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singles/eps - june 2008

Tokyo Police Club - In A Cave (Elephant Shell) 

I’m gonna have to get this out the way at the start. I LOVE Tokyo Police Club. From the first time I heard the demented yet glorious, Animal-esque drums of Cheer It On I thought this was a special band. And you should too. 

As a result it’s brilliant to hear how much they’ve improved on their already shell shockingly catchy sound on their debut album proper “Elephant Shell”. “In A Cave” the second single off the LP is one of the best representations of the new matured TPC. The lyrics seem to reflect this centring on the first few listens as being about the aging and maturing process, the perspective of which changes between the verse and the chorus. 

For example the verses speak of the understanding that “Every single step I grow another second young”, the irreversible cycle of life, and the inability to make up for past mistakes. The chorus however with the lines “All my hair grows in, Wrinkles leave my skin” suggests something more eternal and the idea of reversing the effects of time.  

Anyway apart from dissecting the philosophical side of Tokyo Police Club you have the familiar pulsating drums and hooky riffs that are primary components of what is truly a remarkable band.

Chris Sharpe


The Sexual Hot Bitches vs The Lovely Eggs - Filthy Little Angels Singles Club 13 (Filthy Little Angels)

The beauty of releasing download singles is that it is very cheap, very accessible to everyone and therefore means even the most bizarre and rudimentary ideas can be recorded and sold. The downside to this is that without the threat of imminent bankruptcy caused by pressing and distribution costs, quality control is bound to be a bit sketchy.

And so it is with this EP. The Sexual Hot Bitches sound like they have only just learnt how to play their instruments and have definitely not quite learned how to mix/produce yet. But they aren't scared of writing catchy little lo-fi surf pop tracks like 'Kitty', documenting the owner's wish for their cat to die so they can replace it with a dog. 'Let's Fuck' does exactly what it says on the tin. And despite the fact that most men would say they would love to hear a woman say that to them, secretly we would all be scared shitless by such a bold attitude and so this track sits a little uneasily with the male conscience.

The Lovely Eggs have a decent kind of Hole sound about them and deal with similarly narrative lyrical content as The Sexual Hot Bitches. But they also like the odd 20 second track such as 'Mix Dan' which just lists species of owl and 'Jon Carling' which is a song about an artist who does owls. Very twee and very basic. I'm not sure what the longevity of listening to someone rape a guitar while shouting 'I always get my feet dirty at farms' and  'Cops and Robbers' and 'Fade' are just crap, not clever or avant garde. While this EP is an interesting proposition I wouldn't be giving it many repeat listens.



Hyperbubble - Synesthesia (Filthy Little Angels)

You learn something every day. Today I learnt what synesthesia means - the sensation produced in one modality following stimulus in another. Can't think of many times when i would drop it into conversation but an interesting fact nonetheless. Hyperbubble meanwhile are an electro band who sound like a cross between Fluke, Ladytron and Kraftwerk. As a track 'Synesthesia' is solid enough but seems to lack any real soul or playfulness, despite all the vocoder and wobbly synth tactics it just seems a bit joyless.



Five O’Clock Heroes feat. Agyness Deyn - Who  

You might have heard of Agyness Deyn. She’s the next Kate Moss. Five O’Clock Heroes might however be more of a mystery to you. Mind you with friends in such fashionable places they might have a good year if their upcoming second album “Speak Your Language” follows the quality of this single. 

As might be expected from a band that draws their name from a The Jam song they clearly draw from some archetypal new wave influences but with a more New York sound. So fans of The Strokes or The Rifles might at the very least find ‘Who’ easy on the ears, in particular the incredibly catchy chorus that broadcast best Agyness’s surprisingly strong vocals. 

In fact it is Deyn’s vocals that make this song stand out in particular, as although the laidback bass and drums and driving guitar line and Antony Ellis’s husky vocals make for a catchy, poppy track the female vocals certainly make the song what it is. So check it out and give yr ears a treat.

