Thursday, 31 December 2009

Domes Of Silence – Temple Of The Wasp

Domes Of Silence issue the first new material since their debut album Mescaline, with this new single. Singer Sean has one of those really strident vocal styles, like Julian Cope. Temple Of The Wasp sees his vocals lighter; yet still sinister while the music is fuzzy and wild like the Stooges. There are odd breaks while he appears to stalk his prey and a twiddly guitar bit that doesn’t quite fit, but there’s something wonderfully mid eighties, grebo and sleaze rock about it all. Live fave Bad Wisdom is even better, like the above but more straight forward. And it sounds like it was recorded on motorbikes.


Temple Of The Wasp is out now on all the usual download sites.

Domes Of Silence myspace is here

Bunnygrunt – Matt Harnish & Other Delights

This is the third Bunnygrunt album, and the first since their reunion (turns out this isn't quite right, see post comments. Bloody unreliable internet info!). The Limits Of Southern Hospitality is Juliana Hatfield fronting the Lemonheads, a boisterous pop classic. Shotgun rocks like a female led power pop group, 1000% Not Creepy is a 100 miles an hour surf pop tune, fizzing effortlessly along and S. Kingshighway Bubblegum Factory is Status Quo forced through a Redd Kross makeover machine. The rest of the album buzzes past in a delighted slacker power pop fashion. Here’s a band that make good record, but probably make even more sense live.


Matt Harnish & Other Delights is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

Bunnygrunt myspace is here

Afternoon Naps – Parade

As evidenced by the first couple of songs, Cleveland’s Afternoon Naps are perfectly sweet kids you could take home to meet your parents. The Day We Started is high pitched shrill vocals, delicate melodies and instrumental breaks where all the instruments sound like kazoos. Mitten Fingers is Gorgeous George era Edwyn Collins, highly enunciated vocals and clipped guitars, while Seasons May Change is like Colin Clary and his melodic twee. The Fall Companion is classily crafted indie pop and Catholic School is its female vocalised counterpart. Discoverse and Bubblegum 45 are mildly unassuming gems, while Digitally Altered Sunset is a lovely mellow way to finish this, their second album.


Parade is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

Afternoon Naps myspace is here

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Lovely Eggs – If You Were Fruit (US)

I previously reviewed the UK version of this album here, but the US version comes with bonus tracks. These include Jon Carling, which is a mini biography of the artist, I Collect Snails, a lo fi combating male/female vocalled list song and I Want To Be In Your Fire, a petulant school girl thrash. Oh Weird Heart completes things, living in a David Lynch world while a bicycle wheel spins in the background. Basically you should own a copy of this album, and either release will do, although this is obviously the one for completists.


If You Were Fruit is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

The Lovely Eggs myspace is here

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Brilliant Colors – Introducing

The debut album by Brilliant Colors, a female trio from the States, starts with some cute girlie indie pop, like the Shop Assistants minus the bite. Absolutely Anything has a bit more spunk to it, stropping about the dancefloor like a petulant kid. English Cities is Banshees lite, while You Say You Want is much less frenetic, and better for it, an exercise in studied cool. Over There is much better, early Weddoes clashing with Talulah Gosh. Mythic is rather splendid jabber pop, while Short Sleeves At Night and Motherland are punk girls on the riot. Overall, it’s a decent album, fun and pretty brief.


Introducing is out now on Slumberland Records

Brilliant Colors myspace is here

Saturday, 12 December 2009

musicforvoyeurs – musicforvoyeurs

And this is the second album masterminded by Rick Senley. It leads off with a broken phone call, discordant piano and fuzzed guitar, to make a suitably dramatic and odd opening to the album. Getting A Good Time is all Red Indian chants and sleazy trip hop wheezes. Shards of electric and sheet metal fly with Twins, shimmering in the darkness, while This Life Isn’t Really For Me is a jaggedy guitar line. The End is tinkling piano that finishes abruptly, Breakfast For Wine tinkles innocently, then more psychotically when shards of guitar jab in and Travelodge Love is a lost tune, a husky spoken word and the sign of hard times. Who I Am is a noodling sketchy piece, until it is transformed by some spoken word from the ether. Minsk is a delightful maudlin, moody piano piece and The View From Up Here Is Terrible goes from nondescript instrumental to disorienting far eastern piece with the music wobbling all over the place. To close Drink The Miracle Water opens with stabbing proto synths and burbles along in a menacing way before being interrupted by the inspirational vocal sample. That Rick wrote this album on morphine and crutches after coming out of hospital tells you a lot about how it turned out this way. If only more people would take inspiration from the bad times to produce work as interesting and good as this.

musicforvoyeurs is out now and available from the musicforvoyeurs website

I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan - I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan

