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 clich├ęd 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

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

The latest single from the energetic New York trio shows a dramatic shift away from their earlier sound of infectious guitar driven punk which had become more sophisticated by their second album with less yelping. Though Karen O’s gasping vocals are still there the vitality with which she sang before seems deadened by the overriding synths. 'Zero' has a distinctively 80’s feel apparently influenced by Joy Division, which is being reproduced everywhere at the moment, though I never thought the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s would be a band that would follow the crowd.

Review by Louise Morris

Dinosaur Pile-Up - Traynor

There was a time when a certain band named Nirvana proved that you didn’t need to spend every spare second of your life in your bedroom working out each note that Metallica struck on their discography to become rock gods. All that was required was a pair of hands and a dose of angst. Now years on since grunge’s heyday, the next generation are ready and willing to pile walls of distortion and an angry sneer back into the spotlight.
So arrive Dinosaur Pile-Up, a band that has the hype machine frothing at the mouth. Unlike debut single My Rock n Roll in which they actually cared about things like dynamics, Traynor is a full on release of pent up aggression. From beginning to end, your ears are pounded by unapologetic, grating guitars. In an age where bands are all trying to get an alternative and intelligent edge, it’s a wave of refreshment. I’ve no idea what they’re singing about, but it’s probably not a thesis on Plato’s republic, and thank goodness. These guys are a necessary two fingers to any band who think they’re more intelligent than they are; so keep piling it up Dinosaurs, and we’ll carry on loving it.

Review by Gordon Bruce

Sunday, 1 March 2009

U2 – No Line On The Horizon

Thirty-three years, more than 140 million record sales, 22 Grammy Awards, 13 studio albums. By this point, it’s impossible to place U2 within the standard parameters of the ‘rock’ band: they’ve been innocent, religious post-punk underdogs, earnest political songwriters, hyper-ironic sonic adventurers and, since the turning of the millennium, the self-proclaimed best band in the world. Their fans are numerous, as are their detractors– you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for a religion, a government or a business, such is their ubiquity.
How, then, are we supposed to their thirteenth studio album, ‘No Line On The Horizon’? Well, let’s look at the statistics again and see what we find. Their first album in five years, their seventh to feature production from Brian Eno, five different formats (including a magazine format: an advertorial, a manifesto or a religious pamphlet?), eleven new compositions and a running time of just under 54 minutes. These, at least, we can take as truths.
This time round though, U2 seem less interested in statements of subjective truth, a la “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, or in the questioning of objective truth found on ‘Achtung Baby’, and it’s certainly being promoted as one of the vaguest U2 albums yet. Bono’s spoken of his attempts to create characters to deliver the songs rather than relying on the first person, and the sedate nature of tracks like “Moment Of Surrender” attempt to avoid the obvious. But for far too much of the album, U2 don’t even sound like they’re on autopilot – they just don’t sound like they even turned up to the studio. The nauseatingly leaden lead single “Get on Your Boots” is a patronisingly contrived attempt to marry White Stripes fuzz to their standard arena stylings that sounds not like the work of four flesh-and-blood beings but a room full of marketing executives, pie charts in hand (or, considering how ham-fisted that chorus is, just a roomful of pies and distortion pedals).
And that’s why U2 exist only in statistics now – there’s no reality left to them. Every song here has no other reference point other than the ghost of U2 past: the title track’s percussion is pure “Mysterious Ways”, while “Unknown Caller” is their latest attempt to top “One” (brief spoiler: they don’t succeed). Doubtlessly, this album will add another million or two to their bank accounts, bump up the record and ticket sells into the realms of the truly absurd, but that’s all there is of note about the record. Long gone are the days of Zoo TV and genuine risk (remember for a second that this the same band that used to call up Sarajevo during their concerts and picked Public Enemy and The Fatima Mansions for arena support slots), and in it’s place there’s nothing but the distant hum of a cash register ringing.

Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Metric - Help I'm Alive

After a somewhat subdued response to her debut solo album and with Broken Social Scene in an ongoing state of transition, Emily Haines returns to Metric for the Canadian outfit’s fourth full studio release Fantasties.
First single ‘Help I’m Alive’ makes a strong case not to write off this band after previous recordings have shown inconsistencies in quality of material and failed to capture the band’s raw live energy. Moreover, journalists may not be so quick as to write off Haines as some sort of Cat Power copycat artist this time around.With a simple song structure and melody, this track may well be the most straightforward rock single the band have put out. Full of resolute, hearty basslines and distant drums the song delights with ease and almost instantaneously. Haines’ vocal range is fully exploited, sounding atmospheric and spooky throughout. If the track is any sort of indication as to how Metric have progressed for their new record, then it’s most certainly one to pay attention to.

Review by Mark Reynolds

The Kills – Black Balloon E.P.

Anyone who wanders into this new E.P. by The Kills, a follow up to recent album ‘Midnight Boom’, expecting more of the same needs to take a serious step back and one hell of a deep breath. It’s as if the two of them suddenly got together and decided the world deserved to see their sensitive side, the fragile interior that has been hiding behind the thumping beats and manic choruses they’ve hit us with before. And in all truth, its glorious. Title track ‘Black Balloon’ is an eerie and tantalising number that sounds like it belongs in some dingy little bar with all the other misunderstood but ultimately cool songs of the world. But when ‘Crazy’ begins you have to wonder who the hell the husky and alluring voice that is coming from the stereo belongs to. It’s a heartbreaking and gentle track which speaks volumes for the range of musical talent this band possesses. ‘Kissy and Kissy’ and ‘Sour Cherry’ do not let down the side either, with the former showing their raw talent at its best, while the latter returns to more typical Kills style complete with throbbing beats and fiery vocals. In the space of just four songs, the two-piece display their impressive range and smash down all inhibitions in the process.

Review by Rob Sellars

The Maccabees – No Kind Words

At last The Maccabees return, and with ‘No Kind Words’, they do so in quite some style. Those expecting the return of the arty romantics that delighted so many last time may be taken off guard by the dark and angry five-piece that has returned in their place. The pulsating guitar and fist in the air choruses are still there, but with them comes a new-found frustration at the world, and instead of singing about swimming pools and toothpaste kisses, lead singer Orlando laments about being alone and general bad stuff. But the quality of the tunes has not deserted them, and No Kind Words pulses with energy and a fiery determination. It promises much for the return of The Maccabees and sends out a certain warning to their pretenders.

Review by Rob Sellars

Just Jack - Embers

Some good beats mix with a half decent set of melodies in Just Jack’s new effort ‘Embers’, but in all honesty it doesn't add up to a whole lot and it just feels like a couple of minutes of build up which is going no where in particular. It never advances past the mundane and Just Jack becomes just another average artist aiming far behind his talents.

Review by Rob Sellars