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singles/eps - february 2010



The Super Adventure Club – Pick Up Sticks / SAC Attack

The Super Adventure Club sound a bit like you'd expected on this double A side single. That is, they're quirky, unpretentious and rather ramshackle as the name suggests. Saying that, it's a more rock 'n' stroll on opener 'Pick Up Sticks', almost nu folk than it is "let's go crazy". Duel male-female vocals work well through a plodding chorus that's quite contagious before a instrumental breakdown contrasts well with the main melody.

Second track 'SAC Attack' starts with a Strokes-esk guitar squeal that mutates into an off kilter riff that's somewhere between The Specials and The Coral whilst vocalist Mandy sings with a heavy accent that somehow adds an intimate charm.

It's a promising debut - akin to former two piece The Research - that is it's good enough but as a stand alone recording might seem a little, well forgettable. Despite the quirky vocal lines "brush your teeth and avoid zombies", the meandering guitar lines and some nice rhythmic interludes, 'Adventure Club aren't there yet, needing to find a way to exploit their likable idiosyncrasies more. Of course where they go from here is what really matters, but this offering is actually quite enjoyable in it's own way. 6.5 / 10
www.myspace.com/superadventuremusic

Moker


Battle For Paris - "With A Gun Between Your Teeth, You Speak On in Vowels" - (Tangled Talk)

Battle For Paris's debut EP arrived at my door as little more than a CDR with little more than the bands name and phone number emblazoned on the face in permanent marker. So I wasn't expecting fireworks. What sprang forth was a rather hackneyed (though albeit tight) splurge of post-hardcore 'math-rock' with a complete disregard for anything us traditional types would rightly call 'a hook'. That's not to say the genre has nothing to offer however, indeed the late Meet Me In St Louis managed to pull very similar tricks but with a sense of urgency and invention which is almost completely absent here.

The opening track is by far the most impressive with it's dizzy, constantly changing rhythms and grinding, schizophrenic guitars fighting for space in-between the throat-shredding screams. The following two tracks pull all the same shapes but less effectively and frankly left em a little bored. I think the problem is that Battle For Paris are too concerned with sounding 'genuine', as is so often the pitfall of 'scene' bands. So instead of trying to forge their own path they have instead shuffled in the wake of the countless other unsigned band's who have been screaming incoherently over number-crunched guitars for years now.

Not awful then but there's nothing here most of us haven't heard a thousand times before. 5/10
http://www.myspace.com/battleforparisuk

Benjamin Hiorns

 
 

Pockets Filled with Matches – If Time Heals You… (Self Release)

Long EP this; 8 tracks. Not too long ago this was an acceptable length for an album but for this Sheffield 4-piece, they’ve deemed it an EP, so EP it is.

A good portion of it proceeds at a merciless pace and the band’s strengths lie in the muscular arpeggiated numbers like “Alias Anyone”, “Destroy/Create/Destroy”, and the hilariously named “The Assassination of Jean Michel Jarre”. Some of the agitated guitar runs are quite exhilarating and the drums stay to right side of the abstract without letting matters fall to pieces and it reminds you that in the right hands, the drums can be as an exciting an instrument as the guitar.

Some variation on pacing is attempted with slower songs such “Cranes and Mortar and Crossfire but they are rather unconvincing in their delivery. Cranes and Mortar in particular, with a fully grown woman trying to sound somehow like a child, perhaps subconsciously acknowledges this fact and mercifully lasts less than a minute.

The music is almost mathematically executed at points and there are pleasingly dangerous hints at melody from the rhythm section; much of the drumwork provides the melodic hook for the rest of the band to hang their coats upon and throughout the bass playing is exemplary. Lyrically, there are intelligent takes on well worn themes, and lines like ‘Hundreds of flowers fall wide of the mark/they just can’t express that change of heart’ on opener “Failing That” mark out more than the average thought process being applied to matters.