This is the first of two albums sent to me by Rick Senley, the man who is, amongst other things, I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan. I Like Your Mouth starts the album, a harsh house tune with a scientific/industrial twist. The Happiest Smile Of The Year is a wobbly beast and disorienting enough to induce my daughter to be sick at the climax. Get Off, I Will Kill You locks into a chuggy electro groove, while How Many Days Have We Lost? cuts through with swathes of shimmering electronic sheen, vaguely reminiscent of Pale Saints version of Kinky Love. A Nightclub sounds more like a maudlin walk in a desolate seaside town, Growl and Homage both provide minimal disturbances and Ignorance Is No Defence is a runaway car careering out of control before coming to rest peacefully in an urban wasteland. The jabbering techno beats at the end suggest demise so brutal. As we approach the end we get F, which is a dustbowl country electro instrumental and The True Horrors Of Hell, a swirling instrumental that is just as its title says. I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan is a fine album of weirdness and best listened to alone at night.

I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan is out now and available from the I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan website

Monday, 7 December 2009

Pants Yell! – Received Pronunciation

The fourth Pants Yell! Album is all over in 9 songs and 26 minutes, but things this succinct and sweet don’t need to hang around before the worm their way into your brain and heart. Proceedings start with the languid Frank and Sandy, a slacker anthem for the indie pop set. Rue de la Paix is a gorgeous melody, the Go Betweens without the heartbreak and with eternal optimism, while Cold Hands recalls the Lemonheads at their most effervescent and poppy. Got To Stop jabbers and jerks its way to cool, Someone Loves You yodels its way through a rollicking decent tune and Marble Staircase sounds like a wonky salute to heroics. To Take rounds things off a cracking pop album in a Ben Kweller fashion.


Received Pronunciation is out now on Slumberland Records

Pants Yell! myspace is here

Friday, 4 December 2009

Ray Rumours – Le Pont Suspendu

Le Pont Suspendu is the second album from Ray Rumours, who are Ros Murray with various friends. Lead track Chausseurs is a jaunty bubbling little thing, sounding like its being projected from an old gramophone. It positively pulses with a sepia tint, in a wonderfully beautiful way. Meaningless Words is a delightful left field indie popper, with a little more backbone, a touch of class and a marvellous melody. The Turtle is a ukulele shuffling distant cousin of Herman Dune, while Berlin To Poznan is a cool church youth group. Snowman is a charming and twee circular banjo melody, Puddles And Rain a shimmy and shake in yr cute flowery dress and hiding behind a bowl haircut, while October is a marvellous meandering instrumental, like a gently flowing stream in the woods. Finally you get some more slight, twee pop songs to round off a splendid album.


Le Pont Suspendu is out now on Stitch-Stitch

Ray Rumours myspace is here

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Very Most – Winter EP

And hot on the heels of the Autumn EP review, here’s the Winter one. Away In A Manger is cutely reimagined with ukulele and sleigh bells but somehow sounds less twee and more like Herman Dune. Splendid stuff. It’s The Best Thing reminds me of the Flaming Lips at their most angelic, spectral and beautiful. It’s a divine thing that shimmers incandescently. Finally, When Does The Goodwill Start? echoes the previous track musically, with a touch of sweet Beach Boys thrown in for good measure.


The Very Most myspace is here

Winter EP is out now on Indiecater Records

The Very Most – Autumn

Bit late on this one, but this was the third instalment in The Very Most’s seasons series this year. When Summer Finally Dies is breezy and cheery, the polar opposite of the season it’s representing. Maybe it’s the sound of someone happy to embrace the incoming nights and kick their way through the fallen leaves. It sounds like Teenage Fanclub have kidnapped the Star Wars cantina band and gone to duet with them in Hawaii. Following that Sweater is blissfully melancholic Beach Boys with a classy robot kazoo break while Autumn Air is a brief foray into chiming pop.


The Very Most myspace is here

Autumn is out now on Indiecater Records


Monday, 30 November 2009

Sarandon / The Membranes – Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder

Putting two versions of the same song on a 7” is the way Slumberland have chosen to mark the release of John Robb’s Death To Trad Rock book, and it’s a good lead in. Producing a spiky piece of lo fi agit pop is how Sarandon take on the old Membranes song. It evokes early rattly Wedding Present with its hundred mile an hour guitar and shonky effervescence. The Membranes version out strips this, mainly down to the freaky, psychobilly howl of the vocals. The tune buzzes with menace, backing up the murky psychosis present. The old guys win, by a knockout.


Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder is out on Slumberland Records now

Sarandon myspace is here

The Membranes myspace is here

Frankie Rose – Thee Only One

Frankie Rose has an impressive pedigree as member of Crystal Stilts and The Vivian Girls, so it’s interesting to see how her debut solo single measures up. The title track is cool indie pop, lost amidst echo and an attempt at Mary Chain coolness. The sluggish percussion is at odds with the guitars and vocals and there is a reticence to show off the melody, which is a shame. On the flip, Hollow Life is a funereal church organ with ghostly vocals, that are incantations rather than anything rounded. It shows originality, and works pretty well and for that it should be applauded.

