is ‘means to an end’, the rest I felt were weak and a little unfinished, not quite there. I feel indifferent. 2/5

Gareth Ludkin


Idiot 3 - Reasons / Alive in Blue

Oh dear. Desperately earnest stadium rock with all the excitement of happy hour in Stationery Box. Some really dated sounding watery guitar effects in both tracks make it sound like this was written in the 80's (and not in a retro ironic way). one to miss.



Plyci – Blodau

I’m glad this isn’t radio, as I know for sure I can’t pronounce the name of this band. I’m off to Cardiff University this month and it will be a miracle if I can master Welsh pronunciation by the end. This single by Plyci is just about as mad as their pronunciation. This is electro D&B on speed. The splitting beats and effects jump and bounce all over the place, it’s hard to know where you are. The music is high octane, especially on track 1 ‘Blodau’, easily the stand out track on the single. If you are into your beeps and beeps this is a hearty expression of how best to display them in a random blast of dotty, dashing noise. The three track single is great but I feel it really needs an electro nut to truly appreciate it. It certainly isn’t music you can easily jump into and enjoy. It’s not that accessible but if you are open to some random bleeps and beats this is certainly very interesting. ‘Blodau’ seems the most ordered and organised song on the single. It feels more like a song rather than a random mash but I honestly can say it’s worth a look. 3/5

Gareth Ludkin


Prinzhorn Dance School - Crackerjack Docker (EMI)

The single format seems like the best way to enjoy the work of Prinzhorn Dance School, their idiosyncratic and unforgiving style wearing down even the hardiest of reviewers over a longer timespan. Interesting to be told in the press release how the band love to take time over the B-sides to their single rather than just including 'a piece of crap on the B-side. when this single comes with no B-side whatsoever.

The track itself? Well, it's short, a little bit bleak and a bit too clever for its own good. Brash intermittent drums, a simple bassline and slightly pretentious vocals give this the feel of a track conceived in an art college somewhere.
Watch video to 'Crackerjack Docker'



The Racketears – Tundraboy

The Rackatears from Colwyn Bay in Wales play indie rock songs which are solid and enjoyable. Track 2 ‘Moron Sunday’ is the best on the single. Their songs are interesting and well constructed. They perhaps lack a bit of an edge but they are enjoyable none-the-less. You can sense influences coming through from The Super Furry Animals among others. Their music has not just been confined to the North West of Wales. Having played in the North of England among other places the Racketears are a nice band with some great songs. 3/5

Gareth Ludkin


AFD Shift - Crusader (ELT)

Unlikely bedfellows that they are, this single manages to bring together rap, metal, electro and hip hop in not too painful a method. there are times when 'Crusader' sounds a little bit like Chumbawamba but other than that they could do a lot worse. 'Breathing Space' is anything but - it's a breathless jaunt through riffs and rapidfire MCing which sounds a bit like U2s version of the Mission Impossible sound track. They should really lose the excessive break down at the end though.



Threatmantics – Don’t Care

Championed by the ever inspirational Huw Stephens Threatmantics have brought an original blend of fiddle, electronics and off-kilter beats, intertwined with Welsh vocals Threatmantics may not appear the most accessible band but you take them for what they are. They have an odd mix of melodies which seem fresh out of the local dementia ward. The fiddle adds to this feeling, creating a weird effect. The music is unashamedly D.I.Y and Threatmantics are hard to stick with. Give em a try. 2/5

Gareth Ludkin


Midas - Red Shoes (Plastic Tank)

the Birmingham Post suggest that 'Midas show a golden touch with new single'. Do you see what they did there? I can forgive this appealing bit of lazy journalism when faced with yet another soundalike Fall Out Boy wannabe. Heady topics like going out in trendy shoes that hurt your feet are given a severe going over. Dismal.



Derwyddon DR Gonzo – K.O. Madrach

The worst thing about this single is that that there are only two tracks. This band are extremely fresh and interesting. Their afro beat, ska, jazz funk sound is irresistible. Entirely sung in Welsh with even Welsh rap from Mr Phormula it is hard to understand what is going on, but it is fairly irrelevant, the songs are enjoyable for their jazz/funk gypsy bounce. Both songs on the single are incredibly enjoyable and if you haven’t experienced your obligatory dose of Welsh music Derwyddon DR Gonzo is a perfect place to start, even if you can’t say they’re name. Horns, and jazzy stuff. Who can argue. 3/5

Gareth Ludkin


Palladium - Happy Hour (Virgin)

Palladium may have invented the 'pop opera' - the more light hearted cousin of our aged friend the rock opera. All very camp - like Fleetwood Mac challenging Stevie Wonder to see who canh write the next title music for Crossroads. Bafflingly scary.



New Pornographers – Myriad Harbour (Matador)

Those missing Pixies – and there must be a few – can look no further than this quite wonderful new single by New Pornographers. It’s both cute and sinister, both creepy and loveable, both catchy and epic, and always nothing less than excellent. And, yeah, it knows its hooks. So, you see, new music can be fun sometimes, it’s just that I never expected New Pornographers to show me just how much fun.

Sam Metcalf


The Mojo Fins - Piñata Face (Amazon)

This posthumous release by the Mojo Fins who lost their singer in a road accident in may is a lovely little piece - all twinkly and gentle but with an ever so slightly off kilter edge that stops it from being too twee. Fans of Monkey Swallows the Universe will love it. In fact, anyone with a bit of sense will love it. Bonus track 'Beneath Stations is equally as wonderful - what a loss to the south coast music scene and beyond.



