Single Reviews: June 2004

 

I Am Kloot – Proof (The Echo Label)

Look, I like I Am Kloot, but it really pisses me off when bands go over the top with releases from one particular album. This seems to be about the 25th single from the band’s very good self titled second album, and as a result I cannot bring myself to give it a high mark.

So there you go – rather unsurprisingly it’s a decent, laid back, mellow tune as we’ve come to expect from these guys, and if you decide to buy it, I can fully endorse that it’s an impressive track. But if you treat your fans like an ATM machine, don’t come complainin’ about your sorry scores round here, ok? 4/10

Tone E

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Ryan Adams – Wonderwall (Lost Highway)

This is a truly fantastic version of Wonderwall, as written by you know who. An acoustic version that was championed by Jo Whiley on her radio one show a few months ago. It is released 28th June and I suggest you all buy a copy, its just ‘sooo’ much better than those Manc lads’ version!!!! A great track for those chill-out sessions!!! 8/10

Nic Caesar

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The Alarm – New Home New Life (Snapper Music)

I have a soft spot for The Alarm since they recently successfully made a mockery of the music industry with their “fake” band The Poppyfields, and this is their first single from the subsequent album that is being released under the band’s own name.

I must admit, there are far stronger ones than this one on that particular long player. This sounds like U2 covering Andreas Johnson’s “Glorious”. I mean, it’s quite an agreeable tune but nothing too special. The second track here, “Better Scream” (written by scouse legend Pete Wylie) is a far superior moment.

Pretty good, but hopefully they’ll release the wonderful “Trafficking” as one of their future singles soon. Now that WOULD get a high rating. 7/10

Tone E

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22-20s – Shoot Your Gun (Heavenly)

Grinding, crunchy guitars, a severely intense production and rather sinister texture all come together to make this a noisy beast of a record. Superb stuff.

Although it’s a painstakingly dark tune, somehow it’s uplifting as well. Personally I cannot wait for their album, which is released some time this autumn.

There’s not much else I can say about it really – it’s terrific and that’s all you need to know. 9/10

Tone E

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Gisli – How About That? (EMI Records)

Very funny lyrics but sounds very much like Beck in style, vocally and musically. A good little track but its one you feel you’ve heard before. Out on the 21st June. 6/10

Nic Caesar

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Jetplane Landing – Brave Gravity (Smalltown America)

What else is there we can say about this band? The fact of the matter is that they have NEVER released a CD which is not worthy of full marks, so it surprises me not one jot that all three of the tracks here are superb.

If you are one of those sensible people who has already bought (and played to death) the band’s fantastic second album, “Once Like a Spark”, you will already know how barnstormingly brilliant “Brave Gravity” is, and the two further tracks are further proof – as if it were needed – that Jetplane Landing are the best act around at the moment, bar none; “We Are the Pragmatists” is a hark back to the Anglo-Irish band’s more melancholy, heartfelt numbers of their wondrous debut album “Zero For Conduct”, and with “The New Standard”, the group have indeed set themselves just that, for this angry but uplifting rock anthem is even better, for me, than anything else they’ve ever put out.

Wake up people. It’s time JPL got the recognition and success they deserve. 10/10 (ahem! - Editor. Tone you are becoming predictable.)

Tone E

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Belle and Sebastian – Books e.p. (Rough Trade)

We all know what Belle and Sebastian are capable of now, but this one still surprised me. I didn’t expect a track that musically appeared to borrow from the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running” or from Lipps Inc’.s “Funky Town”, but that’s what they’ve apparently done here, and they’ve come up with a soulful, windows down feelgood tune in the lead track “Your Cover’s Blown”.

Equally impressive is the second track (and probably one of the best tracks on their recent album), “Wrapped Up In Books”.

The band finish off with the full length version of “Your Cover’s Blown”, nearly twice as long as its single edit. And, as we are accustomed to with these guys, it’s great. 8/10

Tone E

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hidingplace – (What If) the Truth Looks Clearer Empty (RCA)

A bit like a more commercialised Metallica having a bunfight at the OK Coral with Soundgarden, hidingplace have certainly got a fair few impressive riffs up their sleeves. The only stumbling block is that the oft repeated “What If” refrain becomes a little nauseating after a while, so I guess it’s a good thing that the song’s less than four minutes long.

Actually, the more I play it, the more I reckon this is what Duran Duran would sound like if they decided to “go metal”. Sorry guys, that probably hurt! 6/10

Tone E

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XisLoaded – Thirteen Days (Music For Nations)

This is a bit of an oddity, because what seems particularly uninspiring upon first listen actually seems to really grab you by the balls the second time you put it on.

It’s rather an explosive single with totally outrageous guitar screeches and scratches all over, and it’s packed with just enough intensity to make it a memorable release.

