'Sister Marie Says'
'I Can't Stand Pop Bands'
'The Hiding Place'
'Let Me Hear You Scream'
'The Night Before The Funeral'
'Heaven's On Fire'
'Still To Keep'
'What A Day'
'To Bury The Past EP'
'East Of Eden'
'Under The Sheets'
Singles and EPs : Singles Bar
Singles and EPs : Singles Bar
September 2010Take That / The Flood ** / *****
So, Robbie has returned and we get a repeat of the recent Barlow/Williams love-in that characterised the actually quite charming Barlow/Williams single 'Shame'. This fully-fledged Take That reformation though is hardly the stuff Take Thatters had dreamed of. This is a hideously over-produced mess, it lacks the vocal blend that made recent Take That material satisfying, bar perhaps moments during the chorus, a chorus upon which the entire song is built. 'The Flood' lacks an interesting intro, interesting verses and doesn't really sound like Take That. It sounds like Robbie Williams featuring Take That, a nightmare scenario for many. ( reviewed 30.09.2010 )
The Orb / Metallic Spheres *** / *****
There's a three minute edit doing the rounds of The Orb's latest LP, featuring Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd and also this ten minute version. Neither except is entirely cohesive but then again, the LP has been described by both parties as more or less something of a jamming session. We've got a heavy bass line, typical Orb atmospherics and very little noticeable Dave Gilmour although i'm sure he's in here somewhere, apart from a smattering of faint vocals near the beginning. Still, this is an interesting experiment that's bound to appeal to Orb fans but perhaps less so to fans of classic Pink Floyd.( reviewed 30.09.2010 )
OMD / Sister Marie Says **** / *****
OMD reform with their original four-piece lineup for the first time since 1986. True, many of the songs on their latest LP 'History Of Modern' were written by Andy McCluskey prior to the band reforming but the contributions of co-creator Paul Humphreys are noticeable, certainly throughout 'Sister Mary (Marie) Says' which has origins as a composition as far back as 1981. 'History Of Modern' has charted in Europe, particularly highly in Germany and is no doubt intended to prompt a money-spinning reunion tour, but in reality it deserves a better fate judging at least by 'Sister Marie Says'.( reviewed 30.09.2010 )
Kings Of Leon / Radioactive **** / *****
Kings Of Leon release their 5th album on the 18th of October 2010. Few albums will be as highly anticipated and 'Radioactive' has a hard job on its hands trying to repeat the commercial success of the singles released from 'Only By The Night'. It depends which Kings Of Leon you prefer when deciding how much you're likely to like or dislike 'Radioactive'. It sounds like Kings Of Leon circa 2006 with hints of their recent commercial stadium rock style. Just under four minutes long and led by a distinctive guitar intro the song is over and done with before you realise it's even started - by such standards it withstands repeated listens. A warm welcome from me then and here's hoping the album manages to live upto the guys usual high standards.( reviewed 30.09.2010 )
The Xcerts / Young (Belane) *** / *****
The Aberdeen based trio release this single to promote their latest LP, 'Scatterbrain'. Infused with American Rock influences, produced by Mike Sapone (Taking Back Sunday/Brand New) and mastered by Emily Lazar (Vampire Weekend) this slice of melodic rock ticks a lot of the right boxes. It's energetic, infused with Foo Fighters style anthemic moments and has Scottish accents. It could use a little more natural sonics so you can pick out the talent the band unquestionably has, beef up the bass sounds but that's just personal taste. Worth checking out actually if they pass your way because this is another good little UK rock band almost completely passing under the radar of the more mainstream press.( reviewed 30.09.2010 )
June 2010Mimi Soya / I Can't Stand Pop Bands *** / *****
Released on the 14th of June is the new EP from Mimi Soya, a four-piece from Brighton that sound all the world like they should be releasing music for sequels to 'Legally Blonde' or 'American Pie', a certain type of feel-good US teen-oriented movie. Their EPs sell in the thousands here in the UK, proving there is a market for this kind of music. To be honest, it's not entirely ME, yet one or two listens to the likes of 'All The While' or 'Doctor Doctor' will reveal to you these guys have hooks, glam punky guitars, loads of power in their pop and good, powerful vocals. Sure, this isn't going to reinvent your entire world yet when there's all this economic doom and gloom around, why not allow yourself a smile courtesy of Mimi Soya?( reviewed 29.06.2010 )
Javier Moreno / Bad Woman **** / *****