CSS – Alcohol (Sub Pop)

I dunno whether it’s because the sun is shining outside, or what, but I’m hearing lots of POP music into today’s reviews. ‘Alcohol’ is a perky little fucker, and is much better – and less annoying – than other CSS stuff I’ve heard. It sounds a lot like Brix-era Fall, and therefore can not fail to be anything less than wonderful. It often takes a sunny day to make me admit to liking stuff.

Sam Metcalf


Bone-Box - Do You Feel You've Been Warned (Fat Northerner)

The highlights of the pedal guitar working with the brass section distinctly earths this track in the wilds the north west of England rather than the wild west that the otherwise Americana  tinged tones suggest. But yet again I cannot warm to the vocal style and am left feeling like this is another missed opportunity.



Elizabeth – Ash Can School (Pop Echo)

Ooh, cascading, noisy guitars. Nice. And although this often descends dangerously close to Interpol, there’s enough here to remind of when guitar bands didn’t have to pretend that it was 1983 again. This sounds like a proper demo, and, of course that’s what it, but it’s so nice to hear that now and again. Cuddly.

Sam Metcalf


The Tacticians - Girls Grown up faster Than Boys (Setanta)

Not surprisingly for an imprint which launched the likes of Edwyn Collins, The Divine Comedy and Richard Hawley, Setanta stick close to home with this gentle ramble from The Tacticians. there's a touch of vintage Bowie lurking in the vocal intonations and scruffy sax parts there as well if you really look out for it. Altogether quite pleasing actually.



The Teenagers – Starlett Johansson (MeRok)

What a terrible name for a song. And what a terrible song. Spoken word lyrics over a terribly over-produced, sub-Kaiser Chiefs backdrop. The b-side is better in a late-Sugarcubes way, but it’s still shite.

Sam Metcalf


Big Arm - Sunrays (Matchbox)

Another solid effort from Brother Ryder which doesn't stray too far from the original Manchester scene baggy style. Catchy basslines, easy to sing along to while drunk in a club vocals and big chorus with female vocal harmonies. Now there used to be this band called the Happy Mondays...



Some Velvet Morning – Pretty Girl (Rhythmbank)

Why, oh why? Why? This veers – disastrously – from the usual bank of chugging guitars, to – remarkably – some kind of hackneyed skank. Whilst all the time the singer asks what a pretty girl is doing in a place like this. He’ll never pull with lines like that. Or songs like this.

Sam Metcalf


Plastic Toys - Let me Feel the Love (Hill Valley)

Amazingly Plastic Toys have managed to imbue this otherwise gruesomely twisted slice of electro thrash with all the machismo-laced, leather-clad stadium rock pomp of Bon Jovi. So near yet so far. 'Superfreak' maintains a bit more of that scuzziness that I need but still feels the need to go along with a big rock sing along chorus. Massively frustrating as otherwise it's hard to fault.



The Checks – What You Heard (Full Time Hobby)

Heavens. Is Robert Plant in the house? The Checks rock hard, and are probably Very Hairy Indeed. After listening to a few other things today this seems like a welcome break, but that’s more of a reflection on the other stuff than ‘What You Heard’. For muthas everywhere.

Sam Metcalf


Various - OIB Split Series Volume 1 (OIB)
Gay Against You
Lonely Ghosts
Munch Munch
The Tumbledown Estate

You see, Plastic Toys? The Tumbledown Estate put their foot down from the start and never let up with their electro spaz assault. Munch Munch could be the not so long lost brothers of The Tumbledopwn Estate seeing as they sound uncannily similar. Gay Against You? Ditto Munch Munch, but slowed down and slightly more psychedelic. It's left to Lonely Ghosts to provide a slightly more conventional musical direction. Well, ever so slightly different - at least most of the vocals are not distorted unlike their predecessors. Quite hard on the ears and speakers as an EP but four great bands which would be worthy of a separate listen each.



Chuck Prophet – Freckle Song (Cooking Vinyl)

This reminds me of Bob Harris, and the Old Grey Whistle Test. Does that make me old, or does it mean that ‘Freckle Song’ is a boring old piece of toss? Possibly both.

Sam Metcalf


Seagull Strange - La La La Ley (Shifty Disco)

The fact that the guitar riff is pounded out through what sounds like a vintage valve amp is not enough to recommend this song alone. But it nearly is. The fact that is sounds like a rockabilly version of the Stooges 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' can be overlooked seeing as it is one of the best singles I've heard this month. Stuck in the past? Me? What do you mean - it was only released in July...



Butcher Boy – The Eighteenth Emergency (How Does it Feel to be Loved)

Ma! Shut the parlour door – I’m trying to listen to Butcher Boy!

Butcher’s Boy’s new ep (is it their debut? Who cares!) is as quiet as a mouse, but nowhere near as scary. I’ll talk about the title track, because it’s by far and away the best here. It’s the sort of song you can wrap your arms around whether you’ve just fallen completely in love, or have just been dropped from the top of the Town Hall. And it’s beautiful. And you should love it. And you will.

Sam Metcalf


Serotone - Shine Alone (Re-Action)

Soft, soft, loud. Despite the forgettable fey verse which has been done a million times Serotone come good with a ball breaking chorus. Shoddy drum production spoils it a bit - I don't want to hear a snare drum that sounds like it came from Toys r Us but the layers of guitars add a decent bit of meatiness to counterbalance the melancholic vocals and the outro is a beast.



