To start, some definitely delectable favourites with no unexpected extremities.
TOP FAVOURITES- All beautiful in their own unique ways
Liz Green- ‘Midnight Blues’, single
A startlingly unique voice in both sound and intonation, half swallowed, from back of the throat, shares remarkable affinity with sleazy muted trumpet, slinkily weaving in duet. Beguiling, sparse yet totally mesmeric vocal and instrumentation with wonderfully strangulated, twisted, buzzing brass, louche double bass and picked acoustic guitar, telling late night house party tale “...as the light breaks in... I lie between the wool and my lover’s knees ...” (who hasn’t been there?), which would sound equally at home in Gatsby style speakeasy or smoky Parisian jazz club, my choice of most original and individual song. www.lizgreenmusic.co.uk
Troumaca- ‘The Gems’, EP
Refreshingly original, vibrant five piece, intriguing delectable concoction of juicy jungle, tribal new wave Indie, deepest, car boot dub bass, shaking vibrating, sonorous booty to electronic dance, in flirtation with Boy George ,Finley Quaye and East 17 on ‘Fire’ and ‘Sanctify’, sparkling distillations drawing subtle inspiration from contemporary and traditional sound palettes, my favourite being lustrous, mesmerising ‘Layou’(Dub) with broken, staccato, clipped, deeply resonant samples and loops ,‘dub no bass with my head man’ magnetic bass, drum rim percussion and subtle electronic touches, synergetic agents, synthesising wondrous new potions, love it. http://troumaca.co.uk/
Vanilla Gorillaz- ‘Make It Alright’, single
Having reviewed their “disturbingly appealing” first single, ‘Wilderbeast’, back in November I was looking forward, though not without trepidation, to this second outpouring and wasn’t disappointed, similarly deliriously deranged agglomeration of genres, 80’s electronica, New Wave, cheesy synths and effects, electronic dance, deep, pokey, dubby bass, ABC vocals, and prog rock guitar breaks, which shouldn’t coalesce, synthesise insanely danceable, demented deliciousness , which becomes irretrievably irresistible for me , when borrowing seriously seductive bass line, from ‘Deepest Blue’, catch me, I’m falling, swoooooon, a definite favourite. www.myspace.com/vanillagorillazmusic
My Tiny Robots- 'Guild Of Defiants', single
Spangly, jangly guitar daggers glint, pirate drum beats, gleeful and deep, swaggering vocals on bouncing feet, trip along to cheeky beat, “....we’ve got to wear pointy shoes... so we know which way we are going...”, prancing into effusive guitar break before bowing out with apologetic nod and shrug. Mischievously defiant, fresh smiling face of catchy pop, laced with taste of irony. Having been captured in December by previous single, ‘Rock Bossa Nova Four Beat Black’, these irreverent musical mavericks float high on my sea. www.mytinyrobots.com
Morning Bride- ‘Blue-eyed Boy’, single
Melodica, dirtied up folk violin and steel bottleneck guitar, distinctive heralds to clear beauty of Amity’s vocal, round which they weave delicately inventive instrumentation, tip toe, sway to her offbeat, tenderly caressed by Mark James’s vocal, grounded by hurdy gurdy hollow drums and shake of tambourine. American folk wanders this fair land, garbed in sixties psychedelia, Steeleye Span meets Marianne Faithful, which makes it a favourite. www.morningbride.co.uk
IN HIS OWN CATEGORY - Classy, pure electronic dance heaven
Max Cooper- ‘Amalgamations’, EP and ‘Kahuna’s ‘Hayling’ remix’, single
1. ‘Amalgamations’, EP:
Elegantly musical electronic remixes of two very different pieces;
Remix of Hiatus’s ‘Third’ takes bare electronic/vocal bones of original, subtly re clothes its skeleton, ephemeral layers spun round melancholic scraps of rotating piano theme, clear droplets reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s Koln improvisations, electric crackle beckoning glowering bass, hailing distant operatic vocal riding dark, billowing clouds, sparking violin flash, angry skies torn by distant lightening, gathering raindrops, brewing summer storm, minimalist instrumentation building to lushly verdant orchestrated sunshine, burnishing menace, evaporating tears in sparkling hiatus. A masterly remix retaining filmic, atmospheric, almost modern jazz qualities of the original while adding its own gentle ambience and for me, merest, subtlest hint of Tilt/Maria Naylor’s ‘Angry Skies’ endears it even more.
