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singles/eps - july 2008



MGMT - Electric Feel (Columbia)

While being a little under whelmed by MGMT's previous offerings, 'Electric Feel' hold a kind of languid laid back synth disco charm that makes it difficult to dislike. Plus they sound like they are singing about electric eels - what more could you want?
www.whoismgmt.com
Watch video to 'Electric Feel'

SB

 
 

The Herbaliser - Clap Your Hands feat. Jessica Darling (!K7)

Featuring more horns than a Viking longboat and no doubt benefiting from the popularity of producer du jour Mark Ronson, Clap Your Hands is a big beat funk soul brother that sounds like it belongs on an advert for minis (skirts or cars). Relentlessly old skool, if you like your northern soul then you won't go far wrong with this.

SB

 
 

Smokers Die Younger - Sketchpads (Thee SPC)

From the seemingly endless pool of talent on the South Yorks indiepop scene comes Smokers Die Younger and their skewed genius in the form of 'Sketchpads'. Harpsichord sounding keys stab away while a Dinosaur Jnr growling guitar piece whiles away in the background of the breakdown. An equally demented vocal completes this cock-eyed beauty of an ode to the humble 4-track.
www.theespc.com

SB

 
 

Midasuno - Sister Temptation (Sugar Shack)

Not afraid to experiment would be a colossal understatement about Midasuno. This is a heady mix of sludgy riffs, electronica, emo with a sprinkling of thrash for good measure. You could be forgiven for thinking this would all equal a bit of a mess but while it certainly jerks around like an epileptic gerbil there is just enough structure to hold the whole track together. The B-sides are also pretty good so if you can get over Scott Andrews rather girly vocals then this single should be a must have.
www.myspace.com/midasuno

SB

 
 

Heads We Dance - My Heart is Set on You/Love in the Digital Age (Pure Groove)

From one camp sounding electro band to another. A curiously undertstated mix makes 'My Heart is Set on You' sound a little like a washed out Pet Shop Boys track. It phases in and out with whispish synths and airy vocals but just skims the surface of my interest.

Double A side 'Love in the Digital Age' finally gets a proper release even though it feels like we've written about it 3 times already. Suffice to say it is very good, well worth buying this release for alone.
www.headswedance.com

SB

 
 

The Bon Bon Club - Lullaby/Love is Blind/Romantic Rights (Thee SPC)

Uh-oh. Pretentious super group alert. Band name ending in 'club' - check. Comedy names - check. Cover versions aplenty - check. But hold on a minute, these stripped down to bass and rums version are actually really good. The contrast between the sparkly female vocals and the sludgy bass works a treat and as the press release correctly observes, it's so much better doing covers like this rather than just another boring slowed down acoustic version. Bravo.
www.thespc.com

SB

 

Florence and the Machine - Kiss with a Fist (Moshi Moshi)

Well it's been out a while and it has been getting plenty of good coverage. Probably because it is pretty good in a Chaz n Dave meets PJ Harvey sort of way. 'Kiss with a Fist' is a darkly rollocking ride of love and violence. Won't win any prizes with anti domestic violence campaigners but it is a good tune.
www.myspace.com/florenceandthemachine

SB

 

White Williams - Violator (Double Six)

I know it is incredibly immature of me, shallow perhaps and definitely behaviour of an impartial reviewer but...the picture on the front of this CD gets right on my tits. White Williams looking all smug with his horrible shades on - I just feel the urge to punch him in the face. My anger management issues aside, I don't like the track much either - it just meanders along with a few whirs, bleeps and keyboard sounds thrown into an unforgettable melody. bah. I'm off to drown some kittens.
watch the video to 'Violator'

SB

 
 

Wild Beasts - The Devil's Crayon (Domino)

Gosh - this was an unexpected pleasure. I've seen Wild Beasts quite a few times and always ended up cringing at the more melodramatic leanings of Hayden Thorpe's falsetto vibrato voice. But 'Devil's Crayon' sees vocal duties handed to bassist Tom Fleming and it makes for a massively refreshing improvement. the guitars twinkle along and the whole song sounds like a soundtrack to a trek on horseback through the wild west. Marvellous stuff.
www.myspace.com/wildbeasts
Watch video to 'Devil's Crayon'

