Saturday, 31 December 2011

Buy Nothing Year

I have decided to set myself a challenge for 2012, which is called Buy Nothing Year. Now obviously the thought of buying nothing at all is crazy, but the idea is to not buy any new (to me, as opposed to new releases) CDs, books or DVDs in the year.

Over Christmas I have been looking at a carrier bag full of CDs to be listened to, one whose contents have fluctuated over the year, but has stayed at pretty much the same level. And unless I address this, I’ll always be playing catch up. Some albums deserve to be listened to repeated times, and some take a few listens to fully appreciate them. Hopefully doing this will free up time to enjoy the albums I already have more. It’s also one of the reasons I have virtually stopped doing reviews and gigs for now, as I was wading through so much new music and so much of it was pretty awful. Listening to eight submissions takes up the time I could have listened to a good album. On top of this, there is similar pile of books and a smaller pile of DVDs that need attention too.

The other reason for doing this is the lack of space in the house to put more and more stuff.

I’ve no doubt I’ll find this difficult, but it’ll be an interesting experiment. The main difficulty will not be stopping buying new stuff, but avoiding record fairs and charity shops.

This has been partly inspired by the following:

The National Pop Strike

Buy Nothing Day

No Music Day

And this article here makes interesting reading in conjunction with this challenge.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Richmond Fontaine – Bullingdon Arms, Oxford 16/09/11

Empty Room Promotions have served up quite a treat tonight, bringing Portland, Oregon’s Richmond Fontaine to the back room of the Bully. They are here principally to promote their tenth studio album, The High Country, an album that on first listen seemed disappointing, but on repeated plays turns out to sneak up on you and be their best ever. This is quite an achievement for a band on their tenth album, more so when you realise it is more than a concept piece, rather a short story cut up and set to music. The album is set amongst the logging community in small town Oregon, and tells the tale of a secret love between the counter girl of an auto parts store and a mechanic. The weirdos of the community terrorise the young couple and their innocent ways. That this type of album should work so well will be no surprise to anyone familiar with their back catalogue, or indeed singer Willy Vlautin’s three novels.

Willy announces at the beginning that they are going to play the album in full, followed by a brief selection of their back catalogue. It helps that there is an audience of Uncut readers present to allow them to do such things. Deborah Kelley of The Damnations is here to reprise her vocals from the album, and to provide extra instrumentation. She seizes the initiative immediately, with her affecting spoken word opening piece, Inventory. The band run with this, on the haunting instrumental The Girl On The Logging Road and then launch into the gently ferocious The Chainsaw Sea. Angus King Tries To Leave The House swirls and kicks like a toy boat in high winds, disorientating wildly. They even pull off Driving Back To The Chainsaw Sea, the sound of a radio between retuned between awful country stations.

After a short break for beer, the band returns for a run through past favourites. In some aspects this merely accentuates the giant leap the band have made with The High Country, but it also shows they can be a great rollicking alt country bar band too, like a slightly defter Hold Steady. When they play Lonnie from the album We Used To Think The Highway Sounded Like A River, you remember what great things they have done previous to that great current album.

Secret Rivals – Make Do And Mend

As someone who has followed the Secret Rivals path with increasing interest, from the scratchy early recordings and collapsible gigs through to the point where they unleash their debut mini album, I was intrigued to see how they had further progressed. And it is a cracking record. I don’t think anyone saw this coming in the early days, not even myself who had picked up on how much better the band were getting with each release. The vocals are much more effective, Claudia’s lead vocals are much more assured, while Jay’s back up and incitingly harsh yelps are much better controlled than the awkward shrieks of old.

The music used to have the roughness of The Wedding Present, but now slots effortlessly among the new indie wave of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and their ilk, while still harking back to the likes of Bis.

If Secret Rivals can keep up the momentum they are currently creating, there is no reason they can’t be the next big thing out of Oxford. Not necessarily chartbound, but a rather nice position of indie credibility.

