Looking for the Peaches...
SLICED PEACH- Sliced Peach E.P.
This is going to be a tacky and uninspired review. Because this is mostly how I felt when I heard this CD. So, without further ado, if you like your pop-punk with a serving of fresh chugging guitars, cutesy keys and swimming in slightly off-key female vocals, then grab your biggest dessert spoon; you're in for a treat. Though, sadly, in my opinion, this Scouse quartet are more of the Happy Shopper than Del Monte variety. It's not that they are without (groan) flavour; in fact, I'd go so far as to say they even grew on me a bit. It's just that their appeal lies with those somewhat younger than myself. Like Bis having an orgy with Ash (with a big hunk of slightly whiffy knob-cheese thrown in especially for final song, "Bad Ass Billy), I would have jumped right in myself about ten years ago, revelling in the nice harmonies, perfectly sweet melodies and "wow! I love you" sentiments, which incidentally almost make me vomit nowadays. Unfortunately, I'm a bit too cynical for this kind of thing. And this kind of thing is a bit too repetitive for me. Still, you know what they say; practice makes perfect. And, with that in mind, I wish Sliced Peach the best of luck.
ROGER- Kids and Thieves
Roger is a Finnish Architect/ VJ whose name isn't really Roger. It is alleged that his music is inspired by the clubs of Manchester, combining the thrill of the smoky dancefloor with the poetic beauty of Helsinki at night, culminating in the pop sound for tomorrow. And that's the kind of no-holds-barred pretension you will find here on this very single release. Luckily, I'm not shy of a bit of such shenanigans. Produced by the bloke responsible for New Order and Ladytron, to name a few, this electronic pop will obviously sound familiar, with accurate comparisons being made to Fischerspooner and the like, though I can't help but imagine the Pet Shop Boys wearing glittery rollerboots and lycra, performing a high speed version of the Robot. And if that doesn't get your bottom quivering, then I don't know what will. I wasn't even bored by the three remixes. Yep, you should enjoy this one.
This was released on 20th March, 2006, in which case you've most probably made up your own minds about it by now. Ho hum.
LOVEMAT- Between the lines
Now here are five boys with their legs firmly astride the big beefy God of Hellfire as it stomps it's way through the British music scene, leaving a trail of grungey metal in it's wake, no less. Hailing from "Disturbia"- a place near Newcastle where you feel the need to fit in but don't actually want to so you go on tour with Towers of London instead- Lovemat present to you a big ballsy (and rather hairy) homage that puts me in mind of Velvet Revolver, Soundgarden and, at times, fellow Geordies, The Wildhearts; a sleazy tune with a penchant for catchiness and widdly guitars which does not pretend to be anything else but unashamed rock and roll. And, while I don't think they're going to be making any great noise in the near future, you may well think this is worth a listen.
This was released on 3rd April, 2006, which means I'm not really very late in my reviewing duties. For once.
BEANGROWERS- You are, you are.
An obvious point to start with would be that any would-be bands reading this should think carefully about the chuffing name you choose. Learn from those that did not. I thought this was going to be some dreadful folk farmers convention recorded for posterity, for crying out loud. I was pleasantly rewarded with something a lot better. Because Beangrowers actually punch out indie-pop like it's going out of style; a female-fronted three piece from Malta of all places, who are short, sharp and to the point (a point that has been made more than a few times before but they're good at what they do- girl power and all that). Hell, their good simple guitar-based pop has even got people on the continent talking about them, mostly saying that they can hear a bit of PJ Harvey mixed with the same kind of insistent sexuality seen in Debbie Harry, a kind of brunette Blondie without the disco beats. And the B-side to this single sounds like Madder Rose. Which I think is pretty cool. Though I'm not sure I should mention the fact that they have toured with the Stereophonics. Shit
Released 10th April, 2006
JOE MATSON- Demo
I will be shot for saying that here is a man who sometimes sounds like Mike Patton (although I swear he does). Because, although accomplished enough, his take on blues funk had the kind of dull indie-pop undertone a la Reef (refer to exhibit a: the track known as "Blues On D") which forced me to turn off my computer and flee to a sofa and "First Look Desperate Housewives". And might I say this week's episode is a particularly good one? In my defence, and far be it from me to poo on anyone's parade, but by track three, entitled "Diamonds", it was all getting a little bit Savage-Garden-meets-pub-band-meets-Steve-from-the-X-Factor, touching as that may be. Still, I will stick my neck on the line and genuinely say that Joe Matson is good at what he does. It's just I don't want to hear it again. Ever. Sorry.
