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singles/eps - may 2008


  1. 4 or 5 Magicians
  2. Alaska In Winter
  3. Black Affair
  4. Brasil
  5. Cadence Valence
  6. Cazals
  7. censored
  8. Deus
  9. Digitalism
  10. Dirt Jake Replicas
  11. Does It Offend You, Yeah?
  12. Duels
  13. Elena
  14. The Exits
  15. Get Well Soon
  16. Guns on the Roof
  17. Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee
  18. Hot Chip
  19. Ida Maria
  20. James Pants
  21. Johnny Foreigner
  22. The Kabeedies
  23. Kelly Rowland feat. Travis McCoy
  24. Kill Chaos
  25. Kill the Captains
  26. Kraak and Smaak feat. Ben Westbeech
  27. Land of Talk
  28. The Laurel Collective
  29. The Lazarus Plot
  30. Lightspeed Champion
  31. Lorraine
  1. Marianne Dissard
  2. Merz
  3. Moonshot
  4. Morton Valence
  5. Mr Scruff
  6. Murmur
  7. My Sad Captains
  8. Nigel Clothier
  9. Peter Morén
  10. Phil Campbell
  11. Pushbike Army
  12. The Raid
  13. Reel People feat. Darien
  14. The Rivers
  15. The Rrrs
  16. Scarlet Blonde
  17. Schizo Fun Addict
  18. Semifinalists
  19. Sons & Daughters
  20. The Splendour
  21. The Steers
  22. Stick Shift
  23. Story of the Year
  24. Sunflies
  25. Teasing Lulu
  26. The Thirst
  27. Unusual and Electric vs Jay Stoner
  28. Valeriya
  29. Various: No One Gets Out Alive II
  30. Vatican DC
  31. We Are Scientists
  32. We Are the Physics

Lightspeed Champion – Galaxy of the Lost (Domino) 

Currently the music media’s darling, Dev Hynes can do no wrong. (Apart from TestIcicles but there’s no need to mention that). Galaxy of the Lost is taken from the sublime Falling of the Lavender Bridge, which, for once, deserved every word of hype surrounding it.  

Featuring some rather memorable lyrics – As we kiss and I’m sick in your mouth-, this track is intense, airy, bizarre and wonderful all at the same time. The tempo changes dramatically towards the end of the song, making it sound like a completely different track, with vocals being accompanied by only strings. 

Too damn clever for his own good, Dev Hynes is a genius in disguise. Or at least a delightful fur hat. 

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Ida Maria – Queen Of The World (Waterfall) 

This track scared the life out of me when I put it on. Mainly because I had my speakers turned up too loud, but partly because it’s certainly a boisterous number. 

It’s ridiculously confident, unashamedly happy and the vocals are some of the strongest I’ve heard in a while. 

Spin around in circles, as the lyrics suggest, with this blasting away and you’ll be as happy as the proverbial pig for just under three and a half minutes.

Catriona Boyle

 

The Splendour – Audio (Tinyclan Records) 

Terrible name, fairly terrible song. The Splendour have what can only be described as a ‘swaggery’ style. Lazy vocals, lots of guitar and very little substance. Think The Enemy and Kasabian – ‘we’re cool, we know it, we can’t really be arsed to do this properly’.  Repetitive, whingy, and really not cool.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Semifinalists – Odd Situation 

This is odd. It's a blend of things that should have been left in the nineties, reverberated plucked strings, Maroon 5, Hot Chip, and a dash of something more musical during the instrumental break-downs. 

There's that clear crisp cheap and cheesy Maroon 5 sound, with your sequenced drums, "funky" bass, daft electro bits; and a whole array of vocal harmonies that, particularly in the chorus, just shout "HOT CHIP" at me. 

I'll be brutally honest, I don't really find anything enjoyable in this record. This could be a Christmas single, or possibly a Dutch Eurovision entry in a few years. The only thing that goes in it's favour when it comes to the "is this original?" question, is that not many people are putting music out like this. But then, perhaps there's a reason for that.

Thom Curtis

 
 

Does It Offend You, Yeah? - Epic Last Song

Though this song is as epic as DIOY,Y? go, it's no Stairway To Heaven – then why the radio edit? It makes no sense. One minute cut off the album version just to make a Jo Wiley listener happy doesn't seem like the kind of thing a proper electro punk band such as themselves would do. But a decent song no less. It's better than just re-releasing 'Let's Make Out' but you get the sense of the Does It Offend You band wagon slowing down already, which is common for a band in such a fickle genre. Either they'll make a new album by the end of the year and they'll be able to keep the ball rolling, or Plugs will take over front man Morgan's spare time and Does It Offend You will not only run out of steam, but out of fuel. This years Sunshine Underground? Lets hope the new techno/electro scene doesn't have a new gravestone before the year's out when corporate shits like Mika still have a career.

