SINGLES: AUGUST 2013



Dark Stares : “ Octopon EP ”
DIGITAL 5.8.13

Crunchingly loud and awesomely rocking, Dark Stares have wrapped glam-rock in with grunge to make a super-heavy boogie-led rock sound. Bad Machine opens the EP with a relentless stomping fuzzed-up sound like a monster in platform boots pounding on a stage. The next, Shinigami, is more of the same with a nice rising hookline. There is a White Stripes simplicity and back to basics approach allied to post-grunge song structures ala the Foo Fighters. Steal Your Girl will do exactly that – if your girl likes the sound of what Marc Bolan would have done if, instead of forming T-Rex, he’d joined Led Zeppelin. Blackfyre is steadier and bluesy, menacing the listener and seeing you off the premises.

A band with a lot of promise – only on their second EP – keep it simple and dirty, lads, and you’ll stand out in the current field of sound-a-likes.

www.facebook.com/DarkStares

Ross McGibbon



King & Country : “ Mountains EP ”
SELF RELEASED 6.5.13

Mountains is the debut EP from energetic Welsh alt-rockers King and Country. Born in Bridgend in 2011, the band have spent time extensively touring throughout Wales in support of Mountains.

This is quite a respectable showing for a debut EP. Opening track One For The Weekend smacks the listener in the face and forces you to listen. It is catchy, tight and the harmonies add a little extra something. This sound further develops throughout the remaining 3 tracks – but Not Alone has to be my favourite on the EP. Though I did get a tad annoyed when I found I still couldn’t get the track out of my head 3 days later. This band sound far slicker than I would expect for a relatively new group. If they can sound this good on a debut I can’t begin to imagine how they will sound with a few more years under their belt.

www.facebook.com/kingandcountryband

Becci Crowther



Last Transmission : “ All The Time In The World EP ”
SELF RELEASED 17.6.13

Hailing from Newcastle Upon Tyne and formed in 2012 Last Transmission were created from a love of the Foo Fighters, Manic Street Preachers and Jimmy Eat World. This is a perfectly fine debut EP. There are catchy riffs and the right amount of guitar crescendos. It’s like the group have recently graduated from ‘how to craft a rock –pop track’ and are now putting these new found skills into practice. Lead singer, Michael Blackwell sounds like Jon Bon Jovi and I spent most of my time trying to work out who his voice reminded me of rather than listening to the tracks. These guys have potential; I just reckon they need a bit more practice after graduating from that ‘how to’ class.

www.facebook.com/lasttransmission

Becci Crowther



Where The Skeletons Play : “ Serotonin Blueprints EP ”
ONLINE 27.5.13

We enjoyed the last EP – Generation Wars – for its ability to use the forms of screamo and post-rock in a new way, creating long-form instrumental textures. This is similar and but Where The Sleletons Play have ramped up the energy and vocals, delivering lo-fi, hoarse lyrics. Unfortunately they’ve given in to the lure of the anthemic chorus which cheapens the effect whilst making the band less unique. There is still a big sweep and extended pieces ( 6 tracks in half an hour) but they sound a little bit more like other bands and that’s a slippery slope to stand on. A couple of tracks have the hazy space and moving textures of the debut but this is a band in danger of watering down its unique appeal.

www.facebook.com/cryhavoc

Ross McGibbon



Milestone : “ Medicate The Night EP ”
IMPERIAL MUSIC 13.5.13

Having only formed in February 2012 after meeting in college at Brigend South Wales, Milestone have spent the last year formulating their sound and have locked themselves away to create their debut EP – Medicate The Night.

This is a fairly solid debut EP. It has catchy riffs and hooks and is pretty well executed. However, it is rather samey and repetitive – so I would expect it to be well executed as there’s not much to repeat. That said, it does show promise – at least they are embracing simplicity and getting it right rather than over complicating their sound and getting it disastrously wrong.

Stand out track is Medicate The Night – it is in parts bluesy, definitely grimy and completely bass laden and actually fills me with hope for future releases. I can forgive repetitiveness when you throw out gems like this.

www.facebook.com/milestonerock

Becci Crowther



Here Is Your Temple : “ So High EP ”
BOLERO RECORDS 15.4.13

Opening track of this 5-track EP, So High, is also a single and it’s a gorgeous chiming hymn to dreamy pop. Riding atop fuzzy bass and shoe-gazey textures, a ringing chorus and lovely vocals make a thing of semi-ethereal loveliness.

This Swedish band have got five slices of loveliness here. Once Rich is sad but rising still in mood. Say Hey chants along as compulsive and lovely as anything by Arcade Fire. Big Way is louder and Daniel, the closer, is a whispered brocade of folky goth that rises to a thumpy crescendo before cooling down as it departs.

Here Is Your Temple are mining a rich seam of sound here – investigate it now.

www.hereisyourtemple.com

Ross McGibbon



Cry Havoc : “ New Life EP ”
HVK RECORDS 15.4.13

New Life is the debut EP from heavy metal quintet, Cry Havoc. This band does what it says on the tin – their moniker is the best description of their sound. They literally do cry havoc. Filled to the rafters with riffs and hooks, this is pure cock rock.

To those cynics out there that probably sounds rather negative. It’s not meant in a derogatory way, it’s just the simplest way to describe them. I’m not a massive metaller but I didn’t mind this – fans of Pantera will probably eat this bad boy up.

www.facebook.com/cryhavoc

Becci Crowther



Shouting Signals : “ Stand Your Ground EP ”
ONLINE 1.4.13

Post-hardcore, hook laden and explosive, this EP from Shouting Signals isn’t a bad debut release. In a market saturated with similar music they don’t fade away into the background and throw enough clout behind their music to be able to hold their own amongst their peers. These are catchy, energetic tunes served with a hefty wallop of thrash. One for fans of 30 Seconds to Mars and You Me at Six.

www.shoutingsignals.com

Becci Crowther



The Creaking Chair : “ Noise Body EP ”
BOUFFANT RECORDS 25.3.13

Noise Body EP is the second release from Brighton Based The Creaking Chair having released their debut single in May last year. The Creaking Chair is the musical project of Andrew A C Cooper and has evolved from an alt-folk trio to becoming a more experimental music project.

This won’t be an EP for everyone. The tracks ooze nostalgia with hints of 60s psychedelia. Noise Body II was reminiscent of a Nick Drake track. This EP was more of a grower for me. At times I found it too self-indulgent (End, Beginning) for me but if I skipped those tracks I found I quite enjoyed the EP. This could be a great soundtrack to a Wicker Man-esque film. Listen and tell me if you disagree.

www.facebook.com/thecreakingchair

Becci Crowther



Get Off My Shoes : “ Let's Not Rock Out And Tell The World EP ”
THANKS BUT NO THANKS RECORDS 1.4.13

Let’s Not Rush Out And Tell The World is the debut EP from Belgian indie pop quintet Get Off My Shoes.

After the traditional instrumental opening track (which I actually quite liked) that seems to be the norm these days for all those cool kids out there the rest of the EP continued along the same theme – bouncy and sometimes choppy guitars, upbeat rhythms, with enough oomph to put a spring in my step.

This is easy listening indie pop – it’s infectious and crawls under your skin and you soon find yourself tapping your foot and nodding your head along with the music. I kind of agree with the album’s moniker – not sure I want to rush out and tell the world just yet, I’d like to keep this hidden gem of europop to myself for a while.

www.facebook.com/getoffmyshoesband

Becci Crowther



John Parkes : “ Don't Be Seventeen Again EP ”
AAZ RECORDS OUT NOW

John Parkes has been recording and playing in Leeds since forever. Acerbic, sometimes witty, angry and determined, his songs reward attention. His last album did little for me but got positive reviews elsewhere – I think it was because the songs sound better to me simpler, without a full band production.

This four track EP is simpler, acoustic, more like you’d hear in a small venue or pub and the title song comes through well, as a wistful love song about how the passions of youth don’t fit so well to later life. Fireships is strong, too. History 2 looks back on a lost love with a melancholic chord sequence but My Hit Song is the John we see on his (generally pretty p’d off) blog, a sarcastic live work-through of one more of the things bugging the inside of his head.

www.johnparkes.com

Ross McGibbon



Sanjuro : “ Time For Rum EP ”
BANDCAMP OUT NOW

The last time we heard Sanjuro, at the end of 2009, our reviewer liked the EP but reckoned there was some growing to do and some production needed. Here we are with a second EP, a five track one and the band seem to have grown in confidence, especially lyrically on the opener, Growing Up, which has a nicely regretful air to it and a willingness to vary the pace to suit the moods.

Gypsy-folk-punk isn’t as surprising a sound as it might once have been but it’s a good blend, kind of an Eastern European Pogues. Viola adds a mournful edge at times and the accordion gives the tunes a texture you can get your teeth into. Singer Pasquin Mariani seems, at times, to want to channel the low-life raconteur persona of Brel. Jesus Radio is bouncier and occasionally gives the impression of wanting to break into a Russian folk-dance. Eye For An Eye is solid and Many More Mistakes is heavy and angry. To give you an idea of the live show, there’s an ebullient closer that made me want to catch the band on tour.

http://sanjuro.bandcamp.com/

Ross McGibbon



City Of Ashes : “ Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness EP ”
SELF RELEASED 21.1.13

If I were to liken City of Ashes’ sound to Lostprophets I suspect I wouldn’t be particularly popular given the recent news articles surrounding their frontman. Ignoring that controversy, the one thing that the aforesaid band did (love them or loathe them) was write a catchy alt pop-rock track that was radio friendly. That is exactly what City of Ashes do.

