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singles/eps - september 2008

Slow Club - Let's Fall Back In Love EP (Moshi Moshi)

Slow Club are a Sheffield-based boy/girl guitar/drums duo who have inevitably invited comparisons with The White Stripes, as in "they don't sound anything like The White Stripes". For one I can't see Meg White getting on a pair of roller-skates for the bands next video (which, let’s face it, is about as cool now as it was when Cliff Richard did it in 1981), but Slow Club are a band that want to make you smile and hold hands with the nearest stranger. And if the thought of that makes you physically ill? Well, they'll probably call you an old sourpuss and try to give you a hug anyway. Let's Fall Back In Love is the duo's first EP following on from two singles in 2007, and musically they’re a cut above the current crop of twee Indie bands, refreshingly sounding like they’ve actually listened to other albums besides Tigermilk. Last year’s single Me And You was reminiscent of the duets of Johnny Cash and June Carter, and key track here Come On Youth builds from a shimmering tremolo guitar line into a sky-punching Indie anthem in the fashion of a folk rock Arcade Fire. Most appealing here is the duo’s clear love of 60s/70s folk standards – Dance To The Morning Light wouldn’t sound out of place on a Wes Anderson soundtrack, while Trick Question could easily have been a minor hit for Judy Collins. Surprisingly the weakest track here is the lead off title track. Though some may have considered it a brave choice to employ a choir to deliver the lead vocal line it outstays its welcome after the a-capella intro, and the end result is a little too Songs of Praise. Plus I can't get over the uncomfortable feeling that everyone’s enjoying themselves a little too much. So go ahead, call me an old sourpuss.

Steven Jessep


Guilt Trip - Suffer In Silence

This five - piece melodic metal core band have been one of the shining lights in the underground metal scene of recent years and with the imminent release of their debut album ’Suffer In Silence’ can they break into the big time? On this evidence the unfortunate answer is no, the CD seems to lack imagination or originality. Guilt Trip’s use of melodic harmonies mixed with heavy beat downs just seems extremely over-used, to the extent that they seem out of place and unnecessary. In fairness to the band they are very talented musicians but they don’t seem to be using those talents in the correct way. The best part of their songs are the instrumental solos and it is here that Guilt Trip show a slight glimpse of what they are capable of. The sound they appear to be aiming for is similar to very early Avenged Sevenfold/ Atreyu albums but they haven‘t quite managed to achieve it. The best track of this whole album is the ‘Interlude’ when their musical talents finally come shining through. Unfortunately the vocals don’t seem to fit with the band at all and in my view this is what is holding the band back. If you are already a fan of Guilt Trip I think you may be very disappointed by their first studio release and it may be a case of back to the drawing board for the metal core quintet.

Tim Birkbeck


Zebra head - Phoenix

The Orange County pop punk band Zebrahead have showed no signs of slowing down over the last few years. After they broke onto the scene they have continued to gather pace and fans along the way. With their latest studio release, ‘Phoenix’, they look set to gain even more fans. ‘Phoenix’ has everything you would expect from a good pop punk band - fast paced guitars, up beat drumming and to top it off, catchy ‘sing along’ choruses. Having already had successful tours all across the world and a great performance at the UK’s very own Download festival, it’s no wonder they are received so well each time they visit the UK. Try as you might you can’t help but enjoy this album, it is full of energy and fun. Even if you aren’t a fan of prop punk you will find your self nodding your head along to this album and maybe even singing along. At a time when bands like Billy Talent and Anti-Flag are doing so well in the pop punk genre, it will not be a great surprise if this album propels Zebrahead to the same level of success as those bands. You also get the impression that they will really enjoy doing it. With ’Phoenix’ due to be released at the end of the summer, it is perfect timing as this album will pick you up on those long winter days.

 Tim Birkbeck


Semifinalists – Last Pretending (V2) 

Wistful, nostalgic and more than a little bit sleepy synthesised sounds are what are in order on this single from V2’s Semifinalists. In terms of vocals in particular there’s nothing to get wildly excited by and the very polite polished feel exists throughout. Whilst drawing on a wide variety of influences and plainly offering something different to the constant wave of indie guitar bands that raid the radio waves and NME pages every week, they are certainly not without contemporaries. For the most part his could easily be an I Was A Cub Scout song until the “so unexpected you almost don’t realise its happening” wailing guitar solo kicks in and really starts to suggest the song is going somewhere. Then it ends in a wave of anti-climax and wasted promise. Semifinalists are nice. Unfortunately that’s about it.

Chris Sharpe


Pram – Prisoner Of The 7 Pines 

The beautiful innocence of Pram’s childlike yet wonderfully mature sound, is clearly what the usefulness of 20 years of performing and recording truly is, a freedom to exist at their own pace and embrace their status as outsider is what lies behind their entire back catalogue and on this remix EP nothing has changed. The haunting, wandering vocals of Rosie Cuckston over the at times tribal, but always integral percussion add the sheer level of power needed to drive these mystified and spaced out songs. The Silk Road doesn’t sound like its going anywhere but knows that it simply does not need to; it can thump away at your ear drums all day like a demented kid with a toy drum. Grandmaster Gareth’s remix of Beluga offers more of the same but somehow more creepy. It sounds like an aural house of mirrors filled with creepy Shining-esque twins. Pram are cool, they don’t need to change and if they’re still making music in twenty years you would still know your going to get a level of genius that simply does not exist in the mainstream.

Chris Sharpe


Five O'Clock Heroes - Alice (Glaze)

Well this was so completely unexpected i had to check that the right CD was in the sleeve. Think 'The Boy With the Arab Strap' by Belle and Sebastian and you won't be far away with Alice - relentlessly joyful.



Tilly and the Wall - Beat Control/Too Excited (Moshi Moshi)

I may be showing my age but I feel decidedly uneasy about a single which sounds so much like a cross 'Club Tropicana' by Wham and 'Celebration' by the boy Richie. Sure the clever electronic bits are far more advanced but essentially this still sounds a bit dated to me.

