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singles/eps - december 2009



Heritage Centre – Sidney Maxwell Williamson EP

First shock, there's 7 tracks and the cover says five. Win?

Next shock, (well it's a shock for me given how unimpressed I am with a lot of new music,) is that this sounds pretty awesome. Weezer and Idlewild spring to mind but a more serious indie/alternative rock tone that neither Weezer and Idlewild posess. Almost a heavy Bombay Bicycle Club kind of sound. Modern indie verses turn into glorious sing-along choruses. And not in a Robbie Williams' Angels drunken sing-along way, more a, singing to yourself in Asda kinda way. Although some of the chorus vocal melodies do draw a lot from the classic nineties smash hit.

These guys are set to have a full album out in 2010, and if that's not incredibly exciting then I don't know what is. Until then, to quench your thirst, go digging for 'Free Out Here,' 'Stolen It Twice' and 'Throw Stones;It's Easy.'

Thom Curtis


 

Twin Atlantic – What is Light? Where is Laughter? (Red Bull)

Twin Atlantic build on what is already an impressive roster of bands hailing from north of the border at present including Frightened Rabbit, Cuddly Shark, Twilight Sad et al. Twin Atlantic are at the more commercial, poppier end of the spectrum though not in a bad way and it’s great to hear the thick Scottish accents spilling out on this track. The high, punchy guitar riff is nicely controlled and doesn’t become too annoying while all the while the rest of the band zip along at full pelt.
www.twinatlantic.com

SB

 
 

L-MO – Simple Living (Gumption?)

L-MO? L-Mo? Ahh, see what they’ve done there? ‘Simple Living’ is a jaunty, twinkly little track though it does sway towards being sung in a pub-stylee courtesy of vocalist Luke’s oscillating delivery. Tum-te-tum...it’s nice enough without really grabbing your attention. You should probably buy it (if only because of the fact that the band have given up their jobs to focus on their music).
www.L-MO.co.uk

SB


 
 

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump – Silent Hour (Buy a Life)

I’m sure this band must have been named after a prank gone wrong in a GCSE biology classroom somewhere and that makes me slightly sorry for said bird before we have even heard a note. What we do have is quite a lo-fi production a la early New Order fronted by a dusky female vocalist. The thing is for me that none of the three major elements in ‘Silent Hour’ complement each other – the airy vocals, the disconnected drums or the egg slicer guitar sounds – they just slide past each other until the track eventually just konks out really. Croonerbility is ratcheted up in ‘Smear’ – all very Banshees but decidedly more coherent as a song for it. And then we’re back to the under-produced sound of ‘Only in Death’, which may have been recorded through a baked bean-tin-on-a-string telephone system. It’s a spiky, uncomfortable listen, and that is definitely a plus.

SB


 

Young Rebel Set – Walk On (Our Broadcast)

Like a test drive in a music shop, the three chords of ‘Walk On’ are hammered out before the full 7-piece band join in with their kooky (or should that be Kooksy) accompaniment. I’ve listened to all three tracks more than once and can’t see much beyond a sophisticated pub band sound. Sorry.

SB

 
 

New Rhodes – Quando Quando Quando (Salty Cat)

It’s for charity. That is the only reason for this cover of Engelbert Humperdinks’s classic.
www.newrhodes.com

SB


 

We Were Promised Jetpacks – It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning / Ships With Holes Will Sink (Fatcat)

From the frippery of ‘Quando Quando Quando’ to the near-bloated earnestness of WWPJ. Like a badge of honour, these two tracks sport suitably post-rock names but this is no 7 minute feedback wankathon. WWPJ tinker along for a good few minutes sure enough but like a smouldering blue touch paper, they are just waiting to explode with a distinctly Scottish sounding fury in ‘Thunder...’. ‘Ships with Holes...’ is more towards the indie, even emo end of the spectrum but again delivered with a suitably Caledonian twist. No longer just an exciting prospect, WWPJ now an exciting reality.
www.myspace.com/wewerepromisedjetpacks

SB


 
 

Cold in Berlin – Destruction / What Went Wrong (2076)

