SINGLES: November 2007

TUNNG : “ Bullets ”

Tunng are renowned for the use of strange instruments in their music – “Bullets” is no exception. The sounds of typewriter keys and tin whistles overlay the gentle piano melody, accompanied by the silken vocals of Tunng frontman, Sam Gender. This is a twisted song, to say the least. It may sound soothing and gentle, but there's a hidden underlay of something eerie in this strange song. Well worth a listen, and a great song to stride down a street to with a definite sense of purpose. KH

ROBOTS IN DISGUISE : “ The Sex Has Made Me Stupid ”
INFECTED 15/10/07

Singalong, dancealong, ravealong, this piece of infectious electro-pop has it all. This single, taken from Robots In Disguise’ third album, “We’re In The Music Biz”, is absolutely insane. The lyrics are insane, the hooks are insane and you’re insane if you don’t catch on. “The Sex Has Made Me Stupid” is a mix of melodic hooks, dance beats and irresistibly easy to learn lyrics. It may get a little repetitive if you listen to all the many, many remixes found on the single, but the original product will have you up and dancing in no time. KH

THE DELTA FIASCO : “ Paperhouse ”

“Paperhouse” is the debut single of electro indie trio The Delta Fiasco. Well-used synth effects, drumbeats and vocals intertwine to create a great example of original musical talent. Lyrically, it references children’s bedtime stories in a rather disturbing manner, such as the choral line of “She’ll huff, she’ll puff, she’ll blow your house down.” The chorus is extremely catchy and counteracts the rather bland verses. The vocals of Nathan Walczak are intense and simply, quite heart felt. It’s a good listen, but the endless “alternate versions” and remixes on the single are desperately unnecessary. KH


The third song to be taken from Mark Ronson’s LP “Version”, “Valerie” is a bold revival of the renowned Zutons track. With a catchy, syncopated rhythm, this is yet another modern and re-energised single that will fill the dance floors in no time at all. Amy Winehouse’s additional vocals on the first version on the single are powerful and wholly appropriate for the style to which the song has been moulded. It’s a brilliant cover, but its lacking originality and that leaves it with a sad sense of “this has been done before”. KH

THE HOLLOWAYS : “ Two Left Feet 07 ”
TVT RECORDS 24/09/07

“Two Left Feet 07” is a re release of The Holloways’ debut single, enlivened by fiddles and a harmonica. Surprisingly enough, even with its country music feel, its lively and melodic and a great song to tap your feet along to. It’s honest and it’s happy, with sunny lyrics and catchy musical phrases that will stick in your head for longer than you want them to and reappear at the most inopportune moments. Its dual vocals add an irresistible sing along aspect and undoubtedly, although overlooked at its original time of release, “Two Left Feet” is an infectious gem among The Holloways’ other songs. KH

Darkwater : “ 1920 ”

New single by Scottish electro-rock band Darkwater is released on 27th August on Up Next Records. Female fronted rock, making their mark in Scotland, this is their second single and it’s ok. Turn up your bass and give it a blast. The music is honest rock. Lead singer Lora has a strong voice but nothing that different. I would struggle to tell her voice apart from others in the same kind of musical genre.

Scott Ian, guitarist of Anthrax, mixed this and quotes “I get approached all the time to work with bands and 99% of the time I have to pass because I’ve heard it all before. Darkwater have a sound wholly their own and that originality is what attracted me to them”. Personally I fail to see anything that different here.


Maximo Park : “ Girls Who Play Guitars ”

Although not as good as other tracks previously served up by the Teeside troupe, the usual quirky pop sensibilities render this latest track at least a seven. Idiosyncratic vocals layered some excitable guitars add up to a slice of frolicsome fun that well explains why the band were such a hit at this summers festivals. Proof that radio-friendly doesn’t have to mean bland.


The Zico Chain : “ Anaemia ”

This is good! A combination of the raw vocals of the likes of Dave Grohl ( Foo Fighters) and the musical skills of the of The White Stripes. It’s powerful and kicks a mean bassline. It’s worthy of some hard rocking and won’t disappoint even the hardest of rockers out there.


Operator Please : “ Just A Song About Ping Pong ”

The debut single of Aussie pop punk newbies Operator Please is a blistering pop track that points a finger at the dance floor and yells ‘GO!’ And boy do you want to. It’s a mite silly, and could well suffer for over-exposure – but it’s enormous fun and full of an exuberance you just can’t fake.


Envelopes : “ Life on the Beach ”

This started off okay, I was thinking ummmm nice bass nice sound, then the vocals kick in. It’s monotonous and if this really is a taster of their forthcoming LP Here Comes The Wind, I for one will not be going out to buy it.

Henrik Orrling on vocals sums it up in the middle of the track “It’s so annoying” he sings; yep you just about hit the nail on the head there!


Hanoi Rocks : “ Fashion ”

Hanoi Rocks are back! The second-best band from Finland (Lordi obviously being the best) return with a new line up and a not new sound. In fact, the sound is so not new that this could be any number of poodle-haired glam rockers from the bad old days (Warrant/Poison/Motley Crue, etc). The song seems to be an ode to jumble sales, and is fine if you like that sort of thing. Avoid like the plague if you don’t.


Interpol : “ The Heinrich Maneuver ”

“How are things on the west coast?” sings a sneering Paul Banks on the first single from new album “Our Love To Admire”. It’s an upbeat offering with a killer guitar hook and cutting vocals that demand attention. While it’s obvious that this has been thought out more carefully and more heavily produced than their previous offerings, the style is very now… Highly recommended.


Crowded House : “ Don’t Stop Now ”
EMI 25.6.07

A new single from the re-united Crowded House, and it’s full of heavyweights of the 80’s british music scene (produced by Steve Lillywhite, guitars by Johnny Marr). However, even such luminaries cannot avoid the track falling into MOR hell. And it hasn’t even got the catchy-ish chorus of other CH tunes. Even Radio Two’s playlist will be too cutting edge for this.


