Monday, 28 April 2008

EP: Ejectorseat - Not My Girl EP (Taste Media LTD )

When did pop music get so good again? The infectious charm of the ridiculously good Ejectorseat is displayed in perfect in-your-face fashion with the electrifying 'Not My Girl EP.' Title track 'Not My Girl' is a punchy, indie pop wonder of a track, igniting an uncontrollable urge to dance ‘til you drop in even the loneliest of souls. With melodies so bouncy they could be marketed as a vigorous exercise program and jovial vocals swirling around this catchy-as-hell number, it’s a wonder Ejectorseat are only just releasing their first ever E.P.

'To Be More Animal' offers a darker, and slightly satirical side to the band. Sickly synths and beastly basslines are combined to make a striking clash when compared to the fuzzy pop wonder of 'Not My Girl.' Different as it may be, it’s still a perfectly awesome track; vocals spat with an alarming aggression add to the alternation, whilst pronouncing Ejectorseat as one of the greatest new bands in a long while.

Standout and closer 'Hopeless and Emotionless' proposes a perfect end to this faultless EP. With magnificent harmonies and even more added electropop ace-ness, this colossal attack of indie-pop stomp closes this joyous EP in a spectacular fashion, reaffirming Ejectorseat’s triumphant success.

Best band of 2008? Definitely.

Standout: Hopeless and Emotionless

Olivia Jaremi

SINGLE: Computerclub - Electrons and Particles (Split Records)

Bands these days are pretty boring, aren’t they? With the same old drum patterns, the same old melodies and the same old bass rhythms turning independant music into a laughing stock, causing those who tend to shy away from the mainstream to despair, give in, and retune their vintage radios back to Breakfast With Chris Moyles once again. It’s not all doom and gloom though, with the excitement and energy of Birmingham’s finest – Computerclub – set to save us all.

'Electrons and Particles' is a fast-paced, frantic jangly guitar wonder; combined with frontman Paul Hampton’s soothing vocals, this single is nothing short of an art-rock masterpiece.

Straight from the offset, 'Electrons and Particles' is an angular pop delight. However, b-side 'These Bones' is a much more aurally pleasing affair, offering an edgier, hysterical alternative to the fantastic aforementioned Electrons and Particles. With it’s frenzied rhythm and utterly awesome chorus, it’s evident that Computerclub have much more to offer than their soulless, bleak musical peers.

After almost seven minutes of dark-pop glee, Computerclub have indefinitely proved their worth. All hail CC!

Olivia Jaremi

Saturday, 26 April 2008

SINGLE: Crimes of The Future - Screen Villains (Zap System Records)

The not so easily formed Crimes of The Future are a new-wave/indie band who have just recorded their new single Screen Villains with producer Trevor Heaton.
The drum machine controlled guitar riffs give us a glimpse back to Nirvana's days of ‘Polly’ but don’t hope for something further to happen. The song dies instantly when the retro melodies take over and the sonic forefront is confronted by Sally Moriarty and followed up by backing vocals. Near new-wave disaster strikes the single but all is saved by well known guitar riffs and drum machine buildups.
The B side of the single, ‘Secret Blue’ sounds more together and a sound on which Crimes of the Future can build their general foundations on. It's nothing bright either, but a glimpse of hope.
Robert Dreija

EP: What Would Jesus Drive - We Made This EP (Split Records)

Photo by: Ross Halfin

A pretentiously rousing intro, girl/boy duo, irritatingly catchy shouts for ‘Never Again!’, pun on now defunct 80s pop LEGENDS Boomtown Rats, What Would Jesus Drive tick all the boxes and make no qualms about it. Indie Pop to get the kids at the disco dancing, the pair sound worryingly similar to the tooth achingly sweet Ting Tings; odd, the group started life as a garage rock band.

There’s no reason why these two shouldn’t succeed, ‘Boomtown Twats’ is catchy, if not a bit superficial and lifeless, never mind it only lasts for over a minute. Supporting the likes of Art Brut and The View confirms the ‘Anglo/Aussie two piece’ are clearly on the right track. 'I Think We Rushed Into This’, their second offering and clearly the best on the EP, is sweet, perhaps even genuine. The pair share vocal duties, the shouting has disappeared, replaced by heartbreaking lyrics "why would you tie yourself down, to someone so insecure," I’m tricked into thinking there more depth to these two.

And just when I was starting to like them, they had to ruin it with a cover, ‘You’re The One That I Want’, why? Grease is for drunken karaoke only, sorry, it’s all just so wrong; WWJD, I find you guilty on all charges.

Lorraine Okuefuna

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

SINGLE: The Outside Royalty - Falling (Bloody Awful Poetry Records)


I can definitely hear why they’ve been compared to Pulp and The Arcade Fire with the kitchen sink realism directed more about love, slightly disco-ish but drier drum beats and the baroque string arrangements alongside the pulsing guitar and bass which make for a brilliant combination of sound. The band use contrast to great effect by putting the lively and cheerful violin squeaks up against the melancholy lyrics which are brilliantly rendered with an almost tangible intensity and slightly weird accent that makes the singer sound a little bit plumy like when you hear James Blunt in interviews but not annoying. But posh sounding or not, it’s a slightly morose but beautiful love song that any listener can’t fail to appreciate.

