Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The LP - We Are, But Now

Reviewed by Ben Lowes-Smith

By all rights, I should hate this. It’s a horrendous name for a band, and in the press release they look like zeitgeist-humping fashonistas. However, they did send the station a rather endearing and charming hand written letter, which won me over a bit, and the demo itself isn’t all that bad.

The problem lies with the fact the band don’t have an awful lot of personality. Opener ‘Lone Star State Love Affair’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the last Killers record (I presume, I haven’t heard it) and the singer’s voice wears its influences on its sleeve; Brandon Flowers, Liam Gallagher, and (most lamentably) Caleb Followill (who seems to have deemed it acceptable for an entire generation of singers to sound like constipated bison).

The song writing isn’t bad, commendable in fact. There’s some fairly interesting interplay between the complex and catchy synth lines (which, if i’m honest, made most of the songs for me) and the more discordant guitars.

It’s not bad, but it’s not spectacular, or even that noteworthy. The LP need to be comfortable in their own skin before they’ll really make my ears prick up.

The Fast and The Furious Soundtrack Sampler

Reviewed by Ben Lowes-Smith

I feel out of my depth with this one. I haven’t seen any of the films in this franchise (nor do I have any intention to). I don’t know how well they’ll work in the context of the film, which I suppose is their primary purpose. The press release promises ‘head thumping bangers’, and listening to the CD, these songs wouldn’t seem out of place juxtaposed with a car chase or an explosion, or sound tracking a serious-faced Vin Diesel rubbing himself against a pliant stranger in a dimly lit night club. I’d expect they’d do the job.

Worst of the bunch is Busta Rhymes’ ‘G-Stro’. He’s on autopilot here, the lyrics are pretty banal and he keeps advocating a young lady (presumably) to ‘show me your G-stro’. (What is this? Is it a car part? An item of clothing? Something rude?)

Best of the bunch are ‘Bang’ by Rye Rye ft. M.I.A, which has some fairly erratic beats, and is, y’know, quite a lot of fun, and ‘Krazy’ by Pitbull ft. Lil’ Jon. They both sound like attention deprived children toying around in the studio, with disregard for convention. The song is very enjoyable and the chorus is cacophonous and very danceable.

Maximo Park - The Kids Are Sick Again

Reviewed by Ben Lowes-Smith

The latest offering from local literate types lurches lethargically through my headphones, like Faith-era Cure on valium. I do have a great affinity for this band, but the lyrical content borders on self-parody; there’s nothing here that wasn’t better articulated on A Certain Trigger. It sounds a little bored with itself in fact, and after a mildly interesting shift ends quite abruptly, leaving a profound sense of ‘Was that it?!’. It’s not totally devoid of merit, but all it leaves me feeling is a bit bored and a bit patronised. Hopefully it will blossom when played live over the summer.

The Dead Shores - Modern Men

Reviewed by John Tait

The nice aspects- Powerful power chords and what Frank Turner might describe to be a “punk rock sense of honesty”. To some I’m sure this is a decent enough record. At first I was charmed by what their lyrics stand for, mocking what I’m sure we all inwardly mock- popular culture, the state of masculinity (which has been a subject in The Courier regarding University societies, so topical), and insincerity. Its all very light-hearted, and as the first track progressed, so did its banality. You listen to it and you think “Yeah…ok that’s fine but what’s the point?” To put it more coherently than that it doesn’t speak to me. Darken up guys! My advice to them would be to make their lyrics about something more worthy or about nothing at all.


A Place To Bury Strangers – Keep Slipping Away

Reviewed By Mark Gomersall

“Keep Slipping Away” is the new single taken from A Place To Bury Strangers fantastic sophomore album, “Exploding Head”. The fact this song wasn’t the first to be released from the album has always surprised me as it’s easily the catchiest thing the band has ever written. Despite this it still keeps the bands familiar style and is actually a very tense listen. It’s not a song that makes you feel comfortable, but in a good way. It’s a song that gets blood pumping through you, it feels like it could just explode into sheer anarchy at any moment and the fact it doesn’t (especially when put next to other APTBS material) really adds to eeriness of the song. The recurring guitar riff is a thing of absolute beauty, making the song feel like a classic from the get-go. I will admit, it’s not all perfect, the song does sound maybe a bit too familiar, in part to the fact that without the riff it’d actually be suspiciously similar to previous APTBS single “I Know I’ll See You” from their debut album.

The b-side, “Hit The Ground” is also a poor point. Despite another massive riff to open things, the band seems more content on providing their notorious ‘wall of sound’ as apposed to writing a good tune. It’s still perfectly listenable, but there’s a very clear reason it’s a b-side. On top of this there’s a selection of remixes of “Keep Slipping” away, the two standouts being the “South Central remix”, which takes a more dance-y approach with robotic twinged vocals and a pounding synth bassline; and the “Maps remix”, which feels like those old New Order b-sides where they’d take a song and remix it into something totally different.


Oonagh Cassidy – Then And Again

Reviewed by Mark Gomersall

For the most part ‘middle of the road’ music is about as pointless as a tantric wank. It’s generally vacuous, bland and all together boring. Oonagh Cassidy is a new name to tackle the ‘genre’ with her debut EP, “Then And Again” and like those who’ve gone before her does nothing to reinvent the wheel. Spearheaded by a down tempo cover of Cindy Lauper’s cheese-fest “Time After Time”, I was pleasantly surprised until Cassidy decided to launch into some sort of Alanis Morissette parody, warbling away like she’s have some sort of stroke. Seriously, is it physically possible for vibrato to start before you actually sing a note? The worst part of this is the fact she decides to do this at seemingly random times throughout the songs, albeit not as regularly or as strongly as she does on “Time After Time”. Putting that aside, it’s actually quite nice. The songs are dainty and each have a little bit of character to call their own, but at the end of the day the tracks never get beyond the “That’s quite nice” phase, meaning it’s somewhat of a chore to sit through a song from start to finish, let alone the entire EP.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Levi Roots - So Out Of My Mind

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

I don’t have the greatest knowledge of reggae, but I do love Reggae Reggae sauce. So I found myself predisposed to like Levi Roots’ song ‘So Out Of My Mind’. Even without my sauce bias, this is a lovely reggae track which just makes me want to kick back with a beer and some food (covered in Reggae Reggae sauce) and just enjoy myself. I really should be paid for this promotion.

The one gripe with ‘So Out Of My Mind’ is that the lyrics do come across as a little repetitive; however this does give the song that great feeling that it is meant to be sung along to and enjoyed. Overall this is a great song that, like most reggae, can’t help but put you in a good mood.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die / Thunder Remixes

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

For fans of The Prodigy’s new album ‘Invaders Must Die’, this set of remixes will be a welcome addition to their music collection. Opening strongly with the Liam H re-amped version of ‘Invaders Must Die’, this 6 track collection can’t help but get you dancing. A particular highlight is Doorly’s remix of Thunder, which joyfully tears your eardrums in a number of different directions and proves that Doorly has the talent to be around, remixing and making tracks for many years yet.

Overall this is a group of remixes that seem intended for the more devoted dance music fan rather than just the casual listener, but for those who love The Prodigy this is not one to be missed.


Bitterside - Start Again

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Back from the brink of breaking up Bitterside’s debut UK single is a cheerful and polished number accompanied by club dance remixes of the track and a B slide song called Versus Life, that could be argued to be a better song that the title single itself.

As far as it goes Bitterside have offered us a track that embodies what most modern rock pop songs have and nothing more. It has a feel good vibe with a decent instrumentals and vocals to match it however it does not bring us anything we have not heard before and the dance and club remixes are better left unheard.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Junk - Novus Ordo Seclorum

Reviewed by John Tait

Skacore: An interesting genre and one I can’t say I’ve heard too much of. However The Junk have given me an interest in their debut Novus Ordo Seclorum. As a punk addict I can safely say the first part of track 1 will not disappoint. With tight instrumentation, it begins with the energetic fast drumming that is so fundamental to many a good punk band. That is the first half of track number 1 however, which is followed by some kind of break down and I had no idea what was happening or what they were getting at, the song petering out eventually. Never mind, the second track has more punch to it, and I got a feel of the Mad Caddies with a gritty Leftover Crack edge. This track is more chirpy n’ cheerful, saving the record from banality in my view, and track 3 delivers a very listenable sound. The music is ideal for any fans of street punk and/or ska, although it may lack one or the other for some. One more issue I have with this is that the vocals sound a bit distant. Some of the raw energy devoted to their instruments would give the vocals the boost the band so very much needs. But apart from those easily solved issues The Junk should keep it up.


Catherine Maclellan - Water in the Ground

Reviewed by John Tait

My first impressions of this artist were light hearted, easy to listen to and with a jazzy feel (especially in the bass line). I grew fond of this album after the first 10 seconds of hearing it, thinking of K.T Tunstall and other artists with a similar sound. The album progressed with some very nice harmonies and a great arrangement. The tracks don’t last too long which is a common mistake made by musicians in the same genre all too often, stagnating their records. Her voice has a fresh feel to it, every track sounding a bit different in its vocal delivery from the last. I wasn’t really listening to the lyrics, I couldn’t tell you whether they were inspiring or not, but there is no denying the talent here. It is hard to think of anything negative to say about this album. If you are after strong lyrics and a more edgy quality to your folk then try The Tossers. For what it is however, this album could easily be described as a wonderful effort. But there is a time and a place for it, as was evident in my housemates comment when passing through the living room as track 5 was playing- “Shall I light some candles?”.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Thyrd Eye - Say Something

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Thyrd Eye boasts a neo punk alternative vibe throughout all three tracks on this single EP, Say Something. However while the band remain consistent on style and astute to their influences the sound produced is fairly messy with vocals being eclipsed by instrumentals and a general lack of distinction between bass and lead. The single Say Something is ridden with riffs and sounds similar to Nine Inch Nails earlier work. However the B side tracks Year Of The Dog and If I Wait Too Long lack the same edge as the title track. This record will be one for fans of more heavier industrial music but beyond that Thyrd Eye is unlikely to appeal.

Kaskade Vs. Deadmau5 - Move For Me

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

I am a great believer that the UK and those across the Atlantic (in this case America and Canada) are on equal footing musically. In fact, it frustrates me when people claim that one or the other country is currently musically superior to the other. I would like to think that at least some Americans and Canadians would agree with me that both music scenes are as valid as the other, and both are willing to accept the other’s music. Unfortunately, Kaskade and Deadmau5’s management did not agree until recently.