Nick Burman

 
 

Reel People feat. Darien - Upside (Papa)

Teetering on the fine and very important line between Stevie Wonder and Jamiroquai, it's New York soulster Darien which tips this track towards 'favourable' on this election night soulometer. The perfect start to a summer that never seems to start - let the sunshine flood out of your speakers instead.
www.myspace.com/reelpeople

SB

 
 

Hot Chip - One Pure Thought (Virgin EMI)

'One Pure Thought' builds on the success of 'Shake a Fist' and sees a melody that flits backwards and forwards between major and minor keys. The Stones-esque guitar intro quickly gives away to the trademark skippety-do Hot Chip beats and vocal harmonies. Perfectly measured pop.
www.hotchip.com
Watch the video to 'One Pure Thought'

SB

 
 

Phil Campbell - Maps (How I Feel About You) (Safehouse)

Unremarkable name (and no harm in that, didn't do Will Smith, James Brown etc any harm) but sadly disappointing musical content too. No amount of mouth organ overdubs and Hammond organ backing melody can hide the fact that this is a bit of a plodder. No one thing marks it out as being out and out poor but it is certainly pretty pedestrian.
www.philcampbellmusic.com
Watch video to 'Maps'

SB

 
 

Cazals - Somebody Somewhere

Kitsuné's Cazals are a band in search of an 'edge'. An edge to make them stand out in a label of art-rock and electronic artists. Previous Cazals singles include "Poor Innocent Boys" (which did have a pretty catchy, if simple, chorus) and, well, the one on the phone advert. The lead single from the Cazals Official Album is "Somebody Somewhere", which doesn't writhe around in agitation so much as provide a "contemplative" side to the "trademarked" Cazals sound. Which is pretty unremarkable indie (read as in the "indie" "fashion scene") rock'n'roll. "Somebody loves me, someone out there". Good for you... have them buy you a synthesizer and I'll see you on The Mighty Boosh.

Phil Coales

 
 

The Laurel Collective - Vuitton Blues (Double Six) 

This very unusual band has a seemingly very pop sound but have added an alternative twist. The Laurel Collective combine catchy lyrics with melodic guitars, producing an almost Indie sound, but it is impossible to pigeonhole them as an Indie band. Fans of Modest Mouse may feel that the Laurel Collective are mimicking them, as dual vocalists Martin Sakutu and Bob Tollast have rather unconventional singing voices but this just adds to the unusual quality of the sound. Occasionally the guitars, with added keyboard, sound very funk/jazz in style, again highlighting this band’s unconventionality. The A side of this single is Vuitton Blues, but it is the B-side, Krypton Factor, which is arguably the better of the two tracks having a more up -beat rhythm, which you can imagine dancing along to. There is clearly a market for The Laurel Collective’s sound and once this single hits the air waves, people will be humming and singing along to their catchy tunes. At first they may be one of those bands that gain a reputation as the support to many other bands, but eventually they will prove themselves and have their time to shine.

Tim Birkbeck

 
 

The Exits - Neon City Ep (Criminal)

You can't fail The Exits for their energy. Big fizzing synth parts over epic rock n roll guitar parts. 'Three Minute Warning' reminds me a bit of Leeds' Royal Vendetta and the title track is a bit Nine Inch Nails meets Bloc Party. Then...whoa! It's back tot he early 90s with 'You Gotta Help Me Out' - a baggy rave track! I thought some of those synth sounds earlier sounded a bit dodgy but this just confirms that The Exits possess an antique keyboard (or have a '90s' button on their modern equipment). There's further Mondays/Stone Roses influence in evidence in closer 'Fever'. All good fun and not reaching the horrible extremes of most new rave stuff, The Exits are not currently pushing back the boundaries of song writing but this is a good solid EP all the same.
www.myspace.com/theexits

SB

 
 

Duels - Regeneration (This is Fake DIY)

Eh? What's this? Either Duels have gone all Kasabian on us or my speakers are blown. While The Kaiser Chiefs and The Pigeon Detectives were off getting all rich and famous, Leeds' Duels seem to be having a mini breakdown and went into hiding for a couple of years, despite being the best band of the three. But the absence seems to have paid off as Duels seem to have developed a more muscular style which nevertheless remains interlaced with pretty female vocals and twinkly keyboard parts. The word 'anthemic' will be used more than once to describe 'Regeneration' - that's a certainty.
www.duelsmusic.com

