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singles/eps - july 2009



The Rosie Taylor Project – Lovers or Something Like It (Bad Sneakers)

Rosie Taylor go electro? What? I put the CD-R in the machine and listened to 2 tracks of brilliant tinkling electro. Surely not. Ejected CD, checked label – sure enough ‘Rosie Taylor – Lovers or Something Like it’. OK – listened again, read press release, ‘evokes the gentle qualities of Iron And Wine and Frightened Rabbit’...eh? Better check their webpage...ah, my CD is a complete red herring and the real ‘Lovers or Something Like It’ is exactly as described, complete with parpy horns and gentle melancholy. There’s a touch of Idlewild too and overall the effect is damned good. Not as good as the electro CD though – who was that? I’m left feeling like someone who has just made a piece of toast with the image of Christ burned on it – I’m amazed but I wonder how it got there.
www.myspace.com/therosietaylorproject
watch video to 'Lovers or Something Like It'

SB


 

Pitchblend – Celsius (Sugar Shack Records)

Reading’s Pitchblend may want you to throw around words like “monolithic’ and ‘ethereal’ when you hear this, but ‘moaning’ and ‘prat’ come more immediately to mind any time singer Rich Savage (how rawk is that name) opens his mouth. Which is a shame, as apart from the horrible sounding snare drum, this is quite good stuff. My Vitriol with bad emo vocals ought to cover it. And a live version of the A side that sounds pretty much the same as…the A side? Come on.

Rory McGregor

 
 

The Teasers – Sooner or Later (Bucks)

There are elements of this that should work. A dirty sounding guitar, buzzing synths and a sassy female vocalist. But placed altogether this single is a bit clunky, a bit euro-pop (in fact, a bit like the Macarena which is a bit scary). Perhaps it is the pure sounding vocal grating against the dirtier guitar parts as on the remixes things begin to look up. Maybe worth getting a Darren Emerson style figure in to carry out a bit of pre-releases internal quality checking.
www.myspace.com/teasers

SB

 

Ayah Marar – My Spy (Hubba Hubba)

Wow – this track is amazingly good. AT first sight, slinky Jordanian vocal vixen Mara may just seem like your typical record industry marketing department’s wet dream – good looks, great classical sounding voice and a CV which includes the likes of Calvin Harris and Jack Penate as past conspirators. But ‘My Spy’ is more complex than that – part glamorous Bond theme, part oompa loompa and with a definite middle eastern sound to the cronky guitar lines being wrenched out. Impressively diverse and well rounded.
www.myspace.com/ayahmarar

SB


 

Albino – One More Drink EP (Charlborough)

I suppose it depends what you are setting out to achieve in deciding whether what you produce musically has been a success. If you decide you are going to write catchy songs to sell lots of copies like the Kaisers then you have been successful. If you decide you are going to be the first artist to sample a washing machine on spin cycle then if you are Aphex Twin you have been a success. The trouble with this EP is I’m getting the feeling that it just sounds like a bit of a hobby committed to CD. Which is fine if that was the aim. Actually this is a bit unfair, although ‘One More Drink’ and ‘Lady Boredom’ have that gist, the highlight of the EP ‘Misery is the New Happiness’ is a far more fully formed effort, a little like MJ Hibbett crossed with Iron and Wine. But this song apart, distribution would maybe be better restricted to friends and family.
www.albinomusic.info

SB

 
 

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club – Parrot (This is Fake DIY)

There’s no two ways about this – The VEGC (as we shall call them) are fookin brill. I Loved their last album, they were great live and even after a couple of line up tweaks they are sounding better than ever with ‘Parrot’. I don’t think there is anyone around at the moment who can hold a candle to the boundless creativity of this lot. Even in this brief 2 minute sojourn there’s a discordant super deep bass line, some wonky key sounds and a fantastic Pixie-esque chorus. The only bad news – we’ll have to wait until September for our copy of the new album ‘Love on An Oil Rig’.
www.thisisfakediyrecords.co.uk
watch video to 'Parrot'

SB


 

Glasslights – Someone Like Me (YoYo Acapulco)

Glasslights are in sharp, distinct contrast to The Victorian English Gentlemens Club. Whereas VEGC are willing to throw everything into a musical box and pull out various wonderful but sometimes unruly combinations, you get the feeling that Glasslights would not even dare open the box (though they would wrap it up very prettily and finish it off with a nice bow. Both bands are very different but both are equally credible. Few people will like both.
www.myspace.com/glasslightsoflondon

