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singles/eps - august 2009



 

Belladonna – Don’t Be Fooled by the Romance (Vandal)

There’s not too much good stuff from Darlington – I should know – my mum loves there. But Belladonna have managed to combine two good north east legends in this powerful track. Claire’s vocals can veer from a masculine growl to a near incomprehensible sounding patter that is like Vic Reeves pub singer. Or it could have been a French rap – as I say – incomprehensible. Add to that some deliciously scuzzy bass guitars and well timed yelps and you have a fair portion of the north east’s shoegazers par excellence, Curve. For two girls it’s strangely masculine and vaguely threatening. I like fear from music so heartily recommend ‘Dont’ Be Fooled..’.

Flip side ‘Diversity’ moves in a much stronger electro route with a deadpan Ladytron vocal part combined with a bit of 80’s pop. It sounds bad but it sounds good. Have a listen.
www.myspace.com/wearebelladonna

SB


 

Metric - Gimme Sympathy (Metric)

Sorry? Was that it? Maybe a single too far from their album as this song flies past without making a single impression other than finely honed efficiency. And if I wanted that, I’d listen to Kraftwerk more.
http://uk.ilovemetric.com/
watch video to 'Gimme Sympathy'

SB

 

None The Less - The Way To Save Ourselves EP(Irony)

What is it I have here? Some clichéd metal core? Oh yes, it would appear to be so! None The Less tick all the boxes of fret wankery, drum smashing and cymbal crashing, but unfortunately to no avail.

‘The Payout’ is quite a statement with sudden fretwork and riotous shouting, and a striking beat making you sit up and listen. Out of nowhere, three minutes in, a rollicking drum solo and some harmonies kick in and the chorus bursts back in more enthusiasm; this is more like it. A shame it didn’t stay that way really as ‘Define’ sounds very much like the opening track, maybe a bit too much like it for my liking. Having said that it does seem to be more experimental and vigorous vocally. Follower ‘News Of A Cancer’ is certainly as happy as it sounds and comes with a squealer showcasing riff that glides over a mosh pit friendly beat and stop-start chugging.

We pause for breath at ‘…’, a slow song that sounds suspiciously like My Chemical Romance’s ‘Interlude’ from ‘Three Cheers…’ laying the same gently arduous vocals over a tender backing of soft riffs and bass. ‘I Had The World Resting On Me’ is just the same formula we have seen for the previous three tracks repeated - why fix something that’s not broken, eh? It’s definitely an energetic one that evidently is out to prove a point with amazing flowing riffs but the pause before the shouting and heavy drum fuelled finale is just too clichéd.

‘Four 4’s’ and ‘I Feel The Enemy’ sound ridiculously like Killswitch Engage, bordering on some early Lostprophets type melodies. Copying the long intro, rough vocals and glazing choruses just won’t win None The Less any points.
Average, that‘s all. Sorry, but I just cannot justify a whole seven tracks of the same thing over and over (and over) again. It just doesn’t quite hit the spot buried deep within my inner Mosher.

Eloise Quince

 

I Remember Tapes - C45 EP (Animal Farm)

What do you get if you mix cynical lyrics, mesmerizing riffs and a double bass drum beat? I Remember Tapes, of course. This band are set to be the ‘next big thing’ and with a listen to their debut EP, I think I know why.

Opening on ‘All I Know’ a stomping tune to say the least, really packing a punch with heaps of reverb and swirling vocals. Brimming with energy and practically overflowing with excitement, this is a band clearly who love what they are doing. ‘Indecisive’ begins with fantastic intro drums and a scratchy start-stop guitar that sends shivers down the spine. To top this off, there is even a twirling bass line that encompasses the mind into a sort of dance/mosh frenzy. Yet, if that wasn’t enough for a hungry musical appetite, this song even boasts a catchy sing-a-long chorus that is practically indescribable amongst the organised chaos.

‘Cold’ is a fleeting affair with metal techniques; machine gun drums and fast paced riffs intertwined with a hyper active bass. But never fear, this is no weakness as the song is accomplished and dirtier, giving a sense of depth and rapture.

Let your ears become friends of this band as they are something quite brilliant.
http://www.myspace.com/iremembertapes

Eloise Quince


 

Malcolm Middleton – Zero (Full Time Hobby)

‘Zero’ is unmistakeably busy and sees the normally taciturn Middleton even throw a bit of rap in between the hand claps and casiocore. It’s not as bad as it sounds, hell, I’d even say it is quite good, mainly because Middleton never sounds like he is really trying – it all comes so easy. Like comparing the mercurial David Gower with the stoic Chris Tavare – everyone prefers a bit of a waster.
www.myspace.com/malcolmmiddleton

SB

 
 

Citadels – Golden Islands (Friends vs Records)

There’s more than just a passing comparison with the likes of Hot Chip and MGMT, especially in the very annoying synth melody opening. But fortunately the thumping basslines take precedence as the track progresses and the synth line just becomes an annoying distraction.
www.myspace.com/citadelmusic

SB


Metafonik – Missed Love (Lady Blue)

There’s something endearingly leftfield about this French trio’s EP. Melodies take unexpected twists with lots of minor keys coming in. Tracks like ‘The River’ remind me of a female fronted Radiohead. Great depth to the production throughout sees songs constrict in stifling claustrophia then open out into the big filmscapes which illustrate each song on the album. It’s simple complexity or complex simplicity if you prefer but it is very good.
www.myspace.com/metafonik

SB

 

Loz Jones – Idiot Room (Crash)

