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Singles Bar: October 2009

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

DREAM THEATER Wither EP (Roadrunner)

Dream Theater release 'Wither' as the single of their excellent new album 'Black Clouds And Silver Linings'. Dream Theater always produce a couple of radio friendly tunes on each album to go with the more progressive and longer songs. 'Wither' is a very strong song and in fact the piano version, with James La Brie backed just by piano works more effectively as it shows what a great voice he has. It is worth buying/downloading this song alone.

The vocal demo allows John Petrucci to have go but he is not a patch on James La Brie who similarly wouldn't be much of a guitarist compared to Petrucci!

'The Best Of Times' vocal demo again allows the listener to hear an album track in a totally different light. You can see the record label maybe re-releasing the album some months down the line with these songs added as they are all worthy of adding to any DT fans collection. ****½

Review by Jason Ritchie

01. Wither (Album Version) (5:25)
02. Wither (Piano Version) (5:07)
03. Wither (John Petrucci Vocal Demo) (5:24)
04. The Best of Times (Mike Portnoy Vocal Demo) (13:04)

ZICO CHAIN These Birds Will Kill Us All

Oooooh, I have a severe feeling that this release will most definitely be forced upon you with great enthusiasm, it's not often a first listen can make you pay attention! You may have already experienced this release on a certain other radio station as 'record of the week'.

'Zico Chain' are expanding their sound, leaping from grunge of their debut album 'Food' to an aggressive new take on hard rock. Yipeeeeeee! No more pop punk, no more pretty sounds, 'Zico' are now converting the disaffection, frustration and aggression of young British rock fans into killer riff sounds and idyllic mosh pits.

Whether you would like to have a good old screech, a good old head bang or you are just in need of a stress release, 'Zico' can chill you out to the bones in great style.

I am pleased 'Zico' have made the transition into heavier rock; we certainly do not need anymore commercialised pop crap that seems to be doing the rounds!

Check this out now! See you and 'Zico Chain' at the festivals next year, no doubt! ****½

Review by Fluffmeister

FRAMING HANLEY Hear Me Now/Lollipop

Straight out of Nashville's rock scene (Paramore, Red, Kings of Leon) 'Framing Hanley' have taken the USA by storm.

'Hear Me Now' taken from the debut release "The Moment" was previously the most played song of the year on a well known American Radio Station. The successful ride continued with their cover of 'Lil Waynes's hit "Lollipop", for which the video also debuted at number 1 on the biggest music channel in the USA.

So now it is time for Framing Henley to try and break into the UK charts.

Like Emo or not, this will be played a lot on mainstream radio, and rather worryingly, it ain't half bad! Eerie original sounds of the guitar, typical Emo heart felt vocals and screeches that you can not help but to sing-a-long to, delicate rock style drumming and catchy lyrics to boot.

Not my usual cup of tea, but I am a secret fan of 'Paramore' (sssh, don't tell anyone) and whether I like it or not, this is a ruddy good release. (Don't heckle me). If you like 'Kings of Leon' and/or Paramore, you are simply going to love this, I promise!

If this doesn't end up in the top 10 in the near future, I will eat my pants! (Clean ones though). ****½

Review by The Fluffmeister

EIGHT LEGS -  I Understand

Chances are you may have inadvertently heard Eight Legs previous offerings. The catchy 'These Grey Days' was used on television as part of the anti drinking campaign. Currently touring, the new single 'I Understand' due for release October 5th is every bit as good.

It's no wonder these boys have already come to the attention of XFM and NME. This song is a perfect summer dance floor filler. I dare you to listen without nodding along. The B-side 'Stay Cool' is more of raw affair with a sing along chorus and energetically strummed guitars. See them live at the small venues while you can.****

Review by Darren Coomber

JULIET THE SUN Time Foe Heroes

The band features on vocals an Australian cricketer Steve Crook who plays for Northamptonshire, whose song has supposedly inspired Englandís cricketers to this summerís Ashes victory.