The second piece, featuring sampled cut up vocals from electronically inspired pop trio, Get People’s ‘Careless’, subverts innocently breezy original, free floating it through cold and mysterious outer space in company of whispering, chattering ghosts, perforated vocals adding rhythm to hypnotic, snatched backbeat, sound sucked into vacuum, mesmerised by buzzing, flitting, carousing firefly creatures, pinpricks gathering to swarm, briefly illuminating eternal night with careless curiosity before dancing off to their own tune. Though also ambient, steady, leaning blip beat and rhythmic vocal pulls this tune into dancier territory, Sasha, ‘Xpander’ with Gus Gus undertow, a place where I am most happy to be. Original, well considered electronica with dance cutting edge.
2. ‘Kahuna’s ‘Hayling’ remix’, single:
For me simplicity of the original is perfect but I cannot deny love for this super chilled, under the water remix which retains its character, including purity of Hafdis Huld’s (coincidently once with Gus Gus) mesmeric vocal punctured by startling , slightly discordant, diving bell intervention, silver snarl biting into euphoria. The remix further slashes silk with lusciously deep, buzzing bass and darkly percussive stuttering heart plunged into watery analogue mine sweep depths where monstrous sea monster feet slosh and squelch in warm jet stream of submarine engine hum, best dance remix I have heard for a while. The shorter radio edit, condensed and busier, for me doesn’t allow oxygen of breathe in the same way but none the less, enthralling. www.maxcooper.net/
WHISTLING TO THEIR OWN TUNE - More than mere wailing, conquerors exploring new territories
More Than Conquerors- ‘Boots & Bones’, EP
Exceptionally inventive drumming /percussion and choir boy clarity of impassioned, Oliver Twist, urchin vocals singles this band out, striating rock orientation of bands such as The Vines, with sparkling bands of colour, to create emotive Indie, Midlake’s emotional and melodic qualities with rock and roll heartbeat, mixing old and new into fabulously fresh sound, which together with imaginative lyrical content, musicality and versatility is showcased on this five song EP.
‘Oh My Son!’ and ‘Bear Knuckle Fight’, pits driven rock guitar and hard hitting drums against street gang chants and captivating percussive elements, Mexican wave waterfall drums and cowbells; ‘The Deer & The Fox’ allows further individual elements to emerge from rock miasma, picked guitar, tight sympathetic drums and beautiful deep bass motif sliding into more minimal ‘Hunting For The Whale’ and ‘A Lion, A Man’, leaving anthems behind to espouse experimentation , explore deeper territory, pounding heartbeat drums, dark keyboards, touch of vocal effects and sampling, sinister throbbing bass and grated, grungy guitars, creating atmosphere, space to allow vocals and classic melodies to unravel and reveal their nuances, their Kate Bush side.
Jake Morley- ‘Freddie Laid the Smack Down’, single
Sunny, hurdy gurdy streetwise, jaunty urban jungle jangle, smoky laid back vocal “...yeah...” struts confidently wary, “... you’ll never take my soul....” along to hand claps, marching drums, swaying fiddle, sparkling mandolin/guitar and brothel creeper double bass, updated sticks and stones, “...nothing left to do but learn to dust yourself down...” new boy, appealingly catchy, modern day folk rap, magical little number.
The Savage Nomads- ' What The Angel Said', single
Innovative art house rock engaging enthralling amalgam of influences, vocal; Byrnes inflected with Bowie hinting at poetic lyricism of Morrison, “...your smile will stretch your eyes open wide...embracing simple sights ...broken winter skies...” part barked, part chanted, part spoken, over driving rock drums and weeping guitar speaking in Cult like riffs with Talking Head bass, diving at times into Velvet’s dark depths, entrancing intrigue.
Ravens In Paris- ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’/ ‘The Hideaway’, single
Energising, exuberant, exhilarating, driving Indie with melodic punk attitude, pounding, skittering drums, drubbing grungy bass cut by glass guitar shards, unrelenting vocals, emphatic, spirited choral chants, all sprinkled with effervescent electronic effects, magical combination which lifts this from effective, to enticing effervescence.
Honeykill- 3 Track Demo
Well matched, proficiently compatible band of four, new wave Indie with seamy, punk attitude, restrained yet potent and vital. My favourite track, ‘Hate’ is the darkest, dangerous sadistic guitar, fluttering tight skinned drums and throbbing deep bass skip chilling heartbeat , menacing Nick Cave vocal, slashed with Nirvana, shivered by xylophone, wafted by misty special effects, appealing in originality and musical delivery. ‘Easier’ and ‘Ticket to the Floor’ though full of drive and attitude, pounded drums, pumping bass, punk vocal delivery with hint of Costello, chugging guitars with tendency to break into rock style riffs, slightly lose the plot in places, not as musically subtle or original but still refreshingly ear cleansing.
