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singles/eps - march 2010



Spring Offensive – Pull Us Apart

What starts off sounding like an odd acoustic Depeche Mode, eventually blossoms into, well, I don't know. It's pretty ace though, I'm not going to beat about the bush. I suppose it qualifies as alternative – and that is what Oxford does best. Lucas Whitworth's vocals carry a majority of the EP – and often open the tracks, gently trickling over an acoustic guitar before bursting into a rhythmic complex tangle of Foals-esque twiddles and charming vocal harmonies., and the lyrical content isn't as painfully obvious or deliberately bizarre either – this is some quality material. My favourite track is undoubtedly the opener “I Found Myself Smiling,” but there is also promise elsewhere, such as in “Everything Other Than This,” the only track on the EP with even a hint of optimism! The other tracks do seem to possess a more depressing tone, but that's no criticism, merely an observation – I'm a fan. But no sooner had I sensed a dash of happiness, the song took a slight country turn and it all got a bit Frank Turner. The final track is “Little Evening,” a particularly soft track, initially led by pleasant vocals and a clean plucky guitar, which eventually breaks down to the solo vocal drowning in an eerily quiet fog of distortion and uncertainty, until it finally cuts off forever. Quite a finish, quite a statement, quite an EP. 8/10

Thom Curtis


 

Railcars - Cathedral with No Eyes (Stumparumper/Gold Robot)

Oh God. Stop the noise. Now this is truly awful. You’d have to be on a lot of drugs, a total idiot or possibly both to enjoy this cacophony of aural disease. It sounds like the kind of racket you might have made with your mates when you were all fifteen and someone bought an electric guitar. Every sound is distorted beyond comprehension, the tunes are indiscernible and undefined, and there seems to be a tramp shouting over the top of most of it.

Elegant chaos this is not. If Crystal Castles had neither commerciality nor production skills, they would sound like this. It’s an absolutely dire effort. The PR describes this release as “sonic abrasion”. That’s about right. So why would anyone ever want to listen to it? I’d rather sandpaper my ears.

The record company has put Railcars on a European tour of sorts, playing small but decent venues like the Good Ship in London. I’m tempted to ask them why they’ve decided to throw their money away like this. They could have put it to something more useful, like buying a boxing glove for their A&R manager to repeatedly punch themselves in the face with.
www.myspace.com/railcarsmusic

Chris Moffatt

 
 

Two Skies - s/t EP

Rock and Roll is, at its heart, a very simple beast. It needs little to prosper. Drums to give you a beat, a bass to give it a back bone and a guitar to give it the swaggering hairy bollocks every rock and roll tune should have.

Given that the formula is so simple it is strange then that so many bands manage to get this wrong, creating either weak, listless efforts, or soulless, lifeless carbon copies of what has gone before.

A band such as Two Skies then, who name influences as BRMC, The Verve, Stooges and Led Zep, amongst other equally weighty masters of the art, should at least understand what Rock and Roll is. I’m pleased to report that not only do they understand it, they create it beautifully.

Lyrically abstract, but each fitting perfectly within the epic soundscape each track creates, this is a rock and roll record. It may not be quite the best rock and roll record of the year, 3rd track Sundial does seem a weak link in an otherwise strong 4 track offering, but there is enough here to warrant repeated visits and anticipate a full album release at some point in the future.

Touring now and, if you like your rock and roll with swaggering, hairy bollocks, probably worth a look.
www.twoskies.co.uk

Jim Johnston


 

Detroit Social Club - Kiss The Sun EP (Polydor)

If I didn't know better, on first listen to Kiss The Sun I'd be sure that Detroit Social Club were a Kasabian tribute band. Guitar amps set to reverb? Check. Techno wibbly bits in the middle of each song? Check. Meaningless sub-Killers lyrics, sung in a disinterested style? Check.

There are two reasons why Kasabian get away with it. Firstly, Oasis haven't written anything decent since their second album, so Kasabian were able to take their place as the Adidas-trainer wearing football fan's band of choice. Secondly, they put on an awesome live performance. DSC have arrived too late to the party. They're a tribute band of Kasabian, who are themselves a tribute band of Oasis, themselves a tribute band of The Beatles.

Then I hear second track, Black & White, a song so similar to Primal Scream's Country Girl, that if I were Bobby Gillespie I'd have my lawyers on the phone right now. It's utterly shameless.

I figure that each track is somehow a direct copy of a lad-rock band from the last two decades. I suspect the next track would sound a lot like the Happy Mondays, or the Arctic Monkeys, but at this point I've lost patience with this EP. It's a waste of plastic, a waste of studio recording time, a waste of my time. The band played an NME Awards Show in February; it's not at all surprising that the NME are into this trash. It's right up their street – sounds an lot like Oasis, hugely derivative, inoffensive, unoriginal, therefore easily malleable and highly marketable.

I met Anton Newcombe from Brian Jonestown Massacre a few weeks ago. I can only imagine his response if he knew that DSC were quoting him as an inspiration. On the basis of this EP, Anton has more creative energy in his little toe than this band will ever have.
watch the video to 'Kiss the Sun'

Chris Moffatt

 

Freestylers – Past, Present and Future EP

With a new album on the way this summer the Freestylers are testing the water with this EP consisting of three tracks. But rather than dipping in their toes gently, they’ve taken a running dive bomb.

The three tracks here are diverse in style but share the ability to make you want to hit the dance floor. First up is ‘Bounce to This’, an unashamed old school break beat bonanza. With MC Alaska exhorting you to “bounce to this” and “hold your hands in the air”, reggae samples and what sounds like a funked up version of the James Bond theme snaking through it, this brings back memories of warehouse parties back in the day.

Next is ‘The City Dub’. Dominated by the vocals of MC Tali, which at times verges on gospel, this is probably the most commercial and least danceable of the three tracks. That’s not to say there’s nothing to like here; the aforementioned vocals for one, but also the crystal clear piano riff, the heavy bass and a sound effect that brings to mind an owl trapped in an echo chamber.