‘Move For Me’ was released across the pond in 2008. Whilst there is sometimes a lag of a couple of months between tracks being released on one side of the Atlantic compared to the other, a year and half delay is out of the ordinary and a little puzzling. Do the people pulling the strings behind Kaskade and Deadmau5 really believe that the UK is a year and a half behind the music trends of their own countries? Or were they waiting for Deadmau5 to hit the peak of his popularity here, and if so how do they know that the time is now? Perhaps his sold out show at the Newcastle O2 Academy last month was the giveaway, but I’d like to think that dance music DJs have a better habit of enduring after their mass popularity and continuing to perform to sold out venues long after their first chart successes, unlike pop artists. See Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy as examples (an all British sample I admit, but we’re all equal, right?). So why the gap? Answers on a postcard, please.

‘Move For Me’ is a beautiful little song, catchy and no doubt already performing well on the UK dance scene. My only complaint is a lack of forward movement within the song. Neither the music nor the lyrics have enough of interest to grab your attention; unfortunately it features nothing out of the ordinary from a number of dance hits I have heard recently. Nevertheless I found myself singing along to the hook in no time at all. Overall it is a pleasant enough track; it just doesn’t have enough individuality to make it stand out as a classic, enduring tune.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Lost Prophets - End of the World

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

Potentially more polarising for fans than their last studio album ‘Liberation transmission’, ‘Its Not the End of The World’, the latest single from the Lost Prophets, is a further step away from their pop punk break through material. Fans disenchanted by ‘Liberation Transmission’ will not find a return to the Welsh rockers glory days of ‘Shinobi Vs Dragon Ninja’, ‘Burn Burn’ or ‘Last Train Home’. Likewise, Transmission fans may too be disenchanted. ‘End of the World’, perhaps appropriately, does have a darker feel about it. The darkness, and some degree of emo apathy, must have spilled into the Prophet’s studio as even the sound quality has a shadowy feel. The bass is heavy and dull; whilst the guitars appear to aim for a fussy vs. clean tone contrast. However, they are predominately fussy throughout. The contrasting cleaner tones suffer from lack of volume. In fact contrast is only successfully reached when the song turns ‘Muse-y/ Matt Bellamy-esc’ in the guitar breakdown mid track that seems dramatically different to the darkness of track as a whole.

On first listen ‘End of the World’ is a disappointment (unless it is indeed the first Prophets track you’ve ever listened to). Even the happy choruses and chanting characteristic of ‘Liberation Transmission’ have been warped and seem sinister. In fact, I would describe ‘the woahs’ throughout ‘end of the world’ as uninspired. Akin to a noisy group of idiotic and drunken lads out on the razz; the Prophets fail to produce a convincing or fitting chorus harmony. Saving grace you plea? Luckily there is. In the last 50 seconds there is a moment of sheer quality. Ian Watkins actually unleashes his voice. So good is his voice in these fleeting seconds I will even go as far to say it actually saves the song. Instead of playing the song all the way through, you can, like me, just skip to that brilliantly loud moment over and over. No doubt, this track will continue to cause debate amongst Prophets Fans.

Nevertheless, I believe a complete removal of expectation, and a fresh look at the Lost Prophets is required whenever they release anything. They regularly reinvent their sound, and this must be complimented. Yet, if this was the first Lost Prophets track I ever heard I’m sure I’d enjoy it, but I’m not sure I’d rate it as special. I think on this one the listener should decide.

My Opinion: an on the fence 2.5/5….Ian Watkins’ scream alone 4/5

Absent Elk - Change My World

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

Unlike many, I had the advantage of knowing Absent Elk prior to being asked to review their track ‘Change My World’; an absolutely lovely and thoroughly enjoyable track. Serene, gentle and composed, ‘change my world’ is very agreeable. The vocals of Kjetil Morland are likewise as agreeable; reaffirming this Anglo-Norwegian five pieces tranquil charm. However, ‘change my world’ is not their strongest song, or the song of theirs I would tout to a friend hoping they become a fan. Though beautiful, it is quite forgettable, unlike, for example, their ubër catchy tune ‘Cannibals’. What I do know, however, is that ‘change my world’ adds credibility and variety to a band sporting a largely indie-pop sound. In the age of x-factor and what I like to call ‘capital orientated crap pop’ (a big general opinion I know) it is refreshing to hear a good band playing and writing good popular music. This track has everything a good pop song needs; likable vocals, pleasant acoustic guitar, strings, and drums that build up but don’t over power. It isn’t even over produced! When the drums kick in you can’t help but smile, and think things like; ‘Wow…life really isn’t all bad, at least we have sparrows…and chaffinches’. Mindless mental wanderings aside, it seems pop has become somewhat of a taboo term, associated with less than ‘indie-cool’ things. If you ask me Absent Elk are indie-cool, yet remain categorically pop. Just looking at the bands Absent Elk have supported gives you an inclination that they are indeed pop act (for those interested Elk have supported: Girl’s Aloud, the Script, Keane, and the Hoosiers). They have also done a pretty good home recording and reworking of Lady Gaga’s Pokerface: available to listen to on YouTube. Unashamedly, as a result of listening to Absent Elk I am happy to say I have some faith in good pop again. If you really wanted to you could describe Absent Elk as Scandinavian folk driven gentle indie, but that’s stupid, it’s guitar pop, and that’s nothing to be put off by. Well done Absent Elk, and thank you for bringing back some pop hope to the ‘scene’ generations (even if that wasn’t your intention).

Absent Elk’s album is out now, and ‘Change my World’ is released as a single on the 30/11/2009.


Ingrid Michaelson - Maybe

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Maybe is an enjoyable track from ‘billboard cover star’ Ingrid Michaelson, however there is nothing much new here or unique about this acoustic love song that could easily be mistaken for another single from the superior Sheryl Crow. Yet it is easy listening and is not bad for backing music but don’t expect anything classic.

Albino – I Love Everyone

Reviewed by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Look, I don’t like playing the scrooge. Despite all the tack and the tastelessness of it all, I’m still a sucker when I hear A Christmas Gift For You All burst into life over the speakers, or when the tree gets puts up and decorated.
This, however, is just bollocks. Their press release claims influences from the likes of The Smiths and The Magnetic Fields, but this just sounds like a Salvation Army choir fallen upon bad times. Built upon a slightly sea-sick rhythm, the track’s built out with one of the most horribly cheap organ sounds every conjured by a charity-shop synth, some blaringly bad horns and, acting as the arse-scented cherry atop this shit-encrusted tart, lead singer Ben Tucker’s painfully out-of-tune vocals.

And the worst part of this? ‘I Love Everyone’ isn’t even a new effort: it’s a re-release of a song they first put out two sodding years ago (and, quite honestly, it’s not hard to comprehend how it flopped the first time). So don’t give them any false hope by buying this, because otherwise they’re going to re-release it again in 2011, when some other poor sod at NSR is going to have to listen and review the damn thing. There’s going to be plenty of crappy releases for them to plough through without you adding to the pile.


Animal Collective – Brother Sport

Reviewed by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

I’m not even going to pretend to be impartial here. I absolutely adore Animal Collective – ever since I stumbled upon a copy of then-current album ‘Feels’ four years ago, I’ve found myself addicted to the many weird and wonderful records this band has put out, and in that time they’ve only got better.

Coming from this year’s triumphant leap into dance textures, Merriweather Post Pavilion, ‘Brother Sport’ is nothing less than six minutes of pure adrenaline: from the very first exuberant yell to the final, dizzying fade-out, it’s energy distilled into a pure, pristine cut of euphoric, joyous music. While it does perhaps work better as the conclusion to an epic full-length than as a stand-alone cut, it’s still a remarkably frantic piece of work that distils everything that made fans, new-comers and critics across the world fall hopelessly in love with Merriweather when it came out all the way back in January.

With Animal Collective currently re-grouping and planning their next move after their busiest, most successful year to date, ‘Brother Sport’ acts as a well-earned victory lap: a final display of brilliance, and a perfect way to close up this chapter in the AC story before they return to surprise us all once again.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Vitalic - Flashmob

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

When I first heard Vitalic’s debut album OK Cowboy, I was blown away. Ever since its release in 2005 I have been eagerly anticipating and dreading the follow up album. Anticipating because of the absolute stellar quality of each and every track on OK Cowboy; dreading it in case it was another Pendulum debacle where the second album was the biggest let down since school custard. This year has been disappointment after disappointment with other artists, with no album living up to the hype. Now the wait for Vitalic’s follow-up album is over, with the release of Flashmob through Different/PIAS recordings.

I find it very difficult to put into words my feelings about this album. From the first beat I had shivers running up and down my spine. Not only does Flashmob live up to the ridiculously high standards of OK Cowboy, but it takes Vitalic in a new direction, demonstrating his ability to evolve and adapt his music to keep his sound fresh. Each and every track has its own unique feel but they all fit together to make this an absolutely flawless album.

I literally cried tears of joy when I heard this album, it’s that good. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll add Flashmob to your music collection too.


Monday, 2 November 2009

Violet Violet – The City Is Full Of Beasts

Reviewed by Mark Gomersall

There is a longstanding joke of inbreeding in the Norfolk area, and while Norwich based Violet Violet may not have any additional fingers you wouldn’t be knocked for thinking that the band were blessed with more limbs than your average human being. Originally beginning life as a trio, the band released their debut album “Bitchbox” back in 2007, since then they’ve gone through a line-up change, ditching the bass player and becoming a 2-person entity. The 2-‘man’ band is a set up that’s seemingly becoming more and more popular, with the likes of The Ting Tings and Blood Red Shoes making a breakout last year. In fact, Violet Violet do share a lot in common with the aforementioned Blood Red Shoes, besides lacking a Y chromosome and a drummer that looks like a failed experiment that’s escaped from a laboratory petri dish. Stylistically though the bands are very similar, mixing razor sharp female vocals and garage rock influenced guitar riffs in songs that are easy on the ear and exciting enough to get your feet tapping in an instant.

