Friday, 29 August 2008

INTERVIEW: Golden Silvers

Fresh from the release of their debut single, Neon Buzz caught up with Golden Silvers backstage at Cambridge Junction to talk club nights, capes and Phil Lynott.

You’ve just released your debut single, ‘Arrows of Eros’. Why did you choose to release that song?
Gwilym Gold: I think it’s because we started doing it at gigs and it seemed to be a favourite. It felt like the right one to do.

You released it on Young and Lost Club, which was a one-off deal. Have any other labels shown an interest in you?
Gwilym: Yeah, there’s quite a few actually. Suddenly they all – not all, a few – have started to show an interest but at the moment we’re not sure what we’re going to do. I think we’re going to try and do our next single on our own label.

I read a quote from you saying that the traditional way of signing a record deal is outdated – what did you mean by that?

Gwilym: I just think that the whole idea, the whole thing of getting signed is outdated because you can do a lot of it in your own way now. You don’t really need labels as much anymore ‘cos you can do stuff on the internet and whatever… it’s not like the olden days where you’d get signed and they’ll give you like a million pounds. It’s not really like that anymore. (Wryly) Probably going to sign a million dollar record deal next week though, hopefully.

You run the Bronze Club in London… is that always at the Macbeth?

Alexis Nunez: Yeah, it’s always at the Macbeth.
Gwilym: It’s pretty much always there. We have been known to do the odd one somewhere else but the Macbeth is the home of it.
Alexis: It’s getting quite busy now, actually. Every time we do it it’s getting busier so we might have to start thinking about moving it to somewhere else.
Gwilym: Although the Macbeth feels like a spiritual home to it.
Ben Moorhouse: The people who run it are really cool, they’re all musicians and in bands and stuff.

Why did you start running the club?
Gwilym: We basically just started it for a gig for our band. We knew the people at the Macbeth and we thought there’s a lot of shitty promoters out there so we thought why not promote your own gigs and then you can control how you put it out there. You can get all the bands you like to play with you.
Alexis: And pay them as well. We always put on good bands that we know and we love.
Gwilym: It’s the same thing as with the record label, to a degree, ‘cos I know at some point we’ll probably need people to help us but why at this point go through people when we can put our own gigs on and make sure that it’s all done in the way that we like.

So you held your single launch at the Bronze Club and people turned up in gold and silver clothes and made Golden Silvers outfits – was that a bit of a weird experience?

: We made this dress code where if you dressed in gold and silver you’d get in free so quite a few people made the effort. Someone made like a gold cape that had Golden Silvers embroidered on the back, which I wore during the gig. There was this jacket as well with sequins that said Golden Silvers. There were some good outfits for it.

You won the Glastonbury New Talent competition and you played the Other Stage on the Saturday. What was it like to play Glastonbury?
Gwilym: We were really looking forward to it. It was a great weekend, there was a group of us and we all had our tents set up facing each other and everyone was hanging out the whole time, and then on that morning we just got up really early and went backstage. We walked on stage and the crew were all setting up then we just saw the massive field in front and all the people getting up in the morning.
Ben: It was mainly just seagulls though at that point. There was one guy who’d set up a little chair at the front, from about nine o’clock.

Michael Eavis compared you to Oasis and Coldplay after you played; what do you think about that?
Gwilym: (laughing) They’re probably two of the biggest influences on the band…
Alexis: It would be nice to have that kind of that success but I don’t think musically we’re that similar.
Gwilym: We’ll take it as a compliment though ‘cos he means it in a nice way. Both bands do their own thing in their own way. The thing is I don’t think people would instantly think that we’re a similar band to those two in terms of sound but songs-wise, we’ve got the songs but we just play them in a different way.

