Monday, 26 May 2008

Q&A: Good Shoes

Photograph: Jenny Hardcore

Four boys from South London, creating a riotous racket and visually enticing record sleeves. It could only be Good Shoes! After a fun-filled 2006 and on the eve of the release of their debut album 'Think Before You Speak', we catch up with RHYS for a brief chat.

Hey, how are you doing?
Good, we're in Sweden recording some B-sides, then I'm off to Germany on Thursday to do press. Busy times, so I'm a bit knackered but all's good.

What can we expect from the new album?
Umm...14 short, clever/dumb, pop songs that we wrote ourselves, with lyrics about my life in particular, but about our lives in general.

You guys have dabbled in doing remixes, are there anymore planned?
Umm...we've done one remix, and it sounded amazing, but not really. We're too busy, so when we have days off, we like to see our friends, instead of doing remixes in front of computers!

How much has Morden influenced you?
Morden has influenced us a great deal I think. But then again, I feel like where ever I grew up, I would have felt the same things towards that place and have had similar relationships to the ones I had in Morden.

What’s been getting your good shoes tapping in music lately?
Jamie T, Klaxons, Rumble Strips, Blood Red Shoes, White Flight, Operator Please.

What’s your favourite song to play live at the moment?
The Photos On My Wall maybe, it's simple and fun to dance about to; I dont have to look at my guitar when I play it so I'm a bit more free with that one, whereas with the other songs, I have to concentrate all the time.

Apart from playing in front of the French, what other aspects of your tour dates later in the year in France are you most looking forward too?
Umm...just seeing new cities. I doubt many people would ever get to see so many other cities in France, mostly people would just go to Paris. Its nice to experience different parts. The same goes for Germany where we're doing a big tour just after.

How did it feel to play the Carling Weekend Reading and Leeds festivals?
Great! It was our biggest ever show and people really got into it, it was really fun!
Having said that, are there any stand out favourite places for you to play?
Birmingham, Leeds, London especially (for obvious reasons), the major cities I guess, because we get to play bigger venues.

How do you feel about being part of the “Thamesbeat” scene?
Nothing. There is no scene, plus, we live very far away from the Thames. We don't have the money to live in Richmond or Twickenham! And we don't sound like any of those bands.

So once the album is released, what’s in store for the future of Good Shoes?
Touring and touring, promoting, releasing more singles, travelling about, exactly what you'd expect!

Do you think the visual side is important to the full Good Shoes picture, to complete the package if you like?
Yeah, I'd say it's about 40% of what we do; the music is obviously more important, but without artwork or videos it would be a lot more boring. I think the way you present yourself visually is very important and can make a great band. I'd like to think our artwork is good, I do it all myself, see!

What is the inspiration behind the artwork? Was it always something you knew you would do yourself, instead of getting someone else to do it?
Yeah, I studied Illustration at uni so it's what I wanted to do before being in the band. There is so much bad artwork out there that I knew what I'd done was, at the very least, better than some of it - check out the album artwork; especially the limited edition CD, it looks pretty cool.

Jonathan Murray

Sunday, 25 May 2008

EP: Later - Switchbored EP (Filthy Little Angels)

Later’s 'Switchbored EP' shows indie pop at its best – opener ‘Year By Year’ is reminiscent of Conor Oberst and his Saddle Creek friends’ earliest dabble into music, 'Park Ave,' with its lyrical honesty, bubblegum melodies and simple arrangement. Same goes for the brilliant interacting guitar and keyboard lines on ‘Longing’ and melancholy tone of ‘Telephone Call’ and its contrast with its sprightly beat. Although clearly not an epic that is likely to inspire generations of future musicians Later play to their strengths – honesty, simplicity and catchiness and as a result the 'Switchbored EP' is brilliant in its understatedness.

Standout Track: Year By Year

Ollie Khakwani

EP: The Transmissions - Safe EP (Filthy Little Angels)

(Filthy Little Angels Records)
Curtain up. The reviewer sits at a desk, fingers hovering over keyboard. Conscience enters stage left.

CONSCIENCE: Been a while. So, what’s the verdict?

REVIEWER: Still not sure, you know I’m really dense with experimental rock. I think there’s something here but I have no idea how to say it.

CONSCIENCE: Umm…just start with what it’s like and what’s good about it.

REVIEWER: Well I guess it kind of has that gravity-defying Blonde Redhead vibe with the floaty distorted guitar and vocals on all the tracks except ‘Faces.'

CONSCIENCE: So more of a relaxing sombre-type listen?

REVIEWER: Definitely on the title track and the closer ‘Thoughts Remain’ but they all have some pretty punk/alternative rock-ish guitar licks. And it’s probably more engaging than Blonde Redhead with all the solos and dynamic changes. Kind of like Mogwai’s Rock Action, you know, showing what you can do with a guitar and an effect pedal, but with words.

CONSCIENCE: Ok…so it’s punk dream pop. What about the lyrics? Singer any good?

REVIEWER: Yeah, his vocals have a really cool detached feel that goes with the winding guitar epic structure.

CONSCIENCE: So it’s good then?

REVIEWER: Yeah, I think you’re right. I mean they don’t really have the dancefloor hedonism to break into the mainstream but it’s interesting and not too challenging at the same time. And I love the guitars on it, it’s almost like an existentialist play of an EP.