'Too Excited; is an exciting exercise in percussion and flirts far more satisfyingly with completely falling to bits mid song but just holding it together. Attitude and a bit more originality make all the difference.



Gentleman's Agreement presents Stretch Carter - Rabbit (Pieces of Eight)

As well as raking in loads of loot from DJing around the world's seedier nightclubs and starring as a heart throb doctor in TV's ER, Jon Carter has a collaboration with fellow decksmith Stretch Silvester, hence Stretch Silvester see? Rabbit is a rather ace deep down and dirty little tune with stacks of sub bass, some unearthly effects and a not very well disguised reference to female masturbation. Don't play it in your car on the way to the shops with your gran. Do play it loud in a partially lighted room.



Brendan Campbell - Pirate Song (Everybodys records)

It must be Belle and Sebastian tribute month as 'Pirate Song' does another pretty good rendition of 'The Boy with the Arab Strap'. Actually this probably short changes the full lunged Campbell who seems to spit out every line at a volume turned up to 11. Ideal for weddings, christenings and Bar Mitzvahs. Actually, maybe it's not that appropriate to swing around the dancefloor singing 'Wasted our lives' on your wedding day.



Shri - Just For a Minute

An unusually successful fusion of east and west influences (sorry, this is sounding a bit like a Sharwood's advert) see Shri (aka Shrikanth Sriram) combine some loosely eastern beats with Mobo winning vocalist Fola Phillips. Moody, quite relaxing and a bit like the Turkish Delight adverts from the seventies.



Black Daniel - Say Hello (Pieces of Eight)

Like Buggles doing a cover version of a Lou Reed song - if you find this possibility then read on. 'Say Hello' is pretty short on polished musicianship in the traditional meaning of the expression but is full of swaggering self belief. A flash in the pan or the start of something - only time will tell.


Metronomy - Heartbreaker (Because)

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Metronomy. I think I broadly like what they are trying to do but they also annoy me with their various signature sonar-sounding sound effects - if the tunes were that good they wouldn't have to fuck around with the actual sounds. But on this occasion I am chuffed with their electronic take on a bassy saxophone. As a whole though 'Heartbreaker' sounds a bit like a 12 year old let loose on their first Casio keyboard demo tunes and deciding the coolest thing in the world would be to try out every effect but only for a few seconds at a time.
watch the video to 'Heartbreaker'



Like a Thief - Dilemma Dilemma (Stonetrax)

Good lord, if vocalist Holly Jazz Lowe's name doesn't get your goat then her warbly tonsilled singing will. and if that doesn't make you want to grab the earplugs then the combination of the piano and Hawaiian guitar just might. Not the finest five minutes of music this month.



Black Daniel - Chelsea's Teardrops (Dust Bowl/Pieces of Eight)

Well that's odd. Due to a combination of my poor time keeping and Black Daniel's industriousness here comes another release hot on the heals from the one I just wrote about above. I blame the Royal Mail. 'Chelsea's teardrops' is far more up tempo than 'Say Hello' in a pharmaceutically enhanced kind of glam stomp sort of way. in fact the outro is kind of ace - careering off out of control. I'm detecting the influence of Kasabian, Bowie and again Lou Reed here.
Watch video to 'Chelsea's Teardrops'



Laurel Collective - International Love Affair

Cardigan-attired Indie pop-rockers Laurel Collective have been described (admittedly by their label) as London's premier "pop chameleons". Now I know the term has been applied to both David Bowie and Madonna to describe the manner in which they regularly and comfortably altered either their musical style or image, but I prefer to think of a chameleon as an animal that blends into its surroundings so nobody actually notices it. International Love Affair is the first single off debut mini-album Feel Good Hits of a Nuclear Winter (classic means-less-the-more-you-think-about-it Indie album title there), and although it's not bad enough to criticise at length it's hard to pick on anything that stands out. The swooning melody, with vocalist Martin Sakutu going for the Morrissey in a slightly good mood approach, is appealing but not in the sense that you'll be humming it (or even remembering how it goes) five minutes later. The driving Associates-lite bass and Duran Duran guitar/synth stabs carry it all along at a nice pace but the whole thing is distinctly less than the sum of it's parts. More work needed if these chameleons are going to get noticed anytime soon.

Stephen Jessep


Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl (EMI)

Oooh, how risque - a girl singing about kissing another girl. I'm all a fluster. This track jetted Perry to No. 1 in America (no doubt fuelled by lots of sales by furtive hormonal teenage boys). Sure it's synthetic pop but it is at least halfway decent pop.
Watch the video to 'I Kissed a Girl'



Is Shepherd - Ascendez-Vous

Someone once said to me that every person only has one original idea in their lifetime. Then there is the common expression about if something is worth doing then it's worth doing well. What is he prattling on about I hear you ask. Well, if you put these two statements together then you have the perfect description of this 5 track sampler from Newcastle's Is Shepherd.

I don't think anyone would argue that Is Shepherd are doing anything revolutionary here. But what they are doing is draped with care and attention and  executed immaculately. 'Time' and 'Waitress' both have an uplifting quality about them and there is an overwhelming sense of optimism about the whole CD. If I was pushed for comparisons then I'd say there is an element of Stereophonics about the band. 'On/Off' sees the button labelled 'rock' firmly pushed and surely owes at least a small mention to Pearl jam and the like.

The EP draws to a close with 'Stretcher Bearer', a poignant ending which despite its morose title does not drag the mood down at all, rather it smudges the mood in a trippy outro. 'Ascendez-Vous' then, a collection of 5 classic songs expertly committed to CD.