B-side ‘Voice Beneath the Rubble’ is even more bleak and downbeat with the same violins now delivering mournful wails on top of a bed of acoustic guitar and more noticeably glum lyrics. From the moment the acoustic guitar comes in to that great moment in the song when the drums, violin and guitar all pick up to the finale when the murky violin section fades out the b-side confirms the earlier comparisons and proves The Outside Royalty have what it takes to be great.

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: White Light Parade - Turning All The Lights Down (Split Records)

‘Turning All the Lights Down’ is a vivacious indie rocker starting up with some Strokes-like guitars and load of youthful spirit. Clearly singer Danny Yeats can deal the playful storytelling lyrics just as well as Kate Nash with the fantastic irony of the nasal whining ‘I’m too young, I’m too young, I don’t know where I went wrong’ building up to the anthemic chorus and other brilliant lines like "too young too talk about it, so we just fight about it." Besides that the chorus nails itself to your brain the second it starts and the song even deals with all the fisticuffs and ASBOs up north. The single shows all the elements of a great band – a wild sense of fun, killer hooks and even insightful lyrics.

B-side ‘Shotgun’ takes the theme of Northern crime a little more seriously than the single, worrying about getting out alive rather than freaking about what your parents will say when they have to bail you out with rockier and more complex guitar lines and pounding drums. Obviously it’s not as catchy, otherwise it would be the single but its lyrics are no less intelligent and it’s another testament to a band that really deserves to make it.

Ollie Khakwani

EP: Rosalita - What Would Your Mother Say? (Animal Farm Music)

Photo by: E. O'Brien]

Although Rosalita sound like a middle-aged Mexican woman, musically they’re a hell of a lot more exciting than any Mexican woman even if she was a drug trafficking skydiving professional assassin, but it’s a pretty fair comparison judging by the subject of the title track. Whilst ‘What Would Your Mother Say?’ rides its disco-ish drums and synths in a way that’s so catchy it’ll force you to dance all the complaints about "what would your mother do if she knew about all the substances you take" are so preachy and clumsy that it sounds like another ‘Ask Frank’ ad campaign. Maybe Rosalita are trying to be really clever by putting the cautionary tale on top of a mental disco track but it’s just so annoying and patronising that you’d be much more compelled to go and do drugs just to spite the lead singer. ‘If You Can’t Dance’ on the other hand capitalises on their addictive tunes leading with an even better hook, retro sounding synths and a more light-hearted attitude. Sadly this much needed loosening up doesn’t last long. Closer ‘Bedtime’ starts with a much more techno sound but quickly morphs into a stomping whine about an ex which sounds worrying Eurovision-esque with the retarded bleepy synth solos that belong in trashy eurodance songs.

With three tracks it hardly counts as an EP but considering that only one track was actually any good I can’t blame Rosalita for lacking material, at least they didn’t rely on filler. ‘If You Can’t Dance’ shows they’re not a lost cause but with all the whiny crap I’ve heard I’m not about to buy the album.

Ollie Khakwani

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

SINGLE: MGMT - Time To Pretend

This song has a) been released too early in the year and b) is not a good break-in track.

The first time I heard this was when I saw the video, and it's an easy mistake to rope these boys into the now deserted 'new rave' scene which doesn't bode well for them. 'Time To Pretend' is a simple, repetitive tune that amazingly sounds as if it has numerous young children singing along to it, but who would've thought that in fact MGMT are just two men. The synthy bass is great projecting over and over but that's just the thing (as mentioned before) it's just too repetitive.

But it sure is a grower, let's just hope that I don't like it just because I've heard it enough times. And I still don't know if you call them Management or simply MGMT... Ooh how these guys like to remain mysterious.

Stacey Evans

Monday, 21 April 2008

SINGLE: Idle Lovers - Big Impression / Heart Condition (PopGrooves)

Right from the get-go, Hackney four piece Idle Lovers offer up an alluring aural treat. Immediately catchy and equally as fun, ‘Big Impression’ puts a modern twist on ‘60s pop with sweet harmonies coupled with some imaginative guitar melodies. Daniel Shepherd’s throaty vocals add a sense of urgency and passion to the track, reflecting the longing for an old lover and wishing for her return. Lyrics like “In case you have forgotten, I live at number 17” are impossible to hate, only serving to endear you further to the song’s protagonist.

‘Heart Condition’ is a more frenetic affair, a tale of unrequited love with one of the best choruses of the year thus far. Shepherd’s vocals again are the highlight of the composition, snarling over the rumbling bass and dripping with punk attitude. Long after the CD's stopped spinning, you’ll still be tapping your feet in time with these songs. I suggest you keep an eye out for Idle Lovers, if all of their songs are this strong it won’t be long ‘til they’re taking the country by storm.