CONSCIENCE: So it’s settled then, you’ll give it a good review.

REVIEWER: Yeah, ok

Ollie Khakwani

EP: Awesome Wells - Bitch Poets EP (Filthy Little Angels)

An EP with four songs that combined last 9 minutes might strike some people as a bit of a rip-off but Awesome Wells have squeezed every last second full of punk-pop hooks and bratty attitude. Ok, I realise that sounds like some kind of Avril Lavigne-based theme park hell but their lead singer is more Karen O than pop princess. Starting with an ode to Dannii Minogue (no, I don’t know why) lines like ‘you’re the best sister ever’ show an irreproachably twee side but at the same time Awesome Wells showcase their quirky sense of humour in the chorus of ‘Dannii Minogue I love you, I want to snog you.’ The 12 year old ADHD-headcase feel spills over into the other 7 minutes with the rush of power chord progressions, swearing and bratty vivacity. It’s not all substanceless kid ranting though, like the savage attack on the fashion industry for making girls look and dress like boys on ‘You’ve Got No Business In The Fashion World’ and the cries of ‘get off the crack’ on closer ‘Tramp Family.’ Take it too seriously and you’ll find it a hideous display of immaturity but really it’s a fireball of fun.

Standout Track: D.A.N.N.I.I.

Ollie Khakwani

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

LIVE: Zombie-Zombie, White Heat at Madame JoJo, London. 20th May, 2008

Photo by Nicole Blommers

Multitasking is an ability which every human being should be good at. I am a big fan of multitasking, whether it is at work or in my personal life. Being a brilliant musician means you are good at being a multitasker. Zombie-Zombie, a duo based in Paris, are fortunate enough to be called brilliant musicians. Earlier this year saw the release of their album 'A Land Of Renegades,' an album which is the perfect soundtrack for a science fiction or a detective movie. It brings bleeps, spacey sounds, screaming voices, drumbeats and other experimental noises together in a wonderful exciting boom!

If you want to be in a band such as Zombie-Zombie you need to be, at least, a part-time geek, but preferably full-time. Etienne Jaumet and CosmicNeman (who you might know from Herman D√ľne) are 100% geeks on stage. They love to twiddle the knobs and play with their keyboards and drums. Not to forget, they know how to use their geeky toy called Theremin, which is one of the best instruments ever made. It’s a little box with an antenna attached to it and when you move your hands around the antenna it produces an electrical signal sound. Zombie-Zombie definitely are le grand heroes in multitasking. It doesn’t matter where every instrument is; they know how to find it. One eye focuses on a knob at the left and the other eye is concentrating on a toy keyboard. You probably won’t believe it, but they have a third eye as well.

At the start of their White Heat gig the crowd, especially those at the front, just stare at the band. The more we get taken along in their musical adventure, the more mental and spacey some people get, or should I say that they act like zombies? If you really get into their sound and live gigs, you will know exactly what means to be prescribed adrenaline shots. It feels great! I wish they had given us a bit more of those shots, but I guess that their stretched out cover of Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’ was indeed a perfect way to end it all. To summarise it: Zombie-Zombie is a band that does not only sound fantastic on record, but as a live band they are perhaps even more fantastic.

Nicole Blommers

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

EP: LD & The New Criticism - Amoral Certitudes (Acuarela)

One listen into this ‘autodidactic toe-tapper’ (their words, not mine) EP, and it’s clear. This is how music should sound. With a mesmeric mixture of eclecticism, glorious pop harmonies and the all important ukulele, the glowing carnival spirit of Amoral Certitudes confirms that the magnificent LD & The New Criticism are unable to offer anything less than excellence. Opening this light-hearted EP, the utterly charming ditty penned ‘Love Theme from LD&TNC’ creates an adorably majestic stunner of a track, and with follow up AKA Paradise, a sound so melodically beautiful, yet surprisingly strikingly powerful is released, bursting into a joyous fit of pure glee.

As the EP draws on, each utterly oddball, yet splendidly structured song sparkles in its own special way. With short snaps such as ‘Light Verse’, it’s clear that this band certainly have a knack for merely drawling inspiringly beautiful songs, each glorious musical wonder being as special as the next.

As tranquilly serene as the music suggests, the lyrical genius injected into each excellently crafted pearl is as perfect as the aforesaid talent portrayed by this collective. Lyrics such as “Who knew people like you/Weren’t just a euphemism/Who’d’ve thought this could be taught/Like a catechism” show that as well as being a magically melodic spark, the lyrics provide the dazed and entranced listener a much sought after ‘pop for the clever people’ angle.

After ’16 minutes and 30-odd seconds’ (again, their words) of ecstasy, and the pure and utter elation has suddenly passed without consent, the unspoken words of LD & TNC remain, urging you subconsciously to go off and buy their EP. And who are you to let them down?

Olivia Jaremi

ALBUM: Sputnik Monroe - We're Doomed

Defined, I assume, by themselves, Sputnik Monroe are allegedly a “electronic electric rock band”. I feel somewhat awkward typing such words, as there is little evidence suggesting anything close to such title in their music. However, here I am, sitting at the laptop, dreary eyed, eagerly listening intently to each track repeatedly, despite being the only one in the silent household awake.