SB

 

Vandeville Falls – When I Fall (Tired Horse)

Vandeville Falls, erstwhile Tasty alumni SIlverfall, have sadly managed to re-discover the dreary tones they displayed in their 3-track sampler rather than the far more interesting single ‘For You’ (assuming this was the same Silverfall). ‘When I Fall’ is vaguely country and western tinged, complete with a honky tonk piano. I used to live near a woman who played a honky tonk piano and sounded like she was running a saloon bar. It was annoying.
www.vandevillefalls.com

SB


Marmaduke Duke – Silhouettes (Jacknife Lee remix) (14th Floor)

Marmaduke Duke’s metamorphosis is complete. From the spiky, difficult sounds on ‘The Magnificent Duke’ they have blossomed into a hard rocking but pop-savvy outfit during the recording of follow up album ‘Duke Pandemonium’. The vibrant disco overcoat given to this track by Jacknife Lee fits perfectly over their punchier choruses and clever hooks.
www.themarmadukeduke.com
watch video to 'Silhouettes'

SB

 

Gus Garcia – Many Hiding Places

Just when you think you’ve got this release earmarked, it springs up something new to challenge you with. ‘Colleague’ is like an even darker ‘Beetlebum’ with hints of Radiohead’s black humour thrown in for good measure. The other major influences you will pick up on after a cursory listen are HRH David Bowie and arch wacko Beck. The chorused vocals are particularly reminiscent of some of the tracks from Beck’s ‘Mutations’. Simply made up of guitars and drums but arranged with some complexity, I think it will be difficult to become bored with this EP.
www.myspace.com/biconan

SB

 
 

The Lancashire Hotpots – The Beer Olympics (Townsend)

Oh god – do I have to review this? It’s joke music isn’t it. Ok – they like beer, they like tea, they hate coffee shops and eggs. Enough.
www.myspace.com/thelancashirehotpots

SB

 
 

The Scratch – You Want the World (Ponyland)

There’s something refreshingly uninhibited about The Scratch. Their tracks are quite minimal but all in completely different ways. ‘You Want the World’ is old school and punky, a little like the Undertones (‘Teenage Kicks’ is even referenced in second track, ‘Independent Unrepentent’). Then they throw in a proggy track like ‘Teen Idol (for 300 million)’ – bafflingly obscure and brilliant leftfield.
www.thescratch.co.uk

SB

 
 

Tusk - Tusks (White Whale Recs)

This won't captivate you. You won't be sucked in and texting everybody in your phonebook to inform of the best EP you've heard in your life.

But similarly, you won't switch off. You won't be disgusted, offended, or put to sleep. There's a whole lot of stuff you'll have heard before, combined into this really well-made EP, which is easy to listen to and is certainly musical. Don't you hate it when reviews are really short and don't tend to say much useful? Me too, but I can't help it. I suppose in a way it's a metaphor for the release.

Thom Curtis

 
 

The Capitol Years – You Can Stay There (Elephant Road)

Impressive composition by Philadelphia’s Capitol Years who number four men and two horses in their line up. What’s that? The horses are just a prop for their press photo? How disappointing. But the fact remains, ‘You Can Stay There’ sounds like a more complex, more considered and more richly embellished version of a Supergrass song. It’s catchy but it’s also sunny and cleverly layered with guitars and vocal harmonies. All it is missing is some neighing in the choruses.
www.capitolyears.com

SB

 
 

The Heavy – Sixteen (Ninjatune)

This is a pretty good mixture of styles going on here – full points for diversity. Bierhalle oompah band waltz meets soul meets blues – not sure what other bands you’d file this next to. Vocalist Swaby has the kind of voice that hasn’t been heard since the departure of James Brown and it fits surprisingly well on this concoction. It feels strange but it feels good – a bit like walking barefoot through mud.
www.myspace.com/theheavy73

SB

 
 

Argon 40 – Stay / Free Fallin’

Oh oh oh – this starts so promisingly with a catchy scuzzy synth line which throbs away throughout the track. There’s even a pretty good melody going on but by crikey I find the vocals annoying. It’s like listening to a drunken Geisha girl on the job. I’m afraid the b-side cover version of ‘Free Fallin’ was destined to fall on stony ears, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor, as I hated the original Tom Petty track for its cumbersome vocals. But the single is not a complete loss to me – it demonstrates some demon songwriting – just needs some work on the performance.
www.myspace.com/argon40

