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Singles Bar: January 2010

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

MERETTO A Method of Urban Survival (RockPop Records)

Energetic single taken from their recently released album 'Street Talking'. A catchy number with an instant chorus, it sets the direction and tone well for Meretto's sound. Electro-tinged indie pop in the vein of Boy Kill Boy and Hard-Fi. ****

Review by Darren Coomber

TOUCHSTONE Mad Hatters (Enhanced)

Following on from the success of their excellent Discordant Dreams (2007) and Wintercoast (2009) albums, Touchstone have finally given in to the call from fans for the re-release of their debut Mad Hatters EP. And in its shiny new clothes, it’s supplemented by 2 live tracks taken off the band’s forthcoming ‘Live In The USA’ album and their signature cover of Tears For Fears, Mad World.

Having now heard Mad Hatters it’s easy to see what all the fuss was about and why it would be wrong not to share it beyond the lucky 1000 who got to own one of the original pressings.

All the hallmarks of what is quickly becoming a trademark Touchstone sound are present and correct - punchy rhythms, proggy time changes and some excellent keys and guitar work. The main difference is that while Kim Seviour has increasingly become the visual and vocal focal point of the band, she hadn't joined the band when Mad Hatters was recorded.

But that won’t bother fans because Rob Cottingham’s vocals carry Misguided Fool, One Shot and Hear Me perfectly well. That said, the standout track is undoubtedly The Mad Hatter Song where the band fully deployed the twin lead vocal approach for the first time. On this occasion with female vocals provided by Liz Clayden who delivers some wonderful wailing in the final section.

The live tracks - Original Sin and Dignity - both bode well for the forthcoming live album, although they stick closely to the recorded versions. And Mad World? Well, it’s not like any version you’ve heard before - especially with guest John Mitchell trading licks with Rob, and guitarist Adam Hodgson. A very welcome addition to the band’s increasingly impressive catalogue. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

LUCIUS Enemy (Greater London Records)

When we received Lucius' previous single - the excellent 'Say It Again' - we were mightily impressed.  Since that time, 2007, he's gained further admirers for his energetic and infectious electro-tinged pop rock.  This is further proof that he has a way with a chorus if with slightly less of a swagger than its predecessor.  What we really want now is a full album. ****

Review by David Randall

ISAAC'S AIRCRAFT Head to the Feet (Crash Records)

Having climbed to the dizzying heights of the BBC Radio 1 Top 30 indie singles chart last year with 'Friends and Foes', Cambridge four piece Isaac's Aircraft return with new single 'Head to the Feet'.

A spiralling piano/keyboard opens the single and features some nice vocals and understated guitars. The B-side is a radio edit of the aforementioned Friends and Foes. The guitars are slightly more prominent, but Isaac's Aircraft sound is very much based around keys.

Stirring stuff. 2010 could be the year Isaac's Aircraft take to the skies!  ****

Review by Darren Coomber

HOT CHIP One Life Stand (Parlophone Records)

Lead single taken from their fourth album of the same name due out in February. In 2006, the Grammy nominated boys from Hot Chip brought us the relentlessly catchy 'Over and Over'.

Whilst not as immediate, 'One Life Stand' is a funky three minute toe- tapper. Crafted with the same brilliance as 80's New Order, 'One Life Stand' has a tender streak coursing through it's vein. It's not hard to imagine a crowd with arms aloft going mad for this one when they tour in February. ****

Review by Darren Coomber


It's not often these days, or ever in fact, that you hear a hard rock act featuring a flautist (yes that does mean a player of the flute).

The James Warner Prophecies are an intriguing blend of heavy riffs, folk music and woodwinds. It completely shouldn't work, but it does, and what's more, it works very well.

In the same way System of a Down combine the often bizzare Armenian folk into their music, so to do the JWP (well probably not the Armenian bit!) and judging by third track 'Fashionable Place of Birth', know how to have fun with it.

Metal fans will no doubt appreciate the chugging riffs, and at times the way they managed to combine it with the flute. A loud, raucous slice of rock, with a woodwind coated icing. ****

Review by Darren Coomber


London four piece headed up by a married duo. Fairly unusual? Probably, but then given the fact that their standard punky sound is given a supersonic feel by a DJ mixing two drum machines and a sonic art student(?) making noises via an Atari console, perhaps the married part doesn't seem quite so weird!

An exciting mix of punk energy, beats and beeps. If WWJD were a drink, it would undoubtedly be a heady cocktail of snakebite and black, dark and sinister with a knockout punch! ****

Review by Darren Coomber


This shimmering piece of pop/rock is a wonderful advertisement for the album of the same name from which it is culled.

Imagining Robbie Robertson crossed with REM and produced by Daniel Llanois and you get a vague idea of Moon Landing’s reference points. The album is the third solo album from the ex Madrugada vocalist, who over 13 years were Finland’s biggest selling rock group.

