Single Reviews: August 2003


Tim Burgess - I Believe In the Spirit (PIAS)

The Charlatans' main man goes solo at the end of the month with this release, produced by Linus who has worked with Puff Daddy and Lil Kim.

T: A change of direction for one of our favourite Mancunians here it would seem, and I think the production plays a huge part in that, as Tim goes all Marvin Gaye on us with a CD single full of tracks that are maybe a taster for his very own "What's Going On". Let's just hope he doesn't suffer the same fate.

N: Marvin Gaye plays Supertramp favourites in a small club round the back of the Red Devils' training ground. I can hear his earlier incarnation inherent in the music, but this is a most interesting take produced by one of indie's original superstars. 8/10

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Million Dead - Breaking the Back (Xtra Mile Recordings)

Recorded in Swansea's Mighty Atom Studios with producer Joe Gibb at the helm, London based Million Dead release their second single for Integrity/Xtra Mile in August.

T: I think one of the reviews received by this band sums it up better than I ever could - "Emo meets Hardcore and then kicks its teeth in". That's about right, a powerful fireball of a record that stands head and shoulders above most of the other artists in their genre.

N: Certainly a fast paced tune, but does he have to do his best impression of a spoilt child inn the supermarket whose mother won't let him have that bag of sweets on the second shelf? Stamping around, STAMPING AROUND!!

T: I don't know, I think that's maybe what sets them apart from their contemporaries. Personally I've certainly listened to many artists who can scream their vocals and get away with it. I think it works. I think IT WORKS!!

N: I don't think you're wrong, but be warned, this may have a tendency to feel like a menstruating gopher. Not tonight dear I have a headache. 7/10

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Stop (Virgin)

T: This band really have got the art of a dirty, sleazy tune down to a tee. Some might say that they sound a smidgeon like Oasis when they burst forth with their fresh and exciting "Definitely Maybe" album, and there is certainly a certain undertone of that here, albeit a more grunge infested one. Still, this is another appealing single that makes you feel like you need a mud scalp to clean off the stains afterwards.

N: New material from their forthcoming album. The first airplay I heard of this was on the Bob Harris show recently, and I can certainly hear the references you make, but each time I hear this band I am reminded of the Jesus and Mary Chain from "Automatic" on. Fantastic single from a band breathing life into music at the moment. 8/10

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Inner City - Big Fun Remixes (12inch) (PIAS Recordings)

The A side brings you a Fillipo Moscatello Respect mix. A very obvious mix. Not really challenging the original version as he uses all the elements of the original in a very similar arrangement but just updates the beats. The B side sees Phil Kieran going to work on it and coming up with a more original and less obvious use of the elements. There are some nice breakdowns on this one. Thank God the original was soo good though! 5/10

Nic Caesar

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A - Good Time EP (London)

A have been around for a hell of a long time now, but only broke into the mainstream with their "Nothing" single last year. This is their first release since their hugely successful "Hi-Fi Serious" sold in excess of 100,000 copies.

N: Are these guys employing the rhythm section from Jane's Addiction? Something rings of familiarity here. A well structured tune, but one I'm afraid that didn't exactly rock my boat, although i do think that this will possess that x-factor when it comes to radio play. "The hook" is a good one.

T: What do you mean, the rhythm section? Surely you mean the whole band! It's the whole scheme of things right down to the nasal Farrell like vocals. Sadly though, it's probably more like the next generation of Addicts because it falls way short of the quality of their peers' music. Not that it's a bad single, it's ultimately more listenable than the majority of other regular hitmakers' work. But you say it didn't rock your boat - it didn't even wobble mine. 6/10



Agoria - Spinach Girl Feat Sylvie Marks(12inch) (PIAS Recordings)

Sexy vocals and a catchy tweaked keyboard riff, coupled with a twitchy little house beat and you have a fine track. Some interesting vocals which sounds like she has 'Sweaty eyes'!! Good production on this, the sound is very clean. The B side has two tracks on it but nothing that interesting. A Jean Michel Jarre styled track called 'Snake Hips' and a reworking of the A side called 'Spinach Spleen'!Mmm nice! 7/10

Nic Caesar

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Small Victories - Go Back to Bed America/One day My Son (BoobyTrap Records)

T: Sounds like a cross between the Longpigs, Mansun and Geneva. Some of it's quite haunting, some of it's uplifting but some of it's just bland. I don't kniw whether you'll agree here but some of the more haunting parts remind me of Leicester's very own Dizzy Valise.

