Single Reviews: April 2006

 

Dirty Pretty Things - Bang Bang You're Dead (Vertigo) 24/04/2006

Carl Barat releases his first post-Libertines single...

T: I don't think there's any doubt where the musical responsibilities of The Libertines lay when you listen to this single, for it sounds pretty much exactly like them. I would suggest that the current score is Barat 1 Doherty 0, and I would expect this catchy number to make quite a dent in the top 40.

N: Whereas The Libertines were Pete Doherty, as he so often reminded us, Dirty Pretty Things has reclaimed these artists' position as a band, and a pretty good one at that. I wonder whether there's a darker meaning in these lyrics. Fucking great! 9/10

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King Biscuit Time - Kwangchow (No Style) 24/04/2006

T: Funny you mentioned Beck on our review of Tunng this month, because to me, this sounds very much like it could have featured on "Mutations". Second track "Tears Dry" reminds me of a narcotically floored Paul Revere and the Raiders. Very late sixties and very impressive.

N: The first thing I wanted to do on playing this single was to play it loud, and play it loud I did. It's reassuring that post-Beta Band, Steve Mason is still on form. 8/10

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Adam Kesher - Where's My Place (Cherie Machine) 24/04/2006

More than just known for its fine wine and cheese board, Bordeaux can now claim to be the place the creative friendship of brothers Gaëtan and Julien formed what we now hear as Adam Kesher. It is said that torn between influences of Joy Division, The Cure and Gang Of Four, to recent lights such as At The Drive In and LCD Soundsystem the two recorded their demo that awakened the senses of the underground milieu.

Well that was 2002 and whilst this duo could be found treading creative water, it wasn't until two years later, on inviting their big brothers on board did their real identity realise itself. With this they set about tearing the house down and with the help of Tony Lash (Dandy Wahols, Elliott Smith et-al) began to grasp the power within. But what did the AD team think?

N: I don't know about you, but I see David Byrne in this artist. Maybe the single's artwork had something to do with this, but the slightly kooky musical production confirms it for me.

T: I'd already decided, before you even told me that, that this was Roxy Music as produced by David Byrne and engineered by the Scissor Sisters. Although I do actually quite like this, it sounds a tad too cluttered to me. There's nothing wrong with it, but it just seems to be trying a little too hard. 7/10

Join the band and sample their wares at their very own myspace link.

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The Bright Space - She Goes (Disco Impact) 24/04/2006

Having earned the support and respect of Radio One's Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq, how will their sound transpose itself the record buying/downloading public?

N: When this single kicked in, I couldn't help finding a likeness to Leicester's Dizzy Valise. I liked its delicate guitars and riding pace, with vocals that were certainly of a darker indie from fifteen years past. Not content with writing a strong a-side, the band had to go and give us another strong track in the form of "Suffocated By Sound". This band certainly deserves to get noticed by a wider audience.

T: I'm going to disappoint you by adding nothing. However I will also please you by admitting that I agree with you entirely. Just brilliant. 9/10

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Tunng - Woodcat (Full Time Hobby) 24/04/2006

Tunng make "a new kind of British folk music" apparently, but is it any good, that's the question?

T: I'm quite intrigued to know what you think of this, because I actually think it's genius.Granted, the last folk band that included the words "a lovely time" in their single was Fiddlers Dram with "Day Trip to Bangor", and that is quite a worrying template, but it comes as some relief that Tunng actually make music that soothes and inspires in equal measure. Sam Genders' Northern vocal style helps and the whole thing really is charming.

N: I found quite a lot of what Beck was doing ten years ago in this sound. This folky trip is actually quite compelling and certainly worth checking out. 9/10

Join the band and sample their wares at their very own myspace link.

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Arctic Monkeys - Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys e.p. (Domino) 24/04/2006

Yeah right. Like you need an introduction for THIS band...

T: Has it started yet, the inevitable backlash? Even that's become a cliche in itself now hasn't it, "The Inevitable Backlash". Anyway, whether it HAS started or not, it won't be emanating like a rotten egg from MY posterior I can assure you. I STILL think their debut album is fantastic and I think the tracks on the latest ep have a heck of a lot to offer. Maybe it's because I've always been extremely fond of genuine, clever and endearing lyrics, and Arctic Monkeys certainly possess that gift by the bucketload. My personal fave on here - and you have to give credit to a band who, instead of milking their album dry for singles to make an extra buck, choose to back their third single with four brand new quality tunes - is the title track "Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?" - I for one hope they are around for a very long time to come.

