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singles/eps - april 2010



Wild Beasts - We Still Got the Taste Dancin on Our Tongues (Domino)

The third single to come from Wild Beasts' second album 'Two Dancers', 'We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues', is a tumbling journey through a night of youthful licentiousness and disreputable exploits.

Underpinned by a fragile piano arrangement and driven by a guitar riff that recalls early U2 and Johnny Marr, the lustful lyrics spin and float through the song. A mixture of soaring falsetto and somber baritone vocals further contribute to the woozy atmospherics.

There are three versions of the song here. The radio edit and album version, are naturally very similar. Then the Gatekeeper Remix keeps the falsetto intro, but adds howling wind, church bell chimes and electronically treated vocals, and even throws in a sample from the John Carpenter film “Prince of Darkness”, creating a funereal air of dread to the track.

From the sleazy lyrics and haunting vocals to the head rush of the guitar work this is a gem of a track and deserves your support.

Matt Latham


 

Volcanoes – Sugar and Snarls EP

Reading the press release, there’s a lot of love out there for Volcanoes and on hearing their latest EP it’s easy to realize why.

The first track, ‘Level Up’ is an energetic rock out. At first it sounds like fellow Sheffield music makers Arctic Monkeys and there was a concern that, whilst good, they would turn out to be an imitation rather than a band in their own right.

Then comes ‘Fret in the Half Moon’, which feels like a by-the-numbers indie rock, and the least impressive track on the EP. There are moments of lyrical greatness contained within though, my favourite being “For all the wrong reasons you’ll wish for the sunrise”, and so my interest was maintained and rewarded by the last two songs.

Compared to the other 3 tracks, ‘Pigs in Blankets’ is a fantastic oddity. Set to a swing beat, this tune shows they’re not just an indie rock band. Displaying a musicality that was not immediately apparent, it’s encouraging to see the band let rip with another style and to see that they have the musical nous to pull it off so effortlessly.

The EP finishes with ‘Fathoms’. From an intro reminiscent of the best of Oasis (remember that?), all scuzzy guitar soundscape, we’re then treated to punctuated guitar playing and vocal delivery, with the song constantly evolving, reaching a gentle lull near the end which then builds into a guitar frenzy on which to bow out. It showcases what the band can do when they take indie guitar music and make it their own.

Overall, Volcanoes display a variety of guitar influences which they make their own, and demonstrate a surfeit of ideas and song writing ability. The first two tracks here are solid, but not as accomplished as the latter two, yet all four show that Volcanoes have talent to burn.

Matt Latham

 
 

The Boy Who Trapped The Sun – Home EP (Chess Club)

A gent by the name of Colin MacLeod from Lewis who honed his craft playing Deep Purple covers in Aberdeen and eventually escaped to London to produce, among other things, his debut EP “Home”

The best song is without doubt the title track which also opens the account; a lovely, brooding mood piece slouching along at a steady pace with a double bass for company. The press release will try and tempt you draw comparisons with Nick Drake but to be fair that’s a little unfair on both artists given that the only thing they have in common with each other is a fingerpicking acoustic style and it’s unfortunate that every time there is an attempt to construct a new folk rock hero, some idiot has to draw his name into it to give an air of legitimacy. The fact is that there is little of Drake’s fragility here and the humour in his work (which many tend to overlook, but if you search for it, its there) is of a different, subtler order to that displayed by The Boy. Instead, we get songs like ‘Lying To Get on Your Good Side’ reinforcing the idea of a slightly eccentric Damian Rice-alike and, not being very fond of Rice I have to confess that at the moment I’m not sure that’s a good thing. After a relatively start then, sadly the EP jumps into the ‘winsome indie folk singer” barrel and proceeds to throw out most of the clichés that can be found at the bottom of it.