Last, but by no means least, is ‘The Cracks’. This is my favourite of the EP, with its dark, underground feel. The pulsing techno beat, combined with the escalating pitch effect that builds so ominously then dissolves into an electronic choir and the spaced vocals of Belle Humble, creates its own world for you to lose yourself in on the dance floor.

This EP proves that the Freestylers still have what it takes to bring the party, and is a promising indication that the album, Calling Me Home, will be a belter.

Matt Latham


 

The Majnoons - Mono Mono (DLC Records)

This psychedelically satisfying tribal funk-pop is something of wonder. Creating a dexterous sound as thick as a musical woolly jumper, it’s hard to believe this band consists of only two people. Bursting with glittering effects and oddly captivating tribal chants, teamed up with irresistible bass lines; ‘Mono Mono’ is a tune waiting to burst out of its polyvinyl chloride cage and grab your dancing shoes for you. B-Side ‘Boudoir’ is equally extraordinary – a seductively whispery affair with a brass band introduction.

This vinyl treasure is so delectable, I wish I could eat it.
www.dlcrecords.co.uk

Eloise Quince

 
 

Not Squares – Asylum (Richter Collective)

Oh we’re liking this very much. Not least because it kicks of with a squidgy bass drum sound not heard of since Nine Inch Nails EP ‘Fixed’ way back in 1990-something, well, ages ago. Hen these three scamps from Belfast treat us to some weirdo kind of prog-funk track, complete with falsettos harmonies. Serioulsy, what’s not to like here? 8/10
Download the track for free from http://notsquares.bandcamp.com/
Watch the video to ‘Asylum
www.myspace.com/notsquares

SB


 

Wolfmother – White Feather (Modular)

Wolfmother. What does this name mean to you? Make you want to commit a random act of violence? It has to be said there are quite a number that despise Wolfmother for their traditional rock stylings. And having had fairly ambivalent feelings about them myself, I was frankly a little hesitant about whether I could actually think of anything nice to say about this, the third offering from comeback album Cosmic Egg. It should probably added that it’s a return in the loosest possible sense since two of the three that recorded their self titled debut have left to the oft quoted “irreconcilable differences”.
The song itself is a fairly braindead hybrid of Start Me Up by The Stones and The J.Geils Band’s Centrefold with a dash of AC/DC and Van Halen thrown in for good measure. Yes, it is pretty derivative and there is a degree of suspended belief in operation but its impossible to condemn it for the simple reason that its just too much damn fun to listen to. So, 7/10 for the song.

But…

…the rest of the single consists of remixes, the most notable being by Sebastien Tellier who manages to make a sows ear out of a silk purse and for the rest it is also null points not only for being completely irrelevant to the song itself, but also for just generally sounding like utter cockwash and returning the reputation of the remix to the bad old days of the 1980’s. 0/10.

RM

 

Chris T-T – Nintendo (Xtra Mile)

For the unconverted, Chris T-T is somewhat of legendary figure in British indie, not least in the halls of Tasty HQ. But whereas many of his previous outings were more politically motivated and punkier (a bit like a more musically adept Billy Bragg), ‘Nintendo’ is a beautifully introspective piano-led piece which sees Chris T-T tackle a far more domestic theme. Liltingly special. 8/10
www.christt.com

SB

 

Trail – City (Twistid)

Trail strike me as an organised band. They raised their own funds to record their album. They got producer Matt Wallace on board. They knock out pleasant indie rock tunes. But sometimes organisation is not enough. If you like the sort of stuff that The Editors or Doves knock out then this will leave you smiling. If, on the other hand, you find those aforementioned bands a little dry then you may as well give this track a miss. 5/10
www.myspace.com/trailmusic
Watch video to 'City'

SB

 
 

Sir Yes Sir – Not Excited EP (Hope Club)

There are 6 tracks to go at here but I’m failing to get excited by Sir Yes Sir. No doubt looking towards the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Pavement as inspirations, Sir Yes Sir just end up sounding like a bit of a garage band. Admittedly the latter three tracks of this EP are only demos and so one would not expect them to sound that polished, but even the ‘proper’ tracks end up being a little turgid – scratchy verse, fuzzy chorus, scratchy verse being the pattern. A bit more variety needed here. 5/10
www.myspace.com/siryessiryessir

SB

 
 

Tinie Tempah – Pass Out (Parlophone)

Gosh, that’s an unusual name. I’d almost guess that it was made up for effect. While the backing track to this is pretty cool scuzzy, bassy breakbeat interlaced with slashing reverbed ska guitar, the vocal track and lyrics are pretty disappointing. Tempah comes over like a sedated Mark E Smith via a defective vocoder and we are informed that he has been to Southampton, but never to Scunthorpe – clearly the man hasn’t lived. 5/10
www.myspace.com/tinielegend

SB

 
 

Spiral 25 – Spiral 25

Spiral 25 are a psychedelic rock band from Oxford, playing music described by the local Oxford press, if the blurb accompanying the submitted CD is to be believed, ‘slow motion narcotic groove rock’.

Oh good, that’s cleared that up then. What the fuck is slow motion narcotic groove rock? It is, it turns out, down beat rock and roll at its finest. All dirty bass, fuzzy guitar, slow and meandering drum beat pushing it all along; very black, very industrial, like the noise you’d expect to hear ringing out from the forges as the rock gods first cast the world. You won’t dance to it, you’d certainly struggle to mosh to it, but you will be able to sway to it and, if you like your vocals long, drawn out and echoed, with your accompanying soundtrack distorted and dirty, you’ll probably quite like it. I did. 7/10
www.spiral25.com
www.myspace.com/thespiral25

Jim Johnston

 

The Void - We’ll Make Our History

Instantly recognisable is that The Void are a Scottish band. That familiar north of the border growl lies thick within the vocals.