N: Nuff said really, I think. One of 2006's most creative findings, Arctic Monkeys display an indifference that is certainly misleading, and are most of all, endearing. 8/10

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Richard Ashcroft - Music Is Power (Parlophone) 17/04/2006

Seems to be a big year for the ex-Verve man, as he's had a smash hit album, is lined up for both the Isle of Wight Festival and T In The Park, and is also poised to play his biggest ever solo show at Manchester Old Trafforf Cricket Ground.

T: Thank goodness for that. I was rather disappointed that Richard's last single, "Break the Night With Colour", sounded exactly Robbie Williams, and was concerned that he may have been heading towards that "local radio" curse where the same track is played every 10 minutes or so until you want to smash the radio in. Happily, this is a far more chilled out summer tune without the same level of commerciality and appeals very nicely indeed.

N: Richard Ashcroft is one singer/songwriter whose consistency seems always assured. "Music Is Power" is another of these where the production and composition seem very well thought out. I particularly liked the artist's use of orchestral elements within the song, although on the down side, the fade at the end of the number seems a little ill prepared. 7/10

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Fall Out Boy - Dance Dance (Mercury Records) 17/04/2006

A top ten single, a multi-platinum album and a rapidly increasing fanbase. Fall Out Boy, it seems, have the world at their feet.

T: I actually thought this band had something different about them at the time of "Sugar, We're Goin' Down", but now I think you can safely file them next to Blink 182, Sum 41, Simple Plan and a billion other bands. It's powerful, but ultimately it's cheese. A bit like Stilton. Not entirely like it though, because, well, I'd BUY Stilton...

N: I was desperately trying to find something that apparently wasn't there. That's a relief. Pass the cheeseboard.

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The Playmates - Smash Hits/Jackie Wright (Wrath Records) re/le/ased

Formed from the ashes of former sleaze punks Les Flames!, The Playmates have gigged relentlessly up and down the country supporting the likes of The Paddingtons, Hot Hot Heat and Towers of London and were recently aired in an episode of "The Bill". Rock 'n' Roll eh?

T: Marvellous intro and "Smash Hits" is definitely a catchy tune, but do you get the impression that these guys are trying way too hard to be Stiff Litttle Fingers? Still infinitely listenable though, I'll give them that, even if they have yet to come across the word "depth" in their personal dictionaries.

N: With glorious fuzz kicking off this number, it soon becomes clear that this is not your average smash hit. With a collective of former former band mmembers from some of alternative underground's most obscure, yet creative, rebel rousers. Although my colleague noted an apparent leaning toward, I like the sheer indifference of this particular smash hit. 8/10

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Orson - Bright Idea (Mercury Records) re/le/ased

Fresh from their number one smash, "No Tomorrow" - incidentally still riding high in the charts at the time of writing - Orson return to see whether they convince us that they have enough stamina to last the distance.

T: Rather unexpected, to be honest. After the last single sounded to my ears like a cross between Scissor Sisters and Rainbow, this time around it's more like Thin Lizzy going yachting with Joe Jackson. It sounds like they're having a good time anyway. It's not as instant as "No Tomorrow" but I actually prefer it.

N: So with the ghost of Phil Lynott performing vocal duties here, Orson have written a pretty good radio friendly number. Looking forward to sunnier days now, this could quite easily become the soundtrack to my summer. 7/10

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Bosola - RE:EP (Gecekondu) 15/03/2006

Apparently this New York band is intensely interested in jamming. No shit...

T: It definitely sounds as though I've invited a bunch of mates over, got bevvied up and listened to them drunkenly tell me that they can play the drums, guitar or whatever instrument they aspire to. Being equally sozzled, I have gone to get all these instruments from the loft and we've all sat around making this almighty din that sounds like some of the greatest music ever made at the time of recording. Then in the morning you get up and play it back, with a backing track of heavy groans and intense vomiting. It actually sounds like a very hungover Led Zeppelin at times.