Chris Sharpe


Sway feat. $tush - F UR X (Dcypha Productions)

Oops - this has found its way into my review pile but I'll warn you now I know I'm not going to like it - the title doesn't even make sense. Upon a listen it turns out that 'F UR X' is the description of a dispute between a lady and a gentleman about a mobile phone message. This sort of thing should remain confined to The Jeremy Kyle Show and not committed to CD. Oh, there's a vaguely drum n bass backing track too but it's not much kop. Does this mean now I'm gonna get wasted by a gangsta for dissin his tunes?



The Accidental - I Can Hear Your Voice (Full Time Hobby)

Some kind of happy go lucky between members of Tunng and others. You can either think of this sort of alt folk as beguilingly simple and beautiful or just plain dull. Due to its continuous repetitive melody, I'm afraid 'I Can Hear Your Voice' falls into the latter camp.



XX Teens – The Way We Were (Mute)

In all honesty, this isn't floating my boat, nor rocking my socks. XX Teens appear to be a band you've heard a hundred times before. I tend to refer to the movement as "lazy indie." Catchy drum beat, maybe a synth, tuneless vocals, you know the score. "The Way We Were" is just one of those songs, that doesn't really seem to get anywhere. Quite thin on the texture too, only a couple of things happening at once and at no point do you find yourself even tapping your finger.

The b-side "Chasing Your Tail" is a considerably better. There's more going on at once, it's an intense musical experience as opposed to a waste of your time. And I won't lie, the main riff that kicks off in the background makes me want to boogie uncontrollably. A crazy synth-brass combination that will have you twisting again, just like you did last Summer.

50% success – disappointing. There are a lot of bands who do this better.

And as a side note, if artwork at all sways whether you buy a record – you wouldn't even dream of picking this up.

Could be up your alley if you like: Hadouken
Download 'The Way We Were (album version)'

Thom Curtis


The Silents - 23 (Passport)

I'm not sure using stacks of reverb really qualifies as psychedelic, especially when every instrument sounds like it has been turned up to the fabled 11 in volume. There are definite Byrds/Stone Roses stylings in here but this desert rock offering is so unrelentless in its volume and attack that it feels like you've been hit over the head with a spade by the end of '23'. B-side 'Strangers' is a bit more interesting though, conflictingly darkly introspective while maintaining the sound of beckoning wide open roads.



Joan As Police Woman – To Be Loved (Echo)

Slowing things down well and truly. That's fine, I dabble in this genre quite a lot. Very soothing. A solo female vocalist over a fairly basic lounge/pop backing. There's good vocal talent here, but it's just lacking originality. It's like every good female singer currently released, with a nasty cheap Macey Gray feel. No offence to Gray, it was good at the time.

And sadly no other tracks to report on, just the three minute single which is very quaint and inoffensive, but just sounds a bit dated- the keyboard chords and occasional wah-wah buried in the distance.

I'm hoping that the rest of the album is a bit more up to date, or even something unlike anything else on the market; I'll be keeping a close eye.

Could be up your alley if you like: Macey Gray, Adele.

Thom Curtis


The Hair – Blood (4 Plus 5 Records)

"Blood" opens with a crazy synthesised guitar riff that is, well, certainly interesting. Trailing the scales, far into 'annoying squeak' and beyond, it soon picks up and becomes a funky, pacey electro-indie tune; that to be honest, sounds like a blend of The KBC and Elle Milano. It's actually really good though,

The following songs, "Stocks" and "Million Lies," continue to provide much of what we've heard before. A similar sound, I mean, not the same music – that would be boring. These guys keep things interesting, and have a pretty low boredom factor.

Quite incredible how much the vocalist sounds like that of Elle Milano. Quite a similar sound too – a little less pop and a bit more indie though. Itunes tells me it's alternative & punk, but the punkiest it gets is something on par with the Pigeon Detectives. Either way I like it, I like it a lot.