Ultimately the litmus test for PFWM is Elie’s voice which does irritate at points but, when placed into context on the EP’s outstanding moment “Alias Anyone”, makes complete sense.
www.myspace.com/pocketsfilledwithmatches
www.pocketsfilledwithmatches.com

RM

 

Comic Book Hero - Eskimo Words For Snow

There is no love lost between me and the genre known as 'pop-punk'. For one thing the term itself is contradictory and the music tends to just plain irritate me with it's faux american vocals, unintelligible lyrics, recycled 3-chord progressions and uninspired melodies. It's disheartening then to hear a young band latching onto the coattails of a sound which has recently found a new audience in gullible teenagers thanks to american bands such as Paramore and Fall Out Boy. It even boasts in the press release that the band changed their direction entirely in order to get more gigs... why in the name of humbuggery would you proclaim your own lack of integrity in your own press release!

The record zings past over 16 minutes in an instantly forgettable haze of lazy harmonies, terrible lyrics (sample; "It's not what you say or do, it's about what your thinking of", "she's got a body like you want to get down") and bog-standard arrangements. The clipped, frequently off-key vocals manage to arrive at some half-decent melodies from time to time (most notably on 'I've Done Better Things With 15 Minutes', woeful verse performance aside) but even then there's the nagging feeling that I've heard it all before, sometimes note for note. The synth in the opening title track at least reveals glimpses of a new direction but it's obviously an afterthought with the band hoping to cash in on the recent electro-pop trend. It comes across as cold and calculated and doesn't help their case one bit, but at least it gives me something more to write about (I'm really struggling here) and by genre standards it's like fucking Kid A!

Comic Book Hero are obviously very young and the musicianship here is tight enough to suggest they might progress beyond this pedestrian affair, but first things first lads; get a proper lead vocalist on board before you take your next steps because some of the takes on Eskimo Words for Snow are frankly embarrassing. 2/10
http://www.myspace.com/honestlytimeisrunningout

Benjamin Hiorns


 

Glenn Meling – All You Can Do

Maybe the best way to introduce this is to let good old Glenn speak for himself, ”I remember as a child just how I loved music. It was an amazing treasure, a bottomless well – and I took it all in without prejudices. I used to sing and make songs while playing drums with my mother’s knitting needles.” What a swell guy. If you are already festering a dislike for him then let the following four minutes of inert blandness numb your senses to the point where you won’t mind. Hell, maybe you’ll even take it in without prejudices? 3/10
www.gleneling.co.uk

SB


 
 

Hexicon - Something Strange Beneath the Stars (Haircut)

Oops – not sure how this one from January sneaked through the net and got delayed into February. Maybe it was the limited appeal which it held for me. Winsome, fey, twee etc – you either love it or you don’t. For everyone who says that it’s simple and pretty, someone else will say it’s simplistic and clumsy. There is a bit of interesting experimentation with some fuzz towards the end but otherwise it’s for softies (as Dennis the Menace would have said). Credit to Hexicon for getting both their tracks to be exactly 3.33 long though. Add those together and you get the number of the beast (well, in minutes and seconds at least) – I wonder if this is some kind of sign? 4/10
www.myspace.com/hexicon

SB


 

Isolated Atoms – Tell Me What I Want (Weekender)

This is quite serious stuff and I really love the neat, tight structure of the instrumentation giving it a bit of a Kraut rock vibe interlaced with a Placeb-ish emotive edge. Fans of Manchester’s Performance would find this very enjoyable, even if singer Grant Leon Ashman’s vocals occasionally wobble more towards Morten Harket than Ian Curtis. 6/10
www.myspace.com/isolatedatoms

SB

 
 

Mirrorkicks – Anything

‘Pure rock goodness with Perry Farrell falsettos’ reads the PR line. I’m not sure Perry Farrell actually sings in falsetto – he’s just got quite a weedy high voice (and that’s why he normally sings, even live, through a chorus filter). There were times during listening to this that I thought Mirrorkicks should have done the same - it’s a slow builder and the opening vocals are definitely a bit on the weedy side. But it develops nicely through its brief existence into an moderately uplifting finale, without ever really rocking out. Considered, polite and thoughtful – much like myself. 6/10
www.myspace.com/mirrorkicks
watch video to 'Anything'

SB



 

Marvin B. Naylor – Little Speck of Blue (Barcarolle)

Hats off to Roy Harper. I mean Marvin B. Naylor. Quirky psychedelic, 12-string resonant bizarreness. There are moments when his voice is wonderfully sonorous and others where he wanders off-pitch yet untroubled. Then there are other moments when completely unexpected, deep thunderous rumbles boom out from the speakers – these bits I really like – a touch of genius. 6/10
www.myspace.com/mbnaylor

SB


 

Tell It To The Marines - Bridges (All Aboard Records)

Obviously in thrall to mainstream American indie bands such as Deathcab for Cutie as well as more left-field, alt-hardcore fare such as Appleseed Cast and Brand New. Tell It To The Marines deal in a large, infectious sound which manages to entertain without ever really connecting with the emotional intensity of either of the afore-mentioned bands.