ACTRESS HANDS- Snack Horse
The sun is out. The new addition to my cat family is learning the art of pillaging bumblebees and blackbirds. And this actually makes an adequate soundtrack. Must be the laidback keyboards. Not forgetting the cornet (there's a certain something about a cornet that says summer is on the way, do you not think?). And, teamed with inoffensive indie-slash-pop laden with Teenage Fanclub melodies, with a bloke from Electric Soft Parade on vocals and guitar, it's worked for this lot anyway, who were tipped as one of the Top 4 bands (yes, count 'em, 4!) to come out of Brighton by the NME last year. And who am I to argue with that? Though pleasant enough, I felt it a bit Boo Radleys to really float my boat these days. Personally, I prefer the B-side. Though it could do with more "je ne sais quoi", it has some "get up and go". The Beatles-esque harmonies are a nice touch too. But, best of all, it sounds a lot like my favourite Oompa loompa song in the new "Willy Wonka" flick, where Veruca Salt gets chucked down the chute and it all goes mellow yellow and sixties. Floaty dance moves akimbo being no bad thing in my estimation. Hoorah.
See what you reckon when this is released 22nd May, 2006
STRANGE WORLD- The Extended Play
This is another band who I'd love to say should continue to dabble in what they clearly enjoy, but should not, by any means, give up their day jobs. I'm not even stopping to think that this might be their day job. Because the sound described by this London-based trio as "much harder rock/funk/tighter/driven" could, in my opinion, be well summed up with just one word alone. But I wouldn't be that rude and I'm trying to be constructive. Oh well, I'm sure to get hate mail for this one anyway, so here goes. This sounds like your Dad dancing to "Oops upside your head" in his best cords and Birkenstocks at the working-man's disco. Except without the disco. It also sounds like three middle-aged men still questioning the meaning of life through the medium of the most dated guitar-based drollness imaginable, when no-one under forty actually cares anymore. Though, having said all that, no CD is ever without it's highlights and I have to say that Strange World are no exception, my absolute favourite being their energetic final song, "Here we go" (think Status Quo circa "Rocking All Over The World") which, although picking up the pace, still cleverly maintains the regular rhythm seen throughout this CD: listen for a minute and skip. Next!
BOYS OF SCANDINAVIA- Why do you love me?
This is apparently house music for those who don't see the sun. I find this about as exciting as only being able to taste ginger nut biscuits because I have the flu. Perhaps that's the reason for my feeling a bit grumpy. Then again, perhaps it's because I heard quite a similar thing emerge from my own postbag a few minutes ago (by someone not called Roger who is also from Helsinki). But whereas Roger had three fine remixes backing his single release, Boys of Scandanavia decided to use two rather similar versions of the same song, perhaps with a bit edited out here and there. And I suppose we can be grateful for that. Yes, the bass makes your bowels rumble in true electro-funk-meets-post-punk style and the searing guitar and 80's beats in the vein of New Order and Kraftwerk could well whet your whistle but for originality and quality of entertainment you couldn't ask for a more boring song. And the prize for most appropriate lyric goes to "I've got no personality". Sums it up for me. Why do you love me? Erm, I don't. But I get the feeling that someone reading this, someone with a more angular haircut than mine, just might
Decide for yourself if I'm talking utter balls when this is released on 20th April, 2006
FAHRENHEIT451- The Catastrophe EP
If the political record is defined as something which is all mouth and no action, then Fahrenheit451 are halfway there. To clarify, for proclaimed punks, they went on a bit for me, being just a teeny bit repetitive- (some people call this "anthemic" but it never really appealed). Though I must admit that this is great for something apparently amateur. Blatantly influenced in places by the early Manics catalogue and Muse, not least for the wide vocal range explored throughout, needless to say that here is a band who are going to very much appeal to the angry yoof these songs were written for anyway. Though they often sound to me not unlike The Levellers, except without The Fiddles or Didgeridoos. Which is still alright. Yet, in summary, what really stands out from this CD is that, with tracks like "Don't change the calendar" expressing the passion and urgency so lacking in so many new bands, I really want to stress that, with experience, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And so my best advice would be that, if you like your music slightly more thought-provoking, spy on the link below.
This band have a lot of gigs coming up. I expect they will be rocking a town near you soon.