Could be up your alley if you like: Elle Milano, The KBC

Thom Curtis


The Kills - 'Last Day Of Magic' (Domino)

Apparently Woolworths are to stop selling CD singles on the grounds that no-one buys them any more, or if they do they don't buy them from Woolies. This could mean that slightly fewer people than should will hear this little gem, a sweaty growl of loss and despair. 'Last day of magic/but where are you' mews Alison Mosshart over hissing guitars, making the Ting Tings sound like kids TV presenters as she does so.

The Kills: aren't they famous yet?
Watch video to 'Last Day of Magic'


White Denim - Let's Talk About It

This sounds like a raggedly lo-fi rockabilly version of Air Traffic's 'Charlotte'. Seriously. I love the way that all of White Denim's instruments sound like they were bought in a pound shop and are probably held together with gaffer tape and superglue.
Watch the video to 'Let's Talk About It'



Jape - I Was a Man (V2)

Now this is pretty damn good. A reedy guitar line over a nice solid bed of bleeps and loops with Mr Jape (Richie Egan) providing the vocal commentary. Quite dancey but also rocking out (in an electro way), especially in the excellently warped bridge section. I'm looking forward to Jape's next releases.



Mama's Gun - Pots of Gold (Lockout Music)

Sounds like Lenny Kravitz mixed by Mark Ronson. This could mean you think this is the best thing since sliced bread or you could find it toe-curlingly dull. For some reason I am having trouble pulling my shoes off my feet at the moment...



Sukie - Pink-A-Pade (City Slang)

Two initial thoughts. What a terrible band name and what the hell is Pink-A-Pade supposed to mean? Regardless of the meaning, the track has a lot to thank (or otherwise) the likes of The Cribs and Captain style of clatterpop. In fairness Sukie don't seem to lack musical ability but I am just a bit clattered out. Now why don't you all just calm down, have a nice cup of tea and write some tunes that don't involve shouting eh Sukie?



Polka Party - Japanese Haircut (Happy Release)

In a rare concession to technology I even followed up this band on Myspace after listening to their CD. Well, I had to because the CD was scratched to bits and wouldn't play. But I'm glad I did. 'Japanese Haircut' comes across a bit like a post punk 'End of the World' by REM with a stream of consciousness style vocal delivery from Tom O'Leary. It's all over a drum machine beat and loop with just a bit of live bass and guitar to flesh things out - the guitar especially grates across the track in a gratifyingly anarchic way.



Millimetre - Missing Haitch (Orectic)

Fusing the distorted guitar drone of Death in Vegas with an electro glam stomp drum beat, Millimetre aka Terence J McGaughey delivers his indecipherable lyrics over the top to complete a fascinating mix. With elements of Scottish acts like Viva Stereo and Satellite Dub, 'Missing Haitch marks a departure from the darker sounds of the last album 'Obsidian' and towards a more upbeat future.



The Crucible - Beyond Driven (Sub Mariner)

For some reason I was expecting heavy as fuck style metal here. But what The Crucible actually deliver is a more indie rock sound. There's loads of interesting ideas going on in this track but it is strangled and dismembered by an awful sounding drum production. Was it recorded on a Fisher Price kid's drum kit?



Ebenus - After Party (Ebenus Ltd)

This is so bland. There is absolutely no respite from the repetitive bass line and beat that remain constant for three and a half minutes. As a summery funk laden 30 second snippet I could manage this but as a fully fledged single this is criminal.



Dexter Bentley – Killer Kane/ Swan Song (Blang)

This is a particularly wishy washy single by Dexter Bentley. It’s a simple and tuneful single but lacks any sense of imagination. The single for me was bland. Available as a download or on 7” vinyl, the single for me is a slight disappointment. A pleasant listen by all means, but its not an inspiring or particularly challenging single at all. Blang have however produced one of my favourite compilations with ‘Fruit Machine’ their first release on the label, well worth a try at only £5.

