Single Reviews: July 2007

 

Graham Coxon and Paul Weller - This Old Town (Regal) 30/07/2007

A super-group of sorts, well when you have the guitarist from Blur, Paul Weller & Zak Starkey on drums and the three are more than just jamming, then the fruits of their effots in the studio are released, I think you might confidently just use the term.

This is a worthy effort from the three and quite rightly released. Having seen Graham perform live last year, my opinion is that this man doesn't need the Weller/Starky touch to sprike magic dust on whatever he records, but having done so, this is none the worse for it and certainly nothing less than I would've expected. 8/10

Nick James

grahamcoxon - paulweller - youtube

 
 

 

Elliot Minor – Jessica (Repossession Records) 30/07/2007

As far as boy bands go, Elliot Minor are way down on the hate list. This is, at least, an interesting release, seemingly written in a minor key, such is its otherworldly feel. It may be the impressively downbeat vocals that make it more palatable, but whatever, it is a well crafted record that ought to do well. That’s not to say it’ll be to everyone’s taste; in fact it’s probably unlikely to appeal to anybody over the age of 20, but I think everyone will be able to appreciate that at least they’re not following the leads of McFly or Fall Out Boy. 6/10

Tone E

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Buy: 7"
 

 

bobbycook

Bobby Cook - Déjá Vu (Dance To The Radio) 30/07/2007

Can this singer be any more like Lloyd Cole? Do I mind? Well in both instances, no. From the very photograph of a man, pouting (and unlike Victoria Beckham, doing it well), his sullen demeanour saying everything about him as a pop-star, hell this man was born to be a 'pop-star', or failing that a university libarian or something suitably studious.

Now I realise that a look is only the start and his music should say more than this earlier impression and what is good to hear from the single, is it does. It's Lloyd Cole, The Long Pigs and Edwyn Collins all rolled into one, but where some might try to imitate, Bobby Cook is making this style his own, a natual in both his vocal ability and his writing. This man is going to brake more than his fair share of hearts and by rights I should hate him, but I think it's his charm that cry's out, all that's left to remain is an album and I hope this won't be long in coming - watch this space. 9/10

Nick James

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Buy: Single
 

 

Arcade Fire – No Cars Go (SONOvox) 30/07/2007

Well, seeing as we gave this phenomenal Canadian band’s sophomore album a glowing review and top marks, it’s probably pretty obvious that I’m going to bestow more soubriquets upon them right now. They deserve it though – “Neon Bible” is nothing short of an astonishing piece of work, and this beauty is one of the standout tracks on it. Admittedly, the backing vocals employed here sound rather like Prefab Sprout circa 1988, but this works exquisitely with the way the track builds to a crescendo, almost childlike in its lyrical content (“I know a place where no cars go”) and it’s an absolute gem to be treasured for many years to come. Brilliant. 10/10

Tone E

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Buy: 7"
 

 

Mr Hudson – Picture Of You (Mercury) 30/07/2007

Having told his Library to “Shhh!”, Mr Hudson puts out “Picture Of You” as a lone release and immediately laments “It’s always the sunny days that bring me down”. What a miserable bastard. Here’s me waiting for a glimpse of sunshine pretty much since the summer began and all he can do is moan about it. Ah well, each to their own I guess.

Anyway, this – perhaps ironically – is a very summery tune with a laid back piano ballad feel. The Ed is quite taken with this artist, but I must confess it’s not really happening for me. If I was laying on the grass, basking in glorious sunshine, perhaps it would be easier to appreciate – I wouldn’t complain if anyone was playing it while I relaxed anyway. As much as I hate using the word, the only way I can describe this single is just “nice”. 6/10

Tone E

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The Bongos & Moby – Bulrushes (Cooking Vinyl) 30/07/2007

Long time fan Moby wrote to Richard Barone of the long forgotten early eighties New Wave legends The Bongos recently to say “Drums Along The Hudson – what a remarkable album”, and with that this collaboration was born. It’s a beefed up new version of one of the classier tracks, and while the tampering would appear to be have been minimal, there’s no doubt that it works, surpassing the original. I’m glad they left the classic “In The Congo” alone though; I feel it would have been sacrilege to have changed that one. Anyway, as I said in the album review, The Bongos still sound as fresh today as they did back then, perhaps more so, and you can hear shades of the sound that The Hives and Jet strive for with every release. A pleasure to have back. 8/10