The first track aside, this EP is merely ok and there is precious little to distinguish it from the legion of fey looking boys in checked shirts up and down the country peddling the same thing. The Boy will have to do a lot more in the future if he is to deserve any comparison with artists like Drake. Perhaps I’m being uncharitable. Perhaps he just needs to make more effort. 4.5/10

RM

 
 

Codeine Velvet Club – Vanity Kills (Island)

A duet between Fratelli in chief Jon Lawler and Glaswegian singer Louise Hickey, Codeine Velvet Club produce a big grandiose 60’s swing sound. It’s a little like The Divine Comedy being fronted by a vampish charismatic lady instead of Mr Hanlon. Unsympathetically retro but as well put together as anything else in the genre. 6/10

SB

 
 

Andreya Triana – Lost Where I Belong (Ninja Tune)

If the whole jazz/soul style turns you off then no need to go any further. Even production by Bonobo can’t improve the fact that beyond the admittedly smokey, languid delivery of the vocals this is pretty standard fare. IN fact it’s so laid back that I’d tuned out before we even got to the remixes. 5/10
www.myspace.com/andreyaatriana

SB


 

Ian De Sylva – Josephine

‘Josephine’ is big on bass, fuzz and histrionics but a little thin on interest. De Sylva has an interesting falsetto voice and namedrops abound (his bass player is brother of ‘Lost’ actor Naveen Andrews for example) but otherwise it’s a bit hard to stay engaged. 5/10
www.myspace.com/iandesylva

SB

 
 

Islands Lost at Sea – Sun Song (Stay Warm)

Accompanied by a sleeve depicting a dog apparently drunk in the sun, ‘Sun Song’ is exactly that – perfect accompaniment for a long afternoon sipping Pimms (or Kestrel Super if you prefer). The bass is wonderfully baggy and the whole composition has an air of slacker jam session about it. At the same time there’s still room for complexity with vocal rounds, trumpets, violins and skiffle. A nice way to usher in the spring. 7/10
www.myspace.com/islandslostatsea

SB


 

Flower of Zeus – Diamond Rings EP

Is that a rawkmongous band name or what? There’s a nasty tinge to the production of this track (or possibly the burn onto CD-R) which leaves it sounding very muted and boxy. I’m trying to imagine this sound really crashing out of the speakers but even at high volume it is too muted and gives off an air of pub rock (though admittedly, very high quality pub rock).

But although there are instances of funk-rock noodling along the way, it’s not until final track, the chugging ‘Motorcycle’, that the shackles finally seem to be thrown off and there is just an onslaught of heaviness. Or maybe my ears are just attuned to the dull tones by this point. Either way – it sounds good, like a beefed up ‘Gold Against the Soul’ by the Manics. Sort out sound quality throughout and this would have scraped a 7 or an 8. 6.5/10
www.myspace.com/flowerofzeus

SB

 
 

Danny and the Champions of the World – Restless Feet (Loose Music)

There’s some great Americana and alt-folk around at the moment so the bar is set pretty high. Sadly Danny and The Champions of the World just sounds like a cross between a Bob Dylan and a Bruce Springsteen tribute band. The likes of Mumford & Sons and Sons of Noel and Adrian add their own distinct twists to the style – I’m not sure what Danny et al add. 5/10

SB

 
 

Frank Turner – Isabel (Xtra Mile)

I think I can say with some confidence that I have enjoyed listening to this Frank Turner track more than any of his previous efforts. It may be something to do with a great deal of effort going into properly singing rather than shouting out the anthemic choruses a la Billy Bragg. There’s also a touch of stadium rock about this – perhaps the influence of playing to larger and larger audiences. All things considered a good move forward. 7/10
www.frank-turner.com

SB

 
 

Jim Kroft – One Sees the Sun (Side W7lk)

Simple Minds performing Irish folk classic ‘Danny Boy’ or subtle contemporary pop influences on a traditional musical theme? I’m really not sure. I like the choppy guitar parts but I don’t like the dated synthy infills or over-earnest delivery. A stout 5/10 then.
www.myspace.com/jimkroft

SB

 
 

Soldier – Lifeline

‘Lifeline’ is not subtle. It’s a direct assault on the eardrums of the hordes of festival goers and stadium audiences that inhabit out fair land (and possibly further afield too). This is anthemic stuff with a football style chant backing vocal that anyone can sing along too (even those at T in the Park who have already drunk their own bodyweight in Tennants then thrown a bottle of the waste product over their fellow audience members). It’s impossible not to admire this level of energy and power. Does sounds like Shed Seven at the chorus though. 7/10
www.myspace.com/soldiermusic

SB

 

La Shark – A Weapon (So Darn So)

It’s so damned refreshing to hear a band like La Shark that I fear I may gush a little here in this review. The rule book has been well and truly lobbed out of the window leaving it difficult to describe La Shark (though a funkier modern electro take on Adam and the Ants might be a decent stab). There’s even a top B-side ‘Modern Man’ which features a rare outing for a harpsichord sound effect. The delivery of Ian Drury and the pop sensibility of Queen duetting with Pet Shop Boys. It’s what we call quirky. 8/10
www.lashark.co.uk