Gareth Ludkin


Out From Animals - The National Curriculum (Rough Edge)

That's right - the self same band who appeared on Channel 4's Mobile Act Unsigned last year and who had Alex James simpering 'I don't think you have any idea how brilliant you are...' Hmm, not brilliant enough to keep them in the competition apparently. Didn't one of them cry when they got booted out too? (Please don't sue me if that was a figment of my imagination.)

'The National Curriculum' is a seething mass of pulsating electronica with rampaging dancey lines and a stonking good chorus. The bass fumbles along at a break neck speed and collides nicely into the singalong chorus. True enough Alex - this is really quite good.



The Scaramanga Six – Walking Through Houses (Wrath Records)

Once again another quality single from the truly original Scaramanga Six. With a slightly sinister dark side this single from the band is takes a slightly heavier rock direction reminiscent of my younger youth. Loud and clear the Scaramanga Six have produced a belter of a single and are passionate and driven as ever, a real solid band now Their album Dance of Death is well worth a listen. For the bargain price of £3 you could own Walking Through Houses and a slice of Scaramanga goodness. Visit their website and get yourself a copy of their album and this latest single.

Gareth Ludkin


Pin Me Down - Cryptic (Kitsune)

Another success from the seemingly unfailing house of cool at Kitsune Maison. This time Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack and New York musician Milena Mepris get together to forge a trans Atlantic lesson in guitar dance pop. 'Cryptic' starts with what sounds a bit like a juggernaut beeping it's horn at you in a tunnel while getting ever closer to the moment of impact when a very Bloc Party guitar riff kicks things off proper. The track even manages to survive Mepris' slightly annoying vocal tones to end up a 4 minute pop gem.



Gloria Cycles - Vegas (Wendy Bike)

A nice little turn in Supergrass style indie rock here from Brighton four-piece Gloria Cycles. Not just the fact that lead singer possesses a voice that would easily pass as Gaz Coombes but also the fact that the vocal harmonies and bass line make 'Vegas' sound uncannily like 'In It for the Money'. But at least this was Supergrass at their best so just kick back and enjoy the Gloria Cycles doing their thing.



Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers (Virgin)

Beneath the sugary veneer of angel voiced Marling's delivery lies a very dark undertone in the lyrics - 'Cross Your Fingers, Hold Your toes, We're all gonna die when the building blows'. Not very cheery is it? But it is extremely beautifully done and is another feather in the impressive Marling's cap.
Watch video to 'Cross Your Fingers'



The Brightlights - 3 (Distiller)

Described as Grimsby's finest by the press release (well, after Tony Ford obviously - check your 80's footy trivia - I'm sure the bloke was still playing professionally when he was about 54 or something incredible) The Brightlights come along to lighten up our soggy summer with some fantastically intricate intertwined guitar pieces. Great sweeping orchestral parts in B-side 'Another Night' seem completely at odds with gravel voiced vocalist Leon Blanchard's lyrics (another Blanchard from Grimsby? I'd better check this out with my Dad...) but can't diminish from the the fact that this is pretty decent pair of songs.



Morton Valence – Chandelier (Bastard Recordings)

Dreamy melodies tumble from the speakers as you press play on Morton Valence’s second single ‘Chandelier’. Ahead of their proposed debut album this single is an excellent representation of the bands smooth melodies and warm atmosphere. Track two on the single ‘Go To Sleep’ follows like a spooky dream, dark and brooding it is not as strong as track one and for me is too drawn out. Morton Valence are an exciting two piece, boy and girl pairing with a captivating talent and aura. With a spellbinding glockenspiel riff, ‘Chandelier’ captured my imagination and I look forward to hearing more of their music on their forthcoming debut album which has been creatively and ambitiously funded by selling shares to their fans. On the bands on label Bastard Recordings the band have been selling their shares in an attempt to draw their audience closer to the production and experience of the music. Anyone can get a copy of their proposal by simply writing to The album which is titled ‘Bob & Veronica Ride Again’ will be released later this year.