SB

 
 

The Guilty Hands – Gregory and the Birds (Bedfellow )

For all its thumping snare energy and precision guitar lines, you can’t help but feel that The Guilty Hands may already be stuck between a couple of illustrious influences. We Are Scientists style harmonies ooze out of the speakers, propelled by a Bloc Party urgency. It’s a cracking song, perfectly performed and recorded but it will leave you looking forward more to the album rather than looking back to this single for a sign of what The Guilty Hands are really about.
www.theguiltyhands.com

SB

 
 

Fink – Sort of Revolution (Ninjatune)

Fink is one of those gentle geniuses of songwriting whose quietly understated music actually speaks volumes (forgive the pun). ‘Sort of a Revolution’ is one of those gently welling songs which just hums along with everything sounding so right, even though you can’t quite work out what just happened when it finishes. For fans of James Yorkston and the like.
www.finkworld.co.uk

SB

 
 

DJ Food – One Man’s Weird is Another Man’s World EP (Ninjatune)

A fantastic collection of tracks from Strictly Kev, aka DJ Food, remixer, graphic designer and musical savant. The intro track ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ featuring Natural Self is all chaotic drums and B-movie synths then it’s onto darker fare with ‘extract from Stolen Moments’, heavily sample led and very much like some of the old Depth Charge records. ‘All Covered in Darkness Pts 1 & 2’ brings to mind PWEI’s ‘Nightmare at 20,000 feet’ all shimmering malevolence underpinned by yet another sample. But this isn’t dropping a sample in to the song to illustrate a point – it’s building a whole track around the very essence of the sample and it is on this basis that the whole EP is formed. ‘A Trick of the Ears’ and remix ‘Tricky Little Ears’ are much longer and more languid jazzy numbers but it works in the same way, a bit like ‘Paul’s Boutique’ era Beastie Boys. Genius.
www.djfood.org

SB

 
 

Grasscut – High Down (Ninjatune)

You know that Radiohead album where they let everyone decide to pay as much as they thought it was worth? Well imagine if in their business plan they had seriously needed people to give them some money and no-one had paid a penny. ‘High Down’ sounds like the song that Radiohead would have recorded next after they had paid off the bailiffs, re-stocked their instrument store from a combination of pawn shops and Tandy and then self released again. Necessity is the mother of invention and Grasscut have innovation and resourcefulness in spades but with an added hunger for the interesting and unusual that is all too easy to lose once you have made a few million. Off-kilter wonky keyboards, choral layerings of robotic vocals – it’s all there. ‘Swallow the Day’ is a bit more like a clockwork Metronomy track while ‘Sorel Point’ is the most organic of the three, utilising acoustic guitar with some wacky harmonics. As a trio of tracks these are brilliant.
www.myspace.com/grasscutmusic

SB

 

 

 

6 degrees Project – I’m Every Woman

It’s a charity project based on connecting women in the UK with women in poverty around the world via the 6 degrees of separation theory. A bit patronising that – are women unable to connect with the concept of poverty in foreign lands because their tiny minds are full of things like kittens and fairy cakes? And the song is a rubbish cover version where 6 artists all get the track passed around and add bits to it. I couldn’t tell you who contributed without the benefit of a press release – I gave up trying to navigate the incredibly awkward Action Aid website. But I did read on there that the lead singer of Ladytron was Helen Marine. Funny – I thought she was called Helen Marnie. Doesn’t inspire confidence in the whole concept really when you can’t even be bothered to get someone’s name right. Worthy cause, clumsy idea. But it did remind me to put on a couple of Ladytron tracks which I really like.
http://www.actionaid.org.uk/6degrees/

SB

 

 

 

Kinetic Groove – Loren ep

2 minutes of shuffling beats, background noise including a phone ringing? Nope – we’re up to 4 minutes and still going strong. I suppose it sounds a bit like a tranquilised Jeff Mills track but I’m not pilled up, I’m not loving the way every tiny bit of change in this track seems to take 30 seconds to phase in or out and I guess I’m just not getting it. It’s like a sample beat on Cubase, awaiting an eager tutee to introduce a bit of variety. These are strictly club only material.
www.kineticgroove.com

SB

 

 

 

Richard Walters – True Love Will Find You In The End (Kartel)