Rhian Daly

EP: This Et Al - The Figure Eight EP (On The Bone Records)

Photo by: Richard Halfpenny

If you like your music a tad darker and heavier than your normal sunshine and rainbows happy-go-lucky indie then look no further than This Et Al, who sound like ¡Forward Russia! replacing the disco electronics with roaring bass lines, or yourcodenameis:milo with less pop and more edge. It’s not all loud, loud, loud though as is shown throughout this sublime EP. Lead track ‘Figure Eight’ occasionally breaks from its almost brutal nature into short bursts of quiet before kicking back into the heavy stuff. There’s even a false ending too!

‘Medicine Hammer’ shows a gentler, more melody-driven side to the Leeds group, with the key line of “the hammer cracks harder than ever before” sounded more and more epic as the track goes on. ‘Ice Age’ is the most accessible track on the EP, with a perfect balance between heavy and soaring beauty. Featuring vocals from all four members of the band, it builds gorgeously until it descends into a tear-inducingly beautiful piano outro, which in turn leads perfectly into the last track of the record, ‘(The Tale Of) Frosty Jackson’. This hauntingly brilliant instrumental is captivating throughout, and shows off This Et Al’s truly outstanding musicianship well. At just over five minutes, it could quite easily have become overindulgent but that is something TEA could not be accused of on this EP. Dark, epic and well worth a listen.

Standout track: Medicine Hammer

Rhian Daly

ALBUM: The Rosie Taylor Project - This City Draws Maps (Bad Sneakers Records)

‘This City Draws Maps’ is a heartbreakingly romantic record of acoustic lullabies and soft, hushed vocals that give you goose bumps all over and a serious case of the shivers. You can tell as soon as ‘The Sun Is on My Right’ starts floating from the speakers. It’s simple but not stupid, combining the voices of lyricist Jonny with those of Sophie, also responsible for the occasional interjection of trumpets.

London is imprinted all over this album, whether it be the London girls mentioned in ‘Anne Sexton’ or the entire song dedicated to ‘London Pleasures’. The Rosie Taylor Project don’t sound like your typical band from the capital but there’s an undercurrent to them that screams “We’re from East London!” at you. Which is odd, given that they’re actually from Leeds. Perhaps it’s the effortless poetry of the lyrics or the way they sound like the sun shining in the back streets of Whitechapel. Whatever it is, it’s something that can’t be overlooked.

The aforementioned ‘London Pleasures’ is the most different song on this long player, with a much busier sound which brings the trumpet to the fore rather than letting it linger in the background. Jolly and jovial, it’s a welcome break from the melancholy disposition of the rest of the album. When it’s over though, it’s back to the despondence with ‘A Few Words of Farewell’, the most heartbreaking of the lot. Quieter and simpler, the misery is intensified and is guaranteed to make you well up although the line “Why the devil did you leave this town?” will bring a wry smile to your lips.

Ending with the gorgeous ‘The Water’s Edge’, ‘This City Draws Maps’ finishes as it began; with a beautiful, halting sadness that will make those who hear it fall instantaneously in love with its creators. The Rosie Taylor Project add a charming glow to the fringes of the city skyline. Hopefully, soon they’ll be illuminating the whole sky.

Standout Track: A Few Words of Farewell

Rhian Daly

Thursday, 17 April 2008

SINGLE: AutoKratz - Pardon Garcon / French Girls Play Guitar (Kitsune)

Photo by: Rory

Normally a fan of all things Kitsune related, sometimes there are too many supermarket bleeps to really bum a song. However, 'Pardon Garcon' is a grower, especially after the intro. Its highly repetitive beats, bass and bleeps prove compulsive. If you know Kitsune, you know what to expect from this song. If you don’t know Kitsune, where have you been? Where is quelle surprise? Parlez vous Francais.

Do French girls really play guitar? I am yet to meet one that does. Admittedly the French people I know all are over 60 and live in the country. A mystery for Sherlock if there ever was one. See above. But, as the press release states this is more machine-like, providing a back drop for all your sweaty dance moves. Ooh, yes please.

Dearbhaile Kitt

SINGLE: Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee - Sly and the Family Stone (Fortuna Pop!)

Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee have nothing to do with Sly and the Family Stone. Apart, from naming their single after them. Obviously.

My dad used to listen to country 1035AM and dance around the kitchen, it was here that I began my dubious musical appreciation for all things country and bluegrass. Now, while I couldn’t quite see my dad dancing to this (he’d probable need another knee replacement!) I could definitely see him taping his foot and perhaps at a stretch chewing some hay.

An excellent single to listen to before you high tail it to a cake and tea dance in your finest bygone era clothing. Plus a singer who sings about being a kept man can only be a good thing, right?

Dearbhaile Kitt

Monday, 14 April 2008

SINGLE: The Rosie Taylor Project - A Good Café On George Street (Bad Sneakers Records)

Photo by: Sara Brooks

Sometimes, when life gets a little too hectic, all you want to do is lie back and daydream about calmer times. 'A Good Café On George Street' is the perfect soundtrack for such moments, with its soft, soothing vocals and jangly folk guitars drawing the escape route from the hustle and bustle in sugar leaded pencil, whilst trumpets occasionally politely interject, only adding to the feelgood summer vibe. The Rosie Taylor Project weave a musical duvet to hide from all life’s little worries under, and quite effective it is too.