Gareth Ludkin


Singing Bridges – Sunny Day, Rainy Day

This is an unimpressive EP. Badly produced and with nothing interesting to hold on to the EP is distinctly average the singing is drab and emotionless and I really couldn’t find much to complement it. Boring and uneventful.

Gareth Ludkin


Bullet For My Valentine - Waking The Demon

There is something of a guilty pleasure stigma with BFMV. Depending on whom you ask they’re the best thing about British Metal at the moment or they’re the proverbial turd on its shoe. 

Which brings me to the stigma; there must be a whole bunch of people that are sitting rather uncomfortably on the fence. They know they really shouldn’t like it but at the same time they can’t help but enjoy Bullet’s music. They plunder every successful metal band’s sound – an Iron Maiden-esque riff here, a Metallica chorus there – all mixed in with a bit of “emo” every now and then.  

It might be this mishmash of sounds that has made them as successful as they are, they appeal to several sonic demographics whilst being relevant to the iPod generation going from pre-pubescent scene rats to 30 year old head bangers who really should no better.  

Waking the Demon is without doubt totally lame – particularly when you have seen the video for it (prepare for one the worst werewolves committed to film since the 60s) but it is still weirdly listenable and the chorus is bloody good.

Chris Sharpe


The Black Keys - I Got Mine 

If you were to don some headphones, close your eyes, and turn this on, it could almost be 1968. You would no doubt be American and would probably have a beard, the world wouldn’t be worrying about global warming or Osama Bin Laden, it’d be too preoccupied with the Cold War and the USSR. The Black Keys get the rock and formula so perfect that you wouldn’t have a clue which decade you were in. They could quite easily have been your dad’s favourite band and the only way you’d have found out about them is on Guitar Hero or raiding your dad’s vinyl collection. 

Which is what makes it all the more surprising to find production credits to one Danger Mouse, that the band is a two piece, and to hear that this, The Black Keys’ fifth album is their first done in a proper studio. Trippy. Raucous, bluesy guitars and Dan Auerbach's distinctive, effects ridden voice drive this along an endless highway with one hand on the steering wheel and it is this sense that perhaps explains the underwhelming feel you get from the song. It’s no anthem and it’s no standout tune, it is just simple, laidback good times rock and roll music. And maybe that’s what The Black Keys are setting out to do. But with the fairly unique template they had for this album they might have tried something a bit different. Meh it worked for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Chris Sharpe


The Rascals - Freakbeat Phantom 

tr.v.   un·der·whelmed, un·der·whelm·ing, un·der·whelms
To fail to excite, stimulate, or impress: "He is just as entitled to be underwhelmed by the prospect of reigning over a fourth-class nation as the rest of us are by the prospect of living in it" 

Poor old Rascals. A few years ago pre-“I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” they might have been the great white hope of British indie. Unfortunately Miles Kane and Co. now come across as bandwagon jumpers of the Monkey’s trademark sound, mostly due, in part, to the unfortunately very obvious, and very similar vocal style of Kane to Alex Turner’s. 

The differences are quite hard to find, at least off of this second single and the B-Sides that accompany it. However they are there. For example there is perhaps a little bit more of a punk edge to the lyrics and the sound and a few smatterings of very on trend accompanying keyboard and synth. The slightly more soaring edge and harmonised vocals on the chorus and in particular on the bridge also add some more variety to the mix. 

In conclusion there is potential. That is for sure, and if The Rascals get the attention of the NME crowd they could have a good year, which could be helped in particular by their relationship with Arctic Monkey’s and Kane’s involvement in The Last Shadow Puppets; it’s just a shame they don’t have more of an original sound to start off with.

Chris Sharpe


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.

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.

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.

Ian Anderson


Pop Levi – Never Never Love (Counter Records) 

Opening with rock n roll sing along Wanamama, Never Never Love then transitions into a tribal inspired track, Never Never Love, with electronically tinkered vocals (unfortunately reminiscent of Cher’s Believe). 