N: Remembering that as an ep, this may not adhere to the strict code of A-side/B-side, this certainly does not. Perhaps best described as a freeform Sub-Pop jam, this certainly refuses to conform in any way. At all. That said, although I can quite understand why others may consider this a complete mess, I have to say I quite like the lack of conformity. Numbers that mix styles, timing and lyrics that bear no meaning - it's actually quite appealing. 6/10

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The Automatic - Raoul (B-Unique) 27/03/2006

Both Radio One and XFM have got completely behind this band recently and with good reason.

T: One of the better Welsh bands doing the rounds these days. This track's very likeable, but it doesn't quite have the same urgency as previous single "Recover" did. It's immensely catchy, I'll grant you that, and it continues to borrow the bass driven style of Gang of Four on the verses, but this time around the single is more like a pleasant cup of tea than a snakebite.

N: So not a particularly sweet one then. I'd have to agree that although alright, I found it difficult to build up any great enthusiasm. 6/10

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Clayhill - Halfway Across (Eat Sleep) 17/04/2006

Fresh from touring the country with Beth Orton, this is a taster for the band's forthcoming new album.

N: This latest shot from Clayhill proves its worth in a hazy alternative to the more tested alt country acts currently selling their wares. Perhaps a recent tour with Beth Orton has more than paid dividends.

T: Why have you got a girls' doll next to you? It's actually quite terrifying. I would never sleep at night if that was in the room with me. Thankfully Clayhill are here to calm my nerves with a soothing number that is as sunny as it is memorable.

N: Has the doctor reduced your medication then?

T: It's THERE! (points)

N: Where?

T: There on the stair (well, radiator doesn't quite rhyme does it?)

N: Oh, that one. That's not mine (sheepishly). 8/10

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Shut Your Eyes and You'll Burst Into Flames - Signal Noise (Dance to the Radio) 10/04/2006

T: Reminds me a little of Tom Vek's "I Ain't Saying My Goodbyes" both structurally and melodically but rather more gutsy and anthemic. The other track here (as part of a double a-side) is exciting and noisy and sounds like a great soundtrack to throwing dinner plates at the wall after an argument with the missus.

N: A jumpy alternative to the indie melodies of fifteen years previous, proving their heritage once and for all on the flipside, "Kingdom of Goats", in what appears to be an unstructured mess.

T: But don't you think it's GOOD to hear bands that aren't confined to the walls of structuring?

N: Most certainly. 8/10

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The Randoms - Two Stripe Trainers/Taking Your Best Mate's Girl to the Pictures (November) 10/04/2006

Released on the band's own label, this is the Wigan based five piece's debut single.

N: This band may not be poised to set the world alight, but it does contain that certain something that may just see their way. As far as indie rock goes, I'm pleasantly impressed.

T: Yeah there IS something appealing about it; it's just difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is. The guitars stroke your ears rather than grab them, and while they sound like several other bands, I can't even think of one reference to throw at you, and that must be to their credit.

N: I was thinking of Glasgow's Gun, but with the safety catch on.

T: (applauds) 7/10

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Leya - In Our Hands (Rubyworks) 03/04/2006

This band has recently been voted "No.1 Most Promising Act for 2006" in the Hot Press magazine Readers' Poll. Does that mean we're going to be dealing with a torrent of abuse from those readers after they see our review?

T: Starsailor covering U2 but with less overblown production. Or should that be U2 covering Starsailor with double the strings? I guess if these guys had come out 6 years ago we'd all be raving about them, but as it is, we've been bombarded with this kind of stuff since then and now it all sounds rather generic. They're good at what they do but it's not setting my arse on fire.

N: Having heard the band's album already, I wouldn't necessarily agree that this is the strongest track, but perhaps it's because this is the most publicly friendly it has. Too slow and too sappy for my liking. Much of what's already been said. 5/10

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Tina Dico – Losing (Finest Gramophone) 10/04/2006

First things first, and this is completely irrelevant to the music, Tina Dico must be one of the sexiest women I have ever seen. Something about that reddish blonde hair and sultry, sulky look excites me in a big way.

Ok, I’ll stop being a perv now and get on with the review I suppose – it’s not normally the kind of thing I’d listen to, to be fair, but for what it is, an “emotional journey, with themes of heartbreak and love leading the way” according to Billboard, it’s certainly a lot more palatable than say, the warbling sealion.

Did I mention that she’s fit? Oh. 6/10

Tone E

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Brakes – All Night Disco Party (Rough Trade) 03/04/2006

Hmm. A re-mixed version of my least favourite track from my ABSOLUTE favourite album of 2005. Having said that, it’s only my least favourite track because the other tracks on “Give Blood” are the epitome of perfection. The fact that this one is still ALMOST perfect should give you some idea of just how highly we rate this band.

