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singles/eps - april 2009



Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls (Domino)

The big hitters are out in the first week of this month. I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard this track already – it seems to furnishing every advert and trailer on TV at the moment and I had it picked as future single material way back when we reviewed the album. If it ain’t broke then don’t fix and this is a saying which Franz Ferdinand must have set in stone above their collection of awards and royalty receipts back at Ferdinand towers. This particular release features a suitably glammed up re-hash of the track by Vince Clark which is nearly unrecognisable from the single version – other remixers take note – this is the way to do it – not to just extend the outro by an extra 20 seconds.
www.franzferdinand.co.uk
watch video to 'No You Girls'

SB

 
 

Mr Bones and the Dreamers – Are These Actually Miles (Catcutter)

I keep expecting the lilting start to this track to suddenly swing into ‘Christmas in New York’ by the Pogues but despite the layers of fiddle and our vocal protagonist’s permanent vibrato warble, ‘Are These Actually Miles’ retains a slightly dreary overtone. Which is kind of appropriate as it describes the unusual but unfortunate scenario of someone who has lost the ability to differentiate between what is static and dynamic – crossing roads must be a nightmare.
www.myspace.com/mrbonesandthedreamers

SB

 

Metronomy – Radio Ladio (Because)

Suitably glitch and quirky stuff from everyone’s minimal dancefloor fillers Metronomy. There are wonderful moments in here when the squeaky synth parts all collide and overlap in a haphazard but deliberate mess and there’s a vaguely Latin American feel to this. But overall it is a bit too cool to really move me – something which sadly seems to be a recurrent theme with Metronomy.

SB


Fightstar – Mercury Summer (Search and Destroy)

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Fightstar’s previous releases – probably because I was pleasantly surprised by them. Unfortunately this has set them up for a fall and now I expect them to be great but ‘Mercury Summer’ falls short. It’s crisply arranged and there’s some nice trembling guitar parts but overall it sounds like Biffy Clyro minus the balls (which is exactly what I originally expected Fightstar to sound like).
www.myspace.com/fightstarmusic

SB

 
 

Will and the People – Knocking (RCA)

Due to a strange confusion with the exlovers press release getting mixed up with this CD, Will and the People get a premature review this month. But it may be a bit more than a month ahead of me – the combination of theremin, fat brass sounds and vaguely reggae beat are just a bit too much. They also appear to be on tour with Girl’s Aloud – read into that what you will.
http://www.myspace.com/willandthepeople

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Fujiya & Miyagi – Sore Thumb (Full Time Hobby)

Brighton four-piece Fujiya and Miyago have more than a passing similarity with the likes of Hot Chip due to their effortless fusion of electro sounds and slow funk. ‘Sore Thumb’ is just too cool for school – quietly understated spoken vocals, trembling bass lines and languid synth parts – I want to be in the Miyagi gang.
www.myspace.com/fujiyaandmiyagi
Watch the video to ‘Sore Thumb

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Jeniferever – Nangijala (Naim)

As I had suspected, Jeniferever make beautiful, northern inspired soundscapes that unfold and beguile over 10 minutes – no 3 minute pop wonders here. All well and good – it’s very pretty and tinkly and all that but man, it goes on. It’s like when you get given a word limit to write an article – makes you focus better and not ramble on pointlessly for ages. Better stop now then.
www.jeniferever.com

SB


Screaming Lights – Phenomena / Grandfather Clock (Anti-Records)

Although I initially rallied against the simplistic guitar melody intro of this track, the more I’ve listened to it the more I’ve liked it. There’s more than a touch of 80’s bleakness and desolation but also a slightly euphoric climax to ‘Phenomena’ sets this apart. ‘Grandfather Clock’ sounds very similar to ‘Phenomena’ actually, except faster and bigger on the pianos rather than the moody synths. Ditch the keys and stick with ‘Phenomena’ would be my advice.
www.myspace.com/screaminglights

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Iain Archer – Songbird / Frozen Lake (Black Records)

Time was when a half decent singer songwriter was worth their weight in gold. Seems to me that now this is a massively saturated market and that in order to get just get noticed you have to be what I believe is called ‘shit hot’. On ‘Songbird’ Archer is good, a little predictable maybe but certainly not ‘shit hot’. ‘Frozen Lake’ is, in places, painful – and not in a good way. If you have a gentle soul and dwell on musical platitudes then you will no doubt enjoyed Archer on tour with Snow Patrol in March but I want more than this.

