Single Reviews: December 2006

 

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Artist - Title (Label) re/le/ased

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The Twilight Singers – A Stitch In Time (One Little Indian) 04/12/2006

Wow, this sounds just like Johnny Cash in one of his more miserablist moments, in particular his version of NIN’s “Hurt”. Of course, hearing the great Greg Dulli performing stuff like this is pretty much as close as you can get to heaven at the moment. It actually gave me shivers down my spine listening to this EP and if anyone DESERVES an award for “outstanding contribution to music”, it must surely be the former Whigs man himself.

Anyway, if there’s been a better track this year than the lead one here – Live With Me” – I’m yet to hear it, and the remaining tunes that make up the EP are gorgeous atmospheric numbers that will make your life better.

Let’s just say if I was a girl – or of a different sexual persuasion – I’d be going weak at the knees from this music, such is its dazzling beauty.

An absolutely outstanding release. 10/10

Tone E

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Babyshambles - The Blinding e.p. (Parlophone) 04/12/2006

However you may feel about this artist, I'm sure you can't have failed to miss the coverage front man Pete Doherty has attracted of late. Whether it be his relationship with model Kate Moss, his mother's book, or the Arena programme the BBC aired a number of weeks ago. Well all that aside, this cheeky chappy, former heroin user, peoples poet and ex-member of The Libertines has released a value packed 5-track e.p. of songs.

Now I say value packed because this e.p. features all new compositions and not as one would expect, a bunch of songs raped from his 'Down In Albion' album. Just the fact that this shows the artist to be a most prolific one is a postive mark on his score card for me and another for the eloquant songs written for this e.p., making a truely blinding e.p..

The band's re-scheduled tour dates, that allowed Pete the time required to recover more fully after discaharge from rehab, are set to take place this month (December) and will see the band visit Newcastle, Liverpool, Bristol, London, Lincoln, Inverness, Glasgow, Middlesborough, Manchester and Nottingham. Playing these dates without a break over these 10 nights really is rock'n'roll and we wish Pete all the best for his contined recovery. 9/10

Nick James

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Spider Simpson – Heavy Metal Machine (Rampant) 04/12/2006

I’m sure this has the exact same intro as an old Wilt song – either “Distortions” or “Take Me Home” if my memory serves me correctly, but then it erupts into a boisterous rock song that’s easy to like.

It’s all pretty powerful stuff, and although there’s nothing wrong with either of the tracks on offer here, neither is there anything particularly original to write home about.

So, in essence, it’s like a bag of chips – tried and tested, quite nice, but nothing new. 7/10

Tone E

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Richard Ashcroft - Why Not Nothing/Sweet Brother Malcolm (Parlophone) 04/12/2006

If you're familiar with Richard's platinum selling album 'Keys To The World' you will be at no doubt of the quality and power of the tracks held on this double A-sided single. With 3 hit singles already spawned from this album however, I feel a little cheated that this single is being released just in time for the Christmas market. Yeah it's great, but if you haven't already, forgo this and go and buy the album, come to think of it perhaps that's the whole idea. 7/10

Nick James

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Ricky Tomlinson - Christmas My A*rse! (EMI Liberty) 04/12/2006

Described as "a fun musical romp through the things which define Christmas..." Ricky Tomlinson, The Royle Family's Jim Royle, the big screens Mike Bassett et 'al and Brookside's Bobby Grant (if you can remember that far back) embarks on spreading his festive cheer in the form of this, well musical romp. As a Christmas tune goes, this is nothing less that one would expect and with 3 versions available on the CD, perhaps the term "milking it" might apply.

Certainly fun and if you're a fan of Ricky's downcast comedy approach, maybe worthwhile, but no doubt will become totally obselete the day after the festive cheer has been drunk and only dug out again in 364 days time. Certainly not the best festive release, a whole lot better I'm sure than the tunes the regular girl or boy bands might care to release and basically in it only for the money, I hope it doesn't take the top slot.