Pepe Deluxe – Go For Blue (Catskills Records) 

Go For Blue is one of the highlights from Pepe Deluxe’s fabulous album Spare Time Machine. The track features everything from a sixties retro organ sound, half sung have spoken vocals and a hip swinging riff. Happy, happy and more happy, with a side order of out of the ordinary. 

 The Viva Voce Remix sounds like it samples KT Tunstall, but here’s hoping that’s just my imagination. The stripped down instrumentation and addition of electric guitar gives the track a more sultry and sophisticated feel and show casing the sublime vocals.

Catriona Boyle


Damien Rice – Dogs (14th Floor) 

Remember when Damien Rice released Cannonball and all of a sudden it wasn’t the delicate song from O anymore but an over produced insincere ballad? Well the curse of the over zealous producer strikes again on Dogs, beefing it up into something it really isn’t. The inclusion of vocals from the now departed Lisa Hannigan are also a bit of a mystery- surely it would have been best to take them off for the single release? Losing most of it’s charm by starting off the track with drums, strings, and extra guitar instead of the wonderful build up on the album version, Dogs has gone to the dogs a bit really.

Catriona Boyle


Shocking Pinks – Singles (DFA Records) 

After a press releasing featuring a load of guff about New Zealand I was none the wiser when I popped the CD in as to the delights or catastrophes that awaited.

Oddly enough though, shocking is a rather handy word when it comes to reviewing this CD. The vocals on first track, This Aching Deal are flatter than a contestant on X Factor and that’s the best thing it has going for it. Perhaps that explains why track two, August 3rd, is a lap-top fiddling ambient-pop instrumental. 

Track three brings another chance of direction – including one halfway through the track when the electric guitars suddenly melt into acoustics and it moves away from its rock beginnings and ends in a mellower indie fashion. Bizarre. 

Although these collection of singles, are simply that and shouldn’t feature any kind of linear structure that an album might, its hard to get away from the glaringly obvious mish mash of styles and genres which make the whole thing rather, well, shocking.

Catriona Boyle


Steve Adey – Burning Fields / Everything In Its Right Place (Grand Harmonium Records)

Everything In Its Right Place is a Radiohead cover. Having absolutely no interest or knowledge of Radiohead I can’t tell you if it’s any good or not I’m afraid. According to the press release it’s ‘(almost) unrecognisable’. It still sounds really dreary and depressing a la Radiohead to me, but then what would I know.

The key word for Steve Adey seems to be “minimal” as most tracks rarely feature more than one or two instruments and vocals. As nice as this can be, the slow tempo and what seems like just a bit too much effort on the vocals means the tracks often drag and lack sincerity.

Catriona Boyle


Joseph Arthur – Enough To Get Away (14th Floor Records) 

While many singer songwriters come and go, some achieving huge success and then vanishing, others never really make it, Joseph Arthur has been a constant throughout. Occasionally popping into the mainstream when his song is featured in an advert or on a TV show, he is somewhat of a hidden gem.  

Enough To Get Away is another quality track, and Arthur makes the art of songwriting seem like a simple task. With his trademark acoustic guitars, voice, and sharp observations this is another underrated winner.

Catriona Boyle


Calvin Harris – Merrymaking At My Place (Sony BMG) 

Last time I heard this guy he was going on about how good the eighties were. Clearly he’s part of the generation that don’t really remember the eighties, and therefore for some bizarre reason think they were rather cool. 

Merrymaking At My Place is another uninspired pointless outing for Mr Harris. Lacking both melody, instruments and vocals that haven’t been tampered with this really is an utter waste of time. Perhaps the eighties were better…

Catriona Boyle


Chocolate Tannoy - Over the Bridge (TRL)

very mellow stuff from Chocolate Tannoy, a la Stateless or Brian Eno maybe. This is laid back with slightly squelchy beats and free ranging piano keys. Nothing to get you dancing on your seat but decent enough chill-out music.



Irritant - Dark City

Scratchy rock guitars and vocal posturing abound. A bit like a lack lustre version of 'Down in a Hole' by Alice in Chains for the most part. Takes to long to get going then drifts off into an acoustic bridge (not to mention a long fade out). Very pass overable.



30 Seconds To Mars - The Kill (Rebirth)

30 Seconds to Mars are a band who are well on their way to stardom, compromising of four band members hailing from LA, California.

30 Seconds to Mars, entered the studio with Josh Abraham, who produced the Grammy award winning Velvet Revolver record to produce A Beautiful Lie, which this song is taken from. 30 Seconds to Mars began in April 2004 and worked on and off in six different studios before finishing the album.

30 Seconds to Mars' self-titled 2002 debut established the group as fresh, new force, and now, with their follow-up, A Beautiful Lie, frontman Jared Leto wanted to explore an entirely new, far more confessional sonic landscape.

From start to finish, A Beautiful Lie is a story riddled with pain, frustration and ambition. The album is about brutal honesty, growth, change. It's an incredibly intimate look into a life that is in the crossroads. A raw emotional journey. A story of life, love, death, pain, joy, and passion. Of what it is to be human."

"The Kill" is reflective, driven by beautifully complex guitars with an energy coming through the speakers, carrying an emotional quality and rawness, not dissimilar to bands such as Funeral For A Friend and Chemical Romance. I really love this track and was left wanting more.