Semi-Babe is a gentle, college-rock track, which will induce compulsive swaying almost immediately. It’s at this point the album seems to settle down into a laid-back, reggae influenced style, which runs through the rest of the album. Mai’s Space is a track best avoided, with the vocoder laden vocals sounding like horrific r n b annoyance Akon. 

Never Never Love is, to put it bluntly, tedious. There’s no real display of talent or motivation, and it seems perpetually confused about what it’s doing.

Catriona Boyle


A Broken Robot - s/t EP 

This happy indie pop band from Southend - on - Sea may not be that well known but with catchy pop songs like on their first ep it won’t be long until they will be drawing in crowds all over the UK. A Broken Robot take their influences from bands such as Minus the Bear and Modest Mouse and this comes shining through in their music with their unorthodox pop music. Up beat guitars, lots of percussion and fun catchy lyrics make A Broken Robot one of those bands who can produce a song which you can’t help but sing/hum along to. With the ep due to be released to the end of July the band couldn’t have planned it any better, A Broken Robot are definitely a summer fun loving band, likely to put a smile on your face whilst listening to them and dancing around. Like most bands A Broken Robot sing about their past experience but they always seem to bring a level of optimism to their music which just adds to the fun of this band. Having already supported some of the hottest up coming bands like I Was a Cub Scout and Furthest Drive Home it won’t be long before A Broken Robot are taking centre stage themselves. 

Tim Birkbeck


The Tupolev Ghost - The Alpha ep 

The Tupolev Ghost have created a melodic post - hardcore sound, they use very raw slow gritty riffs which are accompanied by the loud shouted vocals. It is clear from the rawness of the recording that this band is all about DIY music. None of this posh recording studios for them, they are here to make noise they way they want to. This comes across in their music - it is clearly a work in progress, not the final masterpiece. This ep may appear very rough around the edges but it adds to it’s charm and appeal. It is not everyday that a band produces something they have done off their own backs and sounds so raw and fresh. With very unique riffs, catchy rhythms topped off with strong lyrics it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if these four young men from Cambridge went from strength to strength. The Alpha ep is sure to be a hit as was the band’s mini album ‘Take Courage’ . The Tupolev Ghost are one of those bands that people will want to say “I was a fan from the beginning”. Just watch them progress because they have great potential to make an impact on the alternative music scene. 

Tim Birkbeck


Kidnapper Bell - Less Me, More Sky

"What Arthur Said" zooms in quite quickly. In zoomed-out mode, this EP opens like the remix track of Super Roots 7, a point to which it returns two and a half minutes in. However, a lot of the guitar in this song is in the same vein as Dartz!'s first album. Again, no bad touching points.

"The Frequency" sees more jaded and less shouty vocals. Hello, lullaby. I kind of got distracted for a minute and began to look at the wax-sealed packaging. Then, again around two minutes in, the song switches around - drums build in, build up, and it sounds like frequency has been found - and, um, it's XFM. Still. "The Frequency" does display Kidnapper Bell's penchant for stop-start dynamics - see Dartz! - and the song pulsates, rhythmically intriguing, and becomes "Have Another". Which again begins in a warped fashion. The lyrics - moral bankruptcy, anyone? - stick to the surface, and the vocal style is reminiscent of that of, say, Ungdomskulen, which means it is a bit of a weak point.

"Are you there? Are you there? Are you there?" I've had another. Thank you. No more. Climaxing like Forward, Russia's "Six", Kidnapper Bell tune things down again for "Pixel". More mellow guitars and a more shoegaze-esque rhythm section allow for the lyrics, the assurations that "We like pain, 'cause it keeps us from wondering" to come through. Bam, crescendo. In not such an angular sense, Kidnapper Bell seem intent on keeping things together at the end.