And so with that, I'll pack up my ledgers, blow out my candle as I usher out into the cold declaring "Christmas, bah humbug". 3/10

Nick James

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Albert Hammond, Jr. – 101 (Rough Trade) 27/11/2006

A very “warm” sounding single from the Strokesman, and it’s really quite irresistible, with elegant harmonies, a sweet lullaby of a melody and the feeling that you’ve just crawled through a dirty pipe of all your wretched problems, eventually emerging at the other end triumphant and elated after leaving said troubles behind. A gem of a single. 9/10

Tone E

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Panda Kopanda - The Ocean Fire e.p (Cableattack!! Records) 27/11/2006

Following on from 2005's 'The Letting Go e.p.', this offering, just in time for Christmas stockings, see's this Belfast quartet bring to the table not just crackers and tinsel, but 5 new tunes that will surely stake their position as one of the city's most promising.

'About My Temper' kicks off this e.p., with vocalist Gavin Reid's unnerving lyrical telling, seating well with the band's angular musical approach. 'Ocean Of Fire' is a smoother number, with Reid's vocal the icing on what is a classic indie tune, with no pretenses and all the substance. From here I know that I'm witnessing something special and as 'I Know You're Hurting' comes into sight, another tune that appears to play in an open space until the kick drum makes and entrance and picks up the pace of the whole number. Guitars soar, whilst the rhythm section acts as the balast to keep everything tight - it's clear that brother's Jonny and David Agnew of the band had the regimented training of Classical Violin and Cello.

The later two tracks, 'Open Ground' and 'Spiderwebs In Empty Homes' are no different in their radience, with the earlier a melodic drive through open ground hustled in by a crunching guitar. Whilst the final track on the e.p. displays a wonderful calm, structured and melodic, with Gavin's vocals everso softly telling a tale I'll be honest and confess to still trying to work out.

This band are great. Visit their MySpace, order the e.p, go to their gig's, but for heaven's sake hear their music, but one last word - what the heck is pandakopanda all about? 9/10

Nick James

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Muse – Knights of Cydonia (Warner Music) 27/11/2006

Anyone who doubted the notion that Matt Bellamy is morphing into Freddie Mercury need look no further than the band’s new single – the closing track from the band’s excellent “Black Holes and Revelations” album.
Surely it’s only a matter of time before the slug moustache is cultivated, as “Knights of Cydonia” is a big, booming epic, both remarkably grandiose and at the same time exceedingly silly. Some would call it operatic genius, others will say pretentious twaddle, and although I can epathise with both points of view, the unavoidable truth is that it works extremely well.

Anyway, as long as Matt doesn’t start baring a hairy chest mid-performance or contorting his face into a series of agonising gurns whilst holding his microphone stand aloft, I think we’re all safe for now. 8/10

Tone E

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The Rapture – W.A.Y.U.H. (People Don’t Dance No More) (Vertigo) 27/11/2006

Well of course they don’t dance any more. That’s because this is a particularly unexciting pastiche of the Gang of Four that begins with a damp squib and continues to ebb along monotonously until the Haircut 100 guitars come in and the Blondie rap a la “Rapture” (fittingly) kick in to elevate the song to “Average” status.

Miserable git? Me? Oh bugger off, I have a horrible cold and I’m feeling like Mr. Hyde at the moment. I coukld snap at any time… 6/10

Tone E

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Tiny Dancers – Lions and Tigers and Lions (Parlophone) 20/11/2006

On first listen, this sounds particularly like The Charlatans in places and occasionally The Stone Roses. A quick glance at the production credits and you realise that it’s John Leckie behind the mixing desk so this should come as no surprise. Then the further you delve into this EP, you notice an abundance of harmonies and structural stylings that howl “BRIAN WILSON” at you. And indeed, The Beach Boys played a huge part in influencing this Sheffield based band. It shows in a big way, but luckily this is a good thing. Tiny Dancers have crafted a pleasing, fairly memorable EP as their debut release for Parlophone. 7/10

Tone E

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Juiliette And The Licks - Sticky Honey (Hassle Records) 20/11/2006

I always like the character portrayals Juliette gave in the films she's appeared in; Kalifornia, Strange Days, From Dusk Till Dawn and most importantly Natural Born Killers' - Mallory. This appears to have been the onscreen persona of her 'Licks' - manic and ultimatly beautiful.

