'The Death Of You And Me'
'Works Better On Paper'
'Kitty Wells Dresses'
'Cash And Carry Me Home'
'Make Some Noise'
Reflexes Of The Dead
Smile If You Wanna Get High
At Eight In A Spanish Bar
I Say Love EP
'Heart In Your Heartbreak'
Singles and EPs : Singles Bar
Singles and EPs : Singles Bar
August 2011Noel Gallagher - The Death Of You And Me *** / *****
Noel immediately does what Beady Eye couldn't do, writes a potential hit single. His entirely new group of backing musicians (i'm guessing) sound exactly like Oasis. We've got trumpet too and a round song so beloved of pop composers everywhere. Moving on from 'The Importance Of Being Idle', 'The Death Of Me And You' doesn't match early Oasis form, but is good enough for now and superbly produced and arranged. Noel's voice sounds the same as it did 10 years ago and you now wonder what will happen to Liam and co, any reason for them to continue to exist, really?( reviewed 21.08.2011 )
Bjork - Cyrstalline ** / *****
Bjork still refuses to play the commercial game with yet another track that won't be played on daytime radio whatsover. A pretty melody that's simple, abstract and modern beats and words that are even more abstract and fail to tinker with your emotions. Her voice is still as stunning as ever but now Bjork has a decent back-catalogue, it's difficult to give a fair shake to her newer material when it's like this - Bjork by numers. Bjork by numbers simply isn't good enough anymore. ( reviewed 21.08.2011 )
Komputer - Valentina *** / *****
A tribute to the first woman in space by a band signed to Mute Records who have been around for eons, yet their heavily Kraftwerk influenced sound in this age of nostalgia works for me. They worked under a number of different names over the years but this latest release sounds so Kraftwerk it may as well be Kraftwerk. Perfect for Mute Records and with a whiff of early Depeche Mode, appropriately, this tune is good enough to please any lover of early 80s synth-pop. ( reviewed 21.08.2011 )
Let's Buy Happiness - Works Better On Paper ***** / *****
Four guys, one girl. Shoegaze and dream pop and a five song debut EP. 'Works Better On Paper' is now my track of 2011, so perfect a construction with the delayed and echoey guitars, the perfectly pitched female vocals and a kind of musical style long since thought gone when Indie was replaced with Indie-Pop sometime in the mid-nineties. They've been lazily compared to Cocteau Twins - you can actually think somewhere between Cocteau Twins, Lush and Bang Bang Machine. Gloriously wistful and lovely, 'Let's Buy Happiness' are a band I desperately want to hear more of. ( reviewed 21.08.2011 )
SCUM - Amber Hands **** / *****
After all these years MUTE remains an essential record label releasing loads of decent stuff. 'SCUM' have recorded this song in London, remixes are the extra tracks and their debut album will be released in September. They create an impressive, stadium filling sound with nervous energy, guitars and synths, like a modern day Chameleons, if you will. Nothing is new under the sun but with the passion demonstrated here they could quickly build up a huge live following if they work hard and that will no doubt serve them well in the long-term. The guitars and synths meld together, the singer is indistinct at times and the drums pounding re Chameleons. ( reviewed 21.08.2011 )
April 2011Laura Cantrell - Kitty Well's Dresses *** / *****
Laura Cantrell is back with a sound much more akin to her debut recordings. Shorn of any more 'pop' trappings (not that she ever really had any, but still) this is pure, unadulterated Laura Cantrell. Her voice is as sweet as ever and the backing is country without fuss, country that when placed under her voice sounds a simple joy. Not sure the song is one of her best compositions and wonder it might work better on the forthcoming album, but we shall see. Either way, it's nice to have this real, genuine country girl back and singing once again.( reviewed 24.04.2011 )
Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes *** / *****
I never expected to like a side-project from 'The Horrors' frontman, but there you go. The Horrors singer Faris Badwan joins Canadian-born classically trained soprano and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Zeffira and bonds over a love of girl groups, Brian Wilson, Phil Spector and Joe Meek. This single is less than three minutes of echo-filled groove, doomy vocals, female harmonies - it's goth driving music. It's an intriguing song and when you know 'Cat's Eyes' have an album out, something of a perfect, short taster for same. ( reviewed 24.04.2011 )
Kate Bush - Deeper Understanding ** / *****
Backstory - Kate is releasing an album of new re-workings of songs culled from 'Sensual World' and 'The Red Shoes'. This new version of 'Deeper Understanding' is the lead single. It's two minutes longer than the original and contains a bit of vocodered Kate but apart from that is much the same as the original. Listen to the two versions back to back a few times and you'll see what I mean. Arguably the first four minutes or so of the new version are an improvement but overall, this is a fairly pointless re-working. Pointless of course unless rumours of Kate about to go on tour for only the 2nd time ever are actually true... ( reviewed 24.04.2011 )
