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singles/eps - december 2008



The Wow Signal - Infinity’s Lobby

This London based indie rock band lean more to the rock side of music than indie. With a sound which is very similar to that of rock bands of the 70’s and 80’s, there are even moments when vocalist Andrew Mangold’s voice sounds just like that of David Bowie. This is a bold move by The Wow Signal to recreate an older sound and throw it into the firing line of some of the indie big boys, but as the band’s name suggests there is something that just makes you think ‘wow’- this actually sounds good and works really well. In an age where indie is heading in a more ‘pop’ direction and becoming more mainstream it is good to hear a band take rock back to it’s roots. The Wow Signal’s album is due out next year and with these two taster tracks ‘Infinity’s Lobby’ and ‘Purr Right’ it will make the album something to look forward to.

Tim Birkbeck

 

Gramercy Arms - ‘Shining Bright’ (Reveal)

Coming from a New York underground indie super group, comprising of members from Joan As Police Woman, Guided by Voices and the Dambuilders, Gramercy Arms single EP ‘Shining Bright’ is disappointing. Having had their self-titled album labelled with ‘a summery feel’, this release has very little depth and disregards the hints of electronica previously acknowledged.

Vocally not too dissimilar to The Dandy Warhols, Gramercy Arms offer a pleasant experience which works compatibly with Sunday afternoon driving on a come-down from a lively late night. Promoting only straightforward placid melodies with idle singing, ‘Shining Bright’ is reminiscent of Jack Johnson rather than Mercury Rev, as suggested by some. While the single may boost the endorphins and make one think that all is right with the world, the lyrics lack power or profoundness. Muting their potential for a quality record, Gramercy Arms flunk the indie check-test by failing to provide anything fresh. The remix of the same track, also featured, tangles itself in messy beats and uninventive keyboard solos.

‘Walking around’ switches the peaceful and free-spirited tone of the former for something much more sorrowful; it sadly remains caught in the turn of the decade which is not yet due a revival. ‘Fell Apart’ opens with a folk-rock country intro, followed by the same melancholy chill-out formula. The duet presents a sugary female vocal, but this combination is much too much a reminder of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers- without the optimistic pace and Nashville warble.

A pleasant listen and a soothing experience to be received by all; in its entirety it is very well suited to HMV’s Easy Listening section. Unfortunately, ‘Shining Bright’ lacks completely in imagination and personality.
http://www.myspace.com/gramercyarms

Rebecca Lambert

 

The Kills - Tape Song

This single ‘Tape Song’ is taken from The Kills critically acclaimed third album ‘Midnight Boom’. If this song is how you are going to judge the album, then you may as well just give the album a miss. The songs are very slow, very repetitive and there just doesn’t seem to be anything that really grabs the listener’s attention. Perhaps, on a positive note, it could be good as background music, but it is doubtful that the music-buying public would wish to spend their hard-earned cash on background music. They buy because the music says something to them and grabs them in some way. This album seems very one dimensional, with the same rhythm all the way through and really the only difference between songs is that the lyrics are different. There are a lot of indie bands out there who are trying to be more and more original, but I’m afraid, judging by this single, The Kills aren’t one of them.
Watch the video to 'Tape Song'

Tim Birkbeck


 

The Wombats – Is this Christmas?

Every year people ask who is going to be number one, is it going to be another truly useless song for the ‘winner’ of the x-factor? It could be an indie band's turn, and with this cracking song by The Wombats it could happen! Is this Christmas is a cheesy but very cool crimbo song. Murphy (the lead singer) has performed another strong vocal performance which really does sell the song to me and it will to you. The song is much better from all aspects than the band's attempt to entertain at the MTV music awards that were held in Liverpool earlier this year. Definately buy the single for track two, which has a Les Dennis edit. It’s in the same league as The Killers and Darkness songs that came out for Christmas, remember them? Doubt it...
Watch the video to 'Is This Christmas'

Lewis Carter

 

The Reluctant Heroes - One Time Bomb

This energetic single from The Reluctant Heroes may be their debut single but I’m afraid it is nothing to scream or shout about. They are a talented band but the sound that they produce offers nothing new. Considering the band have been together since 1999, it’s taken them this long to produce a debut song and have only managed a sound that several bands have already done before them. This single may have had a market in 1999 but I feel that today’s music buyers will feel it’s all been done before. They have catchy choruses and good rhythm but its just not enough to stand out and go ‘wow’. Having worked their way around venues in the midlands, it would be a huge surprise to me if they manage to spread their wings any farther than that.

