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Single reviews: December 2010


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

Reviews by Pete Feenstra, Joe Geesin, Nikk Gunns, Jason Ritchie, Abigail Suter, Pete Whalley

Abi's Twelve Days of Christmas

TOM MILSOM Explorers 4 EP

Tom Milsom; musical genius with talents ranging from playing the keyboard, which would seem pretty normal, to having the ability to play the not-so-normal omnichord. Using a less sophisticated description, you'd probably know him as that cool kid off Youtube with the bright blue hair.

'Explorers 4' is exactly what it says on the tin. The fourth release from the extremely experimental 'Explorers' series was released back in May and combines tracks that clearly show Tom's more quirky, vibrant side with the contrast of some of his more melancholy material.

'Toy (Ode to an Imaginary Pachyderm)' gradually pulls the listener back into the weird but wonderful world of Tom Milsom after the eighteen day break they had since the release of 'Explorers 3'. The sluggish and slightly scattered feel to the opening is entirely necessary in order to slowly introduce you to the pure talent of this guy because without this intro, your brain would probably explode from the contagiousness of this stunning EP.

Worn out clichťs such as the phrase Ďshort but sweet' are not enough to describe the elegant piano and lulling vocals of 'In C'. What amazes me about this track is how simple it is yet still, Tom Milsom takes the word Ďsimple' to a whole new dynamic level and pulls off what many artists have failed to do; create a simple track that still maintains a distinctive, idiosyncratic sound.

'In C' blends effortlessly into the much more upbeat 'Ada' in which Tom shows off his incomparable skills on yet another instrument; the ukulele. At just forty-nine seconds, this catchy track leaves you wanting more with a feeling I can only compare to being offered a bite of your favourite chocolate then having it pulled away a second later making you feel like a disappointed five year old. You are forced into a kind of bliss only for it to end way too soon.

'I do' sees Tom continue to show off his undeniable knack for creating fetching tunes on the ukulele but this time he's shoved it in a blender with some raw guitar and stuck it on full power. The result? Total craziness. But a good kind of craziness if you get me. The type of craziness that makes you grin wider than the Cheshire Cat.

The penultimate track on this mind-boggling EP is 'Hey' which allows Tom to unleash madness on what I can only assume is the melodica; a rather unusual instrument which I can only describe as a cross between a keyboard and a flute. How he can make a total clash of the melodica and his vocals sound this good I do not know but it definitely works in a way that makes me want to listen to it all over again even if it does feel like my brain has been put in a cement mixer.

The EP concludes with the subdued masterpiece which is 'IOU'. The soothing piano pulls you back to sanity and leaves you feeling emotions you never thought existed. This is a truly beautiful composition that demonstrates the entire meaning of perfection.

To me, this EP is by far the best Tom has ever produced and is a rollercoaster of variety and emotions as I have never seen someone with such originality and brilliance in today's generation. Watch out; this kid's got talent. *****

Review by Abigail Suter

THE JOLLY BOYS Perfect A Day

It's always a gamble covering a confirmed 'classic', in this case Lou Reed's Perfect Day. But the Jolly Boys - 'the most recognisable mento band in the world', who have been together for over 60 years and whose name is said to have been given to them by Errol Flynn - give it an unusual twist, and then some.

Taken from their current covers album Great Expectation, and opening with Clint Eastwood / A Man With No Name whistles, a faint reggae rhythm and rum soaked vocals, there's no denying the unparalleled charm the Jolly Boys bring to this track.

Against all the odds, it's somehow impossible to dislike and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

MELONHEADMAN Medicine Man EP
www.myspace.com/melonheadman

With a band name and EP title you could have a good guess that this band play southern rock and/or country rock. Well you'd be right, although like Medicine Hat, MelonHeadMan hail from the UK.

They tip their stetsons to Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially on the title track and 'Boogie City'. Whilst on 'Hunting Crows' the band dip their musical toes into country rock.

They have that southern rock sound down to a tee and if these three songs are any indication of the band's talent they deserve to go far. Southern rock may not be the biggest of genres but it has a loyal fanbase and they would be sure to take MelonHeadMan to their album collections once they have heard this EP. More! ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

GOODLUCK JONATHAN This Is Our Way Out EP 2

Brighton five-piece Goodluck Jonathan release their second EP out of the This Is Our Way out trilogy into the big wide world.

If the first one was right up your street then you'll love this one just as much. It kicks off with 'Fatman', a steady paced track filled with the odd, unpredictable outburst of heavy guitar even though Nick Brookes' vocals remain consistent and unwavering.

The sounds seamlessly blend into 'Fall of America' which is an infectious although slightly repetitive song. The guitar parts in the are clean-cut bringing an effective contrast to the previous track.