SB


exlovers – Photobooth / Weightless (Young & Lost)

It’s more than possible that I’ve reviewed these tracks previously on exlovers demo when I rather unprofessionally couldn’t be bothered to check the track listing printed on the disc itself. But with more certainty now I can confirm that ‘Photobooth’ is a twinkly indie guitar ditty set to a rich boy-girl harmony. Then to balance up exlovers do dark and moody with ‘Weightless’ which ostensibly has similarities with Pavement but on a slightly different level could have been influenced by In Utero-era Nirvana. Top drawer.
www.myspace.com/weareexlovers

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Tiny Masters of Today – Skeletons (Mute)

This is all fixes and pops – like a Bentley Rhythm Ace on helium. But for all it’s kitsch and fuzz it’s lacking a certain, err, tune appeal. Running the vocals through a fuzzbox and just having some clattery percussion in the forefront over the primitive melodies does nothing for me I’m afraid.

SB

 

Kids Love Lies – Count in My Head (Cherryade)

Now if I didn’t know better I would have thought that the Cherryade and Mute A&R departments had got their wires crossed and ended up signing each other’s bands. Kids Love Lies simply buzz with energy and cowbell and girly yelps and slashy guitar licks and big drums. ‘County In My Head’ may be (the first of many) the perfect song for the summer ahead. Think Chiara L’s or a slightly more wired version of Scanners. Absolutely joyous nonsense.
www.myspace.com/kidslovelies

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The Shermans – Venom (Platform)

I’m not so sure about this. It all sounds a bit mechanical with the wooden chords of the intro suddenly giving way to a slightly disconnected clickety high hat sound. On the other hand there is a very successful populist singalong sound to the ‘na, nan an ana na’ chorus. Jury’s out on both whether this is much good or what direction The Shermans are taking in. Still, never bad to leave people wanting more.
www.vivalashermans.co.uk

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YPPAH – Gumball Machine Weekend (Ninja Tune)

Am I the only one who wants to shake Mark Ronson by his neck and shove his parpy brassy choruses up his arse? Yes? I am? Oh well. But if you’ll humour me a second then I’ll continue. I think that under that level of duress (or possibly gunpoint – I haven’t made my mind up yet) The Ronster might reconsider his formulaic approach to the big band and actually use his production talents for good, not evil. Now, if you take YPPAH (pronounced ‘Yippah’) – he’s got the right idea. Sure there is plenty of cool stuff to hark back to but YPPAH manages to take the essence of that whole sound and round it out with his own contemporary take. ‘Gumball Machine Weekend’ is chocked full of tracks that are full of a cool soul sound but also manage to incorporate elements of drone, trance, shoegaze and trip hop. Generally it is percussion heavy with big rumbling bass drum and a lot of symbol riding over the main melodies but this EP is just about as perfect as it could be. There’s psychedelia, rock, soul, dance – all perfectly blended - it’s a true masterpiece.
www.ninjatune.net

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Commander Keen – Extended Player II (Only Pretend Records)

Building on the more minimalist (if that is not a contradiction in terms) ethic of debut ‘My Tascan Dreams’, Commander Keen returns with ‘Extended Player II’ an altogether more rounded and smoother listen. That said there is plenty going on here to keep you on your toes such as the unearthly asthmatic rumblings on ‘Full Frontal Lobotomy’, similar to those used so successfully by Mogwai in ‘Sine Wave’. But despite this electronic interference all the while the music is firmly grounded in a traditional folk ethic with plenty of violins, reed organs and pianos in evidence. ‘Lying in the Dark’ twinkles and shimmers next to the macabre sawtooth sounds of ‘What’s a Bushel’, a track which is similar in its cathedral splendour to Her Name is Calla’s ‘New England’ (the main difference being Calla’s crecendo into huge post rock leanings as opposed to Commander Keen’s preference for the ambient). Perfect work for anyone who likes Glissando (in fact most bands on Gizeh Records) or other intelligent ambient post rock.
www.commanderkeen.co.uk

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Celebrity Chimp – Celebrity is the New Royalty (Green Pea)

There’s always the temptation to lump something like this in a big vat labelled ‘gimmicky’, maybe just because they have a weird name, maybe because surely no serious band would only use banjo and drums and maybe because most of the songs have a humorous lyrical content. But I think it would belie Celebrity Chimp’s musical talents to do this and think they deserve a cherished place lumped together in a slightly higher placed vat labelled ‘light entertainment acts’.

