Single Reviews: May 2007

 

Dragons - Condition (Ohm Recordings) 28/05/2007

T: I thought Jim Morrison and Ian Curtis were dead...

N: They are, but The Dragons would appear to have captured the spirit, certainly of Joy Division in this single. The dirty crunch that accompanies this single and its B-side, "Failure", are reminiscent of the early eighties, and certainly possess that feel, which if anything might be considered too much like their obvious mentors.

T: Great single though.

N: Without a doubt. 9/10

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Buy: [CD]
 

 

Pepe Deluxe - The Mischief Of Cloud Six (Catskills) 28/05/2007

T: Sounds like Andy Williams appearing in an Austin Powers movie. Very London. Entertaining, if not the most memorable tune in the world.

N: A quirky tune that certainly won't be remembered for its content. More a jam than anything else. 6/10

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Reverend And The Makers - Heavyweight Champion Of The Word (Wall Of Sound) 28/05/2007

N: Strangely more an Artic Monkeys of a tune, if anything else. Lyrics are very upfront and certainly bidding to be a tune remembered on dance floors at the student discos.

T: Yep. Bang on. It's like the aforementioned Monkeys would have sounded if they'd gone down the Duran Duran road and tried to make "Rio". 8/10

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Jesse Malin - Broken Radio (One Little Indian) 21/05/2007

T: I've never heard anyone sound so much like Neil Young as Jesse Malin does at the beginning of "Broken Radio". I'm talking "After The Goldrush" era Young here, but let's be honest, if you're going to use anyone at all as a template, you can't really get better than the inimitable Canadian. Springsteen, who I was never that great a fan of - except for the wonderful "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" album - makes an appearance here too, being one of Malin's all time heroes, and the overall effect is a kind of "rock ballad" which thankfully steers clear of too many cliches and doesn't turn into the embarrassing efforts of folk like Peter Cetera. Good single.

N: Whsat is there left for me to say? Good single. 9/10

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Buy: [CD]
 

 

Juliette And The Licks - Purgatory Blues (Label) 21/05/2007

N: I was listening to this band recently and it came to mind that she appeared to have taken influence from early nineties rock chicks L7...

T: I'm not going to see HER live then, especially if she appears on The Word...

N: ...but what I was going to say was that this single would appear to be tamer in nature, and doesn't appear to have the bite of some of her other work. To be honest I can't really see why this was released as a single.

T: I agree; Juliette's written far more worthy tunes that have surprised us in the past with their immediacy and there's no doubt that this is one of her weaker efforts. 4/10

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The Pigeon Detectives - I'm Not Sorry (Dance To The Radio) 21/05/2007

T: Somewhere between the Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys, Pigeon Detectives are making all the headiest strides imaginable to become the next biggest band in the world. They're certainly getting there with fiercely infectious melodies, bundles of passion and clearly well studied musicianship. If this isn't a hit I will shave off every inch of hair on my body and sell it to old ladies at a church fete.

N: Eurgh! It's likely you'll get locked up for that, but the single - a pretty bare, stripped down song, relying on the band's ability to carry it off. A single in the true sense of the word. Wonderful, and with a suitable set of lyrics to boot. But I still can't get that horrible image out of my head that you painted. Go and brush your teeth. 8/10

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Buy: [CD]
 

 

Alexisonfire - Drunks, Lovers, Sinners And Saints (Hasstle Records) 21/05/2007

T: He's suffering from a very bad bout of constipation is Dallas Green, and boy is it painful. It actually sounds as though he eventually has finished his poo, and has been so annoyed at the effort he has had to make doing it that he has decided to fling it around the walls in a rage, just to show that turd who's boss.

N: No, you're wrong. I tend to get this problem in the morning, but it would appear he's still trying to dislodge that awkward lump of phlegm in the recording studio. Poor chap, I wonder if he's seen his GP. 2/10

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Buy: [7"]
 

 

Kaiser Chiefs - Everything Is Average Nowadays (Polydorl) 21/05/2007

T: Quite an ironic title this really, as it's almost self prophetic. Kaisers by numbers.

