Single Reviews: November 2003


Clearlake - Can't Feel A Thing (Domino Recordings)

The third single from the band's "Cedars" album, and this time it's been re-recorded by Ben Hillier of Blur, Elbow and Clinic production fame.

T: Which is a coincidence, because I always think this band sounds exactly like Albarn's bunch. Still, there's no denying this is a top notch rock-out tune that only enhances the band's reputation.

N: This has all the right elements to my ears, a melody that you just can't ignore, and not in the Sophie Ellis Bexter "gauge your eyes out with a compass" kind of way either. But as a parent would take their child to ballet or piano lessons, perhaps it might be said in the hope of producing something in their own image. Ben Hillier is obviously doing the same with the likes of Blur, or these guys.But Hillier is not working with tots with a tendency to a precocious-ness. Thankfully, he's working with adolescents featuring all the rebellion that this age projects.

T: Probably the best track on the album, and worthy of being the third release from it. I hope that they choose not to release any more from it though, as I always consider three singles from one long player a fair amount. Any more is overkill. 10/10

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Distophia - Joanne (Necessary)

Apparently, vocalist Pete Dixon conceived an ambitious musical design ethic that incorporated golden melody and vast raging dissonance. Ok then...

T: The very fact that AD favourites Jetplane Landing have requested the presence of this band of their current tour speaks volumes for them. I can see why, this is a powerful, exciting and rather uplifting track that should complement Ferris and co well.

N: Well I don't know what the hell he's singing about, except in the title of the track, but that's fairly obvious, but this really is worth listening to. If you'd like a more blatant reference than this, the influence of an early Ash comes screaming at you, and not in some half hearted attempt either! 10/10

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Obi - To Some Folk/Sweethead (Cooking Vinyl)

This single is being released as a strictly limited edition of 1000 CD singles in mid November, for which each one has a unique painting by Simon Mackness, whose work through Dazed and Confused with Ian Schraeger and their Anti War campaign has moved him to the forefront of the UK's young and exciting new artists.

T: "To Some Folk" is a wonderfully heartfelt track in the vain of a more positive Sparklehorse. This deserves to be a huge success.

N: A huge success you say? Well, limited to 1000 I think it may find even charting difficult, but it could be deemed a little too "difficult" to gain acceptance from a mainstream audience, or even radio play come to that, excepting the again less mainstream programming.

T: Fine, what but do you think of it?

N: A nice little number akin to that of my favourite thing, no that's not a song, it's what I keep under my bed, take out every so often to feed and water, oh and stroke. Now we're getting dark.

T: (slaps Nick's face)

N: Ow! What was that for?

T: You were delirious. You'd lost the plot.

N: Oh right. Thanks. But what do I think of the song? A soft paced number that I'd describe as a post grunge chill-out bearing shades of Stephen Malkmus. 9/10

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Land Shark - Tie Me Up (PIAS)

One the better tunes I have heard for a while, atmospheric, moody, sexy and funky as f%*k!! Dark spoken vocals and a really driving beat with bass flanges and synth touches. You wont have heard a tune like this yet this year. With a release date of December 1 this one is a real winter warmer. 9/10

Nic Caesar



Sharam Jey presents Rox City/Put Ya (Underwater)

My favourite label of the year with yet another quality release. 'Rox City' written by the Iranian born producer was lost for two years after he moved studios only to be found this year and now is to be released on the 17th November. Snatchy beats and atmosphereic, almost creepy synths and rolling basslines. A true diamond in the rough!

'Put Ya' on the other hand is a more typical funky house track with repetive James Brown sample vocal. neverless it works well due to the quality of the production. Definitely a track to get lost in! 9/10

Nic Caesar



Belle and Sebastian - Step Into My Office Baby (Rough Trade)

A band certainly with an incredible history, now signed to a label with an even more incredible history, 'Rough Trade'. 'B&S' release their first single for the label and the opening track from their album, 'Dear Catastrospe Waitress'. A great album, we know that much, but how about the single?

T: The single finds the outfit in a far more confident and optimistic mood than we are ordinarily accustomed to. A bright and gentle lullaby.