The first thing that jumps out at you about the songs is just how frantic it sounds. Even though the instrumentation is stripped to the core, it still sounds so exciting and big. The riffs are so catchy you’ll find yourself humming along to tracks like “One Little Problem” and “Twin On Twin” in no time. Then the vocal work begins the hit home. The harmonies, the interweaving vocal lines, the shouts, the screams, it all just fits together so perfectly, and no more so than in “C-C-C-Cat”. It is absolutely phenomenal, sounding as though it’s lifted straight from the early days of the Arctic Monkeys, with its snappy chorus and a verse that’s right out of the Alex Turner playbook, right down to the delivery and pronunciation of the lyrics. If you don’t have the urge to yell out “You stole my C-C-C-C-C-Cat” at random intervals you’re a stronger person than me (or probably not as drunk).

In indie-rock at the minute there seems to be two main trends. Either you’re so overtly quirky and twee that you could realistically borrow your nans cardigan and be heralded as a fashion trendsetter, playing songs that are so sugary that they could wipe out a family of diabetics. Or you’re a massively over the top prick, who once listened to “Out Of The Blue” by Electric Light Orchestra so have decided to layer everything with ridiculous synthesized strings because you think it makes your songs sound ‘epic’. So it’s honestly refreshing to hear an album like “The City Is Full Of Beasts”, where things have been stripped to the bare bones and Violet Violet explode with 10-songs full of indie-punk hooks.

Oh yeah, there’s also a really rather pointless remix at the end too. People still do hidden tracks? Seriously? They’re never worth it and just bring the mood down. They’re the musical equivalent of an Easter egg hunt where when the kids eventually find the eggs they’ve all melted into the grass and the dog has already been at them, who when they get back to the house is dead in the porch from chocolate poisoning.


The Chapman Family - Virgins

Reviewed by Solveig Werner

The Chapman Family, hailing from Stockton-on-Tees, released their newest single, Virgins, on the 12th of October. They are a four piece band which formed in 2006, and has been gaining in success ever since. Till now they have supported and played along side the acts that are in everyone’s mouth at the moment such as La Roux, and have been performing at various UK festivals.

This family band is another group riding on the success that Post Punk Revival has been having over recent years. The singer, Kingsley Chapman, has the sort of smoky voice generally associated with post punk. On the track Virgins his voice could be compared with that of the Maxïmo Park singer, or the vocalist of Crystal Stilts. Music wise the Chapman family is closer to the Crystal Stilts.

Virgins starts off with an intro that makes one think of the arrival of someone that cannot be missed. There is a gradual increase in importance; it is like a musical storm. The song critiques someone, “I don’t think I like what you’ve become!”

The B-Side Goodtimes is a lot slower, the music is less violent, but it also is a sadder track. Instrumentally it is nicer, there is piano and string music on the track, which automatically has a calming effect on the listener.


The Cheek- Hung Up

Reviewed by Sammy Newman

Well, hhmmm positive thoughts…. Well its easy enough to listen to and the cheek doesn’t offend you my large ears in any way but the problem is that this sulky, geek chic indie band are pretty generic with a very basic riff where nothing really happens all the way through the song. Picture a better looking version of a garage band of Pulp and that’s what you basically have, a dated sound which doesn’t really have anything fun, cool or exciting to say about itself.

1.5/ 5

Dreadzone – Tomorrow never comes

Reviewd by Sammy Newman

On all the influences which the countless members of Dreadzone use , “Tomorrow Never Comes” takes a heavy reggae soul and mixes in some psychedelic and electronic influences for a tuneful experimentation. Especially with the mix of a pulsating beat and the soothing vocals. While the track is definitively good enough for anyone’s playlist I am just a bit lost on where you would listen to it. Its too chilled and melodic for club nights and too up beat for a chilled Ibiza Sunday morning hungover snooze, and its hardly a radio friendly with its 6 minutes 23 seconds which drones in the same beat the whole way through. Therefore, it’s a interesting tune with a little case of a lost identity


Bull See Red - A Girl Called Murder

Reviewed by Antonio Alves da Silva

The song as whole is average. The good points are the catchy guitar riffs. I especially enjoyed the ending and how there was a build up that flowed smoothly. The band subtly also add their name to parts of the song which I found amusing. The song could be improved by changing the way the vocals are sung in parts of the single to make them not sound so whiney. The 7 second intro I would say is the worst part of the song. But as a whole the song sounds like an amalgamation of many bands around at present, it lacks originality.

Noah and the Whale - Love of an Orchestra

Reviewed by Charles Beavis

A curse of the sophomore album these days after a relatively successful debut, aside from 'difficult second album syndrome', is the seeming obligation to include a strings or orchestra section. The extra budget enables them to play and they think that it is the best form for their output even though it clearly is not necessary. Noah and the Whale have a style of music that with skilful deployment, an orchestra or strings section works magnificently as is the case here. (Also the name of this single doesn't exactly lend itself to a solo guitar).

What orchestra parts there are to be found here are handled with care and pace. By the end you are left thinking that there was a full symphonic playing. The skill of arrangement induces paired with some Derren Brown style trickery from the repetition of the title in the lyrics leaves you thinking they had the London Philharmonic on board. So much repeated are those lyrics that by the end they are just starting to grind but with a track such as this it finds further excellence in its brevity. A short 2 minute blast of choir and piano and suddenly you find yourself in a world that is better than it was 125 seconds ago.


I Still Love You More - Pama International review

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Like most reggae I Still Love you More by Pama Internation is a cheerful and upbeat song about the joys of love, acceptance etc. While the sound will be very familiar to fans of the genre it will still bring a smile to your face and Pama International restain themselves from doing anything experimental but instead simply do the old traits of reggae well. The B track, Equality & Justice For All, has more of a Bob Marley influence to it and is an adequate accompaniment to the title track.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Atlas Sound - Walkabout

Reviewed by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Well here’s one for the picture book. Bradford Cox and Panda Bear, both standard bearers for the school of American Alternative Rock, Class ‘08-’09, have both been touring partners and mutual fans for a long time, but ‘Walkabout’, the first single from the Atlas Sound (Bradford’s solo project) record Logos, marks the first time the two have appeared together on record.

Riding largely on an organ sample from the Dovers’ ‘What Am I Going To Do’, the celebratory nature of the track initially appears much more a product of Panda Bear than Atlas Sound, boasting an optimism and lightness of feel rarely found in Bradford Cox’s tense, claustrophobic work. But the devil is very much in the details, and amongst the duo’s jubilant chanting, Cox’s trademarks slowly appear: a slightly worn, faded production style that renders the sound nostalgic and sepia-toned, the chiming delayed guitars quietly subverting the blasts or organ in the back of the mix and the sudden, unexpected fade-out all bring the track back in line with what we might expect of the Atlas Sound moniker. Bradford Cox may have spoken of Logos being an attempt to produce a more extroverted record, and certainly ‘Walkabout’ does see his music step gloriously into the sunlight – just don’t expect there not to be at least some residual fear there.

Pearl Jam - Got Some / Just Breathe

Reviewed by Tom Waldron 'off the radio'

Before I begin I want to make clear that nowhere in this review will I use the “G” word, it’s a well documented fact that the term “Flannel Rock” is far more politically correct.

Okay this is the new double A-sided single from flannel rockers Pearl Jam and it finds them moving in a more commercial direction which comes as somewhat of a surprise and I’m not talking about in the way that “Ten” was commercial either the material here is somewhat poppier with “Got Some” being a little reminiscent of the Police (The band not the force, so don’t flush all your drugs down the toilet.) that said it’s a fine song not one of the bands best but it’s catchy with some excellent drumming and Mike McCready contributes some tasteful leads without letting rip, showing why he’s one of the finest lead guitarists of the last 20 years. “Just Breathe” sees the band moving in a folksy direction and this, I feel is the weaker of the two tracks on display although it does feature some cool organ parts from the “6th Pearl Jammer” Boom Gaspar. So in conclusion, not the bands finest hour but decent enough, hey at least they aren’t making records with Timbaland (take that Chris Cornell, with your boy band haircut and your French restaurant!)

3/5. Grunge. Bugger.

Alister Spence - Mercury

Reviewed by John Jackson

I took this to review on a whim, partly because of my want to expand my knowledge of the Jazz scene and partly because I had been drinking, however as soon as a popped the CD in my computer I realised it had been a great choice. At first listen the album hits you as a piece of classic lounge music, this is the sort of music the bourgeoisie drink flamboyant cocktails too. It is the sort of music you listen too whilst unwinding with a coffee, a latte for example. However after listening to it again, you realise it wasn’t a latte you were drinking, it was an espresso.

Ok I realise that comparing jazz music to coffee isn’t the done thing but bear with me. A latte is a comfortable drink, easy to get right, easy to drink, similar to good lounge music. A good espresso, however, is difficult to make, its flavours vary inside it from the strength of the first sip, to the subtle aftertaste, similar to good jazz music.

I have often found it difficult to appreciate music without lyrics yet the trio’s pianist Spence dispels this idea within moments of the opening track Alpha. You can hear his passion in his touches of the keys in what seems a mystical setting. Then in later tracks, such as my personal favourite Marco Polo goes West, you can hear a frenzy of notes pouring out from the heart of the piano. Swanton and Hall (Bass and drums respectively) provide a fantastic backing to this, seemingly following wherever the piano goes with music to accompany it perfectly. There style also seems to range from the classic lounge jazz sounds of Sixteen to the more experimental Pi. Pi sounds like it should be taken from the soundtrack of lost in translation, its only 1:48 long yet it makes the biggest impact on the album due to it being constructed using mainly glockenspiel samples but also due to its relaxed nature coming straight after the frenzy that is Marco Polo goes west.

All in all, I love this album and am deeply looking forward to reviewing their newest album Fit. Seriously if you are interested in jazz or seeing the roots of modern music please have a listen, preferably somewhere comfortable, low lit, with a drink, I suggest an old fashioned one.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Frank Turner - Poetry of the Deed

Reviewed by Chris Render

Taken from his album of the same name, guitarist/singer/songwriter extraordinaire Frank Turner’s new single is nothing short of what fans have come to expect: astonishing. Poetry of the Deed, like much of Turner’s earlier work, is simultaneously touching, talented and thought-provoking. Turner’s real appeal lies with his ability to speak to an audience made up of real people. The result of this man’s talent combined with the consideration he puts into his song writing is an affecting musical triumph. I’ve never heard a bad Frank Turner song and Poetry of the Deed fails to break his streak: an uplifting tour de force.


