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singles - november 2007


Eugene McGuiness – “Bold Street” (Domino) 

He’s Scottish, croons witty and sardonic lyrics, and has a penchant for pop melodies and jangly guitars. Is Eugene McGuiness the new Edwyn Collins? Well, he’s certainly in no danger of writing anything half as memorable as “A Girl Like You” just yet, judging by these two capable yet unremarkable efforts. Still, given that he’s only five years old or something, time is most definitely on his side.

Will Columbine


Sons & Daughters – “Gilt Complex” (Domino) 

Yes, it is meant to be spelt like that. I’d never heard S & D’s music until now and had always imagined them to be frail, bookish, cardigan-wearing types, not a more rough ‘n’ ready Long Blondes. Still, even despite importing in some of label-mates The Archie Bronson Outfit’s guitar grit, this is still very average. And that cover of Adamski’s “Killer”? For God’s sake…why?!
Watch the video to 'Guilt Complex'

Will Columbine


Animal Collective – “Fireworks” (Domino)

I still don’t get Animal Collective at all. Much like their last single, this one sounds as though the group’s chief modus operandi is to throw every shade of musical paint at the wall and see what sticks. Confusingly, they all do, and having to endure a demented Perry Farrell sound-a-like screeching to be heard over what can only be described as a seagull attack doesn’t make me keen to endure the experience more than once.

Will Columbine


Plans & Apologies - Meetoo (Exercise 1/PandazPop)

Long time tasty favourites, Plans & Apologies have finally released a single that will - if justice prevails - bring them to the attention to so many more people than their stop/start history has done so far. 'Meetoo' is the perfect P&A song; innocent yet cutting vocals and lyrics, jangly guitars, and moments of joyous spaz-out guitar. I've loved this band for so long now that I thought their time had passed. Thank heavens it hasn't, because on this form we need them now more than ever before. Buy it.

Sam Metcalf


Correcto - Joni

A Domino supergroup of sorts, comprising members of Franz Ferdinand and The Royal We as its rhythm section and a guy who sounds like John Lydon if he were made completely out of jelly, Correcto are all about the late 70's punk era. The title track is a clusterfuck between The Kinks, Buzzocks and The Ramones from which everyone involved walks away afterwards feeling slightly shabby and disappointed, and the b-side "Wasting Time" couldn't really be much more aptly named. It's not terrible per se, just nothing like the "instant classic" I was led to expect by the accompanying blurb. A bit of fun to shake your head down the indie disco, maybe, but nothing you'd remember the following morning.
Watch video to 'Joni'



Maps - ‘To The Sky’ 

Anyone else find the Mercury Music Prize process a bit strange? It’s a bit odd, this-music critics and enthusiasts alike telling-everyone what to think through the constant stream of mass media circulation-business bit---but what’s even stranger-- is when music “executives” and industry “insiders” compile a list of nominees for the “best” album from the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland when they probably know more about the albums with the most successful strategic marketing records than the most successful form of musical exploration-creative innovation, what-have-you. What bothered me the most was the Klaxons’ (more like Assxons) smug wank-of-an-acceptance speech, all “we have made the most forward-thinking record in the past seven years” bibble-babble. The Dizzee Rascal nomination was more of a “look! we are diverse! we are not racists!” statement more than anything else and I don’t know if

Maps’ We Can Create was worthy of nomination, as I have yet to listen to the album all the way through because it’s like having lumps of sugar shoved down your throat—although it’s lovely and sweet, it’s going to give you cavities.  

This brings us to Maps’ latest single release ‘To the Sky.’ This bejewelled five-course dessert tray features an edited version of the title track with The Loving Hand remix as well as a Fantastic Mr. Fox remix of ‘Don’t Fear’. Twinkling ‘To The Sky’ consists of a very brittle beauty, made fragile by its windswept and enchanting atmospheric haze. This is wholly representative of the in-between awake and asleep-soundtrack that Maps is known for. Providing the guidance of a consistent, gently pulsating beat renders The Loving Hand Remix (edit) a more grounded version of the song. It’s gently grounded and gently risky as if taking flight to song “limbo,” as if driving you only halfway to the discothčque while the full length version drops you directly on the dance floor. ‘In Chemistry’ ethereally sparks with unearthly delight, prickling with glittering drops of static while ‘Don’t Fear’ is the most schizophrenic of the tracks, as it diagonally and zig-zaggily splits itself apart and cuts across sonic pastures of a variety of textures, sounding wonderfully patchwork.