SB

 
 

Fortune – Bully EP (Distiller)

Distiller do seem to put a lot of records out and I thought there was no money in releasing stuff these days, all the cash being in gigs. But we digress. Another product of the Parisian music scene, Future do not stray too far from their predecessors Daft Punk. There are obvious similarities but where they diverge is in the greater amount of live instruments used on ‘Bully’, a function of Fortune containing multi-instrumentalist Lionel Pierres. And the track ‘Mission’ also gives rise to the inkling that Fortune sound a little like an English band trying to recreate a Gallic cool sound. But of course they are not, there’s no need to be so suspicious – we should just revel in their riotous burbling synth energy. 8/10
www.myspace.com/ilovefortune

SB

 
 

Sharp Practise – Sound of Rock (Ryeharbour)

Nope – this is definitely not doing it for me. Warbling vocals over rock chords (polite rock chords mind you) – we’re told accurately that ‘Sharp Practise are a classic rock band but not an over the top screaming yelling rock n roll monster’. Nope they are firmly MOR Dad-rock. IS that what you want to listen to? Is it? Even I don’t want that and I am way less cool than most people. 3/10
www.sharppractise.com

SB

 
 

Mlini – Movie Scene/Open Road (Sushi with Anouska)

Can anyone really tell when something is recorded on old fashioned 8-track? Well actually I’d say yes. And even then Mlini have managed to cram more atmosphere onto their 8 tracks via the skill of the mixing than a lot of bands can muster on their digital multi-tracks. ‘Movie Scene’ has a clever two-part vocal thing going on, part-distorted and part clean (well, less distorted) and ‘Open Road’ has a big urban reverby sound, like it was recorded under a railway arch and played through practice amps. Lo-fi can still be expansive. 7/10
http://www.myspace.com/wearemlini

SB

 
 

Brown – Up Again (Unpopular)

God bless the BBC sound effects library and their catalogue of birdsong which Brown have utilized to the maximum as a backdrop to this 8 minute track. Because without it and whether intentional or not, this 8 minute long opus could come across sounding just a little bit self absorbed. ‘Up Again’ occupies a strange middle ground – straddling dub, chill-out, indie, funk etc but never really planting a flag firmly in any camp. As such it nurdles along and lacks a bit of focus – this channel up and bit, that channel down a bit – not that captivating. The remixes are similarly structured – pleasant without really going anywhere (or certainly not getting anywhere any time soon – ‘The Dub’ mix takes a full 11 minutes to fully develop. 5/10
www.unpopularmusic.co.uk

SB

 
 

Ice Black Birds – Ear to the Ground

Hmm, a quick scroll up the page and I’d see that Ica Black Birds have a bit in common with Ian de Syvla in sound. But ‘Ear to the Ground’ really develops as a song as it progresses and there’s plenty more keeping you plugged into the headphones than My de Sylva musters. It’s generally blues rock (think The Vines or similar) for the most part but this is wonderfully broken up by an edgy bridge part which breaks into a cool cow bell accompanied outro – lovely stuff. The cod blues B-side by comparison is a big disappointment and drags the score down to a mere 7/10
www.myspace.com/iceblackbirdsuk

SB

 
 

Biffy Clyro - Bubbles (14th Floor Records)

Ahh, Biffy Clyro. I can remember my mate showing me them back when I was in school, I think this was 2003ish and I wasn’t really impressed. One big sound overhaul and trip into the mainstream later and I still don’t get it, but this tune seems to get me. I think its the riff in the chorus because the vocal hook isn’t particularly sticky to my ears but i’ve played it a fair few times in the last half an hour so maybe it is. Josh Homme also features on this track, playing guitar and moving ever closer to becoming the Pharell of the guitar rock world. Bubbles is definitely festival anthem material set to be huge this summer for sure, and that’s no bad thing. 5/10

A.Tzikas

 
 

Mirrorkicks – Podium

You say podiums, I say podia. Much as I try and avoid such earnest soaring rock anthems, you simply cannot deny that this track is quite superbly forged. A definite slice of Lenny Kravitz sounds like a heavy influence here but fair play to Mirrorkicks – they’ve pulled off this one all by themselves. 7/10
www.myspace.com/mirrorkicks