Sonia Waterfield


Sky Larkin - Molten (Dance to the Radio)

A bit of a slow builder this one but then when it eventually gets going it is all over far to quickly. Surely one of Dance to the Radio's better acts, Sky Larkin have a great formula combining Katie's vulnerable sounding voice with some nice bassy lines and dark chord progressions. With B-side 'Keepsakes' providing equally sinister overtones, this single belongs in your collection.



mewithoutYou - Nice and Blue (pt. Two) (Strange Addiction)

This is actually very, very good. Philadelphia's mewithoutYou remind me of all the best bits of SixbySeven and Punish the Atom - all that ridiculous urgency coming through in the music. But this is also accompanied by the sort of poignancy associated more recently with The Twilight Sad. Excellent.
watch the video to 'Nice and Blue (Part two)'



Emigrate - New York City (PIAS)

Deary me, I didn't know Billy Idol had started a new project? What's that? He hasn't? Emigrate is fronted by Rammstein's ex guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe? Well when a band is described 'Germany's premier hard rock act' you should fear the worstand 'New York City' doesn't nothing to allay these fears.



Felix da Housecat - Like Something 4 Porno (Wall of Sound)

Hard to believe Felix has been at this for 20 years. 'Something for Porno' still sounds fresh and could teach the young pretenders a thing or two in the art of writing some catchy tunes, filling them with samples and setting them to a boppy beat that your kid sister would dance to at her school disco.
Watch video to 'Something Like Porno'


Her Name is Calla - A Moment of Clarity (Gizeh)

The first time I've received a Calla CD that hasn't been a meticulously hand packaged affair. Well all good things have to come to an end, especially as things are getting busier and busier for the band with the forthcoming support slot on the iLiKETRAiNs tour. Fortunately what is lost from the package is made up for in the construction of these two songs which are works of art in their own right.

'A Moment of Clarity' is a broody epitaph which lurches along through changing dynamics like the personal turmoil being described. There are great swathes of brass filling out the mix which remains refreshingly crisp and 'unproduced'. 'Lincon' is a more balladic drone with a vaguely Karma Coma-esque drum beat and just seems to drift effortlessly across 4 minutes. Fine tunes from Leicester and great work from Rich at Gizeh - here's hoping they both reap the rewards of all the efforts.



Kingsomniac - Language of a Lady (Faculty)

Nifty, crisp guitar pop tunes which I'm sure incorporate a kazoo at points (or is it just an incredibly high vocal, or maybe even sax). Choppy time changes and vaguely Zappa-esque - this should appeal the good youth of the nation.



Stinky Munchkins - Release the Lions / Bad Timing (art/goes/pop)

I remember raising a cheeky smile when I opened this package many weeks ago. Stinky Munchkins - funny buggers. 'Release the Lions' sounds like the kind of mash up you'd get if you locked The Scissor Sisters and Alice Cooper in a tool shed with only a Casio and dictaphone for company. There's glimpses of how good this could sound but on the whole that is all they are, glimpses and in the whole this just doesn't really work as a 'song'. Soz.



The Killin Kings - Angelic Visions of Confusion

Okay, so I’m sat here listening to this new band called The Killin Kings, and being 2007 and Fall Out Boy being the supposed saviors of rock music it’s fair to say that my expectations weren’t too high. Fortunately though, the EP seems more reliant on grunge and the overall sound of their music than making a bold fashion statement. The music seems to be everything that Lostprophets promised with their first album mixed with the legacy of Kurt Cobain which, if you ask me, is a very good cocktail indeed. The result being an EP which emits just as much energy as it consumed.

Brad Bailey


Republic of Loose - Break (Vicious)

Some things are just wrong. This is wrong. Irish music should be U2. The Pogues. Err, Boyzone, Enya.. well, maybe not. Well certainly not according to Republic of Loose who sound more like a Gallic Timbaland. Are they joking or is this serious?



Adventure Club - The Going (Re-Action)

Midlands duo Oliver Williams and Ryan Davis have managed to create a sort of middle of the road pastiche of Brit Pop with 'The Going' which is equal parts Suede, Blur, Radiohead and Placebo with a large lashing of Jarvis Cocker for vocals. And for all that it's not half bad, if a little static in terms of musical creativity.



Coffeekillers - s/t

Yes!  It’s finally happened Coffeekillers’ EP starts off with the K Billy’s Supersounds Of The 70’s introduction which any Tarantino fan will instantly recognize from the film Reservoir Dogs. Onto the music though, it has a sound which I have never heard before, but that hopefully I will hear again. The vocals aren’t overpowering or overrated in anyway, the lyrics aren’t your everyday fallen troubadour lyrics, the drums aren’t in your face, everything just seems so comfortable, so happy. The sound effects are as interesting as the music, these include Krusty’s laugh from The Simpsons, a gun shot, farm noises. How do they work you ask? Against all odds they fit perfectly with the music. Enjoy this music as much as Coffeekillers themselves do. Warning, not to be taken too seriously.

Brad Bailey


Popular Workshop - William. It Was really Something (Tough Love)

Very cool clipped guitar which sounds so now and so NME either hides or helps mask the fragile vocals of the lead track. I found the B-side 'Radicals' altogether more interesting, with the guitars used like an alarm call - cutting and slashing on and off throughout this brief musical yomp. More please.



Dan Le Sac v Scroobius Pip - The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Lex)

Infuriatingly catchy chorus, bouncy, boingy, bleepy beats and a furious rap which veers between ripping off the Shamen and Mike Skinner - readers, we have a winner of late autumn dance mash up most likely to get you dancing like a twat in a club award. I really liked the Jel remix too - smoothes out the rougher edges of the original radio edit. 8-bit- mongous.