Tone E

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Electric Soft Parade – Misunderstanding (Truck Records) 23/07/2007

Phew, that’s a relief – it’s NOT a cover of the old Genesis single. In actual fact, it sounds more like Teenage Fanclub doing a version of The Supremes’ “Stop! In The Name Of Love” and is suitably lethargic. B-side “Blue It Is” comes over all classical at the beginning and then sounds for all the world like it belongs in the musical canon of Brian Wilson, or perhaps Scott Walker. Moody and atmospheric, and probably better than the lead track. 7/10

Tone E

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Buy: 7"
 

 

Big_Arm

Big Arm - Flashbacks (Matchbox Recordings) 23/07/2007

Having heard that Shaun's brother and bassist with The Happy Mondays, Paul was working on a new project this was enough to get the juices flowing in anticipation of what I'd hear. I think it was before a Buffalo 66 gig that I last caught up with Paul, a project he was involved in with drummer Gaz Wheelan and despite this failing to produce anything other than the limited 'Hunk of Burning Love ep', I still recall our meet.

"Flashbacks" is precisely that, a slice of Madchester that I wouldn't be suprised is autobiographical of that era. Ryder's heavy bass is laid alongside familiar drums offered this time by Danny Short. Vocal accompaniment is also offered in heavy degree, by not just the author, but by 2 backing singers (Monyca Giles and Claire Smith) and drummer Danny.

This may well be a paler version of what the Ryder brothers once produced, but is filled with energy and plenty of tune to make it worthwhile catching. I hope that this time Big Arm goes further than the earlier Buffalo 66 and give us more than just the one release. 7/10

Nick James

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Down Boy (Dress Up / Fiction) 23/07/2007

The title track from the band’s “Is Is” EP is described as “sexually charged”. Well, I don’t know about that, but Karen O’s impression of a completely monged out Chrissie Hynde is fairly appealing, even if the song itself is not exactly memorable. The old “down boy” thing has become so much of a cliché in recent years that it’s actually reverted to its original “dog training” meaning, so every time I hear this I just think of Ms O being leapt on by a Labrador. And no, I am not thinking of this in a sexual context, before you ask. 7/10

Tone E

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Jakobinarina – This Is An Advertisement (EMI) 23/07/2007

Sounding rather like an Icelandic Wedding Present taking their cue from Stiff Little Fingers, the enigmatically named Jakobinarina write short, snappy three minute pop songs vibrant with a youthful energy. Whether they are actually serious or not is another matter; I suspect this is an extremely tongue in cheek tirade against money oriented corporations the world over and it’s a whole lot of fun. Loud, brash and gutsy. Definitely a band to watch. 9/10

Tone E

myspace

Buy: CD
 

 

Sound Sanctuary - Broken Signs (Lo-Tek) 16/07/2007

For this Kent based 4 piece, these are the first fresh fruits since 2005's 'Contact' mini-album and once again contains those "...watercolour miniatures..." that 'Musicom' heard when they imagined "Brian Eno producing The Everly Brothers...". It's more likely that you'll hear Gomez, a likeness that shines through on the lead track and the group's spacious production allows the room to fully appreciate their sound.

This is a number that howls pop and when you reach the B-side 'Collector', you'll be able to see the western deserts and cowboy's riding across them. In this new single the group have created something quite unexpected that should act as a good starting point for a career that should shine. I'll be watching this band and expect good things from them when I hear their forthcoming debut studio album, 'Dust'. 9/10

Nick James

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Chicane – Come Tomorrow (Modena Records Ltd) 16/07/2007

Whatever happened to the cooler-than-cool artist that even managed to make Bryan Adams sound gloriously up to date on their number one smash “Don’t Give Up” back at the start of the millennium? That was quite a remarkable record, whereas this one just sounds like a slightly souped up version of any number of early nineties dance hits, so much so that I keep expecting Seal to burst in and sing “And we’re never gonna survi-i-ive unless we get a little crazy”. Listen to it and tell me you don’t think the same.