I’ve been proved wrong. Once again. ‘Standing in Rank’ is a mixed up, scatterbrained monster of a track, sounding like The Cooper Temple Clause fed through a disjointed synthesiser. Yelpy vocals and apocalyptic space riffs combine to make a rousing attack of intense musical mastermind, with layers upon layers of tantalizingly precise epic-prog rock.

‘Ocean’ lives up to expectations, sounding like an alt-rock frenzy preparing for angular war. Filled with instruments battling each other in ultimately clashing harmony, and alarming fret-work, Sputnik Monroe have mastered the art of creating a wholly anthemic, yet spiky sound.
As chords and drums clash and bang, contagious energetic twists and turns dotted in each song come alive, in a way that almost predicts a long and successful future for this criminally under-hyped group. Inventive, yet deadly rhythms set the music alight, creating a raucous yet beautifully mysterious edge to the band’s distinctive edge.

Enigmatically entrancing, Sputnik Monroe have defined themselves and their unforgettable sound in a way that many current bands could only dream of. Exciting to the point of the unbelievable, this band are mind-blowingly awesome. Whatever you do, don’t ever forget them. As if that was possible.

Olivia Jaremi

ALBUM: The La's - The La’s [2CD Deluxe Edition] (Go! Discs Records)

The Liverpudlian La’s. Darlings of Q magazine. We’ve all heard of them more than we’d possibly like – karaoke bars and top British singles charts, but after scratching beneath the surface, what’s really hidden amidst a severely overplayed hit single and a surge of hype some 20-odd years ago?

The answer? Well, frankly, not much. Sure, it’s a double-disc reissue, jam-packed with indie posturing and pseudo bohemian swagger, but when it comes to actual tunes, it’s distinctly lacking. Even 1991’s ode to heroin ‘There She Goes’ offers little more than two-and-a-bit minutes of feeble Britpop spark. As the surge of utter audible pain forces itself through my disinclined skull, I am, for once, glad that I wasn’t conceived in time to aurally register to the height of this band’s muddled mess of a career.
Sneaking their crooked path through the playlists of your most despised commercial radio stations, The La’s offer (or offered?) nothing fresh to an indie landscape of the time dotted with The utterly wondrous Smiths and The spellbinding Cure, whose gems of alt-pop genius are stowed away, locked in the hearts of even your most pretentious brainwashed indie kids. Songs such as ‘I O U’ demonstrate the amateur-ish style that has unfortunately come to define The La’s from then on, a not too glittering selling point for the popular DIY ethic amongst indie tribes.
Although this eponymous debut is widely regarded by many ‘in-the-know’ sources as a joyous swirling melting pot of infectious indie-riffs, a mere listen to said album leaves the listener baffled, wondering whether such critics have been copying and pasting off their press release, or simply documenting the wrong album. Tracks such as ‘Looking Glass’ drag at a seemingly half-dead velocity, offering little more than a remedy for insomnia, rather than a suggested indie call to arms.
Not only that, but it sounds dated. Unlike many bands of the same era (for example The aforementioned Cure), it appears that The La’s cutting-edge breath-of-fresh-air sound died a in unison with the dawn of a new era. Some things are better left to die, and this shambolic, and quite frankly boring LP is just one of them. 1990. The year The La’s should have died.

Olivia Jaremi

Sunday, 18 May 2008


Read this doc on Scribd: page 2

Thursday, 15 May 2008

LIVE: The Maccabees, Good Shoes, Peggy Sue & The Pirates, The Famous Poet Derek Meins. Concorde 2, Brighton. 3rd May, 2008

Although they are South London boys, playing to tonights sell out Concorde 2 crowd is something like a homecoming to ex Brighton students The Maccabees. The sun has been shining off the Brighton coastline all day and just as the evening begins to draw in we head off on the long beachside walk to the alcove that is Concorde 2. It's quiet outside; minus the obligatory tout shouts we only bump into one group of friends pleading for tickets, which gives a sense of secrecy. Behind those closed doors there is a special gathering, and only those with tickets seem to know about it.

The party kicked off early (very early) with a Derek Meins set before 7:30. Full of emotion and bile he alternated between songs and spoken word spitting out his lyrics with a convinction that at once charms and bites. Everything is said as though these are the last words he'll ever speak.

Next we have Peggy Sue and The Pirates, starting off a little too girlie with thumb piano and keyboard, it takes a couple of songs to really get into them but by 'Television' I'm hooked and heading off to the merchandise stall, partly to get my hands on the 'Tour EP,' partly to miss the next act.

So to Good Shoes, tonights 'special' support. Perhaps I should just gloss over them, I've never seen the appeal and it'd be a little unfair of me to criticise them yet again. But they do still have a long way to go if they are conquer to their 'yelp yelp, yup, yup, yelp, yelp' addiction and write a song that isn't so stop start. Of the songs tonight it's only the familiarity of the singles that makes any of it work and the new songs they play are nothing beyond the last album. Good Shoes, henceforth you shall be known as Bad Shoes. But one plus, there's probably no one else on this planet that could get a crowd of Brighton kids singing along to a song about Morden.

