Friday, 24 June 2011

Caravage – Don't Be Yourself * Single of the day * release date 21/6/2011

Yep, gimme a real guitar led pop track and I'm happy. Don't Be Yourself opens with a great lead guitar line that catches your attention and fortunately the rest of the song manages to live up to it.

Caravage are a four piece from Grenoble, France and apart from that fact I've got precious little information about them. I daren't even hazard a guess at the line up since ReverbNation and MySpace have different rhythm sections listed.

Best then to just let the music speak for itself on this one, it does a good job.

Review Index

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Jonny Cola & The A-Grades – Postcode Wars * Single of the day * release date 20/6/2011

I've listened to Postcode Wars probably a dozen times now and the first verse still makes me wonder what the hell I'm listening to. As soon as Jonny Cola & The A-Grades get into their stride it becomes obvious that they have absorbed and understood pretty much everything that is best about British music and are using it to great effect.

There are hints of Pulp and flickers of Blur, both of whom built on some great British pop traditions, however Jonny Cola & The A-Grades have evolved it a bit further to really produce a sound of their own.

Review Index

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dan Mangan – Sold * Single of the day * release date 20/6/2011

Sold is fine skiffling guitar song from Dan Mangan who carries you along with him over building vocal bridges and through contrasting changes in tempo and feel.

Especially pleasing is the use of a lagging harmony which conveys a real sense of weariness before the line 'tired of sleeping with the light on'.

If you're making the trip to Glastonbury this year Dan will be playing the Other Stage between 11:00-11:35 on Sunday morning, so no long lay in if you want to catch him. Don't worry though if you haven't got a ticket, he'll be back for a few more UK dates in September.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

About Group – Don't Worry * Single of the day * release date 20/6/2011

If the vocals on Don't Worry sound familiar don't worry because the singer of About Group is Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip. Now given that One Life Stand by Hot Chip was in my top 3 favourite singles of 2009 Alexis has an unfair advantage because as soon as I heard his distinctive tones my ears pricked up like a dog hearing a tin being opened at dinner time.

Don’t Worry is a completely different style, but still a fantastic song, that really does take me to a different place where I'm more relaxed, yet resigned to the fact that what is - is. As such About Group have rewarded me for my canine hearing by delivering exactly what they say on the tin.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Miserable Rich – Anything's Possible * Single of the day * release date 19/6/2011

The Miserable Rich are a chamber pop band based in Brighton. There is no denying the influence of the chamber orchestra on their sound, going one step further than just the odd violin or cello in the band, The Miserable Rich are using classical instrumentation as the central pillar of Anything's Possible and this gives the track a really lush rich sound which underpins a great song.

The real trick is that this is undeniably a pop song and that's what makes the track sound out of the ordinary. Had this not been the case the feel would be retro, which Anything's Possible certainly is not and The Miserable Rich would have missed the target. As it is they have hit the bullseye.

Review Index

Friday, 17 June 2011

Alex Hulme – There Was A Boy * Single of the day * Release date 13/6/2011

It is one of the hazards of listening to so much music every week that occasionally I get so blinkered into looking for something with an edge that I can ignore a good song that's well performed. Fortunately because I keep listening to my short list throughout the week I frequently relent.

There Was A Boy is one such case in point. Alex Hulme has produced a very pleasing and memorable track by putting across a good song in a very straight forward manner. The more I've listened to it the more I've enjoyed it and really that is the essence of good music.

Review Index

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Satellite Stories – Family * Single of the day * release date 14/6/2011

Family is bouncy indie pop from Finnish foursome Satellite Stories. Built over a jangly guitar base, which they do very well, the lyrics are basically life plans. I'm guessing that vocalist Esa will be incommunicado on the 15th of April 2023 (assuming it was he who set this date).

Where Satellite Stories make great capital from their sound groundwork and catchy chorus is in the arrangement. Just when you get used to where the song is going they start exploring it from slightly different angles. Thus ensuring it retains interest through to a satisfying conclusion.

Review Index

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Raveonettes – Apparitions * Single of the day * release date 13/6/2011

There's a couple of things that I'm a real sucker for; moody, melancholic guitar (a particular favorite example is I'm In Love With A German Film Star by The Passions) and also a female vocal used as relief against a track with a predominantly male vocal. Apparitions contains both of these elements and so plays somewhat to my weaknesses. Add to that a really ominous atmosphere created by some clever production and this song really was a shoe in.

Overall The Raveonettes have produced what I would call an experience track with Apparitions, it's not about just listening, it's about being absorbed into a feeling. Really clever stuff.

Review Index

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Burlap To Cashmere – Build A Wall * Single of the day * release date 12/6/2011

The first words I thought of when I heard Build A Wall was that it was an honest song. It took me a little while to work out why that was the feeling I got. Certainly the pace of the track and the sense of urgency with which the lyrics are delivered created the feeling that I was listening to free flowing thought rather than a collection of words contrived to fit the music.