N: Like the song titles I was coming up with 20 years ago, certainly indicating how lethargy may leave us feeling from time to time. Just a little two dimensional. 7/10

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Buy: [CD] or [7"]
 

 

Chris Cornell - Arms Around Your Love (Interscope) 21/05/2007

T: Somehow, Cornell has avoided - so far at least - the big mistake that so many formerly great frontmen have made in releasing trite rock ballads as their solo alohas. The funny thing is that the Soundgarden man HAS chosen to release balladic tunes, but fortunately for us, he's clearly sifted through the finished product to remove the peanuts and replace them with chunks of meat. I shouldn't really be pleased about that, being veggie, but I am.

N: "You Know My Name", the theme from the latest Bond film, was a welcome return for the Soundgarden frontman, and this displays and older, yet wiser, man. He's making music that he has grown into; no mutton dressed as lamb here. In fact, so much so, that as a fan of his previous incarnation, I feel I have grown into this sound too. Although the song's title and lyrical content may be considered as cheesy, I only hope that the forthcoming album displays that this man hasn't lost any of his bite. 8/10

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Tim Deluxe - Let The Beats Roll..... (Skint Records) 21/05/2007

N: On playing the latest cut from Tim Deluxe, the light in the room appears to have grown dim, pulsating neon lights counting in time to the rhythm above my head, and a thumping on my chest is suggesting that a medical crew is trying to revive me. Perhaps I should turn the volume down.

T: I actually really like this, but come on Tim, you don't REALLY expect us to believe you're singing "Let the beats roll" do you? You're clearly singing "Let the bitch groan", which has bags more cutting edge and a whole lot more entertaining. It's a nice dark dance tune that is a far cry from the relative summer popof former biggie "It Just Won't Do", perhaps more in line with the Chemical Brothers than anything else. 8/10

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Dark Water - Easy Weakness/Alone And... (Up Next Records) 21/05/2007

N: The band have obviously taken as their mantra, as far as this debut is concerned, "It is just waht it plays on the CD", but then we hear the second track, and am impressed that the band are obviously displaying a breadth to their repertoire. Still dark, but not bedrrom black.

T: If you boil a kettle three times in a row, it's unlikely to make any difference to the water inside it, except that it's a treble boiler. Take a teapot, however, and if you pour boiling water in THERE three times, it's all going to spill out over the top.

N: Making sense of the quote, trying to fit a litre into a pint pot.

T: Yes, that'll do. Can you tell I have no idea how to review this one? It's an ok rock tune, that's about as detailed as I can go. 7/10

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Arcade Fire - Intervention (Sonovox) 21/05/2007

T: Arcade Fire - the best band around at the moment? I think it's highly likely, as this is far from the best track on their superb "Neon Bible", yet somehow is still utterly superb. "Working for the church while your family dies" is an early indication of the profoundly cynical lyrics that builds to an absorbing string led killer tune and heartfelt finale. I'll never get bored of this band.

N : Arcade Fire have certainly cornered this sound, making this eloquent, quite bold, and cavernous audio experience so defiantly their own, and at the same time hitting upon something that has made the very different ultimately commercial. 10/10

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The Checks - Hunting Whales (Full Time Hobby) 14/05/2007

T: An interesting release. It's like going back in a time machine to 1973 and stumbling into Led Zeppelin's rehearsal room, being overwhelmed by the stench of spliffs before the band rip their costumes off and become The Sonics, such is their garage punk sixties mentality. Great stuff, and thankfully highly unlikely to win over any teenyboppers.

N: I'd like to agree with you here. This band's unshaven, unwashed approach is refreshing if not at all hygienic. 8/10

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Buy: [7"]
 

 

Bjork - Earth Intruders (One Little Indian) 14/05/2007

N: Looking at the sleeve, it would appear that the pixie-like Bjork is suffering from water retention.

