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Singles Bar: November 2009


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

ALICE IN CHAINS Your Decision  (Parlophone)

The current renaissance of AIC makes us realise just how influential they are: their post-Grunge vibe a template for many nascent nu-metallers.  That could be a bit off-putting depending on your viewpoint, but 'Your Decision' has all the classic hallmarks, insistent and driving rhythm, and infectious harmonies.  A fine taster for the well-received album 'Black Gives Way To Blue' and to the forthcoming UK shows . *****

Review by David Randall

SHINEDOWN If You Only Knew (Atlantic)

On tour in the UK in November, this is a highly accessible track from their excellent album 'The Sound Of Madness'.  This is class American alt-metal of the kind that evokes prime Nickelback or Alter Bridge  and is just made for (packed) stadia. *****

Review by David Randall

FM Wildside EP  ( www.fmofficial.co.uk )

Released to coincide with Firefest VI there is an urgency and purpose on this track that  typifies the best melodic rock.  Topped with Steve Overland's ever-expressive vocals, quirky production effects, and a great guitar solo it makes FM seem both contemporary and relevant again. *****

Review by David Randall

THE OCTOBER GAME Greenbacks

A band to watch in 2010 as they have already been gaining rave reviews on BBC 6 Music amongst others. They sound like Arcade Fire at their more accessible and Elbow, as the band manage to go off in a variety of musical avenues within the same song.

They have plenty of musical instrument variety as well to keep the listener engrossed. The live acoustic version of 'Concrete' shows another side to the band, as stripped of all the instruments the song and vocals show just how strong they are. ****½

Review by Jason Ritchie

ODETTE Ride Your Bike

A very catchy little ditty that stays in your head after first play. Odette has a lovely, bright vocal and if there is any justice in the pop charts this would be a hit. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

EL DOG Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow (Lo-Five Records)

Agggh ... I hear you say. The first Christmas 2009 record?  A reminder that it will be soon time to deck the halls with holly and wonder where you put that spare bauble.  El Dog perhaps have more cred than most indie contenders, with a fine debut album in  'The Lamps Of Terrahead'.

This is a grungey take on the Christmas classic and proves the Spirit of Christmas is not dead: it's just lurking in a glass or bottle somewhere near you. ****

Review by David Randall

ELIO PACE What A Day

Elio Pace has already garnered rave reviews and airplay from the likes of Sir Terry Wogan and Dave Lee Travis. This is his Christmas single which certainly is an instant toe tapper with its big band sound and Elio's very mellow vocal. As Christmas songs go this one you can see yourself playing again each Christmas time unlike most of the rubbish that gets released at this time of year.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

LAURA CATLOW Skin & Bone

Hailing from Blackpool, Laura Catlow has frequently been compared to Alex Turner in terms of her songwriting skills. It's definitely not a bad comparison.

New single 'Skin & Bone' features quirky guitar parts and a masterclass in storytelling skills that wouldn't be at all out of place on the latest Monkeys offering.

It would be easy to dismiss Catlow as just another singer/songwriter, but this isn't just strum and sing. Underpinning the warm tones of her acoustic, are dark lyrics oozing with cynicism. Intelligent, ironic and above all else actually pretty damn good. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

KATIE V Songs From Under The Covers

Written while she starred on the Coca Cola web reality series Green-Eyed World, Katie V has taken the clever route of collaborating with some established songwriters whose credits include James Blunt, Amy Winehouse, Gwen Stefani and Seal, in producing this excellent 5 track debut EP.

A multi instrumentalist from North London, Katie V has already written with partners including the Sex Pistols Glen Matlock and the Blockhead's Chaz Jankel.

Add these influences to her own love of 50s / 60s swing and jazz and you come up with a heady mix, and an excellent addition to the emerging 'quirky' female singer songwriter genre. And with vocals reminiscent of a young Sam Brown, Katie V's future looks assured.

