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singles/eps - january 2009

Sick City Club- Thought She Was Leaving

‘Thought She Was Leaving’, the debut single from Birmingham based indie rockers ‘Sick City Club’ is on the whole an upbeat, endearing and catchy pop song. Lyrically ‘Thought She was Leaving’ deals with the snags of a relationship- “It’s gone, through my hands, lost my chance I think she is leaving”- pretentious, yes, but my goodness it’s catchy. That said, many a blind eye will simply skim past this release due to the presence of the word ‘club’ in their band name. For originality, ‘Sick City Club’ don’t score any points whatsoever, appearing to comfortably sit aside the growing number of ‘clubs’ on the indie circuit at the moment: Two Door Cinema Club, Bombay Bicycle, Slow Club...etc... to name but a few of these groups. But what these guys lack in originality, they do score highly in the ‘quality of tune’ category; It’s a beautifully crafted song and you won’t hear a catchier indie number this December, and if Sick City Club continue to produce tunes of this quality then their fan base will grow and people will ignore the ‘average indie band tag’ and send Sick City Club skyward.

Sean Phillips


Sam Isaac – Sticker Star and Tape EP – [Alcopop]

I've sen this chap supporting Luke Pickett. It was an acoustic set, and I very much enjoyed it. And with this EP comes the news to me that he actually has a band, and that's not necessarily good news.

Isaac has a good voice, he's a very good song-writer, and his tracks certainly follow all the formulas for a well-rounded track – however I believe that he was destined to be an acoustic musician.

In the opening track "Sticker Stars and Tape," when the band kick in, the texture still remains irritatingly thin. The drums seem distant and it lets his talent down a little. However fast forward beyond the five track EP and into the remixes, and everything is resolved. The hard-hitting punchy drums really breathe life into the track. Just tell him to hit the drums harder, or find someone else's songs to ruin. Alternatively, have words with your producer, because in fairness it's probably just the levels.

"Fire Fire" has a bit more of a kick to it, it's exciting, and I love it. Enough said. On the whole, this five track EP is a winner. It's very good indeed. Isaac has the skills to pay the bills, some might say, and it all suggests that 2009's release "Bears," his debut album, will be generously smothered in brilliance

Thom Curtis


Le Reno Amps – Send Me On My Way (Drift Records)

Le Reno Amps play their own style of indie music with a bit of country and punk thrown in. ‘Send Me On My Way’ is catchy and inspiring, and makes use of gorgeous harmonies the whole way through.

The single is accompanied by ‘Airwaves,’ an exclusive b-side. This song has less of the country influence and leans more towards power-pop. A bright and uplifting song, ‘Airwaves’ could be a single in its own right.

Yasmin Prebble


Mr Bones and the Dreamers – In the Absence of Light (Catcutter)

Birmingham’s Mr Bones and the Dreamers play euphoric indie, with the addition of a violin and a banjo suggesting a hint of folk. The first track bounds along with plenty of energy, with the singer’s voice and the violin giving the song a lovely warm feel.

‘In the Absence of Light’ is slower and seems to sparkle. The song really blooms at the chorus: the violin returns and the multitude of instruments create a lush, thick texture. A joyful style of indie music that you can’t help but fall for.

Yasmin Prebble


The Ex-Men – The Curator (Beanstalk)

Glasgow duo The Ex Men are one of those cut and shut types of band who seem to carry out a completely separate recording process – spoken word lyrics being provided by Jack Sims then cut over the electro tracks generated by Matt Green. The result, as you would expect is quite disjointed and weird. But it is also compellingly catchy. The vocal in particular is reminiscent of A&E Line, particularly in B-side ‘Godot on Call Waiting’. What an ace start to 2009.


QuarterBlind – Bleeding the Guilty (QB Music)

Heckles are initially raise in seeing that the marking on this CD reads (c) 2007 – is someone having another punt at some previously released material perhaps? Either way, I’m pretty sure that the world of heavy Scando metal has not progressed massively in the interim amd so perhaps time will be kind to QuarterBlind.
The dynamism and chugging guitars are all very praiseworthy and even if you don’t like it surely it would get your pulse racing at least. But that larynx burning caterwauling is far from welcome as is the schmaltzy acoustic interlude. Very much a beast of its kind.