RJ Rodriguez-Lewis


Jill Scott - Hate on Me (Hidden Beach)

This is not normally my thing but it's such a powerhouse performance from Philadelphia's Jill Scott that it is hard to resist. Great wedges of sassy descending brass, a simple breakbeat and Scott's utterly convicted spite-soul vocals make this a real beauty.



Helen Boulding - Breathe (Maid in Sheffield)

I'm pretty much in agreement with comrade Metcalf's previous review of Boulding's last single 'What a Fool'. Breathe is similarly well made, inoffensive enough for drivetime and follows a pretty safe route. But if making pop records was marked on originality then this would score nil points.



Cynic Guru - Drugs (Fat Northerner)

A re-release is this not? And as it has not changed since last time I refer to you the previous review in May 2006.


Madding Crowd - Turn off the Radio

An ode to decluttering our modern busy city lifestyles by tuning off the radio in our heads  (though it's OK to download this MP3 apparently), 'Turn off the Radio' is decent indie fare. In fact it sounds a bit like indie when indie really was indie - the drums are just a little bit rattly and the vocals ruthlessly exposed in the mix. The band also possess 4 members, each born in a different decade. Now that is an impressive statistic. Catchy enough but little to get excited about until the very end when the songs stops abruptly like someone has (yes, you guessed it) turned off their radio. Very nifty.



That Fucking Tank - The Awesome Magnet (On the Bone)

The first release by the magnificent Tank via On the Bone sees an interesting departure from their previous tracks in that it features a guest vocalist in the form of Giles Bailey from the superb Danananakroyd. Obviously for a band playing only minimalist drumkit and baritone guitar, That Fucking Tank are heavily rhythm driven but this frantic chopping and changing on 'The Awesome Magnet' might prove a little bit too uncomfortable for all but their biggest fans.

'Fascist Because Beautiful' begins a little bit more tonal and leans towards a more traditional concept of math rock before splintering into a quiet interlude of improv that sounds like the band tuning up for four minutes - one to miss.



Zuprowski Connection - s/t promo

As long as you aren't expecting anything shockingly new or intricate then ZC could pretty ably rock your boat. Opening track 'Thru Me' throws together some muscular riffery and some Mike Patten-esque vocals (though these have a habit of going a little bit awry every so often). There's more than a simple metal outlook to this band with a more grungey overtone floating to the surface every so often and a creative use of rhythm breaks that are very Tool.

'Resist' is the almost obligatory slightly slower number though it has a nice uplifting feel to it despite the singer's increasingly off the mark vocals - just growling for over 20 minutes doesn't really keep me that interested and when he actually 'sings' he has trouble hitting the right pitch. best just to revel in the fab guitar work instead then. Cool sleeve art by Leigh Gallagher too.



The Maple State - We Swear by the Light Life (High Voltage)

'We Swear by the Light Life' seems to lean more toward an indie pop sound than the bands' emo-rock routes. Frontman Gregory sounds a lot like Morgan from Leeds-based Buen Chico and the guitars and keys twinkle rather than really rock out. And all the better for it - punchy, poppy brilliance.



Mnemosyne - s/t EP

Mnemosyne? From the ancient Greek for memory apparently (or indeed the the River Mnemosyne which was supposed to have existed in Hades - god bless Wikipedia). You, however, are unlikely to forget them as they assault your ear drums with a combination of chugging guitar and ear splitting screams all played like Enter Shikari on speed. It definitely sounds a lot less happy hardcore than Enter Shikari but the over prevalence on the distorted guitars has a bit of a tendency to smother the other parts - the bass sometimes seems to disappear in 'Wild Places.' If your cochlea can survive the tinny sounds then you might enjoy this.