Much more Biffy Clyro than Proclaimers in the sound they produce, heavy guitars are layered over urgent riffs to create a not unpleasant sound. The songs themselves attempt to deal with deep issues although the lyrics themselves could be viewed as a little simplistic and certainly parts of the verses feel a little unwieldy at times. Not quite the anthemic sing-alongs to raise a crowd. At the same time those into the heavier, heartfelt stuff will probably find this, if not quite a must have to add to their collection, at the very least a pleasant effort.
www.thevoidband.com

Jim Johnston

 
 

Spaghetti Anywhere – s/t EP (Toy Soldiers)

Say what? I had to have a couple of listens before working out that this was a very thick Scottish accent (albeit very charming) and not some kind of Esperanto. Opening track ‘Gregory’s Girl’ perhaps introduces us to a complexity of sound that will prove difficult to emulate in the three accompanying songs. There’s a really clever off-kilter little synth part that weebles along magically. Elsewhere in the EP there is heavy use of drum machine and the winsome vocals firmly place this band in the realms of tweepop. It would be easy to follow the crowd and say Spaghetti Anywhere sounds like Belle and Sebastian. But they sure do. 5/10
www.myspace.com/spaghettianywhere

SB

 

Satàn – s/t (Shit Music for Shit People)

How cool is this – this 4-track release from Satàn comes on a 6.66 inch vinyl disc?! Made up of a couple of oddballs from Turin and Bordeaux, Satàn remain resolutely under the radar and self effacing (just look at the name of the record label after all) when in fact they could be shouting from the rooftops about how they are showing the weedy English wannabe Sonic Youth impersonators how to do it.

Delivery is unapologetically lo-fi and DIY. Yet unlike Sir Yes Sir (also reviewed this month), Satàn have bothered to lovingly smother each of their four tracks in love and creativity. Or perhaps they sold their soul to the devil for this musical gift. Either way, whether it is the surf grunge of ‘Lick My Feet’, the eerie drum free ‘Loins de Moi’ or the screechy punk of ‘Satàn’, every track here has something to recommend it. Maybe it’s time the big labels cast their spotlights a little further afield than Sheffield, Glasgow and Manchester. 7/10
http://www.myspace.com/jeanclaudesatan

SB

 
 

Lolita Terrorist Sounds – Rudiments and Bases for the New Millennium (Titanium Sound Factory)

Coming from brilliantly-named record label like Titanium Sound Factory and with cover art featuring a lady’s naked midriff concealed by a circular angle-grinding blade you would be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be some kind of industrial noise action. It very definitely isn’t. In fact LTS is the work of the composer Maurizio Vitale from Naples and mainly sees him combining found sounds with digital effects and synths. Although the verbosely titled ‘Sun Rising in East Berlin and going down in West Naples’ sees hints of a jazzy interludes, these never really coalesce and coagulate into anything more solid.

There’s a more industrial vibe to ‘Naples is Burning (tonight)’ which sounds like it was recorded in a very gently operated steam powered steel forge. IN the main this track relies on layers of reverb which add atmosphere but again, there is little in the way of ‘song writing’ or ‘melody’ in the traditional sense. ‘Italsider’s Ruins’ sees Vitale take on a metal tea tray to open proceedings but does introduce us to the most musically fluent piece of the EP where even the rolling percussion breaks cannot dislodge the faint undercurrent of a (gulp) tune.

When describing this EP musically it is difficult to draw any parallels with its underlying proclaimed concept of documenting an invisible link between Berlin and Naples. It may be that the concept is far too obtuse or complex for me to understand. Would that affect my enjoyment of the music (positively or negatively)? I think probably not. It remains quite a difficult listen but as an exercise in introducing more than just a literal sonic interpretation of what music should be, ‘Rudiments and Bases’ should be praised. 6/10
www.myspace.com/lolitaterroristsounds

SB

 
 

Eugene and the Big Lizards – Bug Juice / I Want Action (Domino)

Eugene as in Eugene McGuinness. For a moment I thought this was going to be another one of Domino’s forays into their seemingly current obsession of Ennio Morricone rip offs like Last of the Shadow Puppets et al. ‘Bug Juice’ almost is that but it leaps in with a bit of psyche-goth-B-movie sounds to avert disaster.

‘I Want Action’ is a more straight forward affair, dominated by a surf guitar riff but flirting with modern indie theme also. It’s OK but not spectacular. 5/10
www.eugenemcguinness.net

SB

 
 

John Butler Trio – One Way Road (Because)

Jesus, this is abysmal. We’re cast back to 1992 and could it be that the John Butler Trio is a set of satanic triplets comprising the offspring of Hanson, The Saw Doctors and Reef? I for one am not going to hang around listening long enough to find out. 3/10
www.myspace.com/johnbutlertrio

SB

 
 

Ali Love – Love Harder (Back Yard)

If sleezey electro-dance is your thing then give ‘Love Harder’ a spin. Ali Love does sound impressively like Prince in places, even if the lyrics are not exactly going to win any Pulitzer prizes. Then again, Prince wasn’t exactly know for his literary prowess either. 6/10
www.myspace.com/mralilove

SB

 

Lucius – Enemy (Greater London)

Despite the killer words ‘singer/songwriter’ soiling his press release, Lucius is actually a bit more interesting than that. While not exactly drawing the comparisons of brilliant countrymen Jarcrew and Future of the Left, ‘Enemy’ sees a slightly off kilter rocked up version of the archetypal pop song which is performed with polished prowess.6/10
www.myspace.com/luciusmusic

SB

 
 

Sivert Höyem – Moon Landing

A solo outing from the Norwegian ex-lead singer of Madrugada. It’s not exactly as poppy as A-Ha but it’s not quite as interesting as Madrugada either. Höyem has a doleful Leonard Cohen-style voice which adds instant gravitas but this particular single just sees a bluesey backing track which nurdles away for its presecribed 4 minutes. 6/10
www.siverthoyem.com

SB

 
 

Straight Lines – Runaway Now (Xtra Mile)