N: You forgot to mention Travis, but yeah, I'd say ultimately a well written couple of tunes here. But nothing to get excited about. On the subject of Dizzy Valise, I'll refrain from comment at the risk of incriminating the innocent. 6/10

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Tiga - Hot in Herre ( 12inch) (SKINT)

Much as the CD single with a few slightly interesting mixes. Nothing really to write home about. 4/10

Nic Caesar

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The Ga Ga's - Breaking America (Crisis)

An interesting mixture this one, the band hail from Japan, Brazil, Somerset and Birmingham. So how does this affect their sound?

T: Foo Fighters spring instantly to mind. How about you?

N: I felt the bulk of the track's content failed to exceed that of the initial intro, but give them their due - this in fact does turn into a nice little number. Chug-chug guitar and all the elements that would make this unique are surpassed by too many cliches to really cut it in this light. We've heard it before so in judgment, the jury's still out.

T: Foo Fighters remain in mind. Sorry, that's all I can think of. It was a late night. 7/10

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Psychid - Digging For Victory (db records)

This is the fourth single to be lifted from the Oxford four piece's self titled debut album.

T: It's a good job I am a big fan of Beck, given the fact that this sounds remarkably like him! A great sweeping guitar sound that is reminiscent of the Orient (no not the football team) helps this track along admirably and maybe there's a touch of the great Gary Numan in there somewhere too.

N: Beck and a bit more I think, yeah Numan, or maybe a culmination of influences borrowed from around the early eighties music scene...and even Neil Hannon I would figure. I am looking forward to hearing the album though, reviewed in August's albums section. 7/10

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Frank Black and the Catholics - Everything Is New (Cooking Vinyl)

Yes, yes I know I get overexcited whenever the man himself returns and now is no exception...

T: You may be expecting me to mark this as a ten just on the strength of the name (as you do with the name Ride), but, although i think this is a great single where in the main the lyric is extremely strong, the fact remains that he rhymes "Everything is new" with "when the sky is blue" and that line kind of makes me cringe. Otherwise it's as good a single as I've come to expect from this legend.

N: Lyrically this reminds me so much of early Springsteen, you know. I'm not saying this is bad - far from it - or that Frank should grow his hair long and cast his eyes downwards in search of those effects pedals. It's ok, but not the Pixies (fairly obvious I would think).

T: But I wouldn't WANT it to be like the Pixies. i mean it's a different band altogether and if it HAD sounded like them it would have shown a lack of imagination. Frank Black and the Catholics are a great band in their own right.

N: Well that's what I was saying... 7/10

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Stylophonic - Way of Life (Prolifica)

This track may be more familiar to you than you realise, as it is being used this summer for soft drink giant Fanta's TV commercials. The fact that the microphone is taken up by Shock-G from US hip hop crew Digital Underground will probably establish this as a cult classic at least in the underground clubs if not also on the dance charts.

N: This is like venturing into the world of the Matrix where deja vu rules. I'm gently reminded of Fun Lovin' Criminals on the radio edit, but it has to be said, without the flair. In all honesty, this is so much "music by numbers", there's really nothing to dislike about it, but on the same tack, you could never accuse it of being groundbreaking. Yeah, ok, a nice little number.

T: Interesting comment about there being nothing to dislike, because, as odd a comment as this may sound, I think that's the reason I don't like it much! 6/10

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Homegrown - You're Not Alone (Eat Sleep Records)

A group of post twenties producing raw punk driven tunes helped along the way by the skills of producer Steve Evett.

N: Oh dear, another boy band, but hold on...on closer inspection, they're not "clean" enough, and that's just from viewing the cover.

T: That's exactly what I thought, but then when I played the thing, it was a nice uptempo piece of emo that is like a fusion of local Leicester future starlets My Awesome Compilation and Blink 182, with perhaps a pinch of the humour of Sum 41 added in for good measure. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised.

