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singles - december 2007



 

O'Death - Down to Rest (City Slang)

If rusty stringed, melancholic sea shanty type folk is your thing then the inspiringly named O'Death will be right up your street. When they aren't shouting their lyrics through what sounds like a bean tin telephone they are hammering seven bells out of what passes for a pots and pans drum kit and sawing away on a 2 bit fiddle. Energetic and sounding incredibly sweaty.

SB

 
 

 

Bi-Polar Baby - Suicide Girl (Blacklustre)

This has a bit of an old school pub rock vibe about it, complete with warbling, growling front woman. 'Suicide Girl' is a bit of a disappointment in the originality stakes. But fear not, B-side 'Bi-Polar Baby' is much more interesting with a vaguely eastern vocal style and an unusual guitar riff. This track is altogether darker and less overtly commercial than 'Suicide Girl' but is perversely worth triple. Weird that eh?
www.bipolarbaby.co.uk

SB

 

Neil McSweeney – A Rope to Hang – (KIDS) 

This is really good, you should buy it right away. The tender, sparse and fleeting beauty of this dark piece of work is an instant smack-in-the-face lesson in doing simple things well and getting results. A haunting, delicate acoustic guitar links together a tale of despair, littered with crushing disappointment and fear into a package which manages to shift the emphasis away from dread and into vague hope without selling out to some happy sell-a-million-albums cliché. Its amazing what a key change and a couple of lines about ‘feeling warm and dry’ can do to lift a tale of gloom.  

B Side ‘Chinese Cargo’ fills out the sound a bit, allows the vocals show a bit more range and loses some of the authenticity of the title track in the process. Still a nice song though, and complete with a beautifully timed little fill on the piano which shows Neil McSweeney has a fantastic eye for detail.

Ian Anderson

 
 

The Daniels - Lights (Turmic)

Very easy on the ear. Very slickly produced. Very marketable. Very Stereophonics B-side. Personally it bored me rigid. The lilting swing of 'Took Me For a Ride' was a marginal improvement but still managed to meander through 3 minutes without making any lasting impression. While typing I did notice that my finger nails need cutting though.
www.myspace.com/thedaniels

SB

 

Jaber Wok – Itsu 210  

Liquid funk, the most accessible sub-genre of drum and bass, has thrown forward some iconic signature sounds for the whole genre of dance music. From Roni Size Reprazent’s Windows and Brown Paper Bag to latter day cuts like Racing Green and Made it Last Night from High Contrast. No other type of drum and bass music enters the mainstream public consciousness as easily, or is as accessible. A squelching filtered guitar, some sampled frenetic breakbeats and a bit of live bass just works better for most people, it sounds more familiar, tangible. Throw in a filthy synthetic loop teased out of an 808 and you maybe get that elusive ‘crossover’ appeal and a bit of cash in your back pocket.  

Unfortunately Jaber Wok use a scattergun approach on this track and throw in a bit of brass too, and a spoken word sample, some breakdowns, build-ups, syncopation, strings, little drum fills, everything. Except vocals. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t quite work, there’s nothing to really get your teeth into before it changes direction quicker than an escaping gazelle. As a showcase for their ability to get a range of sounds out of their equipment it’s great, as a piece of music, it just isn’t.

Ian Anderson

 
 

Madding Crowd – Modern Man (Alegria)

When a scout for Alegria headed to the Madding Crowd gig at which he decided they'd be a good band to sign, he was most definitely on every banned substance. Ever. I had to take the CD out to check it hadn't been mixed up with a demo disk from a bunch of deaf kids; and no, Beethoven wasn't one of them.

Okay, let me cut the offensive broad statements and let you know what's going on. "Modern Man" opens with some bashful guitar and drum strikes, much like the joyous sounds of At The Drive In. And then the dullest, droniest, most monotonous voice I have ever heard in my entire life, starts to sing. The talking clock could do a better job. The music has now turned into your regular light-punk backing, and sadly has no excitement to draw away from the awful vocals over the top.

The two other tracks on the album demonstrate two completely different styles of music. One mental blend of light rock and a saxophone, and one slower acoustic number, kind of like a bossanova or something. This could do well as a single. If it was released in the early 1970s.

I feel somewhat harsh for tearing this single to shreds, but the truth of it is, that not a word of it is a lie, sadly.