Don’t play this song in front of your gran (unless a. she is completely deaf or b. She thinks lyrics like ‘I want to fuck him but I lost my lust to live’ are utterly adorable). Formed from the ashes of Death Cigarettes (do you see what I did there?) Cold in Berlin are actually exactly the same band with just a name change (but if I’d just said that then I wouldn’t have squeezed in my little pun). There tracks actually remind me a lot of a little known Bristol band called Big Joan who had a similarly deranged-sounding German singer and quirky, threatening bass lines. It’s overtly angular with just a hint of a grunge aesthetic about it. I don’t love them (I think they’d cheat on me and steal all the house-keeping money anyway), but I certainly like them. Beautiful black vinyl effect CD helps too.
www.myspace.com/coldinberlin

SB


Tiger Shadow – Stripe 1 EP

I still can’t get over how distinctive these vocals are, even though it’s the second outing in just a couple of months for Tiger Shadow on the tasty playlist. And what’s more, opening track to this EP, ‘UP and Down’ is bloody great. Brilliant live drums, weebling synths and understated melodies all underpinning Komla MC’s bonkers rapping. It begins to wear a bit thin when we move onto ‘I Knew You’d Be Alright’ (there’s only so much positivity a man can take) but things move nicely onto ‘See You Next Tuesday’ which for some reason reminds me of the long-demised Bedlam Ago Go. Definitely worth putting o your Christmas list.
www.tigershadow.com

SB

 
 

Debrasco – Destiny, Fate, Time (Hell Monkey)

Lots to admire here – I love the big doggy on the EP cover. I love the name Debrasco – it sounds like something meaningful but when you try to think of what that is, you realise it is just a made up word. I even love the EP title – it sounds like a mission statement. But I cannot for the life of me enjoy the actual music. There’s the glimmerings of something interesting going on in ‘Sorry for Nothing’ but it never really develops. On the plus side, ‘Stand up and Be Counted’ is a an epic track, steeped in a Bleach-era Nirvana meets Flood-era Headswim grandiosity but the whole EP is strangled by horrible production – was this recorded in a Topman changing room or something? And to make matters worse, there’s a bit of a shouty-along chorus which undermines all the brooding menace that the mean bass line generates. Sort out the technical glitches and this will be a real winner. Oh, and stop impersonating Axl Rose.
www.myspace.com/debrascouk

SB

 

Spectrum 7 – Serafin (Xtra Mile)

By all rights I should dislike this. It’s a little like a de-emoed version of 30 Seconds To Mars. But there’s something energetically compulsive about the cheapo synth sound and the guitar interplay that frequently unravels timing-wise yet still seems to work. Spectrum 7 further impress with their acoustic ‘Break for Silence’. Boys done good.
www.s7music.co.uk

SB


 
 

Little Courage – Creatures of Long Ago EP

It’s always a nervous time – reviewing bands that comprise tasty writers in their ranks. I mean, what if it turns out they are a bit shit? And this band has not one but two such alumni. No such worries here fortunately as it turns out that Little Courage are really rather good.

In fairness, the opening track ‘Creatures of Long Ago’ did go on a bit for my liking. But it did give me along enough to enjoy the nice slow down outro towards the end – nice subtle touch. Pointers from the likes of Idlewild and We Were Promised Jetpacks will give you an idea of the sound here but the guitar work has a much fuller, rockier outlook. Being harsh I’d say that some of the vocals are a little unremarkable and it might be an idea for Little Courage to work when they are actually adding something to the overall sound rather than detracting from it. The wonderfully crunchy ‘You Do the Math’ proves that it does work when they get it right so maybe it’s just a case of a little more quality control. But hell, ‘You Do the Math’ is excellent.
www.littlecourage.co.uk

SB

 
 

All Forgotten -Transitions (Self Released)

So get yourself a shed load of angst filled lyrics. Chuck them over a guitary bit. Take that all into a shouty bit. Have a bit where the drums get hit faster and louder, have another, more screechy guitary bit, chuck in another shouty bit and repeat for 3 minutes.

Do this several times, enough to fill up a 5 track EP, and serve to the assembled masses. Bog standard fare. Nothing different, nothing special.