I’ve heard lead track ‘Pornstar’ quite a few times and I have to admit that it annoys the hell out of me. That said, there is some demon banjo work going on throughout its duration. A man of my gentle demeanour leans much more towards the slightly more laid back stop-start vibe of ‘Not a Man’. After a few listens it strikes me that Celebrity Chimp actually sound like they could be an acoustic version of Presidents of the United States of America – a great idea. And on to ‘Plastic Girl’ probably the most musically accomplished track on the album, there's a rabble rousing vocal interplay between Andy McKay and Tom Smith which could have been lifted straight from a Wurzels album (and I make this reference with the greatest possible respect, not maliciously).

So think about it. There’s plenty of Snow Patrols, Doves, Coldplays and other miserabalists out there so why not let a little Celebrity Chimp into your life to brighten up the day?
www.celebritychimp.com

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The Wave Pictures - If You Leave It Alone (Moshi Moshi)

This is the title track from The Wave Picutres' newie, the follow up to 'Instant Coffee Baby'. It is very good. It is backed by 'Polar Bear', which was written by Jack Lewis. Which has arguably the more Wave Pictures-esque guitar solos and brilliantly-slightly-outlandish lyrics (e.g. "There is a story about a boy in a cage / He's stuck in there, he doesn't have his pants on / Who took his pants? Who ate his pants? / Who took his pants?"). 'If You Leave It Alone' is maybe longer, maybe following in the forlorn vein of 'Now You Are Pregnant. It is even beautiful - "If I could kiss your toes, kiss your ribs, kiss your fingers / Maybe then, baby then, I could get light / And then I would be light"). Is it more melancholy and less witticism-based? Slower? Probably. Are The Wave Pictures the best English band playing indie pop with guitars at the moment? Yes.
www.myspace.com/thewavepictures

Phil Coales


 

Various Artists – 4x12 Vol. 1 of 4 (Dance to the Radio)

The concept is simple – to celebrate their 50th release Dance to the Radio will be putting out four 12” singles, each with 4 bands on. This first one kicks off in superb style with Wonderswan’s skronky guitars and stoner delivery. Energy levels are ramped up a million-fold by Broadcast Society and their hyperactive high hat i the very polished ‘Behind Your Back’. The band everyone is told they should like but no-one can work out why, Pulled Apart By Horses, come on heavy with ‘E = MC Hammer’. Although there is the occasional off-script key change and time shift which beg comparisons with Future Ex Wife I have trouble separating this from tradition hairy biker metal. And finally Bear Hands manage to do the seemingly impossible and out-cool the un-outcoolable Junior Boys with their minimal electro ‘What a Drag’ remixed by Cale Parks. A fine collection – look forward to the next volume.
www.dancetotheradio.com

SB

 
 

Diarmaid O Meara – Paranoid (Gobsmacked)

Perhaps the biggest problem with the ‘Paranoid’ is that the perfectly acceptable ‘Paranoia’ has been paired with the vastly superior techno masterpiece that is ‘Blue’ on the same records. ‘Paranoia’ is hard, oscillating and direct before fizzling out really apologetically. By comparison, the techno edit of ‘Blue’ is also hard as nails, but far more complex and gurgling in leading up to its big choruses, sounding like an explosion in a robot factory. There’s even room for a few pauses and lulls to take breath before you get hit by an ever harder beat. This is dance floor gold dust.
www.myspace.com/diarmaidomeara

SB

 

Joz & DJ Marcus – Passion (Crash)