There is nothing on this album that offends me. The tracks are full of energy and are incredibly earnest – we even have a slower number on the EP for the ladies (bit of a cliché, I know, but hey they all do it). Whilst not everyone’s cup of tea - music snobs I am talking to you – I have an inkling that we will probably hear a lot from these guys in the future. Expect teenage pop rock chicks to be swooning over a CD in HMV (or maybe not HMV, oops) soon.



Becci Crowther



SELF RELEASED 28.1.13

Formed in 2011 in Hampshire, Northpaw take their moniker from the nickname of their guitarist Spencer Huet. Now, whilst I am not entirely sure what sound would emerge from a group names Northpaw, I can almost certainly assure you that I was not expecting the post-hardcore sound that erupted from my speakers when I pressed play. Was it loud? Definitely. Was it intense? You bet it was. Did I want to listen to more? Kinda…

I’m not going to lie – It took a few listens for me to get into this album. In my twilight years (am in my early 30s now, getting on a bit) I have found my tastes in music changing somewhat. Practically gone are the days where I listen to extremely loud and voracious shouty music for pleasure (other than review writing) and in are the days where I am loving Americana and good old indie rock. That might change though now.

Each track packs a whopping punch which leaves you reeling. There are riffs a plenty and is riddled with hooks. I actually really liked this EP. I do worry about the poor boys’ vocal chords though with all that shouting. I hope they have lots of strepsils on hand.



Becci Crowther



DC Fontana : “ Pentagram Man EP ”
DCTONE RECORDS 11.12

This EP follows a very classic sixties pop set and the band have changed their singer, dumped most of the horns and leapt on a few years to the acid years of the sixties.

New singer, Louise Turner, does a great job and the set works well. It took me a while to love Pentagram Man, making it an odd choice for lead track. It would not be out of place on a Jefferson Airplane album and the other four tracks (the fifth is a different vocal lead of the first) maintain a period flavour. DevilAngel (sic) is more like the previous album, a thumping pop song alongside a quietly recited “Isis, Estarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna” (all names of goddesses). What Would It Take? Is a gentle folky song till you listen to the lyrics, when it becomes quite an angry anti-war polemic. Scott Riley steps up to the mic for Satisfied, which is a nice piano-led blues rocker. Sighed DC is heavily acid-tinged, with sitar and mellotron alongside incantations and quite trippy.

All in all, it’s a fun recreation of 1967. Not sure why DC Fontana do what they do but they’re experts.



Ross McGibbon



Blitz Kids : “ Never Die EP ”
HASSLE RECORDS 3.12.12

Really rather wonderful power-pop harking back to the edge where punk met pub-rock in the late seventies. Load and rocking, full of thumping chords, aggressive drumming and guitar attack, there is a grasp of melodic direction that makes this heavy set accessible and sing-along.

The six songs here feature anthemic choruses and guitar lines that spiral and rise into hooks. There’s nothing startlingly new here but the combination of classic pop sensibility and a big rock sound makes for the sort of thing that makes arena crowds wave lighters and sing.

Huge!



Ross McGibbon



The Pet Goats : “ Cartoons EP ”
KONKORD OUT NOW

This is the debut EP from The Pet Goats. If I told you The Pet Goats hailed from New York I doubt you would be surprised. They encapsulate the NYC noiserock sound – at times Velvet Underground, at others The Strokes.

They are diametrically opposed musically wise compared to the last group I reviewed – quirky and cute they are not. Think dark and dirty NYC basement bars. Their lyrics express political themes. This is at once menacing yet darkly seductive. It is raw and edgy and will no doubt appeal to the cool kid in you.



Ross McGibbon



Velvet Star : “ All Or Nothing EP ”
DIGITAL RELEASE 29.10.12

The reason I chose to review this EP was pure geographical nepotism, they’re from Yorkshire! It also means that they should the sound follow regional stereotypes; it will have a no nonsense sound oozing with gritty realism and Velvet Star aren’t breaking any moulds here.

The first thing that hits you on the 2nd track ‘Crash And Burn’ (I had shuffle on so it came on first) is the hypnotic guitar riff that underpins the track. The vocals even remind me of early Mazza for a brief moment, if he came from East Yorkshire that is. When I get my laptop sorted and listen to the opening track ‘Bring It On’, it’s clear why it was chosen as the opener. It instantly kicks in with a high tempo of classic sound delivered with a modern edge. ‘Overrated’ opens as a serious homage to the Sex Pistols with it s high intensity attitude and adrenaline fuelled 2 minutes 55 seconds that doesn’t let up from start to finish. The final track is ‘Glad You’re Gone’ which has a really rough edge to the guitar sound that instantly appeals with its attitude, matched with a relentless rhythm section and some straight-talking lyrics and in my opinion, the band saved the best for last.

With four songs on the EP, Velvet Star have to delivery quickly and decisively if they’re going to get their message across and ‘All Or Nothing’ has achieved this; it’s a fine example of how rock music can and should be performed. Their continued development should see them on tour supporting established bands that may come to realise they have some serious competition to follow on stage.



Simon Mulholland



Taurus Trakker : “ A Rakket U Trust EP ”
GEMLIKE RECORDS 1.10.12

Huzzah!! 5 more tracks of scratchy Punk ‘n’ Roll from Mick Jones’ cousin Martin Muscatt and his band. The daft spelling of the title track I found quite endearing and it’s an enjoyable scuzzy romp.

On the second track ‘Wild Woman in a Small Town’ Muscatt’s curious, caricatured ‘mockney’ vocal affectation goes slightly too comedy for me, but ‘Long Gone’ makes up for that with some lovely guitar sweeps and some great acutely observed lyrics about finally getting over a break-up.

‘Nothin’ But Fire’ has a great, addictive melody and is probably the standout track on this short set. Final track ‘Security’ is a bit of a plodder if I’m being brutally honest and the EP would have been leaner and meaner without it.

If you like the idea of The Clash as fronted by someone sounding like Dan Treacy from the Television Personalities then this would be well worth a listen. But maybe go for the album released earlier in the year as reviewed in these pages:




Steve Claire



Melinda Ortner : “ Strangers EP ”
ZIGGY POPULAR MUSIC 17.9.12

Californian born Melinda Ortner has been based in LA for the last 5 years launching her music career. Her first single heartbeats featured on the American Pie: Book of Love soundtrack which launched her into the public eye.

This debut EP is dark and quirky. Her voice is rich and powerful without being overbearing. Electronic and acoustic guitars are scattered throughout used to full effect with bass and effect pedals that some rock outfits should take note of. This is an excellent debut – with all four tracks wonderfully produced. Sweet Little Lies is the standout track though – its chorus is a perfect piece of dark pop, with its catchy and refreshingly honest lyrics.

It’s always a pleasure reviewing a female singer songwriter who produces powerful and punchy tracks. Now I would like to hear more.



Becci Crowther



Liar Liar : “ He Said, She Said EP ”
SELF RELEASED 5.11.12

I always get a tad cagey when I see the PR blurb that describe the band that I am about to review as “melodic punksters”. Liar Liar are a four piece from Sheffield band and sound very much like any other band you could describe as “melodic punksters”.

If you like You Me At Six, or any music that sounds like it could be in the original American Pie movie then this is for you. There’s nothing wrong with this band or their work. They are just another generic pop punk outfit and unfortunately on this debut EP they haven’t shown their ability to stand out from the crowd. Maybe I am just too damn old to appreciate it though. What do I know eh?



Becci Crowther



7 Day Weekend : “ 7 Day Weekend ep ”
SELF RELEASED 17.9.12

Something nicely old school and homegrown about this EP. Five young lads from Warrington, they have a gift for the uplifting chorus atop speedy drum lines (nice one, John Handy). Riffage is tight and the band on point, while the production doesn’t have any annoying tricks, just a rock band playing in your local club. Some sounds refer to punk and post-punk classics – viz the Magazine-like opening to Mistakes.

The band don’t seem to be able to get more than thirty seconds into a song without throwing in the big hook and, in a single, that’s no bad thing at all. This is a sort-of re-release. The band’s first EP was acoustic and here it is again, fronted by the three original tracks in full electric noise, with another two new electric tracks. There’s no doubt that the electric versions show off the band’s strengths as a live proposition and radio-friendly hook monsters. The acoustic tracks highlight the songs over the sound but lie a little flat after the full band versions. I’d stick with the first five tracks of the rather generous eight track, thirty minute EP.




Alaska Campus : “ When We Were Young EP ”
SELF RELEASED 10.9.12

What can I tell you about this new outfit from deepest, darkest Hertfordshire? A quick shufty at their face-book pages reveals…well not a lot really. They’re four young surly looking lads who claim to be influenced by the likes of The Foals and Bombay Bicycle Club. Fair enough – let’s see how the music sounds.