File next to Paloma Faith and expect an imminent appearance on Later With Jools Holland. Katie V - a name for the future. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

L-MO Simple Living (Gumption Records)

Jovial upbeat acoustics, with a funky backing rhythm. This is a perfect summer road trip tune. Jack Johnson-esque with some nice vocals. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

THE LANCASHIRE HOTPOTS Carry You Home/Chippy Tea
(Townsend Records)

Championed by both BBC Radio2 & Steve Lamacq The Lancashire Hotpots are a brilliantly funny comedy folk band. Having played twice at Glastonbury earlier this year they are back with a new album Christmas Cracker.

'Carry You Home' shows a rare serious side to the band. It's a touching drinking song about loved ones gone and nostalgic tales of yester-year.

In stark contrast 'Chippy Tea' is a tale of a working man from Lancashire and his love of simple grub. Lyrically very funny, as is final track 'A Lancashire DJ 2009'. A masterclass in parody, think Wurzels meets Hayseed Dixie and you're bound to be on to a winner. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

JARMEAN? Mind The Gap

Upon first listen your immediate thought is 'bizarre' after a further couple of listens to this London quintet, bizarre seems a fairly apt description.

Blending ragtime, brass band, jazz, poetry and ukelele licks that George Formby would be proud of, 'Mind The Gap' is what kids would be dancing the charleston to, if it was still 1920. B-Side 'Prophet of Doom' is the James Bond theme tune that never was.

Listening to their music is like being at a carnival. Jarmean? and their brilliantly different sound is destined for cabaret clubs up and down the country. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

ISOLATED ATOMS  Tell Me What I Want (Weekender Records)

Exciting electro rock from Black Country four piece. 'Tell me what I want' is a slice of electro indie at its finest. Opening up with a dirty sounding guitar riff, the drums and synths soon kick this track into fourth gear.

Frontman Grant Ashman's vocals are laced with the sleaziness of Brian Molko (Placebo) and the melancholy of Paul Banks (Interpol). Having already come to the attention of electro indie pioneer Peter Hook (confirmed to produce their next single 'The Truth') 2010 could see these Atoms move from isolation to the mainstream. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

GASOLINE QUEEN Gas For The Underclass  www.gasolinequeen.com

Gasoline Queen are another great Swedish band that play loud, dirty, energetic, powerful, sleazy rock ní roll- and very good at it they are too.

'Gas For The Underclass' is a 4-track EP that does a good job of selling the band, and should win them a number of new fans.

Taking inspiration from both Ď70ís bigger rock acts and the sleaze of Ď80ís LA, the band sound like they could be an explosive live act and nowadays, that is what counts.

Great vocals, solid guitars and rhythm section - combined with well crafted songs, catchy choruses and a sound that draws you in - this EP is a great taster of more to come from Gasoline Queen. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

THE FLOE I Hope You Know (Nettle Records)

One of the best kept secrets, and best debut albums of recent years was Sketch by Essex based quartet AloneMe.

Alas, AloneMe are no more. But on the plus side, they have simply morphed into The Floe with the line-up of singer Sarah Springett, singer/guitarist Dave Booth, Simon Edgoose on drums/programming, and singer/ multi-instrumentalist Liz Townsend (piano/ cello/ flute/ bass), all present and correct.

After a brief hiatus while Sarah underwent surgery to donate a kidney to her boyfriend, the re-branded band have re-emerged and picked up where Sketch left off with another piece of classy female fronted singer soft pop/rock.

But the real gem is the B-side - a wonderful interpretation of the Holland/Dozier/Holland classic (Love Is Like A) Heatwave - slowed down to a sultry ballad.

A debut album (or follow up to Sketch) - No Looking Back - is set for a 1 February 2010 release. Watch out for it. Meanwhile, all proceeds from I Hope You Know, go to The Transplant Trust. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley


THE ROCK DOLLS Frame 
www.myspace.com/therocketdollsmusic

Three piece who feature Ben Knopfler, son of Dire Straits mainman Mark, althugh musically this band have nothing to do with Dire Straits.

The Rocket Dolls take the ultra catchy riffs so beloved of sleaze bands/Motley Crue and add aggressive vocals backed by smash-the-kit drumming. It makes for one loud noise but a catchy one at that. The title track and 'Broken' are the pick of the four songs on here.

