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.

Review Index

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.