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singles/eps - september 2009

Stop Eject – The Retirement of Intelsat 3R / I Am A Social Network

Well it’s late now and the typing fingers are beginning to ache a little but by crikey – I like this band a lot. Stop Eject have a raw, disjointed and desolate sound that reminds me of Joy Division or maybe modern contemporaries The Half Rabbits from Oxford. There’s no real anxiety to push the speed limits up by Stop Eject but during the faster moments I can hear little shadows of the now defunct Punish the Atom too. It’s no coincidence that their press shot is taken on some desolate stairs with peeling paint all around – I like a band who value dereliction.



The Cavalcade - 'Meet You In The Rain'

I read on a blogsite this week that Johnny Marr hasn't ruled out ever reforming The Smiths. It'd prove popular but would also put bands like The Cavalcade a bit out of sorts, a Lancashire trio whose musical indebtedness to the Salford quartet is beyond question, quotes from Paul Verlaine and all. Which isn't to say that The Cavalcade are mere copyists and vocalist Craig Phillips doesn't sound an awful lot like Morrisey, and Stephen Birtchnell can certainly play those Marr-type lead riffs as if it actually were 1987, but the whole idea really does sound over 20 years late. Which is a good thing, for some.

Jon Gordon


Jaded Playboy - 'Broken Heartland' EP

This is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Jaded Playboy are simultaneously songwriters, noise enthusiasts and at some point were advised to slow it down a bit and not get too emo, and the results are refreshingly energetic pop punk, with literate lyrics and some biting guitar work. It also does sound a bit like a demo though, and I'd put a bit more into the mix before releasing what are already quite listenable songs. And yet another sleeve whose artwork belongs on a larger format. Keep an eye on this lot in 2010.


Milow - Ayo Technology (14th Floor)

A cover version of a 50 Cent song sung acoustically? It’ a big ask. The result is ‘Ayo Technology’ – which sounds part Damien Rice/part Justin Timberlake but mostly like the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Zephyr song’. No matter how tongue in cheek it might be, I’m not sure that was the intention.



Chickenhawk – A. Or Not? (Brew)

I seem to remember in the distant past having to survey the house belonging to the mother of one of the members of Chickenhawk. Not as irrelevant as it sounds because the one thing I definitely remember is that the house was packed with amps and guitars – these were people who were serious about their music. And that definitely comes across in this single.

A. Or Not – where to place it? The title is a bit obscure and post rock but it’s definitely not that. There is a lot of screaming but it’s not screamo. There’s an impressive array of speed fretting skills going on (you just have to listen to it – these guys can seriously play) but it’s not math-rock. I suppose it’s all of these things and more rolled into one track that will knock you off your feet. There’s speed, there’s precision, there’s tight rapid fretting that suddenly expands into big baggy chords and there’s blistering power. In short – it’s a pretty damn fine five minutes and reminds me that I must stop missing them every time they play live round here. I’m off to bathe my ears in camomile for a few hours...



Rebellious Jukebox – Another Precious Day (Ebony Red)

I’d always suspected that all the best things in the UK came from Lincolnshire and now I may be proved right once and for all. The evidence s compelling – Lincolnshire sausages, Geoff Capes, Ray Clemence (alright, forget that goal he let through his legs against Scotland) and the Tasty editorial staff. But from a garage in Lincoln comes Steve Eyre’s rebellious jukebox – part Beck, part Dj Food. There’s steel string guitar, there’s a shuffly break beat, a stonery vocal delivery and it’s all wrapped up into perfect pop nugget (if that’s how you like your nuggets, or your pop for that matter). Something is stirring in deepest Lincolnshire...



Twin Atlantic – You’re Turning Into John Wayne (Red Bull Records)

A strong track here from Twin Atlantic which pitches them somewhere near the near the Biffy Clyro part of the musical spectrum. Interestingly, this track is about eschewing omnipresent American culture, staying true to their roots and the band just being themselves says the front man of the band who has the luxury of being signed to corporate juggernaut label Red Bull Records.