This EP shows the band have promise and a band to watch out for in 2010 and beyond. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie


BIFFY CLYRO Many Of Horror (When We Collide)

After several hard hitting blockbuster singles - The Golden Rule and The Captain - taken from their current album Only Revolutions - Biffy have tamed it down a bit for their latest single Many Of Horror.

Produced by Garth Richardson (Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, Many Of Horror is a delicate string backed rock ballad.

From a gentle acoustic low key start, Simon Neil's vocals are impeccable with the number building and building to what will no doubt become an audience participation favourite.

Many Of Horror shows the more subtle side of the band, but remains unmistakeably Biffy. Undoubtedly another massive hit. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

LAST LETTER READ These Stories Roll EP

The West Sussex based 5 piece punk pop act Last Letter Read, release 4 track EP These Stories Roll in December to whet the appetite for a full length release early 2010. Opening track 'Penniless But Grand' is catchy enough.

Following in the traditions of New Found Glory and a softer Blink 182, it's not the most original sound you'll hear, but it has a optimistic charm.

'Your year' and the infectious 'Escape' are straight from the soundtrack of a U.S teen drama, with the latter bearing a strong resemblance to the likes of Fall Out Boy. Final track 'Miles Away' is a slower more melodic number than its formers. In a movie, it would be played over the bit where the main two teen characters are pretending they are 'fine' on their own, but secretly miss each other.

Ultimately, they sound a bit too much like a group of English lads, trying to be American rather than finding their own sound. That said, they do it well and if you're a fan of the aforementioned bands, then you'll appreciate these nicely written, well polished pieces of punk pop. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

 

MODERN CLICHES Your Lucky Numbers (Crash Records)

A nice little indie-pop number from the London based three piece. The raw sounding production, bold guitars and calming vocals are catchy but it's there's nothing too standout here. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

A-Ha Nothing Is Keeping You Here (Universal)

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

NEW EDUCATION Arcane

R
ecorded and mixed by Chris Potter (The Verve) Arcane follows on from New Education's two previous sold-out singles Today and Another Miracle.

Formed in 2008 and influenced by bands like The Cure, The Clash and Oasis, New Education describe their sound as 'the midlands calling'. In fact, they serve up an almost unique mix of anthemic rock and electronic soundscapes.

Somewhere between Oasis, U2 and Duran Duran, with some neat lead guitar work from David Cartwright, Arcane can only enhance the band's growing reputation. And while the words 'drum 'n' bass' should never sound good together the B-side remix works remarkably well adding a moody Gallagher style twist to proceedings. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

TWIN ATLANTIC What Is Light? Where Is Laughter?

The latest cut to be released from hot Glasgow act Twin Atlantic's excellent Vivarium album.

With a unique blend of melodic rock, metallic crunch, angular time changes, and front man Sam McTrusty's distinctly Scottish vocals, the band have come up with a unique sound.

Yes, it may have Biffy Clyro - who they've supported - overtones, but the band have a monstrous sound, packed catchy hooks, great riffs, and impassioned vocals. Twin Atlantic look set to become a major force. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE SOLID Arrivals And Departures (EP)

This five track EP opens in great hard rock fashion, 'Blues For The Rapture' having a touch of Led Zeppelin, The Cult and Zakk Wylde. Later on a hint of G'n'R too. Think Bad Company for 2009, straight solid hard rock.

'Mabel' is a more acoustic track, while 'Hoop' opens with a lot of fuzz and mixes Sabbath and The Cult.

Well worth checking out. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

THE BLIZZARDS And Another Thing...

Multi-platinum selling Irish pop outfit The Blizzards release a one off single to celebrate the release of the latest instalment of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series by author Eoin Colfer.

Both book and single bear the title And Another Thing ... and there's a mutual 'love in' going on between band and author who see their artistic creativity on a parallel universe far, far away. Or perhaps not.

Running out at 2:55, And Another Thing ... is only a brief moment in the history of the cosmos, and is a quirky piece of pop that sound like Lightening Seeds meet the B-52's head on in the hadron collider. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

LITTLE COMETS Adultery

After an eventful summer of festival festivities, Newcastle indie hopefuls Little Comets release their latest fun filled and up-tempo single - Adultery.