To be fair it’s not a bad track, but Nick Bracegirdle is capable of so much more. 6/10

Tone E

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Buy: 12"
 

 

Loney, Dear – Saturday Waits (Regal) 16/07/2007

Emil Svanangen is an innovative Swedish artist who sounds uncannily like Belle & Sebastian, except unfortunately the acerbic wit of our distinguished Scots is noticeably absent from his blithe melodies. What is it with so many of today’s artists that they seem to want to send you to sleep all the time? I WANT TO BE WOKEN UP DAMN YOU! This is dull and uninteresting stuff that probably would have been better received if I hadn’t heard a handful of similar things before it… 5/10

Tone E

web site - myspace

Buy: 7"
 

 

Lightspeed Champion - Galaxy Of The Lost (Domino) 16/07/2007

The band's first single and one that certainly is tied in which direction to take. Melodies and rhythms come at the listener thick and fast and just when you're certain you have a hold on which way it's going, changes without notice. I think that the same confusion was decided upon when it came to writing the press release's description of their sound "...semi acoustic, country rock and folk pop...", ummm.

Confusing, difficult to pin-point, will it make a different transition to listeners? I did like the B-side "Waiting Game" however, a Sebadoh influenced number with a lighter shine, this could go far in my estimation and saves it from a dreadful score. 6/10

Nick James

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Fran Rodgers - I Fell To You Under Winter Sun (On The Bone Records) 16/07/2007

It would be hypocritical of me to say that I didn't like this new direction that Fran Rodgers had taken, it's just that All About Eve did it so much better. Well all right so the later band have little in common with the Anglo/French chanteuse Ms Rodgers et 'al, but the folky influence they use in their music (they certainly pick their guitar better than I could ever hope to), it just holds little to inspire and that's not a case of jealousy!

Nice music, just boring and with the 3 tracks offered (with the possible exception of 'She Dwelt Among Th'Untrodden Ways') very samey. I have ventured on previous recordings by this group and I have to say that from this I wished they'd not found this "new direction" as it is described. The ballsey approach would certainly have warranted a higher score. C'est la vie, you've got to try new things once in a while, I s'pose! 3/10

Nick James

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The Sonic Hearts – Hold On (EMI) 16/07/2007

T: The Hammond Organ swirls nicely in this upbeat summer song from Liverpool’s Sonic Hearts. It’s a catchy but throwaway pop single that neither offends nor excites. Background music for a week at the beach playing football with your mates. Nothing more, nothing less.

N: A debut single, that although not entirely remarkable on first listen, does perhaps fit the description of light pop that may have a lot in common with groups like The Magic Numbers, just uncommplicated songs with sixties pretences. On the other hand there is always "background music for a week at the beach playing football with your mates". 6/10

Tone E

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Buy: 7" / CD
 

 

The Bravery - Time Won't Let Me Go (Loog Records) 09/07/2007

A single that will hearald the release of the bands second album 'The Sun And The Moon', scheduled for UK release in the Autmn of 2007. Described as show casing their "new widescreen sound",if this single debuts the first fruits of this new dare-to-be-different approach, then its atmospheric substance is certainly worth a listen and so if the line "if I could do it all again, I'd go back and change everything", speaks of what they intend to do here, then maybe they'll get that chance. 8/10

Nick James

web site - myspace

Buy: CD / 7"
 

 

Bright Eyes - Hot Knives (Polydor) 09/07/2007

With each and every encounter with this band, my admiration and appreciation grows and I read from the press release here that I am not the only one. On a recent residency at New York's Town Hall the band were joined on stage by no less than Lou Reed, Jenny Lewis and Norah Jones, to name just a few.

This is a 2 track affair and I'll start, if I may, with what may be termed the B-side 'The Brakeman Turns My Way' a song that demonstrates just how weighty this band are and that bears echos of Pink Floyd's 'Final Cut', perhaps not the most popular Floyd album, but a fine one in my view.