And as for the name. All Forgotten? Best Forgotten would be more accurate, but what exactly did you expect other than the most lazy of writers puns when bringing a name like that to the arena?
www.myspace.com/allforgotten

Jim Johnston

 

Slow Club – Christmas, Thanks For Nothing (Moshi Moshi)

6 tracks of Christmas tunes? What the hell is wrong with people. Let’s get one thing straight here – I am not anti Christmas (it provides a vital gap in the working year to complete one’s tax return for example) but Christmas songs almost universally suck. And they smack of laziness to me – ‘let’s do a Christmas song’ should be words which are met with instant disdain by your fellow band members if you ever suggest it. Despite this diatribe I suspect this will not be the last seasonal interlude I am asked to comment on in the coming weeks – beware potential submitters.

And here are 6 Christmas songs. That equals 6 x bad to me. Bad Slow Club, bad.

SB

 

Straight Lines – Versus the Allegiance (Xtra Mile)

Credit to Straight Lines as their particular brand of post punk bristles with furious intent and is riven from a block of impressive invention. I’m not sure their acoustic versions work that well as vocalist Tom Jenkins struggles to level his voice to similarly unplugged levels as his guitar but I am convinced there’s something going on here. One to watch for 2010 perhaps.
www.myspace.com/straightlines

SB

 
 

All or Nothing – Hate Being the Dip Guy / Chaos Days – You and I (All Aboard)

If pop-punk is not your thing look away now. Lksoiu dhd ;’juopd. Sorry – it’s hard to type when you are not looking at what you are doing. However I have to hand it to All or Nothing – ‘Hate Being the Dip Guy’ (now what the hell does that mean?) and its counterpart ‘Don’t Do This’ are chock full of riffs – both crunching chords and nifty little twiddles. The latter is even bordering on the edge of sounding a little bit about Therapy? At least it would if it didn’t sound like it was being sung by a teenager.

Compare and contrast label mates Chaos Days. Hmm, it’s hard but one distinction is that the vocals sound at least a little bit more manly. Any arguably the songs structure of ‘You and I’ is more complex – there’s at least one very strange breakdown towards the end of this track which leaves you smacking your speakers for signs of life. I like that sort of thing. I wouldn’t say I am likely to become a full convert to pop-punk (it’s for good looking folks after all) but I’d certainly go and watch Chaos Days play live (from a comfortable seat at the back obviously).
www.myspace.com/allaboardrecords

SB

 
 

The Drums – I Felt Stupid (Moshi Moshi)

The press release is spot on with this one – The Drums do sound like a fusion of 50s surf-rock and Factory Records. Whether that is a good thing is debatable. ‘I Felt Stupid’ is very fluid sounding, flowing out of your speakers and slightly distorting and warping the vocals which are deliberately off-key quite frequently. It’s new, new, new-wave straight from New York so it must be cool you think, yet you can’t help being left wondering exactly why.
www.myspace.com/thedrumsforever

SB

 

New Education – Arcane (Kids)

It’s all been done so many times before. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that bad but anyone who has ever listened Oasis, Shed Seven, The Clash and countless other bands will be familiar with this sound. In fact, if you were drunk you would very possibly not tell the difference between this and the chorus to ‘Wonderwall’. Which is fine if you like your comfort zone – home is where the heart is goes the saying. But there’s another saying – familiarity breeds contempt. I’m not sure this track is contemptuous but it’s certainly not going to set the music world alight and it shouldn’t be left to the remixes to illuminate things.
www.myspace.com/neweducation

SB

 
 

Red Mist – Last Dance Before Doomsday EP (Bored Stiff)

This isn’t easy t pigeon hole, other than being in the broad remit of metal. It starts off a bit sludgey but within the four tracks here, Red Mist have a pretty good bash at trying several other genres. There’s speedy bits and deathy bits and the vocals oscillate maniacally between guttural growls to hair raising shrieks – no mean feat for a man with seemingly incurable laryngitis. For all this praise it still doesn’t hold my attention or really rock my boat – for fans of hardcore only I suspect.
www.myspace.com/redmistuk

SB

 
 

Avondale 45 – Xmas Time / Viva La Revolution (TamJam)