Despite being a six-piece and infilling every bit of frequency with fizzy noises and synths, ‘Idiot Room’ maintains a surprisingly clunky and prosaic feeling. All the parts are there where you would expect them to build up a nice head of steam but it just never gets going. Plus I’ve realised that it’s not just a production technique – the whole CD is crackly. Wasn’t that half the point of switching from vinyl to get rid of the crackles?
www.myspace.com/lozjonesmusic

SB


 

Elektralux – Missing Out (Naim Edge)

Although this song is the underlying story of the difficulty of getting by without much cash, you never get a sense of self pity and it sounds more tongue in cheek thanks to the fairground style instrumentals. I find the vocals a bit annoying when words like ‘boy’ are pronounced ‘buwoy’ but it’s not up there with Take That’s ‘coffeee currrp’. Disaffected rap-pop as performed on a space hopper.
www.myspace.com/elektralux

SB

 

Russells Teapot - 'This Is Modern Love' (Vision)

No! Not Russells Teapot again! 'This Is Modern Love' is a quirky sounding complaint about life in Berkshire -' my girls gone to Ibiza / I've got to get out there to meet her' - don't spend quite so much time wibbling about in the studio then, a couple of weeks in the Balearics won't do any of us much in the way of harm, although from the sound of things Russell isn't going to get any further than Didcot. And the remixes are, frankly, a bit lame, although Radioactive Man likes it and that's good, isn't it?

Jon Gordon

 

Theoretical Girl – Red Mist (Memphis Industries)

A very precise and slightly gothic sounding guitar line is the precursor to this track by Theoretical Girl. Very similar in make up to Sheffield’s Screaming Mimi and their track ‘Dorothy Millette’ – ‘Red Mist’ spirals round in a slightly deranged and claustrophobic way. It’s short, punchy and makes absolutely no concessions to commercial popularity – perfect.
www.myspace.com/iamtheoreticalgirl

SB

 
 

Stick in a Pot – When the Monsters Arrive (Sad Sentry)

A great varied EP here from Stick in the Pot aka Piers Blewett. From the whimsical tweepop of ‘Our Inert Inmate’ he moves smoothly to the baggy stringed bluesey ‘Luterin (Victoria’s Side of the story)’. This is all after an instrumental wobbly sounding electric piano intro with guitar feedback phasing in and out over late night trumpeteering. Blessed with an airy voice, Blewett’s vocal treads lightly over the slide guitar musical arrangements of ‘Plinky the Alien’, sometimes even, but this just seems to add to the worldy charm and vulnerability of this EP.
www.myspace.com/stickinapot

SB

 
 

Red Light Company – Meccano (Lavolta)

Although this starts off with a twee music box intro, it quickly spawns into a slick indie stomper, at times like Biffy Clyro doing Pixies’ ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ and at others like a Busted Christmas song. That’s a pretty broad church so it’s bound to appeal to someone.
www.myspace.com/redlightcompany

SB

 
 

Allo, Darlin’ - Henry Rollins Don’t Dance (Weepop)

No hardcore here – this unadulterated twee pop imbued with gallons of ukulele, boom-chacka snare and fey vocals. The ukulele part is particularly well done – being intricate and perfectly balanced with the guitars. For fans of The Lucksmiths and The Bobby McGees.
www.myspace.com/allodarlin

SB

 
 

Aimee Newsome–Stone – Spacemen and Monsters EP

Newsome-Stone started out musically as a backing singer and this EP suggests why. A voice that is mellifluous but also occasionally erring towards unremarkably is ideal for backing vocals. As a front person the success of her voice depends a lot more on the quality of the songs and this EP is a mixed bag in that respect. The song ‘Madeline’ works perfectly with Newsome-Stone’s voice – slightly melancholy and languid. But equally the other tracks here a very average and without a distinctive sounding vocal to carry them, much of Spacemen and Monsters descends into late night radio-friendly singer songwriter stodge.
www.aimeenewsomestone.com

SB

 
 

The Black Box Revelation – I Think I Like You (T4 Tunes)

Great to see that the BBR have moved on slightly since their last disappointing garage rock effort in April ‘Love, Love is on My Mind’. An equally uncerebral title in ‘I Think I Like You’ but this track is a vast improvement in both musicianship an creativity. Sonically a bit like a cross between the Hives and The Sound Explosion, the track really takes off during the breakdown where wobbly guitars are underpinned by percussion part that sounds like a malfunction in a cannary which is skilfully rectified. Much better.
www.blackboxrevelation.com
Watch video to 'I Think I Like You'

SB

 

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club – Watching the Burglars (This is Fake DIY)

I think I love the VEGC but they also scare the life out of me, a bit like bungey jumping in that respect. It sounds to me like they little but a basic grasp of the fundamentals of playing their instruments but that this very fact let’s their minds create an explosion of thumping beats, yelps and primitive melodies that grab you by the short and curlies, swing you around a bit but then gently deposit you back on the ground with a soothing rub. There’s a touch of Adam Ant about ‘Watching the Burlgars’ – he was all about ‘drums and lungs’ (to steal a very perceptive line from the press release). You must listen to The Victorian English Gentlemen at least once per month – I command you!
http://www.thevictorianenglishgentlemensclub.co.uk/

SB

 
 

Karl Culley – Bundle of Nerves (3 Minutes of Madness)

You can’t help but feel drawn towards this. Marrying a complex skiffly guitar playing style with a self effacing lyrical bent, Bundle of Nerves is infinitely lovable. In fact, I’d buy it just to hear Culley singing the opening line and rocking out (albeit pretty gently) at the end. Altogether now, ‘I’m not cool, as a cucumber, as you are...’
www.karlculley.co.uk

SB

 
 

My Toys Like Me – Sweetheart (Friends vs Records)