The Pyramids - "Hunch Your Body, Love Somebody" (Domino)

Prolific bunch, that Archie Bronson Outfit. Seems the guitarist and drummer got seriously inspired during the making of "Derdang Derdang" and cranked out another entire album over one weekend - blimey! Judging by this single, their stuff's fuzzer, heavier, more straightforward than the ABO's blues/jazz fusion, but with Sam Windett's grating yowl smeared all over it the distinction isn't as clear as it should be. Does anyone else find his voice really annoying or is it just me?

Will Columbine


The Royal We - "All the Rage" (Domino)

If I ran a record label, I'd sign two kinds of bands: the kind that gets lots of critical praise and the kind that gets lots of critical praise and makes lots of money. Seems simple enough. So why are Domino frittering away all that lovely Artic Monkeys money on twee, forgettable crap like The Royal We? If there's a reasonable explanation then someone please enlighten me.
Watch the video to 'All the Rage'

Will Columbine


The Wombats - Let's Dance To Joy Division

Screams "big indie pop hit". My brain has pigeonholed it thus. It's something I do. I listen to music and I can't help thinking "this lies between x-indie pop band and y-indie pop band". This sends my brain into hyperdrive. Joy Division references (well, yes, obviously), perfect pop chorus, "smart" or "witty" lyrics (depends how serious you take the song)... Leaving aside all aspects of the record that make you think "have I heard this before?" (it does sound rather a lot like their tour buddies The Holloways) it is a catchy, fast-paced slice of pop magic that will have you smiling gleefully. B-side "Derail and Crash" is another chirpy, lively indie pop song, complete with girls singing in the background and somewhat perfect but not exactly original (sounds a bit like Snow Patrol's "Spitting Games") guitar lines. Summer pop in a late-Summer pop guise.
Watch the video to 'Let's Dance to Joy Division'

Phil Coales


Kyte - Planet (Sonic Cathedral)

Quite satisfyingly pleasing shoe-gaze here, like being woken from slumber by your pet pooch licking your face. 'Planet' is 'epic', 'cinematic', in fact, it is 'nu-gaze' apparently. Why do we need all these labels? I'm afraid it didn't exactly prickle the hairs on my neck but even I was not stone hearted enough not to at least enjoy this. Some people say I am too harsh on bands sometimes. If they ever say it to my face I'll give them a smack.



Cherry Ghost - 4AM

Indie country from Cherry Ghost, aka Bolton's Simon Aldred, a band very much hyped for their sparse, Americana-influenced brand of modern storytelling. It's pleasant, but pleasant in the sense that Simon's voice is bordering on tired-sounding, and in a way that means the song plods along at a pace just too slow to jog to. Although you wouldn't be jogging to this - you'd be sitting alone on a sofa somewhere, sipping a hot drink and wondering whatever happened to Starsailor.
Watch video to '4am'

Phil Coales


Kosheen - Overkill

The powerful voice of Sian Evans backed by clever electronic beats and a well structured song is a pretty much guaranteed winning formula as far as electro-pop is concerned. As long as it's appreciated in context - Kosheen have been churning out great pop songs since "All In My Head" drifted onto mainstream radio. This, predictably, isn't remarkably forward thinking as far as the beat goes, but with a catchy refrain of "Is it over now?" it is a big sounding song that is sure to fire Kosheen to the forefront of everybody's minds again.

Phil Coales


The Chemical Brothers - The Salmon Dance (Virgin / Freestyle Dust)

Let me first qualify this review by stating that I am a huge fan of The Chemical Brothers. I've seen them play twice this year, superb both times. But I HATE this single! It was the one track on the album that I could not leave to play - I always have to skip it - the Sesame Street style voice over and the speak and spell salmon voice - what the hell are you thinking of Dust Brothers? Strictly gimmic value only.



International Trust - Talk Of The Town EP

There are lots of ace things about this straight up, rocking powerpop outing from Leeds youngsters International Trust. The title track, with a memorable refrain of "Isn't it fun when things go wrong?" will stick in your head for days. "Disneyland" - "I've got a brand new plan / We're off to Disneeey-laaand!" is funny but well executed, complete with noisy guitars and spat-out vocals that mean it could be equally at home on Gallows' tour bus stereo system as on their myspace page. Then... there a few ever so slightly less ace things on this EP. "I Can't Believe You Fell In Love (With A Bastard Like Me)" is a pretty slow, self-deprecating ballad, which isn't a bad thing, just it seems quite out of place on next to the other songs. Finally, "Show Me The Money" is a cynical kick out at the music industry. It's packed full of Beatles and Ramones-baiting lyrics, and though it tries to be provocative and is funny, it's a little pretentious, and seeing as it's only carried by a pretty simplistic rock band. All in all a fun, hard EP, but a little rough round the edges. Though that's probably how they like it.

Phil Coales


Metronomy - Radio Ladio (Need Now Future)

A weird and compelling hybrid of break beats, squeaking synths and deadpan vocals see Radio Ladio make up a really interesting listen. Definitely genre defying, there are more of the strange boing boing beats in 'Are mums Mates' which is like a cross between 'Charlie Says' by the Prodigy and almost anything by Bentley Rhythm ace. Why mess around with guitars and drums when you can knock up something this exciting with just a few synths and samplers? The Casiocore of 'Hear to Wear' is as good as I've ever heard. I have sat up and taken notice.



Rory McVicar - Now That You’re Mine 

This is Rory’s debut single, so let’s be nice. Just like his debut single, in fact. It’s so nice that you could ice the mother and put a load of candles on top, and you could probably eat it without putting on any inches around your waist. I realise that doesn’t tell you much about the sound, but it does give you everything you need to know.