Bear Cavalry- 'Maple Trails', EP
Fresh sounding, sunny, quirky Indie rock, racing, embracing life with vibrant, zealous voice, imaginative impetuosity innovates instrumentation which sparkles with ardently articulated vocals, dancing drums, tightly tongued triumphant trumpet and delectable little guitar licks, which occasionally lose their way or fall over in enthusiasm competing with show stealer, astonishingly dextrous, delightfully distracting bass. ‘Roman Summer’ and ‘Custom Hands’ in general bowl melodically, chirpily along, with odd stumble, ‘Will Smith solves the Rubik’s cube’, more ruminative, has beautiful instrumentation, including triumphant trumpet fanfare but at times meanders, seizes, loses flow while ‘Dragon’s Milk Pt ii’, displays more experimental side to the band with cheeky keyboard/sound effects, foraying into prog rock, slightly disjointed and schizophrenic but none the less, intriguing. Certainly on the trail, but possibly in need of cavalry to keep them gathered and pointed in the right direction.
Susie Soho- ‘Twelve Twenty Seven’, EP
Extremely well put together band and EP, consistently musically and tonally appealing, employing well worn and loved emotive Indie musical phrases, sung and played with conviction, easy to listen to, yet somehow, despite beautifully melancholic, maudlin guitars, precise, sensitive drums, imaginative walking bass, engaging vocals and fleeting touches of esoteric coloration , there is a certain predictability, both musically and lyrically, distinctiveness dulled by general lack of variation, in timbre and intonation and vocals more sung narrative than poetry.
However, not everything needs to be novel or said for the first time to make it worthwhile, so, in exploring universal themes, “... I can’t keep waiting round for you... you’re just not listening....” (‘Your Way Or Not At All’), “...... dirty secrets... damage limitation....” (‘Stand Up’), “... no matter with the truth is... you bring it back to you... your love affair with yourself...” (‘Making Taste’), “... I’m bewitched...rabbit in your headlights... helpless...” (‘An Eye for an Eye’), this EP flows smoothly and confidently in calm waters and for me, was worth the listen simply for snippets of fabulous bass line running under vocal of ‘An Eye for an Eye’.
City Reign- ‘Numbers For Street Names’, EP
Musical, mawkish, introspective Indie rock of sobbing vocal , chainmail guitar variety, metallic, close knit with barely chink, brow beaten by chugging bass and drums, recycling variations on familiar, ever emotive hooks, core melodic themes and chord progressions, especially on ‘Making Plans’ ‘Sleep Easy’ and ‘Out In The Cold’ , guitar riffs merging into one. ‘The Line’ allows bass , guitar and percussion freer speech but still centres round this same, admittedly appealing repertoire, repetitiveness emphasised by certain lack of vocal variation. ‘Anywhere Anyway’ stands slightly aside with its jangly guitars, deep bass keyboard, rounder vocal timbre and greater melodic inventiveness but for me, my favourite track by this band remains ‘Stranded’, from previous EP ‘Daybreak’ lyrically and instrumentally more illustriously individual, it hints at what might be.
TURNING BROWN EYES BLUE - Or making them weep, one way or another.
Circus Envy- ‘Say Something’ and ‘Regret’, singles
Heart catching sorrowful reflective folk, strummed, picked mandolin, passionately bowed, scraped fiddle, strolling, dipping bass , time keeping drums recall essence of traditional folk idioms, refrains and instrumentation, brushed with blues chagrin of Indie ballad, narrated in hazy voice of wafting smoke; beautiful mixture of traditional and contemporary folk’s classically alluring melodies.
Red Sky July- 'How to Get Your Love', single
Though maybe not that innovative, captivating classic, beautifully clean, two enthralling voices in visceral, touch of ‘Jolene’, American country harmony, polished, highly musical counterfoils for each other , gently supported by glittering, picked guitar, fragile but perfectly formed.
The Lights- ‘Mostly Water’, single
Pretty and perfectly formed, crystal clear siren singer, wretched , torn, sailing with her highly able crew, “... into the blue....”, beautiful sounds tumble, roll and fall on heaving waves of emotion “... going down with a sinking ship... clinging to the wreckage by a finger tip...sunken...”, capsizes emotion, neatly captured angst.