Thank you to The Maccabees for showing us how to really present new material, with a slightly bassier, heavier sound, helped along by the addition of Orlando's guitar and improved vocals, plus the notable inclusion of an accordian, they seem to be heading down an exciting new route. But they still keep enough of themselves not to alienate their existing fanbase; the songs are still as endearing and it's still easy to empathise with the clumsy lyricism. Good (Bad) Shoes take heed, change isn't a bad thing.

It's impossible not to fall head over heals for The Maccabees, and if there was any justice in the world they would be bigger, but we can for the moment take selfish comfort in the fact that gigs like this wouldn't happen so often if they were.
There is an absurd shyness to their live shows that keeps us interested. One highlight of the new songs played was 'No Fine Words', but it was the old ones that really shook up the crowd, 'Latchmere' and 'X-Ray' provoking the greatest reactions. And it was encore track 'First Love' that really reminded us why we all fell in love with The Maccabees in the first place. All bashful, honest lyrics and jerky pop melodies, it was the perfect finish to a perfect gig.
Claire Evans

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

LIVE: Mystery Jets, DURRR at The End, London. 24th March, 2008

Photo: +++ponyrock+++

The first time I heard Mystery Jets I was dancing in this very club, at Erol Alkan's legendary, now defunct, Trash. It's almost four years on and the band's songs are once again dominating the room. This time they are here in person for the christening of new album 'Twenty One.'

'Twenty One' has been hailed as their coming of age album, a conclusion probably based largely on the title, but in reality the set tonight, consisting of entirely new album tracks, has a innocent charm that was missing from 'Making Dens.' They appear to be taking their first steps outside their self created world to explore its borders. The themes of first love, ideal romances and affection from afar have their roots set in youth and it's clear from this alone that the band are now minus the words of Henry Harrison, although his return to the stage tonight is a welcome, and somewhat comforting addition. Musically the band have taken a more direct route through the songs and the unfulfilled promises of 'Making Dens' warped pyscholelia feel further away and as unlikely than ever.

What we do hear tonight is a collection of ridiculously catchy pop songs that many bands would kill for. There are still hints of the past with the 70s tinged 'Two Doors Down' being a stand out; after one verse the crowd are chanting, singing or woah-woah-woahing along. There was some grumbling about the lack of 'Zootime,' but this was 'Twenty One's' party and given the volume of people that squeezed, pressed and pushed their way to the front, all the while getting hotter and stickier, but still stuck it out, hanging on to every note without taking their eyes of the stage, I'd say 'Twenty One' has a happy life ahead of it.

Claire Evans

Monday, 12 May 2008

SINGLE: The Wireless - He’s So Proud (Redemption Records)

Photo by: Alex Sudea

According to their press release, single ‘He’s So Proud’ was written to publicise the vocalist’s relationship with a local white rapper’s girlfriend. I’ll try my best to overlook what a douchebag he is for risking some kind of white Islington kid gang war. The single is a definite indie rock dancefloor anthem with its spiky guitars and rush killer chorus of ‘he’s so proud, it kills me.’ Felix Bushe’s definitely seems to be the source of the band’s distinctiveness with his ability to pen a great story and aggressive/slightly cocky singing.

I’m not so sure about b-side ‘The Coward.’ It’s in the same vein – a guitar driven indie rocker but the main riff sounds sort of Madness-like stupid, which is fine if you’re a Madness fan. Also, the chorus is less catchy and the distorted guitar squeals and more talk-sing vocals make it sound clumsier but I guess it wouldn’t be a b-side if it was amazing. Overall, pretty good band, great frontman and awesome single.

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: My Sad Captains - All Hat And No Plans (White Heat Records)

Double A-sides could be the greatest invention ever. It’s basically a guarantee that you get two great songs instead of having to trawl through a dubious filler-based album or getting one good song and two heinous rehashes made by some failed pop star or record company manager’s son twiddling a few dials.

My Sad Captains are definitive proof that indie can do pop way better than Sony BMG’s focus groups and marketing slaves. With their delicately chiming guitars, chorus harmonies and slightly deadpan delivery on both ‘All Hat And No Plans’ and ‘Great Expectations’ they’ve managed to create two intimate pop gems that don’t intimidate listeners with overproduction, wildly unnecessary vocal acrobatics or disgusting displays of arrogance or ‘even though I’m way richer and prettier than you I’m going to try and make you think I view you as an equal’ type lyrics. And all of that without compromising on the catchiness and keeping it sounding original. Out of the two ‘All Hat’ is probably the better, getting started and sticking in your brain almost instantly but they’re both understated masterpieces.

Ollie Khakwani

ALBUM: Cazals - What of Our Future (Kitsune Records)

Kitsune has to be one of my favourite indie labels besides Saddle Creek and Sub Pop, and I heard a remix of Cazals’ track ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ on the last compilation so my expectations were pretty high. In the usual Kitsune style it was electro-tinged indie rock, cool, slightly retro but addictive, although lead singer Luca sounds like some kind of large bear-like man who drinks about 30 pints a day and lives in the pub, so I was a little surprised to check their Myspace and find out he looks like a normal-ish guy who maybe smokes too much. Second surprise was how he manages to sound so sweet and confused on opener ‘New Boy In Town,’ soft and a little melancholy on ‘We’re Just the Same’ and delicately pensive with a lot of conviction on ‘Comfortable Silence’. Otherwise it’s all funky basslines, catchy choruses and a more aggressive demeanour that seems to suit his voice better.
The gritty, real-life subjects of the lyrics are perfectly delivered by Luca if not in need of a bit of lighting up given the kind of music it is. Singles ‘Somebody, Somewhere’ and ‘Life Is Boring’ are definite highlights of the album that had me dancing like a 13 year old on E which makes them both into indie anthems for me. There are occasional faux-pas like the descending scale bassline in ‘Control OSS-117’ which would deserve a quick bitch-slap and so do the random synth jabs which kind of kill the relaxed feel of ‘Comfortable Silence’ but they’re all tiny compared to the big picture. It’s an album full of fun, melancholy and confrontation, and pulled off well in that order.

