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singles/eps - may 2009



In Case of Fire – Enemies (Search and Destroy)

This is by far the best track I’ve reviewed this week. ‘Enemies’ fair rattles along at a breathless pace managing to combine big chunky grunting guitar chords with melodic interludes and highly complex time changes. It’s neither metal nor emo but it will appeal to fans of both with its thumping production and devastating delivery. Great outro too.

SB

 
 

Bell X1 – The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella (Belly Up)

I remember enjoying one of the earlier releases by Bell X1 but since then I feel a bit let down. ‘The Ribs of...’ is a similar story, a bit like a cross between Boyzone and Pulp – there’s a heartfelt lead vocal but a damned annoying backing harmony for the chorus. Ladle all this with lashing of cheesey synths and you get something which would go down well in a gay disco but might struggle elsewhere.
www.bellx1.com

SB

 
 

Panjabi MC – Snake Charmer (PMC)

Oh yes – this starts very promisingly with a lovely bit of bhangra-style beats and instrumentation. Clearly the ‘Snake Charmer’ aspect of this comes from what sounds like some kind of pipe instrument which seems to wind up and down and around the track. There’s a slight western feel about the production which adds a nice twist but I’d steer clear of the remixes which are a bit squeaky and nasty.
www.pmcrecords.com

SB


Hjaltalín – Traffic Music (Haldern Pop)

Considering it is their first release outside their native Iceland, ‘Traffic Music’ is a pretty assured effort. Flumpy horns weeble around and there’s an extreme vocal melody between the deep smokey and light and airy sounds of Hogni and Sigga. It’s unrepressed in any way, and sounds unfalteringly optimistic yet with an air of the west end musical grandiosity.
www.myspace.com/hjaltalinband

SB

 
 

House of Brothers – Document 1 EP (Helpless)

A nicely conceived and performed little EP this one. While it would be easy to compare the title track ‘Document 1’ to something between Coldplay and Keane, there’s plenty of other stuff on this EP to get enthused about. ‘The Twilight of Idols’ works brilliantly on several levels as the bass bubbles along slightly off kilter with the guitars and the airy vocals. And closer ‘Oh Please Let Me Sleep’ is beautifully melancholic but pretty at the same time. Talented bunch.
www.myspace.com/houseofbrothers

SB


 

Slashed Seat Affair – No More Lies (Fill the Void)

If you could overlook the slightly boxy sound of the drums in the mix then this would make for a pretty good song. It’s quite close to being a perfect chick flick soundtrack in both sound and content (if that’s your cup of tea) but on this occasion I’ll say it stays just the right side of that kind of musical wallpaper. Uh-oh – spoke to soon – there’s a painful squalling rock guitar outro – derivatastic.
www.myspace.com/slashedseataffair

SB


Wonderfully Courteous Gentlemen – You Can Can

There’s a fine electronic musical heritage from Bristol and Wonderfully Courteous Gentlemen do not let down their forefathers. There’s a load of really nice electro/industrial sounding effects going on here throughout the EP yet WCG manage to still demonstrate their indie leanings in every track. It’s a bit like a sheep in wolf’s clothing (to bastardise a saying) if you like, with pop sensibilities wrapped up in a much more acerbic sound. There’s even a touch of the psychedelic in ‘We’ll Be So Happy’. WCG manage to maintain that intensity, the fizz and crackle which can sometimes go missing on this sort of music and leave you listening to a limp indie derivative with what amounts to little more than a synthy backing track. I bet this sounds absolutely belting live.
www.wonderfullycourteousgentlemen.com

SB


Hold Your Horse Is – Everyone Runs Faster With a Knife

Curious band name and, against everything we learn at school about scissors, nice EP title. And a suitably fine 3-track EP from this spiky three-piece who jerk their guitar riffs around like an epileptic at the Blackpool illuminations. ‘Christopher Walken’ is a slightly less malevolent number than the one of the same name by The A + E Line, but not by much. There’s big elements of the Foo Fighters in the outro (and the Foo Fighters when they were good, not when they got all MOR) and plenty of other pointers to guitar bands like Queens of the Stoneage and Kings of Leon. Rarely does an EP get better as it goes on but this one certainly does, triumphing in the final track ‘Stranger’ which again, although showing a bit of similarity with the Foo’s ‘One by One’ guitar riff, is a far more threatening racket which will go down well with fans of Everyone to the Anderson.
www.myspace.com/holdyourhorseisband

SB


 

Ape School – Wail to God (Counter)

Hmm, it may be dressed up with a bit of electronic glitchiness and fizz but essentially this is a psych-pop number which starts off like a summery Beach Boys number that just fails to maintain my interest past the aforementioned previous reference. Maybe a nod and wink to the likes of MGMT and Fleet Foxes, but a pretty discreet one. Very missable.