This is referred to in the press release as a mini-album, but I would say that at only 5 tracks it’s more of an EP – kudos to them for getting it out there though, given that they have no label. First track ‘You, Me And The sun’ is fairly run of the mill indie-rock fodder – urgent, agitated riffs and Ryan Potter’s shouty vocals.

‘Roseanna’ is a bit less limited in scope/ambition – starting off with a quiet, nagging guitar line before exploding into huge cascades of crashing chords and anguished cries of love/loss.

‘Mon Reve’ puts me in mind of Maximo Park’s infectious bass twanging and handy way with a contagious rollicking melody. Lead track ‘The Story of Alaska Pt.1’ is an agonized quiet/loud drawl while final number ‘Control’ is a thumping three minutes of scorching, frenzied riffs.

It took me a few spins to appreciate these boys efforts – thinking it was pretty standard indie-rock fare at first, but I warmed to the fizzing melodies, and enthusiastic gusto in playing. They seem to be unsigned at the moment, but surely that will change before very long.




Zero to Hero : “ White Clouds and Gunfire EP ”
SELF RELEASED 15.10.12

‘Hi-tempo melodic rock crew’ (read into that “pop punksters”), White Clouds and Gunfire, hail from Peterborough and have recently received praise from the likes of Kerrang!, Soundscape, and Stencil Magazine. Now, I am going to caveat this review: People who are not fans of the likes of Fall Out Boy should stop reading now. You have been warned. You will probably not be a fan of these guys if that kind of music is not your bag.

Ok, so on a positive note, they are fresh and energetic – you know, that kind of energy you see in new bands who are trying to make you notice them, like an excitable puppy. The tracks are predictable and it is pretty hard not to make comparisons with those artists whose sound they emulate. I am no big Fall Out Boy or Paramore fan (ok, I DO like Paramore) but I found myself comparing WC&G to them, which isn’t fair. Their tracks are solid and well structured and the tracks are almost anthem like at times with catchy vocals combined with their energetic riffs and driving percussion and yet I found there to be something lacking. I think as these guys progress and start to formulate and develop their own sound then they could be quite successful. They already have the energy and drive.




Evokateur : “ Chime Hours EP ”
20 KLICKS 20.8.12

Chime Hours is the new EP from London electropop duo, Evokateur. They follow the standard electropop format of recent years with man on synths, woman on vocals (and yes, readers, I know there are acts out there that don’t follow this format, I am merely generalising, so forgive me!). That, however, is where comparisons to your average stereotypical boy/ girl electropop duo stop.

These guys are not clichéd chart pop, this is edgier. This is well produced with the electro beats are stern and sinister at times (exactly how beats should be), the synths driving the tracks and beautifully complimenting Sarah Villaraus’ vocals. White Horses is the stand out track for that very reason.

This is an excellent release and these guys are a duo we are sure to hear a lot more from.




Held By Horses : “ In History EP ”
SELF RELEASED 17.9.12

Held by Horses are a rising Essex female fronted five piece who have already created a name for themselves supporting the likes of Mystery Jets and Mallory Knox. Self-described as being here to make their mark with “sweeping vocals with hearty riffs and elephantine choruses”; they have given themselves a lot to live up to.

The EP itself, whilst not musically groundbreaking, is pretty solid. Lead singer Harriet Reynolds’ vocals are pleasing to the ear but largely lack the punch that their self description promised apart from on stand out track The Last Word – Renz Byrne’s vocals excellently complement Reynolds and showcases her talent.

On the whole this EP gives a taste of what could be. They have some tight riffs and catchy choruses but these aren’t as frequent as I would like. However, they are definitely developing their sound if you compare this to their self titled debut. These are ones to watch – give them another year and they have the potential to be pretty damn successful. But then I am biased – I do love a female led band!




Katey Brooks : “ Live NOW EP ”
LONG TALE RECORDINGS 6.12

Let me just start by saying that I probably don’t listen to this type of music enough. BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson has described her sound as “heartfelt English gospel” but it is more like heartfelt, melancholic, folked up soul. She has an incredibly rich and melodic voice that she used with ease – her style seems effortless – showcased on this EP throughout but especially on opening track ‘Save My Heart’. ‘The Man in My Head’ provides Brooks with the perfect platform to show off her nimble guitar picking and has an almost ska vibe to it in parts. ‘Deepest Love’ is beautifully orchestral and melancholic. Closing track ‘Live NOW’ is the most uptempo and the perfect end to this EP.

Brooks has produced an excellent EP – beautifully executed and produced. I should listen to more music like this. It is a pleasure to listen to.

kateybrooks.com

Becci Crowther



All We Are : “ We Hunt EP ”
PAYPER TIGER RECORDS 4.6.12

Part psychedelic, part folk, all brought together with three part vocal harmonies, this isn’t quite what I was expecting form Liverpool based trio All We Are. This is a brave EP – mixing sounds and musical techniques but to great effect. At times they sound like Mumford and Sons, at times more like Elbow with a bit of The XX thrown in for good measure. Either way, I don’t care who they remind me of. I like them. They are easy to listen to and captivated my ear from the start. These guys will be headlining festival tents before we know it. Or I will eat my hat.

www.facebook.com/thisisallweare

Becci Crowther



Bury The Hatchet : “ ...It Was Never Enough EP ”
OWN LABEL 23.7.12

Oh I do love a bit of metalcore!! This Kent band have mastered the art of drawing the listener in with slow and driving tempos that explode into a crescendo of guitar and drum frenzy! Amazing! I’ve not listened to something his heavy in a long time. Their throbbing sound almost forced my head to move in time… which would be good if I wasn’t on a crowded train at the time.

I am not even going to pretend to understand what the vocalists were saying. I don’t care. I’m here for the guitars and drums, and bloody good they are too!!

www.facebook.com/burythehatchett

Becci Crowther



Fly This For Me : “ Making Shadows EP ”
OWN LABEL 16.7.12

This is the debut EP from Guildford based “melody-punksters” Fly This For Me. A relatively new band, having formed and shaped their sound in 2011, they have spent the last year touring the UK garnering fans.

Their sound is quite generic. They have gritty guitars, harmonies scattered throughout and pounding drums. I can’t really criticise the tracks. They are earnest and well produced. You can feel the passion they have poured into the tracks. My only issue is that the generic nature of their sound meant that I didn’t even notice when they moved between tracks! They need to find an original edge or they run the risk of being lost in the crowd.

www.facebook.com/flythisforme

Becci Crowther



The Detours : “ Ignite EP ”
CONTRAFLOW RECORDS 12.3.12

Energetic guitars, catchy riffs, sing-along choruses – that pretty much sums up The Detours, a five piece alternate rock band from Glasgow. Opening track, ‘One Last Chance’ is frenetic. Guitars that make you tap your feet and nod your head with a chorus you won’t get out of your head. The rest of the tracks don’t disappoint either – ‘Ignite’ is heavier that their other offerings but is probably my favourite and ‘Free’ is another energetic track. This is a promising EP – ones to watch for the future.

soundcloud.com/wearethedetours

Becci Crowther



Decibels : “ The Lesser ”
SERIOUS TYPES 26.3.12

Decibels’ debut single, The Lesser, is a heady mix of indie electro lo-fi with garage rock guitars. Originally focused on remixing tracks for others, Decibels have now attracted attention for their own efforts having already appeared on BBC Radio One and a host of local BBC Introducing shows. This is an excellent debut single and makes you wonder why this is the first they have released themselves.

www.decibels.tv

Becci Crowther



Evokateur : “ Crows' Wedding ”
SELF-RELEASED 19.3.12

Crow’s Wedding is the debut EP from London duo, Evokateur. The name Crow’s Wedding conjures up gothic images and you would be forgiven for presuming that Evokateur would prodice dark and moody music. Instead this husband and wife team, Sarah and Hector Villaraus treat the listener to an elegant ensemble of electropop.

“Crows’ Wedding” is the first of a trilogy of EPs released in the coming months, showcasing their work and forming an album’s worth of material. Opening track, ‘Same As You’, is filled with synths and is equally melodic as it is haunting. ‘Wildflowers’ whilst largely melancholic has an upbeat tempo that drives the song. ‘Misery’ is brooding with a powerful beat but it is the final track ‘Undone’ is the strongest track on the EP. It is powerful and aggressive with an industrial like bass that resonates throughout.

This was an interesting EP – the duo definitely shows promise. Let’s see how they evolve in parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy.

www.evokateur.com

Becci Crowther



Severin : “ Everything Breaks EP ”
TIP TOP RECORDINGS 19.3.12

London based Danny Sanchez and Elizabeth Anne Martin, are the boy-girl duo known as Severin, providing the listener with a mix of down beat electro pop with a darker, seedier edge. The contrast of quirky pop with heavy basslines, scratching sounds and muted screams shouldn’t work but does – the experimental nature of this EP is what makes it stand out from the crowd.