Thee Only One is out now on Slumberland Records

Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Hornblower Brothers – Adventures In The National Geographic EP

Ah, such a wonderful single. On the title track you get random association lyrics, chirpy vocals and spindly guitar lines from this Brighton based quintet. Then there is a fantastically nonsensical, catchy chorus and bits where the music drops out and ramshackle non-harmonising takes place. Muggy Morning is John Shuttleworth fronting a Talking Heads/The Research hybrid, the vocals wonderfully enunciated and eccentric. Shooting Star has childish and exuberant vocals and chipper pop, a classic fun tune, while Middle Class Hero is a little African sounding, somewhere between Graceland and indiepop.

Adventures In The National Geographic EP is out now on Bellboy Records
The Hornblower Brothers myspace is here

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

I Know I Have No Collar – A Little Slow, A Little Late

The third album arrives from I Know I Have No Collar, originally a duo but now a five piece from Bristol. Lead track Book Two is the theme for a Parisian Bagpuss, as retold on the Left Bank. Nine Planets is a shuffly understated piece of indie folk that stays the right side of the twee line. Ten Houses It Wasn’t Either is somehow good, despite being little more than a parp and tinkle. Gospel is a maudlin and loping yet refreshing instrumental. Folded Away is another lovely backwoods folk tune, while Northern Wisconsong is Bon Iver folk with Midlake melodies and a repetitious tune. Finally, to finish a rather fine understated album you get Big Numbers, a chaotic school band rehearsal.


A Little Slow, A Little Late is out now on Stitch-Stitch Records

I Know I Have No Collar website is here

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Francois & The Atlas Mountains – Her River Raves Recollections



















The Her River Raves Recollections album is a scrapbook of odds and ends, collected together during preparations for the forthcoming Plaine Inondable long player. As such it feels a bit under cooked and a little half finished. Which is a shame because there are some decent ideas going on here. Royan kicks off the album, as well as what is known as the Sea Side. It is beautiful, breathy and minimal; yet somehow full sounding with gospel like spiritual female backing vocals. One Voice In The Noise is a bit like The Divine Comedy, with a travelling rhythm and the sparkles of brass and accordion. The Long Journey is a tootling delight, as sumptuous as anything. Cachou leads off the River Side and is a heavily accented thing, mumbly and overtly French. Allons A La Piscine is a tootling pleasure and Kitchens & Dictionaries is Edith Piaf meets Parisian jazz in a coffee bar, while the brief Nights = Days instrumental passes by without much notice. So Many Nos finally has him up there with the showmanship of Duke Special or Neil Hannon, but it’s a rare spark in a box of damp matches.

Her River Raves Recollections is out now on Stitch-Stitch
Francois & The Atlas Mountains website is here

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Strawberry Whiplash – Picture Perfect EP

On the second release from Scottish indie poppers the title track captures a cross of the sublime jangling of Heavenly and early Primal Scream and casts a sigh back to the hazy days of the mid eighties. It’s not overly reverential, just doffing its cap to a lovely time but they are investing enough of themselves in the song to make the venture seem worthwhile. The other tracks plough a similar furrow, but Celestial stands out as being a bit rougher round the edges at times, and with a cool organ mini break.

Picture Perfect EP is out now on Matinee Recordings

Strawberry Whiplash myspace is here

Monday, 16 November 2009

Jumbling Towers – Kanetown City Rips / Gilberta

A weird and suitably for this time of the year creepy little number. The music follows the bugged out spookiness of the vocals. He’s the freaky kid from high school leading you into a deserted warehouse to deliberately spook you out. Both tracks follow a similar pattern, spindly and other worldly melodies shooting this way and that and vocals that send shivers down the spine in the scariest way.

Kanetown City Rips / Gilberta is out now on Half Machine Records
Jumbling Towers myspace is here

Devon Williams – Sufferer

Devon Williams is from LA and part of Lavender Diamond, The Champagne Socialists and is now branching out on his own. Sufferer sounds like the awkward kid of class playing at outsider artist. It’s gangly and hypnotic and rather anaemic, but has a certain charm. Who Cares About Forever is more well rounded, yet still snottily charming. It has a classic English indie feel to it, all elegantly strummed guitar and spacious melodies.
Sufferer is out now on Slumberland Records
Devon Williams myspace is here

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Higher Than The Stars

The new Pains EP seems set to continue them on the path to stardom, beginning with the understated and terribly fey title track. It shimmies like the best indie pop, but takes Chapterhouse’s ethereal beauty to twist it into something new. 103 loads up on fuzz pedals and dives into some classic indie pop, a sweet melody and effortless grace making it so. Falling Over is the best thing, a different turn into Go Betweens territory, as beautiful as pop gets as you can get from that. No effort required. Twins is ok, but Pains by numbers. The Higher Than The Stars (Saint Etienne Visits Lord Spank Remix) strips away things and leaves something quite beautiful, and gossamer lite as you might expect from anything involving Saint Etienne.