N: But again, nothing "groundbreaking". In fact, what it was that I liked most about this was producer Steve Evett's production.

T: Some more cruel and less open minded critics may call this the thinking man's Busted but with more whips and chains, and I can see why they would, but I feel this would be doing an injustice to the band somewhat. A word of advice though guys, if you want to avoid that kind of remark, change your bloody record sleeves!

N: The image IS cliched, but not too cliched, in all honesty, this was probably down to the photographer, who the week before this shoot, had been working with A1 (I guess)! 6/10

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Stag - Gotta Get Away (Karma Lion)

Armed with more tunes than your average rockers could throw their proverbial hat at, Stag is a three headed beast with no inclination to book a seat on the latest bandwagon or to make hollow, sensationalist statements. Ok, I admit, I nicked that quote from the press release as it was such a good intro. Sorry Ian!

T: We're only making plans for Sta-ag...

N: I can't say that I'm really knocked for six by this, but it does have its roots planted firmly in the genre of classic rock. I can even sense the spirit of prog rocker Mr.Wakeman in there. Elements of Bowie, Stones, Yes and (as you say) XTC comes to mind, but damn good heritage all the same.

T: Though I would add that on subsequent tracks the vocals lean toward both Roy Wood and the McNamara brothers from Embrace. Nothing special, but certainly worth a listen. 7/10

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Bowling For Soup - Punk Rock 101 (Music For Nations)

Preceding their headline appearance at the forthcoming Reading/Leeds festivals, the band return with the follow up to their top ten smash "Girl All the Bad Guys Want".

N: Possessing the cover that Homegrown should have bagged, BFS will surprise with the use of A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran" on track two. But is that surprised, or just following a tried formula? Alright I suppose, but I don't normally take to this. That said, the guys will put on a good show for you. Nuff respect though, but where's the ridiculous haircut?

T: I'll be honest. I hated their last single. I loathed it with a passion that I normally reserve for Westlife or Celine Dion, so it was going to take something special to win me over. Now, whilst I have to say that this certainly ISN'T anything special, it has definitely hit it home to me that the boys just do NOT take themselves even remotely seriously! That sits well with me, so perhaps they've gone up a tad in my eyes. Still, they do sound exactly like (to mention them again) Sum 41. In fact, I think this IS Sum 41 in disguise. No in fact, they didn't even bother with the disguise.

N: But they are friends with Wes Craven apparently, and will make a cameo in his new horror flick, "Cursed". Should this be taken into consideration? 6/10

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The Libertines - Don't Look Back Into the Sun (Rough Trade)

Another Bernard Butler produced track, this is taken from the band's critically acclaimed "Up the Bracket" album, soon to be achieving gold status.

T: Sounds like a cross between late fifties/early sixties pop, and early eighties new wave, the sort of stuff that gets bundled onto one of those "Once In a Lifetime" type compilations or the ones that are erroneously labelled as "punk" by ill informed marketing people. I like this actually, it has a kind of appealing "naive astuteness" about it. I realise that's kind of a contradiction in itself but I think you'll understand when you hear it!

N: The Libertines have developed their very distinct sound early on, but whether or not they've married this with instant recognition I'm uncertain. A combination of guitar, production, vocal and content have enabled them to derive this. Not altogether different from earlier outings though. 7/10



Funeral For A Friend - Juneau (Infectious)

Possesing the cool of being from Wales, post hardcore sensations 'Funeral For A Friend' set about releasing the live favourite 'Juneau' as a single and follows on from the groups debut EP 'Between Order And Model'. Well having aired the band within these pages before, what do we think now?

T: Iron Maiden meets Slipknot in a medieveil jousting competition, but with real medieveil torcher instruments.

N: Shouldn't the use of these be kept to the competitors though?

T: (Laughs) Maybe, but I'll stay locked in the toilet if that's alright with you.

N: Sorry, can't hear you, I've got this bloody noise in my head.

T: So we'll agree this is bloody awful then shall we?

N: Would this be a good point at which to mention that 'Funeral For A Friend' is a song by Elton John then? 4/10

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