It’s rich, it’s sassy and it’s menacing. Go and listen.

www.severin666.com

Becci Crowther



Liz Green : “ Bad Medicine ”
PLAY IT AGAIN SAM 12.3.12

Bad Medicine was my favourite song on Liz Green's debut album, 'O, Devotion'. It is the story of a man who is neglected by his fellow men, punished by them for his difference. It is suitably melancholic but matter of fact - very much like you would find in a Nick Cave song, but with Green's own personal jazz folk take. If you like this then I suggest you take a listen to her debut album. It's a gem.

www.lizgreenmusic.co.uk

Becci Crowther



Jenny Gillespie : “ Belita EP ”
NAROOMA 16.4.12

This is the third release from Gillespie and is a more stripped down affair than her previous efforts. Upon hearing Gillespie's cover of Sam Amidon's 'Saro' on YouTube, Shahzad Ismaily (who has previously worked with Lou Reed) contacted her to show his apprecition, and as such 'Belita' was created.

Amidon features on backup vocals on three of the tracks but Gillespie's stripped back style appears throughout. Her melodious and soft vocals are perfectly matched by her simple acoustic guitar playing. You can clearly see that Gillespie is heavily influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell but that is no bad thing. This is a thoroughly modern take on the folk genre style and together Gillespie and Ismaily have created an EP you will want to listen to again and again.

www.jennygillespie.com

Becci Crowther



Auction For The Promise Club : “ One EP ”
SELF RELEASED 24.2.12

Auction for the Promise Club are a pop rock three-piece who have recently garnered critical acclaim for their debut album. Now. I am always cynical when I read a statement like that in some PR blurb, but in this case I can actually see why they have attracted such acclaim.

Lead singer, Zoe White Chambers' soft and haunting vocals have the ability to sore with the crescendo of the power house chorus of opening track 'Under China' and adapt to the equally stonking second track 'Liquid', a quirkier, poppier track.

Ok, so I know I am generally biased when I hear female fronted indie rock outfits (they're my weakness) but I am also rather critical of them. I found it rather hard to be harsh about this EP. These guys have the ability to be soft and delicate but then build up to a flurry of hooks that force the listener to pay attention.

For a debut this is pretty impressive - it is tight, well produced and was a pleasure to listen to. Well done.

www.auctionforthepromiseclub.co.uk

Becci Crowther



Sport Of Kings : “ Logic House EP ”
SCILABS RECORDS 12.12.11

How best to describe Sport of Kings? Well they’re part The Shins with a horn section, electric wibbles courtesy of a moog synthesiser and layered vocals in a Beach Boys style. His concoction brings about the product of feel-good tunes that only music featuring a xylophone could hope to achieve.

“Free Jazz” is a bouncy, jolly affair that segues between three different tunes and time signatures. ”1964” salutes ‘all veterans of the DVD format wars’ and again jumps from one song into another, while maintaining the central ‘back in 1964’ motif. “Preface” would actually suit being at the beginning of this set of tracks, but its extended instrumental serves as another string to Logic House’s bow. The “There’s Some Histories”, the weakest of the set, but still enjoyable for the feel of the music alone.

This EP may only be five tracks (one of which is a pointless remix that sounds like the original), but the variety within each track makes it feel like you’re listening to an entire album. And it’s just so damn jolly! Excellent value for money, looking forward to the full album.

www.sportofkingsrock.com

Simon Middleyard



Dick Venom & The Terrortones : “ Rockin' Rollin' Vampire Man / Stickypants Trance ”
JAILHOUSE MORGUE RECORDS 27.2.12

Dick would really really REALLY like to be in The Cramps – this is practically his audition disc for Lux Interior’s job. He’s a vampire man, wears sunglasses at night and wears his leather trousers so much that they’re sticky. Yuk!

A classic rock and roll trick of hoisting yourself on your own self-belief and self-created legends, Dick and his Terrortones are somewhere between the concepts of Psychobilly and the sound of hard rock. It’s a grand sound but not as in-yer-face as Dick probably wants to be. I think he was aiming at garage but got rock with some muffling; a bit more aggro and this’d be a winner. We just don’t want to think about them live, waving those sticky trousers around……

www.dickvenom.com

Ross McGibbon



Wasted Sinners : “ Unleashed & Dangerous EP ”
Online 12.12.11

There is a significant amount of truth to the phrase ‘enjoy the simple things in life', a cool beer on a hot summers day (remember those?), the feel of an old leather jacket and no nonsense rock music played with attitude and gusto. This is exactly where Wasted Sinners come from, their EP ‘Unleashed and Dangerous’ is a no holds barred epitaph to everything that good about rock, take a large chunk of Crue, add the attitude of GnR and a liberal sprinkling of bluesy rock and you arrive at the Wasted Sinners sound.

Opening the EP, ‘Fakeness’ has a ‘looks could kill’ beat to it but with the bands own take and sound with the vocals really shining through. ‘One Night’ continues in the same vein, providing the listener with an insight into the bands influences increasing the tempo to pogo-ing proportions.

Slowing down to deliver ‘Questions’ showcases the bands ability to deliver gritty realism on a track oozing power and attitude and for me is the stand out track of the album. ‘I Want More’ delves into the trappings of being a musician and an insatiable thirst for more of the same and who can blame them. As the EP closes, ‘I’m Falling’ has an almost circumspect attitude to it but I get the feeling that the band couldn't sign off without one last blast and this is perfectly delivered in the form of ‘Drug and Angels’.

There is a refreshing aspect to the Wasted Sinners sound, you know where you stand. Even band names like Roxx, Dude Rock and Peter Sin leave the listener under no illusions as to what it to be expected. If I have a gripe it’s that the sound quality of the CD is poor but this could be down to my ears not recovering from a Thin Lizzy gig. And Wasted Sinners fit easily into the category as the Irish heroes is so much as they deliver music with passion and desire that should see then rise amongst their peers.

www.wastedsinners.com

Simon Mulholland



Skarlett Riot : “ Villain EP ”
Online 19.3.12

2012 is shaping up to be a cracking year, Spring already has 3 notable highpoints, Lizzy in York, 3 Doors Down in Manchester and Shinedown hitting Leeds. The expectation of the last gig is heightened by who Shinedown are taking on the road with them, Halestorm, a female fronted Philadelphia rock back that to my delight, I stumbled across last year.

So, to compare yourself to my newfound audible infatuation, is setting the bar almost unrealistically high but Scunthorpe’s Skarlett Riot get pretty darn close with Villain, a truly epic release.

With limited space and time to get your sound across, any EP release has to hit hard and fast and the opening track ‘Party Hard’ does exactly that, delivering a tight, punchy sound full of rock riffs and dynamic vocals. It’s clearly evident from this track and the band has honed their talents for the live stage and ‘Party Hard’ should get even the hardest crowd’s blood pumping.

‘Read My Lips’ is the closest-to-Halestorm track on the album and for the highlight of the EP, oozing attitude, aggression and power that marks this band out as having something special. The opening guitars rasps have an Offspring feel to it and a sound so tight that it proves this band mean business.

‘You’re The Enemy’ continues in the same vain but with a darker undertone in the lyrics and Villain completes the EP, the opening drum beat just screams for the volume to be cranked up, which leads into another gloriously dark noise that blows you away with its intensity.

My copy came with two extra tracks including a censored version of Read My Lips which seemed to have lost something in its radio edit, blanking out lyrics seemed to reduce the intensity but this is a very minor point when you consider how great the original was. The other bonus track is ‘Take It All’ and allows the guitars to take centre stage with a great opening and sublime solo.

I’m conscious about the repetition of comparisons of Skarlett Riot to Halestorm in this review but it’s for two good reasons, firstly you should always aim high in anything you do and Skarlett Riot have achieved this with Villain, which is a remarkable feat when you consider that this is just a taste of what is to come.

The second? Well you should always know where the competition is coming from, so Haley watch out, the stakes have just been raised, there is a new noise coming your way and it’s coming from Scunthorpe.

2012 has another highlight to add to the list in the form of Skarlett Riot.

www.reverbnation.com/skarlettriotuk

Simon Mulholland



Stay Okay! : “ Time To Grow EP ”
Online 16.1.12

This is the debut EP from Irish quartet, Stay Okay! Whilst this didn’t get me all hot under the collar, it does show some potential – things just need tightening. They sound like a less polished version of American emo luvvies, The Academy Is... . Now, you could argue that the market is saturated enough with such acts and, to be honest, I think it is. However, that is just me being an old stick in the mud and if the kids like it (which I suspect that they will), then who am I to argue. Let’s just hope they don’t apply their name to their music and merely remain ok.

www.facebook.com/stayokay

Becci Crowther



Witness The Fall : “ An End To The Darkness EP ”
Online 5.3.12

Originally formed in 2007, Witness the Fall were spawned from a small local music scene. They were apparently tired of bands who toed the line and therefore they formed “to create something extreme, uncompromising and brutally honest.” If that means loud, raw, massively metal and full of roaring vocals then this is a pretty accurate description. It’s powerful and energetic. I have no idea what they are “singing” most of the time but I can still nod (or bang) my head in appreciation. One for all you metalheads out there.

www.facebook.com/witnessthefall

Becci Crowther



Karl Phillips & The Midnight Ramblers : “ DANGEROUS EP ”
MEDICAL RECORDS 5.12.11

OOOOOH. I LIKE. This sounds like it should be part of the Kidulthood soundtrack. Now, I may not say this often enough but I like UK based grimey hip hop/ dubstep/ drum and bass and all such things that a 31 year old professional should not like. Sorry mum.