Over the rest of the summer you’ve also played Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Latitude and Oxegen. How did they compare to each other and to Glastonbury?
Gwilym: Radio 1’s Big Weekend was great because the guy who put us on, Huw Stephens, has been supporting us a lot. I’m not having a pop at it at all but it did feel a tiny bit underwhelming though, because we were playing at the very end so we were playing at the same time as all the other big bands on the other stages so there weren’t that many people there.
Alexis: But what was funny about that was we played to quite a few people but because we were headlining the BBC website said “the Golden Silvers ended on a triumphant….”
Gwilym: “Brought the Introducing tent to a rousing finale.” But it didn’t really feel like that.
Alexis: They just had to make it sound good.
Gwilym: Latitude was one of the best ones I thought. It started raining just as we played so there was like so many people in the tent. We couldn’t believe it. I looked out at one point and there was quite a lot of people and then when it started raining I looked out again and there was like a whole tent.
Ben: At Latitude though, we weren’t expecting it ‘cos we’d just done the Bronze Club the night before and we’d had to get up really early in the morning but it was really good.
Alexis: Oxegen was like… I didn’t like it.
Gwilym: I wouldn’t say that. We got treated really well there and got really nice food and they were really nice to us, just the tent we playing and the time were a bit dodgy. People started shouting at Ben, saying he looked like Phil Lynott.
Ben: We played the ballad, like the slow Fade to Black tune and that’s when they went for it the most.
Gwilym: When the music was down a bit, they’d go mental. It wasn’t really very fitting.
Ben: It is kind of my fault though, ‘cos I did dedicate that song to Phil Lynott.

You’re playing Bestival in September. Are you going to get into the spirit and join in with the dressing up?
Alexis: I’m just going to bring some clothes and it normally looks like I’ve made the effort anyway. It’s in the middle of the tour anyway so I’m probably going to take all my clothes with me.
Gwilym: We probably won’t have much time to get dressing up clothes. Sometimes I think when people are dressed up that that looks better than what you wear normally so why are you acting like this is a joke?

Mystery Jets chose you to support them on their tour in April/May, did you have a good time touring with them?

Alexis: It was really great fun; they’re lovely people.
Ben: They’re really warm people. We got really into the band and were always checking out their set.
Alexis: Plus we got to play in front of quite a substantial crowd as well so we learned how to do what we do but to a larger audience.
Gwilym: They’ve got a really nice crowd, a really good crowd to play to. They all turn up at the very beginning and watch all the bands, they don’t just come for the Mystery Jets.
Ben: It’s not really like London, y’know. People are a lot more accepting with the fact that you’re out there trying to do something.
Alexis: They’re a great band anyway so to be supporting them is really good.

The September tour is your first headline tour and it’s like a month long, right? Are you looking forward to playing anywhere in particular?
Gwilym: Probably Darlington (laughs)… no, all of them. I haven’t even been to half of these places. Everyday seeing a new place will be good.
Alexis: I don’t really know what to expect either because we’ve not been on a tour like this before, like a long one, so we’re going to have to learn quickly about all that stuff, try and keep out of people’s hair.

Are you going to have local supports or are you taking someone on the road with you?
Gwilym: We’re travelling with this band called the Ex Lovers so I think it’s going to be them and then local supports as well.

I heard ‘Magic Touch’ is going to be your next single and, like you said earlier, you’re going to release it on your own label.

Gwilym: Yeah, well we’re still working on it but it’s going to be a double A side with a song called ‘Another Universe’. We’ve just recorded it so I’m really looking forward to hearing it.
Your lyrics are quite poetic, do you take influence from literature and poetry or is it more lyricists? Do you have a favourite poet?

: I suppose a bit of poetry and prose, yeah. [My favourite’s] probably Dylan Thomas or something.

What are your plans for an album?

Alexis: Well, we want to do one that’s for sure. It’s just the logistics of it, waiting for people to make offers but we want to get it done as soon as possible and hopefully get it out by the start of next year.

Is there anyone you’d want to produce it specifically?

Alexis: There’s lots of people that you’d like to work with, that are your heroes but realistically…
Gwilym: We did just do the single with this guy Lex and we got a really good vibe off of him.
Alexis: I’m sure a situation will just get in introduced and we’ll just end up going with it because we’re quite instinctive like that but obviously it’d be great to work with Pharrell, Prince…
Ben: Andre 3000…
Alexis: Just most of the big hip-hop producers.
Tonight was your first time in Cambridge, what did you think of the crowd?
Alexis: They were really cool, there was people smiling. It was nice, actually. I didn’t have a very good time, primarily because of the sound on stage, but it kind of makes up for it when people in the crowd are going for it and having a good time.