Rhian Daly

DEMO: The Faff - That’s A Nice Glove / Parachuting with Pandas

Photo by: Viral Shah Photography

Looking at The Faff’s song titles, you might be expecting to be subjected to some style-over-substance, irony loving, flash in the pan indie band. Instead what you get is segments of well crafted synth-pop, which has the legs to be setting indie disco dancefloors on fire for a while yet. 'That’s A Nice Glove' is an infectious, irresistible pop tune, complete with shouty backing vocals and ridiculously cheery synths that are almost a little fairground-esque. If you don’t find yourself dancing round your room to this, triumphantly punching the air, you might want to look into getting a new pair of ears.

'Parachuting with Pandas' offers more of the same, but this time with more of an ominous edge. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what parachuting or pandas actually have to do with the song though, as singer Will propositions a girl to “run away with me, we’ll start a family”, which seems like not much thought has gone into this decision when he later sings “if it’s not what you want then go away”. Nevertheless, 'Parachuting with Pandas' is an almost flawless mix of driving guitars and catchy lyrics, which will no doubt be garnering much more attention for The Faff in the years to come.

Rhian Daly

ALBUM: Atomic Hooligan - Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah (Botchit & Scarper)

My main issue with drum’n’bass/ house/breakbeat et al is the mind-numbing repetitive nature, which appears to be a key feature of such genres. So Atomic Hooligan’s second record, ‘Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah’ comes as a pleasant surprise as not only is every track completely different, repetition within each song itself is kept to a minimum, the duo instead employing all manner of production tricks to keep things interesting. It also should be noted that this isn’t purely instrumental either, with a range of MCs and guest vocalists popping up all over the shop, including glamour model Alex Sim-Wise on the fantastically dirty ‘Electro Ain’t Electro’.

If you’re looking for a record to get you pumped up for a big night out, you could do more wrong than to stick ‘Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah’ on. Opening track ‘Dirty’ is a hands in the air club anthem of the future whilst ‘Safeguard’ is a sexy hip-shaking prowl through the shadows of the dancefloor. ‘String Vest’ is a somewhat pointless thirty nine seconds of strings, whereas epic closer ‘Too Late to Be Afraid’ shows Atomic Hooligan using the creative talents of arranger Jote Osahn to good use, leaving the track pulsating with a europhic buzz, which completely transforms the otherwise reverb heavy final 9 minutes of the record. ‘Too Late to Be Afraid’ is a prime example of overindulgence, as sometimes things get a little drawn out. This aside, ‘Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah’ is a record made to get you in the mood for a party and I’d say it does it’s job pretty well.

Standout track: ‘Electro Ain’t Electro’
Rhian Daly

SINGLE: Guildean Gang - Swirls

Sounding like the Good Shoes cover band you’ve never heard, Guildean Gang are yet another bland, generic indie band that seem to have their heart set on releasing the same music as every other indie band around. ‘Swirls’ is a short and snappy debut, and on first listen, it’s difficult to find faults; although it’s not easy finding positives either, whilst displaying an evident talent, they are no alternative to every other band of whom graced the pages of Artrocker throughout the past few months of 2008.

‘Swirls’ is a debut filled with so many clichéd guitar parts and stop-start vocals, they could almost pass off as The Libertines if they hadn’t succumbed to the rock and roll lifestyle; its slightly pretentious “look at me, I’m trying to get signed to Rough Trade!” unspoken words are enough to make one’s ears bleed, when merged with the overly-nice attack of this single. Failing where The Maccabees succeded, it’s hard to focus your attention on this all-too-perfect indie clan - just as well this short single is over in a matter of minutes.

Their spell at The Academy of Contemporary Music is almost too obvious, with these too polished tunes slotting nicely into Radio 1’s daytime playlist. It’s not all bad - if you like The Kooks, this band will change your life, with their twisted melodies and lovely vocals combining to make something so indie it hurts. 'Guildean Gang' will be a hot-off-the-press exciting new indie band sometime in the near future, whether you like it or not. If you have any kind of decent music taste however, avoid this like the plague. It’s almost pleasant enough to make you vomit.

Olivia Jaremi

EP: Scrim - Talking in Code EP (Black Moon Records)

Hailing from Sheffield, Scrim are a band set to follow in the footsteps of many other successful acts renowned for calling the city of steel their respective home. However, unlike many of the over-hyped northern acts presenting mainstream indie for the masses on a platter with added swagger and arrogance, Scrim have that much sought-after unpretentious, and rather brilliant quality to their impressive sound.

The in-your-face frenzy of Talking in Code offers straight up, tuned up infectious riffs like no other, and ultimately rocks like there’s no tomorrow. With the elegant vocals of Alek McGovern, and aggressive solo picking of John Li, the addictive clashes embellishing this song boasts this quintets snotty, antagonistic qualities, and with follow up ‘At the Disco’, the fantastic impression is not lost. With shouty vocals and quite frankly ace drumming, it is clear that such talent deserves a firm place in the limelight. Armed with deadly chords and punching basslines, such addictive music shouldn’t be limited to a mere EP. ‘Open Your Eyes’ is a brilliant triumph, and with it’s smashing solo and hysterical cries, it leaves the listener begging for more, and with final track ‘Supersize’, Scrim offer just that. Frantic chords clash and bash, and within two minutes packed with some of the most interesting and awesome music around, it’s over. Who knew rock music could be so fun?