Make Do And Mend is out now on Kittiwake Records
Secret Rivals website is here

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Foxes! – The Panda Bear Song

Foxes! continue to shift shape, with Kayla taking on most of the lead vocals on this EP. The Panda Bear Song is quite ramshackle yet thoroughly catchy, a sweet piece of lo-fi pop. Alex Badamchi is an old favourite, quite oddly ethereal and insistent in turns. Sailors reminds me of Sophie Ellis Bextor’s pre fame band theaudience, it has those arch vocals and perfect pop melody. Boatswain follows and rounds off their EP in similar fashion.

The Panda Bear Song is out now on Elefant

Foxes! website is here

The Magic Lantern – A World In A Grain Of Sand

The Magic Lantern are a quite delightful little band. I can hear elements of King Creosote in their music, bits of Stornoway too and an overall genuinely lovely and bucolic feel, with gently parping brass abounding but in a non-intrusive fashion. They’re a band you could easily see fitting in at one of the events Fence Collective put on.

Cut From Stone burbles and flows like a babbling brook, while Laura’s Song is sad and maudlin. The music of Laura’s Song sighs with a heavy heart and elongated vocals stretching out every word. It’s a beautiful song, but not one to listen to when you’re feeling down, as it’ll pull on your emotions. The Ship That Washed Away floats along serenely before unexpectedly crashing on the rocks near the end, dissolving into a cacophonous cascade. Shine A Light On feels like a jaunty show tune, something like Neil Hannon might write, but complete with a reggae-tinged breakdown in the middle. Patriots has a raggle taggle Decemberists feel to it. There follows some more rather lovely tunes, nothing too odd about these, with The Magic Lantern seemingly settling down into a comfortable but not dull formula. Finally Romeo and Juliet (III) is a downbeat lament on a rather splendid album.

A World In A Grain Of Sand is out now on Hectic Eclectic Recordings

The Magic Lantern website is here

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pocketbooks - Promises, Promises

Pocketbooks are back with a new single Promises, Promises ahead of their second album Carousel, due in September. If you like sumptuous, pristine pop, then this is just the thing for you. It follows in a similar vein to the material on debut album Flight Paths, which is no bad thing considering how good an album that was. Emma sings this time, and if anything her vocals are getting even better and the melodies sweeter.

Promises, Promises is a free download available here
The album, Carousel, is out in September but their label Oddbox Records are shipping advance copies now. Order here

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A novel idea

I guess some of you may be wondering why the dearth of posts in recent months. Well, time is short for many reasons, but mainly because I've finally gotten around to doing more work on the draft novel I wrote as part of NaNoWriMo 2008. Work is going well and subject to a couple more read throughs and tweaks I think it's getting close to the point where I try and get it published. If anyone has any sage advice or helpful contacts in this area they would be much appreciated! Normal service will hopefully be resumed soon. Either that or I'll be sidetracked on the fanzine I've been collating work for. One way or the other I hope you will stick with me and keep reading the blog...

Airship – Kids

Kids, the second single from Airship sounds like Richard Hawley fronting an unashamedly over the top pop band. It’s a song that goes over the barricades and into the charts many times over, with a surging chorus and irresistible verses that can’t wait to be reacquainted with that chorus again. Here’s a song that the word effervescent was invented to describe.

Kids is out now on Play It Again Sam
The Airship website is here

Deportivo – Neighbourhood

Neighbourhood is the second single from West London band Deportivo. Despite the clunky clichéd lyrics and slightly plodding tune, Neighbourhood isn’t all bad, but only in a kind of Athlete excitement way. The DPPLGNGRS remix starts brilliantly with chiptune bleeping, thumping synth beat and zooming electronic car noises, which transform the song into something else entirely. The Arclite Productions remix doesn’t add a lot to the tune particularly, it tries its best and perks it up a fair bit, but the first remix is the one for me.