Rhian Daly

Thursday, 28 August 2008

ALBUM: Bloc Party - Intimacy (Wichita Records)

I think I’m probably not the only one who was thrown off guard first by Bloc Party’s single ‘Mercury’ and the apparent change in style to “dark electronica” and stupidly placed horns, then by the sudden release of the album two days after the name was confirmed. A few listens to ‘Intimacy’ and you’ll realize why they did it – because they sound really bored.

Opener ‘Ares’ seems to confirm Kele’s promise that the album would retain the visceral nature of ‘Silent Alarm’ – a war chant as opening gambit. It still marks a definite shift in sound without a guitar in sight and sounding almost like the Prodigy on the chorus but isn’t all that bad, managing to pull of a bit of intensity and some clever soliloquy lyrics.

However, after ‘Halo,’ the singular spiky guitar track that recalls the good old days of ‘Silent Alarm’ most of the album’s earlier energy disappears with exception of the fast-paced dance of ‘One Month Off’ and the last minute of ‘Better Than Heaven.’ If it wasn’t for the heavy production creating a little atmosphere on some pretty plaintive, almost self-indulgent break-up tracks, falling asleep would be inevitable.

For me the problem isn’t just that the album is full of slow-paced tracks that never build up to anything because Bloc Party have done a few tracks like that before that didn’t inspire apathy – it’s more that the so-called experimentalism isn’t well-placed – instead of original but not to difficult songs like they used to, pedestrian chord progressions and pretty uninspired cuts are getting jazzed up with random blasts of horns/strings/noises under the mistaken belief that it can make them exciting. This is definitely the case with the surprisingly hollow ‘Ion Square.’ With other tracks like ‘Mercury’ my issue is with the lack of bass on the verses. On opener ‘Ares’ the vocals were good enough to hold their own and actually give a little effect when it was just them and the drums, and same goes for ‘Positive Tension,’ one of my favourites from Silent Alarm, but on other tracks where there isn’t such a clear purpose it just makes the songs hard to get into. Add in the occasional lyrical howlers like on ‘Signs’ – ‘at your funeral I was so sad, so sad’ and ‘I held your heart in me’ on ‘Ion Square’ and ‘Intimacy’ starts looking like a rushed album that sought to hide its flaws under good production

The evolution of a band will always stir some upsets and it could just be how much I liked the old Bloc Party that makes ‘Intimacy’ unappealing, but at the same time the touches of experimental electronica have somehow succeeded at making songs boring and difficult. Maybe they’ll be good at their new sound by album four but the fact that the best track on the album sounds the most like their debut speaks for itself.

Standout Track: Halo

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: Nick Harrison - Oi Rude Boy (A&M Records)

Beyond the occasional No Doubt record I know pretty much nothing about ska but Nick Harrison’s self-assured tone and storytelling lyrics make ‘Oi Rude Boy’ too clever to be pop despite its catchy chorus, putting it closer to Alex Turner covering some kind of band that plays chilled-out music. And hey, even if reggae/ska aren’t your thing it’s refreshing to hear something that isn’t trashy R&B or generic guitar pop once in a while.

Ollie Khakwani

ALBUM: Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel (Parlophone Records)

When I first heard about that NME-coined genre, ‘nu-rave’ *shudders*, I was assuming it would sound like this. Not the New Young Pony Club, not the Klaxons and not any dance-punk band you care to name with all the glowsticks in the world could ever be this exciting. Strange Bollywood rhythms, spiky guitars and glitchy synths make ‘The Bears Are Coming’ as quirky and inventive as anything M.I.A.’s genre-bending powers could come up with; ‘Broken’ sounds like an electro stomp through 80s glam rock; space-rocky ‘VW’ which could be Smashing Pumpkins on acid.

Plenty of musical ground is covered with skill, but Late of the Pier’s real gift is managing to not let their music dissolve into poor-Crystal Castles-imitation mess while not sounding as overwrought or affected as many of their indie brethren. Instead it’s plenty of cryptic banter, musical adventure and best of all fun from people who clearly love playing with sound and pushing boundaries.

Standout Track: The Bears Are Coming

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: Dorp - Pigs Do Fly/Cops and Robbers (Caned and Abled Records)

The ‘uniqueness’ and ‘genre-bending’ mentioned in the press release isn’t that forthcoming on either of the singles of the double-A side, both tracks coming across as overly serious alt rock with an annoying South African accent.

