Single Reviews: August 2005

 

Funeral For a Friend – Monsters (Atlantic) 29/08/2005

I’m really surprised that the band have chosen to release this track as their next single. It’s rather like a twice as heavy version of something from REM’s debut album “Murmur”. Having said that, it’s only HALF as heavy as anything FFAF have released before and I kind of expected them to either continue with their “screamo” assault on the charts with something like “Recovery” or go all guns blazing for a major hit by releasing the one that has the broadest appeal – “History”.

Then again, what do I know? This might well be massive… 8/10

Tone E

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JJ72 – Coming Home (Lakota) 29/08/2005

Finally making their long overdue comeback after 2002’s “I To Sky” album, JJ72 seem to have chosen to release a single that isn’t a million miles away from latter day Suede. I could definitely imagine Brett Anderson singing it anyway…

This band is always listenable, and while this is far from the most memorable thing they’ve ever put out, it’s still a very hummable composition and I must say the artwork is utterly beautiful! In fact, if I were marking this purely on the sleeve, it would unquestionably have been awarded full honours!

As it is, perhaps it’s a grower. Not a bad little tune but far from their best. 7/10

Tone E

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The Cribs – Martell (Wichita) 22/08/2005

I recently gave The Cribs’ second album, “The New Fellas”, a glowing review and top marks, so you may be surprised to note that I’ve only given this single a paltry eight.

Why? I hear you ask. Well, mainly because although I still think this is an excellent tune, there are just so many other superior tracks that would have made better singles.

Still, there’s no doubting the fact that The Cribs are one of the bands of the year and their admirably careless compositions are of tremendous appeal. Great stuff. 8/10

Tone E

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Sigur Ros - Glosoli (EMI) 15/08/05

T: I was just thinking how unusual it was for Sigur Ros to release a single for a change, but then I noticed it was available on download only, which kind of explains it. This single starts off in a fairly similar vain to the Arcade Fire's "In the Backseat", but soon transforms itself into the kind of ambient stuff we've become accustomed to with this ensemble. A bit like being led gently through a fantasy dreamland where the world is your oyster. It was a damn good spliff anyway...

N: Atmospheric and beautifully textured, this single - or download - is possessed with an ethereal quality that may conjure up visions of The Cocteau Twins, and clocking in at just over 6 minutes, contains an easy going air that grows and grows until in a crescendo, it blows the candle out. 9/10

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Sons and Daughters - Taste the Last Girl (Domino) 15/08/05

T: Sometimes you have to be big enough to admit you were wrong. That's YOU I'm talking about of course, Nick. For me, I'm generally right all the time, but I must confess I made myself look a prize muppet when I last reviewed Sons and Daughters, by saying they did nothing for me. Well, I deserve to be burnt at the stake for saying that, because now I've seen them perform live at the Summer Sundae festival, I UNDERSTAND where they're coming from and can see the quality behind their music. Of course, being burnt at the stake would be a BIT harsh, so I'll make do with a burnt steak for dinner. And hey, that's just as bad for me, because I'm veggie. Oh yeah, anyway, to the music - a stomping number that ought to see the band break into the big time.

N: I told you - a band whose energy is clear enough and I'm glad you've finally seen the light. 8/10

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Johnathan Rice – Kiss Me Goodbye (One Little Indian) 15/08/2005

A fine choice of single from Mr. Rice, being something like a cross between Joe Strummer and Prefab Sprout and without a shadow of doubt the best track on his impressive debut album.

It’s an absorbing “wind down the windows and belt it ou” kind of tune that will almost certainly become synonymous with your summer holiday this year (if you haven’t already been on it, that is!) – Peter Buck has become a big fan lately, a fact that culminated in Rice supporting REM at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium just a short while ago.

Johnathan looks to be headed for superstardom. Watch this space. 9/10

Tone E

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The Alps - World At War () 15/08/05

T: Yet ANOTHER band that sounds like the Gang of Four, until you get to the unashamed plagiarism of the outro of The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". Still a pretty decent debut single, if not entirely original or momentous.