Thom Curtis

 
 

Amiina feat. Lee Hazelwood – Hilli “At The Top Of The World” – (Ever Records) 

This should be the opening title credits to a childrens TV programme, set to some cutesy plasticine characters acting out the lyrics and inexplicably culminating in a sadistic distopia of soddomy and filth as the plasticine men, so carefree moments earlier, eat each other alive, starting with the fat plasticine genitals of their animated brethren, gagging and choking between huge chomps into the erect, spurting, love guns until the whole world is enveloped in an orgy of broken, semi digested yoghurt chuckers and bloated, blood smeared plasticine cannibals. Then, and only then, would the music be slightly less surreal than the visual schlong-fest. I honestly can’t say I’ve reviewed anything this wonderfully weird before. I waited for about 30 seconds for the cutesy spoken word story of the happy island people at the foot of the mountain, lending each other a hand and eating the sweet tasting snow to give way to the ‘real’ music before it dawned that this was the real music, by which point, unable to picture anything other than Barnacle Bill or Pigeon Street, thoughts of skiving off school aged seven, pretending to be ill, watching Choc a Bloc and Button Moon danced through my mind, then bang! The music ended and I was back in my car, driving to work, through the rain and fug of an ugly Bradford cityscape. Thanks Amiina, thanks Lee Hazelwood, for taking me away from this horrible vista for one moment, and sorry, sorry about the exploding plastic cock or whatever it was that darkened the beginning of this review.
Watch video to 'At the top of the World'
www.amiina.com

Ian Anderson

 

Cat The Dog – Gotta Leave (Virgin)

My first experience of Cat The Dog was in July 2007 supporting The Bravery in Bristol. I'd be lying if I said that I, or anyone else in the room, was paying a shred of attention to the guys up on stage, as I dismissed them as arrogant and talentless after a comment along the lines of "if you don't like it then f*ck off." But let's not squabble.

Taking this single for what it is, and ignoring who made it, it's remarkably inoffensive and not bad at all. Even when the song momentarily diverges into heavier breakdowns between the nostalgic indie verses and choruses, everything remains very upbeat and "happy days." By nostalgic, I mean that, this song draws on so much of the 1990s. And no, not the Spice Girls. I mean the way it is constructed in such a fool-proof, tried-and-tested manner which virtually ensures you can't make a bad sounding song. Upbeat and cheery, with playful organ undertones and vocal harmonies, this song is actually really good.
Watch the video to 'Gotta Leave'
www.myspace.com/catthedog

Thom Curtis


 

Push-Pull - "3" (Joyful Noise)

The only thing missing from this loud and proud of it EP is a promo pack of migraine tablets. Because when one of the three Mikes that make up this rock trio from Indiana pleads for a drink at the conclusion, you'll be needing those little pink pills.
 
For such a vicious display of guitar shredding and blood-curdling screaming, this is damn assured stuff. The opener 'Brain Fever' builds around pounding drums, beating the repeating mantra deep inside your skull. Guitars alternate between fuzzy and funky as the next couple of tracks fizz like comets before the duelling vocals on 'Indiana' recall the Libertines hit 'Can't Stand Me Now' - and that is no mean feat. Things slow down a little for 'Union Songs' before a rather charming Roots-like concoction with beat-boxing and cheek-slapping aplenty completes this raucous outing. Enjoy the riot while it burns. 
www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com
www.myspace.com/pushpull

Chris McCague

 

Royworld – Elasticity/Tinman – (Virgin)

This is arguably the most disjointed and irritatingly "lardi-dar" song that I have ever heard. "Elasticity" is a mash of guitars, keys, drums and vocals, that don't really fit together until a good minute or two in, by which time, the track is nearly over. With deep breathy vocals and chirpy beats, this sounds more like a Scandinavian Eurovision entry than a Virgin Records single. Interestingly, the b-side "Tinman," seems to give off a far more promising vibe in terms of radio-play and general success. But then I've always been a fan of piano songs. Compared to the single itself, this is a lot slower and actually pieced together in a way that allows you to appreciate the music, and when the quirky melodic vocal harmonies emerge above many other subtle layers, it all begins to sound a lot more like "Eskimo Joe," an Australian group I'm very fond of. And it's about then that I find myself toggling the repeat button.
www.myspace.com/royworldtheband

Thom Curtis


 

Rogue Thief - "The History of Things To Come" (self-released)

Or 'How Not To Use A Drum Machine'.
 
There are some gorgeous touches of melody and occasional bursts of energy buried on this EP from one-man band Roco Galiano, aka Rogue Thief. Hailing from Philadelphia, Galiano's voice suits the music and he can certainly find his way around a guitar, even if the arrangements are stagnant in places.
 