N: To the album this is a great opener, I think you've encapsulated all that this single set out to achieve in the first place and it has done so well. "Confident" would make a great review, it's all that has to be said, so "Confident". 9/10

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Delays - Long Time Coming (Rough Trade)

Currently building up a fanbase by regularly supporting bands such as The Coral, the Thrills and Mull Historical Society, this is the latest single released in early November.

N: Why is he singing "Why do you wanna go to Macro"?

T: Alright, calm down. I think you may have misheard that! Anyway it's a very warm sounding single that incorporates rock, glam, indie and even a lead singer who sounds like Bon Jovi but still manages to come across as a pleasant slice of summer pop. Oh, hang on...

N: Oh, it's "What do you wanna go do that for?" but "throw your leg off in the lake" - what's all THAT about? I don't really think a song about a paraplegic is terribly nice, perhaps I should just listen a little more closely, and come up with a number of similarly crackpot themes.

T: Hello, is that the Samaritans?.... 8/10



Jersey Street Allstars - Burnin (Electricchair/PIAS)

A top notch slice of Mancunian modern soul taken from the UnaBombers recent mix album ' Electric Soul'. The original mix is good quality, dirty funk, with a porn noir electric guitar/organ solo which is pure class! The Raw Deal remix is a really funked up mellow mix with bongos and a hand plucked bassline blended with twinkles and soulful synth phrases. Very nice!

The B side offers two mixes by the Unabombers. The Basement remix doesnt really add much and the Basement Beats mix is more af a DJ tool to mess with than to listen to.


Nic Caesar

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Motion City Soundtrack - The Future Freaks Me Out (Epitaph Europe)

A quartet from Minneapolis, 'Motion City Soundtrack', now signed to 'Warped Records' and following an earlier tour this year as part of that labels 'tour', are now set to support the 'All-American Rejects' later this year. Not long to go then, but what about their single?

N: You mentioned 'Glam' with reference to the 'Delays' earlier, well this certainly not so much suggests, as screams this at you. In fact I'd go as far as saying a less tongue-in-cheek 'Darkness', but with many references that have so far made this band notable, what do you think?

T: I would offer that the greatest resemblance would be that of Canadian neighbours, 'Ok Go'. Catchy tunes, urgent vocals and a lazy production. And hey, there's nothing wrong with lazyness.

N: Ok, so to recap - for me these guys are a 'Darkness' that I can listen to and Tone, well Tone's just lazy, yeah?

T: I can't be arsed to answer that.

N: There we have it, proof if it were ever needed, but Anthea, "the scores on the doors"? 8/10

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The Thrills - Don't Steal Our Sun (Virgin)

The Thrills, a band currently enjoying 'prime-time' media exposure, release another hugely catchy 'summer-tune', in November, oh well at least the sun's still shining, on the Hi-Fi at least. (although I'll come clean and say that be it 'The Thrills' or just an act of God, November's shaping up to be pretty a nice month.)

T: To me this is a harmonious country tinged journey through sleet and snow - totally contradicting what you just said. But my road trip is just as enjoyable as yours.

N: Good job we don't have smutty minds then. 8/10

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - We're All In Love (Virgin)

Taken from the album 'Take Them On, On Your Own', this is the second released and not sound like BRMC, it does not.

T: This may sound hard to believe, but this sounds like 'The Beatle's' 'Help' to me.

N: Now there's a talking point, shall I get us back on track and say that a rock-steady riff, a' la BRMC, combines with vocals that are not a million miles away from those of 'BRMC', well there's no mistaking who it is, maybe 'J&MC', but that's something you'll have something to say about at least, so go on do your worst.

T: Well let me pull it out for you.

N: Sorry? (desperately attempts to justify his comment by playing the single once again)

T: There, hear it?

N: Ok, so what your saying is that the guy sings a phrase that to your ears makes a passing resemblance to that of 'Lennon & McCartney', for a split second. I'm sure that Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' shares a note with that of Kylie's 'I Should Be So Lucky', but come on man, sorry ma'am, pull yourself together now. Score? A dirty 8/10

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Erin McKeown - Born To Hum (Nettwerk America/EMI)

Described as a "perfect introduction to the delightfully skewed world of Erin McKeon", 'Born To Hum' does posses much of what made the album a hit with my deputy at least. This girl should be the next girl-sound, nothing like the Spice Girls and a Tanya Donelly for those searching for the next 'Belly.

