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

Friday, 29 April 2011

Bel And The Boy – Best Not To Say It * Single of the day * release date 27/4/2011

Best Not To Say It is a track from Bel And The Boy's début E.P. co-incidentally called Best Not To Say It, although against their advice I just have.

It's a soft, melodic and mesmerising song with lilting vocals and simple backing. The wonderful blend of guitar with the lovely vocal tonality is continued in the catchy chorus to complete a beautiful and memorable love song.

The Spanish/English duo Bel (Belén Arjona) and the boy (John Lanigan) completed their first album in February, so it promises to be an interesting year for them.

Review Index 

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Rooga - Take Me Away * Single of the day * release date 29/4/2011

By some bizarre co-incidence Rooga is the second band from Austria and specifically Vienna to be single of the day this week, the first being Room Island. However, musically they are worlds apart.

Take Me Away is a modern rock track with that interaction between drums and guitar in the verses that it's difficult to count time to, which is a really neat trick to put that general sense of unease into the listener.

Of course the pay off is the tension building bridge and rocking resolving chorus. The vocals ranging from coolly authoritative through to pleading, with the occasional use of floatiness thrown in, bring the whole track together to good effect.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Black Mountain – Rollercoaster * Single of the day * release date 25/4/2011

Rollercoaster is probably best described as epic rock hewn out of riff heavy granite , ribboned with burbling keyboard sounds and tortured vocals.

Black Mountain may have presented us with a monolithic slab of a song standing amongst a field of bewildered dinosaurs but bloody hell are they feeling it and it's hard not to feel it too.

I'll take a track that could have been made forty years ago and played with heart over focus group driven, generically produced pap that sounds 'now' any day.

Probably not everyone’s cup of tea and to be honest music shouldn't be, but I could listen to this all day and that is, indeed, pretty much what I've been doing.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Room Island – Stand Tall * Single of the day * release date 22/4/2011

Stand Tall throws up an interesting question, just what can be achieved by “redirecting our power”? Obviously in the western world the real power lays in the economic choices of the masses.

Ask any general fan of music, who is outside the target market of the majors, if they find the majority of songs in the chart exciting and you will get a resounding 'no'. My guess is that most people reading this review would agree that the charts are not quite as vibrant and diverse as they should be given the vast amount of great music released every week.

The trick is that the charts are an election in which you pay to vote. Buy music you like and, if enough people do likewise, it shows up in the charts, the major labels see it sells and sign up more original acts. The additional promotion propels these acts further into the mainstream changing what is considered to be popular.

Room Island are therefore right in this example, a revolution can come, I just wonder why it's taking so long.

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Leisure Society – This Phantom Life * Single of the Day * release date 24/4/2011

Truly perfect pop from The Leisure Society with this lead single from their forthcoming album Into The Murky Water which is released on the 2nd of May.

Their first album, The Sleeper, spawned two Ivor Novello nominated songs in The Last Of The Melting Snow and Save It For Someone Who Cares, so critical acclaim has been no stranger to them.

This Phantom Life continues the run of great singles. Instrumentally the use of strings and flute as an integral part of the band gives The Leisure Society a magical dimension to their sound to augment the great songwriting. Hopefully greater commercial success is on the way to accompany the plaudits, they thoroughly deserve it.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Elbow – Open Arms * Single of the day * Release date 24/4/2011

A perfect example of sticking to your musical beliefs and not giving in Elbow have produced yet another great anthemic track with Open Arms. After the critical and commercial success of The Seldom Seen Kid there was always the possibility of a hangover with the follow up album.

Fortunately for us Elbow have been far too intelligent to allow that to happen and with Build A Rocket Boys ! they've looked further to their roots, meaning that Open Arms not only retains their trademark sound but also avoids sounding derivative.