Opening number 'Flare Guns' starts promisingly with a softly effected, circular guitar riff leading into a strident verse section. From here on in though it's all so predictable and the vocals lack any specific character or definition. It's a song which should crack and spark but the listless vocals and the messy production undermine all the good work done by the guitars and rhythm section. 'My New Best Friend' is more of the same but with a different lead vocalist. The vocalist here at least has some bile behind his delivery with a voice which recalls early noughties indie-heroes Hundred Reasons. However this is the last thing the band needed, their biggest problem is a lack of identity and as such the rotating cast of lead vocalists is counter-productive.

'806' and the title track follow suit almost to a T but 'Fireworks' saves this collective from stunning mediocrity with a gurning, deep sound which recalls 'Trail Of Dead' at their most approachable and an epic, hair-raising chorus. On the surface at least it's hardly any different cosmetically to any of it's neighbouring tracks but there's more conviction and melody in those 5 minutes than can be found in all the other tracks combined.

In all Bridges is a release which is pretty hard to recommend. The instrumentation is engaging, tight and focused but the songs themselves all seem underwritten (even Fireworks feels unfinished). Maybe next time guys. 5/10
http://www.myspace.com/tellittothemarines

Benjamin Hiorns

 

The Sleepwalkers – A Sense of Purpose EP

The Sleepwalkers are perhaps best described as a melancholic version of The Editors with extra heavy guitars. Clear cut notes ring out minor key rock riffs that groan and drone akin to an Anathema record.

Opener ‘Idle Talk’ is driven forward by an impressively propulsive rhythm section and a blistering riff that runs through the whole tune. As good as this is, this debut quickly begins to waver in quality. Middle tunes ‘Holes’ and ‘Voiceover’ might well contain some moments of musical joy, but they are somewhat bloated and the latter tune strays into predictable pub rock monotony. Yet closer ‘Hum’ showcases the band at their heaviest, and possibly best, as swirling guitars, crunching riffs and thunderous drum rolls mix together to create an unashamedly doom-laden behemoth.

When towing the accessible line, this Glaswegian four piece run the distinct risk of sounding overblown and boring. But when they pick up the energy they shine and display great promise. Two good, two bad makes this EP an average offering but if they can harness that elusive power behind their music, to whine less and rock more, they will have a great deal to offer in the near future. 6/10

Moker

 
 

Bad Bad Men - Bones Bones Bones (Fourth Street Studios)

Bad Bad Men is a Glasgow based band of five, Craig McClure, Gareth Hunter, Ryan Shearer, Jen Gibson, Dave Milne. They have been together for about 2 years and ‘Bones Bones Bones’ is their self released debut EP. Bad Bad Men have started out, as many new bands do, in their hometown building up a fan base and contacts allowing them to move onto bigger stages and get involved in festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe. The band is still very much about making and recording the new music which is a refreshing change to modern mainstream one hit wonders.

I think this small collection of tracks sums up the band nicely, they describe themselves as “A ragtag collection of rogues, thieves and scoundrels, Bad Bad Men belong to a different age;” and the music does reflect this and in no bad way.
They have taken on the story telling aspects of folk and western music and mixed it with more of a rock pop style bringing it up to date and making it very listenable.

I can see that they have taken influence from the almighty Bruce Springsteen but they have not done this in a copycat manner, their melodic tunes are deeply based in their Scottish routes with a refreshingly acoustic heart of the guitar, double bass and drums. Due to the influence of Springsteen obvious connections can also be made to Arcade Fire but for me I can also hear connections to some of Colin Heys’ music which uses the voice and simplicity of music so well.