This group are extraordinarily song writers, so with the lead track, a number that not only includes a fine lyric in the story telling vien, but also layered musical accompaniment that blew me away. Now-a-days Bright Eyes are more than just a song that Art Garfunkel wrote for the film 'Watership Down' and something I'm sure we can all be thankful for. 10/10

Nick James

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Bat For Lashes – What’s A Girl To Do (Echo) 09/07/2007

“Gloriously twisted!” said NME, “Nothing short of breathtaking” gasped The Observer, while the Sunday Times described Bat For Lashes as “stupendous” and “haunting”. Well, this miserable bastard says it’s a mildly enjoyable track that sounds like The Shangri-las having been put through a Siouxsie Sioux meat grinder. 6/10

Tone E

web site - myspace

Buy: 7"
 

 

Crowded House - Don't Stop Now (Palophone) 02/07/2007

The first single to be taken from their 'Time On Earth' album, an album that has been a long time in coming. Well 1993 was the last time we heard from the band once born from late 70's group 'Split Enz, but after such a long wait, has it been worth it? Well this has to be the first concern, as 14 years is a mighty long time to be out of the business, well with two founding members remaining from the original line-up (Neil Finn and Nick Seymour), I'm pleased to say it certainly has.

Finn's songwriting and liquid vocal are wonderful and with the added bonus of a one Johnny Marr playing electric guitar on this number, makes it extra special. I first heard this on the radio and with an interview with Finn, where he described his wonderment of working with Marr and watching the "shapes" he threw when playing, was enough to ignite my curriosity.

Everything here is just magical, from medodies, vocal, to the very performance, it has certainly been worth the wait. 9/10

Nick James

web site - myspace

Buy: 7"
 

 

James Morrison - One Last Chance (Polydor) 02/07/2007

T: R Kelly is absolute fucking shit. This sounds like R Kelly. You figure it out.

N: This singer/songwriter is from Northampton, so I have an affection for a local boy made good. I like James's vocal delivery even though his presentation may not be exactly my cup of tea, yeah it's girlie mush - my sister is a fan for pity's sake - but way to go James.

T: I don't care whether it's my next door neighbour or my best mate. It's still shit. Worse than Fall Out Boy for me.

N: I cannot necessarily agree, so I'm stepping out of the room at this point. 1/10

web site - myspace

 
 

 

Interpol – The Heinrich Maneuver (Capitol / EMI) 02/07/2007

I shall overlook the fact that they’ve spelt manoeuvre in a horrible way, because this is a triumphant return from the Big Apple’s finest. True, it isn’t much of a diversion from former glories, but it’s got the bite of “PDA” or “Slow Hands”, the urgency of “Evil”, and the pop sensibilities of initial influence the Kitchens of Distinction.

A fast, furious post-punk tune that ought to raise the band’s profile still further…even though they don’t sound much different from before… 9/10

Tone E

web site - myspace

Buy: 7"
 

 

Fall Out Boy - The Take Over, The Breaks Over (Mercury) 02/07/2007

T: If Wet Wet Wet can release a single that I like at some point in their career, then perhaps Fall Out Boy can too...

N: Well they've let Timberlake in again...

T: To be fair to young Justin, that single he did with Timbaland and Nelly Furtado was actually pretty entertaining, though this was probably down to the production...

N: It's emo on a stick.

T: Yep. That leaves them still one notch lower than Wet Wet Wet. And that's not good. 2/10

web site - myspace

 
 

 

Eugene McGuinness - Monsters Under The Bed (Double Six Records) 02/07/2007

T: Like the B-52s locking horns with the later incarnation of The Special AKA, this is a seriously quirky single which floats by quicker than you can win a blinking competition. I have nothing more to say on the matter.

N: I find that the vocalist seems to be suffering from a chronic case of Gordon Sumner larynx. Sometmes difficult to get past. 7/10

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The Screening - The Screening (Intravenous Records) 25/06/2007

T: The transformation of this band is nothing short of astonishing. Signed to the US label Intravenous and making a huge impact on that side of the pond, these lads seem to have attained a mouthwatering new arrogance and a swagger that will have Kasabian quaking in their boots, perhaps even ending up cleaning Messrs Lewitt and Nurse's boots. A big, bold and stupendously full sound with a brilliant array of ridiculous floor stompers that get under your skin like a plague. Occasionally they sound like what The Real People SHOULD have become, namely on "You Got Me", but creating the right amount of classy pop tunes to appeal to proper music connoisseurs and the general public alike. So good I almost shat myself.

N: And it's just a single? Where's the B-side?

T: It's a 7 track EP. What are you trying to say?

N: With a weight of material so solid, it could well be termed a mini-lp, and each and every track could be a single. 9/10

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