Sadly the band name is a lot more interesting than the music here (sounds like a road or a platoon of soldiers of fortune). ‘Viva La Revolution’ has elements of Carter USM in its punkiness but the vocals are just turned up to full shout all the way through which detracts something. Even Carter mixed things up with a few quiet bits. As for ‘Xmas Time’ – my thoughts on Christmas songs are probably well known by now and this certainly isn’t going to change them. It’s a basic punk song about getting jilted at Christmas, one mix without swearing (optimistically described as ‘Radio Edit’) and one with lots of f-ing and blinding. This does not make me feel festive.
www.myspace.com/avondale45

SB

 

The Encierro – Be Yourself (Platform)

I was expecting great things from this for some reason but I feel a little let down by Encierro. Right from the outset of ‘Be Yourself, it’s a little stumbling and stilted, like a self conscious Paul Weller. I’d really have to take issue with the press releases assertion that this is ‘as accomplished a debut single as a band is likely to put out’. If this is something which the band agrees with then I fear they may be in trouble as to me it sounds just a little bit amateur – badly recorded and a little bit too shouty. But then maybe my CD got scratched or something during the postal strike rendering it a bit fuzzy.
www.myspace.com/theencierro

SB

 
 

The Smitten Ones – Kamikaze Planes (Metropolis)

This is a weirdy little thing, and all the better for it. We start off feeling a little fuzzy and post punk but everything that The Smitten Ones do is framed by the gothic crooning vocals of Chris Struthers. Like a latter day Ian McCulloch he then throws a curveball by breaking into full voice for the choruses which are more Killers than The Cutter. Intriguing stuff though.
www.myspace.com/thesmittenones

SB

 
 

South View Juniors – Factory (Sharp Nine)

Great name for band – sounds like an Argentinian football team but is actually the name of a school. The PR maybe gives the game away when it suggests that that the band members have ‘all with the same interests and taste in music’. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure, especially if those interested appear to be Oasis. B-side ‘Last Generation’ is actually better than the title track though there is still too much Gallagher influence for my liking.
www.southviewjuniors.webs.com

SB

 

The Half Rabbits – Of this City/We’ll Sleep Again

Is this the beginnings of a rockier, raggier and rougher version of The Half Rabbits? ‘Of this City’ seems to signal the band suddenly getting unleashed and throwing all their weight behind a track rather than many of their previous tracks which seemed to thrive on a more studied, understated and underlying malevolence. There’s some similar motifs breaking through –the female vocals used to punctuate a repetitive, driving line for emphasis for example but there is also the slight sense that things could completely spin out of control at any moment, the drums being especially on edge.

‘We’ll Sleep Again’ sees us return to more familiar Half Rabbits territory – controlled and poised with a neat hammer-on guitar effect raking across the track. And to close things off we have a rare acoustic track ‘Birthday Song’ which sees a glimpse of an unforeseen, more tender songwriting style, accompanied with arguably Michael’s strongest vocals to date. As a forerunner to the debut album due in the new year, this is almost the perfect EP, promising many possibilities and directions to be explored on the longer format.
www.halfrabbits.co.uk

SB

 

 
 

Apollyon – s/t (self released)

I’m always hearing about and reading about how various types of speed metal, death metal etc are technically brilliant and demonstrate an amazing skill on behalf of the musicians. If skill is measured in bass drum beats per second, frets hit per barre and minutes spent growling then Apollyon are very skilful. Why is it then that it gives me a headache to listen to it? Admittedly it’s not my favourite musical genre but I always give this sort of thing a fair go. Sadly on this occasion I can find nothing much to like about it. Pass the Nurofen.
www.myspace.com/apollyonsteel

SB

 

Shock Defeat! – Olympic Village (Hot Pockets)

Shock Defeat! seem to produce a dizzyingly complex sound – there’s lots of Rapture style guitar chops in here. But then they decide to throw in a male choir singing about ‘Night Vision Goggles’ in ‘What Happens in this Room Stays in this Room’. It’s almost verging on ska at times and definitely isn’t an easy listen – the guitar strings seem to ripple like they have been plucked aggressively rather than strummed. Maximum cowbell and Rapture again in ‘Blonde Wood’, though admittedly the wah-wah guitar is rather funky. In ‘Psycho Killer’, sorry, I mean ‘The Diplomat’, Shock Defeat! give away their love of the Talking Heads – it’s the nearest thing to a pop song on this EP. Then it’s back to some more cowbell abuse in title track and closer ‘Olympic Village’ which has a visceral yet catchy guitar riff that infuriates a much as it hooks you. Shock Defeat! - tough to love but impossible to hate.
www.myspace.com/shock_defeat