Mixing pop, post-punk and something like shoegaze with emo, a defiantly independent aesthetic and as many tunes as you can find in single-song packages this side of 2007, Kidnapper Bell have put out a bit of a winner. There's plenty of sky for everyone.

Phil Coales


Sick City Club - Sign of the Times (Magic Garden Studio)

Wow. Having formed only 7 months ago in late November 2007 Sick City Club have played at the Carling Academy sharing the stage with the likes of Zane Lowe & Little Man Tate to name but a few.

They’ve had ‘Sign of the times’ aired on Kerrang and performed 4 tracks on live radio as part of BBC introducing.

Only just coming up to 20 years of age these guys have a solid understanding of the ladder game that is the music industry. With heart, hard work and a can do attitude they are proving themselves to those with the powers that are and are sure to reap commercial success as a result.

What is great about this band and the single is that it sounds un-tampered with. The lyrics are insightful and straightforward. 

Some of it is a little unexpected, a romantic chorus line that could quite easily fit in to a Boyzone track is in place in ‘Sign of the Times’ which starts with a Led Zepplin esque roaring guitar. So, not a combo you’d expect.

The songs cover complex ground and remind me of The Sex Pistols and A Clockwork Orange. How fitting that the lead signer is called Alex too. Whether the guys have even read or heard of A Clockwork Orange is of no matter they have certainly captured the idea that nice boys can turn bad and a lot of this is society and circumstances doing. These poetic considerations layered over slick punk rock riffs and pumping poppy melodies make this band an awesome energetic listen.

But there is no higher preachy ground about it all; the words are simple and the structure logical.  If these boys keep the attitude and continue to exploit the idea of social conscience in this accessible way they’ll be big and they be here for years to come.

Helen Barlow


Beat Six - When the Chemicals Ignite (with fuel) (Brass Monkey Music) 

Sounds like a less experimental Foals with Ricky Kaiser Chief on vocals.

Even before I read the press release I wasn’t quite sure what this single was getting at. My notes said, strong voice, dated rock, some catchy elements and a very few poetic / articulate  / intelligent lyrics that you really do have to search out and listen for. ‘Little mess’ best listen but tire of all quickly.

Then the press release had the words – in description of the band – ‘chav antegarde’ and while I paused for a moment and thought WTF does that mean should I google it, I quickly came to my senses and remembered chav = arrogant and we don’t want anymore Pete Docherty’s on our hands now do we! I guess sometimes it isn’t just about the sound.

PS ‘antegarde’ isn’t even a word you could use like this.

Helen Barlow


The Daves - Not in England (Ambush UK) 

Ok so maybe this is backwards I don’t know I’m new but I did a bit of digging first.

Stop the presses:  The Daves’ tracks that aren’t on the new single but can be found on their myspace and are much more appealing.

Gigging since they were of 16 years old this early punk with new wave edges tumbling around in classic rock and a smattering of insightful lyrics sounds new and experimental.

A sound that would stand out in the crowd makes it easy to see why these tracks wowed the Friday night crowd who saw The Daves perform at Glastonbury 2007.

The success of these early performances drenched in raw accessible creativity and honest reflections on society and people in the here and now paid off.

First recordings were captured during the 2007 ‘Tequila Sessions’ and shortly after the powers at Warner Chappell in Los Angeles were calling in the boys for serious chats, opening the doors to meetings with the likes of producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin & Iron Maiden). Then John Pennington (Moby & Happy Mondays) offered to mix this single ‘Not in England’ and ‘Left Behind’.

So is this why ‘Not in England’ sounds a lot like Oasis. Is a commercial big wig whose marketing yes men’s statistics show a pining for the Oasis sound, controlling our lads?  Don’t they know our ‘post whatever the fuck it is we’re so over this week, generation’ needs progression.

Enough about the men in suits though. Luckily the second track ‘Left Behind’ starts to tick a few more originality boxes. It is a natural progressive of the more unusual tracks The Daves have experience gigging with. With a pace merely hinting at the styles of their teenage idols Oasis and The Stone Roses ‘Left Behind’ throws in some drawn out melodies and ever moving pitches that definitely make you think yeah this is different.