SB


 

Capitol K - Libertania/Go Go Go (Faith & Industry)

Capitol K aka Kristian Craig Robinson mess around with playful electronica warblings. 'Libertania' has more than a whiff of Pagan Wanderer Lu about it plus a huge stench of annoying synthy sound in the chorus that really annoyed me after 2 listens. 'Go Go Go' by comparison is a bit darker and more minimal with a percussion that sounds like water dripping in a cave. This appeals much to my troglodytic tendencies.

SB


 

The Notwist - Where in the World (City Slang)

I admit to being completely unfamiliar with the Notwist. but then they haven't released anything for 6 year so it's hardly surprising. That said I am quite taken by 'Where in the World' with its understated claustrophobic clicks and blips. There's even a bit of doleful brass midway through, carefully folded within the immaculately constructed songwriting. Sounds like the direction you thought Radiohead were heading after Kid A but never did.
www.myspace.com/thenotwistnow

SB


 

The Tusken Coalition - Amphetamine Romance (Basilica)

I'm not normally one to go in for hip hop but Tusken Coalition throw in quite a heavy and dark vibe into their tracks and coupled with their use of live decks only (no studio samples or loops here) Amphetamine Romance is quite a refreshing change. Though it also has elements of that 'Check Your Head' era Beastie Boys (which is obviously not new)...I knew I'd strayed too far out of my depth here.
www.tuskencoalition.co.uk

SB

 
 

Black Affair - It's Real (Playgroup Remix) (V2)

More dark electronic music. This time in the form of Germanic sounding Black Affair. Think Fischerspooner or Blackstrobe meets Ritzy handbag house. It remains so understated that it becomes a little frustrating to listen to, especially that bassy keyboard sound which plinks away continuously throughout the song.

SB

 

Brendan Campbell - Twilight Bird EP (Everybody)

Err, I had to read the press release just to confirm that Campbell was actually singing in the English language. Don't get me wrong, I'm not locked in some home counties village and get confused everytime someone pronounces a word with a short vowel sound. Hell, I even lived in Newcastle for a year and untangled many a Geordie accent. But Campbell is seriously laying it on thick with opening track 'Burgers and Murders'. And it is quite brilliant. Rapidly picked but simple guitar melodies form the backdrop to Campbell's ethereal vocal which phases in and out.

'Twilight Bird' and 'Comets' are at once more intelligible though still heavily accented in a way that makes them resonate with meaning seeing as they written about events and places from Campbell's home. But by final track 'Mr Robinson' I'm about ready for something a bit more varied than the steadfast voice-guitar combination.
www.myspace.com/brendangeniecampbell

SB

 
 

Sarah McCleod - White Horses (Roustabout)

What is this rubbish? Sounds like bad euro dance tripe to me. The CD says 'Strictly for promotional use only' - quite right - no-one would listen to this for pleasure. Get out of my ears.
www.myspace.com/sarahmcleod

SB

 
 

The Kooks - Shine On (Virgin)

The Kooks remain resolute in their lifelong mission to make absolutely no music that i find appealing. 'Shine On' is no doubt intended as their summery festival number. It's a bit Boo Radleys but mainly it's got that special Kooks quality of being, well, not that special. This is all getting a bit boring - how about you try and write a techno single or a thrash album Luke?
www.thekooks.co.uk
Watch video for 'Shine on'

SB

 
 

Her Enemy - promo

There's definitely some great song writing going on here. the vocal harmonies in the chorus of 'Badbrain' seem to slip in and out of time effortlessly. But much of this good stuff is veneered over in a sanitised rock format that means it's a struggle to really get excited by it.

For a promo EP there is the obligatory acoustic number tacked on the end. But I'd rather listen to 'Tomorrow's Story' any day rather than the bloody Kooks.