Zico Chain : “ Anaemia ”

With a guitar hook designed to make you head bang until your neck breaks, “Anaemia” is a catchy offering from the New Monsters Of Britrock, whipped up tight and constantly on the edge. The chorus is all shout-along lyricism and the beat is enough to transform any crowd into a sea of bouncing sweat monsters. With hints of early Bush and Rage Against The Machine, it’s easy to see why the band are getting noticed.


The Go! Team : “ Grip Like A Vice ”

The Go! Team return with the first single to be pulled from their new as-yet-untitled album. A wild departure from their 2004 Mercury Prize nominated debut “Thunder Lightning Strike” this is not. You get your usual fusion of rap, guitars, undecipherable lyrics and electro beats, which, as usual sounds awful on paper but pretty damn fine on record. The CD proper (as opposed to the 1-track promo given out for review) includes a cover of Sonic Youth’s Bull In The Heather, which should be worth a listen.


The Envy Corps : “ Wires & Wool ”

Classic Indie. Oh, how I love to write those words! The second single from The Envy Corps’ debut album, “Dwell” is a delicious slice of Indie, chock-full of jangly guitars, catchy hooks and served with a side order of, smiley bounciness. Guaranteed to brighten any day, this is the perfect track to relaxing in the sun (in between showers) and chilling out with a frosty one.


Arcade Fire : “ No Cars Go ”
SONOVOX 23/07/07

The third single to be released from “Neon Bible”, and it is a killer. Easily the best track on the album, this is an epic, lush, anthemic soundscape, that will get into your brain and you will be humming it for weeks. You probably have sung along to this at a festival or two this summer, but if you haven’t, expect it blasting out from an arena near you this autumn.


My Vitriol : “ A Pyrrhic Victory ”

I’ve been missing and mourning the pretentiously wonderful My Vitriol since their early disappearance. Full of their trademark swooping rise and fall and doomy grandeur, this is a welcome and mysterious return. Putting out a grand album that went nowhere, reissuing it with a new mix for America (ala The Clash with Give ‘Em Enough Rope) and topping it off with some lovely polished live shows, My Vitriol appreared to have given up. Three years later people talk of the band as lost landmarks and the album as a classic and the time seems right to relaunch their career.

The sound on the opening War Of The Worlds is a little heavier than before but no-one could fail to recognise them. Things stop / start and a voice reaches out from the mix, partially submerged, surrounded by drums and rising guitars. Lord Knows How I’ve Tried isn’t a blues or gospel as you might have expected, featuring crunchy samples it rises to a sad and lost lament. Toy Soldiers has a go at the Martika hit! It comes over much as you’d expect – a My Vitriol song that has you going, “where do I know this from?” The electro remix of the title track is quite acceptable and drives forward on a sequencer pattern, just not as great as the sweeping rock they do so well.

Welcome back lads, what kept you?


wholeskymonitor : “ harehills chapeltown ”

Leeds’ landmark session musician John Parkes features in this preview of the album, the lovingly titled ‘Bland Bland Bland’. He’s been in some of Leeds seminal bands of the last twenty years. Contrariwise, it’s very loud and in-yer-face – rather like the neighbourhoods en-songed. Singing ‘last circle in hell’ at the top of your voice isn’t going to endear you to the inhabitants though……

In the spirit of The Wedding Present, The Sinister Cleaners and the various combos that have straddled the eighties indie to noughties divide, wholeskymonitor combine social comment and angular riffs. These have a bit more elbow muscle than those of the past and the whole thing is quite menacing . John’s music career kicked off in the decade that saw three full scale riots in Chapeltown and maybe here he wants to trigger a few more. The other two songs on the EP are big slabs of beaty rock too.


larsen b : “ the treasured memories of cecil element ”

A wee bit of pretension might not hurt. Named after an Antarctic ice shelf featured in Al Gore’s documentary, the band have named their self-produced debut EP for a favoured local rector and played it on banjo, ukulele, gu zheng etc. They can’t be accused of stretching things, fitting six songs into less than a quarter hour. Red Indians And Witches is a country-tinged stroll through pastoral imagery and quiet reflection. Atlantis is a gentle, ukulele-plucked and chorus-hymned offering of love. Wonderland is gently fiddling stuff on the acoustic guitar while Old Rope is a pop tune with a big, swinging chorus, played softly. Pollen is a song of regret, soft and finger-picked on a metal stringed acoustic guitar. Pirouette lasts for seconds and is nothing but a piano figure.

It’s a very English affair, a country garden of a record, laying around over a lazy summer. It’s a pastoral vision, a tradition of slightly eccentric chaps in white linen. In it’s favour, I’d add that unlike most of the records that arrive here it can’t be compared and doesn’t sound quite like anything else you’ve heard.


Assembly Now : “ Graphs, Maps & Trees / Calculate ”
KIDS 6.8.07

We’ve been admiring this band for a while now. An example of what independent pop should be. Clever ideas, slice of life stuff, quirky observation and clean cut tunes and rhythms. Both songs articulate what Assembly Now are about – stuff that doesn’t waste your time – peerless pop melodies and drifting sentiments expressed without a wasted note.

For the last six months or so Assembly Now have had all the golden promise and present of the young Razorlight. One to play again and again till your teeth rot.


Jakobinarina : “ This Is An Advertisement ”
EMI 23.7.07

Jakobinarina look like a fusion of two of The Three Stooges and The Ramones. They sound more like Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

And they’re threatening to change their name to The Coca Cola band to get some recognition. Fabulously sarky and only semi-intelligible, this is rudely noisome and as subtle as a brick through the window. What makes this mardy slice of Northernness even more remarkable is that the gawky lads are from Iceland, not Barnsley. We like it a lot.


South Central : “ Machine / Revolution ”
REGAL 13.8.07

Very loud. Louder with the volume down than half a dozen other records. And full on. Massive electro rock beats with a nutter shouting over the top with the kind of vocal treatment Mark E Smith used to favour. The purely slamming nature of the sound is something rave-revivalists The Klaxons can only dream of. South Central really don’t seem to car that they’ll probably go deaf and blind while dying of dehydration. Absolutley the thing for irresponsible dancing hedonism.