The opening track, 'Dangerous', has enough beat and bass to sink a ship. A-MA-ZING. The following tracks do not disappoint either. I want to hear more. A true sign that I like what I hear is when I recommend an artist to someone else. My boyfriend is a DJ so expect to hear this coming at you in Sarf London soon kids!

www.karlphillips.co.uk

Becci Crowther



The King Cheetah : “ MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE EP ”
CLEARCUT RECORDS/ WESTERN OUTPOST 5.12.11

It's rare a band get me nodding my head and tapping my feet from the off, but this LA based trio managed this easily. Opening title track, 'Museum of Tolerance' set the tone of this EP perfectly. It is raw, gritty and (is this the right word?!) dirty! Yep, that's right, it's downright dirty. Not in a sexy way, but in the way that proper rock music should be. '5th of Ten' is equally as dark. It is angry and forceful but in a positive way (if that is possible).

This trio hail originally from East London and the UK sound is prominent throughout - it is refreshing to actually hear a band based in LA not succumb to the stereotypical US notion of what 'rock' should sound like. Closing track 'Victoria in Reverse' is a far slower number, but equally as raw and is a fitting closing track fro this EP.

This band is the potential antidote to the influx of stylised music that emanates from the US. It won't be to everyone's taste - I reckon it will appeal more to the old skool rockers out there. Either way, I enjoyed it and would quite like to hear more please.
Like right now.

www.thekingcheetah.com

Becci Crowther



Ourfamous Dead : “ I AM HUMAN EP ”
Self released digitally 14.11.11

C’mon, guys, what a terrible name. Guaranteed to upset spell checkers, bamboozle Google and make your release hard to find.

This metallic quintet have been gigging round small venues in Leeds (The Well, Escobar) for a year since moving from West Cumbria. They have picked up a number of support slots and finally test the waters with a digital EP on iTunes, Amazon, etc. They’re a young band and their influences are obvious (think Enter Shikari) but the energy is real and potential is there in spades.

Opening track, Rate My Hate, has double-speed drumming and a pop-punk accessibility under the shouty exterior. The second track, Untitled, has a good old fashioned call and response structure that makes it exciting alongside some accelerando. Track four, Untitled Part Two, has nice rippling synths and a real pacey pop-punk vibe – all the effects and mannerisms of something much heavier, applied in the service of pop-punk tunes. It’s an effective and chart-friendly combination.

www.facebook.com/ourfamousdead

Ross McGibbon



Pinkunoizu : “ PEEP EP ”
FULL TIME HOBBY 7.11.11

Modern day psychedelicists, Pinknoizu, love lo-fi, pink noise (natch!), messing about in the studio and jamming. They take the results of studio jams and make loops or edit down to make trippy sonic mantras. Time Is Like A Melody cycles round and round, sounding like a quiet moment on The Grateful Dead’s Anthem Of The Sun or side five of The Clash’s Sandinista. The second track is more from the same pot and sits nicely with modern-day folktronica. Third track, Dairy Queen is over ten minutes long and drifts around between floating song, snatches of traditional melodies, shards of noise and buzzing, humming electronics in a long form that doesn’t even go near verse-chorus-verse-chorus. It’s a trippy journey that shows potential for an engaging album somewhere down the line.

www.fulltimehobby.co.uk

Ross McGibbon



City of Glass : “ THE DIVING BELL EP ”
UN-FAMOUS RECORDS 5.9.11

City of Glass live partially in retro; their sound is such that it requires classification in terms of ‘90s dance music as well as alongside their modern-day counterparts. So what we find are elements of euphoric dance and trance coupled with the pop-driven jaunty guitars and drums of Two Door Cinema Club and the like.

Despite being merely a four tracker, there are clear A- and B-sides to “The Diving Bell EP”. The first two songs are from the band’s forthcoming album, due out in early 2012, and sound more like finished products. The B-Sides, tracks three and four, are a little lacking and require a bit more work though.

“Sticks and Stones” offers a light dance beat underneath a guitar hook that instantly catches the attention. The vocals are a little ‘80s electro.

“Tourist” is a different beast altogether. With a thumping bassline, it segues into full-on synths before breaking down to simple vocals with charming lyrics, including the excellent line ‘I could feel it from a childhood story in my dreams.’

Effective B-Sides “Little Shadows” and “Control” are more musically experimental but show signs of City of Glass’s album being a strong, varied one.

A strong offering to whet the appetite, with two excellent album tracks promising great things for the band.

www.cityofglassmusic.com

Simon Middleyard



Beyond Dreams of Grandeur : “ BEYOND DREAMS OF GRANDEUR EP ”
UNSIGNED 12.9.11

Beyond Dreams of Grandeur’s eponymous debut EP has been described by some as “melodic hardcore”. Between you and me, that’s just a different way of saying emo / alt metal – a genre that the industry seems to be saturated with at the moment. Despite the generic sound, this isn’t a bad effort from this young band from Birmingham. There actually are some rather melodic moments – ‘A Palm Crossed With Silver’ and ‘The World Loves An Underdog’ - and the guitar work throughout is pretty tight, the bass and drums driving the tunes to a crescendo. It’s pretty hard to make a judgement on a new band when a showcase EP is released – they try and show a certain amount of diversity so it’s hard to fully imagine what their own style would be on a full length album. That said, they fit into a certain genre of music so I can’t see them ever diversifying fully or moving too far away from the angsty, emo sound so I can probably guess what future recordings would sound like.

One for the kids now Fightstar are no more.

www.myspace.com/beyonddreamsofgrandeur

Becci Crowther



Kong / Shield Your Eyes / Tank / Castrovalva : “ BREW SPLIT 10” ”
BREW RECORDS 18.7.11

There’s only going to be 300 of these, pressed on orange vinyl to burn your eyes. So run to your record shop now. Or just download it……

Kong are crazy and angry and their two-minute opener gets us in the mood. Sadly Shield Your Eyes’ Jessica is not a cover of the Allman Brothers classic, famed of Top Gear. Instead it is a splashy, messy song that has the endearing quality of sounding like it was recorded at home. Don’t take that as a bad thing – it is one of those rare records that sounds like it was recorded in a room, not an anonymous studio. It’s scruffy but endearing. Tank (typing their full name gets this page filtered out by too many net-nannies) are a Leeds legend and this – NWONWOBH (New Wave Of New Wave Of British Heavy?) is as fabulous as ever. Ever impulsive riffing is underpinned by the non-stop drumming. The noise they make as a duo is astonishing and the noise of the combo bass / standard string guitar makes them unique. There is no message here – just a riffing rip-it-up. Castrovalva are epoch making live and many turn up just in case they self-immolate or explode with energy. In Our Prime gives you an idea why.

Another sampler of the prime of the current heavy noise scene.

www.brewrecords.net

Ross McGibbon



Gentle Mystics : “ SPIRALLING BREEZE ”
EMERGING SPECIES 6.6.11

Cabaret-hip-hop-gypsy-swing-dub from the Gentle Mystics makes for a unique single. The voice is the thing that grabbed me – a proper cabaret characterisation – then the Eastern European folk tune. That’s before the snatch of hip-hop, swinging inflection and, finally, the dubbed up, horn-driven ending. Clocking in at 6 minutes long, Gentle Mystics have packed in an album worth of quality ideas.

“B-side”, Mushroom 30,000, isn’t the remix of internet meme Badger Badger Badger Mushroom but has the same maddened heightened reality. Insistent repetitive beats and trippy concepts add up to another strange experience.

I’m looking forward to hearing what they might do with an album-length of time to play with.

www.gentlemystics.com

Ross McGibbon



Rough Fields : “ YOU AS YOU ”
BOMB SHOP 8.8.11

If you mention Stockhausen in a press release you get my interest. I was immersed in a week of the German contrarian’s music at the annual unlikely-situated Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. So was James Birchall, the alter ego of Rough Fields, who studied composition there. He doesn’t sound, of course, at all like Stockhausen or any of the visiting composers but I can hear elements of modern composition like the ringing effect and electronic manipulation in the A-side. This is lo-fi but lo-fi that has been pummelled and twisted down from the clarity of the digital world. Voices, drums, walking bass, cymbals are mashed, squashed, pureed and pressed into this slab of interesting noise. Noise that would be better stretched and developed over 20 minutes rather than 5.

B-side, Abu Dhabi, is heavy enough on the bass to drive your neighbours potty whilst giving you a headache.

We liked his last single, Watery Fable, though we had no time to feature it. An interesting composer, crossing classical and alternative divides.

www.roughfields.org

Ross McGibbon



In Fear of Olive : “ ALL WE CAN DO IS WONDER EP ”
WIRE-SOUND 13.6.11

The problem when an artist from a more marginal genre makes a massive commercial breakthrough is that every record company exec starts throwing multi-million pound record contracts at anything vaguely similar sounding that they can find. Hence the current desperation to discover the next Mumford and Sons from the folk-rock field; whether that artist is actually any good or not seems to be an irrelevance.