Mogwai - Batcat (Wall of Sound/Rock Action)

Sonic hellhounds Mogwai return with this first single from their upcoming album 'The Hawk is Howling' and it sees them return to the pinnacle of their guitar-noise-fury sound. No quiet interludes here, just five minutes of pounding bass drum, squealing guitars and layered harmonics. On the plus side BatCat is simply ace. On the downside it is by far the best track from the upcoming album which is a bit of a let down. I'd save your pennies and just buy the single.
Watch the video to 'Batcat'



The Early Years - Like a Suicide/The Computer Voice (Sonic Cathedral)

I've got to claim ignorance here and admit that I've never heard the early years before. But what I hear here I like a great deal. 'Like a Suicide' starts off sounding like a bit of classic Kraut electro then blossoms wonderfully into the sort of track that Beck always promised to do but never managed after he seemed to lose his musical mind. 'The Computer Voice' is more like The Doors brought up to date with slinky electronics and whirring loops. Great stuff.



Honey Ryder - Numb (Honey Ryder Music)

When half of the press release goes into great detail about the business model that the band use to run themselves you get the sinking feeling that the music wont be much kop. Sure enough, 'Numb' is full of guitar bombast but just ends up sounding like Tatu. In the music trivia stakes, guitarist martin does look a lot like Leo Sayer, I wonder if there is  column in their spreadsheet factoring that in?



Black Ramps - Forest Attacks on Concrete EP

I do like a bit of Black Ramps. I do worry when they start calling themselves Die Schwarzen Rampen so often that I think they may have changed their name and I am left looking silly still calling them Black Ramps. But hey ho.

There's no track listing on offer but 'Forest Attacks on Concrete' is a really doozy of an EP. Clearly influenced by early 90's rock bands like The Pixies, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jnr, Black Ramps seem to be able to conjure sounds from their guitars that hair indie bands could only dream of.



Poppy and the Jezebels - UFO (Gumball Machine)

I started off listening this thinking it was a crappy electro pop version of Oasis' 'Champagne Supernova' but despite the incessantly annoying boom-boom-boom-boom bass drum of the choruses UFO seems to grow on me with every listen. There's loads of detail to this, little counter-melodies, fizzing samples and loops and all underpinned nicely by the atonal vocals. Hmm, thinking I'll have to listen out for this lot.
watch the video to 'UFO'



The Tambourines - 31st Floor/Come Together (Beat Mo)

Have you ever heard a band with a more exotically named line up? Henrique Laurindo, Lulu Grave and Renato Tezolin - if you can come up with better than that then let me know. But in addition to their monikers, The Tambourines also provide a lovely sounding tune or two on this AA single. '31st Floor' sees Elastica's 'Connection' riff superbly ripped off in The Tambourine's own self-described 'Drone pop' style. Joyfully morbid.



A Silent Film - You Will Leave a Mark (Extra Mile)

I guess the danger with this heavily piano led track is that it sounds a bit like Keane in places and rightly or wrongly Keane inspires strong feelings (positive and negative) in a lot of people. On the basis that some reaction is better than no reaction then this would be advantageous. It's frantic, aspirational and clearly drawing from some of the bands who A Silent Film have supported previously (Scouting for Girls, The Mystery Jets etc) but it is by no means the worst thing you will hear this month.



The Maybes - Summertime (Summertime (Xtra Mile)

Only today someone was reminding me that the Ken Russell musical 'Tommy' was playing on TV tonight which seems particularly apt when 'Summertime' sounds like it belongs in a rock opera. At the most generous you could say it picks up on some Supergrass style enthusiasm and energy but it's all a little dated for my tastes.



Tellison/Tubelord - Wasps Nest/Night of the Pencils (Banquet)

Two sides of modern indie. On the way hand we have Tellison and their morose-sounding frontman with his very English vocal accompaniment. Pretty dreary. On the other hand we have 'Night of the Pencils' by Tubelord who have managed to cram in more ideas than you get on three whole Kooks albums. A lovely bubbly bass line, an under-produced snare drum sound and a big ringing guitar chorus. Elements of Danananackroyd and We Are Scientists - all spiky but melodic too.



The Chemical Brothers - Midnight Madness (Virgin/Freestyle Dust)

Hmm, I'm not sure about this. Normally I'm loving a bit of the Chemical Brothers but this just sounds like a mainstream summer club house anthem, ie - a bit of a sell out. Even the title - it reeks of commercial dance. Maybe the writing was on the wall with the last album 'We Are the Night' which was the housiest to date. I shall await their next release with shotgun ready...
Watch the video to 'Midnight Madness'



Bloc Party – Mercury 

Like vines all over your garden fence Mercury is a grower starting small and then burrowing its way into your conscious until you can’t help but stutter the chorus over and over all day. It’s also either hideous or a thing of beauty depending on your point of view. 

Following on from the radio wave and chart dominating Flux, Bloc Party are continuing in the same raw electro-indie template that the band started off with and are pioneering once again on their third album Intimacy. However on Mercury, with some big beat and reggae thrown in for good measure, the extent of how much they are ditching the indie guitar rock sound they won hearts and minds with on Silent Alarm and to an extent on the slightly less acclaimed Weekend in the City becomes clear. 

But less history more opinion. It’s brilliant that bands like Bloc Party can change their sound so drastically and still maintain their popularity and it can only mean good things for music that experimentation is not spelling the end of successful bands. As always on Bloc Party records the drums are my favourite part, Matt Tong is without a doubt one of the best young drummers of the new millennium thus far but overall the song feels overloaded and with Kele’s whining, artificial sounding vocals augmented on top the whole song just comes across as just a bit too borderline grating, in particular on the verses. The lyrics however are fantastic straddling the line between introverted and politically powerful brilliance with some American geography and quasi-astrological references chucked in for good measure. 

So while Bloc Party can be lauded for their new exciting sound to distinguish themselves from the pack you can’t help but feel a little alienated and look back on songs like Pioneers, Like Eating Glass and She’s Hearing Voices with greater affection than the newer cuts of Intimacy.