Lucky Elephant - Reverend Tisley & His Magic Lantern

Reviewed by Chris Render

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Reverend Tisley & His Magic Lantern is a laid back affair, competently performed by Lucky Elephant. Definitely worthy of note are the vocals of French singer Manu, possibly the highlight of both tracks on the single. The title track is cheerful, easy to listen to and hard to dislike, and Edgar is no different. Whilst the music of Lucky Elephant is not the kind of thing that one would usually find within my own music collection, their unique sound has won me over. Though you’re unlikely to hear this in many clubs, I’d track it down. It’s worth the extra effort.


Hollywood Undead - Young

Reviewed by Chris Render

Hollywood Undead are a rare breed, crafting rap metal that, well, isn’t bad. Their streak of showing that this genre has indeed got some merit is not broken by Young. I’m willing to concede that not everybody’s iPod has room for Hollywood Undead, indeed, I’d say they’re probably more of an acquired taste, but personally I really enjoyed Young. If you’re a fan of Krash, check this out.


The Explorer's Collective - Bangers and Mash

Review of The Explorer’s Collective – Bangers and Mash
Chris Render

Hip, catchy, right up my alley: all ways I could (and in the end chose to) describe Bangers and Mash. It’s infectious riff stays with you long after the song finishes and on the whole the debut single from London four-piece The Explorer’s Collective is a brilliant display of talent. With shades of bands like The Kinks, Bloc Party and The Fratellis, I’d be both disappointed and astonished if The Explorer’s Collective aren’t the next big thing.


Ash - True Love 1980

Reviewed by Chris Render

I like Ash, and True Love 1980 is no exception, reminiscent (at least to my humble ears) of arguably their greatest track to date, Girl From Mars. A catchy tune, great vocals and genuine music talent provide a showcase for Ash’s formidable talent, displaying a return to the golden days of this staple of the music scene. It might not be for everyone, but if you like Ash, you’ll love True Love 1980.


Codeine Velvet Club - Vanity Kills

Reviewed by Chris Render

It’s good to be reviewing again, not least of all because I get to listen to musical triumphs like Vanity Kills. Codeine Velvet Club’s new single is a brilliantly catchy display of talent, one that I find myself whistling long after last hearing it. I’m definitely expecting to hear more from this talented group of artists in the coming months. Codeine Velvet Club are among the most interesting artists I’ve encountered this year.


The Plight - Wind of Osiris

Reviewed by Phil Boardman

“Winds Of Osiris” is the debut full-length album from Leeds' The Plight. After the first listen I wasn’t too sure about the album with growling hardcore vocals making it hard to listen to, but on a second listen it soon started to grow on me. The guitar riffs throughout the album have a classic rock sound and are extremely catchy, and the instrumental “Lifted to the Sun” is a nice change after listening to the fast paced riffs from the rest of the album. Another album highlight for me would be the song "Tied To The Tracks" opening with a classic sounding guitar riff reminding me of Audioslave, which then blends well with energetic drum beat, also the vocals in this song become a lot more distinguished in comparison, making it easier to listen to than other songs on the album. If you’re in to bands such as Gallows and Cancer Bats these are definitely worth a listen to.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Greyhounds in the Slips - The Joy Formidable

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

The combination of hook heavy lyrics and droning guitar, force the Joy Formidable to your attention, if nothing else. Yet, it is somewhat darker than their 2008 offering Austere. Admittedly this is not every body’s cup of tea, but it engenders a reaction similar to said cup of tea being thrown into your face. Perhaps this is the reason the trio are supporting the likes of: The Editors, Passion Pit in the UK, and then are on a European tour with the Temper Trap; all this after a mini tour of Japan. The guest vocals of Paul Draper (of Mansun fame) compliment the now industrial tones of a band born in the welsh country. All this, and energetic live performances indicate they should be monitored for chance of future success.
I do however have a few issues with the recording itself. The Vocals, though undoubtedly catchy in the chorus, are blurred in the verse; blending the vocals into the body of the music as whole so that they are eventually lost. Those of you wanting poetic sentiments throughout will also be disappointed. Furthermore, if you are that annoying person on facebook; the one who loves to quote inspired song lyrics as their status, you too will not find what you are looking for. However, if you love household appliances you are in luck. The vocal-less ‘bridge section’ towards the end of the song sounds like a washing machine drumming and whirring to the ambience of a kitchen radio. Check them out, but this I have to say is largely an injustice to their live quality.

2.5 / 5

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – Dance The Way I Feel

Reviewed by Solveig Werner

On the 2nd of November the North London three-piece band Ou Est Le Swimming Pool is releasing their newest single Dance The Way I Feel. Charles Haddon, Joe Hutchinson, and Caan Capan might be making some mistakes with their French (“Ou est le swimming pool” means “or is the swimming pool”, when they probably wanted to say “Où est le swimming pool” which means “where is the swimming pool), but they do know how to make some catchy music.

This new song strongly reminds me of the better releases by the Black Kids, just this time it is a British and not an American band providing our ears with the tunes. The song is for the dance floor, and will most likely find its most followers in the mid teens.

Even though one of their influences is meant to be The Pet Shop Boys, La Roux could very well influence them on this track.


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Arctic Monkeys - Cornerstone

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Keeping the same dark vibe of their latest and frankly brilliant album, Humbug, the Arctic Monkeys new single Cornerstone is everything that you could hope for from the Sheffield lot. It may not be as catchy as earlier singles like I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor or Teddy Picker yet it still has that authentic northern touch that the band are famous for. While slightly depressing in places it still contains enough witty lyrics to bring a smile to your face and leave you craving more.

Kill It Kid

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

Like a shot of bourbon to the eye, Kill It Kid’s debut Album (self titled but known as ‘Songs of Love and Loss and Debauchery’) is as hot as an iron prod to cowhide. They are probably the first band of 2009 to leave the listener branded. Not your generic blues, indie, folk or even country sound. In fact many arguments will be had trying to define them. The lead vocal is nothing short of breath taking. The blues and country influences in this album are manifest and self-evident. However, this album does not give the listener a one-genre handle to grasp. Unique male vocals, raw guitar, and dynamic fiddle playing are mellowed by heartfelt piano and soulful female harmony. Even the lyrics are educated and catchy, far from mindless. There is so much to grab your attention it is easy to overlook the thundering drums; drums which at the same time are finely balanced and produced. Highly evocative tracks such as send me an ‘Angel Down’ and ‘Private Idaho’ gives the album a softer and at times beautiful core. A necessary contrast to furious tracks such as the albums hard-hitting opener ‘Heaven Never Seemed So Close’, and the electric bluesy feel of the ‘Troubles of Loretta’ and ‘Burst it Banks’. In fact the album is filled with controlled out pourings of emotion. Emotion expressed through the music’s variety of pace and tone, and not forgetting Chris Turpin’s unbelievable voice. The song’s layouts even have more depth than your standard formulaic pop. Nothing I write can adequately describe this bands truly massive and exciting sound. You’ll struggle to choose a favourite track by them. Honestly, this is the best album I’ve bought in a long time. Not bad for five young guns from Bath.


Sundown - Anywhere Inside

Reviewed by James Fairfield

After 5 years of releasing EPs, gigging and supporting various bands around Europe, rock band Sundown finally come round to releasing their debut album, Anywhere Inside and do not fail to make a great first impression. It comes as sad news that they cancelled their North England and Scotland tour of the album as the record. The album is an intricate blend of acoustic and electric rock underpinned by a funky vibe that allows Anywhere Inside to make for essential easy listening as well as including a sweet dose of originality.

The album is at its heart a collection of love songs, but don’t let that deter you from giving it a listen, as it is full of bittersweet lyrics as well as having a few brutal riffs to accompany. The two opening tracks Inside and Later That Night are chilled out and as you can guess from the track names are fairly cheeky. While the later tracks take a more electrical approach to the music, most notably Just A ride, but still maintain a laid back sound.

For the final couple of tracks Sundown return to their acoustic roots to finish off the album on a lighter and slicker note that will leave you wanting more. Making this a promising debut album and leaving us hopeful for the future.

Ivor Game - Small

Reviewed by James Tabbinor

Ivor Game is a little known London based singer/songwriter who’s been around for a good decade or so, and has had a string of well received albums and singles. You may not have heard of him but he’s managed to tour the UK and Europe, sometimes going as far as America to play gigs. Having said that, they obviously can’t have been massive tours otherwise we’d have heard more of him, so he can’t be that good, right?

Well you know what, this isn’t half bad. It’s actually quite good, and different. It isn’t mind blowing or musically revolutionary, but it isn’t trying to be. The lyric ‘There’s something quite remarkable in being small’ sums it up, and I suppose that reflects his career; he’s not been at the top selling platinum albums, but he’s quite content and happy not to be. He obviously just enjoys making music, and fair play to him, because this is a lot better than some generic basement band shite that sings about making it to the top and the like. This is just a nice song with decent lyrics and a gentle guitar piece backing it, and it doesn’t claim to be anything else, so you can’t really fault him for that.


Monday, 19 October 2009

Mando Diao – Give Me Fire

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

If the Arctic Monkey’s were more soulful and Swedish, or if the Hives decided they wanted to ‘become more mature’ (which they should never do) you might end up with Mando Diao. ‘Give me Fire’ is their 5th Studio Album. Upon first listening this album peaks, and troughs. There are, however, some absolute standout tracks. Tracks including ‘Gloria’ which subtly incorporates strings and female backing vocals into Mando’s ‘boyish garage rock’ meets ‘gospel’ sound. A sound I’m lead to believe in the past was driven by bass lines, choppy chords, distorted guitar riffs and dancey rock /indie beats. This less produced sound perhaps best epitomised by their breakthrough 2004 album ‘Hurricane Bar’. In many respects, not a whole lot has changed, though there is indication of further diversion away from the sound of albums gone by. Perhaps the pop highlight of the album is ‘Dance with somebody’. It’s the kind of track that should, and probably will, echo around national radio for months. It has ‘sing-along-able’ lyrics, and words that will most definitely stick in your head. Stick to the extent you’ll have to beat them out of your mind with concentrated doses of Britney Spears ‘womanizer’ (or something equally repetitive) which conveniently you’ve crafted into some sort of mind baseball bat. Mercifully it’s not all just mindless pop dribble. After two or three listens you start to get what this album is all about. The in your face indie pop tracks, though still enjoyable, take a back seat. Tracks such as ‘Maybe Just Sad’, show that amongst the gospel Mando actually do have something to preach; preaching with the innocence of language only a Swedish band singing in English could. Mando frame themselves as sort of working class heroes. You can see why with reoccurring references to ‘the upper classes’. If this isn’t your political view, don’t worry, everyone can relate to death. Mando Diao’s track ‘Crystal’ is amongst the most pleasant I’ve heard dealing with the subject of the afterlife. I don’t feel this album will be the death of the band; in fact quite the contrary. ‘Give me fire’ looks set to bring Mando Diao to the attention of a fan base that has thus far eluded them. I just hope current Mando fans enjoy it. Stick with it, and give it a few listens when it’s released.