Neighbourhood is out now. Find Deportivo on Facebook here and Twitter here

Friday, 15 July 2011

Findlay Napier & The Bar Room Mountaineers – File Under Fiction

One thing about Findlay Napier, is he is dependable and has therefore delivered a solid album here. The title track is a suitable rousing opening and One For The Ditch is a closing time blues. You also get the cracking singles Raise A Glass and Valentine’s Day that I’ve gone on about before on here. There is also Spread Thin, which is an altogether more interesting thing, a bit of a quick swerve and something that goes from sounding like Arab Strap to a big old Del Amitri chorus. Fine stuff. Cut Me Off is a feisty fiddle led tune, while One For Me is a beautiful melancholic duet to close the album.

File Under Fiction is out now and available from Findlay's website

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Miss Geo - The Story

Miss Geo is one Abby Gutierrez from Newport, Rhode Island and The Story is her self released debut. It's a cracking piece of work, very much in the style of Juliana Hatfield, but without the neurotic aggression of said lady. While there may be nothing challenging about the music, it has to be said that oftentimes you don't need that and the pure cutesy melodies are worthy of drowning in.

Go have a listen at Miss Geo's website, which is here

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bourgeois Heroes – Ole/Hola

Bourgeois Heroes have a new single out. Ole/Hola is a neat little tune, unfussy and uncomplicated. Its natural home is somewhere between the fuzzy vibe of laid back Super Furry Animals and the twee sweetness of Belle and Sebastian. When You’re Dancing is a mantra like fuzzy disco tune, without being a dancer. It just seems made for swaying in a club. A neat little brace of fizzing pop.

Bourgeois Heroes website is here
Buy or listen to the single here

Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80 – From Africa With Fury: Rise

Firstly, a confession. I don’t know a terrible lot about African music. Aside from an appreciation of The Four Brothers and The Bhundu Boys in the eighties, and Amadou and Mariam more recently, it is fairly unchartered territory for me.

What I do know is Seun Kuti is the son of the renowned Fela Kuti, and his father was a previous leader of the band that plays on this album, Eqypt 80.

The album may only be seven tracks long, but most of the tracks clock in at about seven minutes, meaning plenty of value for money. African Soldier reminds me of something Pigbag might have ripped off back in the day, an odd reference point maybe, but remember I’m starting from a fairly blank canvas here. Generally guitars are sprightly, rhythms are bouncy and horns and squealing. From the lyrics I can make out, these are songs of the fight for freedom, the fight against oppression and corporations, and inspirational words to his fellow people.

Musically and lyrically Seun has won me over, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this as a good starting point for a foray into African music.

From Africa With Fury: Rise is out now on Because Music

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Medicine 8 – Mercury Injection / Rock Music Pays Off

The new one from acid house duo Medicine 8 shows off two disparate sides to their output. Mercury Injection is a futuristic electro babble with hi energy beats and robotic sensual vocal from tattoo artist Leticia La Bruja. It’s a right catchy piece of work, one that would have the less trendy of us attempting pathetic robot dancing in the club. The Hip House remix of Rock Music Pays Off features the idiosyncratic and immediately identifiable vocals of outsider artists Wesley Willis. The vocals take the form a Grammy Acceptance Speech Willis gave on Howard Stern’s show, bent and sliced out of shape. This is pushed forward by hi energy house, like Black Box used to make, along with funky Daft Punk squelches. Whatever you say about them, Medicine 8 know what’s catchy and danceable and have delivered two great slices of it on this, their first single in some time.

Mercury Injection / Rock Music Pays Off is out now on Trashmouth Records

The Medicine 8 facebook page is here

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Gorillaz – The Fall

Released to little fanfare here’s a new Gorillaz album. After the opening toodling intro of Phoner To Arizona we get Revolving Doors, a blissed out tune with a reggae vibe, yet not sound. Albarn’s plaintive vocals are present and correct and there’s and a mantra of the title which goes all through the tune. This itself is lovely, but I find myself not even noticing the next few tracks go by. And this is something that goes on through the rest of the album. Apparently this album was written by Damon (and let’s not keep up the cartoon façade) on his iPad during downtime on tour and boy it shows. It’s mostly half-baked and unfinished ideas. Some of the tracks you wonder if he hasn’t booted up the Bloom app, or something similar and randomly chucked items at the screen to make the tunes. I’ve always thought of Gorillaz as more of a singles than albums band, and this is the full proof, if it were still needed. This was originally released on vinyl as a special item for Record Store Day, and before that as a download to fan club members, which is quite appropriate given that it is something for completists only.