'Bad woman' is five tracks of Latin and Spanish music with flamenco influences and English/Spanish lyrics. Born in Barcelona, Javier relocated to Bristol looking to establish himself as a musician and songwriter. Following an idenpendently released LP in 2008 arrives 'Bad Woman', a five track EP or mini-album full of passionate playing that manages to exude the lure of the Spanish sunshine. What we get here then are five tracks of impeccable musicianship that retains a passion and freshness for the material to hand. Moreno has a decent voice and good songs and a wonderful band. The Piano solo towards the end of 'Salsera' for instance is wonderful, the title track from start to finish is great material and 'Cuba De Mi Corazon' explains why he's supported the likes of Buena Vista Social Club. Avaliable to buy from all the usual good sources, this is well worth tracking down, especially as here in the UK we currently have some sunny weather for a change. ( reviewed 29.06.2010 )
Lost Aura / The Hiding Place *** / *****
Lostaura have been described as having 'absolutely towering songs' and have received radio support from the likes of BBC 6 Music and XFM. Formed in 2007, 'The Hiding Place' is a mini-album/EP/album, depending on your viewpoint. Well, we've six songs lasting twenty-five minutes and it's their debut, so it's naturally a good place to start getting interested in them. With a nod towards the indie-rock likes of 'Placebo' and a big sound, i'm sure Lost Aura will pick up a decent fanbase once they get out there and keep getting out there. Well, there's a lot of competition these days in the music scene. I do love the spiralling, skyscraping guitar that pops up here and there throughout the opening 'One In A Million' and the seague into 'Beside You' is special and 'Beside You' is special, proves they can tuck at the heartstrings whilst still rocking out, so to speak. Think Brian Molko fronting U2 for an idea of what this is like. This is a varied set of modern rock, well produced by The Animal Farm, although perhaps lacks a knock-out punch that Lost Aura will surely need sooner rather than later to maintain the current momentum. ( reviewed 29.06.2010 )
Islet / Jasmine *** / *****
Islet are a new band from Cardiff, Wales. An 'Islet' is also a very small island. The band members used to be in a variety of local Welsh bands and now have teamed up to form a supergroup, of sorts. Various articles have been written on the likes of BBC Introducing and even the NME about how Islet shun the internet, have no MySpace page and are winning over fans the old fashioned way, by playing gigs. I don't think for a second it was deliberate, yet the effect of all this is of course to create publicity for the band. As yet, they have no actual records to buy. This song was recorded for a BBC session and it's dubby, progressive and hyponitically eastern sound has been winning people over. It's a weird track, freaky in places yet that pulsating bassline and the fact there's a fair bit going on keeps you constantly interested. Good stuff, all in all. ( reviewed 29.06.2010 )
The Books / Beautiful People **** / *****
New York duo The Books release a new album in July called 'The Way Out' and it's an appropriate title. Found sound collages, backwards vocals, acoustic instruments and a quiet yet relentless drum pattern. Well, quite. There's a pulse to this track and the mellow vocals sound rather lovely. It reminds me of late sixties Free Design albums, which can never be a bad thing. Running to less than 3 minutes, it also manages to be repeat playable. They make their point, whatever that point actually is we're not quite sure, then bugger off. ( reviewed 29.06.2010 )
April 2010LCD Soundsystem / Drunk Girls ** / *****
They return with a new single to promote their 3rd and last single. It's much as we would expect from them with wide-eyed vocals and electronic clumps and breezes and energy. It's pretty dumb musically and the backing vocals sound like yobs, yet there is definitely something here. Well, it's like an LCD Soundsystem version of Blur's 'Parklife' in a funny way, it's a mash up of well known LCD Soundsystem elements in a big pot with the nasty bits taken out as far as the less esoteric members of the pop listening audiences are concerned. Overall, if you wanted a totally insane modern electro version of Blondie, fronted by the bloke from Franz Ferdinand then 'Drunk Girls' would approximate that. Actually, that doesn't seem so bad, does it? ( reviewed 25.04.2010 )
Blur / Fool's Day *** / *****