Straight Lines are an impressive band, despite looking a little like a bunch of Librarians. ‘Runaway Now’ veritably fizzes along but still introduces some nice little pre-chorus lulls to build up the tension and contrast. One thing that some people might have a problem with are the lead vocals which are certainly distinctive, but verging on the irritating at times when it becomes a near falsetto warble. But I’d just point you in the direction of the acoustic version which is included on this CD and which sees a much mellower delivery, avoiding any chipmunk comparisons. There’s also a great B-side in the form of ‘Cutting Loose’ which could easily rival the title track for top billing – it’s a furious indie-grunge crossover track which chops and chugs in equal measure. Keep an eye out. 8/10
www.myspace.com/straightlines

SB

 
 

Grasscut - Muppet - Ninjatune

If you’ve been longing for some rousing electronica with fuzzy edges and interesting lyrics then here you go, your new favourite band. This is a great single, it is off kilter and strange enough to be as genuinely interesting as something by Aphex Twin or Squarepusher, but then manages to retain a Daft Punk-esque accessibility. The intro is seriously low-fi and glitchy, and the first verse of ‘standing round looking like a muppet, talking shit like a moron’ is hugely distorted and off key. There follows a lovely little ambient swell of noise before the verse breaks back in glorious technicolour and an all enveloping wall of warm synths make provide the backdrop for a snare heavy breakbeat and a great dance tune just breaks out. Lovely.

B-side Meadowhall at Last reminds me strongly of the music of Global Goon; an understated 8 bit monologue with a lovely hook, nice bleeps and a driving analogue bassline. 9/10

Ian Anderson

 
 

May 68 - 'My Ways' (Hit Club)

Remember the Clothes Show? Remember its synthpop theme tune? So do May 68. So did the Scissor Sisters, actually. Bouncy electrodisco with a motiviational lyric: ' take a new direction / find a new connection'. A support slot on the next Clavin Harris tour awaits.
http://www.myspace.com/may68uk

JG

 
 

The Kickliner - Seventeen EP

Raspy vocals and a euphoric Bombay Bicycle Club style opening lead us into this gem of an EP as ‘Seventeen’ reminisces through its rose-tinted glasses about school day smoking in parks, fights, coming of age and ultimately tells the tale of the disdain and aspiration of growing up. ‘Melody’ sounds like the Last Shadow Puppets on a furious chase of jagged guitar work and drum beats through a maze of lost love.

‘Romance Is Ruined’ is reflective run of rippling chords, beautifully summed up by the line, “put up the white flag/and slip my soul into your handbag”. More laidback is ‘This Season’s Blues’; summery and melodious and in the cold weather, calls for the soul to yearn for sunlight and freshly cut grass.

The further you get through this EP, the less the little bips in the shady recordings and the unpolished licks matter because it’s the sincerity that makes these four songs beautiful. Once all of the edges are coloured in, I think we could be onto something incredible. 7/10

Eloise Quince

 
 

Nowhere Again – Plans (Captain Obvious)

For those of you who like an immediate musical hit, a singalong chorus etc – then look elsewhere. Nowhere Again don’t do that sort of song. Instead they pen massive sky filling epics full of reverb and warped guitars. Title track ‘Plans’ has a little touch of Mogwai about it while the Jack Matthias re-working included here makes it sound more like a track from Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’. Epic may be a word overused in music reviews but there seems few other words that could adequately fit the bill. 7/10
www.myspace.com/nowhereagainuk

SB

 
 

The Loves – Sweet Sister Delia (Fortuna Pop)

There’s something remarkable about this song. Is it the parpy keyboard? The frantic handclaps? The surf/garage sound? Nope. It’s the fact that apparently The Loves have had 31 members come and go since they started in 2001. 31? That’s ridiculous. Maybe they got bored. 5/10
www.myspace.com/lovetheloves

SB

 
 

October Rising – s/t EP

Blimey – acoustic Guns n Roses anyone? That was my first impression of this EP from opening track ‘One More Reason’. Fortunately things pick up as the CD progresses – there’s an increased Americana vibe about ‘One More Reason’ and it all just sounds a little less earnest. The guitars are very pretty throughout and there’s nothing wrong with any of the compositions but I’m just left feeling that whereas The Broken Family Band were able to achieve that tricky leap from indie rock to Americana (and arguably back again) with their own intuitive take on alt folk, October Rising are a little bit stuck in a more hackneyed, if not unattractive, sound. 5/10
www.octoberrising.com

SB

 
 

The High Wire - The Midnight Bell (Grandpa Stan)

Flippin eck, this is a bit oddball. But also wonderfully so. Stringy, reedy intro breaks into dreamy Mercury Rev style shoegazy Scando pop? It sure does and there’s plenty more where that came from. Europhic and uplifting. 8/10
www.thehighwire.net

SB

 
 

Bonobo feat. Andreya Triana – Eyes Down (Ninjatune)

‘Eyes Down’ sees Simon Green (aka Bonobo) achieve the not inconsiderable feat of marrying a dreamy Ibiza chill out style track with a slightly more up-tempo piece which can be enjoyed at times other than recovering in Cafe del Mar after a night of techno or, indeed, doing your grocery shopping in Morrisons on a Sunday morning while wearing your iPod. There’re elements of lo-fi noise and experimental electronic perfectly fused with a more traditional dance beat. Accessible and creative. 8/10
www.myspace.com/sibonobo

SB

 
 

Limozine – You Da Boss (Open Plan)

Sadly Limozine do not seem to have evolved much since we reviewed ‘El Presidente’. Back then, we even reviewed it twice and independently came to the conclusion it was pub-glam stomp rock. Nothing has changed here. 3/10
www.myspace.com/limozine

SB

 
 

Shy Child – Disconnected (Wall of Sound)

What the hell happened to Shy Child? All signs were good with previous efforts – ‘Cause and Effect’ and ‘Noise Don’t Stop’ were both excellent and the early signs from their forthcoming album were also positive with the 7 minute long ‘Criss Cross’ sounding as good as ever. But with ‘Disconnected’, Shy Child seem to have taken a very deliberate step towards the mainstream sound of the likes of Hot Chip and even MGMT. I liked all the spikey and weebly bits from their old stuff. I’m not so keen on the radio friendly, polished singalong choruses of ‘Disconnected’, no matter who remixes it (and there are 5 options to choose from). Come back to us Shy Child. 5/10
www.shychild.com

SB

 
 

Kill the Captains – Rummy (Armellodie)

Rummy? Maybe it means something different in Sheffield but for me it is the card game that has nearly led to physical violence and definitely has led to an emotional breakdown at Dalaman airport. Could this namesake track have an equivalent effect? Well it’s a curious beast – all jaggedy but equally refusing to ever really ignite. Clever lyrics , neat twiddly guiatars and even a bit of heartfelt vocal yelping to close out but still I can’t feel myself getting drawn in by this one.

