Monday, 30 April 2012

Terminal Gods - Electric Eyes

Single review by KevW


This is the first official single by London's Terminal Gods who only formed last summer and already seem to have a clear vision of who they are and what they're about. The band line-up reads as follows: "Cowlin - Vox; Maisey - Gothic Guitars; Cooper - Punk Guitars; Katie - Bass; A vast and unfathomable machine brain pulsating at the heart of a twisted web of mechanics, midi and sleepless nights - Drums". Essentially a spectacularly long winded version of Echo & The Bunnymen then, and they inhabit a similar sonic realm to them and other Gothic-stained post-punk bands, enigmatically camouflaged behind shades and swathes of dry ice.

The icy guitars and machine-made beats lend an industrial feel to these new-wave styled tracks, with 'Electric Eyes' providing a menacing and confident burst of Cult-ish pomp and power - minus the histrionics. Despite these references, it's not all about the past. Although toes are dipped in those murky waters, all three tracks on this single share DNA with more contemporary noisemakers like A Place To Bury Strangers and Blacklist. Style and sound are of course only part of the deal; the tunes are what really matter and, if this single is anything to go by, Terminal Gods have the songs to back it up, which makes for an enticingly complete package.



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Tigercats - Isle Of Dogs

Album review by KevW


Comprising of former members of Esiotrot and Hexicon, Tigercats already have plenty of experience of the London indiepop scene and on their debut release under this guise that background serves them well, as this collection of tunes is a pretty consummate body of traditional snappy guitar-pop tunes whose influence comes from punk, through jangly C86 and alt-rock from the same family tree as The Pastels, Denim, Hefner et al. The subject matter is as indie as a pair of brown corduroys and some battered Converse, referencing Dalston bars, post-punk bands, trendy haircuts and East London life.

The song titles namecheck 'Kim & Thurston', 'The Vapours', 'Harper Lee', 'Stevie Nicks' and, um, 'Konny Huck' (sic). The music is scratchy guitars, choppy rhythms and crisp, half-spoken vocals. 'The Vapours' fantasises about a record shop staffed by new-wave one hit wonders (although if we're being pedantic then 'You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties' and 'Stop The Cavalry' would technically rule Jona Lewis out of that category) and the tropical inflected 'Full Moon Reggae Party' briefly swaps London life for white sands and blue seas.

The fizzing 'Harper Lee' and 'Coffin For The Isle Of Dogs' are particularly alluring and although this album follows a well thumbed rulebook for the most part, the experimental touches and willingness to play around with tempos and guidelines give Tigercats an advantage over the rabble of similarly branded bands, and 'Isle Of Dogs' as an album is fun, interesting, lively and eclectic and has the timeless feel to match those bands whose sound theirs is descended from.

For a free download of 'Full Moon Reggae Party' head here


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Out This Week - 30th April 2012

Mystery Jets - Someone Purer


Following the pop success of last album 'Serotonin', Mystery Jets set up camp in Texas to record follow-up 'Radlands' which is out this week. The recording location and the cover will tell you this one has a more American feel to it but they're not turning into Fleet Foxes just yet, as the poppy single 'Someone Purer' proves, they've got the balance just right.



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Lower Dens - Candy


Baltimore band Lower Dens offer up their album 'Nootropics' from today, and Jana Hunter and co. have been on the receiving end of many plaudits of late. Their album looks like it could be worthy of the hype with the brooding 'Candy' showing off a strutting beat and slow burning, dark atmospherics, topped off with a dreamy, lilting vocal.



Lower Dens' website

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The Spinto Band - Take It 


Delaware indie veterans The Spinto Band have been quietly releasing wonderful guitar-pop records since the mid 90s without ever really cracking the mainstream. New album 'Shy Pursuit' will do nothing to change that because, thankfully for us, it contains more of what they do best: non-commercial alternative pop with plenty of hooks and a nifty chorus, as heard on 'Take It'.