Pharoahs – Squashed Against My Wall – (All Aboard)

This is a very nice, very techy little track that thankfully avoids being too dry due to excess riff-proliferation. There’s a lovely cascading nature to the way the guitar parts seem to tumble out and the vocals are insistent without getting too repetitive. Impressively polished and adept.
Watch video to 'Squashed Against My Wall'



The Cavorters – Puppet No More

No PR. No sleeve. White CD. A brave statement (or an oversight in some overworked PR office somewhere). But The Cavorters get away with it – Puppet No More sits somewhere between The Arctic Monkeys and Ennio Morricone. In fact it sounds like how The Last of the Shadow Puppets should have sounded had they not gone on a total 60s tip. And there is a Puppet connection. QED.



Ludwig Amadeus – God Only Knows My Shoesize (Size 9)

There’s so much obvious bizarreness wrapped up in just the artist and song title names that I’ll skim over it for once. The track itself is a bit disappointing – a pretty bog standard funky house track complete with mid-point piano break and oh-so soulful vocals. It’s OK I suppose but never really gets out of first gear and certainly won’t be attracting me to many repeat listens.



You Me At Six – Kiss and Tell (Slam Dunk)

YMAS? They’re one of those teen indie skate bands aren’t they? Apparently not – this track is actually rather good if you can skim past the overtly radio-friendly chorus singalong. It’s a ruthless efficient chugging chunk of guitar music packed into a (near) perfectly formed 2.45 minutes. Bravo.



Wildbirds and Peacedrums – My Heart (The Leaf Label)

This shambolic melange built around Mariam Wallentin’s distinctive vocals could only belong to Wildbirds and Peacedrums. Kettle drums, a drum line which seems to have a mind of its own and Mariam’s warbling evoke the sound of feral gypsy folk – untameable and wildly imaginative.



Thief Taker – EP

Not that I always take my musical education from 20 year old cartoons, but I do remember clearly Beavis and Butthead going on and on about whingy English music. When did we get lumbered with this unflattering title?

Now with this EP from Thief Taker does have a very distinctive English sound to it. There’s plenty of Radiohead style guitar big crunching licks and reverb in ‘Weirdship’ for example. Over this is the, admittedly, slightly whinging and wailing sound of the vocals – 1-0 to Beavis. But there’s also a complexity in most of these songs, almost verging on jazz interludes, that is often lacking in American ‘indie’. And maybe herein we hit the nail on the head – archetypal English indie guitar, of which Thief Taker are prime examples, is a gratifyingly complex beast but this very complexity can lead to nurdling and in extreme circumstances sound a bit, well, you know, whingy. Vive la difference.



Charlie Winston – Like a Hobo

Tum-te-tum. All the elements are there – a doleful whistling, a world weary vocal, a vaguely Mariachi vibe to proceedings. But it’s all so dull, dull, dull. Apart from the fact that the chorus sounds a bit like Vic’s pub singer question from Shooting Stars...’like obo froma boko ho’...
watch video to 'Like a Hobo'



Dinosaur Jr – Pieces

Perhaps the word ‘seminal’ is over used but this 80s and 90s grunge three piece really are just that. Critically acclaimed, Dinosaur Jr could rival Lazarus for their comings and goings. This latest offering, the opening track from their new album ‘Farm’ is a throwback to the early days of grunge akin to Mudhoney or Soul Asylum.

‘Pieces’ is a blistering four minute tune full of distorted guitar, catchy riffs and poppy hooks with achingly emotional vocals. Much like what became habitual for Smashing Pumpkins, here Dinosaur Jr have managed to produce an heavy as hell track that’s equally poignant and melodic.

Having released their fair share of mixed records over the years, the screeching genius of guitarist J Mascis has always held the band’s loyal fanbase near and his trademark solos and palm muting are here in spades. This single has something for everyone, a perfectly crafted song that’s highly accessible and catchy but you’ll find nothing throw away here. Fantastic.