SB

 
 

Zeya – Run

Sporting a skimpy top and stout work boots combination atop a piece of cast iron garden furniture, there’s sneaking past Tasty’s finely honed album artwork detector. That being – almost every single artist who thinks it is a good idea to go in for the Olan Mills style portraiture on the cover of their records is guaranteeing that they will be producing anodine chart pop. Zeya is no exception. Now bombard me with exceptions to the rule – I’ll kick you off with Beck’s ‘Mutations’ (though in fairness the portrait is bit abstract on that one).
www.zeyamusic.com

SB

 

Husky Rescue – We Shall Burn Bright (Catskills)

Husky Rescue don’t foist themselves all over us here and as such we never grow tired of hearing their wonderfully off-beat Scando pop. ‘We Shall Burn Bright’ is no exception and features a particularly deranged synth line parping away like an epileptic owl. Husky Rescue just have effortless cool and to affirm their status there’s even an extended mix of instrumental album track ‘First Call’ to accompany ‘We Shall Burn Bright’ – it’s all minimal drone folk and provides the perfect foil for the hyperactive title track.
www.husky-rescue.com

SB

 
 

Grande Duke – Grande Duke (Fight Me)

I get the feeling there is a certain amount of selective schizophrenia to the Grande Duke approach to musical composition on this self titled EP. Not a bad thing really, but how far do you go before you go too far? How long before a wise owl, upon hearing “Stonecutter”, gently puts a hand on their collective shoulder and whispers “Enough. Now, step away from the fucking saxophone.” You definitely couldn’t accuse them of being boring though. Genres and time signatures are cheerfully gobbled up in one bar and spat out in the next with a complete disregard for any sense of convention. Absolutely bloody bonkers. Most people will hate it. I kind of like it.
www.grandeduke.co.uk
www.myspace.com/grandeduke

RM

 
 

Andrew Morgan - As Long as We are Together EP

Blends of classical instruments are combined to give a simple yet multi levelled sound for Andrew Morgan. The album brings to mind a mix of ‘LCD soundsystem’, ‘REM’ and ‘Iron and Wine’ and I’m not sure as yet how this works to make the album! With Andrew’s melodic voice and the beautifully classical instruments forming almost orchestral backing, this album reminds me a lot of a more relaxed version of the Shins; don’t get me wrong, this is no bad thing. This album has a haunting, daydream dimension to it that you don’t often hear.

Although not one to put on at a party, it is perfect if there are just two of you wanting to spin off to another level of unconscious enjoyment. This collection is definitely one to listen to if you want to get into the winter spirit and appreciate a more classical take on modern music.
The tracks are picked well and blend together to make a very cohesive album; they can be told apart by the difference in instruments and music played opposed to Andrew’s unique voice which, although unique, is also distinctively similar in each track.

The fault that I see in this album is only that the backings instruments do not get more time to show case their talents. When this album first found its way to my player I was in love with the melody and mix of the songs, however I am not sure how long this will last as I am already slightly perplexed by the each ‘different’ tracks similarities, I am still enjoying the album but I feel that this reaction will change after I have listened to it for a few months. I think listeners will either love Andrew’s voice or won’t in which case definitely don’t by this EP!

Imogen Davies

 

Sennen - Destroy Us EP (Hungry Audio)

Sennen have made a great track here, creating a sound that would not feel out of place in any way in the main stream chart. They have captured a great mix of simple backing music and pleasant, upbeat tempos; they would make teeny boppers across the country happy but equally would fit in nicely at any Indie or slightly alternative night.

With just the right amount of repetition in the chorus and small guitar solos, they have got a great sound. A blend of many mainstream bands, Sennen have still got a slight edge to their music with the multi levels of the guitar, drums and bass and the soft voice of their lead.

Although not a ground breaking sound that will cause a ripple effect through the music scene, Sennen will do well in this genre of Indie that is playing in most clubs and venues. Look out for these guys, I think they will be breaking onto the music scene in a big way soon.

