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Singles Bar: January 2009


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

VOODOO JOHNSON Into The Red (VJ Records)

Voodoo Johnson are one of a breed of new bands that really deserve to become much bigger. Fitting in nicely alongside the likes of Heavenís Basement and Wired Desire, this Birmingham based band are well worth checking out.

The band have gained praise from the likes of Iron Maidenís Bruce Dickinson, DJ Alex Zane and producers Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Led Zep, Iron Maiden) and Gavin Monaghan (Kings of Leon)- the latter having produced this new 5 track EP. With some decent radio airplay, an appearance in the Kerrang! MCN Live! Finals 2008, and having recently toured with Duff McKaganís Loaded, Voodoo Johnson are beginning to get noticed.

This new EP features loud, dirty guitars, powerful riffs and hooks a-plenty. Fans of Velvet Revolver, Aerosmith, Zeppelin, and the like, will no doubt be impressed. 'Bad Habit', 'The Longest Day I Ever Wasted' and 'Seven Years' stand out amongst the 5 tracks on offer, although to be fair, every track is good.

No doubt the band will be playing at a venue near you at some point this year, have a look for yourself. *****

Review by Nikk Gunns
 

CHRIS SINGLETON EP  www.singletonmusic.com

Chris Singleton returns with some new songs and they all hit the spot! 'Let Me Out' is a jaunty pop rock tune, not dissimilar to 'Get Up' of his debut album in that it is an instant hit and the same goes for 'Bang' which adds some brass backing.

'Lose It' delves into a new area as it features a riff beloved of bands in the 90's Manchester scene - the Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses et al. 'Caught In The Sun' is the nearest to a ballad on here and is the sort of song you wish the Stereophonics could still write instead of the MOR pap they have produced lately. The one song that does what it says on the tin is 'Lou Reed' which could be a Lou Reed solo tune.

The big difference in these new songs is not only that a few new musical avenues have been explored but the overall sound has been expanded with better use of backing vocals and a very clear, strong production. ****½

Review by Jason Ritchie

LAUREN HARRIS Your Turn (Demolition Records)

Offspring of rock musicians is a growing trend of late and here we have the daughter of Iron Maiden's bass player Steve Harris. This single is released at 00:00:01am on January 1st around the world as each timezone comes into 2009 - a novel idea. It's not a bad song, like Avril Lavinge with a bit more bite and if given a bit of a push could score an early hit in 2009. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE WOMBATS My Circuitboard City

My Circuitboard City will be The Wombats' first release of 2009 and will be eagerly awaited by fans desperate for something fresh following the band's success in 2008 with their debut album A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation.

Produced by Tore Johanson (Cardigans, Franz Ferdinand) My Circuitboard City retains the band's spunky ebullient trademark sound but nevertheless edges The Wombats closer to the mainstream where comparisons with the Arctic Monkeys are almost inevitable. An unmissable hit. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

REMEDY Strange Fast Now EP

No Pro Tools in evidence here. And that's a good thing. Here at GRTR! we like our rock low down and dirty.

With and early 70's groove, this Geordie 4 piece - Jenn Cherene (vocals), Graham Haswell (guitars), Lee Tuck (bass) and Mark Dodds (drums) were brought together by their love of the genre.

Jenn's vocals fall somewhere between Janis Joplin and Pat Benatar, Graham's guitar is slung suitably low and Lee and Mark hold down a rock solid beat. And with a handful of melodic, but hard hitting rock numbers, the band's 6-track debut EP is suitably attitude and passion fuelled.

Take the 'authenticity' of the Black Crows or early Guns 'n' Roses add a cracking female vocalist and get ready to rock! The resurgence of classic rock continues. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

AMY STUDT Nice Boys

I was looking forward to a new single from Amy Studt - her My Paper Men album having been one of the highlights of 2008 - a quite stunning return to form that would grace the catalogue of many of the so called industry 'heavyweights'.

So it was something of a disappointment to find this wasn't new material, but a track off the album leading the way for it's forthcoming physical re-release. If you haven't yet discovered the re- emergence of this talented Brit, I suggest you investigate now - you'll be hard pushed to hear a more powerful performance from a British singer songwriter this year. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

INNER VOICES Surveillance State  www.myspace.com/adambrierly

Home recorded selection of songs from the upcoming debut album, 'Bend Your Mind' from Inner Voices, which is basically Adam Brierly. Three songs on here with the title track the real stand out, reminded me of Saga in their prime and the vocals are very similar to Michael Sadler's as well.

Very effective use of synths throughout the song. 'Carbon State' ups the tempo going down a guitar led sound (not a million miles away from Fish era Marillion) whilst 'My Aberation' again has a few tatsy bursts of guitar and the Saga comparisons come back to mind again.

