Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Very Most – Summer EP

Following on from their excellent spring EP, here is the second instalment of the seasons set. A Mid-80s Lower-Middle Class Family Summer Road Trip is a breezy, top down, coastal road cruise. It burbles and giggles along like a happy calypso, before a Californian/Flaming Lips dreamy interlude. The clicking re-emerges and the harmonies appear over the horizon and they’re on their way again, bringing the sumptuous pure pop song to a close. The Motor-Vue Lights is very Teenage Fanclub in their blissed out, elder statesmen mode, making effortlessly cool pop with gorgeous melodies and harmonies. You're In Love With The Sun is sweet indie pop, so brittle it may fall apart and a tiny, delightful chorus. It’s paddling in the sea and splashing a loved one affectionately. Fireworks is an electronic warble, the summer night lighting up with the gentle tinkling of the song. The words are elongated and spacious, giving the whole song a weird otherworldly feel. Another great EP basically.

Summer EP is out now on Indiecater Records
The Very Most myspace is here

Blind Pilots – The Toys Have Gone Berserk EP

Fractured Boy, the opening track from the debut EP by Dundalk, Ireland’s Blind Pilots combines the bluster of early U2, the steel of Afghan Whigs and the grace of Editors into a fine tune. Seat Ga Ga is more reflective, plodding along at a slow pace, nicely reflecting the sombre tone of the song, and intoning the title over and over in a hypnotic way. It’s graceful and gorgeous. Stillbeats goes back to the well structured towering pop, the stuff that isn’t afraid to reach for the skies and blast on through. Thumping drums, spiralling guitars and bellowed vocals are all present and correct. Jealous Hands gets darker still. The band claim to be influenced by Joy Division which shows, and they’ve obviously taken the bits Editors liked too. Not a bad thing, when it’s done this well, but you wonder whether there’s a niche for it at the moment.

The Toys Have Gone Berserk EP is self released and out now
Blind Pilots myspace is here

Orwell – Le Genie Humain

Au-Dessus De Moi couldn’t be anymore French if it tried, which given where Orwell reside, is perhaps not surprising. It has the High Llamas chilled out vibe, with pipes creating a none more blissful state of mind and those delicious Gallic tones. It’s very sixties, and could soundtrack a seduction scene in an art house movie. Tout Entier is café music played on a fairground organ; psychedelic images permeating your mind while Elementaire is a bouncy piece of oh so cool fun. Le Bon Endroit goes for the full tilt pop classic, and sounds like the long forgotten Tahiti 80. This turns out to be unsurprising, given that further scrutiny reveals that band’s Mederic Gontier plays guitar on the album. Septembre is the best yet, introducing some lovely female vocals for a duet, a sumptuous piece of pop, like prime time Cardigans relocated. Plus L’Infini is a twinkling jazzy little mood piece, J’ai Tout Oublie tootles along, again showing an infinity with the mood scapes of the High Llamas and their twinkling delights while Sun Holiday is another gorgeous piece of pop, something like the Beach Boys at their peak, all those gorgeous sun kissed vocals and hazy, lazy melodies. The title track is a dramatic instrumental, which drops down into a middle bit, where random phrases are uttered, then up again to the grandiosity. Sans Precedent is a whimsical little ditty, beautifully sung, with a gorgeous bucolic melody and De Ce Monde is a lovely, if slightly inferior companion piece to Sans Precedent. Slow Down is a gorgeous epic to close the album; it could be ELO, or Procul Harum or many more besides. It simply plods yet manages to sound big, a perfect summation of the band and their lovely album.

Le Genie Humain is released by Folkwit Records on June 1st
Orwell's website is here

Dan Whitehouse – You Can’t Give Me Anymore

The lead track of The Bubble EP, You Can’t Give Me Anymore is a pleasant keyboard driven ballad, reminiscent of Del Amitri a bit, and also of waves crashing on a beach. It breaks into a chanted coda, heralding a new dawn and the prospect of something better. A rather sweet song and I look forward to hearing the rest of the EP.

