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

Monday, 27 July 2009

Snippet – The T-Shirt EP

Johnno Casson from Colchester is Snippet and this is his second release. I Love Your T-Shirt has squelches and shuffles rhythmically, a proverb like lyrical middle bit and a bit where it appears to want to launch off to space in a makeshift craft. It’s a sweet piece of oddball pop. Just A Man follows this in suitably chilled out Lightning Seeds way, with a little edge to make it memorable. There’s also a bit where he threatens to turn into Mike Skinner, but mostly its pie and mash fun. Lion Step Forward is an interesting instrumental interlude, shuffling like an acid jazz children’s TV theme. Lovely Ugly People is a nice hippyish dream, set to a downbeat piece of pristine kids pop; it’s a nursery rhyme for the disenfranchised. Finally we have Love U 4 All Time, a jittery morning after tune, not sure of itself or it’s surrounding, flitting this way and that, uncomfortable in its own skin.

The T-Shirt EP is released on 24th August on Quirky Sounds
Snippet myspace is here

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut – Hey Dr Beeching

Hey Dr Beeching consists of a heartfelt vocal, a paean to closed railway lines and a vaguely far eastern sounding jangly guitar. The trains are very present melodically in the form of primitive chugging drums and whirling guitar bits, replete with woo-woo vocals and clips of old news reels about the railway closures. A pleasant protest, but one you’re more likely to listen to. The download of the song is free, but all donations made in conjunction with the release will go to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, a heritage line near where Pete grew up, a mainline closed by Dr Beeching himself.

Download the single here
Pete's website is here

Friday, 17 July 2009

The XX – XX

The instrumental lead track Intro rumbles moodily on The XX’s debut album, echoing the Cure’s more sombre moments. VCR is almost an extension of the previous track’s melody, mumbly lyrics shuffling about self consciously. And this is the pattern for much of the album, lo fi electro rhythms and half arsed vocals, all of them done with so little care it all sounds exactly the same, like some art students shrugging off a will-this-do album before disappearing off to the arty bar. Shelter has a bit more going for it though, sounding a little like a Sinead O’Connor torch song, lost in the half light and Basic Space, the single, is a cut above as mentioned elsewhere on this site but it’s a fairly poor return after the promise suggested by that single.

XX is released by Young Turks on 17th August
The XX myspace is here

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Sebastian Clark & Normandie Wilson – Music For Smart People

Following up Songs From A Van, Sebastian enlists the help of Normandie Wilson from Red Pony Clock on his new album, which comes complete with mirrored cover. It starts with a track called Love, which is like Tyrannosaurus Rex on ecstasy, more love and weirdness abounding, sharing space with pixie like voices and waterfalls of gorgeousness and a light tune. Maybe We Could Even Be Friends continues the crazy folkiness and then Normandie takes the lead on Contract Between Us and things aren’t as arresting on this smoky ballad, she sounds like Sinead O’Connor at times trying to do lounge jazz. Too Much is a splendid hi nrg gay disco and folk hybrid, squirming and fizzing all over the place, with the vocals sounding like they are on helium almost. Too Soon takes a middle ground between one of Beck’s esoteric moments and something slinky by Ween, while Dirty Shame is a Normandie sung slinky jazzy ballad. Look What You Did is a weird and wonderful thing that gets dirty with the spirit of Tom Waits, winos and the spirit world. It’s very mixed up, decidedly odd and rather fine. I Won’t Leave You Behind is a sad spiritually felt little song, a promise that means more than anything and a gorgeous little song, saving the best til last.

Music For Smart People is self released and out now. Buy it here
Sebastian Clark's myspace is here

Monday, 6 July 2009

Moustache Of Insanity - Moustache Of Insanity

The Moustache Of Insanity debut album starts with Living Room Picnic, a tune that almost succeeds despite itself. It has god awful out of tune vocals, but an endearing plinky plonk tune. Apparently when they tried to record this their neighbour complained, the band wonder why when it’s not exactly speed metal, but I think the above may answer their question. The brief The Ultimate Uno Championship Winning Song has a touch of Bobby McGees to it, before they hit form on I Won! I Did It! I’m The Winner, which in a none more twee way extolling the virtues of winning, even when it’s against someone who doesn’t even know how to play. The giggle and the childish taunt at the end sum it up. Email is a ramshackle and knock kneed Ballboy, rather sweet indeed, while No Bills Club fizzes along, with a snarl on its lo fi lip. Possibly the most fun track is Broken Biscuits, about what I know not, but I’m guessing about growing old as a couple. Maybe.

