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Singles Bar: March 2008

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

GRACE SOLERO If U Feel (Wohone Records) Release date 12.05.08

Based in London but with a very US vibe that draws comparisons with Betty Curse. Pumping bass line, chiming guitars, great production, and excellent vocals. There's an album out called 'New Moon' and if this is indicative, well worth investigating. *****

Review by David Randall


This sounds Seattle, not South London. Audioslave and more particularly Alter Bridge addicts should step right up. Well produced, heavy, melodic rock, and a good taster of their album 'Scatter The Crow". The sheen is supplied in part by the mixing of Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Feeder).

Whether the band can cut a dash in what is fast becoming a busy niche is another thing, but they deserve a wider audience. ****

Review by David Randall

APOCALYPTICA SOS (Anything But Love)

One of the stand-out tracks from the album 'Worlds Collide' where it has to be said the celebrity turns lift proceedings. Not least this offering featuring Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. It's a dark, atmospheric piece bolstered by the judicious use of cello which lends a melancholic feel. ****

Review by David Randall

AGATE Noble Truth EP

Ken Hensley's band comes from Norway and he made the point to us that the country produces top class metal musicians who know how to play a power chord or two.

Fronted by vocalist, keyboard player Mira Birkelid, Agate was formed in 2004. This is prog, symphonic metal with a highly melodic twist. Lots of sweeping synths and harmonies and an appealing directness. If anything, Mira's vocals could be a little more up in the mix. 'No Way Back' and 'Back In Time' are particularly good. It all bodes well for their forthcoming album. ****

Review by David Randall


Funk rock may not be too fashionable at the best of times but Stone Halo a five-piece from London do it better than most. This six-tracker is an excellent introduction.

Lead song 'City of Angels' reminds me a little of 'Green Grass and High Tides' (The Outlaws from the seventies) mixed with Red Hot Chillis. That may sound less than promising but it works and - as elsewhere - highlights the excellent vocals of Alexander Troy.

Well produced, good harmonies and playing, and no doubt good live. ****

Review by David Randall

CLOCKS Old Valve Radio (Island)

Island's latest hopefuls, and their blend of Brit indie pop recalls the best of Blur through to The Killers. Very catchy, good time tune, and almost guaranteed airplay. A bit too early for summer, though, but it brightens up a cold Monday. They support Scouting For Girls on tour in March-April. ****

Review by David Randall

AMY STUDT Chasing The Light

Chasing The Light is the lead single off Amy Studt's 'comeback' album set for release in April. Heralded back in 2002/03 as Britain's answer to Avril Lavigne, Amy is re-emerging as an altogether more polished, rounded and 'serious' artist.

With echoes of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Imogen Heap, her new album My Paper Men, is one that anyone of the aforementioned artists would die for and you'll be hard pushed to hear a more powerful performance from a British singer songwriter this year. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

ID GUINNESS Cure For The Common Crush (album sampler)

According to his PR Id's new album fuses mid 70's influences of Roxy, Bowie, and Floyd with Asian and mid Eastern instrumentation and a smattering of new wave. It sounded a fairly noxious concoction, but perhaps surprisingly it's a damn good piece of rock.

The sort of stirring melodic guitar rock that someone like John Wetton or latter period Asia could have come up with. And that's no bad thing, even if audiences for the genre are somewhat dwindling these days. Which makes Id Guinness well worth exploring if you're a classic rock fan.

The One That Got Away draws heavily on Gilmour, while Cure For The Common Crush is a thinly veiled homage to Comfortably Numb which even gets some Clare Torrey-like female wailing thrown in for good measure. Now that's what I call music. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

LIZZYSPIT Laura's Diary

This acoustic debut single from 22 year old Clapham based singer / songwriter Lizzy is bound to draw comparisons with the likes of Kate Nash.

It's a lovely quirky song delivered with panache and style. It was certainly enough to make me reach for her Myspace page where there's some other gems to discover such as Confusion Calls which with a little spit and polish could nestle comfortably next to Tina Dico on your ipod. Definitely an artist to watch. ****

Review by Pete Whalley


If you're plugged in to the modern world you may already be aware of Yael and her debut single from her eponymous debut album. Even if you were unaware of the fact. Because it's is already number 1 in the US iTunes chart, is riding high in Yael's native France, and is making a strong impact around the globe. How so? Well, if you've seen the new Macbook Air advert and thought 'that's a nice tune', then welcome to the wonderful world of Yael Naim. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

JONJO FEATHER I Suppose (Dead Young Records)

Multi-instrumentalist Jonjo sounds like he's singing through a telephone, which gives this song added grit. 'I Suppose' has a psychedelic vibe and brought to mind a more extreme version of our GRTR! Rising Star Chris Singleton. It's all over in two minutes.