My favourite track is Anna Maria’s Bones, the source of the EPs title. This track uses the voices of the artists so well in a great harmony at the chorus of ‘your bones bones, by the night we are just distant whispers, by the night we are alone’ the waving flow of the piano and guitar combine to make the piece feel as if it is carrying us along its story with it and this is enhanced by the subtle increase in voices creating multiple levels to the music and so in turn to their story.

I think that is what stands out to me about this band; they use music to tell a story, it feels like it has be a story passed down from one generation to the next, whilst still keeping the subject type modern and in date. It’s a beautiful combination of the origins of country n western and folk music with the Bad Bad Men’s own twist, keeping music’s story and traditions alive.

For me this will have to have a 8/10, I can’t wait to hear from this band in the future.

Imogen Davies

 
 

Rapids! – Maps EP

Lovely stuff here from Bournemouth’s rapids (even if the CD refused to play after the end of opening track ‘Maps’ and we had to review the rest via Myspace). It’s not a simple case of pigeon-holing Rapids! into a post rock, math rock, or any other kind of ouvre – they’ve got a lot going on. This is not the shouty umbridge of Frightened Rabbit but a more helpless, drowning atmosphere. Twinkly little guitar lines are a repeated motif but these get meatily bolstered by a second guitar part in ‘The Elitist’ which, frankly, rocks. There’s vibes of fellow south coast types Everyone to the Anderson and East Strike West plus Nottingham’s defunct Punish the Atom and even a touch of The Cure. There’s a nice complexity without getting over indulgent. In short, this is good stuff and I suspect that in a live setting it would only improve. 7/10
www.myspace.com/listentorapids

SB

 
 

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Wind Phoenix (Memphis Industries)

A weirdly eerie reverby opening gives way to a more mainstream stoner pyschedelia. But all the time there is that unearthly wailing echoey feedback in the background making this sound so much more complex and deeper you might original imagine. Strange indeed but kind of compelling. 6/10

SB

 
 

Lonnie Eugene Meihe – “Hey Jack” EP (Unread Records)

Testing the limits of vinyl recording reproduction, home 4-track recording, tuning and general lo-fi ness we have a 7 track EP. No song is over 2 and a half minutes, most barely scratch 90 seconds, and each is fragile, well-written and beautiful. Voice, guitar and piano all combine over brief snippets of longing, decay and smashed dreams. The feedback created at the end of each side as the stylus refuses to eject is also interesting. I bet that was meant as well. As I listen to the songs, I’m reminded of Grandaddy, Eels and Darren Hayman. All songs are simple and all lyrics are crafted. The bloody thing came protectedly wrapped in a gin bottle box – how many more recommendations do you need?
http://www.myspace.com/lonnieeugenemethe

Dave Procter

 
 

Glass Diamond – Chase After Myself (Glasstone)

Although the name sounds a bit like a dubious alcopop and they may make you slightly dizzy, Glass Diamond certainly won’t make you nauseous. This is a wonderfully off-kilter approach to 8-bit electro which sees Taiwanese vocalist Ms Chang add a touch of Grace Jones style glamour to the dirty disco pop before everyone gets swallowed up in a swirl of reverb and seriously original production. You should listen to this just to see how weird it is, never mind if you think it is good or not (which it is). There’s both a sadness and a grandeur here which is hard to describe so just have a listen yourself. 8/10
www.myspace.com/glassdiamondmusic

SB

 
 

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo – Nostalgia

This is the theme tune to the Beeb’s TV series ‘Wallander’? Blimey – fancy that. May well be up there as one of the best ever, perhaps competing with Radiohead’s ‘Lucky’ in The Lakes. Well it would be if that song had actually been used in The Lakes – I was sure it was but after 20 minutes Googling I still can’t find it – damn my human memory. But yes, ‘Nostalgia’, beautiful and powerful, what a pity it only really came to light because of telly. 8/10
www.emily-barker.com

SB

 

Japanese Voyeurs – That Love Sound / Blush (Slimeball)

Oh dear – looks like Dinosaur Jnr have taken over the minds and bodies of the Bangles to produce a noisy, noxious combination of both. Trouble is once that opening trick of switching from saccharine sweet to growly rawk chick has been pulled there’s little effect in repeating it. ‘Blush’ does not fall into that trap by instead commencing the very start of proceedings like hairy grungers Soundgarden in ‘Nothing to Say’. And you know what? It’s the better for it – just seems a little more honest and up front. But I’d rather listen to Soundgarden. 6/10
www.myspace.com/japanesevoyeurs
Watch video to 'That Love Sound'

