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singles/eps - april 2008

  1. A Silent Film
  2. A.Human
  3. Alex Cornish
  4. Amy Studt
  5. asbos
  6. Athena
  7. The Beat Maras
  8. Billy Bragg
  9. The Black Keys
  10. Blood Red Shoes
  11. Bullet For My Valentine
  12. Cantaloop
  13. Captain
  14. Chris Townsend
  15. Clinic
  16. The Corrections
  17. The Count and Sinden
  18. The Death Set
  19. Domino State
  20. Efterklang
  21. Elle Milano
  22. Felix Da Housecat
  23. First of the Giants
  24. Four Tet
  25. Fragma
  26. The Hand Shake Affair
  27. Heart Strings
  28. Heath Street
  29. Hoover Manoeuvres
  30. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
  31. Isosceles
  32. Ivor Game
  33. Ivy’s Itch
  1. Karim Fanous
  2. Kris Morris
  3. The Last Shadow Puppets
  4. Lazenby
  5. Like A Thief
  6. Make Model
  7. The Metros
  8. Million Pound Giveaway
  9. Morning Sparks
  10. Murray James
  11. New Adventures
  12. The Novellos
  13. Pendulum
  14. Phil Harding
  15. Pop Levi
  16. Post War Years
  17. Raphaels
  18. Reel People feat. Darren
  19. Róisín Murphy
  20. Rotary Ten / Colour
  21. Royal Treatment Plant
  22. Sea Wolf
  23. Severe Zero
  24. Shout Out Louds
  25. The Sonic Hearts
  26. The Thin Men
  27. The Title
  28. The Triffids
  29. Turbowolf
  30. Ungdomskulen
  31. White Williams
  32. The Wombats


Severe Zero – Weapons Grade 

I really, really, really wanted to hate Severe Zero. The piss poor cover art made me cringe at first sight and the local teenage emo band sounding name, were an immediate turn off and led to a delay in review on my part.  

But a magic thing happened. I felt obliged to listen and review…and my god, it was brilliant! Beneath the superficial, up my own arse first impression I had, I  was blitzed with catchy, snappy riffs, gutsy vocals and a real sense of musical articulation amongst the three members that makes this supremely enjoyable.  

To be blunt I rate Severe Zero. 

On later listens after the shock I could notice them as being akin to The Fall of Troy at points, except slightly less manic and more controlled. Aside from this comparison they are refreshing and, dare I say it, in inverted commas “original” (it’s nearly all been done before these days). Every key and tempo change seems to have been well thought over and benefit the song, giving it direction, urgency and purpose which if they maintain could make them a phenomenal live act. Severe Zero, you surprised me and endeared me and for that I thank you.

Christopher Sharpe


Alex Cornish - Untied  (Bellvue Records) 

So we’re almost in springtime and the country’s being sandblasted by gales and submerged in rain, the government’s robbing us blind like a bunch of outlaws in bandit country and Amy Winehouse still insists on wearing headscarves that wouldn’t be seen dead on Hilda Ogden. Reasons to be cheerful? We’ll need more than Wee Willie Harris to get us out of this one, Baldrick.

Luckily, Alex Cornish has another release off his superb debut LP to see us through difficult times, and while ‘Untied’ isn’t all suncream and sandcastles, it’s still one of those records that make you thankful the power of hearing wasn’t denied us humans. It’s spacious, the insistent strings are melt-in-the-mouth and Alex’s plaintive vocals conjure up images of windswept coasts and opportunities missed. It’s a soundtrack in miniature, and if this boy hasn’t won a BRIT by this time next year then a fatwa needs to be called on Simon Cowell et al.

I cannot overstate the majesty of the album ‘Untied’ originated from. The song itself stands up out of context, but why deny yourself a sonic shiatsu for the sake of your wallet? Download this, then the album, then spread the word. Beg, steal or borrow a computer (for a few minutes, naturally) to get your hands on this. 

Chris Stanley


Morning Sparks - Look! 

The exclamation mark has a distinguished history in the pop charts, from The Beatles to The Jam, and er…there’s probably more examples that make a mockery of the point, but what I’m trying to get at is that it denotes a kind of insistence about a record that puts you on an adrenalin-fuelled footing immediately. Morning Sparks have used it for this release, and it fits like a lid on a matching pot.

‘Look!’, the first tune, has a flurry about it that almost tips itself over in a rush to finish, and while the lyrics aren’t brilliant, Chris Russell’s yelping vocals make it a short, sodium-exploding trip reminiscent of the burning fuse from the credits of Mission: Impossible.

 While sustaining that energy is always difficult, Morning Sparks give it their best, and while remaining tracks ‘Green Bottle Liquor’ and ‘Conway (Your Time Is Up)’ don’t have the same urgency or novelty of the title track, Morning Sparks live up to their name as punky, twitching lunatics. We’re not quite in Ramones territory for paucity of vinyl used, but it’s getting there. 

Chris Stanley


Turbowolf - Bite Me Like A Dog / Power 

Following last July’s Avec Avec EP Turbowolf this 5 piece, formed at a Bristol swingers club, is now releasing this, their debut A-Side Single.  

Turbowolf come across not dissimilar to a punk who has been knocked round the head one too many times, locked in a dark cupboard, with only a synthesiser and an iPod full of eighty’s Black Metal and super catchy discotheque, before finally being released directly into an 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster gig. So essentially, totally and utterly loony bin mental. 

Yet Turbowolf arouse such unadulterated joy that you fidget in your seat and praise the lord you have ear drums. On Bite Me Like A Dog the spastic keyboards, unhinged bass and liberally sprinkled vocoder strike you in the face with a definite show of intent...Turbowolf don’t want to be the band that you hear every week at your local venue. They want to be a band that grabs you by your head and shouts in your face, jumping off their equipment and generally melting your face off like a deranged toaster. 

Then second song Power comes at you a completely different way initially. There is a definite groove on this one right herre and the rhythmic tribal drums that crawl along the introduction almost sounds like a different band, the craziness kept under control. That it is until the soaring, riff laden chorus and the chants of P.p.p.p.power crushing all hours come barging into the song like a crowd of elephants, and then it all suddenly stops. Perfect! So overall very, very different and oh so very essential, the future is indeed bright. The future is Turbowolf.

