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Singles Bar: January 2007

We've listed singles/EPs/demos in order of star rating. Best first.

EUROPE Always The Pretenders Sanctuary (2007)

Heralding their forthcoming visit to the UK as part of a European tour, this is the first single from the excellent 'Secret Society'.

It's probably not worth debating whether there are other tracks on the album that could have served the purpose, because 'Pretenders' is a fair taster and may garner selective radio play on rock stations.

When I first heard 'Secret Society' I was impressed by the sheer energy of the album, it's all pretty heavy, melodic, but with purpose as in great classic rock music.

There's a radio edit and album version, and two bonus live tracks recorded in New York: 'Flames' from 'Start From The Dark', the album which presaged 'Society', and 'Superstitious' from 1988's 'Out Of This World' - somewhat Whitesnake-esque and none the worse for it.

Don't let 'Final Countdown' colour your opinion, Europe changed with John Norum back on board after a nineties hiatus. Definitely a band on top form, with renewed vigour, and one to catch live. *****

Review by David Randall

ENTER SHAKIRA Anything Can Happen On The Next Half Hour

They headlined and sold out the London Astoria last year and have rejected big labels to do it their way. This single is top draw it has got a catchy rhythm, metal like screaming vocals and you can see this band doing well in the current rock/metal scene. Definitely a band likely to break big in 2007. ****½

Review by Jason Ritchie

MIDAS Don't Dance (2007) www.myspace.com/midas

Midas hail form the West Midlands here in the UK and they have produced a superbly cactchy, fast paced tune in 'Don't Dance'. Once you get the blighter onto your stereo you can't stop playing it! Great guitars, neat harmonies and a vocoder - Peter Frampton's legacy lives on!

Definitely a band to look out for in 2007 and beyond. More please! ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

SAXON If I Was You SPV

Saxon's first single release in many a year and it forms part of a new Channel 4 series 'Harvey Goldsmith Presents' whereby Goldsmith tries to get bands with a cult status into the big time again. The TV series starts in April.

This single is not half bad at all with a bit more polish on the old production to give it a radio friendly edge. The classic Saxon metal riffs are there and Biff Byford still sings like his life depended on it.

I am no big Saxon fan but this single does have the chance to make a top 40 splash and with a version of 747 (Strangers In the Night)' on the single as well you can't go wrong! ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

KOOPA Blag Steal & Borrow

Koopa deliver a forceful brand of indie punk pop rock. Have a listen to their version of The Proclaimers 500 Miles on their myspace page and you'll get the drift.

Blag Steal & Borrow is delivered, as is most of their set, with a distinctive Essex accent (neffer did Ian Dury any 'arm diddit?) and is yet another catchy tune.

They may never win an Ivor Novello award for songwriting, but if you're looking for a good time, look no further. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

DAMIEN RICE Rootless Tree (14th Floor Records)

Rootless Tree is the second single to be taken from Damien's stunning 9 album and precedes a short, sold out, UK tour.

And it's a brutal track, in contrast to the previous single 9 Crimes, the beautiful piano and strings duet with Lisa Halligan (and surely a contender for song of the year). By Damien's standards, Rootless Tree is an up tempo number. It starts at a gentle acoustic pace, before the chorus explodes with vitriol. It's not a comfortable ride. But that's not what Damien rice is about.

9 should come with a parental health warning - danger, genius at work. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

ORIGINAL CAST Confidence Violation Records

The opening title track of this 5 track EP is a funky and equally spunky number; imagine if The Prodigy actually wrote a song, something akin to Splodgenessabounds with a touch of metal.

'I Got In A Flight' is more metal ballad, with an alternative metal edge. Thankfully it's not the usual template of the guitar/pop around at the moment.

'Life' is light hearted, some decent riffs, a touch of Blur.

Should do well. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

SIXNATIONSTATE Where Are You Now? (Jeepster)

Fresh from recording their debut album in Latvia, SixNationState are back on British terra firma for 30 plus date tour running from February through to April.

Opening with an acappella intro before exploding into something of a frantic Knees Up Mother Brown - Where Are You Now? is somewhere between Ten Pole Tudor and The Proclaimers. It's raw, crazy and inspired. Expect pogo-ing and flying lager at the live shows.