The Spinto Band's website

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Polica - Lay Your Cards Out


We posted a track from Polica a few weeks back and now their album 'Give You The Ghost' gets its full UK release. Consisting of a couple of members of 80s rock-influenced band Gayngs, it's good to see that a different approach has been taken for this album. There's still an 80s vibe but it's a much more savoury mixture of moody synth-pop and effected vocals with some great tunes to boot. Check out 'Lay Your Cards Out'.



Polica's website

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OBLIGATORY RECORD OF THE WEEK

Island Twins - Lying In State


Island Twins call Queens, New York home and it's there that they create their amazing brand of fuzz-pop, mixing lo-fi production and a taste for pleasant distortion with an ear for an amazing melody. With just a couple of singles under their belt so far we're hoping there's plenty more to come and that at least some of it is of the same quality as the utterly superb and highly addictive 'Lying In State'.


Island Twins' website





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Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Malex Kings - Welcome To Chicago EP

EP review by KevW


This is an intriguing one. The Malex Kings are the unlikely pairing of a French guitar virtuoso and an experimental dance producer from Spain, combining on an EP that's obsessed by the USA. It's a fairly distinctive sound they make too, based around 80s soft rock guitar noodling, nonchalant big beats and samples; it's guaranteed to divide opinion with very few sitting on the fence. Like your guitars of the slick Mark Knopfler variety and the vibe of commercial 90s trip-hop? Then you're quids in.

Beginning with a quote from The Blues Brothers and instantly overlaying it with some nifty fretboard polishing and chunky breaks, 'Welcome To Chicago' starts as it means to go on, followed by the metropolitan 'Dix-Neuf' which sticks to the same format with samples of traffic and police sirens. 'Jam Session' does exactly what it says on the tin, mixing seemingly random guitar squalls and vocal clips over a lazy beat, and 'Requiem For A Bluesman' is plastic soul lifted from the soundtrack to an imaginary 80s blockbuster; the whole EP has a film score feel to it, ending with the equally cinematic 'Behind The Church' which is a skewed and pensive soundscape. It's a cohesive EP and there's not a great deal in the way of variation, but if your ears have been pricked up by any of the references then you may want to give it a spin.


The Malex Kings' website

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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Mummy Short Arms - Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse

Album review by KevW


It's incredibly rare that a band emerges, seemingly from nowhere, as fully formed as Glasgow's Mummy Short Arms. The brace of singles released last year displayed a complete and perfectly executed understanding of the band's concept; there was nothing that didn't fit, nothing to be improved upon, yet these were still experimental tracks, songs that were naturally conceived to stretch the boundaries of indie-rock and to carve their own route as opposed to hanging off the coattails of others.

While most bands may take two or three years to bulk out their set into an album's worth of material (which will often be patchy even then), just a year on and the seven-strong collective put forth a debut album, 'Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse'. Both the title and the artwork convey the warped vision of a circus freak show: twisted, dark, disturbing but highly intriguing all the same. True to form, this perfectly encapsulates the feel of the record. They've nailed the imagery just as successfully as they have the music, which talks about Houdini, whisky, mortuaries, unsavoury characters and tales of the underground.

The music itself is intricate and imaginative, and always perfectly apt. A mixture of swampy harmonica, layered effects and an expert rhythm section backing the introspective, laid back guitar and demented vocals that sound like the work of a man possessed; let out on day release in a straight jacket to shriek and scream about the distorted visions that occupy his mental space. Each track sounds like a single and 'Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse' doesn't carry an ounce of flab. Everything included seems essential, passionate and entirely complete.

If you want a few track names as starting points then 'Where's The Mortuary?', 'Change', 'Cigarette Smuggling' and 'Searching For A Body' may be good first ports of call, but really this is an album to immerse yourself in entirely. Because of the depth and totality of the music on display, these are songs that are likely to age as well as a fine whisky and get better with time. To put it bluntly, we're potentially looking at one of the best debut albums you're likely to hear for some time.



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Five For Free #74

Father John Misty - Nancy From Now On


So former Fleet Fox J. Tillman finally releases the first album under his Father John Misty guise next week. By now you should be familiar with Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings and you can also get your hands on another free pick from 'Fear Fun'. 'Nancy From Now On' is as pastoral and harmonious as you'd expect but gloriously sweeping and upbeat at the same time.



