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