Tim Birkbeck

 

Joan as Police Woman – To America

I could review this song in one word... AMAZING! But that won’t do it justice. Joan’s voice is truly beautiful, you just have to smile as you listen to her and the one and only Rufus Wainwright sing their hearts out, the song is all about love and making sure you don’t starve yourself of love. Joan Wasser shows her shinning talent with her repertoire of skills with her texturised vocals and her versatility with the instruments in the song. Rufus drifts into the song about half way through and it helps to make the song flow so smoothly with a really nice jazzy influence. The b side to the single is Radish, it’s equally as good but unfortunately Rufus doesn’t make an appearance on this song. Definitely grab a copy of the single, the album and to top all of this the wonderful Joan is about to tour the UK, Don’t miss out!

Lewis Carter

 

The Chemists - Radio Booth (Distiller)

Having already supported the likes of the Bluetones, The Crimea and The Delays this year, Bristolian band ‘The Chemists’ warrant this current success with their new single ‘Radio Booth’.

With a simplistic Kaiser Chiefs style intro, the riffs which follow veer away from the relentlessly replicated echo of recent indie-pop bands. The Chemists shove indie to the frontier and combine it flawlessly with American-Rock, creating a novel and far cleaner sound. Johnny Benn’s masculine yet screamy vocals are likened to Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) minus the Americana, while Sam James’ rich and energetic lead guitar makes the track an obvious dance-floor filler. Lyrically repetitive, ‘Radio Booth’ is completely memorable; its naïve verses progress towards choruses that exhale animation and vigour.

Taken from their debut album (due for release early next year) and mixed by Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters/Doves), it leaks a blend of both bands. The track presents guitar solo’s which return to the eighties, a ruthless bass line, and wholly foot-tapping charm- Joy Division meet Queens of the Stone Age with a flicker of pop thrown in for luck.

The Chemists undeniably create a stir with this track- a highly recommended listen.
www.myspace.com/thechemistsuk
Watch the video to 'Radio Booth'

Rebecca Lambert

 
 

The Shaky Hands - We Are Young (Memphis Industries)

Nothing to do with Banzai's Mr Shaky Hand Man, there is still something satisfyingly shambolic about the sound of 'We Are Young'. Nick Dellfs quivery vocals and the simple snare drum leave me imaging a bunch of bearded types perfomaing this one. We will have to wait for a sighting to confirm.
www.myspace.com/shakyhands

SB

 
 

New Vinyl - Makin It Easy (Positive)

No No No. This sounds like something from the Tommy soundtrack (well, one of the bad bits from the Tommy soundtrack), definitely Who or Elton John. Trouble is I'm not sure Leeds-based New Vinyl are trying to get a genuine 70's sound but the keyboards ooze retro. Apparently the vocals are not vacuous but full of the trials faced by individuals on a daily basis - that should include quite a large audience then. However, I'm not sure that deep observations like 'Waking up every day to pay the taxman' are going to win any literary prizes. If you weren't from the city you'd swear that every band from Leeds were shouty types who have only learned 4 chords.
www.newvinyl.co.uk

SB

 
 

Shiema - Make Them Swing Till it Hurts

Shiema are a young band and they sound it. There's something about the vocals that gives the games away and could mislead you you into thinking they are a bit lightweight. But then every so often they hit you with some crunching guitar work that really makes you sit up and take notice, like the big octave drop in the chorus of 'On the Double'. But while the keys and flying-v sound a bit Faith No More, the voices are definitely no Mike Patten in 'Hard Touch'. So we're left with single release 'Second Time Under Fire' to make a final assessment and this would seem align Shiema with a more funk-rock sound like Living Colour. There's some nice time shifts and defintely plenty of ideas coming through so I'll give Shiema the thumbs up. They could still do with 10 years of smoking Camels and drinking piss from a shoe though.
www.myspace.com/shiemamusic