SB

 
 

The Talks - Picture This (All Our Own)

Ready? Sure? Ok, press play. Doh! You missed it - that quick pick slide at the start. Otherwise, they sound like very clean cut, thoroughly proficient song writers and musicians. Would I play 'Picture This' again after writing this review? Not a chance.
www.myspace.com/thetalks

SB

 
 

Lo Fi Culture Scene - Abstract (Kids)

For a bunch of 13 and 14 year olds (yes dear readers, you read correctly) Lo Fi Culture Scene are bloody good. But in the same way as if you see a 14 year old footballing prodigy he is bloody good, but not as good as a proper grown up professional footballer. 'Abstract's biggest failing is the distinctly teenage sounding vocals - ahh, no amount of talent can disguise the facts of nature boys. But that said, these guys are very impressive and would give Bloc Party a run for their money. Bet they split before they reach 16 though!
www.myspace.com/loficulturescene

SB

 
 

Luke Leighfield - If You Haven't Got Anything to Say (Got Got Need/Banquet)

This sounds like the Beatles' 'Penny Lane' except without the catchy chorus. Piano pop which seems to crash into a squeaky brass finale - perfectly acceptable dreamy fare.
www.myspace.com/simplylukeleighfield

SB

 

Plantlife - Take it Off/They Pay ME 4 This (Rapster)

On account of the vaguely War of the Worlds style sleeve art I suspected this would be slightly more interesting fare than its predecessors in tonight's review pile and I was correct. But as we would say in Yorkshire, Plantlife are proper weird. 'Take it Off' is like Prince meets 70s funk meets Chemical Brothers. There's this hard techno edge underpining all those phat grooves that is guaranteed to get you dancing around roboticising. It's electro with soul, funk with a mechanical heart.
http://www.plant-life.net

SB

 
 

Kobai - We Move in Waves (Kobai)

I think that listening to this incredibly loud, especially live at a gig would be an awesome experience. but it is late, I am an upstanding member of the community and I have neighbours, so it is on at a moderate level. But Kobai blurt out enough effects and thumping beats in just over four minutes to wake even the deepest sleeping Mr Johnson from No. 7 just across the street. Good on you lads.
www.kobai.co.uk

SB

 
 

Underworld - Ring Road (UnderworldLive)

Not one of my favourite tracks from Underworld's 'Oblivion with Bells', 'Ring Road' has a vaguely tribal vibe but seems to drift lazily along instead of really making you sit up and take notice. Mind you, that kind of resonates with some of the lyrics talking about putting the world to rights, sitting back and watching it 'all slide by'. There are 4 remixes too though, and the Laid Back Luke remix is great, more reminscent of the acid house days of DubNoBassWithMyHeadMan Underworld.
www.underworldlive.com
Watch video to 'Ring Road'

SB

 

Jupiter One - Platform Moon (Cordless/Rykodisc)

It's a fine line between lazily stylish and a little bit slap-dash. I feel Jupiter One are having little dalliances with both. The guitars and harmonies are nice and wispish without being too anthemic but the bassline and vocals lean toward a little bit plodding. I'm unconvinced.
www.jupiterone.com

SB

 

 

The Blakes - Don't Want That Now (Strange Addiction)

Dull dull dullsville. Like The Vines but without any kind of vibrancy, urgency or for that matter, fun. I do however love the packshot which seems to feature a fox on fire (not that I don't like foxes you understand). Kind of a fox-comet or fox-meteorite.
www.myspace.com/theblakes

SB

 
 

The Last of the Shadow Puppets - Standing Next To Me (Domino)

If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people that he did not exist then the LotSP trick of convincing us that they are being all clever and innovative must run a close second. It's more strings, Morricone arrangements and 60s vibe straight out of a pattern book. they do it well but does it really create any kind of reaction in me? Not really.
watch video to 'Standing Next to Me'

SB

 

Unusual & Electric - Pulsating Ting EP (Zirkus)