In this role she is cast as a very beliveable rock queen, although scary with it. This is acidic rock, played at a frantic pace. Actress or Rock Medusa? Juliette Lewis appears she can do no wrong. 8/10

Nick James

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The Noisettes – Don’t Give Up (Vertigo) 13/11/2006

What starts as a pretty good impression of Shirley Bassey going “rock” actually transpires into an enjoyable diversion from the norm, with dirty booming guitars and thumping basslines. In fact, it’s starting to remind me of Daisy Chainsaw. Imagine the latter band having a mudfight with Queen Adreena, with perhaps a rather bad tempered Bassey as adjudicator and you’re pretty much there. 7/10

Tone E

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Protest The Hero - Heretics & Killers (Vagrat) 13/11/2006

Ok so let me put my audience clear from the start, this is speed metal - I had a friend at school who was crazy... - oh yes I should continue here should'nt I - about speed metal. He wore a leather biker jacket, tight badly bleached jeans, trainers and had scrawly hair - get the picture? Stereotype, yeah.

Well this seems to be the demographic Protest The Hero are panning after, but my stereotype was 20 years ago, so all's probably changed now. By the way these guy's play the guitar, it would seem that defys convention, like they've already cashed in their souls or something and isn't holding two fingers in the air supposed to signify a salute to lucifer the dark lord or something? - Not that this bears any relevance - (No not those two fingers, if that were the case Doctor Marten's, a suede head and a white T-shirt would be the dress code). Lyrics however are sang without the usual verve that accompanies this kind of music, oh no, got that wrong (someone's gonna need some thoat sweets after the session please).

Anyway I'll stop round about now, just to say that the band are from Whitby, Ontario (very exotic, no fish and chips eaten off last night's front headlines here you know) and currently have just rounded off a UK tour, which incidentally didn't stop off in their English names-sake (they don't know what they're missing). But after all my jesting and another play, this isn't as horrendous as it might have been, almost tuneful, as if the whole recording session had been put in a huge Magimix.

Although in terms of the band's forthcoming tour commitments, I would direct you to their website for further news concerning certain cancellations. 6/10

Nick James

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Boy Kill Boy – Shoot Me Down (Vertigo) 13/11/2006

Starts off sounding like those Coventry “shouldabeens” Adorable, at their wonderfully downbeat best, as used to such effect on, say, “Still Born”, but it soon deteriorates into a plodding, ultra clean “ballad” for wont of a better word that, whilst inoffensive, meanders from fence to fence without ever checking its soles for dogshit. Er…I think what I’m trying to say here is that this is neither going to send shivers down your spine, excite you tremendously or make you want to tear your hair out. This song would be a perfect description for the word “Ordinary”. 6/10

Tone E

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Tunng - It's Because... We've Got Hair (Full Time Hobby) 13/11/2006

The third single to be taken from their "Comments Of The Second Chorus" album and really what a disapointment. Evidently recorded live (you hear the coughs and the stratching of head's), but this is not the problem, it's just dull and with it, a side serving of dull too.

I know we've rated the band pretty highly in the past , but this time I'm not, it just did nothing for me. 3/10

Nick James

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The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy! (Vagrant) 13/11/2006

"...one of the most hotly tipped US bands..." and after a number of plays through my headphones of their debut single for the Vagrant label, I can justly see why. At first I was a little of sorts with their particular style, choppy changes and emo chants, but increbibly it all comes together.

It has been said that this band are somewhat like "Thin Lizzy playing Jonathan Richaman songs" or "AC/DC riffing through Springsteen's Born To Run", all this makes so much sence I feel overwhelmed, and have to add another, like The Lemonheads rehearsing Green Day in Evan Dando's garage, yeah that'd work, I'll leave it there. All that remains to be said, is look forward to the band's new album "Boy's And Girl's In America", due for release in January 2007 - ah, it's gonna be a good year! 9/10

Nick James

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