Imogen Davies

 
 

Jarmean - 'Mind The Gap'

Odd, in a Gogol Bordello gone up Hackney sort of way, this is either a witty slice of pearly knee knockery or a deeply cynical attempt at fleecing east end tourists, depending on which side of the gap you inhabit. More clarinet, anyone?
http://www.myspace.com/jarmean

JG

 

Bilge Pump - The Fucking Cunts Still Treat Us Like Pricks (Gringo Records)

Well this was a pleasant surprise, both this EP and the Spin Spin The Dog album arrived on the same disc (label cost cutting shenanigans) with Bilge Pumps dramatically titled offering starting at track 10. I was instantly shocked by the sudden upturn in quality and think i genuinely remarked aloud "christ this band have suddenly got good!" before realising the support band had stepped off the stage and the headliners had taken over to show them how it's done. Bilge Pump essentially do what SPPTD do only much, much better, taking the off-kilter melodies of Pavement, the bile of Mcclusky and (as with SSTD) the general "doesn't give a fuck" attitude of The Fall, Bilge Pump manage to fit more invention and wit into 4 songs than many bands do throughout entire careers. For once the press release actually rings true, Bilge Pumps walk the thin line between progressive noise and pop music with an assured swagger, not an easy feat.

The circular riffs and off-beat drums on 'I Trampled David' bring to mind the jazzier side of Battles and closer 'Are You There Jude? It's Me Barry' announces itself with a guitar riff which could have come straight off the first Strokes record before descending into a nightmarish, atonal pop song. If I had to pick a duff track it would be 'Tilly's Balls' which uses the same circular pattern effect as 'David' but to lesser effect. There is an interesting breakdown section where the band allow their guitars to feedback but overall the track seems underdeveloped when compared to the rest (it's still miles ahead of anything on the SSTD release mind).

So a triumph then. Some might be put off by the lo-fi production but I'd imagine they were going for a 'live' sounding record that would capture the vibe of their live shows. Personally I'd prefer the two worlds to be kept apart but that's a personal niggle more than anything. So check these guys out if you get the chance, by all accounts (that title) they are certainly not getting the attention they deserve. 8/10
http://www.myspace.com/bilgepump

Benjamin Hiorns

 

Heads We Dance – Take My Picture / After Dark (Gash Digital)

How did this happen? From unfashionable (don’t believe the hype) foggy Yorkshire, Heads We Dance just keep crafting these disco classics that their swankier contemporaries in Paris and London should be swooning over in envy. It’s an odd niche to specialise in anyway – it’s dancey but it’s not dance and it’s poppy without being pop – that’s where the whole disco thing fits together for me. You can listen along and bop away singing the razor sharp choruses like a tipsy secretary at a Christmas party or you can deconstruct the whole thing and analyse its cynical sideswipe at the world of celebrity and the media that feeds off and propagates it. All wrapped up in gleaming, flawless musical overcoat where Bex’s dusky vocals add a gravitas over Pete’s more flighty counter-lines. Even the lyrics ‘ta-ta-take my picture’ sound like the clicking of a camera shutter. Clever, very clever.

Then we’re cranked up with the infinitely harder edged (and arguably ‘proper’ dance) of ‘After Dark’. It’s verging on rave and sneaks in a few Prodigy-esque ‘woops’ along the way, all fighting for attention over the thumping bassline. If you’re still not happy then maybe one of the 6 remixes on the CD will bring a smile to your face.
www.headswedance.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Junk – Novus Ordo Seclorum (12 Step Plan)

I can only apologise to The Junk. Firstly, you see, we got off on the wrong foot when they felt the need to include the statement that ‘the Junk are non-racist, non-fascist, non-homophobic and non-sexist’. Really? Me too but I don’t feel the need to go wrong branding all my letters with it to prove it.