It's great to see Elbow continue to plough their own furrow and gives me hope that at least some artists that make great music get there eventually. 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Carbon Airways – Razor Edge * Single of the day * release date 22/4/2011

Hailing from Breançon in France, Carbon Airways is a band formed by teen brother and sister Enguérand and Elanore. Normally I would baulk at acts so young but this pair are about as far away as you can get from Justin Bieber and Willow Smith.

Razor Edge is one of those tracks that I just couldn't dismiss as it became more and more insistent that I listen to it every time it played. Clearly influenced by The Prodigy and early 90's techno it's a plethora of musical and vocal hooks.

Available on their E.P. Shake Your Rage Pt.1, which as you would expect from the genre contains four mixes of Razor Edge and three mixes of another track EBC45.

Review Index 

Friday, 22 April 2011

My Passion – The Mess We Made Of Our Lives * Single Of The Day * release date 18/4/2011

The Mess We Made Of Our Lives is taken from My Passion's second album, Inside This Machine, which is due for release on the 25th of April in the UK.

The Hitchin band's facebook page lists their genre as Rock/Post Punk/Electro/Metal/Pop and even for this one single that seems a fairly accurate description. All those influences can be heard in this track as they flick back and forth from electro to hard rock, in what is ultimately a very memorable song.

I wouldn't be surprised to see My Passion gain some sort of chart presence in the coming months. They seem to have a pretty solid fan base and sound and may just gain the momentum to do it.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Local Girls – Polished * Single of the day * release date 18/4/2011

Polished is a track from Local Girls timely named E.P. The Wedding Jitters and is an object lesson in getting that perfect U.K. punk/new wave sound.

Lo fi and visceral with a simple,straight-forward and growling guitar riff, leaving room for a vitriolic and clever vocal to take centre stage. The instrumental gives us a little time to hear the bass line before moving off into a moody guitar solo. Any more complicated than this and it would just be wrong.

Finally add a video taken on one camera and in one shot and you're there. The world could do with more songs as up front as this.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Freeze The Atlantic – Waking Up * Single of the day * release date 18/4/2011

Waking up is a fantastic track from Freeze The Atlantic's début E.P. Colour By Numbers, the C.D. of which even comes with crayons to fill in the black and white cover.

Starting off as indie pop and effortlessly flicking back and forth to rockier sounds Waking Up has tremendous dynamism, heightened half way through with an injection of sublime riffs and even containing a pregnant pause.

Imaginative and faultless in composition and arrangement it's pretty heady stuff from the Farnborough based band. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Ryan Sheridan – The Dreamer * Single of the day * release date 18/4/2011

At some point I think someone cloned Nashville and planted it in a secret location in Ireland. My evidence for this is that since I started listening to the majority of singles released every week the tracks that have sounded like perfect slices of Americana (not necessarily country) have been by Irish artists, Stephen Young & The Union – Coke & Rum(reviewed here), Luán Parle – Three Minute Miracle and now Ryan Sheridan.

The Dreamer is simply a great song, that could be carried by just the guitar, but so energetic that I expect it's a big crowd pleaser live. This is the second single from Ryan’s début album The Day You Live Forever. The first, Jigsaw, almost made the Irish top ten and The Dreamer can surely only add to this momentum. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Luke Fenlon – Summer * Single of the day * release date 18/4/2011

Summer is definitely a song for, well, the summer. The laid back bass intro and the even more laid back vocals of Luke Fenlon could easily accompany any lazy day at the seaside or maybe bring a smile to the faces in a steaming bank holiday traffic jam.

This is pretty accomplished stuff from the Liverpool lad. The track itself is about as complete as you can get, without sounding overproduced, all hung together on a great little hook.

The first step to the potential hogging of the summer soundtrack is already in motion. Radio One have it on they're playlist as the BBC Introducing track this week. Regardless of the weather the sun will shine when it plays.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Antlered Man – Surrounded By White Men * Single of the day * Release date 17/4/2011

Brilliant début single from London rock band Antlered Man. It's difficult to imagine how Surrounded By White Men could be any more distinctive, from the whispering vocals at the start, through melodic hard rock to a truly memorable chorus, it insists you pay attention and listen.