Massive Attack – Splitting the Atom EP

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

If you will excuse the poor joke, I am a massive Massive Attack fan, and it was with great eagerness that I put the Splitting the Atom EP in my CD drive. I was immediately confronted with an EP unlike any other music Massive Attack have released.

The trick with this record is to forget that it is Massive Attack. Again excuse the pun, but I know this is tricky. When you recall such seminal releases such as Blue Lines and Mezzanine you immediately feel disappointed, even cheated by this record. The songs just don’t seem to have the same depth and beauty of previous seminal masterpieces such as ‘Teardrop’, ‘Angel’ or ‘Man Next Door’. But if you succeed in ignoring the fact that this is Massive Attack and don’t compare it to their previous releases, you’re actually listening to some good music. Hearing Guy Garvey’s vocals on ‘Bulletproof Love’ was surprisingly pleasant, and whilst you could hear the musical influence that the Elbow front man has had on the track, it also had a distinctly un-Elbowlike quality to it. Equally it did not sound like the Massive Attack we have all grown to know and love. By far my favourite track on this EP was ‘Psyche (Flash Treatment)’, featuring the gorgeous vocals of Martina Topley-Bird. This track has a twinge of a dubstep feel to it, whilst still maintaining the sense of a classic chill-out track. Of the four songs, ‘Psyche’ was the most encouraging, and if the new album due out next year is along the lines of this track I do not doubt that it will be another sensational record.

I do not think Massive Attack were attempting to continue down the musical path they have become so established on with this EP. This is a move in a new direction, into new territory that they have not covered before. Now there is just the question of convincing massive Massive Attack fans that this is something to get excited about.


A Lesser Of Two Evils – Fighting Fiction

Reviewed by Mark Gomersall

When I think of reggae the last words I expect to see describing it are "These are songs written with anger", but that's exactly what Bristol 4-piece "Fighting Fiction" are promising on their debut EP "A Lesser Of Two Evils". Whilst this has all the makings of a trainwreck, the band actually manage to pull off the blend of reggae and indie-rock fairly competently, albeit in a rather mediocre fashion, with the opening and closing tracks both feeling as though they're stuck in second gear. It's also quite difficult to shrug off the feeling that this is the kind of music your year 9 Geography teacher would have enjoyed. However, the middle 2-songs on the EP sees the band turning things around. Channelling the spirit of both Billy Bragg and a more ‘punked up’ Frank Turner, “Cameraphones And Choruses” and “You Mean The World To Me” are exciting tracks with massive sing-along choruses and show definite promise for the band’s future. All in all a mixed bag of an EP, in which I feel the band still hasn’t found the sound they’re looking for.


Zero 7 – Yeah Ghost

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

Zero 7 have always been fairly poppy, but I always thought they had an extra spark that gave their records more credibility than the average pop artist. Yeah Ghost seems to have veered yet more into the grounds of pop than previous albums, possibly even borderline indie, and the only way to do this album justice is to review it as such. Or so I thought.

Zero 7’s lyrics have always stood out as remarkable. They have a beautiful way of constructing very simple, yet very elegant lyrics that intrigue the listener. Yeah Ghost is no exception to this rule, and having listened to this album about ten times I am still noticing lyrics that I did not spot the previous times. Pretty impressive for a pop record, eh?

This is probably because this record is still so much more than pop. There is a lot more going on in these songs than any commercial pop record could offer, and clearly plenty more thought has gone into their creation. Yeah Ghost still does not have enough substance to be considered a decisive piece of music, but it is still a great joy to listen to with some absolute gems on it, and a welcome addition to my music collection.


Assembly Point 3 – Slipping Away

Reviewed by Stephen Ferrell

For an unsigned band I have to say I was immediately impressed by the quality of the production on the Slipping away track. This is clearly anthemic Indie and the track kicks off with a superb energy level driven by the guitar and drums. The pounding constant drumbeat has a real foot tapping quality to it. The vocals are perfect for this style of music and the lyrics are of a good quality for this kind of anthemic Indie. I can see this track being big both in the Indie clubs and for anyone that is just looking for some good music to listen to. I can certainly see this band becoming very big in the forthcoming months. Also included is a second track Finelines. This is a much more melodic track, though it still maintains a good energy level. It gives the vocalist a much better opportunity to demonstrate his abilities. Again the lyrics are pretty good. Neither of these tracks could in any sense be described as anything original or groundbreaking. However there is still something special about doing what has been done before to a highly proficient level. That’s exactly what the band have done here.


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over

Reviewed by Christian Allen

Rose Elinor Dougall must already be fed up of reviews linking her current project to her polkadot past as the lead member of the Pipettes, alas the transition from band to solo isn’t as easy as Phil Collins would make out. The Pipettes arguably were the first act of recent times to acknowledge and embody the sound of pre-rock/mid-60s girl-group pop which has now proved so fruitful for Duffy, Amy Winehouse and co. However Rose Elinor Dougall has successfully disassociated herself from this with her own work and this latest offering due out in November.

The first to go solo, I originally became aware of Dougall’s work with her previous single “Stop/Start/Synchro” and “Fallen Over” can only further her fan base. A nostalgic pop track, Dougall’s vocals float over the descending bassline and pacey drums perfectly as she sings of the difficulties that come with a relationship. How we often stumble, but these troubles are continually worth it.

Dougall has been careful to take her time with her return. Quietly making sure her sound grows organically with limited release singles, bedroom recordings and the like. She admits this single itself has gone through a few incarnations before its recording and right now she sounds like she's trying to find her own sound and style. But this single is encouraging stuff and with an album ‘Without Why’ due out next year, it seems Rose Elinor Dougall will dispel any notion of the difficulties that come with going solo.

Century Media Records Sampler

Reviewed by Tom “Various Artists” Waldron

Century Media has since 1988 been one of the world’s foremost independent Rock and Metal labels, finding home, at one time or another to influential metal bands such as Celtic Frost, Eyehategod, Napalm Death and Tony Hadley (Oh hang on a second…). So needless to say it’s a name that carries considerable weight in the metal world.Kicking off this sampler are Fu Manchu whose groovy “stoner” rock vibe recalls Kyuss or Hawkwind albeit with a more straight forward rock feel. It’s enjoyable enough but if you want to hear this kind of music at its finest you’d be better off listening to Corrosion of Conformity, any of Wino’s musical output (the Obsessed, Spirit Caravan etc.) or of course Black Sabbath. Nevertheless this is cool and a welcome departure from much of today’s totally castrated “Rock” music.

Next up are Dark Tranquillity, one of many Melodic Death Metal bands from Sweden. Unsurprisingly there’s a definite Iron Maiden influence here but that’s all I can find to commend here, as I’m not a fan of the troll vocals, overused and clichéd harmonics on the guitars, the crowd being too high in the mix (it’s a live song.) and the masturbatory keyboards. Gothenburger.

Hey Prog’s back! It’s cool to like Prog again! We can wear Kaftans! Alright! Well I don’t think if you are a fan of progressive rock you care too much for trends but there has been a noticeable resurgence in the genre’s popularity not that Transatlantic (that’s a terrible, terrible band name, yeah I know you have members from both sides of the Atlantic I get it) are spring chickens: its members hailing from Dream Theatre, The Flower Kings, Marillion and Spock’s beard (Now that’s a great band name, I bet all the hot chicks want to bang the dudes from Spock’s beard.) There’s a definite “Yes” vibe to the material here (Yeah I know what “Yes” sound like, how am I still single?) By all rights I should hate this with a passion but its fun to listen to and the musicianship’s stellar.

Shadow Gallery are another proggy band with a rubbish name and silly keyboards. But there’s some interesting riff work going on here and the singer sounds a bit like Bruce Dickinson. If you’re into widdly prog metal this is for you. It’s pure cheese but I guess that’s the point.

What’s this! Prog metal! Again! Los Angeles based Redemption combine technical riffing, oddly funky basslines and yep you guessed it cheesy keyboards which display a bit of a rainbow influence (the band not the T.V. show, although the influence of zippy and co. wouldn’t go a miss.) This is technically proficient stuff but it doesn’t really stand out.

Now I remember Inme from when I was 13 or something like that. And whilst they’ve improved since then this is fairly horrible modern rock tripe

Finally we have Oceansize providing some interesting post-rock. Is that a xylophone I hear in there? Nice! I’d probably recommend this to Radiohead and Slint fans and it certainly comes as a breath of fresh air after all the bands trying and mostly failing to be heavy on this sampler.

The Unkindness of Ravens - Accelerator/Yours Forever

Reviewed by Stephen Ferrell

The first track from this double a-side is clearly aimed at the Indie dance floor. I can see it working very well in that context as well. Though the track is nothing particularly ground breaking or special. The sparsely programmed drum machine and heavily distorted bass dominate the sound spectrum. I am generally a fan of distorted bass but it doesn’t really work in this track. The dominance of the beats and bass Leave little room for the vocals, which are well performed. Though they are let down by poor lyrics. It’s difficult to see this track working in any context other then a club. The second track Yours forever has more depth to it though. This is largely because the again excellent vocals are given much more room in the mix. I can hear real potential in this track. The drum programming is again very sparse but this time it fits the feel of the track. The guitar works well and uses effects well without trying to dominate the track. Overall this is a much better track.