Back to The Wall has an extremely different feel to it and shows the band's talent throughout various genres. With a sound reminiscent of well-known musical geniuses such as The Clash or The Ramones it's definitely one of those total rock-out anthems full of more energy than one of those Japanese energy drinks with the warning not to drink more than one a day. Yeah, limit your intake of this song to one a day. It might be a wise idea.

This rather varied EP is concluded with the more subdued 'Away From Here', a stunning ballad with vocals that are so lulling they almost seem eerie. Although the guitars are smooth and echoey, they are still extremely catchy and this is one thing this band seems more than capable of doing, producing addictive guitar riffs. It closes the EP very satisfyingly for the listener and ties up the loose ends.

Goodluck Jonathan are a very versatile band who certainly have a bucketful of potential that can yet be developed even though they are already coming on in leaps and bounds for a band who only released their first EP in September.  ****

Review by Abigail Suter

AMBASSADORS OF MOROCCO Wikipedia

Cheesy pop? No. Indie? Not really. Or maybe even alt rock? Not that either. So what is it? The first single from the Ambassadors sports a lighter than air feel to itreminiscent of The Feeling yet still has the slightly heavier guitars and sharp vocals that draw it away from the cheesy 80's feel it would have otherwise.

Wikipedia starts with a clean guitar riff which has you bouncing around like a lunatic before the vocals even kick in. Beni shifts effortlessly from clean staccato vocals in the first verse to flowing, bouncy falsetto in the chorus.

These certainly come across as a cheerful bunch if Wikipedia is anything to judge by and it is certainly the perfect song for the younger generation.  ****

Review by Abigail Suter

MARTIN B NAYLOR Boy Became A Man (Folkwit)

What with a twelve string guitar tuned down low, a warm but low register voice and some poignant lyrics with a twist and all this delivered with some early career Cat Stevens phrasing, Marvin clearly has something going for him.

This 3.42 minute outing makes a more than passing impression with a high in the mix acoustic tempered by a low register voice and some sumptuous backing vocals and studio effects that all serve to underpin Marvinís folky intent.

Stuck somewhere between coffee house intensity and an uplifting opening spot at a concert hall ĎBoy Became A Maní is a catchy, interesting taster from a singer songwriter with substance.  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

ABOVE THE UNDERGROUND The Fight We Won

As soon as I press the play button, I can tell this crazy EP is going to have enough energy to leave me bouncing off the walls as if Iíve had 10 espressos all in one go. No actually, espressos arenít cool enough. Try a ton of sherbet instead. Thatís better. A million times more fitting to this trio of total nutters.

After 'Something for the Weekend', the intro track that contains more energy than most album climaxes from other bands, the next track starts with a melody based more around guitar than synths. That doesnít necessarily mean itís any less up-beat though.

Willís vocals cut over the instrumentals for the first time and although nothing special, they fit hand in hand with the floaty synths and guitar. The drums on this track are clean and add a baseline to solidify the other ingredients that make up this ridiculously catchy track. The track fades out without warning and melts into track three.

The intro to 'Yours sincerely' sounds like Hello Goodbye on drugs and adds a whole new depth to the power pop genre. the only criticism I have for this track is that the vocals in some of the verses donít seem to fit well with the rhythm making it sound slightly out of place and messy. But hey, nobodyís perfect!

'We Are The Party' is the title of the next track. Too right you are. Itís definitely party music minus the repulsive cheesiness. Itís unusual for the drums to be the thing that stands out most to me in a track but Above The Underground provide an exception with the infectious drumbeat of this perfectly crafted song.

The final track on the EP is 'The Fight We Won', title track and clearly the best yet. It shoves any doubts I had about the three-piece to one side and once again has me smiling like a dork and bouncing around the room like a complete maniac.

So, think you can handle the endless supply of crazyness this EP provides? Then itís definitely a must have. Are you a laid-back person who spends their days listening to the likes of Mumford and Sons? Then donít buy. Simples. ****

Review by Abigail Suter

WAX ON WATER An Army

Originating in London, Wax on Water has just one solid member, Maya Fire. She pulls her influences from all depths of the music industry and creates unique electro music with a hint of grunge.

An Army is the first single to be lifted from forthcoming album; Procession.

I donít know about it sounding like an army as Maya puts it, it sounds more like some psychedelic grunge dragged from the realms of outer space. Almost alien. But saying that, it doesnít sound bad at all. I like having my ears torn apart by something that sounds like an army of crazy Martians. I didnĎt know it until now but it seems that itís a good thing.

The experimental electronic sounds continue in the second track on the EP, 'Chelsea Fuck'. Once again, the odd sounds mess with your brain but this is contrasted by Mayaís gentle vocals in the verses which add an almost eerie feel to the single.

