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singles/eps - october 2009



 

Richard Walters – Weather Song (Kartel)

A nice gentle one to get us off and running this month. Although it ominously starts a little apologetically, kind of shunting into action, Walters gentle falsetto and nifty arrangements evoke the sound of ‘The Bends’ era Radiohead. Very pleasant.
www.myspace.com/richardwalters

SB


Canterbury – Eleven,Twelve (FriendsVsRecords)

Yes yes. Canterbury have fused several known winning formulas into 3 packed minutes of exquisite indie rock. A little Foo-ey in places here, a little We Are Scientists in places there, a little bit impressive throughout. More please.
www.myspace.com/canterbury

SB

 

Lord Auch – To the Shitehouse EP

This is always so annoying - when a CD arrives without sleevenotes or a track listing and you have to keep ejecting the CD to see what is what. Tut tut. Fortunately Lord Auch are worthy of further attention otherwise this disc would long ago have been slung into the bin. I’m assuming the mariachi laden sounds of the opening track are the single ‘Mareado’ (well it sounds a bit Spanish innit?). That’s a nice start but things really hot up with the second track which is beguiling simple and reverby. There’s some space vibe in track three and certainly remember that the oscillating bass line of the fourth track is entitles something to do with ‘Shithouse’ – laudable in its own right, never mind that it is also a very good track. Just print some bloody titles next time please.
http://www.myspace.com/lordauchuk

SB

 
 

Angry Boy – Death to Kings/The Wolf is Dead

Let it not be said that Tasty can ever be bought off or bribed. That said, Angry Boy did send us a rather lovely ‘I Love Fleet’ t-shirt (albeit sized for a midget). But such chattels were definitely not necessary – this is a fine pair of songs and enticingly diverse to boot. ‘The Wolf is Dead’ is a hyperactive fizzing bottle rocket of complex time changes, buzzing synths and ringing guitars – a bit reminiscent of the defunct Punish the Atom. Conversely ‘Death to Kings’ is a much more spacious, more natural track, laden with atmosphere before warbling into a superb angry rant of a climax. I don’t know much about Angry Boy but I suspect that they may well be rather ace.
www.angryboymusic.com

SB


 

Charlotte Hatherley – Alexander (Little Sister)

Wow – this has been a strong start to the month so far and Ms Hatherley does not let the standard slip just yet either. ‘Alexander’ sees her re-style herself as a very effective folk-pop starlet with a psychedelic tinge. Then there’s a really strange break that sounds like the Talking Heads. Baffling. But very good also – bravo.
www.myspace.com/charlottehatherleyofficial
watch video to 'Alexander'

SB

 
 

Yonderboy – Vast Ocean / Just Handshakes (We’re British’) – Brass Knuckles (Tip Toe)

‘Vast Ocean’ is a curious beast. IN parts full of promise and vitality but interspersed with loads of white space which just seems to fill in time between the exciting bits. There’s also a slightly annoying drum sounds which sounds a bit cheap and thin but there is plenty of potential here – the vocal harmony breakdown is especially promising.

Onto Just Handshakes (We’re British). I love the name but I’m guessing that will have to get curtailed once they start getting regularly squeezed onto gig posters and listings. ‘Brass Knuckles’ has a very sunny disposition, more whimsical indie in the vogue of Belle and Sebastian but with a nautical-sounding Baritone backing choir. That’s a lot to take in for anyone and should prick the interest of even the dourest of listeners.
www.myspace.com.tiptoerecordsuk

SB


The Xcerts – Nightschool (Xtra Mile)

It turns out that The Xcerts are quite good. ‘Nightschool’ is very much the ‘angst-ridden anthem’ described in the press release and I was about to say that they sounded like an angry Idlewild. Then I read their tour dates – only supporting bloody Idlewild. That’s going to be a full-on wroughtfest. But this is a great track – full of energy and smashing symbals – good on you Xcerts.
www.myspace.com/thexcerts

SB


 
 

The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing (Moshi Moshi)

Surf pop, new wave, New Order. I’m not sure they make for happy bedfellows. ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ just sounds too thin on the ground for my tastes and the mix is really quite challenging. It’s certainly interesting but I’m struggling to warm to it.
www.myspace.com/thedrumsforever

SB



 

Andy Nice – The Remixes EP (Mutante)

There’s a lot of samey old rubbish about isn’t there? How many Oasis rip-offs do you hear every week. But it is a welcome fact that Mutante do not release uninteresting records and this one is not going to buck that trend.