The Cinematics – New Mexico

Cinematics’ big expansive guitar styles work perfectly when evoking the wide open spaces of New Mexico and the talk of ‘staring at the same stars’. This single twitches and turns between nice and easy verses then lurches into more urgent choruses. Not sure as whole it matches up to fore-runner ‘Love and Terror’ but it’s still a sterling effort.



Primitai – The Craft (Green China)

Sorry, I shouldn’t smirk. But ‘The Craft’ is just sooo metal. References to black magic, evil laughing, ridiculously high speed kick drum (seriously, it’s inhuman). It just screams cliché and Spinal Tap to me, not helped by the press release which imparts the vital info that guitarist Srdjan was originally from Bosnia, but now lives in Reading. Let’s RAWK!



Senser – Resistance Now (Imprint)

Crikey – Senser? They must be even older than me. But I’d forgotten how bloody great they are too and from the sounds of this single, time has definitely not mellowed them. Use the Senser 4-stage plan to create a beast of a track:
1. deploy heavy chugging guitar riffs that are part metal/part funk (steal from Deftones if necessary)
2. Unleash socio-political war of words via the medium of a spat-rap courtesy of Heitham Al-Sayed
3. Soften the vibe with a bit of a female vocal interlude
4. Complete with a speed metal outro
Reading back it looks like they could be unleashing an even more awful version of Evanescence but ‘Resistance Now’ really works – you don’t get to tour with the Chilis, RATM, Moby and Tool unless you know what you are doing. Kudo too for getting the words ‘Mobius Strip’ into the lyrics.



Alberta Cross – ATX (Ark)

Holy reverb. This track is absolutely massive. Cheese grater guitars cutting through walls of scratchy chords and great clunks and clangs that sound like someone warming up an angle grinder in an organ pipe factory. It’s odd but it doesn’t sound of this time –perhaps it’s a bit too ‘epic’. But it is bloody good.
watch video to 'ATX'



Maps – I Dream of Crystal (Mute)

My god – this may be the first Maps track that I have heard that isn’t all just swooshing atmospherics and indecipherable whispered vocals. Yes punters – there is the semblance of a melody appearing here. And the effect of this new found exhuberance? Well it sounds a little but like a German Pet Shop Boys cover band whch may or may not be the worst thing in the world to you.



Dancer vs Politician – Justin Fairborn (Mono)

There’s an unmistakeable whiff of fellow German Nico in singer, Sanni Baumgaertner’s delivery here. Having said that, the sunny compositions of glockenspiels, accordion and guitars make me lean closer to early Dusty Springfield. It’s gentle is your thing then Dancer vs Politician will be in favour.



Meretto – Devotion (RockPop)

There’s always a danger that if you have a skin head and pose with megaphone in your press shots you might get mistaken for that annoying twat from Chumbawamba. Fortunately Meretto’s ‘Devotion’ is a welcome remedy to any such delusions. It’s short but it’s very neatly wrapped in an edgy pop veneer that subconsciously references the likes of U2 and Simple Minds in the guitar parts along with more modern post punk type bands. Sadly I don’t think it will make anyone demand it on their radio station playlists but it is still an enjoyable lesson in song writing.



Village Green Machine – Pyschodrama (Paisley Arcade)

For some reason I thought that this was going to sound like the type of nonsense purveyed by the likes of The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think Tank (Project) or maybe MJ Hibbett but in fact, Psychodrama is a pretty good pastiche of 60’s pyschedelia a la the Beatles or the Monkees. The cymbals are a little annoyingly omnipresent in the mix but otherwise this is a pretty enjoyable little track.



The Puncture Repair Kit – The Sinking of the PRK EP

Blimey – we were quoted on the press release for this EP – I thought bands only quoted ‘proper’ websites and newspapers, not ones which actually tell the truth. And here is the truth – we were totally correct in our previous appraisal of The PRK. They are like a Belle and Sebastian with a better sense of humour. The sinking of the PRK sits very comfortably between the worlds of pop and the more traditional folk musings of the likes of the Fuzzy Lights (whose Xavier Watkins mixed this EP). It’s perfectly optimistic music for when you have just finished a very unrewarding day at work at 10pm.