The Bubble EP is out now on Tiger Dan Records
Dan Whitehouse myspace is here

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Various - Dance To The Radio 4 x 12” Volume 1 of 4

The first in a series of compilations of stuff from Dance To The Radio. Wonderswan are a slightly fuzzy Pavement, but one that cares even less about trying. Their song Hey Nature is a pleasant diversion, but one that gets a little tedious as it progresses. The second track is Behind Your Back by Broadcast Society, which is anthemic, yet fairly unaffecting bombastic indie rock. Although the Pulled Apart By Horses song has the wonderful title E= MC Hammer, the music is approaching screamo, with lots of big wailing guitars and little in the way of tune. The final offering, What A Drag by Bear Hands, is probably the best thing, as it is minimal electro, trip hop, and falsetto bouncing shuffly pop at various turns.

Dance To The Radio 4 x 12” Volume 1 is out now
The Dance To The Radio website is here

Friday, 22 May 2009

Lucky Delucci – Young In Summer

Here is the debut EP from Lucky Delucci, a five piece from Wales. Lead track Tears Fall to The Floor is whimsical flower power pop, a sweet little fairy breath of a tune. Simon Said is pretty similar, apart from a lovely extended maudlin coda, world weary and glum. House Of Lost Souls is better, a change of tack into a mysterious world. It’s a tune that stalks its way around an apparently deserted, but in reality not so, mansion. Fingers, Thumbs and Toes is a twinkling musical box piece of loveliness and the EP finishes with The Room That Never Sleeps that sometimes sounds like a twee version of The Passenger.

Young In Summer is out now on Bubblewrap Records
Lucky Delucci myspace is here

Banjo Or Freakout – Upside Down EP

The second release from Alessio Natalizia, under his Banjo Or Freakout moniker is the Upside Down EP. The title track sounds like it was recorded under a slowly trickling water feature, its Flaming Lips light, dreamy yet only slightly affecting. The Week Before follows on in similar fashion, incanting the lyrics in a hypnotic way, which is entrancing even though the tune on the whole is the equivalent of a blank white wall. Like You stomps gloomily under a wall of fuzz and effects, it creates a pretty neat dark sound but ultimately doesn’t go anywhere. I And Always sounds like it comes from the mysterious far east and the repetitious nature ties it up in knots and spins your head quite wonderfully. This City Is A Fake is a bit of a tedious drone, but the Allez Allez Remix of Upside Down turns it into a disco drone, something much better than the original track.

Upside Down EP is out now on Half Machine Records
Banjo Or Freakout myspace is here

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Foxes! / The Hot Toddies - Oxford The Cellar - 09.04.09

A little bit old now, but a review done for the May issue of Nightshift. Check the magazine out here

The Hot Toddies are an all girl summer fun band, all the way from Oakland, California. Because of this, as they inform us early on, a lot of their songs are written about the beach. While not something us Brits can relate to much, it doesn’t stop us basking in their glow. Things start fairly slowly and the first few songs are despatched with little passion, their icy cool coming across as a little uninterested. On HTML though, they slow things down and begin to loosen up a little, with the aid of the catchiest chorus built around the world wide web. With people swaying along the night is theirs for the taking and they seize the opportunity with both hands with their beach songs, Rocker Girl and Pirate. Seattle is the set highlight, with the filthy lyrics coming from sweet sounding mouths providing a delicious juxtaposition.

Foxes! are quite a different proposition to what they were when they were based in Oxford. A replacement bass/keyboard player and a guitarist on loan from Restlesslist have given them a much more ferocious sound, the extra players leaving them to experiment and expand songs. It’s Ridiculous, Adam starts nursery rhyme like and then descends into computer gaming electro music, like an infectious pulse. Old song Welcome To The Jivin’ follows and where the recorded version had a fairly insipid chorus, live it launches into the chorus in a torrent of guitar and a frantic ending. It has to be said, it suits Foxes! much better and probably surprises a fair few people, myself included. Albania is a sweet newie from the next single, and it’s followed by old favourite Art Girl, which is at turns jagged, twee, ecstatic and wigged out. Oh Rosie is somewhere between a polka and one of those great sea shanties style tunes The Coral used to make before they blanded out. The set finishes with the double whammy of great new songs, Who Killed Rob? and Bunny Rabbits before the band are called back for an encore of the euphoric 6 O’Clock.