Rory’s got a lovely voice and can clearly play, but this choice of single to be plucked from his debut is probably the wrong one – instead of charging about letting everyone know he’s in the room, it seems Rory is meekly raising his hand while standing at the back. It’s frustrating, because from the evidence of his catalogue he is capable of cutting loose in magical ways. Hopefully Rory will recognise this and will only improve. 

Chris Stanley


Falconetti - Finisterre

Ahh, Falconetti. A Falconetti track is to your standard single release what Da Vinci's Michelangelo is to a set of Handy Andy's MDF shelves. Every note is hewn from pure musical marble, perfect and pristine. 'Finisterre' is no exception, being a broody, atmospheric beast which sees the return of Emma's barely lucid vocals perfectly complementing the ringing guitar tones and echoey drums. Whilst building to a climax of sorts, it differs from previous Falconetti singles such as 'Body of Water' and 'Kino' by not having that pant-rattling blast of bass as a crescendo.

Falconetti have been doing tracks this for ages and never really got much credit. Maybe now with the current popularity of the related sounds of Vessels, iLiKETRAiNS, These monsters etc on the Leeds music scene, Falconetti will finally be appreciated for the jewel that they undoubtedly are.



The Pony Collaboration - The Fast Lane 

Cambridge’s answer to So Solid Crew (well, there are more members in The Pony Collaboration by my estimation) don’t do a lot of frontin’ but there’s a strong Yankee influence to this first single from their self-titled debut.

‘The Fast Lane’ is like a delicate mixture of Belle & Sebastian trying their hardest to figure out The Thrills’ first album, and while that’s maybe a back-handed compliment, it’s certainly inoffensive. Vocalists Claire Williams and James Scallan find themselves riding a slight melody; the equivalent of surfing in the shallow end, in that there’s no danger of being in any danger but if The Pony Collaboration can use their eight members’ musical talents to create a more current and insistent sound, they may turn a few heads. 

Chris Stanley


Ungdomskulen - Ordinary Son (Ever)

From the label which seems to scour Scandanavia for unusual sounding bands with unpronounceable names comes Ungdomskulen. Although they are from Norway and Ungdomskulen means middle school in Norwegian, cast aside any preconceptions of adolescent Aha copyists. 'Ordinary Son' is a super tight, rivetting bass driven track the likes of which could grace a Fugazi album. It's heavy in part with chunky Nirvana-esque bass and chords, it's light in parts with falsetto vocals. If Ever do put out any bad records I'm yet to hear one.



50Hz - Panic Attack (Blue Tide)

There's a nice folky stoner-rock vibe to this track, despite some keys threatening to get a bit cheesey half way through. I notice it's copyrighted in 2006 but is about to appear as incidental music on a new Ewan McGregor documentary this autumn - a cynical attempt to cash in perhaps? Maybe, but I'll forgive them for the glorious clattering middle chorus.



Von Südenfed - The Rhinohead (Domino)

There's no disguising the fact that Mark E Smith is instrumental in the success of Von Sudenfed but he almost plays second fiddle in 'The Rhinohead' to the pounding keys based northern soul rhythm. Not so in the B-side 'Slow Down Ronnie' which is pure Smith, though set over a fine dance beat. This just shows what a supremely successful and unexpected collaboration Von Sudenfed have turned out to be.



Myriad Creatures - The Hero (Jackalope)

There's a vaguely Stooges dirtiness to 'Hero' which has parts that sound a bit like 'the Passenger'. On the other hand, there are other parts which sound nothing like Iggster's mob, but more like marching music for an indie guitar army. I find myself being unusually drawn - maybe it's the guitar hook (which must be the most insistent since Suede's 'Animal Nitrate' or maybe it's because I'm feeling generous. Have a listen yourself.



Ida Maria - Oh My God (Nesna)

I spent the first 2 minutes of this record thinking that Ida had a speech impediment that made her sound like she was repeating 'Fank youu' over and again before I realised she was saying 'Find a cure'. At least I think that's what she was saying. But I was also so thankful that this was not another Kaiser Chiefs cover that the error soon faded into the past. 'Oh My God' is a frantic, frenetic cry for help that clatters around in great sheets of noise in an indie-pop stylee quite gloriously.



Shy Child – Summer – Wall of Sound 

Despite the bleeping out of the words ‘teenage sex’ and ‘marajuana’ (what is this, the 1950s?) from the chorus, this single remains a searing, driving, anthemic jaunt along the boundaries of pop, electro and indie music. Frequent changes in pace and a huge inventory of sounds somehow work really well. There’s a particularly lairy synth that enters after about a minute and disappears soon after, I wait for this sound in anticipation every time, because it shouldn’t fit, but it does, and I like that.  

All that variety makes it ripe for remixes, the Mark One ‘version’ is a real speaker tester, featuring some of the deepest sub-bass I have ever heard. But the standout remix is definitely the Infadels’ effort, which strings out the chorus and then borrows heavily from Daft Punk with crispy, filtered keys and a magical new bassline.
Watch video to 'Summer'

Ian Anderson


Does It Offend You Yeah? – Lets Make Out – Virgin 

I was really looking forward to hearing Does it Offend You Yeah?, but, I was a bit disappointed.  They’re basically a bit shouty and a bit all over the place.  There’s a leaning towards including some electronic points of reference over the top of some quintessentially British sounding new-wave indie music and it kind of works, but only in a haphazard fashion.  The vocalist tries a little too hard to hold it all together by squealing like a shot goat and it all falls down a bit with an indecisive chorus.
Watch the video to 'Let's Make Out'