SB


 

RepoMen – Parallel Schizophrenic (Phantom Power)

Repomen remind me slightly of the unlikely combination of Leeds stalwarts Shatner, Landspeed Loungers and Hull’s Housemartins. Just an observation. That said, (and the press release is open about this), the most noticeable thing about the title track is it’s similarity with M’s ‘Pop Musik’. I’m just struggling here to form any strong opinion either way – ‘Breathe’ is nice enough without being really engaging and ‘Ride’ injects some much needed energy but it is not until the final track (‘State Lines’ which bizarrely does not even make it onto the sleeve track listing) that my interest is seriously piqued. A totemic solitary drum beat with a chant like vocal and big reverby feedback just rattle around for 3 minutes – it’s not going to get on Top of the Pops but I like it.
www.myspace.com/repomenuk

SB

 
 

Polka Party – Understanding Jessica (My First Records)

Breathlessly good this one. ‘Understanding Jessica’ rattles along at a fair lick and it’s all over before you can say ‘Kasabian’. Well, sounds more like Leeds’ Royal Vendetta actually but still very good. A gently oscillating bass line and a slashy guitar part which is very now but which also occasionally doffs a cap to the more Spartan sound of Joy Division. Keep tabs on this lot.
www.myspace.com.officialpolkaparty

SB

 

Overreact - Violent Eyes EP

When the launch notes claim that they are influenced by Tokyo Police Club, Overreact piqued my interest. Sadly halfway through single Violent Eyes they lost it, then they got it back again with the far superior second track She Said, before then almost throwing it away again with a major curveball in the form of an acoustic version of Violent Eyes that is weirdly better than the actual version.

Whilst the youthful bounciness they possess that is moth evident on second track is both exciting and energetic and lends itself to believing their claim of intense and upbeat live performances, they seem unsure of which direction to take their sound. She Said is a very good song, and they are no doubt immensely proud of that obscenely catchy riff. It could be a fantastic song with the right production values and then perhaps their breakthrough and thus I believe it should have been the single instead of Violent Eyes. Furthermore, the acoustic version of Violent Eyes in particular is very confusing. If Overreact want to be an “angular indie punk” band, playing Kooks like pop is not the way to go about it, and whilst a fairly good song in itself, it does seem to go against their mission statement.

CTS

 
 

Scott Matthews – Fractured (San Remo)

Does Gavin Monaghan produce every record that we are sent? It certainly seems like he does a fair proportion (which is OK because it generally means they are pretty well done). ‘Fractured’ is no exception – it’s a slow burning rock number which finds Mark Lanegan soundalike Matthews mixing some earnest vocal work with a nice airy instrumental feel. Good growly work.
www.scottmatthewsmusic.co.uk

SB

 
 

Buck Brothers – When I Look at You (All I Think About Is Sex)

Well it certainly does what it says on the tin – this isn’t a cunningly disguised lyrical game – Buck Brothers rant out the title over and over. And they manage to do it in a strange vocal that makes it sound quite like ‘When I look at you all I think about anal sex’ – and that’s really naughty. It’s more at the punkier end of the spectrum for the Buck Brothers, maybe think Weezer, but they can certainly write hooks for fun.
www.myspace.com/buckbrothers

SB

 

Son of Dave – Ain’t Going to Nike Town (Kartel)

My heart sinks a little when I see artists (visual or musical) doing the whole anti-consumerist thing, especially in such an obvious way. From 6th formers depicting McDonalds as the devil to efforts like this, they are lazy attempts to be lapped up by the Bourgeoisie masses, condemning a universally disliked (not necessarily despised) villain. How about that for a review eh? Oh the music? Actually Son of Dave has quite nicely wrapped up his message in nicely looped beat with harmonica and gospel accompaniment. And from my scrutiny of his photographs on Myspace I can also confirm that Son of Dave definitely does not wear Nike.
www.myspace.com/thesonofdave
watch the video to 'Ain't Going to Niketown'

SB

 
 

The Lights – Low Hundreds / Formerly Yours (Crash)

Scary looking bunch on their press release but there’s a beautiful string introduction to ‘Low Hundreds’ – all delicate guitars and banjo/mandolin(?) and it would be difficult not to warm to the gentle boy-girl harmonies (even though they include the dreaded handclaps). Plus there’s a nice bleak folky sound to ‘Formerly Yours’ – perfect sounding for the subject matter.
www.thelights.co.uk

SB

 
 

Katlow – Gorgeous / 57 Manchester Road

‘...imagine the Arctic Monkeys had gender re-assignment surgery and went acoustic’ urges New Sound Wales website when talking about Katlow. Urgh, what a terrible thought. She sings in a regional accent about everyday scenarios but sadly Katlow must have come up a few quid short on the surgery and has ended up peddling this pub pop. Poor dear.
www.myspace.com/katlowmusic

SB


 

infra red – demo

Very acceptable effort from London five-piece infra red and very much in the style of Interpol or a Home Counties Idlewild. Minor negatives would be the slightly drab vocals which remind me a bit of the way I feel remorselessly depressed listening to Doves but interesting guitar work distracts from this, especially on ‘You’re My Demise’.
www.myspace.com/infrarednet

SB

 
 

Stephane & 3G – We Don’t Wanna Put It

Yes – this is as bad as it sounds. Stephane bares an uncanny resemblance to Borat and comes from Georgia. In fact this was Georgia’s entry until Russia complained about its anti-Russian content. Baffling so don’t waste 3 minutes of your time listening to it like I just have.