SB

 
 

Still Flyin’ – Runaway Train II (Moshi Moshi)

Still Flyin’ but I’m still struggling. This reminds me of the music Rod, Jane and Freddy would play when I was watching Rainbow in my youth. Is it any cleverer than that? 4/10

SB

 
 

Noisia – Machine Gun

Ok – insert ear plugs now. And I say that as a marvellous compliment – there’s nothing better than music which makes you wince in pain slightly. It’s hard to put Dutch producers Noisia into any kind of category – maybe this is industrial house – but it would be bloody hard to dance to (unless you were breaking up a road with a jack hammer at the same time). I actually listened to all the mixes right through – unusual levels of over-thoroughness on my part – I’m now off to sluice out my ears with calamine lotion.
www.myspace.com/denoisia

SB

 
 

Mirrors – demo

Oops – I fear I may have accidentally deleted what may have been the press release for this CD. So it might be disingenuous calling it a demo. It’s far too polished to call a ‘demo’. For ‘Somewhere Strange’, think U2’s ‘Without or Without You’ performed entirely on synths. It’s a thick and luxurious sound which is just destined to fade out rather than end abruptly.

‘Look at Me’ is more upbeat and animated but is still governed by this thick, lustrous collection of synths – like MGMT with all their annoying foibles stripped out.

And it’s a hat-trick! ‘Write Through the Night’ seals the deal with an epic-sounding outro track – dead serious and dead good. More please. 8/10
www.myspace.com/mirrorsmirrorsmirrors

SB

 
 

Kakuzi – Sun Kissed Planet (Major G)

You’ve got to have a certain amount of self-confidence and chutzpah to risk naming your band with the word ‘Kak’ in it. ‘Sun Kissed Planet’ is a curious combination of Leonard Cohen and world music until the chorus rocks in with a rough chantalong which would not even be well received on the terraces, let alone in the record shops. But bizarrely it’s not entirely unlovable and reminds me a little of Champion Kickboxer. It still made the baby in the flat upstairs start crying though. 7/10
www.myspace.com/kakuzi

SB

 

Placebo – Bright Lights (Dreambrother)

Oh no Placebo, why did you have to spoil it? I was a late convert to the sounds of Placebo over recent years but with this dismal effort they have set themselves back in my estimations again. It’s like a low quality Simple Minds track, a band going through the motions and finding they can still flummox a few people into listening without even trying.
www.placeboworld.co.uk

SB

 
 

Tin Soldiers – 24 Hours (On the Run)

I was really gearing up for not liking this but I’m now totally won over. The only time that Tin Soldiers are even slightly hesitant is at the very beginning, almost like they are just warming up for the 3 minutes of riffery and breathless delivery to come. An admirably accurate press release likens ’24 hours’ to a Foo Fighters’ ‘Monkey Wrench’, though arguably Tin Soldiers demonstrate even more urgency and a feeling of spiralling out of control than their more famous Foo cousins. Excellent stuff. 8/10
www.tinsoldiers.co.uk

SB

 
 

Teenagers in Tokyo – Peter Pan (Backyard)

Distinctly synthetic with a brooding, dark quality, with the airy female vocals the obvious comparison is with Siouxsie and the Banshees. But there’s also that killer guitar hook to the choruses – think more of We Are Scientists and that ilk – it’s a potent combination and this is cracking song. Too good to be ignored but probably too dark to be a real mainstream hit – wait to hear it adorning the next series of Skins maybe. 8/10
www.teenagersintokyo.com

SB

 
 

The Ran-Tan Waltz – The Beat Generation / Tripartite Crossfire / England Isn’t Mine

Whilst sharing a similar music world view, previously Tasty and the Ran Tan Waltz never quite gelled sonically. But it’s only taken a short few months, the stars have aligned and the Ran-Tan Waltz have put out this very nifty selection of three tracks which hit the spot far more palatably than ‘Democracy Has Been Died’ did.