Katie Malco- ‘Katie Malco & The Slow Parade’, EP
‘Laadeedaa’ and ‘Johnny’ matter of factly accept fate’s hand, with good grace or regret, in clear sweet voice which sways, sashays, skips, trips lightly round familiar folk idioms and themes, like life itself, slight, well trodden, yet intensely deep, pin pricked by shimmering threads of strummed, picked guitar, delicately embroidered with vibrant hues of plucked, bowed strings, fleet foot bass and gently sympathetic percussion, sprinkled with glitter of keyboard; ‘Get In The Car’, more nakedly introspective contemplates ‘vanishing into the night’ of deep indigo bass; ‘Florence Nightingale’ meanders maudlin into blue country, stripped down voice and acoustic guitar but sadly, ‘Sad Eyes’ loses vision, blurs clarity, wandering off distractedly into rather cheesy soft rock
Said The Whale- ‘New Brighton’, EP
Beautifully constructed, passionately expressed gentle Indie folk, tinged with touch of prog rock, well observed, engaging tales of life, though sometimes loses its originality in soft rock forays. My favourite is stripped back, largely acoustic, violin, guitar, bass, piano, xylophone and vocal, touchingly affectionate, lilting ‘Little Bird’, “...she sang all night... I had forgotten how to sing... had a broken wing.... she sang to mend... will fly again someday...we sang all night...like a window in my heart...” which commands enthralled attention in its simple beauty.
The Portlands- ‘Blue Sea Blues’/ ‘Every Word I Sing Is A Lie’
Folk essence expressed in soft metal rock’s voice, beauty and the beast , shimmering folk instrumentation chased, full tilt, helter-skelter by rock panoply, galloping, rolling Adam Ant drums, wild horse guitars ,chugging bass and emblazoned vocals, conceives surprisingly comely offspring, ‘Blue Sea Blues’ being the more melodically enticing of the two, ‘Every Word I Sing Is A Lie’ slightly more pedestrian and predictable with disconcerting Meatloaf spicing, though the frantic , syncopated drumming at the end is worth waiting for.
Nick Fisher- ‘Pipe Dream’, new song
Having reviewed Nick’s ‘Regression and Progression’ demo last October, melodically engaging , delicately instrumented songs with New Age feel, altruistically released into ether by home recording technology, I wondered how newly fledged bird fared since first flights. Though ‘Pipe Dream’ has lost fluffy down of innocent wonderment and tentative optimism, it soars and rides jet streams on more confidently muscular wings which, as well as acquiring a dose of vocal cynicism, supplements acoustic guitar, now vigorously strummed, with bass, drums, sharp handclaps and keyboard, harder, feistier sound, though still kissed by vestigial contrails of Aquarius mist, wisps of originality which I hope do not evaporate in determined flight towards burning sun.
Patrick Plunkett - ‘Attracting Attention’, single
Laid back Sinatra/ Manhattan Transfer swing with jazzy edge, unfurled bow tie vocal, lounge lizard chill immaculately presented as the lady on his arm, mellow, cucumber cool bass, syncopated piano, feline guitar and artfully subtle percussion, sofa to sink into with G and T.
Sport of Kings- 'Logic House', EP
Draws unmistakeably on Steely Dan’s musical heritage, especially evident in ‘Free Jazz’, cool shimmering chill, sleek caressing vocals glimmer, in full control of high gloss poop, serenaded by polished horn section. However, despite this highly appealing sound, lacks Steely Dan’s glittering subtlety and sensitive touch, especially when leaping into anomalous, rather startling breaks and slightly heavy handed indulgence in strange musical interludes, as in ‘Preface’, which cruises up back waters, to grinding halt, sunny and laid back but teetering on edge of comatose.
The Salt Flats- ‘Songs of Fleetwood Mac’, EP
I must admit trepidation when it comes to ‘covers’, even sensitive reinterpretations in adoring homage. It is true Salt Flats approach these four, for me perfectly considered originals, with utmost reverence, duet of beautiful vocal harmonies which none the less lack Lindsey Buckingham’s emotional depth and tonal coloration, while strangely, original instrumentation sounds more innovative , harmonic subtleties lost in a translation which leaves little space for simple beauty ,dragging somewhat. However, while Salt Flats may have over seasoned perfectly composed dish, it proves difficult to ruin magical ingredients, suck soul from creations of such delight, still shining bright;
‘Never going back again’ introduces nice effects but sadly misses sweetly picked guitar glimmer, somewhat trite Parton/Abba choir and twee synthesiser plod, clip clop along depressingly, despite cheery sounds and tempo akin to its template.
‘Silver Springs’, Cowgirls duet pretty harmonies in shimmering heat haze but pedestrian drums, distracting sound effects and disintegration into saccharine mush cannot capture enticement of laconic, wistful original.
‘Big Love’ misses fluttering guitar heart and percussive coloration, takes more sinister tone than original tortured, yearn, country style harmonies and hillbilly instrumentation galloping ahead of subtlety.
‘Everywhere’, though not recapturing subtle poignancy is sweet and sunny, for me best rendition of the four, with warped mandolin, bell and flute like synths, hint of strings and keyboard , strangely satisfying underlying buzz and Abba/Parton duet which skips along in perfect harmony.