The NME got it right when they said that XisLoaded created “the sleaziest of bar-room brawl riffs…fighting for their lives in a cauldron of Lemmy’s blood and spunk”. Not the most pleasant image I’m sure you’ll agree, but a near perfect description if you ask me! If these guys carry on in this vain, their forthcoming debut album should be a real belter. 8/10

Tone E

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The Needles – 1,2,3…5! (Dangerous Records)

Following on from their stupendously brilliant last single “Under the City”, the Needles have released another uptempo kickass tune that hopefully will further increase their already rapidly rising profile and gain them commercial success too.

Oddly enough, despite the fact that I am fond of the lead track here, it’s actually my least favourite of the four numbers included. Second track “Panic On Easy Street” is the cream of the crop for me, and I can only assume they didn’t release it because they didn’t fancy being laelled Elvis Costello wannabes!

“Beautiful Dream” is an hallucinogenic gem that sounds like Bob Lind covering an early Everly Brothers track and is, indeed, beautiful.

Finally “The Hurt” is a short sweet slap in the facethat will fill up that tiny gap at the end of hundreds of personal compilation tapes all over the UK. Great stuff. 8/10

Tone E

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Kings of Convenience - Misread (Virgin)

"Misread" - the first single to be taken from the long awaited second album from Norway's Kings of Convenience. Vague recollections between the two of us, butbasically, "Kings of who?" - this is how their music shapes up.

N: I found this track hard to place; maybe sounds similar to those of Swing Out Sister with a male vocal...or perhaps Johnny Hates Jazz, both of these played at half pace. If nothing else, the music on offer here is timeless. Certainly a jazz cafe style.

T: Forgive me if I come across a bit tetchy this morning, but this sounds to me like a weedier version of Matt Bianco - already a band you could have knocked to the floor with a feather duster - and as a result, it's as exciting as hoovering the lounge.

N: I might agree in part, but although really substance was lacking, I found this a nice easy tune. Depends what mood you're in really... 7/10

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The Fallout Trust - EP 2 (At Large Recordings)

T: They're obviously talented musicians these guys. The only problem is that the track itself doesn't seem to go anywhere. I don't see the vaguest glimpse of Joy Division here at all, despite what the PR says...

N: Joy Division - I'm inclined to agree; I can't see this at all. Perhaps musically shades of Tillbrook and Squeeze, but certainly throughout this band play with assurity. 6/10

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Link to Ash-official

Charlotte Hatherley – Kim Wilde (Double Dragon)

A solo release by Ash’s sultry temptress Charlotte, and if she continues to make music as gobsmackingly brilliant as this, I’ll be going about my daily business with a permanent erection.

A smashing slice of Punk, Doo wop and New Wave that sounds not at all like her equally fantastic regular outfit. If I HAD to pick an Ash track that it bore the slightest resemblance to, it would probably be “Kung Fu”, as it has that kind of strange out of this world quality to it. Whatever, it’s an immense and powerful tune which is quite probably the best single of the year so far.

Considering the title for a moment - Charlotte Hatherley and Kim Wilde together? I’ve had DREAMS about that! 10/10 (and nearly 11)

(Have you taken leave of your senses dear man, 11 out of 10 just won't go! - Editor)

Tone E

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Amp Fiddler – Dreamin’ (Genuine)

Sadly, this is exactly the kind of music that makes me want to chew my testicles off and force feed them to the artist.

Seriously though, I hate to slag off an artist’s work when they’ve clearly put a lot of thought and time into it and are no doubt very proud of it. The fact is though, this whole thing just sounds so false to me. Where there should be emotion, it just sounds like the guy’s TRYING to sound emotional and not actually FEELING it.

There are 4 other versions of this track on the CD, by the end of which I was tempted to crank up the oven to full heat and go stick my head in it. 3/10

Tone E

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The Concretes – You Can’t Hurry Love (Licking Fingers)

Nope. Thankfully this is NOT a version of the old Supremes number. It’s rather more like the Ronettes on downers being backed by session musicians from the La’s, Inspiral Carpets and Wah!

Musical purists (or ponces – whatever you’d rather call ‘em) will be horrified at the brevity of the single, clocking in as it does at a miniscule one minute and fifty six seconds, but I rather like that aspect of it.

