Single Reviews: April 2003


Ian McCulloch - Sliding (Cooking Vinyl)

A man who needs no introduction I'm sure, Echo and the Bunnymen's charismatic frontman returns with a new solo single which features special guest appearances from Coldplay's Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland.

T: Ian McCulloch stopped surprising me a long time ago. I now take it as read that his singles and albums are going to be great, and you know what? They always are. This is yet another beautifully worked single, relaxed, chilled out and quite capable of sending a shiver down your spine.

N: Not much left to say really. Return of the Mac. 8/10

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The Polyhonic Spree - Soldier Girl (Fierce Panda)

Sinking oil wells is not all they do to have fun over in Dallas, Texas as this latest release from the Polyphonic Spree makes clear. Psychedelia is what you'll find here in heaps, as a swirling guitar line sings beneath the vocal line..."I found my soldier girl, she's so far away. She makes my head spin around." Showing that you don't need to write a 'War and Peace' lyrical length to make effective listening.

This is a limited 12" release, featuring remixes from Death In Vegas (whose 'Scorpio Rising' was earlier given a radical reinterpretation by the group) and rising Hip- Hop star RJDJ2. This later remix combines 80's synth horn, with keyboards 'a-la' Jan Hammer, that I'm sure will make hardened observers sit up and listen.

The group are currently putting finishing touches to their second album, but in the meantime offer us this special release to fill a gap in their repertoire. Despite it's obvious lack in lyrical content, this possesses an infectious string that will ring throughout your head for many joyous moments to come. Whether it be those memorable lines, sang to a threadbare melody, or the stonking guitar laden arrangement, I'm not sure and quite frankly don't care. 8/10

Nick James

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Holden and Thompson - Nothing (Loaded)

This is a quality track and has been played by the likes of Sasha (need I say more) for the better part of a year. Finally signed to 'Loaded', it is set to be a big summer tune with a release date of the 28th April.
Quality production, great melody and tender vocals, a great progressive track with a nice vocal!!? It just grows on you from start to finish. 'Nothing' is a real brainstormer which most dance fans of any genre will find hard to get out of their heads.
I'm sure it will get a lot of airplay and will crossover well in to the mainstream. You will be hearing more of this track this year, so get it early before it's played to death and you don't like it anymore!!!!! 9/10
Nic Caesar



The Faint - Agenda Suicide (City Slang)

Having been massively praised for their unique blend of dance driven electronic music and full on rock, The Faint release their new single from the highly acclaimed "Danse Macabre" in April.

T: Is it just me or does this sound like a funked up version of Duran Duran's "Wild Boys"?

N: Might be just you mate, but it's a thought anyway. This contains an air of the sinister to me. But it was fun to watch Jo practise her air guitar routine - would you not agree?

T: Ah, the memories of the "Addicted To Love" video...

N: Steady on now, let's mark. 6/10



Corrigan - Sometimes I Think About (Bright Star Recordings)

Martin Corrigan, frontman of the band, was born on the side of a mountain in Boho, Co Fermanagh. Whether that gives him any special magic powers over our review panel remains to be seen...

T: The fact that this sounds like a garage rock version of Violent Femmes on the leading track does the single no harm at all in my eyes.

N: Spirit of the Blue Aeroplanes. Is that just getting boring because I always say that?

T: No, I can see your point there. And I've used the Violent Femmes comparison far too many times for my own liking as well! Still, I think this is is a great single.

N: Possessing crunching guitars and an urgency that suggests they've been late for their dental appointment one too many times. 8/10

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Gold Chains - Nada ([Pias] Recordings)
This track starts sooo well for me but fails to deliver on its potential.
It begins with a genius cinematic Bollywood intro. Dramatic stabbing synths and giant cymbal crashes create an electric atmosphere and demonstrate production skill and talent aligned with my all time favourite producer Dr Dre (e.g. 50 Cents' In da Club). However, the Bollywood riff is heard temporarily throughout and the track never really builds from then on. Again great lyrical content but not enough of the good stuff for me!!! 6/10
Nic Caesar



The Kills - Fried My Little Brains (Domino)

The first single to be taken from The Kills' well received debut album is a "scuzzed up, bluesy stomp" that lasts little over two minutes. How will it fare with the AD inquisition?

