Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Walk.DontWalk – A Horse To Be Reckoned With

From their badly punctuated name, to the nonsensical album title, Birmingham’s Walk.DontWalk don’t get off to the best start with me. Then there’s the fact that they have neglected to give me a tracklisting, so I can’t really tell you about specific songs, unless I just refer to them as Track 7, etc which seems a bit daft. It’s all a bit of a shame, because it’s a decent album. Sure it won’t set the world alight, but there are some good tunes here. At turns you’re reminded of Dexys, The Redskins and their socialist funk, Northern Soul brass, Paul Weller and The Libertines, so you can see the genre we’re talking about. Elsewhere there are sprightly guitars and energetic but strained vocals, while the slower stuff really struggles. The album is worth a cursory listen, if nothing else.

A Horse To Be Reckoned With is out now.
Walk.DontWalk myspace is here

Monday, 27 April 2009

Projekt A-Ko – Yoyodyne

The debut album from Glasgow’s Projekt A-Ko starts with the ebbing and flowing of Hey Palooka! which reminds me of Drop Nineteens song Winona, the way it jerks and spasms over a fuzzy swell. Nothing Works Twice is very Pavement slacker cool, with cool indie girl backing vocals and a shrugging chorus. There’s a cool a ha ha bit too. Supertriste Duxelle is another slacker pop classic, with added fuzziness around the edges and latent urgency. Here Comes New Challenger! is much more like the disjointed Pavement we love, guitars slinking this way and that, before launching into a killer chorus, while Molten Hearts is despairing power pop and Scintilla slows things to a doped up crawl. Ichiro On Third has a lovely breakdown, and reminds me of the cuddly messiness of Archers of Loaf, Utopia has a spiralling ending and Yoyodyne (Scintilla II) is a tenderly crafted ballad, a change of tack and the reflective sun baked tone suits them well. Don’t Listen To This Song follows on in a similar vein, providing a different finish to a good, if somewhat samey album.

Yoyodyne is out now on Milk Pie Records
Projekt A-Ko myspace is here

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – The Good Feeling Music Of…

After the barber shop weirdness of the opening track Welcome, we’re invited to Meet Me In The Garden, which is Jens Lekman if he’d been in the Zombies. Dent croons beautifully, a delightful innocence to the music that brings to mind the Carpenters. College Town Boy is a mournful lament, on this he sounds like Morrissey fronting a teddy boy band doing a love song in Grease. Then we have Oh Paris!, which is a strolling doo wop march. It’s all very subtle, but the tunes have vagaries and mismatches that make them very special. Howard reminds me of early Billy Bragg, with a more tuneful voice and easier on the ear tune. Girls on The Square is relaxed with Beach Boys harmonies, but almost standing still, while You Can’t Force A Dance Party sounds like it loves Blood Music and the aforementioned Lekman. It’s sprightly, yet sad and hopeful. God Loves You, Michael Chang is upbeat and cheery, whilst At The Academic Conference sounds like it’s made on a Hawaiian beach and sounds like Herman Dune. I’m An Alcoholic sounds suitably woozy and maudlin, and Love Song 2009 is brassy and sprightly at times and also like the Beach Boys' In My Room. It’s a happy way to sign off a great album.

The Good Feeling Music Of… is out now on Paw Tracks
Dent May's myspace is here

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Metric – Fantasies

The fourth album from Canada’s Metric starts with Help I’m Alive, which rather wonderfully sounds like Juliana Hatfield at her best. That is followed by new single Sick Muse, which is a rather glorious windswept alternative eighties tune, Emily getting carried away with her vocals. Satellite Mind is spiralling, but just yet more of the same. Twilight Galaxy is cool, very minimal, just keyboards and space like vocals, it’s a distant hum among the stars. Gold Guns Girls is a rattling indie electro thing, a robotic sexiness pervades, while Gimme Sympathy again hits a point where ideas are sounding very similar and the album drags. Collect Call works well though, changing tempo down again, it’s an other worldly thing where Emily skips among the clouds. Front Row is back to the way it was and a bit dull, Blindness gets the thumbs up as the slower ones seem to be working better and Stadium Love is a suitably epic closer, with animal combatants in the lyrics and riffing keyboards.

Fantasies is released on Metric Music International on April 27th, followed by a new single, Sick Muse, on May 18th
Metric's website is here

Monday, 20 April 2009

David Kitt – The Nightsaver

Apparently long weeks and two years of experimentation went into making David Kitt’s sixth album, not that you would particularly be able to tell from and initial cursory listen. Lead track Move It On is a lovely bubbly little tune, very light and beautiful comedown music; It’s Yours shuffles along, like an unassuming guest at a party and is very Kings Of Convenience in its sweetness. With Beat A Retreat and Learning How To Say Goodbye, the delightful cuddliness remains, but the lack of substance means it starts to wear thin. Alone Like That is better, the repetitious chorus nagging into your brain like an ear worm. Use Your Eyes has a tropical bounce, its still over light, but pretty catchy. Nobody Leaves is quite the eighties minimal funky thing while Don’t Wake Me Up is pleasant and reminds me of The Beloved. Overall though Nightsaver passes by in a waft of pleasantness that won’t stick in the mind for long.