OK, stay calm and work out where to start. If Go:Audio produce Euro disco then ‘Passion’ is the equivalent Euro-dance you would expect to hear spilling out of the slightly more upmarket resorts of Cyprus and Ibiza (I did say only slightly more upmarket). Apparently DJ Marcus Taylor (now that’s not a very glamourous moniker is it?) was introduced to Trance music in Paphos in 2006 and boy did he take it to heart. This is pure 2006 sounding. Vocalist Joz (much more rock n roll sounding and obscure) was apparently handpicked from her rock band by the label to provide the identikit vocals on this track. And finally, when you have all the time in the world to put together your press shots for a release like this, how on earth do you manage to choose one where Joz looks likes she’s caught a nasty whiff of blurry DJ Marcus fart? Summer hit stamped all over it then.
www.myspace.com/jozdance
www.myspace.com/marcustayloruk

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Go:Audio – Drive to the City (Rubix)

This is so bad it makes me quite angry. It’s a kind of bastard hybrid of the kind trashy Euro disco you would expect to hear bellowing from the speakers in Magaluf and a lightweight emo-type rock. It leaves me wanting to go out And break things.
www.myspace.com/goaudioband

SB

 

Je Suis Animal – The Mystery of Marie Roget (Angular)

With a title based on an obscure Edgar Allen Poe short story about the murder of a cosmetic store assistant, you’d hope for something interesting here. But aside from a few handclaps and a the curious vocal intonations you expect when a Norwegian sings in English, inspiration is in short supply here.
www.jesuisanimal.com

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Junior Boys – Hazel (Domino)

One of those bands that I really struggle to appreciate – Junior Boys sounds so uber-cool that I get the feeling that anyone dancing at their shows would be instantly ejected – appreciative nodding only allowed here. ‘Hazel’ sounds musically very similar to their previous output – all fat synths and breathy vocal with a vaguely loungey vibe. There’s a bit of chaka chaka guitar work going on but basically this track is so wooden that my CD player has got splinters from it.
http://www.myspace.com/juniorboys

SB

 

King Cannibal – Virgo (Ninjatune)

Someone once told me that it was practically impossible for the French to sing what we know as ‘pop songs’ because of the structure, rhythm and around of their language. Maybe so, but King Cannibal’s ‘Virgo’ is so far removed from anything you might know as ‘pop’ that this observation is rendered entirely useless. On the otherhand, the vocals provided by Face-a-Face work perfectly with the twisted industrial take on dancehall – a banlieue twist to the genre. It’s heavy, atmospheric and slightly threatening – a bit like walking through the back streets of Lille in fact.
www.myspace.com/kingcannibal

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Slow Down Tallahassee – Angel of Death / Standard Fare – Dancing (Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)

I have to admit catching a Slow Down Tallahassee gig previously and could only report that it felt more like an endurance test than a pleasurable experience. The girly intro with a sunny pop disposition does little to break my expectations – it’s the musical equivalent of primitivism. Fortunately their labelmates Standard Fare add a much needed sense of urgency and passion with their track ‘Dancing’ and vocalist Emma’s raw but endearing words.
www.myspace.com/standardfare
www.myspace.com/slowdowntallahasseegirls

SB

 
 

Crayon Fields – Voice of Paradise (The Passport Label)

‘Voices of Paradise’ is one of those gentle, dreamy tracks that will either have you salivating on your faux retro shirt or will have you glazing over with an expression of confusion. There’s very little to it really – plenty of watery guitars shimmering around and almost apologetic vocals uttering out some love song lyrics. A little too simplistic for my tastes I’m afraid.
www.myspace.com/thecrayonfields

SB

 
 

Shapes – The Pasture, The Oil EP (Big Scary Monsters)

Opening with the crazed and intense riffing of ‘Trampled By A Horse’, Shapes’ latest EP features the urgency of Rolo Tomassi, the relentlessness of Action Beat, alongside the explorative nature of The Mars Volta. Never seemingly comfortable in just one genre, ‘The Pasture, The Oil’ marks Shapes out as talented, experimental, musical chefs; a pinch of post hardcore, a smattering of math rock, a sprinkle of post rock and plenty of passion. The urgent opening of the EP is in stark contrast to the violin-soaked conclusion of closing track ‘You Butcher’, a sublime ending to a fantastic EP. This is a record that sounds huge, a record that was meant to be played loud and a record that rocks in a ‘massive wall of sound washing over you’ way. Where there’s quality and originality you often find Big Scary Monsters sniffing around, and this band are certainly no exception to the rule.