N: The spirit of Reef anyone? The earlier description hits the mark here, but I don't know what Fame Academy would have to say about his vocal phrasing.

T: I'm sure they'd hate it and I'm sure the Kills would be delighted about that. "Fried My Little Brains" begins as though it's going to be a cover of Stone Roses "Driving South" but then, as we said turns into a dirty little blues number that is short and bollock twisting, but certainly not sweet! 9/10

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Delays - Nearer Than Heaven (Rough Trade)

Classic pieces of guitar pop led by brothers Greg and Aaron Gilbert.

T: This band sounds more like the Cocteau Twins than the Cocteau Twins did.

N: Not quite what I would have expected to have come from Rough Trade, and I can't help recalling my parents' memories of the Mamas and Papas. And as we proceed through this journey, successive tracks do nothing to alter this opinion. Strangely enough though, I like it. 8/10



Inme - Neptune (Music For Nations)

Having made an impact on the UK top 20 with their debut album "Overgrown Eden", this Essex trio has been making noises in all the right places, selling out their tour dates and are rapidly staking their claim for the "next big thing". This is the fourth single to be taken from the album.

N: Rock's bastard children, awards intact and their souls long since sold, walk triumphant from the wake of in last issue's Atomicduster interview in this, another slice of guitar torturing neighbours wall pounding Ozzypop.

T: What can I say? Great lads, huge talent. Inme are Linkin Park with better tunes and less chips on their shoulders. 7/10

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The Star Spangles - Stay Away From Me (Capitol Records)

Following the release of the sold out limited edition single "Which Of The Two Of Us Is Gonna Burn This House Down?", The sharply dressed four piece from the wrong side of town return with a similarly punkified tune in April.

N: An attempt to emulate seventies punk pulled off admirably in this sub three minute wonder.

T: That's all you could possibly say about this record, although if the Star Spangles ever win an award for "most original act" I will eat my own faeces for two weeks solid. I might even eat a Pot Noodle too.

N: So that's why your breath smells.

T: You would never have known if you hadn't tried to snog me. 6/10



Funeral For A Friend - Four Ways To Scream Your Name (Infectious)

Their new single being released on 21st April, this Welsh band have rocketed to the attention of both media and public recently with a string of successful shows and had much acclaim from the likes of NME, Rocksound and Kerrang!

T: Ok, this is a bit of an oddity, as the emo bits are great and are exactly what they say they are, but then when subjected to the song parts that sound like White Zombie or someone I'm not so sure. In short, I both love this band and hate it, I guess it depends what mood I'm in.

N: An ep that has its highlights and its turkeys, but a little too diverse in presentation as my colleague points out. Yeah, when I love it, I'm really quite impresses, but when the speed guitar hits for no reason, it's really quite nasty.

T: But then again, it's an original mix, and you've got to respect a band who record a track called "She Drove Me To Daytime Television". 6/10

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Rocket Science - Run Like A Gun EP (Eat Sleep Records)

Ahead of their UK tour with the Vines in April and May, Rocket Science release this single as a limited edition on CD and heavyweight vinyl.

T: A feelgood release from another one of those modern punk bands that seem to be sweeping through the alternative music scene at the moment, often from Down under.

N: A perhaps over familiar riff accompanies the lead track, but that aside, the fun that these guys had in making this is plainly clear. Anyone who tears up a Hammond Organ to produce something wonderful gets my vote. Rocket From The Crypt anyone? 7/10

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Calexico - Quattro (City Slang)

Shifting over 100,000 copies of their recent album "Feast Of Wire" gives Joey Burns and John Convertino every reason to be as pleased as Punch. This is the first single to be taken from the album.

T: Feels like being freezing cold outside in the pissing rain, only to be covered by a waterproof blanket that has been given to you by a beautiful sea siren, but only on the condition that you visit her later in her underwater hotel room with a cheeky smile and a bottle of bubbly.

N: This is really quite special - take my word for it. It's all there. Hot pounding bass, brass section, accordion and bizarre side show fun all make this tremendous value for money. 9/10



Stephen Malkmus and the Ticks - Dark Wave (Domino)

The former Pavement frontman returns with a single from his second album, "Pig Lib".