First track ‘Pigs Do Fly’ could be at first mistaken for being epic with its heavy and austere bass but any effect it had evaporates instantly with the arrival of the chorus – ‘four plus four equals nine, we’re just numbers in disguise, pigs do fly’ – a pretty dire attempt to either be intelligent or bring some gravity and feeling that kills a track that was previously listenable at the worst.

‘Cops and Robbers’ plays the same kind of game but maybe more convincingly, musically at least with more angular guitars but all talk of people to violate and police bribes, but despite the fact that it’s got conviction, it’s just so much of a downer that I don’t want to listen to it again.
Ollie Khakwani

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

ALBUM: Pope Joan - Hot Water, Lines & Rickety Machines (OIB Records)

Ok. Let’s forget the nonsense. I’m not going to introduce them in any way to you. All you need to know is that Pope Joan are great. Really, they are. ‘No TV’ is a perfectly scuzzy, aggressive screech of brilliant post punk-ery and disorientating magic. Hectic and twitchy, 49 Years Time is presented with a splutter and a kick in the teeth, as irritating as it is exciting.

Infectious and gawky, each bite sized chunk is as delectable as the next, with a sprightly essence encapsulated in each number. With a jittery tone seemingly unattainable to your standard indie kid clan, Pope Joan are bustling with raw energy, perfectly composed in each two-and-a-bit minute masterpiece.

Our Cuisine is plagued from start to finish with a riotous riff and an excitable squeal, and ties in perfectly with the rest of this short album. Having managed to encapsulate the spirit of a five year old with a packet of Haribo’s, Our Cuisine comes to a disjointed end, and slips into the slightly more subdued It’s The Same As When You Asked Me The Last Time, which despite its slightly more laid back tone, the somewhat mulish attitude still lingers.

As the album draws to a close, the high standard is continued, and each song kicking and screaming its way into the spotlight. Frantically clashing, each instrument is pieced together to form the most perfectly disorderly noise, which is more than just pleasing to the ears.

Surprisingly refreshing and, Pope Joan are a group to remember. it’s unfathomable to think of the richness of the current music scene if all the fakers were to take a leaf out of Pope Joan’s book. Basically, they’re just really really brilliant.

Olivia Jaremi

ALBUM: Stereo MCs - Double Bubble (Graffti Records)

Some things belong in the past. Stereo MC’s are one of them. Sounding like Robbie Williams remixing Rock DJ with a synthesiser and ‘wicked kewl electro beats!’ opener Get On It isn’t a very promising start to what already seems like a not-so-promising album. With a quality somewhere in between sounding like a couple of middle aged men stuck in the mid to late 80s and NME’s most embarrassing nu rave collective, Stereo MC’s fourth album in sixteen years is a little less refined than one would think it to be.

With an aggrandizement of spacey synthy sounds, The Here & Now offers no alternative to the fractured electronic nonsense offered by the albums embarrassing start. Sounding like your dad having a seizure at the local Roller Disco, City Lights pulses with exuberant bass lines and breakdowns, whilst still remaining as colossal and edgy as the working script from Snakes On A Plane.

With an amalgamation of mildly interesting drum beats and an attitude that silently spits the phrase “we’re trying to be out there but failing!” Gringo is born. Revolution arrives some seven tracks in, and being an incessantly consistent number, it lives up to its low expectations. With very little progression in 4 minutes, it’s clear that very little is expected for the remainder of this disappointing album.

Closer Human sounds very similar to many of the songs on the rest of the album, and is unsurprisingly not saved by a jaunty climatic blast. Instead, a man sings in an irritating southern accent and sneers with a false sense of self righteousness, and a few plinky plonky notes are added at the end, as an exchange for a grand finale. Oh, and another boring song is added on the end. Hallelujah!

With a gauzy aesthetic as transparent as Britney’s favourite underwear, Stereo MCs have finally shown their true colours. Give it up lads, it’s all about the youth nowadays.