Personal Space Invaders - Not My Boyfriend

Reviewed by Stephen Ferrell

I have to say I found the radio edit of this track pretty disappointing on first listen. Though it does seem to grow on you after a few listens. This sound is nevertheless a bit out of fashion currently. It seems as though they were aiming for an early Futureheads/ Maximo park inspired sound. this may have worked well a few years back but its difficult to see the market for it currently. There are however a couple of interesting remixes on this single. The DJ men in masks remix seeks to combine the post-punk sound with some elements of dubstep. It is good in places but still sounds quite disjointed. The really impressive track to me though is the Lethem Remix. It takes the track and adds some classic dub elements. The dub influence in early post punk seems to have been largely ignored by most post punk revivalists. Which makes this mix so much more impressive. The use of tape delay and echo would have made king tubby proud. This remix really is excellent.

4/5 mainly for the Lethem remix

Danger's Close and The Destructors - Scheinkunde Split

Reviewed by "Handsome" Tom Waldron

Now what we have hear is a split single from two up and coming punk bands. First up are Danger’s close (isn’t it great that they have a comma in their name! Punk with grammar! Finally!) The male/female vocal combination works well and reminds me of The Rezillos and to a lesser extent the great ‘X’ from Los Angeles. But with a far more aggressive approach than the two aforementioned bands. On a less positive note the lead guitar was a bit sloppy and not in a good sloppy way either. But if you are into punk and hungry for new bands you could do a lot worse than check these guys out.

Next up are the Destructors from Peterborough and I cannot help but hear the influence of Newcastle’s own Black metal pioneers Venom when I listen to this, I can’t be sure whether it’s intentional or not but I like it that the singer sounds a fair bit like Cronos from Venom (note to bands giving yourselves wicked cool pseudonyms is always a good idea.) Lyrically the Destructors are very standard fare for a punk band and perhaps a different approach might be a good idea. My personal favourite track here was the less than one minute long “Sewage worker” which had a nice bit of early 80’s hardcore fury to it. So in conclusion, nothing mind blowing here but it’s enjoyable enough.

Jyl Millard - Ace of Spades

Reviewed by "Synthesiser" Tom Waldron

Q: “Who would win in an arm wrestling match Lemmy or God”

A: “Trick question, Lemmy is God”

And with that oft-quoted line from the movie “Airheads” my foray into the world of electronica covers of Motorhead songs begins… I’ll have to admit my knowledge of Electro is a bit rubbish, I mean I don‘t even know who “Toxic Pete” is although I think he may have appeared on Channel 4’s “Nathan Barley” but I can’t be sure. However I’m an expert on all things Lemmy so I’ll approach this from that angle. Judging from the songs press release it would seem that part of Jyl’s agenda was to offend the hairys and have them muttering on about how “metal rules” and “that techno crap belongs on mars” and so on. I’m sorry to say that I’m a rock fan and I didn’t hate this, didn’t love it either (sorry Jyl!) Novelty versions of songs aren’t really my cup of tea but I kind of dug the approach taken to Fast Eddie Clarke’s guitar work on this version: it’s been slowed down giving it a very bluesy vibe illustrating how Motorhead is underneath all that volume, and there’s a lot of volume involved, (go see them live in November if you doubt this, yes that is a plug.) essentially a blues-rock band in the tradition of the Yardbirds. The B-side here is a Millard original called “Slo and Crazy” and this track shows the Portishead influence in her music and works far better now that the novelty factor is gone.


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Quiznam Vigilo Vigilo by The Destructors

Reviewed by Tom "Sid" Waldron

Y’know what I’m not going to go into what “Quiznam Vigilo Vigilo” means and Y’know why I’m not going to? Because I’m punk and I don’t care. Hey, Screw ya! What are you lookin’ at and so on. Er yeah this is my second review of the Destructors musical output and I really don’t feel the description of the band as a “Scuzz Detroit garage punk rock band from Peterborough” is really fitting. I’m not denying their Peterborough heritage but I don’t get the Detroit connection. For me any mention of “the motor city” conjures up images of the MC5, the Stooges and the Alice Cooper band amongst others and when I think of those bands my eyes glaze over, I drool incessantly and there’s a warm feeling in my trousers and alas this particular E.P didn’t do that for me. Not that this isn’t an enjoyable little collection: imagine the kind of Punk band that’s is a staple on Hellcat records fronted by a less pissed off and less Geordie version of Cronos from Venom and you’ve got the right idea. My personal favourites here included “State Control” which had a nifty little solo section and the Vindictives cover because any song with a chorus of “you cunt” is alright with me.


Friday, 9 October 2009

Mercurius – Come On In

Reviewed by James Tabbinor

The press release for this debut album from Mercurius claims that they have a fresh sound that is ‘purposely meandering off the course of current music trends’ and I’d have to agree. Yes, this album does have a sound that is different to what we hear on the radio these days, but only because it seems to have revisited the trends of pop/rock from a decade or so ago. It sounds very outdated, purely because at times the lyrics sound as generic as those of Oasis, other times the lead guitar sounds like a cross between James and The Charlatans, it all combines to create the feeling that you’ve heard this record before.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible, but it isn’t great either, it’s just frustratingly competent and I’m afraid to say at times a bit formulaic. I’m not saying that on an album each song should be strikingly different from the one preceding, but there’s only so many times you can listen to a song that begins with hard hitting chords and riffs, brings it down for a slow middle eight, then returns to hard hitting chords and riffs. Lather, rinse, repeat.

‘Comfort Zone’, which I’m led to believe will be the debut single, is alright but to be honest the standout track on this album was ‘Confidence’, because it did sound different, at least to the rest of the album, and admittedly there was sporadic glimpses of this freshness throughout, but never consistently enough to warrant the claims of being ‘distinctive’ and ‘original’. Decent they are, groundbreaking they ain’t.


The Lancashire Hotpots – The Beer Olympics

Reviewed by James Tabbinor

Well, there isn’t a great deal to say about the latest single from The Lancashire Hotpots, because, being a novelty folk band, it’s very much a novelty record. The lyrics are all comic and tongue in cheek musings on a beer drinking event at the 2012 Olympics, in which binge-drinking Britain would undoubtedly triumph with help from the wisdom of personal trainer Johnny Vegas. The B-sides are much in the same fashion, with ‘Mek Us A Brew’ being a lament to drinking tea, and a scathing attack on fancy latte serving coffee joints, and the dance mix of ‘The Beer Olympics’ is again tongue in cheek, with the backing track being in the vein of ‘Cotton-eye Joe’ and other such cheesy dance.

It’s funny, I’ll give them that, and people might say I shouldn’t take it so seriously but I can’t give them anything more than a poor score, purely because like most novelty records the novelty wears off long before you’ve reached the end of the track, sorry lads!


Track Listing: Speciality, it’s novelty folk for Christ’s sake!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Joshua Mellor - Award

Reviewed by Sammy Newman

Some over synthesized, bland, generic turd. I’m sorry Joshua, not even flicking up the autotune (the funny Cheer voice machine) can hide the fact that your voice isn’t great and you are lost inbetween trying to be a wannabe Sam Sparrow with a poppy dance track, or wanting to demonstrate an urban track with guitars for a song to pick up the ladies. However, unlike Mr. Sparrow I doubt your attempt to be even be a one hit wonder might be out of your reach with that track.


Revere - As Radars Sleep

Reviewed by Sammy Newman

An endearing track with nice orchestral, indie feel but it seems to lack that great epicness which can make you immerse yourself into this type of tune in an “arcade fire” like fashion. Too much happy glockenspiel, lacking that aggressive edge and it leaves you feeling that your grandma is giving you a bedtime melody when all you want to do is have an adrenaline fuelled bungee jump.


Diarmaid O Meara - Murdering Disco

Reviewed by Stephen Ferrell

Diarmaid O Meara’s Murdering disco is the latest release on O Meara’s own Gobsmacked label. The track certainly comes from the lighter side of club techno. The deep persistent kick displays this Belfast born DJ/ producer’s techno roots. Though the synth sounds owe much more to trance. The use of filters also displays an influence of euphoric trance. As does the phasing effect which gives the track a much more laid back vibe then would often be associated with straight up techno. The disco sounding percussion that drops in and out of the track could also find favour on many a house dance floor. It fits well into the current trend for cross over between many of the once deeply divided dance sub genres. It would be easy to imagine this track fitting into a wide variety of DJ’s sets. Although it’s very much a track aimed towards the club it’s laid back feel would make it suitable to be listened to away from that environment as well. Its nothing revolutionary but it is very well produced. The Disco Murderer B side is a slightly darker track but should still work well in the right clubs.


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Wolfmother - New Moon Rising

Finally some new Wolfmother material is going to be released. On the 5th of October 2009, the Australian rock band, made up of Andrew Stockdale, Ian Peres, Aidan Nemeth, and Dave Atkins, will release the new single New Moon Rising. In the following week the new album Cosmic Egg will be out.

This new single is without a doubt a proper Wolfmother song, starting with a loud intro and then having the vocals talk a bit over the music, and then sort of having a musical explosion here and there. After a few listens it does seem to be missing a bit, the catchiness that marks the songs Woman and Joker & The Thief is not all that present. The guitar parts of the song are a reminder of the white stripes in the early days.

Like on other Wolfmother tracks, this song talks about a girl, and the lyrics are repetitive, hence the listener can easily get used to the song. New Moon Rising will probably be a less foce full single than some of the other have been, but it will sell, and will propel Wolfmother back into the musical spheres where these boys belong, not that they ever descended from up there.

Review by Solveig Werner

Friday, 12 June 2009

Mando Diao- Mean Street EP

I love Sweden, the girls, the places, the saunas… But I love her most for her musical exports (ABBA and The Cardigans) and the next to keep this legacy going are guitar band Mando Diao and their Mean Street EP.
Opener, Mean Street is shimmering light of early Rolling Stones type 60s rock and roll. Driven by a playful piano and a shuffling drum beat, the single really zips along feeling modern and old school at the same delightful time.
Give Me Fire is a slightly more hard edged song which is slowly softened by a tingle on the keys giving way to a beautifully written middle 8 section and a rousing finish.
Third track, Blue Lining, White Trench Coat is yet another riot of guitars and soaring vocals. Final track, Burning Up is built around the patter of drums and wonderfully sung imagery and is like all the other songs on this EP- an utter joy to behold. Note the woodwind at the end of the song which is a nice touch.

The Swedish music scene has come up trumps again.