Unfortunately U&E have yet to discover the art of brevity and seem to want all their tracks to push your limits of patience to the extreme, especially as if, as in my case, you find the repetitive loop of 'Aggravator' mildly annoying. Sure there are some interesting samples but in the main it's pretty rudimentary. Again there is an air of Death in Vegas about 'Black Bomber' but as with DiV, who can also err on the simplistic side, it's hardly an attention grabber. But there are some good things going on here (like the gentle glockenspiel which plays off the hard house electro drum machine) - I just think the whole thing would be better off condensed into a more listener friendly format, rather than have you recoiling away from you speakers with a mild headache. And as if to illustrate the point, the EP closer 'Venturi Reprise' does exactly that - a big beat, some warped synths and B-movie effects all seemingly performed on quite a cheap and ancient keyboard. It gets fuzzier and and more obscure before it eventually fizzles out after 3 minutes - perfect for a busy man like myself.
www.unusualandelectric.com

SB

 

Moby - I Love to Move in Here (Mute)

Having just criticised Unusual and Electric for being a little bit simplistic, I'm now going to contradict myself by suggesting that Moby knows exactly how to handle a minimal song and keep it interesting. 'I like to Move Here' seemingly has nothing much to it if you dissect the parts - a very simple piano line, a female vocal sample and the laid back rap style of Grandmaster Caz. But they are all perfectly handles, balanced and even the old school rave 'woo's can't spoil the summerish hot sticky nightclub vibe.
www.moby.com

SB

 
 

Gregoryz Girl - Moving Mountains EP

The use of a 'z' in 'Gregoryz' should have been a clue (a desperate attempt to lure a youthful txtspk audience perhaps). The earnest band shot gazing into mid-distance should have been a clue (trying to acquire an unwarranted sense of gravitas. 'Moving Mountains' is nothing short of abysmal. A warbly larynxed chanteuse and £79.99 from Argos guitar sound mean I would not even be happy if I'd seen this lot in a pub, let alone commit their work to CD. I have no appetite to plough through the other three tracks which comprise this CD.
www.gregoryzgirl.com

SB

 
 

Tricky - Council Estate (Domino)

Is it my ears deceiving me or is there a feint glimmer of Portishead's 'Road' really low in the screwed up up mix of 'Council Estate'? I'm not sure Tricky's vocal talents really lend themself to this type of frontman drawl - his voice just sounds better being quietly malevolent. Otherwise 'Council Estate' is a hyperactive rabid dog of noise and beats, a bit scary actually.
watch video to 'Council Estate'

SB


Mumford & Sons - Lend Me Your Eyes EP (Chess Club Promotions)

A little jewel of a debut release, that manages, over the space of four songs and sixteen minutes, to explore the grand themes of life, love, loss, death, grace and redemption, fire and brimstone.

Already receiving well deserved airplay, having been picked up last month by Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie as a Radio 2 single of the week, the band have just played Glastonbury and now continue on a short tour to promote the release.

For a taste of how they play live, their MySpace site features some marvellous television footage of the band, with a pared down line up, of guitar, banjo and upright bass, performing a couple of the songs from the single. On record this basic folk/bluegrass line up is augmented by percussion, piano, fiddle, mandolin, accordion, Hammond organ and some sweet vocal harmonies.

From the beautiful opening refrain of ‘Roll Away Your Stone’, that belongs somewhere between Ireland and the Appalachians, to the closing chorus of ‘Awake My Soul’ ; between them, Marcus Mumford, Ted Dwayne, Country Winston, Ben Lovett (Bloody Loves It) and Holly Piercy, all fine musicians, have crafted four infectious, confessional, anthems that reward repeated listening. This is bluegrass music for the soul.
www.myspace.com/mumfordandsons
www.myspace.com/chessclubpromotions

Bill Howe

 

The Pigeon Detectives – Everybody Wants Me (Universal) 

The Pigeon Detectives have come a long way in the past year or so, and are a firm favourite amongst indie fans and DJs alike. Everybody Wants Me is the second single from their second album, and sums up their current status perfectly. A more low-key affair than usual, this is a simple love song that even those with a very basic grasp of the English language can’t fail to understand. Everybody Wants Me is Pigeon Detectives all over - it features the Pigeons trademark big chorus, wistful lyrics, sunny disposition and general 3 minute pop song wonder.
www.thepigeondetectives.com
Watch video to 'Everybody Wants Me'
 

