Single Reviews: May 2005

 

Gomez - Silence (Hut Recordings)

The second single to be lifted from their ample forth album, 'Split The Difference' and the last time we encountered these guys I have to say I was disappointed with what I was brought, however with this I find a far more engaging single and one that I feel stands proud on its own.

Moments of swirling feedback and a stage that is surely crammed with the five band members, their instruments, the family pets and Grandma Tchad for good measure. Whatever they've done differently here, the boys done good. Describing this to have "layer upon layer of busy blues rock riffs..." maybe just the measure to exitite and enthrall - the Gomez live set always was a powerful one and with 'Silence' this has only reiterated that none of this exitment has been lost. 8/10

Nick James

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Yellowcard – Way Away (Parlophone)

An impressive sense of urgency is on display on this record, and Yellowcard seem somewhat removed from all the other so called “emo” bands that they’ve been lumped in with.
Maybe it’s because the track drifts effortlessly between blistering power pop and an altogether more “quiet moment” and then back to that rip roaring belter of a tune that makes up the bulk of this corker, but there’s definitely something about them that sets this band apart.

The odd thing is, you can’t help looking at the band and thinking “Ho hum. Another bunch of teenage wannabes”, and when the single starts, you think “Heard it all before”, but the more you bear with it, the more it strikes a (power) chord within you and the penny starts to drop – these guys probably ARE destined for greatness after all! 9/10

Tone E

 
 

 

Inme – Faster the Chase (Music For Nations)

Taken from the band’s forthcoming, as yet untitled, second album, “Faster the Chase” follows in the footsteps of its former long player “Overgrown Eden”, but apparently with a greater attention paid their emotional side than before.

While at times the single sounds a lot like Iron Maiden musically, there does appear to be a hidden depth to this band and with lines like “You are my ecstasy, it’s you that I’m craving”, they show that they are more than capable of showing their tender side without accusations of being “wusses” – something I don’t recall Bruce Dickinson and his boys doing all that often.

However, sitting here scrawling notes hurriedly while listening just once or twice to the record I feel is not doing it justice, and as a result it’s difficult to get too attached to it, but I can tell you this – it’s almost certainly a real grower, and whilst I’ve only given it a seven out of ten score, there’s every chance that it’ll become one of my favourites by the end of the year! 7/10

Tone E

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Fountains of Wayne – Mexican Wine (Virgin)

Now this I didn’t expect – what a fabulous first verse! I just HAVE to share the lyrics with you here – “He was killed by a cellular phone explosion/ They scattered his ashes across the ocean/ The water was used to make Baby Lotion/ The wheels of commotion were set in motion”. Wonderful lyrics! Who’d have thought that a band that formerly released the rather cringeworthy “Stacy’s Mom” would be capable of such entertainingly humorous prose? Maybe they ARE worth checking out after all!

They seem to have taken at least a little inspiration from bands like Weezer, and although they still haven’t yet convinced me that they’re not just another manufactured “real” boy band (like Busted), this is perhaps a suggestion that they are one of the more palatable acts of that particular genre.

Go on guys, surprise me. Two more singles as good as this and I may have to give and and buy your album! 7/10

Tone E

 
 

 

M83 - America (Gooom)

Described as a "generously stuffed thirty minute EP", here the listener will be able to gourge themselves on 4 tracks, then a video, brought from the artists who notably remixed for Goldfrapp, causing "more than a few palpitations on the floor." Well, where to start? 'Music for movies' might be a good description of what these guys are doing here, or more to the point - music for those for those scenes requiring an atmospheric soundtrack to bring added gravitas to a particular moment seen in the film-makers vision, other than this plenty of 'Clockwork Orange' moments in the music.

We reviewed in an earlier issue, the 'bands' single 'Run Into Flowers', a work that captivated, hence its high scoring - but alas this does not have quite the same effect. It might be ok played at a funeral or during those 'spaced' moments, but otherwise I found this somewhat mundane. 3/10

Nick James

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Hiding Place - At One Time Or Another EP (RCA)

A Glaswegian 5-peice that scream of a tight and well organised outfit. Theirs is music of a rock strain that really belies their tender years, only just managing to hover around the average age of 20. With 2 of the 4 tracks offered on my preview copy, these certainly have an air of the 'Soundgarden' to them and fit quite comfortably into the better end of the 'new rock' movement. 7/10

Nick James

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The Vines - Winning Days (Heavenly Records)