Chris Sharpe 


The Count and Sinden – Beeper (Domino) 

Ok… The first five seconds into this track and I’m already irritated. I’m sure that in a club, the atmosphere would pleasantly accept this party tune with ease, but listening to the actual track without the atmosphere…and it’s not great. Even in a club, the incessant “hit me on my beeper, beeper, beeper, beeper” could possibly send people home cowering to their beds. The only interesting factor to “Beeper” is the vocals by Kid Sister, yet even this is strained. I can fully accept that Sinden build a reputation on remixing the likes of Basement Jaxx and Mark Ronson, but this isn’t a stunner. It’s barely even good.
Watch the video to 'Beeper'



Reel People feat. Darren - Alibi (Dennis Ferrer remixes) 

I am critical of this until the edgy bass comes in, mixing the broken beat rhythms into the house/jazz/funk style that this entails. However, the jerky rhythms are all good as an alternative to usual beats, but this is quite boring to be honest. After a while, the initial enticement of “cutting edge” wanes, and you want the good old beats back. Although, if it has the support of Pete Tong, he must be doing something right? 



Felix Da Housecat - “Radio” (Different / Wall Of Sound) 

To be honest, this is quite boring. Forget quite, this is the dullest three minute “synth-soul reverie” that you will ever hear. With the repetition of the adequately named “radio, radio, radio, radio”, you will be praying that the radio will self-combust if this comes on – likely to come on in the middle of the night at a time when interesting people will be asleep. The remixes are at least more interesting, with some whining “tech-punk” weirdness as Infadels step in, and the techno-pop is less than mediocre, but to be honest – when trying to remix something that isn’t really there, it’s hard to sound good. 
Watch video to 'Radio'



Domino State - What’s The Question (Club AC30 Records) 

British music is replete with bands that come out with one storming single or album, and then fail to build on their early promise. They stand there, spellbound in the red lights of their contemporaries as they speed off towards chart success and critical acclaim. Sometimes it’s justified, and at other times you’re left scratching your head as if the world’s took a collective course of shock therapy and you were out taking a slash.

The Domino State don’t need to worry about this, although I was concerned that following up debut single ‘Iron Mask’ with anything half as decent would be as easy as a one-legged squirrel trying to balance its nuts on a washing line. However, in time honoured fashion, they’ve done it again, and ‘What’s The Question’ is a stormer, albeit in a different vein to their first efforts.

Musically replete with the same soundscapes and span as Echo and the Bunnymen, ‘What’s The Question’ shows that The Domino State will have no problem scaling the heights of big arenas when they get the chance, and if there is any justice it’ll be them staging impromptu concerts on the roofs of downtown LA rather than a bunch of whinging old rockers on their ninety-seventh album.

The music itself is like the aforementioned Bunnymen staging a fist-fight with a drunken Ian Curtis, and how we need out icons these days. Thing is, unlike their sonic bedmates, The Domino State need huge vistas like the rest of us need oxygen, and unless they do something moronic like cover something written by Pete Waterman as a major label debut, the world is theirs, and everything in it. 

Chris Stanley


Heart Strings - Jose Fernandez  

Life’s losers don’t make great chart material, although Paul Heaton from The Beautiful South made an entire career out of them and there was always something suspicious about Benny Hill’s Ernie. But regrettably, Guns ’N’ Roses sold sixteen million albums off the back of a nasty attitude and that’s not really going to change anytime soon.

The titular Fernandez is an apparently true tale of a one time trapeze artist who got a bit too big for his poncy silk pumps (true in the Coen Brothers sense of the word, probably) and came a cropper in the most obvious ways. However, much as you’d expect this offering to be full of jaunty circus organ and elephant-trumpet samples, it’s an understated bit of choral whimsy and birds-nest brittle charm. B-side ‘I Hope It Doesn’t Come My Way’ is cut from the same sheet of crepe paper and what we’re left with is about five minutes of heart-breaking loveliness.

The Heart Strings may not have the public persona or the everyman touch that would see them touch the heights like their character does, but they’ll get inside the weft of your brain stems like a delicate spring plug-in from a huge multinational pharmaceutical company. A gleaming sapphire in a bowl full of hoary old chestnuts. 

Chris Stanley


The Death Set – Around the World EP

Blasting out of Brooklyn like a Mario rocket is shifted up their backsides The Death Set release this odd stop gap before their full album release. If you’re not into wasting your money, or to put it nicely, don’t have money to spend on oddities and rarities then you should stay clear. The full album is an interesting mix of well, everything including the spew filled kitchen sink while being a hefty enough piece of work worth your attention.  This EP really offers nothing new to the mix - ‘Etan’s Positive Outlook’ remix of album track ’Impossible’ isn’t a track to be sought after, collector or no. It just turns the song completely unlistenable, while also extending into the five minute mark which The Death Set really don’t comply with.  Bond De Role have the right idea, punk noise has been translated into a bongo lead techno stomper. It’d be helpful if the original was either on the album or on this EP but it’s a nice surprise for such a messy release. I guess this is exactly how you want The Death Set to present themselves.

Nick Burman


Blood Red Shoes – Say Something, Say Anything

Slipping into the same radar as The Subways’ niche of emotional pop, mixed with big riffs and coincidentally female backing ‘SS,SA’ is a fast paced, no holds barred kick in the auditory nuts. A party track sense seeps through for some unknown reason but if they get where they deserve to be on the basis of this talent ‘SS,SA’ will be a staple playlist track for students for the summer months to come. A bit like ‘Oh Yeah’ – and who did that again?   

Nick Burman


Make Model - ‘The LSB’ (EMI Records)

Make Model are a six member strong force that over the last few months have been mastering their combined talents in order to bring us their first proper single ‘The LSB’. Originally released as a ltd 7” last summer, this time round the song has been mixed by NYC producer Rich Costey (Bloc Party, Muse, Rage Against The Machine). The result is a hub of infectious choruses with a chant-heavy slant that is sure to initiate audience participation of all kinds, especially during festival season.