‘Reverse Psychiatry’ on the other hand? Well, this one is pretty ace. Very much like a Fugazi track with an insistent melody and an accompanying free form bass line, it succeeds where ‘Rummy’ fails by fully bursting into life in a raucous sing along chorus. Completing the trio with ‘Supermarket Sweep’ sees Kill the Captain add another string to their musical bow with a beautifully pared down track to accompany a winsome tale. Shades of We Were Promised Jetpacks and other Caledonian cousins here. Should make for an impressively varied long player. 6/10
www.killthecaptains.co.uk

SB

 
 

Rodina – Always Had a Dream / Over the Sun (AM)

There was enough in this press release to leave me reeling in anticipation of something horrible (or at least something that I would really not like). Name dropping of working with Mark Ronson’s backing band, supporting Corinne Bailey Rae and general reference to ‘jazz’ and ‘soul’ left me feeling for sure that I would hate this. And you know what? I actually don’t hate it. There’s a lazy, unaffected latin style to ‘Always Had a Dream’ which sounds like it could be straight out of a backstreet bar in Havana and AA-side ‘Over the Sun’ sees a further introspective effort very reminiscent of Goldfrapp or the incidental music from ace Bond film Goldfinger. Pat on the back for Rodina. 7/10
www.rodinamusic.com

SB

 
 

She & Him – In the Sun (Double Six)

So the piano line to this sounds uncannily like the melody from ‘Getta Bloomin’ Move on’ from Get Carter (better known as ‘Self Preservation Society’). Otherwise it sounds like middle of the road 70’s pop. I had enough of that as child first time round thank you very much. 4/10

SB

 
 

Delorentos – S.E.C.R.E.T. (Delorecords)

This will be no stranger to fans of Editors or Bloc Party , although the Delorentos do add a little bit of vocoder and wibbly synth to their sound. This is stadium big and fairly rockets along. Complex it isn’t but there’s enough shouty indie discos across the world to see this work very nicely indeed for Delorentos. 6/10
www.myspace.com/delorentos

SB

 
 

The Brothers Movement – Blind / Sister (Rocket Girl)

I’m having very strange senses of déjà vu this week. First up I was sure I’d already had to write the rather annoying text S.E.C.R.E.T. for Delorentos single previously. And now I’m sure I’ve heard this single by The Brothers Movement before. Hmm, mental degeneration withstanding, ‘Blind’ is a nice big Kasabian style stadium rockalong (must be the month for them) whereas B-side ‘Sister’ is more Jesus and Mary Chain fuzzy shoegaze. Not bad at all. 6/10
www.myspace.com/thebrothermovement

SB

 
 

FR3E – I Got My Beads On (We Make Entertainment)

IT’s simple really – FR3E wear beads, it’s their look. In fact they bloody love beads enough to sing about them for 3 minutes. I know nothing else about these chaps and I’m no expert on urban music (oh dear, did that sound very ‘Dad’?) but I quite like this – there’s a weirdo grimey bass line and the FR3E boys rattle out the lines. 7/10
www.fr3e.co.uk

SB

 
 

Breed 77 – Zombie (LA Rocka/Shamrock Solutions)

Name your favourite Gibraltarian Latino-metallers. Breed 77? Weird, me too. Not sure what they were thinking about in covering The Cranberries ‘Zombie’ though. It’s a tough song at the best of times and without Delores’ distinct yelps this version turns into a bit of a chugging guitar based dinosaur. 5/10
http://www.breed77.net

SB

 
 

Dakota – We Get Along (GRL)

What the hell is this? Appearances can be deceiving but Dakota look like a bunch of badly dressed hairdressers from 1977. ‘We Get Along’ lumbers like a Take That B-side. Good timing for Mothers’ Day though. 3/10
www.dakotaband.co.uk

SB

 
 

Matthew Glenn Thompson – I Get Lost (Teddev/ASCAP)

Very unremarkable singer-songwritery of the American kind. Just because Thompson was born in Memphis does not make him a charismatic musician. 2/10
www.matthewglennthompson.com

SB

 

Crazy Arm – Still to Keep (Xtra Mile)

If you had to pigeon hole Crazy Arm you’d probably plump for pop punk. But ‘Still to Keep’ is definitely at the heavier end of this with some chugging guitar lines that would make Sabbath blush but also (and listen up carefully to this kids) a vocalist who does not feel the need to whoop and wail along like a lovesick goose. 6/10
www.myspace.com/crazyarm

SB

 
 

Club Smith - The Loss (EP)

A number of bands have managed to recreate themselves after break-ups and dead-ends within the last year or so... Think ‘Snowfight in the City Centre’ ? ‘Delphic’ or ‘Fear of Flying’? ‘White Lies’. The trend certainly seems to be continuing. ‘Club Smith’, created from the ashes of ‘The Hair’, a band that achieved reasonable success, touring the ‘Kaiser Chiefs’ among others, could well be the next big turnaround success. They’ve been growing quietly in Leeds for a while, developing their dark, layered sound with support slots with ‘The Sunshine Underground’ among others. Now, with their release of ‘The Loss EP’, has come the time to make that next step up, and have they done just that! This is a great EP from start to finish that is captivating on the first listen and gets better by the second and third. ‘Connected’ is the clear stand-out track from this EP and easily rivals any indie pop single I’ve heard this year so far. While Club Smith’s success will be measured in the long term on the quality of songs like ‘Connected’, a slow building number, with a truly anthemic chorus, this is an EP that’s great from start to finish. Where ‘Lament’ begins as an epic, brooding tale of woe, “There’s nothing, there’s nothing...”, it ends expectant and in buoyant mood “with pointed eyes and baited breath...I’ll wait for her”. Closer, ‘No Friend of Mine’ on the other hand, is sure to get indie dancefloors right across the country bouncing. Listen out for the name ‘Club Smith’. Based on the evidence of ‘The Loss’ they are experts in catchy, dark indie electro pop and will only go from strength to strength.