Olivia Jaremi

Sunday, 17 August 2008

ALBUM: Victoria Berg and the Blindfolded Man -Victoria Berg and the Blindfolded Man (KFM Records)

Half Swedish, half Scottish and a whole lot of aural fun, Victoria Berg and the Blindfolded Man have created a fuzz-pop record so sweet it’ll rot your teeth to the core within 3 full rotations. Just as well you don’t need your molars to hear then, otherwise you’d be missing out on the seven tracks of simplistic, lush melodies and occasionally bizarre lyrics that make up this, the duo’s eponymous debut effort.

Fizzing and crackling into life, this first LP begins with the gorgeous ‘Blindfolded Man’, which sees glimmers of Kylie-esque pop shine through the distortion, before segueing into ‘I’ll Meet You at the Chicken Lodge’ with it’s crunk beats and effortlessly catchy melody. I’ve no idea what the chicken lodge is but if it’s as fun as this track makes it seem, I’ll definitely be paying it a visit. ‘Since the Accident’ is a slower, piano-led epic that really showcases Berg’s soft and innocent vocals, whereas ‘No Maps’ is a gentle instrumental that would perfectly soundtrack the sun setting over a Hawaiian beach. ‘Intrepid Explorers of Amateurism…Begin’ brings Berg’s vocal chords back into play to create one of the strongest tracks on the record; there’s so many ideas going on here it’s a wonder they don’t clutter together and make the song incomprehensible. The result is quite the opposite though and all the better for it. Penultimate track ‘Gang of Coffee’ is a quick waltz through the heavens with Berg insisting “I don’t look pretty/But I’m doing the best that I can”. Who needs to look good when you make records like this? ‘The Bearded Lady’ rounds off the record in it’s full six and half minutes of spooky storytelling glory, perfectly capping what is a brilliant debut album and a sign of future greatness to come from this eccentric and spectacular pair.

Standout Track: Intrepid Explorers of Amateurism…Begin

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: The Pigeon Detectives - Everybody Wants Me (Dance to the Radio)

There comes a time when all of us have to grow up and, on second album ‘Emergency’, The Pigeon Detectives have most certainly done that. ‘Everybody Wants Me’ relates the trials and tribulations of being in demand and reminisces about those bygone days when no one cared who these five lads from Leeds were.

Whilst the title might suggest the next three minutes something are going to be full of egocentric boasting - what is actually served up is a short but sweet love song with Matt Bowman sounding like a boy with some serious heartache when he sings “Everybody wants me now/But I just want you”. Sure, it’s a lot calmer than their usual frenetic outbursts but that just shows the Pigeon Detectives are more than capable of writing for all different settings and moods, whether that be on lazy afternoon on a sun kissed beach or in the dark, sweaty shadows of the indie disco.

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: The Housewives - Cream (Filthy Little Angels)

Ever dreamed of a pop band who write songs about seedy activities, make brilliant use of boy/girl vocals and form outstanding melodies and rhythms from a broad spectrum of genres? Oh, you have. May we suggest you try the Housewives?

The East end’s brightest young things have already been dubbed “ones to watch” by the very respectable Clash and who are we to argue? The lead track on this latest single, ‘Cream’ is a ramshackle pop riot that could make even a cripple dance, mixing elements of a million different musical genres into one four minute slice of party perfection. ‘Charming’ is more of the same with the brilliantly ominous hook of “I’m so charming/Won’t you get into my car” transformed into an innocent request by the fairground melodies that compliment it, whilst final track ‘Ballad’ is a guiro-scraping, glockenspiel-kissing oddity that is as hauntingly catchy as it is melancholically beautiful. And there’s not many bands you can say that about.

Lyrically dirty and musically adventurous, The Housewives are full of backstreet charm and lo-fi fun – a winning combination, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Standout Track: Cream

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: Prego - Cause and Resolve (Pronoia Records)

Like any good band with a stadium rock and shoegaze influenced sound, Prego are more full of ambition than gold-diggers Their heavy drums, U2-esque bass line and Mogwai-style contrasting dynamics create a song so epic that it would make Bono and Michael Jackson imitating Jesus while doing a duet of ‘Earth Song’ to a million people from the top of Buckingham Palace with every New Year’s firework display in the world behind him look like a shy 15 year old strumming an acoustic guitar in a pub basement. And Prego have the added benefit of not having a huge self-righteous stick up their arse like Bono, or Michael Jackson’s deranged delusions of grandeur. Some seriously good stuff.