Maybe repeated listens would enable the charms of this album to become apparent to me. I somehow doubt it though. The other thing to take into account is my mere passing interest in Gorillaz, and their experimental side more so. But it still remains that this appears to be a mere ragbag of cast offs that wasn’t particularly worthy of a wider release.

Find Gorillaz multi-media extravaganza here

Monday, 2 May 2011

Not Made In China - Not Made In China EP

It’s not often you listen to a band and agree wholeheartedly with their own description of themselves, or previous press reviews, but in the case of Not Made In China you have a band who know their identity and make it clear to everyone else. The review description was The Smiths crossed with Paul Simon’s Graceland, while the band themselves note Vampire Weekend as one of their main inspirations. There is also more than a dash of twee influence here, with the cutesy female vocals reminiscent of The Sundays or even Talulah Gosh. The thing that sets them apart from the current slew of overly fey and twee bands is that they have evidently concentrated much more on the melodies than some affected knock kneed stance.

My favourite track is Retro Rejects, about the discarding of childhood toys. It has the twiddly white man take of the African sounding guitar line, great lyrics which include whole lists of toys and a nice attitude. If this sounds too much like I Love the 80s to you, then I’ve failed in my job of describing it. The rest of the EP is rather unassuming yet beautiful, and I can recommend you invest in a copy.

Not Made In China myspace is here and you can buy the EP here

Sunday, 1 May 2011

T.C. Folkpunk - T.C. Folkpunk

Folkpunk is certainly the name for it. The mini album kicks off with The Age Of Nefarious, a barrelling tune and the wordplay contained within is as good as the title. It has this cool trick of delaying the launch into the chorus, building up and up and up, before finally launching. The sneer and stance of Zero To Hero reminds me of the Clash, with insertions of twanged Duane Eddy style guitar. It collapses into a squawking, squealing end. Take A Look Around You is the nearest the album gets to pop, a straight forward clear melody and some words of advice. Feeling My Way Around In The Dark For You reminds me of Dylan at his best, just gone electric, harmonica wailing and having a whale of a time. She Has Everything is a more stripped back tune, but gritty nonetheless. Then we’re back onto rambunctious form with Instant Coffee Lifestyle. Whenever I Sink My Teeth Into You sees things stretch out, an almost joyous and devil may care climax to the album. It’s like the last track let’s really go for it, throw everything into it, and it comes off rather well.

You can buy the CD here and his website is here

Julius Way – The Slow Death Of Julius Way

Although Julius Way has been making music for years now, he now finds himself in the middle of a genre of music that is suddenly in vogue. Think Fleet Foxes, Stornoway, older Iron & Wine stuff and any of the alt folk pastoral artists. Recorded last year in Dartmoor it has certainly taken on it’s surrounding. It may not be a log cabin in the Catskills, but we have places of such beauty here too.

I Will Live leads you in gently to the album, before the joyous clattering and clinking of Jessie’s Yurt, when everything feels so alive. Cradle is a delightful surprise, awash with fuzzy effects to start with, which pop back in now and again. The effects free bits feel a bit fey in comparison, but it leaves you in anticipation of the hazier stuff. Friends is beautifully ethereal, the gorgeous voice of Bex Baxter interweaving with that of Julius Way wonderfully. Enemy goes all medieval on us, then The Dusk does remind me a lot of the aforementioned Stornoway, strong vocals and deft touch. There is a sense that the album is a bit too long at 13 tracks for this type of music to hold your attention, but when you persevere to final track Slow Death, where Bex Baxter is back with her heavenly voice, everything seems worthwhile.