NO PARKING - Garage demolition punk
Beretta Suicide- 'Beretta Suicide', EP
Badged as “punk rock” Beretta Suicide sound musically better dressed than make do and don’t mend insignia usually pinned to punk. Though adopting nomenclature of repeated rifled riffs delivered at blistering speed and barked vocals, their bank of musical phrases reaches beyond signature minimal attitude to chord and note progressions into realms of grunge, prog rock with large scoop of heavy rock, raw energy tempered into more rigorous and melodic vigour which, none the less, exudes high voltage aural excitation, attitude and great musicianship, especially when branded with their own motifs, pugilists in velvet.
Each song, though hung on familiar hooks, has some ingénue inflection which intrigues, such as intro to ‘To Play And Win’, tribal drums, shredding guitar approach like avenging army though battlefield mist of throbbing bass, chemical warfare vocal emerges as if from gas mask, backing on helium, rapier guitars slash like machetes and final genius touch, sampled Charlie Sheen rant, “... I am on a drug, it’s called Charlie Sheen...”
‘Another Wolf In The Wings’, despite heavy metal guitar riffs and vocals, snarls with grunge, “...I howl... I paw... I sniff... I claw...now I am just like them....another wolf in the wings...”, an unplugged acoustic version laying bare rhythm and blues bones and beguiling Nirvanaesque sensibilities.
‘Itchy’ and ‘Go Slow’, heavy metal with punk attitude; ‘Said They Couldn’t Do It’ most typically punk, embellished with alluring skidding/sliding guitar and vocal while ‘Oh Lord’s’ prog rock intro mutates, via what sounds like paper and comb and Rush flecked percussion, into hard rock and heavy metal.
Thee Vicars- ‘Every Day’ / ‘Don't Wanna Be Free’, single
Compared to The Seeds, similarities can be heard in bass and drums but Thee Vicars don’t have their psychedelic, Monkees style irony, despite being garbed as Wild West undertakers. What they do have is raw enthusiasm, Jam crossed with punk, heavy metal, rock, touch of hillbilly, Ska/Mod with wardrobe malfunction, mud splattered sharp creases, at times uncoordinated kitchen sink chaos, but great fun. ‘Don't Wanna Be Free’ working round familiar themes and riffs, simpler and cleaner of the two songs, features fetchingly louche, deep , vibrating bass while ‘Every Day’ skydives into wailing, driving punk and hard rock guitar solo before rambling off into jumble of solos. Both feature disconcertingly youthful strained, stressed, half spoken vocal which teeters on tightrope of tunefulness but manages to hang on.
Throwing Up- 'Mother Knows Best', single
Small voice stamps slyly beguiling , insistent foot, half chant, half rant, Annabella Lwin meets Sharleen Spiteri, at times faltering but persistently piercing wall of sound, driving punk rock, ramshackle drums, abused cymbals, punchy guitars and rollicking bass, rescued from runaway ruin by tight reins, mother might well know best but us girls will still scream and scream until we throw up.
King Salami and the Cumberland 3- ‘Trubble Trubble’/ ‘Jellyfish’, single
Riotously raucous four piece, punk crossed with rock and roll rhythm and blues. Meat feast of familiar blues themes played at rollicking speeds and ear splitting level, enthusiastically elucidated vocals veering towards incoherence on ‘Trubble Trubble’ replaced by frantic maracas and shrieks on instrumental ‘Jellyfish’ ,tongue in cheek mayhem and you have to love the name.
Beat Seeking Missiles- ‘Break My Fall’ / ‘Dr. Strangelove’, single
Bearing ubiquitous loose label, ‘garage’, these missiles do actually sound like smoking explosion in a garage. Cross pollinating Kinks on speed with Kiss might veer alarmingly towards car crash than obscure subgenre but these seekers of Sixties beat just manage to stay on the road with wildly throbbing bass engine, skittering, screaming Hendrix guitar solos, pile driving drums, turbulent tambourine, steered by twisted psychedelic vocals, of few words, mostly the "... can't make it by myself...” variety, hanging on for dear life.
HARD AND VITAL - Eyeliner ruination, extreme seduction by Shredded Metal
Collision Process- ‘Collision Process’, EP
Ectoplasm pulled shrieking from Hell’s maelstrom, voice of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ expressed by Francis Bacon’s bestial mutated mouth of Fury, wreaking revenge for crimes beyond human justice, a vocal to strike fear, disembodied, rasping, atonal growl beyond nodular distress, unrelenting, amplified opening vocal from Venom’s ‘In League With Satan’, on steroids. Brutally battered drums, finger shredding guitar and tumbling bass, flay the Devil’s steeds to foam flecked exhaustion raising havoc and mayhem, ridden by vocal sucked from black hole, exhaled from Lucifer’s mouth.