SB

 
 

Bad Love & Licker - EP

Bad Love & Licker are a band who have a huge local following but are also trying to branch out and reach a wider audience. It is clear to see why they have gathered so may fans, having very fast and heavy guitar riffs, with a hardcore edge to them. From this four track EP the song ‘Camera! Action! Lipstick! Lights!’ stands out as the most dominating track. With gang vocals carrying the chorus at the end of the song, accompanied by solid drumming and tight guitar work. The highlight of Bad Love & Licker is the amazing talent of their guitarist and his stunning technical ability, perfectly illustrated when a guitar solo is just pulled out of nowhere mid-song. The music produced by Bad Love & Licker is of a very good standard but the voice of front man Lee doesn’t quite seem to fit with the music. There is little variation in his voice and it just isn’t what I was expecting to accompany the type of music being played. The four track EP is a good listen and has more pluses than negatives so it would not be a surprise if you were to hear a lot more from Bad Love & Licker in the near future. Hopefully they will achieve what they want by branching out of their local scene and will start gathering fans from further afield at a fast pace.

Tim Birkbeck

 

She and Him - This is Not a Test (Double Six)

Am I alone in thinking this just sounds like a modern day Crystal Gayle being trotted out? And does it include someone playing a comb through a piece of paper like a makeshift kazoo? It sounds like it. Not that remarkable and quite forgettable.
www.myspace.com/sheandhim

SB

 
 

Modern Cliches - Falseness and Fairytales (Universal Digital/Crash)

Title track 'Falseness and Fairytales' is so laid back that I've nearly fallen off my chair listening to it - truly lacking in any creative spark. Fortunately EP opener 'You Don't Know What You Want To Be' is a bit more upbeat with slashy guitar riffs reminiscent of MC5's 'Kick Out the Jams'. So the balance lies in third and final track 'Exactly the Same as it Always Was'. A title couldn't describe the band better - singularly lacking individuality and sounding like they are not even sure they really want to be in a band. The Smithsy lilting guitar cannot disguise the fact that there is no acerbic Morrissey narration leaving the whole thing like a bit of a wet lettuce...then the outro kicks in. Finally! Some balls and the day is saved.
www.myspace.com/moderncliches

SB

 
 

Vile Imbeciles - Bad Ideas (TeeVeeEye)

Great press release - utter gibberish but in a deliberately humourous creative way, not the normal self hype. And 'Bad Ideas' is pretty good too. Not an easy listen by any means - imagine Prince, the Presidents of the United States and Primus locked in a minibus sinking into the Humber sludge just offshore Immingham - this would be the sound of their death screams. I'd listen to it.

SB

 

The Whip - Blackout (Southern Fried)

We love a bit of The Whip and Blackout does not disappoint. Described as electro rockers but definitely at the baggy end of electro, as only a Manchester band could be, The Whip manage to animate their mechanical musical tendencies with the perfect amount of organic vocal. This rocks and funks out in equal measure.
www.myspace.com/thewhipmanchester

SB

 
 