But the rewarding moments are drowned alive beneath a hail of erratic beats from a hyperactive Energiser Bunny which, true to form, never stops running. In its place, simpler rhythms would complement his subtle melodies so much more effectively, giving the songs space to breathe and build. In the case of opener 'Frontline', a genuinely inviting tune is left stranded while 'Ragged' threatens to develop but loses its way, and in both instances the drum machine is the culprit. Sometimes, less is definitely more. 
www.namenooneman.com

Chris McCague

 
 

Candy Panic Attack – Fruit Is Nature's Candy EP (Cherryade)

Utter shit in audible format. Six supposed songs thrown together on a disk, recorded in a bedroom with a pound-land microphone and played by crack-heads. Disgustingly basic backing and a grungey guitar sound you'd expect to hear coming out of a thirteen year old boy's bedroom, overlaid with a overly masculine female vocal track, which is merely talking blunt and obtusely, or screaming/shouting.

Now I'm sorry but this shouldn't be allowed. Each song lasts under two minutes because clearly the group lacked the originality to progress from four chords. If there are any positives at all, track 5, "Spending Time With You," has a hint of potential.

Over and out.

Thom Curtis

 
 

Lyla Foy - Back and Forth

Lyla Foy has an amazingly heart warming voice and a couple of the tracks of this CD, particularly 'Great Unknown' is amazingly moving. Foy moves between sweet and uplifting to tear jerking. But I really can't stand the title track 'Back and Forth' which seems overly whimsical and throwaway with sound effects straight from Playaway (am I showing my age there?) If she finds the right outlet then I think Lyla Foy could give the likes of Katie Nash and KT Tunstall a run for their money, but then writing the right songs is half the battle.
www.lylafoy.com

SB

 
 

Goalkeeper Wanted - Mouthful of Cherries (Void of Ovals)

When the hand written note accompanying the CD describes a 'one man army crushing 8-bit formless of monotony' you know this is not going to be appearing in the NME any time soon. And this is why we love Void of Ovals. On the other hand, I haven't got a clue what the fuck is going on in this track, let alone how to describe it adequately. Kind of freeform musical montage but where none of the pieces are actually supposed to fit together? Now class, does simply producing sound using musical instruments mean you are creating music? Discuss. However, regardless of your conclusions I don't think I will listening to this on the iPod during my (non-existent) morning jog.

SB

 
 

Authors of Malicious Code - Part Four

And bang! Goalkeeper Wanted's clonks and clangs get booted firmly into touch by AOMC's shit-kickingly good latest offering. Part Four sees them bolstering the drums and really playing around with time changes and great hooks.

If '99 Percent' didn't get your attention then 'How a War is Won' will drag you out of your arm chair, kick off your comfy slippers smack you around the head with a pummelling Biffy Clyro-esque intro - all crunching guitar chunks and kit smashingly fierce drums. Throw in the perfectly crafted vocal round and a suitably boisterous outro and you have a top track. Sounded ace live. Sounds just as good on record. Get down to their myspace page to download it. Immediately!
www.myspace.com/aomc

SB

 
 

Hello Wembley - Up Great Britain (Velocity)

I might first like to say that I had already listened through 3 tracks of this before I turned to the press release and bio. 10 minutes of what could be called as punk-grime poking fun at various maladies of the day in self deprecating way - nothing much wrong with that - even if though the song structures were all beginning to sound very similar by 'Rollercoaster'. This lack of subtlety was then royally carried through in the press notes where lead singer Alex criticises Franz Ferdinand, among others, for being a band of 'style over substance' that people want to look at, not listen to. What? I hope this was intended to provoke a reaction because I've been drawn in hook, line and sinker. 'Take Me Out' was knocking around the clubs way before anyone even knew what Franz looked like and their albums contain ten times more inventiveness and clever observations than Hello Wembley have managed to muster here. I'm sorry, but saying everyone wears skinny jeans and smokes Marlboros - isn't that sad over a series 3 chord guitar line doesn't inspire me with praise either.

SB

 
 

Teedo - You Are My Girl (ICBM)

Wow - this is pretty groovy.. Look past the slightly amateurish sleeve art and 'My Girl' provides a mesmerisingly complex sound combining shimmering synths, scuzzy raw guitar riffs and shimmering 70's synth interludes. Indeed had Marc Bolan sought employment on a cruise ship sailing between New York and Greenland then this would have been the sound his band would have had. Teedo are a 7 individuals who clearly revel in the discophrenic vibes of the 70s and this kind of overshadows everything else they do. If you like the Scissor Sisters then give this a swing. If you don't like Bowie and T-rex then steer clear.
www.teedomusic.com

SB

 
 

Lalula - Super Bajo (Elixir)

Do not put this on if you need to operate heavy machinery, drive or concentrate on anything you are doing. To say 'Super Bajo' is high energy would be making the National grid look good in comparison. Snarled samples break into a seriously catchy bass riff which underpins some Latin American rantings and bongo percussion. Apart from that I'm not sure I fully understand it. But I do know I like it a lot and that it should probably carry a listening warning.

