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Singles Bar: June 2009


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

EUROPE Last Look At Eden (Edel)

Europe release new single 'Last Look At Eden' at the end of June, with latest album of the same title to follow in September. Available as both a 3-track CD and limited edition 5-track EP, (the latter including recently recorded live tracks), the band describe the new songs as 'true Europe', and they are not wrong.

With 'Last Look At Eden' combining the heavier sounds of the bandís last 2 studio albums, with traditional Europe hooks and melodies (not to the mention string section), this track is bound to please fans old and new. However, 'U Devil U' is a different affair all together. The hooks and melodies are all in place but this track sticks firmly to the trusted Europe formula.

All-in-all the single is a good pre-cursor to what is, at least for me, one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2009. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

BUCK BROTHERS ĎYouíre So Good Good Good Youíre Greatí www.myspace.com/buckbrothers

This is a very catchy single, not a million miles removed from the Buzzcocks in their prime. Fast paced with an instant chorus, a definite hit.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

POPE Love's Still Here (Aspop Records)

Chris Pope and Buddy Ascott of The Chords have released an album 'Tall Tales and Cheap Thrills' to follow their well received debut in 2006: 'Grace Of God'. (The physical version of this single comes with a live version of 'The Last Thing I Ever Do/Grace Of God').

'Love's Still Here' is a good choice for a single because it's one of the most accessible tracks from the album and, unusually, mid-tempo. Think Black Crowes mixed with a bit of good old Brit Pop. Addictive. ***½

Review by David Randall

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND Funny The Way It Is (Warner)

Strangely, Dave Matthews has remained almost exclusively an American phenomenon and never broken the UK market. His latest album may break with this convention.

The band suffered a major setback in 2008 with the tragic death of saxophonist LeRoi Moore and the new album title "Grougrux King" was Moore's nickname in the band.

This first single is typically radio and fair weather-friendly, produced by Rob Cavallo from Green Day. Sold out gigs at Brixton Academy and a gig with Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling in London's Hyde Park will only consolidate the band's deserved bid for wider recognition, at least in the UK. ***½

Review by David Randall

MASTODON Oblivion (Reprise)

The band play a few UK dates before a tour with Metallica and their album 'Crack The Skye' has had good reviews. This single has all their hallmarks, busy guitar and vocal harmonies, nice crunchy chorus and with the more reflective "prog" touches. ***½

Review by David Randall

PAPA ROACH Lifeline (DGC/Interscope)

Taken from their excellent album 'Metamorphosis' this is big chested US rock infused with metal flavours. A sound manufactured for stadiums and festivals, the band play Download (June 14), Bristol Academy (June 15) and Oxford Academy (June 17). ***½

Review by David Randall

BLABBERMOUTH I Return

With a name like Blabbermouth, printed in heavy gothic typeface, the natural expectation is for something rather loud, heavy and unpleasant.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Blabbermouth aka Steve Thompson is a narrow boat living folkie. And with the re-emergence of the Cat 'Yusuf' Stevens, his timing couldn't be better, because there's clearly a market for the genre.

With a voice that falls somewhere between the Cat, Ray LaMontagne and Neil Young, and a pair of gentle acoustic songs written from the perspective of a spirit yearning for his lost love, I Return / Death Of A Songwriter is both beautiful and highly impressive. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley


THE AUTEUR Nightcap EP

The GRTR! review of the band's debut single Hey! Watch This succinctly summed up The Auteur - 'up-tempo scuddy NME style rock - shouty lyrics, big choruses perfect for the summer scene', but we concluded there was little evidence to see what would make them stand out from the crowd.

The band's 5 track Nightcap EP tries to rectify that, but ultimately delivers little to make me revisit that initial assessment. Timed perfectly for the summer season, each of the songs here will have festival goers who like their pop/rock delivered Wombats style dancing and throwing warm beer over each other. But only until the next act takes the stage. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

RICHARD WALTERS True Love Will Find You In the End

A nice sentiment on this cover of the Daniel Johnson song that precedes the release of singer songwriter Richard Walters debut album The Animal in the autumn.