Free download: 'Nancy From Now On'

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Reptar - Orifice Origami


'Body Faucet' is the debut album from Athens, Georgia quintet Reptar and is also out next week on Vagrant Records. Below you can get a free download of album cut and oddly named 'Orifice Origami' which mixes a few genres and ends up being a catchy and appealing mix of indie/disco/pop and more. It's simple fun but brimming with passion too.



Reptar's website

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Advance Base - Summer Music


No doubt carefully planned to be released at the start of summer, Advance Base's 'Summer Music' will unfortunately be met with the gloomy clouds and rain currently residing over UK skies. Still, the song itself is hardly a summer breeze, feeling rather more maudlin and downbeat, but it's all the better for it. Their album 'A Shut-In's Prayer' is out in a couple of weeks.



Free download: 'Summer Music'

Advance Base's website

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Ramona Falls - Sqworm


Portland alt-rockers Ramona Falls will be putting out their second album 'Prophet' next week too, with Brent Knopf now taking time out from Menomena. There are a handful of free tasters doing the rounds at the moment but our favourite is probably 'Sqworm'. They've invented a new word and created a thundering piece of grand indie while they're at it.


Ramona Falls' website

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Light Asylum - Shallow Tears


Brooklyn duo Light Asylum have been collecting a fair bit of hype on their brief journey so far. Their self-titled debut album is out to download soon with a physical release due in the summer but their debut EP 'In Tension' is readily available now and you can download the dark and juddering 'Shallow Tears' for free below. It manages to sound retro and incredibly modern at the same time.



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Friday, 27 April 2012

BalloonMan - Aurelia EP

EP review by KevW


Londoners BalloonMan take inspiration from many generations of alternative guitar bands and on this debut EP they give an airing to a whole host of influences. Personally they list The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth and The Auteurs and shades of all can be detected on 'Aurelia', but perhaps due to those bands being at their peak many years ago and a multitude of others drawing from similar reference points, BalloonMan sound more conventional than revolutionary. However that's not to say this record is run-of-the-mill, because while originality may not be on their side, decent tunes are.

'Anyone But You' is sharp post-punk where Talking Heads meet Gang Of Four and create something unusually danceable; it's snappy and persistent. 'Astro', with it's aggressive guitar, is proto-Britpop before it became refined and turned sour, and 'Call To Arms' recalls a similar era, yet it has more in common with alt-rock bands from this side of the pond such as Deus than with the US grunge pack. Best of all is the statuesque disco-punk of 'Black Shoe' which briefly lifts the EP up that extra notch. All told 'Aurelia' is a very promising first outing.



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Age Of Consent - Heartbreak

Single review by KevW


This is the second single from London based "Gothic-pop" duo Age Of Consent, with "pop" being the operative word. 'Heartbreak' does indeed have Gothic undertones though, and it's difficult not to think back to the darker experimental synth bands of the early 1980s. If you want a comparison then we'll say Gary Numan being given a coating of mainstream make-up by Human League. It all works splendidly and 'Heartbreak' is catchy and hook-laden with just enough savoury shade to stop it becoming too sweet.

The forceful, stuttering beat has a Prince like power, acting as an anchor for the shards of vocal and synth that jut forth from it. It's robotic but with a human warmth and its non-genre-specific sound means that it spans retro and modern, electro and indie, pop and dance. It's impressively hypnotic considering it's only just over three-and-a-half minutes long, and grows with each listen too. Although if you stop to think about it, you realise it's pretty much just a less tinny, male-fronted version of La Roux, but as their sabbatical drags on, that's no bad thing.