These tracks are a lot less ska based than previous offerings, instead emanating an undertone of Thatcher era malaise and discontent. Perhaps by that I mean they sound like proper punk, not the homogenised version we are now dealt up by the likes of [enter shite punk pop band of your choice here]. It’s a matter of atmosphere and state of mind more than any musical motifs. There’s that oppressive, claustrophobic feeling about ‘Tripartite Crossfire’ permeating everything while all along the vocal delivery and little guitar trills still manage to animate the track and avoid total nihilism. Definite nods to Joy Division, The Smiths (especially in England Isn’t Mine’) but most of all, kudos to Ran-Tan Waltz for an impressive follow up release. 7/10
www.myspace.com/wearetherantanwaltz

SB

 
 

The Nocturnals – The Blue Moon Demo

One man’s epic is another man’s pompous and I’m right on the border here. There’s plenty of earnest delivery in ‘Rid of You’ which makes me lean towards thinking about hackneyed rock. But then again there are some great guitar-squealing parts and some real good drum mashing going on. ‘Reunion’ also levers itself towards the epic delivery which I’d usually rally against, but at the same time there’s a real creative complexity about it. If I’d received this without a press release I’d be thinking it emanated somewhere in eastern Europe – the kind of stuff that is put together when the creators are not overly concerned with how cool or trendy they will be perceived as. The result is half good, half bad, but the rating, inexplicably, is 6/10.
www.myspace.com/thenocturnalsband

SB

 
 

The Thermals - Canada (Killrockstars)


To be frank, this song makes me want to never ever visit Canada under any circumstances, even if I was pinned to the floor with a drill to my left eyeball. Which is a shame because I’ve heard Canada is a wonderful place.

According to this band’s PR, ‘It doesn't sound like it took The Thermals longer than half an hour to write "Canada".’ This could be true. My bets are on less than thirty seconds. ‘But therein lies its brilliance!’ Brilliance? To be honest, I’d sum it up as more like being boring, monotonous, meat headed punk for the masses. Of course, with the definition of masses meaning pre-teen wannabe hardcore punks.

Step away, far away. Oh, and only visit Canada if The Thermals are safely absent; preferably on another continent.

Eloise Quince

 
 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs - Skeletons (Polydor)


A bold statement that has more than ambition about it, the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs have come into their own, with Karen O’s hauntingly gentle vocals floating above a blockbuster arrangement of synths that could only be pulled off by this band.

The acoustic version is –dare I say it- much better. A defiant tear jerker that allows the emotion of the song to blossom into something remarkable as the synths are swapped for an acoustic guitar and single valiant piano chords.

‘Skeletons’ is set to soon be another indie classic, acoustic or not, I promise this will be playing for the next decade. At least.

Eloise Quince

 
 

The Miserable Rich – Somerhill (Humble Soul)

What a lovely twinkly little start ‘Somerhill’ has, waltzing like a Baroque dandy at his first ball. Touches of the Divine Comedy perhaps, though there is a slightly all pervading sense of smugness about the content which you can’t imagine Hanlon and co resorting to. B-side ‘Bye Bye Kitty’ is even better though – superb guitar work and an ambience of refined cheekiness, like an upper class Supergrass. 7/10
www.themiserablerich.co.uk

SB

 
 

Eight Legs – Best of Me (Boot Legs)

Earnest stuff here from Eight Legs who sound a little bit like a more modish version of Muse – be guitar parts but a more clipped vocal delivery. ‘Best of Me’ is jolly enough but it’s the second release this week where the B-side eclipses the headline act. ‘I Understand (Blame James remix)’ is a fabulous chunk of fuzzy shoegaze wrapped around the scattergun drums that mark Eight Legs normal sound. It really is rather good in a genre defying mish-mash sort of way. 7/10
www.myspace.com/eightlegs

SB

 
 

Aaron Carey – 6 Strings

Imagine a combination of Napoleon IIIrd, The Graham Parsnip Think Tank Experiment and The A & E Line. Actually – it’s probably better if you don’t. You see Aaron is a bit miffed about the fact that rap artists seem to make an awful lot of wonga spouting their stuff while multi-talented musicians like he just plod along in their wake, trying to make ends meet. There’s some nice squelchy production effects but essentially the content is turning this song into a bit of a novelty, comedy tune and I’m not sure that is the best way to make your point here. 5/10
www.aaroncarey.co.uk

SB

 
 

Michael MacLennon - History

It is obvious that Micheal MacLennon has talent when listening to this EP. He has beautiful, soft piano backings but also great electric parts – this creating a still balanced sound but with a really good range of atmospheres. The songs are all strong – you believe every word he sings. MacLennon has created beautiful lyrics which combined with his simple yet charming melodies produces a spark that catches you. My personal favourite is I Don't Know Why which is a live studio edit.