Chris Sharpe


Anthony Reynolds - Bees Dream of Flowers and Your Summer's Meadow Breath (Hungry Hill/Spinney)

A real mixed bag of tracks here from Anthony Reynolds. 'Just So You Know' was never going to be a hit with me seeing as I have an unattributable yet firm dislike to Vashti Bunyan's sugary vocals. Here here guesting is over an equally fey twinkly keyboard sound that has me reaching for the sickbag.

Not so 'Like the Sun Feeds from Flowers' which marries some beautiful acoustic guitar with a doleful brass section and a gorgeous male/female vocal. 'Girls with Glasses' grates pleasingly against this backdrop of loveliness by being a scratchy guitar led track very much in the ilk of 'Fashion' era Bowie. Final song 'It Isn't So', although sounding not a million miles away from the basic melody of Mansun's 'The Chad Who Loved Me' adds a suitable gravitas to bring proceedings to a close, and in only slightly less time than it would take to say the full title of the EP.



IAMX - President (Fiction/Genepool/No Carbon)

For some reason having seen the big garish X on the CD cover I was expecting this to be west coast rap or high energy dance music. In fact it is the sound you would get if you combined Muse's stadium bombast with a German oom-pah band. I like Muse, I like oom-pah bands, ergo President gets a big thumbs up.



i concur - 'Oblige' (Brew)

Two very different sounding tracks from i concur. 'Oblige' is a bit of a moody growler while 'Captors' is more of a swaggering rock brute. Not bad at all.

Jon Gordon


The Daniels - Pennys Name

One of those CDs that doesn't really have anything wrong with it but just makes you whither inside. Indie-light guitar pop with Kooksy choruses - it's just so dull.



AFD Shift - Listen Then Leave (ELT)

Prog meets screamo meets math meets electro. In a similar style to the likes of Pendulum but hitting the heavier parts more like Biohazard rather than those Aussie lightweights, AFD Shift certainly aren't afraid to try out a few different styles here.



Manda Rin - DNA (This is Fake DIY)

Former Bis member Manda Rin (her parents must have been drunk) releases her first solo single with DNA - a very bubblegum electro pop dabble. Clearly influenced by CSS, DNA is a pretty enjoyable listen where the guitars have been firmly eschewed in favour of a Moog.



Dead Letter Office - Chairkickers / The Comeback Kid

While occasionally threatening to verge on something as wonderful as the sounds of British Sea Power, for the main part 'Chairkickers' stays firmly in tried and tested indie guitar pop territory, though definitely very well done. Does the world really need another band like that - a question open to debate. 'The Comeback Kid' is by comparison a pedal to the metal type of thing with a touch of early Manics about it and definitely makes this CD worth a listen.



Jon Redfern - Play of Fear (Reveal)

Jon Redfern has got a pretty good whispery type voice. 'Play of Fear' is a crisply written and performed track, occasionally lit up my Redfern's spiralling vocals. But to me it's just another singer songwriter 'sensation' who doesn't really stir up any feelings in me other than apathy. Sorry.



51 Breaks - Blueprints

I'm spotting a theme running through this month and that theme is derivative. Whether the bands we're listening to at the moment are deliberately positioning themselves or not in a certain genre in order to attract a certain market is unimportant. I can't imagine that if each one of these collections of musicians had been isolated from 'mainstream' music for the past 10 years  that they would have all ended up sounding the same.

All that said, 51 Breaks are pretty good, especially if you like the Killers. The synth sound on 'Embers' could be lifted straight off 'Hot Fuss'. But when all is said and done the track is well constructed and performed. I'm just a bit fed up of it.



The Ryes - How Come Loretta (14th Floor)

Genius! Marry Bowie-affected vocals with a classic Meatloaf rock operetta and you end up with 'How Come Loretta'. Even Dermot O'Leary approves, citing the single as 'Brilliant! A real toe-tapper!'. Come on people - get real! It's already been a long month - someone break this chain of derivative pop. Please.



The Shortwave Set - Now Til '69 (Wall of Sound)

By crikey - Bowie should be doing well of of lawsuits this month as yet another band seems to have 'discovered' his sound. 'Heroes' ring a bell here? I think I may be in serious risk of high blood pressure here - I need a milky drink.



Si Phili feat. HT - Sunshine (Propaganda)

Yo. Actually although the lightweight hip hop beats are a bit anaemic here the vocal assault by HT works really well - instilling a bit of aggression into what may have otherwise been an insipid affair. Yo.



Charli XCX - !Francheskaar! (Orgy)

So it takes a 15 year old girl to break the malaise in this month's CD mailbag? A grimy reaction against the media youth culture and sloany girls set to a Prodigy soundtrack makes for a good listen in my book. Sure the lyrics are a bit simplistic and sound like a bit of a bitter rant but that also makes it all the more sincere.



Sway feat. Lemar - Saturday Night Hustle (Dcypha)

Put it this way - when Lemar forms the main highlight of a track then times are hard. I suppose with a line like 'I got more balls than Camelot' you've got at least admire their bravado.



Roots Manuva - Again & Again (Big Dada)

A nice Jamaican dancehall vibe to this rendition of 'Again and Again' from Roots' recent album 'Slime and Reason'. Having a pop at celebrity 'musicians' to be boot doesn't go amiss either.



The Hair - Half Cut 

After having bought ‘Blood’ by the Hair a few months back, it was a very nice surprise to be able to review the new single ‘Half Cut’ from the Leeds based indie band. It’s been a successful few months for the Hair, and this success looks to continue with prestigious opening slots for ‘Kaiser Chiefs’ on their October tour. This cowbell-driven indie stomper has got everything: angular guitars, thumping drums and a pounding bass line that is a sure-fire hit on the indie-disco dance floor, and will leave punters up and down the country desperate for some more. Even better still, are some of the remixes that compliment this release that combine all the best parts of the song, and then whack an awesome dance beat to it. Indie disco perfection. 