Will it Richard, Will it? You may only be covering the Daniel Johnston song but sing it like you mean it. It’s quite minimal, it’s without pomp, it’s easy going. Two and half minutes and it’s gone, probably without leaving any lasting impression on you whatsoever.
www.myspace.com/richardwalters

SB

 

 

 

History of Guns – When You Don’t Matter/Slice Up Your Wife (feat. Spice Girls) (Line Out)

A weird slice or arch-neo-goth-industrial pomp that phases threateningly like it is about to spring into life then falls back listlessly into its hibernating state. That is until it kicks up a terrifying din after about four and a half minutes, sounding a bit like Front 242 being fed through a crackly AM radio signal.
B-side ‘Slice up Your Wife’ is a play on the Spice Girls’ ‘Spice Up Your Life’ – not a particularly clever one at that – it just sounds like a bunch of adolescents shouting their own words down a megaphone at the local disco. All of which is more than made up for by the slick outro track which sounds more like it was formed by Underworld rather than in the underworld until a parpy, squelchy melody kicks in. Catchy and consequently inadvertently commercial in appeal.
www.historyofguns.com

SB

 



 

 

The Rayographs – Francis/Yellow Hair (Everyone We Know)

I don’t agree with the press release about this one – it’s not the most exciting e band you’ll hear this year. But The Rayographs may be one of the best. This female trio firmly fit in somewhere between PJ Harvey and The Breeders – great time changes, similar vocal motifs and big atmospheric production, especially on ‘Yellow Hair’ They are not verse-chorus-verse immediate, 'exciting' pop songs that everyone will instantly take to - they are immeasurably deeper and more precious than that.
www.myspace.om/therayographs

SB

 

 

 

Hyperbubble – Better Set Your Phasers to Stun (Bubblegum)

There’s no two ways about it – you will either love this or seriously hate it. It’s right at the most synthetic and twee end of the synthetic tweepop stick – the sort of music that it seems only persons of a certain age with a certain wistful nostalgia for day-glo socks, Space Dust and Swap Shop seem to make and listen to. I honestly can’t see a teenager wanting to listen to this in a million years. Which is a pity because the accompanying two tracks are more universally enjoyable (albeit in a nonsensical manner) – ‘Beach Party UFO’ – not a clue what it is about but sounds good and the best track of the lot comes in at the end in the perfectly formed ‘Disgow Glasgow’. One for fans of Schmoof and the like.

SB

 


 

Tigers that Talked – Black Heart, Blue Eyes EP (Bad Sneakers)

After the screechy fiddle interlaced with Morricone stylings of ‘Duet’ I felt like I had been trapped in a cinema watching a spaghetti western starring the Levellers – not a place I would choose to be. But fortunately the vagaries of forgetting to cancel the shuffle play on my media player were unkind to Tigers that Talked and the rest of this EP is far more pleasant. ‘Smokescreen’ has pained earnestness to it that is so overwrought in places that it renders the vocals pretty much unintelligible. But it also reminds me of French band Call Me Loretta - I suppose the difference is that Call Me Loretta are already singing English as their second language so a bit of lyrical ambiguity is acceptable. There’s no respite from the intensity in ‘The Electric Press’, but then sometimes it’s good to be subjected to this level of wilfulness and I don’t think I would want Tigers that Talked to ever go lite.
www.myspace.com/tigersthattalked

SB

 

 

 

Barry’s Attic – Voices All Clear Now EP

Fizzly, bubbly, weebliness meets insistent basslines and understated vocal. I’m not sure if it is the recording quality but you really have to turn this right up loud to get it to sound any good – otherwise the production sounds a little bit cheap and dull. The songs are bright with an over-riding sense of upbeat poppiness but the omni-present swirling electricals have the habit of over-powering everything else, leaving the vocals swimming against the tide and it’s only occasionally where the guitars break through the surface such as at the end of ‘The Past is Just Like That’ where’ Barry’s Attic reach their true potential and you can really sense the influence of Blur and The Cure rather than just their scuzzier cousins Pavement and Sonic Youth, but it’s a good beginning.
www.myspace.com/barrysattic

SB

 

 

 

Revere - 'As The Radars Sleep' (Albino)

The problem when your band is an eight piece is that absolutely every note, beat, instrumental break and nuance of vocal winds up getting argued over, and the fact that my copy is marked 'pre-master/not for airplay' seems to reflect this problem.