Throughout ‘The LSB’ I would say that there are splashes of Flaming Lips-like flamboyance and a certain Arcade Fire type feel to it, however that would just mildly insult the aforementioned bands as Make Model simply aren’t anywhere near as good. Still, the song is largely inoffensive and the bands widespread appeal and heavy touring schedule will mean that in a few months time ‘The LSB’ will no doubt be played right at the beginning of Hollyoaks. In fact the strange and recent rise of Heroin use amongst the Hollyoaks teens will mean that ‘The LSB’ will tie in nicely here, as the song clearly highlights the brown streak running down the spine of the ASBO generation,  fitting.
Watch video to 'The LSB'

By Amie Kimpton


The Wombats - ‘Backfire at the Disco’ (14th Floor Records)

Is ANOTHER re-release from The Wombats really what we need right now? It’s not like ‘Backfire at the Disco’  went  unnoticed the first time round, in fact I would go as far as to say that it was actually quite a popular track when it was first released back in April 2007.  Anywhoo, being everyone’s favourite marsupials The Wombats just about manage to get away with it, but anymore of this non-sense and they’ll be doing a Kooks; over played and slightly annoying.

So for those of you that didn’t already know (!!) ‘Backfire at the Disco’ is an ill-fated romantic tale of a date that goes wrong at – you guessed it – the disco. Complete with ‘woo-hoo’ harmony backing vocals and a chorus that buries itself between your toes initiating a foot-tapping of the greatest kind, The Wombats really do have a chirpy knack of constructing witty, radio-friendly songs without them feeling too insipid.

However the best part of this re-release is the South Central and KGB remixes, which give ‘Backfire at the Disco’ a complete and well deserved fuzz makeover.  A further treat is the live version of the track featuring the legendary Peter Hook on Bass. For these reasons alone maybe ‘Backfire at the Disco’ did deserve a re-release, I take it all back.

By Amie Kimpton


Clinic – The Witch (Domino) 

Sounding like a wilfully slack interpretation of something by the Doors, only a cod-britpop floppy ending and the vocals give away the fact that this isn’t bona-fide 1960s Americana.  

The vocals also set the song apart, with the delivery reminiscent of a laconic Tim Burgess one minute and Roky Erickson’s spaced out drawl the next. They complement the title track’s fuzzy, shuffling blues perfectly. 

It’s off into slightly more ambient textures for second track Earl Mallard which fuses Beta Band Esque quirky arrangements and distorted vocals hidden somewhere amidst the reverb.

Reverting back to the authentic replication of late 60’s psychedelica, third offering Hijack adds tablas and harmonica into the mixture and sprawls languidly into a slow building LSD soaked epic. Clinic are obviously happier when they are free of the shackles of recording a four-minute single, but all of the offerings promise some interesting sounds and ideas from their forthcoming fifth album.
Watch the video to 'Witch'

Ian Anderson


Billy Bragg – I Keep Faith (Cooking Vinyl) 

B-side Like Soldiers Do is one of those songs that makes you wonder why we bother listening to bands, when all we really need is a guitar and something to sing about. A-side I Keep Faith is one of those songs by a solo artist which makes you wonder why they bother hiring and arranging a whole band when all it does is detract from their bristling honesty.

Bragg has always had the ability to construct a heartfelt and touching song in a way that connects, on a primal level, and here on Like Soldiers Do, he speaks in rich descriptive tones, drawing you in and painting a black canvas. It’s a captivating song. I Keep Faith pales in comparison unfortunately, sounding slightly constrained by the addition of keys, backing vocals and drums. Bragg sounds brighter and certainly more radio friendly, but the lilting piano and swooping chorus just doesn’t suit him quite as well as the brooding melancholy.
Watch the video to 'I Keep Faith'

Ian Anderson


Captain – Keep An Open Mind (Universal) 

Firmly hitched to the back of the Scouting-For-Panate bandwagon, Captain might well sell this single by the bucket load. With their vocalist spouting lyrical nonsense about ‘sifting the iron from his blood and fashioning it into a small nail’ its hard to keep the aforementioned open mind as what unfolds sounds like the kind of knocked up in ten minutes Brit School pop that has been littering the upper echelons of the charts for the last couple of years. 

But, if you do as they ask and try to be objective, it’s obvious that the song is pinned down by quite a catchy surf-pop riff and that the chorus is similarly annoying / memorable. So the single will definitely have mass appeal to radio producers all over the land. 

Of course, there’s no depth here, but I don’t think that was the point really.
Watch video to 'Keep an Open Mind'

Ian Anderson


The Triffids - Old Ghostrider (Domino)

Quite what the significance of The Triffids in the contemporary music scene is remains debatable. But Domino are certainly committed to them, re-releasing the whole back catalogue. 'Old Ghostrider' has a distinctly Australian sound to it (although it's tough to pinpoint exactly what that is) but remains pretty run of the mill. The words 'flogging' 'dead and 'horse' come to mind.



Róisín Murphy - You Know Me Better (EMI)

Apart from taxing my typing powers with her complex name-spelling (which may or may not display correctly on your screen anyway) it's hard for me to see what else this single has to offer. Sounds like a Madonna single if Stick , Aitken and Waterman had been the producers.



Amy Studt - Chasing the Light (19 Recordings)

A meandering and aimless verse suddenly gives way to an 'epic' chorus a la Avril Lavigne or Alanis Morrissette. The shock was so great that it nearly convinced me to like this single but the general banality of the verse and the over production of the track mean that it is unfortunately time to hit the skip button...



Raphaels - Charming Man (Sons)

There's a distinct 60's vibe about Raphaels which is probably what gives rise to them being compared to the likes of the Kinks. Some would say it is the attention to vocal harmonies but to me it is the lo-fi scratchiness of the guitar sound that dominates and this is accompanied by a reedy vocal that I'm afraid is just not my cup of tea. But I am pretty sure it would be a big hit with my mate Dave who drives around on a scooter.



Fragma - Toca's Miracle (Positiva)

Erm, why? Everyone has heard the original and seen that video of the girls playing 5 a side footy. There maybe some remixes here but essentially it just strikes me as being a bit greedy. On the other hand if you are getting nostalgic about that holiday to Magaluf in 2000 then why not? Go on, erm, big it up, and all that (as the kids say).