Age Of Consent's website

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Thursday, 26 April 2012

The DeRellas - Stick It To The Man

Single review by KevW


The DeRellas game plan is to evoke the punk spirit of the 70s, although with a cover that's essentially a kids version of The Ramones iconic crest (each of the band share the fabricated surname DeRella too incidentally) and a title as clich├ęd as 'Stick It To The Man', your pastiche detector is already going haywire. Ignore it, along with any notions of fake Sid Vicious rock 'n' roll posturing that come with it. For these guys are here to make punk fun, dumb and honest with their eyes on the past but their brains realising that this is 2012 and that kind of copycat shtick is unlikely to wash.

Instead they've thrown out a pair of catchy as hell glam-punk stompers that are as much 'Can The Can' as 'Pretty Vacant'. The beat on 'Stick It To The Man' is lifted from 1972 and its riffing and vocal effects are as much The Sweet as The Clash but it's strangely difficult to resist. While not quite the punk/glam hybrid that The New York Dolls were famed for, it's still toe-tappingly likeable. B-side 'Go Go DeRellas' mixes a jagged riff with some Ramones "hey ho!" chanting and is equally fun. The cover and the name make much more sense after listening; this is 70s rock 'n' roll put through a filter of common sense that realises the idea of over-authenticity would lead to ridicule. Instead these two slightly knowing tributes leave you with a smile rather than a groan.



The DeRellas' website

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Fever Fever - The Chair

Single review by KevW


This latest single from Norwich art-punk trio Fever Fever is being released on super-limited cassette so if you like what you hear it'll be worth getting a pre-order in pronto to avoid disappointment. And there's every chance you will like it, because 'The Chair' is a gently rumbling monster of a track, the fervent, relentless drumming borrowed from the dark corners of atmospheric metal, and the intense rolling bass is similarly leaden. Rather than turning to murky sludge before our very ears, things are neatly contrasted to convey a broader scope of sound.

The crisp Wire-y guitars lift the song from the mire without detracting from its potency, and the girly, half-spoken vocals are directly from the art-pop world and make for a pleasant flashback to the similarly Wire-inspired, punky Britpop of Elastica, but without quite hitting the same pop level they reached. You could pin a few genres on this: punk, grunge, art-pop, indie, post-punk; and they all naturally overlap which means that 'The Chair' covers a wide spectrum of alternative music and should appeal to anyone who likes a bit of guts with their guitars.
 

For more from Fever Fever check out free track 'TEETH'.


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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Soul Circus - Burn The Map/The Consequence Of Youth

Single review by KevW


What was once mainstream is now the underdog. With current trends dictating that big, balls-out indie-rock which would once have sold by the Shed 7 load is now as inherently unfashionable as a Razorlight fancy dress kit (those new press shots aren't getting any better are they?) it's reassuring to know that not everyone has lost faith in good old fashioned British rock and roll. Cutting an epic figure that casts aside snide hipsters one lofty chorus at a time, are Leeds quintet Soul Circus who fly in the face of factory-farmed pop and the hoards of trendy lo-fi guitar botherers.

This double A-side single is traditional to its core, following in the footsteps of the towering Northern indie bands who've gone before them. They have their sights set on a little more than a few years crawling around the toilet circuit; these songs are designed for grander venues. The rotating musical style-carousel will determine whether they reach them, but along with contemporaries such as Union Sound Set and The Ghosts they're heading in the right direction. 'Burn The Map' is no shrinking violet, and while not a classic it definitely shows ambition and is a bold statement. 'The Consequence Of Youth' is cast from the same mould. They have the correct components, but they'll need an extra bit of magic to get them to really stand out and buck the trend.


Soul Circus' website

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She Ripped - Ultra-Social Happy Man

Single review by KevW


Based in Wales, She Ripped have been knocking around on and off for a few years and have a handful of releases under their belt on small local labels. After a brief sabbatical the quartet reunited to record the three tracks for this new 7" single in the glorious summertime rain of Cardiff. The outcome is, perhaps unsurprisingly, not sun-kissed, blissful pop but a rather less evocative mixture of throbbing punk fury and downbeat singing.

