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Singles Bar: May 2007

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

NEIL MCSWEENEY Postcards (Kids)

The debut single from Sheffield's Neil McSweeney is full of promise. With youthful vocals somewhere between David Sylvian, but erring into Tracy Chapman territory when he turns the volume up it's really nice sound.

Postcards is Americana tinged folk that would appeal to Chapman or Ryan Adams fans, while the B-side a gentle hoedown.

A truly excellent singer-songwriter debut. Can't wait for an album.****½

Review by Pete Whalley

NERINA PALLOT Peg (14th Floor Records)

We like Nerina Pallot here at GRTR! And we're not alone - nominated for Best Female at the Brits, for an Ivor Novello songwriting award for Sophia, and with a plethora of favourable reviews, Nerina's new single Peg is her first fresh output since the excellent Fires album.

Nerina likes Steely Dan and her cover version of Peg from their 1977 Aja album is a homage more than an interpretation. Nerina plays it with a fairly straight bat, her vocals floating above a throbbing bass line.

Captivating and enchanting - we have come to expect no less. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

THE CRUCIBLE That's The Price I Choose EP

Slick rock'n'roll with a clean punk edge; not too dissimilar to a couple of the really early Motorhead recordings. On Parole for the 21st century. Chunky guitars and an occasional prog leaning. Yes it works, and very well too. Huge crashing drums and some decent riffs, and some nice guitar work in the second track.

Four excellent tracks, well worth checking out. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

THE LAZARUS PLOT Doesn't Change A Thing (Illuminated Music)

This has the right quotient of atmosphere, and you somehow know that from the opening, plaintive piano chords. I'm a sucker for this sort of stuff, probably an age thing.

Add a shuffling backbeat, strings, Coldplay guitars and excellent vocals and this has all the makings of greatness.

The marketing machine beckons, this has some similarities with our own favourites Public Symphony. And we know how hard they've found it in the past year. ****

Review by David Randall


Formed at the start of 2006, Freefall Felix spent their first two months together in the studio working on their debut self-released "The White Label EP".

A manic mixture of R&B, pop, ska and rock they are a blend of The Beastie Boys and Madness on speed. You do wonder when Myspace bands send you promos for review, but in the case of Feefall Felix, they do offer something fresh, different which is exceedingly good.

Fans of The Zutons should check them out. A riot. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

IRRITANT Voice Of The Siren

Debut single from Irritant that's been taken from the Good Evening From The Machine EP, a release that's already doing well via the band's website and myspace site.

Some great guitar melodies and the odd harmony, very reminiscent of Iron Maiden circa Piece Of Mind in places, with touches of guitar pop / indie rock. This is where the vocals, although good for a young band, detract from the otherwise fantastic guitar runs.

A track well worth searching out.****

Review by Joe Geesin

FIREWORKS NIGHT When We Fell Through The Ice

Fireworks Night (James Leslie and Briony Greenhill) release their first single When We Fell Through The Ice, taken from their debut album As Fools We Are.

It's a gentle narrative duet with the vocals given prominence - James gloomy semi-spoken lead (think iLiKETRAiNS) complemented by Briony's beautiful backing (think Cerys Mathews).

And it's complemented by quirky ukulele, marching drums and violins. A strange brew, but unique, enchanting and well worth checking out. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

TOMORROW'S EVE The Tower (Lion Music)

Following on from last year's 'Mirror Of Creation II' the band are releasing this four track EP to tide fans over until their next album. The two all new songs, the title track and 'Remember' are enjoyable epic filled tunes with gentle piano one minute and then massive guitars the next. Like last year's rather good album they remind you of Queensryche and Savatage. Also on here are two updated versions of 'Success' and the beautiful piano led 'Not From This World' which features Jenny Kloos guesting on vocals.

Roll on the new album is all I can say! ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

SPARE Darkness Rising EP

This young Irish band play a tasty extreme metal; non of this nu death grunge bollocks. If you are going thrash, model yourself on the best. There's a distinct nod at early Metallica here, first two albums. For that kind of thrash it's cohesive too, not a complete mess.

Basically 5 songs, some good melodies, lots of speed, a couple of bursts of guitar harmony, and the guitar solos are good too; fast and furious but again not overdone.

Vocals are a litter gruff in places, but easily overlooked.

If you like classic era bay area thrash done well (i.e. mid 80s Metallica) you'll love this. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

AIR TRAFFIC Shooting Star (EMI)

Young British indie-rock sensations Air Traffic follow their recent sold-out UK headline tour and their top 30 single Charlotte with an almighty new single Shooting Star.

Taken from their highly anticipated debut album Fractured Life, Shooting Star builds with emotive and anthemic refrains picking up the gauntlet thrown down by Coldplay's voluntary sabbatical.

And on the evidence presented, Coldplay may well be yesterday's men. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

ICED EARTH Overture OF The Wicked EP (SPV)

This 4 track EP precedes 2 concept albums, encompassing Something Wicked. Fans will know the concept from 1998, but the 12,000 year concept over 3 songs is now rerecorded and fully expanded over 2 albums, the first of which (Framing Armageddon) is released later this year.

The music his hard solid power metal with extreme prog and speed touches. Tim 'Ripper' Owens' vocals are true to form while stamping his own power and passion on them. The man has a higher vocal range than Rob Halford and the guitar work is just good.

'Prophecy' is prog speed metal with a hint of Iron Maiden with machine gun drums. The melodic guitar harmonies overlay a truly heavy rhythm.

Great stuff and a good taster for two good albums to come. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

McQUEEN The Line Went Dead (Demolition Records)

Four ladies with attitude, that's McQueen. From their debut album 'Break The Silence', this rattles along. Suzie Quatro has a lot to answer for, she almost laid down the blueprint for catchy female rock although she wasn't always taken too seriously.