T: Perhaps that's why it appeals to me so much. You know how normally Bjork gives me a headache? Well, on her present single and album she does anything but that, and maybe it's because she's er...let herself go...so to speak. I actually never thought I'd be giving Timbaland the credit I'm about to, but he often makes the mad Icelandic genius sound a lot more commercially viable. I haven't actually enjoyed Bjork's work as much as this since the Sugarcubes' "Life's Too Good" album.

N: Oh! Is she meant to be some ind of sea borne animal, or as the song suggests, perhaps she is an alien? Certainly tribal. 7/10

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The Mission - Keep It In The Family (Domino) 14/05/2007

T: It's easy to forget how upbeat The Mission were, back in their eighties heyday, probably due to their "goth" tag. Most people would remember them as being rather dour and miserable, but think harder and you realise that the likes of "Tower of Strength", "Wasteland" and "Butterfly on a Wheel" were all quite uplifting songs. Admittedly, I don't remember them ever writing anything quite as positive as their new output in the old days, but their present state of "Bunnymen meets U2" melody works rather well.

N: Following the band's huge "Carved In Sand" album, I was once again impressed upon hearing their follow up full lenght release, "Masque", debuting a new sound. Fifteen years had passed between this and "God Is a Bullet", during which time the band had slipped off my radar, but this new album features solid tracks of which this is one. It can't be denied that the inspiration behind this sound would appear to be the previously mentioned artists, but nothing should be lent to this homage as The Mission do this very well, inevitably making this sound their own.

T: Ooh you're so fickle. 8/10

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Buy: [Single]
 

 

South - You Are The One (Domino) 14/05/2007

N: South return with a single of two halves. Two definite styles vying for attention on this 90s influenced tune.

T: There's no doubt that they've gone for a 90s retro feel, admittedly. If you asked a group of people to throw the names of bands they sounded like at you, you'd almost certainly be covered up within the first few minutes, and then some bastard would shout "Pylon!" st the top of their voice, leaving you with the same cracked ribs you had at school. Anyway, just for the record, I heard the Charlatans, Mock Turtles, Midway Still and even My Bloody Valentine at times.

T: It's almost a little awkward in that the segway breaks any kind of flow that the earlier verses set up, and although I can't deny that I like the band and their retro bid, just how well this will sit on the commercial stage is my only concern.

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Rise Against - Prayer For The Refugee (Geffen) 14/05/2007

T: Sounds like Idlewild getting annoyed that you've nicked the last parking space. As a result, it's quite funny, which really is its only saviour. Would I rather hear this again, or be force fed my own balls whilst they're still attached to my body? Well, ok I'd probably have to listen again...but it was close.

N: Well the cover gave me an idea of what to expect, but as "Prayer For The Refugee" introduced itself, I had to concede I had made a mistake, but sure enough, the main body of the song kicked in, and it was deja vu.

T: In a nutshell, shit emo. 2/10

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Von Südenfed - Fledermaus Can't Get It (Domino) 14/05/2007

After only the initial seconds of this one, I have to admit this is what music is all about. Those within earshot of my stereo are crying out in horror, "turn that racket off!" But who is it? And then the lyrics kick in and there's no mistaking the dulcet tones of one Mark E. Smith, the core member of Manchester's 'The Fall' and hugely prolific poet to boot, joined by Andi Thorma and Jan St Werner from 'Mouse On Mars'.

This is the single that will proceed the band's full length album 'Tromatic Reflexxions' and what is it about? I have no idea? But is it the best single I have heard so far this year? Without a doubt. This is the Sex Pistols of the 21st Century, a genre-smashing attack on the music scene in general and a bolt in the head for all those less free thinking individuals who feel music should fit into boxes. I can't wait for the album, enjoy it while it lasts. 10/10

Nick James

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The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations (Vagrant) 07/05/2007

N: I think there's no better way to start our review here than those comparisons made in the accompanying pr - "The Hold Steady make quality rock'n'roll. Like Thin Lizzy playing Jonathan Richman songs or AC/DC riffing through Springsteen's 'Born To Run'."