Lyrically it's one of the better attacks on the presidency of George W. Bush that I've heard and even though it's old news, to a certain extent, the observations will almost certainly carry some resonance into the future. The major impact of the song though is its hard rock musicality which points the way to a bright future for Antlered Man.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Syd Matters – River Sister * Single of the day * release date 17/4/2011

River Sister is an ideal song to close your eyes and contemplate the world to. This is the second song this week to advise me “there's something in the water”, but the soothing tones with which the statement is made here prevent me getting overly paranoid.

The term 'Beatlesque' is used far too widely, although River Sister would have fitted nicely on 'The White Album'. However, if I told you that the name Syd Matters is a reference to Syd Barrett and Roger Waters then the breadth of influences becomes clearer. That said, this isn't a soundalike track, in the end all that really matters is that it's a timeless and beautiful song.

Review Index

Friday, 15 April 2011

Paperface – The Man Who Can't Say No * Single Of The Day * 15/4/2011

The Man Who Can't Say No is a track from the If We Were Cats E.P. by the band almost formally known as Paperface. They'll be changing moniker soon, presumably to avoid clashing with an American band who beat them to the name and are looking for something containing 'Titan'. My suggestions would be 'Titan Rising' or 'Caves Of Titan' but I'm sure they'll welcome some more input on their facebook page. That said I'll get on with the review.

Any track that starts off with an excerpt from the shipping forecast is generally going to be interesting and The Man Who Can't say know is no exception. It interweaves almost afro-beats in with straight forward rock to create a sound that is very distinctive and satisfying. They hint at a harder edge going into the rousing middle eight before effectively turning the verse into a second chorus to complete the song. Good stuff. 

Review Index

N.B. Just to update the story they chose the name Bear Makes Ninja.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Funeral Party – New York City Moves To The Sound Of L.A. * Single of the day * release date 10/4/2011

It's (almost) easy to describe why this single from Funeral Party sounds so good, it's got a really vibrant indie rock sound but somehow evolved. If I told you New York City Moves To The Sound Of L.A. has a great bass riff and drums overlaid with melodic guitar line and committed vocals I could be describing any number of songs. I could narrow the field a bit to say that it has dynamic production and real energy, but this would not quite nail it.

As the lyrics say “it's all been done before and will all be done again”. But it's rarely done as good as this or sounding quite so fresh.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Two Against One - starring Jack White * Single of the day * release date 10/4/2011

Two Against One is a double 'A' side with Black - starring Norah Jones (great too but I only ever review one) and is the lead single from the Rome album due for release on the 16th of May. In the making since 2005, enough time for Danger Mouse to notch up 11 Grammy nominations for other projects, the aim of this collaboration with Daniele Luppi was to create a style akin to the spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone.

Using period instruments together with period musicians they have succeeded. Two Against One has that vintage sound but it doesn't feel forty years out of date or even retro. Jack White is the perfect choice for the vocals bringing both a sense of spontaneity and world weariness that would not be out of place in a Sergio Leone production. This is cinema-scope encapsulated in two and a half minutes of music which is quite an achievement.

Review Index

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Veto – Spun * Single of the day * release date 10/4/2011

The review for Spun follows but in someones infinate wisdom the video I had has been removed and the new video is not available to be embeded. So as I think this Joe Walsh is a classic I've put it up instead.

Spun is one of those indie rock synth tracks that starts off quietly menacing and builds tension as it progresses. The pent up feeling is not quite released by the end, resonating the music with the lyrics by leaving it all in a slightly uneasy place, which just makes me want to listen to it all over again.

Veto have been regular visitors to both the album and singles chart in their native Denmark. Spun is the second single from their third album Everything Is Amplified and there seems no reason why their popularity should not spread further afield. UK fans who want to see more of them can catch Veto live in London at Barfly on the 31st of May and at KOKO on June 3rd.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Teresa Mascianà – Out Of There * Single of the day * release date 11/4/11

There is a wonderful directness about this gentle rock ballad from Italian Teresa Mascianà. Maybe it's because the lyrics are not written in Teresa's first language (the words are in English) or it could be the forcefully emotional vocal style that makes it feel like the song is addressed only to you.