A plaintive affair that reminds of a stripped back David Gray, but at 2 minutes 35 seconds it's pretty much over before you get into the mood, but with his gentle falsetto and melancholy delivery, it bodes well for the 26 year old multi instrumentalist. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

LOZ JONES Idiot Room

Hats off for the most garish labels I've seen on a CD, to Loz Jones - a six piece pop / rock band from from Luton. Their new single Idiot Room is a catchy piece of radio friendly pop, but is heavily derivative of Spirit In The Sky and the sing along chorus delivery of Doctor And The Medics.

But the B-side Awakening Times, shows there's more to the band than a novelty single. With a more ethereal feel, some nice lead vocals and evocative keys hooks, it hints that the band could easily move into the territory vacated by Enigma. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

BBJ Bad Blow Job

Strange name for a band. Certainly a guaranteed turn off for the parents of teenage girls. But maybe something's been lost in translation by this Italian alt pop/rock combo?

One of the shortcomings of globalisation is that even the Italians are beginning to sound as if they're from London or LA. There's not a hint on this 5 track EP of BBJ's spaghetti, pizza and Fiat roots. Which is a shame, because this is an extremely accessible 'sampler'. But being cynical, Italian lyrics would hardly be a major selling point (would they?).

I'd question the recommendation that the band may appeal to fans of Placebo, Niirvana, Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins. Far closer, I think to the more commercial soft rock sides of Oasis or Sterephonics. But then we've got Noel, Liam and Kelly. So why would we need a bad blow job? And anyway, that's an oxymoron - there's no such thing. Is there? ***

Review by Pete Whalley

GRAVIL Age Of Corruption (Genepool/Universal)

This five track EP by the Anglo-Scandinavian symphonic death metal duo (Gra and Vil hence the name Gravil) is an ear piercing slice of metal.

There is some melody beneath the guttural vocals and fierce riffs and the influences range from Pantera to Cradle Of Filth to Meshuggah to In Flames. In fact, you could spend quite a bit of time spotting their influences.

Multiverseí is a devastating piece of metal while ĎCandledarkí leans towards a more melodic side and ĎThrough The Eyes Of Spartansí is an instantly thunderous composition.

The riffs are actually really powerful on all five tracks and despite there being very little known about the duo, this is a promising start to their career. ***

Review by Neil Daniels

CONCEPT OF TIME A New State Of Thought (EP 2009) www.myspace.com/conceptoftime

Scots based prog metal band who follow-up a demo release from last year with a five track EP release. They have been busy on the live front as well supporting Kamelot and Blaze Bayley amongst others.

The album is produced by keyboards player Scott McLean and you can tell he was at the production helm as the keyboards are very high in the mix throughout the EP. Luckily he is a good player and the keys add depth to the bandís sound.

The only drawback with this band is the vocals I am afraid which sometimes struggle to match the powerful prog metal sound especially on the title track. Plenty of musical variety on here to keep the listener interested and bands like Dream Theater for the prog metal touches and Intense for the heavy metal side come to mind.

There is plenty to enjoy on here from the symphonic keys through to some very tasty guitar solos and not forgetting the watertight rhythm section. The vocals are fine but for me to make it up a level the band need to seriously work on these as a more powerful vocal would really make prog metal fans take more note of this band. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

COLIN MACINTYRE Cape Wrath

Preceding his forthcoming album Island, acclaimed singer songwriter Colin MacIntyre (formerly of the Mull Historical Society) serves up his own unique brand of folk / pop.

Written in the States, but recorded 'back home' on Mull with the aid of all and sundry, Cape Wrath should appeal to those who like the more commercial aspects of the likes of Nick Cave and The Coral. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

JJ CALE Who Knew (Because Music)

Cale might forever be synonymous with 'Cocaine', the song that Clapton made his own, but the recent album 'Roll On' is a useful update for this septuagenarian.