SB

 

Kraak and Smaak feat. Ben Westbeech- Squeeze Me (Jalapeno)

Some kind of soul funk hybrid with a crackly vocal track to give it a retro feel. It's a bit weird - not out and out old style due to the odd break beats and hip hop tempo but sufficiently lo-fi to avoid sounding clinical. But at the end of the day, the tune isn't much kop and I'm certainly not going to wade through the 7 mixes to find a bit I might like.
www.kraaksmaak.com
Watch the video to 'Squeeze Me'

SB

 

Sunflies - The Indigo Sampler

Don't be misled by the (c) 2006 label on the back of the CD cover - like a butterfly from a caterpillar, Sunflies seem to have gone into cold storage and emerged like a beautiful, if dark indie pop band. There are elements of Placebo and the shoe-gazy female backing vocals are a bit Siouxsie Sioux but the songs are a selection of crisp 3 minute crackers. Scaramanga Six meets The Half Rabbits.
www.sunflies.co.uk

SB

 
 

Unusual and Electric vs Jay Stoner - Stand on Up/Mr Palantino (Zirkus)

After a promising opening featuring a weird sample over a synth drone, Stand On Up fails to deliver anything more exciting than a Death in Vegas B-side or a ragga Fatboy Slim. And god, it goes on and on. A good opportunity to go and put the kettle on I reckon.
www.unusualandelectric.com

SB

 
 

Moonshot - Darker Corners EP

Moonshot continue to mix up the darker trip hoppy vibes with a more poppy 80's sensibility. the musical effect of this is quote alluring. Despite the male vocals, there's a bit of Ladytron sneaking in there.

But like a struggling Neil Tennant, the spoken word vocals are actually a little weak. There's also a limited palette of sounds being used here - I now it's essentially synth pop but it would be good really throw in some exciting different effects rather than the constant reverb and moody atmospherics. The closing track 'Walking with Plato' provides a glimpse of a different direction with it's break beats. That said, this is the 'Darker Corners' EP so maybe we'll be treated to a more upbeat offering next time round.
www.myspace.com/moonshotmusic

SB

 
 

The Thirst - Sail Away (Wooden)

It sounds like the Thirst are playing their guitars with a whisk and that their drummer may well be in mid-epileptic fit. that is a sound that is hard to ignore. A bit like a fire up O Fracas but instead of being fronted by Ben's dulcet West Yorkshire tones, The Thirst have a singer who sings like an extra from a Dick van Dyke movie - 'jungoo' instead of 'jungle', 'pit boo' instead of 'pit bull' etc - quite annoying after a while actually. Unless he actually has a speech impediment in which case I apologise.
www.myspace.com/thethirstrockband

SB

 
 

Kill Chaos - OK on the O.K. (Field)

I'd heard good things about Kill Chaos and 'OK on the O.K.' does not disappoint. Slamming into action with a 'Semi-mental'  style riff courtesy of Biffy Clyro, there's an uncomplicated power and directness of message which makes KC refreshing. A must for fans of Future ex Wife and Groop Dogdrill
www.killchaos.com

SB

 

Stick Shift – demo  

All good things come to those who wait and Guildford quintet Stick Shift are not the kind of guys to rush things.  Lead guitarist and principle songwriter Matney started the band about three years ago, taking his time to ensure that dynamically he found the right people to join the project.  With drummer Lewis and bassist Tom already on board, it was a further year until former Poly Orchid frontman Luke lent his furious roaring and gentle Maynard James Keenan-style crooning to the mix.  The final piece in the jigsaw, Dunx, joined only six months ago and provides Stick Shift with that something different; warped, dark and brooding synth.

This three-track demo (kindly provided after catching a live show) is a welcome blast of some old-school stoner rock brought bang up-to-date for the naughties, and will moisten the eyes (and possibly the trousers) of Kyuss, Unida, Goatsnake or Electric Wizard fans everywhere.

Opener “27 Angels”, with its fuzzy guitars, pounding drums and bass feels like it’s arrived on a frenzy of warm thermals straight from the deserts of Nevada, rather than the leafy suburbs of Surrey, whilst the anthemic “Plastic” sees frontman Luke employ that distinctive Keenan vocal style over scuzzy, almost RATM-esque shredding.

Six-minute closer “Deal Me In” is the scorched highlight of the three tracks on this demo.  What were once trademark Kyuss riffs are shaken by their ankles and given new foreboding menace, vocals that could strip skin from a hundred yards are fierce but used sparingly, and before you know it, the track draws to a close and you are reaching for the repeat button.