Dean & Britta - White Horses (Sonic Cathedral)

An uber-fey psychedelic version of the 1968 hit 'White Horses' by husband and wife team Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips. And it goes on and on and on...for over 5 minutes. Why oh why? Husband and wife teams should be TV presenters or light entertainers (like Richard & Judy or Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee). And for some reason there's a French version too. Personally I preferred the Galitza version - at least that included fake horse noises.



Beaches of the Proud - The Truth Always Follows Me Around EP

A lot of solo electronic-based artists sound like they have been locked away in their attics with just a 1985 Casio and a stash of pot noodles for company for years. This can result in their music sounding utterly original, unfettered by the fashions of the day or sometimes claustrophobically bleak - a symptom of their solitary existence. Beaches of the Proud  is neither. On this EP, Mr BoP Dave Webster positively revels in mixing atmospheric and chaotic sounds together with the result that opening track 'The Truth Always Follows Me Around' is a miniature marvel - a celebration of electronic music but with a real beating heart, something you could see yourself dancing to when played live. True, 'His Shell' does veer more towards an icy minimalism but there is still something organic about the arrangements - perhaps due to Webster's apprenticeship in alternative rock/electronic band The Makos.

'Cursed by the City...' and '...Redeemed by a Ghost' work together superbly as a couplet and have that sound of warm intelligent electro - the feel that Orbital were going for in later years but sadly lost. This is a highly impressive EP. It's steeped in complexities, excellent song writing but most of all displays a level of humanity that is so often missing from electronic acts. 10/10.



Pendulum - Granite (Warner) 

This is pure talent. The alien sounds of the introduction in the typical pendulum electronic style, leads on to the drum and bass beat pounding into the scene and explodes into a raw mix of abrasive, slightly Dave Grohl vocals, a huge drum and bass rhythm and a guitar riff grime bass line. With the usual clean cut melodies, this concoction of drum and bass, rock and metal just makes you turn it up and move. It is easily recognisable as Pendulum for all the fans out there, but “Granite” doesn’t lose any of the brilliantness of the “Hold Your Colour” album in 2005. 
Watch video to 'Granite'



Heat From A Dead Star - The Lighthouse (Hot Headed Music) 

A name which is surely ironic, given a dead star’s heat is still something like fifty-seven trillion billion degrees Celsius (about the same as a Greggs Cheese and Ham slice), Heat From A Dead Star scare the living cack out of me. They seem very annoyed, and not at all bothered that you’re a bit wary of them. They’re the musical equivalent of trying really hard not to look at that bloke in the pub with the tattoo of the spider on his face.

‘Elusive Ways’ and ‘The Lighthouse’ pulse like a black aneurysm, the former putting me in mind of the scary music they play on a Panorama special when a new strain of ‘flu virus is discovered on the Laos/Cambodia border. Their spare, sparse instrumentation is an outstanding mood setter, and a surefire way of avoiding excessive moshing at their gigs.

Track two, ‘Joan’ is about as close to Teenage Fanclub as HFADS will get, being positively buoyant compared to the rest of the disc, and while it’s welcome after the opener, it’s a bit of a forced smile. Malice is what this lot do best. The collection is rounded off by a remix of ‘Black Swans’, which feels like the exit music to a film in a deserted picture house at one in the morning through a blanket of fog thicker than a Playboy bunny. It should contain a warning: ‘This CD makes you evil.’ 

Chris Stanley


Kat Vipers - Hot Air Balloon EP

Whether this is classed as a long EP or a mini-album it marks a subtle change in direction for Vipers that manages to effortlessly shoe-horn in a level of accessibility that was in short supply in her previous releases while still maintaining her fierce drive for originality. Not that there is anything subtle to the opening of 'Hot Air Balloon' which is announced with some violent saw tooth strings with loads of reverb - hauntingly aggressive. Taking on the services of several guest musicians has given this record a more rounded sound but as the name would suggest 'Just Like Jerry Lee' sees a return to the trademark stabbing percussive piano led sound. But again this is softened by the over-arching flute part which accompanies the piano key for key.

The breathless 'Wasting Time' rattles along a startling pace despite a nice loose oboe part lilting away. That is until a school choir is employed to provide vocal accompaniment in the outro (Kat did say this EP was going to be a bit different).