The Nightsaver is out now on Gold Spillin' Records
David Kitt myspace is here

The Black Box Revelation – Set Your Head On Fire

Following on from their great EP of last year, the teenage Belgian duo that is The Black Box Revelation release their debut album. It kicks off with Love, Love Is On My Mind, which is a fantastic snarling garage rock beast, dirty and sleazy but catchy as hell. I Think I Like You postures more, a bit like a heavier Rolling Stones and Gravity Blues is slinkier and low slung. Stand Your Ground is a more chiming regular indie anthem, and finds them losing their mojo a bit. Never Alone, Always Together is a mid paced White Stripes groove but Cold, Cold Hands is the modern blues personified. We Never Wondered Why is a cowbell fuelled country blues, sweet and just dirty enough. The title track reminds me of the much maligned Datsuns, who were a far better garage band than people gave them credit for. I Don’t Want It is a weird, but affecting blues nursery rhyme type thing and an interesting way to end a pretty good album.

Set Your Head On Fire is released by T for Tunes on 27th April, who release Love, Love Is On My Mind as a single the same day.
The Black Box Revelation myspace is here

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Brontosaurus Chorus – You’ve Created A Monster

The new mini album by Brontosaurus Chorus begins with Love Is The Path To Self-Destruction which starts all Mistys Big Adventure style spooky before the vocalists trade lines and there’s a cymbal crashing instrumental break. The tremendous percussion does mean the chorus has the rather wonderful sound like the band are trying to get a point over from a whirlpool. With the aid of joyous brass Now We’re Making Out is another infectiously upbeat rickety pop song. On Cat Song things squall away dramatically, just enough fun elements keeping it this side of being over wrought. It’s stupidly infectious again though. Bonfires starts with the singer gently picking her way through a delicate tune, something that sounds warm yet slightly mysterious. It trundles along with some gorgeous trumpet. David Bowie throws everything into the mix; it’s like Altered Images on too many e numbers, wonderful stuff. Cinnamon Taste features both vocalists, and although exuberant, doesn’t grab you like the others. Such is the problem with setting high standards. It all finishes with The Plot, which is nothing to write home about sadly. Overall it’s a pretty darn good mini album.

You’ve Created A Monster is out now on Pop-Art London
Brontosaurus Chorus myspace is here

Monday, 6 April 2009

And What Will Be Left Of Them? - The Hi Fi Low Life

After many singles for various labels, the Worcester based six piece finally get around to issuing their debut album. Lead track DIY not DIE is full of petulant vocals, a fast churning tune and an element of riot grrl vs lo-fi indie. Dance, Damn You, Dance is like a teen angst musical number with roaring guitars and ridiculously catchy. Orlick! Orlick! surfs and rolls, jabs and jives over a primal rock n roll base while Jesus is a marching, proud, life affirming tune and the title track again surfs the line between a cracking pop song and the exuberant explosion of angsty fun. Servants Of The State To Be is some icy cool new wave, while Four Years To Be An Artist crashes in with all the enthusiasm of kids with new toys. There are yelps, bits where the tune drops out so it can explode back in and an infectious chorus. L’Amour Violent finds Heather screaming like a good one, this is Los Campesinos! if they were a bit more punk rock. It still sways at times like the best girl pop, but knows when to rock out too. Next up, Come With Me is a repetitive rallying cry. After the directionless Look In Your Eyes, we have some feisty keyboard surfing new wave in the form of Calling All Cars and an updated Kids In America (same name, different song). The curveball comes with the rather beautiful hidden track, Goodnight Lucy, a sweetly sung ballad.

The Hi Fi Low Life is out now Pop-Art London
And What Will Be Left Of Them? myspace is here

Friday, 3 April 2009

Ceanne McKee – Wonderland

Wonderland is the latest album from Ceanne McKee, a singer songwriter who is based in Genova, Italy. Lead track All My Pleasure is an easy listening delight, somewhere between early innocent Cardigans and a sweet bossa nova. Quello Che Ho has more fire in its belly, being sung in her native Italian and featuring more aggressive, but still laid back, guitar playing. La Nostra Canzone reminds me of the gently hippiness of All About Eve while Estate has a delightful sashaying Mediterranean feel. There’s some beautiful acoustic musing on this album, some gorgeous folky singing and a general loveliness of which Good Morning Everybody is a great example. While there might be a tendency to fall into repetitive similarity, the songs are of a high enough quality to bear repeat listening.

Wonderland is available as a free download from Ceanne's myspace

Peaches – Talk To Me / More

Business as usual for Peaches on Talk To Me, if somewhat less filthy. It’s still feisty and electro dirty, built around a stabbing beat and some repetitive insistent lyrics. More is a minimal electro thing; very futuristic, shooting out laser beams of keyboard squelches now and again.

