Archive for April, 2006

April 15, 2006

WHIRLWIND HEAT – Reagan (CD EP)

Reagan CoverBrille BRILEP03CD: 10th April 2006
1. Reagan
"And if I could change it all, I don't think I even would"
2. Memory
"Losing my emotions one by one, sold my thoughts to a pregnant nun"
3. Macho Man
"Waiting for a people to decide for you, complaining 'bout the way that they've helped you"
4. I Fucked Up Reagan
"I've learned so much from you, the romance betrayl too"

'Reagan' strikes you right away because it's so much smoother than Whirlwind Heat's previous efforts. It's got that African influence of some of Talking Heads' best stuff. The drums, bass guitar and some other instrument (Whose name escapes me) combine to make an irresistibly funky sound. I remember at nursery school when we'd sit down and joyfully make music with Triangles, Glockenspiels, Maracas and such. If that scene were in a Hollywood movie it would sound like this (Instead of the dreadful din that we actually produced). The lyrics are simple yet effective in describing a relationship gone wrong.

'Memory' sounds like fantastic Californian band 'Cake', after a serious mental breakdown. 'Macho Man' is like two men that are clutching their copies of the Guardian and the Daily Mail, and having an argument with Microphones. 'I Fucked Up Reagan' is a short and sweet acoustic guitar and kazoo demo of 'Reagan'.

I vividly recall being thrilled by the ferocious cacophony that 'Whirlwind Heat' produced when I saw them supporting The White Stripes on the Elephant tour. With 'Reagan' they've succeeded in channelling that energy into something that could and should have a wider appeal. This is a huge leap forward.

Meat Packer mp3

Whirlwind Heat Website / Whirlwind Heat MySpace Page

April 13, 2006

THE MACCABEES – Latchmere (CD Single)

Latchmere CoverFierce Panda NING180CD: 10th April 2006
1. Latchmere
"Came out of the changing rooms and absolutely sod all had changed"
2. Bicycles
"The quickest route to Paradise, is a short commute to Paradise"
3. Happy Slap
"I'd have a happy slap, I'd have a heart attack"

'Latchmere' is an ode to swimming pools, which is quite an odd subject to tackle. With shouts of "Stay in your lanes" it's also about rebelling against authority. The shouts of "Latchmere's got a wave machine!" sound like joyous calls to throw off the shackles of oppression and go have a splash around. Musically it sounds similar to Bloc Party but with more of a pop touch. This is truly bizarre and all the better for it.

'Bicycles' has been available for a while under the title 'Bicycle Rush' (I've added a link above). It's about people being disillusioned with a poor Train service and switching to Bicycles. Again it's another weird and wonderful pop gem.

'Happy Slap' isn't as good by a mile, it's just fairly bog standard art-rock. However, the other two are fantastic and with their seemingly mundane subject choices they've turned lead into gold.

Colour It In
X-Ray
Lego

The Maccabees Website / The Maccabees MySpace Page

April 13, 2006

THE HOLLOWAYS – Happiness & Penniless (CD Single)

Happiness & Penniless CoverSensible SENSIBLE002CD: 10th April 2006
1. Happiness & Penniless
"And now he's unemployed, he lives on milk and bread, his graduates account is so far in the red"
2. What's The Difference?
"What's the difference between you and me, your faults and your flaws, you fail to see"

The lyrics to 'Happiness & Penniless' are brilliant.  They're nothing earth shatteringly profound, they just list the various pains of life, when you're strapped for cash.  The words just come thick and fast and demand you to sing along.  The sound is the usual Clash thing but you'll be humming the tune for ages.

'What's The Difference?' has a bouncy Reggae-Rock sound with an almost Billy Bragg like vocal.  It has a great guitar solo in the middle that reminded me of the one from 'Let It Be'.  I also love when he sings "Sympathy-e-e".  This could have easily been a double A-Side.  I'd been wondering if they had any other tunes to match the amazing 'Generator'.  Thankfully they do.

Fuck Ups
Generator
Great Britain
Re-Invent Myself?