Unremitting, remorseless onslaught of heavy, driving, energising death metal, stoking Hell’s fire, ‘Sleep Now Forever’ and ‘Breaking Point’ barely draw breath for melody beyond tight guitar riffs and vocal sparring, ‘Revelations’ allows gasp of nimble bass, careering guitars, silver slivers of percussion and duetting voices to emerge from beautifully controlled bedlam, in melodic duel while ‘Divide’s’ deceptively enticing ‘Avalon’ guitars of chagrin opening lures the unwary into more aural ruin, with respite, thankfully brief, in somewhat disconcerting ‘pretty boy’ hard rock harmonies before plunging Rush like guitar solos once again to the heart of devastatingly delicious discombobulation
Crash Mansion- ‘Crash Mansion’, EP
The track list, ‘Devour Me’, ‘Fast and Furious’ and ‘Wild 'N' Wicked’ could describe recent clandestine surrender to temptations of a cream bun but this offering, more bounteous spurt than unctuous ooze is even more wickedly delicious. Hard, driving, pumping black velvet metal, deep as dark night, soul plunging bass and drums, heart stabbing, wrenching guitars, tongue tangling vocal, impossible not to surrender in abandon to its deep throated seducement, however messy the aftermath.
Sworn To Oath- ‘Leave You For Dead’, EP
Natural ear wax remover, though such a severe shaking might demand restorative Mogadon. Master Blacksmiths of tight pounding sound, burnish Metal bright with sledgehammer guitar, comprehensively thrashed drums and cheese grater vocal, four blistering tracks, which oscillated my ossicles, dented my head, in a good way; may not leave you for dead but certainly shaken and stirred.
The Black Stars- 'Read My Lips/ Rockstar', single
Proper old school rock and roll thrusting sex, no foreplay, innovation or sentimentality “...I don’t need no love... just want to fuck around... don’t need no wine or roses... just want to go down...” but plenty of lecherous, licentious, lusty riff action, “...down and dirty in the back of a van...”, rollicking ride with guys who know all the right moves and will definitely make your eyeliner run and your knees go weak, so “...baby you better hold on tight...”
IT’S NOT A MATTER OF SIZE - But it matters how you use it
This Wicked Tongue- ‘Carry This’, EP
Employing full palette of progressive tinted with hard rock, you would think this wall of integrated sound, metronomic high b.p.m. drums, needling into shriek guitars and frantically racing bass would require vocal juggernaut to punch a hole, yet Tina V’s fragile, tiny but mighty, lyrical, stretched, rhythmic vocal, percussively rips shreds through scenic backdrop, with deceptive ease, gentle yet persuasive, persistently full tilt. Tight and precisely delivered fist of steel in melodic velvet glove, ‘Carry This’ and ‘22’ career along similar Rush like tracks, while ‘Creature’ takes brief detour, clip clopping bass into more menacing backstreet, taking on touch of Siouxie.
STARTING TO DROOP - More unctuous ooze than bountiful spurt
Underclass- ‘Beat Your Fist’, single
Short, nearly sweet, in an Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses way, half anthem of stomping drums, shredded guitar and impassioned, but not quite hitting the edge of reason, vocals, requiring good hook to yank it up by the collar, fizzling out in Sci-Fi synth shimmer, fuse lit too late for fireworks.
Zenon- ‘Can’t Breathe’, single
Classic soft rock of the Robert Palmer/Bryan Adams variety, exemplary musicianship and very personable vocal with characteristic lyrical and musical metaphors you would expect plus cheekily incalcitrant keyboard which goes off on a refreshing idiosyncratic whim of its own.
TANGLED AND TONGUE TIED - Lost in translation but worth a taste
Reach For The Lasers- ‘Audio. Ignition’, EP
Having previously reviewed the single from this EP, ‘Some Settings May Produce Noise’, as “Speeded up eighties electro fused with high energy rock, Soft Cell, Human League and Tears for Fears crushed down, reconstructed and super injected”, my mind, enamoured of electronica, old, new, reconstructed, tongue in cheek, was torn, predisposed to a love which now stands tainted, feeling like a fool. The five songs on this EP, though earnest in adoration and attention to period features, shrill synths, drum machine, voxed, vocoded, oscillated, somehow manages to batter, bludgeon, trammel an esoteric, evocative genre into heavy handed, featureless mimicry, laboured too far, fun for one song, lost in translation, five songs later. However, inspiration is there, glimpsed in ‘Take The Blame’ and ‘Breakout’, which, at times, manages to breakout with innovative use of early experimental electronic sounds, cascading drums , hint of wail and then, as song and EP fades out, tantalising flash of glorious perforated grungy synth creak, leading me on, intrigue enough to keep me listening.