SB

 

Dead Letter Office - Chairkickers

Simultaneously sounding like everyone and no one at the same time, combining the mournfulness of Interpol with a distinctive pop sensibility expressed in the happy-go-lucky keyboards, bouncy drums and guitars that can’t help but bring a smile to your face and the joyous refrain that promises this band “will never be part of the crowd”. This refrain after a crescendo of drums, that when witnessed live must be fantastic. In short Dead Letter Office have entirely won me over, the Cold War Kids vocals of Benjamin Hiorns and the consistently fantastic understanding of how to make a song insanely catchy by the whole band, there is absolutely no reason why this band shouldn’t get huge, it should surely be only a matter of time.

CTS

 
 

The Return – s/t EP

The Return are a band that perhaps have missed their big break, the band splitting in half when a move to the South turned awry and this is a shame as they have an immensely likeable sound, that lies somewhere in the realm of Ash, a band that The Return would fit along with very well in any compilation. Other aspects of their sound are somewhat between early Foo Fighters, Blur and Oasis and as a result of that if they ever found a wider audience would no doubt gain a sizeable amount of popularity, ‘A Mystery To Me’ is the song that best represents this side of the band who show several dimensions to their sound in three songs. Whilst “Now I’m Sure” is relatively forgettable, the sing along chorus of the second track and then the significantly heavier ‘Sun Shines Low’ conspire to make ‘The Return’ a consummate and intensely likeable listening experience and whilst they’re not building any bridges into unexplored dimensions of the sonic sphere they are much better than the vast majority of radio rock bands these days.

CTS

 
 

Enter Shikari - Juggernauts

Enter Shikari are a band that no longer require any introduction on this side of the Atlantic but it might be more responsible to tell you why. Renowned for their riotous live shows (for which they have received numerous awards), their mishmash sound of electro and hardcore that lead to 2007’s ‘Take to the Skies’ that went to #5 and went Gold and for their furiously DIY ethic that saw them turning down major and independent label offers and starting their own label ‘Ambush Reality’. As a result Enter Shikari have become a major force in the UK rock scene, reflecting the rise of The Prodigy in the Nineties, a band suitably considered Enter Shikari’s forbearers and main focal point for comparison.

With ‘Juggernauts’ however, Shikari have diversified to make their sound even more original in a scene full of sound alike rock bands. What remains in these new maturely songs, are the gloriously rampant synthesisers of lead singer Rou Reynolds, put to best effect on the furious intro of the track, the wholesome and perfectly pitched vocals of bassist Chris Batten that as usual perfectly back up Rou’s and add a further dimension sound and the overall sound of energy and band tightness that has always been present even from their early EPs – ‘Nodding Acquaintance’ and ‘Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour’.

What’s new are The Streets or Scroobius P-esque quasi-spoken word musings of Rou, that bring added focus to the band’s growing lyrical ability. Lyrically the themes build upon those of ‘Mothership’, mankind’s irresponsibility with regards to the environment, consumerism (“Trillions of dollars paying for our wants and not our needs”) and the world as a whole and our impending doom as a consequence - “I know that we’ve still got time, but I do not think we’re invincible”. These lyrical themes are what further place Enter Shikari head and shoulders above their peers who are still wallowing in the messy details of their last break-up. The guitar, drums and bass as a whole have improved significantly and are a testament to the immense passion and ability this band possesses.

In short ‘Juggernauts’ is a fantastic breath of fresh air, a shot in the arm for many and a firework of intent that should leave lesser bands quivering in their skinny jeans. Whilst this new sound may alienate some of their more close-minded (read first album bandwagon) fans, it should also surely bring them many more fans who will fill up the UK’s club and festival moshpits alike. With the immensely catchy gang vocals and musical hooks, ‘Juggernauts’ should fast become a fan favourite and if this first single is a reflection of the rest of the upcoming ‘Common Dreads’ it should further augment Enter Shikari’s burgeoning growth and status on the world rock scene, and make them a staple of the UK scene for years to come.
Watch video to 'Juggernauts' and the making of the video
www.entershikari.com

CTS

 
 

Fact - A Fact Of Life

It’s always perhaps slightly worrying for a band when the bonus remix they tack on to their single, is a more exciting and much more interesting prospect.

Fact come off as a Japanese Hawthorne Heights, and as the American Hawthorne Heights are bad enough as it is rather disappointing. Fact seemed to promise so much more, being signed by Vagrant Records well known for being the homes of Thrice and Alexisonfire two of North America’s best post-hardcore bands was immediately a draw for me. As their first single off their debut album outside of their native Japan, it is insanely catchy and high tempo aside from the bridge, that gives a sense of immediacy and urgency to their sound. Keeping this all in check is the very well produced and accomplished sound, in particular the implementation of electronics and the very proficient vocals that add a level of curiosity to their sound for the causal listener.

