Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Amys Ghost – Paper Boat

Here’s the new single from Reading five piece Amys Ghost. Yep, no apostrophe apparently. Stabbing strings herald in Paper Boat, with pretty standard female vocals. They aren’t that quirky which makes a nice change. The strings and cymbal crashes burble along nicely as waves of vocals wash over the top. It’s a sweet little number, wonderfully constructed, but lacking the killer hook. A gallant effort nonetheless. The dub remix of Call Your Name isn’t that dubby, more trip hoppy minimal Massive Attack, but it strips the heart from the tune. Finally there’s Grandma Singing These Eyes, featuring a tiptoeing piano and weird off key vocals, sung apparently by Amy’s grandma. Nice sentiment, but better left in the home recordings really.

Paper Boat is out today on First Circle Records

Amys Ghost myspace is here

The Half Rabbits – From The Horizon To The Map

After six years in existence, The Half Rabbits debut album finally sees the light of day. The only slight disappointment is that six of the ten tracks have been previously released in one form or another. Some re-recordings has spruced them up, and it still provides a good introduction to the band, or place to catch up from. Lead track These Rumours is like a harsher Editors, pulsating guitars, crashing drums and a spiralling tune. Of This City is lighter, reminding me of Tim Booth vocals wise, with popping drums and spacious dark rock. Stay Positive is elastic and far reaching, uplifting and jagged. How Right You Are is stripped back from its original into a Doors-esque Spanish lullaby, where the vocals arise from the slumbers periodically. Antidote is slightly psychotic blues, jabbing this way and that, while Magnet Mountain issues a supply and demand rallying cry over a blistering rock tune. Man Down ends the album in a low rumble, brooding and moody. A nice summation of The Half Rabbits so far then.

From The Horizon To The Map is out on Punk Elvis Records on April 17th

More details from The Half Rabbits website

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Pocket Gods – Plan Nub, Behind The Fridge

Here’s the third album from The Pocket Gods, following on from Lo-Fi Sci-Fi. After a brief intro we get Trailer Park On Mars which is surf pop fun and Billy Childish Enters The Space Race which is I, Ludicrous style shonky nonsense. Perfect Blue is twee exuberance, while I’m The Ed Wood Of Indie Pop is summed up by the title, a shaky scenery kind of fun indie pop song. Then there’s the half arsed Alien Xmas Song, sounding really odd out of season. The paean to Carry On Behind is reminiscent of BMX Bandits, cheesy lyrics, coy vocals and sweet melody. Nipple Fight is scuzzy Ramones indie punk, Nub Country Life is slacker indie pop, like one of Primal Scream’s lighter moments and Joe Meek is gorgeous life affirming indie pop with shuffly bells on, like Teenage Fanclub but happier. Finally, at least before the outro, Zeta Reticulli is sombre, like Suicide gone indie.

Plan Nub, Behind The Fridge is released on the band's own Nub Country Records on April 1st

Further details are on the band's myspace

The Tomatometers – Boys Would Always Look Down

This is the third release from The Tomatometers, which is basically one guy called Bruno. The title track is rather pleasant indie pop, Bruno’s voice rather assured, but also fragile, providing a lovely counterpoint to the gorgeous understated melody. You Don’t Know Us wends its way merrily along, twisting and turning and evading your capture. The tune may be a bit on the twee side, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the voice is strident enough to pull it off. The End Of The Road is mournful and a little discordant, the sombre attitude proves rather fun. Finally the acoustic version of the title track proves a welcome addition, stripped back and beautiful.

Boys Would Always Look Down is self released and out now. Find out more about The Tomatometers and order a CD here

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Rachael Dadd – Moth In The Motor

There is some nice ethereal trad folk from Rachael Dadd on the Moth In The Motor EP. The Age Of The Clock is especially lovely, a piano led number that brings to mind a slightly less hysterical Tori Amos. Caught In The Weight pootles along pleasantly enough, but comes to life in the non chorus bits of multi tracked sounding vocal flights of fancy. Until We Fall Apart and Table are examples how this kind of gorgeous light music can become rather non descript sadly. The Incident Of The Capsized Boat is a musical journey of the sounds of the title. The title track is great, Rachael really going for it, chucking in discordant noises over the piano, warbling and rocking out. Elaine jiggles and wriggles the EP to a close.

Moth In The Motor is out now on Broken Sound

Rachael Dadd's myspace is here

The Superions – The Superions

Here is a new EP from a band featuring Fred Schneider from the B-52s. It has the same weird themes as his other band, but is more quirky electro space rock than sixties homage. The vocals are more restrained and somewhat better for it. They are almost robotically intoned, nay read over the top of various blippy, early eighties futuristic pop tunes. The subjects vary from being seduced by aliens in Those Sexy Saucer Girls, or the perils of shoplifting on Who Threw That Ham At Me. There are four versions on this seven track EP of their first single Totally Nude Island and a further version of Who Threw That Ham At Me. The Casper & The Cookies remix of the latter, adds a little zing to the song. Of the Totally Nude Island remixes, the best is the Marshmallow Coast remix, which is spectral and spacey, and seems to slow the song down and help it breathe, making it more sinister in the process.