Everything you want to know about Julius Way, plus streaming and album download are here

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Voluntary Butler Scheme – The Chevreul EP

The Voluntary Butler Scheme is, being Rob Jones alone, one of those mavericks that people love unreservedly, when in reality his output is wildly hit and miss. Songs like The BT Tower and The Eiffel Tower are absolute melodic gems, but like many artistes, he is prone to the noodling and avant garde. Unless you enjoy listening to abstract squiggles, this stuff is best left alone.

The EP employs a weird trick of starting with two versions of Do The Hand Jive rather than book-ending the record with them. Having them together merely accentuates how similar they are, although the Go Team remix has a tad more fizz. The tune itself is a weird one, and you can see why the Go Team have been asked to lend their hand to remixing. It’s very much their knock kneed little brother blinking in the bright lights as he steps onto the dancefloor, to their brash exuberant disco dancer. That said, it is interesting and repeated plays might throw it up as a right earworm. To The Height Of A Frisbee employs his cool trick of seemingly nonsensical rhymes and sharp dashes and changes of melodic direction to provide hooks a plenty. Satisfactory Substitute is one of his annoyances, employing well spoken samples to try and come off like the Avalanches, but falling flat and well short. DOPL rounds off the EP with an unsatisfactory pinging instrumental.

If only Jones would write more like Frisbee and his other gems and did less of the messing around, more people could come to love him.

The Chevreul EP is out now on Split Records
The Voluntary Butler Scheme myspace is here

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Your new favourite band is Pris

Pris could well be my new favourite band. They don’t have a single out, just a fascinating web presence and some top tunes. Here’s why you’ll love them too;

  1. They deploy the classic cool line up. That being a four piece, three girls with a bloke shoved away behind the drums.
  2. They always look like they are having ridiculous fun. Probably because they are.
  3. Their melodies course through the veins of their pop songs, before infiltrating your heart.
  4. They are DIY and beautifully so. Not in an ‘I can’t be arsed to learn to play my instrument way’, but in a ‘let’s have a crack at this ourselves’ way, and part of the fun is the hiccups along the way.
  5. Because if you love Kenickie, Shampoo, Voodoo Queens and their ilk, you’ll love them. Because you obviously have great taste.
  6. They want to kill all indie landfill bands, and leave us with a purely glamour filled pop world.
  7. Remember when the Manics were young and glam and proper dangerous? That’s Pris.

There you are, the magnificent seven reasons to love them. If you want one more, check out the video for Blue Tack Baby below or find them on Facebook or Myspace

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Go Team! – Rolling Blackouts

Recently I saw a documentary about New York in 1977. Crammed into an hour and a half was the emergence of disco, The Loft and Studio 54, hip hop, DJs and their street light hotwiring, punk and CBGBs, the Son of Sam serial killer, the blackout, the suburbs on fire and being looted, swingers clubs and chaotic mayoral elections. I’d wager this sensory overload is somewhat akin to an album by The Go! Team. As you’ll see from their third album, the appropriately named Rolling Blackouts, they were born for those times. Most of the stuff here could easily have been made then or soundtracked that documentary. For example Tornado sounds like a cut up blaxpoitation movie, with kids breakdancing outside the movie theatre and cops sirens blaring past, while Apollo Throwdown is like double dutching it around the floor. When the clouds part and some space is allowed in, such as on recent single Buy Nothing Day, it all makes perfect sense. When this happens the hundreds of disparate pieces gel together sweetly rather than elbowing each other for room. It does often feel like there is a tendency to throw everything into the melting pot and see what works, rather than pick and choose and use some quality control. An instance when they do take a step back on Yosemite Theme, things are spacious and less cluttered so they work much better. It’s beautifully panoramic and slow moving. There are good parts to this album, and a good band here, if only the producer or someone would step in with some good advice. One to cherry pick from.