Cor blimey – this is good. Sounds like it was mixed inside a suds filled washing machine drum and mixes the childlike vocals of Frances Noon with some seriously warped sounds. There’s a whole bundle of remixes which are also rather good and make it worth buying the single. Crammed with ideas – this is one of the most inventive yet disturbing singles I’ve heard this month.
www.myspace.com/mytoyslikeme

SB

 
 

Joshua Radin – One of Those Days (14th Floor)

With more than singer songwriters around than you can shake a bashed up guitar case at, at least Joshua Radin comes with a reasonable pedigree. He’s got a soothing whispering voice that has already sold a quarter of a million copies of his debut album and as a friend of Zach Braff, has seen four of his tracks feature on the US sitcom ‘Scrubs’. This track? Well it’s just quite nice I guess, as Alexei Sayle would say about biscuits.
www.myspace.com/joshuaradin

SB

 
 

Ghostlight – Breathing Underwater

I’m afraid despite all their trombone posturing and wrought vocals, ‘Breathing Underwater’ is a little bit pedestrian. There’s little sense of dynamic about it an although there are some pleasing Snow Patrol/Cinematic Orchestra type touches, as a song this passes me by. Funny time of year to feature a CD sleeve covered in snow too.
www.ghostlighttheband.com

SB

 
 

Charlie Winston – In Your Hands (Realworld)

With a name like Charlie Winston – there’s little surprise that this single oozes soulful musings. But there’s also a great slab of fuzzy guitar overlying the parpy brass and plonkety keys which keeps the whole thing chugging along at a furious lick. It’s as though someone has created a missing Moby song off ‘Play’ but has actually generated it from the ground up rather than cut and pasting it together as the Mobester did. Very good.
www.realworldrecords.com/charliewinston

SB

 
 

The Cinematics – Love and Terror

On the very first listen to this there were two clear influences which shone through bright and clear – Echo and the Bunnymen and Simple Minds. There’s the lovely moody bassline that runs through the choruses and their general Spartan construction. Then in the chorus there are those binging ringing guitars with reverby harmonics which could be lifted off Simple Minds’ ‘Sons and Fascinations’ – an album which I unashamedly think was rather ace. Add those together and the result for The Cinematics is rather good. And they are from Glasgow – what’s the betting that one of them might have caught the odd Simple Minds gig at the Barrowlands during their infancy?

SB

 
 

Brigada Mercy – Recovering Catholic / Roto Chico (S Minutes of Madness)

This is post punk in the truest sense, being that it rose from the ashes of former punk band, The Yorkshire Rats. ‘Recovering Catholic’ is a rabid Latvian drinking tune of a song, all baritone backing vocals and bierhalle credentials. ‘Roto Chico’ has a similar vibe, though the chanting is kept to a minimum in this one. There’s also a big prominent double bass line and Don Wilson’s narrative vocals to deal with on this one. A decent pair of tracks though I’m not about the sound yet – any prolonged exposure might seem a little forced and gimmicky.
www.myspace.com/brigadamercymusic

SB

 
 

Thomas Dybdahl – S/T EP

Thomas Dybdahl’s melodies cover a large vocal and emotional range on this EP. “Hey man, don’t feel sad / There’s never been anything to worry about.” opens the first track, ‘B A Part’, beginning the EP with an uplifting summery feel. ‘From Grace’ combines falsetto vocals and romantic lyrics with an unusual drumbeat. The following song provides a contrast; ‘Pale Green Eyes’ begins quietly and slowly with a sparse tuned percussion melody. The introduction of rolling guitar, big piano chords and heavy drums give this track a lot more impact than it’s predecessor. ‘Stay Home with Me’ is dark, brooding and sexy, but the plucked guitar notes give it a softer edge.

Even in a short four-track EP, Dybdahl’s music can encompass an impressive variety of emotions. This EP precedes Dybdahl’s UK debut album which is due for release later this year.

Yasmin Prebble

 
 

Kurtz – “+1 EP” (Soundmaker Records)

Wakefield brothers Frederick and Ralph Fuller deliver this EP, apparently recorded in an old Victorian toilet in London. Opening track “Drumming” which, oddly enough, features nothing other than drumming, sounds pretty much like a patrol coming under contact in Afghanistan – the only thing missing is Ross Kemp in his blue body armour delivering a monologue over the top. “Run Faster” churns up the turf in a manner reminiscent of DFA1979 but lacks that band’s sheer breathtaking ferocity. “Music Words Text” fares better with its soundscapes shimmering around the earphones, as does final track “Underneath”.

However and always a worrying sign this, the press release alludes to the power of the band’s live performances. That’s fine, but what works at an Arty show that has a couple of visuals behind it rarely translates well on record. The music reeks of composition for installation or exhibition purposes and outside of that (unless you are sitting by yourself, heavily sedated) it doesn’t work. And there’s always the old suspicion that the term ‘art’ or ‘art background’ has been once again deployed to cover creative complacency. You rather come away with the feeling that Kurtz are a band best seen and heard rather than heard only. Actually, taken out whatever context it’s usually set into, its bollocks.

You wouldn’t go out and buy a soundtrack album on the basis of not having seen the film first, but on the basis of this offering, it appears that is what Kurtz want you to do. Why bother.