Karim Fanous - Sometimes (KNN)

Surprisingly I'm beginning to warm to Karim Fanous and his complete and utter unbending refusal to sound contemporary. This sounds like a slightly depressed Neil Sedaka maudlin on gin. It is nothing if not unnervingly comforting.



Phil Harding - Flawless Land (Shellshock)

A short lesson for you. As a sound engineer and mixer, Phil Harding's career is littered with names that sound like a who's who of influential and undeniably cool artists: Jackson Five, Clash, Depeche Mode, Killing Joke etc. There's also a worrying number of slightly dubious credits: Roxette, Rick Astley and T'Pau? Oh dear.

Fast forward to 2008 and Harding looks like a cross between Vic Reeves and Alan Bennett ( a striking image I am sure will agree). He's also nicked ace arrows player Phil Taylor's nickname for his MySpace page (Phil 'The Power' Harding? the cad!) But with all these influences it is disappointing that 'Flawless Lands' sounds like nothing more than the Levellers busking at a rather polite tea party. Lets hope there is some work on his album 'The Story of Beginners' that takes on a few more of the influences he has worked with in the past. Well, maybe not T'Pau.



The Title - Madman (Sons)

It's either very reassuring or very worrying when you realise your first thoughts about a CD are exactly what is written on their press release. And so it is with The Title, who truly do sound like an amalgam of the bagginess of The Stone Roses and the psychedelic rock of Jefferson Airplane. 'Madman' is sounding pretty good to me though (and I am beginning to get a feel for a Sons Records house style here) the guitars sound very disembodied from the rest of the mix - like they are being played through a vintage valve amp in a back room somewhere while the rest of the band are recording in a state of the art recording studio. But that's a matter of personal taste. What remains is the fact that The Title seem to ooze musical charisma through this track and that is only a good thing.



Chris Townsend - Back Again / Copenhagen

Words in a press release guaranteed to send a shiver down my spine: 'catchy melodies', 'heartfelt lyrics', 'driving pianos'. I've inputted this data into my clicheometer and the readout is...Keane. Chris seems like a thoroughly pleasant chap and is a proficient musician but in a world awash with these kind of singer songwriters, 'Back Again' is most forgettable.



Elle Milano - Meanwhile in Hollywood (Brighton Electric)

This is a staggeringly good effort y Brighton 3-piece Elle Milano. It's weird how many 3-pieces seem to be able to cram far more imagination into their music than much larger bands, maybe it's because each individual is closer to the collective creative process. 'Meanwhile in Hollywood' achieves the rare trick of being punchy and quirky yet sweeps gracefully through its 3 minutes. The only thing that lets it down is the fade outro - but a small price to pay on an otherwise fine single.



Heath Street – Heath Street (Tinderbox)

Dominated by intricate folk-pop creations, Heath Street's sound draws equally from the stateside country-rock scene (Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams) and the modern Irish folk-pop trend (especially Damien Rice). The result is a mainstream hybrid of intelligent lyrics, arty guitar picking and a warm, rich voice made for Sunday afternoon FM radio.
Fans of modern folk-rock will adore the songwriting craft, the soulful melodies and bright, acoustic fingerpicking here. Upbeat track 'The One Time' is a possible single with its repeating refrain, oh so simple lyrics and a hook that consists of precisely two notes. And I could swear that 'Falling Softly' is a missing gem from Duke Special's last album. The piano is played with feeling, particularly on 'Breeze', which briefly threatens to reach the level of a masterpiece, but fades out just when a great crescendo of an ending seemed imminent. Elsewhere, Karl Huth's touches of fingerstyle guitar are a perfect accompaniment to Scott Fruhan's crystal clear voice.
The album's most vulnerable moments are the result of trying to be different, perhaps just for the sake of it. The fragmented patterns and shifting chords of 'The Snales' are almost as odd as the eccentric family they document, whilst 'Cambridge Song', closely reminiscent of Damien Rice's 'Dogs', is courted by a marimba that knows it is out of place but wants to join in anyhow.
But when the main singer and songwriter on a record is also a sound engineer, a few quirks should be expected. It is to Fruhan's credit that he has allowed for plenty of space and honesty in the simple-but-polished production, letting each song breathe - sometimes with just one instrument accompanying the vocals.
If the chorus melodies were turned up a notch or two, a bright future beyond the New York City coffee-house circuit might be just around the corner.

Chris McCague


Murray James EP 

Nineteen-year-old Murray James has the appeal of a summer evening at the seaside: pleasant but not exciting.  

James provides the kind of music you want to play in your car when the sun has got his hat on: windows down, sunglasses on – got the vibe? With his impressive array of raspy-rich vocal tones and catchy acoustic songs, Murray is set to climb the pop ladder of fame. Singing about urban hardship, standout track, ‘London Girl’ captures adolescent wooing in its essence. It’s soulful, well arranged - with additional female vocals - and will inevitably sit comfortably in the charts.  

Comparisons to James Morrison and Paolo Nutini are almost mandatory (and not only because Nutini shares the same age as Murray) but due to their similar approach to acoustic pop song writing and delivery that, attempts to, draw upon the greats, such as Otis Redding and creates something similar to Ray Lamontagne. I imagine that James will improve with maturity.  

Despite only offering five, very similar, tracks, Murray James proves he can produce feel-good acoustic numbers that the girls are going love: his pop is sunshine personified.  

Jenny Williams


The Hand Shake Affair - Oh, Oh … Get Her In!! 

German band The Hand Shake Affair, on the surface, just seem to be like any other generic screamo band  doing the rounds on the circuit at the moment. With melodic vocals followed by predictable heavy breakdowns there is nothing that really makes this band shout out “Must go see!” One thing The Hand Shake Affair have picked up on, though, is how the introduction of a synth and electronics can add something to the sound. They have almost followed in the footsteps of early Enter Shikari by using electronics in their breakdowns, which is probably the most appealing thing about this E.P. The strongest song on the E.P, ‘Sins and Alibis’, shows why this band do have a good following in Germany. While the first two tracks seem a bit rushed, this track is very well constructed and really highlights the potential The Hand Shake Affair have. The Hand Shake Affair will be one of those bands who are seen supporting every band possible, but unfortunately I cannot see them reaching the big time themselves.