Of course I then went to Burlap To Cashmere's website to find out some more background and found that their new self-titled album, including Build A Wall, was recorded 'organically' with not even a click track being used. Perhaps it is this approach to recording that has resulted in an inferred honesty to the song when compared to music produced with auto tune and other technologies.

The album Burlap To Cashmere is released on the 19th of July.

Review Index

Monday, 13 June 2011

Annah Mac – Celia * Single of the day * release date 12/6/2011

Celia is a sweet, bouncy pop track with a sing along chorus from New Zealand songstress Annah Mac. Definitely a song you can enjoy like a cool breeze on a hot summers day.

Falling in the something you don't see often category, Annah actually has the chords and lyrics to some of her songs on her facebook page. In my opinion that's a great way to keep control of her music. Let's face it, if the artist doesn't do it themselves then someone else will, at least this way Annah's fans get to feel like it's a gift from her. I've attached a link if you fancy strumming along.

Review Index

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Miss Jacobs – Lisa Williams release date * Single of the day * 7/6/2011

To give you a grasp of the lyrics, if you don't know who she is (I didn't), Lisa Williams is an American psychic medium. Miss Jacobs on the other hand is a talented Norwegian singer and songwriter addressing those really important questions about life after death, like are spirits lurking around us all the time having a laugh at our personal habits or instigating bizarre practical jokes.

Lisa Williams (the song obviously, because I don't know about the person) is intelligent, witty, great fun, memorable and enjoyable to listen to. Miss Jacobs shows how good pop can be when it's clever without being pretentious, we could do with more of it.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Gentle Mystics – Spiralling Breeze * Single of the day * release date 6/6/2011

I like ambition in a track, especially when it's a début single. Gentle Mystics somehow manage to make a journey in Spiralling Breeze from Tango to slow Ska, with a few other styles thrown in along the way. Definitely a different sound and at over 6 minutes long they're not afraid to explore it, which I guess shows the benefit of being able to fully utilise a 9 piece band.

Given that they list as many genres as members on their facebook page when Gentle Mystics release they're album later this year I suspect it may be a spotters guide to musical styles. If they interweave them as successfully as they have on Spiralling Breeze it should be fun.

Review Index

Fatty Gets A Stylist – Are You Ready ? Release date 5/6/2011

Fatty Gets A Stylist and wins the New York Lottery. Not quite accurate but Are You Ready ? is being used for adverts for the New York Lottery giving some welcome publicity to the Aussie duo ahead of their self-titled album due for release on the 1st of July.

Are You Ready ? has all the hallmarks of a great commercial song, instantly accessible, catchy but at the same time stands up to repeated listening. It could also, with slightly different production values, fit into any decade since the sixties, giving it a universal appeal. Fatty Gets A Stylist even manage to make the name Gary sound enigmatic, which ticks a box I wasn't previously aware of in popular music.

Review Index

Friday, 10 June 2011

ALB (feat. The Shoes) – Golden Chains * Single of the day * release date 6/6/2011

Golden Chains has some very interesting elements to it's production, in parts it's almost an advert for recycling old electronics. Certainly a hook that sounds like it's played on an eighties cassio keyboard with run down batteries is a new one on me. The worn down blipping does sound a bit odd but interestingly after the second or third listen you look forward to it, which let's face it, is the job of a good hook.

That's not to take away from the song which, once it gets nicely into stride, carries you along to a quite uplifting chorus. Golden Chains is the lead track on ALB's new four track E.P. I Beg For A Summer and as a fan of Tennis and Cricket I really can understand that sentiment at this time of year. 

Review Index

Silver Street – Millionaire (You Make Me Feel) release date 6/6/2011

I'm reviewing Millionaire(You Make Me Feel) because it shows the egalitarian nature of the digital platform for releasing singles. I've quite enjoyed the track this week and as such it made my shortlist but it wasn't in my first choices to review. Then I noticed it had 5 views (11 at time of writing) on YouTube and Silver Street are pretty much invisible to Google. No facebook, no twitter they've just recorded and released it.

The one nod to any marketing is a the video done by their friends Naz, Paz and Aaz. Because of that I listened to it and can tell you what a pleasant experience it was. That's the great equalizer of the digital marketplace, release a single, stick it on You Tube and there's half a chance some saddo like me will listen and review it. Just a black screen with the track playing over it will do, as long as it's titled and tagged I'll find it.

Review Index

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Rock In Your Pocket – Doubtbox * Single of the day * release date 6/6/2011

Doubtbox is a nice little rocker from Bristol trio Rock In Your Pocket. Lead singer Charlie Beddoes starts off sounding soft and inviting but there was a clue in the opening few rasping bass notes where Doubtbox were going to go. That's right, hit 'em all with the big power riff, that's the sort of counter punching good rock music needs.