Ex-Tindersticks cellist Nice experiments and collaborates on this 4-track EP where the atmospheric compositions vary icily bleak to upbeat intelligent techno. At the former end of the scale, ‘OrangeBlu Home’ and ‘Dr Titan’ is similar to some of Sonver’s work, masses of echo and reverb and the cello used as a deeply atmospheric tool within a dystopian musical vision. By comparison, ‘The 4th Man’ is more in line with Death in Vegas – far more accessible and leaning towards the realms of chill-out music. Intriguing work.
www.jointhecircle.net/andy

SB


 

Slow Club – Trophy Room (Moshi Moshi)

Big shimmering walls of guitar form the backdrop to the gently building opening of ‘Trophy Room’ and for a while you wonder if this is just going to be a slow shoe-gazy affair. Then a pipe springs a leak and gushes forth steam in the background. Then someone drops a spanner on a Bontempi organ and we are away. Kind of. It never really reaches the boil but just gently simmers and anyone who has ever poached an egg will know that sometimes simmering is all you need.
www.myspace.com/slowclub

SB

 
 

Chemical Wire – Bees/Super Lovely Modern Sadness

‘Bees’ pretty much ambles along for a good minute or two and then, by christ it all kicks off. There’s not many Portuguese ‘power-trios’ so I’d have to put Chemical Wire in my top 3. The great cronking breakdowns in ‘Bees’ suddenly give way to a jazzy outro – all very unpredictable and thoroughly approved by me. B-side ‘Super Lovely Modern Sadness’ is a bit more down the line – Chili inspired funk rock but pretty good all the same and the outro again is a work of genius, stripping off the layer of funk and firmly embracing a more mathy, melodic rock.
www.chemicalwire.com

SB


 
 

Mirrorkicks – Turning Up

Not really a turkey but certainly the weakest release of the month so far. Not really their fault that the bar has been set so high but the really good chorus breaks on this are way too diluted by the completely anonymous verses.
www.myspace.com/mirrorkicks

SB

 
 

Mama’s Gun – You are the Music (Candelion)

My previous run-ins with Mama’s Gun have not been pleasant experiences so hopes were not high for this. But like the contradictory bugger that I am, ‘You Are the Music’ is definitely a winner. It’s a superb piece of songwriting and performed with all the assurance of Stevie Wonder in his pomp.
www.myspace.com/mamasgun

SB

 
 

Peyoti For President – Yo No Quiero Trabajab

If by ‘genuinely and shockingly original’ Rock n reel meant that not many bands start their singles with a load of background noise and chatter then they would be right. ‘Yo No Quiero Trabajab’ features a chattering rap over some Spanish guitar. It’s unusual but not that compelling to be honest.
www.peyoti.com

SB

 
 

Captain Dangerous – I Miss You cos it’s Monday (Danqua)

There’s something about disbanded Ormondroyd in the ringing guitar lines of this song. Other than that it sounds like U2’s ‘Love Rescue Me’ hijacked by the Pogues.
www.myspace.com/captaindangerous

SB

 

The Rigg – Golden Handshake (Metropolis)

This is just a tad intense. Like a simmering Joy Division B-side spawned on the back of social and civic unrest in the early 80’s, ‘Golden Handshake’ is very stark – a spitter spatter of snare, a shouty vocal, a discordant guitar squall. But it twists, it turns, it stops and it starts – it’s not just a nihilistic dirge. The B-side ‘Something to Believe’ offers more clues to an inventive form of proggy stuff that is equally shambolic and heavy. The Rigg – ostensibly dated but unequivocally modern.
www.myspace.com/therigg

SB

 
 

Allegro – City Lights (ER Indoors)

Oh well, it’s been a good run this week but sooner or later the quality on offer was due a dip and unfortunately Allegro have provided the nadir. Bluesey pub rock just doesn’t do it for me I’m afraid. I’d even go as far as saying that B-side ‘Hola Senorita’ is just plain annoying.
www.myspacce.com/allegroforever
watch the video to 'City Lights'

SB

 
 

Missing White Women - EP

Lo-fi production is the order of the day from this eager new guitar band from North West London. Recording on a shoestring can produce mixed results, either an idiosyncratic charm or a general muffle of crap. Thankfully, this self titled EP from Missing White Women resides in the former category; the songs all have a live energy to them and a genuine reverb that for once isn’t created by amps, pedals or Pro-Tools.

Musically, MWW have a kind of scrappy, post punk feel that veers into introspective, almost post-rock intervals. At times, the band will hammer away at their instruments, accompanied by swirling distortion and screeching vocals, in other moments they drop into sombre and atmospheric breaks, sounding at these points not dissimilar to the hotly tipped XX.

Opener ‘Happy Me’ is a fantastic tune that’s full of angst, peaking in intensity between emotionally strained vocals in the quieter moments. There are clear Brit-Pop influences here, but this does not mean this track is any way lightweight. ‘On Repeat’ is more of a sprawling guitar mess that either by design, or by luck, sounds shoegazey; it has a punky shambolic charm to it similar to that of The Libertines.

The last two songs are a much more atmospheric than their predecessors. The real gem on this EP is ‘Cannot Recall’ - a superb narrative that the listener is lead through by fretful lead vocals and superb backing vox. The whole tune is delicate in its execution; a beautiful arrangement that outstrips closing number ‘Run to the Car’, despite being more than a little similar.

