Spotlight issue 34 (November 2005)


Psychic Drive - Dead Roses EP (Unsigned)

Since his foray with hugely underrated West Midlands outfit Birdland, Lee has reinvented himself as Lizzy Lee Vincent and now operating out of New Yoyk he has brought with him two unknown girl protegees to power out these three punk rock driven tunes under the heading of the "Dead Roses" EP.

T: A thunderous batch of songs which are at times, fittingly, reminiscent of the New York Dolls, although occasionally there's a glimmer of the Jesus and Mary Chain in there too. There's no lack of emotional depth in these songs and they can have a tendency to make your hair stand on end. Not only are they dark and broody tunes with a compulsive listenability, they also have a fiercely infectious hook. Watxh out England, Lee Vincent will soon be descending like a big fat pigeon showering his golden shit all over us. Absolutely outstanding stuff.

N: These three songs are indeed the work of an ethereal force. As an outfit, Psychic Drive are a very credible proposition with strong songwriting and Lee's liquid lyric, the hooks and thump thump make this a dream of a band. In fact, on "Shooting Gallery", the song moves into "Heaven Up Here" Bunnymen territory, paying homage in the best way it can. Brilliant. 10/10

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The Research - The Way You Used To Smile (Unsigned)

T: Quite a fascinating release by this Wakefield based outfit. Kind of reminds me of an underproduced Sleeper, but with the attitude of Siouxsie Sioux. I love the part that sounds like Norman Collier is behind the engineering desk - all stuttering starts and stops - and did actually enjoy the song rather a lot despite its overly basic construction.

N: I'll agree that although I was initially unimpressed, subsequent listens did find me warming in a way I would never have assumed I would. In fact, that "overly basic construction" does find me following the tune in my head even though it's long since finished. Clever that! 8/10

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Conspiracy - Electric Bitch (Artizone)

N: Big, isn't it?

T:
Keep telling yourself that and you might start believing it...

N: Alrght I shall! Conspiracy are like some throwback to a dark cellar sometime in the early eighties, but I'm not being disparaging when I say this, as I was weened on this electronic verbage. Eurotrash but better - a band with Ultraviolence tendencies, although a little less acidic. In fact, this is how the product might sound if Dave Gahan collaborated with Andy Bell.

T: But surely you mean if Dave Gahan collaborated with Vince Clarke...oh..hang on a minute....well, that little error of judgment aside, this is like the seedy underbelly of the seedy underbelly of dance music. There's no question that there's something unfathomably filthy about the sounds these guys make, and it's all the better for it!

N: Funnily enough I was just thinking that - perhaps a Gahan-Clarke composition, but I certainly agree this is indeed a filthy set of songs and as you say all the better for it. Looking forward to hearing more. 8/10

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The Far Cries - Stepping/The Edge (Play It Again 7)

The second release from burgeoning new label Play It Again 7

T: I hate to put bands down, and maybe you need to be in the right mood for this group, but I must confess I'm quite bored with it and we're only a minute or so into the second track. Perhaps it's because the vocal doesn't greatly inspire me, or maybe it's the overly repetitive feel, but something just doesn't quite click for me I'm afraid.

N: Well maybe it's that pastry that you're waiting to eat. I like its repetative nature and male vocalist Martin's deadpan presentation coupled with the recording, certainly these met my ears as stablemates Mono Taxi did on THEIR first listen. Familiar strains of an indie circa 1993. These guys do it so well. Did you catch the "Hounds of Love" reminiscent harmonies on track two?

T: (Nick plays back song) No I hadn't, but I can see what you mean; however this doesn't make me like it any more. Sadly I just find this whole CD tremendously dull. Ah well at least they seem to have won ONE new fan over!

We're going to have to mark this separately, as our respective scores are WAY off from each other. No doubt they will be fonder of Nick here at Atomicduster who says 8/10 while Tone will be furiously scratched from the band's Christmas card list by givig a paltry 3/10


N: Oh well, you can't win them all, but I can certainly hear the potential this group holds and would urge readers to take a trip to the bands website, where you can sample audio, as well video and well perhaps drop us or them a line with your comments. Either way we'll start a dialogue on the issue.

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Pink Strip - Demo EP (Unsigned)

T: Well, this little lot starts off quite fascinatingly with "Matishe", which is like a disco diva strutting her stuff over something by Black Sabbath...or even Megadeth. While at times the band graze a bit too close to the pastures of Kelly Clarkson for comfort, it cannot be denied that the band are a breath of fresh air because of their seemingly insane juxtaposition of two startlingly different worlds of music. I don't think this band will have too much trouble finding a label, as they're not really that much like anything else out there. S Club 7 meets Slayer. Heh.