Sorry, but from that point onwards I was hooked and the way that Rock In Your Pocket go from all out playing to quietly menacing just added to my glee (not Glee, for there is quite enough of that). Perfect late night driving music, dark, but it'll keep you awake.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Thomas Tantrum – Hot Hot Summer * Single of the day * release date 5/6/2011

Hot Hot Summer is a great song with an amazingly catchy chorus and that is reason enough to make it a single of the day. However there is one important element that really makes Thomas Tantrum sound unique and that is the vocals of Megan Thomas. Not only is her voice distinctive but she also manages to create a frisson with the music that builds a real air of electricity into the track.

Hot Hot Summer is the latest single to be release from Thomas Tantrum's imminent second album Mad By Moonlight which is due for release on Sunday (12th of June) and also includes the equally brilliant single Sleep. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

GoGoBot – Do You Remember ? * Single of the day * release date 5/6/2011

GoGoBot are the first band to have a second single of the day and they thoroughly deserve it because Do You Remember ? is a genuine anthemic footstomper. The most impressive attribute that GoGoBot have, apart from producing memorable hooks and choruses, is that you can tell they're the same band that recorded First Class Fool but Do You Remember? has a distinctly different vibe and feel.

GoGoBot are confirmed for at least 5 festivals this summer (link to their gig page below), they definitely have a big enough sound to fill outdoor arenas, so they should be in their element. Then there are still another three singles to come this year, can't wait!

Review Index

Monday, 6 June 2011

Found – Anti Climb Paint * Single of the day * release date 5/6/2011

Anti Climb Paint is a tremendous lyric led song with a straight forward guitar backing, excepting a bit of electronic in the last third, in the build up towards the end. The use of anti climb paint as a romantic allegory is genius in itself and Found have managed to keep that idea central to the overall frustrated feel of the track.

I've also added a link to the Ziggy bloopers video, showing how easy it is to miss the intro when you're miming, similar to a few famous Top Of The Pops examples. Anti Climb Paint is taken from Found's album factorycraft which was released in March.

Review Index

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Mini Mansions – Monk * Single of the day * release date 30/5/2011

Mini Mansions are Zach Dawes, Tyler Parkford and Michael Shuman, who plays bass for Queens Of The Stone Age, as did Alain Johannes, who was single of the day with Return To You a couple of weeks ago. I like to make connections, which is why I like Monk, a track so seamless that it's impossible to see the joins.

Each element arises as if it has been there forever, perfectly formed and waiting to be played. There's so much subtlety in the production and writing that pointing out any individual aspect is to miss the point of why Monk sounds so good,, it is whole, complete and entirely satisfying.

Review Index

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Noemi – Ça Brûle * Single of the day * release date 30/5/2011

The first single of the day that doesn't have English lyrics Ça Brûle has an overall feel that made it impossible to ignore. Of course French is possibly the most lyrical language so that's not particularly a barrier and the way Noemi presents the song lessens my requirement to know the meaning of the words.

I'm sure Noemi won't mind a comparison to Kate Bush in her vocal style and sound. In fact there is a rather good clip of her covering Army Dreamers, a link is attached, together with a link to the acoustic version of Ça Brûle, which if anything is even more gorgeous.

Ça Brûle is the lead track of the Noemi E.P.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Lovely Eggs – Fuck It * Single of the day * release date 30/5/2011

When looking up the new releases for the week there are occasionally song titles or artists names that you really hope won't make a connection with you. The reason is simply that you are unsure how printing them will be perceived.

Even more rarely, at least I think this is the first time, the track turns out to be really good and you just have to say Fuck It because The Lovely Eggs have produced a song that is just too good to ignore. That sums up the song really. There comes a point when you are so busy trying to calculate every variable or worrying about things that ultimately you can do nothing about that you just have to say Fuck It and get on.

Thanks To The Lovely Eggs I feel just a little bit more liberated than I did 5 minutes ago.

Review Index

Thursday, 2 June 2011

To Kill A King – Fictional State * Single of the day * release date 29/5/2011

Fictional State is the impressive début single of London band To Kill A King. Starting off as a folk rock ramble it quickly introduces harmonies and a fuller backing to establish the fact that it's going to be a bit richer than that.

From there the sound builds to a mid-song crescendo before moving back to basics, always keeping the lyrics and sentiment as the focus of the track. One more surprise is left for the end though which leaves you feeling a sense of completion.

Great video too, which took me a couple of viewings to get but well worth the effort. So to sum up - all round brilliance.