N: A single that slipped by without a great deal of fuss, and to be honest left no lasting impression.

T: In other words, we are of the same opinion. 5/10

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Magnet – Hold On (Atlantic) 15/08/2005

Like a downbeat Beck track with instrumentation by Bjork and produced by Rufus Wainwright, this is an emotional song that is high on celestial strings and Flying Pickets backing vocals!

In fact, ALL of the tracks here are very similar to Wainwright’s recorded output, particularly that on “Poses”. That’s certainly no bad thing – I like a bit of crooning every now and again.

Even Johansen then, aka Magnet, is the 21st century’s equivalent to Perry Como. I just hope he has better sweaters… 8/10

Tone E

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Babyshambles - Fuck Forever (Rough Trade) 15/08/05

N: After upsetting media at the Live 8 event earlier this year when he "performed" with Elton John, the outspoken Pete Doherty lays down the similarly out-titled "Fuck Forever" and encourages us to get inside this single.

T: I find Doherty a fascinating case study. I DO think there are large elements of "tortured genius" there, and instead of the press hounding him and lambasting him at every opportunity, he ought to be pitied and helped in equal measure. Quite frankly, it seems the tabloids are rubbing their hands in anticipation of a seemingly inevitable early death. This single will do little to restore the confidence of writers or casual observers alike, but the more you listen to it, the more it grows on you. Sadly, I doubt if it will garner enough airplay to appease the masses.

N: I'd eagerly awaited the release of this single, and like you've said, find it somewhat distasteful that this artist is lambasted for what society has made of him. Three versions are featured here that don't exactly strive to be different, but do beg to be understood. 7/10

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Alabama 3 – How Can I Protect You? (One Little Indian) 15/08/2005

Ah, it’s like having an old friend round for dinner when a new Alabama 3 single plops onto your doormat…

“Outlaw”, as the sane ones amongst you will already know, is a glorious celebration of the UK’s historical seedy underbelly, and “How Can I Protect You?” is one of the many highlights from that little beauty.

Rather like an early nineties alternative dance anthem (see Pop Will Eat Itself), but blended splendidly with a big rousing chorus that sees the band backed by the hugely successful Irish band Aslan. Brilliant. 9/10

Tone E

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Iron Maiden - The Trooper (EMI) 15/08/05

T: Normally at this point, I would go on and on about how I was a snotty nosed teenager with spots and greasy hair, unable to get a girlfriend at the time I was an Iron Maiden fan. Not this time though, as I still consider this to be the finest thing the band ever released. A defiantly memorable riff, some great lyrical content and bundles of energy. All that and an absolute classic of a sleeve design. Forgive me, but I'm just going to run off and get my old jeans with the patches on them...

N: I bet you looked good in your unwashed denim and face. Did you chant the words in meditation?

T: No, but I certainly played the air guitar at my bedroom window. Hmmm...I wonder if the woman over the road REALISED that was what I was doing....bit worrying perhaps... 9/10

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Magic Numbers - Love Me Like You (Heavenly) 08/08/05

T: This is by far the most commercially accessible track on the much lauded band's debut album, and it IS a corking sunny tune, but I can't help feeling that the radio has killed it somewhat by playing it every time somebody blinks. You'll never need to buy it, because if you put the radio on, it'll already be playing. Still, like I said it IS a great summery track.

N: UUUURGHH!! UUUHHHOOOUUGHHHH!

T: Sorry?