This doesn't amount to a trio of dreary dullard guitar bashing songs though, as She Ripped have a conviction and brawn to their sound that's best sampled through the driving power-punk of the lead track with its deadpan vocals and scorching guitar breaks. It's more empowering than uplifting but it's definitely a rousing track. B-sides 'Mind The Gap' and 'And We Know' don't quite have the same spark yet both are a worthy inclusion and sit somewhere between early Idlewild and The Cribs whilst also evoking the spirit of underrated 90s heroes Earl Brutus. All in all it's not a single to be listened to quietly.


She Ripped's website

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The Raveonettes - Into The Night EP

EP Review by KevW


2012 marks a decade since Danish scuzz masters The Raveonettes first began releasing records. In that time they've maintained a regular and prolific output (five albums, five EPs, loads of singles) and refused to even think about following trends, instead allowing other bands to take their lead (hello Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls, The Vandelles and many more). Only once, on major label experiment 'Pretty In Black', did they allow their sound to deviate slightly from their trusted blueprint. Of course this means we generally know what to expect from each release, yet somehow this fails to dampen the effect.

It's remarkable that after so long ploughing the trebley, fuzzy, Buddy Holly meets The Jesus & Mary Chain furrow that they still matter and that every release remains exciting and engaging. 'Into The Night' is co-produced by long time sparring partner and echo-chamber specialist Richard Gottherer, and the title track is pure distorted pop pleasure, packed to the rafters with girl-group melody. The chugging 'Night Comes Out' glistens and twangs its way through familiar dark themes lightened by an uplifting chorus. 'Too Close To Hearbreak' is, once again, everything The Raveonettes have done so well in the past squished into a bite sized electric nugget and 'Bad Ghosts' ticks those boxes yet again. How they continue to make their format sound fresh, vibrant and vital is a secret many would kill for, but whatever the secret is, long may they continue to use it.



The Raveonettes' website

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Five For Free #73

Terrible Feelings - Intruders


Sweden is as good a place to start as any, so our first port of call is Malmo and powerpop trio Terrible Feelings whose punky and melodic leanings remind us a little bit of The Undertones which is no bad thing. Their debut album 'Shadows' was released this month on Deranged Records and for a sample of what to expect from it, get stuck into catchy free download 'Intruders'.



Terrible Feelings' website

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Let's Away - Concording


The duo that make up Sunderland's Let's Away will be playing their first live show with a full backing band on June 1st at Newcastle's Evolution Emerging Festival, and they're celebrating by giving us a free track, 'Concording', which is has an wonderful spacious feel and enticing warm production. It packs in an atmospheric and emotive punch too, well worth checking out.


Let's Away's website





The Phenominal Handclap Band - Radio Girls


New York based hipster clan The Phenomenal Handclap Band released their second album 'Form & Control' earlier this year and are offering up the addictive and radio-friendly disco/punk/soul groove of 'Radio Girls' for free. It may be tailored for genre-straddling crossover appeal but it achieves its goal with some aplomb. Gorgeously fun.



The Phenomenal Handclap Band's website

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Diamond Rugs - Country Mile


The name Diamond Rugs might not seem familiar at first (unless you're getting them mixed up with Diamond Rings) but their line-up includes members of Deer Tick, Six Finger Satellite, Los Lobos, Dead Confederate and Black Lips. Quite an impressive cast, it must be said. Their self-titled album is out this week and you can grab free track 'Country Mile' below.



Diamond Rugs' website

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Spiritualized - Huh? (outro)


The good news of the past few weeks is that Spiritualized album 'Sweet Heart Sweet Light' has picked up some amazing reviews (like ours) and gone top 20 in the UK, topping the Record Store album chart while it was at it. You should have heard it by now, but unless you live in Japan you may have missed out on bonus track 'Huh? (outro)'. We would of course advise buying the Japanese import pronto, but if you don't fancy that then you can get it free here.
 

Spiritualized's website

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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Richard James - Baby Blue EP

EP review by KevW


There were two stages to the career of insane Welsh experimentalists Gorkys Zygotic Mynci. The first, beginning when they were still at school, was bonkers, multi-instrumental, round-the-bend brilliance that made you feel as though you'd stumbled upon a crazy psychedelic world where nothing was quite as it should be. As they grew older (and signed to a bigger label) things took a turn for the pastoral, with later albums being made up of delightful acoustic folk which still contained glimmers of their acid-fried past.