Review by George McSorley

Franz Ferdinand- Can’t Stop Feeling

Franz Ferdinand, that Scottish arty band named after a duke who indirectly started the First World War are capping a few fab festival performances with the release of the single Can’t Stop Feeling.
A tale of lament of being left alone in the club (the band’s spiritual home for the quite good third LP) is given the classic keyboard driven dance indie treatment which few bands can match. It’s all hooks and beats blend together with Alex’s unique delivery. B side, Die on the Dance Floor is the single’s dub step half brother with all the same lyrics but a different more chilled out twist. Lovely.
No way is it Take Me Out but I just can’t stop feeling that beat has I dance around the laptop.

Review by George McSorley

Asher Roth- Be By Myself

After his successful debut single, Asher Roth has recruited Cee-Lo to give second single a little sparkle. However somewhere between this being recorded and it hitting the music press, this sparkle seems to have disappeared without a trace. If found please facebook/myspace Roth and tell him where you found it and he’s not having it back.
Roth does have good rhythm and style played against a pastiche 60s soul background, all whirling keyboards and the like. It’s not too dissimilar to a Gnarls Barkley record, sadly though one which should of stayed in their head rather than in everyone else.
All I want to do is sing Cosmic Girl (Jay Kay you have a lot to answer for) when Cee-Lo kicks in with the chorus which adds the shabby state of affairs. Cee-Lo, you can do so much better than this…
The instrumental is good, mainly because it’s an instrumental.
As for the Roth-mister well only time will tell if he is the next big thing in rap. With my knowledge of rap, I give him two minutes before he’s back lugging garbage into the truck. Go be by yourself for a while Mr. Roth and think about what you have done.

Review by George McSorley

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Eminem - We Made You

A few weeks ago, I proclaimed the return of a rap god- only problem was that wasn’t the first single back, this one is instead and I am not a happy camper.

This single is flawed- it sounds like a nursery rhyme and Eminem is clearly on autopilot has he raps about the rock star culture and his filthy mouth. Yes the references to Amy Winehouse and Jessica Simpson are slightly out (he has been working on for since 2004) but he sounds like he’s rapping using a phone in a call centre.

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up- because I think this version is faulty.

Review by George McSorley

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Silversun Pickups - There’s no secrets this year

Droney, middle-of-the-road rock with repetitive lyrics and irritating nasal vocals. They’ve been compared to Smashing Pumpkins, I can only presume this is due to their grungey sound and has nothing to do with their lyrical capacity or limited musical variation. It’s not especially bad it’s just not good either.

Review by Louise Morris

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Maccabees – Love You Better

With so many of the gang of 2007 having fallen fowl of second-album syndrome (hell, even the NME can’t stand the new Enemy one), it’s hard not to suspect that Brighton tykes The Maccabees must be feeling the strain a little. But to their credit, new single “Love You Better” is a pop gem as delightful as any they’ve release to date, with Orlando Weeks’ vocals as impassioned and memorable as ever. While it’s no quantum leap from their debut, the horn arrangement that builds over the song’s three minute is a smart, impressively restrained addition to their arsenal, and with their imitable brand of slow-burning anthemics as sharp as ever, “Love You Better” bodes very well indeed for the full-length comeback ‘Wall Of Arms’.

Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Passion Pit– The Reeling

Having burst into the public eye after the song “Sleepyhead” from their ‘Chunk Of Change’ EP was featured on MTV adverts and tipped in the BBC’s Sound of 2009 poll, expectations are high for the boys of Passion Pit, and while new single “The Reeling” (the first from their full-length debut ‘Manners’) might not be as immediate as its predecessor, it’s still a delightful piece of dancefloor-ready pop. Kicking off with 80s-inflected synths that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the last M83 album, “The Reeling” may be a more retro-minded effort for the band, but the wonderfully messy chorus keeps things rooted in the modern day. The jury’s out on whether they’ll break out MGMT-style as some predict (and, one would assume, their record company hope), but “The Reeling” is a great little single in its own right.

Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Hockey – Learn To Lose

Portland, Oregon new wave revivalists Hockey have been making big waves already after only one single, and as such their second release “Learn To Lose” carries more than a little hype on its shoulders. As flailing Talking Heads guitars engage in a tug of war with frontman Benjamin Grubin’s vocals, the track quickly races into a chorus that shows that the band’s much more on the ‘Small Creatures’ side of the fence than the ‘Remain In Light’ one. While it’s a fun enough song, the overwhelming air of preppyness gets very grating after several listens (I mean, didn’t we only just get Vampire Weekend to shut up?), and this reviewer fears that this isn’t going to be the last we hear of this song. Enjoy the tune by all means – it’s a decent ditty, after all – just don’t be surprised when you want to throttle the fuckers by the time the year’s out.

Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Innerpartysystem – Heart Of Fire EP

Hailing from Pennsylvania, American band Inner Party System attempt that well trodden path of dance beats and rock lyrics with a degree of success.

Opening track Heart of Fire (and current single) mixes 30 Seconds to Mars lyrics with the Ministry of Sound. Surprisingly this works with a degree of success and sets the tone for the rest of the EP.

The Way We Move is an all guns blazing keyboard driven dance floor filler. Glows sticks should be included with the listening of this record and is possibly the best track on the EP. Third track, Night is Alive really fizzes along at a pace. The Heart That Heals is slow burner with a gives way to thumping dance anthem which ebbs and flows nicely.

Final track Lover’s Dancing and Lover’s Dancing Remix are roughly cut from the same electronic rock cloth. It has a definite rock edge to it in its lyrical content which keeping to the dance beats of the previous tracks. The remix sticks a little too close to the original although it is a good attempt at remixing an already good song.

Has my inner party system been woken? Well almost.

Review by George McSorley

Delta Spirit- People C’mon

Any song which comes with a promo of a lumberjack (complete with full beard and fuzzy hair) eating a chicken drumstick and drinking a glass of wine surrounded by a table of food has to be good surely?

Thankfully, a-side People C’mon fits the bill. A rousing call to arms to go out and have a good time is beautifully driven by a 1930s western style piano which drifts in and out and action to be finally taken out by a buzzing guitar sole.

B-side Trashcan is again a piano driven masterpiece. This instrumental is the almost perfect dovetail to the a-side. The effect of the recording the song out in the California desert is written all over it- it’s bright, breezy and lovely.

People c’mon and buy this single.

Review by George McSorley

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Peyoti For President - Rising Tide Of Conformity

Think the political angst of Rage Against The Machine mixed with the style and vibe of Gipsy Kings and you will have some idea of what to expect from Peyoti For President. Lyrics ranting about the corruption of Politics and deception of words are dominant throughout the album and the theme of revolution and uprising is consistently evident but unfortunately after a while becomes a little strained and too preachy.
However for all the political expressionism of the record there is also a sweet instrumental rhythm to accompany it. The Spanish guitar is the only instrument to feature throughout and even though played well after a while seems to be fairly repetitive with its tune. One thing this album is not is dynamic. Songs seem to blend into one another and there is nothing to differentiate between them.
The Song ‘A People’s Lament’ that uses real life audio recordings of excerpts of various George Bush speeches and soldier statements with a gentle strumming of a guitar are conveniently followed by a track called ‘Rhapsody Of A 1000 Lies’. Whereas tracks like ‘Yo No Quiero Trabajar’ begin with the band chatting in their recording studio before actually beginning the song which seems slightly self indulgent and a little annoying.
So if you’re not too bothered about the Iraq war or current international affairs then Peyoti For President may not be the right band for you.

Review by James Fairfield

Tommy Sparks – She’s Got Me Dancing

Whether you are into dance or not Tommy Sparks is easy listening music, more popish than anything else. His new single ‘She’s Got Me Dancing’ is a catchy little number with a feel good vibe that is likely to be overplayed over the coming few months.
The three remix tracks that come with the single are not as good as the original however the Freelance Hellraiser ‘reinterpretation’ of the song is worth a listen to whereas Heartbreak and Mowgli remixs are not.

Review by James Fairfield

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Veils – Sun Gangs

The Veils are back with a new album Sun Gangs, out on 6th April on Rough Trade. They are all over the globe, New Zeland, the UK and Germany. Their producer on this alum is Graham Sutton who produces bands artists along the lines of British Sea Power, and Jarvis Cocker. The singer Finn Andrews is the son of Barry Andrews, a member of the legendary XTC. With such a profile only good things can be expected.
So good indeed, that I am almost lost for words to describe them. The album starts of with ‘Sit Down By The Fire’ (which definitely is a fireside song), about the end of love. The themes of love, leaving, dying, and the universe are very much reoccurring throughout the album. My favorite line must be “You smell the diesel of a passing train”, overall every song as piercing deep reaching lyrics. The sadness of the songs is countered by strange lyrics such as that one.
The songs are all simple; sometimes more in the style of music for a book, and others are more for the lover of garage rock. They are all engineered perfectly, and the album is a solid piece of music art.
Definitely do not miss out on the Veils!

Review by Solveig Werner

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Video Nasties - On All Fours

New Album released 30th March 2009

Having first come across Video Nasties at a North by South Best gig in Leeds, I snapped up the chance of reviewing their album when remembering how impressed I was by their indie-hopping antics. And they seem to have come a long way since, having developed wishy-washy songs into finely produced superb tracks. New single ‘Jellybean’ stands out as a catchy Strokes-esque tune, whilst the frenzy of ‘Albatross’ and the relaxed heartache of ‘Rolling’ make this album as varied and satisfying as it ever could have been. Perfect for these stress-free sunny Spring days.

Review by Marzena Dabrowska

Me My Head - Night Is on Fire

‘Night Is on Fire’ is a great track! It's got all the essential elements, there’s heaps of attitude behind it and an aggressive umph that stomps furiously throughout the three minutes. However I just feel the song doesn't really go anywhere. It starts all guns blazing, full steam ahead and pretty much ends at the same place. I’m not sure if it's quite catchy enough to have regular play but it is promising stuff, and just when I’m looking forward to hearing more, track two begins.
‘This Feeling’ is a little less fierce than the previous track, it’s a bit of a relief and you can appreciate the song more without it being slammed into your ear drums. Contrary to the rocky vibes of ‘Night Is on Fire’ this tune takes more of an electro-route, it even sounds a tad summery; in my opinion this B-Side dwarfs its predecessor.