SB

 
 

Primitai - War Cries

Well, there's not much I can say about this. Not because I don't like it, just that its a single.

The opening is good, with a very heavy introduction. The guitars are tight, the riffs dark, thunderous and thrashy. The vocals (which kick in like a storm), are fierce, gravelly and overall anthemic, racing at you like a train. The chorus "War Cries - forever haunting me" is dramatic and pushes this single through with force.

I like this single and would love to hear a full album by Primitai to see if they dare to play with a wider range, or if they stick to what they know.

Sonia Waterfield

 
 

Viva Stereo - Miles Apart EP (Much Better/DeFence)

There's a slight feeling of treading water with this EP as the mighty Viva Stereo put out these four tracks ahead of their new album 'Roar, Lion, Roar' in Spring 2008. With the title surely signifying the bands geographic separation (each member now lives in a different city) as much as any deeper underlying meaning, 'Miles Apart' feels a bit like a collection of B-sides (all be it, very good B-sides).

Opening track 'Night Owl' feels by far the most 'complete' and it's no surprise to hear that is pencilled for inclusion in the upcoming album. Mixing VS's trademark electro guitar parts against tales of all night drinking, this is upbeat without being jolly - as much about the hangovers as the euphoria. 'Diatribe' is an interesting composition of swelling atmospheric loops and incoherent vocals set against a dancey drum beat with randomly scattered fills and samples. 'Orphan hands' is a pretty morbid yet vulnerable minimalist track with background ambient sounds like someone playing a Sonver record through an open window across the street. 'KHB' as the closer works as a round with overlapping patterns and vocals. A bit amorphous but interesting, much like the EP as a whole.
www.vivastereo.com

SB

 
 

Lorraine - Saved (Waterfall)

A much needed revamp for 'Saved' sees Lorraine return with this remix which sounds like part gay anthem, part Miami Vice incidental music. Now that's got to be fun hasn't it? I always thought there was something suspicious about Don Johnson's overly macho persona and the way he looked at Tubbs. If you like your ironic post-80's-yet-still-in-the-80s pop then get your mits on one of these very limited edition (only 1000 pressed) 7 inchers.
www.lorrainemusic.co.uk

SB

 
 

Derrin Nauendorf - Shipwrecked (Rising)

There's something to be said for not setting your sights too high. To have your single described as a 'stunning, musical masterpiece' is a tough act to live up to and is bound to lead to disappointment. 'Shipwrecked' by Australian Nauendorf is a pretty catchy, blues/country infused piece over a slow skiffle type beat. There's some superb guitar work as he switches between short, muted notes and  long ringing strums where the bass reverberates out of your speaker for a good 10 seconds. But the way the song raps up with an off the shelf ending is pretty lame. Just a pretty good piece of music then.
www.derrinnauendorf.com

SB


 

The Havex - Don't think About Sex (Kean)

'Just don't think about sex, take me to the next best reflex, contest.' sings vocalist Tilly Brooks. What? When she is not filling your ears with verbal nonsense there's a tedious 90's dace track bleeping along in the background courtesy of The Havex. The best thing about this single is that the two members of the band, for reason best know to themselves, are called 786 and 724. All this single got me thinking about was investing in a pair of industrial strength ear plugs and a hearty pair wire cutters.
www.thehavex.co.uk

SB

 
 

Scarlet Blonde - Whenever Whatever

After a cluttery start which made me prepare for the worst I'm happy to herald 'Whenever Whatever' as a raging disco beast of a success. This remix project sees the original track remixed 5 times - a little self indulgent perhaps? But the single edit succeeds immediately in fusing Sheffield synth pop, industrial beats and a cracking vocal track.
www.myspace.com/scarletblonde

SB

 
 

The Band of the Eye - Dress Down Day

Sounding good to me chaps. Mixing quirky Weezer style pop riffs with full fury grunge choruses in a perfect three minute pop song will never go far wrong. Is that the soul of Kurt Cobain tearing out the vocal chords during those choruses? Perhaps. Is that a rip off of A Pearl Jam riff on 'Beatnik Acoustics'? Maybe. But if you are going to take a queue from someone else you may as well use the best.

SB

 
 

Sign of One - Slip (Ditto)

Speaking as someone currently going through a bit of a Perfect Circle phase (yeah, I know, leave me alone) there are instant and favourable comparisons between Sign of One and Tool/Perfect Circle. It's finding that perfect balance between being heavy as a bag of bolts and maintaining a melodic edge. Vocalist Peter Sapienza achieves this hybrid of ferocious and tuneful perfectly while the rest of the band thread rhythm-based light/dark backing. Takes me back to dancing like a twat at Newcastle Riverside club years ago...
www.myspace.com/signofone

SB

 
 

David Garside - Playground (Frizz)

Despite a misleadingly humdrum piano intro, 'Playground' explodes into a multifaceted wonder that sounds like Roy Wood era ELO. There's a weird disembodied chorused vocal style that harks back to days gone by. The song structure subtly jinks here and there and plays with the simple string/keys backdrop. Not my usual musical fodder but an interesting foray nevertheless.