Mark Whiffin

 
 

Morton Valence – Chandelier / Hang It on the Wall (Bastard)

This is a lovely little record. ‘Chandelier’ is all rich boy-girl vocal harmonies over a twinkling glockenspiel part that gently sways its way through to a bedtime finale. ‘Hang it on the Wall’ by comparison is airy synth led, giving it an instant coldness and starts off sounding like a pared back Carter USM track. Dramatic pauses and big choirs of voices all contribute to the grandiose sound which fills and fills with darkness as the track progresses – swoonworthy stuff.
www.myspace.com/mortonvalence

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Jack Butler – EP demo

Sweet Jesus what the hell is going on here? Jack Butler kick of this EP with ‘Hit it Out of the Park son’ and all the enthusiasm of a premier league footballer in a Bentley garage. It’s kind of a funk vibe with scratchy guitars but a crazy squelchy bass too. I’m not sure the two sounds suite together quite right and it may be a little bit ‘last year’ but you’ve got to love it for the sheer vitality of it. With their little vocal harmonies they remind me a little of O Fracas. The same kind of sounds continues throughout and there is more lung busting and plectrum grinding delivery throughout – it must be pretty tiring being a member of Jack Butler but I bet it is a bloody good laugh.

SB

 
 

White Light Parade – Wake Up (Split Records)

Ooh, this is just a little bit insipid. The vocals are so weak in the chorus ‘Wake up, wake up out this dream’ the protagonists drivel on and they cannot pronounce the ‘h’ of ‘happen’ – another example of lazy pronunciation this month. All of which is all the more annoying as the song writing itself is pretty good and neatly tied together. With a bit more care and attention this could be a half decent pop track.
www.myspace.com/whitelightparade

SB

 
 

The Dykeenies – Sounds of the City (Moustache)

The Dykeenies? They’re like, quite famous aren’t they? You know, big with the kids? Very now? Pity that ‘Sounds of the City’ is a bit formulaic and over-produced but it would make perfect film soundtrack music. ‘I need you but you don’t need me’ – hardly Pulitzer stuff is it?

SB

 
 

John & Jehn – Oh My Love (Faculty Music Media)

This is a bit like listening to a couple of demented alcoholics breaking into a music shop. Simple parpy synths at odds with big rumbling timpani drums, reverby female vocals clattering around behind claustrophobic, breathy male vocals. It’s genious. B-side ‘Lookin’ for You’ is pretty good too – all 80’s noir like Echo and the Bunnymen of Banshees stuff.
www.myspace.com/johnjehn

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Colour – Unicorns

Seldom will you hear a series of tracks so precisely played and intricately delivered as ‘Unicorns’ and its companions. It inhabits an area where math-rock meets jazz and produces a technically inspired if somewhat sprawling sound – don’t expect to be able to tap your foot along to this.
www.myspace.com/colouruk

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The Black Box Revelation – Love, Love is on My Mind (T4 Tunes)

I like the idea of garage rock – just a couple of mates getting together, winding up the amps and hitting merry fuck out of a drum kit, carrying their lack of technical sophistication by sheer energetic indulgence. I like the idea, but in reality it’s just a bit of a row really – too much fuzz and not enough composition.

SB

 
 

King Creosote – Coast on By (Domino)

Part of the mighty Fence Collective, King Creosote has hashed together a fairly decent pop record here with the help of Steve Mason of Beta Band fame. Squidgy synths and repetitive steady drum provide the solid background to King Creosote’s alt folky vocal leanings.
www.myspace.com/kingcreosote
Watch video to 'Coast on By'

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Scrabull – Bad Boys (Seventy Recordings)

It’s all a bit too urban for me this – I am a fully paid up member of the suburbs now you know. What’s with all the dropping of ‘t’s everywhere – such slovenly speech would get me a good telling off at prep school I can tell you. But ‘Bad Boys’ has a laid back style to his delivery and backing track which transcends just plain old hip hop and r&b. I’m not sure it can transcend the gulf between Richmond and the ghetto but it’s a fair effort all the same.