Tim Birkbeck


Ivy’s Itch - Dear Sweet Aveline & Snake Oil  

This young band from Oxford are bringing something very different to alternative music. Their sound is not quite rock, it’s not quite grunge and it’s not quite metal. It’s just very raw and edgy which is something refreshing in a scene which can be full of stereotypes. With very heavy, slow guitar riffs this single is a head banger’s delight. Each riff builds up to a heavy crescendo which is met by the screaming vocals of front woman Eliza Gregory. It is these vocals that give the band their edge as Eliza does something quite unique for the band, her lyrics aren’t quite sung, neither are they screamed. There is a clear punk influence in her voice and this gives what she is saying an almost poetic quality, as if telling a tale through song. This single being released as a taster for their up coming album, Ivy’s Itch are sure to be one of those bands that will be seen on almost every bill as they are sure to gain fans across all genres with their unique sound.   

Tim Birkbeck



The Metros – Education Pt. 2 (1965 Records)

Yet another upbeat indie group of lads, with rave reviews from here there and everywhere. It seems the world can't get enough of groups like this.

As far as début singles go, this is pretty good. It gets you tapping your feet, and nodding your head, and if the sun is shining, no doubt you'll be grinning inanely also. What detracts the Metros from other bands of a similar genre, is the slightly tuneless vocals that call out over the top of music that, quite frankly, you could have heard anywhere before. It's like The Kooks, Milburn, and Larrikin Love have somehow (and don't think too much about the logistics of this statement,) bred to create these guys.

In short, it's nothing ground-breaking or particularly original, but that doesn't stop it being good. Because, in fairness, it is good, so give it a listen and shake your behind madly. Go on. I dare you.
Watch video to 'Education Pt 2'

Thom Curtis


The Corrections - Barcode

I’ve never really appreciated the barcode. 

Did you know that barcodes store information in the widths and spacings of their lines, but also now come in patterns of dots, concentric circles, and text codes hidden within images? More interestingly, it was not until 1966 that barcodes were put to commercial use and they were not commercially successful until the 1980s. The Corrections, disappointingly, fail to incorporate this fascinating info into their song, or indeed, anything else of interest for that matter. 

They compare themselves to Radiohead, which is foolish in comparison to their predictable and, frankly, mundane track. The most positive features are lead singer, Joe Winter’s, vocal prowess, the contagious guitar hook that penetrates the song successfully and the faultless production. I suppose The Corrections are a little like the barcode: interesting when considered perhaps, but all too everyday to be very noticeable.  

Bleep. Next item on the music-industry conveyer belt, please.  

Jenny Williams


Like A Thief - The Hours We kept (Stonetrax)

Take a pinch of Natalie Imbruglia, add a small helping of Regina Spektor and garnish with a smattering of doo-wop. Not quite the antithesis of “facile X-Factor pop” as claimed in the press release but an interesting and refreshing combination of styles and melodies that grabs you when you least expect it.

Mark Whiffin


Million Pound Giveaway – 3 Pints From Happy (Sparkle Promotions) 

This will certainly appeal to some, in much the same way as scratching yourself with a rusty nail or fishing appeal to some. The foul stench of pub rock combined with very average Brit pop can be smelt heavily. ‘Don’t Tell Your Mother (We’ve Gone To Mars)’ sounds promising…. purely for the song title as I’m sure they don’t have recording studios there.

Mark Whiffin


Sea Wolf - Get To The River Before It Runs Too Low 

There is no shortage of bands using ‘wolf’ in their names. However, there is always a shortage of good, honest and talented song-writing. The question is, does Sea Wolf provide it? This indie-folk set up, complete with a mandatory cello playing band member, is overly cool, low key and sophisticated. The real success of this EP is certainly Alex Brown Church’s song writing. 

As former bassist and founding member of Irving, Church’s songs hail gypsy women, explore masculinity and grieve lost loves. As Church weaves his vocals among the guitar strings, it’s haunting; it has an ethereal quality that creates a hazy aura of acoustic bliss. The most moving track ‘I Made A Resolution’ tells a story. Reassuringly traditional in this story telling and understated in its musical talents, Sea Wolf has proved in five tracks that they are worthy musicians.  

The tone and intonation is reminiscent of Bright Eyes (minus Conor Oberst’s more passionate and explosive vocal performances). Apart from being a little confused by the title of track 4 ‘Ses Monuments’ and trying to decide whether it was a typo or intended, Sea Wolf are too non-descript. Despite Sea Wolf claiming to explore distant places and geographical locations in a nomadic fashion in the form of song-writing, I can’t help thinking that the sameness of the songs kills the illusion to reveal that Sea Wolf were, disappointingly, at home wearing cardigans, eating organic vegetables and writing nostalgic songs that fail to stir any excitement.

Jenny Williams


Isosceles – Kitch Bitch/ Watertight (Art Goes Pop)

This is Isosceles’ second single to be released on the Art Goes Pop label and the band are certainly starting to create a stir around their music, which is undeniably catchy pop rock. This definition may send a shiver up your spine but Isosceles have supplied us with yet another dose of their clever, clear and danceable indie rock. It’s hard to imagine a static dance floor when this song comes on, it could easily get in your veins. Listening to the music I can also hear a taste of the Young Knives in the playfulness and certainty of the music, the songs are clear and enjoyable, and it is a well recorded, well performed single, live I hope they continue with this clarity of sounds

Gareth Ludkin


The Beat Maras - ‘The Huaraz EP’ (Jezus Factory)

This is music which claims to appeal to ‘down to earth brickies’ and the ‘up in the air hippies’ and there is definitely an element of both in this four track EP. From the laid back ‘Huaraz song’ and the classic pub rock of ‘The Beauty and The Horror’ this album explores – and delivers - a lot. It is a very listenable EP and a perfect debut release from the Beat Maras. ‘Getaway Car’ is the best track on the EP, loud and proud and with loads of bottle, you can sense the influences from all corners but it is clear that these down to earth boys have forged their own direction and made their own music which encompasses all they want to hear in a record, it is well performed and recorded and a very enjoyable listen. Definitely worth a gander. Check out myspace of course to experience more of the Beat Maras

Gareth Ludkin


The Sonic Hearts - To Be Someone

For The Sonic Hearts, sounding like a smiling version of Air Traffic is NO BIG PROBLEM. What is a BIG PROBLEM? Well, this Liverpudlian quintet has toured with Scouting For Girls, and their album's producer worked with the Stereophonics. There's NO PROBLEM with being pop, or well-rehearsed, or simplistic. But there's a BIG PROBLEM when you tick all those boxes and turn out like the Sunday afternoon version of... Scouting For Girls. "Lads", this is so inoffensive I'm getting pissed off.