SB

 
 

Anonymous Tip – The Weirder Brave

This sounds like it is proper punk music but also played with proper tunes and proper searing anger. Unfortunately every so often it sounds like a mountain cat has gained control of the microphone and is snarling away. But the precision bass just about manages to take your mind of any impending threats from semi-feral feline invaders. 7/10
www.anonymoustip.net

SB

 

Damien* - Unaware Unaware / Always Wear a Pretty Shirt

Well this is all very nice. Damien* may have slipped on the keyboard when they filled out their band name application form but they sure know how to securely hold a taut song together. Slightly reminiscent of a bleaker We Are Scientists (or a cheerier Joy Division) ‘Unaware Unaware’ is an insistent barrage of clipped guitar that spools brilliantly to a swirling finale. B-side ‘Always Wear a Pretty Shirt’ is a bit more fun-pop-punk but no less enjoyable. A fine brace. 8/10
www.myspace.com/wearedamien

SB

 
 

Stars and Sons – If It’s Good For Me (Twice Burnt)

Busy busy busy. I defy you to listen to this and not feel a bit overwhelmed by the multitude of musicality that you are bombarded with. It is too easy just to lean towards piano pop – that sounds a bit too much like Keane. Yes there is piano in here but there is everything else as well. My head is buzzing. I feel a bit nauseous too though. 6/10
www.myspace.com/starsandsonsuk

SB

 
 

AFI – Beautiful Thieves (DGC)

AFI? Never ‘eard of ‘em mate - sounds like an eating disorder. Yet this is apparently a track from their eighth studio album and is pretty good. A nice complexity to the arrangements while keeping a simple driving melody, ‘Beautiful Thieves’ is difficult to categorise. So why bother – just sit back and enjoy it. 7/10
www.afireinside.net

SB

 
 

Kate Nash – Do Wah Doo (Fiction)

Who is this Kate Nash lady? I’m sure I’ve heard her name mentioned elsewhere before. Of course – the great musical chicken and egg debate (or the Nash and Allen debate if you prefer). Sixties fuzz pop via mockney delivery – what else would you expect? Of other note is the extremely annoying chorus of ‘bum-bada-bum’ – avoid at your peril. 5/10
www.katenash.co.uk

SB

 

Gorillaz – Super Fast Jelly Fish (Gorillaz)

I never really understood the point of the whole Gorillaz ‘cartoon band’ concept but I did enjoy their first album. ‘Superfast Jellyfish’ is similar to that early stuff and even includes the work of De La Soul and Gruff Rhys on it. But it also represents another simian multimedia foray – this time in to the world of computer gaming, and that leaves me feeling like the track is a marketing tool, not music for music sake. And that is a bit depressing. 5/10
www.gorillaz.com

SB

 
 

Lovehead – Sexy Disco

Sexy Disco? I’m not sure. It’s definitely disco. But there’s something about this track which makes me think more Rick Dees’ ‘Disco Duck’ than ‘Sexy Disco’. But the feeling is short-lived and the track does begin to rock out in a kind weird kind of psychedelic way towards the end. ‘Sexy Disco’? I’m still not sure but I do feel a little bit dirty, hot and sleezey at the end of it. 7/10
www.lovehead.co.uk

SB

 
 

Sparrow and the Workshop – I Will Break You (Distiller)

Sparrow and the Workshop are such an interesting band. No hackneyed old tunes here accompanied by doe-eyed press shots. Jill O’Sullivan’s voice effortlessly flits from despair to malice and you are left in no doubt that when she sings ‘I Will Break You’ she really means it. This really is a glorious track – pretty and powerful. 8/10
www.sparrowandtheworkshop.co.uk

SB

 
 

You Me At Six – Liquid Confidence (Virgin)

When the press release is already using terms like ‘anthemic’ you know this is not going to be any shy wall flower of a record. However, there’s a more than a little guile and pretty harmony mustered together here before the big lung busting choruses you’ expect from You Me At Six. The sound of a band growing up. 7/10
www.youmeatsix.co.uk

SB

 
 

Conchitas – Butterflies (Delicious)

Conchitas is the latest vehicle for gravel voiced frontwoman Elena and whereas maybe there’s a smattering more of the old electronics on this one, it still suffers the same shortcomings as some of her previous works. ‘Butterflies’ lumbers along, partly lifted by the tinkly keys but equally weighed back down by the vocal track. Sorry, it’s another miss for me. 4/10
www.myspace.com/conchitas

