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Singles Bar: September 2007

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

BIFFY CLYRO Machines (14th Floor Records)

From their magnificent Puzzle album, Biffy Clyro lift their 4th single - Machines - in advance of their November UK tour.

An alternative version of the stunning closing track from the album - opening with an acoustic and with echoes of co-Scots, The Proclaimers, it's a stirring REM/ Nirvana type ballad - beautifully played and produced - and showing what a versatile band Biffy have become.

It would sit just as comfortably on a Radio 2 playlist as it would as a live show cigarette lighter moment.

Machines is released on 8 October with an exclusive b-side - Hermaphrofight - and a demo version of Machines. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

DERRIN NAUENDORF Shipwrecked (Ruf)

'Shipwrecked' further extends Derrin Nauendorf's push into Bob Dylan territory. That is to say that the Australian singer song-writer is armed with a batch of canny lyrics, uses clever metaphors and he is smart enough to hang his best song on the back of a beautiful arrangement.

And while 'Shipwrecked' is of course his own work, the vocal phrasing, the passionate delivery and the excellent couplets are influenced by one Robert Zimmerman.

Double bass player Rick Foot acts as the perfect foil for Derrin's fierce acoustic work and hard edged lyrics that require both your attention and enjoyment as Derrin teases out the meaning.

With a strong melody line and a good use of dynamics this is a cracking single worthy of radio play listing. Lines such as 'Every friction craves and addiction' cleverly makes use of a rhyme within a line, and the concluding chorus, 'Better to be shipwrecked, than never sail at all' is a clever metaphorical summation of an impressive relationship narrative.

If 'Shipwrecked' is influenced by Dylan, then the mandolin folky outing of 'Dance Steps' is the song that Dylan never wrote. It's another cracking Derrin effort that once more pays homage to the master but retains his own characteristic feel.

The live take of the third track 'My Enemy' gives you an insight into how passionate his performances are, with a hard strummed acoustic, throaty vocals and wistful lyrics. This is cracking stuff then from a major talent who is surely just one radio push away from significantly broadening his appeal. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

AIR TRAFFIC No More Running Away EMI

Air Traffic is the kind of band that rams home the importance of context. And while in recent years the emergence of new musical labels has ushered in a new generation of bands, Air Traffic seem to be specifically riding on the back of a musical context that has ushered in plaintive anthemic balladry as the norm and has taken the likes of Coldplay, and Keane into the nations homes.

And yet this single is anything but one dimensional. Indeed over the course of little more than three minutes the sweeping melody of ‘No More Running’ takes you on a musical journey from Coldplay via the arena anthems of U2 to the angst ridden resolution so astutely used by the likes of Arcade Fire. That said, and putting the above derivative musical elements aside, Air Traffic deliver some searing vocals over a compelling repeated chorus, all underpinned by some insistent brushed stokes.

There is real quality here born of classy pop and indie rock that is tailor made for the contemporary market. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

DAMIEN RICE Dogs (14th Floor Records)

Dogs is the third single to be released from Damien's acclaimed 9 album. Released on cd and two 7" vinyl editions, both will feature an exclusive live b-side - Childish on the cd, and Elephant or Accidental Babies on the vinyl depending on whether you opt for the gatefold or poster sleeved version.

For Damien, Dogs is one of his more accessible and up beat acoustic numbers with yet another great contribution from Lisa Hannigan on backing vocals. The single is released to coincide with his October UK tour. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

THE WOMBATS Let's Dance To Joy Division (14th Floor Records)

The latest single from this Liverpool based combo is something of a gem - a scratchy rhythm, a distinctly northern vocal, an up tempo chorus and bags of charm, pitches the The Wombats firmly shoulder to shoulder with the likes of The Kaiser Chiefs and the Arctic Monkeys.

And it shows the band have come on in leaps and bounds. This could be the one that puts Liverpool back on the map. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

MACHINE Please Yourself (Gronland Records)

Imagine a Patti Smith style stream of consciousness intro rap - almost a female version of Lou Reed - with an appropriate stark bass line and scratchy guitar accompaniment plus an insistent post Hawkwind hypnotic drone with added percussion - before a grunge style deluge takes the song home as guest vocalist Lucy Johnston soars into the chorus.

Repeat the process with clever stop-time middle, add a few studio embellishments and you have the essence of Machine’s somewhat gothic sounding single.

The Patti Smith intro narrative is seemingly extended and further up in the mix on the extended second version. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

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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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