 Whilst the tracks on offer here are undoubtedly of high quality and boast excellent production, Stick Shift are an even better prospect live with Matney’s fretwork and the intense Luke particularly catching the eye.  If you are in the South East you could do a lot worse than getting yourself along to The Fighting Cocks in Kingston on 28th May to catch these boys live. 

It’s taken a while to put it all together, but as with all good things, it was worth the wait.
www.myspace.com/stickshiftuk

Stuart Bowen

 
 

Alaska In Winter – Close Your Eyes, We Are Blind / Marianne Dissard - Trop Exprés (Regular Beat Recording Co.)

Alaska In Winter’s, ‘Close Your Eyes, We Are Blind’ starts with Zach Condon’s unmistakable ukulele and vocals. The beginning could almost be a Beirut track, only with more vocal harmonies and less horns. The layers of harmonies wash over the track, but do not detract from the main melody. The track cleverly and gradually transforms into something different, ending with a gentle reminder of the start in the form of a few ukulele notes. This will be an interesting listen for fans of Beirut, but the track and the album from which it is taken definitely stand up by themselves.

Marianne Dissard’s ‘Trop Exprés’ is delivered in an almost whispered, intense style. The French lyrics are placed over a spiky acoustic guitar part, and the song becomes steadily more intense. The guitar part is repetitive, but this somehow works to draw the listener into paying close attention to Dissard’s expressive voice.
www.myspace.com/alaskainwinter

Yasmin Prebble

 

Merz – Presume Too Much (Groenland)

‘Presume Too Much’ flits between muted haunting verses and impressive choruses. An echoey guitar supports Conrad Lambert’s vocals in the verses, and big chords and vocals fill out the choruses. Emphasized by the glockenspiel, the song has a summery laid-back feel.

The B-side, ‘Silver Moon Ladders’ is atmospheric, including a gentle guitar part and an eventual build up to interweaving guitar parts. The lyrics reflect the music, painting a picture of an empty place in the middle of the night.
www.merz.co.uk

Yasmin Prebble

 

Deus - The Architect / Slow (V2/Cooperative Music)

Taken from their recently released album Vantage Point, Deus releases a double A-side that boils with vivacious grooves and 80’s style sensualities. ‘The Architect’ was originally released as a single in Belgium breaking into the top 5, and it’s easy to tell why. The fact that it’s a song about Eden Project dome designer Buckminster Fuller is an intriguing element that reinforces the brilliance of this song. ‘The Architects’ irresistible electro-funk quality and sparse riffs will no doubt entice any listener to jerk it out.

‘Slow’ sees The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson roped in on backing vocals to help out with a decent grower of a song. Not instantly as good as ‘The Architect’ it does however have its moments as the slumping basslines and almost supernatural twangs bring it scarily close to Depeche Mode. In spite of this you can’t help but think that if Karin didn’t lend a helping hand here ‘Slow’ wouldn’t have been released at all. On the whole though a bloody good effort from a band that I’m sure we’ll have the pleasure of hearing much more from as the year grows old.
www.myspace.com/deusbe

By Amie Kimpton

 
 

Land of Talk - Young Bridge 

This is a song that comes striding out of your speakers, clearly not giving a damn what you think of it. The oddly slurred vocals give it a kind of lazy, 'I'm too cool for this,' feel which works well set against a backdrop of big crashing drum and trebly 'Scandinavian' sounding guitars. Whatever you do after hearing this, you'll do it with a new sense of purpose.

Andy Glynn

 
 

The Kabeedies - Lovers Ought To (Cherryade)

Already a hit live with fellow Tasty scribe Jimmy Jazz, how do The Kabeedies fare on record. Well although I am not renowned as fan of indie tweepop I can just about agree that 'Lovers' Ought To' steers the right side of twee and injects just the right amount of punk sensibility. Somewhere between Bearsuit and Chapter 24 - not a bad place to be at all.

SB

 
 

4 or 5 Magicians - Change the Record / Ideal Man (This is Fake DIY)

With Sebadoh re-releasing Bubble and Scrape, Dinosaur Jnr getting back together and a general renaissance of stonerish rock, 'Change the Record' fits the mood of the times perfectly. 'Ideal Man' by contrast, sounds like a cross between 'Brimful of Asha' by Cornershop and 'Stand' by REM. All in all a completely likeable release.
www.myspace.com/4or5magicians

SB

 
 

Peter Morén - Reel to Reel (Wichita)

It's all a bit too gentle, gentle handclaps, gentle glockenspiel, gentle vocals, Ralph McTell guitar. Ideal for a Sunday school teacher but too lacking in any depth for me.
www.myspace.com/petermorn

SB

 
 

The Raid – We Know Best (Shifty Disco) 

The Raid is OK. The second song, Show Me is better than the title track.

