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Singles Bar: June 2007

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

MARILLION Thankyou Whoever You Are/Most Toys (Intact)

Released to coincide with the UK leg of their tour, and two flavours of the band's current album.

'Thank You Whoever You Are' is the slower of the two tracks and in better times might have garnered airplay on BBC Radio 2.

Steve Hogarth seems to write his best lyrics in the face of adversity: his marriage break-up and its aftermath permeates a fair few tracks off 'Somewhere Else' although 'Thank You' is more optimistic. It builds with a typical Marillion chorus, swirling keys, and thoughtful Rothery guitar figures.

'Most Toys' on the other hand rails against material wealth - you can't take it with you. This is the harder of all the album tracks and whilst it rocks, it possibly isn't the strongest of the band's more uptempo offerings. In that sense it is probably a better souvenir piece if you've caught them live.

For my money, the slinky 'No Such Thing' could have been the surprise summer hit and maybe there's still time to release it. ****½

Review by David Randall

BADLY DRAWN BOY Promises (EMI)

Promises is the third single to be pulled from the excellent Born In The UK album. And it's a corker - a simply beautiful love song with the power to will make the hairs stand on your neck and tears run down your cheeks.

One of the bests songs and performances that you'll hear this year or next. Immaculate. *****

Review by Pete Whalley

THE ZOMBIES Time Of The Season

Re-issued on the back of a TV advert, 'Time of the Season' is one of those songs that seems inextricably tied in with the 60's, and yet it is also a song that nearly 4 decades later refuses to go away. It's been used in films, TV ads, has been name checked by the famous, the contemporary and the up and coming, and of course comes from 'Odessey & Oracle' one of the great slow burning albums of all time.

Perhaps the reason for its durability is simply that it is a song redolent of a hip age, and the combination of Colin Blunstone's airy vocals, the insistent call and response lines and the juxtaposition of voice and keyboards make for a slice of cool that has rarely been matched since.

From the opening bass line - which is reminiscent of Ben E King's 'Stand by Me' - and the rhythmic breath exhalations, via the Mama & Papa's style harmonies and some clever stop - time dynamics to Colin Blunstone's evocative vocal delivery set against Rod Argent tough keyboard outro, this single has it all.

The accompanying piano led slice of pop 'This will be our Year' is deeply ironic title when you consider the band had already split up before they enjoyed any success with either song. ****½

Review by Pete Feenstra

BIFFY CLYRO Folding Stars

The third single to be taken from Biffy's fantastic Puzzle album is designed to demonstrate the band's versatility, showcasing yet another facet of their repertoire - the big chorus rock love song. It's a joyous and infectious piece.

The single will feature brand-new B-sides Coward and A Headline. Watch out Biffy on their 14-date headline tour of the UK in November 2007. ****½

Review by Pete Whalley

UNDERCUT A Bit Of Education www.undercutmusic.com

Undercut released a cracking album a couple of years ago - 'Soul Food Mother' in particular being one of the best songs I've heard in ages. The band's new single sees them take a harder edge to their overall sound. The title track blasts out of your speakers with an aggressive chorus but still the band's trademark ear for melody in amongst all the aggression.

'Close Your Eyes' is for me the better song as it has a stronger hook and some interesting guitar soundscapes.

This band should be headlining stadiums as they are that good in my opinion! They have moved on in their sound but can still pen songs with melody and thoughtful lyrics. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

VAN TRAMP The Ultraviolet EP www.vantramp.com

Now this band have that magical 'it' factor, the thing that keeps you wanting to play their music again. Musically they hint at such greats as the Faces, the Rolling Stones and the Black Crowes.

Listen to 'Hope & Pray', with vocals having that edgy/gruff feel of Rod Stewart (when he was good in the 70's) and the song really stays with you after one play. Fantastic stuff! 'Help Me Make It' is the other stand out track. It takes a mellower tone but again the vocals and musicianship are of the highest standard.

A band to look out for and they have the music to make you sit up and take notice. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

MADDING CROWD Modern Man www.maddingcrowd.info

Four piece band from London with two band members in the 20's and two in their 40's so you get an interesting mix of influences in their sound.

The title track and 'Finding The I' both recall the classic New Wave sound of the late 70's/early 80's - think XTC or the pop moments of Talking Heads.

'Finding The I' is an instant classic - nice guitar riff, catchy chorus and a very neat guitar solo.

A very fine CD single and hopefully the rest of the album will be just as good as the songs on here. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

GOODBOOKS Passchendaele (Columbia Records)

Named after a quiet Belgium village, Passchendaele is the third single from Kent's Goodbooks.

It tells the story of a father and son who fought in the battle that took place there in World War One and will feature on the band's debut album Control that is set for release at the end of July.

Produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat (Scissor Sisters), is another strong offering from a band that blends strong melodic pop with an electronic heartbeat ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

RECOUP Remind You

Firstly, ***** for the packaging - a reduced, reused and recycled crisp packet, and I even like the flavour - Walkers Sweet Chilli Sensations!

But enough of the packaging, ReCoup deliver a haunting electro pop - shimmering guitar work reminiscent of the Edge, vocals reminiscent of Depeche Mode and an electronic beat combining live and electronic drums.

While Remind You is classic pop, the B-side Thunderground is a thunderous electro instrumental number wouldn't be out of place in a warehouse rave. Sensational. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

MOONSHOT Dirty Hands

A blend of dance, pop, trip-hop, rock and indie influences, three piece Moonshot have no front man, all three band members being involved in writing, singing, performing, mixing and production.