Standout – At The Disco

Olivia Jaremi

SINGLE: Cuddly Shark - The Punisher of IV30 (Armellodie)

From the very first note, these Fugazi-alike Scots have certainly made their impression on this intriguingly catchy debut single. ‘The Punisher of IV30’ and it’s jerky punkish stop-start riffs are a fantastic combination once paired with the yelpy angst-ridden vocals scattered throughout this striking song. As the instruments work together in harmony (or should that be anti-harmony?), it is clear that this is a band to look out for, and an NME love-affair is almost certainly on the cards.

The furious delivery and pace in which Cuddly Sharks' lyrics are screeched, sung and spoken make this somewhat nihilistic single an altogether favourable one. With their energized awkward guitar fret-picking of ‘The Punisher of IV30’ tied with the dreadful, slow-paced failed attempt at Tenacious D style humour of ‘Hails of Bay’, the perplexed listener is left in shock, desperately wishing for the blistering punk brilliance of the aforementioned A-side to return. The final B-side, entitled ‘Jamie Foxx on Jools Holland’ is only a 52 second, somewhat angsty piece of throwaway punkish shouts, but it offers a delightful alternative to the appalling ‘Hails of Bay’, whilst still not quite reaching the standard of this single's standout track and A-side.

It is evident that whilst Cuddly Shark offer a slice of punk pie brilliance, their back catalogue doesn’t quite make the cut. Despite presenting a talent for writing spiky riffs that the current music scene is undoubtedly lacking, it is clear that Cuddly Shark have a long way to go. It’s not to say that they’re not firmly on their way, but it’s a long and windy road ahead.

Olivia Jaremi

ALBUM: Dan Bowskill - More Than Music

Anyone with an open eye in London would probably have seen the name Dan Bowskill scratched into ATMs and bus stops for the last few months, but how many know who he is or what he does? Dan Bowskill seems to be something of an identity crisis - soul singer? Jazz musician? Reggae artist? He could fit all titles comfortably, as 'More Than Music' his debut offering he blends those genres and more with a confidence and world weary tone that is unusual for his 25 years.

With reggae I'm out of my comfort zone, it's the kind of thing I enjoy hearing through the open window of a neighbours house on a hot July day but not something I'd sit on the tube listening to. And Bowskill doesn't offer me anything new; there is nothing here to make me rethink. He plays on the past - even his gravelly vocal is tinged in nostaglia. He combines all those well trodden influences - Gregory Isaacs, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, but somewhere in the mix he misses himself out.

'More Than Music' is a decent debut, but on a warm dusk I'd be happier listening Dillinger over the garden fence.

Claire Evans

ALBUM: Various Artists - On The Bone Compilation Number Two (On The Bone Records)

Like you’d expect with any compilation album there were some great and less great tracks and maybe I’m too musically dense for such a disparate mix. Stretching from the intricate guitar melodies and indie folk of ‘Cross Stitched Lips’ to the sleazy electro-pop of ‘Strong Nuclear Force,’ there probably is something for everyone like the press release suggests but not very much judging from what I’ve heard.

Most of the tracks aren’t very straightforward or catchy with the exceptions of ‘The Conversation,’ ‘Drunken Dancer’ and ‘Winter Warmer,’ all of which tread on the slightly more accessible end of indie pop and rock, so I could be completely missing the point of some tracks. Still, whilst some might view ‘Steven Hawkwind’ as a 9 minute prog rock epic, I thought it was 9 minutes I wasted listening to some wanker molesting his guitar. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great guitar work on the track but 9 minutes without any words and the same riff being played for the nth time gets a little tiresome.

Pretty much all of the songs get across the fact that the bands are brimming with talent (except ‘Shut You Off’ which was honestly the worst electronic track I have ever heard – 5 minutes of toneless bleeps), like the great guitar riffs on ‘Special Bear’ or the amazing vocals on ‘The Flower of Magherally,’ I’m just not sure if they’re all tracks that you’d want to listen to again.

Ollie Khakwani

Sunday, 13 April 2008

SINGLE: The Author - Dannie (Weekender Records)

Spiky guitars, frantic drumming and cool but slightly cheesy retro synths – single ‘Dannie’ is pretty new wavy, burning with urgency but enough of a sense of fun to get you dancing all the same. The chorus is insanely catchy if not a little weird with vocalists Christian Silver and James Dolan telling Dannie that they’re his soul, and a masterful lull in the middle of the song before breaking into the even more hectic outro. It’s a crazy slice of electro-rock, with the cheeky sense of humour and cocky vocals that make The Author sound like what the Arctic Monkeys would sound like if they knew how to use computers or synthesisers.