The two songs are quite different. We Know Best is competent Futureheads-esque indie while Show Me sounds like the Stereophonics when they want to sound most like the Black Crows. That’s about it really. Not going to change the world.

Christopher Carney

 
 

The Rivers - She Gives it Around (NoCarbon)

This is all a bit unremarkable really. I was just thinking that The Rivers sound like a sub-standard version of The Kooks (and I don't even like The Kooks) when lo and behold, I read in their press release that they are touring with The Kooks. Some shows that would be. Maybe a little bit too much influence is rubbing off and The Rivers would be better off doing their own thing.
www.myspace.com/therivers

SB

 
 

We Are the Physics - You Can Do Athletics, BTW (This is Fake DIY)

We Are the Physics. We Are Scientists. Maths and Physics Club. It's all getting a bit geeky isn't it? 'You Can Do Athletics, BTW' would be practically impossible to dance to, such are the choppy time changes and jerky post punk yelps. Like someone undergoing electro-shock therapy inside a bass drum rolling down a bumpy road.
www.myspace.com/wearethephysics

SB

 
 

Get Well Soon - You/Aurora/You/Seaside / Christmas in Adventure Parks (Nude/City Slang)

The brainchild of Berliner (or is that the hotdog? I get confused) Konstantin Gropper, Get Well Soon mix up an interesting musical texture here with Mariachi horns, doleful vocals, tingling keys and big drum beats. 'You/Aurora...' is the more complex while 'Christmas in Adventure Parks' is more straight forward. Both are very good however.
www.myspace.com/youwillgetwellsoon

SB

 
 

Teasing Lulu - Waste of Time (Easy Action)

You've got to feel sorry for Teasing Lulu drummer Jason Day. It's not every man that gets described as 'sassy' and 'gorgeous' and the band is always described as 'the girls'. Cold it be that some marketing machine is clearly playing on the fact that most of Teasing Lulu are in fact ladies who play rather good punk rock? It would be a shame because 'Waste of Time' is good with a heavy dose of bass as all good punk should be. There is a danger of the choruses descending into Republica or Elastica but not so on B-side 'Ex-factor' which is just plain ace.
www.myspace.com/teasinglulu

SB


 

Scarlet Blonde - There is No Black and White (D Pulse)

Today I had a hospital appointment where a 3 inch long needle was poked into my hip joint to administer an injection into some deep-seated dodgy tendon. That experience was worse than listening to 'There is No Black and White'. But not by much. I gave Scarlet Blonde the benefit of the doubt on their previous releases but this is one hyperactive Eurovision hit too many. Get yourselves to Deedpoll Ditch and Dawny Vic.
www.scarletblonde.com

SB

 
 

The Steers - Julia 

The Welsh love their homegrown music, so it’s fortunate for them that Cardiff’s The Steers are adding to their reputation. It’s not so much ‘Delilah’ -  well, Julia actually – the second single from these indie-disco kids reveals all about those pesky girls who have been troubling boys since Tom Jones was in the charts. With the ability to write dancefloor fillers, these pretty-Doherty boys are securing themselves a slot on the indie chart (plus the odd dance partner or two). Ok, so it doesn’t push any musical boundaries, it’s pretty generic. But, it’s got a melody that you can dance to, is a cheeky piece of post-Britpop; a stomper that will have drunk students bouncing in many a dingy clubroom. My, my, my, Tom, how times have changed.  

Jenny Williams

 

Vatican DC - Bugs 

It’s that same chugging rhythm that drives similar tracks belonging to likes of The Twang, Kasabian and The Enemy; an accolade to soaring post-punk, new wave triumphs. B-side, ‘The End is at the Beginning’, reveals obvious Bloc Party influences, with a little of Jimmy Eat World in a slower number. Straddling genre boundaries to produce disco-punk: we have happy customers all round. Encapsulating our modern moment with the injections of electronic noises, and with lots of ooohs and whooping for good measure, this London five-piece has secured themselves an epic festival anthem. It’s also fun trying to work out what the lyrics are all about: it certainly is a mystery to me.
watch video to 'Bugs'
www.vaticandc.com

Jenny Williams

 

Kelly Rowland feat. Travis McCoy - Daylight (Sony BMG)

Another generic lightweight summer feel good song when we were hoping for something a little bit more funky from the Destiny’s Child B-lister. Strictly for MTV consumption only.
www.kellyrowland.com
Watch video to 'Daylight'

SB

 
 

Mr Scruff - Donkey Ride (Ninja Tuna)

As ‘Donkey Ride’ kicks off it sounds like we’re on a bad date in La Tasca. It nurdles along with vaguely samba vibe which does seem slightly appropriate for a summer release but it’s not exactly breaking new ground with its simple piano loops and samples. ‘Giant Pickle’ is similar but much better courtesy of some big fat bass and crisp cowbell action.