Talk To Me / More is released by XL Recordings on 27th April
Peaches myspace is here

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Smash Hits - The 80s

Rhino have just issued ten CDs, one for each year of the Eighties, loosely tied in with the defunct Smash Hits magazine. There are some curious choices on here, the usual compilation ones where you fear that ran out of money and picked some unknown stuff to plug the gaps. However there's enough good stuff across the CDs that you'll be familiar with to make it worth purchasing some.

1980 - This is one of my favourites, featuring plenty from the alternative cannon. There's The Beat (Mirror In The Bathroom), Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart), Echo & The Bunnymen (Rescue), Jona Lewie (You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties) and Bad Manners (Lip Up Fatty).

1981 – Showing a bit of repetition from the previous year it features all the above apart from Jona Lewie, if you count the fact that Joy Division have now become New Order. Unfortunately it’s inferior tracks that appear, although this CD has the sublime Is Vic There? by Department S and Laurie Anderson’s O Superman.

1982 – Curiously enough The Bunnymen (Back Of Love), Bad Manners and New Order (Temptation) are back for 1982. Although there’s a lot of eighties fluff on this one, note that Dollar are also here for their third appearance, it does have Belle Stars doing The Clapping Song although not much else to recommend it.

1983 – Well, The Bunnymen and New Order are back, but then you couldn’t miss out the latter’s Blue Monday. Bananarama’s Cruel Summer, The Beat’s Can’t Get Used To Losing You and The Bluebells' Cath are other reasons you might want it. Add to that eighties classics by Yes, Howard Jones and Men Without Hats and it’s a fine memento.

1984 – It’s getting too predictable now that certain bands will make an appearance. Nice to see Aztec Camera’s All I Need Is Everything on this one though as well as Bronski Beat and ZZ Top.

1985 – What? No New Order?! The Bunnymen are here though, so don’t worry! Some interesting but great choices here, in the form of Dream Academy’s Life In A Northern Town, Red Box’s Lean On Me and Strawberry Switchblade’s Since Yesterday. Throw in A-ha’s classic Take On Me and you’ve got a pretty good set.

1986 – This is mainly made up of well know bands lesser hits, but is saved from complete uselessness by Jesus And Mary Chain (Some Candy Talking), Fuzzbox (Love Is The Slug) and yes! New Order with Shellshock.

1987 – After a year without the Bunnymen they’re back as their career entered a slide. The Mary Chain with April Skies, A-ha’s The Living Daylights and New Order’s True Faith are the best of slim pickings, but you do get The Pogues and The Dubliners doing The Irish Rover.

1988 – Aside from the usual suspects, the only thing of note is D Mob’s We Call It Acieed. The insistence on using the same bands over and over is more than a little annoying, especially when one of them is Dollar.

1989 – To end the decade it’s business as usual, Bananarama and Debbie Gibson clocking up a few appearances. It does have the Beloved’s The Sun Rising and Happy Mondays’ Step On, but I remember 1989 being a much better year than this.

All these CDs are out now on Rhino

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A Scholar & A Physician - She's A Witch

This is just fantastic, have a watch!
She's A Witch is out on 20th April on Brainlove Records
A Scholar & A Physician myspace is here

The Candy Twins – Sad Glad Songs EP

The lead track on the new Candy Twins EP, Good Friends is hand crafted, lovingly prepared very English indie pop. It has the sweet melodies couple with the realistic grittiness. Happy Families has spindly early eighties guitars and urchin vocals, the sound of the wilfully uneducated. It’s catchy but difficult to warm to completely. Sad-Glad Song is a gorgeous doleful pondering moment, while Wonder Woman Part One again evokes the days of early eighties DIY, cheap percussion and a struggling vocalist holding it back a tad.

Sad Glad Songs EP is out now on Lost Music Records
The Candy Twins myspace is here

The Wendy Darlings – We Come With Friendly Purposes

The Wendy Darlings are a French three piece, and this is their latest EP. It kicks off with Get Up, the ultimate in lo-fi fun. It has boy/girl vocals and a rudimentary but melodic tune, racing excitement and sugar rush enthusiasm. Saddam Suzy takes control on Eleasy, yelling away with over excitement. It may seem twee and lo-fi but there’s a real primal garage rock and some lovely harmonies to this song. Bowling Shoes is indie Motown, a short sharp melodic burst in less than two minutes. Enormous Pop is just that and it’s becoming clear that The Wendy Darlings can knock out cracking pop tunes in their sleep if needed. Eins Zwei reminds me of a less annoying Bis, Kojak even more so. My Friend Ray is a much bigger tune to wrap up the EP, sounding like a storm round a sail boat.

We Come With Friendly Purposes is out now on Lost Music Records
The Wendy Darlings myspace is here