Review Index

Gomez – Options release date 29/5/2011

Options starts simply but there is a temendous amount of instrumentation and production on this track. The basic song is absolutely terriffic and eminantly hummable with the layered sound and horns enhancing it rather than getting in the way.

Gomez wrote the album Whatever's On Your Mind, for which Options is the precursor, by the band members individually submitting ideas via internet to a central hub for each other to modify. It sounds like a completely horrendous method of doing things but it has certainly worked on Options.

The rest of the album is released on the 6th of June in the UK and the 21st of June in the U.S. 

Review Index

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Cosmo Jarvis – Sure As Hell Not Jesus * Single of the day * release date 29/5/2011

Sure As Hell Not Jesus is one of those absolutely complete songs that is perfectly pitched, there is nothing more that could be added or taken away to enhance the listening experience. Cosmo Jarvis has a remarkable precision about his work.

Clever and intriguing lyrics, with a melody line that keeps you hooked until the rousing chorus lifts off, followed up by some fantastic guitar licks. Every time I hear the track there are new nuances to discover.

Throwing in the video, also a Cosmo creation, completes a package that's satirical and intelligent enough to be compared with early 10cc and I don't throw that compliment around lightly. 

Review Index

Funeral Suits – Colour Fade release date 29/5/2011

Colour Fade could best be described as a reflective rock track and Funeral Suits have created a piece of music that is undoubtedly pleasurable to listen to.

The vocals are perfectly matched to the mood of the track but I have absolutely no idea what they mean. This isn't particularly a criticism, the snippets of lyric that do penetrate the higher regions of the brain enhance the feeling of the song and are therefore performing the exact function they are meant to.

Add to that the structure of the song, which contains verses but no repeated chorus, and it becomes obvious that Funeral Suits are producing music with a bit of thought and without too much regard to convention. That much I do understand and I like it. 

Review Index

Ava Takes A Walk – Loose Lips Sink Ships release date 27/5/2011

Loose Lips Sink Ships is an interesting electro swing single by Ava Takes A Walk and is a great illustration of how crossover genres can seduce a listener.

For starters the form of the swing and jazz style is instantly accessible, simply because it's so established in the psyche, therefore any tune with those structues as a base will always resonate. Add the techno elements to freshen the sound up and it becomes familiar yet new.

What Ava does really well though is to drape a lyric on this framework that is modern and a bit more risqué than a song from the 30's or 40's and that gives the track the bit of bite it needs.

Review Index

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sergeant Buzfuz – Danny's Room * Single of the day * release date 27/5/2011

Danny's Room is a fantastic storytelling song by Sergeant Buzfuz, sometime group, sometime individual (Joe Murphy), clearly the former in this instance.

They are described on their facebook page as urbanfolkmuzic and I can't put it better than that. The lyrics are modern and vivid, the more I listen to the song the clearer the picture it builds and being set to a folk backing just throws the images into sharper relief.

It's also a joy to find a band who have an extensive website, including answers from the band to thoses great Smash Hits questions like “favourite biscuit” and “favourite Dr. Who”. Priceless.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Big Fox – Saturday * Single of the day * release date 25/5/2011

Saturday is a lovely gentle pop ballad and also the début single of Charlotta Perers a.k.a. Big Fox released as a double A-side with Cut You Out which is also an enjoyable track.

Charlotta, from Malmö in Sweden, writes sings and plays all the instruments on Saturday as well as arranging and producing it. The result is gorgeously soft whilst also managing to sound crisp and well focussed at the same time.

The sentiments of the song are also easy to identify with, at least for me, I spent Saturday evening compiling the new release list, maybe I should take up origami.

Review Index

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ki:Theory – Holiday Heart * Single of the day * release date 24/5/2011

There is a fantastically simple and lo-fi keyboard intro to Holiday Heart which belies the incredible sophistication of its production. The track builds in layers as it progresses becoming increasingly richer in sounds before taking you back to simplicity before building again.

Ki:Theory is the solo moniker of producer Joel Burleson who has remixed Daft Punk and Kings Of Leon as well as others.

Holiday Heart is available for free download from the Ki:Theory website (link attached). In fact the entire original catalogue of Ki:Theory is available on the site and there's a link to make donations through paypal to show your appreciation.

Review Index

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Serenades – Birds * Single of the day * Release date 23/5/2011

Serenades are a Swedish duo formed by Mark Krunegård (former lead singer of Laasko) and Adam Olenius (of Shout Out Louds) and Birds is their début release.

The intro of Birds, warm and dynamic strings over a drum beat, make the promise that this is going to be a classically lush pop song and the rest of the track doesn't disappoint.

The harmonies on the vocals are perfection and the arrangement ebbs and flows enough to ensure there's never a dull moment. This is a song that is best listened to lying on your back looking at a sunny sky with little white clouds, it just has that natural feel.