'As The Radars Sleep', as I heard it in its as yet incomplete form, is a turgid slab of ponderous Coldplay witherings that very nearly put me to sleep. But it isn't too late for the Revere posse, they could yet remix the track out of all recognition, replacing the glockenspiel with a buzzy synth and dropping the bit that sounds like Black's 'Wonderful Life' entirely. I'm certain Revere could manage this, if they can stop arguing for long enough to actually listen to what they're playing.

Jon Gordon

 

 

 

Lupen Crook and the Murderbirds - The Lost Belongings EP (Beast Reality)

I'm not a staunch rockist, but Lupen Crook, recorded here whilst having a good time dominating the rest of his band, is flying a Medway 'folk punk' flag in a way slightly tainted by the 'I have heard of him before but I thought he was neglected amidst a sea of better bands from around London' banner that was never flown by, say, Billy Childish. Not 'enormous'. Hits 'folk punk' well. The press release claims it to be 'alive with animalistic rage and suffused with emotive human spirit'. The latter claim is untrue.

Phil Coales

 

 

 

Fulangchangandi - s/t EP

"I'm bleeding everywhere", something something something. Fulangchangandi! I think that is a great band name. Some lyric about "the will to live / slipping out through my urine" - if it is that, great. You know how your friend's 'noise' band sounds? It would be great if it sounded like this. It's a voice saying brilliant things to do with suburban pain over swathes of 'noise' guitar. In fact, the opportunities for comparisons with rubbish 'noisy bits' on 'experimental indie rock' albums are rife. In fact, Fulangchangandi are great; they're coherent like three very real wasps that have been glued together (when they're not fading out amidst a background of 'what? why?' static) and they're from a school of -gaze that seems to be influenced less by trad-noise and more by, say, the recently defunct Lucksmiths. Check them out live, if just to see whether or not there is actually 'much' beneath the mixed in overdubs.
http://www.myspace.com/fulangchangandi

Phil Coales

 

 

 

DM Stith – BMB EP (Asthmatic Kitty)

DM Stith’s ‘BMB EP’ reworks one song taken from ‘Heavy Ghost’, his debut album. Three remixes of BMB feature on the EP, along with four other tracks. The first remix of BMB – ‘Alternate Version’ – is stark, but touchingly sweet and almost ghostly. Roberto C. Lange’s remix is strikingly different and makes significant use of electronics and other quirky sounds. The Son Lux remix shares the same delicacy as ‘BMB Alternate Version’, but is strengthened by handclaps, staccato accordion and, later, a heavy drum beat and bass. Stith alludes to the Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ in BMB, and directly addresses this influence with a cover of the original. Stith’s falsetto drifts over soft guitar accompaniment in this minimal version of the 60s classic.

Stith covers Randy Newman’s ‘Suzanne’ with a quiet intensity. ‘Around the Lion’s Legs’ is stunningly beautiful and seems to glimmer, while ‘Untitled’ easily floats past unnoticed and is unfortunately quickly forgotten.

Yasmin Prebble

 


 

Ancient Astronauts - We Are To Answer EP (ESL Music)

‘Stop the press - golden era hip hop reinvents itself..’ - well, nearly. A spectacular array of musical instruments and an experimental attitude can get you far; only thing is someone forgot to tell this duo that you have to write the tunes to match. Aiming to mix hip-hop with jazz fusion and bring elements of soul to the game, these guys are ambitious, but not necessarily adept creating messy transitions with no direction. In some places this album is quite beautiful and has the ability to take you to unimaginable atmospheric places, but in other places it makes you want to soundproof your ears with all the cotton wool in your local Boots.

First track ‘From The Sky’ is the absolute meaning of tedious, so much so you can practically envisage the tumbleweed rolling across your brain. To be honest, next track, ‘I Came Running’ doesn’t get much better , lacking in pace and enthusiasm. Even the soft twinkling of chimes will not win them any brownie points. Moving rather clumsily into ‘Classic’ with a rapper so annoying I could imagine myself wrapping the microphone chord around his vociferous throat. ‘Everything we mix is a classic’ appears to be the main lyric and believe me - it isn’t. ‘Dark Green Rod’ picks up the pace a little better, with a prompt drum beat and fleeting space noises creating a cosmos of thought.