Teresa is a sound engineer (if Google translate is not leading me astray) and there are some nice touches in the production. Whatever the reasons are I find Out Of There a charming and compelling track and it's a joy to have found it.

Review Index

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Mazes – Most Days * Single of the day * release date 4/4/2011

Most Days is a breezy sub two minute pop song, which together with Mazes' D.I.Y. ethos gives it a fantastic american punk sound. It's great production too as it leaves the track feeling completely spontaneous.

This simple approach is continued in a video that's visually bright but one step on from a story board which perfectly fits the track and allows for more edgy content than a higher resolution promo could get away with.

If you enjoy the sound of Most Days tomorrow see the release of Mazes debut album A Thousand Heys. In fact their forward looking record company, fatcat records, will let you listen to it online before you buy and the link is attached.

Review Index

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion – My Love For Evermore * Single of the day * release date 4/4/11

If you're looking for ground breaking then My Love For Evermore probably isn't you're bag, although it's unlikely you’ve heard anything quite like it, at least for a few years. However, if you want a great song which creates real atmosphere then you're in the right place.

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion dish up a classic, old style, rock'n'roll ballad which shows you don't have to be cutting edge to sound outstanding. The guest vocals by Sparky from Demented Are Go further elevates the track into the sublime on a booster rocket of character and swagger.

The video has the look of Tarantino 'B' movie homage and if Quentin is looking for a track for his next production I'm sure this will fit nicely somewhere.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Two Beats Apart – I Want You Anyway * Single of the day * release date 4/4/2011

A lovely début single from Two Beats Apart which is full of subtle harmonisation. In fact it's the subtlety of the track that is wonderfully outstanding with no element too over the top. The lyrics are straight forward and appeal directly to the hearts of the lovelorn. The instrumentation is restrained including the guitar solo, the chorus is memorable and the vocals are as melancholic as they should be.

The result is a production that leaves the song at the centre and evokes the appropriate emotional response in the listener, which is exactly how it should be. This all bodes very well for the St. Albans band if they can keep producing music as complete and satisfying as I Want You Anyway.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

tUnE-yArDs – Bizness * Single of the day * release date 8/4/2011

Bizness is musically a wonderful powerful blend of overlaid melodies with intricate beats and the first single from tUnE-yArDs second album w h o k i l l . But if the music wasn't dynamic enough the vocal performance by Merrill Garbus (who together with Nate Brenner forms the core of tUnE-yArDs) adds another dimension with her sheer vocal power.

Also amazing is that for a track that sounds quite intricate a small band can create it live with the addition of a few loops and it's equally impressive. Bizness is available for free download by signing up to the tUnE-yArDs newsletter (link attached) and I've also added the link for the live performance because you can't hear enough good tUnEs. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Athletes In Paris – Borrowed Time * Single of the day * release date 4/4/2011

Borrowed Time is the impressive début single from Athletes In Paris who are not French but are currently based in Newcastle.

It's a great song and the nobly restrained production and clever arrangement give it room to breath. Together the drums and rhythm guitar lay down a solid but interesting pulse with the bass getting a bit of limelight in places, which I love.

That's the beauty of this track, varying sound and feel through the selective use of a few instruments. As such I could imagine this song going down brilliantly live, especially to a large crowd, there's just so many opportunities to overhead hand clap and communally sing a catchy chorus.
Are we living on borrowed time? Almost certainly. Wake up, smell the coffee and listen to Athletes In Paris. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Das Fluff – Hey You * Single of the day * release date 4/4/2011

Hey You grabs you by the throat with its forceful beats and dirty guitar licks, but regardless of how dark the music sounds, the lyrics plunge far deeper into the abyss.
The words of this song are expertly composed to convey old obsessions for the new age.