Gossip : “ Jealous Girls ”
BACK YARD 20.8.07

Still the second-best garage band around, with that soul voice topping choppy jittery guitar and pounding drums. Despite almost losing the bands indie image through a focus on the diminutive sexy front woman becoming model, food guru and agony aunt, the Gossip keep pushing on thanks to the simple and busy format of three-piece punk band. B-side Coal To Diamonds uses the ballad format to showcase that fabulously catch-in-the-throat voice.


Bat For Lashes : “ What’s A Girl To Do ”

Like a noughties version of The Shangri-las, this song of walking out with someone you don’t love any more. What will you say when the thrill is gone and he turns to you and asks if you love him? What’s a Girl To Do?

Teetering on the edge of camp with the retro-inspired structure, the song remains timeless in a feeling that has remained the same down the centuries. Pop, as poetry, reminds us of the eternal verities through apparently simple songs that can break your heart.


LE RENO AMPS : “ Poison Letter ”

I’m sure that should be ‘poisoned’ but then that kind of thing bothers people like me. This Glaswegian outfit and been (often favourably) compared to Violent Femmes and the Decembrists. It’s a little bit bluesy and a little bit alt-country and a little bit punk. It’s also a big bit Britpop and ends up feeling a little like we’ve heard this all before. A little bit good. No more than that.


REVEREND AND THE MAKERS : “ Heavyweight Champion Of The World ”

Championed by the Arctic Monkeys and one can mostly see why. Madchester beats make this annoyingly danceable. It’s catchy and lyrically clever. Polished funky pop-rock. Feel good hit of the summer, methinks.


VOXTROT : “ Blood Red Blood ”

Despite the deliberative building of layers of careful polish, the lack of anything interesting below the surface shows through. There are a lot of instruments, all handled moderately well, but it’s rather bland and mainstream – and at nigh on four minutes, downright bloated.


TIM DELUXE : “ Let The Beats Roll ”
SKINT 21.5.07

Beats as big ‘n’ chunky as a Saturday night meathead with half his Stella down his best short-sleeved shirt. There’s something scruffy and electro in there somewhere and some exuberant whoop! whoop! but this sort of stuff is not my cup of tea at all. There are about fifty remixes on this single as well. Aficionados will surely be able to spot the significant differences between each.


FINDLAY BROWN : “ Come Home ”

A peaceful record that is as uplifting as it is soulful. A call for reconciliation from a man with no energy to shout, it just gets better on every listen. I’m a big fan of singers and guitars anyway, but Brown’s voice is so unique I could quite easily listen to it all day.

B-side “Broken Every Rule” is part confession, part story, and who wouldn’t forgive him with the regret present in his voice.

Go and download both tracks, and await the album later in the month…

Streaming video of Findlay - high res

Streaming video of Findlay - low res


DAN SARTAIN : “ Flight Of The Finch ”

Cooler-than-feck greaser, Dan Sartain, hymns the Finch by way of warning his woman (his bird….?), that, like all the cool guys he’s a loner who’ll be around when he’s lonely then will disappear to do his thing. Gee, Dan, does that work for you as a chat-up line?

Anyhoo, this finch malarkey is a cross between a Mariachi band and a rhumba, in the final analysis, inordinately cool, with plaintive violin and roughly decorative guitar in the style of Tom Waits collaborator Marc Ribot. B-side, Besame Mucho is just as cool, earning Dan Sartain comparisons with other attitude stylists like Joe Strummer.
Go and buy the album and keep Dan in hair oil.


ASSEMBLY NOW : “ Leigh-On-Sea ”
FANDANGO 29.1.07

Assembly Now have been sending us tracks for a while now, each more polished than the last. This, their second single is punchy and fabulously burbly, all being jabbed in the ribs with elbows while the bass tickles you under the chin. There’s an angular quality like that of early Razorlight and a rushed and jerky quality to the vocals that sends excitement levels soaring. At heart it is South London pop, in the ears it is a racey and possibly dangerous rush of hormones and adrenalin. Packed full of passion and tension, alternately controlled and released, I have to admit to sitting at the computer waving my arms around and banging my feet around.


MALCOM MIDDLETON : “ A Brighter Beat ”

“Now you’ve gone, and left me, there’s nothing here, but a tenner, in my pocket and a fridge full of beer”. Calling your single and album is a bit of a larf for dour Scotsman, Malcolm Middleton, Arab Strap’s king of the bedsits. The frantically Smiths-ian riffing and backbeat belie Malcolm’s dark vision of the world. Malcolm sings of a bedsit land reluctance to leave the room and a general sense of purpose in moping around in a depressive way while listening to favourite records.

Strangely uplifting – I love it.


THE HOURS : “ Back When You Were Good ”
A&M RECORDS 22.1.07

Big and grand, a chiming, sweeping statement of…. something. A song about change, loss and the desire to be back in some golden age of never-was. The singer appropriates the god-like position of the omni-present observer to lament the descent of the subject of the song. Covers the kind of sad territory of Richard Thompsons ‘Beeswing’ in a more grandiloquent, flashy way. Will appeal to fans of The Divine Comedy and the like.


KLAXONS : “ Golden Skans ”

Golden Skans? What does that mean? And who really cares?
Klaxons manage to turn the electro craze to a shiny, perfected gem by putting synth power to the service of a mass of ‘ooo, ooh’ backing choruses. A thrummed and ever-present bass sends urgent messages to the important but opaque lead vocal and an ambience of serious debauchery. I’m sure someone can decipher important depths to the lyrics but they’ll have to get past the insistent desire to dance instead, hanging like a siren on a rock, just past the next line.


B-UNIQUE 15.1.07

After the whiny ‘Lonely At The Top’, The Ordinary Boys abandon the rock (and the rock star whinging) for a gently swinging ballad that rolls along in a pleasantly relaxed manner. The album had left me so dulled of mind that this passed me by and I didn’t even recognise the song when it arrived as a single.
It’s a loose-limbed number, swaggering down a sunny lane. The kind of cute but not-quite-soppy thing that’ll serve as a present from any number of lads keen to please their own Chantelles.