Kick Box Riot - Seeing Ghosts

Do you want post hardcore pop in the vein of bands such as Hundred Reasons and Kids in Glass Houses? If you do, ‘Seeing Ghosts’ may be the E.P perfectly suited to you. Kick Box Riot, the newest Welsh rock sensation, release this debut E.P at the peak of public hype for the record. And with intelligent guitar riffs and pounding drums, I suppose the hype is justified. However, in my opinion this E.P is completely let down by the vocals. They are utterly pretentious, generic and frankly dire... horrendous shouty  vocals seem to be the leitmotif of music at the moment don’t they... Where Kick Box Riot build up fantastic drum patterns and superb angular and intricate guitar riffs, they are knocked down and succumbed to the cringe worthy tones of Mike Mansfield (vocals). If I’m honest, Kick Box Riot have all the necessary elements in order to be a successful band already in place: Great tunes, great energy and a great fan base, but I truly believe until Mike Mansfield leaves the wailing and screaming alone, Kick Box Riot will get no further. In fact, I think that Kick Box Riot may have even worked this out for themselves. ‘We Are Nowhere’ seems to be the summary of their own mistakes. “We got it all wrong , we got it all wrong” bellows Mansfield throughout, which provokes the immediate response...yes, you did. ‘Fear of Change’ is a piece of pop punk brilliance, but again, is ruined by the dreadful vocals in the middle. Therefore, in conclusion, Kick Box Riot (instrumental version) is one of the best debut E.P’s I’ve heard in a long time. Kick Box Riot (actual version) is spoilt by dreadful, pretentious vocals. It’s all the more irritating when you discover that Mansfield actually does have a very good voice. He just projects it in an utterly irritable fashion. On the other hand, if you enjoy vocals like these, then this may just be the best thing you’ve heard in ages. 

Sean Phillips

 
 

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Gardenia (Domino)

If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop and James Brown's the Godfather of Soul then Stephen Malkmus must surely have some high-ranking position in the world of indie-rock. It's not that Pavement were necessarily the best or most ground-breaking band or anything, but if aliens landed and you wanted to explain this 'alternative rock' thing to them - you'd point them in in the direction of the guys over there in the plaid shirts as the best example. Its just a shame his solo career (after a really good start) has been giving off increasingly diminishing returns. So how does this single sound? Its 'I'm a Cuckoo' by Belle and Sebastian basically. With Stephen Malkmus singing. And that lass from Sleater Kinney singing backing vocals. That's pretty much it really. Nothing more, nothing less.

Andy Glynn

 

Blood Red Shoes - This Is Not For You

I’ve come to a conclusion. I just don’t like music as much as I used to.

No, no, no. That’s not it. I love music. I could talk to you for hours about it, boring you to death with my opinions on Xiu Xiu’s covers, or Brandon Cox’s blog. The evolution of my taste is the only possible conclusion. There was a time when I would have loved this embarrassingly-teenage angst and repetitive chords. I was 13, and I couldn’t think of anything better than listening to The Libertines. As Barry Chuckle would say, “Oh dear, oh dear!” .

Just a few years on, and I am older, a little taller, and a lot more elitist, unfortunately. Looking back on myself few years ago, with my home-made Manic Street Preachers badges and Free Pete aesthetic, I can’t help but blush. How could I have been so... clueless? As previously stated, the young idealistic Olivia would have loved this. Its lazy vocals and uninspired drum beats offering little to think about, and little interest embedded into the overly-simplified lyrics. For the circa 2008 teenager who doesn’t want to listen to 50 Cent, it’s brilliant.

I’m still young though, extremely so. And it’s my age group this is undoubtedly aimed at, the faux-indies (to those in the know – windies) who swear by NME and pray to Conor McNicolas for a two page spread of Lightspeed Champion in next week’s issue. So why don’t I like this? It’s repetitive, yes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s simple; Again, not really a negative, not really a positive. It’s not tediously irritating at all, and compared to the Ting Tings, it’s the musical equivalent of a post-rock Radiohead LP (aka: a good thing). Overall, it’s not particularly bad. It’s just not my cup of tea.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to go off music.

Olivia Jaremi

 
 

Crystal Castles – Vanished

This is as infectious as Crystal Castles get – after watching them get kicked off their Glastonbury set 30 minutes early by security CC really embody everything a modern punk band should be; loud, brash, arrogant and they don’t play guitars. In a world where ‘the next big things’ look like a Topman catalogue ‘vanished’ is the perfect antidote. Albeit one which will worsen your headache.
http://www.myspace.com/crystalcastles

Nick Burman

 

Metronomy – Holiday (Because)