Perfectly book-ending the EP is the beautiful ballad 'This is Now' which sees a hitherto unseen stripped back sound to both the simple piano lines and, most effectively, to the vocal style. Keeping the vibrato's and giddying scales to a minimum gives Vipers a much more vulnerable sound. Whereas in some earlier tracks the vocal and piano gymnastics can give the songs an air of melodrama which makes it difficult empathise (it is like listening to a 'performance') there is no doubt that 'This is Now' is sung deep from the heart and is achingly poignant for it.



Ich Bin Chimp - Ich Bin Chimp 

Finally, the PG Tips chimps have released the debut we’ve all hankered after. Well, we can dream, I suppose. I’m not too sure what the name means in German, but I’m guessing the simian reference remains intact wherever you go. But does it sound like giving a primate a load of toy instruments and leaving a tape reel running?

Well, not quite. Lead track ‘Palm To Palm’ is a brooding triumph, by turns grumpy and plaintive but almost uniformly excellent all the way through. Then things turn a bit silly. Middle track ‘Liono’s Black Plague’ suffers from a childish, stream of consciousness title and a forgettable tootling around the effects buttons of a Korg keyboard. By the time ‘Something Like Love’ finished off the selection, I was fairly unimpressed.

It’s up to Ich Bin Chimp to choose – you can have the critical success of maverick artists and producers, or continue to make private jokes and baffle everyone within a thirty mile radius. For a group with potential, they’re going the wrong way about choosing Option One. 

Chris Stanley


Miranda Lee Richards - Life Boat (Sonic Cathedral)

Talk about destined for stardom. Richards father was the legendary cartoonist R. Crumb, she was taught guitar by Metallica's Kirk Hammett and she sang on The Brian Jonestown Massacre's albums. Fortunately she lives up to her star billing with a beautiful folky ballad featuring wonderfully languid pedal steel guitar. There's a slight shoegaze element to it which is really played on in the remix by Slowdive/Mojave 3's Neil Halstead. Dreamy stuff for a Sunday morning.



Make Model - The Was

These guys are causing a bit of a fuss up in cheerful, boiling Scotland with their (sort-of) supergroup formation gaining them recognition in a flash. This new Make Model single has the far-too-innocent innocence of Captain but somehow keeps us on their good side with an easy-to-remember, charming chorus (and a gorgeous case that the CD came in). 'The Was' has pretty bells, pretty structures and pretty background vocals supported with guitar and male vocals that demand that little bit more. Add some edge into the recipe next time, and you'll have yourself a winner.
Watch the video to 'The Was'

Jamie Milton


Love Ends Disaster! - Suzanne/Dinosaur (This is Fake DIY)

Most bands would chew of their own legs to be able to write the kind of perfect pop songs that L.E.D. seem to be able to muster up at will. But not content to just fabricate these indie gems, it's even batter to see the way the band seem to be able to just as effortlessly deconstruct them and twist them into something a little bit weird. Witness the way the perfect chorus to 'Suzanne' suddenly gives way to an off kilter bridge complete with B-movie sonic warblings. Simple ace.



Vincent Vincent & The Villains - On My Own (EMI)

So 'Johnny Two Bands' was written about that bloke leaving poor old Vincent Vincent for The Rumble Strips, gaining more riches and more fans in the process. So while you can be a sympathising soul, it's also important to understand that this could be Vincent Vincent & The Villains last crack at the big time. Being tipped for huge things a couple of years ago, they never quite made it, and unfortunately, 'On My Own' is also a little below par. Repetitive to the extreme, too much of a loose theme for a recorded track and a distinct lack of passion from the lead singer – these are only a couple of the many criticisms you could make. In short- it drags on and it even spans less than three minutes. Not a good move.
Watch the video to 'On My own'

Jamie Milton


Robyn - Handle Me (Konichiwa)

You've got to hand it to the lady, she's managed to resurrect a career that could have ended up on the CD scrapheap. But whether you think this is just girl power pop music for teenagers or insightful social commentary as a role model, it's still a bit too r'n'b for me.
Watch the video to 'Handle Me'