Listening to debuts offered up by unsigned bands can be a mixed affair, but MWW have got it right. On this EP they sound honest, raw and charming. Admittedly these four tracks are at times a little inconsistent in quality, yet this only serves to add to the charm. Its sounds like real grass roots music that exists because of passion, without the distraction of record labels or sickly sweet production. This is a clearly a band experimenting; they are exploring their sound and their limitations. Luckily enough for MWW, it turns out that they’re actually more competent at crafting mature and brooding songs than even they probably thought was possible.
www.myspace.com/missingwhitewomen

Moker

 
 

Dr Slaggleberry – The Slagg Factory (Crash Records)

Have you heard the one about Meshuggah and Psyopus walking into a bar? No? Really? OK, please allow me to introduce Dr Slaggleberry instead then. Now, I know what you're thinking- “What the hell is he talking about?”. Well, presenting The Slagg Factory, the musical interpretation of a wonderfully crafted question mark. So, back to that introduction. Dr Slaggleberry, amongst many things, are a three piece from Oxford and its surrounding areas. With their upcoming release, The Slagg Factory, the audience are treated to as many polyrhythmic structures that could possibly shaken a stick at (only on the off-beats mind), with overlaying guitar riffs a plenty that may have been arranged with the assistance of a Casio calculator.

Call it math metal, experimental metal, or even the ever ridiculous heading of avant-garde metal, Dr Slaggleberry (still heart-warming after the third time of writing) are capable of producing heavy as hell metal.

The five instrumental tracks of The Slagg Factory appear to be enriched with Meshuggah influenced riff based writing. The snarling stop-start rhythms that fans of the respective genre would have become accustomed to are in place and ever so cleverly synced with the snare driven drum beats. However, and this is where Dr Slaggleberry earn their evident accomplished reputation, the tracks are not all bludgeoning metal, for varying amounts of melody is catered for by the second guitar. In track 3, entitled 8 4 5, Dr Slaggleberry have composed an intricate two minute segment, with tapped notes rich in delay that soon explode into chaotic and syncopated riffing. Ooh yes, this is music composed with the Churchill nodding Dog in mind.

With The Slagg Factory, Dr Slaggleberry have produced an E.P that is well worth risking the possible side effects of a Google search for. If you already appreciate British bands such as Fell Silent, Tesseract, and No Made Sense then these guys should not disappoint.

Lee Swinford

 
 

Serotonin – Siempre y para Siempre (Crash Records)

Crikey. With an EP entitled Siempre y para Siempre, one could be forgiven for expecting a progtastic affair from musicians who occasionally feel an urge to indulge in a compound time signature or three. Or, they make up a band from Spain. However, as far as I can see from Serotonin, neither of these scenarios are evident. Siempre y para Siempre is straight up, no thrills grunge rock. Now, apologies to fans of the genre but this writer hasn't been excited by a release of anything remotely grunge for a number of years now. Sadly, Siempre y para Siempre isn't set to overcome any mental barriers either. The gruff, angsty vocals are in attendance. The repeated anguish of “I'm sorrrrrrrry” drones out through the leading track, Apologies To You. In Serotonin, I hear a band going through the motions but not much else. Yes, it's well produced. Yes, the musicianship is tight, but aside from the impressive guitar solo in Before Tomorrow, I can't shake off an overwhelming feeling that these three tracks have been released before. Oh, wait, they have. In the 90s.

Lee Swinford

 
 

Volcanoes - 'Shaking That Brass' EP (Indecan)

From Sheffield, Volcanoes are clearly adherents of the Foals school of thunderous drum n bass and twisted introspection. They also take cues from the folksy meanderings of The Coral and the wistful angst of British Sea Power. This approach must've had one or two headline acts nervously retuning their instruments during any support slot Volcanoes have played over the last 4 years or so, and this 5 track EP is a very thorough introduction to a band who are clearly going somewhere. Matter of fact, all they really need is an actual brass section and even the mighty Foals themselves might want to up the stakes a bit. Edith Bowman likes Volcanoes: does praise come any higher?
http://www.volcanoesband.co.uk

Jon Gordon

 
 

Limozine - 'El Presidenté' (Open Plan)

Limozine won't win any awards for originality but they probably wouldn't want to. Repetitive Glam stomp? Check. Pub rock lives.
http://www.myspace.com/limozine

Jon Gordon

 
 

The Kut - 'Doesn't Matter Anyway' (Criminal Records)

All girl trio from south London, sounding a bit like Placebo. You might expect a bit of a reckless thrash but 'Doesn't Matter Anyway' is a cleverly paced bit of songwriting as opposed to just some instrument torture, is just on the right side of gloomy atmospherics and might even get your feet tapping along. Even if they weren't all girls I'd still like it.
http://www.thekut.co.uk