What’s more, you can download ‘Half Cut’ for free off the band’s MySpace: 

Sean Phillips


Kieronononon - Brutaltechnopunk (Roxxor)

I think it is safe to say that Kieronononon will not be getting asked to appear on the Jonathan Ross Show. If they did somehow manage to slip past the booking agent and sneak on the week after Coldplay, then I'm pretty sure they would probably kick the stuffing out the lispy bequiffed one and then shit on his sofa.

See, Kieron...(there's only so many times you can type that) don't really give a damn about pleasing people with their music. This is brutal DIY heaven. 'Fishes Lay' and 'Moral Decay' may roughly sit in a speed-math-screamo genre (though I can't think how many of those types feature a Hawaiian guitar). But otherwise they are difficult to place. There's shades of Marmaduke Duke, Adam Ant, Slayer and plenty of others though.

In the end I wouldn't choose to listen to this very much - it's hard going and spiky. But for sheer bloody mindedness you would struggle to better it.



CSS - Left Behind (Sub Pop) 

It’s been barely a few months since the final release from ‘Cansei De Ser Sexy’, and CSS have certainly wasted no time in getting back into the thick of it. Left Behind, the lead single taken from ‘Donkey’, the highly anticipated second album from the Brazilian new-ravers certainly seems to have continued where they left off…just not quite as you might expect it. Where once, we were metaphorically slapped in the face with ‘Alala’ or ‘Art Bitch’, ‘Left Behind’ appears to lead down the ‘Off the Hook’ route, more commercially friendly, yet still as dirty and sexy as always. For some die-hard CSS fans, this release may be an unwelcome addition to the CSS repertoire, but it’s certainly a more mature release, and for the first time, Lovefoxx’s vocals are allowed to take centre stage. These pop-perfect vocals backed by messy synths and clever guitar riffs have certainly made for a memorable release. Welcome back CSS, we’ve certainly missed you.

Sean Phillips


Rosabella Gregory - Water (Crown)

As a contrast to Kieronononon above, you could not get much greater than Rosabella Gregory. Familiar strings and piano led arrangements all complimented by silken female vocals. And yet although I suspect I would normally find this sort of thing extremely distressing, on this occasion there is a fluid beauty and security about it, perhaps as a direct opposite of Kieronononon. that or I am going soft.



The Chemists - Something for the Weekend (Distiller)

I'm liking this lot already. There's an instantly recognisable drive to this track which instantly pricks up your ears and makes you pay attention. Listeners of Six by Seven and Doves may find this quite listenable and with B-side 'Tazmanian Devil' being equally as good as 'Something for the Weekend' I for one will be looking forward to getting my copy of their album later in the year.
Watch the video to 'Something for the Weekend'



Air France - Collapsing at your Doorstep (Something in Construction)

If I didn't know better I would have suspected that this was the new Moby single rather than being by Air France. It's got a light hearted summery vibe with a pretty repetitive loop and a sensible smattering of soulful croonings. By no means is it going to make you throw off your clothes and dance in the rain but it may make you loosen your tie off a little.



Moby vs Freemasons - Disco Lies (Mute)

So this is the new Moby single, not 'Collapsing at your Doorstep'. And what a disappointment - it sounds like the sort of thing you would have piercing your eardrums at the local branch of Oceana while some hardnut in a YSL shirt that his mum had ironed spills drinks all over the dance floor. I suppose it at least marks a return to Moby's roots as a rave act but for me it doesn't go nearly far enough.
Watch the video to 'Disco Lies'



Olympic Mons - Let the First Time Be the last (dad)

This sounds like some strange hybrid of Jamiroquai and The Kooks, neither of which particularly appeal to me. That rattly guitar sound and those acid jazz chords are bombarded with a breathless vocal assault. Sounds like it should work, but doesn't.
Watch the video to 'Let the First Time Be the Last'



Rex the Dog - I Can See You, Can You See Me?

An upbeat acid-y track.- but I've already said that about this track - in last months review of the Rex the Dog album.

Again as with other single releases from cult artists, the radio version is a baffling addition to a single which I can hardly see being played on a radio show. Its not that I wouldn't want Rex to be on the radio but why miss out on the whole tracks twists and turns, drops and beats for the happiness of a mediocre radio stations production table. Apart from that moan the club mix is a nice middle tempo, mainly up beat number. Not quite floor filler material, but no one would leave it if it was spun. Out of all of the five remixes The Touch one is the one I can most envisage Ibiza sapping up. The rest (bar the baffling Oliver Huntemann mix) make the track more bearable and danceable each time.

Worth it, yet not really worth it.
Watch the video to 'I Can See You, Can You See Me?'

Nick Burman


Transpersonals - s/t EP

Kind of psychedelic with big clanging guitars and echoey vocals but also with a drive to each track that provides an insistent and much needed backbone. Reminiscent of the Inspiral Carpets if they had done a lot more class As. Instantly likeable.



Frightened Rabbit - I Feel Better / The Twist (FatCat)

Frightened Rabbit have been getting rave reviews and rightly so. Although at first listen you may be forgiven for thinking that the vocals are being sung in Icelandic, 'I Feel Better' is a pure tour de force that washes over you like musical wave. Akin to The Twilight Sad - true to their Scottish roots but without being half as miserable, there's a refreshing roughness about the production too which only increases the charm of this record. Buy.



Max Tundra - Will Get Fooled Again (Domino)

This is a difficult listen. A lo-fi Casiocore sound with a clipped staccatto production, there is so so much sonic jiggery pokery going on that the melody and song structure themselves are rendered pretty much pointless. If you got paid for how many effects you applied per track then Max Tundra would be a rich man.



