Spotlight issue 35 (July 2006)

 

Low Sparks - Out Here in the Woods EP (Put Label Here) 05/06/2006

T: If I'm totally honest - and the band won't thank me for this I'm sure - this reminds me of a slightly more alternative version of Matt Bianco when it begins. Thankfully, after a while it turns into a dirty, fuzzy tune that is a whole lot closer to The Zutons than any of their listed influences (it's nigh on impossible to see any traces of Neil Young, Tom Waits or the Jesus and Mary Chain)!

N: No, I was struggling with those influences myself, but perhaps it was more the case of bands that they had lp's of when they were younger, and after all, pretty heavyweight to namedrop a few of these. I think you've hit the nail on the head though when you picked up on The Zutons. These come crying out as a band to note when trying to cross sell this group. And you're right - the do get better. Live with them for a while. 7/10

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The Haize - Demos

T: If you'd told me this was a selection of hidden gems from the mid to late sixties, I would have been mightily impressed. In fact, I AM impressed, but it's just that I can't exactly see where the band is likely to go because it is SO firmly esconced in that particular decade. Sure, bands like The Coral made it with a similar sound, but this is like authentic sixties stuff, production included, and I'm not sure if that kind of thing is likely to appeal to the mass public market. Undeniably great tunes though.

N: Those influences that are referenced by this band are clearly visible, I'll agree. Even a latter day Richard Ashcroft. Lyrics/ most certainly ring of a youthful progression through life. I feel we may be catching a band who are, as we stand, at their very genesis (no beards please), and you're right, the way this band will go remains unclear. Very generic musical patterns that definitely require some work, and stroonger vocals, but all that will come with experience. 7/10

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The Hawk - Tied With Tiny Strings

T: This Kentucky quintet sound not even vaguely like any of the artists that inspired them, aside from Jeff Buckley, but I'll tell you one thing - I can imagine these guys putting on a gig to remember. Rowdy and varied, mixing almost country music with a marching band on track two "All Over Again", The Hawk definitely possess that certain spark that should propel them further forwards in their career.

N: Nuff respect. This is heading in the right direction from the very beginning of this e.p. Kicking in like Television's "Marquee Moon", the music builds adding textures and vocals to create an epic soundstage. In fact, I've got to ask why haven't we already heard of this band? Admittedly the later tracks do change pace and direction, but altogether this comes across as a very competent - and confident - package. A little honing may be viewed, with benefit, but after all, who is perfect? Tone?

T: Correct. 8/10

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The Climb - Who Shot Lana Clarkson? e.p.

T: The artwork screams Little Feat at you at a thousand decibels, but musically it's a million miles from that. In fact it's a bit like a slightly alternative slice of American AOR, and to be honest I find it a tad dull. I can see that they're aiming for a No Doubt kind of sound, and I can see the potential here, but for the time being it's not quite clicking. With better production, perhaps this would be more effective.

N: I see what Andrea is getting at when she notes, on sending us the CD, that it "sounds better on some players than others", as the production does appear a little suppressed, but altogether I view this as a pretty respectable affair, reminding me of Julianne Regan and All About Eve. Would certainly benefit from a little more pace. 6/10

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Sub Rosa - Tea For a Viper

T: I can see why Sub Rosa are regarded as one of Leicester's bright new hopes. They do after all produce music with the right level of intensity to give off a pretty "full" sound and the overriding result is one of a cross between The Music, The Shining and Kasabian. Possibly one of the more likely local bands to follow in the latter band's successful footsteps.

N: It's amazing what production can do for a band. This kicks in with a trebly refrain, and doesn't appear to get any better when the vocals come in. I get the feeling that this isn't how the band want to sound from how their music is arranged, and it's not nice to hear vocals drowned in a sea of guitars and rhythm. However, saying that, from the second track, "Never before", this changes, and it's almost like listening to a different band. Production is far weightier, and this number acts as a fine calling card for the band. In fact, the further you proceed through this single, the more I wonder why they chose "Tea For a Viper" to head this. 7/10

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Joe Matson - Blues On D

N: The artwork that accompanied Joe Matson's offering here gave us nothing with which to draw an opinion as to wjat it may sound like. One guess was Rock, the other was Acoustic. We were both wrong, so coffee making duties is still up for grabs.

T: You know who this reminds me of, ahead of anyone else? The Robert Cray Band, which is quite a compliment to the artist. Until you get to the balladic "Diamonds", which utilises a string effect to the max. Intelligent songwriting that's impossible not to like.

N: The first two numbers were songs I felt were fairly uninspired, perhaps better heard live, and to be honest I couldn't hear the Robert Cray reference you made. Perhaps I'll have to return. As for the later two tracks, especially "Diamonds", this changes, adding a whole new dimension to the artist both lyrically and musically. 6/10

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The Pocket Gods - Brian

T: This band sounds a bit like I'd expect the Kills to sound after they'd inhaled some seriously heavy shit. It's basically ever so slightly fucked up rock 'n' roll, and that actually gives them a kind of edge that appeals to me at least. It would appear that the late John Peel agreed too, and the track "Sussex" has been snapped up by the American Sports company O'Neill's to spearhead an ad campaign, so it's going pretty well it would seem. Another reference is a slightly less childish Moldy Peaches. Either way, this is hugely enjoyable.

N: But hold off just one moment, I think it should be mentioned that this is not your average rock 'n' roll band, and may take a while to penetrate, for anyone tuning into Peel's radio show in the wee small hours of yesterday will have the advantage and may get where the pocket gods are coming from
. Admittedly when this was first played, it could be described as trying to take some particularly nasty medicine. I can almost sense the strain and cockeyed demeanour, although the further I proceeded through the six track e.p. I began to understand where the band were coming from, especially the Mark E Smith influence noted. 6/10

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