SB

 
 

Hot Chip – I Feel Better (Parlophone)

I get the feeling these days that Hot Chip are like the Emperor’s new clothes of the current music scene – we’re all tricked into thinking what they are doing is really good whereas in fact, it’s pretty simplistic stuff. Credit where due, every so often Hot chip pull out a belter of a track that crosses genres and gets everybody’s hips moving. But equally, there’s quite a lot of filler on their albums too. ‘I Feel Better’ finds its ground unusually somewhere between the two – it’s not a filler but it’s not a stomper either. It’s a competent synthy string based track which bubbles away OK but never really sets the pulses racing. More like the emperor’s new thong in this case then. 6/10
www.hotchip.co.uk

SB

 

Fates – Murky Circuits EP (100m Records)

I'm out of my depth on this one. As far as minimal experimental electronica goes, I'm no expert. There may be millions who can happily listen to this and comment on it's brilliance throughout – but on the same note, some people like U2. This genre may be notorious for its lack of linearity and general structure, and so I cannot help but feel that each of these six tracks, which clock up 41 minutes of sound, all sound the same. I know that is the cliché criticism of anybody commenting on an unfamiliar genre – but in this instance it is genuine. Nothing to bop your head to, you are left feeling uncomfortable and awkward, feeling compelled to listen just in case something interesting actually happens, and being simply unable to just have it on in the background. The whole disjointed nature of it means that it constantly steals your attention for no valid reason – and I can't get my head around it. If you like this genre – please ignore my review and move along to a dedicated website, because I can't figure it out. 3/10

Thom Curtis

 
 

Petter & The Pix – Never Never (Gung-Ho! Recordings)

This new single from Petter & The Pix is one that, although dominated by a slightly grating high-pitched la-la-la routine, is actually a real grower. Accompanying this are some pacey drums which are almost a rock take on that 'classic' drum and bass beat that crops up everywhere, and a gentle dreary vocal – a Swedish Last of the Shadow Puppets kind of tone. After the explosive intro and verse, the song plummets to a soft airy chorus like a stallion induced with ketamine. Alas, the inebriation doesn't last as long as expected, and the horse makes it back onto his feet to canter on some more. There is also a guitar which runs throughout and adopts a beach-surf persona during the chorus. All in all it's an enjoyable track – and from listening a few times, my rating has already been incremented three times. Also, if you're familiar with Miike Snow, these guys are currently his backing band. But yes, worth a listen, and it will be stuck in your head for a little while. 8/10

Thom Curtis

 
 

Frightened Rabbit - Living in Colour

You know that feeling, where you're having a crappy day and nothing is going right but then you discover a new song and after that everything seems to get better? I had that day today. This is the song that saved it. Living in Colour is propelled by a massive, unrelenting drum beat and a multi-guitar attack that actually swells into the choruses. Anthemic can be a dirty word, so I’ve been trying not to say it, but that's what this song is, a proper anthem. It’s a song that, through its sheer sonic hugeness and lyrical optimism, grabs you and forces you to admit that yeah, things are getting better. All I can say is that you really do need to hear this song as soon as you can. 8.5/10

Daniel Shields

 
 

Don't Wait Animate - 6174, Coin Operated Boy and Dirty Disco remixes

I didn't like the original version of 6174. it's a jerky, Foals-y number, which, like Don't Wait Animate themselves, wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Skins. However, lyrically, 6174 is great (and surprisingly political) which is a shame, because the music just doesn't do it for me. So remixes should be a good thing, right? Well, Coin Operated Boy's interpretation of 6174 opens with a brilliantly glitchy sample and then loops it till you're bored of it before the chorus. The Dirty Disco remix is similar at first. It is a little bit easier on the ears, less tinny, and there are little dubby moments, but for a band that claims to be indie/dubstep, neither track is indie or dubstep enough to create a lasting impression. 3/10

Daniel Shields

 
 

Dussel Has Friends - American Made

Dussel Has Friends are a live hip hop band (with live instruments, no DJ). Their press release namechecks Wu Tang Clan and Blink 182, but don't worry. Dussel Has Friends sounds more like The Roots than that and they're amazing. American Made is less of a single and more of a statement of intent. This is conscious hip hop similar to Handlebars by Flobots, the intensity is infectious and by the time the track is finished, you wish their EP was out. Basically, this is what Lil Wayne's Rebirth album wishes it sounded like. 8/10

Daniel Shields

 
 

The Wind Up Birds – Tyre Fire / There Won’t Always be an England (Sturdy Records)

What a tonic to hear this refreshing chaos from Leeds-based The Wind-Up Birds. If you hear the tracks then there’s probably no need to explain the band are from Leeds, you’ll hear it in vocalist Paul Ackroyd’s broad Loiner accent, like an east Pennines Mark E Smith.