Track Five, ‘A Hole To Swallow Us’ sounds like the Sugababes colliding with drum ‘n’ bass Bowie in a terrible repetitive accident. ‘Risin’ High’ is the nineties on speed, with a squeaky flute intro and rap harmony choruses much like the theme of ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’. Following with ‘Lost In Marrakesh’ another change of musical direction is taken, this time one that sounds like Arabia in a kitchen sink trying to charm hip hop cobras.

‘All Of The Things You Do’ is reminiscent of Shaggy’s Mr Bombastic, with the vocalist having his gruff singing down to a tea uttered out over a reggae backing. Which could be good or bad, depending how you look at life. ‘Everybody’ is nothing special and plagiarises James Brown right down to the tips of his funky shoes, whilst ‘Seventh Planet’ is not unlike the background music of the provocative Marks and Spencer’s adverts. ‘Oblivion’ takes the absolute Michael out of my powers of concentration, the vinyl scratches becoming more irritating than Barry Scott on the frustrating Cillit Bang adverts.

Penultimate track ‘Surfing the Silvatide’, is a strange blend of off beat reggae and funk and finisher ‘Cresent Moon’ reverts back to tedious opener ‘From The Sky’, but with more Doppler effects and cymbal crashes.
All in all a fusion of too many sounds and artists that creates a messy journey. Essentially - don’t bother. You are only wasting an hour of your life that you shall never get back.

Eloise Quince

 


 

The Gaa Gaa's - We Are All Pop Stars!

Brighton based four piece The Gaa Gaa's have maybe released the least imaginative ep I have heard in a very long time. The type of music the band is very simple and at times becomes very irritating to listen to. The band mix electronic samples with the riffs of their guitars. The resulting sound is a drowning noise which just is not something you want to hear. At some points on the ep it seems like the band have just recorded one riff and are playing it on a loop over and over again. The same could be said for the lyrics as well, the title track just has the words 'We Are All Pop Stars' sung throughout the song. It is almost as if the vocalist could not think of any further lyrics to accompany the song. If The Gaa Gaa's are looking for musical success, then they are going about it the complete wrong way. After just a few listens the instruments just become a background noise and there is nothing that really makes this ep stand out and make someone want to listen to it. The best way to describe this ep is dull and with a lack of ambition. For The Gaa Gaa's it is a case of going back to the drawing board and re-thinking their approach to music.

Tim Birkbeck

 
 

Anthoney Wright – Wud If I Cud

The signs are not good. The dubious spelling. The fact all 3 tracks are remixes of the same song (where is the original). Wright’s association with the Spice Girls. But despite all of this and despite the fact that really isn’t the normal sort of thing I’d go for, it’s really not all that bad. Fair play.
www.anthoneywright.com

SB

 
 

Grammatics – Murderer (Dance to the Radio)

Leeds golden boys Grammatics return with a fey voiced but starkly arranged track in ‘Murderer’. Airy guitars which build into some synthetic sounding strings and a staccato drum beat lend this a sound somewhere between Metronomy and We Are Scientists. Should you be in any doubt, ’He’s a murder, murderer’ is sung about 7,000 times during the duration of the song, which, oddly enough for the Grammatics, was the only thing that I did not like about it. There’s also 5 remixes – you decide if that is good value or just incredibly lazy.
www.grammatics.co.uk

SB

 
 

Spectrum 7 – Blue Wray (Xtra Mile)

An instantly dated-sounding keyboard sound gives way to some nice harmonic laden guitars and a more expansive sound. Interlaced vocals and a growly guitar line then break into a nice crunchy guitar bridge a bit akin to Foo Fighters. ‘Blue Wray’ is three and a half minutes extremely well conceived electro rock with the emphasis firmly towards the rock which brilliantly prevents the track getting too nurdly. Impressive.
www.s7music.co.uk

SB

 
 

PANTyRAiD – Beba (Marine Parade)

Why the dropped capitals? Who knows but I don’t like the name anyway – sounds like some kind of unsanctioned knicker-fiddling. But the two tracks here are excellent – a very deeply disguised hip hop, drenched in a Gallic techno sound with big squelching synths, clicks and bleeps. I prefer the B-side ‘Get the Money’ which is a nice laid back glitch synthfest – part Aphex Twin, part Kyte. That is until it bursts into a big fat frenetic warped bass line which is a dead ringer for Shuttle’s excellent ‘Tunnel’. All good.
www.marineparade.net

SB

 
 