R. McGregor

 
 

Cougar – Stay Famous (Counter)

Cougar may very well be proper bonkers. For some reason I had it in my mind that they were some kind of grungey metal outfit after their last single review. ‘Stay Famous’ opens with a big pomp riff and building guitar parts that are pretty epic then break into the clean lines – so far as expected. The quiet interlude, a few cute harmonics – beautiful stuff all followed up by a really epic conclusion – fabulous stuff. But then, completely unexpected Paul Smith from Maximo Park crops up on ‘Digit Cleaver’ – a glitch ridden techy number which displays a completely new string to Cougar’s bow, and a very welcome one at that.
But that’s not all the surprises. They throw in one more big treat with a great banjo powered ditty ‘Foil Epee Sabre’ which is not twee as it sounds but a track full of brilliantly interlaced parts gently backed by a little bit of shuffle percussion.

Who knows where Cougar will go next with their sound? I certainly don’t know but I will be hanging around for the ride to find out.
www.myspace.com/cougarsound

SB

 
 

Inme – Single of the Week (Graphite)

No great detail supplied here by way of the press release but Inme are surely feeling a little under the cosh from fellow new rave/metal crossover bands like Enter Shikari and Pendulum. But I for one like this single quite a lot – there’s some really fantastic guitar riffs and hopefully not a complete lack of irony when they sing ‘What’s that shit on the radio?’. Unfortunately the clean version of this record makes no sense whatsoever so the true message behind this song may be forever lost on the populace at large.
www.myspace.com/inmeofficial

SB

 
 

Krazy 88 – Stealing is Flattery (One-Off)

Has there ever been anything good produced when someone spells crazy with a ‘K’? I can’t think of anything so I guess Krazy 88 are up against it. But Newton-le-Willows’ (no, I don’t know where that is either) most famous sons have a penchant for good song writing performed with a neat, uncomplicated style. It’s pop-punk very much at the pop end of the spectrum with a little bit of ska thrown in occasionally. It’s not to my personal taste but I cannot deny that they have made a pretty fist of ‘Stealing is Flattery’.
www.myspace.com/krazyeightyeight

SB

 

Daniel Merriweather – Impossible (Allido/Columbia)

Sorry, but here it is. Daniel Merriweather looks like a right cock. A goofy grin with ayouthful looking De Caprio style barnet is perhaps the best comparison. Getting off on such a bad footing we were unlikely to ever see eye to eye. But when he started steeping me in his sub-Ronson (and that is saying something) production stylings, our relationship really hit the rocks. I need my medication now.
www.danielmerriweather.com
watch video to 'Impossible'

SB

 
 

The Hush Now – Hoping and Waiting

As I slipped this CD into the player I was just about to launch into a tirade about the lack of track listing on this album when I noticed it only had one track. More haste, less speed. Musically ‘Hoping and Waiting’ is a sunny, electric piano driven indie pop-piece from the Boston 4-piece. There’s nothing much out of the ordinary here until the most unexpected appearance of an operatic vocal in the bridge – genius!
www.myspace.com/thehushnow

SB

 
 

Velvet Star – Dirty Girl

True enough – this does have a very Culty guitar riff. Unfortunately it doesn’t have an Ian Astbury. The song itself isn’t that bad, could best be described as Oasis covering a ‘Li’l Devil’ but the vocals really throttle back on my enjoyment of this – they’re very nearly an atonal growl throughout and that prevents the actual tune from ever really soaring.
www.myspace.com/velverstarband

SB

 
 

Cymbals Eat Guitars – ‘...And the Hazy Sea’

I may have some kind of personality disorder. You see I crave chaos and originality in my music, not people who follow the path. Cymbals East Guitars meet these criteria admirably. ‘...And the Hazy Sea’ may sound a bit like a pretentious post rock song title but post rock is only one of the styles offered here. This is a melange of big cinematic sounds that don’t all sit that comfortably next to each other. But they do provide exciting and stimulating juxtapositions which you just won’t be getting from Snow Patrol.

SB

 
 

Jonny Cola and the A-Grades – Another Summer Burning EP

It’s a tough month for writing singles reviews – they are all so bloody long with three tracks at least. But when they are as diverse as this EP it makes it a bit easier. ‘One Day All This Will Be Yours’ is built around a heavy and harsh sounding reverbing guitar part which is built on with a big raucous vocal melody towards the end. Positively rambunctious. There’s also a clever piano cover version of Sabrina’s ‘Boys’ which almost makes it seem like a tender ballad. Did make me feel a little queasy re-listening to it though.
The EP is rounded off with the melodrama that is ‘Budget Flight To Faro’ – stacked high with big reverby guitars again, pianos and with a general shoe-gazy vibe about it. It also has that Pixie-ish feel that they created with a vocal round that repeats dizzyingly. It’s one of the best summer EPs yet. But ‘Summertime Love’?
www.jonnycolaandtheagrades.net

SB

 
 

Diarmaid O’Meara & Luke Creed – Dirt Frequencies (Gobsmacked)

I don’t know a lot about Luke Creed but what I’ve heard of Diarmaid O’Meara I have liked a lot. I’m not sure how you collaborate on a couple of tracks like this, is it a case of I’ll twist your knobs and you twist mine? Whatever it is, lead-off track ‘Bitchbags’ just seems a bit on the dry side to me – all minimal fizzing and serrated beats which like the kind of vibrancy of O’Meara’s previous work – it just seems to lack a bit of direction and tensions. Accompanying track ‘Niteflix’ is a more rounded effort, but again, aside from the boing boing motif and a lot of hissy percussion, it doesn’t really build up any expectation or unlease any potent energy. Both tracks are OK sound more like soundtrack music to a playstation game than anything more individually rewarding. As ‘Niteflix’ just fizzles out when someone ends the drum pattern, nothing could be more obvious than the fact these two tracks were not particularly inspired.
www.gobsmackedrecords.com

SB

 
 

The X Why – Down 2 Your Low (XY)

Hello hello, what’s this wonderous piece of origami that ‘Down 2 YourLow’ arrives in? Like the unfurling petals of a flower, the card case slowly offers up the disc in a quite marvellous way. I am easily pleased after all. I am also pleased by the main mix of this track which is all electro punk scuzzy guitars and fizzy disco. It’s a bit like a mix between Electric Six and Quemists. The other remixes, by comparison, are so generic and bad they make me moderately angry.
www.myspace.com/thexwhy

SB

 
 

Electric Assembly - White Splinter (EP)

Very much to their credit, when I played Electric Assembly’s new EP, the first thing that didn’t happen is a dozen other post rock bands sprung to mind. In a genre where it’s oh-so-easy to sound identical to your contemporaries, this band have managed to sound surprisingly fresh.