Self produced and with just about everything but the kitchen sink thrown into the mix (kettles, sofas and other assorted percussion) the single is already causing a stir on the Radio I / NME circuit.

With upcoming support slots with The Twang, and Noisettes, there's no denying the band are on the rise. But it all rather depends on your musical taste. Maybe fine for a whiling away a Glastonbury hour, but classic rock fans may want to tread warily. **½

Review by Pete Whalley

THE KNOTFAL This Thing (EP)

This debut EP (5 tracks running to under 20 minutes) mixes hard rock with alternative metal (think Tool) with beefed up guitar pop/rock. Lots of chunky guitar, crash bang wallop rhythms that occasionally nod at metal, and in the opening track 'Curly Friday' backing vocals that stink of guitar pop. That said, a good effort on the guitar solo.

Some good stuff, plenty noise, but they're trying to cross two genres.

Good but really not my thing. **½

Review by Joe Geesin

BAD BAD MEN Bones, Bones, Bones

Glasgow based Bad Bad Men - a line up of vocals, piano, double bass and drums - serve up a rootsy brew on this 5 track EP.

Drawing on folk, country, rock and pop influences, these modern day troubadours have a typically 'authentic' sound - like Springsteen or Waits exploring their Americana roots.

In the case of Bad Bad Men, we're talking wet and windy heather, not spurs and rawhide. But the EP artwork suggests that in the minds of Bad Bad Men their musical roots lie in the land of six-shooters, bucking broncos, and barroom brothels.

The songs - or stories with musical accompaniment - are dominated by atmospheric whiskey soaked vocals that intrigue and intoxicate. With tales of gallows, bones, traitors and collaborators, the band have a unique sound ideally suited to the folk circuit.

While they may not be to everyone's taste, Bad Bad Men are most likely shine in the live 'campfire' environment where they bring in mandolins, harmonicas, cellos and squeezeboxes. More beans, anyone? **½

Review by Pete Whalley

ROXY SWAIN New Love Designers

The debut ep from Chicago band Roxy Swain, adds the vocals of singer Roxy Swain and guitarist Matt Walters, to Tom Valenzano's power pop trio Loomis (Tom Valenzano - guitars, Melissa Kempfer - bass, and Chuck Harling drums).

And with over 20 years experience under their belts, it's a competent and professional debut. But the 4 tracks show two very different faces of the band.

Without You and Linda showcase chiming guitars and Roxy's cleanly recorded vocals. On the flipside, Tom Valenzano takes the mic for the acoustic Duo Jet and progressive Spread Eagle.

As a whole the set has a pleasant AOR retro Californian sound and is a respectable debut. But the band are going to need more in the locker if they're going to progress beyond the local indie / support act circuit. **½

Review by Pete Whalley

BROKEN LINKS Resisting Movement And The Almost Advisory

Broken Links are a three piece post punk indie rock band from Southampton - Mark Lawrence on vocals and guitars, Lewis Betteridge on bass and Phil Boulter on drums.

Heavily 80's influenced (Joy Division, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode), the band's diy ep is a mix of driving indie rock garnished with evocative vocals and underpinned by great retro melodies.

And with support slots to the likes of British Sea Power, Boxer Rebellion and My Vitriol already under their belts, the future looks bright. **½

Review by Pete Whalley

BEN DALBY Doctor Can

A pleasant pop ditty from the pen of singer songwriter Ben Dalby who, by day - when not composing - is programming traffic control systems.

Having plied his craft for 20 years, Ben's aim is light-hearted satirical radio friendly tunes. And with Doctor Can he's hit the Radio 2 bull's-eye dead centre.

With warm, semi-spoken vocals Doctor Can is a novelty confessional ode by a man helplessly in love with his GP. And let's face it, we've all been there.

Produced by Mark Wallis (Travis, The Smiths, U2) and with an OMD influenced acoustic style backing it's what it says it is on the can - 'pop' that's easy on the ear, but ultimately disposable. **

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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