Jon Gordon

 

KunK – No Way / Game Over (Plastic Sun)

Oh yes yes yes. This is what it is all about folks. Norwich based KunK attack our eardrums like a coked up toddler in a drum shop and then some. Obvious and noted comparisons come with McClusky, Pixies and Husker Du but KunK have their own intricate take on alt-rock and non-more so than in ‘Game Over’ where the girl-boy vocals are lathered in foaming heaps of angry guitars. Album please.
www.kunk.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Kiara Elles – Odio EP (Vandal)

In a rare and not to be repeated concession to technology and progress, I actually downloaded and reviewed this from, wait for it, MP3. Mainly out of guilt as I keep missing every show the Kiara Elles have done since first seeing them and being massively impressed in a manky basement bar at Leeds Uni ages back. Unfortunately this means that I miss out on one of the very personal hand finished packages which the band put together themselves but the plus side to this is that it means that one of you lucky people get one instead.

The EP itself has the typical Kiara Elles stamp all over it, Jonny’s slicing, slavering guitars which would be pretty acerbic without Chiara’s childlike vocals and the whole thing we a hint of the synthetic about it in production and basslines. It’s sharp in every way, it’s slickly delivered and I defy you not to end up singing along with at least one of the tracks after just a couple of listens. I am particularly taken with ‘Rust’, a dark little number masked with shimmery goth guitars then animated by tinkly little synths. Look out for the album due out soon.
www.myspace.com/thekiaraelles

SB

 

The Leisure Society – Save it For Someone Who Cares (Full Time Hobby)

I thought that Wilkommen Records released TLS’s records earlier in the year? So maybe the big money (well not that big I guess) Full Time Hobby steeped in after their Mercury nomination and trampled all over Wilkommen’s toes. None of which alters one iota what I think about this. It’s so sickeningly sweet that despite all the unarguably complex arrangements I find myself wanting break something while la-la-la-ing along. Horrible and beautiful at once – I’m off to punch some kittens to release the tension.
www.myspace.com/theleisuresociety

SB

 
 

Alex Roots – Don’t Stop Looking (Good Groove)

Crapola popola. I don’t know whether to be amused, bemused or just plain angry about this. Maybe I’ll just be succinct. It’s pants.
www.alexroots.net

SB

 
 

The Yeah Yous – Getting Up With You (Universal)

Ooh yuck, this is sickly horribleness. No doubt designed to appeal to the masses by Simon Gavin’s marketing mob. But listen to the inane lyrics more than once and you’ll quickly find yourself drawing comparisons with the lyrical genius of Chris Rea’s ‘Lady in Red’. Yes, it is that bad and over-produced way past its true worth.
www.myspace.com/theyeahyous

SB

 
 

Dot Allison ft. Paul Weller – Love’s Got Me Crazy (Arthoused)

I have never been a fan of Paul Weller while I have liked most of Dot Allison’s previous work. But with this gentle boy-girl ballad my feelings are entirely reversed. Mucho kudos to the Weller for pulling this off – I didn’t think he had it in him to do such a gentle track and his rich voice carries it. Allison by comparison has to cede the limelight and her voice comes across as a weedy vocal flute sound. Yes – she has a voice like a flute – not remotely desirable in my book.
www.dotallison.co.uk

SB

 

Thousands of Reflections – Sawhooks and Chains/Call Me Ismael

By god, Thousands of Reflections do not leave you any time to work out what this is going to be about as they assault your ears from the very off with a furious barrage of guitar overdrive. But it’s not all fire and brimstone – there’s a spacious quality here as well and a gentle vocal touch to counter the sledgehammer riffs. This makes such a welcome change from the legion of ‘heavy’ bands who feel the need to growl their vocals out like a laryngitis ridden walrus.
www.thousandsofreflections.co.uk

SB

 
 

Beggar Joe – sampler (Cat Records)

If the quality of a band was measured by the thickness of its press pack then Beggar Joe would be right up there – no less than 6 pages of A4 notes including the whole musical history of when the guitarist picked up his first tambourine at nursery school (or something like that). Essentially Beggar Joe have a blues-infused soulful sound that, in fairness t them, they pull of pretty damned well. There’s some nice delta blues sounding steel string guitar to ‘Sleeping City, like an acoustic version of Led Zep’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’ and nearly as long too. It’s not really the sort of thing that I’d particularly listen but I’m pretty sure it will appeal to quite a few people without ever making it ‘big time’.
www.cat-records.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Echo Session – Tell Me (Flowers in the Dustbin)

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker the old banjo and this track is no exception. It’s like Beck doing a George Formby impression – genius.
www.myspace.com/theechosession

SB

 
 

Tender Trap – Fireworks (Fortuna Pop!)