Ian Anderson


Plans & Apologies – Meetoo EP (Pandaz Pop)

Plans & Apologies have done it once again. With this EP they have created yet more music, displaying their genuine talent, ability and song writing capabilities. The lead track on this EP - of sorts – ‘Meetoo’ is joyously upbeat and bouncy, with some original vocals and happy dance melodies you can’t help but smile at the brilliance of this band and all they seem to do is keep releasing songs for our pleasure. I just hope more and more of us can appreciate their hearty, homemade slices of musical talent. They seem to be continuously writing and are a band who deserve much greater recognition than they currently are graced with. Each one of their songs is expertly played and written often with a bit of a comic edge. Track two, ‘Mel Gibson’s...IRAQ!’ takes a more political tone but with a slight comic edge. There is an unmistakeable Plans & Apologies style which is both interesting and progressive and I am sure will win hearts so seek out Plans & Apologies. I suggest you go to their website first on which there are absolutely loads of free songs to download, after which I urge you to support this band by buying their music.

Gareth Ludkin


Manchester Orchestra – Wolves At Night – Favourite Gentlemen 

Inhabiting the vast middle ground where only an epic swirling organ can set you apart from the Killers, Manchester Orchestra unleash Wolves upon us, At Night, which would be frightening if it wasn’t so bland. The vocals have more than a hint of Brian Molko about them, but the standard-sub-standard mid-nineties arrangement is limp and uninspiring. 

B-side Sacred Heart is a softly spoken ballad which is quite beautiful in a simplistic artful way, a finger picked acoustic guitar gently accompanies some bland lyrical content and it washes over the listener like a warm gentle wave, which isn’t at all unpleasant. Doesn’t make me want to listen to anything else they’ve done though.

Ian Anderson


Suzerain - Apocalypse Disco (Jezus Factory)

What can only be described as electro pop rock, suzerain make fairly toe-tapping electro rock, but unfortunately The use of synchs turn out a bit cheesy and the overall sound seems a bit confused. This band I would imagine are a band to enjoy live. On record they come across fairly repetitive and boring. The band does nothing to push my buttons and knocks out five songs which seem to blend seamlessly into each other to create one long ear ache. A bit of 80’s cheese seems to creep through, which I’ll leave you to decide whether or not is a good thing. Distinctly average.

Gareth Ludkin


Robyn – With Every Heartbeat (Konichiwa)

You’ll have heard this record a few times by now, it has been to number one, featured on the playlists of every major radio station and struck a note with the public, uniting fans of every genre in their admiration for the Scandanavian songstress. Or has it? I can’t find anyone who enthuses about Robyn, except Jo Whiley, but that doesn’t count because she’s arguably celebrity and decisively, an idiot.  

To me it sounds massively over produced and full of forced emotion, rendering it cynically charmless. Surely someone else must feel this way? Please, let me know if you do.
Watch video to 'With Every Heartbeat'

Ian Anderson


The Republic Of Loose – Comeback Girl (Loaded Dice)

The Republic of Loose have an undeniably original sound and I have enjoyed several of their releases over the years. However I am left disappointed, irritated and pretty pissed with their latest release ‘Comeback Girl’ a track which sounds like it’s been stuck on repeat far too long. It’s not dynamic or interesting, it’s a simple, repetitive and almost painful riff with vocals almost completely comprised of the line “This Is My Comeback Girl” Which honestly does piss you off after about 1 listen. I was also extremely surprised to find a remix by none Snow Patrol, and oh how I wish they hadn’t bothered. The re-mix makes no improvement to the track and sounds like it’s the first time they’ve ever been let loose on a mixing desk, distinctly underwhelming both the Snow Patrol Remix and original which should stay stashed away on a top shelf, out of the reach of any impressionable youngsters.

Gareth Ludkin


Oakwood! – Promotional EP - Shedio 

Strange, quiet, noises… yelps… Rage. A little bit of a melody… more Rage. This isn’t music for relaxing. On the contrary dear, its music for blowing stuff up, demolition, anger and occasionally a little introspection. Oakwood are clearly trying to do some creative things to set them apart from the stop-start dreary adolescent metal that clutters up the music scene and, to a large extent, it works. 

There’s a lot of use of suspense and silence, in almost every track, accompanied by some truly disturbing lyrics and brutal riffs. Its not my cup of tea really, if I’m honest, but I am capable of telling good from bad and this is good.  

KrissKross is the standout track, melding post-rock and dark screaming lyrics, the song takes a long time to build to a crescendo of smashed up guitars. In a similar vein, the dark and disturbing acoustic ditty of Loche, threatens something of a chaotic sea shanty which is always splintered by screaming hardcore before it can break out fully. So, another British band making wonderful, off kilter music then? Yep, for sure, if they focus away from some of the more predictable stuff on here, like Dogs Can See Ghosts, then there’s a future for them in the hearts and broken minds of some of this country’s more experimental music fans.

