A Bit of Education - Alan Smith Finds
That He Likes You a Lot
The Skies - Bring It On
This single bares more than a passing resemblance to Primal Screams
Rocks in terms of its stomping guitars & drums and catchy repetitive
chorus. But Bobby & Company's chart bothering days are long gone,
and a radio friendly song such as this is an obvious potential hit for
a band that create the illusion of edginess, whilst actually being very
calculated in their song structure. That sounds like I don't like it,
I do, it's pop rock Jim, exactly as we know it.
Danny Fontaine & The Horns Of Fury Present Murder Suite
We've had Gypsy Punk from the superb Gogol Bordello which has inevitably
opened the gates for all those other gypsy-genre-straddling bands to
come out of the woodwork and find fame and fortune. Danny Fontaine &
The Horns Of Fury are the first of, I'm sure, many Gypsy ska bands to
unleash themselves on our fragile ears. They are, of course, bonkers
and therefore a great amount of fun. The have a slower pace than Gogol,
plus, as you'd expect, plenty of Horns. The songs meander all over the
place, and pay homage to roughly 7000 different genres of music. In
order to create a listenable "comedy" band, they have the
required genuine talent & songwriting skills. This three track CD
is enjoyable, but to fully appreciate the band, I think you'd have to
see them live. Something I'll make sure I'll do as soon as possible.
Captain Black - Come On Up To Our House
Shocking from the very first second, Captain Black do not make mournful
low-key gentle acoustic numbers direct from their hearts to your ears.
Nope. The "Black" is misleading; this is delightfully upbeat
and makes you bop. Yes, bop. It's that kind of record that it's not
dancing, it's bopping. Some clever production gives it an unpolished
vinyl sort of sound that adds to its charm. It's catchy as Fuck, unlike
anything else out there, and an indie masterpiece. If only every band
were as talented and enjoyable as Captain Black. www.captainblack.org.uk.
The Half Rabbits - The Final Days Of Rome
I'm not really sure how I feel about this band. Not very helpful as
an opening statement I grant you, but I reckon they'll split you about
50/50 as well. The singer's spot-on Editors style singing is accompanied
by rockier backing, sort of Pixies without the inventiveness. And I
think therein lies the problem, I'm left with the nagging feeling that
this is just a little bit needlessly over-the-top. It could be that
they've stolen too much from everybody else and really don't have anything
of their own to offer, or they might just be finding their voice. This
one could go either way but I'm not sure I can be bothered to hang around
to find out. If you think you can by all means head off to www.halfrabbits.co.uk
Passenger - Walk You Home
Passenger are long time favourites of mine and I've heard them transform
from a gentle acoustic based band under the name Mike Rosenberg Band,
to masters of infectious little upbeat numbers. This is another of those
nice little tunes, following up recent single Do What You Like. It's
got the requisite catchy chorus that seems to be so easy for them to
knock out, and the clever lyrics to go with it. Their progression as
a band seems to be helping their profile, in the last two weeks I've
heard them twice on the radio so it seems their hard work is paying
off, which is nice to see when you've seem a band plug away for some
time to develop themselves. www.passengerofficial.com.
Van Tramp - The Ultraviolet EP
This is pretty sickly stuff from a band whose singer apparently won
a Bryan Adams soundalike contest. Which is pretty much all you need
to know. It's ludicrously over-polished, presumably to make sure any
redeeming features are wiped out to create something that reaches new
heights in blandness and is therefore thankfully utterly forgettable.
Their claim to fame is that their music is used as a backing track on
Final Score, which is something no band should be proud to admit. "Stadium
sized" (so say Rough Trade) they may be, but that really isn't
a good thing. If you like Rod Stewart this band may have something to
offer you, but I'm pretty sure you don't and therefore neither do they.
Undercut - A Bit Of Education
Annoyingly Undercut seem set up for success. The music is reasonable,
inoffensive and less original than the likes of The View & Hard-Fi.
This means I'm bound to hear a lot more of them as they hoodwink the
masses into their bland world with the "edgy" vocals with
remind me of Incubus and other drab American bands. They claim they
"embrace so many things that are great about up-coming British
guitar music right now", by which they mean they rape, pillage
and steal all they can to hop on the bandwagon and give the world tedious
music utterly undeserving of success. Am I being too harsh? No, because
there is nothing here at all, and despite this we are powerless to stop
Bobby Cook - Déjà vu
"Oh no!", I hear you cry, "Not another ruddy singer songwriter".
'friad so folks, but wait! This one's pretty good! "Oh, I suppose
he has a haunting voice and carefully written heart wrenching songs?"
Um, actually, no. "But I'm sure I've heard it all before, right?"
Very funny. I got the same surprise from this as I did from Patrick
Wolf. It's really upbeat and poppy, genuine feel good music aided by
a full band. Please please please take the time to listen to this if
you likely effortlessly catchy top quality music. He's up there (or
will be) with the very best and I'm sure is a cult hero in the making.
Photo by Nick Kiehl
James Morrison - One Last Chance
From one great songwriter to another. Only joking. The man who unleashed
the horrendous "Wonderful World" and "You Give Me"
on an unsuspecting and unprepared public to incomprehensible success.
The stupidity of the world in general never ceases to amaze me and they
suck up any old generic tripe seemingly without a clue of what makes
a great song. So much amazing music is produced and yet I have in my
grasp what will undoubtedly be another unfairly huge hit. In its defence
it's not as mind bogglingly irritating as its predecessors. I don't
wish to jump out the window whilst listening to it, I only wish to destroy
the CD forever more and wish that James' career would do the same. You
may think I've taken the easy way out here, and laid into someone who
is dazzlingly ease to hate and pick upon. But there is nothing in this
song of any value. It's very simple and the lyrics basic and calculated.
Happily, I doubt any of you were even considering listening to this.
Oh, to be in your shoes.
Opposite The Hotel -
Opposite The Hotel feature Jonny Steele, former guitarist with R*e*p*e*a*t
favourites Miss Black America. So I'm expecting good things. They are
slightly calmer and more structured than you might expect, and luckily
with no attempt made to hide their political messages within their music.
And, of course, they prove you can talk about things you actually care
about and still make good music. I've heard enough bands who stick to
singing about "love" and "feelings", without actually
saying ANYTHING, to last me many lifetimes. Their music is deceptively
jolly slightly hippyish indie with half spoken half sung vocals that
are a bit weird but strangely enticing. Annoyingly (or happily?) their
name is utterly ungooglable, so you'll need to know it's www.myspace.com/oppositethehotel
to head to.
Twin Thousands - Like You A Lot
This duo are made up of a woman who plays with Bright Eyes, clearly
a good thing, and a man who also goes by the name A Million Billion,
who I really didn't think much of. So it could go either way. Thankfully
this single swings in the positive direction. It's a charming little
nugget of pop goodness. Gretta, for that is the aforementioned woman's
name, has a soothing and uninvasive voice that doesn't overpower a deliberately
clean backing. It manages to sound very simple, yet is made up of many
layers that fit together carefully and subtly. For a fledgling underground
indie band they have managed to already create something very special,
which is another pleasant surprise. www.myspace.com/twinthousands.
By Alan Smith