B-UNIQUE 8.1.07

Back in March this single got its first release and we said: There’s a fevered intensity induced by the synth line running a subliminal burbled amphetamine bubble twisting up into a cyclone for the chorus. Other than that the punchy working of the contemporary dance-rock bigbeat aesthetic is plenty effective.

The Automatic remind me of any number of contemporary bands suggesting an A&R man signing up someone surfing the zeitgeist but what-the-hell – it’s beaty, bouncy, boppy and makes me happy.
Since then they’ve put out a series of every-bit-as-mental singles, reinforcing their vision of big-beat hyper-intensity squeal-rock. Good on ‘em.


THE HEDRONS : “ Heatseeker ”

Loudly clumping through the night, the Glaswegian gurl band The Hedrons want to be The Ramones. They make the kind of four to the floor rock that people like Juliette Lewis has been seeking to emulate. Not sure that I don’t like emulation more than this apparently straight run through the genre. Nothing really stands out (though the bass sound is a saving grace) unlike the very promising July debut single, ‘Be My Friend’. Good but just a wee bit not out of the ordinary. The world needs more female rock bands so get out and prove me wrong with the album please, lasses (out in Feb).


LITTLE BARRIE : “ Love You ”
GENUINE 8.1.07

It’s all very quiff-a-billy here, popping the bass and skipping down the frets. Little Barrie have previously failed to move and new bassist, Billy Skinner, seems to move the bones a bit more. Eponymous Barrie Codogan, in reality only 2ft 8inches high, stretches up to the megaphone to deliver the finest skiffle singing heard since the Jockeys' Male Voice Choir covered the Stray Cats’ songbook.

I’m not really convinced of the POINT of Little Barrie but I bet they throw a hell of a party and there’s surely got to be some swing dancing going on at one of their gigs.


THE GOOD SHOES : “ The Photos On My Wall ”

Oh, ha ha, released on Christmas Day. What a set of wags.
When I saw this band last they were sparky and crunchy, all cross-cutting rhythms and Beefheart-ian assaults on the structure of song. The Photos On My Wall sees the singer taking tips from Robert Smith and the band taking a step in a less frenetic direction, moving a teeny bit into the realm of The Cure’s ‘Three Imaginary Boys’. Or very early Razorlight, without the crooning. Coming on nicely as a band; choppy, quirky, with a developing melodic core appearing as the mannered style boils of in the light of repeated performance.


THE ANSWER : “ Come Follow Me ”

Not exactly subtle, The Answer go in for talking about crushing your face and telling you tales. They want you to ‘Come Follow Me’ and, should you have a penchant for hard rocking, you probably will. This is hard rock of the tight trousers and phallic guitar variety, with bone shaking riffs and widdling solos to air-guitar to. Chucking out the fashionable ironicism will lead to air-punching and posing in front of the mirror to this one. Nice to hear something with some blood flowing in it’s vessels.


JAMES MORRISON : “ The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore ”
POLYDOR 18.12.06

If you need drippy love songs or uplifting MOR, James is currently the man of choice. Maybe not the best material but, ooooh, THAT voice. All warm and a wee bit husky with a soul inflection channelled straight from Otis Redding.

James Morrison is my current guilty secret. It’s never going to be cool to listen to him but at times it is a hard-bitten Stevie Wonder and a voice that just drips meaning and sincerity. The Pieces Don’t Fit Any More isn’t anything super special, just another tale about giving up when love turns dull but as the alchemists knew, the right ingredient can turn leaden material into gold and here, this dog turd is polished by golden tonsils into a masterpiece of song.

And that, folks, is craftsmanship.



PULL TIGER TAIL : “ Mr 100 Percent ”

Driven, speedy pop-rock from the Tiger boys. A nice line in drum beats and a pleasing breakdown to the rhythm mid-way add the icing on this Christmas cake of pop construction. Fizzily built on a sugar base, I suspect the jerky confection could wash away in the new year rains but live, I bet this is a solid bopping proposition.

Download free from


VIVA VOCE : “ Faster Than A Dead Horse ”

Despite Anita spending gigs strangling her guitar in a way that says ‘I want to be in Crazy Horse’, Viva Voce have the capacity to plod like a dead horse. And maybe that’s the point. On disc, despite occasionally (like here) working up a bit of a groove, they generally fail to make the blood pump faster. Drummer Kevin, the other member of the duo, demands fancy drum effects here and Anita gets overdubs till the whole thing is a dog’s dinner, rather than a Dead Horse.


THE MIGHTY ROARS : “ Sellotape / Jude & Sienna ”

Screamingly loud, Sellotape is full of distorted-out vocals, triple-speed riffs, three-note guitar solos and blarts of noise. It is well-worked up for a ditty about sticky tape and disappears over the top before long, accompanied by some peculiar percussive effects in disturbing stereo. If you shoved three packs of sherbert up Juliette Lewis’ nostrils, poured fizzy pop in and applied gaffer tape the results might be like this. Then again, it’s purely a hypothesis – don’t try this at home kids……

Conversely, Jude & Sienna chronicles a tale of Hello Magazine proportions. Spacey guitars needle at Lara’s tacky tale and things get a bit warped into strange arrangements by the end.


BABYSHAMBLES : “ The Blinding EP ”
REGAL 4.12.06

Shabby-Bandles have a five track EP here to bamboozle and puzzle. Rough, scratchy and choppy, the title track is actually a decent piece. Love You But You’re Green is an auto-biographical lightweight stumble.
ShadyBangles have directly ripped the intro for I Wish but I forget where from. It’s a skank with a rather patronising attempt at patois. Beg, Steal Or Borrow is a return to the chiming ramble of Libertines-era Doherty.
BathingShandy slug their way through Sedative, a throw-away stumble.

Rather more acceptable than live offerings and a healthy length, suggesting some effort has been made but still more a sideshow to the Doherty / Daily Mail show than a work of art.