The Trends – Boys at No. 10 / The Story of Today (Diffusion)

This lies frustratingly between being halfway decent and just mildly annoying. The guitars which seem to jag about to a time all of their own also veer towards being a bit grating. I think I like the, shall we say, ‘free spirited’ vocals but they do have a habit of just sounding plain out of key every so often. It’s kind of like Idlewild’s ‘Captain’ EP but more raggedy. The slower B-side is a better bet – a slower burner but again a bit rough around the edges. It’s not about being polished necessarily – just needs a bit more care and attention.



Dirty Money – The Killer (Sonic Underground)

Stock rock chords played at a slightly uncomfortably fast pace with an over-earnest over-wrought hard rock vocal. This is dismally repetitive and unsatisfying – I suggest you avoid at all costs.



Cancel The Astronauts - I Am The President Of Your Fan Club (And Last Night I Followed You Home) (Riley Records)

So already we have a winner for longest title of a release this month, if not the year. But do Cancel The Astronauts offer anything more than long song names?

Well, if you like your indie bouncy then yes, they offer a hell of a lot more. Listen to this EP and you can immediately imagine the grotty working men’s clubs and pub back rooms that new, touring bands make their workplace brimming with a huddled mass of indie kids, with their skinny jeans, winkle pickers and ridiculous hair cuts, all bouncing as one as this five piece belt out their brand of catchy indie pop.

It’s difficult to dislike an offering so full of joy. Like a little indie puppy, yapping around your feet with its tales of stalking, late nights on city streets and unrequited love (the band this is, not the puppy, that was probably a poor choice if simile), whilst the purist in you feels you should simply dismiss such a frivolous offering, you won’t be able to. Instead you’ll listen, you’ll smile and soon enough you’ll find yourself bouncing along with the rest of them. And that, my friends, can only ever be a good thing.

Jim Johnston


The Bromptons - Valentino (Sharp Nine Records)

There’s an easy way to describe this. Indie Rock n Roll. The good type. Guitars, drums, short verses and a catchy chorus, more guitars and more drums.

So a two song peek into what sound an exciting band. Whets the appetite for the album which we will await with interest.

Jim Johnston


Motion Picture Soundtrack - Departure (End Game)

Somewhere in between Echo and the Bunnymen, Bloc Party and the Editors, is a little band that has spent a long time crafting a small, but extremely mighty EP. They go by the name of Motion Picture Soundtrack and they sound like White Lies standing on their heads. Fantastic, but lacking any sort of ostentatious originality.

‘Mirrors’ is a whirlwind of cymbals and bass drums and grand vocals and it sweeps you off your feet in its storm of distortion. ‘Faults of A Realist’ certainly contains a few faults, mainly that is sounds exactly like a dark White Lies ballad with gloomy but powerful vocals and a stack of reverb. No points for writing your own song formulas here. Finishing on title track, ‘Departure’, this band really become something wonderful and really seem to spread their musical wings; the vocals suddenly become so much more sincere when backed with string harmonies and cascading chords that pull so vigorously on heartstrings, they are in danger of shattering hearts.
An excellent listen, but unfortunately their peers do it better.

Eloise Quince


Trail – Prism (Trail)

Produced by Matt Wallace? Of Faith No More fame? Quite a coup by Trail that. As a result the single ‘Prism’ is arranged with clinical precision – lots of nice overlapping guitar parts and background effects wrapping across each other. But singularly fails to ignite any kind of burning excitement, almost as though it’s been so rationalised that the original spark of creativity has been lost. Just good solid soft rock fodder.



Killa Kela – Everyday (100%)

One of those irrepressibly upbeat indie pop records that will no doubt grace T4 on the Beach. It’s kind of Calvin Harris meets Metronomy – very slick and perfect for the summer season – pity it’s released in September. Maybe Killa Kela are going for the antipodean market.