Secondly, it’s ska-core – not my favourite slice of pie anyway. It must be a nightmare being in a seven piece band (including those dirty brass musicians constantly draining spit out of their trumpets). But all prejudices aside, this EP just seems a little jumbled and shambolic. I had to keep checking which track I was listening too, so generic were the two opening tracks. The clear winner for me was ‘Far From Here’ which at least was a little more concise and had a few hooks in it. Otherwise this EP sounds like a live gig brimming with energy but possibly not transferring successfully onto a recorded format. I bet they are brilliant live though – just look out for the spit.
www.myspace.com/thejunk

SB

 
 

Last Letter Read – These Stories Roll EP

Since you been gone, since you been gone...oh sorry, I thought this was going to be Rainbow’s 70’s rock classic but then things took a different turn. It’s more melodic, polished pop-rock with warbling adolescent vocals. Will appeal to youths. But I have a hangover and this is definitely not helping, no matter how well written and performed it is.
www.myspace.com/lastletterread

SB

 

Loutish Lover – Leave It (Metropolis)

Now this isn’t half bad. Reminds me a bit of Black Grape but with a more unruly bassist and a less unruly singer. Loutish Lover have a bit of a swagger about them, they’re not throwing darts in a musical dartboard and hope some of them hit the target – they have a clear idea about what they want to sound like and as soon as they get the boxy production sound of the drums sorted out, they’ll probably achieve it. The tasty seal of approval is bestowed upon you sirs – apologies for this – you are now destined to fail.
www.myspace.com/loutishloverband

SB

 
 

The Hush Now – Wishing You A Happy Christmas

The Hush Now escape the usually venomous lash of my tongue (or at least the written word equivalent of it) despite unleashing Christmas song No. 648 of the season on me. And they achieve this by avoiding any use of hand claps or sleigh bells. Instead ‘Wishing You a Merry Christmas’ is more of a summery, shoe-gazy psyche-surf track evoking light at the end of the tunnel and an end to winter blues. Yep, it really is rather good.
www.myspace.com/thehushnow

SB

 

Lou Rhodes – There for the Talking (Motion Audio)

This real is very beautiful. In an ocean of singer songwriter types, you need to have some special qualities to stand out and Lou Rhodes is holding a full hand of winning cards. Her voice is fragile, evocative, emotionally charged – everything you need to properly empathise with the singer. And both these tracks are stripped right down, recorded o live takes with minimal overdubs – there’s no hiding behind swathes of production and an 18-piece brass section required. Essential listening.
www.myspace.com/lourhodes

SB

 
 

Tell It To the Marines – Bridges (All Aboard)

They might be another guitar-pop band but they are at least equal, if not superior in comparison with their contemporaries such as Editors et al. Great tunes and an edge of shouty anarchy mean that Tell It To the Marines blur the distinctions of the genre and successfully encompass elements of emo, goth and pop-punk. There’s so much to praise about this EP which has a real epic feeling to it. ‘806’ is an immense song (though I could probably live without the guttural wails of the singing sounding like a pained animal). Has anyone heard of this band before? If not, I don’t think it will be long before you do.
www.myspace.com/tellittothemarines

SB

 

Ofeliadorme – Sometimes It’s Better to Wait

So we’re constantly told that we’ve never lived at a better time in terms of being able to get access to new music, for bands to be able to self-release, get picked up by the labels and become a success. That’s all true. In theory. Sponsored links on Myspace, Radio 1 and T4 carefully funnelling what they want you to listen to (you do realise that bands normally have to pay to get a placement on TV don’t you? No? Naive fools!). And even within something as wide ranging as Myspace, there is such a morasse of material out there that filtering through it can be an impossible task. All of which leads me (eventually) to my point – it makes receiving something as wonderful as this Ofeliadorme EP so much sweeter.

My guess is that hardly anyone reading this site will have heard of Ofeliadorme before. Hailing from Bologna, this four-piece may be the best kept secret in Italy. This EP has a timeless quality but it is also very clearly a product of the present. The band manage to form twisting, turning pieces that don’t throw you about on a musical roller coaster but gently coerce and lead you by the hand down the path they want to follow. To these skills add the charismatic talent of singer Francesca who brilliantly flits between power and fragility like Polly Harvey.