Listen to the whole EP now at the band’s MySpace: www.myspace.com/joinclubsmith

Sean Phillips

 
 

Viv Albertine - Flesh (Ecstatic Peace)

This EP is Viv’s return to the music scene after a break of 25 years. In this break she has been involved in directing with the BBC as well as writing and directing full and short films. She went on to take a break from this to raise her daughter and has now decided to re enter the music scene with this 4 track EP.

Viv writes lyrics in a very poetic story telling style, it is obvious that her break from music into the writing world of production has influenced her music largely. This has resulted in a very simplistic style of music from the little band which mix unusual melodies with almost a spoken word style of singing.

Sadly I was personally not that impressed. I don’t like the style of repetition that she uses in ‘Never Come’. I feel that lyrics should be able to stand alone to its music whilst still almost being impossible to break the two, for me nether of these work in Viv’s new EP. The lyrics are too spoken and not intertwined into the music at all. It is a blend of two different areas in her own words it’s “a collision of twisted lyrics, mind-worm melodies and kinky boots!” sadly I feel I am not a kinky boots fan when it comes to music. I will give this a 3/10

Imogen Davies

 
 

Never Mind The Stars - Holiday (All Seeing Eye Music Strfckr Records)

‘Holiday’ is the first international single from the Dutch band ‘Never Mind The Stars’. The have a blend of electro pop which takes influences from other electronic styled music such as Daft punk and Hot Chip.

‘Holiday’ does what all good electro pop tracks should do; it gets in your head and stays there. As soon as I pressed play I was pleasantly surprised with the track, drawing comparisons immediately to Calvin Harris’s track ‘yeah yeah yeah la la la’ due to its catchy vocal underlay on the track and Daft Punks number one track ‘Harder Better, Stronger, Faster.’

Now don’t judge me on my next comment but it uses a similar backing piece as glee use on ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ although in a stronger more effective manner using the repetition to give the track another level which makes it wholly different whilst still fitting smoothly into its genre. Their use of synthesises is great. It has a modern pop feel which is in line with popular bands such as ‘Franz Ferdinand’ and ‘The Killers’ with a more upbeat electro twist.

As long as this track gets on the right play lists I can see it going far, it’s a catchy ‘gets under your skin’ track but in a good way. I can see it being big as a summer track with the get up and dance beat that any good pop song has. So for me it's 8.5/10

Imogen Davies

 
 

Beats and Pieces Big Band – EP

I’ll admit, I’m an old romantic (which takes less grooming time than a new one). So, when I first heard the Beats and Pieces Big Band, my mind drifted to a future where I could say, ‘Me? Oh, yeah, I’ve been into them since the beginning’. It’s hard to place the music that they create. Attempting to describe is a challenge in itself. Let’s just say, though, this is a beast.

First track, Bake, kicks off with so much confidence, you can’t imagine the rest of the EP will live up to it. Picture the Propellerheads if they were, you know, really, unbelievably good. Can you do that? Actually, that won’t do. This is so much better than that. So much. If this were the theme tune to a cop show, it would have to be the greatest cop show ever. Two hours of car chases and a cast of Huggy Bears would still pale in comparison. And then...

Well, then Yafw comes in with its repetitive piano line and mournful brass. Already, the Big Band begin to defy any pigeonhole available. Yes, it’s jazz, tinged with blues, but that says nothing. Toan, the third track, provides more of a straight jazz feel. Opening with atonal piano, it then marches with a sort of Beruit-esque Eastern European feel that’s just as quickly replaced by thumping drums and intertwining brass. What I think I’m trying to say is that these are journeys. Now, that may sound a bit trite, but you’ll have to listen to disagree, won’t you.

Track four, Djimi, is, though, above and beyond. Here, the Beats and Pieces Big Band do what Acoustic Ladyland set out to achieve in their early recordings, Hendrix-infused jazz that loses none of its edge. Drummer, Finlay Pinter, can hold more than a torch to Mitch Mitchell. Over the course of seven or so minutes, Djimi comes over as highlights from Bitches Brew. No, really.

Finally, the mournful Broken finishes the EP in such a way that it’s hard to reconcile where it began. For all of Bake’s full-tilt confidence, Broken equals in haunting, Portishead influenced brooding. Vocalist, Esther Swift, perhaps isn’t given enough run to shine, yet the music is so mesmerising that you forgive it in an instant.

Get yourself to the EFPI Records website and download this for nothing. Then, after a few guilty listens, donate to a label that’s putting out some amazing stuff. Also, check out the Beats and Pieces cover of Radiohead’s 15 Step, it’s superb. 8/10
www.efpirecords.com

Sean Gregson

 
 

HAQ – EP 1

Talking of amazing records on the EFPI label, here’s another. HAQ, the Hunter Andreas Quartet, are a guitar and saxophone led... eh, quartet. I first saw them perform in the backroom of a Manchester bar a while back, and I still hold it as one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. Now, I’m no jazz aficionado, and I’m quite happy to say it’s never stopped me having an opinion yet.