Ian Anderson


Edwyn Collins - You'll Never Know (Heavenly)

Following Edwyn's massive stroke a couple of years back it is truly remarkable that this single even exists for us to review. The fact that it does exist is a huge credit to Edwyn's determination to get back to doing what he does best, writing great pop tunes such as this. 'You'll Never Know', the first track to be taken from his new album 'Home Again', is a highly polished effort with an easy-going loping beat which gives the track a real summery feel (a tad late for summer now but never mind). Edwyn effortlessly croons and swoons over the top with sharp lyrics such as 'head's in a muddle / and that's the trouble with love'. An impressive comeback and a nice taster for the album. It's good to have him back.
Watch video to 'You'll Never know'

Tony Robinson


Lightspeed Champion - "Midnight Surprise" (Domino)

Thankfully nothing like that instantly dismissable Test Icicles group wot Devonte Hynes (the Champion himself) used to be a member of, "Midnight Surprise" is where all those Lemonheads comparisons I hear being bandied about start to make a bit more sense. Indeed, Hynes recorded his forthcoming debut album with Bright Eyes producer Mike Mogis so it's fairly obvious what sort of niche he's attempting to ease himself into. Not that Dando or Oberst ever put out a ten-minute single, mind you, and seeing as they're both much better songwriters you won't be shocked to learn that the radio edit is much more palatable, though still nothing to get excited about. Nice bit of slide guitar at the beginning, mind.

Will Columbine


Kenjiro - Unleashed (Dotanuki Records) 

It’s amazing how much noise a threesome can make, as I said apologetically to my neighbour this morning. Feeder, for example, are always shouting about something. Nirvana were an incredibly shouty bunch of lads. Peter, Paul and Mary, on the other hand, are the exception that proves the rule. Kenjiro’s self-imposed mandate is to rock the balls off of you (unless you don’t have them, in which case you’re way ahead of those that do).

Do they succeed? Does the Pope crap in the woods? Yeah, they’re pretty rockin.’ Dan Banfield’s bass work in particular is something to get in a twist about, and the Londoners are more on the loud end of the spectrum, but it’s all a bit safe, if you get what I mean. Less Foo Fighters and more Fightstar - that’s fine if you fancy listening to something like Busted: The Teenage Years, but they don’t spit out chicken carcasses between breaths like Motorhead probably do. Toughen up or ship out, soldier! 

Chris Stanley


Ed Harcourt – ‘You Put A Spell On Me’ (Heavenly Records)

‘You put A Spell On Me’ is a dreamy and enchanting love song taken from Ed’s forthcoming best-of collection ‘Until Tomorrow Then’. This romantic, smooth song by Ed Harcourt displays his rich voice over smooth melodies. The single is to be released on 7”, CD and digital download on October 1st, after which Ed hit’s the road with dates across the country throughout October.
I know very little of Ed Harcourt’s music but this single is proving enchanting bait to find out more about his work. It is an enjoyable, lush and melodic track. Ed is an obvious singer-songwriter talent, a genre far to crowded today with talentless young pretenders. Ed proves a welcome antidote, using broad compositions and melodies befitting of his talent.
watch video to 'You Put a Spell on Me'

Gareth Ludkin


{satellite-state} - {satellite-state} 

It’s been a long time since anyone but William Shakespeare came up with a use for those funny squiggly brackets that no-one’s sure the meaning of on a keyboard, but I’ve got to thank {satellite-state} for allowing me to fulfil one of my lifelong dreams by having to use them. On the evidence this self-released demo, the Guildford five-piece will have more than typesetters running for cover – there will be a fair few established bands looking over their shoulder for the knives hidden in the shadows clutched by this lot.

Their demo is the kind of CD that creates its own musical landscape with every listen, by turns spreading out to fill the space between your ears and creating jagged mountains of sound that we dodge between like the pilots in Top Gun. It’s no surprise they’re radio friendly – Steve Lamacq and the rest of BBC Radio adore them, and even without a proper deal they’re the finished article already.

One small quibble – I’d have left this demo stripped down to a two song offering; third and final track ‘Carry Your Own Weight’ sails too close to that Coldplay/Keane matrix that we’ve already established does nothing for credibility. {satellite-state}, if you’ll pardon the inevitable, are out of this world. 

Chris Stanley


The Royal We – All The Rage (Geographic)

I know little of ‘The Royal We’ but from the strength of this single the band have a clear soft spot for catchy indie pop gems. Their video accompanying the single is slightly strange with the band eating each other but the single is endearing and only slightly annoying. The single is attractively twee, light and enjoyable with a catchy “doo doo ah” line which is hard to escape. The B-side is much less strong and you are left wondering is this band really worth it? I have found them to be more of a ‘light’ band you could find yourself dipping in and out of. Their songs are enjoyable, and maybe one of those bands who can put on a really entertaining live show. One thing for sure is that they need to be writing more songs like ‘All The Rage’ and less like ‘L’Enfant Terrible’.

Gareth Ludkin


Authors of Malicious Code - Part 3

'Jezebel' sees AOMC ramp up the guitars with some serious overdubbing, not to mention some complex vocal harmonies and a B-movie 'woo-oo' backing vocal before disappearing in some squeaky feedback to leave you wondering what just happened to your ears.

The B-side 'Let's Go' sounds not dissimilar to fellow West Yorkshire guitar fiends Royal Vendetta though AOMC seem to drop in a nice bit of Soundgarden to make this my preferred track of the two. Dark, broody and pretty exciting sounding.



Gallows - In the Belly of a Shark (Warner)

I've got to confess to being a bit of a fan of Gallows. Anyone who puts this amount of energy into what they are doing has to be taken seriously. there's all sorts of pointers in there - Jarcrew, Trey Spruance era Faith No More, Slayer - all pointing towards one hell of an impressive noise.
watch video to 'Belly of a Shark'



Redneck Renegade - Running Out (Fat Northerner)

Oh dear - this is a bit of a painful listen. 'Running Out' sees vocalist Gary Ross stretch his vocal talents beyond their limits and sounds like an off-colour Liam Gallagher. The rest of the track is well produced with a big emphasis on the percussion but this sounds firmly rooted in the mid 90s.