TWILIGHT SINGERS : “ A Stitch In Time EP ”

At twenty-plus minutes, this is more like half an album, one side of a vinyl elpee. It’s long enough to have ups and downs, highs and lows. Not having been a fan of The Afghan Whigs or subsequent output, One Little Indian asked me to persist and, having respect for the label’s taste, I did. I was proved part right, part wrong and was glad to have been made to reconsider.

In Live With Me, Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) adds a depth of the real bluesy lowlife and gives the band space to stretch out with a floating guitar line and yearning, hanging melody. Said melody being by, of course, Massive Attack, here darkened and roughed up at the edges. Sublime, with Joseph Arthur is a trip into soul, backed by racing trip-beats. Flashback has an epic sweep, fronted by Lanegan again, They Ride dragged on rather and The Lure Would Prove Too Much was a shuffle-waltz, decorated with mellotron and slide guitar and drifting in to a slab of Americana meets Floyd’s Gilmour.


THE RIPPS : “ Vandals ”

One of the new crop of bouncing bopsters, combing the seventies punky riffs of The Ruts with the seventies ska styling of the Coventry massive, The Ripps have that cheeky-chappy persona of, say, The Holloways, combined with a darker view of realpolitik. Vandals takes a stab at the ever-darker demonic picture of contemporary youth painted by the right wing papers and quite right too.


SPIDER SIMPSON : “ Heavy Metal Machine ”
RAMPANT 4.12.06

Named for the Mickey Rourke movie, Angel Heart, Spider Simpson have the personal blessing of Dave Grohl, heretoafter to be known as Il Papa, the Pope of rock. Lately it seems he reaches from his L.A. throne and conveys his blessings to the unwashed amongst bands. Apparently he invited them to use his studio and producer.

Unsurprisingly, Heavy Metal Machine is paced and led by the drums and features a big deep rock sound not unlike, ahem, the Foo Fighters, with a twist of the big Glamsters of the LA G’n’R scene. The ‘B’ side, ‘I’m So Tired’ is just as much of a blast. Lotsa fun, one to watch.


ROSE KEMP : “ Violence EP ”

A steady tick, tick, tick and hammered-on chords interrupted by violent thrash, highlighting Rose’s angst-tortured voice. Just 21 and with the teen pain still running in her veins, allied to the ability to write tied-down hurt songs without having to mention death every second line.

The sort of singer-songwriter we should be encouraging.


RICHARD ASHCROFT : “Why Not Nothing / Sweet Brother Malcolm”

A surprisingly catchy offering from Mr Ashcroft, ‘Why Not Nothing’ has a thicker, pacier sound than his usual offerings, and a chorus that could be sung at football stadia across the land. OK, so it’s not the most optimistic track name ever, but at least he adds a second half to the question.

‘Sweet Brother Malcolm’ is a more laid-back offering, much more fitting to the Christmas ballad genre that the double A-Side is being released into. So, no matter if you want an upbeat or relaxed Christmas, Richard’s got something for you.

Why Not (Nothing) download it?


THE RAPTURE : “W.A.Y.U.H. (People Don’t Dance No More)”

You can tell The Rapture come from New York. I ‘m still not sure why, but I think it’s because their music is so damn cool. Like someone got an Indie band, transported them to the 1970s and forced them to make contemporary music. This is a proper party tune, with electric wibbliness and everything. Put on your dancing hat and play some air funk guitar.


THE CHARLATANS : “You're So Pretty, We're So Pretty (’06 version mixed by Youth)”

A reworking of a ‘single that never was’, I had to check twice that this really was The Charlatans. It’s just so modern. The electro-remix does the song a real favour and may even transport the band from Indie faves to the dancefloor. Released to celebrate their 15-year ‘best-of’ CD, this proves that the band have the capacity to keep going on and on.


COSTAR : “Too Much Talk”
POPFICTION RECORDS Digital single out 11.12.06

A laid-back offering in the Indie / Singer-Songwriter genre, ‘Too Much Talk’ is catchy, but fleeting. While not being bad per se, it’s difficult to find anything exciting in it either. ‘Ashamed’ and ‘Lee’ continue this feeling. I’d recommend trying before buying.


BRAKES : “Hold Me In The River”

One of the highlights of Brakes’ ‘Beatific Visions’ album, this song has it all, changes in tempo, an amusing yet appealing voice and catchy guitars. The band claim it is a tribute to Scarlett Johansson, and who am I to argue? If you don’t go the full hog and buy the album (I recommend you do!), at the very least get yourself ‘Hold Me In The River’.


SANDIRA : “Hanging On The Wire”

OK, so the single may have a variety of brightly-coloured cockroaches on the cover, but I thought I’d look past that. And I’m glad that I did, because this is a slice of something different. To begin with, Sandira (the singer) has a powerful voice with the sound of someone who has toured hard to be where she is. The instruments supporting her have a live quality, too. I suspect that a live performance by this band would be explosive and impressive.

The single itself is a little simple lyrically, but enjoyable nevertheless. ‘Double Headed Hunting Arrows’ somehow manages to give the Amazonian tribeswomen of South America a voice, while ‘Bella Donna’ is a more relaxed affair. Three quite different tracks from a band that have definite promise, both live and recorded.


THE GRATES : “Science Is Golden”

Sounding louder and fuller than a three-piece really out to, this Aussie three-piece offer girly pop that flits between loud thrash, big chorus, crappo puns and a break-down to hand-claps that pays homage to any number of girl groups.

Still at the stage of support band to the support band, The Grates haven’t accumulated enough mileage to get tired or worn and Science Is Golden has more energy than I’d expected.

Then as Ross Halewood, our rock correspondent, pontificates about girl groups: “Hey, I like girls, I like groups, I like girl groups….”.


SOHODOLLS : “No Regrets”

From sounding like Kraftwerk in a post-Weimark Republic Berlin cabaret, this hammers into techno fury before settling back to a prowling bass with electronics-related innuendo – any more mention of licking diodes and geeks may wet their pants whilst listening.
You want me to ‘flick on, flick off your switch’? Oooohhhhh.
Your ‘LED’s red hot’. Oooo, baybee!