SB

 
 

Seventy Three - Heavenly (Bunkeruk)

I like this track for the mere fact that at least two minutes of it are based solely on some Latin percussion and a few whistles. Every time it turns a corner you think 'here we go, it's about to kick off' and yet it doesn't change - brilliant! In fact when the vocals and bass do come in it's a bit of a disappointing understated acid jazz affair. Now if you'd made it four minutes of bongos...

SB

 
 

Make it Better Later - Clive (Periphony)

This is a bit weird. Starts off with a skiffly double bass intro which kicks into a metal chorus joined by some Cher style pitch corrected vocals. Eh? back to the bas for one more chorus before the vocoder chorus returns with more of a Lo-Fis vibe before the drums disappear down a plughole and the track ends. Normally I'd suspect that the whole track wasn't copied correctly onto the disc but with MIBL you are just not sure what they will do next.
www.myspace.com/makeitbetterlater

SB

 
 

Diarmaid O'Meara - An Inconvenient Abomination (Gob Smacked)

Happy days indeed. With my knowledge of the Irish techno scene not being what it should I was expecting some lilting, production line, singer-songwriter wailing on when I opened this CD. Instead I got four minutes of glamorous hard hitting techno. Slightly towards the ambient/trance end of the spectrum due to its frequent twiddly interludes, this is still very much hard hitting techno with a consistent high pitch drone and an ever-present squelching drum pattern beating away. Good job for my neighbours I'm wearing headphones. Ace.
www.gobsmackedrecords.com

SB

 
 

escalade - X's & O's (Cuckundoo)

escalade is the work of New York born and now Tokyo based composer Greg Sullivan. I say composer because these tracks feel more like intricate compositions than 'songs'. 'X's & O's' travels through a musical scenery where faintly shoe-gazy shimmering and chorused guitars are kept in a tight rhythmical check by the woody sounding percussion. Unsurprisingly there is a touch of the oriental infused in the sound. B-side 'Pleasure Treasure' is exactly what it says. An utterly compelling release.
www.escalader.net

SB

 
 

MPD – Fruits of the Forest EP

MPD is a bloke, not a band, a bloke stuck somewhere in 1998, with a Verve t-shirt and a cheap guitar. Opening track Electrical is about five minutes too long; toiling away under some underwhelming strings, an acoustic guitar bashes out an indistinct riff. There’s the feeling of an attempt at Parisian grandeur, but on a Blackpool seafront budget. Instantly forgettable. 

Second track The First Time starts off in a similarly dull-as-dishwater fashion until some excruciatingly loud vocals and inane lyrics “let the wind behold, the power of the flames, when you come home” spoil things even further. 

The prospect of a six minute opus called Refrain nearly had me hitting the eject button before the song had even started and with the first couple of bars sounding like MPD learning an acoustic version of something by Oasis the trigger finger was itchy. This time round, the vocals took on an extra dimension. Out of key, nonsensical and smudged by a huge dollop of echo.  Like Radiohead, underwater, on a head full of acid.

Ian Anderson

 

Hot Club De Paris – Will You Still Be In Love With Me Next Year 

This is basically the tale of relationship disintegrating in a crappy northern town over the festive season and is set amongst the tinkle and chime of bells and a healthy dose of sarcastic seasonal imagery. With a jerky pace, breezy chorus and a lovely little guitar fill that’s just the right side of sarcastic, this is definitely the best Christmas single you’ll hear this year.
www.hotclubdeparis.com

Ian Anderson

 

Unkle – Hold My Hand (Surrender All)

Ah, UNKLE, providers of consistently ace reviewing material for myself over the past calendar year. Can this CD continue along the same path? The title track has some interesting guitar effects panning-wise before the beats kick in on a fairly straight forward rock tune, which brings thoughts of “Darklands” era Jesus and Mary Chain, and yet having harmonising whoo whoo hooos toooooo. And then some inharmonic piano. Production is as ace as ever, and ideas are at a premium. “Heaven” starts off as a gentle acoustic and vocal track, and as progression is made, organs and synths join in for fun and do I sense a touch of multitracked vocodery backing vocals? Indeed I do. At 7 minutes, it’s probably a little too long to keep your attention, but is nice enough all the same and the dub styled infinite delay at the end works well. As an additional Brucie bonus, we get a video for “Burn My Shadow”. Xmas has come early this year.
Watch the video to 'Hold My Hand'
www.unkle.com

Dave Procter

 
 

Broken Social Scene – Safety Bricks (City Slang)

A nice little lo-fi acoustic shuffle/skiffle along a tune, starting off sounding like an acoustic J Mascis, but with all manner of beautiful instruments thrown in, including glock, banjo, maybe mellotron, accordion as the song builds up, it becomes something totally different, a perfect little pop tune with an upbeat feeling. A pleasant way to spend 4 minutes.