Ghostpoet - Cash And Carry Me Home **** / *****
Ghostpoet - Alternative / Experimental / Hip Hop
Beastie Boys - Make Some Noise **** / *****
Beastie Boys have unleashed a new track culled from their forthcoming LP 'Hot Sauce Committee Part Two'. It's a long story, but 'Part One' will follow some time later, we understand. Anyway, I can't help but like this track. Sure, it's still schooled in that same old out-dated style The Beastie Boys have been peddling forever yet I love the buzzing melody that runs through, the raps are energetic and switch between the guys, proper old-skool at a time people are crying out for some decent stuff in this style. Yet, it's going to fit in today's playlists because everything has some kind of retro-influence right now. Importantly, this sounds fresh-enough to not sound exactly like an inferior re-hash of something they've released before. It sounds, refreshingly, like they aren't trying too hard, whether they actually are or not is another matter. This is a funky track that harks back to happier times and for that, we're grateful this group are back after a troubled few years. ( reviewed 24.04.2011 )
March 2011Sucioperro / Reflexes Of The Dead *** / *****
Promoting forthcoming album 'The Heart String And How To Pull It' arrive Sucioperro, try saying or indeed, typing that whilst drunk. Sucioperro's official web-site doesn't include a BIO and I hate using the things the PR companies send so i've searched and discovered that Sucioperro have a bio on both the BBC and NME. A site from Leeds though describes the band as "a three piece from Ayr in Scotland, who play spiralling off kilter alt-rock." Essentially, they sound very American in a way Irish and Scottish bands are able to do very well but Welsh and English bands very much less so. So, the first couple of tracks sound very so-so, very ho-hum and average kind of British/American alternative. One of my tracks of the year suddenly pops out of nowhere though, 'We Take Shelter From The Trouble We're In'. It's fresh, it has an electro/disco/two note rhythm. It has spoken slash sung vocals and a terrific energy. It's enough to light up any indie-alternative show and suddenly I want to know who Sucioperro are. Scottish? No Scottish band I know could go all weirdly electro and as delightful as this, shame about some of the other tracks but no matter, 'Reflexes Of The Dead' is worth it for 'We Take Shelter From The Trouble We're In' alone. The fact that the next track opens with acoustic guitar and is all earnest is just one of those things.( reviewed 31.03.2011 )
Bad Sign / Exit EP **** / *****
Croydon trio Bad Sign are due to release this EP on April 25th. Mark it in your diaries if you like booming stadium rock with passion and slow burning intensity. A three-piece who manage to create plenty of rock noise and have a very talented rhythm section, 'Bad Sign' probably just need a few radio plays before they get some momentum going, or a few good support slots. The grunge guitar that emerges to close lead track 'Unknown' is guaranteed to get the rock clubs dancing but 'Unknown' isn't really the best track here, although once the track ends you'll probably want to make applause of your own - it sounds like the kind of track that deserves a live audience's applause. There's something late eighties/early nineties about Bad Sign though, pre-grunge really when bands could fill decent sized stadiums and inspire worship. I'm not convinced 'Bad Sign' have the tunes to do that yet but the likes of 'Inertia' certainly show they have the determination. ( reviewed 31.03.2011 )
Tom Moriarty / Smile If You Wanna Get High **** / *****
'Smile if you wanna get high' sings deep growly voiced Tom Moriarty and why not, we need some entertainment in these gloomy and depressed times. Sounding like a hairy-escapee from the mid-seventies, Tom clearly has plenty to offer. He could front Bad Company, that's how hairy and stuff he comes across as yet the single itself has an irresistable hook - quite unlike much of the plodding ditch-like darkness the mid-seventies offered us. Clearly a great singer and i'm not sure he's even letting out half of his vocal chords here. The second track 'Every Trick In The Book' is slow, Piano based and growl does Tom, he sings with that deep throaty chords of his and even after hearing just these two tracks, i love him immediately. Take a listen then take a look on his web-site, the voice and the picture match up perfectly, ha!( reviewed 31.03.2011 )
Shibuya Crossigs / At Eight In A Spanish Bar *** / *****