Evil Nine – The Power (Marine Parade)

Must be Marine Parade half hour here but this outing from Evil Nine is every bit as good as PANTyRAiD’s, just less scary. There’s plenty of similar Gallic techno references in title track the power which sweeps you along with its energy and bravado whether you like it or not – dancefloor gold dust. ‘The Night’ is much cheesier and 80’s sounding yet still maintains a bit of edge by its unrelenting pummelling of the same synth melody throughout. More of a proggy soundtrack to an action movie though, as is finale ‘The Heat’ which builds up a synthetic layer of claustrophobia before dissipating in an electro bass line and hissy snare sound which reminds me more of Vic and Bob than a cool club sound. Evil Nine have method and it works – job done.
http://www.myspace.com/evilnine

SB

 
 

Amadou & Mariam – Masiteladi (Because)

I’ve been a bit non-plussed by A&M’s previous releases but ‘Masiteladi’ avoids all the world music clichés and pastiches that their fore-runners have suffered from. It effortlessly combines the Mali singers’ vocal prowess and harmonies with a western sounding guitar and song writing that does not seem contrived. In this instance the remixes by Rob Da Bank and particular Mo Dj add interesting twists to the original, the latter giving it a cool 60’s filmic sound. Pity I mis-read the release date by a whole month.
Watch video to 'Masiteladi'

SB

 
 

Language – Techno (The Playground)

Language take no time in announcing themselves on this track (if you will forgive the pun). It’s like a fizzling hyperactive electro mash up of the Smith non-brothers Robert and Mark E. Efficient, precise and energetic – exactly what is required.
www.myspace.com/languageuk

SB

 
 

Christina Courtin – Foreign Country (Nonesuch)

Like a quirky, old fashioned fairground ride of a song, not immediately threatening but charmingly endearing that at any moment a 50 year old nut could shear and leave you spiralling into musical oblivion. Despite having quite pleased myself with that abysmal collection of mixed metaphors, once I got over the initial old time kookiness of toy piano, banjo, and skiffle board I was left feeling a little bit empty – if al of your invention goes into concocting weirdy arrangements then it’s almost unavoidable that adding some interest in the actual song writing might take a back seat.
www.myspace.com/christinacourtin

SB

 
 

Enter Shikari - No Sleep Tonight (Ambush Reality)

‘Your not getting any sleep tonight!’ are the words roaring through my speakers at this very minute. Enter Shikari are back in the game, if rather disappointingly so. Why are the defiant keyboards so quiet? Where are the riffs that smash your brains all over the floor? Where are the hand claps?!

Having said that, ‘No Sleep Tonight’ does feature the sort of stormy bass line that gets right under the skin and it works perfectly with the dirty guitar work. Not to mention that it is all entwined with an ingenious thumping drum beat. The lyrics are spitefully tongue-in-cheek and still delivered with Reynolds sneering roar, although it would seem the band are swapping their trademark backing bellows for sweet harmonies so out of place they actually work to the song’s advantage.

It’s good, but not brilliant - Enter Shikari need to pull their grubby socks up.
www.entershikari.com
watch video to 'No Sleep Tonight'

Eloise Quince

 
 

Twin Atlantic - 'Lightspeed'

Intro of the week. It just sounds completely chaotic, an attention grabbing tangle of guitars and electronics. Twin Atlantic's amalgam of anthemics and speedy rhythms carries the compulsive energy the best of this sort of stuff always has. I'm unsure if the song works quite so well as an acoustic number (2nd track) but I now know who Twin Atlantic are, without a doubt.
http://www.twinatlantic.com/

Jon Gordon

 
 

Exlovers - EP (Chess Club)

Starts off promisingly enough. Old school indie pop, that's for sure, but opener 'You Forget So Easily) has an authentically mid 80s touch about it. Getting onto 2nd track 'New Years Day' and, bless me, if the Bluetones haven't actually reformed then it does sound an awful lot like it. Avoiding too much reverb on the tambourine, Exlovers seem set to finally lay those C86 ghosts to rest.