Stand Out Track: Life Is Boring (but Somebody, Somewhere is also pretty damn good)

Ollie Khakwani

ALBUM: Cathy Davey - Tales Of Silversleeve (Regal)

According to the press release sent with this record, Graham Coxon is a fan of the wonderful Ms Davey. The bespectacled guitarist has superb taste then, if that’s true, as ‘Tales of Silversleeve’ is a glorious album from start to finish, eleven tracks of beautifully delicate folk-pop that would make it seem like the sun was blazing in the middle of a storm. This album, Davey’s second record, was released in her native Ireland at the back end of last year and has already earned her an award at the Irish equivalent of the Brits. Which not only shows that ‘Tales of Silversleeve’ is getting the recognition it deserves but also that the people who decide who wins awards in Ireland have infinitely better taste than those who do over here. But I digress.

Opening track ‘Sing for Your Supper’ is an uplifting start to the record with Davey’s voice immediately sending shivers down spines, the echo effect added by producer Stephen Street builds and constantly teases that it will lead into a euphoric soundscape of strings but never does. Not that this matters of course, the consistent progression from loud back to quiet makes the track sound exciting and exquisite.

‘Reuben’ is an outstanding pop song with elements of Belle & Sebastian and Arcade Fire creeping through the mix every now and then. ‘Mr Kill’ is a simple but brilliant effort that also makes use of a farfisa, which should be applauded in itself. ‘Overblown Love Song’ is a crushingly gorgeous ode to romance that could be described as anything but overblown. Closing track ‘All of You’ loses all of Davey’s musical collaborators who lend her a hand throughout the rest of the LP, with her playing all instruments on this song, a gentle, poetic end to a record that should be earning the Irish lady a lot of respect all over the country and beyond.

Standout track: Mr Kill

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: Captain Black - Sister / Jack Sheppard (Bumpman Records)

Photo by: Greg Nolan

Hailing from the melting pot of cool that is Camden Town, Captain Black are probably used to bumping into the leading lights of the indie celeb world. Which is just as well, seeing as they’ll probably be joining them in a couple of years time in every tabloid newspaper in existence. Why? Because they write stupidly brilliant songs that deserve to be massive.

‘Sister’ is a yearning tale of unrequited love that is bittersweet; jovial yet despondent. Sam Relleen’s passionate vocal delivery adds to the heartache whilst his and Keith Austin’s guitar interplay keep the track from tragic and boring route.

B-side ‘Jack Sheppard’ is a more upbeat offering, recounting the story of a troublesome character whilst sounding vaguely like Joe Strummer penning a pirate’s call to arms. Average indie, this is not. If Captain Black are the future of sharp, scuzzy pop then someone should hurry up and invent a time machine so we can all get there quicker.

Rhian Daly

ALBUM: The Lodger - Life Is Sweet (Bad Sneakers Records)

Having released three 7”s on Dance to the Radio and Angular Recordings you might expect the Lodger to be a jerky, dancefloor-filling band. How wrong you would be. No, the Leeds trio are nothing like this - which could be a good thing if they weren’t so dull. Sophomore album ‘Life Is Sweet’ is a dire selection of sub-Britpop "songs", which really couldn’t be more boring if they tried. Hell, listening to Klaxons talk about how many drugs they’ve taken would be more interesting than this.

‘A Year Since Last Summer’ is the closest to enjoyable as this record gets, whilst ‘The Good Old Days’ comes a narrow second with it’s questioning lyrics and cheerful guitars. ‘Honey’ is one to avoid, coming on like a Rifles d-side, whereas ‘An Unwelcome Guest’ makes Keane seem like a good idea. ‘Running Low’ tries to sound mature and knowledgeable about the world and all that, but ends up seeming more like bad sixth form poetry.

All in all, ‘Life Is Sweet’ is an excruciatingly dreary listen; like the aural equivalent of watching paint dry. Perhaps in a few years time they’ll be as much fun as decorating (so, y’know, mildly enjoyable and only really on bank holidays) but for now they should go back to the bedsit where they were formed.

Standout Track, at a push: A Year Since Last Summer

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: The Rivers - She Gives It Around / Fold for You (NoCarbon Records)

Brighton’s The Rivers are one of those boys with guitars sort of bands. You know, the ones who write nearly exclusively about girls, wear leather jackets and drainpipe jeans and are rarely seen without a fag hanging from their mouths. The British indie scene is saturated with these types at the moment so it’s just as well this lot can write good pop songs. ‘She Gives It Around’ is an energetic portrayal of a girl who’s a little bit free with her affection that’s about as resistible as Julian Casablancas. Which might be because singer Tom Borsberry seems to have stolen The Strokes leader’s vocal chords and had them firmly attached to his throat instead, the crafty devil.