Phil Coales


Royal Treatment Plant - Get Played

B-side "Hearts and Minds" is a bit confusing (who are Royal Treatment Plant aiming to be? who are they trying to fool?) and "Get Played" itself doesn't live up so much to the image of Royal Treatment Plant's Princess P being a rock'n'roll star who broke out of Papua New Guinea and the church into a world of excess. Shame, then - I was all ready to hate this record and to pick out all the Kerrang!-luring flaws, but there's a little bit of carelessness about this recording that is reminiscent of "Party Hard" or "Pretty Like Drugs". "Get Played" can blow you away if you sit down and turn the fan on full blast. I don't think it can do it by itself, though.

Phil Coales


New Adventures - How I Got My Devil Back [Part 1] (Faded Grandeur)

New Adventures but same old story (see what I did there?). Epic emotional soft rock is the name of the game here and New Adventures eat up the seconds of my life and yours by indulging in what is basically a 2 minute into. I say basically as it is not that obvious when the song gets going in earnest anyway. Sadly the well produced track and earnest vocals fail to deliver anything of any lasting interest until about 4 minutes in when it sounds like someone is actually playing an instrument like they mean it rather than just going through the motions. A little self indulgent and a little dull.



Cantaloop - In the Frame (2f Music)

A bit of a musical hybrid with hip hip meeting soul meeting a few jazz chords. Being able to name check Fun Lovin Criminals among your fan base will not hurt and this will act as a guide to the type of sound Cantaloop pedal. For further info, the vocalist Danny Dee sounds like an upbeat Seal. It's alright I suppose but a bit too loungey to get me playing it more than a couple of times.



Bullet For My Valentine - Hearts Burst Into Fire (Columbia)

So like, okayyy. Has no-one else noticed that BFMV sound a little bit, you know, cheesey? 'Hearts Burst Into Fire' is very heavily Maiden influenced but at the same time has plenty of the high pitched trills enjoyed by Van Halen. Both of which contribute to the nouvo-rock cheese in my book. I could imagine this track being popular with the US audience but as far as I am concerned it just seems like a lot of aural rock posturing that has been done to death (and better) a thousand times before.

There's also an acoustic version, presumably to show the band's musicianship. It's a bit poor really - if you want to hear a guitar band really showing their worth acoustically then check out You Slut!'s acoustic Kerrang sessions - they knock the spots of this offering.
watch the video for 'Hearts Burst Into Fire'



The Thin Men s/t EP (Glow B Recordings)

New Zealand based songwriter Blair Jolland left his hometown to busk his way to recognition via the USA. Having played a gig that others only dream about at the legendary CBGB’s he then went on to record an array of demos. His travels then brought him to London whereby soon after he put together The Thin Men and the band embarked on UK, European and New Zealand tours. Now currently inhabiting London’s Brick Lane TTM bring forth their new EP which sees a fresh collection of demos that are reminiscent of mid-career Bowie.

Lyrically the songs rely on simplicity to achieve a classic feel. As Jollands crisp and confident voice takes a front seat in the driving force of each song the music behind it acts as a fundamental element to which big choruses and keen tempo changes work well in order to keep the listener alert at all times. ‘Dream Of You’ and ‘Walking Blues’ are the stand out tracks that both musically and lyrically impress, and with a fanbase ranging from Boy George through to the late Jonny Cash it’s no wonder you can’t help but  find yourself intrigued. 

By Amie Kimpton


Hoover Manoeuvres – Meds 

In complete contrast, Hoover Manoeuvres is one of those awful dance groups with a female singer. Drum loops and clichéd lyrics a go-go, I suspect no real instruments were involved in the making of this music. 

Perhaps after 72 drinks and a lot of persuasion you might briefly shake your tail feathers to this, but sitting down to listen to it is a challenge too far. 

 Formulaic, predictable, the best thing for this collective to do would be sell their name to Dyson as a trade mark.

Catriona Boyle


Pendulum - Propane Nightmares (Warner / Breakbeat Kaos) 

This isn’t Pendulum, is it? It’s all very well for a band to incorporate new genres into their music and develop their sound after an album like Hold Your Colour, but really… I thought that it couldn’t get any better from Pendulum, and I was right.  

Propane Nightmares, as indicated by the title, isn’t a glorified chemically dirty bass-heavy and metallic sounding Pendulum hit, but it no longer can be called drum and bass, nor can it really be called anything else. The introduction of Spanish trumpeting and springy happy-go-lucky bass, the synth-powered vocals and the lack in build up to this monstrosity left me reeling. What happened to the creepy use of Willy Wonka and his hallucinogenic chocolate in Through the Loop? What happened to the build up of smooth basslines and punching beats in Painkiller and Still Grey? It’s all gone, and it’s been replaced with radio-friendly, non aggressive, generic pop music. The drum and bass beat is still there, but only just. The live drums don’t use double bass pedal to recreate the breaks or build up, the usual anticipation towards the climax of the track is lost- never to be found, apparently. The sound lacks any integrity, any sinister interest, and meaning or purpose. It isn’t worth listening to. It doesn’t make you want to get up like the past Pendulum did. Although I can greatly appreciate the difference between established drum and bass and Pendulum, the impact of Vault and Hold Your Colour has gone – the “radio edit” on the back of the single cover says it all. I hate to say it, but this is such as let down from the band I expected so much from. Awful. 
Watch video to 'Propane Nightmares'



Pop Levi - Never Never Love (Counter)

By crikey this is annoying. If by chance you mislaid the song title in your rush to get the CD unpacked on the way back from HMV there is little worry about working out that it is 'Never Never Love' because it is repeated about 13,000 times during 3 minutes of squelchy toms and synthetic guitar sounds. Should be destined to a ringtone.