Higher Than The Stars is out now on Slumberland Records
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart myspace is here

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sic Alps – L. Mansion

Those veterans of numerous albums and singles Sic Alps are back, with their first single as a trio. A side L. Mansion is a rickety, echoey thing that might have come out of Joe Meek’s studio, if he had carried on and did some producing of eighties indie pop. There are also echoes of The Jam’s vitriol, if somewhat subsided and sixties mod flavoured. On the flip, you get Donovan cover Superlungs, which is a shonky piece of weedy garage rock.

L. Mansion is out now on Slumberland Records

Sic Alps website is here

Brown Recluse – The Soft Skin

Brown Recluse is another delight brought to us by Slumberland Records. Lead track Rotten Tangerines is quite wonderful. It’s woozy, languid, loose limbed dream pop. Something like The Flaming Lips partying with The Thrills on a sun soaked Californian beach. Some brass heralds the Beach Boys updating Night Train, a piece of sumptuous sublime pop. Rainy Saturday is a flimsy piece of Belle and Sebastian, while Contour and Context is a gorgeous piece of twinkling twilight joyousness and a fitting way to complete the EP.

The Soft Skin is out now on Slumberland Records

Brown Recluse myspace is here

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

BriBry Is Sky High – Swings

BriBry Is Sky High is one Brian O'Reilly from Dublin. He’s a swinging acoustic troubadour, swaying like a little Bright Eyes. This is the impression you get from lead track Mira at least. One Thing To Do Before You Die is a haunting thing, very little backing whatsoever to start with, before some guitar slides gently in. It sounds dead sad, especially with Brian’s soft, emotional vocal styling. Black Magic shakes out the demons in a mannered freak out and finally A Poem I’ll Sing Out Loud is a delightfully delicate ditty to conclude the EP, like a musical box bard.

Swings is out now.
Go to the BriBry Is Sky High myspace here for details on how to get the EP

Emiliana Torrini – Me And Armini (Remixes)

Emiliana Torrini issues the title track of her current album as a single, featuring various remixes. Mr Dan’s Magic Typewriter Remix is a bouncy but uneven joyride, jiggling along to an icy funk beat. Emiliana’s vocals waft over the top, as gorgeous and sweet as ever. If you like Bjork and fancy something a little less harsh and a bit more sumptuous you really want to try her compatriot Torrini. The Simone Lombardi Remix is pretty similar, merely substituting the backbeat for a reggae one.

Me And Armini (Remixes) is out now on Rough Trade
Emiliana Torrini myspace is here

Tender Trap – Fireworks

With the indie pop renaissance well under way, its perfect time for Amelia Fletcher to return with Tender Trap and reclaim her crown. However Fireworks is a little sluggish melodically, even though Amelia’s cutesy charm shines through as ever. It’s an understated comeback that’s for sure, not one of her ultra catchy tunes of yore. Same can be said for the other track, the one that despite hunting high and low on sleeve, CD and press release, I have no title for.

Fireworks is out now on Fortuna Pop!
Tender Trap myspace is here

Anton Barbeau – Plastic Guitar

By now you know what you’re getting with Anton Barbeau, that being some sort of spin on the psychedelic folk he’s been peddling for years. Plastic Guitar is his 13th album, recorded in Oxford, Cambridge and Sacramento.

Bending Like A Spoon is reminiscent of The Flaming Lips laid back pyschedelia, while the title track slots into a motorik groove. Dear Miss is the stoned hippy one, and a touch too lackadaisical. Boat Called Home is a lovely melancholic thing, the aural equivalent of a mist over a lake, sung by a dewy eyed singer. Raino Disco is the fantastic centrepiece of the album, eight minutes of spacey spectral psych. Finally Banana Song is a bit Lennon still sneering, look at me. So there we have it, another Anton Barbeau album, one that will please his fans for sure.

Plastic Guitar is out now on Pink Hedgehog

Anton Barbeau's myspace is here

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Hillfields – It’ll Never Be The Same Again

This debut album from the South London three piece is full of decent indie pop, the kind of which is ten a penny nowadays. The singer has a rather rich and delightful voice, and you can’t help but feel its being under utilised to front a band such as this. There’s nothing terribly bad on this album, but also nothing I felt I could pick out to bring to your attention as an example of the album’s highlights. Something for those who maybe feel too challenged by what they feel is the abrasive nature of harmless old indie pop.

It’ll Never Be The Same Again is out now on Underused Records
The Hillfields myspace is here

Katsen – It Hertz!