‘Fold for You’ sounds less like the kings of the US garage scene and more like The Rivers recent touring partners, The Kooks, with its easy-to-sing-along-to chorus and so-Kooks-it-hurts guitar riffs and melodies. In fact, the riffs are so similar to those used by Luke Pritchard’s gang, they make me want to dig out ‘Inside In/Inside Out’ and find the exact idea that’s being ever so slightly ripped off here and then sit looking very smug indeed. Basically, The Rivers are a good little pop band who sound like they’d be loads of fun live but they might want to think up some more original ideas for their next effort.

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: The Pigeon Detectives - This Is An Emergency (Dance to the Radio)

Photo by Dean Chalkey

The return of the Pigeon Detectives is upon us! “But they’ve not really been away,” I hear you cry, and you’d be kind of right seeing as last single ‘I’m Not Sorry’ was only (re)released six months ago. Plus, it’s not even a year since debut album ‘Wait for Me’ was released and already the lads from Leeds have written and recorded their second effort. There is the danger, of course, that the speed at which this record has been produced could mean that quality has been sidelined, but judging from ‘This is an Emergency’, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Distinctively Pigeon Detectives, the first track to be heard from sophomore LP ‘Emergency’ is a massive comeback; alluring, poppy, and, dare I say it, a more mature offering. That said, it could quite easily be put in the middle of ‘Wait for Me’ and not be at all out of place, but it would be the strongest and most exciting track on there. Writing catchy pop songs is The Pigeon Detectives forte and ‘This is an Emergency’ does nothing to dispel that, quite the opposite - after one listen you’ll find yourself singing it for the rest of the day. If only every band could write such stellar tunes as this in such a short space of time…

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: The Ladybug Transistor - Always On the Telephone (Fortuna Pop!)

Photo by Kenji Kitahama

The Ladybug Transistor have been producing impeccable slices of pop for god knows how many years now, so surely at some point they’ve got to get it wrong? Not with this serving, as ‘Always On the Telephone’ is yet another fantastic composition. Gary Olsen’s laidback vocals glide across the folky guitars sublimely before a superbly retro sax solo appears out of nowhere. This unexpected feature, though, is the difference between the track being great or good. Saxophones aside, ‘Always On the Telephone’ is an enjoyable if slightly repetitive listen which needs a few more ideas adding to it before it can be called one of the Brooklyn five piece’s best tracks. Still, a good taster for the new album and perfect for a compilation for a lazy summer afternoon.

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: The Favours - One Up On You / Bad Intentions (StoneTrax Records)

If you like your music to combine pounding drums with rumbling bass and some belligerent female vocals then you’ll probably love The Favours. Fronted by Sara Sanchez, the Hull-based group cook up an aural riot on a-side ‘One Up On You’, merging attitude and confidence with magnificent production and an irresistibly catchy chorus; the sort of song that won’t make you feel like an idiot jumping up and down punching the air.

Sister track ‘Bad Intentions’ provides more of the same, albeit with more of a Courtney Love drawl to Sanchez’s vocals. It’s this obvious American influence that stops the Favours being another northern band riding the coat tails of Arctic Monkeys success, sounding more like Hole and Garbage than the Long Blondes or ¡Forward Russia!

They’re already well on their way to success but this single should help it to arrive on their doorstep just that little bit quicker.

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: Official Secrets Act - Victoria/Sell, Sell, Sell (Weekender Records)

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Thomas Charge Burke single-handedly saves his band’s single from being a Scouting for Girls-esque (albeit slightly less annoying) piano pop rampage with his distinctive, melancholy vocals. Whilst ‘Victoria’ is a pleasant enough tune, you can’t help but feel one Mr Roy Stride could sing over it in his ridiculously soppy voice and it wouldn’t sound out of place. Luckily, Burke hasn’t let this happen, instead turning an otherwise average song into one that could cause heartbreak at 3am after consuming copious amounts of alcoholic beverages.

‘Sell, Sell, Sell’ is a much better proposition – bouncy and fun whilst still maintaining a darker edge. Or it is until just after the three minute mark when it all goes a little, er… gospel. The happy-clappy “aren’t we ker-azy!” finish kind of mars the rest of this otherwise enjoyable track, sounding like too much thought has gone into making it fun rather than just letting it happen naturally. With a few tweaks here and there, Official Secrets Act could be a blooming good band. Until then, they might need to unlock the secret to originality and not over-doing it.