‘There Won’t Always Be an England’ is a clever, horn-riddled rant against xenophobes, well, maybe more jingoists, cunningly wrapped under the guise of daring to not care about the result of an England international football match. It strikes a chord with me – it’s not the nationalistic aspect that gets my goat (rather superficially) but the fact that people actually cry over the result of a game. But the song has all the musical qualities you’d want – humour, foreboding, triumphalism – all married in a clever double helix with the content.

‘Tyre Fire’ is a bit more straight forward post punk musically but still manages to inject a little bit more venom that your average NME friendly types. Aside from the Mark E Smith comparisons you could think Carter USM, Neave vs the Jazz Cigarettes and even elements of New FADS. 8/10
www.myspace.com/thewindupsbirds

SB

 
 

We Rock Like Girls Don’t – Welcome to My World / Feeling Lonely Now (Distort)

Abysmal. Well certainly the band name. But then a rather glorious surprise – ‘Welcome to My World’ is actually pretty ace. It’s got a grungey, pared down production which leaves it sounding like a cross between PJ Harvey/Eno era and Elastica. ‘Feeling Lonely Now’ is not the soppy ballad you might be expecting either – it proper rocks out in a jerky, chunky, chuggy distorted way. I find myself being unwillingly drawn to this horribly named band. 8/10
www.werocklikegirlsdont.com

SB

 
 

Admiral Fallow – Squealing Pigs (Lo-Five)

Seems Glasgow can do no wrong at present. Admiral Fallow represent a non-depressing version of The Twilight Sad (and I don’t use depressing as a criticism – I like depressing). There’s a skittish bar room bawdiness about ‘Squealing Pigs’ – not in an amateurish musicianship (this is razor sharp) but more the sheer joie de vivre. 7/10
www.myspace.com/admiralfallow

SB

 
 

Kinema – Circles (Hot Pockets)

Kinema must like Hot Chip. ‘Circles’ is one of those loungey tracks with breathy vocals that is very en vogue at present. For me it’s so sculpted and precise that it lacks any vitality – give me a bit of raggedy rusty stringed guitar over this any day. 5/10
www.hotpockets.info

SB

 
 

Nero - Innocence / Electron (MTA)

This starts off like the sort of happy house you’d expect to hear hissing out of a mobile phone on the back seat of bus full of chavs on their way to Meadowhall for a day out. But then all kind of electronic holy hell breaks out – like the track has been taken over by Boston’s Shuttle. ‘Electrons’ is not quite as successful, being a bit more breakbeat and schizy; it’s still not a bad track but it does make me feel a bit exhausted. 7/10
www.myspace.com/nerouk

SB

 
 

The Gullivers – All that Fall / In Orbit

Oxford’s The Gullivers occupy an unusual corner of the musical spectrum. There’re touches of Dido in Sophie McGrath’s vocals but don’t stop reading straight away. Although the vocals are strangely disembodied from the guitar which has a woolly reverb applied, it’s not an unpleasant combination at all. ‘In Orbit’ also sees a rather moody organ sound wash over the composition of incredibly high guitar notes and doleful boy-girl vocals. I’m not sure how long I could absorb Sophie’s vocals for but for the duration of this short outing it’s quite gorgeous. 8/10
www.myspace.com/thegullivers

SB

 
 

Max Raptor – The Great and the Good

‘I Pin this badge upon my chest’ yells out the repeated opening lines of this track and so, we are unsubtly introduced to Max Raptor. There’s almost a hardcore vibe about the vocals at times, you could imagine Fugazi waxing lyrical about badges and chests. Yet Max Raptor go and mess it all up/perfect it with a singalong ‘whoa oh oh oh’ style chorus. The track proper belts along and I’m left feeling like Dexy and his midnight Runners have just driven a tank over me. 8/10
www.myspace.com/maxraptor