Han Pickering

 
 

Her Name is Calla – Long Grass

The perils of submitting a track to Tasty digitally – consigned to a download folder on the desktop for an insufferably long period of time. But much like the track itself which unfolds and develops, this long gestation period at least gave me chance to have a good few listens before committing anything in writing.

‘Long Grass’ sees a distinctly more folky direction from Calla, moving away from large post rock crescendo and more towards a welling, atmospheric complexity of overdubs and interweaving strings. It’s very nearly a non-song in the traditional sense – there’s no real feeling of verse-chorus-verse and this is a positive in my mind. Instead the overall mystical vibe takes precedence over any kind of narrative.

By comparison, accompanying track ‘A Sleeper’ seems like a much looser composition than we have been used to in the past from Calla. More hippy campfire singalong than the more premeditated and studied ‘Long Grass’, this makes for a refreshing change of tempo. And to complete this trilogy, a re-working of previously released ‘The White and the Skin’ which sees a greater emphasis on the brass than previous versions, but which still tingles the spine due to Tom Morris’ startling vocals. Calla continue to put out the sort of work that really deserves greater attention. 8/10
www.hernameiscalla.co.uk

SB

 
 

Various Artist: 4x12 (DTTR)

Leeds’ Dance to the Radio label has been thrusting generally excellent music forward for a number of years now. Although initially pigeonholed (no pun intended) as a DIY local label for Leeds up and coming indie bands, recently their roster has expanded and begun to encompass a more varied and interesting range of artists. This new, confident, outlook is reflected in the latest offering, a 4 track, 4 band EP featuring Drink Up Buttercup from Philadelphia, as well Irish electronica and, reassuringly two of Leeds hottest emerging talents.

Drink Up Buttercup kick things off with a track which, like most of the material here, just gets better and better the more you play it. The intro and outro pretty much double up as the chorus and the song is deliciously haphazard. Keys and guitars go flying about here and there, and generally it is lovely riotous stuff.

Milk White White Teeth have a bit more structure, and a lot more band members. Their offering The Calendar Will Crawl sounds how I imagined Vampire Weekend would sound when I read the hype, and not a little like Broken Social Scene or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. There are a lot of instruments, a gloriously infectious bassline, and the catchiest chorus I have heard in years. Hu Stevens was bigging this record up massively the other day and with good reason, it is ace.

Super Extra Bonus Party provide some beats and electronic obscurity with a fuzzy, glitching and off kilter offering. The vocals are low down in the mix and impenetrable, the melody doesn’t feel like it fits the beats, but it hangs together in a beguilingly abstract way. The track wouldn’t sound out of place on a Kitsune Maison compilation, and I will leave you to decide whether that is a good or bad thing.

Things are rounded off in style by one of the best vocal performances I have heard in a long time. Paul Thomas Sanders aching, raw and powerful voice brings heartfelt emotion through some interesting lyrics to a composition that Spacemen 3 could have written for him. For me, it is the performance and track of the EP, which all things told, is a sure fire winner. 9/10

Ian Anderson

 
 

Citadels - The Chemical Song (Pure Groove)

Take possibly the least convincing reference to drug overuse ever and layer some half hearted psychedelic keys and self consciously deep and trippy lyrics and you end up with a bad parody of MGMT carried out in a terribly polite and precise English way. So the Chemical Song washes over you like a wave breaking on the beach from a warm tropical sea, not unpleasant, but at all things said and done, it is simply washing over you all the same.

B Side You Make it All Burn Down just continues the process for another three minutes or so. 3/10

Ian Anderson

 
 

Sennen – Age of Denial (Hungry Audio)

Well this is all highly inconvenient. I know I bloody love this track after listening to it a few times earlier today but I didn’t think I’d played it so much that I’d worn the CD out and prevented it from playing when I came to write a review up this evening. So after much complex copying of discs and emailing back to myself I am finally reunited with ‘Age of Denial’.