The Pigeon Detectives - I Found Out (Dance to the Radio)

Unfortunately for some, The Pigeon Detectives aren't going anywhere else than the mainstream Radio 1 A Playlist & constant T4 adverts scene, they've got big and it hurts a little bit inside. We once had hope that this (once) little band from Leeds had the potential to be original and exciting. Then they decided to release the same old boring songs that a 13 year old's yearly indie discovery usually would release. Songs about breaking up and going out with someone who's five years older than you, it's been done too much. And so I write this with a lack of patience and a high level of dislike for this band. They don't need a praiseful review from a lovely fanzine to get any bigger, and they don't deserve it with 'I Found Out' – despite it being one of the couple half-decent songs on their debut album.
Watch the video to 'I Found Out'

Jamie Milton


Saviours - Cavern of Mind (Kernado)

And on the 666th day God created Saviours. And he decided that they should not produce record less than 6 minutes long. There are some excellent ideas going on in here with near orchestral arrangements of guitar but this seems lost in a more Motorhead swill of delivery. It's heavy but proggy, part clever but part-hackneyed. If only they could sound a little less rawk they might just have something.



Charlotte Hatherley - Again

She left Ash a year ago and has left hardly a hint of a trace in the music world with her solo records; Charlotte Hatherley is going for another hopeful shot at recognition and respect from all that know of her. 'Again' sounds a little bit like Mel C though and although Mel C was pretty fantastic, this doesn't hit the spot. As for the minimalistic approach to the chorus, perhaps Hatherley should have listened to PJ Harvey's 'White Chalk' a couple of times before trying to play the card. So many little annoyances all make for a bit of a disappointment here, hopefully the name will still live long in the minds of Ash fans.

Jamie Milton


Danava - Where Beauty and Terror Dance / Jericho (Kernado)

Seems like Kernado are gluttons for punishment. Fortunately my CD player is not and steadfastly refused to play the ever so slightly pretentiously named 'Where Beauty and Terror Dance'. Which if 'Jericho' is anything to go by was a lucky escape.



Bloc Party – ‘Flux’ (Wichita Recordings) 

What the fuck has happed to Bloc Party? They began their career so impressively with a total beaut of an album that pioneered a freshly-minted template of disjointed percussion, meaning that for many ‘Silent Alarm’ soon became the album of choice back in 2005. Two years later ‘Weekend In The City’ came along and shat on all the energetic flair and post-punkability they once had. Everything just felt a little too soft cock, less edgy and highly overrated. Unfortunately once again we’ve been blessed with yet another disappointment, lucky us. 

Recorded towards the end of the summer ‘Flux’ doesn’t appear on the second album and lets hope it doesn’t make an appearance on the third or by any means indicate a sudden change in direction as this will be incredibly regretful. It’s a bounding stride away from Bloc Party’s usual and familiar sound as the band adopt a failed fast paced 80’s like noise that suggests they’re flirting dangerously close to unnecessary. Perhaps this is their effort to desperately grip on to the new rave bandwagon. Oddly though there’s a definite Cher influence here too, you may laugh but I’m right. Throughout the song Kele’s needy vocals experience digital manipulation of the worst kind and it’s still just as embarrassing as when the fashionably challenged woman herself did it during ‘Believe’, but at least Cher won a Grammy for it.  

Amie Kimpton


Maximo Park – ‘Karaoke Plays’ (Warp) 

With their debut album ‘A Certain Trigger’ receiving much critical acclaim and a healthy loyal fan-base, the pressure was truly applied in order to follow it up with a sound more developed and experienced. With a little help from risky producer Gil Norton who has overseen records from the Pixies (good) and Feeder (not so good) ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’ was born. It shot straight to number 2 in the album charts, a worldwide tour soon became a sold out event and several prestigious slots at festivals were quickly granted. But this is something that I just can not comprehend. Not only do I think that Paul Smith is too old to pull off that ridiculous bowler hat that his using to cover up that questionable comb over (Grow up mate), I also believe that some people are easily pleased with the predictability of such mundane emotional indie-pop that this Geordie 5 piece churn out time and time again.  