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: The Postcards - The Hours Up To Midnight (Valiant Records)

Jangly guitars, high male harmonies and a relentlessly twee attitude – yep, ‘Hours Up To Midnight’ is another offering of bite-sized indie pop snacks to gorge on when you’re down – 4 short songs with undeniable charm and childlike naivety that’ll melt your heart or nauseate you, depending on what kind of person you are. ‘Hurry On Home’ is about as light and fluffy as pop gets, but a little misleading as cuts like ‘Golden Boy’ sound like The Postcards are actually throwing darts at pictures of their ex-girlfriends instead of baking cookies and helping old ladies cross the road. Still, for all the venomous lyrics are blunted by soft voices and warm guitars. Closer ‘John Peel Was A Friend Of Mine’ is a highlight, almost a long-lost demo from the Beatles when they were still playing tiny basements in Liverpool.
For all the sweet melodies The Postcards suffer from the same problem as many an indie pop outfit – namely that their lyrics aren’t great. That’s not to say that the single is a bad effort; they’re good at what they do, but unlike really great indie pop bands like Tilly and the Wall and Rilo Kiley there’s a deficiency of imagination and daring.

Stand-Out Track: John Peel Was A Friend of Mine

Ollie Khakwani

Friday, 15 August 2008


Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
5 – 7th September 2008

We’ve been raving on about boutique festivals all summer but all the boutiques in the world couldn’t replace Bestival. With every one of its four years it has become bigger but it is still cosily referred to as a medium sized festival, a tag that allows it to bring in some of the best breaking bands of the year with a host of unknowns and big headliners. This year is no different - Rob da Banks curating brings together a cross section of respected artists like George Clinton, Golden Silvers and Jeffrey Lewis.

These, along with the comedians and DJs leave hardly enough time to enjoy the cinema or the tea cakes, the swimming or the inflatable church, the mini Malawi festival or the physics performances.

Bestival has taken the ‘music festival that music fans go to’ baton firmly out of Glastonbury’s grasp and it won’t let go too easily.

My Bloody Valentine
Gary Numan
Erol Alkan
George Clinton
XX Teens

Well the theme this year is '30,000 Freaks Under The Sea' so we’ll be dressed as Atlantis royalty.

The new Bestival compilation CD A-Z Bestival (Compiled by Rob da Bank) is released through Sunday Best on 1st September

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Reading Festival is back to its rocking best!


Little John's Farm
Richmond Avenue

The last couple of years I have found myself being a little jubious of Reading Festival. Why? For the simple reason that the bands playing, especially the headliners, haven't really captured my idea of what Reading Festival is- first and foremost a rock festival. The bands headlining appeared to still be in their prime, lacking a backbone strong enough to justify a headline slot. Take for instance Razorlight and the Klaxons, I'm not criticising their music in any way, but in 10 years could they still be headliners? That's why this year I was thrilled when Rage Against the Machine, Metallica and Manic Street Preachers were all announced, not only are they bands who have proved they deserve to be up there with their constant and expanding fanbases, but they bring me back to the idea of how I used to see Reading, a place where I could catch big acts I really admire amongst fans not just from my city but others too and just take it all in in a special environment. If I wanted to see some buzz bands I would just go to a smaller festival and pay less money, but this year I feel Reading has delivered and made spending that large sum worthwhile. There's still a wide mix of bands on various other stages, but the main stage has been preserved for acts who deserve to be there.


Rage Against the Machine
Queens of the Stone Age
The Cribs
Bullet For My Valentine
Seasick Steve


Who cares? Whatever the hell we happen to be wearing when we get there!

Stacey Evans

Monday, 4 August 2008

ALBUM: CSS - Donkey (Sub Pop Records)

Photo: Mariana Juliano

In the army of stuck-up indie douches lecturing you about how you 'don't get our art' and going on about 'contentious subjects' like euthanasia and other shit no-one cares about in their songs, CSS are among the few renegades who are only signed up to the army when they were drunk/stoned out of their minds and had no idea what they're doing.