Rhian Daly

Monday, 5 May 2008

ISSUE FIVE: Page 4. Talk Taxis Interview

Read this doc on Scribd: Page 4

TALK TAXIS Neon Buzz catches Talk Taxis’ Nathan at Fridge Bar, Brixton to talk Scarface, Sienna, and the dangers of the left hand drive in Exeter... Hey Nathan Hey, what’s happening? So the obvious first, where did you guys get the name Talk Taxis? In Scarface the first letters of the first nine words spells ‘TALK TAXIS’ (Expecting a more vehicle based answer) What!? (Laughs) The first nine letters of the first nine words spoken in Scarface spell Talk Taxis – we’re Scarface fanatics. What has been the highest point for Talk Taxis so far? Playing Camden Roundhouse with Kid Harpoon and the Maccabees. The atmosphere was amazing, and the people were alive. And the lowest point? We were going to Exeter in the van for a gig and Lily (the manager) was ill. Nobody in the van could do the left hand drive, so we had to go home. What would you be doing if you were not in Talk Taxis? DJing, probably. Where would you like Talk Taxis to be in a years time? Signed! Hopefully signed up with a decent indie record label. And finally, if you could sleep with anyone just the once, who would it be? You guys stole that question from BT (confused) Pardon? It would be Ian Curtis. I’ve been reading a book about him recently and it was really interesting, so... Wait, you would sleep with Ian Curtis?! Oh, sleep with! I though you said SPEAK with! Sienna Miller. She’s hot. And with that Nathan dances off into the drum and bass room, leaving us wishing he had meant what he said the first time, just for shock value. Jamila Dixon

ISSUE FIVE: Page 6. Battle Interview

Read this doc on Scribd: page 6

Truth be told, I’m a bit nervous. The first time conducting an interview can be terrifying, especially, when like me, you’ve followed Battle almost from the start. After a rather long break since their hugely successful single ‘Tendency’, Battle are in full swing again, with the recent single ‘The Longest Time’, and a second the be taken from their debut album, ‘Paper Street.’ Battle I met with the band after the first date of their UK tour, in support of Newcastle’s Kubichek! Tonight’s set, at Bristol’s Louisiana, was a sweaty, hectic affair, and post-gig the band lay slumped against the walls. I introduce myself. ‘”I THERE! Great to meet you!” bounds forward Jason, offering us his hand. There’s no pretence here; Battle are a band with charm and manners in abundance - and one of few with such enthusiasm. We start with talk of their triumph at Reading festival. “Reading and Leeds was awesome. We hadn’t played any shows in a while, so whilst Leeds was a warm up, we felt like we real nailed Reading. It’s probably the best show we’ve ever played.” It’s not hard to believe - Battle combine the spirit of punk with unbelievable technical ability into their sets, and tonight’s set showcased a band in their prime. It’s nearly two hours after they left the stage, and the sweat still drips from their foreheads. Everything falls a bit quiet as the band reminisce. “We didn’t get to see any other bands, I mean, I caught The View, but we didn’t see anyone else. We’re a bit weird, we have to hide ourselves away - we get so nervous.” Jason looks at the floor and shuffles around a bit; odd, as the band’s shyness certainly doesn’t come across on stage. Talk moves towards that of the current album, ‘Break the Banks’, “we’re really excited about it! We’ve worked so hard on it.” Battle’s sound smacks of urgency and focus, and together with Jason’s gentle vocals, you have a band that’s impossible to pigeon hole. “You’ve forgotten the rest of your questions haven’t you? I wouldn’t worry. I wrote these amazing lyrics the other week, they were the best lyrics I wrote, ever. They came to me late one night. I played them, and for that one moment, I was completely happy. I forgot them, I can never get them right now.” Jason looks at the floor. I ask where he normally writes; “There isn’t one set place, it just kinda comes to me. We don’t have the advantage of one of those huge tour buses. Perhaps when the album goes platinum, we just might.” They may joke, but the way Battle are going, that sort of success isn’t out of the question. Cara Drury

EP: Cate Le Bon - Edrych Yn Llygaid Ceffyl (Peski Records)

Photo By Kirsten McTernan

Although all the lyrics are in Welsh so the words are nothing but a random string of noises to me, they’re still enjoyable in that Sigur Ros-ish kind of way where you can make up an elaborate story about pie, ninjas and half a pound of cocaine based on the feeling you get from the music. In this case some kind of acid trip involving all of those seems to be the most appropriate judging by the psycho-country stomp and wild mush of banjos, blues guitar and keyboards on the opener. It’s kind of messy but so deranged that it’s instantly enjoyable and held together expertly with the warm sort of Welsh Martha Wainwright vocals. The drug-fuelled weirdness is toned down a little with some slower country and folk ballads although the occasional ‘bow wow something something something’ sample sneaks into the third track with distorted screams instead of vocals, once again turning it into a weed freakout, but one that has some great guitar solos. The unprovoked guitar jabs appear on most tracks, often randomly placed, quite distorted and so amazingly cool.

It’s an EP that has a bit of dichotomy, half the tracks are pretty standard country/folk while the rest are insane jams with honky tonks, sampling and accordions which are so intriguing that they more than make up for lack of lyrics that I understand. It’s a great EP and a crazy but totally fun musical journey.

Standout Track: Hwylio mewn cyfog (the first one)

Ollie Khakwani

ALBUM: Captain Phoenix - Life. Temper. Riot. (Kind Canyon Records)

Photo By Andy Willsher

Named after a video game character you say? Hmm, I wonder if they’re anything like Hadouken!? No need to worry about that, the first track makes it completely clear that they’re not – there are no Mario samples, no glow sticks and no Northern rudeboy attitude. And the interesting title is a lie. It’s the pretty listenable sounding guitar pop/indie rock with a little more personality than The Feeling thankfully, although the use of the word ‘fuck’ in opener ‘Stand By’ and ‘Same Old Story’ seem like a James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ type ploy to prove they’ve got a pair. Sadly their music sounds so tragically polite that no matter how much swearing and relationship angst they try to pack into it they can’t change the fact that this is the kind of music your parents wished you would listen to.