The Superions EP is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

The Superions myspace is here

Monday, 15 February 2010

Sourpatch – Crushin’

A four piece from San Jose, Sourpatch do the twee knock kneed version of C86, but it’s endearingly cute rather than lamely pastiche. The songs are kept short, the melodies no more complicated than is necessary and the musicianship rudimentary, because they know that’s all that’s needed. There are many reasons to recommend this album, but here are just a few. Never (Ever Ever) Enough is a racing melody, cruising female vocals and a zippy tune. He’s Succeeding skips along like indie skiffle, Outer Space has an effervescent zing and the shambolic and somewhat out of tune Toothache that charms despite itself. All good stuff.

Crushin’ is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

Sourpatch myspace is here

Pavement – Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement

Well you should now all about Pavement by now, but if not then here is a good place to start. They summed up slacker better than anyone with their louch demeanour, jagged guitars and surreal lyrics about Geddy Lee’s speaking voice (see Stereo) and the like. For me In The Mouth A Desert and Summer Babe conjure up pleasant memories of discovering the band through Slanted And Enchanted, chancing on the vinyl after a review in the NME. Suffice to say, it amazed and astounded me. It’s hard to argue with the sheer class of stuff like Cut Your Hair and Range Life. As ever, there’s the odd quirk to this compilation, a mere best of would be too straight forward for Pavement. So gems like Major Leagues and Carrot Rope make way for decidedly average tracks from other compilation albums, such as Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence. No matter, as this should really lead you on to getting the rest of the back catalogue if you don’t own it already. Maybe start with Terror Twilight and get those two missing gems.

Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement is released by Domino on March 9th

Pavement website is here

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Swansea Recreation Centre – Etienne Brule: Hero To The Max

The Swansea Recreation Centre is a new band from London and Etienne Brule: Hero To The Max is their debut album. Lead track Earthly Hands is a wistful noodle, accompanying some warbled jazz singing. It’s hardly there, but weirdly affecting. Turns out the vocals aren’t a one off, as they continue their foray into outsider music on Thanks For The Guitar, with something that sounds like a offcut from Songs In The Key Of Z, with Joe Meek dozing off on the mixing desk. Passionada, Passionada, We Shall Build A Great Armada is a French nursery rhyme melody, topped off by mumbly vocals to make a sweet little autumn evoking tune. Snail Steppin’ is quite a jaunty thing, propelled by what sounds like a toy banjo. It’s let down a lot by the irritating vocals, which sound like a nerdy smurf, and the computer game noises that smother the tune at points. What Masculinity! descends rapidly into a horrid dirge but Herman The Hitman Hesse is better, featuring some good gentle female vocals, and a burbling, meandering tune that somehow does the trick. Patty Lewis at IBM is like a cheerier Magnetic Fields and the album finishes with seven minutes of meandering title track, like wailing ghosts in the dark. Weird stuff indeed. Sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, but always intriguing.

Etienne Brule: Hero To The Max is self released and out now.

The band's myspace us here

Friday, 12 February 2010

Victoria And Jacob – With No Certainty

The latest single from electro pop duo Victoria And Jacob starts with a click and a whirr and Victoria’s sumptuous girlish vocals. With No Certainty is somewhat reminiscent of Imogen Heap, but with much more heart and an impish quality. You can imagine Victoria as an elfin character, casting her vocal spell and taking you to another world. There’s A War is slow and ponderous, over a bubbling or blipping backbeat, slowly moving, making you think. Finally What’s Your Face follows a similar electro ethereal pattern, but has a wonderful mantra like quality, accompanied by some tinkling bells that really hypnotise you. Lovely stuff.

With No Certainty is released by Voga Parochia on April 5th

Victoria And Jacob myspace is here

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Exhibition – 4 Track Demo EP

Straight outta Barnsley, The Exhibition release their third demo EP, ahead of the release of their debut single later in the year. The Boy And The Tearaway has a touch of Elbow dramatics and some of Interpol’s dark effortless cool. It’s more of a mood than a song, gravitating through the dark space, churning away in a minor turmoil, grasping for an elusive something. Bright New Worlds has more melody, and is something like Kaiser Chiefs with a bit more subtlety. It’s refreshingly catchy for something alternative and threatens to jangle at times, but instead has more steel and shakes its stuff brilliantly. Things That Hide In The Dark jabbers contentedly, shaking its stuff round an indie dancefloor. Jagged guitars, drum rolls and epic yodelling indie vocals make it a sure fire alt disco hit. Last track Reaction is a good tune, but suffers from being not as good as what went before. Cherry pick the mid section of this EP if you want, but you ought to listen all way through as its good stuff indeed.