Tambourines. The last vestige of the musically challenged child in the primary school choir. Not that Amelia Fletcher could be considered inept with her impressive musical CV. But maybe there is something reassuringly simple and comforting that people see in such simplicity. The reverb and the fuzzy guitars form the final parts of this concoction and what you have is stuff that the folk over at Twee as Fuck will be bobbing their hair bands to furiously.
www.myspace.com/tempertrap

SB

 

Everything Everything – My Keys, Your Boyfriend (Young & Lost Club)

This is pop Jim, but not as you know it. Everything Everything are a multi-genre swapping beast which engagingly enough still remains broadly in the pop sphere so you don’t get too disorientated by the kaleidoscope of sounds or the manic delivery of the lyrics. I like the way the vocalist voice occasionally drifts off into sounding vaguely discordant then easily drifts back into quite an accomplished soulful falsetto. That’s not something I would normally expect to find myself writing so these guys must be doing something right.
www.myspace.com/everythingeverythinguk

SB

 
 

I Understand – Eight Legs (Boot Legs)

I like the fact that the bands are dressed in animal outfits on the slip case but unfortunately it is the most interesting thing about this release which seems depressingly short on enthusiasm, verging on lazy. Being gracious you could describe it as some kind of stoner-surf hybrid but it just doesn’t do enough to catch my attention.
www.myspace.com/eightlegs

SB

 
 

Steve Abel – Heart of Misery (Kins’land)

Steve Abel looks like he could do with a good feed but that doesn’t let him waste his doleful voice shouting for burgers down at McDonalds. Au contraire, ‘Heart of Misery’ is a beautiful country tinged ballad infused with feeling and antique violin sound. Simple and moving – like all the best music should be.

SB

 
 

Foreign Beggars + Noisia – Contact (Dented)

Strangely on first listen this record left me completely indifferent. But the second time round...well, I suddenly heard loads of weird little sounds effects – fizzes, rumblings, heavy bass and I thought this isn’t that bad after all.
www.foreignbeggars.com

SB

 
 

Spring Offensive – demo

This is a neat little offering from Oxford’s Spring Offensive. Little clacky clacky post punk guitar lines provide the backdrop for a delicately delivered vocal track which avoids the normal din afforded by many bands of this genre. There’s even an uplifting dancehall style chorus which is a little evocative of Champion Kickboxer. But then the big finale comes on and it blows you away – ‘Let Down’ then is just a bit of a masterpiece. With strong backing from ’Between One and One-Nine-Four’ and ‘The Cable Routine’ Spring Offensive are impressing me greatly with their off kilter harmonies and mathy guitars. More please.
www.myspace.com/springoffensive

SB

 
 

Lowstar – Natural High EP

Copyright 2008 reads the CD sleeve but you can’t help feeling this could have been 1998. ‘Natural High’ starts off with a nice enough fuzzy guitar riff but the vocals seem to struggle to really string along with the music, like someone doing karaoke and the bouncing ball not being fast enough to keep you up to speed. It’s a pity because again the nice guitar returns to the end with some lovely harmonics working over a crunching guitar riff. The rest of the EP is more of same, a bit of Radiohead guitar sound meets Ash song writing about ‘One Way’ perhaps. Plenty of plusses but plenty of room for improvement too.
www.lowstar.co.uk

SB

 

Teenagers in Tokyo – Isabella / Long Walk Home (Back Yard)

Well this is all rather good. Stark guitars and robotic beats meets airy female vocals in a gothy/electro love romp. There’s more 80’s comparison in ‘Long Walk Home’ which is very Echo and the Bunnymen in production. Nice work from Sidney emmigres Teenagers in Tokyo (even though they are now actually in London).
www.myspace.com/teenagersintokyo

SB

 
 

Juliet the Sun – Time for Heroes

There’s been lots of speculation about the secret of England’s success over Australia in the 2009 Ashes series. Some point to Mitchell Johnson’s poor form, some to Brett Lee’s side injury, others to England being able to take vital wickets in important sessions. No-one thinks it’s anything to do with ‘Ashes Anthem’ ‘Time for Heroes’ which is a bit like a rubbish Oasis cover really and why release it on October 5th? Would it have been released then if England has lost? Or is someone trying to cash in?
www.julietthesun.com

SB

 
 

These Furrows – Masks (Robot Needs a Home)

I think I like what These Furrows are doing but I have to keep checking my headphones to make sure they are plugged in properly as I can hear next to no bass and just a mass of shrill guitars and hissy cymbals. Maybe it’s a duff disc but I’m pretty sure I will be beset by all the neighbourhood’s stray dogs in a matter of minutes.