Indie alternative trio Shibuya Crossings hail from London via Northern Ireland and The Philippines and they are due to release their second album later this year. Listing the likes of Belle and Sebastian, The Smiths, Teenage Fanclub and Neil Young among their influences, this writer and music lover wonders where Shibuya Crossings have been keeping themselves all these years? Anyway, the song itself sounds nothing like any of those influences but does sound a little Pavement. Sounding a little Pavement is a good thing in our house, so let's pay attention. 'At Eight In A Spanish Bar' sounds American in a good way, has fuzzy Super Furry Animals style guitars and musical hooks approximately every three seconds. Around a minute and a half in, everything drops out, seconds pass and in comes a pure singalong section you can chant along to. Production wise it's clear Shibuya Crossings don't have major label backing but then again, i'd rather listen to this real recording than something smothered to death in the studio. My advice? Head over to any of the music sites featuring Shibuya Crossings (facebook, myspace, etc) and listen to the song, it'll make you smile. ( reviewed 31.03.2011 )
Jen Olive / I Say Love EP **** / *****
Jen Olive is utterly unique yet when you first hear this EP i'm sure you will you'll know you've heard the 'dna' of the music before, the vocal phrasing, harmonies and inventiveness will inevitably remind you of something. The guitar has odd signatures, odd picking. This EP features two songs from her recent LP, two new songs and two remixes and Andy Partridge of XTC contributes. Ah, that's the thing you couldn't quite place that you'd heard before! That XTC invention and cleverness is writ large all over 'I Say Love' yet Jen's guitar and vocals and words are clearly her own, fully her own. It's music that sounds like no other music and as such, your workmates or friends may just let it pass them by so don't try to impress them with this new artist unless they have a musical education and can tell the really smart things that Jen does. Smart things wrapped up in simple, clever and wonderful melodies and vocal harmonies.
February 2011Burns Unit / Trouble *** / *****
The Burns Unit's debut album Side Show has been released and has picked up solid reviews. Burns Unit are something of a Scottish indie super-group, containing as they do members of King Creosote, Future Pilot AKA, Emma Pollock and Karine Polwart. Sunshine pop is the order of the day, extrememly well crafted indie-pop of the kind that seems to have gone out of fashion, really. It's a simple three and a half minute pop song with a good chorus, good lyrics, harmonies and verses that ensure the song has depth and not just a memorable chorus. Good stuff all in all and if you like this i'm happy to report you probably have great taste in music generally, whatever your usual stylistic preferences. ( reviewed 09.02.2011 )
Big Deal / Locked Up *** / *****
Big Deal are singer/songwriters Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe. From the UK, both play electric/acoustic guitars and sing. That's all, there are in fact no other sounds or instruments to be found and it comes across as refreshing honest and personal as a result. Not sure at this stage if a whole album of theirs in this particular style would be welcome, yet in short doses such as thing, Big Deal are like the coming of spring, washing away all the hairy sweat and frustration of summer.
( reviewed 09.02.2011 )
Fleet Foxes / Helplessness Blues ***** / *****
I've got to be entirely honest, the Fleet Foxes 'Sun Giant' EP was something so utterly beautifully magical that when I subsequently heard their debut LP i was ever so slightly disappointed that it was merely excellent rather than equally stunningly beautiful. 'Helplessness Blues' gives us a taster of the 2nd Fleet Foxes album and I must admit to be worried. So many bands fade away after their intial, blinking rush into the spotlight. Well, 'Helplessness Blues' is enough to remind anybody that did like Fleet Foxes why they liked them in the first place. The lyrics make one forget all about the modern world, or indeed, the real world. You end up placed into some adult fairy-tale, enough to make you see and feel like you saught and saw, in awe-inspiring, wide-eyed fascination when six or seven years old. So, a rush of acoustic guitars complement a lone voice encased in echo, with a touch of either harmony or double-tracking, i'm not entirely sure. The 'Mykonos' drums come in, harmonies, and colours of brown and orange. "If I had an orchard i'd work til i'm sore" they sing - before harmonies and the possibilites of music so good you'd happily die on the spot whilst listening to it raise themselves. Don't listen once, listen three times on the trot and then decide. It's worth it.( reviewed 09.02.2011 )
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart / Heart In Your Heartbreak **** / *****
Suddenly, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have a reputation to live upto. A band that's been getting better and better at evoking mid eighties British indie, all jangling guitars, furious rhythms and suitably thin vocals. Not quite The Wedding Present re-born as their are more influences on display, but cross the Wedding Present with Sarah Records and you might get a good idea of what these guys sound like. As for the song itself, it's sunshine, it's utterly happy and whilst the modern pop charts may be so utterly depressing it's ever so easy to forget that anybody writes good songs these days, 'Heart In Your Heartbreak' is joyous and simple enough to remind you of all that is utter bombast, commercial and downright poppycock about the music industry these days!( reviewed 09.02.2011 )
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