SB

 
 

John 3:16 – “The Solemn Truth” (EP) (Alrealon Music)

Sometimes you wonder why people put their music down on any recorded media. This is what I am wondering about now. It’s all about the drone, but crucially that’s the only interesting party in each of these 5 pieces, the rest of the music does little. I dare say that some of this music might be useful as part of cinematic clips as a bed track, but other than that, I wonder why this is an EP. 4/10

Dave Procter

 
 

Evil Nine feat. Seraphim – Icicles (Marin Parade)

There’s some loose parallels in this track by Evil Nine to the Jon Hopkins one above. And by this I mean that the track kind of slowly fades in, doesn’t really do much different in the middle and then kind of just ebbs away with its tail between its legs. Now my old English teacher would always say that any decent story should have a decent beginning, middle and end and most songs are just musical stories and would benefit from such a structure. Without it, despite any amount of enthusiastic yelping and crooning by guest vocalist Seraphim, the engorged middle section just plods along without any great effect – this song would really need book ending by some decent tracks by any DJ trying it in a club.

SB

 
 

Jon Hopkins – Light Through the Veins (Double Six)

The advantage of a 9 minute song is that it gives you plenty of opportunity to straddle several different genres. ‘Light Through the Veins’ moves through minimalist electronic and a simple oscillating testcard tone, clicketing percussion and on to Balearic euphoric trance. It’s good background music but it is a pity that it just pitters away into nothing at the end.
www.myspace.com/jonhopkins

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Svengali – Start of the Scene (Diffusion)

INtersting. I’m just beginning to wonder what the remit of Diffusion records is as this, their second release this month, has a lot of similar hallmarks to Crafty Simian’s ‘The Losing Game’. Again it’s bluesey rock performed by a hard working band, not necessarily a very talented band. They may be able to get away with it on a single but I’d be hard pressed to stay interested for the duration of an album I think.
www.myspace.com/svengaliedinburgh

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Violent Playground – s/t EP

LIverpudlians Violent Playground seem to have hit upon a very similar sound to that of Shed Seven about 15 years previous. It’s quite pretty and maudlin on ‘Matter’, more energetic and funky on ‘Mob Rules’ and haunting but triumphalist on ‘Dusk’. I think my main bugbear is with singer Danny Marshall’s vocal sound – I just don’t like it – sounds a bit too Mick Hucknall at times – which is a pity as these three tracks are pretty good otherwise.
www.myspace.com/theviolentplayground

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Buick McKane – Sitting in the Rain in My Car / Quentin Device

I read elsewhere on Tasty this month someone lamenting the current glut of two-piece bands and their inevitable limited musical range. Buick McKane are the self same but in lead track ‘Sitting in the Rain...’ it is not a musical limitation that is the problem (in fact they sound pretty polished and keep things interesting with their emo-ish delivery) but it is the nasty production which makes the snare sound like it is made of cardboard. Similarly ‘Quentin Device’ is a great song, strangled by a horrible recorded sound. But a million times better this way round than having an immaculately produced piece of shit. Listen out for future releases.

SB

 
 

Crafty Simian – The Losing Game (Diffusion)

This is a bit disappointing to be honest. It’s all very earnest and loud and brash but amid the clattery cymbals and pseudo Gallagher vocals there’s little that really appeals to me. It would slot more easily into a demo tape from about 1992 or on as incidental music to an episode of Teachers. But Crafty Simian haven’t really hit the mark with this one – it just says decent pub band to me.
www.myspace.com/craftysimian

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The Gentlemen – Something You Can’t Regret / I’m Not Leaving (The Stereo Tree)

The Gentlemen sound like a very adept band and they can even string a few decent melodies together. There’s a vague feeling of The Police about ‘Something You Can’t Regret’ but The Gentlemen manage to beef it up just enough with guitars in al the right places and there’s also a wonderful piano led bridge which provides the ideal lull before the musical storm of the finale. @I’m Not Leaving’ is also a creditable effort, if lacking in the invention of the first track. I’d skip it as a double-A and concentrate on the lead number.
www.myspace.com/gentlemusic

SB

 
 

Jyl Millard – Ace of Spades (Try and Make Me)

There’s been a few ill-considered musical experiments made over the years but there can be few more doomed to failure than the concept of doing a trip-hop version of Motorhead’s metal classic ‘Ace of Spades’. Or so you’d think. But this version is actually really good – it’s interesting how the chord changes really suit themselves to a dark and moody electronic led trippy number and there’s even a euphoric instrumental part to replace the guitar solo. Just goes to show that you never can tell.
www.myspace.com/jlymillard

SB