The amount of effort gone to get the track back would be a pretty good indicator of how good this is – normally I’m quite happy to send the defective disc winging its way to the bin with the cries ‘Next!’ ringing in its vinyl ears. But ‘Age of Reason’ is a glorious blur of fuzzy yet energetic and purposeful shoe-gaze that deserves attention. I’m sure I’ve crossed paths with Sennen previously but never really been struck by them. Consider that first impression now corrected – this is a great track and I recommend you get yourself a working copy immediately. 9/10
www.sennen.org.uk

SB

 
 

Cloud Control – Gold Canary (The Passport Label)

‘Gold Canary’ is a rather well polished piece of folky world music given even more resonance to us northern hemisphere types by virtue of the fact that Cloud Control all hail from the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. Just when you are forgiven for thinking that this is going to be nice but pretty standard fare, there’re great weebly jolts of synths and some beautiful girl-boy harmonies. 7/10

SB

 
 

YouMeAtSix – Underdog (Slam Dunk)

YMAS are one of those bands that seem eternally destined for being adolescent pretenders to some musical overlords like Fall Out Boy and Funeral for a Friend. It’s not the sort of stuff that I’d normally choose to listen to but really, ‘Underdog’ is pretty damn good. It doesn’t mess around and sound too teeny – we’re treated some good drum kit destruction from the very outset and there’s not even that much emo crooning in the air-punching choruses. Give them a go I say. 7/10
www.youmeatsix.com

SB

 
 

Isaac’s Aircraft – Head to Feet / Friends and Foes (Crash)

This starts off with a piano line as though played by Les Dawson with Parkinsons – it’s a really off kilter time signature that sounds like a cock up. But after listening for a while and letting the rest of the song wrap around it, you realise it’s a rather clever bit of playing and writing after all. It’s slick and it’s catchy – like Keane but with balls. 7/10
www.isaacsaircraft.com

SB

 
 

Mamas Gun – Wishing/Finger On It

In addition to their inherent lack of respect for punctuation and grammar, I find Mamas (sic) Gun’s MOR kind of soulful schmaltz quite objectionable. I don’t think the desired effect they were going for was to inspire anger in their listeners so I’m assuming that Mamas Gun and I are not gelling musically. Not to say they can’t play and sing and all that – everything is done slickly and proficiently. But I’m just left feeling what is the point of something that was done better by Hall And Oates ages ago. They’d make a good wedding band perhaps. 4/10
www.myspace.com/mamasgun

SB

 
 

Charlie Winston – I Love Your Smile (Real World)

Yuckety Yuck – piano driven balladeering from Charlie Winston. Bearing an uncanny similarity in vocal style to Chris Martin of Coldplay – this may well help or hinder Winston’s career but either way, I really don’t like this – it sounds like late night Radio music from Radio 2 circa 1978. 3/10
www.charliewinston.com

SB

 
 

The Paraffins – Something Good (Ear Spook)

My personal favourite record label name of the month. I’d describe a bit of the detail from the press release but I suspect that there’s been a certain amount of leeway with the truth employed. Suffice to say The Paraffins is the musical by-product of ex Electroluv vocalist Billy Paraffins.

‘Something Good’ is good old fashioned 8-bit Casio pop as if performed by Bryan Ferry. It’s accompanied by the equally winsome and parpy ‘Little Crunchy Surprises’. The Paraffins sound like an electronic version of The Bobby McGees – definitely at the twee end of the pop spectrum but also a little bit edgy too. 6/10
www.myspace.com/theparaffins

SB

 
 

The Good The Bad – From 005-008 (Stray Cat)

Gosh – that’s a little naughty. This CD cover is festooned with images Lorraine Kelly/Bo Selecta style lady growlers. Avert your eyes. The music is equally arresting – sounding like a very angry Ennio Morricone. There’s no singing, just intrumentalism – quite a lot of very scuzzy bass guitar and a couple of 1 minute tracks lobbed in for good measure. In reality there’s not much distinction between each track and allied to the lack of any vocals, this gives the impression of The Good The Bad producing background music. Very loud background music, but background music all the same. 6/10
www.myspace.com/tgtb

SB