SB

 

Ralfe Band – Attics/Stumble (Loose)

‘Attics’ is quite unlike anything else you will hear this month. At one moment the soundtrack to the mutant circus of Papa Lazarou, next a baroque waltz and at times even a Mariachi style march. It sounds too much but every part has an unexpectedly ‘cool’ feeling to it – a bit like enjoying getting strip searched. ‘Stumble’ is a lot more traditional in approach (even though it does sound like a harpsichord may have been employed). There are definite nods to Diamond Dog era Bowie in this with its meandering keyboard parts and quivering vocals – all good, very good.
www.ralfeband.com

SB

 

The Wasp Factory – Nothing No More (End of the Trail)

The Wasp Factory is a fine book, full of tension and with a cunning twist in the tail right at the end. ‘Nothing No More’ by comparison, works in reverse, pulling out all the exciting snare drums and shouty vocals at the start before slowly sinking into pretty moderate indie rock, albeit complete with skrawky guitars. Then it just kind of fizzles out. Disappointing.
www.myspace.com/thewaspfactory

SB

 
 

Shake Appeal – Control (End of the Trail)

Seems to me like someone is a little stuck in the nineties – this light hearted indie pop with its jangly guitars and reverby production could have come straight off the cutting room floor following the recording of the second Stone Roses album. Not that it is bad – just a path well tread.
www.myspace.com/weareshakeappeal

SB

 
 

Will Young – Grace (RCA)

With the season of goodwill (excuse the pun) approaching, a rare concession to covering pop in tasty. But it is in the near-acceptable form of pop created by Will Young who, for all his misdemeanours, is a talented quivery voiced fellow. It’s a little too sweet for my tastes but from a purely objective point of view – a fine record. Check back in January when I will no doubt back-track on this statement.
www.willyoung.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Front – Me and My God (Diffusion)

There’s not a lot of subtlety on display here but for what they lack in technical prowess, Ayrshire’s The Front more than make up for in vitality. I was beginning to get a bit fed up with the slashy guitar part after a couple of minutes and then they briefly opened up into something a little looser – deftly done and without getting lost in a long, dull solo – this displays real skill. Let’s hear some more.
www.myspace.com/theblacklandsfront

SB

 
 

The Medicine – Stop (Diffusion)

Despite starting off with some clatty Flea- style bass playing, ‘Stop’ just plods along with its barked vocals and mod-ish vibe. It’s very lady, very leathery, very beery if you know what I mean. And sorry but this month I’m looking for sophistication and originality!
www.myspace.com/themedicinebanduk

SB

 
 

Tigers That Talked – 23 Fears (Bad Sneakers)

One for fans of Kings of Leon, 23 Fears specialises in that kind of close, claustrophobic verse which suddenly explodes into a big wide open road of a chorus. The rhythm section really makes itself heard on this track – the drums hammering out a call to arms and nice little bass riff driving things along in the choruses. One small minus would be that (also like Kings of Leon in my opinion) the track does seem to meander around without ever really getting anywhere but undeniably a promising debut single.
Watch the video to '23 Fears'
http://www.myspace.com/tigersthattalked

SB

 

Kong – Leather Penny (Brew)

This is what we want of a Sunday evening. Manchester’s Sellotape-faced Kong scare children and adults alike with their percussive onslaught ‘Leather Penny’. Never mind those aching last remnants of a hangover from the big Saturday night, this thumping effort from Kong will either have you running back to the bar for round 2 or curling up in a defensive ball like a startled hedgehog. It’s based around a jagged guitar line which seems to fight against the bass and drums in a glorious heavy-math din. Elements of early (circa James Joyce) Therapy? get eaten up in the apocalyptic finale. Hard as nails.
www.myspace.com/kongdom

SB

 

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis – (Baby) Hold Me Tight / Buggin’ Blues (Sunday Best)