‘Karaoke Plays’ is no exception, but as the forth single to be taken off their latest album it does however have a noticeably more beefier and smoothed out quality to it. Unlike many of Maximo Parks indie club night floor-filling singles, ‘Karaoke Plays’ is more thought out and lyrically almost mournful, but for me it just indicates a band that’s a tad too desperate to mature with an needless yearn to be taken seriously. Even though this is almost certainly the bands most forgettable song you can be sure to expect mass appreciation towards it due to the radio friendly and mainstream nature of a song that’s bound to get V festival punters applauding. 

Don’t get me wrong, Maximo Park are not audibly offensive by any means and there are a hell of a lot worse band out there right now, but who can honestly say that if these lads weren’t about now that the music industry would suffer a great loss or would even notice for that matter.  

Amie Kimpton


Architecture in Helsinki - Hold Music

Following on from "Heart it Races" this is the second carefree, indie pop, fun-filled single from "Heart it Races". Songs like this advertise AIH to the masses. Dancing amid glockenspiels seems like a fun thing to do, and AIH seem to be the sort of indie kids I'd like to do it with. If all telephone-hold music was this good I'd call up BT more often, arf arf.

Phil Coales


Everyone to the Anderson - Doodlebug (Toy Soldiers)

You see a programme like Mobile Act Unsigned on Channel 4 and you despair for the state of the music scene. Thank Christ then for the likes of Brighton-based 3-piece Everyone to the Anderson who crank out the sort of venomous noise that would give the entrants of the aforementioned talent circus a serious kick up the arse.

'Doodlebug' kicks off with the searing 'Activate' - a more apt name has never been used. The guitars, bass and drums merge in wonderful harmonies until the fierce guitar break forms a spine tingling-bridge. 'Harpoon Flesh Wound' is a bass led harmony with heavily distorted vocals, harkig back to the seemingly now defunct We Will Be Pilots. There's many elements of loads of my favourite bands included in parts during this EP, ίForward Russia!, That Fucking Tank, Godspeed etc - you get the message, this is quite manly guitar noise savagery. Not to say that the songs writing isn't well crafted - all five tracks have a real sense of purpose and work off each other.

The EP closes with the cow bell and stop start percussion of 'When Beasts Attack'. The bass line would make even straight edge Fugazi reach for a stiff drink and Everyone to the Anderson hammer home their final words like a some, wild, demented guitar-wielding prophet of doom. And that, Alex James, is rock and roll.



Wild Beasts - Assembly/Sylvia a Melodrama...(Domino) 

Wild Beasts won’t be welcomed onto record players universally, whether to embrace them with open arms will almost certainly split opinion. Its front man Hayden Thorpe’s nasal delivery forcing the falsetto of a warped early Morrissey that is put to a special mind set of appreciation which will leave you either screaming for more or screaming for a shotgun. Assembly, the latest initiation into the new breed of daringly ostentatious indie pop only leaves ears confused. Oddly magical, the eccentric vocal stylings (from bark to falsetto) mixed amongst a musical sponsorship (possibly grafted from a twisted backing lift jingle) scores more from the scene of a lost puzzled Guillemots than a band that can pull off such a dramatic debut single.

Failing to go wild for the beasts, B-side Sylvia a Melodrama may suede you although the half-hearted 2 min 40s still brings up the same perplexed emotion that stirs within Assembly.

 Wild Beasts are breaking out, breaking out the cage though might not be the best escape of modern music, ‘wild’ creatures we can give them yet just not ‘wild’ in the right way.

Watch video to 'Assembly'

Erin Kubicki


Dan Deacon – ‘The Crystal Cat’ (Carpark) 

For those of you who haven’t yet sample the delights of Dan Deacon I suggest you pull your thumbs out your arses and pay attention. A bespectacled, awkward looking man, Deacon is a classically trained musician and electro-acoustic composer who has a knack or creating damn near perfect electro pop ditties that make you want dance until you vomit. The Crystal Cat taken from the superb record ‘Spiderman of the Rings’ is a perfect example of this and is coupled here with the unreleased track ‘Total Boner Eat Shit’ a song so fucking good I’d beat an old lady to death just to listen to it one more time. Oh sweet fuck yes!