SB

 
 

The Lazarus Plot - The Sun Shines Down (Illuminated)

Is a track that sounds like 3 minutes of nice introduction but no actual end product any good? There’s a pleasing drum loop and some basic guitar lines over this one but essentially it never gets going enough to stick in the memory. Maybe there was a problem with the mastering and someone accidentally looped the first 30 seconds.
www.myspace.com/thelazarusplotmusic

SB


 

Cadence Valence - House Music

Unexpectedly, this is really good. With a Run DMC rap style over high energy backing track, Cadence Weapon bucks the trend for modern hip hop by actually part rapping, part singing vaguely in relation to the music. Some sparky samples and deep bassy lines wrap the whole thing together nicely.

SB

 
 

Guns on the Roof – Last Orders EP

You can see what Guns On the Roof are going for – that kind of Rancid/Greenday/The Jam crossover. ‘Last Orders’ also comes across a bit like early Manic Street Preachers (in particular the instrumental bridge which could have come from ‘Slash and Burn’). But I’m no fan of this at all – it’s a bit simplistic and the lyrics have little depth either. The sort of music you would expect a bunch of 19 year olds to make.
www.gunsontheroof.com

SB

 
 

Dirt Jake Replicas – Part I (Hype Schwartz Studio)

A pretty impressive effort here from Dirt Jake Replicas. There’s some pretty male-female vocal harmonies during the first half of the track but they are all building irrepressibly towards a Tool-like crescendo. The singer possesses a sense of timing and pitch very similar to Maynard and ‘Part 1’ really soars to a crescendo.
www.dirtjakereplicas.com

SB

 
 

James Pants – We’re Through (Stones Throw)

For someone who is described as purveying ‘blue-eyed synth soul’ James Pants seems to have missed the mark and come out with a much darker funk for ‘We’re Through’. More northern European in sound – I could imagine this coming from some Swedish electro band, ‘We’re Through’ just seems to go through the motions and just is devoid of any emotion. Actually it becomes a bit oppressive - like Detroit techno but played at half speed.
www.stonesthrow.com/jamespants

SB

 
 

We Are Scientists - Chick Lit (Virgin EMI)

Without doubt the best song on 'Brain Thrust Mastery', 'Chick Lit' has everything you could want from a snappy single. Fizzy synths, a funky bassline to dance to, a dementedly brilliant guitar hook and the typically clever lyrics we've come to expect from We Are Scientists. A thoroughbred amongst singles this month.
Watch video to 'Chick Lit'
www.wearescientists.com

SB

 
 

Valeriya - The Party's Over

A strange claim to fame to say that Valeriya is officially 9th in Russia's rich list. That puts her up there with such the likes of Anna Kournikova, Vladimir Putin and Roman Abramovic - bizarre. 'The Party's Over' sees the warbly voiced waif provide a Bassey-esque vocal over a big beat backing track. It's not going to add to her amassed riches that much but it's not entirely bad either.

SB

 
 

Murmur - Dynamite

Played after the big sound of Valeriya, Murmur sound disappointingly dreary and, well, English. In fact it's English and a bit dated (though sounding a bit like Echo and the Bunnymen in places might not be a bad thing.) Quite well done but so reserved it is unlikely to make you sit up and listen if you happen to hear it on the radio this summer.
www.murmur-official.com

SB

 
 

Digitalism - Pogo Remixes EP 08 (Virgin)

I've worked out what this sounds like...you know when you are driving in the car and you have the windows part way down? Well sometimes that seems do something weird to the air in the car and it seems to 'throb' and make your head ache. This is that - the combined bass and pulsing synth have exactly the same effect. I feel a bit nauseous.