Birds is available as a free download from the Serenades website (link attached).

Review Index

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Pierces – Glorious * Single of the day * release date 22/5/2011

Glorious was originally released by Levy in 2007 and The Pierces have achieved both vital elements required for a good remake. Firstly the original track is relatively unknown, so they're bringing it to most peoples ears for the first time. Secondly they have found something within the song to build on and take it to another level. The best historic example of this is the Harry Nilsson arrangement of Without You, to the extent that Mariah Carey et al are covering the Nilsson release and not the Badfinger original, which otherwise would have remained an obscure album track.

With glorious harmonies and a great arrangement The Pierces are getting a song that deserves to be listened to heard. If you would like to see what I mean a link to the Levy original is attached.

Review Index

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Young Rebel Set – Lion's Mouth * Single of the day * release date 22/5/2011

Songs don't need a narrative as much as films, in fact they don't need a plot at all, but I do quite enjoy it when they do. Lion's Mouth lyrically has that folk storytelling element combined with a rock backing complete with twangy lead guitar all of which keep you hooked.

If I told you that Young Rebel Set's influences are Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Clash and The Pogues you probably wouldn't be surprised, elements of all of them can be found in Lion's Mouth, without sounding particularly derivative of any of them.

Young Rebel Set are from Stockton-on-Tees and Lion's Mouth is the opening track to their début album Curse Our Love which was released on the 25th of April.

Review Index

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Irrationals – Worthy Girl * Single of the day * release date 22/5/2011

Worthy Girl is a truly interesting track. Finnish band The Irrationals' combination of instrumentation, which includes saxophone and flute along with guitars and drums gives a lot of scope to vary their sound. However it is the arrangement, especially at the start of the track, that really grabs the ear. Add rapping to this mix and you lose count of the number of genres being crossed.

The Worthy Girl video is also equally enjoyable and explains the bands longer name Gabro & Frank and the Irrationals. Frank, by the way is Tyko Haapala a.k.a Tykopaatti, who has already released a couple of solo albums. The Irrationals début album Hold Your Horses is due for release on the 31st of August.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Shona Foster – Bad Intentions * Single of the day * release date 22/5/2011

Piano, bass and finger clicks build up the tension in the intro to Bad Intentions until Shona Foster starts confiding what you feel are her innermost thoughts, such are the intense whispered vocals.

The tension doesn't really let off in the chorus but Shona intensifies the mood. That's the reason this track is so absorbing, it forces you listen intently, like staring at an intricate flower, allowing the listener to engage fully with the track.

Bad Intentions is included on Shona Foster's début album The Moon & You released earlier this year.

Review Index

Monday, 23 May 2011

Gruff Rhys – Honey All Over * Single of the day * release date 22/5/2011

Honey All Over is an accurate description, the sound Gruff Rhys achieves on this track is about as sweet as it gets. It wouldn't be unfair to liken the production to Brian Wilson's achievments on Pet Sounds or perhaps even Smile, because comparisons with a genius are justified.

The song is fantastic in its own right regardless of the arrangement, but it is a perfect fit with the production values. This marriage made in heaven makes the track so rich and lush, without ever sounding overcluttered, that you never want it to end.

Honey All Over comes from Gruff Rhys's latest album Hotel Shampoo, which was released in February.

Rock Mafia – Fly Or Die * Single of the day * release date 17/5/2011

The first thing that strikes you about Fly Or Die, apart from the immensely catchy tune and phrasing , is the perfect production on the track. This is perhaps unsurprising given that Rock Mafia have been responsible for co-writing and producing recent hits for Miley Cyrus and others.

There is a great rhythm behind this track but it's not overstated. There's a lot of groundwork done by the drums and especially in the sliding bass line, enabling the guitar to augment the vocals and allowing them to take centre stage. Sounds easy, but it's hard to get as right as this.

Review Index 

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Odran Trümmel And The Boys from Louishill – Rabid Dogs * Single of the day * release date 17/5/2011

Rabid Dogs is definitely a track that I would recommend you listen to before you watch the video. It's not that the video isn't good, quite the opposite, it's a great video. The reason is that, for me personally, the visuals distract me from how brilliant the song is. The bonus is when you do watch the video it's like a completely new experience, it's double the fun.

Odran Trümmel And The Boys From Louishill have produced a fantastic song that's basically in three distinct movements, progressing from pop to rock. The common thread tying it all together is the use of prominent bass lines which culminate in a rock out at the end. Tremendous.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Alain Johannes – Return To You * Single of the day * release date 16/5/11

Return To You is a deceptively simple sounding song that just insists you listen to it. The instrumentation is about as simple as you can get too, Alain Johannes is playing a cigarbox guitar (that's right, it's a guitar made from a cigar box).