The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of Understatement (Domino)

It must be great beg very famous. When you've 'made it' like Alex Turner of Arctic Monkey fame, it's perfectly acceptable to go ahead and do an offshoot project like this with your good mate Miles Kane (of Rascals fame) and have a jolly good time. It's even got me going along with it - although it's a bit of a cheeky slant on Ennio Morricone it still sounds refreshingly different compared with 20 other singles in the Tasty mailbag today. Not sure whether the Turner-Kane bonhomie could carry a full album but I await to see how they can prove me wrong.
Watch video to 'The Age of Understatement'



White Williams - New Violence (Domino)

Must be Domino half hour. Still it's always interesting to see what this label has got to offer - almost always good and even when not good it is definitely interestingly bad. Which leads us quite nicely onto White Williams. Hmm, true, the lo-fi casiocore mated with a scuzzy guitar sounds is quite interesting parts here and there, overall this can't make up for the lack of a decent tune. Less style more substance needed.



Xtra Mile Split: Rotary Ten - Time is Not a Line and I am Not a Rock / Colour - Chutes (Xtra Mile)

Full kudos to managing to get growing up in a Lincolnshire village into a press release Rotary Ten! And it's not only our common background that appeals to me. Although it starts of like many a formulaic indie guitar band there are so many different strands to 'Time is Not a Line...'. Very Idlewild, a little Forward Russia, a little Smiths and then we hit the shoegaze pedal! This could be a bit dizzying in the wrong hands but Rotary Ten handle it all impeccably.

Flipsiders Colour start off a little more downbeat and morose before breaking into a mathy little riffathon. It's all a bit jumpy for me, packed with drum fills and earnest lyrics but definitely one for the skinny jean gang.



Ivor Game - From A Plane

It never ceases to amaze me why people use bad photos of themselves on their cover art. here we have singer songwriter Ivor Game resplendent doing his Jimi Page impression (well, Jimi Page with a slightly wonky mouth). Which is a shame because from the press release it is clear that Ivor is a handsome devil and the packshot was just bad luck. What's that? The music you ask? Oh yes...

Well although it is not totally inspiring it's got a heartfelt warmth and honesty about it that I have unexpectedly taken to. 'From a plane...' tum te tum...a bit like being asked to go to to the pub with Ralph McTell - you wouldn't tell your mates but you'd secretly be quite chuffed.



Kris Morris - Someone Sometimes

Truly disappointing. Another day, another moderately god singer songwriter. Admittedly it's not my favourite type of music anyway but this is doing little to convince me otherwise. A load of lyrics borrowed (stolen) from other sources, a plodding harmony and Morris howling 'we all need somebody sometime' endlessly. Not great.



Shout Out Louds - Tonight I Have To Leave (Weekender)

Ah, this is more like it. Well it's more like something. Yes! that's it! It sounds a bit like a big beat version of the Cure's In Between Days and it's complete with Robert Smith-alike vocals courtesy of vocal impressionist extraordinaire Adam Olenius. But it's still tubs of fun - just the masses of percussion alone are worth a purchase - that must be a 25 piece drum kit at least. And there's an unlikely but very catchy little remix by Kleerup too. What's not to like?



Efterklang - Caravan (The Leaf Label) 

Some brand names have to be changed in order to sell them abroad. For this reason, Jif became Cif, Marathon became Snickers and Opal Fruits were lost to Starburst.  

You can’t help thinking that if Efterklang had a more, well, English name, they would be far more successful in the UK and USA. 

After all, they’ve been releasing fantastic music for the last half decade. This EP is no exception. Imagine Sufjan Stevens playing XTC covers on the Arcade Fire’s church organ. This is music on a huge scale. If Lord of the Rings were being made now, Efterklang would surely be first choice to score the films.  

The five band members somehow make the noise of at least twice that number with brass, guitar, strings, piano, drums and walls of vocals that batter your senses like gusting wind. 

If Bjork could remember how to write tunes, Pink Floyd hadn’t descended into legal quagmire or the Beach Boys had survived the Seventies, this is perhaps how they might sound. 

Lead track Caravan can only be described as epic. It’s like a firework display going off in your ears. But this is the strangest firework display you’ve ever seen. You’re not quite sure where to look; where the next explosion is coming from. B-side The Romance On Mammoth Hill begins as an altogether gentler affair, but builds gracefully to a torrent. It’s the sound of Vikings sailing home after battle. 

Also included in the digital download will be London composer Max de Wardener’s remix of Caravan, and Vincent Oliver’s remix of Mirador (from last year’s album Parades). 

Efterklang are like a musical onion, their layers waiting to be revealed. If you like your music complex, spectacular and a little bit magical, check them out.

Chris Moffat


Post War Years - Black Morning (Chess Club)

Post War Years are a curious proposition. Darlings of NME and the angular haircut scene that encapsulates Crystal Castles and Late of the Pier, you might expect stripped back electro dance with a hint of menace; the kind of thing you’d hear in one of the club scenes in Skins. But the overriding sound is the genre that dare not speak its name among many music fans – Prog Rock. 

If you took Yes, put Rick Wakeman in a hoodie and gave him noughties Korgs instead of Seventies Moogs, then this would more than likely be the result. Beats stop and start, laughing in the face of time signature, while the ride cymbal caresses the top end and covers the gaps. Guitars are stabbed and prodded; vocals are whispered and layered on and around the music, much in the style of early Peter Gabriel. 

And those lyrics are even used in the same way as those prog pioneers. It’s more about the sound of the words than what the words are saying themselves. Witness “Don’t cross the black morning, don’t close your eyes”. Never was a more prog line spoken! 

Second track You and Me Both feels like investigating the deep sea in a submersible. Strange creatures flash past, weird noises echo around the capsule, and there’s definitely the sound of bubbles in there somewhere… 

Latin Holiday is in some ways even more challenging than the title track. The vocals have an air of Bloc Party about them, albeit with backing music from Tortoise.  

Each song has at least three or four different sections. You need to listen to this music several times to get a handle on what on earth’s going on. In the vein of mid-period Bowie, Talking Heads or XTC, this direct challenge to the audience is what makes the listening so rewarding. Once you’re there, the world of PWY is a surprisingly nice place to be.