Further tracks “Free Ride” and “Under Your Leaves” leave upon you the indelible impression that lead singer Victoria Bergsman probably spends her time at festivals naked and unwashed for several days. In fact, the latter tune puts you in mind of Cerys Matthews singing at a naturist beach. Make of that what you will… 7/10

Tone E

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Jesse Malin – Mona Lisa (One Little Indian)

By FAR the best thing Malin has ever released. I have no idea why, but when I find myself singing this in the shower (yes, I’m afraid I AM one of those people) I end up, every time, singing Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. I suppose if you concentrate hard enough, and substitute the basic rock beat with a dance rhythm, you MIGHT, if you’re lucky, be able to hear where I’m coming from. But I doubt it…

The lyrics here are fantastic though – “Hanging with the local talent/ Drinking like you’re Shane McGowan” – now THAT is a classy line!
Further tracks “New World Order” and “Holy Ghost” have only served to convince me that next time Jesse Malin plays a gig, someone’s going to pull his mask off and reveal an irate Neil Young, who’ll be standing there going “I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those pesky atomicduster kids…” 9/10

Tone E

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Polly Paulusma – Give It Back (One Little Indian)

I never noticed before too much, but now it’s become abundantly clear that Polly’s music is extremely reminiscent of The Sundays. Which, of course, is a very GOOD thing.

This is a rather more pacy affair (I hate the word “pacy” – doesn’t it just sound like a word your parents would use?) and is one of the feelgood tunes of this year’s summer releases.

Thankfully, whenever the music starts sounding like it’s about to drift off into becoming a Corrs record, the lass saves herself with her rather unorthodox vocal style.
Lovely. 8/10

Tone E

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Nikolai - Way Off The Mark (Complete Control Music)

I love the way lead singer Colin Greer’s vocals seem totally removed from the music here; it almost sounds like he recorded them in a separate room in a house two miles away from the rest of the band members!

It’s a nice grungy and dirty little number and sounds a bit messed up, which appeals to me a lot. To their credit as well, I can’t think of anybody that they sound like. So all I’ll say is this – keep it up lads, this is top stuff. 8/10

Tone E

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Razorlight – Golden Touch (Vertigo)

Starting off all too much like Harry Connick jr. for my liking, thankfully the track builds and continues to do so throughout. In fact, we stumble through a section that resembles a latter day Beatles tune before arriving at a suitably shouty finale that makes the whole thing seem worthwhile.

Frontman Johnny Burrell recently proclaimed himself as “the best songwriter of his generation”. Well, I don’t know about that yet, but one thing’s for sure – with this and what’s gone before, he’s made a pretty good start. 8/10

Tone E

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thisGIRL - Hallelujah (Drowned In Sound)

Apparently this band are forming their own unique download fanclub to celebrate the release of this single. It'll be a "Buy 1, Burn 1 free" kind of deal, so whether you like the band or not, at least you know they're value for money!

N: Maybe a little messy in the arrangement, and at this point on the title track, I can only see the musicians going back on themselves over again. However, in opposition, the second tune introduces what I would call a hindered style chaos, but alas, nowhere near as polished.

T: Pretty much agreed. They've been touring recently with Leicester's very own My Awesome Compilation, and on this evidence it would be no surprise if the MAC lads were blowing them away at every gig. Having said that, I quite LIKED the "hindered style chaos" of which you spoke. I'm in a "jumping around shouting" kind of mood at the moment you see! 7/10

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Lowfive - Too Much of Nothing (Music For Nations)

T: Well they're not going to win any prizes for originality, but this does hold at least a little appeal to me. It reminds me of early seventies Stones, midpoint Terrorvision and, oddly enough, ELO. I don't think I'd buy it, but it's entertaining enough.

N: Lowfive would appear to be playing solid, under control rock music. No nasty ascorbic splinters in their sound, just smooth, easy riding rock music. I hear your references and would agree that although good, this perhaps won't win any prizes. 7/10

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Client - In It For the Money (Toast Hawaii/Mute)

T: This is like X-Ray Specs, Lene Lovich, Kon Kan and a young Vince Clarke performing a barbecue seance in the garden for a multitude of Europop stalwarts.

N: All that, with shocking sounds and content, and cleverly written lyrics that don't at first leap out. But is the But is the character in the song a prostitute?

T: A gloriously fescennine musical triumph, in short. 9/10

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Lucky Jim - You're Lovely To Me (Skint)

T: Now then, I have some serious bone picking to do with you here! When I last reviewed a Lucky Jim single, I mentioned that it sounded like a track that could have been recorded by Roy Orbison. Then I read, to my horror, a review that YOU'D done where you ridiculed my comparison. I had a vision of you trampling down my sandcastles and going "Nur nur nur NUR nur"...

N: Well that's what the big kids do, isn't it? Anyway, back to this single, and I'm amazed at how I could hear Dylan singing this song. I loved the album, and this would have to be one of the many shining moments featured. Its pace and content jus shout "perfect" in my ears. My sandcastles are over there - go on! I know you want to!

T: Call them sandcastles? They looked more like sand terraces to me. I won't bother knocking down such a sorry construction. I just pity you for building them. Anyway, I STILL think it sounds like Del Amitri, with maybe a touch of Donovan thrown in for good measure. But yes, it's a nice, breezy tune...though I think "perfect" is pushing it somewhat!

N: Alright I'll concede the Donovan part at least. 7/10

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