But wait! I see I have accidentally listened to 'ZDRLT - Rewind' mix by mistake, thank the lord! 'Pogo' is thankfully less painful though it does get a bit heady again with fizzing sound effects warping in and dropping out which gives an overall claustrophobic effect. There's also a more upbeat CSS remix (which actually sounds a bit mod).
www.myspace.com/digitalism

SB

 

censored - Play the Game (Electric Toaster Entertainment)

The first thing that jumps out about Nottingham 3 piece censored (lower case c) is a summery, sing along attitude very much in the vein of The Kooks or even Supergrass. Personally I find all the 'pah pah pa pah' vocal harmonies a bit irksome but that's not to say that bright young things finishing their A-levels around the country will not fall in love this..
www.censoredonline.com

SB

 
 

Nigel Clothier - Come North (Leftarm)

In 'Come North' Nigel Clothier comes across as a rather nasal Jose Gonzalez. Not great but it's a quirky little tune that grows and grows on you with it's simple guitar, tambourine and vocal parts. Simple done good, Gordon Ramsay would approve.
www.myspace.com/nigelclothier

SB

 
 

My Sad Captains - All Hat and No Plans (White Heat)

With all the whimsical qualities or twee pop but the serious sensibilities Stephen Malkmus, My Sad Captains manage to throw in a barrage of instrumentation which leaves 'All Hat and No Plans' sounding like a cross between Buen Chico and The Pixies - no bad thing at all.
www.myspace.com/mysadcaptains

SB

 
 

Elena - Androgyny Profound (Delicious)

And the winner of pretentious title of the month is found! Which is a bit odd because the only thing that I can hear repeated and repeated throughout the song is the line 'Grow your own' - a call to arms for allotment gardeners countrywide perhaps? It's hard to make out any other lyrics due to Elena's ridiculously gruff and previously well-documented voice. Which is a shame because there are some real highlights in this track, not least the corking bubbling bassline. But must have been a difficult track to produce and Elena sometimes seems to struggle to emit any sound at all, yet alone reach a pitch all of which leaves some sections sounding 'dropped out'.
www.elenaonline.com

SB

 
 

Johnny Foreigner - Eyes Wide Terrified (Best Before)

The press release actually has this one nearly spot on - 'Eyes Wide Shut' does sound like 100 Broken Windows era Idlewild. I'm not sure which member of Idlewild would have wanted to sound like a girl though. That said, it's a terrific, nearly discordant noise which would grace any indie disco.
www.myspace.com/johnnyforeigner

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Schizo Fun Addict - Fruits de Mer Vol. 1 (Fruits de Mer)

The only press release this month printed on foolscap size paper - bravo Fruits de Mer. maybe a cunning reference to the slightly tongue in cheek look back at a couple of tracks covered here by New York's Schizo Fun Addict. I've got to admit at being a bit baffled by this point (foolscap is a lot longer than A4 you know) so will probably stick to the music. 'Theme One' is a cover of the prog rock classic normally performed by Van der Graaf Generator. The SFA version is a lot less psychedelic but it does add some nice little B-movie samples over the top for a fresh take. 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' is a cover of the Small Faces track (which I have never heard in the first place so it is difficult to compare). As interesting idea and a very funny press release but self confessed commercial suicide.
www.schizofunaddict.com

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Morton Valence - Chandelier/Go To Sleep (Bastard Recordings)

Although you can't help but feel the idea of selling shares in the band to fans is more of a gimmick than a decent economic model for new acts, the music of Morton Valence is equally noteworthy. With the female vocals of Anne Gilpin sounding like silken voiced Charlotte Gainsbourg and taking the lead, Hacker Jessett brings a solid male performance to 'Chandelier' also which helps to balance up the sheer volume of the sweeping orchestral movements in this real gem.

'Go To Sleep' is a much more minimal piece which sees Gilpin on lone soul searching vocals against a very pretty guitar line in a vaguely bluesey key. Excellent stuff.
www.myspace.com/mortonvalence
www.mortonvalence.co.uk

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Lorraine - When I Return To the World (Waterfall)

I'm afraid that this is just sounding a bit dated to me. It's amazing how you can seemingly assemble all the pieces that you think you would require to make a cutting edge indie-electro track yet still still end up sounding like A-Ha. (Apologies for obvious comment to Norwegians Lorraine)
www.lorrainemusic.com

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Story of the Year - Wake Up (Epitaph)

After mixing it with the likes of My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park Story of the Year return and 'Wake Up' is typical of this 're-born' band apparently. It's all very competently done - there's some nice phasing guitar, pick slides and plenty of punching the air with a wrist-banded arm choruses to sing along to. They sound young (though they've been around since at least 2003) which must be a sign that they are feeling fresh and excited about their music. Pity I don't.
www.myspace.com/storyoftheyear
Watch video to 'Wake Up'