Sonic Boom Six – Back 2 Skool (Rebel Alliance Recordings)

Sonic Boom Six must count among one of the few true genre crossing bands plying their trade in the British music scene at the moment. There’s speed drumming, chugging guitar but also bubblegum pop vocals. This makes for a brilliant light-dark combination that should have both hardened metal geezers and teeny girlies fighting it out in the mosh pits. My money is on the girls – have you ever been burned by a pair of GHDs?



Odette – Lust Listen (Marbles)

Yuck. A kind of turgid soft rock number where Odette’s sugary verses break into a ranting chorus that sounds musically derivative of Alanis Morrissette. It’s all ‘I need you, to listen, to be here, don’t judge me...’ blah blah blah – demands demands demands. I think Odette must be hard work and her quote in the press release seems to confirm it. When talking of getting back into music, ‘It’s been a long process of understanding who I am and what I need to do to be fulfilled and inhabit my own soul’ – exactly the sort of pseudo psycho –analytical clap-trap that makes Matthew Hayden such a funny commentator on Test Match Special.



Alfonzo – Blind as Faith (D-set)

I’m not sure how ‘Blind as Faith’ combines classic rock with modern indie – it sounds unashamedly classic rock to me, more at home on the soundtrack to Roadhouse (RIP Patrick Swayze) than on the stage at the Camden Roundhouse. As long as you’re down with that then this is a decent way to pass 4 minutes listening time.



Lethal Bizzle – Going Out Tonight (Search and Destroy)

Always makes a little bit guilty reviewing hip hop, it’s not like I’m an expert. But fortunately Lethal Bizzle makes it a bit easier by having a reasonably interesting backing track – a squelchy oscillating synth thing that animates Bizzle’s stream of consciousness ranting. With the addition of female vocal to the chorus it’s like 3 incongruent tectonic musical plates grating slowly against each other – hardly Mercury Prize material.
watch video to 'Going Out Tonight'



Answers on Postcards – Holiday / Do You Miss Me

‘Holiday’ seems to be frantically trying to make up its mind what sort of song it is going to be. There’s choppy ska chords, hissy snare drum, rock n roll vocals that don’t give you any respite until the weak guitar solo. ‘Do You Miss Me’ is equally repetitive, not bad but definitely repetitive. Makes my heart drop a bit reviewing CDs like this – technically accomplished by so little creativity.



Le Reno Amps – The Stand Off EP (Drift)

I’ve had a difficult history with Le Reno Amps – don’t think I’ve enjoyed a single one of the previous releases I’ve reviewed. With The Stand Off that run of bad luck has finally come to thankful end. ‘The Stand Off’ crams loads into its short life and is gratefully so much more immediate than some of their other work – finally there’s a bit of life in the old dog. ‘Golden Loves’ satisfies our shared love for Jonny Cash and boom chacka guitar and finally Beck’s ‘Rowboat’ is skilfully covered making the Cash connection complete.
watch the video to 'The Stand Off'



The Lights – January Blues

So the Birmingham based band return for a another stab at our record listening attention and this time it is a marked improvement from previous single ‘Fairweather Travelling Companion’. ‘January Blues’ sees a slight influence of their local predecessors Roy Wood and ELO in their upbeat delivery and fulsome sound. Some of the vocals are little bit raced out for my liking – makes me want to shake the singer and tell him to calm down, but as I say, better than the last single.



Implosion Quintet – I Don’t Hear a Single EP (Cookshop)

File under quirky. Implosion Quintet (which is in fact just multi-talented James Baker) is a melting of musical styles that you would not instantly expect to simmer together. From the off in ‘Jalopy Peppers’ where jazz breaks nestle next to operatic vocals and accordion driven folk, you realise that this won’t be a straight forward journey. More than a hint of ironic honesty in the EP title methinks.

There’s little conventional about any of these tracks. I forgot to mention the space synths forging an unlikely alliance with the excellently played classical guitars didn’t I? But the real trick is that it doesn’t sound at all discordant. A welcome break from the dreary mundanity that often fills the tasty mailbag.