If we’re going down the route of genre labelling, then post rock is probably fair enough, but the band promote themselves as “post-country psychedelia”. Whatever the case, Electric Assembly know their niche and they market to it fantastically. The monotone, hand crafted CD cover, the excellent EP title, the all-lower-case text logo, the beautiful press release, everything has a touch of artistic joy about it without a clichéd post rock pylon or a photo of urban decay in sight. Admittedly, artwork doesn’t always matter but it sure helps, especially if you’re an instrumental noise band like this.

The music itself is straight forward enough. There are no complex time signatures, there are no innovative noises from samples or ring modulator pedals and there is nothing here that hasn’t already been done before. The point is Electric Assembly do it better than most, there’s something very honest and simple about their music illustrating that songs don’t have to be complex to be good. Perhaps it’s the production or perhaps it’s the band, but for whatever reason this EP is uplifting in the same expressive way that Sigur Ros can be.

Praise indeed, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t weaker moments. ‘Broken’ is the only song with lyrics and whilst it’s a dreamy Mogwai-esk track, it’s bog standard and it’s clear Electric Assembly aren’t playing to their strengths.

Ultimately, this is an extremely promising band that are confident in who they are and what they want to sound like. On ‘White Splinter’ they play within the rules of accessibility yet paradoxically manage to sound leftfield and new enough to make this record a real gem.

Moker

 
 

Thee Uncomfortables - 'Where Did I Sleep Last Night?' (Soixante-Neuf)

Here's some angsty sounding urban squalor then. A tale of a lost weekend that isn't quite over, surfpunk guitars and some groovy keyboard all adding up to a noir-ish pop frenzy. Subtitled 'Five Go Looking For A Taxi Rank', I really hope everyone gets home alright this time. B-side 'Don't Be Mad With Me, Spike (if you knew what I was really like)' is an altogether less frantic piece, a mostly acapella number with only a guitar present to keep everyone in line. Watch out for this lot, they can sing AND play their instruments.
http://www.myspace.com/theeuncomfortables

Jon Gordon

 
 

Not Advised - Fight For This (Is A Rockstar Records)

There are certain bands that, regardless of how big and great they become, retain the accent, swagger and sense of ‘being’ that allows you to place them, geographically speaking, from their sound alone.

The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and later Oasis, all retained the northern whine of the mancuncian estates where they were raised. The punk bands of the late 70’s and 80’s, Pistols, Clash, Sham 69 had songs doused with the cockney growl that placed them immediately in London. And then there’s Not Advised, from… Northampton?

I’ve never been to Northampton but, unless it has relocated to the eastern seaboard of the United States of God Bless America, this has not retained its ‘middle of England’ roots.

There appears to be a generation that has found a voice through My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, and built their own sound around that template. The problem, since, is that the building of the sound seem to have become mimickery of the original rather than bands finding their own voice.

Case in point is this EP. It’s good. All the parts work. The riffs are good, you tap you toe and nod your head, the lyrics are suitably angst felt and, in some way different from the norm, of a more positive and upbeat predisposition. But what it isn’t is different. There are more than several of these bands around at the moment that, were you to take a song from each and produce a compilation album, it would be of tracks of such similarity in both composition and sound that the listening public would be hard pressed to realise it wasn’t an album by just one band.

So this is what we have. An impressive tribute to those that have gone before with little to differentiate it from the current crowd. Well produced but lacking an individuality to make you take notice. All craft but little soul.
www.myspace.com/notadvised

Jim Johnston

 
 

The Brent Flood - Katy McCain (The Animal Farm)

You know sometimes you’ll eat at a restaurant and the foods fine. It’s not brilliant, you’re not squealing with delight at every savoured mouthful but at the same time it’s quite satisfactory. Certainly not what you’d call bad, or would have any room for complaint. In fact you might even come back.

But then a few weeks later and someone you know brings up that restaurant, knowing you’ve been, and asks your opinion on it. And the best you can offer is, “yeh, it’s alright,” and you can’t even remember what it is that you ate but you know it was ok? That’s this EP.

It’s not bad. It’s a long way from being terrible. But at the same time it’s not brilliant. It nudges towards catchy pop without ever quite making it. It hints towards sing-a-long choruses, but they never quite take root. And even after a few listens, if someone were to ask you about The Brent Flood, you’d say, “yeh, they’re alright,” but you’re then struggling to remember how any of their stuff goes.