The pains of breaking up heightened in social network cold wars and intelligence gathering. Is it worse that in a vast sea of information there's no mention of the ex or that they're posting and tweeting about how wonderful life is now? Old arguments transfer to flaming in comment boxes without a raised voice. You can shout in capitals but in cyberspace no one can hear you scream, however Das Fluff can feel your pain.

Review Index

Monday, 4 April 2011

Fight Like Apes – Jenny Kelly * Single of the day * release date 3/4/2011

Jenny Kelly is the second single from Fight Like Apes second album The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner and there's no messing about from the Dublin band.

Straight into the vocals and we're off, in fact the longest musical break in the whole song is less than 10 seconds long, presumably so lead singer MayKay can catch her breath. The track just builds and builds as it races along until exhausted by it's own momentum it winds down in the final few bars to a fading finale. Phew.

Review Index

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Neo Retros – The High-Rise In The Sunshine - * Single of the day * release date 3/4/2011

A couple of firsts with this single of the day. I'm pretty sure I haven't reviewed a Polish band yet and my Sunday choices are usually towards the avant garde end of the spectrum because, good or bad, they make a bigger impression the first couple of times you hear them..

This week however a track made an impact on me with no bells or whistles just because it's a damn good song. Neo Retros were formed in Warsaw last year and The High-Rise In The Sunshine is their début release. It's a straight up soft rock ballad but to my ears it sounds gorgeous and the sort of track that could crack the mainstream with enough exposure. 

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Butterflies On Strings – What Did John Stuart Mill Say Again ? * Single of the day * release date 1/4/2011

What Did John Stuart Mill Say Again ? is a terrific pop-rock track from London based Butterflies On Strings. Certainly a sound that grows on you, it also has lyrics that bear scrutiny. I'm sure many an essay could be written exploring the line “all we did was build ourselves from imported parts so we could do it cheap”.

Musically there are effectively two choruses, so plenty to sing along to, as well as almost Beach Boy style backing vocals (there's even a reference to riding waves). However this is miles away from a surf song, in fact that's part of its beauty, you can hear influences in individual elements but as a whole it stands alone.

Miles Kane – Rearrange release date 27/3/2011

In a personal ranking I would put Rearrange ahead of Inhaler but behind Come Closer, however Miles Kane's solo work is proving to be exiting and consistantly good.

The key is the vocal performance of Miles, which varies in intensity to get the mood across, backed up by expert guitar licks to unlock the full potential of the song.

Rearrange will be available as a 7 “ vinyl in about a months time, followed a week later by the release of his debut album Colour Of The Trap, which on the evidence of the first three singles promises to be a corker.

Review Index

Friday, 1 April 2011

Feeder – Side By Side * Single of the day * release date 28/3/2011

All proceeds from Side By Side go to the Japanese Tsunami Appeal and the track can be purchased from the usual online music stores as well as from Feeder's website (link attached).

However having said that I've made Side By Side single of the day because it is a bloody good track and not because it's a charity record. It's a good all round rock song with compelling lyrics and great changes of pace and feel in the arrangement. Given that it wasn't written for the appeal it's lyrics conjure up the right sentiments and if the new album is full of songs like this it should be great (Side By Side may or may not be on the album).

Feeder are an appropriate band to take a prominent position in the appeal given that bass player Taka Hirose is Japanese as is the wife of lead singer Grant Nicholas.

Russian Red – I Hate You But I Love You release date 27/3/2011

Sometimes it's nice to hear a good song, with a beautiful melody, sung with a bit of heart to remind you that the ballad is not dead. That's what Russian Red have done with this track. The production is straight forward and timeless allowing the song the scope to sound like a classic.

The pseudonym of singer songwriter Lourdes Hernandez, Russian Red's début album made the top 40 in her native Spain and garnered a gold disc. I Hate You But I Love You is the first track from the follow up Fuerteventura.