You feel that South Yorkshire based In Fear of Olive are one of the many pawns in this music business battle for your bucks. Endorsed by none other than Richard Hawley they started out as a trio before the magnificently named multi-instrumentalist Arv Teeroovengadum completed the line-up last year.

The question is can they stand out from the multitude of bands like that will now be saturating the scene. Well - the four tracks on this EP offer a promising taster. Opener ‘I’m Sure They’ll Fall’ is a raucous jangle, and ‘Led Me Astray’ sounds remarkably like Mumford and Sons – the one they did acapella style at The Brit Awards annual shindig.

‘Peace of Mind’ is a jaunty number with some nice slide guitar work. The best track though is probably the final one – the brooding, intense ‘The Only Way is Down’. You feel that with the right backing and a slice of luck that they can manage to stand out from the crowd. Ironically the only thing that might now hold them back is some sort of backlash from the public, that unfairly just dismisses them as ‘Just another Mumford and Sons’ but let’s hope not.

www.infearofolive.co.uk

Steve Claire



Le Reno Amps : “ CONSTRUCTION EP ”
ARMELLODIE RECORDS 11.7.11

When I reviewed Le Reno Amps’ “Appetite” album back in April, I commended the band for making a record of differing tracks that stood out from one another, but questioned whether they were running short of inspiration in the later tracks, as the songs became a bit simple and lacked enthusiasm.

Well, they’ve obviously found a bit more to write about as, hot off the back of this album, they’ve released a six-track EP of new material as a companion. I’m not sure whether it’s necessary though…

Something else I noted when reviewing “Appetite” was that the band weren’t afraid of trying new sounds, which is very much what we experience here. Of the five full-grown tracks (penultimate track “When I’m 6/4” is essentially an interlude), none sound even remotely alike.

Lead track “God Loves A Trier”, for example, is a straight-forward modern punk offering in the style of Green Day. Its spiky, driving rhythm and accompanying vocals stand out as having more attitude than the album. Immediately following this is the contrasting “Had It Enough”, which sounds like it was lifted straight from Brendan Benson’s “Lapalco” album.

The tracks in the middle are yet again unremarkable, although “A Song About Loss” probably ranks third best on the EP for its infectious beat.

The best track of the EP honour is shared between first and last, as the beautiful acoustic “North & South” melts a small hole in my heart. Again, it’s totally different to its brothers, and this contrast makes it all the better.

Le Reno Amps have yet again proven they have the versatility to make great – and contrasting – songs, but we’re once again left with a 50/50 split between enjoyable and ignorable tracks.

www.lerenoamps.com

Simon Middleyard



The Beekeepers : “ QUEEN BEE ”
JALAPENO RECORDS 4.7.11

When I reviewed The Beekeepers’ “Apiculture” album last month, the track I picked as my standout was “Queen Bee” which, fortuitously, is the band’s next single (don’t you love how these things work out?!). And what better way to package a single from a dubstep/electro artist than to get it remixed – seven times?!

First, a glance back at the single itself. Featuring local rapper Mystro, the Queen in question is making things tricky for our leading man and making demands that he doesn’t agree with. So far, so The Streets. Backing this is a combination of dubstep and hip-hop that I find infectious and that can’t be played loud enough. So we have hot vocals + strong beats. What could we want to change?

Well, everything judging by these variations on the theme. Some of the remixes work better than others; the Dr Rubberfunk version is an indie/rock imagining, similar to what you would hear if somebody covered the song in Radio 1’s Live Lounge. As an alternative take, this is by far the best on this EP. The Neon Steve version, on the other hand, takes an age to get going and focuses solely on the central refrain, so it gets tired very quickly.

The Parker remix effectively takes the track to another level of dubstep, making it similar, but distinct, to the original and, in direct contrast, the Hint version takes the track back to 90s dance/rave very well indeed.

An excellent track with some effective reworkings.

www.myspace.com/thebeekeepersuk

Simon Middleyard



The Pigeon Detectives : “ DONE IN SECRET ”
DANCE TO THE RADIO 4.4.11

‘Done In Secret’ is the first release from the new album ‘Up, Guards And At ‘Em’ by The Pigeon Detective and their first release since 2008 and the extended break doesn’t seem to have done them any harm at all, returning with their signature commercial rock sound of easy on the ear riffs and distinct regional accented vocals.

‘Done In Secret’ is just about complete as it can be, uplifting backing track (that works on the instrumental version), Billy Bragg-style thought provoking lyrics and a repetitive chorus line makes this a return to form for this West Yorkshire five piece that should see a welcome return to the music scene.

www.thepigeondetectives.com

Simon Mulholland



XisForEyes : “ INSIDIOUS EXISTENTIALISM ”
ITUNES/AMAZON 25.4.11

Intense, brutal music seems to be on the rise, as the music industry becomes more fragmented opportunities for independent releases on the fringes on the musical genres can emerge, delivering a quality product with limited resources and exposure.

XisForEyes seem to have exploited this opportunity with the release of Insidious Existentialism, an EP that is aggressive as it is powerful for a band just starting out, the DeathCore tag is ideally suited to this release.

Insidious Existentialism is a five track offering at the extreme end of the scale and most would say that there is little musical ability on show but the appeal of this type of music is on the increase with more and more bands and styles emerging to satisfy the needs of a whole new generation of metal heads looking for a sound that emits an intensity like no other.

Ultimately XisForEyes is not for me so I asked a ‘Core-loving mate of mine what he thought that they weren’t in the same league as Whitechapel or Annotations of an Autopsy they had a decent sound and that they should really excel in the live environment.

Their sound reminded me of a local band that broke in my youth, ‘Acid Reign’ who brought us a sound that we could associate with and make our own and this is something that XisForEyes should aspire to and they should do very nicely indeed.

www.myspace.com/ukxisforeyes

Simon Mulholland



Flash Fiktion : “ CAPSULES OF SUN EP ”
SPLIT RECORDS 4.4.11

This three piece outfit describes their sound as “an eclectic mix... flamboyant melodies with Cuban beats dressed in electro look. Music that will make you jump up and down”. That pretty much sums it up to be honest. This four track EP opens with ‘Capsules of Sun’ an explosive synth filled track driven by Cuban beats. Harmonised throughout, this is the perfect track for summer. Second track ‘Mo Ping Pong’ is reminiscent of an Eels or a Beck track in parts (or is that just me?). Either way, it works. On Track 3, ‘Capsules of Sun’ gets remixed by Is Tropical, removing the Cuban beats. A remix of Flash Fiktion’s debut track ‘Leni’ is the closer to this EP. Totally different from the original – slower, bassier, dirtier. Flash Fiktion has an eclectic style that works for them. And I like it.

http://www.myspace.com/flashfiktion

Becci Crowther



Something Beginning with L : “ THE LISTED BUILDING EP ”
ARMELLODIE RECORDS 11.4.11

The press info that came with this EP described this trio as “maudlin”. I would definitely agree, and not in a positive way. Throughout this 4 track EP I was waiting for some momentum to kick in and for something, anything, to happen. There was no drive. No real passion. Yes, I know it is whimsical and quiet and chimey but there should be some passion! Yes, the vocals are ethereal and beautiful and melancholy but there is something missing. I can’t imagine getting excited about this band. I feel mean saying that about this band whilst they sing quietly and sweetly. It’s like kicking a puppy, but I can’t get excited about something that is lacking. Sorry Fido.

www.myspace.com/somethingbeginningwithl

Becci Crowther



HAYABUSA : “ Evil Is Not That Laid Back ”
MIDGE BITTEN RECORDS 24.1.2011

To me, a Hayabusa is a 1300cc two wheel noise machine produced in the land of the rising sun but musically, the reference isn’t too far from a good definition of the band that shares the name.

‘Evil Is Not That Laid Back’ has a very unique sound that is new to my ears, a real mixture of loud aggressive repetitive guitar noise with accompanying vocals that I can only compare to System Of a Down in its uniqueness. It’s a blast of aggressive, rhythmic sounding noise that uses both electronic and more traditional techniques to get the point across.

Originality is clearly present on the single from this trio of alternative noisesmiths and in doing something different that gives Hayabusa an edge that should put them in a good standing as they hit the road in 2001 in support of this release.

www.myspace.com/hayabusaband

Simon Mulholland



JOHNNY GET THE GUN : “ Never Far from What We Know ”
SELF-RELEASED 24.1.2011

Johnny Get the Gun are a quartet from Essex. Created in 2007, this band have had 3 years to formulate and cultivate their own sound – combining melodic vocals with driving guitars and occasional funky beats. Hooks and energy galore, this is a damn good EP!!

My little head immediately started bobbing upon hearing the first track ‘God As It Gets’. ‘Hills and Knives’ is riff laden with a Muse esque chorus. ‘Lead hearts’ is my favourite track. The funky bassline and powerladen vocals sucked me in. ‘In The Middle’ is poppier and bouncier, but still jam packed with guitars. Closing track ‘Take It’ showcases singer Wayne Lightowler’s vocals, opening with quieter guitars, enabling us to hear the depth and rich quality of his voice.