After eight years together as Katsen, Donna Grimaldi and Chris Blackburn finally issue their debut album. Lead track Let’s Build A City is screwball electro, all strange and desperate male/female vocals and squealing eighties TV programme synths. In fact it sounds very much like a demo for some synthtastic computer game crossover from the eighties. Chequered Flag is a girl doing a robotic dance rather badly to Chuckie Egg. It kinda works though. Cactus raises the bar higher, minimal frozen girl electro pop at its best. Island In An Island plugs a hoover and a Gameboy through the synth and conjures up a rather disorientating little squiggle. The album dips a bit in the middle, as repetition sets in and ideas run out. The German Film Star cover and instrumental title track rescue things a bit and the last thing of note is Constellation, where they are a budget Kraftwerk. Half a good album, but a darn good half.

Let's Build A City is available as a free download from the label site and It Hertz! is out now on Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation

Katsen myspace is here

The Kiara Elles – Odio EP

A change of name from the Chiara L’s for the Leeds five piece is marked with a new EP. Odio sounds like a Japanese Altered Images tribute band, thrusting and endearingly cutesy. It bobs and weaves in a delightful way, one which only the stoniest of hearts wouldn’t love. Night Terrors gets itself lost in a futuristic landscape, full of glitter balls and strange androids. Imagine the Long Blondes overrun by enthusiastic kids, stropping their way along after a Haribo overdose. Supergroupie and Rust are further proof that nothing is better than high octane girl vocalled indie pop, and wrap up a rather fine EP.

Odio EP is released by Vandal on October 12th
The Kiara Elles myspace is here

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Lulu & The Lampshades – Feet To The Sky

The duo that are Heloise and Luisa form Lulu & The Lampshades and this is their debut single. Feet To the Sky skips along like The Divine Comedy’s National Express powering some kook pop, like Regina Spektor. Its very cool and quirky but you can’t help feel we’re being spoilt in this genre at the moment. It ebbs and flows and tinkles like some out there nursery rhyme. Rose Tint is more of the same, entirely laudable but nothing to get me incredibly excited.

Feet To The Sky is released by Voga Parochia digitally on October 18th and on 7" on October 26th

Lulu & The Lampshades myspace is here

The Humdrum Express – The New Doctor Who EP

The one man Humdrum Express steams into town with a new EP. The rickety sound of the title track harks back to the days of C86, but one of the clattering lesser lights like McCarthy. This is intended as a compliment, and a refreshing change from the others influenced by that era, who are fey to a fault. Message Board Hooligan appropriately manoeuvres through the shadows deftly, delivering a minimal haunting chorus. The snot nosed Dumbing Down For The Masses is a scatter punk broadside at modern celebrity culture, despatched in two minutes, about the attention span of people today. Finally Carry On Curmudgeon is an excursion into dub lite expertly done. The New Doctor Who EP shows an artist broadening his repertoire further and getting better with age.

The New Doctor Who EP is out now and available to buy here
The Humdrum Express myspace is here

Friday, 25 September 2009

Golden Silvers – Please Venus

In which Golden Silvers follow their True Romance album by picking up the torch dropped by the Super Furry Animals, delivering a superbly languid piece of sunshine liquid funk. There are squiggles of other wordly synth, Beatles harmonies and less is more victory. Lily The Lover is where electro pop meets stuttering industrial and Christmas tunes. Rather odd, but nicely affecting and a great anti-chorus. Locked Up My Head is straight forward disco funk, with a pulsing beat. You still can’t help but be reminded of Gruff Rhys, but that’s mainly the vocals. Queen Of The 21st Century is fun, harmonic leftfield pop, a buoyant tune showing Golden Silvers more straight forwardly melodic side.

The EP is out now. Golden Silvers myspace is here

Dear Landlord – Our Wings Are Fluttering In The Nest

Dear Landlord is primarily Michael Docherty, based in Oxford, plus a rotating cast of assembled players. Snowdrift is more like the pleasurable rinky dink of old, mainly because a much rougher version appeared on the last EP. This one is much more restrained but much better for it, with a sly nod to Kanye West at the end. I often find myself reminded of the rambunctious old Dylan when he kicks free when I listen to Dear Landlord. Maybe this is the inherent folk stylings, the bunches of instruments melding into one gorgeous whole. Identical Hearts is a measured thing, initially reminiscent of the Go-Betweens studied but unaffected cool. It’s a marked move on from the frantic tunes of the previous EP, even when the trumpet makes the melody throw its head back and arc upwards in triumph. It’s a slow burning beauty. Steve Goodman sounds like a fleshed out Lonnie Donegan to start with, before stretching out into probably the most happy and best track here. It’s joyous, yelling and sounds like a wheeling band at the best hoe down in the world.