The song was played in the England dressing room prior to each match. I bet heís popular in Australia! The song starts off quietly before building to a rousing crescendo, think Coldplay but with a bit more bite. A very enjoyable song now available on ITunes and hopefully the bandís debut album is not far behind as Iíd love to hear more from this band. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

ISLAND THREE Dark and Empty Spaces

Birmingham five piece Island Three, re-release their debut mini album 'Dark and Empty Spaces in November. Forget perfect road trip albums, this six track mini album is like a voyage across a lunar landscape! Atmospheric keys, expansive guitars and Incubus style vocals are what these guys are all about.

Opening track 'Dial 51' begins the journey with a beautifully crafted strung out riff before kicking in with chugging guitars. Elsewhere on the album, 'Tradition' is a seven minute behemoth featuring a huge instrumental middle section. 'Secrets' is a booming beat driven heavy affair with jazz like keyboards at times and the guitar solo sounds like Jimi's covering Pink Floyd.

There is no denying the obvious comparisons to the likes of Incubus and Tool, but given the fact that they are two of the more experimental acts to cross into the mainstream in recent years, in my opinion that's no bad thing. Heavy, melodic, atmospheric and at times beautiful. The Darker side of the Moon. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

A-Ha Nothing Is Keeping You Here (Universal)

The second to be taken from recent album Foot Of The Mountain, A-Ha are about to release new single 'Nothing Is Keeping You Here'.

Where as the album version has a sparser feel to it, the single has been re-mixed to sound more like the bandís earlier hits- a good idea as A-Ha will be on tour in the UK at the beginning of November and the current nostalgia for all things Ď80ís will have no doubt been taken into consideration.

The track itself is 3 minutes of easy to listen to pop that features all the hallmarks that you would expect from an A-Ha single. Expect to hear 'Nothing Is Keeping You Here' quite a lot over the coming weeks ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

PARAMORE Ignorance

Taken from their forthcoming 3rd album Brand New Eyes, and produced by Grammy winner Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Kid Rock) Nashville based Paramore serve up a Red Bull fuelled piece of classic pop / rock.

With a recent support slot on the US No Doubt reunion tour, word is spreading fast and Sold Out signs are appearing at numerous venues on the band's US / European autumn tour.

As for Ignorance, imagine Avril Lavigne jamming with Green Day. And with the infectious chorus line of 'Ignorance is your new best friend', it has 'potential smash hit' stamped all over it. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

ANIMAL KINGDOM Signs and Wonders (Warner Bros)

Tipped by the media as ones to watch, Animal Kingdom don't disappoint. Third single, 'Signs and Wonders' taken from the album of the same name, is a beautifully crafted masterpiece in melancholy.

Produced by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes) this is a perfect example of how to do a powerful, strung-out ballad. If you're a fan of the likes of Coldplay, Mercury Rev and Sigur Ros you won't be disappointed. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

SHINEDOWN If You Only Knew

Taken from their third album The Sound Of Madness, Florida four-piece Shinedown release If You Only Knew to coincide with a brief autumn UK tour.

The Sound Of Madness (produced by Grammy award winner Rob Cavallo) has struck a chord in the US debuting at #8 on the Billboard top 200. And with their previous two albums spawning 3 top five hits including the # 1 Save Me, success on these shores is only a matter of time.

Wonderfully melodic pop / rock - imagine if Gary Barlow had written a song for Gun or Thunder and you get the idea. An undoubted crowd pleaser. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

THE MEDULLARY PARALYSIS We don't drink, we don't take drugs, we don't have sex, we feel compassion (Bandcamp)

This Italian three piece serve up their take on industrial sleeze, and by all accounts do it pretty well. Think Marilyn Manson meets Babylon Zoo (of the 'Spaceman' Levi's advert fame) and you'd be heading in the right direction.

There is also a dose of Nine Inch Nails in here for good measure. The three song EP released on 16th November, offers uncompromising heavily distorted guitars over dark futuristic beats. ****

Review by Darren Coomber


The Biffy Boys are back! Taken from their highly anticipated new album Only Revolutions, The Captain is released to coincide with the start of a headlining UK tour and a European support slot on the Muse tour.

Once again produced by Puzzle producer GGGarth Richardson (Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers) The Captain is set to be a crowd pleaser and has 'audience participation' stamped all over it.