Download the EP for free from Of National Importance Records

The Exhibition myspace is here

Monday, 8 February 2010

Archive Of Everything – Infinite Loss

The second album from one Chris Blundell, who alone is Archive Of Everything, starts with 15 Million In The Bank. It’s a plinky plonk cheap synth melody and has a surging chorus that overloads the system. Road To Retribution is a slow ponderous piece, while Ode To The Beast is clattering lo-fi electro, which lets up now and again for some Guy Garvey gone upbeat vocals. I Just Want To Talk is over needy and desperately pleading, a bit over bearing. What Happens To All The Fallen Leaves is a nicely wayward and windswept, but lacking in substance, while You Can’t Avoid Infinite Loss staggers uneasily in an electronic run down haze. After the simplistic thrash of A Fucking Riot we get the atmospherically beautiful Can You Please, with sighing keyboards, achy vocals and a maudlin demeanour making it a sweet thing. So Simple provides an understated end to the album.

Infinite Loss is self released and out now. For more details see the Archive Of Everything website

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Erland And The Carnival – Erland And The Carnival

Formed by a former Orkney resident, Simon Tong from The Verve and the drummer from Paul McCartney’s Fireman project, Erland And The Carnival’s debut album is an intriguing prospect. Lead track Love Is A Killing Thing is a Fleet Foxes spiritual over The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night. There follows the mariachi fun of My Name Is Carnival and You Don’t Have To Be Lonely which mixes up an over earnest James with dance hall era Specials organ runs. Trouble In Mind reminds me of Laid era James, sublime sweet pop, sumptuous and caressing. Tramps And Hawkers fancies itself as an olde worlde tale, a new twist on trad folk. It almost achieves its goal, but falls a little short. Nice attempt though. The Derby Ram is something similar, a somewhat beardy and beery number, but lacking somewhat in authenticity. Was You Ever See is a calypso standoff, with some lovely beckoning keyboards and weird breaks. It’s very slight, but rather nice. The Sweeter The Girl The Harder I Fall is a Tim Booth lead sea shanty, while One Morning Fair is something a bit darker, still a tad like James, but swirling in the pits of despair, or on a queasy fairground ride. Gentle Gwen lifts her skirt to medieval times and shakes it round the dancefloor and The Echoing Green swirls away like a whirly gig to close proceedings.

Erland And The Carnival is out now on Static Caravan / Full Time Hobby

Erland And The Carnival myspace is here

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Pale Sunday – Shooting Star

Its four years since we heard from Brazilian indie poppers Pale Sunday, with their album Summertime. On initial listens to this EP, it’s good to have them back. First track Shooting Star is bright and breezy pop, featuring a singer with a quite different, unassuming voice. He seems confident in himself, but he’s thankfully not a show off. Melodically it has the charm of The Lucksmiths, and the style to carry on where they left off. Are You Scared To Get Happy? takes the foot off the gas, but is effortlessly cool, a gentle hum of bass and a cool melody taking us there. The singer provides a lovely counterpart to the tune again, sighing his way beautifully through the vocals. Before I Found You reminds me of the melodies of Velvet Crush, those sun kissed tones, and is a beautiful thing indeed. Finally, Unknown Half could be a long lost Teenage Fanclub offcut, maybe even a demo of What You Do To Me. Sweet stuff indeed.

Shooting Star is out now on Matinee Recordings

Pale Sunday myspace is here

The Electric Pop Group – Seconds

Seconds is appropriately the second album by Swedish popsters The Electric Pop Group. Think of early jangling Primal Scream and you have the lead track Not By Another. The vocals are much less twee than Bobby’s were back then, just simply delightful and affecting. The rest of the album follows a similar pattern. There are wistful, achingly sighed vocals a plenty, and the sound of skinny boys swaying and fringes flopping in the wind. There are lots of tender guitar lines and sumptuous melodies to drawn you in and get you hooked. And just because it doesn’t deviate much from type, doesn’t mean it can’t be good. Just ask the Wedding Present.

Seconds is out now on Matinee Recordings

The Electric Pop group myspace is here

Monday, 1 February 2010

Northern Portrait – Criminal Art Lovers

The boys from Copenhagen return, hoping to capitalise on their fine EPs of 2008. The main problem they have over the longer format, is trying to hide their main influence, or at least make it seem less like plagiarism. And once the Smiths comparison is lodged in your mind it’s difficult to shake, which is a shame, because it takes away from anything Northern Portrait have. The Munchhausen In Me is a rather lovely song, redolent of early Trashcan Sinatras, but the sense of taking on someone else’s identity is still there, especially come the yodelling at the end. When Goodness Falls has a lovely initial identity, and then collapses into pastiche. Crazy surpasses all of these, by being simply brilliant. It has a beautiful rich croon, pinpoint jangling guitars and is reminiscent of The Man From Delmonte. The Operation Worked But The Patient Died wafts past in an air of nothingness, while Life Returns To Normal is a world weary, but reassuring jangle pop tune. What Happens Next? Is another Smiths take done to perfection, is it good enough though? Gene were considered pastiche, but had the tunes and range to carry it off. Not sure about these guys though. That’s When My Headaches Begin is wonderfully epic and over reaching and probably should have been the closer. New Favourite Moment is good though, a lovely slice of classic stylish indie pop. The jury’s still out, as the tunes are very good, but often too much like someone else’s.

Criminal Art Lovers is out now on Matinee Recordings

Northern Portrait myspace is here