T: As far as female lyricists go, Erin McKeown sits atop the pile. With humourous observations that border on 'nerd-like', this is one of her most endearing qualities.

N: I agree with all that you've said, but I can't help feeling that the lead track here should really have been the B-side and visa-versa with 'Slung-Lo'. Both incredibly catchy tunes, just of different qualities. 7/10

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Oxia - Special EP (Goodlife)

Featured many times on AD Oxia is back with a two track offering. Both are good intrumentals, deep and progressive but dont really go anywhere. This is my criticism of a lot of the more progressive type tracks. Too repetitive and not emotional enough to carry it. Having said that the production is good and the tracks would sit well in similar surroundings, within a progressive style mix. Good stuff but not good enough to appeal to a broad dance music crowd.


Nic Caesar



International Pony - Leaving Home (Remixes) (SKINT)

3 12" remixes, a UK Edit and a garage remix!!! Talk about pushing the boat out! But is it any good? Well... Yes. It is a quality piece of dance songwriting. Its not big room, bouncing stuff, more the back room deep house kind of sound. The good thing about it is that all of the remixes are working from good quality source material i.e. the UK edit. Lots of vocals , minimal beats and bass but tons of melody and rythmn.

The Garage mix is reminds me of past MJ Cole mixes but has its own character for sure. A nice mix, with silky vocals, lots of cuts of vocals in and out but it does work. The Special mix works well despite the vocoder vocals. Nice piano chords drop into a darker reverb bass and it builds from there. The track is in its nature deep and slightly dark and so never gets going as a stomper but its more for listening to then dancing your tits off to.

The better mixes by Radio Slave and Product 01 really take it to the next level and give a funkier more danceable feel. The Product 01 mix is a tough breakbeat/electro-boogie mix which I like a lot and will be included in my sets over the next few weeks.


Nic Caesar



The Veils - Lavinia (Rough Trade)

Well I know little of this band, other than they come with a fantastic biography, having previously toured with 'The Ravonettes', 'Beth Orton', '22-20's', 'British Sea Power' and 'The Bees', not to mention a history that is still in the making as they are set to tour with 'Cooper Temple Clause' and 'Suede' - well that should give the search engines plenty to get their teeth into - but this their new single, what do we think?

T: I like the musical arrangement...

N: Oh dear that sound ominous.

T: But I'm sorry to say I find the vocals...

N: Grating?

T: Rather too nasally for my liking and the worst thing is, he sounds like he's doing it deliberately.

N: Well if it's ok for Sophie Ellis Bexter.

T: You've got a thing about her at the moment haven't you.

N: I wouldn't so much describe it as a thing, maybe a pain in the neck and I wish Janet had not done the deed back in the days of Blue Peter, we'd all be saved the grief! 7/10

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DJ Format - Ill Culinary Behaviour (Remixes)Feat. Abdominal (Genuine/Pias)

Taken from the debut album ' Music for the mature B-boy' this single release includes 4 different mixes and two additional tracks. The first additional track ' Vicious battle raps' to me is a bit naff. Basically the beats etc are nothing to write home about and Abdominal's rapping style just sounds dated. The second track '2, 3,....Scrape' is a different beast all together. A rich and textured instrumental break beat that pitches and rolls all over the place and just, basically, rocks!

Now on to the main event ' Ill Culinary Behaviour' x 4 mixes. The Dj Format Instrumental is interesting enough with a great old style beat with lively horns, a funky bassline and a variety of other percussion adding to the mix. The DJ Format Remix includes the vocal and this for me is where it loses something. The rapping is fine but the style just sounds too dated, regardless of the quality of the beats. I'm sure if your in to the old school style raps then this will suit you but I would suggest you move on. If this is the sort of thing you like, I would recommend an old favourite of mine 'Candyman - Aint no shame in my game'(Epic)from 1990. If you like this, you'll love Candyman!!!

The Young Einstien Remix is basically the best. The beats sound jazzy and fit the rapping tempo better. Check it out!

Nic Caesar



Tim Burgess - Only a Boy (PIAS Recordings)

The ex-Charlatans frontman returns with the second single from his debut solo album "I Believe".

T: He's got well into his soul music lately hasn't he?

N: Tim Burgess comes back and proves that he still has talent, and not just inside the Charlatans. This certainly does possess a fair amount of soul. A great single, I would however comment that this really should have ben released months earlier. It sounds a perfect summer theme.