The additional track, 'Face By Your Window', is less frenetic and shows greater depth with layered instrumentation. It's very difficult to judge an artist on one single, but this has more impact than most and he plays dates in April-June in support. Maybe worth checking out, but the next big thing? Mmm... ***½

Review by David Randall

CATS IN PARIS Foxes/Terrapins (aA recordings)

Foxes sounds in places like the classic Spiderman TV cartoon theme meets Vangelis on speed. Terrapins sounds like Weather Report if they took bad acid. There seems to be a niche (or black hole if you prefer) for quirky takes on synth-pop and Cats In Paris have no reason to be denied their 15 minutes of fame. ***½

Review by David Randall


This sounds like a beat combo from the sixties who have been listening to Paul Weller's Jam. Perhaps their greatest claim to fame was playing 'Glastonbudget 2007" and, who knows, they may get the real gig in the future. This may be best sampled - with beer - in the open air when it gets a bit warmer. Upbeat, jangly and interesting. ***½

Review by David Randall

iLiKETRAiNs We Go Hunting

Taken from their first full debut album Elegies To Lessons Learnt, we Go Hunting is an enormous song, the band delivering their 'library rock' to evoke the chaos and paranoia experienced by the victims of the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts where 19 accused witches were tried and hung in 1692.

The B-side More Weight is previously unreleased. These were the last words of Giles Corey who was arrested on suspicion of being a wizard during the trials. His punishment for entering no plea was to be crushed under rocks for 2 days until he died. Yet another spine tingling number from a growing catalogue. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

GRAMMATICS D.I.L.E.M.M.A./Polar Swelling

With a collective love of classic British art bands, Leeds based the Grammatics have an unusual line up - the traditional lads 3 piece of guitar, bass and drums being supplemented by classically trained (and Swedish) cellist Emilia Ergin.

It's like the Buggles meeting Japan head on, Emilia's cello adding parts that in the eighties would have been filled by synths. With almost prog rhythms underlying the vortex of sound, there's no denying that for once, here's an indie band who could well go the distance. A Roxy Music for a new generation? ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

THE WOMBATS Backfire At The Disco

With a sell out UK tour ahead of them, it looks like Liverpool's favourite current sons The Wombats star is going to continue to rise in 2008.

Backfire At The Disco is the 4th single to be lifted from their excellent debut album A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation. The single will be released on CD, 7" picture disc and 7" vinyl with the A side of the latter being a special recording with legendary Peter Hook on bass. B-sides will include a unique version of Take That's Patience recorded live on Jo Whiley's Radio 1 Live Lounge, which will make that a must have for fans. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE DAVES Not In England

Debut single from the XFM "Uploaded Artist Of The Week", and it's pure British indie rock'n'roll.

Bit of a nod at The Stones, but more so to Oasis but without the drone.

May have been lost in the plethora of the scene's output of 10-15 years ago, but now it's a breath of fresh air amongst of the dearth of guitar pop.

If you like an indie slant to your rock'n'roll, you'll love this. Mature and actually quite good. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


Taken from their forthcoming debut album Sunrise and on the back of supporting Amy MacDonald comes this pleasant pop ditty from Liverpool quintet The Sonic Hearts.

Indie guitar pop with a decent tune, it's the sort of thing Haircut 100 may have come up with in the eighties - effortless vocals, an irresistible melody and rich harmonies. Impossible to dislike. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


A four-piece from London / Leeds, The Rushes deliver pop rock with the emphasis on rock. This ep which precedes their debut album produced by Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Beth Orton, Athlete) combines the musical attack of Kings Of Leon with the melodic grace of The Police.

Big on melodies, big on hooks this is a band that should appeal to old and new rockers alike. And this 5 track EP is a damn good taster. Check them out. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Big songs, big melodies, big choruses. Like a modern day Black.

The Thin Men are the brainchild of New Zealand songwriter and performer Blair Jollands, whose path to fortune (and possible fame) have been via New York and hooking up with Boy George.