Seems to me that K, D and L may have too much time on their young hands – they’ve decided to release this single on 10” 78rpm vinyl as well as the usual formats. Well, that will be useful eh? Unforgivingly recorded in analogue, both ‘(Baby) Hold Me Tight’ and ‘Buggin Blues’ are highly derivative, harking to a sound of yesteryear, delta blues, err, the Ku Klux Klan...my problem is it just doesn’t ring true when middle class kids record this type of music in their Dad’s home studio in Kentish Town.
www.myspace.com/kittydaisyandlewis
SB

 

Akira – Japanese Frequencies EP (Filthy Little Angels)

It seems ages ago that we last had a CD from Akira but fortunately the hiatus was not without cause as they now return with this 4 track EP. And the great thing about Akira is you just don’t know what you will get from them every time you hear a new track. Whereas their last review in Tasty featured the epic and solemn ‘The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance’ and ‘Soho Was Always her for Me’, ‘Japanese Frequencies’ sees Joel, Sarah and Gbenga in more upbeat mood. That’s said, EP opener ‘Hard Feelings’ does begin with a blood curdlingly eerie electronic noise which forms a near constant backdrop to the rest of the track. However there are much more human elements interlaced with the very raw female vocals and the soulful bridges. ‘God’s Warning to the People of England’ works in a similar way – overlaying a very human edge over a synthetic backdrop before closer ‘End#’ rounds things off in a completely electronic way (though even the macabre sample is given an unexpected warmth by the synth chords, leaning very much more to the uplifting rather than the apocalyptic. And this is a very good parallel for the way that Akira have progressed of late - apparently from the darker ‘Soho...’ to the much lighter ‘Japanese Frequencies’. ‘End#’ plays like a subverted Vangelis – seemingly crafted as background music but background music orchestrated by the Aphex Twin. I love the way Akira don’t give a shit about any trends. I love the way Akira forge their own way forward. I love the way that Akira sound quite unlike anyone else about and the way that they are probably committing commercial suicide by recording 8 minute songs. I love them so much I don’t mind waiting 2 and a half years between EPs.
http://www.myspace.com/akiraband

SB

 
 

Screaming Mimi – Electric Thighs (Phantom Power)

A startling departure from the more gothic ‘Who Is Louise’ and ‘Dorothy Millette’ sees Screaming Mimi swagger comfortably through what could loosely pass as a country track with Electric Thighs. More Kirsty MacColl than Siouxie Sioux, lines like ‘I wish I had electric thighs so I could give you the shock of your life’ could be straight out of a bourbon soaked country and western bar. The accompanying tracks ‘My Favourite Objects’ – a rockabilly sea shanty and the instrumental Pixie-ish ‘A New Cure For Heartache’ make this a high quality package.
www.myspace.com/screamingmimiband

SB

 
 

Thunderheist – Jerk It (Big Dada)

I’m baffled. On the one hand the opening barres of depressingly familiar urban ‘yeah, yeah yeah’s make me want to throw this straight out the window. On the other hand there’s a gratifyingly nasty crunky bassline. It’s a bit like the Sugar Babes singing on a Fischerspooner track. I love the way ‘Jerk It’ refuses to spiral off into some faux-soul chorus but I hate the cheapo clappy beats of the outro. Musical Marmite of the highest order.

SB

 
 

exlovers – Just a Silhouette (Chess Club)

Of the two tracks available I would definitely favour the B-side ‘Clouds’. Not that ‘Just a Silhouette’ is bad – it’s just a bit jingly, sweet and twee for my taste. But ‘Clouds’? Well it’s a beautiful airy acoustic number with whispy male-female vocals and a timeless feel. Worth the cost of this CD alone.
www.myspace.com/weareexlovers

SB

 
 

Jack Butler – Are You A Hustler? (Whimsical)

With one of those scratchy guitar lines and the sort of bass that makes it almost impossible not to swing your hips to, ‘Are You A Hustler?’ starts promisingly. But although they seem to be bridging that dance-indie crossover a la Sunshine Underground, the resultant sound is pretty hyperactive and frantic. B’side ‘W. Fire’ adds in some reverb and way too much high hat action to really give you a good dose of tinnitus. Time for a rethink my Butlers.
www.myspace.com/jackbulterpresents