All that said, for four teenagers, These Furrows have produced an EP of impressive maturity and seriousness. While ‘Planes’ is basically mathy in sound, there is clear Biffy influence in ‘Anybodies’. Part of the burgeoning Leicester scene, These Furrows are already very good and will no doubt just get better and better with time.
www.myspace.com/thesefurrows

SB

 
 

I Like Trains – Sea of Regrets

Like British Sea Power’s more dour cousins, I Like Trains are moving on with confidence and purpose from their past glories. Sea of Regrets is not exactly a laugh a minute (‘our bones will be your oil’) but musically it does not dwell on the sombreness of some of their previous work. Rather, despite the subject matter of our impermanence in relation to the world, ‘Seas of Regrets’ turns into a rather beautiful and uplifting tour de force.
www.iliketrains.co.uk

SB

 
 

George Cochrane – The Key is in the Lock (Unpopular)

Techy house? Housey electro pop? It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what George Cochrane is producing here – there’s even the odd funk bass break. I got most excited around the 2 minute mark when a tumbling discordant synth break came in but then that fizzled away. I don’t know – it’s too glitch to be electro or house and it’s too croonery to be techno. This one may fall through all the slots in the grate.
www.unpopularmusic.com

SB

 
 

Kids Love Lies – Under the Bed (Cherryade)

This may be my new favourite band on Cherryade. ‘Under the Bed’ just crackles with energy and a band who really sound like they enjoy themselves. Ellen Murphy’s vocals seem to know just when to notch up and down the volume range and there’s just that sense you get when you know someone has pretty much cracked the perfect pop song.
www.kidslovelies.com

SB

 
 

Monocle Rose – Alley Cat (Short Sighted)

Oh dear, this is dreadful. Simplistic 3 chord rock, badly mixed and sounding like it was recorded at a 6th form talent show. Replace guitar amp into box, find receipt, return to vendor.
www.myspace.com/monoclerose

SB

 
 

Left Side Brain – Colloblast / Severed (Sugar Shack)

Left Side Brain are clearly very comfortable with what they are doing and are equally proficient at it. This is heavy blues infused rock – nice twiddly guitar riffs erring on the side of Therapy? rather than Van Halen and a deliberate, studied powerful delivery. Rockmongous. Their choice of cover in Kerbdog’s ‘Severed’ also gives a pretty good idea what LSB are all about.
www.myspace.com/leftsidebrain

SB

 
 

The Unkindness of Ravens – Accelerator / Yours Forever But Not To Hold (Sonic Fire)

I really like the way ‘Accelerator’ starts off, combining old school electronic drum beats with a sleazy distorted bass and guitar but somewhere along the line it seems to lose its way a bit and meanders through a further 3 minutes of largely formless song, completed when someone accidentally trips over the plug socket and wrenches the power out of the wall. I do prefer ‘Yours Forever...’ which has a bit more of a verse-chorus-verse feel about it and includes an Ultravox ‘Vienna’ style beat without sounding terrible. I think that the Unkindness of Ravens are on to something but that they may occasionally need to push themselves into doing something a little more extreme with their sound rather than making (very pleasant) pieces of 3 minute aural wallpaper. I do love their completely unfathomable website though.
www.theunkindnessofravens.com

SB

 
 

King Cannibal – So...Embrace the Minimum (Ninja Tune)

There’s a dark undercurrent to this track that instantly appeals to my sociopathic tendencies. Like walking a street in a bad neighbourhood at night, this is the sound of shadows lurking in the sodium glow of bad housing estate. Icy swooshes and throbbing base carry a constant malice and it’s this constant tension which keeps you on edge – the killer blow is never delivered.
www.myspace.com/kingcannibal

SB

 
 

Jo Hamilton – Pick Me Up (Poseidon)

Unlike a lot of singer songwriters who seem too easily get consumed with producing records that highlight their varying levels of skill at vocal gymnastics, Jo Hamilton has instead successfully managed to take on more electronic influences which have just opened so many more interesting musical possibilities than the dull piano led ballads that we receive every week. ‘Pick Me Up’ is built around a scratchy guitar sample and whooshing sound effects. It’s kind of moody in a Massive Attack way. Then she spoils it and makes a liar out of me with an inane B-side. At half of the CD is good though.
www.johamilton.com

SB

 
 

Islands Lost at Sea – Adelaide Lightning Storm No. 12

There’s something dolefully splendid about the drones and scrappy violins on this track that make it a wonderful sit by the fire on a cold night with a glass of red kind of listen. And in a nice way, not in a Turin Brakes way. The introduction of brass and guitar feedback into the track is handled sensitively as it is kept nicely subdued in the mix like a distant shadow – very lovely.
www.islandslostatsea.co.uk

SB

 
 

GaBlé – EP2 (LoAF)

4 tracks coming in under 8 minutes in total? That is concise. French electro posters GaBlé do not sound like the more polished/traditional likes of Daft Punk but instead combine glitch pop, acoustic guitar and charming shanty ditties with glitch sound effects which could be produced by using a drill too close to an amplifier. It’s very DIY and no ideas seem to have been cast aside on the mixing room floor- a great little record.