This is an impressive EP. Sure, there are elements that need finer tuning, but perfection comes with experience. This band have swagger. And I want to see more.

www.myspace.com/johnnygetthegun

Becci Crowther



ABOVE THE UNDERGROUND : “ The Fight We Won ”
SELF-RELEASED 24.1.2011

Opening track, ’Something for the Weekend’, began with synths, which given recent offerings that I have reviewed, filled me with dread at the thought of listening to the rest of the EP. Luckily, they were replaced relatively quickly with heavier guitars and drums so my fears were waylaid. Well, partially. On this track at least.

Above the Underground are Will Kirkman on vocals and guitar, Al Kirkman on guitar, Nick Barlow on bass, Joey Everson on keys, and Brandon Icely on drums. They formed in 2008, and had their debut EP out by the end of 2009 – this is their follow up.

First impressions of this EP is that the band would probably be rather good live, well, that is if they put the same amount of energy into their live shows as they have on this EP. It is feel good punky pop. Think Blink 182, The Academy is. Occasionally they throw in heavier riffs à la Funeral for a Friend styley or try and use basslines similar to acts such a Pendulum.

ATU have a generic sound, in that they have a tried and tested sound that will no doubt be popular with emo loving teens across the country. The EP didn’t thrill me, but nor did it leave me with a nasty taste in my mouth. The vocals are fine, the musicianship is fine, and the sound is fine. But that’s just it. I prefer music that makes me want to rave about it. Damn, I even like it when I hate something so much it makes me rant – at least I feel something. This just didn’t do it for me. Sorry. I would probably see them live though. Yeah shoot me, I am a hypocrite!!

www.myspace.com/abovetheundergroundmusic

Becci Crowther



JAPANESE VOYEURS : “ Milk Teeth ”
FICTION 29.11.2010

‘Milk Teeth’ is the latest release from Japanese Voyeurs’ debut album ‘Yolk’.
Angry – tick. Air of grunge nostalgia – tick.
Female vocalist – tick.
Powerhouse guitar riffs – tick.
All the things that usually endear me to a band, but I’m not 100% sure this time. That said, whilst this track isn’t perfect (at times it sounds like they are trying too hard to perfect a sound that should be coming naturally, which almost makes it rather contrived) the potential of this London based quintet screams at you. I actually preferred B side ‘Godzilla’ to ‘Milk Teeth’, simple yet heavy guitars and catchy rhythm. Whilst I wasn’t blown away by the single, I was intrigued and will reserve final judgement until their debut album is released early next year.

www.myspace.com/japanesevoyeurs

Becci Crowther



GORILLAZ FEATURING DALEY : “ Doncamatic ”
PARLOPHONE RECORDS 22.11.2010

‘Doncamatic’ is not the type of sing I would have expected Albarn and co. to have created. It’s a pop song – rather different from what people would normally associate with Gorillaz. Their latest collaborator, Daley, is a vocalist from Manchester who is fresh on the music scene.

The catchy, electronic beats are still there. Mad Daley’s androgynous yet soothing vocals drive the song on – though probably aren’t used to their full potential.

Whilst not a bad offering from the band, it didn’t excite me as previous works have. I was happy to listen to it, but it isn’t one of the tracks on the album that I would automatically flick to. If this was recorded by another group I would probably love it. Trouble is, I have come to expect more from Gorillaz. That said the fact that they’re still going strong and surprising people with their sound 12 years on from their creation, is a bloody achievement!!

gorillaz.com

Becci Crowther



YOUNG GUNS : “ Weight Of The World ”
LIVE FOREVER 01.11.2010

When I reviewed the debut album release from the Young Guns ‘All our Kings are Dead’, I wrongly assumed that the band were a more established act rather than debutants and ‘Weight of the world’, the 3rd single release of the album shows why.

The upbeat temp of the single provides the listener with 4 minutes 10 seconds of hypnotic rock noise, with all the hooks required to stand out in the new rock genre championed by the Likes of the Lost Prophets and Danko Jones, who Young Guns will be supporting in December.

The single has been tweaked slightly from the album version but there is no real differences and improves marginally on the excellent original.

Initially, I didn’t warm to the Young Guns when listening to their album but take ‘Weight Of The World’ in isolation and its strengths really stand out, maybe it’s time to revisit the bands full length offering as I clearly missed something first time round.

If the Kerrang-reading youf of today still buy singles, then this should definitely be on their Christmas shopping list.

www.myspace.com/youngguns

Simon Mulholland



THE LIAISON : “ Start From Scratch ”
SELF-RELEASED 17.01.2011

The five piece hail from Surrey and are Simon Harvey on vocals, Alex Coombes and Ben Avis on guitar and vocals, Josh Manley on bass and vocals and Joe Weldon on Drums. This debut EP was recorded with John Mitchell who has worked with the likes of Funeral for a Friend, Enter Shikari and You Me At Six. If Mitchell wanted to ensure the same sound as the acts he has worked with in the past, then he has definitely succeeded. The opening of ‘It’s So Clear’ could have come from Funeral for a Friend’s 2003 album, Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation. It has stomping guitars, laden with riffs and driven by a pounding drum bass. The vocals are soaring and harmonised. “Can We Still be Friends” is more of the same starting at a slower tempo, before crescendoing into the main track. Title track ‘Start From Scratch’ doesn’t start from scratch at all and has the same familiar feel as the other tracks. ‘Road Trip’ opens with some funky beats and I was hopeful that they had pulled something new out of the bag but, alas, no. That said, it was my favourite track.

Without having seen what The Liaison look like I reckon I can hazard a pretty god guess from just listening to this EP. I imagine they’re all reasonably attractive, with perfectly coiffed indie boy hair (styled to look like they have made no effort at all with it, obvs), with skate shoes (maybe Vans rather than Converse), jeans, t-shirts and probably a checked shirt or even a polo shirt thrown in for good measure. Oh, and maybe a beanie or some other form of hat too. And let’s not forget the festival wristbands. Go on, google them. Am I right? Thought so, and even if I am not, I bet they still look like they are dressed in some form of “indie” uniform. Anyway, my point is that The Liaison are your stereotypical emo band that will appeal to a very particular market (a pretty lucrative one at that, so don’t knock it). They use tried and tested formulas from the likes of Paramore and Funeral for a Friend, but never quite hit the spot for me. Maybe I am getting old.….

www.myspace.com/theliaisonuk

Becci Crowther



SYD MATTERS : “ Hi Life ”
BECAUSE MUSIC 29.11.2010

Matters are a Parisian 5 piece, fronted by Jonathan Morali. The track is wistful, melancholic, nostalgic, opening with simple piano chords backed by a faint drum beat. Morali’s voice then floats in to join the chords which have also been accompanied by a simple and repetitive melody. This is nothing new or exciting. Harmony soaked vocals, acoustic guitar based track, confusing lyrics with little meaning – all part of the how to guide to writing a folk based indie tune in the noughties. Trouble is, whilst this is not a bad effort, there are artists and bands who do it better – but hey, this is only a single and maybe the album (due for release in early 2011) will surprise me. I hope so.

www.sydmatters.com

Becci Crowther



THE BRUTE CHORUS : “ Could This Be Love? ”
TAPE RECORDS 19.04.10

Rockabilly?

We love The Brute Chorus and this single brings us rockabilly that lets them chant the words like a beat poem before the words start messing with the rhythm and beats are dropped to fit, while the bass burbles underneath. A swooning fall into the middle of the song only accentuates the return of the swing and thud.

Previously famous for pretentiousness, energetic stagecraft and self-belief, The Brute Chorus bring a sexual energy into the studio that steps it up a level. Following from their debut album, a live one (how’s that for swagger?), this gets the vibe by being recorded in a village hall. There’s a creepy edge, it being like one of those ‘boyfriend dying tragically’ songs that had a vogue in the sixties. In this case, a lad is dying in an ambulance, hallucinating he is rushing to his lass as his heart beats fast for other reasons than love.

A class act.

www.myspace.com/thebrutechorus

Ross McGibbon



CLUB SMITH : “ The Loss EP ”
ALL SORTED RECORDS 8.03.10

As vulnerable as The Maccabees, with the hooting choruses of The Automatic and big indie tunes, Club Smith are on a roll here. Declamatory vocals as dark as The Editors ride on lighter harmonies and songs build into gently smouldering heaps.

“You can never say this love was wrong”, they tell us in Courtyard and it’s really serious and really catchy, with a chorus figure that hooks you in, while the burping keys will keep the indie-clubbing crowd rocking back and forth. No Friend Of Mine has a stamping beat and ooo-ooo-ooo chorus and I can picture the front row at the gig getting squished as they pump the air and hoot along. There are aspects of every popular band of the last 5 years here, combined in a way that’s organic and makes me feel like I’ve known these songs since forever after a couple of listens.