THE POCKET GODS- Brian
My first thought is that anything called Brian is obviously worthy of attention. And, as it turns out, The Pocket Gods actually are. Because this brainchild of Mark Lee and Annelise Moeke, now with the drummer known as Scott, is the kind of DIY sloppy pop-rock I fall arse over tit for. I'm in good company too. John Peel was also a fan of their simplistic lo-fi sound, all Pixie-esque fuzzy guitars and quirky lyrical content. And no doubt would have jumped around with gay abandonment to each of these little gems, every one offering a fresh and/or fun perspective on life, from the infectious "Devastation Duvet" to the slow and gentle stroll through early 90's rock that is "Nightlights". Not forgetting the fact that they managed to make a song named "Sussex" brim with enthusiasm. I'm not a fan of the phrase "super cool" but they forced me to use it. So there you are. I love. I love. Go look them up on the obligatory My Space account here.
SHUT YOUR EYES AND YOU'LL BURST INTO FLAMES- Signal Noise
Do you know what word I love to use? Cacophony. Apt it seems, as these
more-than-lively Leeds noise-mongers have given me a headache in more
ways than one. Mainly due to the fact that they are proving difficult
to pigeonhole. Which, in case you hadn't realised, dear, is the task
I am meant to attempt in my occasional role as reviewer. Because, whilst
what I mostly hear here on this track are little smidgens of At The
Drive In and Mars Volta, my mind focuses on a far-off element of Franz
Ferdinand, far-off indeed though just audible to the naked ear. And
then there is the chorus that reminds me of many of the more "post-hardcore/emo"
bands of the moment, in its radio-friendly melodic harmony tête-à-tête.
Are you beginning to realise my problem?
Limited edition single released 10th April
ACTION DIRECTE- Demo
This Yorkshire-based quartet is against the safety-first niceties of the "alternative" media. Well, I don't go in for nice. However, if there was any doubt, I should be alright because their main quibbles lie with Nazi Goths and modern punks. Which is interesting for an opinionated political band so outwardly opposing of war and racism, to mention but a few. Right on. Though obviously their idea of freedom of expression doesn't stretch to musical tastes. Still, fortunately, I am neither a Nazi, Goth nor punk. So I can say what I like. And what I find is that, while Action Directe appear to have tried a range of styles throughout their collective life, claiming to have become a greatly successful underground act as a result, they seem to have now plumped for the tuneless kind of old punk/metal approach, which they call industrial punk because they have thrown in a few samples. Still, at least they have something to say, even if the way they are saying it is not entirely listenable. And if you feel like shouting along to something rather angry, then this is especially for you. Just make sure you put your fingers in your ears first.
GARY NUMAN- Jagged
You're probably all aware that Marilyn Manson says Gary Numan pioneered electronic dance music and Trent Reznor cites him as the man who made him want to play the synthesiser. Even Liam Howlett says he is the only electronic artist he thought was cool. So who was he most famously sampled by? The Sugababes. Though, needless to say, this is not a pop record. Because his first studio album in five years sees Numan take sombre, sinister and sexual to new levels, creating dark landscapes of sound with big industrial beats, a big rock sound and even bigger vocals. At times having an Eastern feel (see the title track for one such example), at times sounding like something plucked from "The Crow" soundtrack, yet always with the noticeable influence he has had on Nine Inch Nails, from the haunting single "In a dark place" and equally dramatic "Melt", for this reason, I would say that if you're looking for a record brimming with variation, this is not it. But if I knew what classic Gary Numan was, I would say this was. Or at least more than capable of getting those pig heads spinning on the turntable. Or something. Go listen.
This was released on 13th March, 2006, so you can get a copy right now, should the mood take you. What's more, Gary Numan is embarking on a UK tour in April. Why not have a gander on his website for more details?
JACK RUNDELL - The snicks on my Mulligan
Winging his way through sound-waves all the way from the cultural institution that is Ipswich, what is essentially lo-fi pop-punk, and at times worryingly infectious lo-fi pop-punk, often ends up as a cross between The Rocky Horror Picture Show, something you might hear down Felixstowe pier and dead Elvis. Though this peculiar storyteller may do more of a silly dance and have a collection of funny hats. As in I'm not sure how serious this is meant to be. Because this minimalist demo, merely and endearingly mostly consisting of one man, a guitar, some keys and DIY ambience a la My Morning Jacket's earlier recordings -(NOT that I am comparing the two musically)- reveals some good catchy song-writing that, unfortunately or not, on tracks like "Love me/ Love my scissor hands" and "Disco on the microscope slide" just sound a little bit like they belong to the Phoenix Club. Which still prompts me to consider that it would be an interesting and perhaps joyous experience to see Jack Rundell live. As long as he stays away from the high notes. Because he sounds like he's having fun, bless him. Yes, whatever makes you happy, love, might make us happy too.