Definately makes you want to hear the full album, especially fans of Saga and hi-tech prog rock music. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

CRUCIFIED BARBARA Sex Action (GMR)

Not only are Crucified Barbara great eye candy but they make pretty decent music too, but of course, any straight guy would say that.

This all-female four piece began in 1998 in their home city of Stockholm. In recent years they've shifted from their initial punk rock sound to good old fashioned heavy metal.

'Sex Action' is the first single taken from their forthcoming studio opus 'Till Death Do Us Party.' It's a pretty straight forward rocker with no surprises but plenty of attitude. ***

Review by Neil Daniels

DEFEND MOSCOW Manifesto

Defend Moscow could be a Human League for a new generation. With a Brit / Norwegian / French line-up the band deliver an up-dated 80's electro pop, with New Order and Human League the main reference points.

Manifesto (based on the life of Trotsky, who else) is the band's debut single and is a huge slice of danceable / singable electro pop with funk guitar lines overlaid with sparkling keys and a whopping bass line.

A guaranteed hit in the 80's, if Manifesto was released by Kylie and Robbie this it would be #1 for weeks and re-ignite two stalled careers. But without TOTP style exposure it remains to be seen whether Defend Moscow will strike a spark with today's download generation. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

LE RENO AMPS Outlaws

Deep-fried Scottish indie / roots is in a class of it's own.

With a frenetically dervish guitar line and rhythm based around the Rawhide, the musical insanity of strange time signatures and vocals at brief moments beautiful and at others, straight from the asylum, Outlaws is actually about trying to salvage a relationship.

Completely mental, but at the same time strangely compelling. ***

Review by Pete Whalley
 

MARMADUKE DUKE  Kid Gloves

Marmaduke Duke is a side project for Biffy Clyro guitarist Neil Simon and Sucioperro guitarist JP Reid, who for the purposes of a three part mythological musical trilogy are also known as The Atmosphere and The Dragon.

Kid Gloves is the first single from the forthcoming second album Duke Pandemonium that was performed and produced in 24 hours. Unlike the debut album that offered three different musical suites - in your face shredding rock, brain rearranging ambience and acoustica, Kid Gloves and Pandemonium are minimalist electronica, the single featuring Sneaky Sound System's Connie Mitchell on guest vocals.

The lead vocals are unmistakably laid back Biffy and combined with the hypnotic beat and the 3 part vocals produces a track that is quite simply, beguiling. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


RAY LAMONTAGNE You Are The Best Thing

With Ray LaMontagne, you know you're going to get what it says on the can, and perhaps surprisingly, You Are The Best Thing is the first single to be released off his third album Gossip In The Grain.

For Ray, the single is something of a departure - an up-tempo R&B flavoured number where unlike on previous outings, he is supported by a horn section and gospel backing singers.

But those who have already bought tickets for his sold out UK tour will already know this and have the album for which this is the perfect taster. Although perhaps strangely, the single is set for release after the tour concludes. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


COLIN MACINTYRE You're A Star

For one horrible minute David Essex's Gonna Make You A Star came to mind, but strangely there are similarities on this single which is taken from Colin's current album The Water, and which is the title track for ITV's new mockumentary, comedy drama Good Arrows.

As you may expect, it's up-tempo, clean cut bubbly pop with a catchy chorus line, and delivered with that spiky deployment much in vogue with bands like the Wombats. Truth be told, it's nothing like Gonna Make You A Star, but if it's even as fraction as popular, then Colin will be counting the pennies for years to come. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


THE DAYS No Ties

Big and bouncy, Devon-based The Days do their very best Wombats impression on their debut single No Ties. Sung / spoken vocals, big chorus, and shouty backing vocals, there's nothing to dislike here.

Originally spotted by Fierce Panda (who are pretty good at talent spotting - Coldplay / Keane) The Days are easily as good as any of the current crop but I'm just not sure what marks them out as different from the rest. An impressive first outing, though and destined for gi-normity - I imagine - on the 2009 festival scene. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


AVA La La La

Reggae, reggae, reggae. Unfortunately, the only reggae in my house is in a sauce bottle. I'm not a fan of the genre. That said, debut single La La La form Chester bred Ava, is an infectious slice of pop that should appeal to fans of the Sugarbabes and the like. And the girl does have an excellent soul based vocal style. ***

Review by Pete Whalley



KINKY RETRO Demons & Angels

Good name for a band. Good name for an album. And we don't hear much coming out of Belgium, albeit singer Graham Tyson hails from Madchester. Good brewers, though.