The four songs here have a dark post-adolescent seriousness allied to hooks that scream ‘catchy’ and it’s a winning combo.

www.clubsmith.co.uk

Ross McGibbon



NEON CIRCUS : “ Future Disco ”
JACKET POCKET RECORDS 18.01.10

This new four track EP from Leicester electronic duo Neon Circus released on Jacket Pocket records (not jacket potato records as I had misread) treads the same path as the laconic yet danceable style of James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem. Lead track ‘Future Disco’ is a huge shiny floor filler, and is also included in two other remix guises - one of which sounds so much like LCD Soundsystem’s ‘On Repeat’ that it’s practically the same song. The other track ‘Carry The Weight’ is more of a blissed out groove, building through a few minutes of lascivious instrumental before some spoken word dirty talk adds to the sexual tension. This is a very promising release; which should appeal greatly to the indie-dance crossover market - apologies for sound like some sort of record company exec.

www.myspace.com/neoncircusmusic

Steve Claire



DETACHMENTS : “ Circles ”
THISISNOTANEXIT Out now

Is it conceivable that there are no original ways of making music left to explore? This band sound like numerous other bands around such as Editors and White Lies – who in turn sound like Interpol, who in turn were heavily influenced by Joy Division, where the original idea for this kind of doom-laden rock was first formulated some 30-odd years ago. And by the way, I do actually like this kind of stuff – but it is difficult to do with any semblance of originality. This is the band’s third single and lead track ‘Circles’ is a stabbing, jerky four minutes of icy post-punk misery, and cleverly titled back-up track ‘H.A.L.’ (or ‘Heard A Lie’) throbs along like a Cure b-side from 1982. So overall it’s kind of satisfactory but bound to induce a ‘heard it all before’ reaction.

www.myspace.com/detachments

Steve Claire



ISOLATED ATOMS : “ Tell Me What I Want ”
WEEKENDER RECORDS 01.02.10

As if to firmly ram the point home the review for this single could just read ‘as above’ as another bunch of Joy Division copyists launch their assault on our senses. The press blurb name-checks none other than Peter Hook as a fan. The two tracks on offer are fairly indistinguishable from each other, and provide some basic ‘Goth-rock by numbers’ – anxious nasally vocals, driving bass, jarring guitar slashes and lyrics about paranoia and negative emotions. If you’re happy just to hear the same thing over and over again then dig in. If however, you feel starved of inventive, original material or pop music with new vibrant ideas then your hunger is set to continue unabated.

www.myspace.com/isolatedatoms

Steve Claire



REVENGINE : “ Plan Your Escape EP ”
SELF RELEASED Out now

Once again, Scandinavia spits outs another band that makes you wonder what they put in the water over there to churn out a seamless endless supplier of competent musicians, I guess Finniish TV is nothing to shout about.

Revengine seem to be very schizophrenic when it comes to what genre they wish to fill as their sound moves freely between Rock and Metal. The EP starts with ‘Given It all’ complete with Maiden-esque air raid sirens with its roots rock sound and a touch of Mike Patton on the vocals.

This is followed by ‘Treason’ which takes on a far more aggressive note with its harder rhythm section and darker lyrics. Just as you are coming to terms with the sound the band has chosen, ‘Live the Moment’ and takes a completely different turn with an initial melodic feel and slower pace.

The range of influences continues on ‘Fear Me’ which it’s aggressive attitude, through the melodrama of ‘die for you’, finishing with an up tempo ‘Turn To Stone’.

Revengine are as tight and capable as many higher profile groups I’ve come across and the fact they are releasing quality of this EP without any backing or support of a label or producer only make this release even more impressive.

www.revengineband.com

Simon Mulholland



MAEVEN : “ Girl In Blue ”
LOCK JAW RECORDS Out now

It’s a very short and sweet single release this one, only one track on offer is ‘Girl in Blue’ and first listen it reminds me little of the Cure Track ‘Burn’ from The Crow only with a female twist, Maeven being an all female three piece.

It’s an upbeat track that takes its riffs and attitude from punk and is a good sign of things to come if other offerings are the same, a heady mix of female vocals, metal riffs and a whole lot of attitude.

A short and sweet release deserves a short and sweet review, it’s good, really good!

Job done on both counts.

Simon Mulholland



LE RENO AMPS : “ The Stand Off EP ”
DRIFT RECORDS 21.09.09

According to the press release accompanying this EP Scotland’s Le Reno Amps fuse an eclectic blend of Teenage Fanclub and Johnny Cash. Given that they are two of my favourite artists I listened with some expectation and no little trepidation.

There’s a contrasting style between the four tracks on this EP - first two are a bit of a guitar chugathon – slightly comedy-country riff-heavy stompers, with witty drawled lyrics. The last two tracks take a more laid back approach – simple, floaty acoustic melodies and gruff yet sweet vocal harmonies.

Although taken at face value this EP is good fun, ultimately they don’t have the great tunes to emulate the Fannies, or the level of gravitas that an artist like Johnny Cash can impart on an audience.

Steve Claire



THE SAW DOCTORS : “ She Loves Me EP ”
SHAMTOWN RECORDS

Another bouncy slice of Irish folk-pop from the happiest band in the world, standing somewhere between The Levellers, The Ramones and a travelling showband. Hard to disagree with the sentiment that “wouldn’t life be such a bore, if we really knew for sure”. Nothing remarkable, yet full of a natural goodheartedness, though subjected to some strange phasing effects in production. Somewhere, on the band’s eternal tour, an audience is waving their arms and singing along, pints held aloft as Davy and Leo sing…..

Some Hope – a tale of waiting for a call from a girlfriend veers a bit close to comedy, yet is made perfectly for live shows, where the band excel. A demo version of Lucky Boy rounds up the package – another punk-pop tinged bouncer. A video for a previous hit – About You Now is tagged on too.

Look for this band on tour and get down there. The band is good, whether you know the songs or not but the star is the audience – the best natured audience you’ll meet in this country, ready to party with no pretension or aggro.

Ross McGibbon



PAALMER : “ Old School ”
FM MANAGEMENT 28.9.09

This EP has hidden powers. How, you ask?

Well, when I got home from work my 7 year old daughter and friend were listening to some god awful pop compilation (Yes, I did buy it for her, pester power is remorseless) on a nasty little karaoke machine with feedback that could shatter fillings.

So I thought I’d shock them by giving them a taste of Old School, expecting the usual disdain that comes with the ‘Aw Dad’ but to my surprise they preceded to pogo and air guitar around the living room for the next 10 minutes, maybe there is salvation for today’s Youff.

The band in question are Paalmer, a no nonsense three chord, three minute track , French punk band and the EP’s title couldn’t be more suited. For an recording that doesn’t attempt to break any new ground, it remarkably refreshing and even when the lyrics on ‘Sleep With You’ lose something in translation, this just adds to the appeal.

The four tracks rattle though at a blistering pace and the whole disc is over in less than 10 minutes. With titles like ‘Punkrocker’, ‘I Believe’, the aforementioned ‘Sleep With You’ and the tribute ‘Ramones Fever’ it delivers nothing but endless frenetic attitude during its short existence.

It’s been a while since the Anarchists has been displayed on an album cover and Paalmer rightly deserve the honour in all its punk glory.

Simon Mulholland



CHEMICAL WIRE : “ Bees EP ”
TBA 28.9.09

Smoothly riding at the outset, this trio play power-pop that, unfortunately flips into harder riffs mere seconds in. They seem a bit unclear as to where their music fits, making it hard to settle into a riff. The press release drops hints that they’d like to be seen as co-travellers with At The Drive In and The Pixies but both those bands are / were more monomaniacal. Chemical Wire seem to flip between genres – which I’d often laud but here, they just sound like they’re doing it for effect and can’t settle.

The second track is more intense and fraught, sticking more to its guns and winning more attention. It switches between tight jerks and brief respites for a soaring chorus but leaving the whole wound up tight and full of restlessness. If they have more like that, they’ll be worth checking out when they tour the UK in spring.

Chemical Wire come from Portugal and their appeal lies not a million miles from Biffy Clyro. Their sleeve has to come in for special mention – it is like a piece of limited edition art and might well be made out of a real bit of a chest X-Ray. Just don’t ask how they got them……..

Ross McGibbon



DINOSAUR JR : “ Pieces ”
PIAS 21.9.09

Oh, yeah. Off the comeback album, Dinosaur Jr. are on a Neil Young trip this time, distorting the guitar and adding little two-note squeaks to the end of each line. That laconic alt.rock vocalese drifts behind, leaving the guitar attack as the main feature. A jittering solo will please the fans of air guitar, whilst the crunching effect of the whole will satisfy those with happy memories of the Dinos. Hey, copying Neil got Pearl Jam an album and some kudos.

Ross McGibbon



CHICKENHAWK : “ A. Or Not? ”
BREW RECORDS 9.9.09

For about 5 seconds this sounds like The Mars Volta. For about 5 seconds, that’s all. Then it is twenty times as loud and slightly dafter. Classic metal riffs are deployed to a deranged end, accompanying screams and drowned vocals with shards of fractured guitar lead poking out the top. It felt like I had dropped something heavy on my toe.

Produced by Jason Sanderson, who has worked with the mighty Rolo Tomassi, this is as close to prog as the aforementioned volume-monkeys; i.e. not very close, just very wigged and out and sometimes twiddly. Confusion is the wave of the future and noise is the sound of Leeds this year. Alongside Pulled Apart By Horse, Castrovalva, and the seminal Bilge Pump, Chickenhawk are forcing a new and bewildering path in the Leeds music scene.

Ross McGibbon