Backed by two equally raucous and blistering b-sides, SixNationState are like a gale of fresh air. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

VARIOUS Fopp Award For New Music 2006 SE/London

The four bands on here are the regional winners of the music chain Fopp's competition to find the best new music out there. An eclectic bunch, with singer/songwriter Conrad Vingoe worthy of further investigation. As too is the track by the Dials. If you heard this you'd swear it was a long lost 60's psychedelic track! Great tune full of spacey riffs and a nod to the Byrds in the vocals.

Olympus Mons are your standard indie guitar rock, okay but nothing earth shattering and the final track is by electro band the Outskirter. Not my cup of tea but a decent tune nonetheless.

Good on Fopp for doing this but where are the rock/metal bands??? ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

30 SECONDS TO MARS Attack (Virgin)

Another actor turned musician in this band with frontman Jared Leto (Fight Club), who handles vocals and guitars, with his brother on drums. Good, strong guitar melody and vocals that go from melodic to screams within the same breath (very catchy keyboard loop in the background as well). Fans of My Chemical Romance and the like will particularly enjoy this one. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

DARTZ Once Twice Again (Xtra Mile Recordings)

This 2 track affair kicks off with 'Once Twice Again', a powerful catchy guitar pop. Quirky, not the reliance of second rate punk that many guitar pop bands do. Just enough to grab your interest.

A new wave feel to 'Lines', incredibly some actual guitar notes rather than just strumming. This should have been the lead track! ***

Review by Joe Geesin

SENSES FAIL Can't Be Saved (Vagrant)

Taken from the popular album Still Searching, it's a mid/upper range and tempo, with typical guitar/pop vocals with a heavier and crunchier guitars than you'd expect.

In fact the opening 2 seconds like a metal track before the guitar/pop flavour comes in. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

APES PIGS & SPACEMEN Simple Simian EP

Opening with 'The Best Thing', it's a nice tune with acoustic touches, and a G n'R touch to the guitar and an Extreme touch to the harmonies. Imagine a melodic punk band doing a ballad.

Some interesting noises on 'The Wrong Pill', it keeps in a similar vein.

Should keep fans happy and more. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

CONQUEST OF STEEL May Your Blade Never Dull EP

It's an old adage that if you stay still, eventually, everything catches up with you. And that's certainly the case with Conquest Of Steel who've been peddling their brand of 'true' metal for nigh on ten years.

This five track EP sees them revisiting a couple of tracks from their 1998 debut - "Priests Of Metal" and "Steel Is The Law", alongside three new numbers.

And little has changed in their NWOBHM inspired world as the galloping guitar riffs accompany spiky, melodic solos and sword infested tales of derring do. How much you enjoy this will depend on your opinion of Trespass, Hellenbach and Witchfynde.

A simple rule of thumb is; the more studs on your wristband, the more you'll like. Hail! ***

Review by Stuart A Hamilton

THE LITTLE ONES Sing Song (Heavenly Recordings)

This 7 track mini album (it runs at under 30 minutes) opens with 'Let Them Ring Bells', an indie rock / guitar pop track with whimsical moments.

'Lovers Who Uncover' is similar, a mid range tuneless guitar sound with a U2 feel, and a Beach Boys feel to the vocal harmonies. Some nice guitar lines in a West Coast feel.

Quirky, light hearted, enjoyable but far from gripping or consistent. **½

Review by Joe Geesin

BEANGROWERS Dance Baby Dance

Not a bad tune, spiky guitar lines with female vocals but sadly nothing really outstanding. Bit of Blondie in the sound but a tune nowhere as near as good as that band. The band's debut album follows in March which could be more promising! **½

Review by Jason Ritchie

SILICON VULTURES Sour Tits www.siliconvultures.com

This is a free download (mind you I wouldn't pay for this song!) and to be honest it is nothing special - synths, punk fuelled guitars and screaming vocals.

Okay for a couple of plays but I doubt anyone would be playing this tune in say 2-3 years time! **

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE WHIP Muzzle No 1 (Southern Fried Records)

New wave pop with a new romantic style drum machine, a nod at dance, and some bursts of guitar chords. That's the radio edit, the original version is a little heavier.

Two more mixes follow, can't tell if they're the same track or not; same drum machine and similar guitar bursts.

Inane drivel is still inane drivel no matter how you remix it.

It may have you head banging, because that's all you can do while you're in a straitjacket. *

Review by Joe Geesin


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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