SB

 
 

Wolfmother – New Moon Rising (Modular)

Let’s press that button called rawk. Wolfmother’s sound is somewhere between prog,space and blues rock. ‘New Moon Rising’ is based around a pretty simple melody which is furiously embellished with guitar licks and big drums – not exactly ground breaking but well doe nevertheless.
www.wolfmother.com

SB

 
 

The Ravonettes – Bang / Last Dance (Fierce Panda)

With a nostalgic feel but the odd touch of modernity, The Ravonettes forge away in a pop-lite style that will see them well received in the fey indie discos but may leave everyone else wondering why they don’t listen to their Mum’s Dusty Springfield collections. At least ‘Last Dance’ takes the production a little bit further forward for a while before washing everything out with staple echoey reverb. A little one dimensional for my tastes.
www.myspace.com/theravonettes

SB

 
 

Zico Chain – These Birds Will Kill Us All (Degenerate)

This track may stand out as Zico Chain’s best yet. Whereas I originally thought they were a bit stuck between being screamo and hard metal without ever succeeding at either, ‘These Birds Will Kill Us All’ sees them combine the both remarkably well – power and melody.
http://www.myspace.com/zicochain

SB

 
 

The Twang – Encouraging Sign (B-Unique)

This was a bit of a surprise – I was expecting The Twang to be all boyish and Manchester but despite the affected accent that comes through at times, ‘Encouraging Sign’ is quite a pretty little pop song, even a touch twee.

SB

 
 

Hreda – Minnows (Ingue)

Hailing from Oxford, a town notorious for musical success far out of proportion to its size, come three piece Hreda, named after some Anglo-Saxon goddess or other. Drums and two guitars only, what follows is a deft lesson in post-rock, especially around the 1:45 mark in Minnows, and they manage to be both sinister and atmospheric in their approach. B side “Dead Horses” is arguably the better of the two with some beautifully well thought out guitar lines etched out by Alex and Jamie. At points, the drums do teeter towards generic cliché, but there are many fine moments indeed and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.
www.myspace.com/hreda

RM

 
 

The Chemists – Milk and Honey (Distiller)

This is a weird one where The Chemists seem to have chosen the worst song off this 4-track CD to release as the single. ‘Milk and Honey’ isn’t bad-bad by any stretch of the imagination but it does wander off into Vines/Strokes territory via way of Doves’ drum street somewhat. Much better are the 2 remix tracks – ‘Danger Zone’ tastic ‘Hear Our Song (Jagz Kooner remix) and Art of Noise-mongous ‘Hot in That’ (Dub Pistols mix).
www.myspace.com/thechemistsuk

SB

 
 

My Tiger My Timing – I Am the Sound (Silver Music Machine/Pure Groove)

Despite being from south east London, My Tiger My Timing sound uncannily like Nordic electro hipsters The Knife, albeit a slightly more poppy, chilled out version. ‘I am the Sound’ has hints of Hot Chip in the parpy since and maybe a touch of French new wave too. Good work mes petites tigres.
www.myspace.com/mytigermytiming

SB

 
 

Meleka – Go (Now It’s Over Boy Crazy Cousinz remix)

It’s that generic female fronted funky house stuff innit. Definitely won’t be o my Christmas list but might appeal if you like frequenting cheesey, ubiquitous bland dance clubs.
www.myspace.com/melekamusic

SB

 
 

Bodebrixen – What’s Inside What’s Outside album sampler (Good Tape)

What an exciting little surprise this CD turned out to be. For nestled beneath its press release was a perfect, beautiful ladybird. Admittedly not the first I’ve seen today (we seem to be experiencing a mini ladybird plague at the moment) but a pleasant surprise nonetheless at 10pm. But like a harbinger of doom, it turned out the ladybird was dead, never to flutter around again or make my hands stink. And so it is with Bodebrixen – full of sparkly promise but ultimately delivering a slightly banal 9though admittedly not completely moribund) version of Scando pop. Destined to be flicked in the bin – just like the ladybird.

SB

 
 

Vowels – Two Wires / On Up! (LoAF)

Oh I do like this. It’s similar to Dallas’ Treewave in its 8-bit electro vibe but has mixed in a load of sampled percussion then spat it out again in a great synthesised gobful of twinkliness. ‘On Up!’ is a little techier, quite like The Chemical Brothers if they had been bodysnatched by Black Moth Super Rainbow and forced to record everything on cassette tape. Corking.