So a satisfactory EP then. Which may seem unenthusiastic, but then if you think of how much stuff produced these days falls so far short of being satisfactory, or even adequate, perhaps satisfactory isn’t a bad place to be.
http://www.myspace.com/thebrentflood

Jim Johnston

 
 

Aaron Carey - 'The Scene'

Aaron Carey was born in New Zealand, grew up in Wales and Switzerland and finally settled in York, where he drinks a lot. Is 'The Scene' a celebration of music-based socialising or a complaint? I've listened to all three and a half minutes of the song twice and am still unclear as to whether Aaron Carey had a good time last night, assuming he actually remembers it. A jaunty, vaguely ska-ish number that falls just on the right side of whinge.
http://www.aaroncarey.co.uk/

Jon Gordon

 
 

Captain Dangerous - 'I Miss You Cos Its Monday' (Danqua)

Starts off properly bluesy and with a genuinely heartfelt lyric - 'If it was Monday every day I'd probably kill myself' then swells into a gloriously swaying folk ballad enlivened with some marvellously drunken trumpet. And why not shout 'Cardinal Wiseman' right at the end of the song?
http://www.myspace.com/captaindangerous

Jon Gordon

 
 

Frank Turner – The Road (Xtra Mile)

Ah, Frank Turner, the folk punkster who once attempted to play 24 shows in 24 hours in London. I suppose it’s a bit punk in being so blatantly attention seeking but it certainly does nothing for the quality of your recorded output which has always been my problem with Turner – it’s just a bit bland. And that is the way with this single for the first 2 and half minutes until, finally, he actually sounds like he believes what he is singing about rather than just dragging out some tired lines. How about trying a 24 second song next time?
www.frank-turner.com

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Three Trapped Tigers – EP2 (Blood and Biscuits)

If you can get over the slight pretentious alert (simply naming this ‘EP2’ and giving the songs only numbers instead of names), you might be in for some fun here. Three Trapped Tigers sound like an Atari version of a prog metal band. Sure there are nice rough live drums and even some voice in places, but most of the main melodies are made up of glitch keyboards which range from calming and tranquil in ‘9’ to manic and deranged in ‘8’. It takes some getting used to because it genuinely sounds unlike anything you will listen to regularly at the moment. Unless you work in a Maplin store and someone is doing some pile driving on the building site next door.
www.myspace.com/threetrappedtigers

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The Gay Blades – Hey She Say (Something in Construction)

Choppy, precise, perfectly formed post-punk that sounds like We Are Scientists have been bodyswapped with the White Stripes. Some nice stops and starts don’t seem to break up the flow enough to spoil the track and the whole thing rattles to a highly satisfactory outro. Top hole.

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Rowland S. Howard – Pop Crimes (The Passport Label)

Shame on me – I’ve never heard of Rowland S. Howard who is, apparently, a legend of Australian rock for 30 years. According to the blurb he has cohorted with Nick Cave on more than one occasion and that is the nearest comparison I can give to describe this music. ‘Pop Crimes’ is actually bloody good. There’s a lazy double bass line, some great squawling, reverby guitar feedback and the whole thing just sounds sodden in a rain storm down a back alley somewhere.
www.myspace.com/rowlandshoward

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Catraz – Knock Knock (Sidewalk7)

Oh dear. I mean, we try our hardest but like middle aged Dads struggling to dance without looking like twats at family wedding, we’re just not down with the old hip hop. Most informative thing I could say is that this is in the Akira the Don style – upbeat backing track with slightly comic narrative vocals. Oh dear, we’re sounding like a Dad again.
www.myspace.com/catrazmusic

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Black Lips – Drugs

Oh dear again. 2 out of 2. This time just because I hate this kind of surfy punky thin sounding garage rock of Black Lips. It’s all so simplistic and lo-fi. Simple is not the same as simplistic. Though to be fair they have managed to distort Faris Rotter’s squawking vocals in the mix so we should be grateful for small mercies.
www.black-lips.com

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Biffy Clyro – That Golden Rule (14th Floor)

It seems to me that as time goes on, Biffy Clyro and their offshoot experimental cousin, Marmaduke Duke are becoming more aligned to each other with the effect that both projects are benefitting. While the Duke’s more wacky excursions have been curbed on recent releases, Biffy seem to be pushing the envelope a little more with this track – great fretful’s of sliding guitar work, some orchestral accompaniment that would not be disgraced in a Bond film and great slabs of octave shifting guitars. Not overtly commercial but still damned good.
www.biffyclyro.com

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Knievel Genius – Daylight

Nice name and great artwork (a werewolf about to claw an unsuspecting female iPod listener). For a debut, ‘Daylight’ sounds incredibly polished – chock full of ramped up time changes, chugging guitars lines in a 90’s alternative rock vibe and also, exactly as the press release says, it actually sounds manly, not produced by teenies.
www.myspace.com/knievelgenius

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Ivor Game – Small

It’s another single from the prolific Tasty cult favourite and bizarrely named Ivor Game. ‘Small’ comes from his 2006 album ‘Inside’ and typifies the secret behind Game’s work – simple songs performed without pretence. Like a latterday Ralph McTell.
www.ivorgame.com

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Baxter – End of the World EP (Malloty Up)

A nice little EP this from multi-talented Baxter. Most of these tracks sound not exactly derivative but easily placed in certain indie niches. And strangely this gives the Ep a nice homely and familiar appeal. In fact the Ep is a bit like an indie super-group mash including The Killers, Snow Patrol, Doves and a cast of many others. Oh yeah, and throw in a hefty slice of Kings of Leon in ‘Something’s Got to Give’. I’m not a massive fan of any of the aforementioned groups but Baxter a certainly as creditable, if not as famous, as any of them.
www.baxteruk.com

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The Unravelling – Unscripted Disclosure

Exciting stuff here from Calgary’s The Unravelling. The name might be a little clumsy (at least to write) but ‘Unscripted Disclosure’ is the exact opposite – precise and studied. Although initially the ringing guitars and wispy symbals give an outward impression of fey prog rock, there is an underlying potency and general air of disturbance that make it compelling listening. The only real loud part of the song in the outro immediately follows a malevolently rotating whispered bridge section which is very Tool/NIN/Faith No More. Excellent stuff then – download the track for free from our MP3 section or subscribe to the band’s website for more free tracks (most of which are much louder and overtly aggressive than this one).
www.theunravellingmusic.com