'Who Knew' has a shuffle beat and Cale's talked vocals but it is unlikely he will capture younger fans attention with this, although the album does repay listening for those of a certain generation. ***

Review by David Randall

A-Ha Foot Of The Mountain (Universal Music)

Well if Spandau Ballet can reform, Simple Minds resurrect, why not eighties A-Ha? In fact, they've never really been away - this is easy listening, radio-friendly fare that updates the band's sound, but it's no 'Take On Me'. There's a new album out 13 July. ***

Review by David Randall

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE No No Keshagesh

With her first album for 15 years due imminently, plus her first UK gigs in 17 year on the way, one could be forgiven for perhaps being sceptical for what might be forthcoming from this iconic activist.

Taken from her 18th album Running For The Drum - inspired by current events, art, politics and the aboriginal people - No No Keshagesh is a pleasant surprise. While the subject matter is a not unexpected cynical review of the current state of the nation, and the plight of natives in particular, the song opens with a crowd noise and driving tribal beat before morphing into post Eurythmics pop. Eat your heart out Annie. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

REVERE As The Radar Sleeps

Probably just about the most immediate single the band have released, although still featuring violin, cello, trumpet, piano and glockenspiel, eight-piece orchestral rockers Revere lay down a pretty nifty piece of moody post eighties pop rock. Whereas two decades ago As The Radar Sleeps would have been layered synths, here 'real' instruments paint the soundscape for a piece Morrissey would have been proud of. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE BLIZZARDS Buy It Sell It

Influenced by sixties soul, eighties pop and The Specials in the seventies, Buy It Sell It is The Blizzards first single. And everything, including the kitchen sink is in there - I got tastes of Cat Stevens, hints of the The Wombats and Go Audio, and all in all it adds up to a punchy piece of pop.

With a debut album Domino Effect forthcoming, The Blizzards are highly likely to appeal to those who have already caught them supporting the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, The Fratellis and The Kooks. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

STEEL PANTHER Death To All But Metal (Island)

There's a theatre troupe in LA's Sunset Strip who have been paying homage to the halcyon days of hair metal and this single - raunchy and risque (and that's just the "clean" version) - is from their pastiche album 'Feel The Steel'.

Like 'Spinal Tap" it's very well done but you can't help thinking "why am I listening to this?" Probably best heard in the context of their stage show which I am sure is a riot. ***

Review by David Randall

CENTURY MAN Marauder

A good word 'marauder'. It perfectly sums up something ominous, speedy, and dangerous. Opening with sustained guitars, a pounding beat and vocals with just a hint of Alex Turner, Marauder is a powerful debut single. As for the 2 b-sides, Comedown has distinct Oasis overtones, while the impressive Mirrors is perhaps the overall pick of the bunch - post indie rock with just the right amount of commerciality that will appeal to fans of Kasabian, The Enemy et al. An impressive debut. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


METAFONIK Missed Love

Metafonik - Julie (vocals), Kideo and Klooz (words and music) - deliver their own French brand of minimalist post pop/ rock electronica.

Taken from their debut album Day Before You Come, Missed Love is a curious potpourri -some excellent vocals fused with Polly Harvey style rock, and some glorious melodies.

Impossible to pigeon hole, and disorientating and endearing in equal measure. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

CHRISTINA COURTIN Foreign Country

The debut single from Christina Courtin's forthcoming eponymous debut album is a gentle but jaunty affair. Due to open for Suzanne Vega in August, the New York singer songwriter is firmly in the mould of Vega or Joni Mitchell, although sharing a distinct similarly in song structure, delivery and 'feel' to Lisa Hannigan and her recently released debut, Sea Sew.

One for the Greenwich Village crowd. **½

Review by Pete Whalley

THE 'A' TRAIN Black and White Memories

Debut single from Oxford based The 'A' Train, a band originally put together by brothers James and Dan McKean (song writing, vocals, guitars and keys).