N: I was sneezing. Like the Mamas and Papas, this band seem such unlikely figures to have been made pop stars. Candy filled tunes that deserve their success, but be careful not to overindulge. 8/10

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Jersey Street - Blessed Is The Man (Electricchair/PIAS) 08/08/2005

3 mixes available on this 12". Best of the bunch is the '4th and back refix' vocal version. Good vocals and fat, slow beats make this a real keeper! Unusual new soul style which is great and will definitely stand out in any soul set! 8/10

Nic Caesar

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Morning Runner - Gone Up In Flames (Parlophone) 01/08/05

T: I can't help having a picture of Mike Scott from The Waterboys going jetskiing with Hothouse Flowers when I hear this. It's un ultra-feelgood summer tune and finishes far too quickly. But I like that.

N: From an introduction that hinted at nothing inspiring, this band do make up ground with a rousing number in which I can picture scenes of a bobbing audience on a summer's day. A real crowd pleaser and as has been noted before, a number that as soon as it starts, it's gone. 8/10

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The Rakes - Work Work Work (Pub Club Sleep) 01/08/05

T: Sounding somewhere between Squeeze, Billy Bragg, The Vapors and Ian Dury, this is by far one of the highlights of The Rakes' debut album.

N: Ditto. I like the namecheck that the band give the Wetherspoons pubs. 8/10

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Engerica – My Demise (Sanctuary) 25/07/2005

What comes across as a “bloody racket” the first time you play it becomes a scorching hot, raggedly infectious belter of a single with each subsequent listen.

Less than two minutes long, it’s something like the equivalent of an increasingly irritated B-52s being taunted by The Cramps whilst having their backsides set on fire.

I’m delighted to report also that the other track included here – “Arsehole” – is another blistering bullock buster not too far removed from the Pixies’ “Tame” or “Rock Music” and there’s no escaping it – this is a damn fine release. 9/10

Tone E

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The Blue Van – Revelation of Love (TVT) 18/07/2005

This new Danish band is apparently gaining major plaudits in the US at present, even garnering the highest praise from such colossal institutions as Rolling Stone magazine, no less.

It’s easy to see why; “Revelation of Love” is a great stomper of a tune that smacks of the mid to late sixties – The Stones and Small Faces specifically, but the band utilise more of a modern day production, perhaps closer to that of The Strokes than anything else.

One thing’s for sure though – if they carry on the way they’re going, this is going to be a BIG blue van… 8/10

Tone E

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Switchfoot – Dare You To Move (Columbia) 18/07/2005

One of those new breeds of “soft” rock music that we’ve come to expect from the likes of Rooster or Maroon 5 and, to be frank, it really doesn’t do much for me. I mean, sure, if you’re on your hols and relaxing in the blazing sunshine by a spectacular blue ocean or swimming pool, you wouldn’t complain it it was on in the background.

Right here and now though, it kind of goes in one ear and straight out of the other. I guess it’s ok if you like that kind of thing. 6/10

Tone E

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Wrath Supersevens – June release (Wrath Records)

These 4 tracks are the first two episodes of the new Wrath Records Supersevens singles club, and my word, don’t they just sparkle?

Quite possibly the finest ever “singles club” release I’ve ever heard, in fact. Each track is beautifully written and carefully selected from Wrath’s mightily impressive roster.

Kickstarting proceedings we have the wonderful Being 747’s “DIY Prescriptions”, growling sulkily like a cross between The Stranglers and a seriously downbeat Mark E Smith. This, in fact, is probably one of the best tracks I have ever heard – by anyone!

The Lodger’s “Getting Special” is up next, evoking memories of Colour Field era Terry Hall and featuring a chorus that is rather like a Weller-esque middle eight and it all makes for another brilliant track.

There’s no let up after that though – Stuffy/The Fuses “Sir Wants Sex” is an equally marvellous outing with shades of Pixies and Devo, and possessing lyrics akin to that of David Gedge.

Final track, “Copier” by The Secret Hairdresser, is like a gloriously fucked up musical orgy between Lush and My Bloody Valentine and full of unashamed bravado.

All in all, this is a ridiculously superb 4 track CD which is often on “repeat” in my car – and I hardly EVER do that! 10/10

Tone E

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