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All Your Peers – Waiting

I’ve always thought that I should like the big, melodic drive of bands like Doves but every time it has come down to actually listening to them, I just get bored. It’s one thing to create a big wall of sound but like walking headlong into the wind all day, although initially it is exhilarating, eventually you will end up with a head ache. What All Your Peers have managed to provide with ‘Waiting’ is the non-boring version of Doves – the track drives melodically and purposefully while being animated by the vocalists various intermittent yelps. Some advert deal surely beckons. Not so keen on AA-side ‘I’ll Be Gone’ which sounds a bit more like U2 than is healthy and which clacks a bit of dynamism but it would by no means make a good album track or B-side.
www.myspace.com/allyourpeers

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Whizz Kid – The Yellow and Blue EP (Bearsuit)

There’s not much in the way of background information about this EP so just sit back and enjoy the ride. ‘Summer Bubbles’ is a piano-led track featuring a few phased glitch effects before the breakbeat drum machine pattern comes in. Oh, and yes, only the third track I have ever heard to feature a baby crying (after Prince’s ‘Around the World in a Day’ and Her Name is Calla’s ‘The Good Book’). But I digress. The title track is a bit of a Ministry/Warp crossover vibe – heavy distortion and discord abound yet form an unexpectedly catchy combination. ‘Some Kind of Temporary’ and ‘Snow Burning’ both combine child like melodies (courtesy of bubbly synth and xylophone respectively) with similar threatening distorted bass vocal. It’s not the poppiest Ep, it’s probably not the cleverest either. But it is strangely intriguing.
www.myspace.com/whizzzzkid

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The Ran-tan Waltz – Democracy Has Been and Died EP

Well I never – let it not be said that Tasty is not educational. This evening I have learned that Ran-tanning is an old English custom whereby a community would show their indignation at someone who had committed a crime or caused offence by gathering outside their house and causing an unholy din by banging buckets, sticks drums and generally make a racket. I also agree whole heartedly with The Ran-Tan Waltz’s assertion that music has been stolen by commercial enterprise rather than being about artistic integrity. I could rant about it for ages. So although I don’t care much for the music, a rag-tag folk/punk/ska based sound, I can still endorse the band as coming from the right direction and maintaining some integrity. Hopefully at some point in the future our currently disparate tastes in music will converge.
www.myspace.com/wearetherantanwaltz

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Beau and the Arrows – Levy

‘Levy’ is a clever song as it skilfully interweaves a number of different styles in an uncomplicated and unpretentious way. There’s a deliciously scuzzy time to be heard in the lo-fi mix but there’s also lots of post-punk guitar and let’s not forget the well conceived boy-girl vocals – The Arrows most obvious nod to mainstream pop. Highly promising.
http://www.myspace.com/beauandthearrowsofficial

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Hunters, Run! – EP2 (Battle Standard)

Sometimes there is no confusion and this is one of those times. Hunters, Run! are just a very , very good band. Two tracks here of awesomely adept song writing – you can see where the Elvis Costello comparisons come from but at the same time there’s also something a little bit more edgy about them, especially in ‘Simple and Calming’. They try guitar parts that seem confusingly over-complex but invariably they work out just great. All hail the kings of New York post-pop.

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Cuddly Shark – The Sheriff of Aspen Bay

In a month of pretty mundane EPs to review, I’ve been looking forward to listening to this single and the Elgin-raised punksters have not let me down. More of a straight forward punk track than predecessors ‘Bowl of Cherries’ and ‘Woody Woodpecker’, ‘The Sheriff...’ sees Cuddly Shark take on almost Weezer or early Green Day levels of excellence. And even then when you think this is a pretty decent 2 minute punk track the trademark guitar change-ups and chopping arounds kick off. So as to prove they are not one-trick ponies, the superb folksy ‘Cuddly Jim’ sees a previously unseen sensitive side to the band. Trés bien.
www.cuddlyshark.co.uk

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Sick City Club – Valetta

Gavin Monaghan must be doing alright for himself seeing as he produces what seems about 75% of the indie record output of the world. ‘Valetta’ gets the GM treatment and the resultant is exactly what you would expect – neat, economical and sounds a bit like Editors. Not to do Sick City Club a disservice – this is a perfectly reasonable track but it tends to nurdle along rather then ever really soaring.
www.myspace.com.sickcityclubmusic

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Mlini – The Mlini EP

A nice line in garage wistful pop here from London’s Mlini. At their noisiest moments in ‘Go Back To Texas’ , this definitely touches on the Dinosaur Jnr vibe (minus feedback) and at their most gentle in ‘7 Feet Below’ Sparklehorse is a very good comparison. Lo-fi production never sounded so rounded.
www.myspace.com/wearemlini

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Darlings of the Day – demos 2008

There’s a very raw sound quality about this which leaves you craving a bit more from the songs. ‘Everybody Loves you When You’re Dead’ (good timing following Michael Jackson’s death) is all scratchy, slashy guitar and jagged vocal that is remorselessky spikey – leaves me feeling a bit tired listening to it. The simplistic guitars-voice combination continues throughout the release. It would work brilliantly as incidental surf-poppy music for a TV programme but for individual listening I find it a bit thin on inspiration.
www.darlingsoftheday.com

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Apples – Reason 45

By crikey this is annoying. Sounds like some kind of 80’s homage to Haircut 100 played by a drunken pub band from Stockport. I really don’t like to be horrible but there is nothing about this that I like.
www.myspace.com.apples

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Django James & The Midnight Squires – Hurricane (Once Upon a Time)

Undoubtedly musically talented but the vocal gymnastics, ‘Hurricane’ still sounds like a version of Northern Soul-lite with helping sof acid jazz. It’s ruthlessly proficient and as a result has no little quirks or oddities that make me want to re-listen.
www.myspace.com/djangojamesmusic

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The Gullivers - Legerdemain

The Gullivers, originating from sunny Oxford, are set to release their next EP, entitled 'Legerdemain', on the 7th September '09. It's a short and quirky affair with occasional simulated military drums accompanied by delicate, delay soaked guitars, which lets this four track record fly free.