SB

 

Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop (fatcat)

Here’s the crack – on one hand you decide to write about a song which is (in part at least) about the rampant over-indulgence and commercial excess of Christmas. Surely that means that on the other hand then that you will be giving this track away then yes? Oh, apparently not. The fickle music world. Anyway, ‘It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop’ is one of those typically bitter sweet Christmas songs – choral backing, happy-sad message, pipey instrumentation. It sounds Christmassy (though I doubt you’ll hear it over the PA in Morrisons unless some depressed temp gets control of the playlist). It’s good but it is still a Christmas song – leave them to Cliff Richard.
www.myspace.com/frightenedrabbit

SB

 
 

The Lucksmiths – Up With The Sun/ A Sobering Thought (Just When One Was Needed) (Fortuna Pop)

The Lucksmiths take the sounds of The Smiths and Belle and Sebastian to make this jangly slice of quirky indie-pop with a sprinkling of wistful experience that Morrissey does so well. The tracks have a nostalgic 90s feel, and come across as rather charming in an ‘oh wasn’t it good when things were simple and all we had to worry about was liking Blur or Oasis’. A slightly stale breath of fresh air.
www.thelucksmiths.com.au

Catriona Boyle

 

Russell's Teapot - 'Desire EP' (Earth Connection)

Bertrand Russell, right, he was a philosopher, and one of his wittier theories was that there was a teapot orbiting the sun which was too small for any telescope to detect, which meant that no-one could prove him wrong. But what was it made of, this indestructible interstellar drinks container? Wouldn't the vast cosmic pressures of gravity and the freezing airless void crush the little teapot into so much ceramic dust?

I'm getting too literal again.The five songs on this EP are made of a combination of acoustic guitar and vocals and some increasingly frantic sounding electronica which is quite reminiscent of some of the less indulgent moments of renowned sequencer spatialists The Orb, although I would prefer to hear a bit more of Russell Alsops songwriting, which is worth hearing, particularly opening track 'Broadcast' and 'Hindsight Devotee', and a bit less of what sounds like what is about to turn into a full-blown Creamfields session at any second. Slightly more useful than a chocolate teapot though.

Jon Gordon

 

The Capitol Years - Revolutions (SOE)

This is actually alright in a 'two bands playing a different song in the same key' kind of way, a bit like hearing Joe Satriani's guitar track overlaid on that Coldplay song, if you've heard that done. Glam stomp rhythms scuffling with the keyboard part from Pink Floyd's 'Money' - keep the loonies off the grass, that's what I say. Marc Radcliffe likes it so I suppose that means it's very good, doesn't it? B-track 'CIA' is similar, if a bit more folksy. Play it backwards and Jason Bourne will fall through your ceiling.

Jon Gordon

 
 

Veil Cassini - Veil Cassini EP (Baby Baboon Records)

Coming from Devon, Veil Cassini have been circling the local music scene for the last year or so and are now promoting their five track EP, recorded with hip-hop producer and engineer Aidan ‘First Aid’ Wallwork (Million Dan, Skinnyman, Rodney P Alabama 3) in their home town of Exeter. Apparently “sure to wake people out of their winter hibernation with a strong blast of fresh air”, the self-titled collection does not prove to be tremendously enlightening and does not do what it says on the tin.

Dually in control of lead vocals, brothers Hayd and Aaron Brown fail to create a stir with ‘Wetfish’. The track’s punky hollering and grungy Nirvana guitar rhythms steer away from modernity and make a tad too much of the wrong noise. Massaging instrumentals and impulsive indie patterns result in a rather confusing genre.

‘Sillhouette’ is pretty in presentation, comparably sixties in attire with some breaking rock beats and pretty Hollies backing vocals. Sticking tidily to a clearer genre, the track is noteworthy. Thinking composure has been found and a niche in the market clinched, ‘Box and Cox’ is ineffectively dissonant and again, it is Nirvana in an utterly non-inventive form. Where did the happy-hippy of the previous go exactly? With influences such as Foo Fighters, Johnny Cash and The Strokes, it begins to become apparent that a copycat method is occurring; regrettably this is not fused together as styles are varied and replicated from one track to another.