In fact it is the vocals that perhaps inadvertently mark out the band as a little bit different, no doubt due to the Japanese accent, that add interesting melody in the expression of the confusing English lyrics which seem to simultaneously be about a girl and a bad breakup whilst also anti-War.

The bridge in particular is confusing as it seems to go against the grain completely of the rest of the song and seems to be a critique of America – “the past was destroyed by you, I’m not going to forget our truth was shadowed in the darkness of war/ The moment when it was destroyed is burned into history”, which from reading between the lines relates to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Any such depth however is not signposted and is merely an interesting aside in a sea of for the most part familiar post-hardcore sound.

CTS

 
 

You Me At Six - Finders Keepers (Slam Dunk Records)

This is not the long overdue musical tribute to the legend that is Neil Buchannan, nor is it the theme tune from the only seminal 90’s kid’s TV game show with a burglary theme hosted by that man.

What we have instead is a 3 minute plus offering of American guitar garage pop from Surrey quartet You Me At Six. And it is annoying, for so many reasons.

The first is that it’s so damn chirpy. Just what have they got to be so happy about? A debut album in the top 25 perhaps, on which this song does not feature, but that really is no excuse.

Secondly, the chorus burrows into your head, deep into your brain and refuses to come out. Instead it just bounces around your skull over and over and over again. I’ve tried chasing it out with cotton buds, pencils and even a hot cue tip to the ear, but nothing doing.

Thirdly, although the chorus features the phrase “Finders Keepers”, it is not followed at any point by “Losers Weepers”, even though the version in my head, now firmly wedged there, does.

The Fourth, and probably most irksome reason that I find this all so annoying is that, despite myself, I quite like it. Yes, it has the American skater dude influences of Blink 182, Weezer and their ilk, but I guarantee, if you hear this on a morning the bouncing, chirpy chorus will be following you round all day. It will drive you mad, but you’ll smile whilst going there.
www.myspace.com/youmeatsix

Jim Johnston

 

The Late Greats – Destroy My Brain (Izumi)

If you like The Pixies then chances are you will love this. It’s full of all that frantic, frenetic energy which Frank Black et al just spilled out in those great, rough early tracks on albums like Surfa Rosa. It sounds scarcely structured at all but more like a big joyous jam session. We like very much.

SB

 
 

Ane Brun – The Puzzle (DeTerMine)

Some bands come and go and you’d not bat an eyelid if they played a set right next to you or you heard a whole album on a pub jukebox. Ane Brun is the antithesis of those bands – she has a voice which demands attention and her music just has an instant gravitas that cannot be manufactured. ‘The Puzzle’ has a fast glockenspiel section (not often we get to say that in Tasty) over which Brun’s voice just lightly dusts over. Essential listening.
www.anebrun.com
video to 'The Puzzle'

SB

 
 

OK – Tell the World (Sound of Monkey)

I try to laugh about it, Cover it all up with lies, I try and Laugh about it, Hiding the tears in my eyes
'cause boys don't cry...oops, sorry, got carried away there. ‘Tell the World’ bares a remarkable similarity to The Cure hit and I was just waiting for the immortal title to be quoted. All the same, that shouldn’t detract from what is a very good stab at what is a particularly British style of indie pop.
www.myspace.com/okbandcouk

SB

 
 

Daniel Merriweather – Red (Allido/Columbia)

I’m sure Daniel Merriweather is a lovely bloke. He’s got a good voice too (though not a great one). He used to be a busker and now he has a big record contract. Super. But man, ‘Red’ is dull, dull, dull. It’s one of those tracks where nothing is wrong but nothing is right either – it’s devoid of any interest to me at all.
www.danielmerriweather.com
video to 'Red'

SB

 

A Camp – Love Has Left the Room (Reveal)

Spooky. If anyone was going to be more Cardigans than Metric this month then it would have to be A Camp, the latest vehicle for ex Cardigans’ singer Nina Persson. However, ‘Love Has Left the Room’ falls a bit flat – sure there’s a bit of strings and orchestration going on but basically it’s a bit dreary and Persson’s fragile vibrato fails to lift the gloom, instead compounding it.
www.acamp.net

SB

 
 

Howling Bells – Digital Hearts (Independiente)

Howling Bells seem to specialise in easy going, almost shoe-gazy pop which rather than shaking you by the neck and making you sit up and take notice instead slowly creeps into your conscience. There’s little that is memorable about ‘Digital Hearts’ but it is almost universally pleasant nonetheless. A bit like a bowl of Corn Flakes really.
www.howlingbells.net

SB

 
 

Metric – Sick Muse (Metric Music International)