With the trademark Biffy vocals unmistakable, The Captain is perhaps more direct than some of the band's previous output, with a powerful pop melody underscored with horns. But the anthemic chorus will have fans singing along at each and every tour date. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

AMORPHIS From the Heaven of My Heart
Taken from the album "Skyforger"

First up, this is not heavy metal, it is heavy rock with proper beautifully sang lyrics (that are understandable), melodies and a wonderful array of light guitar solos. I can not even compare the sound with any other band release, so this can only be a good thing.

My problem is, it is quite errrrrrrm, boring, well not boring but it is one of those releases that makes you "meh" not bothered, take it or leave it. A release that you can play in the background without being annoyed.

My favourite part of this release is the original and different sounds of the guitar work, especially on the track "Sky is Mine". The piano is also a nice little touch and the vocals will become very catchy after a few listens, I know the first verse and chorus already!

Without sounding ageist, I sternly believe that the older rocker will enjoy this release, but I do not see any teenagers running out to purchase this single, unless it is for someone elses Christmas present.

You might have caught these guys that 'The Underground' in London on 10th October 2009, if not, you can still catch them on tour; for dates go here: ***½

Review by The Fluffmeister

THE A TRAIN Don't Have Far To Go (Vantage Room)

'Don't Have Far To Go' is perfect fodder for a crisp bright Sunday morning. A soulful, gospel tinged five and a half minutes of musical bliss. Due out November 9th, London based trio 'The A Train' effortlessly merge the soothing sounds of the Fleet Foxes with the 60's pop stylings of The Coral. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

HARDREAMS Calling Everywhere (Perris Records)

Originally released in 2004, Spanish band Hardreams are about to re-release debut album 'Calling Everywhere'. The bands second album 'The Road Goes On...' was released last year and was received so well that Perris Records have re-packaged itís predecessor and added 3 bonus tracks (the demo version of 'Pain', 'Si Tu Te Vas' (live) and 'Two Shots' (live) - the live tracks proving that the band are more than capable of recreating their studio sound in a live environment).

Taking influence from the likes of Magnum, Whitesnake and Survivor, the band have a very Ď80ís melodic rock sound - complete with soaring vocals, sharp guitar work and big sounding choruses, courtesy of Manu Esteve and David Aguera respectively.

Highlights amongst the 14 tracks on 'Calling Everywhere' include 'The Right Side of Mine', 'I Donít Know', the balladry of 'A Place For Our Love', heavier track 'After Hell' and the live version of 'Two Shots'.

The band are currently writing material for album number 3. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns


TOJA Train Of Life (Avenue Of Allies)

Third album from this German outfit and the first impression is of a mature modern sounding melodic power metal. The opening track nods to Iron Maiden, with the operatic edge to the vocals that many European power metal bands try.

'Just A Love Song' is an acoustic ballad with strings that nods to Judas Priestís 'Before The Storm' or 'Evening Star' but more sickly sweet.

Other more melodic tracks that nod towards big sounding ballads are more electric and much more enjoyable. 'End Of A Nation' mixes piano and guitar well, like an 80s AOR hit rather beefed up and modernised.

At the classic rock end of melodic power metal, their better moments sitting nicely between Masterplan, Kamelot, Judas Priest and Savatage.

There are some moments that could be more consistent though, otherwise well worth a listen. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

SEASONS LOST After The Storm

This Florida bandís debut album kicks off in fine style with some crunching guitars on 'To Hell And Back'. Solid modern metal with power metal influences, some good clean vocals and a decent guitar solo too.

Some of the rhythms come in bursts, staccato fashion, the only let down being the bursts of intelligible growls / screams. Shame as some of the cleaner vocal harmonies are great.

'Confession' is a more consistent melodic hard rock, a touch of Nickleback.

The tracks mix melodic rock that verge on pop/rock, and others back to the heavy end with growls, quite a mix. Not an album to please fans of any one genre; the variation is good but extreme. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

MARTIN NEWNHAM Can't Turn Around

Can't Turn Around is the second single to be released by urban folk singer songwriter Martin Newnham.

Taken from his critically acclaimed debut album City Folk, it fits neatly into the resurgent singer songwriter genre. Opening with Hovis ad horns, it's a jaunty little folk based pop ditty with a catchy beat.