The lyrics are beautiful and the sincerity in them is evident. This isn't just a love song, it captures the bitter-sweet feelings involved with the emotion perfectly, it leaves you feeling both uplifted but also a little bit sad, love is wonderful but it hurts.

If you haven't heard of Alain it's quite probable that you've still heard him, having played with Queens Of The Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures as well as many others.

The album on which Return To You appears, Spark, is Alain Johannes' solo début and is due for release on the 30th May.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Dandies – Battle Cry * Single of the day * release date 15/5/2011

Going back to the heart of rock Battle Cry centres and builds around its riff, which certainly used to work well for the Stones, of course a good riff does not a good song make. So it's a bonus for us that The Dandies have managed to find a chorus to rival the guitar for attention. The result is the real deal, a proper, straight-up rocker.

The Dandies are currently located in London but originate from the States and Switzerland. The first line of their bio reads that they are 'poised to bring the swagger back to rock'n'roll'. As such this début single is definitely an appropriate Battle Cry (I'm really not very good at puns).

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Solar Taxi – The Fool * Single of the day * release date 13/5/2011

The Fool is on Solar Taxi's E.P. She Dies With Beautiful Teeth and is certainly the most electronic track on the record. From the opening drum beats and sequencer like keyboard into there's no doubt what route The Fool is going down and is doesn't disappoint. What impresses is that the path we are led alongs littered with lovely vocal hooks and enclosed is an engaging production.

The rest of the E.P. highlights the versatility of this Waterford quartet. The track Peachy Peach is towards the rock end of the spectrum whilst Glass Hearts mixes it up a bit and White Lights is acoustic. If early releases define a bands sound it's heartening that Solar Taxi have left plenty of room for a few twists and turns.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gavin Friday – Able * Single of the day * Release date 15/5/2011

It's always pleasing to come across a song that keeps giving you more every time you hear it.

After the first couple of listens Able assumes that quality of being eternal and timeless, but at the same time not entirely sounding familiar. In addition the combination of lyrical maturity and atmospheric composition make the track a real gem.

Able is taken from the album 'catholic' (note the lack of capitalisation) which was released on the 7th of May and is the result of Gavin Friday's return to solo studio work after some years of film soundtracks and other projects. And what a welcome return it is. 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Art Brut – Lost Weekend * Single of the day * release date 15/5/2011

Starting with a rocking guitar riff Lost Weekend starts off promising a rollicking romp, but the twist is a supremely reserved hushed vocal producing an unexpected and wonderful contrast.

The first person stream of consciousness lyrics also heighten the mood of the song and build up a vivid picture of events.

By some strange coincidence though Lost Weekend isn't the only single released this week to insert a few bars of satisfaction into the mix (Sarah McLoud uses it on Rock That Spring), what are the odds ?

Finishing it off, to my taste at least, is a terrifically loose and unrestrained guitar solo. Lost Weekend is the first single from Art Brut's third album Brilliant ! Tragic ! , which is due for release on the 23rd of May. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Strange Death Of Liberal England – Come On You Young Philosophers! * Single of the day * release date 15/5/2011

Given the recent local election results I wonder if The Strange Death Of Liberal England knew how prescient their name was going to be when they formed in 2005. They were actually named after a 1935 book about the decline of the Liberal Party.

Come On You Young Philosophers! uses a racing drum beat interspersed with instrumental stabs to create a real feeling of atmosphere heightened by a brass led middle eight. This all leads us to the rousing chorus where the challenge to the young philosophers in question is thrown down.

In an unusual marketing move The Strange Death Of Liberal England have set a challenge to their fans to find treasure, clues to which are included in the video.

Ra Ra Riot – Too Dramatic * Single of the day * release date 8/5/2011

Starting with lovely string tones Too Dramatic promises to be perfectly dramatic. It's not new to include classical instrumentation as an integral sound in a rock band, ELO did it incredibly successfully over 40 years ago, however the approach is so rare that it sounds extraordinary when it is done and Ra Ra Riot do it well.

The benefit is that the orchestration feels a complete part of the songs creation rather than being added to augment or modify the production.

Too Dramatic is taken from Ra Ra Riot's new album, The Orchard, the European release of which has been delayed by the bands departure from the V2 label. Happily though it will be available this side of the pond on the 15th of May for download and the 23rd of May on CD.

Review Index 

Saturday, 14 May 2011

All Mankind – Break The Spell * Single of the day * release date 9/5/2011

Break The Spell is the first single from All Mankind's new album, Simple Desire and the Aussie band are showing good form on this track.

Terrific keyboard riff intro moving into a great vocal but it's the chorus where it really builds into something special. It's almost two movements, anthemic rock which resolves itself only to be superseded by the floaty 'only love survives' lament.