N: Mmm, this slick demo comprises polished and original songs, with instrumentation apparently recorded on a very D.I.Y. basis, but sounding like a million dollars.
Although I felt the lyrics did fall into a fairly generic manner, a la Heart circa 1987, this whole feel may come from the fact this demo does sound expensive, so you're right, we've NOT heard that around for a bit, so is probably ripe for the picking. Didn't necessrily float my boat but whilst this craft is still very much seabound, in my opinion the likes of Tommy Lee's is positively sinking. Authentically rock all the same, and refreshing for it. 8/10

The band have attracted label interest from the likes of Island records among others, but would still like to urge those interested, in whatever capacity, to contact them.

contact the band

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Vic Twenty – Electrostalinist (Unsigned)

A fascinating album that was brought to my attention by the great Hicks Milligan-Prophecy and one that, now I’ve listened to it properly, I have deemed worthy of an in depth(ish) review!

The band has chosen to kick off proceedings with the ultra poppy “Dim Star” which could have been written by Jarvis Cocker in his prime and surely is a contender for a future top twenty hit, given the right backing. This is followed by the intriguing duet “Benny Hill’s Not Alive Today”, in which our boy/girl vocals evoke memories of The Beautiful South’s “Perfect 10”, albeit a much cooler version. Nice harmonies on the chorus and entertaining lyrics.

“Why Do I Want You (When I Don’t Know What I Want)” is astonishingly reminiscent of The Beloved at the height of their fame and that’s no bad thing, and then we have a song where a girl sings about kissing another girl (“I Kissed a Girl”). Excuse me, I’m off to the bathroom for 5 minutes…

Ok, I’m back now, and “Everyone Has Their Own Agenda” is a surefire winner, again putting me in mind of an electronic version of Heaton and Hemingway’s band and this is continues on the ultra catchy “Big It Up”, which wouldn’t have been out of place on Chumbawamba’s relatively recent “Un” album.

Appropriately, to follow that, we have “Unpack”, which showcases the kind of electronica that was utilized to such a sterling degree by Soft Cell on their legendary “Non Stop Erotic Cabaret” album; in fact I can just picture Mr. Almond singing it between “Sex Dwarf” and “Bedsitter” at a gig.

Then we’re hit with a baffling cover of The Carpenters’ “Close To You” which, to be honest, I’m not sure whether I really like or despise! It’s certainly different and the missus thinks it’s the best thing on the ealbum, but pfft, she likes Jamiroquai so what does SHE know?

Another band that seems to have made an impact on Vic Twenty is Erasure – I noticed that on several tracks and found it most evident on “I Sold Your Heart On Ebay” and “Ibiza Mon Amour”. Really, this should put me off altogether because I was never a huge fan of Andy Bell and co, but it doesn’t, because the album seems to enhance the pop sensibilities of the duo without overdoing the cheese element too much.

“Space” is another hark back to The Beloved but by now there are shades of Depeche Mode coming through as well and my suspicions are confirmed on the final track “8-Bit Hit”, which is a “Just Can’t Get Enough” for the Playstation generation.

All in all this is a hugely enjoyable listen. I admit that, at times, the sparkle doesn’t QUITE get going, this is definitely a good, innovative album that would be well worth every penny of your well earned cash. 8/10

Tone E

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The Automatic – Recover (b-unique) 24/10/2005

Yet ANOTHER bunch of Gang of Four wannabes, but this time it actually feels slightly different. In fact, it’s as though they have stolen some of the lesser known members from the more obscure punk bands of the seventies and joined them up with a funked up, pharmaceutically enhanced early Aerosmith. Then they’ve argued with each other incessantly until they’re at the height of their angriness, and at that point they’ve recorded this song. That’s more than likely why it’s so damn good! 9/10

Tone E

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The Modern – Jane Falls Down (Mercury Records) 24/10/2005

This New Cross five piece make music that is described by them as an “antidote to pub rock”, whatever that may mean. What it actually sounds like is Saffron from Republica duetting with Damon Albarn while The Killers provide the musical backdrop.

You can definitely dance to it – not that I would use that as a plus point, you understand – and it’s got a relatively nice bite to it. It also starts sounding a bit like Duran Duran the more you listen to it and as a result I have made a mental note not to play it in the car when my mate Paul is with me; I fear other road users will be witnessing a small UFO otherwise…

All in all this is the equivalent of half a bowl of Ready Brek. 7/10

Tone E

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This Et Al – You’ve Driven For Miles And Not Remembered A Thing (Double Dragon) 03/10/2005

A fine release indeed from this Leeds / Bradford quartet, and one which seems to be a three way collision between Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age. The latter band’s influence is enormously evident on both tracks here and some of the accompanying music turns into this total wall of noise on “All You’ll Ever Be Is a Dancer”.

It’s interesting to note the bands that other magazines and publications have compared This Et Al with – Interpol, Mogwai, Sonic Youth – I mean ok, I can see the last influence but what were these other reviewers on?!! Having said that I’ve only heard a few of their tunes so far so maybe I shouldn’t jump the gun. In fact, I must stop jumping over guns completely. Not only is it dangerous and silly, it makes the living room look bloody untidy. 8/10

Tone E

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