Legerdemain fills the listener with images of rustic barns dotted across bedewed fields. It glides between a buoyant and somewhat dreamy soundscape to sombre and melancholy portrayals the next. The combination of vocals interact with the instruments well. On one hand, the audience are absorbed into a cheerless, almost haunting tale of tormented love, when the other, played by Sophie McGrath, raises the spirits of the sparse atmospheres with a sunny view and dainty outlook to the waiting songs.

By all means, Legerdemain isn't perfect. Just a quick note on the production leads this writer to reference the timbre of the bass drum, which is very prominent on certain parts of the record. For a band who appear to utilise reverb in a way that it heightens their spacey tendencies then said thud really brings the listener back down to Earth. However, this is only a minor criticism and should not take attention away from the fine song-writing on display.

Give The Gullivers a try. With upcoming performances in and around London, you may find yourself with eyes closed and foot tapping soon enough.

Lee Swinford

 
 

Temposhark – The World Does Not Revolve Around You (Paper and Glue)

The earlier Temposhark stuff I’d heard was much darker than this. By comparison ‘The World...’ is a jitteringly up beat, up tempo and probably up your nose poppy song with an incredibly annoying chorus. But fear not, Temposhark have not gone to the dogs (to use a mixed aquatic/canine analogy) – B-side ‘Threads’ sees them back on form, basically doing a Depeche Mode cover version with a Metronomy production ethic.
www.temposhark.com

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Manna – Some Girls/Some Boys

No explanation is necessary apparently as Manna’s CD arrives completely sans press release. Or maybe they just hated it so much they didn’t bother writing one – for someone of mixed parentage and jet setting childhood, this track is a pretty disappointingly general euro pop.
www.myspace.com/mannamariam

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Islands Lost at Sea – Platypus Fink (Stay Warm)

A very gentle floaty male-female vocal led track that is a bit like Psapp without all the glitchy kitchen sink percussion. I like glitch and I like sinks and that unfortunately leaves me feeling a little bit short-changed by ‘Platypus Fink’. It does have a brilliant title though.
‘Wobbly Dog’ is not far behind in the title stakes but is musically more interesting to me – combining a falsetto vocal with the normally very masculine sounds of industrial music. Ridiculously brilliant.
www.myspace.com/islandslostatsea

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RazorBladeKisses – Ballerina/The Butterfly

What in the jeepers...? We don’t get many bands of Persian origin at Tasty. We certainly don’t get many goth p-opera Persian origin artists at Tasty. Ballerina is full of dark intent from twin vocalists Layla and Azadeh and I have to admit that by the end I was inextricably drawn to them, like a moth to an insectocuter. It took my mind off the fact that they can’t really sing very well. ‘Butterfly’, more traditionally melodic was also much more disappointing – ballady tosh.
www.razorbladekisses.com

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The Boy From Space – Universal EP

A well chosen sample can make or break a song. You just have to take a look at the likes of the ‘Charlie’ sample by The Prodigy. And so it was that Boy From Space’s ‘Wouldn’t You Rather Be A Winner’ was genius. This EP sees The Boy tread a more ‘musical’ route. They have that DIY under-produced feel of the likes of Mutt Ramon – I like that. But these track, even with their occasionally Doctor Who soundtrack sample fall a little short, even causing minor irritation in places. It’s not an exact science song writing – hopefully next tie our stars will align again.
www.theboyfromspace.com

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Hearts! Attack – If You Were Dead

I’m not a scientists so I don;t really know about chaos theory. But I’d guess it has something to do with unlikely results occurring from random unconnected activities. And so it is that Hearts!Attack exist, recording this track in bedrooms in two different continents by three people. Somehow these variables conspired to produce something wonderful. This is truly chaotic garage pop (well, bedroom pop) with abysmal sound levels and diction, both of which only attract me more. A little like Newcastle’s ‘Four Marys’ jamming with Bristol’s Santa Dog using a very bad PA – now there’s some obscure references for you to investigate.
www.myspace.com/heartspowattack

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Thom Stone – Hearts & Bones 2 EP release (Airbag)

Et enfin mes amis, the month draws to a close, the freshly mixed mojito is working its magic and I finally get round to writing up this Ep which was released a week or so back. Well it’s a bit more complex than that as although this is 10 tracks long on one CD (some might call this ‘an album’), this effort is packaged as 2 EPs. Fair enough – on with the show.

Well if I had to choose – EP 1 would definitely be getting my vote. There seems to be a bit more complexity about the songs – lo-fi samples and odd brass drifting in during ‘You Can Do What You Like’ for example. It’s a little bit like a less earnest Damien Rice. By comparison EP 2 just seems a bit more cobbled together – possibly of demos etc and maybe the reason this isn’t a fully formed album but is 2 EPs. Or maybe I am just fatigued by the continuous voice-guitar vibe going on for ten tracks. Either way it’s an Ep so it gets a shorter review than an album. And so to bed...
www.thomstonemusic.com

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