The three songs on EP 1 represent three very different sides to HAQ. First track, thoughtful titled Tune One, is a mournful sax led epic, which moves from introspection to bombast with graceful ease. Guitarist, Anton Hunter, and sax player, Sam Andreas, weave beautiful melodies that create a real sense of story-telling. Tune One builds into the kind of joyous delirium that you wish would never end.

Equally, the aptly titled Tune Two, begins with a darkly haunting saxophone line that descends into a nightmarish vision that David Lynch would be proud of. All twisting guitar lines, shifty beats, and creeping bass that suddenly picks up into a Latin tinged moment, which explodes just as quickly into a flurry of rolling drums and flailing brass.

It is, though, HAQ’s last track, amazingly not called Tune Three but Lament, which stands out above all. Creating a vivid soundscape, bass, sax and guitar intertwine to create something which can only be described a beautiful. Underneath the mournful saxophone, snatches of guitar lines flit like bursts of light. Lament does its name justice; an ode to something lost or never had.

What’s so impressive about HAQ is their ability to cut through the shit and get right to those basic emotions we all share, each track offering a truly distinctive and unique journey. 7/10
www.efpirecords.com

Sean Gregson

 
 

We’ll All Be Heroes - Everything Must Go

Bangy bangy, thrashy thrashy, shouty shouty. “Post-Hardcore” claims the promotional blurb. “More biting and hook laden songs than you can shake a stick at,” it continues. If I had a stick I wouldn’t be shaking it, but I might throw it at them. Bog standard EMO with slightly more competent than average lead work, counters this humble reviewer.

Not terrible, but nothing you’ve not heard before and something I would be reluctant to pay to hear again. For We’ll All Be Heroes to live up to their optimistic band name it will require the bar setting very low. 4/10
www.myspace.com/allbeheroes

Jim Johnston

 
 

The Lucid Dream - Erbistock Mill

Ooh, this is dirty. Short, snappy, abstract lyrics, layered over a distorted, scuzzy, echo of a wall of electronic noise create an interesting , if not immediately accessible, sound.

Much like finding that first porn mag in a hedge (readers under 20, ask your dad). Confusing but strangely exciting for reasons you don’t quite understand. Certainly deserving of attention. 7/10
www.myspace.com/thelucid dream08

Jim Johnston

 
 

Kah – Goose Girl (Joy Lane)

Not some evil marketing ploy by Ford but in fact a pretty cool electronic/singer-songwriter from London. Definitely from the quirky Imogen Heap corner of the oeuvre, ‘Goose Girl’ is an interesting listen, if a little uncomfortably angular at times. It’s all choppy and awkward by design, which is no bad thing, but it does mean you have to give it some attention and time to really get the most out of it. 7/10
www.myspace.com/kahsongs

SB

 
 

The Drums – Best Friend (Moshi Moshi)

The Drums sing about their best friend who died at 25. A bit grim really. Sonically there’s a touch of Joy Division or New Order about this – single string guitar parts and a synthetic sounding drum pattern. I expected big things from The Drums and frankly this is a bit disappointing – must try harder. 5/10
www.wearethedrums.com

SB

 
 

No Machine – Toast the Toaster (Arion)

Toast the Toaster? Eh? Apparently it’s a song about losing yourself for a while. Not sure where toasters come into it but let’s proceed anyway. The roll of credits for the track reads like a who’s who of classics (Beck, Radiohead, Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand and Florence and the Machine to name but a few). The track itself sounds slightly like an upbeat Robert Smith fronting The Infidels. Yes – that’s a pretty good description. 6/10
www.myspace.com/nomachinemusic

SB

 
 

Let’s Go to War – Wolves (Last Gang)

Starts off sounding a bit like Elton John but then improves slightly by copying Daft Punk. But it’s all so wooden and formulaic with its chopped up female vocal and rap overdub – there’s no sense of progression or dynamism at all – it’s just churned out for 4 minutes. Dullsville. 5/10
www.myspace.com/letsgotowarmusic

SB

 
 

My Luminaries – Parasol (Cottage Industries)

I can’t quite put my finger on this. There’re all sorts of elements within this track which would normally make me wretch but in fact, My Luminaries have put them together in a pretty palatable way. There’s those Keane style piano musings and vaguely Simple Minds mid-80’s vibe. But overall the impression is of quite a dreamy little pop song which drifts along very pleasingly and distantly. It’s a good surprise. 6/10
www.myspace.com/myluminaries

SB

 
 

Knievel Genius – Down With the Fairies

That’s pretty weird artwork. A skimpily dressed sexy fairy holding a dismembered hand. Lovely. As well as not being able to decide whether Knievel Genius is a really clever name or just a bit cheesey, I’m having inner turmoil over whether this track is just trumped up power pop or is in fact some good old guitar noise riff rock. But as time goes on, I can see the influences of Therapy? in the riffery (especially towards the end of ‘Down with the Fairies’ and the opening chords of B-side ‘Houdini Pt.1’ are sufficiently ‘heavy as fuck’ to persuade me that Knievel Genius are keepers. 7/10
www.myspace.com/knievelgenius

SB

 
 

The 29th Chapter – Invincible (Two Nine)

It doesn’t matter how detailed the press release or how skilful the artist is, you could write down what I know about hip hop on the back of a matchbox. There are lyrical references to Benjamin Button and Peep Show so I’m guessing The 29th Chapter do not take themselves too seriously. At the same time it’s certainly not a laugh a minute. Bring me some nice indie guitar music and get me back into my comfort zone quick sharp! 5/10
www.29thchapter.com

SB

 
 

Beatbullyz – Skills

Oh god – is this going to be a nightmare half hour of listening to stuff I know little about and care for even less? What kind of band substitutes their s with a z? Well, actually this is pretty bloody good. A nurdling Basment Jaxx soulful style intro gives way to a mental electronic mish mash of techno and rap. They have performed on Hollyoaks though, which is obviously a black mark. 8/10
www.beatbullyz.com

SB

 
 

Angel – There’s a Girl

So this is a first – the first time I’ve reviewed while sitting on a crowded train at about 50 degrees C. I thought this was the reason I was so unfavourable to the soulful warblings of Angel but then I realised that this song was just nasally, bland horribleness. 2/10
www.myspace.com/angelconstantine