Rolling Blackouts is out now on Memphis Industries

The Go Team! website is here

Monday, 21 February 2011

Cat Matador - The Address EP

Cat Matador release their second EP on the 14th March, and while some people will undoubtedly go crazy for this, it leaves me somewhat nonplussed. It has all the shimmering riffs and grandiose gestures you would hope for from a epic rock band, and a coy style to offset any unintended bombast. It's just that I can't help feel this has been done many times before, and much better. I'm sure they have it in them to produce something great, you can sense the promise in the band, but this isn't it...yet. It's also a tad frustrating, as there are bits I find myself getting really into, but then they don't amount to anything and I feel somewhat let down. I'll stick with it though, and you may well find me posting again later about how wrong my initial thoughts were. Stay tuned. Have a listen to the EP on their Soundcloud page though please, I know many of you will love this.

Cat Matador's soundcloud page is here

The Missing Season - The Missing Season EP

Here's the perfect thing ready for spring. The Missing Season are French exponents of dream pop, bliss pop, call it what you will. The stuff made by the likes of Beach House, but more specifically Midlake and Fleet Foxes. Rather than merely aping these bands though, it sounds like they are kindred spirits, taking bands like Grandaddy as their off beat starting point. The songs blend seamlessly into each other, which under other circumstances might not be the greatest recommendation, but with the type of music The Missing Season make, it is entirely the point, hitting the nail on the head, albeit very gently and with a soft hammer. The Missing Season have made an EP that is perfect for falling asleep to on a sun dappled veranda. It's a taster for an album, due later this spring. You can listen to the EP using the player below, and click through and download it for free should you enjoy it.

Findlay Napier and the Bar Room Mountaineers - Valentine's Day

Ok, so I may be late in posting this, but it's worth writing about nonetheless. If you were full of self pity and spite on the day of the lovers, yet still carried yourself with style and grace, this is the song for you. It's the Scottish equivalent of the Ben Folds Five track Song For The Dumped, in which the downtrodden fights back. There's a great knack to what Findlay does, writing tunes that could come across as MOR in lesser hands, but investing them with verve and vigour and more hooks than a cloakroom. With the aforementioned Mr Folds having lost his way slightly recently, it may well be time for Findlay to step up and take his place. The future of caustic radio friendly pop is in good hands.

Find Findlay on Facebook here. There's a handy player there to listen to the single.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Secret Rivals – Tonight Matthew…

Secret Rivals continue their progress with their new single Tonight Matthew… It builds on the foundations laid by previous releases, with a touch of Johnny Foreigner to this one. It has a cool, understated melody that bursts into life at points, before settling back down to a simmering intensity. It also evokes to me the less screamy/shouty side of Los Campesinos! So, while there may be nothing shockingly new about what Secret Rivals are doing, it’s a sound that is pleasing enough for us to welcome more tunes of theirs into our homes.

Tonight Matthew… is released on April 4th on Kittiwake Records

Find Secret Rivals here

The Tomatometers – Annie EP

If you’re looking for some fresh and exciting indie pop, something that sounds exhilarating and exuberant but also harks back to the glory days of Orange Juice and the more confident yet sweetly ramshackle indie bands, then you could do a lot worse than check out the new EP from The Tomatometers. Lead track Annie is especially a delight, while Cut Short is decidedly undecided as to its direction, but has a lovely languid vocal, akin to some of Graham Coxon’s solo stuff. Breathe In_Breathe Out is a gorgeous instrumental, it’s woozy shimmers bringing to mind Pale Saints Kinky Love. An acoustic version of You Don’t Know Us rounds off the EP, showing that an acoustic guitar and an open heart is sometimes all you need. The EP comes very recommended, and you can listen to it in the Bandcamp player below.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Momeraths – Your Winter Bones EP

Remember the fresh faced days of The Beautiful South, when Welcome To was just out and they were still trading off the goodwill of the dying embers of The Housemartins? Those were memorable days, before the time when every home had Carry On Up The Charts and the flashes of brilliance started to come few and far between.