The EP is out now and available from the band, here

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Basement Jaxx – Scars

This is certainly the album of the guest artist. This may be true of previous Basement Jaxx albums, but I’m coming in fresh to their long players, and can’t be bothered to look back. Kelis and Chipmunk crop up on the opening title track, a weird pulsating thing that sounds like some otherwordly Guinness advert soundtrack. Raindrops is the cracking lead single that you’ve probably heard already, a euphoric rush of a chorus, tinkling and raving it to the sky, a festival anthem if ever there was one. She’s No Good is a decent funky number featuring the vocal talents of Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed, but is really one of his numbers with them assisting. Saga features Santigold for some average ska and Sam Sparro pops by to flex his vocal chords on a pumping dance tune. Twerk features Yo Majesty and is a hip-hop meets dance thing, squelchy and with bits of Maniac in it. There’s a little too much going on, but it’s a fun effort. Day Of The Sunflowers is as wonderfully ice cool robotic electro pop as you’d expect of a tune featuring Yoko Ono, while What’s A Girl Gotta Do is the Muppet Show theme versus latter period Noisettes. After a couple of nondescript noodles we finish with the afro funk cool groove of Gimme Somethin’ True. Scars is as eclectic as ever, with a few targets hit dead centre.

Scars is released by XL Recordings on September 21st
Basement Jaxx website is here

Golden Glow – Adore Me

Uh-oh, here’s someone else who wants to be Joy Division. In this case it is Golden Glow, who are one Pierre Hall. Adore Me is a decent little tune, but one that wants too much to be someone else for it not to annoy a little, especially as the vocals don’t live up to the music. The Cure is a disappointing trudge through the eighties alternative style, although Streetlighter is better, this time aping early New Order awkwardness. Hopefully next time the influences will be absorbed into something new, not just reproduced.

Adore Me is out now for free download at Spanner Records website, here
Golden Glow myspace is here

Secret Rivals – Break Song / Get Famous

The first thing in a while from to be sent to me from the Oxford underground, Break Song is Secret Rivals debut offering. It summons up the Wedding Present’s flailing guitars, yelped backing vocals and at times sounds like a frenzied version of Lost In The Supermarket by The Clash. It’s a shame it’s fairly badly recorded, but the spirit sees it through. Flip side Get Famous sounds like Bis taking on the Huggy Bear manifesto. It’s the better of the two tracks because it suits the lo-fi recording and careers wonderfully all over the shop.

The single is out now and available as a free download from the band's myspace page here

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Olafur Arnalds – Found Songs

This is a collection of 7 songs composed in 7 days and previously issued as free downloads via Twitter. Erla’s Waltz is a maudlin piano piece that ebbs and flows gently. Raein plods by, sounding very like Chopin, or so I’m told by my wife. Romance passes by, in the twinkling of an eye, while Allt vard hljott is an arcing sumptuousness of strings, like the sadness of the princess locked in the tower. Lost Song is another maudlin beauty, although there is a certain amount of repetition creeping in now amongst the songs. Faun is a tip toeing medieval elegy, as downbeat as normal, but different in tone. Ljosid finishes things off in predictable, but lovely fashion. If you’re an Olafur fan, there’s much to love here.

Found Songs is out now on Erased Tapes
Olafur Arnalds myspace is here

Monday, 31 August 2009

Richmond Fontaine – We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River

As Richmond Fontaine reach their eighth album, the quality shows no signs in letting up. The lead and title track is languid and world weary, managing to sound even more brow beaten than Lambchop. Despite this it has a certain self assuredness albeit with a sombre lyrical tone. It’s always upbeat despite sounding downbeat in the worse of times before giving in and being finally broken by a specific incident. The rollicking come back letter of You Can Move Back Here would entice even the most hardy of souls back home, and the gentle slightly Mexican military waltz of The Boyfriends is a tale of a lady’s male companions that pass in the night. It’s another of Willy’s wonderful mini stories in a song. The Pull is a gentle and sombre tale of a poor guy, an alcoholic, then a boxer, who couldn’t cope with things taken away from him, no matter how harmful they were to him. He moves from one thing to the next, a gorgeous twinkling tune charting his undulating, mainly downward progress. Watch Out is a delicate near instrumental, tugging on your heart strings with merely a divine tune and the only words “watch out or your heart will be nothing but scars”. 43 is a rambling and rolling song that sounds like storm clouds gathering, the perfect music for a song about broken lives and broken homes. Lonnie is a staggering and brooding thing about a retch of a man while Ruby & Lou is a mumbly and downbeat thing, maudlin strings tugging on your heart. Past the intricate twinkling instrumental Walking Back To Our Place At 3 A.M. we get to the tumultuous and stormy Two Alone. A Letter To The Patron Saint Of Nurses bring things right down, a spoken word musing on more lives and a fitting end to another great Richmond Fontaine album.