T: I wouldn't argue with that, but it didn't really do much for me. Maybe I'm being blinkered here, but his band have made so many classic tunes that I almost want him to make solo stuff similar to that....but then we'd probably criticise him for being too derivative. Ah well, as far as I'm concerned this is an ok single by a man who has proved to me that he wants to be Jackie Wilson. 6/10

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Iron Maiden - Brain Maker (EMI)

What, you're unfamiliar with this band? Surely not.

T: A surprising hip-hop /dance single that could've been made by 'Steps'.

N: Ok, so you've certainly increased their audience in one fell swoop there, whilst at the same time alienating ALL of their regular audience. I don't whether Bruce would laugh, or just sue you for deformation?

T: Ok, it's just like all their other releases, twiddle guitar bits and Bruce howling over the top. 5/10

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The Cornerstones – Smack Me In the Face (Redemption Records)

I was hoping this was going to be a pumped up, testosterone charged burst of mega-punk, but alas, instead it’s turned out to be a safe and harmonious release that keeps making me think of a camel. There really is no good reason why it affects my train of thought that way; I can give no reasonable explanation why it would put the ship of the desert at the forefront of anybody’s mind, but nevertheless that’s the image I am getting. My brain is currently a dromedary one.
Anyway, I found the music and especially the vocals too “nice” to have much of an impact here. 6/10

Tone E



Schwab – Bland Band Boogie (P & C Foundation)

Like a controversial marriage between the Dave Clark Five and the Wiseguys, where the White Stripes, accompanied by the Hives, refuse to “forever keep their peace” and instead leap defiantly on tables and massacre the attending party, a la Tarantino’s “Kill Bill”. This is most certainly different, and ought to take the nation by storm upon its release. It would be a surprise if this didn’t chart at some stage, despite its overtly sixties feel. A real rocker and something of a gem at that. It just remains to be seen how soon the novelty value would wear off. 8/10

Tone E



The Ghears – Inter: Flex (Offbeat Records)

This band comprises of members from all the home countries…except Wales.
They describe their sound as “experimental, post rock ‘n’ roll, minimalistic transcendent lock groove”. I would like to agree with them, but I don’t have the foggiest idea what the sodding hell they’re going on about.
The only thing that is immediately apparent is that this is yet another band so obviously hugely influenced by the Velvet Underground. Still, I always think that if you could only choose one band in whose clothes you could dress, Reed, Cale and co would probably be the most fetching outfit you could wear, if you were going to keep the future of indie rock alive and well. 7/10

Tone E



Sikth – Scent of the Obscene (Gut Records ltd)

In the words of Brian Potter, “what the pissing hell is this?” – well, I’ll tell you what – it’s rock, it’s death metal, it’s classical, it’s AOR, it’s grunge, it’s indie…ah what the hell, it’s just about every (half respectable) musical genre you’d care to mention…all rolled into one! But there’s one thing you could never accuse it of being, and that’s contemporary pop.
Loads of pained howling vocals, coupled with some beautifully phrased vocals…hell there’s even some hip hop in there somewhere. Quite frankly, this is the most ridiculous music I have heard in a long time and to say it messes with your head would be a hideous understatement. The funny thing is though, you can’t help but find it totally engaging even though you can’t put your finger on exactly why. Stupendous stuff. 9/10

Tone E



Rocket Science – One Robot (Eat Sleep)

One of the highlights of 2003 for me was this Aussie band’s outstanding “Contact High” album, and this was easily one of the best tracks on it. A fantastic driving rhythm with some effectively sinister vocals to push it along, and frontman Roman Tucker’s spoken moments also add to the magical mysticism of the recording. I don’t know whether “One Robot” was based on Aldous Huxley’s famous book “Brave New World” but that’s certainly the impression I got from the lyrics – “I’m one robot in a row/methodic and slow/my transmission is suffused/your city remains confused”. Whatever, this is a fine single backed with a new track “In My Head” (which seems to borrow the guitar riff from “A Girl Like You” but then develops into a chaotic rant in which Tucker’s microphone was surely turned up too high!) and an impressive remix of the main single that ought to be used for the forthcoming new series of “Dr.Who”! 9/10

Tone E


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