Find Foxes! here and The Hot Toddies here

Thomas Truax – Songs From The Films Of David Lynch

Well, you can tell what this album is from the title and fair play to Thomas for giving it a go. First up is Wicked Game. Thomas doesn’t have as strong a voice as Chris Isaak, but then who has? He opts for a Nick Cave style dark and mysterious near growl, which works pretty well. The melody is pedestrian though and he just about gets away with it. Then Twin Peaks (Falling) is turned into a quite boisterous, slightly drunken ramble. Again it suffers from not being as great as the ethereal Julee Cruise original, or even the Wedding Present’s indie drone version. The strength of the original versions hampers Thomas, and you’re starting to wonder if he should have picked a less ambitious project. Baby Please Don’t Go is rendered all sleazy rock n roll, rumbling along like a less dangerous Cramps. I don’t know the original of this, which helps somewhat. Blue Velvet is fine enough, but highlights Thomas’s weak singing voice and lack of care round a tune. I’m Deranged is the sound of a man wandering round a western ghost town, while Audrey’s Dance is suitably spooky and grim, the discordant instrumental leaving you disorientated. Black Tambourine tries to sound like the shuffling loveliness of Beck’s original but just sounds a bit muddy and murky and unfocused. I Put A Spell On You doesn’t leave behind any mark while In Heaven is wonderful, suitably creepy and the first thing to sound like it still belongs in a David Lynch film. Finally we come full circle, to a limp version of In Dreams, where the vocals obviously couldn’t be a patch on Roy Orbison’s, but are nowhere near. If you aim for the stars and haven’t got the reach in your capacity, it’s a long way to fall and you end up with egg on your face.

Songs From The Films Of David Lynch is out now on SL Records
Thomas Truax's website is here

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Idle Lovers – All Control

Idle Lovers are only on their second and it shows. All Control is very much the en vogue disco pop of the moment, with a steely indie backbone. It ain’t bad, but such songs are ten a penny nowadays. Fine Line reminds me too much of The Pigeon Detectives for me to like it and Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? is more of the same lumpen indie rock. On the whole, pretty poor.

All Control is out on May 25th
Idle Lovers myspace is here

The Penny Black Remedy – No-One’s Fault But Your Own

The debut album from The Penny Black Remedy kicks off with recent single 95 Charing Cross Road, which vocally is midway between Julian Cope and Grandmaster Gareth and musically is a spaghetti western in a city hell scape. Don’t Count On Us is a fast jigging female vocalled piece, while Come Back When You Have More Ambition is a mysterious Scott Walker style art thing, all glam and statuesque. You Have Wasted Your Life, Now Please Stop Wasting Your Money is a high energy eastern European high kicking jig, The First Time I Saw Angels is a sweet sounding country and western tune, although the reality may however lay hidden deeper within and I Won’t Argue When I’m Dead continues in this musical fashion, if somewhat more jocular in mood. Hit Hard, Aim Low is a heads down, balls out Cope style rocker with added twiddly guitar solo, Bring Back Brando is a softer Johnny Cash song while Gypsy Hospital Death March is wonderfully a proper old Ukrainian sounding tune, with all the traditional dancing thrown in too. Fun stuff.

No-One’s Fault But Your Own is out now
The Penny Black Remedy myspace is here

Crystal Stilts – Love Is A Wave

The new seven inch from Crystal Stilts features Love Is A Wave as the main track, which sounds like The Mary Chain and The Brilliant Corners collaborating on a cover of the Elvis song His Latest Flame. Flip side Sugar Baby sounds like it was recorded down a dark alley with the Raveonettes, the primal drumming and rock n roll guitars present and correct

Love Is A Wave is out now on Slumberland Records
Crystal Stilts myspace is here

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Young Adult Friction

The Pains out of control imminent success story rumbles ever onwards with the release of new 7” Young Adult Friction. While not as immediate or catchy as some of the previous singles, it shows a different, more sensitive side. It reminds me of the Wedding Present, with extra keyboards and softer vocals, which is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. Ramona has gothic grace and boots of lead, as it slouches its way around the dark corners of an indie disco, daring anyone to try and dance to it.
Young Adult Friction is out now on Slumberland Records
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart myspace is here