Bryan Adams. Alannis Morrisette. The Appleton sisters. Canadians have a slightly dubious musical heritage. But fortunately Metric have a more northern European sound rather than mid western. Metric remind me particularly of The Cardigans, mainly due to Emily Haines vocals but also in their musical outlook. ‘Sick Muse’ is a slick 3 minute slice of indie pop that fizzles away in the back of your head and refuses to be budged.
www.ilovemetric.com

SB

 

Attack! Attack! – Honesty (Rock Ridge/ADA)

A catchy little effort here from Welsh boys Attack! Attack! who aren’t the first band this month to owe more than a debt of gratitude to the Foo Fighters in inspiring a musical direction for them. Nice guitar effects in the outro.
www.myspace.com/attackattackband

SB

 
 

Ocean Bottom Nightmare – We Are Serious (OBM)

Acronyms – they’re everywhere and for Ocean Bottom Nightmare they provide the opportunity to brutalise their name into the foreshortened version – OBN. Suits me – quicker to type. But the salient point here is that OBN are shit hot. Sure there’s an obvious McClusky/Future of the Left influence here, but why the hell not – if you’re going to take inspiration from anywhere, take it from some of the best.

OBN have a nice chunky sound courtesy of their layers of distorted bass and vocal harmonies. There’s even an instants in ‘The Blade Was Rusted Like Aquatic Machines’ where they achieve the more complex funk metal sounds of Faith No More. But their songs also twist and stop and rear-up courtesy of pin sharp musicianship and timing. Of course we here were all hoping that final track ‘Itchy. Tasty.’ Would be the best one on the EP, purely because of the name. Sadly it wasn’t – it was probably the weakest in my eyes, falling more easily into a loosely classified rock genre. But it was still pretty good. And not just because of the name.
www.phatphidelity.com

SB

 
 

Black Lips – I’ll Be With You

Err, still don’t get it. For some this fusion of du-wop with trashy garage shoe gaze may be the bees’ knees but for me it sounds more like a drunken uncle singing karaoke to a Jesus and Mary Chain song at a wedding reception.
video to 'I'll Be With You'

SB

 
 

Telegraphs – We Dance in Slow Motion (Small Town Records)

We had a little listen to Telegraph’s album earlier this month and decided it was an instant winner so good to see that there is at least One Telegraph making waves without selling out MPs dirty little secrets. ‘We Dance in Slow Motion’ neat summarises all the parts that make this band the success they are – bristling intensity with every member acutely aware that the total result of their efforts is greater than the sum of their parts. Excellent.
www.telegraphsonline.co.uk

SB

 
 

Outraze – Under the Influence

Outraze manage to beef out their simple descending chord pattern with a thick, rich , layered sound that manages to transform them from just another rock band to a more complex sounding outfit, more akin to Kasabian than Quo. Subtle it aint but for their pure, bludgeoning directness you’ve got to hand it to this 5-piece from Oxford.
www.myspace.com/outraze

SB

 

Young Guns - Mirrors EP

As a High Wycombe resident I can appreciate how hard Young Guns must be working. In High Wycombe as I’m sure it is for many others around the country, there is a lack of any real venue for miles around and as a result it’s difficult, no scrap that - a downright pain in the arse to get your band gigs, particularly when you’re young and stamp your authority down on the local scene. Young Guns have managed to get through the pain barrier of local music and break on to the national scene with an urgency reflected in their relentless touring schedule this summer, kick-started by the release of this EP.

Perhaps as a result of a lack of a real sound or scene in their local area, Young Guns sound like they could be from anywhere, you wouldn’t be surprised if they were from Wales for example due to the Lostprophets and Blackout-esque anthemic sounds of songs such as ‘There Will Be Rain’, but at the same time there is the American intuition of how to make huge sounding rock music, that whilst not ground breaking is relentless in its attempts to grab you buy the ear lobes and force you to listen as best expressed in the aforementioned song and first single ‘In The Night’ with its unavoidably sing-along chorus. With four songs as well performed and recorded as these, Young Guns are bound to attract a huge amount of the UK hard rock fan base that are ever ready for new, young, energetic bands such as this.

Chris Sharpe

 
 

Death Before Sunrise - s/t EP

The Welsh music scene has always been strong and a favourite of mine: Lostprophets, Funeral For A Friend, Kids in Glass Houses etc all emerging from the valleys armed with songs that have made them power houses not just on my iTunes but on the UK and international scene as a whole.

Following in their sizeable footprints are Death Before Sunrise, who may have a bit more trekking to do before they break over the border. Claiming that fans of New Found Glory and Avenged Sevenfold are the market that will most openly appreciate them, seemed first of all slightly confusing. Aside from very annoying lead vocalists those two bands have very little in common, though Death Before Sunrise do combine elements of both those two bands, the catchy vocals and riffs of New Found Glory coming through with the heaviness and guitar solos of Avenged Sevenfold. And interestingly that sound comes out sounding not too dissimilar from You Me At Six.