Franz Ferdinand – Ulysees (Domino)

Seems to be everyone’s favourite pastime to give Franz a good old slagging off. Not me though – I think they are great and ‘Ulysees’ is no exception. Forget the slightly sterilised radio edit and proceed straight to the original version. Sure there is the trademark Franz singalong stompy chorus (that’s what unsophisticated brutes like me want right?) but there is also a very cool scuzzy space synth overdub. Book those festival tickets now.
Watch the video to 'Ulysees'


Bad Moon – The Real Sound of Mooching (Bad Moon Music)

Oh dear. It’s like the new year in a microcosm. Sometimes we start out with the best of intentions. We really want to do something worthwhile. Bad Moon cite Pearl Jam, Neil Young and The Doors in their influences. But the singer seems to have scant control over his volume control – erratically heading off in a Vedder-esque lung busting rant quite randomly. The percussion sections seem to have scant sense of rhythm, occasionally wandering off at their own pace. And the guitarist and bassist seem to have scant idea about teamwork – seemingly duelling along rather than dualling. Did you see what I did there? I’m quite proud of that. But my ears are beginning to bleed now so I’m going to have to turn Bad Moon off.


Molloy – Thursday Electric EP (Silverstation)

I very much doubt that Molloy can make a bad record. Well they’ve got it all haven’t they? Boy-girl line-up, electro fuzz courtesy of a Commodore 64 and various customised kitchen utensils and a green and orange tour bus. Well, OK – the bus may be a bit of a stinker. But Molloy just know how to write a great song. There are times during this EP when you wonder where the track is heading (such as in ‘Wrong Way’) when gradually it warps round and you find yourself heartily nodding along to what was originally annoying you. They only play proper live sets, no samples or backing tracks and they also seem achingly cool without even trying (well, apart from that orange and green indiscretion.) I predict great things in 2009 for them split up by Easter.


Lauren Harris – Your Turn (DR2)

Next to the inventiveness and DIY ethic of Molloy, everything about this single from Lauren Harris reeks of corporate intervention. For starters she’s the daughter of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris – not her fault. For some gimmicky reason (could there be any other?) she chose to release this single in the first second of the new year in each time zone (though seeing as it is a digital single doesn’t that mean that as soon as it was released in The Phillipines you would be able to download it in England at about 1pm on 31st December?) It’s just so staid – like ‘Mona Mona’ on tranquilisers.


The Loves – The Ex Gurlfriend EP (Fortuna POP!)

It’s no secret – I’m great admirer of all this 60’s retro pop and Nico-era Velvet Underground soundalikes so I’m afraid that title track ‘The Ex Gurlfriend’ finds no favour. But let’s instead pick up on the positives and in this case that would be track 2 ‘Johnny Angelo Blues’ which has some deliciously scuzzy slide guitar very much in a traditional vein but with a slightly Jesus and Mary Chain macabre twist.



The Uncomfortables - 'Levi's Genes' (Doom Jazz)

This is cracking stuff. 'Levi's Genes' is a groovy slice of archly ironic beatnik bop that sways along very much in the style of, well, doomy jazz. Rarely has a label more accurately reflected its product. 'Daemon' is a fetching tale of terraced neurosis and 'Django Ray' is a soulful stomp that only requires a horn section to properly mark it out as a work of some frantic latino genius, in the style of the only ever faintly recalled Blue Rondo á La Turk, what were pretty hot in their day, I can tell you. Great label design on the CD too : The Uncomfortables just bought themselves some new furniture ...

Jon Gordon


Pendulum – Showdown (Warner)

The one thing you can guarantee about Pendulum is that they won’t surprise you – you know exactly what you will get (they seem to only one synth effect after all). So here we go again then, drum and bass for miscreants with attention deficit disorder. I was beginning to think the only reason I’m not jumping on the Pendulum bandwagon was the outer ranges of my hearing were going – but then I heard The Quemists album and realised it is just because some people do drum and bass better than others.
Watch the video to ‘Showdown


Urbnri – “Back Me Up”

It sounds like someone singing an Enrique Iglesias syrupy love-song while his joy division loving band tries to get through it. The singer and the song he’s singing aren’t very good. And I got bored of the rest of the band too. Not great at all. One of the 2 remixes on this has also seen the Enrique Iglesias link and gone all the way. Both are just disco beats instead of guitars style laziness though. They also highlight how weak the verse is, and the chorus. I think even PRML SCRM got their vowels back at the start of this century too, didn’t they?