Chris Moffat


The Black Keys - Strange Times (V2/Cooperative Music) 

This record flies at you like Keith Moon’s drum sticks. It’s heavy, psychedelic (in just the right dose), retro, futuristic, soulful and danceable. 

Producer Danger Mouse has managed to walk the fine line between reverence and pastiche to create a track that sounds like it could have been made in 1975. 

The guitars sound like they’re being squeezed out through concrete and steel. The drums are like the deep and insistent march of an army. And the vocals are spectacular – vulnerable, pained, vaguely threatening. 

Lyrically the Black Keys are concise and fairly abrupt. It’s their instruments that receive the bulk of their aggression, and that works just fine. 

There’s only one track on the promotional version of this single, and hopefully the release version will be the same. Because it sums up the Black Keys perfectly. It’s a great song - no more, no less - so why add a B-side? All killer, no filler. 

This is the sound of an angry Jack White fronting DFA 1979. Stirring stuff indeed.

Chris Moffat


asbos – Untitled Demos Too

asbos’ third ep in the past year shows plenty of promise. At times spiky and direct, but always playful, their humour shines strong throughout the four tracks present. Never over-elaborating or complicating matters, songs vary in style from the post-punk rhythms of ‘That’s Right’ through to the early Blur-esque sounds of ‘Stanlow’. Catchy, contagious melodies are left to float long after the ep has finished.

Mark Whiffin


A.Human – Black Moon

They’re back, this time with an original song. ‘Black Moon’ sees A.Human use a raw guitar for part of this tune, a deviation of their usual 100% electronic set up. The guitar even features on B-Side ‘Trees Sway’, a nice poetic dark pop song, with a under produced horns section in the break showing that A.Human are pushing their self-proclaimed boundaries. Sadly though, Dave Human’s monologues of bizarreness are getting a little tired; as is the electronic mind set of this band. This is being set up as their first commercial single but has it come a little too much too late? Only time will tell, but they’ve already had two years or so count down, A.Human need to regain the fire which once made them cult’s favourite demon spawn of electro-rock, before they become old guard.

Nick Burman


The Novellos – The Lady Is Not For Turning

Songs about love are a recurring theme in popular music, but three chords and the truth haven’t been on everyone’s minds recently. The Novellos remind musically back to Squeeze, with its saxophones and jazz piano. The lyrics are tiresome, unoriginal and the voice doesn’t thrill in any shape or form. The instrumental version shows what a great indie pop song this could’ve been but with vocals this disappointing. ‘The Lady Is Not for Turning’ will not energise anyone. More music industry fodder for the dispenser – NOW!

Nick Burman


Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Who Built The Roads?

Campbell & Lanegan return after "Ballad of the Broken Seas" with a dusty folk track that sees the emphasis placed more on Lanegan's rolling country vocals. The mix between the two, then, seems to only have changed in terms of Lanegan leading the line and Campbell taking care of writing duties. "So who built the road, who was the foolish one?" certainly sounds more tortured coming from the lips of Gutter Twin Lanegan, and that suits the style of the song - a seemingly upset or at least disjointed blues ballad which you can't help thinking ends up passing by a little bit blandly. While lyrics like "Oh, why don't we learn from our mistakes? We stumble along with so many more to make" are sharp and accompanied by shuffle drums and church bells, the lack of the opposite counterpart that Campbell's sweeter tones added on the first record could see the combination perhaps less effective, as articulate and agitated as it may get, on this second outing.

Phil Coales


Four Tet - The Ringer EP

Post-Steve Reid collaboration, Kieran Hebden returns alive! However, if you're a shitheaded anti-jazzist, you might be disappointed to learn that these four tracks of slightly warped electronica have taken a slightly jazz-influenced twist. Track the first really does sound like the processing part of Four Tet's musical blender; before the third delves into blissed out minimal beats. Finally "Wing Body Wing" closes proceedings, for now, with a complex and glitchy percussion-led track, that, erm, is the closest thing rhythmically to a techno track here. Which complements the Four Tet Style of Recording perfectly.

Phil Coales


Ungdomskulen - Modern Drummer (Ever)

While not quite reaching the dizzy heights of its predecessor 'Ordinary Son', 'Modern Drummer' is still an interesting enough proposition to make it worth trying to get your tongue around the band name. A clattering, falsetto-laden melange - all cowbell and scraping guitars tugs and drags this track through and leaves you thinking that Ungdomskulen would make fantastically interesting drinking buddies.
Watch the video to 'Modern Drummer'



A Silent Film - Sleeping Pills (Xtra Mile)

Although the description of piano and guitar led melodies and a cross between Editors and Coldplay may send a shudder down some spines, 'Sleeping Pills' is a pretty good, if slightly schizy first effort from Oxford's A Silent Film. Marr-like guitars and keyboards sounding more like a twee glockenspiel help to alleviate the initial worries and before you know it you have raced through the 3 minutes of this track.



First of the Giants - Hypochondriac (Little Think)

And the prize for the most luxurious press release of the month is won with this glossy full-colour number. Good content too - there is a Tasty quote from some time back! This is unashamedly indie pop, albeit with a guitar edge and a couple of riffs borrowed from the Foo Fighters. It even features a trademark Foo Fighters rousing outro (c) but would probably struggle to make it even as an album filler on one of their albums.

B-side 'Voodoo Doll' is more up my street, this time borrowing more from early Radiohead with a lovely chiming guitar line.



Athena - Pretty Things (Embraceable)

I'm not sure if I actually like this or not. At first glance it is whimsical folky singer songwriter pap. But these still waters run slightly deeper and the breathy chorus was completely unexpected and welcome. At the very least, a stay of execution from the Tasty music axeman.



Lazenby - Listening to Joni (206)

Ah yes, the most underrated of the Bond actors and one of the most underrated Bond films. For my money, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' would definitely be in my top three films - it has it all, the humour of Moore, the action of Connery and the tragedy of Dalton. No wonder George Lazenby is still bitter today after being dropped after just one film.

'Listening to Joni'? Oh don't worry - it just sounds like second rate session musician 80s pop. As the Frau in the mountain clinic would have said, 'Come on girls, time for your massage.'