Hold Your Horse Is – Lost the Magic / Broken

What an attitude ridden perky little treat this is. This noisy three-piece crank out a nice jerky post punky guitar based angular sounding row. There are multiple time changes but also a really good combination of crunching power chords with mathy little riffs that don’t sound metally but don’t sound too trendy agit-pop either. Much to look forward to here I think.



Voluntary Butler Scheme – Trading Things In (Split)

Another (self confessed) summer track to be released in September – I don’t know about you but my heating has been coming on for the last three or four weeks. ‘Trading Things In’ sounds quintessentially English while paradoxically being a little like Cornershop’s ‘Brimful of Asha’ or The Wurzels after elocution lessons. The tracks have a skittish little quality to them which gives the feeling of impermanence – I don’t think many of these will stay in your favourites folder for long but they may just light up the odd autumn afternoon.
watch the video to 'Trading Things In'



Random Hand – Anger Management

If you were based in Keighley then you’d probably also have angry sounding music. Or maybe a bit depressed sounding – I swear it has rained very time I’ve been up there. ‘Anger Management’ is a little ska track which has a rambunctious rabble rousing vocal...then it explodes into some kind of speed-metal type rapfest – quite brilliant.



Anti-Pop Consortium – Volcano (Big Dada)

Well, it’s way too far outside my field of expertise to read any kind of sense from me here – move on hip hop officiandos. But for those of you with a passing interest – it’s pinned around a weebly, glitch little backing track that, frankly, is a bit too repetitive – there’s no real direction throughout the song – just an unceasing play with the same sounds over and again. Not for me thanks.



The Wookies – Sparks EP (BrokenTail/Josaka)

Broken Tail may have just uncovered another gem here in the form of Berkshire based feral woodsmen The Wookies. Their music is equal parts technical proficiency and shambolic schiziness. Whirling psychedelic organ adds an air of prog and underpins the ramshackle vocals. You’re unlikely to hear another band that sounds more like it is having a good time than this. Much of it seems nonsensical – for instance in ‘Doomsday’ I’m sure I keep hearing the line ‘Bakery Fakery’ – I don’t know whether I should be up in arms about inadequate flour content in my pastries or simply get my hearing checked. But these interludes are generally interspersed with superb musicianship – be it the guitar outro to the above or the wonderful keys at the start of ‘Daylight’ – the moodiest of the 4 tracks for consideration. All wrapped up in a classy folded card sleeve – ‘Sparks’ is well worth a listen.



Speech Debelle - “Better Days” feat Micachu

Watch out Ms Dynamite, Ms Debelle coming through! This talented young South Londoner has real rhythm. The background track provides a mystical sensation to the song which makes her lyrics stand out. According to the press release, “Better Days” is a harder hitting, more beat-led piece of hip hop than some of her earlier releases, but loses none of their emotional charge, which I totally agree with. Her tone throughout the song clearly shows her passion for hip hop.

However, I believe the background vocals don’t work, and are kind of scary. They give a haunted outlook to the tune and probably could have done without. Nonetheless, “Where do we go?” which is the second track on the EP is a jazzy little number over which Speech ranges lyrically from the personal to the global. It’s easy to listen to. Good job.

Naeem Mahmood


Ivy York - The Call Of Spring

“Cutesy” – Is the perfect word to depict this profound promo album. Her unique voice and style entices a world of imagination, wonder and awe. Her voice is somehow like a child’s, in fact I would say it’s a crosslink between Britney Spears and Delta Goodrem and it’s been said it was her Australian upbringing that allowed her to craft moving songs that create such an intimate atmosphere.

It’s surprising to know that two of the songs “Island Song” and “The Call of Spring” were inspired by the 1950s Bollywood era, and working closely with her guitarist, the two musicians injected their own styles along with their innate indie ethic, energy and vibrance to create something truly individual.

If you like country music with a hint of pop and you fancy getting caught up in your emotions or getting lost in music then this is the album for you. Truly unique.

Naeem Mahmood