Says it all really, strong band and single to match, but I think we'd agree, The Hold Steady are certainly a band to watch for...

T: A fantastic single from one of the albums of the year so far. The Hold Steady just get better and better with each album release, and this is my personal fave ON their excellent third album. Did I mention that it was a superb album? 9/10

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Buy: [7"#1] [7"#2]
 

 

Stephen Fretwell - Four Letter Words (Polydor) 07/05/2007

N: It's plain to hear from Stephen's material that this Dylan tinged artist is going to be one top geezer, and meeting him as I did on one of the dates of his tour following the release of his debut album "Magpie", sure enough Mr. Fretwell's talent doesn't just extend to hi musical leaning. He's an extremely nice chap to boot.

T: Was he not a bit pissed of that you booted him? I mean, we should respect those folk who have clearly taken the ghost of Jeff Buckley and prolonged the haunting kind of sounds we associate with the late legend.

N: It was more a friendly tap, and he tppk it with good humour after all. I was a little cautios when seeing that this release was on our reviewing roster. Having been so impressed with his last album, I was afraid that this may not live up to the precedent already set. Apart from the obvious similarities, I can say that this lived up to the mantle, although I must say I was a little disappointed, considering the title of the EP, that I've yet to hear the obious references - fuck, shit and c***.

T: Cunt.

N: There's no need to get personal. 9/10

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Noisettes - Scratch Your Name (Vertigo) 07/05/2007

T: It may start off as though it's going to be a Kravitz like riffbuster, but it soon transforms itself into something more like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs number. Not hugely original, but catchy enough to convince you that you've heard this in a different guise somewhere before.

N: Having had the opportunity of reviewing this band's album earlier this year, I am familiar with the Noisettes' brand of rock, and am suitably impressed with their approach, hooks and narcotic breath. There may be nothing unfamiliar about this one, but I like their gall. 7/10

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The Scare - Bats! Bats! Bats! (Dance To The Radio) 08/05/2007

T: This is like The Horrors performing classic rock from the seventies. To an extent, it works very well but perhaps the persistent squawking could do with something of a cull. Brash and dirty, I can see this band following in the footsteps of The White Stripes or The Black Keys (hmmm...does that make them the Grey Lines?)

N: White Stripes maybe, but Grey Lines? This band don't appear to have the finesse that Jack and Meg display, and maybe require a little honing of their sound to make them truly greyscale. 5/10

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Black Francis - Threshold Apprehension (Cooking Vinyl) 07/05/2007

T: In which Charles Thompson adopts his former persona, and not without good reason, for this is a hark back to the heady old days of the classic album "Doolittle". For me of course, the apprehension is overtaken with an overwhelming sense of relief that it's not a disappointment. Wow, Frankie boy can still rock with the best of them! I feel like I'm 18 all over again. Great return to form after the relative disappointment of "Fast Man/Raider Man".

N: A laid bare, both musically, vocally and lyrically, recording from this prolific artist doing what he's best known for. Hardly pop but what a guy! 9/10

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[Buy: 7"]
 

 

The Vincent Black Shadow - Metro (Bodog) 07/05/2007

T: Released as a download only single, you'd be forgiven for expecting an ultra dark, moody goth track, going by the cover and artist's name, but it's not even close. It's an extremely poppy track that wouldn't be out of place on a No Doubt album. Fairly entertaining stuff that I can't get over excited about, but neither can I dislike it.

N: This band's throwback 1940s feel approach is certainly there, but does tend to breed a fairly ramshackle sound. I was looking forward to slating a group of young goth wannabes, but instead found myself listening to go-go girls (and Belinda Carlisle is nowhere to be seen). 6/10

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