Dave Procter

 

The Go! Team – Wrath of Marcie (Memphis Industries)

Sometimes when you review a recording, there is some accompanying PR bullshit that comes along with it. The phrase that comes with this release is “It feels like the ultimate Go! Team single”. Over 3’12”, this single proves that sometimes PR people actually know what they’re on about. From the start to the last, it’s very hard not to listen to this, piss yourself laughing , shake your arse and celebrate life. It clatters along at pace, drum heavy and fuzzy guitarmungmouse, with Ninja’s rapping bang on throughout. If this is the ultimate Go! Team song, and anyone who’s seen them live might well agree with this idea, then what comes next? It’s going to be a good year next year comrades.
Watch video to 'Wrath of Marcie'
www.thegoteam.co.uk

Dave Procter

 

Bondo do Role – Marina Gasolina (Domino)

What is going on here? Samba-esque wibbly half Portugese half English random phrases and raps about Afrika Bambaataa? Perhaps after the other 4 versions we’ll find out. The LP version starts nicely along the “Tour de France” and nestles itself in the same groove as the first. The Peaches Remix as you might expect has Peaches stamped all over it. The bass riffing and clapping goes more synthetic and dirty and develops a North African feel. The Crookers Remix has definitely gone for the dancefloor in an unashamedly hands in the air style, with plenty of Daft Punk bassyness and pitch bending a gogo. The rascals. The Fake Blood remix is a proper hip-hop “Intergalactic” vocoder bit, with some ace filtering and modulation and a nod towards “Push It”. When’s that bass going to kick in, eventually it does and it’s all gone a bit Lo Fi Allstars. Ace. It wins hands down chez Alfonse.
Watch video to 'Marina Gasolina'

Dave Procter


Fightstar – Deathcar (Gut) 

With new release “Deathcar”, the second single from new album “One Day Son This Will All Be Yours”, Fightstar look to consolidate a burgeoning position as serious Brit hopefuls in an otherwise US-dominated market. 

“Deathcar” sees them more melodious, more accessible and more comfortable with their growing Deftones-esque rock credentials and at their absolute best on the delicate chorus, when not trying to vocally strip paint from the back of the studio.  An ode to the frankly frightening phenomena of Chinese death row prisoners being executed in the titular vehicles of the song to supply organs ‘on-demand’ to accident victims, bushy-browed frontman Charlie Simpson runs the gamut of emotions from spitting anger to haunted shock as this story was brought to his attention at the same time an ex-girlfriend started seeing someone else.  In his own words, "I've sort of merged him and the deathcar together. I’m driving and he's in the back..." 

Backed-up with a live track from London’s Koko Club (“99” replete with crowd on backing vocals), the crushing “Nerv/Seele” and the fragile “Shinji Ikari”, Fightstar ensure that another rung on the credibility ladder is safely negotiated and another step is taken away from evil exes and former bands that shall not be named.  This single release will also see them make a little bit of music history, as this will be the first on the VinylDisc format – CD one side and vinyl on the reverse.
www.fightstarmusic.com
Watch video to 'Deathcar'

Stuart Bowen

 
 

Vessels – Two Words & A Gesture b/w Clear & Calm (Cuckundoo) 

Leeds-based Vessels are tipped for big things in 2008 and with this third release (after single “Yuki” and their debut EP) it seems that for once it’s ok to believe the hype.  Support is raining down from on high, the likes of former Suede frontman Brett Anderson and Steve Lamacq rushing to endorse this experimental alt-rock five-piece.

Title-track “Two Words & A Gesture” glides delicately over a fractured sonic landscape on pianos, undecipherable harmonies and layered guitars, before morphing into a tumult of feedback, crashing cymbals and distortion.

“Clear and Calm” follows much the same pattern, like a soundtrack to a Sunday morning walk through crisp city streets before it gurgles and splashes to an other-worldly crescendo.
If we were ever invaded by a superior race and taken back to their home planet, I'd like to think that they would have Vessels playing from giant, plant-like speakers when we arrived…

Stuart Bowen

 
 

Laboratory Noise - Hope Is A Waking Dream

The name Laboratory Noise hints that this sound be the sound of a band experimenting and you'd probably be right in thinking that. What we hear in 'Hope Is A Waking Dream' is a band either in dizzy heights, or at least attempting to reach them.