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Loves – Three

The Loves are back with their, yes you guessed it, third album. One-Two-Three starts it off and sounds like a Gary Glitter tune done by a particularly slouchy bubblegum band. It’s pretty fun as you might imagine. After the shouty opening of Kaleidoscope, it settles down into a blissful alt country stroll. It then speeds up, slows down to a woozy waltz and finds a million points inbetween. The Ex-Gurlfriend reminds me of oh so cool, slightly sleazy New York rock, with a little Teenage Fanclub thrown in for good measure. Everybody Is In Love is a slouchy slow rocker, reminding me of a blissfully stoned Big Star. Ode To Coca-Cola is Redd Kross, low slung slacker pop while Sweet Sister Delia, is Jonathan Richman and the rock n roll world. Can You Feel My Heart Beat? Is a sassy torch song, with very sultry female vocals. Waiting For Tomorrow wraps the album up and is like some Velvet Underground experiment, starting off psychedelic and then barrelling into a rolling pub knees up.

Three is out now on Fortuna Pop!
The Loves myspace is here

The Legends – Over And Over

You certainly can’t pin The Legends down to any particular sound. Johan Angergard has changed his sound from album to album, and now there are many changes within the space of one record. You Won starts the album and is very eighties sounding, a new romantic windswept soundscape with a touch of a gothic Pet Shop Boys. Seconds Away is smothered in feedback and effects, which gives it a haunting sound, amplified by when the feedback switches off and all becomes crystal clear. Always The Same is very much an early Mary Chain tune; luckily they’ve slipped some female vocals in there to make it a little different though. Monday to Saturday is a surprise, being a whimsical piece of tweeness replete with handclaps and summery vibe. Heartbeats is ghostly, echoey and could be something recorded by any bedroom miserablist on seeing the sun through his window for the first time. Dancefloor is impenetrable lyrically and musically dense, flying by like some careering indie pop anthem, which has been squashed into a tiny package. Turn Away is a fuzzy wake to some long lost thing, and then the feedback returns for Recife, which covers up the sluggish tune. After more fuzziness in the form of Over And Over, we get Jump which sounds like Kings Of Convenience lost in an eighties electro world. Something Strange Will Happen is on an autobahn of minimalness before Touch finishes things off in a suitably raucous way.
Over And Over is released by Labrador on June 15th
The Legends myspace is here

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Dexter Poindexter – The Adventure EP

Another new band on me, Dexter Poindexter kick off The Adventure EP with Sails, a lovely laid back tune, like a church group singing around a campfire. A Pleasant View is wordy and whimsical, an ethereal world view. All In raises the tempo jigging about like some jumping beans with a wake up tune. In The Fall is a ghostly Parisian café, spectres of past good times haunting the melancholy air, Cape Tribulation is chirpy and stop start fun, it fizzes by in a twee pop haze and A Song For A Young Benjamin is as light as the breeze in a sunset world. Lovely stuff.

The Adventure EP is out now on Wee Pop! Records
Dexter Poindexter myspace is here

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Colin Clary – Every Little Thing Counts

The lead track off Colin’s latest album sums up the man in a nutshell. It’s naïve, sweet, hopeful, tender and a bundle of melodic cuteness. And it’s called Really Rooting For Ya (And It Could Be Awesome), which tells you everything you need to know. You Tell Me Now slows things down to a romantic sway, while I can imagine Cliff covering Katie in a rock n roll style. Colin’s version is much more laid back, and sounds great for it. Nothing outstays its welcome here, a whole bunch of songs are less than 2 minutes, and the whole album a mere 21. After the sumptuous pop of James William Hindle, Colin throws us a curveball with the discordant and industrial electro sounding Tick Tick. What’s more surprising is that this diversion is very good, for something out of his genre. Waving To A Girl On A Train twinkles by in just over a minute, Lipsynching Is Hard Work shrugs its shoulders and meanders along wearily and a great album finishes up with the jangling Velvets stuff of Phone Me, Phone Me.

Every Little Thing Counts is out now on Wee Pop! Records
Colin Clary's myspace is here

Monday, 11 May 2009

The Horrors – Primary Colours

The Horrors turn up again with their second album, a couple of years after being NME faves, but nobody elses. After an eerie opening, Mirror’s Image kicks in all gothically mysterious, coupled with some PIL spookiness. It’s rather windswept and majestical. Three Decades sounds like Julian Cope fronting The Jesus And Mary Chain down in a mine in the middle of a tornado. I haven’t worked out if this is good or not yet. Who Can Say is rampaging goth rock, but from then on in though, it just degenerates into shouty goth rock, like a very poor Birthday Party. It’s a shame, but with a bit more care The Horrors might be onto something. Keep a cautious eye on these guys; don’t give up on them yet.