Finally, ‘Peek a Boo Hoo’ carefully depicts some American punk rock with a tap of the Woodstock age chucked in for good measure. A better track in its entirety, but still it completely staggers era upon era at different points of the song. Constructively, Veil Cassini should attempt to whip the elements together. It goes without saying that artists should be variable and willing to adapt and change album after album- as a whole piece Veil Cassini struggle to be individual and almost bring to life a decidedly mediocre parcel which does not manage to find its own technique.

Rebecca Lambert

 
 

Frank Turner – ‘Long Live The Queen’ (Xtra Mile Recordings)

Released to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness month and with proceeds from sales going to the Breast Cancer Campaign charity, ‘Long Live The Queen’ is a both a tribute and a celebration of the life of a close friend of Frank’s, Lexi, who passed away from breast cancer.
Having had a twelve year relationship with a woman who had a bi-lateral mastectomy not long after we got together, I’ve experienced at first hand the pain, anxiety and anguish that breast cancer brings, and am disgusted that more public resources are not channelled into research for both prevention and a cure, and into raising awareness. So, respect to Frank, both for wanting to do what he can to fundraise, keep the issue in the public consciousness, and celebrate the life of a dear and valued friend.
I don’t know any of Frank’s other work, but this song does little for me, despite the obviously important and genuine sentiments. It’s well played, well sung, and lyrically complex, in a style I associate with Billy Bragg, and, because of the fact that it was released in an important cause, I feel like a bit of a bastard for not liking it.
Like most listeners, I didn’t know Frank’s friend, and therefore, for me, like a tombstone in the cemetery, the song merely stands as a memorial to stranger, a reminder that they were loved, valued, and that there are people that mourn them and feel the absence in their lives.
www.frank-turner.com
www.myspace.com/frankturner

Bill Howe

 
 

Chicane Theory - "Lose Track Of Time"

Nick Roesler, frontman of this Minnesota alternative rock foursome, must have listened to an awful lot of Nirvana in his time. He happily combines Kurt Cobain's dystopian themes with the same wilfully atonal ear for melody, most prominently here on 'Fuzzy' and 'Same Old, Same Old'.

Things go reasonably well for a while. Opening track 'Decision' borrows the kind of pounding drums that the English band Doves really should have patented by now, and marries them to a pleasant melody worthy of a soundtrack or two. 'Fuzzy' keeps the drums, but drops in some angular riffs and walking bass lines to crank up the energy level. Although Roesler's vocals strain a little in places, they are never allowed to sink beneath the arrangement.

'Cairo' is more brooding and claustrophobic, until the tune kicks into a brief chorus that could have come straight from Nirvana's 'Nevermind'. Then "Same Old, Same Old" begins with a great rhythm track that never quite meshes with the guitar harmonics, and is then swallowed whole by an unspectacular chromatic chorus.

The last third of the record is a real let down, with a flat and overlong acoustic lament ('Once') and an oddly structured "grunge-jazz" effort ('Torch') that breaks down into a cacophony of squealing synths and effects that might have been a reject from you-know-who's so-called White Album. But this is an EP after all, and Chicane Theory have some time to digest and refine their ideas before releasing their debut album, due sometime next year. Nirvana fans, take note.
www.myspace.com/chicanetheory

Chris McCague

 
 

The Soviets - I Gotta Go (Diffusion)

A noisy rambling rock n roll number which oozes spilled whisky and cheap tobacco smoke in some dusty saloon bar out west. Which is odd as the Soviets are Scottish. Not much to go on for a fully informed opinion - but would certainly make a good wedding band.
www.myspace.com/soviets1

SB

 

The Race – I Get It Wrong (Shifty Disco)

There’s no doubting this – triumphant, shoegazy, anthemic – those are the sort of words which are always banded about music of this kind. Sometimes you find it’s just an excuse for over-production but in ‘I Get It Wrong’ there’s lots of lovely twiddles and bits and pieces going on – the crunky guitar break, tye weebly synth in the background, the cymbals being thrashed within an inch of their metallic lives. I’m not sure I’d want to listen to a whole album of it but this short offering is just fine.
www.myspace.com/raceuk