Review by Marzena Dabrowska

Lady Gaga - Poker Face

Released 13th April 2009

After ‘Just Dance’ we all knew what to expect from Lady Gaga. ‘Poker Face’ definitely runs along the same lines as her first single, but rather than being an exact clone it goes that little bit further. Instead of just being another excuse to hit the dance floor, this track has a darker atmosphere which still inspires a sing-a-long, with one of my favourite lyrics being “‘Coz I’m bluffin’ with my muffin!”
Whether you like her or not, Lady Gaga knows what she’s doing. This song is everywhere at the moment and at this rate, having proven she’s not just a one-hit wonder; she’ll probably have taken over the world as well as the airwaves this time next year. So here we have it. Another American pop star that will probably end up in rehab, if her music videos are anything to go by...

Review by Marzena Dabrowska

The Virgins – Rich Girls

It doesn’t make sense that a band masquerading as rock stars should sound so very much like some kind of 70s funk, but if there’s one thing The Virgins do really well, its taking the concept of sense and giving it a good hiding. Its completely irresistible and should get the most stubborn of people on their feet and dancing like nobodies watching, doing things with their hips they never even knew were possible. There appears to be a complete disregard towards any of the inhibitions that hold back too many of their peers, and in ‘Rich Girls’, this is replaced by a simple desire for music that both they and us can have ourselves a bit of fun to.

Review by Rob Sellars

Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This

It seems so long now since the four boys that make up Bombay Bicycle Club took their turn on the pedestal as the saviours of British indie music as mere secondary school kids, that the fact they still haven’t released an album might leave some worrying it all got too much. This single, a taster to their debut album which will finally be released in June of this year, shows they haven’t lost any of the charm and energy that first saw them so hyped, and should banish any such fears. With ‘Always Like This’, they have developed their raw energy and sound and the result is a tantalising four minutes of perfect indie-pop that gets the feet moving and the head nodding, and promises a sunny summer indeed for Bombay Bicycle Club.

Review by Rob Sellars

Red Light Company – Fine Fascination

The debut album from the five piece that is Red Light Company shot straight to number one in the UK album charts and has received so much time on the radio waves of late that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a new government proposal to have them played after every other song on every station. However it would seem that recently, neither conquering the charts or the radio is a particularly good indication of a half decent album. As with many bands these days, there was a load of hype, then a load of counter-hype where all those people “in the know” decided it was cooler to slag them off after one song, so there are few who will head into this album with an open mind. The truth is its not spectacular, but neither does it deserve to be put in the toilet with the last Razorlight album. They have developed an energetic and pulsating brand of music that your foot will find hard to resist a sly tap along to, and songs which will cement themselves in your head for a good few days. It might be a bit samey, but songs such as 'Words of Spectacular', 'Scheme Eugene' and 'Meccano' do provide highlights, and they have created a decent album which while it may not set the world alight, will at least keep the flame burning a little longer.

Review by Rob Sellars

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Isa and the Filthy Tongues – New Town Killer

This great new track from Isa and the Filthy Tongues is one of the best tracks I’ve reviewed in weeks. It’s a skilfully crafted, catchy tune that sticks in your head for days after you’ve heard it. But in a good way. Having never heard anything by... or even of Isa and the Filthy Tongues, I was unsure of quite what to expect, but I was (as I often am when reviewing cds) pleasantly surprised. Catchy and unforgettable punk rock. I loved it.

Review by Chris Render

Spector – There She Goes/ Shine

I have no idea what to make of Spector. Whilst both "There She Goes" and "Shine" are undeniably good tracks, they failed to strike me as anything special. In no way are Spector bad, far from it. They are more than competent musicians, with rather catchy songs and quality album production. However, they were more than anything forgettable. When they’re playing, it’s easy to enjoy, but once it is off, you probably won’t give it much thought. This might be simply a matter of personal taste, but as Indie musicians go, there are many out there who are a lot better.

Review by Chris Render

Peter Bruntnell – 8 Lane Highway

"8 Lane Highway" initially struck me as rather standard and instantly forgettable Indie fare, but after a few more listens, I realised that this was unfair. It’s a textbook indie track, true, but it’s a bloody good one and in no way forgettable. Peter Bruntnell’s latest track is catchy, memorable, and above all, really good. More than anything else, it is this I would like to make clear in this review. "8 Lane Highway" is pure quality, a benchmark against which the underground Indie scene could, and maybe should, be measured.

Review by Chris Render

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Sebastian Tellier – Kilometer EP

Despite having made something of a splash in his native France (with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk producing his most recent album ‘Sexuality’), Sebastian Tellier, confusingly, remains something of a cult concern elsewhere, even after a memorably daft Eurovision entry last year. Aiming to blast him out of his current ghetto then, his new EP ‘Kilometer’ packages his original track with five new remixes. The original, while a fun piece of pop, is a curious choice for a single: slower and less exuberant than much of his other material, it’s hard not to feel that choosing something a bit looser, more up-tempo and, frankly, more Tellier might have been a wiser choise. The main meat of this EP is found in the remixes though, which prove to be something of a mixed package. Aereoplane’s two mixes – the Radio mix and the Italo 84 mix – prove to be the record’s highlights, both cranking up the pace and danceability of the track. The Ed Banger-isms of the first remix may be more comercial, but it’s the more retro-minded second mix that really stands out, with disgustingly slick synths and vocodered-beyond-understanding vocals brining out the sleazy core of the Tellier original to delightful effect. The remaining three remixes, the A-Trak mix, the Donovan mix and the Moulinex mix, fall somewhat short of this standard – the first two prove somewhat forgettable, while the funk basslines and orgasmic groans found on Moulinex’s effort take the sexuality theme just a little too far into the realm of self-parody. While it’s got its moments of pleasure (pun intended), it’s hard to work out exactly who this record is for: current Tellier fans would rather have more of the man himself, yet it doesn’t prove an easy entry point for any new listeners either.

Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Castrovalva – Castrovalva

Like, woah dude. This bass-and-drums duo may hail from Leeds (home to many other wonderful experimental rock acts like Bilge Pump, That F***ing Tank and big-new-things in waiting Pulled Apart By Horses), but it’s the sounds of the American underground that Castrovalva pay homage to on their debut mini-album. Using the sonic arsenal of Lightning Bolt to power Melvins-esque sludge riffing, in under half an hour Castrovalva manage to conjure up the sound of the Earth’s bowels loosening in terror: short, sharp noise bursts like “Bison Scissor Kick” and “Triceratops” boast a primeval stomp whose visceral impact most certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. Although there is a tendency for the tracks to blur into one mass of stampeding sonics (only the mercifully short ambient interlude “London Kills Me” and Leemun Smith’s insane wailing over “Bellhausen” alter the formula at all), for a record of this length it’s hardly an issue – and frankly, when it’s a sound this powerful, it’s not much of a complaint to begin with. With a full-length due later in the year and a variety of support slots lined up (including one with doom-gaze maestros Nadja), 2009 looks set to be a good year for Castrovalva, and this mini-album starts things off very un-nicely indeed.

Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Alex Roots – Fake

Alex Roots – FakeOh dear. On her debut single “Fake”, Ms. Roots clearly aims for the kind of teasing pop brilliance previously touted by Blondie, but on this effort she barely counts as the new Katy Perry. Combining nauseatingly clichéd lyrics that wouldn’t be that misplaced this side of an Avril Lagvine song, utterly characterless vocals and some of the most bland drum and guitar parts ever to be laid down by beings of flesh and blood (although with something this cloyingly plastic, you can never be too sure…), the song’s a train wreck from the off, and it only gets messier and bloodier over its 195 seconds. At least you (or, more to the point, I) probably won’t have to ever hear her again. Fingers crossed, eh?

Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Ok - Tell The World EP

Wales has provided the world with some of the best singers (Sir Tom Jones and Dame SB) and bands in world (Catatonia, Feeder, Super Fury Animals). Ok that might be stretching it slightly- but Wales has a canny knack of producing great music. Ok is the next in line to keep the tradition alive.
Lead single, 'Tell The World' is a delightful slice of jaunty guitar driven music, all hooks and bouncing rhythms which draw the listener in. There is a certain nod towards their peers like The Wombats and others of that NME loving types. This is not a bad thing though because the song is bursting with energy and is not nearly half as annoying as a Wombats tune. Wishing Well is another slice of the same tasty pie.
Final track, 'I Don’t Know' wonders aloud about our relationships with each other- how they fall apart and fade away. There are is The Doves sound about the record which shows a different direction the band can explore.
Ok are on the right tracks to becoming another great Welsh band.

Review by George McSorley

Jason Mraz - Make It Mine

James Blunt has a lot to answer for. Since that single and that video, every man in Britan suddenly had up their game and try that little harder to woo the lady folk. Enter Jason Mraz has cottened on this and has made his stance with the track 'Make It Mine'.
The lets-fall-in-love-and-live-a-sugar-filled-world formula is present and stuck to pretty rigidly. Although this is not to critise the song- it has all the right hooks in all the right places, lyrical there are some nice metpahors and Mraz can hold a tune. All the elements are there for him to win over the majority of the population especially with mother’s day around the corner.
In short it is bright brezzy guitar driven pop which your mum and commerical radio would love.

Review by George McSorley

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The King Blues - I Got Love

Taken from their latest album Save The World, Get The Girl The King Blues offer an easy listening feel good single. ‘I Got Love’ does have a few cheesy lyrics such as ‘Music can bring the world together’ but on the whole is an effective acoustic number that you won’t skip on your shuffle.

Review by James Fairfield

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Asher Roth - I Love College

We’ve all watched those American teen movies where it appears everyone turns up at the house party and gets totally wasted, Blink – 182 play in the living room and the geeky girl turns out to be some hot fox- why this never happens over here is beyond me. This song sums all these movies up in one neat package.
Hailed as the next hip-hop sensetation Asher Roth paints the perfect American college scene which all wish we could be apart of- but we live in Gosforth and the police have turned up to ask if we cold turn do the Kyle CD.
It has an old school hip-hop vibe with crackling vinyl sounds opening up the track and sloppy drum beat. Asher is clearly enjoying himself with his stories and advice to the student in all of us- judging by the party he went to last night (apparently it was so good we should have taped it) he also knows how to party hard. It’s not a clever record or very insightful and at times it is immature with its freshman chanting. But it is a fun record which all we can all relate and enjoy.
Now where do you sign up for some of this fun?

Review by George McSorley