An excellent single and an intriguing album. ****

Review by Pete Whalley

KENDAL SANT One Night (Sorcy Productions SORCY001)

I have to say that for the first few bars of this I thought we were listening to Kendall Payne, not Kendal Sant, a "rising young star" from Brighton.  Once the gender is sorted, this is radio-friendly and country-tinged, and cast in the mould of any number of singer songwriters from across the pond - including Kendall Payne.  Success therefore probably  rests on who can muster the biggest bang for his buck. 

This is a competent debut (produced by Stuart Epps who has worked with Elton John amongst others) but it does get a little insipid after a while.  ***½

Review by David Randall

IS TROPICAL When O'When (Hitclub Records)

Debut single from gritty mask wearing London three piece. If you're thinking along the same lines as Slipknot, forget it. These guys couldn't be more different.

Lo-Fi, raw and electric, 'When O'When' is produced by Al O'Connell who has previously worked with the likes of the Klaxons.

It's hard not to notice a few similarities, though it should be noted that 'Is Tropical' are much less pop, in fact you couldn't really fit them into any formula.

Lots of ideas packed into a five minute stomper of a song. Bold and bassy. Most of all, it left me wanting to hear a bit more. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

YOUNG GUNS Winter Kiss

Winter Kiss is the High Wycombe based quintet’s first release since their feisty debut single In The Night and the follow up Mirrors EP almost 12 months ago. And Mirrors is now on its 4th pressing, no doubt as a result of Young Guns’ extensive touring schedule in 2009.

Available as a free download ‘thank you’ to fans, Winter Kiss is another epic rock number with plenty of attitude, a big chorus and sing-a-long backing vocals. Although on this occasion the band have pushed their boundaries by incorporating strings and piano. But don’t worry, Winter Kiss will still kick sand in your face.

And having already clocked up successful shows alongside The Answer and Lostprophets, it can only be a matter of time before the Young Guns are signed up. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Home is the second EP from the alt folk singer songwriter Colin MacLeod aka The Boy Who Trapped The Sun.

Now London based, The Boy’s roots are north of Hadrian’s Wall, fishing salmon by day and and knocking out Deep Purple covers under the cover of darkness.

But if his gentle dreamy folk is a million miles from those roots although you can almost hear the wilderness, open spaces and beauty of the Isle of Lewis in his earnest singer songwriter style.

Think Nick Drake, Ed Harcourt (who co wrote one In The Dark), Ray LaMontagne and the like and you’re fishing in the right fish farm. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Charlotte Gainsbourg the Anglo / French actress / singer songwriter and daughter of Jane Birkin and Serg Gainsbourg follows up her 2006 album 5:55. A record that received critical acclaim and commercial success in the French charts, achieving # 1 spot and platinum status.

Her new Beck produced and co-written album IRM is likely to do the same. Heaven Can Wait, the lead single is a duet with the man himself and it has all the characteristic Beck influences - a subtle blend of Americana overlaid with electronica and Gainsbourg’s distinctive vocals.

Check out the surreal video on YouTube - it was voted one of the best videos of 2009. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

MAEVEN Girl In Blue (Lock Jaw Records)

Maeven are an all girl punk band from the rock mecca that is, erm, South Yorkshire. Sleazy with an industrial edge, the Girl In Blue features frantic riffing, pounding beats and vocals soaked in just the right amount of cynacism. There's even a atmospheric keyboard break giving this a slightly mature sound. Dark, dirty, and well worth a listen. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

KAZUKI Sun Kissed Planet (Major G Records)

Eclectic debut single from south of England five piece. This is possibly as unusual a blend of styles, genres and instruments that you will hear in 2010. The intro has a slightly African tribal feel to it, later developing into an unusual oriental string arrangement. A warming dose of ambience by a band who aren't afraid to experiment with their sound. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

ODETTE My Friend (Marbles Records)

A nice pleasant tune from this singer songwriter who was born in Italy and now lives in London. It has a touch of country in the backing and Odette's voice is lovely and soulful. Definitely one to watch this coming year with her new album, 'Just Me' due soon. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

(Armellodie Records)

Hailing from central Scotland, SAC are a three piece not at home with the ordinary. Both 'Pick Up Sticks' and SAC Attack are stark reminders of a life less dangerous. A life where living and getting by, is life.

Mentioning the marvellous alongside the mundane...'eat your greens, clean your teeth, avoid zombies'...all just an average day in the life of the Super Adventure Club then eh?!

Not sure how much mileage you can get out of this theme, but I'm sure these guys will have fun trying. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

TIN SOLDIERS 24 Hours (On The Run Productions)

Having caught the attention of both MTV and XFM last year, the Kent based four piece return with latest offering '24 Hours'.

The press release describes them like 'Muse playing proper pop songs'. I think that's a bit generous based on this single.

The track is definitely catchy and there are similarities to Feeder, along with the two guitar interplay of Jimmy Eat World. It all sounds a bit too much like a cliched American band to be mentioned alongside Muse for my liking. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

LIMOZINE You Da Boss (Open Plan Records)

West London four piece Limozine return with the second single to be taken from the forthcoming album 'Evil Love'. 'You Da Boss' is the soundtrack to a bar room brawl, albeit a very short one, clocking in at just two minutes thirty seconds. Booze fueled and fun three chord punk songs. **

Review by Darren Coomber


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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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