B-Side 'Michael Debacle' is in the same vein with an awesome guitar riff topped off this time with spacy keyboard bleeps and what I think are female orgasm sounds on the chorus but the same rapid pace and lull in the middle. It might actually be better lyrically than the single itself although the hook isn’t quite as good and the space bleeps become pretty annoying by the end.

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: FlyKKiller - Shine Out Shine Out (FlyKKllr Records)

Starting with a synthed up riff that I think I’ve heard but can’t place and a rising squeak, vocalist Yang’s fiery delivery pulls the track into action which quickly rushes into one of the most brilliant choruses I’ve ever heard, a psychedelic techno mindfuck held together by the intense vocals and sparkly keyboard riff. Although the post-chorus sounds like Mickey Mouse on acid stumbling into the studio, the otherwise perfect production, killer hook and wolf howling in the outro make 'Shine Out Shine Out' the first techno record I’ve heard that I haven’t had the urge to destroy.

The original remix is probably more dancefloor-friendly with the heavier drums but fucks up the bass on the chorus so it isn’t nearly as catchy; The Edison remix is clearly filler, stretching the track into 7 minutes of everything I hate about techno, mostly the repetitive nature and unnecessary production quirks and synth solos that belong on the X-Files, and the Novelist remix doesn’t quite touch the low of the Edison remix but misses out most of the vocals, which deprives the song of its best point and what held it together before. Instead it’s turned into something that sounds like space monsters should be goose-stepping to it.

Ollie Khakwani

Saturday, 12 April 2008

LIVE: Holy Fuck, 100 Club, London. 8th April, 2008

Photo by Nicole Blommers

Can I start by saying what an exciting band Holy Fuck is? Having seen them before, not once, but four times it was knowing how impressively good they are that made me decide to check ‘em out again. Holy Fuck, a four-piece from Canada, with an immense, almost geeky love for toy keyboards, beat machines, synthesizers and other musical objects as found in secondhand stores or outside in the trash of a film studio. There are similar bands that produce their music with a lot of help from some computer software, but not Holy Fuck. This is what makes their live gigs such a pleasure to watch. The boys are surrounded by their millions of toys and lots of wires connecting them. If you think that what they have on their table is already a lot, look around you, because there is more.

Tonight is a sold out night in 100 Club. Thankfully I managed to find myself a nice spot down at the front. It really is a pleasure to see all the excitement happening on stage. One hand is twisting the knobs of the effect box, the other hand presses one of the pedals and through a tiny microphone chaotic noise is being made. Do they know how to multi-task or what? If you mix all the multi-tasking together you get the beautiful sound that is Holy Fuck. I think I can say that this is the most enjoyable gig out of five I have been to so far. There is joy when single 'Lovely Allen' is played, a bit of stage diving and girls dancing on stage during one of the last songs. With a name as Holy Fuck it is almost impossible not to say that they are holy fucking amazing.

Nicole Blommers

ALBUM: Sparks - Exotic Creatures of the Deep (Lil’ Beethoven Records)

Exotic Creatures of the Deep is Sparks’ 21st outing and having managed to fail to break into the mainstream on pretty much all of their previous attempts, and while their genre-hopping is ambitious and maybe even impressive it’s hard to imagine this being a breakaway pop hit.
The whole album matches up quite closely with Rufus Wainwright’s outrageously camp chamber pop sound with definite hints of opera among all the string sections along with random synths and out of place power chords with one difference. It sucks. The whole posh voice, bad falsetto and poorly rhyming and clumsy sounding lyrics make this sound like a half completed musical abortion where any semblance of talent has already been removed.
There’s the hope that Sparks are being ironic with titles like ‘I Can’t Believe That You Would Fall For All The Crap In This Song’ and ‘I’ve Never Been High’ and occasional moments when I think some people might go for this operatic disco shit, but for everyone else it seems it would serve better as a torture for Iraqi prisoners of war, probably as a less humane substitute to beatings and being forced into sexually compromising positions. It’s safe to say this album will be the soundtrack to my nightmares where I’m being chased by Nazi puppy rapists who want to kill me by peeling my skin off and then bathe in my entrails.

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: Isosceles - Kitch Bitch / Watertight

Oh, you know what to expect: the vocals of lager-guzzling, dissented youth, energetic melodies, and quirky effects and if I have to read Artrocker painting every other band into an “angular guitar” label, I will scream! For sure, you could compare Isosceles quite easily to that other Glaswegian rock band, Franz Ferdinand (Kapranos apparently having blown them the kiss of approval), but ‘Kitch Bitch’ shows a more effortless social tongue lashing than anything to be found on the overreaching ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’. Jack Valentine and co. rip into the tussled-haired, charity-shop art fashionistas, pushing them off their self-important pedestals and eloquently encapsulating their shallowness through lyrics like “Well she wants to be like Einstein ‘cos he’s anti-capitalistic/She wants to invent an equation, but let’s be realistic/She thinks relativity applies to daddy’s Porsche”. It’s a sharp wit that is almost in dialogue with the delirious guitar work, and it is an element that is missing in the more instrumentally oriented B-side, ‘Watertight’. Driven more by Bobby Duff’s drum work and Andrew’s (no surname given) ticking bass, it highlights Isosceles more eccentric, lo-fi underbelly. These two tracks show that while Isosceles may be lyrically and instrumentally tight, they are hindered somewhat by that generic indie vocal delivery that makes them sound like their jaws are about to melt right off of their faces.