Spotted supporting the likes of Nerina Pallot, Newton Faulkner, Seth Lakeman and Beth Rowley, Martin Newnham looks set to become an enduring part of the new folk landscape. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

ADVANTAGE Future Echoes EP

Another day, another band 'set to explode onto the scene' or so we are led to believe by the promo blurb. This band are not too bad to be honest and add horns into the mix of crashing guitar riffs and drums. All three songs follow the punk rock/pop template of catchy riffs and passable vocals coupled with choruses that stick in the listener's mind after a couple of plays. Worth a listen but not a band I'd expect to see still around in a few years time.  ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE RAUDIVE Ghost Box RP (Sugarbeet Stallion Records)

This 6 track EP is the debut release from indie-rock band The Raudive, an act whose electronic rock has an almost Ď80ís vibe to it as influences such as Sonic Youth, The Replacements and The Mission are blended with the more modern sound of bands like Interpol.

'Ghost Box' may be dark and bit of a slow burner, but this 3-piece band are musically solid and there is an almost simplistic feel to the songs that make the EP very easy to listen to. Highlights include 'Warning', 'Margins', the more upbeat 'For The Crows'and 'Torch Song'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

VOLCANOES Shaking That Brass EP (Indecan)

The Volcanoes are a highly acclaimed four piece from Sheffield and Leeds. The 'Shake That Brass EP' out October 26th, features five tracks and presumably is to whet the appetite for an album release in the early part of 2010.

Opening track 'Temple' is perfectly sums up the entire EP. A catchy mix of brash youth ala 'The Arctic Monkeys' but jazzy and much funkier with a melody that you'll find yourself whistling along to for hours on end.

The entire EP features this melting point style and the opening riff to 'What You Came For' would definitely not sound out of place if it had featured on the last Chili Peppers album.

It's this blend of genre's and ideas that gives the Volcanoes a good chance of standing out from the crowd. Elsewhere on the EP, 'Eagle Eye' and 'Oliver Charles Darwin' showcase the band's ability to write the type of catchy indie Britpop that made 'Space' famous in the nineties.

'Conventional' clearly isn't a word in the Volcanoes vocabulary and the band use this to their advantage. 'Shake That Brass' is a mischievous, multitude of ideas that for the most part, works. It will be interesting to see if they can pull off an entire album though.

Review by Darren Coomber

HEY NEGRITA Burn The Whole Place Down

Inspired by the reception to a series of acoustic BBC sessions, transatlantic country blues exponents Hey Negrita took time out from their 2008 tour to cut as many tracks as they could within 5 hours without any overdubs or edits.

The result, their forthcoming Burn The Whole Place Down album which will be followed a week later with the this title track single. The single itself has a warm 'deep south' feel but for my taste is a little too campfire 'sing along' and nowhere near as good as the excellent lead single One Mississippi. But by contrast, the two B-sides feature some wonderful harmonica playing -the pick of the bunch being the haunting Neil Young style country blues Here I Come. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Fresh from successful stints at Download and the Reading And Leeds festival Sacramento based duo - singer / guitarist Zack Lopez, and drummer / vocalist Sean Stockham - Middle Class Rut aka MC Rut have a sound far greater than the sum of their parts.

Raw and visceral they deliver a paint stripping wall of blistering heavy blues / rock pop. Incessant and 'in your face', the band have been winning over rock fans across the country. One wonders though, whether just two men can sustain such ferocity - All Walks Of Life is like hitting a brick wall at 30 mph. Think early Zeppelin meets Jane's Addiction. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


The Watermark EP paves the way for the debut album by this acoustic country folk now London based singer songwriter from the Isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides.

Gentle dreamy folk, you can almost hear the wilderness, open spaces and beauty of the islands - The Boy's acoustic having, at times - an almost Celtic pipes charm.