SB

 
 

Foreign Office – Voices (Playground)

There’s plenty of posturing and promises in the press releas. Let’s forget all that. Instead revel in the fact that Foreign Office aren’t some new epoch-shatteringly original band but are in fact a very band. ‘Voices’ is tight as you like with just enough emotion to prevent it being too dry and not so much to allow it to become earnest. It reminds a littl of a more electro We Are Scientists or a less electro Infadels. Danceable an very listenable. 7/10
www.myspace.com/foreignofficemusic

SB

 
 

Signals – Silverfish / What Dreams (Moshi Moshi)

You ever seen a Silverfish? Horrible little wriggly buggers that hang around under damp carpets and near rubbish bins that haven’t been emptied for ages. And there’s something very wriggly about the delivery of ‘Silverfish’ the song (though eminently less horrible). ‘What Dreams’ is equally quirky with what sounds like n electronic cow bell playing heavily over some cheesey percussion – it seems that Signal are an innovative bunch. I’d guess they have shrp haircuts and dress too well for my liking but I can’t deny I like their music. Like a cool Hot Chip for the skins generation. 7/10

SB

 
 

Kinema – Recreation / My Girls (Hot Pockets)

Smooth guys, smooth. Kinema create smooth, crafted pop pieces chocked with breathy vocals and punctuated with the occasional synth highlight. But it seems like a victory of style of substance to me- this is like the dull songs on a Hot Chip album that you skip over to get to the good stuff. Don’t gt me wrong – I love a bit of pop as much as the next man – Heads We Dance, Performance etc but Kinema’s brand while being polished is just a bit too loungey for me. 6/10
www.hotpockets.info

SB

 
 

Madamoiselle Caro and Franck Garcia – Soldiers (Buzzin’ Fly)

Four remixes? Forget it – I’ve got to get these reviews done before we reach Doncaster and my spare seat is stolen by a rugby league watching ferret trainer. But fortunately ‘Soldiers’, the original mix is sufficiently endearing to make a good impression. It’s got a Balearic chill out vibe which is soothing without being soporific. 6/10

SB

 
 

Diarmaid O’Meara – Selfish Bass (Gobsmacked)

Another goody here from Ireland’s new found king of techno. ‘Selfish Bass’ is built heavily around one growling riff which thumps all the way the track a bit more mechanically than some of O’Meara’s predecessors but with a taut composition than drags you along and banishes any hint of boredom from your mind. 7/10
www.diarmaidomeara.com

SB

 
 

The Chemists – This City (Distiller)

Interesting to see that The Chemists supported Skunk Anansie on their tour before Christmas as musically thy sound pretty similar – un abashed rock-riffadom but with a slightly more sweaty, boozed-up and well, masculine-sounding singer than Skin. There’s no danger of The Chemists feeling self conscious as they throw every rock excess into this one. Yet meanwhile they are also well connected with the likes of Adam Freeland who provides a couple of interesting remixes too. 8/10
www.myspace.com/thechemistsuk

SB

 
 

Cosmo Jarvis – Crazy Screwed Up Lady (Wall of Sound)

Cosmo strikes me as the sort of name that middle class advertising executives might call at their offspring while they ride into me on their recently de-stabilised trainer bicycles. But I suppose we can’t blame the kids (I blame the parents as they say). But this here Cosmo gives it some, albeit in a bit of an annoying mid-Atlantic twang and though quite a synthetic production. A performance on Hollyoaks surely beckons.
www.cosmojarvis.com

SB

 
 

Subsource – The Ides (Doombox)

We’re really liking the snarled up batch of screwed-up synth sounds here coupled with some dubby breakbeats, not unlike The Prodigy in many ways. What is unsure is the way that the vocals seem to phase in and out of being cool – at times being synthed to death with effects that really marry up well with the track but at others floating in a disconnected way apart from it. But the remixes actually strengthen this release no end, seeing Subsource take on a 65 Days of Static level of bombast and industrial layering. Good show indeed. 8/10
www.myspace.com/subsource

SB

 
 

The Twilight Sad – The Room (FatCat)

Speaking of bombast – just how good are The Twilight Sad? It’s easy to get taken in by that rich Caledonian accent and simple orchestration but this band are masters of measured grandiosity. ‘The Room’ is built entirely around a simple repeated piano line an thumpingly simple drum beat which mounts into a cochlea crushing din whilst maintaining a yearning emotional side. Brilliant. 9/10
www.myspace.com/thetwilightsad

SB

 
 

Fago Sepia - s/t E.P. (Aposiopese)

I wanted something different, and for my sins I was given something different. This certainly isn't an indie rock act or a band looking to cash in on Razorlight's success. That doesn't automatically make it good though does it?

Fago Sepia play Jazz-Rock and there really is an awful lot of jazz. Skittering guitar/bass/drums, odd chord combinations and widdling is something that Biffy Clyro have been using to great effect, and Fago Sepia do have moments that remind me of Simon Neil's guitar parts. It is only moments though. I spent most of the time I listened to these 3 tracks being reminded of Jazz. Bad Jazz. What's worse is that the first 2 times I listened to the E.P. the CD player in my car goes from track 3 back to track 1 and I didn't notice. I was really concentrating too.

That's a bad sign. It was such a bad sign that I started concentrating really hard, just in case it was me not 'getting' something. I', happy to say that I'm pretty sure I've understood it correctly. This is crammed with noodle.

The music on here wouldn't be so bad if there was singing. Not that that's a prerequisite to a good song, it's just that there is, despite the myriad different chords, notes and rhythms crammed into 3 tracks, nothing interesting enough to make these songs good instrumental numbers.

I don't even know what fans of the genre would make of this, Maybe I'm dissing the kings of all noodling? I thought it was bobbins though. I give it a good second, third, fourth and fifth chance too. Each time I thought it was bobbins.

Christopher Carney