Opener in this EP/Demo/Noise-fest is 'Here, She Is Evergreen' which screams out an influence of Doves and most probably, Snow Patrol. Were this produced differently, it would sound like your average festival hit that grates on the average musical saint who knows what's what. But instead, with misty vocals and climaxing violins, you hear something quite beautiful.

As the EP continues, you question where the band want to be and where they are going. At times they sound progressive ('Realisation') and obnoxious ('You Created A Storm') but they still attempt to keep that running theme of atmospheric rock music.

In the end what we hear is a band nearly at the stage where they can decidedly move on to bigger things, they've certainly wet my appetite for future releases.
www.myspace.com/laboratorynoise

Jamie Milton

 
 

Spilt Milk - Frank

Spilt Milk have come here to offer us something exciting for 2008. They're influenced by modern day greats and are clearly fusing their original sound with that of the likes of Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel. This is the sound of a band going in the right direction. 'Frank' doesn't need to name-check any influences though, all one needs to do is listen and love. Simple indie-riffs play tag-team with a slower chorus that dodge around with the listener's dancing feet. B-side 'Little Habits' doesn't sound like a single but again dismisses the fact that 'b-side' means inferior these days.

The hype surrounding the band has already reached a decent stage but it'll triple several times before everybody that needs to, has heard of them. It's no use crying over Spilt Milk, but it's worth shouting about.

Jamie Milton

 
 

O Fracas - Factfinding (I Can Count)

O Fracas are one of those precious, rare bands who seem almost incapable of making music that isn't interesting and innovative. Little surprise then that 'Factfinding' manages to combine a weirdly clunky bass riff with jazzy interludes which don't seem an inch out of place. There's still a playful exuberance to their music which is great to see as the band continue to mature and progress. 'And So a Scratch' has a slightly more serious tone to it with it's military stop-start rhythm being beautifully offset by the twinkling keys. As if this wasn't enough experimentation already there's a remix by hip hopsters Breaking the Illusion on the 10" too. It would be easy to say this is their best EP yet if they weren't all so damn good.
www.myspace.com/ofracas

SB

 
 

F451 - Think. Fight. Live 

Power punk with a social conscience has always got on my tits somewhat. I think it’s Greenday’s fault – in my opinion Billie Joe Armstrong is equally as much of an American Idiot as his nemesis George Bush, which is a low opinion indeed. Needless to say, I was suspicious.

F451, quite clearly named in honour of Ray Bradbury’s prophetic book-burning tale, seem to have split one long track into three and added different titles just like Emerson, Lake and Palmer might do, and as such this single is one long indistinguishable track. The idea is primary ahead of both the lyrics and the tune, and the result is that while I admire the sentiment, it hasn’t made me that bothered about being angry about it.
www.F451.org.uk
www.myspace.com/F451 

Chris Stanley


 

My Passion - Boo Man 

I’ve listened to this maybe five times and I can’t tell you anything about it. I think it’s got some electronic squiggles on it and a bit of guitar, but in the end, if it’s as unmemorable as I assume it is, then I can’t in all good conscience recommend it to you. For a band in a thrall to obsessive excitement, they’ve created a plodding hologram of a track that’s about as much use as getting a shopping trolley in the bollocks. 
www.myspace.com.mypassionmusic 

Chris Stanley

 
 

Cazals - To Cut A Long Story Short (Kitsune)

There's a reason why some super-sharp indie disco bands with angular Franz Ferdinand guitars don't infect ever NME reader's heart and subsequently jump into the mainstream charts. Cazals' main turn off (other then their unoriginality) can be put down to their front man's distant, unconvincing voice. His huskiness works on the slow burning parts of B-Side 'Both Sides' and when he eventually works his way to not singing like an X Factor contestant you can start to appreciate some of Cazals lyrics; "don't have any heroes, can't listen to God" (which are at best, just above generic). With a couple of the bonus mixes more listenable it seems like a wasted exercise when the source material doesn't live up to its retro original. To cut a long... not worth your money.
Watch the video to 'To Cut a Long Story Short'
www.cazals.co.uk

Nick Burman

 
 

The Mae-Shi - Run To Your Grave (Moshi Moshi)

'Run To Your Grave' has Kraftwerk synths built on to 80's drums, the vocals reminiscent of Arcade Fire euphoria. it's quite similar to Los Campesinos!, being quirky indie, arena humping rock. The first time I heard this it was the best this I'd heard all month, then on came the B-Side. A Joe Public tale of woe and misfortune spat all over a remix of 'Run To You Grave'. A should be chart hit such as this sitting as some obscure B-Side is a crime. It also over shadows track three from the band themselves. A short two minute snippet of charity shop pop with the front mans tortured soul sung over a ukele riff with the electronics kept to a minimum. A nice couple of tracks from the actual band band, while the cat among the pigeons re hash is a party track of the year ready to blow up into your ears during 2008.
watch the video to 'Run to Your Grave'