Luke Drozd


Guile - Love Around Here 

It’s an ironic title – there ain’t none, clearly, ‘cos this wasn’t written by Beverley Knight. Guile are a four piece from an unidentified town in Staffordshire who seem to have never spent a night at home in the past year and a half and it’s getting to them. ‘Love Around Here’ is written as a lament looking through the last half-inch of whisky in the bottle.  

It’s extremely Doors-esque, which is no bad thing. It’s also very Desert Sessions, which again is fine if you like that kind of thing. Spare guitar picking, sonic miasma, lethargic drums – it’s extremely similar to BRMC when they were good and as such finds itself being very good too. I imagine when you book them, The Samaritans are the support act.

B-side ‘The Horizon’ is an average tune, one of those extended studio jams that quickly pales your interest, but as long as Guile can live up to their name they should find a solid fan-base. 

Chris Stanley


Chapters – ‘Ep 1’ (World in Winter

Hailing from the heady hills of Derbyshire via the big smoke of London town, Chapters (formally Ashbourne’s Strongest Man a moniker I wish they had retained) are three men hell bent on creating some of the most wonderful music you are likely to hear all year. From long Sunday jams we have here 6 tracks that don’t sit comfortably within any specific genre as they meander through folk, kraut-rock and John-Fahey-esque instrumentals to deliver an EP that’s only shortcoming is that at 26 minutes its simply not long enough. I demand more from them now or I simply can’t be held responsible for my actions.

Luke Drozd


Cabaret Sauvage - Studio 

Their name must lose a little in the translation, because this cabaret is far from “sauvage”, if indeed that’s what it means. Three young musicians from Turin, Italy, Cabaret Sauvage haven’t been going that long as a three-piece but they sound like they’ve known one another musically for years. They’re the sound of the melancholy air of the coast, looking down on lobster-red fat blokes singing ‘Y Viva Espana’ on the beach below. Mainly acoustic led and with some superb harmonica, ‘Studio’ doesn’t outstay its welcome and pervades your head like a dreamscape.

Inevitably, the strongest track of the six on offer is opener ‘I’ve Found Myself,’ which finds itself indebted to Bob Dylan and Neil Young but also puts me in mind of The La’s demos, which can be found on the remastered version of their debut. People might sneer at the debt to the rapidly-aging Dylan, but not all harmonica owes a debt to him, and his harmonica has never been that good at capturing a mood, anyway. I’m not saying Cabaret Sauvage are better than him, but they’ve certainly got something, however nascent. Any music fanzine is hereby required by law to review them under the headline ‘Turin (Heart) Brakes,’ which is a small price to pay for having Cabaret Sauvage around in the first place. 

Chris Stanley


Micah Blue Smaldone - ‘Live EP’ (North East indie) 

For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to catch the amazing Micah Blue Smaldone live, here is chance to hear what you’ve been missing with four songs from a live date in Belgium that will leave you a broken yet enlightened wreck.

Smaldone plays simple and dramatic folk music on traditional instrumentation like banjo and resonator guitars. It sounds like he could have been revived after 100 years in God’s own soil and sent straight back onto the gig circuit. His songs are the stuff of drama and wonder and live it is hard to choke back the tears. This is second best to that experience but a worthy one none-the-less.

Luke Drozd


People Of Santiago - Circles   (Stonefish Records) 

Times should be healthy for Newcastle’s music scene. Maximo Park seem to have conned most of the country into thinking they’re good, The Futureheads look like they’re about to turn off the life support machine and Jimmy Nail is promising to leave the country if they stop making Chicken ‘N’ Mushroom Pot Noodles. Now all the Geordies need to do is convince Ashley Cole to bog off to Real Madrid and take Cheryl with him and they can start all over again.

People Of Santiago should help that rehabilitation. Five lads going mad in a studio, POS aren’t Robert Fripp wrestling with Frank Zappa but they’re capable of whacking out a decent tune and ‘Circles’ is one of them. It reminds me a lot of Ash when they first started getting on Top Of The Pops, and its double-tracked vocals and simple lead guitar would be guaranteed to find its way onto an episode of Teachers when that was good, too.