SB

 
 

Little Redde – Spellbound (Three Coins Music)

I’m oscillating between despising this and quite liking it. On the one hand it sounds like the vocalist Amy Anderson-Law and the rest of the band have never met in the same recording studio – the vocals are so far apart from the rest of the mix. On the other hand – it has several quirky little key changes, a little bit Mary Chain in places. But at least it inspires a reaction so I’ll give it a tentative thumbs up and even stump up a train ticket to get the guitarist to the same studio as Amy next time.
www.littleredde.com

SB

 
 

Cats and Cats and Cats – Oh Boy! (Robot Needs a Home)

This was not at all like what I was expecting. I’d somehow thought that Cats x 3 would be some kind of heavy, amp-bashing post rock sonic fest. Instead, ‘Oh Boy!’ is more of a whirling kaleidoscope of drunken revelry. It’s a bit confusing because although the CD is called ‘Oh Boy!’, the track is called ‘A Boy Called Haunts’ – odd. Following this welcome light intro ‘The Boy with the Beak’ follows up with some more melodic stuff, much akin to Rosie Taylor Quartet. The release is rounded off magnificently with Maybeshewill’s remix of ‘A Boy Called Haunts’ – all glitch and breakbeat – my favourite track of the lot.
www.myspace.com/catsandcatsandcats

SB

 
 

White Belt Yellow Tag – Remains (Distiller)

Big shoe-gazy production is the order of the day here. I’m not sure about the longevity of this as once you peel back all the impressive sonic alchemy there’s not a lot really going on. But for the here and now it’s worth cranking upthe volume and just revelling in the wall of sound that Justin Lockey and Craig Pilbin have created.
www.myspace.com/whitebeltyellowtag

SB

 
 

Kizzy Star – The Last Time (Flowers in the Dustbin)

Awful name of the week. Second only in awful name of the year to Itchy Poopzkid (and at least they had the excuse of being foreign). Again it’s big formulaic rock-pop of the type pedalled by Editors – insistent drum beats and ringing guitars over earnest vocals. This is music made for the credits sequence of an uplifting film, substituting power and repetition for artistry and subtlety.
www.myspace.com/kizzystar

SB

 
 

The Kritzlers – Scarlet Sometimes

Despite being only a duo from Brisbane, Australia, The Kritzlers have been a hell of a lot more thorough than most better supported bands. Their press release even comes with a quick synopsis of each track. Ok, let’s test this. ‘Scarlet Sometimes’ – ‘Slow shoegaze 80s indie pop’...yes, that’s bang on. All twinkly and lovely yet not sounding clichéd or dated. On to ‘Pseudoephedrine’ – ‘upbeat drama Daft Punk goes grunge’...hmm, not sure about that one, more prog I’d say, but I do think I like it. Finally ‘Chroming’ – ‘downtempo, triphop shoegaze lullabye’...near enough and pretty to boot.
www.myspace.com/thekritzlers

SB

 
 

The Brothers Movement – Standing Still (Rocket Girl)

Unfortunately for The Brothers Movement I’m afraid this evening I have been bombarded by shoegazy bombast and ‘Standing Still’ may a track too far for my poor frazzled cochleas. Its all attitude and atmosphere ahead of song writing and performance. Mercy.
www.myspace.com/thebrothersmovement

SB

 
 

Manu Chau – Baionararena (Because)

A live Ep from a French Latin Folk singer? That’s got to be quite a niche market you would have thought. But apparently not-his last album sold more than a million copies. But like most live albums, and this EP, this one is for Manu’s (1 million) fans only.
www.manuchao.net

SB

 
 

Island Three - Dark and Empty Spaces EP

Island Three offer up spacey, post metal posturing on this 6 track EP (aka “mini-album”). The four main songs on ‘Dark and Empty Spaces’ are expansive and progressive (the other two tracks are atmospheric bookends on the EP rather than actual songs) and each tune is carried along by textbook metal guitars akin to Dragon Force in their tone and precession. All of this is accompanied by wailing vocals, grand choruses, pianos and violins ensuring maximum bluster and beautification.

Whilst it is fair to point out that is band are musically proficient and the songs structures are complex and winding and it is very difficult to appreciate what they’re trying to do; the band straddle between weak metal, not-quite-anthemic choruses and shallow post rock exploration. It’s not that this record is bad by any means; it’s just that it’s not that good. There’s no peak at any moment, no riff or melody that the rest of the tracks work around and what’s more it feels directionless.

A good example of this would be ‘Secrets’ that starts well with expectant notes chimed out with a teasing high hat that breaks into thunderous palm muted chords. Except it isn’t thunderous, in fact it’s nearly unnoticeable. And on it goes… quietly weaving from one section to another. There’s no pizzazz or character to the music, and the every segment sounds similar. There’s no point in creating a musical landscape if the whole thing is a flat plane. The most exciting moments of this EP are the ambient wanderings of the instrumental bookends.

Perhaps these issues are more to do with production than anything else, but it still remains that whilst Island Three are probably expert musicians who can play complex rhythms with ease, they’ve forgotten to inject any soul. The songs don’t speak to the listener and it’s a cold and impersonal record, even when the vocalist sings lines such as “I remember better days, we lived on chocolate bars and sunlight rays”. It’s not to say this EP is not worth a listen, especially for those that appreciate the more technical, however where this band might display the ability, they distinctly lack in execution. Once more please, this time with feeling.

Moker