The single is concluded with 'Innate' which slows down the pace a bit and instead of tearing apart your ears, it tears apart your heart. I donít know what it is about this but the emotions are unbelievable. It might be just the contrast between music styles from the previous track.

Wow. would never really go for electronica music but thereís something about this that sets it apart from the rest. Itís not been entirely perfected just yet but itís still good. Brilliant even. ****

Review by Abigail Suter

THE BOOK CLUB The Fantastical Adventures of Mr K

This sounds familiar. Too familiar. If youíre thinking the same, youíre not just thinking that for no particular reason. Joe Carnall, ring a bell? Yes, thatís right, this is the new EP from The Book Club which is, surprise surprise, fronted by Joe Carnall (ex Milburn vocalist).

With itís consistent, marching bass and Joeís unmistakable vocals, theyíve managed to pioneer a bit of a fantastical track with 'Perspex Princess'. On the other hand, I was hoping Joe would manage to shake off the pathetic Arctic Monkeys comparisons with his new band but unfortunately, thereís no doubting the uncanny resemblance.

'Somebodyís Daughter' just confirms this comparison is pretty much set in stone and thereís nothing they can do about it. However, the melodies somehow stand out from that of the Arctic Monkeys like a sore thumb and they are clearly the more advanced of the two Sheffield rival bands.

This track adds depth to the EP by adding a more serious note to the album and it shows The Book Club are definitely not just a band that are here to mess around a bit then disappear off the music scene totally like some bands these days.

Track three is the ultimate sing-along track. The repetitive rhythm of 'Irony Tower' is simple yet extremely effective and certainly grabs your attention if you were only half convinced with the previous tracks.

The EP closes on 'Mr K' which in my opinion was evidently the right choice for a title track. It just about sums up the EP by effectively shoving all the other tracks into a blender and switching it on full power. The result is a big, gloopy mush of varying paces and music you can really tap your feet to. But itís not a bad mush you know, itís just the right consistency for an alt rock record.

This is only the second EP from the Sheffield four-piece of indie superstars but theyíll definitely be on the road to achieving bigger and better things after a bit of work. ***½

Review by Abigail Suter

JOHNNY GET THE GUN Never Far from What We Know 

Itís like a grown up version of modern rock. All the basic things youíd find in modern rock minus the whiny teenage boyís voice youíd find on most records. the EP starts with 'Good As It Getsí which is a rather slow starter but after a couple of listens you soon get used to this fact and begin to enjoy the track for what it has. It boasts a powerful chorus which totally overshadows and contrasts the verses but in a good way.

The second track on the EP from Essex four-piece is 'Hills and Knives' which in my opinion makes up for where the previous track was lacking by demonstrating the ability Johnny Get The Gun have for creating a great, catchy melody without resorting to relying too heavily on the frontman.

The previous track flows into 'Lead Hearts' which is my personal favourite with its extremely infectious verses which are simple yet truly genius. After a couple of rounds with the chorus, a slow bridge kicks in which is thoroughly calming. This is then repeated with much more husky vocals and distorted vocals which adds contrast and depth to the track.

The penultimate track on this experimental EP is 'In the Middle' which builds up effectively on volume and pace and leaves the listener wanting more. The track sounds unbelievably professional for a band only set-loose on the scene three years ago as they experiment with their own signature blend of contagious guitar riffs, clean vocals plus a drumbeat and bassline which provide the backbone to their sound.

The EP concludes with 'Take It', which shows Johnny Get The Gun stepping slightly out of their comfort zone and trying out a much dirtier, raw sound. It packs a killer punch and ventures closer to the hard-rock genre than before.

Overall, Johnny Get the Gun have the potential to go far with their varying genres and raw talent yet there is still room for slight improvements before they perfect their sound. ***½

Review by Abigail Suter

JOAN AS A POLICE WOMAN The Magic

The Magic is the first single to be taken from the new Joan As A Policewoman album, The Deep Field, due out early in 2011 and looking to build on the success of her first two releases Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008).

Otherwise known as singer songwriter / violinist / pianist and guitarist Joan Wassener, Joan As A Police Woman is what might be described as an 'alternative / indie' artist. But the soothing soulful groove of The Magic brings her another step closer to the mainstream. If it's representative of her forthcoming album, then The Deep Field could see her edging into Sheryl Crow territory. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

XM-3a Bad Robot Man
www.myspace.com/newheavysounds

A slow burning (if a tad plodding) 9 minute track issued on 1 sided 12' vinyl.

There are stoner, Pantera, Sabbath and indie influences, with a more trebly take on the usual doomy plod.

Despite the slowness, there is some decent guitar work amongst the riffage, and an undeniable catchiness to a track that is far from virtuoso.

Some of the keyboards and effects fit in well too.