I actually really liked both songs on this CD, the high tempo bridge of ‘Hundred Questions, Thousand Answers’, and the catchy main riff in particular highlights. The second track – ‘Will There Be A Moment’ was even more of a treat, insanely bouncy and as contagious as Swine Flu, sounding exactly like exactly the sort of song you have fun with your mates playing on Guitar Hero. Both songs have strong points and whilst nothing groundbreaking with a bit more polish would be strong additions to any band’s live set.

Chris Sharpe

 

The Perfect Crime - Soviet EP

There are some things I quite like about this band. The Fall of Troy baiting riffs for example are suitably heavy and distorted for a Post-Hardcore band, yet at the same time are controlled and technical, clearly showing a band that is perfectly in tune with their instruments. This element of the band are in my opinion expressed best on ‘To The Kindness Of Strangers’, where all the positive aspects of the band come together in their purest and most memorable form. A brilliant opening is a sign of intent that builds and builds through a fantastic exploitation of the loud soft dynamic before dropping down into a fantastic bass solo that eventually kick starts into a killer outro. I was hugely impressed by this song which brought to mind bands like Fightstar and Thrice that for most of their careers have made this kind of sound their own.

Indeed it was hearing this song that reminded me how much of a joy it is to discover new bands and it more than made up for what I was worried were 15 minutes of wasted time before I heard it. Oddly on first listen ‘Give Peace a Chance’, ‘Speechless’ and ‘Soviet’ didn’t appeal to me, but upon hearing the final song on the EP I decided to replay it. And it was SO much better second time round.

What seemed first time to be drowsy and repetitive music, made worse by what vocals that originally felt a little irritating and ill-fitting, eventually segued into songs that though slightly less appealing than ‘To The Kindness Of Strangers’ in their own right are incredibly strong, and certainly warranted a second listening and I would have been fool to not have done so and I recommend you do the same.

Chris Sharpe

 

Heritage Centre – I Will Protect You

This hits the spot directly between garage shoe-gazy, crunky guitar rock and mainstream indie. As such it will no doubt appeal to large swathes of scruffily and smartly attired youths alike. Quite an achievement. For fans of Wonderswan, Dinosaur Jnr etc.
www.myspace.com/heritagecentre

SB

 
 

Eskimo Project – Hydrogen Bomb (Brass Monkey)

It’s got one of them there Madchester vibes about it with big euphoric choruses and simple chord progression that appeal to drunken blokes in clubs at the end of the light as they embrace each other in their beer and sweat soaked arms. It’s got a very strange section which is a blatant rip-off of ‘I Am The Walrus’ by a little known north western band called The Beatles. It’s got the only use of the word ‘eulogise’ in a song that I can ever remember. Pros and cons abounds then – as I’ve just eaten a whole packet of Maryland choc-chip cookies I’m in a good mood so a tentative thumbs up.
www.eskimoproject.com

SB

 

Poppy and the Jezebels – Rhubarb & Custard (Mute Irregulars)

By christ – how young are these girls – they look like they should be at school. Oh, they really are that young. It’s uber high energy and glitzily produced, bopping along like a class of year 7 woodwork pupils force fed Sunny D and transported to school on pogo sticks. It’s poppy, uplifting and charmingly naive – you can’t help but like it. But you can’t help feel there’s an unavoidable tragedy awaiting the band just around the corner, when they all get their A-level results and find they have to re-take after spending too much time playing at being pop starlets when they should have been revising.
www.myspace.com/poppyandthejezebels

SB

 
 

Tiny Tigers – s/t EP (Filthy Little Angels)

I almost don’t care what this sounds like. It comes packaged in one of those old fashioned waxed paper bags that I used to get my quarter of cola cubes in each Friday. It’s adorned with a pretty little bow. Someone has drawn three cakes on the front and even the CD-r has been labelled by hand. Brilliant attention to detail and if I didn’t know better I would almost guarantee this was about to sound ‘Twee as Fuck’ (forgive the pun).

Stagger back therefore when it turns out Tiny Tigers are more punk rock than rock cakes. There’s even some phased guitars on ‘Escape the Hum’ – by christ. ‘Stop Talking’ really reminds me of ‘Giddy Stratospheres’ by The Long Blondes – another fine song. There’s a bit of Cyndi Lauper/ Toyah Wilcox in the vocals and the songs are quite strong throughout, more complex than your average 80’s punk pop and verging on Pixie-esque brilliance at times such as ‘On the inside’. Bless you Tiny Tigers for your music and your waxy paper.
www.myspace.com/tinytigers

SB

 
 

Silent Film Project – Two Days (Kids)

For a band formed in Scunthorpe, Silent Film Project sound remarkably cheery. Maybe it’s because they relocated to Sheffield. And that’s not just some throwaway comment from someone who’s never even been to Scunthorpe – it was the first place I ever got asked for ID in a pub (and I was 22 at the time). I also had the misfortune to spend a day trying to hitch a lift on the M180 outside Scunthorpe and only managed the princely distance of one junction further than I started.