I can’t help but think of Gary Numan while I listen to this and that’s not a big turn-on for me…… you may find electronics more erotic than I do…..


ENTER SHIKARI : “Sorry You’re Not A Winner / OK! Time For Plan B”

Currently industry leaders in song titles, Enter Shikari are one of the few shouty-metal entrants in this month’s pile of records. It’s a genre that puzzles me (and that’s not only because it’s a title I made up myself….). Amongst this sort of thing it presses plenty of buttons:
Quirks: Yes – handclaps.
Shouty bits: Oh yes.
Chuntery guitars: Plenty.
Quiet bits alternate with loud bits: Of course.
Lead singer is hoarse: The gent featured near the end will need throat pastilles after.
Scope for fist waving: the phrase ‘let this battle commence’ will trigger waves of air punching.


KLAXONS : “Magick”
POLYDOR 30.10.06

More galloping electro-glam- dance-rock. Never thought that’d be a growing sub-genre but it seems to be dominating the more excitable regions of the new releases. Nicely frantic and employing that old standby – slow, fast, slow; the modern day alternative to The Pixies’ loud, quiet, loud. Someone is howling in the background and a general sense of dementia surrounds the densely layered performance.
Not one for late night music – it sounded loud even with the amp turned down. Oh yeah!


DORP : “London Out There / Extreme”

Furious and deadly serious end-of-civilisation electro-punk banger. Loud and crushing sounds propel it forward in an exhausting thrash that drips sweat but doesn’t beg a replay, relying on a narrative drive highlighted in the scary vid. AA-side, Extreme is a more everyday attempt on Diamond Dogs-era Bowie filtered through a visor of paranoia and social critiques.



JAPW are generally fawned over in the press, thanks partly to the Anthony And His Johnson connection. Somehow they pass me by, dunno why, maybe one to chalk up to personal taste. Joan has a sexy voice and the whole thing ticks like a Swiss watch while showing a beautiful layer of polish and gloss. Perhaps its it’s ‘cos the way she sings ‘Christobel, why won’t you fall in love with me’ sounds terribly, terribly like ‘Chris De Burgh, why don’t you just fall in love with me’. And there’s something there that passes all understanding – unless, of course, JAPW was wearing a red dress……



Luxembourg’s releases are getting more and more like diary snapshots. This one has all sorts of details that hint at a real memory. This is a big pop-production number that travels a parallel track to The Divine Comedy singing The Smiths. It’s an arch yet sweet little ditty about wanting your lover to move in instead of just spending every weekend over at yours. Hints at putting her on a pedestal and pre-figuring the heartache of the last single We Only Stayed Together For The Kids. Now that’s chronologically confused….. Perhaps a musical of the life of their frontman is in the works….


JAMES MORRISON : “Wonderful World”
POLYDOR 16.10.06

It’s a shame that this isn’t the Stevie Wonder version of his voice – that’s the one that does it for me. After the glory of the last single, this comes over more as soul-lite. Thing is, you just can’t go around calling your song after Wonderful World, the heaven-sent Louis Armstrong tune and not deliver the real goods about ‘trees of green, red roses too….’ It’s just not a great song, a wee bit too drippy.

B-side, My Uprising, plunders the Fulfillingness First Finale feel and is much more like it. Don’t give up the funk Jimmy-boy, there are oh-too-many ‘uplifting and sensitive’ balladeers around right now.


HUMANZI : “Out On A Wire”

The marvellously overwrought early U2 / Joy Division impersonators pull another from their splendidly tightly pounding debut album. Furious reminder of all things post-punk, Humanzi make this scribbler happy that the good bits of that era are still being recreated in a new and up to date shape without all the distracting dreck that dragged the decade down. Well worth catching live too. Oh, and can I recommend the album?


HICKS MILLIGAN PROPHECY : “The Good, The Bad And The Iceberg EP”

Wow! Starts out just like some remake of an eighties Soft Cell tune. Then grabs a further sense of urgency and disappears into a whirl of retro-futuro- synth rock. Kinda diverts the attention from the sad truth that the inevitable shortening of the name to initials will lead to confusion with Wormwood Scrubs and similar hotels for the legally challenged. Further confusion comes with the well-strange lyrical touches. Track one is called Monkey See, Monky Lifestyle and track two – King Herod’s Baby Milk – is mostly a voice crooning ‘welcome to East Croydon”…… I’m glad to say Pro-Celebrity Prostitution makes even less sense as it whirls in a fury of keyboards and yelps.

Interesting, detailed, peculiar and hard-working. Fun.


THE HOLLOWAYS : “Generator”
TVT RECORDS 16.10.06

Continuing the theme of Her Majesty's Prisons, we have..... The Holloways.

Who is there whose heart is so hard that he doesn’t like The Holloways? Combining nostalgia for teen parties and home-taping with homespun homilies (“may I remind you that you don’t live in poverty, you’ve got your youth and a healthy body”) and a punky ska beat.

Right now, I can’t see many competitors for the joie-de-vivre kings title that is rightfully theirs. And, the corny bits are carried over in the whole wash of feel-good that emanates from the grooves of this CD.


LITTLE BARRIE : “Pin That Badge EP”

Nicely dressed up jerky funk. Fiddly and bangy, plying a jazzy road through the indie-dance jungle. Reminded me quite a lot of Big Strides. Track two shows an ability to cut a rug doing the frug in a fuzzed up sixties-meets-the noughties stylee.


MR HUDSON : “The Bread And Roses EP”

Clever stuff. Track one has a bit of trip-hop going on, fused to future-folk and unashamed sentiments. Track two is a mash-up of Dylan’s I Shall Be Released. Mr Hancock Vs Mr Hudson is a short and pointless cut up of Tony H’s Blood Donor sketch. The EP is rounded up with a remix of the title track (though better titled Give Blood).

I find something a little mannered and clever here but I suspect that as he relaxes into his songwriting and stops trying to be flash, Mr H may just shine. And there is a place for his gentle songs set to trip-hop beats.