X-Press 2 feat. David Byrne - Lazy (Skint)

X-Press 2 have suffered a more mixed press than most in Tasty. I'm afraid to report that this one will be adding to their negative count. Lazy by name, lazy by nature - adding a few house beats and remixes together to the David Byrne sung tune 'Lazy' does not really warrant this another listen. Go forth and find yourself some original new music instead.



Tiny Spark - Alaska EP (The Animal Farm)

This is all a tiny bit limp. Following in the footsteps of the likes of The Doves, big production and long, epic choruses cannot save the day here unless you are a particularly sensitive type or hormonal teenager (which let's face it, a lot of music fans are). I just can't get very  excited by this simplistic four chord sound.



Lackthereof - Your Anchor

Lo-fi is just great, isn’t it? Recorded in Danny Seim AKA Lackthereof’s basement, Your Anchor is pretty spiffy. Enticing yet somewhat raw vocals are definitely not lacking (see what I did there?), and each track is an indie gem in its own right. You know it’s a good day when you’re reviewing an album and you rip it to your iPod, and this one’s nearing eight plays already. Nebulous drums and rattling guitars blanket the album in the best way possible, and the DIY ethic only adds to the album’s aesthetic charm. Somewhat reminiscent of Deerhunter, this album does not quite reach the high standards of Bradford and co, yet it’s certainly on its way there. Last November isn’t particularly long, but in two minutes and forty one seconds, it manages to encapsulate the sound of this album, and project it as something definitely worth giving a few more listens.

Not many bands can cover The National and get a good review from me out of it, but amazingly, Seim has managed just that, croaking over delicate melodies, ones of which may almost be crafted in a way in which is more enchanting than the original. With this being Seim’s ninth Lackthereof release, it’s a wonder how one can consistently produce such great albums without burning out. Indie bands: take note – this is how an album should sound.

Olivia Jaremi


Broadcast 2000 - Building Blocks EP

Ah, Broadcast 2000, or, how I prefer to describe soloist Joe Steer: what my mum sounds like in the shower with a few poncy ukuleles thrown in for added twee pretentiousness. Sounding like the Noah and the Whale who never made it in the charts, ‘Building Blocks’ breaks the boundaries, but not the ones you want it to – perhaps the disgruntling barrier blocking one from sleep on a stormy night. It’s not just bland, it’s more offensive than being stabbed in the face by an angsty dwarf. With each “La la la” comes the slit wrist of anyone in the world who still has a decent enough music taste.

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood all of a sudden, but something about this really gets to me. It’s probably the fact that it’s utterly dire, and that I’d rather pierce my eardrums with piranha’s than buy this. But then again, I don’t have to. And neither do you. Save your eardrums, this is too dreadful even for background music.

Olivia Jaremi


Alicia Keys & Jack White - Another Way to Die (James Bond Soundtrack 2008)

Of course I know tasty readers are the all seeing, all knowing when it comes to music but come'on even you wouldn't have thought about bringing these two together. Its random alright but the infusion of Keys' soulful silky smooth into the extraordinarily raw but melodic Jack White is a perfect representation of 2008's Bond, James Bond. Making history by being the first Bond soundtrack duet, the track is progression at it's finest. Futuristic and classic all at once, the jerky saxes and brass do previous authoratitive versions like Ms Bassey's proud. Cleverly synthing and scratching out over the timeless piano led Bond tune the marketers should be chuffed what this track could do for the film. And yet the innovation of fibrous riffs and thirsty vocals makes this song and it's you never know what is going to come next appeal an artform in it's own right.

Helen Barlow


Biffy Clyro - Mountains (14th Floor Records 2008)

With one of the strangest band names is music history Biffy Clyro are furiously making a name for themselves in pop, rock and classic alike. Did they get the name from a biro, a Scottish footballer, is it some warped arty acronym. Who cares? The unmistakable orchestral rock sound is music for stadiums and as I stand shin high in mud at Leeds festival watching them pelt it out I contemplate the frustration they must feel that this toned downed sound system will never do them justice and my smugness that I can make it bounce around my living rooms walls to great effect. Yes sad but true ladies and gentleman but this years Leeds fest main stage sound system sucked ass, feel free to mail Leeds city council and tell them how rude it was to put microphones in neighbouring gardens to Bramham Park to make sure the noise levels were kept to an acceptable minimum. Its 3 nights you horrible authoritor out of 365 in the year surely you can give rock that! Oh yeah and the singles ace – uplifting lyrics with an unmistakable perfected timing make you hungry for the gigantic sing along chorus while the heavy sound weighs on you heart and shoulders, a song to lose yourself in and dream that one day you may actually change the world.

Helen Barlow


Mr Scruff feat. Alice Russell - Music Takes Me Up (Ninja Tuna)

If the Brocolli wanted to sack off Jack White and Alicia Keys then this track would certainly provide an able return to the pomp of the typical Bassey era Bond themes. With a nice little parpy electric piano sound to boot, there is also an element of The Propellerheads about this which neatly ties the whole Bassey-Bond theme together even further. Neat.



Camp Actor - Your Obsession (Press Industries)

It feels like I have been listening to this track for ages yet I see that it is only just under four minutes long - not normally a good sign. You see, although the general hook is catchy enough, it just plunders its way through the whole track incessantly with little respite from any other subtle nuances or changes in tempo, pitch etc. I feel tired after this. Lovely black vinyl CD though.



Davinci's Band - Surrealism EP (10xBetter)

If heartfelt rimshots aplenty and tinkling ivories providing the backing to earnest soulful vocals are your bag then you will love Davinci's Band. Personally I think they sound like Coldplay-light and would only find listening to this slightly preferable than going to the dentist. Accomplished musicianship is all well and good but it just lacks any vitality to the sound.