Christopher Carney


The Raid – We Know Best

Lead off song “We Know Best” manages to rise above the times were it sounds of-the-moment. The riffs are good, they’ve rightly lifted the great bass thump up and all in all this is a great bit of skittery indie- rock, powerfully sung. At heart this is rock, and an example of how a great melody is the greatest hook. This one could have been any kind of song and been a winner. Quality transcends fashion.
Second song “Show Me” has an intro that brought an instant comparison with Jet, which I tried hard to get out of my head but…well the rest of the song sounds like Jet too. Confirmed why I thought the singer had a familiar voice. Actually this song is worryingly familiar to RollOverDJ. “Love isn’t made of guns” is an alright lyric though. Ultimately the song is overlong and too similar to another song that was popular once.
All in all though, The Raid could be pretty good. These two singles are so different and clearly of two different “fashion-rock” genres that I’m a little worried about what they’re in it for though…If they find a sound they can keep, we’ll see.

Christopher Carney


Alan – Shine

Definitely not ones to blaze a trail towards the brand new sound of pop or indie, what Alan lack in originality they more than make up for in the quality of their polished debut single. Very much in the vogue of The Charlatans, the Hammond organ with the rotating head is ever in evidence but that’s no bad thing. A nice psychedelic drum break towards the end and what you have is pretty much the perfect composition. Will be interesting to see what else Alan have tucked up their baggy hoodies.



Deltasound – Dust Can Explode

Oh my. At first glance listen Deltasound have plenty in common with the likes of Kasabian or Leeds-based Royal Vendetta –plenty of atmospheric guitar tricks and effects that pretty much carry their dynamic songs along at a jaunty pace. But it doesn’t take long for some dismal home truths to surface. This is one of the worst vocal tracks I’ve ever heard – forced, out of pitch and seemingly leading the rest of the band astray. Maybe the singer owns a recording studio and they can’t afford to get rid of him because if I was a band member in Deltasound I’d definitely be putting up a few adverts for a new singer.



Shirley Lee – The Smack of Pavement in Your Face (Missing Page)

The Spearmint front man Shirley Lee comes to us with a little subterfuge in the title of this single. Ostensibly sounding a bit hostile, ‘The Smack of the Pavement in Your Face’ is merely being used as a metaphor for falling hopelessly in love in this boom-chacka country ballad. Nicely done as you’d expect from this indie stalwart.



Ida Maria – Oh My God (Waterfall)

Anyone else got a sense of déjà vu? Yup, this was released way back in September 2007 when we last reviewed it. But as it is particularly good we will excuse the fact that this is also a blatant commercial exercise and give it some more coverage here. But you’ll have to look at the previous review for the details – I’m not typing all that out again.



Emit Bloch – Dorothy (One Little Indian)

Not so easy to pigeon hole this one though somewhere between Beck, Paul Simon and Billy Joel wouldn’t be far off. ‘Dorothy’ is country Jim, but not as we know it. And the throwaway lyrics hold a bit more resonance than you might first expect after a few re-listens. Simple yet full of complex little fills and loops, ‘Dorothy’ is a seriously listenable little single. And I got me a new badge in the CD sleeve – yee-hah!



Cy Parry – Songs from a Previous Existence

The opening track ‘I Know Who I am’ sounds like one of those blue-rock interludes in the middle of a film where the main protagonists (rather aptly) seem to be undergoing some kind of deep soul searching before having an epiphany and reaching the conclusion that they will play on the team/give up the family business to become a ballerina in Vienna etc. But it is also pretty good, especially if as an impressionable youth you were subjected to more Chris Rea than is really healthy for you. The three remaining tracks were all excessively schmaltzy for with the only high point being in closer ‘If I Could Take Your Pain Away’ which I thought was going to turn into ‘Hello’ by Lionel Richie. But it didn‘t. Bugger.



The Fake Lazy Supernovas – Golden Boy (Won’t Ever Be)

The press release notes that The Fake Lazy Supernovas chief protagonist Richard Lamplough ‘has taken a little vintage Bowie, ripped it apart with some Scissor Sisters then stuck it on a Broadway stage...’ – that’s what press people are supposed to do – make stuff sound as enticing as possible. I’d say more it was stuck on a cross channel ferry as the late night entertainment, like a (very) poor man’s Jane MacDonald. Then there is that infuriatingly squelchy sample sound throughout and a vaguely acid jazz sound. I can find no redeeming feature about this whatsoever.