Think a cross between Sabbath and Hawkwind with an indie metal edge.

If this band picked up the pace you'd have more than a decent rocker on your hands. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

MELONHEADMAN Medicine Man
www.myspace.com/melonheadman

3 track single and some fine country metal with an alternative Lynyrd Skynyrd bluegrass feel.

The band are clearly influenced by Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, there's a touch of boogie, country, uptempo alternative metal, some intricate guitar lines.

Third track 'Boogie City' is the bluesiest of the lot, and is right up the alley of Molly Hatchet's 'Jukin' City' (actually VERY reminiscent of Molly Hatchet's Flirtin' album).

A lot of fun. Southern Rock for the new generation.  ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


HAYABUSA Evil Is Not That Laid Back

Evil Is Not That Laid Back is the brand new single from Manchester alt rockers, Hayabusa. To start with, theyíre certainly very ... different.

They waste no time in getting to the point as the track kicks in with fast paced guitar and based which is immediately supported by the slightly more calm vocals from frontman Bob Hallard. After an edgy yet catchy chorus, the band slow down their pace slightly but that doesnít necessarily mean the track becomes boring in any way. They experiment with a dirty, distorted sound which makes up the dynamics of the track.

Halfway through this track (which has more variation than the typical British weather), Hallard demonstrates his varying talents by switching to raw vocals which resemble that of Avenged Sevenfold frontman, Matt Sanders.

The verdict? Try it out because thereís sure to be something for everyone in this track due to the pure experimental nature of the band. But unfortunately, it works both ways. Thereís going to be something you like but thereís also the possibility thereís going to be something thatís definitely not for you. ***

Review by Abigail Suter

EAMON McGRATH / MOHAWK LODGE
Dark End Of The Street / A Crime Of Passion (Dble A Side single)
www.myspace.com/eamonmcgrath
www.myspace.com/mohawklodge

2 track double A-Side single, that opens with Eamon McGrath's 'Dark End Of The Street', which has a husky singer/songwriter rock feel. Think Black Flag, Neil Young and Tom Waits all in one.

The track's OK, some good moments but really doesn't go anywhere.

The Mohawk Lodge track is indie rock with a bit of pop and a Springsteen edge.  ***

Review by Joe Geesin

FOUR TRIPS AHEAD The Memories EP (505 Records)

With a full album and several EPs behind them, this 5 track EP sees more modern hard rock from this New York band. It's quite tough, energetic, noisy, yet melodic. There's a mixture of pop with lots of crashing guitars, and the disjointed noise of grunge and alternative rock.

There is a hint of Joan Jett t to the opening bars of 'Feel Anything' before the song goes in a more indie route. A hint of catchiness.

'Remembering Who I Am' tries to go more big rock sound route, in a very unpolished way. Sounds like some unrehearsed kids trying to be Bon Jovi.

Some good riffs, some good melodies, but I'm still unsure over the finished product. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

SERATONIN Live And Forget
www.myspace.com/serotonineffect

New single, which combines crunchy rock'n'roll with an alternative metal (complete with trebly jangliness). A 3 minute blast that will suit fans and radio alike. Chunky with a commercial alternative edge.  ***

Review by Joe Geesin

BAD BAD MEN Mr Satan's Amorous Advances

Mr Satan's Amorous Advances is the latest 5 track EP from Glasgow based Bad Bad Men - a band who draw on folk, country, rock and pop influences to serve up an intoxicating rootsy brew.

With a bar room sound and whisky soaked vocals in the style of Waits or Rickie Ross, there's no disguising the band's Scottish roots and admiration of Americana. Quite how they remain unsigned is something of a mystery, because with Mr Satan - they've toned down their wild men image and moved closer to the more mainstream folk / country space occupied by the likes of Ross in his post Deacon Blue persona.

With some excellent playing and vocal performances throughout Mr Satan's Amorous Advances are devilishly seductive. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

EARL GREY AND THE CROQUET Sampler EP www.earlgreyandcroquet.com

Earl Grey and Croquet hail from South Africa and began life as a covers band. This 7 track sampler is an introduction to the band ahead of the imminent release of debut album 'From The 21st Century'.

The band's sound is a mix of lightweight rock and indie pop and it is hard to pigeon hole them. On 'Pappa Was A Schoolboy' you could say that they sound like a cross between the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Santana, whilst 'Lady Luck' is like a bouncier Kings of Leon, the guitars on 'Is This Love' have a Skynyrd like feel to them- especially on the solo, and vocalist Laurie Sloan's voice has an almost Goo Goo Dolls edge to it at times throughout the CD.

Although Earl Grey and Croquet may not set the world alight there are some good songs here- 'Hard Pill', 'Learning Line' and 'Pappa Was A Schoolboy' are all worth checking out.  ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

 


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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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