Founder member Richard James' debut solo album was a comfortable but likeable continuation along that path and his second, 'Pictures In The Morning', looks like seeing the sound toned down even more. But as he's proved countless times, James' soft vocals are wonderfully captivating and he's never had trouble penning songs of contemplative beauty to show them off. 'Baby Blue', for all its subtleties, demands your attention through its sheer loveliness. Backed by Nick Drake-style plucked guitar and mournful strings it shows he's lost none of his touch. This free EP also includes two similarly winsome acoustic outtakes from the album sessions that tread an equally magical path, as on the eight minute rambling journey of 'Triptych'. It's a joy to hear those enchanting tones again.



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60 Second Swingers - Lonely & Blue

Single review by KevW


Launching a record label in the current climate is unlikely to be a wise move financially as - a) the economy is buggered, and - b) nobody bothers buying records anyway. The power of music, as we all know, transcends common sense and it's a testament to this fact that French label Howlin Banana Records have chosen this moment to embark on their maiden voyage as purveyors of that distinctly non-commercial genre: dirty garage-punk. Hats off to them for the passion and integrity of their mission, but what about the music? Well, that's pretty darn good too.

This is only the second release by 60 Second Swingers (the first being back in 2007) and is a sonic blast of sugar-coated distortion, taking the blueprint from 60s stalwarts such as The Sonics, The Monks etc. and giving them a lick of The Cramps' psychobilly and a final coating of Mary Chain fuzz to finish things off. 'Lonely & Blue' is organ heavy, with a great riff and barely distinguishable, howling vocals, while the B-side is a cover of the Little Phil & The Night Shadows' 60s classic from which the band take their name. It's great that there are bands out there with the conviction to make the music they like, and it's heartening to know people are willing to take a leap of faith and get these sounds out to us. Excellent work by all involved.


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Monday, 23 April 2012

Head Of Light Entertainment - The English Don't Care

Album review by KevW


Head Of Light Entertainment are honest enough to admit that their debut album didn't exactly find an appreciative audience. That was essentially a solo record, but follow up 'The English Don't Care' was recorded as a trio ("two middle aged men with a girl half their age") and is unlikely to do anything to change the situation. There are some intriguing and delightful songs here but they seem intent on ruining things by punctuating them with ill-advised forays in to the world of music hall.

The excellent and mysterious 'Edwardian Fog' and the wondrous chorus of 'The English Don't Care' follow in the grand tradition of madcap, idiosyncratic British pop, yet the knowingly zany 'The Airing Cupboard Fairies' and 'Nip In In The Bud' overrule them by sticking in both the head and the throat. They might be aiming for the oddpop of Sparks but sadly their efforts lack, well, spark. "Surely this is theatre? Maybe bathroom Theatre Royal?" is more fitting a line than it was likely intended.

Experimentation is something that should undoubtedly be encouraged and Head Of Light Entertainment seem more than willing, yet eccentricity only works if it's natural rather than forced. The likeable 'The Last Case On The Carousel' is followed by the hideous 'Vindictive Van Dyke' and it's these moments that spoil it. There's half a decent album here and you can't help but feel that if they ditched the try-hard quirkiness they'd stand a much greater chance of finding that appreciative audience after all.





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Out This Week - 23rd April 2012

Clock Opera - Once & For All


It's been a long time coming but London quartet Clock Opera release their debut album 'Ways To Forget' this week and anyone (us included) who's enjoyed their experimental way with intricate, alternative pop tunes over the past few years won't be disappointed in the slightest. All that made the singles sound so great is included here in spades. Check out album track 'Once & For All'.



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Brendan Benson - Bad For Me


Before he became an (almost) household name as part of The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson was carving out a pretty distinguished solo career with a clutch of great alt-rock albums. His latest, 'What Kind Of World' hits stores this week and you can pick up a free sample in the shape of piano driven ballad 'Bad For Me' with its swelling chorus and soul-baring lyrics.