SB

 
 

Fighting Fiction – We Will Not Forget (Xtra Mile)

This is a compelling song, if not entirely for the right reasons. Purporting to be a song about the power of the vote it just comes across lyrically as a bit of a hackneyed protest against the Labour party. That said it’s delivered with some gusto like a punk sea shanty. For politics watch Newsnight, for ska punk listen to Fighting Fiction. 7/10
www.myspace.com/fightingfiction
Watch the video to 'We Will Not Forget'

SB

 
 

Ghostfire – The Last Steampunk Waltz

What a varied and delightful bunch of singles on offer this week – it’s almost enjoyable reviewing them. Ghostfire sound like a less ostentatious version of The Hellset Orchestra – possessing a slightly bizarre fascination with the gothic and fog strewn streets of yesteryear. But it sure does sound good – not too hammed up which is normally my main criticism of the Hellset chaps, yet also adequately modern sounding to avoid sounding like a Victorian tribute band. Quite extraordinary really – I defy you to find anything else that sounds quite like this. 7/10
www.ghostfiremusic.com

SB

 
 

At the Zoo - Nouveau Popular

At the Zoo play a very Holloways-y, ska-tinged indie. The first track, Love for Granted, isn't bad and like the other songs on this three track EP, it's stupidly infectious. Unfortunately, from the start, it's clear that lead singer Dan Thompson went to the Pete Doherty School of Vocals. This isn't really a bad thing, but there are roughly three million bands out there that sound like The Libertines. At the Zoo are clearly great musicians, with a great talent for writing catchy, danceable tunes (Scarlet Harlot is especially good) and if they were playing at your local, you definitely wouldn't walk out.

Don't get me wrong, I really wanted to love the Nouveau Popular EP, I definitely didn't hate it and At the Zoo have great potential, but you've heard it all before.

To paraphrase a cult teen movie - I wasn't overwhelmed, I wasn't underwhelmed: I was just whelmed.
5/10

Daniel Shields

   
 

The Good Natured – Your Body Is A Machine

My first thought after listening to this song was: “If it were possible for Florence Welch and La Roux to conceive a child together and it released a single it would sound a lot like this”. Although after the fifth or six time I was left staring at my computer screen in awe of what I was hearing, It was pure bliss and the first time I’ve almost been rendered speechless. It is a melodic emotion filled track that bursts with eccentricity and vulnerability yet leaves you begging for more. I never would have guessed a girl my own age was behind this, at just 18 years old, Sarah Macintosh, is definitely one to look out for in 2010.

Carrie Russell

   
  The Shills - Sweet Inertia

Cambridge 5 piece The Shills say of their music “We use our band to convey and deliver us from our frustration, its a vehicle to release us” which may sound poncey but really does show in the inspiring and uplifting sound of Sweet Inertia. The band takes elements of rock and 80’s post-punk to create an urgent sound that is as suave and sophisticated as it is driving and powerful. The rumbling treble laden bass in the verses sets the dark tone of the tune á la Bauhaus, right until the guitars cut through into the anthemic chorus line. Don’t be put off by that word, I don’t mean anthemic in an overblown stadium rock way but with a vocal that displays real passion, fight and a band saying what they mean and meaning it. 8/10

Antonio Tzikas

   
 

Neon Highwire - Luminescence EP (Health Bomber)

Well, well, well. Neon Highwire theoretically should be brilliant - “dirty electro and angular post-rock guitar soundscapes,” is always a sentence that fills me with joy. But, I have to say that ‘Luminescence” is a little bit rubbish.

Opener ‘Neon Blink’ is a jumble of noises and effects to a backing of mundane guitars and bass drums which, theoretically should be a wonderful three minute joyride of electro fun but instead is just monotonous. The lack of tone or dynamics fizzles out any chance of excitement. ‘Don’t: Wait’ and ‘Isometric View’ sound like the disembodied leftovers of the last Hadouken! album scraped up off the filthy floor of a Hoxton club and horrifically regurgitated into a piece of polyvinyl.

But wait! What is this? Some bad impressions of 80’s synth pop? Fabulous. Both ‘Creation #4.00’ and ‘Under Moonlight’ take inspiration from the era of music that taste forgot to no avail whatsoever.

Just don’t go anywhere near this EP. Unless you just so happen to like cheap versions of “dirty electro and angular post-rock guitar soundscapes”.

Eloise Quince