Expect when these guys have played the game a little and get to have more of a say in what they release first to be blown away buy riffs, synths and a wicked Killers meets Nirvana meets Garbage original sound.

Helen Barlow


Frank Turner – Reasons Not To Be An Idiot (Xtra Mile Recordings)

‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ is the second single to be taken from Frank Turner’s recent release ‘Love Ire & Song.’ This track is an uplifting pop song and uses a fuller band sound than the majority of songs on the previous album, ‘Sleep is for the Week’.

‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ describes a cast of characters, with Turner’s forthright lyrics creating what could become a summer anthem – “It’s a lovely sunny day … so get up and get down and get outside.” Like Turner’s previous releases, the combination of styles and attitudes could appeal to fans of punk and of folk.

Yasmin Prebble


Royal Treatment Plant – Undercurrent – (Universal) 

Fizzy little punk tune from Royal Treatment Plant, the treble tone is high, the vocal tone is youthful and the bass is virtually immaterial. The main thing is, it works, brilliantly. Pin-sharp execution in every department and the underlying sweet fallibility of the vocal tones make Royal Treatment Plant irresistible for inclusion on any summer compilation. You should be really excited about hearing more from them.

Ian Anderson


Kong – Blood of a Dove – (Brew Records) 

Irritating, low-tempo, grinding; Blood of a Dove sounds like Steveless, but shorn of their inventiveness. The title track goes absolutely nowhere, lurching through a cycle of careworn, boring riffage for three minutes then ending. The b-side is marginally better, changing pace and reeling like a punch drunk boxer to a lurching rhythm before breaking out into scat vocals and a fittingly thrashy crescendo. So yeah, some promise, but nothing amazing.

Ian Anderson


Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences – You can’t make somebody love you (Jezus Factory)

Awkward is a good way to describe this single. For me the vocal styling’s of Paul Hawkins sound more suited to a dodgy karaoke bar than a CD single. You can’t argue that Paul Hawkins can sing (assuming that is indeed who is singing) his karaoke bar spoken word singing style takes some getting used to. The music behind the songs also lack imagination and finish, and you notice that with both tracks on the single the music behind the vocals is simply there to allow Paul Hawkins to drone on with his arduous and misguided vocals. I hope no one told him he could sing. For how much I don’t like this single there is a kind of off kilter charm about the music which makes it bearable if not enjoyable. There are promising elements there but the music is unimaginative and lacks any sort of direction, simply droning in the background with some fairly 80’s sounding synth music will not do it for me and the spoken, out of tune vocal style which is strangely growing on me barely works.

Gareth Ludkin


Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences – Don’t blind me with science (Jezus Factory)

More of the same but with no visible improvement; the vocals are really starting to annoy me now.

Gareth Ludkin


Fight Like Apes – Lend Me Face (Model Citizen Records)

Energetic synth rock comes courtesy of Dublin’s Fight Like Apes. Simply relying on the line ‘Lend Me Your Face’ throughout the song the music is direct and full frontal, it is enjoyable and catchy. A perfect floor filler for any indie disco ‘Lend me Your Face’ is a song which we could well be hearing more of, direct and to the point. The single also carries a cover of the like minded Mclusky’s ‘lightsabre Cock-sucking Blues’. Time will tell whether this band will make an impact or fall un-noticed by the wayside. With an impending tour support slot with We Are Scientists the stage is perfectly set.

Gareth Ludkin


The Brute Chorus - 'Grow Fins'

The press release describes 'Grow Fins' as blues, and throws in several quotes from other reviewers to back up this assertion. This is only part of the story however as 'Grow Fins' is in fact a jaunty stroll through an array of effect pedal guitar tricks which had me checking my CD player for speaker damage at one point. Two minutes and thirty seconds of actual brilliance and originality.

Jon Gordon