My Talking Pua- ‘My Talking Pua’, EP
Rather like my inept attempts at taming spaghetti this EP writhes, inelegantly unravels in doleful, rambling tangle of despondent, half spoken, meanderingly improvised breathy, accented vocal, Banshee Bjork without umami. Heston Blumenthal style musical Bolognese does little to add savour, worthy but sounding contrived ,disconnected, swinging wildly between convoluted Italian experimental, melancholic grunge, ‘When You Were Your Murderess’, ‘Victor de L’Aveyron’ ,‘The Housemaid’ and ‘Stilettos’, spiked with handfuls of thrash metal, ‘Love Ends’ and ‘My Talking Pick Up Artist’, garnished with spacey, echoed vocal foam. Flavours of individual songs tend to merge into one but despite derogatory words, essence of intrigue lingers, drawing me back to re taste marmite tongue tingle which lurks somewhere in the hotchpotch.
Centre Excuse- 'Don't Let Go', single
Throbbing electro rocky pop with eighties feel, determined, driving drums, squealing synth, space age sound effects, tensioned vocal, fast bowls along pastiche path but fails to fall wicket of inspiration, not quite a googly but the view’s nice.
Dimitris Kyriakidis- ‘Air- Hunt’, single
Four piece, indulgent instrumental with heavy cinematic overtones featuring progression of slightly disparate solos; heavy rock virtuosic guitar; tight but hardly Bonham drums; hesitantly hovering on the edge of tunefulness jazzy bass; and prog rock, unfortunately quite a bit like Wakeman, keyboard; skilful ,erring on arrogant but sometimes you just have to pucker that embouchure and blow your own trumpet.
ATOMIC EXPLORATION - Capturing electrons, conjuring electronic brews
Pinkunoizu- ‘PEEP’, EP
The name Pinkunoizu, Japanese for ‘pink noise’ both raised my hopes and put me on guard. Without going into technicalities about octaves and energy levels which find me flummoxed, ‘pink noise’, sounds like ocean waves or buzz of an empty television station, present in all aspects of existence from heart beat to stellar electromagnetic radiation, to synthesiser noise circuits, ‘pink noise’ is universally pervasive and persuadable. Having originally made a gustatory Freudian slip, misreading the word as Italian Pinzimonio, literally to ‘pinch’ and ‘marry’, in this case an assortment of raw vegetables with olive oil dip and salt, my juices were flowing in anticipation of novel, food related genre.
Actually either word could be used to describe this gathering of musicians who sculpt ‘pink noise’ clay into filmic scenery of experimental, electronically manipulated soundscapes, pinching , borrowing, smorgasbord of musical references, sprinkled with their own seasoning. In both cases it is quality of ingredients and skill of the artist which determines whether the dish is scintillating or sorrowful, pleasure or pretension, hence anticipation tempered with trepidation preceded my tasting. There is no doubt Pinkunoizu’s ingredients and skills are exemplary, like sushi, perfectly formed, precisely considered but scrap of sacrificial lamb to god of introspective pretention slightly taints sushi sparkle, dish of wonderment, beautifully presented and though not soul food of Kate Bush or Cocteau Twins, an interesting development in highly descriptive experimental music, its musical coloration lifting it from soporific to intriguing.
‘Time Is Like A Melody’; sleigh bells skeltering over virgin snow into which deep bass sinks footsteps, gathering snowflakes into hypnotic , looping mantra of chanting voices and Asian inspired contorted strings, swirling, whirling, chasing this mortal coil, gathering in time’s notes.
‘Everything Is Broken Or Stolen’ twinkles in through arched window of life landing in alien territory where innocent nursery rhymes and fairground carousels are perverted, twisted to increasingly frenzied, un syncopated tick tock of Dali’s pendulous melting clocks, frantically collecting, confusing, contorting, seeking signals in ether, from ethereal voices, to construct meaning from gathering miasma of meaningless mind fog, until time winds down to final tock.
‘Dairy Queen’ starts with deep thrill of Bowie’s ‘Warszawa’ but despite death toll of kettle drum, drone of organ and disconsolate vocal drenched in misery, fails to retain its utter desolation or sense of purpose , bewitched, inveigled by distant pan pipes, into white light of shimmering synth, beamed onto alien craft for glorious Technicolor mind sweep of earth’s cultures via Chinese bowed strings and rice field chants, Malinese xylophone, wooden flutes and cowbells with prog rock interlude which, even at eleven minutes, this track cannot manage to harmonise into unified whole but then the whole of the universe and beyond is a tall order.