Still, there are some definite lyrical gems in the album. ‘Same Old Story’ is a slightly too preachy but true complaint about indie clones pretending to be built on individuality or giving up their friends for fame among a sea of whining about how his girlfriend left him. And their slightly choirboy-ish harmonies are actually alright.

Yes, they’re not musically that interesting but at least they’re not trying to convince people they are (except with the overuse of swearing for no reason with no feeling and the drum rolls that don’t actually lead to anything) and there’s a hell of a lot more substance than the currently recognised kings of bland and fluffy emptiness, The Kooks and The Feeling. Well, their songs are pretty catchy and if Hootie and the Blowfish could sell 16 million copies of Cracked Rearview Mirror I’m sure Captain Phoenix could do something good.

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: James Pants - We’re Through (Stones Throw Records)

Photo By Jake Green

It’s always a mystery what kind of sound will be blasted through my speakers when giving a fairly new artist a first spin. I like being surprised. James Pants, a solo artist from Spokane in the USA, mixes up different styles of music such as electro boogie, rap, soul and bit of disco. It’s hard to believe that this pretty pleasant mix up is made by just one man only. Oh, I should not forget to say that he does have a few band members. There are Compurhythm 8000, Daniel DMX, 303, Muzach, Syndrummer, Flexi-Tone and a few others, who remain anonymous.

‘We’re Through’, a 12" single release, brings you on a boogie/disco journey in the 21st century and has already received some airplay on Nemone’s 6Music radio show. Its cowbell, spacey sound and percussion rhythm are what make this song a pleasure to listen to and will make your hip and shoulders shake in whatever direction they feel like shaking.

Its b-side ‘Space Date’ has this repetitive bass line and a horny Serge Gainsbourg kinda voice, which brings you in the right sexy mood quicker than a trip to the moon. I only wish the song lasted a bit longer. ‘Rockin’’ is a more simple tune, but a nice chill out after having listened with both ears, shaking my hips and being put in a sexy mood. I really like being surprised and James Pants has done this very positively.

Nicole Blommers

DEMO: This Beautiful Thief - Falling Down

The Beautiful Thief is a new 3-gig-old band from Brixton, UK that is. They represent a fairly forgotten genre in the wide and powerful world that the UK indie scene is.

They mix indie rock with hooky, funkish vibes and catchy beats. Their first official single from their first ever recording is 'Falling Down'. It sells the band to the audience as an experienced group of musicians that have the right taste in both ears and trendy catches in the hips.

Armstrong’s vocals give out a Nordic feel and the breakdowns and structures hint to the fairly unknown, yet very similar Blossoms from Finland. Recommended for the fans of funk-dance indie.

Robert Dreija

ALBUM: The Mountain Movers - We’ve Walked in Hell and There is Life After Death (Fortuna Pop!)

'We’ve Walked in Hell and There is Life After Death' stores a mood in it that is far more expressive than obsessive. The Mountain Movers arch us into a world of the divine solidarity between man’s love, death and his devils.

Everything is wrapped in a soulful oldies pop mix, marked by outstanding performances especially from Greene (songwriting/vocals), Ellinger (saxophone) and Katz (piano).

The songs are kept in a classical structure much to the overall benefit of the record. The obsessive modern pop/rock world with hooks and breakdowns of nowadays can only admire the skillful playing with melodies, riffs and lyrics. Daniel Greene from the Butterflies of Love with five new band members and eight other musical culprits all-together help us to explore the abandoned, broken image world of 'We’ve Walked In Hell And There Is Life After Death'.

The undefined line of bad and routine has never been paroled around so calmly soulful and to such an efficient effect, that goose bumps are guaranteed by this mellow narcotic love & afterlife pop/rock record from The Mountain Movers.

Robert Dreija

Thursday, 1 May 2008

LIVE: Jamie Lidell, Koko, London. 29th April, 2008

'Finally I have a live band,’ says Jamie Lidell at his sold out gig in Koko. A new album needs a completely new live line-up is what Lidell must have thought and it works out pretty well. Way before the release of his new album 'JIM,' it was Lidell alone on stage with his laptop, mixers and a microphone. Now he is the conductor of his own band, who happily play his songs and give it their all. Joining the band tonight is Mocky, who co-produced/co-wrote 'JIM' and is having a day off from his tour with Gonzales. Even though Lidell now has a live band, there are still a few moments with just him on stage. Ah, the good old days! The band don't seem to mind, as they passionately dance off stage knowing that it’s time for a Jamie Lidell moment.

It’s a joy to watch the show from Koko’s balcony and see what’s happening on stage. It is all neatly mixed and molded together and Lidell has it all perfectly under control. Songs from both 'Multiply' and 'JIM' are played and a few songs sound remixed.

He is not only the conductor of the band, but also the conductor of the beats and voice effects, and maybe he even conducts the audience, who love every moment of the show. Lidell is a showman, a professional and a phenomenal musician. Ooh, does he know how to make the girls swoon with his moves and grooves and soulful voice or what? He definitely makes me swoon. Mr Lidell, it was a pleasure to finally see you live and I don't mind waiting to see you again.

Nicole Blommers