Travel Mind Syndrome - Donna (10xBetter)

I love it! The intro is like a lo-fi cover version of We Are Scientists' 'After Hours' - must be that bleepy keyboard sound. Seeing as they are Greek we should forgive them the fact that they repeatedly use the acronym TMS even though every good cricket loving Englishman knows this stands for Test Match Special. Both 'Donna' and b-side ' ' sound a little dated but in a refreshingly naive sort of way, free of the shackles of any modern scene.



Drever, McCusker & Woomble - Silver and Gold (Navigator)

A truly bizarre transformation by Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble (stop sniggering at the back) from screeching banshee to mild mannered folk crooner. And it's not bad either (although at one point I thought that John McCusker's fiddle playing was in danger of making it sound like something from the Titanic soundtrack.)



Big Life Desire - So Inclined (Platform)

There's a relaxed pyschedelia about 'So Inclined' which reminds me part of Supergrass's quieter moments and part of Air's noisier ones. It's slow, the vocals are fey and it stutters to an end but I definitely like its leftfield charm.



Kissing Kalina - Here She Comes (Honey Buzz)

Eh what - has someone set off an alarm clock somewhere in the tasty office? Nope, it appears not - it is just a quirky little electro wibble in the mix of 'Here She Comes' which is otherwise pure fuzzy punk. Short and not particularly sweet, just very good.



Severe Zero - Silence on the Radio

Just when you think this might sound like any other boy-band-acting-rock you realise that hell, this is pretty darned good. Fantastically produced and sharp as a pin, Severe Zero ooze that combination of songwriting panache and punk rock sensibility that the Manics possessed circa Generation Terrorists. The only down side? It's not very punk to bleep out a swear word is it?



Smudge - StayFeelRegret EP (Animal Farm)

Smudge, by comparison with Severe Zero, sound like the little boy bands alluded to in the above review. They throw all the right moves and make all the right sounds but it's all just a bit, well, you know, wet. It's the sort of music that appeals to a very particular and very youthful audience - euphoric, fist punching the air stuff and on the title track 'StayFeelRegret' I am almost convinced by it all - it's a great song. But there's little variety offered by 'Flat-Line' and 'Lock + Load' - I'm easily bored me.


Les Valentine - Nervous (Universal Digital/Crash)

Punk half hour is over and we are back to upbeat indie rock. The vocals come across a little clipped liked Bob Geldof in 'I Don't Like Monday' and there's a built of an Oasis 'Shaker maker' swagger (which in turn was borrowed from 60s psychedelic rock) about the choruses. A good punt but unlikely to knock your socks off.



ZZZ - Grip (Anti Records)

Despite fizzling almost apologetically into existence with the always dodgy fade-in, 'Grip' then pounds it's way into your skull like it was produced by the bastard progeny of a crack fuelled one night stand between Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and Ministry's Al Jourgensen. This is not your normal Saturday night indie club fare and all the better for it.



The Elements - Deep Freeze/Holding Out (Acid Jazz)

Ah, the double-A single. Too much talent to squeeze into one single or a case of hedging your bets? The Elements, featuring some remnants of Ocean Colour Scene (shudder) make exactly the sort of melodic pop that you would expect from that stable, albeit fronted by a gentle Joe Cocker impersonator. People will be divided and think this pair of songs is either timeless or pointless.



Run Hide Survive - Dyson/Pigeon (Show Off Recordings)

I liked this as soon as I picked it up. I liked the way the CD sleeve graphics made my eyes go funny. I liked the name Run Hide Survive. I also like the idea of a song named after a vacuum cleaner. And what do you know - they sound great too.

Sheffield's answer to Justice, 'Dyson' is a furious mixed up concoction of beats and bleeps that will either get you writing uncontrollably on the dancefloor of suffering from a severe migraine. 'Pigeon' is no more relaxing - saw tooth keyboard sounds chopped and slashed with impunity. And did I spot an 808 State sample from 'Nefertiti' in there? Surely a recommendation if ever there were one.



The Lovely Eggs - Have you Ever Heard the Lovely Eggs (Cherryade)

We've previously crossed paths with the Lovely Eggs in their split EP with the Sexual Hot Bitches. And this EP confirms my previous feelings about them. They are able to straddle the genres of punk and twee better than anyone else (save perhaps fellow Cherryaders The Bobby McGees) but therein lies my problem with them - there's only so many recorders, hand claps and childish vocals that can be sustained by high energy levels and a couple of scuzzy chords. Don't shout 'I wanna be in your fire' at me anymore - two minutes of it is quite enough thanks.



Nat Johnson - Dirty Rotten Soul (Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)

There's o doubt about it - this is modern UK country music. In fact, it is reasonably close to country classic 'Jolene' except on this version, instead of harpy-voiced Dolly Parton taking charge it is none other than silken voiced Nat Johnson of Monkey Swallows the Universe fame. This is a woman with such a vocal gift that it is hard to think of anything that she could sing badly.



The Lazaras Plot - Do You Want to Be Someone (Illuminated)

It's easy to see why The Lazarus Plot press release sees them as drawing on the likes of Duran Duran - the drum effects which make up a large (and the best) part of this track - while sounding modern are also harking back to that Duran sound. Otherwise it's a pretty dreary affair and if I didn't assume it had all been recorded digitally, I would have sworn that the vocal track was being played back at the wrong speed. Queue piano outro...ahh, there it is.



Giant Jr vs. Eartha Kitt - I Want to Be Evil (Try and Make Me Records)

When someone whose guitar credits (albeit number ones) are S Club 7's 'Don't Stop Moving' and Gerri Halliwell's 'It's Raining Men' attempts a rehash of a 1953 classic by Eartha Kitt, you've got to fear the worst. And when you hear Kitt's voice rapidly looped to sound like the Crazy Frog then things are definitely on the brink. But overall 'I Wanna Be Evil' works a treat - a big beat electro style with everything thrown into the mix, like The Propellerheads pumped up on steroids.