But I digress. ‘Two Days’ is a glittery single with pretty little guitar riffs and an overall feeling of optimism about it. A bit lightweight perhaps but it will have you whistling along to it, especially if you are hitching a lift on the edge of the M180.
www.myspace.com/silentfilmproject

SB

 
 

Crystal Stilts – Love is a Wave (Angular)

‘Spectral garage’ – that is an excellent description of this band. Still bores me rigid though – simply stacking up piles of reverb then repeating guitar lines and vocals ad nauseum leaves me contemplating turning this particular disc into a crow scaring device for the garden. ‘What about B-side Sugar Baby?’ I hear you cry. Almost exactly the same.
www.myspace.com/crystalstilts

SB

 

Theoretical Girl – Rivals (Memphis Industries)

There’s something quite cold, calculating and measured about this single. Sure it harks back to sounds of yesteryear with its instrumentation and glamorous, false eyelash wearing chanteuse. It’s a perfectly judged pop song without being loveable. Which is where the acoustic version of ‘This Boy I Left Behind’ comes in, defrosting the icy tones of ‘Rivals’ like a warm spring sunshine.
www.myspace.com/iamtheoreticalgirl

SB

 
 

Local Girls – Weapons EP (Sour Puss)

Oh yes, gloriously skronky guitar sounds and unhinged female vocals – promising start indeed. The steady distorted bass of ‘Disco Dance Circa 1972’ underpins the frequently meandering guitar parts just enough to keep this track on the straight, if not quite so narrow. It’s a bit like a spaced out version of Elastica. There’s some simple punky numbers. Some successful (‘Jesus Complex Man’) others less so (‘Eartha Shit’).

I like it, don’t get me wrong, but by the time I reach title track ‘Weapons’ I’m just getting a bit weary of the slightly atonal vocals. Fortunately the filthy lyrics make up for it. Dirty, dirty band.
www.myspace.com/localgirlsband

SB

 

N.A.S.A. feat. Kanye West, Santogold & Lykke Li - Gifted (Spectrophonic Sound)

Not normally my thing but this is seriously good. Filthy bass lines backed by twinkling spacey synths and hard man rapping. There’s some really clever work on the drum sound too – makes them sound like a cross between a steel drum and timpani.
watch video to ‘Gifted

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Natalie Ross – Shock to the System (Marshmallow Scream)

You only need to glance at the be-sequinned, posing Ross on the cover of ‘Shock to the System’ to tell she is not afraid of creating a spectacle. And this quality comes through wonderfully in this single where she puts herself right on the line, crisply enunciating every word and expertly weaving the instrumentation together for maximum theatrical effect. Whereas vocally some of her earlier work sounded similar to Polly Harvey or Michelle Shocked, with ‘Shock to the System’ she seems to have comfortably found her own sound.
www.natalieross.co.uk

SB

 

Fever Fever – Keys in the Bowl/Stage Shoes (Cherryade)

During this recession the kindly folk of Cherryade have almost single handedly kept me supplied with sustenance on account of the regular food parcels they include with their singles. But no sweetie-based bribery is necessary for this release – Fever Fever are just plain ace. From the musical hotbed that is Norwich, this girl-boy-girl three-piece just crackle with energy and ideas. It sounds gloriously chaotic but is somehow underpinned by a weird bastard logic. It’s like a sonic mass pub brawl but where one or two of the combatants are black belts in karate. Amidst the row there’s clever vocal harmonies and insane guitars. Yes yes yes.
www.myspace.com/feverfevertheband

SB

 
 

Dan Whitehouse – You Can’t Give Me Anymore

Imagine if you will a union between earnest crooner Damien Rice and Grandstand favourite ‘That’s Just the Way It Is’ by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. That dear listener is a pretty accurate description of what is going on here and will probably make you giggle or gag but is unlikely to cause a reaction that sits anywhere in between.
www.dan-whitehouse.com

SB

 
 

Crazy Arm – Broken By the Wheel (Xtra Mile)

This is some fast paced stuff but it does sound a little like it is being by the sort of people who would describe themselves as ‘the hardest working band in rock’. I may be being a bit unfair on the basis of the gruff vocals – there’s lots to recommend here in fairness. A very fast guitar part that sounds more akin to fiddle playing than axe wielding. Like the Levellers on speed.
www.myspace.com/crazyarm

SB

 

Cass McCombs – Dreams-Come-True-Girl (Domino)

What has happened at the normally dependable Domino Records? First they let cash cows Franz Ferdinand release a dub album then they unleash a volley of singles that sound like they were penned and recorded in the 60s. I’d already just about had enough with Last of the Shadow Puppets but for all it’s olde worlde charm and double bass wholesomeness, this single is just pretty drab. Maybe a series of 1930s dancehall hits is next on the agenda?
www.cassmccombs.com

SB

 
 

Speech Debelle – Go Then, Bye (Big Dada)