'Donkey' (terrible name, I know) is another explosion of indietronic rock fun from a band who know not to take themselves too seriously. Opener ‘Jager Yoga’ with its chorus of ‘we didn’t come to walk around/we came here to take you out’ sums up everything great about CSS – their knack for killer pop hooks, endless cool and ability to start dancefloor riots.

First single ‘Rat Is Dead (Rage)’ is the best example of the difference between this and their debut – it’s guitar heavier and more rock structured and even ventures beyond the usual fascination with pop culture that their lyrics show, instead concerned with domestic violence. Similarly, although Lovefoxxx sings about dancing on tables and drinking herself comatose in ‘Left Behind,’ the glam rock-like guitars hide the story of lost luggage and heartbreak.

Still, despite their improved English, extra studio polishing and sometimes more serious subjects, at least compared to ‘Meeting Paris Hilton’ (although at the rise festival Lovefoxxx slipped the line ‘and her vagina was dry’ into ‘Rat Is Dead’ at the Rise Festival), CSS are still the wild fun they were before and ‘Donkey’ like their previous stuff remains the musical equivalent of E.

Stand-Out Track: Jager Yoga

Oliver Khakwani

ALBUM: South – You Are Here (Genepool Records/Universal)

Singers with such distinctive voices as Joel Cadbury’s can sometimes become annoying with their incessantly soft tones or unusual inflections. By the end of South’s fourth record, ‘You Are Here’, Cadbury’s timbre may grate a bit but anything other than his voice would destroy the whole sonic aesthetic of the Sussex trio a fair bit.

And besides, after hearing opening track ‘Wasted’, I’m sure you’ll agree we can all see past this trivial matter, right? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of such a beautiful start to the record and when Cadbury sings the line “Tired of getting wasted” in such a genuine, dejected manner – well, brace yourselves because it’s heart melting, sigh-inducing stuff. Unfortunately, the rest of the record doesn’t maintain the same level of quality, with both ‘Open Up’ and ‘Better Things’ bringing you down from the clouds with a bump, albeit one with a cushioned landing.

At 14 tracks and nearly 50 minutes, this record is a little overlong and grows tiresome quite quickly. Only a handful of tracks are really worth bothering with here – namely the aforementioned ‘Wasted’; oddly cheery ‘The Pain’ (which also slightly recalls Smashing Pumpkins, lyrically speaking); poetic electro-funk twist ‘She’s Half Crazy’ and the surprising, beautiful ‘Every Light Has Blown’, which harks back to the gorgeous start to the record.

If it were a little shorter and a little less MOR, ‘You Are Here’ could be a fantastic record; as it stands, it’s a mediocre attempt that starts promisingly yet by the end has become predictable and tired. Perhaps by focusing on creating more of the gentler, spine tingling tracks, South would have a more accomplished record under their belts instead of one that sounds like, for the most part, James Blunt doing a really awful parody of The Cooper Temple Clause.

Standout Track: Wasted

Rhian Daly

ALBUM: The Vichy Government – White Elephant (Filthy Little Angels)

The Vichy Government’s third album starts off with a haunting yet amusing eight minute spoken word narration of suicide and the protagonist’s resulting existence as a ghost, set to only the sound of a ticking clock (‘Death of a Mummy’s Boy’). It’s hard to tear yourself away from the story, as it is with all other 17 tracks on ‘White Elephant’, so gently commanding is Jamie Manners’ voice with its broad Irish accent.

Generally, it’s an interesting album that doesn’t allow you to concentrate on anything else, not even for a second, all the while remaining dark and vicious yet still seeming to be light-hearted and jovial at the same time. ‘The Greatest Gift of All’ is a humorous explanation for the existence of AIDS; ‘Abusive Childhood narrative’ is a sly dig at authors of books about their troubled childhoods; ‘My Mail Order Bride’ is the height of satire and is delivered in Manners’ deadpan tone that is consistent across the record. He and his cohort, Andrew Chilton, should also be commended on the utterly brilliant line “I bought her on Ebay for £2.99”.

The Vichy Government, strangely exciting and innovative in the truest sense of the word, provide a refreshing break from the norm with ‘White Elephant’ and have succeeded in making not only a wonderful record but also an interesting and hilarious one too.

Standout Track: My Mail Order Bride

Rhian Daly