There’s not a lot to dislike about this debut release. B-side ‘Dinosaurs’ is a bit of dead weight but ‘Circles’ itself is damn-near perfect as a first single and if they carry on in a similar vein, they’ll eventually be granted the freedom of Santiago, if not Tyneside.

Chris Stanley


Arctic Monkeys - Teddy Picker (Domino) 

The third and quite possibly last single off ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare,’ ‘Teddy Picker’ is one of those elliptical, gobstopper-layered metaphors that Alex Turner excels at. One of the catchiest tunes on their sophomore album, the Monkeys play safe and pull a chunky, basic guitar riff from Bert Weedon’s Play In Thirty Seconds. It’s a combination of humdrum and complete brilliance, which of course is what these lads made their name on.

After hearing ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ all summer long (indeed, it was marketed as “the sound of the summer”, although if you bung radio stations hundreds of thousands of pounds, your crappy demo could be that, too), there’s a slight feeling that the last thing the Monkeys need is yet another single out before the end of the year, and there’s not much effort with the video either. Even the lyrical content is hard to grasp, being some comment on the nature of fame or the nature of losing all your fifty pees in arcade machines. A great song wasted by record company twats. 
View 'Teddy Picker Ecard

Chris Stanley


The Brent Flood - The Autumn 2007 EP 

I’m tempted to say The Brent Flood’s name is a case of divinely topical intervention, yet there seems to be a river bursting its banks every week these days and frankly, I’m not that tiresome. What I can do, with the power of words, is make a parallel between riverbanks struggling to contain their fluids and this small circular piece of plastic struggling to contain the promise of The Brent Flood. It won’t be pretty, it might even be downright cack, but there it is.

Now down to brass tacks. I like The Brent Flood. I think they’ll go far. They’re rock-y and pop-py, flashy and fun, and clever to boot. The first two tracks on ‘The Autumn 2007 EP’, namely ‘Paint Our Faces Red’ and ‘Skinny Machines’ are the kind of high-energy, key-tapping fodder that a lot of indie music seems to have forgotten how to be, and regardless of what they’re about they’re just well-done tunes.

Anglo-Irish in construction, lead singer James Marsh is a further ace in the hole, having an expressive voice, cheekbones that shouldn’t be allowed on a young man and the kind of skinny waist that makes wasps look like fat bastards. If you look good and sound good like these lot do, you don’t need to have a PhD to work out what’s going to happen. 

Chris Stanley 


Tiny Tigers - Escape The Hum 

Aaaargh! Tiny Tigers! All over the shop! Freak out! Now! Not really of course, that’d be silly. And strangely, that’s something this band is not. They’re perky, punky and a little bit snarly but when all’s said and done they seem to take their music pretty seriously.

A four-piece who share vocal duties between male and female (a bit like The Magic Numbers, but less likely to storm off Top Of The Pops in a big-bummed huff), Tiny Tigers have blurted out three small raspberries of paranoiac post-punk noise. Opener ‘Escape The Hum’ jitters and shouts over an insistent beat that’s hard to deny, much like Gareth Gates attempting a cover of The Who’s ‘My Generation,’ and while other tracks ‘Repetition’ and ‘You’re It’ seem like some sort of prophecy for the remainder of the offering, Tiny Tigers might, with the right production values, find a space on Kerrang Radio between all the Linkin Park songs. 

Chris Stanley


Scanners - Lowlife (Influx/Dim Mak)

Oh dear. Despite having a feature interview in Drowned in Sound this month Scanner's single 'Raw' got a bit of a mauling. Fickle beasts. Well, for what it's worth I'm not sure if I am even listening to the same single as DiS as their description bares no relation to what is bombarding my lugholes.  But then the CD sleeve says one thing and the CD says another - we'll plump with the notion that the CD is correct and this single is in fact 'Lowlife', not 'Raw'. Faintly vulnerable, Siouxsie Sioux style vocal leanings, crisp and concise guitar parts and a smartly changing time signature for the choruses - all in all a pretty well-written track in book - good on yer Scanners.