SAFX- ‘BAM’, single
Few pronunciations which could make “BAM!”, with its ‘wham, bam, thank you mam’ connotations, musically engaging and its repetition, as sole lyrical content, unaffected, but Marianne Elise’s charmingly accented rendition imparts cool class to this un-presuming word, playing with pretention in a way that only the French can, electro punked Patti Smith, barked, worried round short snatched musical phrases, angsty, churning guitars, maudlin bass and pounding drums. Reminiscent of Ladytron, this short introduction to SAFX inspired me to listen to another sampler track, ‘Fast’, which has makings of pure beauty in simple melody, clean, touching vocal used as instrument in rhythmic, staccato, repeated phrases over sparse yet apposite electro and instrumental backdrop, harmony unfortunately disrupted by distractingly unsubtle percussive elements but with classic potential, one to listen out for.
Trojan Horse Rotovator- ‘The Shining’, EP
Musical representation of Klingon Fleet, menacing, electronic doom gloom, pounded scrap metal assimilation of styles, lacking Borg sophistication and nowhere near as effective as Warszawer, my favourite piece of melancholic electronica, sledge hammer to its mind meld but with certain dark magnetic powers of its own.
Megalofactories', manned by chanting harbingers of terror, stab, jab, serrate, warp, batter and mutate percussion, sampled strings and heavy rock guitar into perforated white noise frenzy, winding down drained; 'Inside The Rotovator' sinister, shrieking death metal drone, intergalactic insect swarm, steel mandibles shredding tortured souls in black hole of star ship hold; 'Room 101', enter here if you dare, hell’s kitchen of bent, abused pots and pans, mutated Bryan Ferry stirs cauldron of ‘80’s electro and twisted early Roxy, conjuring lost souls in bell toll of warped synths and panic inducing, racing drums while 'The Limbo Damnation’s’ darkly shimmering, whining , screeching, dark star synth, casts deathly pall, smothers, stifles, wreaks destruction in death chant and knell, civilisations chained, stumbling into abyss, evaporated, effectively alarming, bloodcurdling electronica.
Simian Ghost- ‘Bicycle Theme’, single
Sparkles like sun on virtual tropical ocean of warm electronic sounds from another era, dirty synth, drum machine, bell like effects, sprinkled with fantasy shimmer, soothed by caged computer generated birdsong to echoed “oooh and aaahh” wonderment. However, everything that glitters is not gold, more Christmas bauble, well meant but overindulgent soporific lull more likely to induce trauma than chill, surfeit of sweetness, electro saccharine.
THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG (except it is) - My beautiful mistake
October Sky- 'Hit the Ground', (acoustic version from album)
My ‘pity this is not a single’ lament to 2011
I was supposed to be reviewing the single version of 'Hit the Ground' but having been sent an untagged 13 track CD listing only seven songs on its cover, I am entirely uncertain what I have reviewed except, it is track 5 from album “Hell Isn’t My Home” and subsequent internet exploration reveals track 6 as the actual single.
From melodic and lyrical comparisons, the two and half minute song I fell in love with seems to be an acoustic version, from which, prior to denouement, I had concluded the band’s press release did them great disservice, describing their music as “alternating between frenzied rock and ambient alternative” but subsequently listening to the actual single, which takes this gem and bludgeons it with U2, a band which despite my best efforts I find tedious and pretentious, I am not so sure. Fearing to tarnish my vision further, I only gathered enough courage to flick through the album, which though full of stunning melodies tends towards ‘wail rock’, a genre I find unsettling, extensive sentimental wallowing muddying clear waters. However, I cannot get the imposter out of my head, so perversely, though I can see no way of obtaining it without purchasing the whole album, this beautiful mistake is my favourite non single lament to 2011, prince turned to frog, swan to ugly duck, in ignorance of its own message; “....I can’t hear my voice...when I scream...if only you know how beautiful you could be....”, whisper of this song spoke perfectly clearly without need to shout.
Acoustic version of ‘'Hit the Ground', track 5 on album:
Definitely not “frenzied rock”, “ambient alternative” is altogether too flippant categorisation for rare and beautiful simplicity which shines this emotional slip of a song into significance far beyond background chill ambience.
Stunningly simple, intensely sorrowful piano introduction pricks chagrin, poignancy taken up by introverted, maudlin male vocal, weeping distress in overarching counterpoint “...even if I... scream for help...”, stretching its own harmonically interdependent pattern over pinpricks of desolation, repeated motif, inter-tangled in the round, on piano and picked electric guitar, to sorrowful shake of tambourine and judgemental finger click.
There is nothing more to this song and though not hitting Radiohead’s tortured emotional profundity, steps reverentially in their sacred footsteps, few notes which speak spine tingling volumes with perfect unembellished clarity, though given my misapprehension, possibly a fortuitous anomaly, which thankfully didn’t hit the ground of edit room floor.
Reviews by Miss Chumki Banerjee