Things start to run a bit out of steam though. 'Just A Silhouette' is just a smidgeon too tame, too polite to really get beyond the indie-by-numbers colouring in that, while Exlovers excel at it, needs a bit more to succeed nowadays, and next track 'Incomplete', while it manages to liven things up significantly, also highlights one or two of the bands shortcomings.The group do sound as if their feet are very firmly on the brakes rather than the effects pedals and the 5th and last track does sound a lot like Turin Brakes,oddly. I'd hold back on the EP and complete the album, were I Exlovers
http://www.myspace.com/weareexlovers

Jon Gordon

 
 

Various: 4x12 Volume 2 (Dance to the Radio)

This four track showcase kicks off Suckers. Sounding like every alternative band to have come out of the US in the past decade, ‘It Gets Your Body Movin’’ is an ambitious effort which ultimately amounts to not much at all.

Holy State, in comparison, are a much less interesting proposition. Sounding like a cast-off of The Vines, the hoarse vocals grate from start to finish. It’s the kind of grunge worshipping shite that would have Kurt Cobain turning in his grave.

The penultimate track sees us going state-side again with Das Racist. Despite almost sounding like a ‘Flight of the Conchords’ parody, the duo present a catchy, innovative product. The smart lyrics over DJ Shadow style backing music, give much hope for a bright future from this band.

Finally we are given Bear Driver and their track ‘Mind Attack’. It’s a cool, catchy number with hints of both MGMT and Blur. It has the retro poppy feel of The Go! Team and has an incredibly catchy melody. Definitely one to watch.
www.dancetotheradio.com

Joe de Saulles

 
 

The Foxes -Lover, Killer (Quite Great Records)

In terms of timing the release of this single, The Foxes have done rather well. ‘Lover, Killer’ is a pleasant enough summer hit, with hints of Jet and The Fratellis present throughout. In their short career to date, the band have worked with some pretty esteemed music types, including former associates of U2 and Oasis. If the band continues to deal in such esteemed circles, then they could well have a bright future.

The following B-side Headlock is somewhat less promising though, sounding like a rejected Kula Shaker single. But, if The Foxes continue in the same vein of the title track, they could well be set for bigger things. Promising stuff overall.

Joe de Saulles

 
 

Trashcan Sinatras – I Wish You’d Met Her (Lo-Five)

Think Chris de Burgh meets Fleetwood Mac – not a pretty proposition is it?
www.trashcansinatras.com

SB

 
 

Twin Falls – We Will Begin To Flicker (Nordic Fir)

It’s gentle folk pop of the style perfected by Loney, Dear and Sparklehorse. Twin Falls are not afraid to add a bit of distortion to the vocals which gives it a slightly grungy feeling at times rather than the standard Scando sound. It’s gentle yet powerful stuff perfect for the last evening of a festival.
www.twinfalls.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Chemists – A Love Like No One Else (Distiller)

There’s something very precise about the guitar to this and something very Killers about the vocals. There again there is a bit more of the stadium pomp associated with Doves. I can’t get enthusiastic about it – it is just music that kind of happens then goes.
www.myspace.com/thechemistsuk

SB

 
 

Sarah Grace – Come Fly

Sarah Grace has a nice voice. Not great, not bad, just nice. The song is OK, not good not bad. MOR. I’m feeling an all pervading sense of ambivalence about this.
www.myspace.com/sarahgraceband

SB

 
 

Brendan Themes – Fast EP

A nice little self released EP here from Brendon Themes, a citizen of Minneapolis who has a frenetic acoustic guitar style and a touch of the Billy Bragg about hi s vocal delivery. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be all lovey-dovey with an acoustic guitar – you can sound angry. All four tracks are less than 2 minutes long, perhaps the reason for the EP being called ‘Fast’. I like it – it’s punchy and who says songs need to be 3 minutes long?
www.brendanthemes.com

SB

 
 

Still Flyin’ – The Hot Chord is Struck (Moshi Moshi)

For a minute I thought that Still Flyin’ had done a really cunning bit of sampling of Nine Inch Nails ‘March of the Pigs’. Then I realised that my media player had just slipped into shuffle play and was actually playing Nine Inch Nails. Oh well. ‘The Hot Chord is Struck’ is a far more optimistic and summery tune with a childlike naivety to it and it’s hard to get the line ‘I’m picking up tips off hot chords’ out of your head.

SB

 
 

Sexual Objects – Queen City of the Fourth Dimension (action + spass)

It’s slowed down stoner rock n roll, like a lazy T Rex. The track goes on far too long at over four and a half minutes. The B-side is arguably more interesting being like slightly more fizzy and psychedelic version of the title track. I’d be bored rigid by an album of this stuff though.
www.aktionundspass.com

SB