Moustache Of Insanity is out now on Wee Pop! Records
Moustache Of Insanity myspace is here

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Still Leven – Everyday And Never EP

The influx of Italian bands into this blog continues apace, and as ever the output is interesting. Lead track Just A Face In The Crowd is a sombre thing indeed. Think of the lead singer of Editors, drunk and depressed, with a wailing banshee on backing vocals. The near eight minutes passes by at a funereal pace, wailing and gnashing of teeth at life’s injustices. There’s also a weird squeaky electronic bit that overlays the death march half way in. Broken Asses And Wasted Times is a despairing wail and howl for the nether world, while The Dreamer is Nick Cave at his most restless and doom laden, a mysterious backing overlaid by freeforming vocals. The Long Talk After Mom Died reminds me of Tindersticks at their most downbeat, if Stuart was duetting with a suitably gothic female. It trundles on for over seven minutes, never breaking sweat, never in a hurry to get anywhere, even though the volume steadily increases as it nears the climax.

Everyday And Never EP is out now on Imao In The Mouth Records
Still Leven myspace is here

Liechtenstein – Survival Strategies In A Modern World

More great stuff from Sweden, Liechtenstein hailing from the Gothenburg hotbed of pop. Their debut album starts with All At Once, which is an askance eighties girl group in a hollow world, beautifully rounded and structured vocals with a foreign accent and a rumbling doom laden tune, which still has a special gravitas. Postcard is a darker and more well assured Talulah Gosh, barrelling gently by like a steaming train. Sophistication starts clopping like The Rapture in a spaghetti western, before ascending into a big bundle of harmonies, then back, then back again. By Staying Here (We Will Slowly Disappear) starts with a sixties girl group sigh, before going all happy and devil may care, it’s a breezy and airy thing reminiscent of the Darling Buds. A military drumbeat introduces Wallpaper Stripes, ushering a glossy, other worldy vocal along. Roses In The Park is sonically fuzzy, a bit like a hybrid between The Flatmates and early primitive Mary Chain while Reflections carries on on the dark side, spooky and eerie and sounding like its been produced by Joe Meek with his ghostly techniques. White Dress starts all Raveonettes primal beat, but turns into something altogether more special, the girls stepping through a weird dream world and emerging the other end as some robots with hearts. The End is doomy pop, like The Crystals or some other troubled sixties band. I wasn’t expecting too much from this album, but it has exceeded that and much, much more. It’s a lovely and dark thing, sounding like nothing else today.

Survival Strategies In A Modern World is out now on Slumberland Records
Liechtenstein myspace is here

Discovery – So Insane

So Insane is a meeting of minds between Vampire Weekend’s Rostam and Wes from Ra Ra Riot. It sounds like one of the evangelical moments from the former’s debut album, with a heavy debt to electro eighties pop. It stops and starts and heads off in different directions so many times it sounds like a remix in itself. It should be interesting to see what some remixers make of this. The song is intriguing and worth a few listens, if only to see whether it grabs you eventually. It’s not as immediate as Rostam’s other band, but side projects ought to have a different spin, and it’s fun to see him experimenting.

So Insane is released on XL Recordings on July 20th
Discovery myspace is here

The XX – Basic Space

It’s a weird song is Basic Space, shimmying along nicely, male and female vocalists trading verses and coming together in the chorus. She sounds like Laura Marling, the music sounds a little like Hot Chip mixed with Noah & The Whale. It shuffles and jabbers quite delightfully, while never being a thing that grabs you and shakes you. The demo version of Blood Red Moon has a melody that sounds very much like something by The Cure, which wends its way in and out the jerking, shuffling electro beats. It’s quite a relaxing thing and the half intoned lyrics suit it quite nicely. Sweet stuff in all, but not too memorable.

Basic Space is released on Young Turks on August 3rd
The XX myspace is here

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Allo, Darlin’ – Henry Rollins Don’t Dance

Allo, Darlin’ is Elizabeth Darling from Queensland, Australia and this is her third release. The title track is a gorgeous re-sexing of the Lucksmiths cute pop melodies and breezes past with a smile and a whistle and a skip in its step. It’s gorgeously summery. Dear Stephen Hawking re appropriates the twee coolness of Jens Lekman into a jiggly samba. It has his spiritual upbeatness, with some lyrical weight, in this case being about the particle accelerator at CERN. Finally you have Heartbeat Chilli; a sad uke beat interspersed with bits of Johnny Cash to and lap steel to provide a country vibe. A rather lovely EP all round.

Henry Rollins Don’t Dance is out now on Wee Pop! Records
Allo, Darlin’ myspace is here

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Transmittens – Our Dreams

Jen and Danny from Kansas are Transmittens. Lead track Balloons In The Sky is cutesy boy girl twee pop, musically limited, but quite endearing. A fizzing synth leads out the twirling pop of Meet Me At The Swings and Saturday Socks is more shambling fun. By the time we get to Everytime You Cry the same trick is being turned out again, but with ever diminishing returns. Sadly the album doesn’t get a lot better. You can tell the sort of thing you’re getting by song names such as Boo And Sparklemittens, Cow Clouds and My Heart’s In The Dumpster. Music for under achievers basically.

Our Dreams is out now on Wee Pop! Records
Transmittens myspace is here