With strong mid career Bowie influences (in particular on Dream Of You and Walkin' Blues), this is pleasant fare that is influenced in equal measures by Scott Walker (big chorus, big voice ballads) and the Beatles.

So, while perfectly palatable, one has to question whether there is enough here to make the Thin Men stand out in the crowd. I have my doubts. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

LACK OF AFRO Touch My Soul (Freestyle)

Adam Gibbons aka the ironically titled Lack of Afro, is obviously a creative source with an abundance of clever studio ideas, a cool set of ears and some revamped art work of The Small Faces 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake'.

He is to be congratulated for fusing the timeless voice of the late great Steve Marriott with a catchy, joyous, Two Tone influenced repeated circular horn line and cool Hammond.

It's the kind of single that will surely find immediate acceptance on the club scene. The layered sound and sampled voice create an essential dance floor groove.

The second track 'The Outsider' comes with a toaster on the intro, more big horns and a funky Hammond over the top of some full percussion, trumpet and echo reverb, before a return to the big screen type horn theme and a sample of an unknown 60's vocal starlet. But clever edits, samples and layered soundscapes aside, this is Marriott the voice of his generation dismembered and out of context.

The original vocal comes from 'Afterglow(Of Your Love') on the 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' album, but brilliant though the sampling of his refrain may be, there is little emotional connection to be made with one of the UK's greatest ever soul singers - a curious state of affairs given his impassioned singing.

As a catchy single this has huge potential, but as regards an album of the stuff I have my reservations. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

ROISIN MURPHY You Know Me Better (EMI)

Why do Roisin Murphy's songs always sound like Moloko? This could be an outtake from 'Things To Make And Do' - eight years ago. What she does, she does well, but it doesn't gain any points for originality. A hefty slab of electro-pop or pap depending on your taste. She looks nice, though. ***

Review by David Randall

IAMX The Alternative (NoCarbon Records)

IAMX is Chris Corner who has a penchant for bizarre outfits and makeup but is big in Germany.

This has an insistent electronic riff that in places recalls the primal synth of 'Spirit In the Sky' meets 'Tainted Love' updated for the millennium. Influenced by eighties synth-pop and electronica, if that's your bag this single also contains extra remixes to keep you happy. ***

Review by David Randall

PHIL HARDING Flawless Land

You've heard Phil's work before - but principally as the legendary PWL producer who's engineered hits by the great and good (and some bad) of 30 years of pop. He's worked with everyone from Diana Ross and The Jackson through Rick Astley, East 17 and Kylie, to Dead and Alive, Gary Moore and T'Pau.

So it comes as no surprise that his debut single, after 35 years in the industry, is a polished affair beautifully played and produced. Teamed up with lyricist Mila Bogen, it's a neat piece of up-tempo soft rock. Nothing to dislike, but not exactly groundbreaking either. After all these years you sort of wonder, 'why?'. Typical Radio 2 fodder taken form a forthcoming debut album. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

CHRIS TOWNSHEND Back Again/Copenhagen

A double A side taken from Chris' debut album Copenhagen produced by Greg Haver (Manics, Mel C, Super Furries, Catatonia). It's melodic power pop of the sort served up by John Mayer and pleasant enough fare.

It may be my review copy, but I though the production was a bit 'eighties' and frankly there's little innovative on offer. Rhythmic guitars, catchy melodies and a decent enough voice, but for me at least, nothing to set the pulse racing. And Copenhagen is nothing short of a stab at something The Verve/Coldplay might come up with. But in short, better artists have been there and done it before. **

Review by Pete Whalley


Described as a rising singer-songwriter on the rock/pop scene with a soaring powerful voice that has the delicacy to transport you through his personal and pondering lyrics and upbeat style'. In truth, Sometimes is a pleasant enough song put together on the cheap and Karim delivers it well enough, but it's not got anything to offer beyond the millions of other MySpace singer songwriter's out there in cyberspace and wine bars. **

Review by Pete Whalley


The band's name and the CD title didn't raise my expectations greatly, which is just as well because it's painful having your hopes dashed. The band have, apparently, 'a mountain of talent, a love for 60's music and their own radio show'. I'm just thankful I haven't tuned in. They deliver a quirky pop with the madness of Madness, but with a discordant rock / punk feel. The next Monkeys? I think not. And the closest they're going to come to a million pounds is a lottery ticket. **

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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