Jorge Costa

LIVE: Art Brut, Stoke Sugermill. 19th February, 2008

As the icy breeze shifts through Stoke's Sugarmill, and the cheery intro to Art Brut's brilliant new single 'Pump up the Volume' filters through the crackly sound system, echoing throughout the intimate venue, the band take to the stage for the last night of their spellbinding UK tour, as the crowd wait impatiently, cheering and whispering to one another in anticipation. With the incredibly pretentious and self-adoring audience finally warming up to the fantastic band frantically playing before them, the quintet end the opener to this blinding set and crash into 'Bad Weekend' - their anthemic number off their dazzling debut album 'Bang Bang Rock and Roll'. Interrupted half-way through for an impromptu speech by the enigmatic Eddie Argos, his excitable stage persona addresses the admiring onlookers, proving to all lucky enough to be crammed into the tightly-packed venue that this is a band to remember.

"This is our first time here" declares the oddball frontman, following spins and grins demonstrated by the rest of this energetic five-piece, making up this addictive clan of art-rock darlings. With infectious bouncy numbers such as 'Blame It on the Trains', it's easy to see why so many love this group, despite being sneered upon by so many elitist snobs. With the amazed collective of fans dancing and cheering away to the showcase of songs displayed to them with a point and a handclap, the atmosphere in the nippy venue is almost as excitable as the smiles on the audience's faces.

As the evening's proceedings draw onwards, and the drop in temperature becomes slightly more bearable due to frantic dancing, jumping and shouting, the band play their hearts out; whirling, twirling and clambering upon cement blocks as fangirls and boys alike chant each lyric with an irrepressible smile. Bopping and jumping away, the crowd mirror the spirits of the group before them, giving 110% to the ecstatic teens leaning onto the stage, grinning at their idols standing ahead of them, taking in the electrifying show thrust upon them.

Playing like the perfect pop group that never was, Art Brut seem set to fill this position. As the gang of obsessive's reach out as rhythm guitarist Jasper Future jumps and spins, perfectly choreographed with Eddie's clambering and climbing upon raised plinths and the occasional lie-down, singing directly to the girls in the front row, chanting each word without fail.

Following the occasional stage-dive and some impressive chants and conversations with the crowd, the band leaves the stage with the rapturous 'Nag Nag Nag Nag' and each participant in the sweaty, overjoyed audience chant "Art Brut Top of the Pops!" as though their hearts were dependent on it. With a spur-of-the-moment change of setlist, the band rejoin the stage with the pop-rock gold of 'Formed A Band', receiving an overwhelming reception from the crowd, who are clearly thrilled, and make no bones about showing their emotions to the sweaty band before them.

With their witty lyrics and inspiring monologues, it's clear to see the connection between the fans and the group. With different lines being pertinent to different people and different interpretations twisting the songs into something more relevant to the enamoured fan, it's evident that Art Brut are more than just a band to these exhausted, ecstatic teens. The chemistry within the band shines through, and enhances each song into a dazzling, radiant indie-pop hit. With crowd-surfing, sing-along's and an extreme amount of energy all demonstrated within the ice-cold venue this evening, it appears that Art Brut's jerky, angular pop has won once again.

As Argos once said – "Look at us! We formed a band"

Olivia Jaremi

ALBUM: Be Your Own PET - Get Awkward

Photo by: Michael Lavine

Apparently three tracks were removed from the album by Universal for being ‘too violent’ and considering how wildly aggressive the remaining tracks are I get the feeling the censored tracks would make Hannibal Lecter look like he went around vomiting puppies, sunshine and rainbows.

Heavy drums and angular guitars team up to make ‘Get Awkward’ the sonic sledgehammer that it is. Still, for all the immediate fun of the completely transparent lyrics and its raw simplicity, at first I thought it was being cleverly ironic with the teenage angst-filled whining on the opener, ‘Supersoaked.’ By ‘Bitches Leave’ when Jemina Pearl let loose her criminal one-liner ‘you name-drop so much I want to rip off my ears’ it finally sank in that despite being in their twenties, Be Your Own Pet are angst-filled teenagers, closer to emo than punk in some ways. To be honest, although they can pull off the fury with a lot of conviction, the album sags in places enough to make all the rage seem as impotent as a thirteen-year-old’s tantrum. Comparing them with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for being a garage punk band with a female vocalist is like comparing Avril Lavigne with Patti Smith under the premise that they’re both women in punk. Like Avril they lack both the actual intensity that you don’t need to scream to get and the maturity.

But for its lack of depth ‘Get Awkward’ is still a crazy fun album burning bright with an admirable if not slightly stupid early teenage swagger and charm. Tracks like ‘Food Fight’ and ‘Zombie Graveyard Party’ about beating up 6 year olds at their birthday parties and zombies eating your brains are mental and catchy enough make you laugh and dance at the same time while the relatively slow-paced ‘You’re A Waste’ is a surprisingly brilliant hooky pop moment. If you don’t mind the annoying attacks of whiny bitch ‘Get Awkward’ undergoes then it’s not a bad album. Or just skip the tracks about betrayal and all that other high school crap.