With a sound that is catchy folky pop, Black and White Memories is pleasant in a Macca sort of sing along way. In value for money terms, you get 3 b-sides and a music video, but there's an absence of killer hooks and it's difficult - on this form - to see the band progressing much beyond the folk club / pub circuit. **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

VERONICAS Untouched

One of the biggest new names in Aussie pop, 24 year old sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso (aka The Veronicas) are now looking for American / European success.

Their album Hook Me Up - which has had massive success back at home - is due for imminent release, and in the interim, the girls are hoping Untouched - which has been played more than 26 million times on MySpace - will replicate here the 800,000 download sales it's achieved in the US.

Electro pop like Kylie on speed, Untouched will find favour at summer raves, but for rock fans, don't even go there. **½

Review by Pete Whalley


ISA & THE FILTHY TONGUES Big Star

Isa (Stacey Chavis) and Martin Metcalfe (Goodbye Mr Mckenzie - remember them from the late eighties / early nineties?) and their band Isa & The Filthy Tounges deliver a dark, post punk, underground psychedelic sound with their new single Big Star.

Building on the base laid by their 2006 debut album Addiction, Big Star is a lo-fi affair, with its roots somewhere in the eighties (think Bunnymen and Banshees). With its sonic assault, hypnotic rhythm and hooks its easy to see why Isa & The Filthy Tounges have something a cult following. But whether that can translate to wider sales.**½

Review by Pete Whalley


ARGON 40  Stay/Free Fallin

A collaboration between New York duo singer songwriter Heather Greene (keys / vocals) and Adam Williams (guitar / production) Argon 40 serve up a platter of techno / electronic pop.

But the throbbing beat and a hypnotic chorus of Stay left me cold (think early Human League before they hit their stride). Of more interest was the cover of Tom Petty's Free Fallin, which is pretty true to the original (in an Imogen Heap sort of way). But I ended up longing for some guitars. If it ain't got six strings, it ain't rock n roll. **½

Review by Pete Whalley


THE ROKETTES Burn Baby Burn

Great name. Great song title. The Rockettes is the latest vehicle for Elena, who's released two albums - Glimpse and Paint it Gold, and is something of a Marian Faithful of her generation (40 fags a day phone sex vocals and slighty unhinged).

Accompanied by Ben Walker (guitar/bass) and Merjin Royaards (drums), I'm afraid the first vision that came into my mind - and one I was unable to shake - was Dead Or Alive's Pete Burns on a girl's night out. Catchy techo pop rock. **½

Review by Pete Whalley
 

THE PERFECT CRIME Give Piece A Chance (promo EP)
www.myspace.com/theperfectcrime

This untitled 4 track promo CD (could be sampler, EP, I donít know) mixes loud and in your face alternative rock. Mixing in post hardcore and a touch of progressive, itís upper mid range, jangly, a few loud/quiet spots, some coherent vocals, screams, and some searing guitar.

The second track is a bit more thrashy, or is that trashy? Itís just pretty noisy.

Hardcore rubbish that belongs in a landfill. **

Review by Joe Geesin

PITCHBLEND Celsius (Sugarshack )
www.myspace.com/pitchblend

Alternative art rock thatís apparently for fans of Deftones and My Vitriol. Actually for fans of upper-mid range tuneless vocals and jangly guitar. Some similarities to early 80s pop/rock, with a more alt/art feel. Guitar pop with less melody than Venom. **

Review by Joe Geesin

FINDLEY NAPIER & THE BAR ROOM MOUNTAINEERS
When Harry Met Charlie
The Haymaker Recording Company www.findleynapier.com

2 track single, 3 if you include the alternate version. The lead track is indie folk, melodic, but not really gripping. I had to listen to it again because it was so instantly forgettable.

The second track is a little more alternative with some distorting effects.

Itís not bad, itís coherent, melodic, competent, just passable. **

Review by Joe Geesin

 


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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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