T: Definitely reminiscent of both early Roxy Music and the Associates. What do you reckon?

N: There's not a bad word I'd hear said about this ep, and if it gets compared alongside the calibre of artists you've mentioned, we're onto a winner. 9/10



Client - Price Of Love (Toast Hawaii / Mute)

This is the debut single from the duo and will be released on CD and 12" vinyl.

T: Sounding a little like Ariel, vaguely like Saint Etienne and vocals similar to Miki from Lush, this unusual single is not quite what you'd expect. A dark dance single with PMT.

N: I just love this - Kraftwerk synthesizer section melded with an around-their-handbags girl vocal presentation. Quirky electronic pop that echoes the experimental vain that the Human League first achieved before they sold out to over production, but made a lot of money in the process. 8/10

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Shed Seven - Why Can't I Be You? (Taste)

Better get down the local record store quick on this one, as this single will be available for SEVEN DAYS ONLY as the band aim for their 15th consecutive top 40 hit.

T: Contrary to popular belief, this band never actually went shit. Certain quarters of the music media have spent several years since they made "A Maximum High" their album of the month trying to knock them back down again. Well, they failed, and Rick Witter and co have returned with a totally glorious slice of guitar pop, even if they DID nick the title from the Cure. Funny enough they stole a title from Rick Astley a while back ("Cry For Help"), so I'll be interested to see when they release a single called "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old oak Tree".

N: Your comment there is well observed. I picked up this latest release and even before I'd taken my first listen it left a bad taste. Why? Probably the press bombardment that this band have endured had something to do with it. But why this should even be the case with such well crafted songs is something of an enigma. 9/10

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The Mendoza Line - It'll Be The Same Without You
(Cooking Vinyl)

Taken from the band's critically acclaimed fourth album "Lost In revelry", this single is backed with two new tracks, "The Big Letdown" and "Reservations".

T: I've always hated people who put a CD on purely as "background music", as to me if you are going to do that you may as well not listen to the bloody thing at all. However, to totally contradict what I've just said, this strikes me as being background music. Having said that, the bits that sound like Teenage fanclub are worth turning up on full.

N: Like shouting in space, this just gets lost. Come on, excite me.

T: Kind of difficult. It's pleasant enough, but ultimately, about as exciting as a Northwich Victoria Dinner Ladies' reserve match. 5/10

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The Zutons - Creepin' an' a Crawlin' (Deltasonic)

T: I'm not sure exactly what it is about this single but something draws me into it and endears me to it enormously. Perhaps it's the song's simplicity itself that I am marvelling at, or maybe it's just the refreshingly stripped down production but, whatever it is, it's great.

N: I can tell this may be one of those you're either going to love or hate, or perhaps grow to love. It's certainly not an infection, but I can see that it's got its claws in you. Maybe, accept that it's quirky, wrap yourself in its company and submit. I'm drawn on this one. 9/10

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Serafin - Things Fall Apart (Taste)

Serafin's debut album, produced by Dave sardy (Marilyn Manson, Supergrass, Dandy Warhols) is due for release this summer and this will be the first release from it in early May.

T: In a similar vain to Wilt, Serafin know how to grab your attention, keep it, and give you a good soaping down at the same time. A most enjoyable guitar groove, impressive harmonies and top tune.

N: Another vocalist who's received Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits for Christmas. He sings somewhere close to his nasal cavity, but putdowns aside, there is something here that I just can't ignore. It's not your usual guitar driven teen angst. I'm just looking forward to that soaping down you mentioned. I'm free next Thursday...

T: Just thought I'd point out that even if you don't like the main track, the second one, "Andy Warhol" will leave you gobsmacked. It's a stunner and should have been the main track. I would have given it 10 if it had been. 8/10

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Whole Sky Monitor - We Grow Up EP (Firebomb Radio)

This band write songs with such diverse subject matter as "Who are God's favourite race?", killing those closest to you while you're happy and in love, and mild tripping on a deserted beach somewhere.

T: I'll be honest, I can see this one becoming a favourite given 15 or 20 more plays, but doing this review now, as a one-off and the first time I've heard it, I'm afraid it fails to deliver. It does sound a little like one of the Cure's most downbeat songs at times though.