Brendan Benson's website

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TY Segall & White Fence - I Am Not A Game


The ever busy White Fence only released an album at the start of the month and have another to follow in May, but if the unlikely scenario that you need a fix in between those LPs arises then you should check out 'Hair', their collaboration album with TY Segall which is out today. 'I Am Not A Game' has a 60s psych-rock sound and trebley production and, simply put, is pretty fab.



TY Segall's website

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The Dandy Warhols - Sad Vacation


The Dandy Warhols have been around for the best part of twenty years now and this week release their eighth studio album 'This Machine'. Single 'Sad Vacation' is dark and moody with a psychedelic edge that won't be unfamiliar to those who've investigated a bit further into the band's work than that single off that advert. This kind of brooding psych is what they do best.



The Dandy Warhols' website

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OBLIGATORY RECORD OF THE WEEK

Ren Harvieu - Open Up Your Arms


This new single from Salford's Ren Harvieu is a staggeringly good, sweeping piece of vintage pop with strings that could be lifted from McAlmont & Butler's grandest moments. 'Open Up You Arms' is a killer soul/pop tune on a scale that many aim for but few achieve. This girl deserves to be huge and we're hoping for some wider recognition soon as her album 'Through The Night' will be released at the beginning of May.



Ren Harvieu's website

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Paul Messis & Jessica Winter - Sunflower

Single review by KevW


Over the course of three singles and an album, West Sussex songwriter Paul Messis hasn't exactly borrowed from the 1960s, it's more a case of smashing the decade's shop front and wholesale looting and pillaging everything it has to offer. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that's the sense you get from all of Messis's recordings, from the threadbare west-coast garage rattle of previous tracks through to this latest offering: sincerity. There's a clear passion and will to replicate those sounds as faithfully as possible. Such tendencies can be overbearing when taken too seriously but that's not a trap Messis and his muse here, Jessica Winter, fall in to. There's a sense of fun and even a sense of pastiche here that's wonderfully unashamed.

'Sunflower' is a hazey fug of buzzing sitars and humming amps intent on bringing the swirling kaleidoscopic images of 60s psychedelia to life in an aural form. At first it seems too much but soon the curiosity becomes a smile as you realise that's the whole point, and what's more, it's a heck of a lot of fun and the woozy harmonies are actually quite sublime in an early Jefferson Airplane kind of way. B-side 'As Nightmares Turn To Dreams' also drifts its way around the room with the slow jangle of guitars and tambourine and that dreamy combination of voices once again. It's over the top, a little ridiculous but, most importantly, an intoxicating piece of ear candy.





Paul Messis' website

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

I Am In Love - Palm

Single review by KevW


It's a little surprising that genre-straddling Leicester quartet I Am In Love have so far acquired more success in mainland Europe than back here in Blighty. There's already a mini album available on the continent and this new single is being brought to us by German label Velocity Sounds. Despite a fair amount of UK press and radio coverage you get the feeling that I Am In Love should be making a bigger splash than they have up to this point, as their dark but accessible hybrid of post-punk and electro seems tailored to please more left-field British music fans who also have a penchant for decent pop.

'Palm' may well be the single that puts them more firmly on the map, home and away. As multi-purpose music goes, I Am In Love tick many boxes with this one. If you wanna throw some shapes, the energy and beat are enough to nudge you towards the dance floor and the repetitive hook is barbed to ensure it can safely lodge itself in your brain. It's catchy and it's pop, but not the disposable, plastic variety; 'Palm' is darker than that, borrowing from the colder side of 80s electronica; it's also intricate, like Friendly Fires minus the Hawaiian shirts. Spanning so many potential markets is quite a feat and you wouldn't bet against I Am In Love troubling the mainstream before too long.