We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River is out now on Decor Records
Richmond Fontaine myspace is here

David Gibb – The Oxfordshire Brigade

David Gibb is very much a young man’s Frank Turner, but with a much more trad folk edge. He’s an 18 year old hailing from Derbyshire with talent beyond his years. We like the multi vocalled euphoric choruses, the string laden breaks and the breakneck tune. It’s spirited and upbeat and tells the tale of a boy and an angel falling in love in a small place in Oxfordshire, which means that its lyrically far more interesting than half the stuff nowadays. Very good stuff indeed.

The Oxfordshire Brigade is released on Fuse Records on September 21st
David Gibb myspace is here

Monday, 17 August 2009

Searching For The Now vol. 6

Here we find The School covering Left Banke’s Suddenly, Liz’s exquisite voice wending its way along a sweet sashaying tune. It’s still very sixties and knowingly beautiful, landing somewhere between BMX Bandits and an Australian soap theme, but managing to be the right side of the brilliant/rubbish line. George Washington Brown sees the return of Kenickie’s Johnny X, and End Of The… is rather like his old band covered in swathes of stadium filling power pop and fizzing synth noises. Twin Towers isn’t quite as good, but becomes progressively more catchy as it goes on, being reminiscent of Velvet Crush or Redd Kross but with a touch more of the subtle.

Searching For The Now vol. 6 is out now on Slumberland Records

Searching For The Now vol. 5

Following on from their wonderful debut album, Liechtenstein release something new from the more twee end of their cannon. This Must Be Heaven is all rushing guitar and angelic girly vocals. It’s essentially Talulah Gosh, but pretty darn good so we’ll let them away with it. Better stuff however, can be found on said album, Survival Strategies In A Modern World. The Faintest Ideas get two tracks, the first of which, You're Gonna Wake Up One Morning And Know What Side Of The Bed You’ve Been Lying On, is really more a wave of feedback burying a decent tune. I’m guessing from trying to tune the feedback out that it might be something like early Wedding Present, but its too overwhelming to be sure. Feedback and effects have their place, just not here. The band should have a little more confidence in their tunes. Oddly enough, Procrastination Of Every Day Tasks proves this point. There is a little of The Weddoes in there, maybe some of The Bodines gorgeous pop craft, but mainly it’s a sweet little song with a tough edge lurking in there.

Searching For The Now vol. 5 is out now on Slumberland Records

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Wookies – Sparks

The Wookies new EP is a weird and wonderful beast. In The Forest has a chanted opening, some hacking guitar that eventually settles down and is overlapped by a mantra. There are some groovy blues riffs as the tune takes off; it’s a rabble rousing thing that reminds me of a dark version of The Jam. How Good Does It Feel? is a bumptious, beery sing along, surfing some effervescent keyboards. It slows down to a noodly jazzy thing, which just has the feeling of making it overlong. Doomsday is a weird thing, all mysteriously brooding and medieval, like Muse with a bit more class and less histrionics. There are chanted lyrics and twinkly bits that intersperse the song wonderfully. Daylight cuts swathes of drama through a rumbling gothic landscape, the low bass swaggering as the singer goes psychotic, into a living nightmare. Cool stuff indeed.

Sparks is released on Broken Tail Records on September 21st
The Wookies myspace is here

Monday, 3 August 2009

Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring – How I Wasted My Youth

The album opens with the sly bosa nova of Take Your Own Good Advice, a sultry little number that slithers away in a psychedelic atmosphere. Old single A Question Of Trust is an achingly beautiful pop song, with strung out heartfelt vocals, which is swiftly followed by another in the form of New Favourite Band. The twinkling Interlude provides a rather lovely diversion while Record Breaker is another whimsical ditty, more an angelic sigh than a song, delightfully understated and gorgeous. By the choral Fire Eyes you realise they might be onto a very English version of Fleet Foxes, the same blissful vibe, but coming from a different musical angle. I Saw The Lights Go Out is a jaunty little number, while A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away is a headrush of smiley indie pop. My Big Test starts a little heavier, then the careful croon comes in and it saunters around spreading goodwill and casual cool. Finally we reach The End, a Richard Hawley style maudlin mantra and a great end to a rather fine album.

How I Wasted My Youth is released on 10th August jointly by Strange Torpedo Records and Marketstall Records
Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring myspace is here

The Champagne Socialists – Blue Genes

This is the single on which The Royal We and Bricolage, Glasgow and LA collide. Blue Genes may have the ramshackle clattering charm of The Shop Assistants, but the vocals are buried deep in the mix and decidedly murky. Admittedly this wasn’t necessarily a strong point of the Shop Assistants, but somehow it distracts and detracts too much from the song here. It’s a darn shame, because there’s a good song in there somewhere. The Young Runaways suffers similar problems, there’s some sublime pop going on here, somewhere between sixties girl pop and C86. Better next time not to record the vocalist with her head down the toilet though.