And hang on a moment, this Graham Sutton remix beefs the single up so much that it actually DOES reach perfection. If you don’t have this, and the aforementioned album, blaring at high volumes at regular intervals, I’m going to come round there, squeeze your nose and pull your pants down until you do.

Too brilliant for mere words. 10/10

Tone E

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Mary Jane - What I Came Here For (TMP/Chocolste Fireguard) 03/04/2006

T: As it says in the accompanying blurb that this female punk trio's debut single was produced by Killing Joke's guitarist Geordie Walker, I was expecting great things here but was left feeling ultimately disappointed. The whole shenaningan sounds like Avril Lavigne fronting Sum 41 and trying way too hard to convince us of her "punk" credibilty. You've heard this a billion times before and it's been done better by practically everybody else.

N: What has been said basically rounds it up. Dreadful. There's not even a spark there. This is just horrible. 1/10

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The Crimea – White Russian Galaxy (Warner Bros) 03/04/2006

You wait hours for a bus and then…

Following on from what I told you about the Brakes album, this single is actually my FAVOURITE track from my SECOND favourite album of 2005! I’ll say this for 2005 – it was a shitty year for me personally, but musically it was a treasure trove of delights, month after month.

According to frontman Davey MacManus, “I was trying to write about the effects of alcohol on the psyche of young women. When I worked in the London parks, there would be twelve year old girls drunk in the toilets at two in the afternoon on a school day”. This explains the song’s opening lyric: “Straight out of high school and into the jungle, searching for Tarzan, who might be dad”.

Lyrically this is a magical ride – “You talk like a fish in nonsensical burbles” is a particularly pleasing line – and musically is as enchanting a tune as you could possibly wish for. Buy it. Buy it now. I have no choice but to give another ten! 10/10

Tone E

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Belle & Sebastian – The Blues Are Still Blue (Rough Trade) 03/04/2006

It is perhaps a little harsh on B&S that I am reviewing their new single after ones from the stupendously brilliant Brakes and the absolutely compelling The Crimea. This is also a great, great single, with more than a touch of T.Rex about it, and is one of the highlights of their excellent album “The Life Pursuit” (another thing Nick and I disagree about this month, it seems!).

One thing you really have to do with Belle & Sebastian is pay great attention to the lyrical content and once again, this is vibrant with colourful imagery and clever wordplay. The single contains three other tracks, notably a restrained – and rather appealing – version of the traditional “Whiskey in the Jar”. All makes for an incredibly pleasing listen that perhaps would have gotten a higher mark on a different month! 8/10

Tone E

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The Pigeon Detectives – I’m Not Sorry (Dance to the Radio) 20/03/2006

I must admit, when this first met my eardrums, I was thinking “Ho hum. Just another Franz Ferdinand ready for their 15 minutes of fame”, but then you hear the chorus, and that’s something Alex Kapranos can only dream about.

Rightly championed by Steve Lamacq and Gideon Coe (6Music), there appears to be a bright future indeed for these kids if they can keep up the impetus thrust knowingly into our faces on this debut single. Great stuff. 8/10

Tone E

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Clarity – Way of the Dragon (SFDB) 13/03/2006

This single makes me laugh. To be fair, I don’t think that was entirely the intention. It’s just that the music and song structuring reminds me rather a lot of Goldie Lookin’ Chain. Of course, the fact that this sounds like an artist trying to be deadly serious, but ultimately ends up sounding like a Weslh novelty rap band, appeals to my sense of humour enormously.

Nothing wrong with this single other than that, and lyrically it actually sounds like it’s probably a very intelligent and politically aware guy doing the raps here. I just can’t get that vision of Maggot and co out of my mind. 7/10

Tone E

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Dresden Dolls – Sing (Roadrunner Records) 13/03/2006

Well, I’d love to review this one, but the fact that the copy I’ve got here cuts off after about 20 seconds makes that rather difficult. I can’t say I’m particularly upset though, because it sounded as though it was going to be very much in the vain of Hazel O’Connor’s “Will You”, except ten times less interesting.

Does it build up and improve? I have no idea. Ask someone who’s heard the whole thing. ???/10

Tone E

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