This is what The Momeraths most remind me of on their latest EP. I’m not for a minute suggesting that this is the path laid out for them, just that they have the great qualities of the early days of a much maligned band. Their new EP kicks off with Chopped Onions, a chirpy indie duet. The Observer is an end of the pier, empty ballroom, loss filled waltz. Itchy Feet is a sweet one, with the world’s first non-annoying glockenspiel. Last Time Around is perhaps the best tune, reflective and slightly mournful, a bit reminiscent of Jens Lekman.

The Momeraths Bandcamp is here. You can listen to the EP there and buy it too.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Lovely Eggs – Cob Dominos

Christ I love The Lovely Eggs. The world needs more Lovely Eggs. The world doesn’t need any more Lovely Eggs. This one is so imperfectly perfect, that they are all we’ll ever need. Take the lead single from this, their second album. Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It) is a fantastic pop song by anyone’s standards, with it’s throbbing rhythm and infectious melody and absurdist lyrics. The lyrics concern a fascinating parade of oddball characters, with strange features such as dog dirt eyes, wheelchair hearts and sausage roll thumbs. Somewhat perfectly, the latter is played by John Shuttleworth in the video. They’re also not above some short pieces to dispense with some puerile humour. See the alley-rhyming Muhammed Ali And All His Friends, the rage laden People Are Twats and the freakily twisted ending to Alphabet Song.

Another thing I love is the way they’re multi-faceted and not afraid to show all sides to their personalities. So there are funny songs, plain weird songs, sweet songs, serious songs, beautiful songs, and type of song you want. There is a wonderful kookiness about them which, having met the band, is in no way effected. It just makes it all the more endearing.

Really, just trust me on this one. Go and get this now from Cherryade Music and while you’re at it pick up the discount bundle that includes their debut If You Were Fruit. You won’t be disappointed. It’s the kick up the arse pop music needs.

Cob Dominos is released by Cherryade Records on February 14th. Get it here.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Bruce Springsteen - The Promise

Another catch up piece. The Promise actually came out in November and most of you probably know all about it by now. However, despite that and the fact that it's by a world recognised artist, I thought it was worth a mention, due to the sheer quality of the material.
What you have is a double CD of 21 songs recorded around the time of Darkness On The Edge Of Town, but which didn't make the cut. Some have surfaced in different forms since, but some have been left buried for years. To think that while recording the follow up to the crossover album Born To Run, the record company allowed him to record forty songs, of which only ten made the final album and that there would be three years between the two albums is unthinkable nowadays, but the correct decision in hindsight. Presumably virtually no artists starting out nowadays will have the longevity that Springsteen has enjoyed. For now, simply take pleasure in the fact that Bruce has now seen fit to dust these songs down and give them the airing they deserve. That they were never intended as a complete album, makes the way they gel an even greater surprise and delight.

The Promise is out now on Columbia
Bruce's website is here

The Humdrum Express – Elevation Of Trivia

Another new album appears from mercurial singer songwriter The Humdrum Express. It starting with Keepin’ Score, in which he goes a bit Frank Turner on us, setting the world to rights. Other tracks like What A Carry On! have an eerie new wave vibe, this one specifically a bit reminiscent of Wire or Tubeway Army. While two contrasting bands in many ways, the comparison works. A lot of this is due to the production on the album, which has the vocals sound like they have an odd tunnelling echo effect on them. Two’s Company is much better with the effect lifted. The New Doctor Who is reflective and a bit Billy Bragg, while Battle Of The Blands side swipes interminable band competitions, populated by run of the mill acts doing uninspired covers.

There’s an element of Half Man Half Biscuit’s inspired wit as he takes pot shots at message board menaces (Message Board Hooligan) and in part armchair patriot football fans and other types (What You See). Rather than using straight in your face humour though, it’s down with a lightness of touch, merely pointing out the ridiculous, and letting you make up your own mind on things. The best is saved until last with Moral High Ground. In a volte face, he chucks out I, Ludicrous style pithy observations over a skittering industrial electro-lite beat. The vocals being nice and high in the mix you find yourself knodding in agreement at the remarks and being absorbed by the cracking beats.

Elevation Of Trivia is self released and available from The Humdrum Express website