Blue Genes is out now on Slumberland Records
The Champagne Socialists myspace is here

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Elephant Stone – The Seven Seas

Well, you can tell where the influences lie from the bands name. Bombs Bomb Away is a good start, a typically English pop song, worthy of someone like The Kinks. It’s a breezy thing that thinks it’s still 1990. How Long is a gently jangling trip through a happier side of the Velvet Underground, mysterious and beguiling. I Am Blind is more crisp if unmemorable pop, The Seven Seas is lost in the alternative eighties, not sure what it wants to be and The Straight Line is an overlong ‘mystical’ instrumental that does nothing. Blood From A Stone is a hippyish Bluetones, languid and lazy, but a little dull and worthy, A Morning Song sounds like The Seahorses on holiday in the Middle East, faux spiritual and a little clumsy. Finally Don’t You Know is a tedious exercise is blissed out jamming. After a promising start, this album tales off rapidly.

The Seven Seas is out now on Indiecater Records
Elephant Stone myspace is here

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Summer Cats – Songs For Tuesdays

Hey hey, it’s twee power pop! Which can only be a good thing, seeing how much I love a bit of power pop. OK, Let’s Go might not be knock kneed twee, but it does have its sensitive side. Hey You is where the Pooh Sticks meet The Beach Boys, sun in its heart and a keen way with a melody. Super chirrups by on an organ wave, while In June is a gorgeously strummed indie pop duet, shining brightly. Wild Rice sees them stake a claim to take on The Lucksmiths kings of indie pop mantle, Christopher Wren is another sumptuous jangly popper, but Maybe Pile sees more of the same. The album is becoming a little repetitious, but let’s be honest; the standard is pretty darn good so it doesn’t matter. Maybe Pile is in fact one of the better tracks, with a warm syrupy effect to the singers voice. Lonely Planet channels the spirit of rock n roll through a shaky indie pop tune, rocking from side to side. Camel Cords reminds me of keyboard led sixties garage rock fun, while St Tropez jingles away for a dream of far off places and more fun times. It’s a celebratory penultimate track on a neat album. It would have made a better end than Paperweight, which although decent, is fairly nondescript.

Songs For Tuesdays is out now on Slumberland Records
Summer Cats myspace is here

LR Rockets – Renee Loves Losers

LR Rockets fire off another single, this time on Ctrl.Alt.Delete Records. Renee Loves Losers is the Buzzcocks locked in a cellar being jabbed with a cattle prod by some sadistic spark, while fireworks set off synths all around. At first I think it’s an unholy mess, but eventually I settle for it being pretty darn good. OK Let’s Talk ploughs a similar punk/new wave crossover furrow, but with less returns. It goes for the pummelling you into submission tack, but has little charm to back up this forthright stance.

Renee Loves Losers is released on September 7th on Ctrl.Alt.Delete Records
LR Rockets myspace is here

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The 7.20s – Demo

The 7.20s are a band from Rugby who aim to make music for the masses. A pretty grand aim, and not really the best to go for. After all music for the masses is often rather dull, being a watered down version of anything interesting, purely to appeal to your casual coffee table listener. And so it proves. Rides On High is a weak version of The Enemy, a band as dull as ditchwater themselves. Shark Tooth is a hollow gothic effort, some cool spiralling guitars but it is let down than some less than interesting vocals and rudimentary drums. Keep On Holding On is crazily grandiose, with epic vocals, church organ and other dark instrumentation making this by far the best track. It’s like something out of the Joy Division vaults musically, with a more uplifting vocal.
The 7.20s myspace is here

Woods – To Clean

The first UK release from America’s Woods is To Clean, some whimsical lo fi pop, shambling along like a budget version of Flaming Lips, but never really going anywhere. Flip side Rain On Radio is a similar kind of thing, with pixie like voice, acoustic guitar and jangly tambourine, but little effect.

To Clean is out on 10th August on Half Machine Records
Woods myspace is here

The Ormidales – These Little Dreams

The new album form The Ormidales kicks off with Last Time, which reminds me of The Hold Steady’s heartfelt country vocals, coupled with a sweet tune a bit like The Lemonheads more relaxed moments, when Evan is channelling Gram Parsons. Boy So Blue is a melancholic delight, while I Heard It On The Radio is a gentle samba. Like most things on this album it is soulfully sung with a country heart. You got a sense of familiarity as you listen to the album; such is the consistency and somewhat similarity of the songs. Not that they’re carbon copies, it’s just that they all share a vibe and feel, which rather nicely makes for a coherent if somewhat safe album. She Said You Said is rather cool though, reminding me somewhat of the Go-Betweens, a rather great thing indeed. Mrs Allan is a heartfelt and supernatural song, with pleading female vocals fighting for attention, apologetic to the last. This Day Is Done is a lovely ending, sombre and strung out, like Edwyn Collins on the prairie.

These Little Dreams is out now.
The Ormidales myspace is here