Having played 500 gigs over the last 3 years, it's no surprise to find All Mankind on tour in the UK at the moment. Dates can be found through the attached link. 

Friday, 13 May 2011

Studio Killers – Ode To The Bouncer * Single of the day * release date 9/5/2011

Great début single from the mysterious Studio Killers who go by the monikers Goldie Foxx, Dyna Mink and lead vocalist Cherry.

Ode To The Bouncer starts off by playing its trump card, the catchy and infectious chorus, but don't be fooled because it follows up with more aces. This is electro-pop that’s on a mission to win a grand slam. Studio Killers lay down a pulsing track on which hangs cuttingly sardonic and witty verses.

The vocals actually portray and accentuate the feeling in the words rather than just perform them. To add the final trick is a video that is not just engaging but possesses pathos in spades and preserves the anonymity of this elusive band. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Keren Ann – My Name Is Trouble * Single of the day * release date 8/5/2011

It's very unusual for me to be so enthused about a song with over a quarter of a million views on YouTube. Not because I have an anti popularity bias, but it just tends to be stuff that’s a bit over-hyped and generic. However, the first time I heard My Name Is Trouble it stood out as an truly amazing track.

The song itself is fantastic, but it's the purity and clarity of Keren Ann's voice that keeps me enthralled. To complete the mix is a production that does a great job of delicately embellishing a song and vocal performance that could so easily be overwhelmed and spoilt.

My Name Is Trouble is from Keren Ann's sixth album 101.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Dead Shyre – Never Missed A Note * Single of the day * release date 4/5/2011

Dead Shyre are three brothers from Toronto, Ali, Hsane and Zameer Rizvi and Never Missed A Note is their début release, although Zameer has an established solo career.

The first thing that grabs you is the strum pattern, which injects an irresistible momentum into Never Miss A Note which carries you through the song. A similar effect to that achieved by the mix of Mrs. Robinson peculiar to The Graduate where the guitar represents the engine of Dustin Hoffman's Alfa Romeo Duetto.

In addition the almost hushed vocal performance compared to the impassioned chorus creates a great contrast in the track. Never Missed A Note is available for free download from Dead Shyre's soundcloud page (link attached).

Review Index

You, Me, And Everyone We Know – Things Are Really Weird Right Now – release date 3/5/2011

Sad to think that the Things Are Really Weird Right Now could be the last release by You, Me, And Everyone We Know. The band revealed their split on 20th April as five of the six members are leaving the group, there’s a link to the full announcement below.

If this is the last we'll hear from You,Me, And Everyone We Know then at least Things Are Really Weird Right Now makes a fine epitaph. Intense guitar driven indie pop that puts across a real feeling of frustration and confusion. It's just a great shame that this might be the final chapter in their story.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Hey!b – Other Side * Single of the day * release date 2/5/2011

Other Side is a gorgeous lament by Montpellier band Hey!b. Supremely angsty mood music it's best listened to in a darkened room whilst contemplating the world.

Members of Hey!b used to play with Oust Louba, a progressive instrumental band, so it's not surprising that they create a rich soundscape on this track.

Other Side is available on their début E.P., entitled Others Side according to Amazon, although I'm sure last week they had it listed as Premier E.P. Doesn't really matter though, it's still a fine and beguiling song.

Iliana King – I Will Be King – release date 2/5/2011

Impressive début single from 16 year old North London singer-songwriter Iliana King. An up tempo pop track with some rock overtones brought together by a production and melody line that is very accessible and radio friendly. I Will Be King has certainly been one of the tracks I've been humming to myself all week.

It will be interesting to see how Iliana's career develops from this extremely accomplished start. However, judging by this one track she definitely has the ability to put both personality and attitude into the music and accompanying video performance, which can only bode well for the future.

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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Young Legionnaire – Numbers * Single of the day * release date 2/5/2011

Young Legionnaire are Paul Mullen (of the Automatic), Gordon Moakes (of Bloc Party) and Dean Pearson (formally of The Flowers Of Evil) who replaced William Bowerman (currently drumming for LaRoux). Now that the pedigree is sorted I'm happy to report that the music lives up to the billing.

Numbers attacks from the first beat and keeps its vice like jaws clenched all the way through. There’s some relief during the confessional chorus, but its mearly a loosening of the grip as opposed to letting go. Stunning stuff from an awesome rock power trio. Young Legionnaire's album, Crisis Works is released on Monday (9 May 2011).

Bright Spark Destroyer – The Shortest Distance – release date 2/5/2011

Bright Sparks Destroyer inform us that The Shortest Distance between two points is a straight line, its also a very fine bouncy indie pop song. The lyrics are also quite meaningful, if you know where they're coming from.