First things first – don’t listen to a single word I’m about to write. Now that we have got that of our chest I’ll have to explain – I know nothing about this sort of music. I don’t even know what it would be described as. And I’m certainly not a big fan of it. God, it makes me feel so suburban and middle class. Is Ms Debelle rapping? Is that what the kids call it? Or are posses of streetwise urbanites sniggering at my ineptness? Best to put myself of the misery forthwith.
www.myspace.com/speechdebellemusic

SB

 
 

Eugene McGuinness – Wendy Wonders (Domino)

A bit faster and more upbeat than the usual Eugene McGuinness fare but he still hasn’t got over his obsession with the sounds of yesteryear. It’s pop, Jim but not as we know (unless you are over 50 years old). Mind you, it has reminded me I have a nice cold can of Guinness in the fridge so I think I’ll go crack that open instead of listening to the B-sides.
www.myspace.com/eugenemcguiness85

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The Harringtons - 'Set In Our Ways' (Ocean Leisure)

A lot of bands like boasting ironically about how they've written classics, evergreen chart hits that those of us with any teeth left will keep whistling gleefully into the 2050s and beyond. Along come The Harringtons, without as much as a thread of post-Britpop irony, and with an actual classic for our listening enjoyment. 'Set In Our Ways' is a clamourous, anthemic, Welleresque state of the nation statement that ought to bring the Yorkshire quartet properly to the attention of those cynical big city knowitalls who always ignore stuff like this. Perhaps this isn't the song that'll exactly do that for The Harringtons, but no-one who hears it will actually care. It is. They are.

Jon Gordon

 

Nephu Huzzband - 'No Not Never' (Deep)

One minute and three seconds of more inspiration, style, artistry and downright guts than some bands put into entire albums. Displaying the scorched-earth stance of true greats. Nephu Huzzband are one you definitely haven't heard before. Anywhere. The fake vinyl CD will rule.
http://www.last.fm/music/Nephu+Huzzband

Jon Gordon

 
 

The Dolittles - The Domino Effect

The first thing you need to know about The Dolittles is that they are based in Taiwan. It’s not that this is a particularly eastern sounding album, it’s not, but the album makes a little more sense when you realise the band are a little removed from what could be considered a main stream ‘scene’.

The second thing worth knowing about the Dolittles is that their drummer is called A-Bang Yo. Disappointingly, the rest of the band do not have names relating to the instruments they play.

The third, and probably most important thing to know about the Dolittles is that this, their third EP, is actually rather good. You probably won’t think it at first. It’s difficult, the melodies disjointed, the blend of sound unusual, but after 3 or 4 listens you start to make sense of it all and becomes an enjoyable, if slightly abstract, listen.

In parts it is reminiscent of Gomez at their most self indulgent and introspective. At others it threatens, with deep heavy bass lines, to go off a Chilli Peppers route, but the rest of the band never follow this up, instead gently easing the bass off in an altogether more serene direction.

You’ll listen to this at first and think I’m talking nonsense. But take the time to play it again, and then again, then play it whilst doing something else distracting and stop actually listening, and that’s when you’ll get it. And you’ll be glad you did.
www.myspace.com/thedolittles

Jim Johnston

 

Rancid - Last One To Die (Hellcat/Epitaph)

So they’re a punk band, they’re called Rancid, and the songs titled “Last One To Die”. And the review has written itself well before the CD has been introduced to the player. Lots of shouting, lots of noise, nothing much in the way of a tune, all attitude without any craft.

Well no, actually. I pressed play fearing the worst. What I got was some 2 minutes 24 of perfect, polished pop rock. More infectious than swine flu and a beat that will have you nodding your head quicker than a pigeon in a sneezing fit, I was quickly reaching for the play button the moment this finished for another listen or 10.

I’m not sure it’s punk, and if you’re wanting safety pins and spitting you might be disappointed. But it is good, and if you’re prepared to pick a song on it’s individual merits, rather than on which shelf in HMV it should be stacked, this will see you right.

The single precedes the release of what appears to be a mammoth 19 track seventh album, called Let The Dominoes Fall, on 25 May 2009, which, on the basis of this offering, should be eagerly awaited.

I wish it were longer, but that might just spoil it. I wish I had the album, but I’m certain that shortly I will. And I can guarantee that, when the time comes and I am the last to die, I’ll still be whistling this as they throw me into the ground and starting chucking the soil in.
www.RancidRancid.com
video to 'Last One to Die'

Jim Johnston

 
 

Dinosaur Jr - Over It (Pias)

What do you call a one-eyed dinosaur? A Do-you-think-he-saw-us.
What do you call a one-eyed dinosaurs dog? A Do-you-think-he-saw-us Rex.
And what do you call a dinosaur peddling American guitar dad pop? That’d be Dinosaur Jr.

The first two may be old, tired jokes, but the third is an old and tired sound. A single at home in the company of Deep Blue Something, The Rembrandts and their ilk, but without even the hand claps to keep you interested.

Whilst not unpleasant it does nothing you’ve not heard before, and does little to excite you about their upcoming album, Farm. One best missed.
www.dinosaurjr.com

Jim Johnston