An 8 track EP recorded over 3 days, Demons & Angels showcases a band with a unique sound that falls somewhere between rock and punk. An accomplished sound, the collection kicks off with The Rising - a song that is probably best compared to some of Ryan Adams more rock out moments.

The Ryan Adams comparisons are probably most relevant in relation to the bittersweet vocals of singer Graham Tyson. Influences such as Lennon, Oasis, and Foo Fighters, are readily apparent. Less so, the likes of the Who, Floyd and Zeppelin.

But in essence, a very solid rock band laced with a healthy dose of pop sensibilities and some great vocals. Looks like the quantities of Belgian exports could be about to increase. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


SOMAHIGH Lo Fat

Influenced by Nirvana, science fiction and electronica, SomaHigh pedal their own brand of scuzzy indie punk. The band have been selling out venues along the south coast and it's easy to imagine they would be a decent live draw for those who select their gigs by NME recommendation.

For someone brought up on classic rock, it would be easy to acclaim that SomaHigh add nothing to the rich tapestry of rock heritage, but on indie scene I've heard a lot worse. Far, far worse. But it's hard to see what their unique selling point is if they're looking to progress on the NME circuit, although the closing track End Of The Line does demonstrate these boys can rock out with the best of them. ***

GUNS ON THE ROOF Shattered Feeling
www.myspace.com/gunsontheroof

Another single from this young bunch who mix modern rock with retro punk. Well I say punk, itís the pop end of punk (UK Subs, The Jam, The Clash) that theyíre beefing up here. Touch of Green Day too. Some neat guitar work, and a long fade out of a 'Whoa' vocal harmony.

Lot of fun in small doses. ***

Review by Joe Geesin
 

THE RACE I Get It Wrong (Shifty Disco )

I think the title says it all I am afraid for this five piece band. Yes they may have a rave NME review but this sounds like a poor man's Cure meets Arcade Fire. The title track is the best song but nothing special. **½

Review by Jason Ritchie

SAM ISAAC Sticker, Star And Tape remix EP

Another NME circuit veteran, Sam Isaac released his Sticker, Star And Tape EP back in October 2008, the lead track being picked by numerous radio stations including Radio 1.

Re-released in a remixed form exclusively on iTunes including 3 remixes of Sticker, Star And Tape, one suspects this will be of interest mainly to people who have caught Sam at one of many gigs or festivals he has appeared at.

Maybe I'm getting too old, but are many of the NME circuit acts are indistinguishable to human ear? Sam Isaac falls in the firmly at the Jack Johnson end of the spectrum. A Billy Brag for a new generation?? **

Review by Pete Whalley

WE THE FACELESS We The Faceless EP
www.myspace.com/wethefaceless
www.wethefaceless.com

This 6 track EP opens with the fuzzy indie fury of 'Firefly'. The guitar sound is that of stroking a cat backwards, and the track is in a slight gothic/NFD direction. There are punk, hardcore and grunge influences, so itís energetic but wonít suit all. 'Burn The Witch' is much the same, but with less tune.

'My Girl' is the hardcore version of Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Mudhoney.

Itís all much the same, and may be of interested to younger fans who like their grunge deafening.

Grunge is, apparently, alive and well. Sadly. **

Review by Joe Geesin


SNEAKY SOUND SYSTEM I Love It

Hats off to SSS, this single holds the record for the longest charting single in Australian history.

But this is techno pop, not rock, and what has Aus given us - apart from AC/DC and Missy Higgins? Food poisoning from barbies, Jason and Kylie and beer that tastes like gnat's piss.

If you like your Friday night fun down at the disco this may hold a certain attraction, but if your idea of 'getting it on' is dusting down the air guitar and sinking a few real ales, don't even think about it. **

Review by Pete Whalley


FIGHT LIKE APES Tie Me Up With Jackets

Irish cult band Fight Like Apes kick off 2009 with a slice of completely bonkers techno indie shoeshine featuring mental lyrics. How many songs can you think of that mention 'meatballs' in the opening line - over a migraine inducing beat?

MayKay's girlie vocals add to the appeal, and the band have already proved popular at home with their forthcoming album Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion charting at # 9 in Ireland.

Despite critical acclaim, it's difficult to see FLApes challenging U2 anytime soon as Ireland's biggest export. But they do have an undeniable charm. **

Review by Pete Whalley

THE KING BLUES Save The World - Get The Girl  www.kingblues.net

Doubtless someone will like this ska meets rap single but it is certainly not me! Annoying cod Cockney accents and a song that doesn't hang around in your head after its finished - about the only redeeming feature of this single. *

Review by Jason Ritchie



 


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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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