Spectrum 7 - Fade to Black and Back Again

There was me thinking after the first few bars how dismal this was going to be - a reedy thin electro beat and melody with some overwrought vocals lathered over. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere sprouts a load of gutsy guitar and drums to make sense of the whole thing. Spectrum 7 sound a bit like everyone and nothing like anyone. They're not as blatant as the likes of Enter Shikari and Pendulum - this is no new rave. In fact the nearest comparison I could come up with is 'Flood' era Headswim, before they went all girly on their second album. The loops and samples while running throughout seem to form the lesser part to the meatier guitars which suddenly just give way to leave the electro sounds stripped bare. Promising stuff.



A Silent Film - Thirteen Times the Strength (Xtra Mile Recordings)

The second offering of the month from A Silent Film - either they are extremely hard working or we have a bit of a CD backlog at Tasty HQ - hmm - we're up to about a million singles reviews this month so I guess it's out fault.

First recommendation for A silent Film would be to get their singer some Tunes or similar lozenge - the poor fella sounds a bit bunged up. That said, despite its somewhat generic piano driven melody 'Thirteen Times the Strength' survives and indeed excels in its sheer energy and exuberance, not to mention the small matter of a killer cascading chorus section.



Apollo - This is My Town (Damage Productions)

Apparently Apollo were contacted directly by Hamfatter (now there is a shit name) who were in turn the band which got Peter Jones to invest in them on Dragon's Den. And it stands to reason as this is exactly the sort of music I would expect Peter Jones to listen to while driving along with the roof down on his Porsche/Ferrari/Aston Martin/Bugatti. There's a dated quality to the crashing drums and earnest guitar playing that just makes me think of soft rock like Kiss. Ugh.



Model Horror - Catch This Disease (This is Fake DIY)

There seems to be no end to the stream of those jerky agit-pop style guitar bands with angular songs and slashy riffs. And as they go, Model Horror are one of the good ones. So if you can get over the fact that they don't sound quite as 'now' as they might have done a year or so ago (now there's a weird concept) then you might be pleasantly rewarded. I also like the fact that they remind me of how Leicester's Tired Irie started out before they developed into a primarily electronic led band.



Sound and Fury - 18 (Rebel Youth Records)

And to round off this particular evenings entertainment,  some old school punk rock. There's nothing subtle or smart about this - Sound and Fury sound like the Stooges of their generation. Vest tops, long hair, sweat, leather pants, motorbikes, Newcastle Brown get the picture...



The Dodos - Fools (Wichita)

What a fantastically rhythmical clattery racket this pair of Californians are able to make. And although much like previous single 'Red and Purple', 'Fools' does not really feel like it is going anywhere, the journey in err, not getting there is most enjoyable.



Polly Scattergood - I Hate the Way (Mute)

'I Hate the Way' is one of those disturbing, claustrophobic tracks that puts you on the edge of your seat without really letting you enjoy the music. Polly's breathy vocals and some simple but affected, psychotic instrumentation remind me a little of the tracks from Sneaker Pimps 'Splinter'. I think it is safe to say that Polly would not make the ideal jovial dinner party guest.



The Lucky Face - Underneath the City Lights

Like an urban version of the Worzels, The Lucky Face employ, double bass, a skiffle rhythm and old time vocal stylings on 'Underneath the City Lights', a track which should appeal to you, your friends and your grand parents. Spot the bridge section which rather bizarrely seems to borrow a key change from Ricky Martin's 'Livin' La Vida Loca'!



Crystal Castles vs. Health - Crimewave (Different)

Riding on the wave of an infectious robo-electro bassline, 'Crimewave' does its best to annoy the hell out of you by constantly modulating, slashing, mixing the vocals part until it is near incomprehensible. I'm not sure if Crystal Castles/Health think this is cool and new - PWEI were sampling it, looping it fucking it, eating it and spitting it out 15 years ago (and a whole lot more listenable it was too) but I quite like the idea that this band wants to seemingly sabotage what is a safe and accepted route in electronic music.



Dave P & Adam Sparkles - Sunday Night in Glasgow (Satellite of Love)

Ahh, a welcome trip back to the heady days of the late rave scene, acid house and Detroit techno and all mixed up masterfully on one track in 'Sunday Night in Glasgow'. It plays hard yet understated, only occasionally bubbling to the top of the mix over the heavy thud of the bass.



TD Lind - La La Love (Tall Tale)

Coming on like a semi-proficient pub tribute band doing Rolling Stone covers, there has to be more to new music in 2008 than this? I prescribe a good dose of reading Bill Drummonds book '17' to TD Lind in order that he might question his own output slightly more critically.



Mister Jack - Dream a Little Dream

Cor blimey gavnaaar - it's only bleedin' Cockernee reggae innit? For some reason I find this objectionable in the extreme. Maybe it is because it is the end of a long month. Maybe it is the bad weather. Maybe it is because female vocal on this is just really fucking annoying.



A Human - Pacey Singer (Wall of Sound)

'Pacey Singer' sees Dave Human doing his Depeche Mode act, and pretty good it is too. Sure it sounds a little bit 'epic' and contrived but very synthetic beats work brilliantly against the choir and the guitars. Lots of lovely remixes too.


Thea Gilmore - Com Up (With Me) (Fruitcake Music)

I'm afraid I can't get as excited about Thea Gimore's MOR country music as fellow Tasty hack Boyle. Formulaic and with a chorus that will bore its way into your brain whether you want to or not - I'm more of the opinion that music should stay in your mind because you want it to, not just because the singer has repeated 'Come Up Come Up' about a million times in the last 5 minutes. Come up come up come up...


The Black Keys - Oceans and Streams (V2/CO-OP)

And so the months singles reviews draw to a close with arch blues-rockers The Black Keys. Sounds a bit like ELO's 'Sweet talkin Woman' to me, which no doubt was not the desired effect. However, I like a bit of ELO so I'll give it the thumbs up. That's all pop pickers!