Dirty Hands is a slab of 80's up-tempo electro pop that borrows heavily on The Pet Shop Boys. In fact, if this was The Pet Shop Boys it would be hailed as a return to form. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

BC CAMPLIGHT Lord, I've Been On Fire One Little Indian

Brian Christinzio is the driving force behind BC Camplight and the title track is a wonderful piece of OTT pop rock. His high range vocals mixed with dense backing music bring to mind Jellyfish and even Mika but with less camp and more harmonies. 'The Hip And The Homeless' is another cracking pomp pop number, although the final track on here 'Soy Tonto!' lets the side down.

Fans of quality pop music with an emphasis on overblown production will love this guy! ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

OCEAN COLOUR SCENE I Just Got Over You Absolute/Universal/Mosely Shoals Records

Second single from the band's latest album and classic Brit-rock it is too. It's a little too derivative of Brit-pop ere Oasis to be the best OCS single around but it's still a damn fine tune that deserves Top 40.

The second track 'William Bailey' is a touch acoustic, with a McCartney sound.

OCS are still one of the better UK guitar bands, not afraid to show influences without being manufactured. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

THE ARTERIES The Arteries EP www.myspace.com/thearteries

Young unsigned band, uptempo indie pop metal. Influenced by The Deftones kind of thing.

Opener 'Still On My Feet' features some great guitar work, some intricate interplay too, a nod at Maiden in that , a breath of fresh air with the current trend of strumming.

'Stick To Your Guns' proves a change of pace too.

'Plain Sailing' is fun, a bit of an organised mess but that is half the fun.

A touch of 'A Flash Of The Blade' to the intro of 'Billy' before the song meanders.

Sod trends, this is fresh and half decent too. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

ABIGAIL HOPKINS I'll Be Waiting For You By The Bus Stop

Bizarre. Abigail - classically trained daughter of Sir Anthony - releases this first single from her forthcoming second album Blue Satin Alley. But running in at only 1minute 26 seconds you have to ask - 'why?' It's hardly longer than the title.

An acappella (multi tracked?) performance, the vocals have an African tribal feel (think Paul Simon). It's beautifully performed, but it's over before it's begun. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE ALIENS Robot Man

The Aliens are a three-piece psychedelic rock outfit laced with electronica from North of the border and all former members - at one time or another - of the Beta Band.

Robot Man is lifted from their Alienoid Starmonica album. It's not unpleasant fare having a Beatles/Stone Roses drug induced groove, and if Macca had released it we'd probably say it wasn't a bad return to form. But it isn't. ***

MARSHA SWANSON Still Wrong

Taken from her forthcoming album, Still Wrong is classic singer-songwriter fodder. With inspiration from the likes of Carole King, Fiona Apple and Beth Orton, Still Wrong has echoes of Orton's breezy style. Principally a piano number, it's a nice track and Marsha's vocals wistful vocals suit it well. But there's a fine line between brilliance and mediocrity and I'd need to hear more than just the one track to decide whether Marsha is a 'hit' or a 'miss'.

It reminded me a bit of Beverley Craven. Whatever happened to her? ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE EPIC MONDAY Back To The Beginning EP www.myspace.com/epicmonday

Boy band/guitar pop goes metal for this young Italian band. Interesting EP, with all the tracks with pretty much the same predictable upper mid tempo with the vocals playing in the safe range.

'I Know You' has a nice melody not too dissimilar to the Friends theme tune. Imagine that being played by Foo Fighters.

Some good heavy if commercial stuff.

Nothing wrong with that, it's just what every young band seems to be doing right now. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

SECRET POLICE Bootie Call www.myspace.com/thesecretpolice

Fine guitar pop/rock with melody and a range of influences. Imagine Smashing Pumpkins without the morose, Guns'n'Roses without the whine, Foo Fighters with talent.

Some decent guitar work, a memorable melody, and an acoustic second track that should please, it's a good single that's well worth checking out. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

UXL Beautiful Today www.myspace.com/uxlofficial

Indie guitar pop from the mid 90s with a hard rock edge. The chorus of 'Isn't She Beautiful' very reminiscent of Breakfast At Tiffany's, only the track as a whole is better, more guitar rock oriented.

Second track 'Stay A While' a little grungy, opening with a stringed acoustic ballad and moving to almost extreme metal and back again.

Some nice touches, rock for the younger generation. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

LOOK SEE PROOF Casualty

Look See Proof are an indie 4-piece from Hertfordshire, popular with Radio 1 listeners.

There's nothing to dislike - it's up-tempo indie guitar music with choppy beats, layered vocal harmonies and a decent hook. So if the The Fratellis, The Rifles, The Dykeenies and that sort of stuff pulls your plums, then investigate further.

It reminded me of Haircut 100 on speed, and to be honest, the sooner this indie guitar music becomes the sound of yesterday, the happier be. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE SKIES Bring It On www.myspace.com/theskiesband

A band who know how to rock but sadly sound to much like bands like the Streets or even the White Stripes. It is an okay song with a definite highlight being the rock solid drums. **½

Review by Jason Ritchie

COMMANDER KEEN My Tascam Dream

Commander Keen aka Stuart Torrance and chums are a Scottish (not that that matters) is a new age/electro outfit producing ambient - electronica - roots music.

The pipes add a few notes of distinction, but that apart, it might just as well have been entitled my Tangerine Dream. Ones for fans of the genre only. **

Review by Pete Whalley


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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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