Taken from the similarly titled album, this does tend to wreake of a certain 'Mamas and Papas' feel, plodding pace, swirling guitars and harmonies that sit far back in the mix. It won't set the World on fire, but is a nice enough contribution and one I found grew, if not with wild abandon, certainly with a creeping sense of pace, after continued listens, a snack, just not a whole meal. 6/10

Nick James

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Hothouse Flowers - End Of The Road (Rubyworks)

From a band whose singer, Liam O'Maonlai was described recently by Bono, as "the best white soul singer in the world!" this single comes this their second single to be taken from their recently released 5th Studio album, 'Into Your Heart'. Relaxed in presentation, Liam does offer his unique vocal talent in a manner that seems to be only just ticking over, never once having to rely on the power that this talent has to offer. It is perhaps this understated manner that leaves this lying a little flat, although a fantastic song, as a package I have heard better and when Liam sings the line "...is this the end of the road?", it does leave you wondering. 5/10

Nick James

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Graham Coxon - Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery (Transcopic Records)

The first non-limited single to be taken from Graham's fifth solo album and follows the earlier released 'Freakin' Out', from March this year. Produced by Stephen Street, as was the album, this is a perfect slice of radio-friendly 'pop', with Graham setting an easy pace on this record that keeps the song flowing nicely, with disposable lyrics adding to the general happy feel of this release. As a promotional format I found only two versions of the same song and unusually I found myself erring toward the 'radio edit' presented here, over that of the album version. This offering a far friendlier 'hit' than the perhaps described as 'over blown' affair later on, that clocks in at just over a minute extra time. This I felt became a little too absorbed in discovering passages that didn't offer much to the song itself. This well written and evidently cheeky number, you'll find a release that is worth every point of the 9/10 I would award. Across the formats that accompany this release, you'll find further exclusive tunes to that of the singers album.

Nick James

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Marjorie Fair - Stare E.P. (EMI)

The debut release from this new signing, led by singer/guitarist Evan Slamka. The band themselves hail from the 'sun-kissed' shores of California - via the industrial heartland of New Jersey. The EP features two tracks from the bands forthcoming album 'Self Help Serenade', presented alongside two more non-album tracks. The release I had to review only featured the lead track 'Stare', but on this basis I can only say that I look forward to the bands debut album. The accompanying PR talks of a group who are tapping into the same vien as Mercury Rev, Grandaddy, Doves and Coldplay. The inspiration though was clear to recognise, Brian Wilson - well working from the West Coast this is not surprising and with their roots being that slightly less exotic, it was easy to see Neil Young and Lennon. But certainly the description offered of "slowburning melodies and soul inspiring songs", were once again bang on target. Watch out for this band, if you like your 'rock music' presented in a forgiving manner, rather than forced upon you, then you may just have found your 'comfortable chair'. 8/10

Nick James

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Feature Cast - Channel Surfing (Catskills)

Superb track as seen on the iPod ads on telly. Quality breaks and beats with class act vocals from Kool Keith. Realeased on the 17th May on 12" only this will get major plays across the whole summer period, great party material. 9/10

Nic Caesar

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Wax Poetic (feat. Norah Jones) - Angels remixes (Ultra Records)

Now here is a tune that is going to get massive play in Ibiza this year!! Soft and gentle but funky and groovefull stuff, not to mention the 'milk and honey' vocals. Three mixes available' all vocals which seriously is the point. For once the vocals are not disposable on this dance track. The original version is a breaks mix which is superb on its own but the Thievery Corporation remix brings a reggae style dub sound to the mix. The Dave Hernandez mix is a main stream house version with a downtempo vibe that will be included in many a sunset mix this year, for sure! Rare perfection!!!!Released 17th May. 10/10

Nic Caesar

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Ima Robot – Dynomite (Virgin)

Sounding more like Supergrass circa “I Should Co-Co” than Gaz Coombes and co ever did themselves, Imarobot’s new single is a manic and entertaining little ditty that lasts about as long as it takes to blink. Still, at least there’s not much chance of getting bored with it!

Look at the sleeve of this record and, oh my word! One of this band’s members is a dead ringer for Boycie from “Only Fools and Horses”! You almost expect to hear his trademark cackle at the end of the track.
Hang on a minute – are we SURE this isn’t Supergrass? 8/10

Tone E

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Faultline – Wild Horses (EMI)

This is a somewhat haunting version of the old Stones’ classic. It almost sounds as though they’ve adapted it to fit onto the soundtrack of “The Wicker Man”, such is the eerie folk like feel of the guitar work here.