A ten year olds’ having a party where the main drink consumption will be coke, guess what it will sound like. The chorus is bearable, just sing normally man! You can’t sound like that and on the basis of B-side #2 ‘Our Raid’ Metronomy can have a knack of making dance music with funky bass lines and fun sparkles of machine gun clatter. ‘Let’s Have A Party’ (B-side #1) also shows that he can sing like a human being, at least the lyrics seem decent(ish) for a dance track of this genre. It does stretch too far into 70s disco for my ears though. I find it hard to imagine dancing to ‘Holiday’ – even in its discordant dub mix, in any situation. For ‘dance’ music then, pretty much a limp dog.
www.metronomy.co.uk
Watch video to 'Holiday'

Nick Burman

 

Attic Lights - Bring You Down (Island Records) 

Attic Lights are five jolly Glaswegians who make epic tuneage in the vein of the Flaming Lips, Guided by Voices and the Beach Boys. In under three years they’ve gone from humble origins to playing the V Festival, appearing on XFM and Radio 2 and starring in BBC2’s Culture Show. 

The first thing that hits you is the melodies. Then it’s the harmonies. If Brian Wilson spent a few months in Glasgow, this is what the inside of his head would sound like.  

Despite their everything-but-the-kitchen-sink soundscapes, what’s so likeable about the band is the vein of humour that seems to run through everything they do. Take a look at their myspace site or their website blogs (www.atticlights.co.uk) to see for yourself. Of particular note is a story about how a chance meeting with plastic faced uber-celebrity David Gest lead to him providing a monologue for a special recording of this very track. 

Check them out at the festivals this summer and let the sunshine in.

Chris Moffatt


 

Jesse Malin - Russian Roulette (One Little Indian) 

If Jesse Malin was a tennis player, he’d be one of those guys you see on the doubles circuit who never makes it past the first round in the singles. The reason being that Malin is always better working with other musicians, rather than going solo. 

Past glories have seen successful partnerships with rock statesman Springsteen and alt-country poster boy Ryan Adams. His new album takes these partnerships to their logical conclusion, consisting wholly of covers. There’s a wide range of source material and he’s clearly musically knowledgeable. Malin claims that the songs “hit me at certain points in my life and never stopped”. 

The first single to be taken from the album is an interpretation of Lords Of The New Church’s Russian Roulette. It’s a strange choice for a first single, given the more mainstream options available on the album (The Stones’ Sway, Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side or even Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World might have been more obvious candidates) however it’s a nice enough track. Touched by the gentle hand of Radio 2, it feels slightly restrained; like playing an electric guitar through headphones, or watching a football match with the sound turned down.

The B-side is a more interesting cover of the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The track’s been distilled to its most basic form and starts with just piano and lead vocal, before backing vocals drift in, followed by acoustic guitar and drums. Malin’s voice is spookily similar to Wayne Coyne’s original, but this is a worthy cover that highlights the strength of the original song by stripping it back to the raw melody. 

Malin is working on material for a new album between current tour obligations. Let’s hope his solo work can live up to the quality of his covers.

Chris Moffatt

 
 

Royworld - Brakes (Virgin Records)

This single by Royworld reminds me of so much I've heard before, yet still I can't put my finger on it and it remains a cracking, well produced riotous song. An enjoyable listen and a great promotional single for the band. A single, perfect for a wide audience through the mainstream and beyond, and with the backing of virgin records I'm sure they'll go far.

Gareth Ludkin

 

John and Jehn - Fear Fear Fear (Faculty Records)

Had enough of the Ting Tings? I know I have, and that's why 'Fear Fear Fear' by John and Jehn provides a welcome escape from the apparently relentless parade of unappetising boy girl duos, all trying to be the next meg and Jack. John and Jehn in this sense are refreshing, not trying to reproduce something that has gone before the pair instead forge their own new direction and distinctive style. With a melancholic whiff and intriguing mystery 'Fear Fear Fear' and the B-side 'Sister' had my toes tapping to their original beat and imaginative style.
www.myspace.com/johnjehn

Gareth Ludkin

 
 

Black Affair - Japanese Happening (V2 Records)

A pointless and uninteresting session of button bashing and simplistic computer generated electronica is not what I want from music, and frankly this is all that Black Affair provide. A dull, uninteresting and metronomic song. A worthless piece of attempted indie electronic music.

Gareth Ludkin