Nick Burman

 

A.Human. - A Horse With No Name

Having never heard the original it's hard to tell whether this cover was worth it, although if it really was 'America's folk rock breakthrough' then I'm guessing yes. Lead man Dave Human adds warm, lush vocals to what otherwise is a cold, impersonal song. the piano loop is complemented by patchy synths and the chorus will get planted in your head like a horse in quicksand. Track two is an interesting piece of experimentalism. Washing sounds crash over alien effects and schizophrenic lyrics. The problem with this track though, as opposed to 'Horse With No Name' is, there's not much to grasp onto, no soul in this electronic beast even though the lyrics speak out politically and philosophically while the the whole concept could be considered as unnecessary whining. This shouldn't stop you investing in the collectable 10" as it's a curious couple of tracks to listen to. 

Nick Burman

 
 

Unusual & Electric - Under The Skin

Throwing up visions of warehouse parties from the mid nineties U&E mix heavy bass with acid synths on opening track 'Mad Dogs'. Broad, big band horns fight for room alongside dirty techno drum beats. 'Deep Pitch' is a shoe gazing moment from the London duo, combining a heavy piano sample with 'shroom induced melodies sprouting around echoed vocals. This being a five minute song on a two track single, it seems too much like wasted space and self indulgence. If 'Deep Pitch' was shorter, or planted on an album it would certainly shuffle towards the genius mark. At least with track one you get your moneys worth. Turn U&E up loud, open your front door and you too could recreate those warehouse parties in your own front room.

Nick Burman

 
 

Kings Have Long Arms – “Big Umbrella” (Domino) 

Given Rihanna’s recent marathon spell at the top of the charts, are we now to be deluged by umbrellas? Well, it took me three listens to be sure that there wasn’t anything more to this extremely bland bit of fluff than I first thought. Apparently, its creator’s music has been “subverting the dancefloors of all the coolest parties”, but how you would even begin dancing to this is a mystery. Like a Lemon Jelly track with all the flavour sucked out.
www.myspace.com/kingshavelongarms

Will Columbine

 
 

The Kills - URA Fever (Domino)

Beginning and ending with a dial tone, The Kills slither back into the limelight with this two minute effort. It’s a bit glam. It’s a bit industrial. It’s a bit underwhelming, to be honest. The chorus goes “You are a fever/you are a fever/and you ain’t born typical”, that much I remember, otherwise it’s nothing to get worked up about. A band that puts image over substance, by the sound of things.
www.thekills.tv

Will Columbine

 
 

Stars – The Night Starts Here 

You don’t have to have a fringe, a Misfits t-shirt and eyeliner to have lyrics evoking longing and how love, or desire for it, can hurt. The bass on this song is tremendously deep. The dual man/woman vocals are lovely. Stars are great, this is great. A lovely song that will either make you hold the person you love closer or make you sigh wistful smiles about people you’ve loved. You may or may not know, but I’m well down with that kind of thing.

Christopher Carney

 
 

Filo & Peri feat. Eric Lumiere - Anthem (Positiva)

The press release could not have put it better: "While its unashamedly uplifting melodies won't please the chin-stroking sensibilities of some of the old folks found in dance music's playground, it's the one that's doing it for the kids." A bit like happy slapping, turkey twizzlers and teenage pregnancy then. I like dance music, even if I don't get to hang out in its playground very often. Maybe my elderly ears have lost their keen sense of high frequencies after too many Who concerts in the 70s. Or maybe 'Anthem' is just rotten generic club dance to fill compilation albums and dance floors of alco-pop swigging 'kids'.
www.positiva.com

SB

 
 

The Chiara L's - Knives/Kate's Kids (This is Fake DIY)

It doesn't matter if you are a self confessed pop bitch, if you've got a bass line to die for and some seriously serrated guitar chopping around you'll probably do OK. Knives is a real beauty - short, snappy and perfectly formed.

Kate's Kids has a slightly more 'sophisticated' feel about it with watery guitars and a lot of claustrophobic high hat action but once again when the guitars crash in they work perfectly against Chiara's deadpan vocals. Enviably good.
www.thechiarals.co.uk

SB

 
 

Mark Timothy - Falling (promo)

Despite its sickly sweet ready for TV slickness there is an undeniable quality to this set of three songs by Mark Timothy. There's at least a dozen well used song writing tricks of trade used which make this a very listenable if not that original. Good sales rep driving music though.

SB