About to set out on a mini tour north of the border supporting Cassidy, these are acoustic doodlings of the sort early Tyrannosaurus Rex once dabbled in. Think Nick Drake, Ed Harcourt, Ray LaMontagne and the like and you're fishing in the right salmon farm. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

SWEETHEAD The Great Disruptors (Strange Addiction)

If this single is anything to go by, the side project from Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, could be an exciting one. 'The Great Disruptors' is a sleazy no-nonsense hard rock song. Vampish female vocals from Serrina Sims chugging guitar with a hint of 'I Wanna be Your Dog' by the Stooges. Based on this, the album due out end of October could be the perfect soundtrack to a hedonistic weekend. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

TIN SOLDIERS Just What I Needed

Another rip snorting new rock band from north of the border. Hold on, rewind. Since when was Kent north of Hadrian's Wall?

Well it might as well be in the case of the second single from Tin Soldiers, the band's forthcoming album Telling Tales (produced by Greg Brimson and engineered by Russ Russell (Supergrass / Natalie Imbruliga / The Wildhearts / Bush / Metallica).

Opening with a rip snorting riff before bursting into a huge slice of sing along pop rock, it's all swagger, staccato rhythms and fun. File next to Scottish up and comers Twin Atlantic, and not too far from Biffy Clyro. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

LIMOZINE El Presidente (Open Plan Records)

Within the first ten seconds of this track, 'Never Mind The B*****ks' sprung immediately to mind. It comes as perhaps no surprise that Limozine are big fans of punk rock.

Merging pretty much every ingredient of punk history from 'The Stooges' to 'The Ramones', new single 'El Presidente' is unlikely to win any awards for originality. That said, taken a face value, it's a lively little tune to let off a bit of steam to. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

THE KUT Doesn't Matter Anyway

London based female punk/pop band whose debut single is a lively affair and the other song on here ĎClosure', shows the band in a more subdue, reflective mode. It's been done before but they have plenty of energy and on the evidence of these two tunes a band to keep an eye on in the future. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

LITTLE REDDE Spellbound (Three Coins Music)

Scottish band Little Redde are about to release their new single 'Spellbound', the lead single from debut album 'Tuesdays and Thursdays'.

Vocalist Amy Anderson-Law has a voice that bears a resemblance to Debbie Harry, and with the bandís guitar orientated pop, they will no doubt draw many comparisons with Blondie.

Second track, 'Mr Hamilton' is more a combination of The Beatles and Blondie - nonetheless, both tracks are catchy enough to appeal to the ears of the record buying public. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

BITCHES SIN 'Sound OF Silence'

NWOBHM band who first surfaced in 1980, called it a day in 1987 to return nearly twenty years later in 2006 following journalist and fan demand, releasing two albums since reforming.

They are based around original guitarist Ian Toomey and as well as producing this EP, Chris Tsangarides also plays guitar. This single is a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic given a radical classic metal sound.

In fact with vocalist Tony Tomkinson sounding at times like Jon Olivia it sounds not unlike Savatage. Not a bad version and I do like the quiet musical effects at the end of the song, nice touch.

'What Loving Means' and 'Red Skies' make up the single release, both being solid metal songs, nothing special but decent enough to warrant repeated plays.

Worth downloading but they may have been better off having this on a compilation CD put out by say 'Classic Rock' magazine to gain more exposure as I can only really see their existing fanbase going out to buy this. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie


The second single to be released off 26 year old multi instrumentalist Richard's delicate and beautifully constructed debut album, The Animal.

Released to coincide with a short UK tour supporting Moriarty, and backed by a new track - Needless Advice - the single (like the album) is produced by David Kosten (Bat For Lashes). It's a gentle and haunting acoustic soundtrack for quiet despair sung in Richard's plaintive falsetto .

Unlikely to be a big seller, but then melancholy sometimes strikes unexpected chords. **½

Review by Pete Whalley


Welsh 'legends' Funeral For A Friend are I band I've seen plenty of albums sleeves of, but somehow never felt compelled to investigate further.

Wrench is one of 4 new tracks featured on the forthcoming retrospective collection Your History Is Mine 2002 - 2009. And, I'm sorry to say, despite their 3 gold albums, 9 hit singles, and effusive plaudits I found it a complete turn off.

Raucous, semi melodic(?) heavy rock, and reminiscent of the anthemic Motorhead approach to subtle song writing, the only thing good about the track is that it's short - running out at only 2:34. And having visited the band's Myspace page, it does seem uncharacteristic. On the other hand, if speed punk metal is your bag Ö.**

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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