TINA DICO : “Give In”

So, a friend of mine tested the PR blurb’s boast that Tina is a ‘household name’ in Denmark by asking a friend of hers in Legoland.
‘Who?’, she said.

That same friend likes Tina’s music but it feels like wallpaper, decoration for a living room where no-one is really listening. Music should MOVE you. Fire up the body or the mind or the heart or SOMETHING. This bucket of wetness put out the fire for me.


JURASSIC 5 : “Work It Out”
B-UNIQUE 9.10.06

Dave Matthews, featured here, is a god to college kids in the States with lengthy feel-good concerts and a stadium-sized following. A Grateful Dead for the Preppy. Having once tried to grasp his music I gave up after nodding off.
I’m telling you this because Dave brings his dead hand of competent mediocrity to Jurassic 5. Once considered the doyen of UK hip-hop (and the live B-side shows no dispersion of energy), the J5 seem to have lost their way in the studio. Just being acceptable to millions doesn’t make you loved by anyone, lads.
A cynical and atypical attempt at a career come-back.


OVERSOL : “Don’t Black Out”

Overwrought, underwritten.


QUAD THROW SALCHOW : “The Unwelcome Guest / Speed”
TRY SCIENCE! 9.10.06

I like the deconstructed opening. Chop chop choppy guitar and stabs of noise over a repetitive bass figure. A synth hovers overhead then a chewed-up voice enters to intone confusing doggerel over the ever-more-fascinating-as-it-repeats backing.

The other A side (this being a AA side, pop pickers) owes a debt of thanks to Joy Division’s Isolation. Gripping in the way that cyclically repetitive music can be (think of Krautrockers Can) but by now the screwed down singing is wearing a little. This is high quality art-rock topped with a singer possessing all the vocal capabilities of Genesis P. Orridge (and, god bless him / her, the Throbbing Gristle front person isn’t gifted in that field).

One to watch – by the time they get to their first album Quad Throw Salchow will be a force to reckon with.


INFADELS : “Girl That Speaks No Words”

Flippin’ ‘eck, I’ve not heard sequencers used like that in a decade or two. Infadels strip-mine their way through electro-pop of the eighties, fortunately sticking to the strata that New Order laid down. If you’re going to ‘borrow’, borrow from the best. This is allegedly the quietest track on the album but sounds pretty intense and in-yer-face to this old fart reviewer. Gotta quite like a love song that rhymes “falling at the scenes” with “grabbing at my jeans”.


THE HEDRONS : “I Need You”

The Hedrons’ first single (Be My Friend) was a thing of joy, fury and beauty. This one plunders Iggy Pop’s riff book in a rather too obvious way (Passenger) and it mars the song for me. Actually it’s less a song and more a burst of energy and movement. Just loud, undisciplined rock in a dunderheaded joyful celebration of noise. And I do love the cracked voices of rock chicks.


GOSSIP : “Standing In The Way Of Control”

Very huge and stompy beat, fires up a disco thumper. Beth Ditto has a little girl voice that cracks into a larger universe when the turbo kicks in. (You know, that Janis Joplin effect…). It’s not that often that big soul - dance tunes work in a political dimension but this does. It’s not overt and can pass for an uplifter like I Will Survive but Standing In The Way Of Control is a call to stand up against government interference in the lives of the populace. Kicked off by the US government’s refusal to allow gay people to marry, this fuels the fire of justified anger.


PIRANHA DEATHRAY : “Dolly Dolly / Last Australian In Space”

A rubbery bass line is always going to get my attention. Sadly, they see fit to doll it up with singing and all that stuff, though the splendidly named Wataru Idol keeps sticking it to the bass. Blonde Jeremy on singing duties adds a layer of peculiar gravitas and Son Of King Rebel makes stinging movements with his guitar. Mention to Alex Potterill for the vintage-sounding keyboard fills. Oh, and the sleigh bells amuse me.

The ‘other’ A-side features crooning ala Stephen M previously resident with The Smiths and a nicely trotting pace accompanied by the apparently trademark rounded bass notes prodding into dark corners and pokely guitar.


RAZORLIGHT : “America”

So, everyone in the world has already heard this, the standout track from the second album. Guess this is what we’d expect from a band years on from the debut but Razorlight have turned out a stadium-sized lighter-waver that actually possesses real depth. Big tune, big beat, sense of Borrell and Burrows having something big to say. Nice one in a world where The Ordinary Boys consider whining about celebrity makes for an album-opener.


SOPHIE BARKER : “Leaving On A Jet Plane”

This is released because it’s on a TV ad. It’s a download only and, should you care, you could find it on the major official download sites. Thing is, although we should be impressed Sophie worked with Zero 7, this is just pants. Soppy, breathy and has no verve – which is quite an achievement on a song that has a natural swing, impelled by the chord changes. It makes John Denver’s original sound like Motley Crue.


WEAPONS : ““Love Is Thunder””

Way to name a record label! Glammed up 80’s revivalist rock hammers ahead PDQ. Apocalyptic lyrics add an aura of deadly seriousness to the fun of girly backing choruses, kinky key changes and general sense of having fun with rock conventions.

I think we should mention that Pete Cherry, the bassist, writes music for grumble flicks – which is an excuse for me to mention the titles of three of them: To The Manor Porn, Customs And Sexcise and Pump Friction. Fnarr fnarr.


BABYSHAMBLES : “Janie Jones (Strummerville)”
B-UNIQUE 30.10.06

Strangely pointless but nonetheless energetic and fun cover of The Clash song from their first album. Pete Doherty grabs in a chorus of, wait for it (draws breath); Carl Barat, the Rakes, Mystery Jets, The Holloways, We Are Scientists, The Paddingtons, Larrikin Love, Cazals, Noisettes, Good Books, Lady Fuzz, Kooks, Jack Penate, Laura Marling, Maccabees, Lisa Moorish, Light Speed Champ (Test Icicles), Jamie T, Jeremy Warmsley, Guillemots. Phew!

As you might have guessed from the Live Aid type line-up, this is a charity single, aiming to raise money for Strummerville – a project to get cheap recording and rehearsal facilities to young musicians. The first one is already at The Roundhouse in London, aiming to spread across the country.