A new song from Blur, their first since Graham Coxon left during the recording sessions for 'Think Tank' way back when. Funny thing is, 'Fool's Day' sounds just like Blur. No passage of time, it could have come straight from their acclaimed 1997 self-titled effort. Mentions of Ladbrook Groove, poundshops and Woolworths help you feel at home and the presence of Coxon etc offset Damon's vocals very well. Coxon is classy and even if the song doesn't really do much and even if it ends rather suddenly, I don't think any Blur fans will really mind very much. ( reviewed 25.04.2010 )
The National / Bloodbuzz Ohio *** / *****
Tense music, Baritone vocals, high drama yet a strangely subdued feel, as if the band themselves weren't really very sure about the song. Oh, i'd love to see it in the charts and this is what indie-kids will forever call 'proper' music. It has a singer who sounds serious, real drums and real throbbing bass and tells a story along the way. Not sure i'm going to be going down the street singing 'blood..... buzz' but there you are. A decent effort anyway from a band that so far seemingly have more potential than they've managed to demonstrate. ( reviewed 25.04.2010 )
Ozzy Osbourne / Let Me Hear You Scream **** / *****
Fans of CSI New York will already be familiar with this song, an uptempo, modern sounding rocker from Ozzy without being so contemporary he ends up sounding silly. Nope, there are plenty of musical references back to Ozzy's 80s solo pomp and you've just got to love the guitar solo two thirds of the way through. As for Ozzy himself, the lyrics are pretty forgettable fare and it's true to say his vocals aren't quite what they once were but he's still very effective. It's all the more surprisingly to find myself saying that after having to endure all the reality TV nonsense him and Sharon have been upton these past few years. Ignoring all that though, which we should, 'Let Me Hear You Scream' is a little cracker.( reviewed 25.04.2010 )
The Mary Onettes / The Night Before The Funeral ***** / *****
I hadn't heard of these guys before yet an online review mentioning The Smiths and Echo And The Bunnymen as influences has proved almost spot on, except replace The Smiths with The Chameleons and you'll be right about there. What it is with Sweden/Norway/Etc at the moment that can produce such great indie the likes of the US/UK have forgotten how to make? Being less self-concious is part of it, I reckon. Anyway, the strings remind me of Echo And The Bunnymen, the vocals are doomy without being full of angst and the production and sound are both charming - real eighties indie stuff where you could hear the echo in the room! Ah, love this tune more and more the more I hear it. More, more, please. I'll leave the final word then to their record label who describe this tune better than I have "A bit like a descendant of The Go Betweens and The Stone Roses high on Swedish mountains mixed with A-Ha in a gothic church.”
( reviewed 25.04.2010 )
March 2010The Radio Dept / Heaven's On Fire **** / *****
Another poppy band from Sweden, The Radio Dept have released the very summery 'Heaven's On Fire' as a free download. They've been around since 1995 in one form or another and you can grab this song right now on a variety of music blogs out there. This hazy, lazy and quite lovely slice of Sarah Records style indie-pop previews The Radio Dept's third LP, 'Clinging To A Scheme' which will be released sometime in March 2010. ( reviewed 21.03.2010 )
Babe Rainbow / Shaved EP *** / *****
Warp Records continue to churn out interesting and varied material although naming yourselves after a not all that great House Of Love album isn't really such a great idea. Yes, Babe Rainbow have their 'Shaved EP' out now and reading about this act, I realise actually Babe Rainbow are a chap called Cameron Reed, hailing from Vancouver in Canada. Now that I didn't expect. I like Canada but didn't anticipate edgy and twitchy ambient music to come from there. Running to around twenty-five minutes, 'Shaved' is in truth more of a mini-album than an EP, but we're not splitting hairs here, who cares? Well, second track 'Screwby' is weird and delightful in equal measure and the title track sounds like a Depeche Mode instrumental nightmare circa 1987 only actually very good indeed.( reviewed 21.03.2010 )
Ryan Adams / Electrosnake ** / *****
Ryan Adams annouces he's releasing a heavy-metal album, showcases 'Electrosnake' on his web-site and then asks fans to vote whether they'd buy an album in such a style. Nearly 70,000 people at the time of writing have said they would buy a 'metal' album by Ryan Adams based on 'Electrosnake's' very early nineties sound and lack of strong vocals. Sure, he's been mixed back because he hasn't really got that great a growl but when he does try to growl and his voice escapes the music, you rather wish he hadn't bothered. It could all end up an interesting diversion of Ryan Adams but then again, he's done interesting diversions before but usually ended up releasing them under pseudonyms. ( reviewed 21.03.2010 )