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Brasil - What You Need

Oasis are back with their new single 'What You Need'. What's that? This isn't Oasis? Well I suppose the vocals are sung a lot better than Liam Gallagher could ever muster but the songs are straight out of the mid 90's (though impressively 'You Can Talk To Me' may be  more like out of the mid-70's - a dead ringer for ELO).
www.myspace.com/wearebrasil

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The Rrrs - My Valentino / Forbidden Kiss

There are no other words to describe this other than fucking annoying. I was going to qualify that by letting-off the instrumentalists and laying the blame firmly at helium-voiced singer Sharzilla Moog's door but then they spoiled it by accompanying her with their own intensely tedious 'woohoo hoo's. I can't get it off my stereo fast enough.
www.rrrs.co.uk

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Kill the Captains - EP (Armellodie)

If you are one for perfectly formed 3 minute pop nuggets with verse chorus verse structures then please look away now. Kill the Captains seem to demonstrate some bi-polar disorder, flitting effortlessly between beautiful Champion Kickboxer-ish dual guitar parts and extracting whatever unlikely noise they can from their instruments. 'Long in the Tooth' has some splendid guitar work going on while still sounding a little like a jam session. 'Fun Anxiety' starts off like The Doors' 'LA Woman' before breaking out into something far more proggy for 6 and  half minutes. I'm guessing Kill the Captains have their very own hardcore fanbase but will struggle to ever break out of a pretty specialised niche. But there's nothing wrong with that - music should be played for music sake, not for profit.
www.myspace.com/killthecaptains

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Sons & Daughters - This Gift (Domino)

There's so much going for this track, the road-trip themed style, the frenetic tempo, the nice clean interludes but it is spoiled a bit by the overly tinny snare and cymbals. But a minor gripe - otherwise Sons & Daughters have scored another winner here.
Watch video to 'This Gift'

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Black Affair - It's Real (V2)

'It's Real' sounds more than vaguely Kraut rockish. There's a dark Front 242 style to the spoken word vocals which sits a little uncomfortably with the more overtly upbeat 80's synths. Like receiving a lovely present from an evil stepfather.
www.myspace.com/blackaffair

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Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee - Jam-Eater Blues / Dirty Tube Train (Fortuna Pop!)

Well The Broken Family Band managed to reposition themselves from being indie darlings to being a pretty damn good alt-country band (and then back again!) so why shouldn't Messrs. Hayman and Tattershall of Hefner and The Wave Pictures respectively do the same with bluegrass. The lyrics are contemporary, set to traditional bluegrass scores complete with banjo, violin and washboard percussion. I'm not sure how it stands up as an exercise in bluegrass - see the album review where someone far more knowledgeable than I gives it a listen.
www.myspace.com/haymanwatkinstroutandlee

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Various: No One Gets Out Alive II (S-A-N)

The EP to accompany the forthcoming NOGOA tour between 27th May and 29th June sees five acts battle it out across this CD. As with all compilations there are highs and lows. Definte faves for me are the opening track by Croatian alt-metal outfit (no, seriously, stay with me) Father who smash out some superb techy guitar lines and key changes with real grunt without souding like out and out death metal. The Cedar Falls make a decent fist of it too but sound a little like boys against the men of Father. plus they have the most annoying snare drum sound in recorded history - sort that out and they will have a serious track on their hands.

Lap and Diasarm both passed me by without really impressing but Truckfighters continue to impress with their Queens of the Stone Age tinged grunge.
www.myspace.com/noonegetsoutaliveuk

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Pushbike Army - Four From Alexandra Grove

In today’s music climate the idea of punk has been distorted, manipulated and proverbially gang raped by the mainstream media record labels, and the many bands since the initial wave of Sex Pistols, The Ramones and their contemporaries brought the true genre and overall sound to popularity, into whatever they felt was the latest punk product on the market (take a bow Green Day). However there have still been a few bands on the edges of the “Punk” and Hardcore scenes of the last few decades that clearly still had the faintest idea what they were talking about. Pushbike Army are one of these select bands.

While sticking resolutely to a proven formula they are the epitome of “if it ain’t broke….” They perhaps share more in common with 80s post-punk song smiths such as The Smiths in terms of lyrics but in sound they share much more in common with post-punk artists. As such the two songs on this disc are incredibly enjoyable and with a delicate piano track of the previously riotous ‘Four From Alexandra Grove’ tacked on as well there is some sign of intent by the three piece. PBA have already received some significant radio air time and so with a bit of luck we might be hearing some more of them in the future.

Chris Sharpe