Frankly, I wouldn't like to be confronted by McQueen's sea of leather in the middle of the night down a dark alley. They'd eat you before breakfast.

The band are playing several festivals in Europe this summer and will be worth checking out in Newcastle (Evolution) and London (Hyde Park) in June. ***½

Review by David Randall

KOOPA One Off Song For The Summer

Essex boys Koopa continue to deliver their own brand cheeky chappie pop rock somewhere between The Proclaimers and Ian Dury.

One Off Song For The Summer reveals a more commercial side to their output and suggests that, yes, they could be in contention to be the next Arctic Monkeys. Good clean fun. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley


The charmingly named Killing For Company (they got their name from a book about the serial killer Dennis Nilsen) have this download only song out now.

There is a name in the band though, in former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable plus Steve Williams, ex-Sheer Shock Revival.

Stereophonics this isn't as it is a big, anthem headed by the shouty vocals of Greg Jones and underpinned by a damn fine rhythm section. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie


Formed in 2004, The Juliana Down are a four piece from Warwickshire. Nuneaton, to be precise. Their debut single Cold is straightforward guitar rock. Nothing wrong with that - it opens with Zeppellin-esque acoustic strains before bursting into a big beefy and powerful jaunt.

With impassioned vocals and a strong melody there's nothing to knock. But whether they have what it makes them to stand out from the crowd remains to be seen. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

URBAN MYTH BAND Moon & The Night (TRL Music)

After playing their second gig to a a crowd of 5000, at The Big Chill, this band have captured wider attention.

Fronted by vocalist Clare, this is thick with chill-out grooves and swirling synths. It's scratch and sniff, and smell the coffee. One to enjoy with your latte. ***

Review by David Randall

CHERRY GHOST People Help The People (EMI)

For the uneducated (and I count myself among them) Cherry Ghost is a band out of Manchester and People Help The People their second single. And they have the unusual ability to span the Radio 1 and 2 audiences.

With an almost indie tinged Amerciana, and rough edged vocals from founder singer-songwriter Simon Aldred, itís an invigorating cocktail. One for Ryan Adams fans to consider as an alternative consumption of choice. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

FURTHEST DRIVE HOME The Complete First Series (Hungry Kid Records)

Debut mini album from this young band, with the 'Director's Cut' already having reaching No 1 in downloads in the UK unsigned chart.

A bit beefier than the usual guitar pop stuff, this is much rockier with touches of indie, the odd nod at prog rock/pop, hard rock and even U2.

'Holly' has a decent melody and change of pace too, and the intricate work on 'Tower' is worth a listen.

Should do well. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


With a clever(?) play on the moniker The BBC, The Bee Bee See play psychotronic shoegaze glam pop, more pre punk than post punk, more linear than angular, but with a subliminal golf-rave element.

At least that's what their promo line is.

Disney Eyes is actually the band's second single and is cultured pop/rock reminiscent of Pulp and Roxy Music. It's not unpleasant fare, but I was left wondering just who the band are likely to appeal to. I suspect Scissor Sisters fans may well choose to indulge. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE WOMBATS Kill The Director (14th Floor Records)

We've given the previous output by Liverpool threesome The Womats - Matthew Murphy (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Dan Haggis (drums, vocals) and Tord Overland Knudsen (bass, vocals) - favourable reviews with their previous singles.

They return with their first fully commercial release, another carefree indie pop number with a big rhythm, big chorus and a summertime feel.

A Scouse answer to The Arctic Monkeys, thiere's no denying their appeal. The only problem is that just about every city in the UK is spewing out bands of this ilk. But to be fair, The Wombats are up there with the best. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Last year there was something of a renewed interest in electronica. Twelve months on, OMD are playing gigs again so there must be something in the air.

Marked out by their frontman, vocalist and electric double bass player Stuart Henshall, Subsource's debut (available in six different mixes) is infectious and the electro beats are dancefloor-ready. They sound like they'd be good live. ***

Review by David Randall


We're broad-minded here at GRTR! and although this occupies the more extreme end of our spectrum, it's worth reporting on.

The two main movers and shakers won a 'Best Urban Act' award in 2003 and now with vocalist Maiko they blend hip-hop, funk and rock grooves.

Lead track 'Is That What You Want' is infectious. The other tracks are more straight-ahead funk without the rock edge. But overall - of its type - this is an excellent EP. ***

Review by David Randall

SESHA Even When You're With Me

The nicest thing you can say about this: Sesha looks better than she sounds.

There's nothing wrong with this ballad, it's just that it offers a rather sub-Celine Dion experience. Sesha is only 22, Australian, but really there's nothing here that a tube of Fosters wouldn't sort out. **

Review by David Randall

FILTHY PEDRO Rock 'n' Roll Points (Blang Records)

Billed as antifolk, this pseudo rock'n'roll track is, while catchy in a perverse way, very amateurish. Take a fuzz guitar out to the garage with the drum kit, have the vocals sung done a phone; the keyboards and guitar solo do stand out though. Nice tune but doesn't really come together with any balls.

'History Lover' is a the kind of singer/songwriter strumming with a backing band you'd get on TV late on a Friday night.

Thanks, but no thanks. **

Review by Joe Geesin


Having reviewed this Polish band's last album which got a rare one star rating, it seems they are gluttons for punishment and, seemingly, fearless.

Vocalist Marysia is thrust centre stage on track 1 and she sings in Polish. Which is interesting. Elsewhere it sounds like they are playing the vocal track backwards.

The five tracks on this EP are firmly in an early-seventies mid-European time-warp. Lots of organ, synth, psychedelic noises and discordant guitar.

Things haven't got any better. It is arguable that even hard drugs wouldn't enhance this experience.

Review by David Randall

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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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