Ollie Khakwani

ALBUM: The Kills - Midnight Boom

I’m so glad The Kills got rid of their old drum machine. Their last two albums were brilliant in all their sparse intensity, but the toneless bleeps really marred the sound, making what could and should have been bursting with raw power pretty monotone at times.

‘Midnight Boom’ takes a different approach to both ‘Keep On Your Mean Side’ and ‘No Wow,’ trading in the more arty post-punk sound of the latter for some pretty twisted and dark-sounding but absolute genius pop. The heavy drums are suddenly accompanied by some killer bass lines, spiky guitar and occasional synths which combine to make stomping dancefloor numbers like ‘Cheap and Cheerful’. The addition of extra instruments and handclaps manages to maintain the unrefined DIY feeling, injecting some pop sensibilities that sound like anything but.

Alison Mosshart’s vocals have to be one the highlights of the album, now sounding like a dead-ringer for a more fun version of PJ Harvey, still snarling and wailing on top of the blues-rock guitar but sometimes sounding almost playful with her tongue-in-cheek lyrics, like on ‘Sour Cherry’ where both Hince and Mosshart crone ‘I’m the only sour cherry on the stand’. Although the album is for the greater part quite a bluesy affair like their debut, the best cuts showcase a different side to the duo like the dirty pop of ‘Last Day of Magic’ and the down-tempo almost ballad of a closer ‘Goodnight Bad Morning’ which quash any potential for boredom.

All in all ‘Midnight Boom’ is a fantastic delve into the realms of pop music which won’t leave you feeling disgusting afterwards. It’s much more interesting (as even the title suggests) and dare I say fun than either of their earlier albums but just as intense and intriguing.

Ollie Khakwani

ALBUM: Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster

Photo By Grave deVille

When I heard their ‘Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP’ last year I was under the impression that Los Campesinos! were a band of ritalin junkies trying to eat their body weight in red vines or Mars bars, so I expected a translation to a proper LP to be difficult considering the sugary rush of their music. Still, from ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’ it seems like they’ve made a pretty seamless transition without compromising on any of their earlier strengths. With the chaotic collision of the lead guitars, keyboards and violin, Los Campesinos! continue to churn out catchy indie pop masterpieces in rapid succession and have even tightened up the slightly weak vocals from the EP to take advantage of the combination of sweet girl group vocals with Gareth Campesinos!’s cocky indie rock vocals weaving together into some amazing harmonies.

Still there are some slightly clumsy moments like ‘…And We Exhale…’ which in some ways crosses the line from hyperactive brilliance to sloppy with its spastic makeshift orchestra at the beginning. Overall though, the lyrics are as brilliant as ever on every track, and along with the killer pop hooks and punk rock attitude ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’ bursts with the irresistible quirkiness and charm that’ll get you dancing straight away and stick in your head for the next month.

Ollie Khakwani

ALBUM: These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid

There's a fine line between creativity and bullshit and 'Beat Pyramid' makes These New Puritans sound like they've just been pulled over by a police officer after waking up at the wheel in a drunken daze and told to walk the line. 'Beat Pyramid' has some great moments in all its electro-garage mentalness but all too often it's just pretentious and unlistenable.

There's the obvious comparisons to make with The Fall and Mark E. Smith that every music journalist has already made but it doesn't really go further than the tendancy to repeat their cryptic lines, lyrics concerning history and science and the paranormal and a vague resemblance in sound. Still, Jack Barnett has none of Smith's intensity or ability to make you feel - everything sounds so carefully calculated and cold. At the same time, while Mark E. Smith's references seem to fit The Fall's work perfectly, because of how surprisingly unspontaneous 'Beat Pyramid' sounds, the mentions of astrology and the like sound like a feeble attempt to be artistic and deep that just make you want to say FUCK OFF.

On the other hand, there are some amazing electro-punk tunes that'll make you get up and dance without realizing it like 'Elvis' and 'C.16' but they seem to be when the band aren't trying their hardest to be weird.

I can appreciate some of the more experimental aspects of their music - it's a refreshing change from the regular Avril Lavigne three-chords-and-some-serious-marketing formula that dominates pop music - pop culture references like Michael Barrymore masturbating on 'MKK3' and other more fun tracks are highlights. However, in many ways TNP feel like a band taking themselves far too seriously with their lyrics which sometimes sound like bad poetry and I can't shake the feeling that NME have once again championed 'The New Eccentrics' as another vacuous genre to hide the fact they haven't had time to find any good new bands.

So when they're not passing you 2 minute slices of musical shit thinly veiled by their 'Elizabethan magic show' crap and lyrics stolen from cereal boxes and jumbled into nonsensical sentences (*cough, cough* '£4'), TNP have a lot to offer in the way of freaky post-punk insanity. Still, overall it's about a 5/10.

Ollie Khakwani