The tracks generally have a dark undercurrent, a poise and tension. Occasionally they are outright leftfield such as ‘6:17pm’ – sounding a little but like Bilkis. Other name checks would include the now defunct Galitza. But overall this is an immaculately conceived and executed piece of original work.
www.ofeliadorme.it

SB

 

DJ Food – The Shape of Things That Hum (Ninjatune)

This could well be the last EP I get to review in 2009 (queue small leap of joy, small sorrowful whimper). But if it is then what a way to finish. He’s an oldie but a goodie – DJ Food aka Strictly Kev aka presumably a normal name has been a Ninja Tune stalwart for years but with his last two EPs ‘One Man’s Weird’ and now this one, he is bang on the money prior to the release of his new album ‘Stolen Moments’ in the New Year.

Various collaborators appear on ‘The Shape...’ including DK and Mr P (Cinematic Orchestra) and this brings it a wonderfully rich and diverse sound. From the ominous opening of ‘Sentinel’ and it’s buzzing melodies which give way into a shuffling beat to the sample heavy ‘Extract from Stolen Moments’, cut and pasted into an anarchic Warpy order through again to the funky vibes of ‘Brother John’ – there’s something different about every track yet something unperceivable that holds them altogether also. African beats loom large on both the cover version of The The’s ‘GIANT’ and the Lunar Defence remix of Sentinel.

The download version comes with the added bonus of 3 further remixes of the best track from ‘One Man’s Weird...’ that being ‘All Covered in Darkness’. Am I going to lend it to you for a listen? Hell no – it’s hasn’t even left my CD player yet.
www.ninjatune.net

SB

 
 

Quartershade – Statues (Yellownoise)

Quartershade haven’t exactly been causing the Tasty letter box to swing on its hinges over the last few years – this is only their 3rd single reviewed since 2005 by my reckoning. But what they lack in output they more than make up for in quality, a lesson that maybe a few other bands could learn from. ‘Statues’ is a breathless torrent of bubbling musical exhuberance. They sure know how to write a tune and they sure know how to execute it.

SB

 
 

The Humans – These Boots are Made for Walking

Occasionally in the course of reviewing a billion singles per year we come across something that really makes our hearts weep. And this is one such occasion. Whatever possessed Toyah Wilcox to think this cover version would be a good idea? No coincidence that the Humans’ album was originally only available in Estonia perhaps. But as if Toyah’s transgressions aren’t bad enough, a flick through the CD sleeve lists none other than REM and Revolting Cocks’ very own Bill Reiflin in the credits. There is that deliciously scuzzy yet synthetically charged production quality that normally only surfaces when Rieflin is accompanied by Al Jourgenson and company but other than that you are just left with Wilcox’s hammed up crooning and wondering why, why, why?
www.myspace.com/wearethehumans

SB

 

I, Ludicrous – We’re the Support Band (Brettpack)

A newly recorded version of the ‘classic’ I, Ludicrous track ‘We’re the Support Band’ no less. Funny – I must have missed that one first time round, or else I, Ludicrous have a ‘niche’ following. It may be wry and clever but musically it’s quite raggedy and frankly unpleasant.
www.iludicrous.co.uk

SB

 
 

The Duke and the King – The Morning I Get to Hell (Loose Music)

Glam-soul-folk quartet? I understand quartet. But you can see why the PR is throwing adjectives at the Duke & the King and hoping that some will stick – they are incredibly difficult to pigeon hole. You think you’re listening to a gentle brushed shuffle beat on the drums then you suddenly realise it is a muddily produced military snare sound – clever. The fey vocals don’t grab me but it’s unarguably a nice listen. However, as Alexei Sayle advises, ‘Nice? Nice? Nice is something you say about biscuits.’

SB

 

Bitterside – Start Again (Hyperphonica)

Despite the twee keys at the start of the song sending a chill down my spine and setting my teeth on edge, Bitterside recover nicely to envelope ‘Everything Must Go’ era Manics pomp and a Sharkey-esque pop sensibility. There is, however, no need for 3 remixes or stadium stomp-schmaltz of B-side ‘Versus Life’ – stick with the real deal ‘Start Again’.
www.hyperphonica.com

SB

 
 

Black Gold – Idols (Red Bull)

It’s metrosexual indie rock of the highest order here as Blackgold sound like every band you’ve heard on T4 in the last year. There’s quite a subtle retro touch which evokes the likes of The Beatles, Ocean Colour Scene, and nameless others without being a parody of them. But to mix a metaphor, re-writing the musical wheel it aint.
www.myspace.com/blackgold

SB