Primary Colours out now on XL Recordings
The Horrors can be found here

Butcher Boy – React Or Die

Glasgow’s Butcher Boy return with their second album. The winsome shimmering When I’m Asleep is an inauspicious start to any album, wonderfully autumnal, but perhaps not the best suited lead track. On Carve A Pattern you’re reminded of Stuart Murdoch with the vocals, with a jaunty if fey tune. You’re Only Crying For Yourself surfs by on a sea of buzzy keyboards, Anything Other Than Kind is a whimsical thing, interspersed by odd moments from seventies TV idents and This Kiss Will Marry Us has a long meandering intro, but doesn’t really go many places, although it is somehow soothing. Why I Like Babies follows and reminds me of a stark Pulp. Rather too many songs pass by in a haze, so it might end up as unexpected chill out music for many. Good, but it probably wasn’t their intention. Sunday Bells rouses itself somewhat and proves a bit better and then React Or Die is a lovely maudlin end to the album of the same name.

React Or Die is out now on How Does It Feel To Be Loved?
Butcher Boy's myspace is here

Cats On Fire – Our Temperance Movement

The singer from Cats On Fire has a wonderfully clipped and crisp voice, possibly because he’s Scandinavian singing in English. You can see the very English influences, but also those of pure indie pop bands like the Go-Betweens and The Lucksmiths. They burst out the traps with a great trio of these songs, Tears In Your Cup, Garden Lights and Letters From A Voyage To Sweden. Never Sell The House brings the tone down, a twinkling sparse backing providing a lovely track to some heartbroken sounding brittle vocals. You can see the Belle and Sebastian influence on The Steady Pace while Lay Down Your Arms is a chirrupy, trotting horse ride of a song, a bright productive spring morning. Fabric is particularly delightful, reminding me of more leftfield indie pop from the eighties, the way The Housemartins or Trash Can Sinatras had those lovely little quirks that set them apart. It is set around a lovely spiralling melody and some dreamy backing vocals. Horoscope now finds me thinking of the Go-Betweens, thinking of dusty suburban settings and in fact with The Borders Of This Land I’m heading even further that way. Our Days In The Sun threatens to turn into A Whiter Shade Of Pale but doesn’t, mores the pity. While not a great album, it’s certainly interesting and a good listen.

Our Temperance Movement is released on How Does It Feel To Be Loved? on June 1st
Cats On Fire myspace is here

Friday, 1 May 2009

Pocketbooks – Flight Paths

So Pocketbooks debut album arrives, much anticipated by people in certain circles. On Footsteps Emma’s voice sounds rather like Amelia Fletcher, which is a wonderful thing. That the tune is a chirpy keyboard driven slice of classic indie pop is an added bonus. It’s up there with any of the indie classics. On Fleeting Moments she’s more shrill, but no less affecting. Piano crashes all over the shop in a tune that’s a pick up tonic. Andy’s voice pops up in the middle, none more fey, but rather delightful. His voice is better rounded on Camera Angles, a song that crams lots of words into a small space and is literate, scrambling pop. The Outskirts Of Town is a song that mainly just showcases Emma’s voice; it’s brittle and despairing like some Saint Etienne moment. Cross The Line is beautiful Belle and Sebastian conversational tune while Skating On Thin Ice is a jazzy little show number, set in a darkened club where the band have aspirations of stardom. Sweetness And Light and I’m Not Going Out keep up the high quality of straight forward trill indie pop that we’re getting used to. It seems that they can knock these aces out in their sleep. Every Good Time We Ever Had has an electronic, cyclical quality that reminds me of an upbeat Stereolab. Paper Aeroplanes is another cracking frenetic pop tune as is the closing track All We Do Is Rush Around. If you love melodies and infectiously catchy tunes then this is your album.

Flight Paths is released on July 11th on How Does It Feel To Be Loved?
Pocketbooks website is here