Save Your Breath - Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy

‘Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy’ is a six track pop punk onslaught. Newport’s Save Your Breath are one of the bands on the front line for UK D.I.Y pop punk and after listening to this EP it is no surprise. Each track is just as catchy as the next, with no slowing in pace. ‘Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy’ has the credentials to be one of the best pop punk EPs released in 2009. Unique riffs and sublime drumming combine to produce the fast paced music of Save Your Breath, but it is the catchy lyrics of front man David Webb that makes them stand out from the crowd of wannabes. The unusual song titles such as ‘Not In The Mood For Kiwi’ and ‘You’ve Got Lizard Blood’ shows the band’s fun side while still singing about issues close to their hearts. The whole EP is very upbeat and perfect to listen to for a ‘pick-me-up ‘ if you’ve had a bad day - Save Your Breath are a feel good band. With shows supporting Set Your Goals, Kids In Glass Houses and Funeral For A Friend already under their belt, the only way is up. I’m prepared to stick my neck out to say that 2009 is going to be a huge year for Save Your Breath. If you haven’t heard of them by the end of the year you’re living on a different planet.

Tim Birkbeck


Sara Lov – The Young Eyes EP

Opener New York will have you hooked before you can say ‘aren’t there enough songs about New York?’ From the subtle rhythm changes to the soft piano and fragile vocals, this ballad is 100% heartfelt, and may even bring a tear to your eye.

The rest of the EP doesn’t quite live up to this high standard, but her dark, introspective sound is certainly one to look out for.

Catriona Boyle


Cuddly Shark – Woody Woodpecker/Bowl of Cherries (Armellodie)

This is what is needed to perk up all those people whinging on about the January blues. Far from being the cutesy tale you might expect with a title like ‘Woody Woodpecker’, instead it is an off-kilter rant about people who can’t help but prattle on (guilty as charged). A near choral entree gives away to an expletive filled pre-chorus before the rockabilly bass animates the crunching guitar power chords to the outro. Phew! There’s more going on in the 1.47 minutes here than in the whole of Oasis’ back catalogue. ‘Bowl of Cherries’ is unapologetically fast and furious, like a Captain era Idlewild – brimming with punk attitude and occasionally spilling over into sections of melodic brilliance. First single review of the week and I think I’ve nearly wet myself.



The Gullivers – Ambulance EP

I know it’s early in the year but so far things are looking pretty good musically (or it could be the fact I’ve just scoffed the best part of a family pack of Starburst and am currently undergoing a massive sugar rush). Maybe there’s an article worth writing about the creativity of music in periods of economic downturn compared with cash-rich periods and how it affects creativity. But all I know for sure is that The Gullivers have distinctly original and personal sound. And it’s that personal level which makes this a slightly uncomfortable, if not harrowing, listen at times. Gallons of delayed guitars drizzled all over the other worldly vocals – there’s little to compare it with, nearest I can get is French band Call Me Loretta. Not heart warming, not catchy, not commercially viable. But intensely interesting.



The Lucky Face – Leech

Hats off to the Lucky Face (if you will forgive the terrible pun). ‘Leech’ swaggers along, part goth opera, complete with harpsichord and part Paul Shane style club singing. There’s even a bit which sounds like the title music to Red Dwarf – what more could you want? Ah yes, that will be ‘1982’ – an equally tongue in cheek whimsical B-side.



Swanton Bombs – Mammoth Skull (Quiff)

Despite only being a two-piece, Swanton Bombs sound more like clattery, yelpy, noiseniks the Futureheads than the saviours of pop music that some would have you believe. There are some nice vocal harmonies occasionally deployed but overall there’s an inevitable reliance on time changes and dynamic due to the lack of other instrumentation and after 4 four songs I just feel a bit weary.



A Camp – Stronger than Jesus (Reveal)

I was a Cardigans fan. There, I’ve admitted it. As such I was expecting great things from this side project from Nina Persson and Niclas Frisk. But aside from the guitar intro (which was remarkable only in its similarity to Bowie’s ‘All the Young Dudes’) the rest of ‘Stronger than Jesus’ just plodded along at a disappointingly flat trudge.