Any song that starts off referring to asymptotes is generally going to pique my interest. For those who aren't mathematically minded an asymptote is a line which a curve gets closer and closer to, but can never touch, as they both reach off into infinity. Give the lines a bit of personality and maths can be quite romantic when it's put in that way and Bright Spark Destroyer manage to achieve just that. If they can make calculus sexy I'll be even more impressed.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Tally Hall – You & Me * Single of the day * release date 2/5/2011

Starting with a stark four beat guitar strum the opening verses of You & Me belie the underlying pop sensibilities that Tally Hall are about to bring to bear on the track. For when the chorus starts the harmonies and melody line melt together to produce a feeling that is quite sublime, transporting you to another plane entirely. The wonderful middle eight/outro finishes off the song to complete a perfect piece of pop.

You & Me is also available for free download (link below, but be patient the reply email takes a while to come through). It will also be on the Michigan band's forthcoming album, Good and Evil, which is due for release on the 21st of June.

Frankie & The Heartstrings – That Postcard - release date 2/5/2011

That Postcard is the latest single to be released from Frankie & The Heartstrings début album Hunger. The album managed to breach the chart earlier this year making a single week appearance at number 32.

Bouncy intense pop with jangly guitar, it's not hard to hear an early eighties influence on the track, mind you the album was produced by Edwyn Collins. Having said that the style completely suits the song and the vocals of lead singer Frankie Francis.

Also if you haven't heard it go and listen to the title track of the album Hunger, should you require any further evidence of Frankie & The Heartstrings capabilities.

Nick Garrie – Can I Stay With You release date 2/5/2011

Strictly speaking Can I Stay With You is not a new single. In fact given that it was recorded over 40 years ago I'm having to adopt the loosest usage of the word 'new' but there are mitigating circumstances.

The album that the song comes from, The Nightmare of JB Stanislas, was released by Nick Garrie in 1969. However due to certain problems, not least of which was the suicide of the owner of the record label it was relased on, it's sales only just stretched into double figures.Thus it became one of the most collectable records of the 60's.

Fast forward 40 years and it's now available digitally, which I'm pretty much makes it new to the world. My justification over all that there is left to say is that Can I Stay With You is a wonderfully rich orchestral ballad that has waited a long time to be appreciated. 

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Hungry Ghosts – By The Bridge * Single of the day * release date 2/5/2011

By The Bridge is the superb new single from Hungry Ghosts. The verse and chorus on their own would have been sufficient for a great song. The driving beat and great vocals interspersed with machine gun drum rolls is an intoxicating mix.

However the York band go that bit further with not one but two guitar solos in succession with completely different styles. The result is that the song seamlessly shifts its pace and direction allowing a mellower more retrospective feel to close out a completely satisfying track.

Add to this an excellent video that's worth watching a few times and Hungry Ghosts have produced a real winner. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Ocasan – When You’re Around * Single of the day * release date 2/5/2011

Any time a track starts off with a quite pulsing bassline and light vocalisation it's usually a good bet that it's about to explode and When You're Around does just that.

The story is of waking up (possibly with a hangover) and appreciating the person you're with through the mundane things that happen. It's the sort of lyric that I always feel adds a greater poignancy to a song and Chris Difford immediately springs to mind as a great exponent of this art.

Ocasan are Nick Burns, Rich Webb and Luke McDonnell, their début album is due out in August 2011.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Shane Shu – I See Sheep Fall From The Sky * Single of the day * release date 2/5/2011

I See Sheep Fall From the Sky is an up-tempo pop song that's almost as quirky as it's title, certainly the video is, which brought Pythonesque thoughts immediately to mind. The production and arrangement also throws in a lot of twists to keep you on your toes.

Strangely enough though the title does fit in with the lyrics of the song which is delivered by the fantastic pop voice of Shane Shu.

Originally from Canada but now residing in Amsterdam, Shane already has a self-titled début album under his belt, which was released in 2008. It definitely takes a talent to come up with tracks as hummable as this. 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Coal Train – Carry You On My Shoulders * Single of the day * release date 25/4/2011

Coal Train were formed from the embers of Sunderland band This Ain't Vegas. Their third single Carry You On My Shoulders lyrically has a great mix of the mundane with more abstract imagery resulting in a song that is both very earthy but also evocative.

The track itself is driven by the interesting drums and pumping bassline, with tasteful interjections from the lead guitar to change the feel when the pace drops, obtaining that perfect balance between raw and controlled.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Kentish Fire – So Unpredictable * Single of the day * release date 25/4/2011

I'm always going to like a track where there's a strong buzzing bass line up in the mix. Utilizing boy/girl harmonies to great effect Kentish Fire have that perfect indie pop sound, with a disco underbelly, that can lift a song to it's full potential.

The Camden band have produced a cracking debut single with this. So Unpredictable together with the track In My Band is available for free download from the Kentish Fire website (link attached).

Review Index