Chris T T / Nintendo *** / *****
Chris T T is now seven albums into a career I never even knew existed. In these days of too much music consumption, the digital era, such a thing is entirely possible of course. So, 'Nintendo' opens with undulating Piano lines and a very Decemberists style sounding vocal. This is a very nice ballad that never seems to have a huge hook rather an addictive quality that benefits repeat listens. Worth checking out? Certainly and if you like this, his latest album 'Love Is Not A Rescue' is due very soon.( reviewed 21.03.2010 )
Crazy Arm / Still To Keep *** / *****
Crazy Arm’s ‘Still To Keep’ is the third single to be taken from their debut album, 2009’s ‘Born To Run’.Crazy Arm are an atheist, vegetarian/vegan rock band from Plymouth, Devon. Ok, don't run away at that description, they actually do a nice line in pounding drums, American styled proper ROCK vocals and judging by 'Still To Keep', certainly know how to write a hook filled, catchy tune. Worth paying attention to the lyrics here, a band with something to say is a rarity these days. ( reviewed 21.03.2010 )
The Living Sisters / Double Knots **** / *****
Los Angeles female trio Living Sisters are due to release their debut album at the tail end of March, 2010. Judging by Double Knots which is an utterly charming slice of harmonies, fluffy pop and even doo-wop, 'Love To Live' will be an album to track down this year. "I wanna take my babies shoes off / I want to sing rock n roll" is the opening couplet and seeing as plenty of people out there love Brian Wilson's girl group productions then plenty of people will end up loving this, too. ( reviewed 21.03.2010 )
February 2010Emily Barker / Nostalgia *** / *****
'Nostalgia' by Australian folk singer Emily Barker is better known as the theme tune to BBC TV's 'Wallander' series. Joined by her band who have been named 'The Red Clay Halo' somewhat intriguingly, 'Nostalgia' is pretty, yearning and tinged with melancholy. The music is strikingly lovely and her vocal is pure and with a touch of country. Well, this isn't British folk, more a Laura Veirs type of sound. 'Despite The Snow, Emily Barker's sophomore LP that leads with 'Nostalgia' is already avaliable and she's playing select dates in Australia and the UK during February/March 2010. ( reviewed 11.02.2010 )
Elio Pace / What A Day ** / *****
Released at the tail end of 2009, Elio Pace have been gathering attention in the likes of Radio 2 land with their persuasive big band sound. We've got a powerful vocalist, a feel-good swing sound and the kind of all encompassing musicianship heard when Jools Holland brings his orchestra to our screens via 'Later' on BBC2. Not much else to say really except that if you like Harry Connick Jr, Billy Joel or Dean Martin then Elio Pace will very likely also tickle your fancy. ( reviewed 11.02.2010 )
Lone Lady / Immaterial **** / *****
There are apparently a lot of new artists starting to emerge from Manchester again these days and Lone Lady is just one. Signed incongrously to dance label Warp, Lone Lady instead produces indie-pop of a kind not heard since the late eighties/early nineties. It's not retro mind you, rather the production style and the space in the recording firmly allows the melody and music to shine without screaming 'LOOK AT ME! I'M A NEW SINGLE AND I'M HIP-HOP INFLUENCED!' as so much commercial music does these days. Nope, 'Immaterial' instead comes armed with a wiry guitar figure and flexible, striking vocals courtesy of Lone Lady, aka Julie Campbell. Here debut LP is called 'Nerve Up' and is worth tracking down. ( reviewed 11.02.2010 )
Laura Marling / Devil's Spoke **** / *****
'Devil's Spoke' is the first single proper to be taken from Marling's forthcoming 2nd LP and it marks a bit of a change in Laura Marling land. Gone is the apparent prettiness hiding the darkness, 'Devil's Spoke' is bold, upfront and akin to a tornado sweeping across wide open American spaces. Well, either that or the banjo, can't decide which. Her vocal retains the clarity that drew us in when she released her debut LP and although it's too early to judge based on just 'Devil's Spoke', it does seem as if her 2nd album 'I Speak Because I Can' will be a 2010 album to look forward to. ( reviewed 11.02.2010 )
January 2010Gorillaz / Stylo **** / *****
Gorillaz return with a rush-released track after 'Stylo' was leaked onto the net. Bobby Womack, the soul great, does a wonderful turn on this slow-burner of a song. It's unlikely to repeat the hummability or long-term success of the likes of 'Dare', but give it two or three listens and this will be right under your skin. It's really smart, modern music, as you would expect from Damon Albarn. The bass line that runs throughout is the killer bee here, Mos Def adds a rap and there you have it. A wonderful way to spend five minutes or so.( reviewed 28.01.2010 )