Heads We Dance – Computer Love (Buffet Libre DJs Rewind 2.0 Project)

Get a load of promising new acts, ask them to cover one of their favourite tracks from the 70s, 80s or 90s then give it away as a free MP3. It’s as simple a formula as that. It also gives electro popsters Heads We Dance the perfect opportunity to apply all their mastery of wibbly sound effects and synthetic beats to Kraftwerk’s 1981 track ‘Computer Love’. And the result is great – adding a bit of humanness to what could otherwise be a pretty clinical affair but all the while retaining a taut nod to the Kraftwerk sound. Download this track and all the others from



Manu Chao – La Vida Tombola (Because)

Weird – this song sounds like a soundtrack from a Spanish film or something you might hear in a restaurant in Majorca. Oh right, it is the soundtrack from a film, or at least a documentary about footballer Diego Maradona. Aural wallpaper, but with an Argentinean twist.



Of Montreal – An Eluardian Instance (Polyvinyl)

I’m sure I’ve got a few Of Montreal tracks somewhere and I’m pretty sure I like them. So what the hell has gone wrong here then that makes it so unlistenable for me? It could be that the much vaunted naive jollity is actually pretty good for disguising a very simplistic tune by applying lashings of handclaps, horns and general studio effects. A victory for style over substance (though I did like the reference in the lyrics to causing an annoyance to mountain goats – not often you hear things like that in pop music.)



Young Guns - In The Night

‘In The Night’ is a song that deals with the darker side of partying hard. - a message not always portrayed in music. Young Guns have a very strong guitar driven song, the riff certainly sticks in your head, but it is vocalist Gustav Wood’s lyrics which really bring this song to life as everyone can relate to the issues he sings about. Young Guns may not be doing anything overly original music wise, but if their forthcoming EP ‘Mirrors’ has the same energy and message behind it as this song, then they are sure to pick up fans. As part of this new breed of bands that are crashing onto the UK music scene at the moment, Young Guns will have to produce something special in order to stand out from the crowd. After listening to ’In The Night’ this may not be beyond them.

Tim Birkbeck


Guns On The Roof - 'Shattered Feeling' (Interpunk)

Proving that there's plenty of life left in the SoCal sound, GOTR bring big guitar noise and shoutalong choruses back onto the agenda, the kind of no-frills powerpop that deserves a wider audience than just the beerfest circuit. It fades out at the end though. Songs like this really need a proper big ending, a guitar and drum barrage that preferably finishes on a minor chord. Only a suggestion.

Jon Gordon


Sway feat. Akon – Silver and Gold

Sway’s second album, ‘The Signature LP’ was released September last year, to tepid responses. If there was one thing the album kept other than critical acclaim, it was Sway’s relentless flow, his ability to mix the ‘street cred’ as an authentic hip-hop artist without the mainstream feeling while managing to stretch to the top 40 sound levels with the prior success of his debut. It’s sad to see then, that he’s come to the knees of hip-hop’s laziest producer and collaborator. Akon must have a magic spell because he’s managed to gain the support of Lil Wayne and even KanYe West. But, seriously, his records suck. ‘Silver and Gold’ is a soulless, meaningless piece of rapping. Another British emcee brought down by the hopes of getting recognition in the States. This may get Sway back onto chart territory, but with one of the most misogynistic ‘artists’ in the world by his side, at what cost?

Nick Burman


Safe 2 Say - 3 Sides to Every Story

It maybe down to the poor quality of the recording of this three track EP, but on the surface it seems that Safe 2 Say aren’t offering anything new. 3 Sides of Every Story is an EP which clearly did take the band time but it won’t stand out from a crowd as a ‘must buy’. Their music seems to lack originality and if this is a band who are looking to break into the big time, they may have to re-think their approach. One thing in Safe 2 Say’s favour is that they have very good lyrics but just don’t seem to have the music to match. The quality of the recording makes the guitars sound very rough, even painful on the ears. Perhaps if they stick at it, Safe 2 Say may gradually build a fan base which could in turn lead to better recorded material. In the meantime, however, this offering is unlikely to create a great deal of interest.

Tim Birkbeck


Clockwork Radio - demo

There's a definite yearning for yesteryear about many of Clockwork Radio's tracks on this demo and an unusually understated intro which sees a mandolin type guitar effect used. Fortunately the track (forgive lack of song titles - the only track list was printed on the CD) has a watery quality about it and a fantastic hook on the chorus to prevent sounding too much like a cerebral version of the Levellers. There's also a slightly odd second track which feels more like a reprise - all echoey overdubs and shivering bowed guitar perhaps - surely this would be better suited to the end of the CD. Clockwork Radio have a timless folky quality that will see them pick up many fans young and old alike but the slightly bizarre seventies space prog rock of the final track left me feeling a bit bemused - like someone had managed to sneak this track on here camouflaged - definitely one for die hards only.