SB

 

 
 

The Valkarys – Candy Girl (Diffusion)

The Valkarys go all Morricone on us from the get go and I have to listen carefully to make sure I haven’t actually played two CDs at once, such is the slightly confused and contradictory nature of the sound. But once you’ve taught your brain to filter out the additional layers of reverb and counter melody (which only confuse matters anyway), you’re left with a rather upbeat track replete with doleful earthy vocals that positively eclipses the underrated press release description of a band that that is reminiscent of the Las, Oasis and Verve.
www.myspace.com/thevalkarys

SB

 
 

Bridgitte Amofah – What It Takes/Not Your Style (Mum’s the Word)

Sometimes the stars align and everything falls into place for an artist. It may be that this is happening for Bridgette Amofah. As we seem to be experiencing a musical 60’s renaissance at the moment, initiated by the likes of Mark Ronson and then perpetuated by Last of the Shadow Puppets etc ‘What It Takes’ falls neatly into this bracket while Bridgitte’s voice will also bridge into the lucrative soul market. ‘What it takes’ sounds equally timeless and classic, at home in a Bond or Michael Caine film. The songs are well written and expertly arranged, perhaps too expertly in places as they take on a less than spontaneous feel but better too much attention to detail than too little. There’s also a great little vocal harmony towards the end of ‘Not Your Style’ – all in all good stuff.

SB

 

Calvin Party – 8 Days (Eli)

On first listen, with 8 days, Calvin Party seem to have managed to cross the unlikely bridge between the Doctor Who theme tune and some Gary Glitter glam stomp. But a closer listen starts picking out other punkier sounds and it’s not so far of Death in Vegas or Primal Scream/Iggy Pop’s ‘Aisha’. Direct, shouty and challenging for the most part, there’s a pleasant surprise from the shimmery guitar chords half way through. Damn catchy too. B-side ‘Just Keep Falling’ is pretty good too – a little bit Ash and nicely poppy next to ‘8 Days’.
www.myspace.com/calvinparty

SB

 
 

The Uncomfortables - Portrait of a Band In Decline EP


Sounding remarkably polished for an unsigned act, The Uncomfortables describe their sound as “doom jazz”. It’s an enjoyable description but not necessarily an accurate one; “doom country” would be more appropriate. The cover of the EP shows a portrait of the band as zombies, replete with pallid skin and copious fake blood. Nice.

There are touches of Morrissey and the Libertines here, particularly in the vocals on the excellent Daemon, a surprisingly delicate depiction of love between two demons. Levi’s Genes would fit nicely onto the next Nick Cave album. It’s dark, sinister and raw. The perfect soundtrack for a Dickensian villain, perhaps.

The EP closer is the best track here: Cult of Django Ray. This mini-opus has all the right elements to be an indie album classic – close harmonies; simple, memorable riffs; repetition; singalong lyrics. Swirling Hammond organs give the track a mysterious undertone, and the intelligent arrangement of the track means it improves with repeated listening.

If you’re in the mood for something a little bit offbeat, The Uncomfortables are certainly worth checking out.

Chris Moffatt

 

K. Anderson - Foxes EP

There are some songs which just sound right, for a certain place or time. This EP, manages to conjure up pure distilled winter over 15 minutes or so; a mix of folk-y plucked guitars and Postal Service style electronics which perfectly bring to mind a bleak and overcast city, but never sound self-pitying or dreary. Anderson has a laid-back growl which wouldn't sound out of place sitting on a beach somewhere strumming an acoustic guitar and belting out cod-reggae. Thankfully that’s not the case and the way his vocals contrast with the skittish, paranoid beats, means the songs don't quite sound like anyone else. First track 'High Horse' is one of those songs which, despite being quiet just swells and swells as it goes on. There’s something urban and melancholy about these songs. When you get out of work late and miss the bus, and you get this weird feeling that something, somewhere’s, not quite right - this is the sort of thing you need to have tucked away on your ipod somewhere.

Andy Glyn