N: Now this is where our opinion will have to differ. For me, this is Thom Yorke's weirdest day, fuelled by Prozac. Its lyrics and music are simply marvellous. Not just an isolated track. It maintains its pace, and keeps me enthralled.

T: Well, that may be the case given a few more spins, but it hasn't oiled my loins too much yet.

N: Great name too. Where they're going with that one I'm not quite sure. 8/10

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The Grim Northern Social - Honey (One Little Indian)

Nominated for Best Unsigned Band at In The City, one critic has described The Grim Northern Social as "the bastard sons of working class heroes". This single comes out in early May.

T: More like a musical orgy between Cast, The Real People and Northern Uproar. But somehow still hugely likeable.

N: Once again, I'm not going to be backwards in coming forward. The bastard sons of who, I don't care. This really is good. Great name, great songs and melodies that just melt. 10/10

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Simian - La Breeze (Source)

T: I'm sure this is a fairly catchy indie pop single really, but does it seem a little weedy to you?

N: I wouldn't necessarily use "weedy", but "strange" does spring to mind. Not the most immediate or powerful tune, and I can't say it has enough to make a big splash in my mind. 4/10

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Fallacy - Big N Bashy (Virgin)

Featuring Tubby T and remixed by DJ Die.

T: I like hip hop, and there are some great rap records around with some incredible stimulating lyrics. This, unfortunately is not one of them. I believe that good lyrics are the key to a classic rap or hip hop tune, as in Public Enemy, Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg etc. Shouting "Yo" and going on about how great you are doesn't do it for me, sadly.

N: This is horrible. Nothing goes together, where is the melody at? Its latino rhythm just doesn't meld with East Side rap. You're right, leave it to the boys who do this best. I don't think this is "growing" anywhere. 1/10

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Caesars - Jerk It Out (Virgin)

T: Now this is more like it - a great, stomping tune. I'll forgive the fact that the verses sound like Duran Duran's "Girls On Film" played by Bad Manners and backed by Inspiral Carpets. It's just a whole lotta fun and the band are clearly ones to watch in the future.

N: I can't disagree. I do like this, it's not gonna change the world - it's not even as good as Boon and co, but I can see this used in a film, or open top car heading South. Brighton Beach is calling.

T: And you'd know all about that wouldn't you?

N: Well I've been there if that's what you mean. When a burgeoning indie scene was hatching and Bobby Gillespie washed his pants at the launderette. 8/10

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Air - Baricco City Reading (Source)

N: Is this living up to your estimation of their crowning glory, adventures in a lunar landsca? Or maybe just an indulgent romp?

T: Well, "Moon Safari" would be in my all time Top Ten of fantastic albums, but this...well, this is a bit like getting completely bladdered and then waking to find Olly Reed and Gerard Depardieu sitting at the end of your bed discussing who's wearing the biggest pants or something.

N: I think this was hatched somewhere close to that of the Beatles "#9". 4/10

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Kos - Sperstarr Pt.Zero (Virgin)

N: Now just to show we're not completely unaware of music from difference genres, this is rap put to the slickest of jazz groove that works. Every element combines so well, the artist should indeed pat himself on the back.

T: And the lyrics crucially are pretty good too. An original effort that cannot be overlooked and is entitled to run a big race today.

N: Ok, care and thought were used by the artist to put this together. We both agree on the "original". Something a little different in a familiar suit.

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The Unisex - (Take Me Higher)

The first single from the six piece Swedish outfit...

N: Rounding off this month, a fresh, light and airy pop song. A fair line up of six wannabes fill their sound to bursting. Like using my Radox at the foot of Niagara Falls.

T: What? Oh I'm sorry I was miles away there for a minute. I think the words "Unisex" and "Swedish" inevitably bring the word "sauna" to the forefront of your mind and various nubile young things eager to...oh hang on this is supposed to be a record review isn't it? Not the latest installment of my admissions to my psychiatrist. Hmm, ok then to the music, and all I can say is that The Unisex sound like a Swedish Travis. Hang on a minute, Unisex...Swedish....Saunas...aaahh...

N: I think we'd better give the guys the benefit of a mark before you get carried away.

T: Aah. fancy a cigarette? 7/10

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