IN CASE OF FIRE- Demo
You know one of those days when you find that your Giant African Land Snails have been naughty and laid loads of eggs and it grosses you out a fair bit and your life flashes in front of your eyes because you realise they are soon to take over your house? And then you pick up the next CD to review and it turns out to be the Irish version of Fightstar? Actually, In Case of Fire are not that bad. Although they are rather similar to Char-lay's new(ish) band, this is a trio that also echo the beautiful Fighting With Wire, at times anyway, or even the hard-hitting talent of Cambridge totty, The Mono Effect. Which means I have to say they're passable at least, if only a bit cheesier. Their biog annoyed me, for example, (well, if you can call it a biog)- reading "New band, new sound, new thinking, new rock, no compromise". All well and good except the sound is by no means new, possibly Nu what with all that well-practiced screaming but we won't go there on this occasion. So compromise they may have to. And my advice, should this happen, is to not become too predictable. Because, all things considered, boys, you are in danger of becoming a cliché before you've even begun. And then it will be "No band, no sound, no thinking, no rock, er no compromise". While the kids will just move onto Kerrang's next flavour of the month.
This is the stuff of many a floppy haired youth's wet dreams, three
angry guys playing fast-paced punk rock whilst boasting a showy list
of influences ranging from Primal Scream and Talking Heads to The Fall
and the soundtracks of John Carpenter (I mean, who else?). Though you
can hear none of these. Therefore, for me, the title track to this EP
was surprisingly a treat. Passionate, intelligent and full of rage,
their mature and energetic sound is very much of the current British
music scene. So it has obviously been done before but I like.
BC CAMPLIGHT- Hide, run away
The BC stands for 25-year-old Brian Christinzio. Who, after a bout of mental illness in his early 20's, decided to go on a mission to create the "perfect pop record", through which he "wanted to change the way that people felt, not the way they dressed". And this, his debut album for which he composed, arranged and (just about) played every note, might just do the trick for me. Helplessly embracing the melodic solar system of Ben Folds, Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson and ELO and instrumentation often mindful of Belle and Sebastian, what some will no doubt call predictable is in my opinion pretty glorious. But only if you don't take yourself too seriously. Because the quirky single, "Blood and peanut butter", the laidback lilt of "La la la" -(yes, that's how pop this really is)- and the sweet "Hide, run away", which happens to be a hybrid of "Raindrops are falling on my head/Singing in the rain", probably best illustrate the kind of carefree songs achieved here. Apart from "Wouldn't mind the sunshine" which sees Button Moon effects combined with a cello. Simply put, only the word "hoorah" will do.
Released 1st May. One Little Indian. On tour for the last part of April
with Boys Least Likely To, so catch them live if you can.
EIGHT LIVES LEFT- 6 track demo
My, it's amazing what you can do when you learn to play your instruments properly (nooch). Because, though always making noise in and around the local scene, Eight Lives Left have, in what seems like a rather short space of time, got louder, faster and more post-hardcore than anyone could ever have imagined possible. Yet what sets this young quartet apart from the rest is their genuine attitudes and realisation that not quite everything sucks, taking themselves seriously in a musical sense but translating this in a way that's full of life. Basically, they just want you to have as good a time as they are. And, while this is unfortunately not my most favourite tipple, you've got to love them for that. As well as the best song title in opening track, "Dandelions are rubbish". Yes, while variety may still not be their strong point, and their influences are blatant, ranging from Funeral For a Friend and Thrice to My Awesome Compilation, the good news is that the way that the tunes have developed, and, of course, the way they are played, are definitely promising enough to perhaps one day soon call these idols their compadres. In all honesty, my only real gripe is that it took five songs until I got to the strongest ones on the CD; "So long" and the mostly slower "Stand steady boys" are certainly the stand-out tracks for musical accomplishment, the vocals particularly sounding stronger than on the others beforehand. Oh, and I don't believe it's a good thing to admit to liking Fall Out Boy either. Shame on you.
I think I am about six months late in writing this. I do have a valid
excuse. My computer blew up.
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