The Treetop Flyers / To Bury The Past EP ***** / *****
Treetop Flyers relocated from New York/America to London in search of a break. Straight out of the box as soon as 'Mountain Song' comes on your stereo, you'll be thinking 'Neil Young'. You may also think Crosby, Stills and Nash but it's more Neil Young to my ears. They even see fit to include a very young-esque guitar solo throughout the middle of 'Mountain Song'. Not really original then Treetop Flyers, yet what is in this workaday world? Well, Treetop Flyers are bearded. The EP artwork is an idylic, faded and artistic countryside scene. 'To Bury The Past' lasts for a satisfying twenty five minutes and the key point is probably this. If you saw absolutely no point in 'Fleet Foxes' you'll see no point to Treetop Flyers either. It's a shame if that's the attitude you take, because they really do have their Neil Young type sound right down pat. It's spookily eerie actually how well they evoke the folk scene of the early seventies. 'Is It Worth It' deserves a mention before I go, like an intelligent, acoustic and utterly beautiful mix between Fleet Foxes and Kings Of Leon. Yeah, really. ( reviewed 28.01.2010 )
Joy Orbison / HFT009 **** / *****
You've heard of dubstep artist Burial haven't you? Sure, we all have! Except me. Well, Joy Orbison joins the likes of Burial in being part of the new dubstep scene which is making waves in the UK - finally, a new sound and movement! Anyway, the quite frankly marvellously named 'Joy Orbison' joins the higher profile likes of Burial in being one who could, possibly, enter the mainstream, or at least the inside pages of NME. He's more danceable than Burial, he's got grooves, beats and a dancefloor hat on. Two tracks here then, 'Hyph Mngo' being a phasing synth driven dance-floor number with plenty of spaces to rest in before the beats come back in. Repetitive yes, but isn't that really the entire point? Second track 'Wet Look' has been doing the rounds on the free music MP3 blogs and is well worth tracking down if you want to try before you buy. It's got a beautifully metallic sound and the repeated sample "i'm falling" fits just right. You will fall - deeply into an ecstatic trance to this wonderful intelligent dance music that's also firmly fit for the dance-floors. Hotcha!( reviewed 28.01.2010 )
Trash Talk / East Of Eden *** / *****
Trash-talk is a form of boast or insult commonly heard in competitive situations. It's also a thrash metal band from Sacremento, California. Represented by thelegacygroup.com in Europe and the USA in case you want to book them for your eight year old daughters birthday party, East Of Eden is typical of their output. We've got that motorbike type 'grrr' bass sound, Black Sabbath style drums on speed and a suitably growly vocalist. Even though Trash Talk don't hail from Nottingham then, they do this thrash lark very very well and 'East Of Eden' is by association a great track to annoy your dance music loving neighbours with.( reviewed 28.01.2010 )
The Drums / Summertime EP ***** / *****
The first track on this bands first release is called 'Let's Go Surfin' and
it's absolutely marvelous. Jaded old ears like mine, that somewhat oddly,
are attuned to surf music and songs about surfin, even if (because of?) my
terrible fear of water are bound to perk up at something like this. The sound of 'The Drums' is simple, a bit like early Violent Femmes albeit without the ironic lyrics about sex. These lyrics are charming fantasy and naivety, most wonderfully so. Every track here is happy, makes me grin. 'Submarine' is the pick of the bunch for me, just for the silly backing vocal wine the incongrously chirps away during the chorus. All in all, an absolute winner of a release and well deserving of five stars. ( reviewed 16.01.2010 )
Toni Braxton / Yesterday ** / *****
Is Toni Braxton really still making records? God, the music industry moves slowly these days - keeping hold of artists way past their sell by date. Anyhow, Toni has used the same trick Whitney used on her recent comeback album, auto-tune. If auto-tune is so obvious it's clearly audible on the finished recording, you just may as well not bother recording in the first place. 'Yesterday' is a slow-moving power-ballad that would sound weak sung by an American Idol winner - in short, it's not suitable material for Toni Braxton. If this is all she can do, she really needs to think hard about how she's allowing her career to slide. Record producers be damned, I say. Get in a room with a piano and a bass player and an analogue recorder and sing. Just that, sing. ( reviewed 16.01.2010 )
Ellie Goulding / Under The Sheets *** / *****
Under the sheets?
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