IV THIEVES : “The Day Is A Downer”

The Paul Weller seal of approval can be a mixed blessing. Ocean Colour Scene did well out of it, but, on the other hand, there’s Tracie. ‘Nuff said. IV Thieves are the latest Weller rave and here’s one of those working for the cash machine/modern life laments which I find terribly irritating. There’s a heavy Beatles influence at work here and vocalist Nic Armstrong has a Lennon-esque bite to his vocal delivery, but I can’t say I agree with the grumpy get on this one.


THE ANSWER : "Under The Sky"

Relatively run of the mill but still raucous and pounding, The Answer offer the sort of hard rock that never quite went away with the demise of Led Zep and the other seventies dinosaurs. Offering the trad sound without all the silly guitar strangling, metallic showing off or death obsession of the other evolutionary paths that led from the Zep and the Purple. This is all about tight trousers and posing with a screaming voice. It’d be hard to sing this without faded jeans, long hair and a foot up on the monitors. LET’S RAWK!


SERENA-MANEESH : “Sapphire Eyes”

The psychedelic colours of Norway’s Serena-Maneesh are right up front here. Backwards sounds, backwards vocals, swoopy lyric lines. It’s like Primal Scream playing The Beatle’s Tomorrow Never Knows.

Pounding drums and thrumming bass alternate with quietly crooned mysterious singing from the band’s siren. Then bits of classic pop harmony pop in (viz B C Camplight, Mull Historical Society, etc). Like a big grab-bag of ideas, a lucky dip bag for the ears.


THE CIRCUITS : “Say No Say Yeah / Question Mark Shaped Heart”

Like a fine wine, full-bodied and packed with subtler aromas. This has the tight bass of early Razorlight and the same crashing guitar riffs. Even the vocal phrasings of the chorus hint at the same. Is that a bad thing?
Thing is, the bass dances and the band takes time to make space for the hips to move in the song. I can reference this back to the beginning days of The Police (when they were really rather good). A top record and a double A-side that justifies the moniker. Lyric ‘half of your heart is a question mark’ is candidate for line of the month.


HOLY HAIL : “County Fair (Part Two)”

This one is a download-only single. It’s that old fave, angular disco. You know, like half the world has been prodding at for the last three years in the eighties revival. It is possessed of a fabulous twanging and very repetitive bass line that reminds me strongly of some of the more groovy moments of Krautrock legends, Can. Beyond that, they favour a chuntering nattering that sits between bands like Dirty Pretty Things, The B52s and a sarky Beautiful South. I’d find it hard not to dance to this in a club but on the decks at home it sounds like an album track, not a single.



Juliette Lewis knows how to use her voice to give me shivers. She does that screwed down, tight throat, rock chick thing nearly as well as the two queens of the art – Patti Smith and, er, Suzi Quatro. Ok, er, it does it for me…..
Taking a break from getting her kit off in weird movies like Blueberry (the ace French psychedelic Western by Jodorowsky that sank like a stone), she fronts a back to basics rock combo. It’s noisy and crude in the same destructo-streak as bands like The Stooges. Hot Kiss rumbles and shouts that she want, guess what, a hot kiss and ‘spinning round the room, I can’t sleep, your little girl wants to f.f.f…..’. I’m just a sucker for loud and slightly disreputable rock.



The Pipettes are like a mad fusion of The Shangri-las (if they had been a tad cheerier) and The Spice Girls’ attitude. The sweeping strings and harmony vocals just make my spirits soar and the frantic Northern Soul paced beat makes me shake my bum round on my typing chair. Add in some cheeky phrases and this song about looking back on what might happen in the real world to the hard-case queen of the school. Elegiac and yet with a zen-like picture of the unchangeable shape of the world.


THE BOYFRIENDS : “Once Upon A Time”

Hey, they say Morrissey loves them. Well, the PR people say that but then they would, wouldn’t they? I can see why – singer croons observations of love and life over indie-pop dashes of fine quality. And it does make me think a bit of how the be-quiffed one constructed his songs in the period soon after leaving The Smiths. Oh, and the Mozza used them as support band. The song has a fine tune and the phrase ‘I will miss the most’ pops up over and over, with the weltschmertz that ‘Mr Daffodil’ has favoured.

Perhaps more importantly, the 2 b-sides are, respectively, an adequate cover of Kirsty MacColl’s ‘They Don’t Know About Us’ and the splendidly titled Apathy In The UK offering meanderings on topics such as ‘the Church's spiritual authority’ and reminds us that a united people has the ‘power to bring governments down’ - all in a melancholy minor key ditty!



The post-Albion sound; recognisable and trademarked by DPT and the ‘Shambles’ has the same semi-acerbic lyrics and clashing guitars, making it as much gentle sixth-form poetry accompanied by anonymous backing as a single. That said, of Dirty Pretty Things output this is my favourite, harking back to the faded romanticism of The Libertines. Managing to conjure up a world-weary sense of having lived a long time and a fin-de-siecle sepia tinge, one of Barat’s better offerings.


SOUND TEAM : “Born To Please”

The first thing popping to attention here is the boomy bass, usually a good sign, then niggling and cycling patterns from guitar and keyboards. There’s something dreamy and narcotic here as this un-naturally large and dense band tell big tales of tunes and offer vocals lines that hint at late-sixties dream ballads. Tie that up to a much softer-edged approach to similar angles as Clor etc, as well as a tiny touch of anti-folk feel on the b-side and you have something rather original.


DAN SARTAIN : “Replacement Man”

We heard Dan’s first British album at the start of the year and we were very impressed so it’s good to get some from the modern day troubadour. This is the essence of rock and roll at the point where country and folk birthed it. There is the smell of Sun Studios about it and his crooning and twanging has been understandably compared to Johnny Cash (in spirit and tone, rather than being some tribute act). There’s more than a dash of the Strummer-man about him too and the words garage, post-punk and cool spring readily to mind. The song itself is angry, sad and resigned. Class.