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July 2012

  • Jen Olive
    'Warm Robot'
  • The Enemy
    'Streets In The Sky'
  • The Foxes
    'Last Of Many'
  • Tallulah Rendell
    'Alive'
  • Dengue Fever
    'Cannibal Courtship'











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    July 2012

    Jen Olive - Warm Robot **** / *****

    Mixed by Andy Partridge of XTC, Jen Olive caught his ear and it's clear to hear why. This is quirky, eccentric pop music with warmth and ambition and presents several disctinctive elements. Singer/Songwriter Jen Olive essentially writes alternative pop songs yet she has a guitar technique and sound that seems to incorporate Ani Difranco as well as African guitar music styles. 'Boulevard' is a good example of the signature Jen Olive sound, she plays seemingly simple guitar lines yet the tone is utterly seductive. She sings in a distinctive fashion, a quirky vocal that softly plays through the brief couple of minutes the song lasts yet packs in so many melodic threads you want to re-visit through repeated plays. Her bio claims she's interested in patterns and listening to 'Warm Robot' you can tell. A variety of songs are built around her simple yet at once intricate guitar patterns. 'So Funny' is a highlight of the set for this newly converted fan. "You look so funny... same when you spend money... your life is worry' and it builds up layers of harmonies, bass, guitar to a gentle crescendo. Marvellous stuff.( reviewed 15.07.2012 )

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    top of page The Enemy - Streets In The Sky ** / *****

    The Enemy when platinum in the UK with their debut album, some five years ago. Yet, music in the UK has changed so radically since then that a place for guitar bands with fire in their bellies (but not so much in the way of experimentalism) seems to have fallen completely. I live in Coventry and seeing billboard posters up across the streets for now a seemingly forgotten hometown indie rock act seems entirely incongrous. I think 'Streets In The Sky' in the end has peaked at a respectable UK number nine position. They sound fairly muscular now, leaner and taughter, more focused. Third album time is after all cruicial for many bands. The lack of a supporting hit single may dent their long-term prospects but the songs prove they've still something to offer. The Jam-like 'Saturday' with its punk energy, 'Like A Dancer' is a fun pop-rock song sounding ever so slightly American punk-rock rather than their usual British influences. 'Bigger Cages' follows the torrent of guitars that is opener 'Gimmie A Sign' and I start to wonder and the meat and potatoe, meat and veg approach the band take. My advice for what it's worth would be they keep honing their songwriting skills but take some time to become musically more expansive and have the confidence to highlight individual band members talents more. ( reviewed 15.07.2012 )

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    top of page The Foxes - Last Of Many *** / *****

    A couple of top ten UK indie singles behind them, London based The Foxes released their debut LP in December 2011. One of their early single tracks I remember stumbling upon and rememeber really enjoying the loose, jam based rock sound. For 'Last Of Many', such rough edges have been shorn away in favour of actual songs, well constructed ones mind but despite covering a fairly broad range of styles (all within an indie-rock style) you do end up leaving 'Last Of Many' wondering why, when guitar music simply isn't selling in the UK any more unless you are an established act. Why don't they simply let themselves go and freely express themselves without worrying too much about established forms and idioms? Still, we can't all invent new forms of music, we all understand this. For a debut this is a very accomplished release and I like the way the bass is allowed to be heard in particular. Download 'Send Me Nothing' and 'Country Low'. ( reviewed 15.07.2012 )

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    top of page Tallulah Rendell - Alive ***** / *****

    London based singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist Tallulah has so far released the 'Libellus' LP in 2009 and an EP 'Without Time' in 2006, both on her own label Transducer Records, set-up so she could not only maintain control of the music, but also the presentation of her music. 'Libellus' which is reviewed elsewhere on the site arrived lavishly packaged, on her web-site for the release of her 2nd LP 'Alive' there are pictures and stories related to each of the tracks contained within. There is a generous and intoxicating energy pervasive through the albums 11 songs, her voice occasionally nods to Polly Harvey or a heavy-metal Kate Bush. 'Go Bathe In The Light' is a stunning tour-de-force, 'thrown away' here as the 2nd song rather than a set encore performed to standing ovations. 'Under The Wire' she sings 'God is lying on you' repeatedly then the guitars soar and spiral and her voice rides confidently over the top. It's a stunning piece of work, 'How can I be so far from the show?' she continues before the songs finishes, leaving you breathless. Hyperbole? Possibly, but sometimes such praise is deserved. Self-produced and released although she has recently signed a publishing deal, 'Tallulah Rendell' is one to watch if she ever comes round your way.( reviewed 15.07.2012 )

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    top of page Dengue Fever - Cannibal Courtship **** / *****

    Los Angeles based sextet 'Dengue Fever' have released their latest album and it contains a mix of brass, psychedelia, indie-rock, Cambodian musical rhythms and that old cliche, much more besides. I would probably inaccurately describe them as a cross between Cornershop, The Pixies, Free Design and The Monkees. Indie rock still exists and here are Dengue Fever to prove it does. The opening title track for instance blasts Pixies guitars with Stereolab harmonies and the unique vocals of singer Chhom Nimol. Individual songs are hard to describe yet the overall sound is always pleasing. I like the prominent, melodic bass parts and the psychedlic and surf rock nature of the guitars. Highlights include '2012 (Bury Our Heads)', 'Family Buisness' with its cool lead guitar line and the fuzzy and very sleak 'Cement Slippers'. ( reviewed 15.07.2012 )

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