Joseph Arthur’s vocals are beautifully intense and it is to the frontman’s credit that, not only had he been bereft of any sleep for two days prior to the recording of this single, he also managed to complete it in one take! Admirable indeed, and the result is very pretty. 8/10

Tone E

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Auf Der Maur – Real A Lie (Capitol)

Somehow managing to borrow parts of both the British indie and American alternative scene and still end up sounding distinctly European, Melissa Auf Der Maur seems to be heading onwards and upwards, at least for the time being.

Not much else to say about it really, except that her voice is not a million miles away from Kim Deal, the music not dissimilar to Hole, and the production akin to that of Belly.

Anyway, it’s a pleasant enough, if not totally memorable single but it certainly bodes well for the future. 7/10 Tone E

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Minus – Romantic Exorcism (Smekkleysa / Bad Taste SM)

A word of advice in your shell like – don’t play this quietly, as I was forced to do recently when the missus had something of a strop on (Hey I said “strop on” not “strap on” – get your minds out of the gutter)!
The result of a low volume listen is that the whole thing sounds like a disappointingly ineffectual version of any number of grunge or “screamo” bands. Fortunate then, that I had the CD about my person when I was driving alone late at night recently – and what a difference! Crank it up to full and blast it out at terrified pensioners and your perspective changes altogether!

This is a fabulously fuzzy bundle of energy that has left me waiting excitedly for their forthcoming 3rd album. 9/10

Tone E

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Ash – Orpheus (Infectious)

The new single from Wheeler and co. seems to fuse all the best bits of their first three (full length) albums together – the angsty, youthful exuberance of “1977”, the sunnier feel of their most recent smash “Free All Angels” and the splendid riff heavy moments from “Nu-Clear Sounds”.

As a result, it almost sounds like Ash-by-numbers, but the plain fact of the matter here is that Ash-by-numbers is still ten times better than most other bands could even hope to achieve, so that seems pretty irrelevant really.

You won’t be surprised then, because this is at least as good a track as we’ve become accustomed to from the Anglo-Irish near legends these days. 9/10

Tone E

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Armand Van Helden - Hear My Name (SouthernFriedRecords)

A summer anthem this early in the year!?!?! Yes, I am able to confirm that after his success at the Miami winter music festival this track has now become one of the most played and therefore heard tracks. Although it has yet to have massive crossover chart success, the dance world have already accepted it as one of the tunes so far this year! Featuring the stunning vocals of Spalding Rockwell, its tough funky attitude makes this one hard to ignore! Released 19th April. 9/10

Nic Caesar

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Tim Wright - The Ride feat. Toastie Taylor (Novamute)

With a realease date of 14th April if you havent already got this one I suggest you buy a copy. Top quality eletronic material is this. Fat, fat (thats x 2) bass, a great jiggy little beat and class vocals from Mr Taylor. The radio edit in this case is as good as any of the other mixes but obviously cut that little bit tighter for a more commercial output. Good production and a great tune so there!!! 8/10

Nic Caesar

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Big Brovaz - We Wanna Thank You (The Things You Do) (Sony)

This may sound harsh but, puke puke puke!!!! Soppy arse licking crap! They started well but have lost the plot somewhere down the line. Maybe they have stacked so much paper they can't see the wood for the cash money!!!!! Sold out big time in my eyes. They could have been a tough street pop group but decided to dump the tough image(and their dope smoking buddy!) to sell out for the love of money!! The last three singles have been cash cows and nothing more. I mean come on - Scooby f@*kin Doo The Movie!??? Released 5th April. 4/10

Nic Caesar

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Busface - Love Is Like Oxygen (JusticeBrothersRecords)

A lot of past musical success from the pair behind Busface(Hugh Brooker & Seb Wronski) and looks like this will continue. Good quality production and song writing. I personally didnt like the vocals on this track - a bit too Pet Shop Boys for me! But a good track all round. Will be reviewing the album so check that out in album reviews. Single released 5th April. 7/10

Nic Caesar

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Hal – Worry About the Wind (Rough Trade)

A dreamy and ultra catchy little pop tune that sounds remarkably like the former Leicester band Finally. Seeing as that group never actually broke into the big time, that’s probably a worthless comparison, as it’s unlikely that you’ve ever heard of them. But hey, if you like this, you could do worse than check them out!

Mixed by the infamous producer Stephen Street, Hal’s debut single is a very accomplished and confident record that grows on you with each further spin. 8/10

Tone E

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