I Am In Love's website

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Five For Free #72

Pale Man Made - In Your Bed


Newcastle band Pale Man Made hark back to the alternative music scene of the early 90s, using the same ingredients as many bands of that era and moulding them into two and a half minutes of buzzing, melodic indie with a DIY ethic, punk energy and C86 spirit. They sound a little bit like a lot of your favourite bands so tuck in to their new single 'In Your Bed' which is free from Odd Box Records.


Free download: 'In Your Bed'

Pale man Made's website

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Cat Martino - I Promise


Brooklyn singer-songwriter Cat Martino is the latest artist to be featured as part of Weathervane Music's Shaking Through series. Atmospheric, emotive new track 'I Promise' was recorded over the course of a weekend in March and was only written the week before. The track features Sufjan Stevens and Man Man drummer Christopher Powell.



Cat Martino's website

Shaking Through's website





Warm Digits - A Warm Front, Coming From The North


The duo that make up Warm Digits clearly have a taste for vintage electronica and are not shy of combining it with a decent tune. Their debut album 'Keep Warm With The Warm Digits' got some great reviews and the combination of analogue sounds and organic drumming gives free track 'A Warm Front, Coming From The North' an early Kraftwerk feel, and it's bloody brilliant to boot.


The Warm Digits' website

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The Avalanche - Throw Away The Rest


There's been a barrage of top quality shoegaze and dreampop coming from Scandinavia in the past few years and it looks set to continue with the aptly named The Avalanche. This Norwegian band engulf you in a cascade of reverb and feedback that's tuneful and noisy at the same time, as you can hear on single 'Throw Away The Rest'. A UK release for their album is due later this year.



The Avalanche's website

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Vertebrae - Crisis Apparition


Vertebrae is the brainchild of Irish-born, London-based singer-songwriter Daire Mulvihill whose debut album 'Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea' has recently been made available for download. 'Crisis Apparition' is a robust acoustic track enriched by gentle percussion and a chorus of voices. It's the kind of emotive, powerful ballad that's made Frank Turner such a big draw of late.



Vertebrae's website

Stream or download the album





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Friday, 20 April 2012

O'Messy Life - Little Vehicles/Space Holiday

Single review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com


This latest double A-side from Newcastle's O'Messy Life is the fusion of a couple of decades worth of alternative guitar music condensed into a handy travel size package. 'Little Vehicles' begins with the lo-fi slacker fuzz of Pavement, before jumping forward to incorporate some shouty, punchy indie courtesy of Los Campesionos! and the blue-collar rock of The Gaslight Anthem. Then it stops, turns around and heads backwards in time again to borrow a solo from J Mascis or The Pixies. The toned down, drawn out ending also has its roots back in the 1990s.

'Space Holiday' is far from cosmic, its feet firmly planted on terra firma and the earthy, almost folk-tinged punk rock of Titus Andronicus or Springsteen's dynamic rock anthems. It comes complete with a climax involving a ensemble of football terrace vocals. Such an odd and unseemly mix probably has no right to work but in this instance it's greater than the sum of its parts and both tracks have a cohesion that tidily covers over the patchwork of influences. Turns out they're not so messy after all.



O'Messy Life's website

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Band To Check Out: Black Ju Ju

Article by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com


It's not clear whether Aylesbury trio Black Ju Ju take their name from the Alice Cooper song of the same name, but they definitely share his love for noisy guitars. However, the red-raw garage-rock blast they generate has more in common with proto-punks such as The Stooges and the MC5 and the throat shredding primal-howl of The Sonics. If you were to nick The Jim Jones Revue's piano, drag them through a hedge backwards, douse them in whiskey and throw them on a stage they'd probably pour out similar sounding discordant mayhem.

Black Ju Ju's songs are 100 miles-an-hour fireballs of energy in the grand tradition of all good dirty rock 'n' roll groups and these three tracks are no holds barred walls of ferocious distortion. It makes them one of the more exciting modern garage bands on the scene. They're currently putting the finishing touches to a few songs in the studio, but we're crossing our fingers that the results aren't too far away from the ragged, scuffed  ferocity that gives these songs such a genuine, vigorous, visceral power. Bring the noise.



Black Juju's website





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