The Holloways Website / The Holloways MySpace Page

April 13, 2006

ISLANDS – Rough Gem (CD Single)

Rough Gem CoverRough Trade RTRADSCD311: 10th April 2006
1. Rough Gem
"They want me raw, but smooth like glass"
2. Big Bluff
"Over looking stuff, feels good, eyes closed, big bluff"
3. Rough Gem (Remix)
"I'm straight like denim, laid out like venom, just cut from a rough gem"

'Rough Gem' sounds like a fantastic Indie version of Dire Straits' 'Walk Of Life'.  Like Kanye West's 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone', the lyrics never really get to grips with the subject of the Diamond Trade.  The lyrics to this are more concerned with the general metaphor of a 'Rough Diamond'.  The little touches of the Harp are amazing and the Recorders sound far removed from the usual School days din.  The front artwork is a lovely comic strip made from the songs lyrics in Robert Crumb style.

'Big Bluff' builds like The Velvet Underground’s 'Heroin', it surfers badly in comparison.  The Remix of 'Rough Gem' has a completely new vocal provided by an unnamed frenetically fast rapper.  It's not entirely successful but it's certainly an interesting move for a b-side to an Indie single.  So the b-sides aren't as good as the a-side, but never mind it's available to download above.

Islands Website

April 9, 2006

ARCTIC MONKEYS – Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys? (CD EP)

Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys CoverDomino RUG226CD: 24th April 2006
1. View From The Afternoon
"You can pour your heart out, around 3 o'clock, when the 2 for 1’s undone the writers block"
2. Cigarette Smoker Fiona
"Well I never came from no ghetto, but it wasn't nowhere near here"
3. Despair In The Departure Lounge
"No signal and low battery, what's happened to me"
4. No Buses
"Her eyes went down, and cut you up, and there's nothing like a dirty look from, the one you want, or the one you've lost"
5. Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?
"Just cos we're having a say-so, not lining up to be Playdoh"

'View From The Afternoon' was the amazing opening track from the album. This was one of only two songs on that album to not have been available before as a demo. Now the tables have turned and this is the only track on here that isn't new.

'Cigarette Smoker Fiona' is a re-write of an old demo. The music remains mostly unchanged but the lyrics now reflect the head-fuck that's fame in general. In this new version the bass led instrumental break is enhanced with some cymbals taken straight from the 'Theme To Shaft'. This was always one of the songs that it would have been criminal to have left unreleased.

'Despair In The Departure Lounge' is a woozy lo-fi song that's similar to 'Riot Van'. The lyrics convey the disorientating experience of being on tour and missing the one you love. The delivery of the final line makes having no signal on your phone sound like the most heartbreaking thing imaginable.

Alex Turner's voice has been cheekily compared to George Formby. I hadn't really noticed until I heard the distinctly Ukulele like guitar on 'No Buses'. Like the previous track this is another low key song about loneliness.

As the sarcastic title suggests 'Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?' is about the band confronting the haters. Most band's fans wouldn't care. But the Arctic Monkeys are a band that more than any other, has been created by the dedicated early fans. So a song speaking directly to those fans shows that they have no intention of selling out any time soon. This is another rock song to finish the EP in style. It's got a really sinister bass part towards the end and then a shout of "Bring on the backlash" ushers in some crashing guitars.

It's great that they've gone to the trouble of recording some new songs and not just releasing the old stuff. But in case you haven't heard the old stuff, here's some mp3s.

Original 'Cigarette Smoke' (Demo)
Choo Choo (Currently Unreleased)
Wavin' Bye To The Train Or The Bus (Currently Unreleased)
Knock A Door Run (Currently Unreleased)
Space Invaders (Currently Unreleased)
On The Run From The MI5 (Currently Unreleased)

Arctic Monkeys Website / Mardy Bum Fansite

April 9, 2006

MAMA SHAMONE – MySpace Demos (Downloads)

Mama Shamone 11. Over
"Let's get scary, and leery, you know it's only early"
2. You Got Me
"I'm a special girl, I'm infected with your love, I'm getting sicker, I'm getting weaker, and I can't pull through"
3. Feel
"I feel paranoid, sick and scared to even answer my phone"
4. Flip X Rules The World
"It's people like you that make me glad the world gonna die someday"
5. So Good
"I'm on the dark side, I'm feeling lucid, I'm at your back door, don't need excuses"

Mama Shamone 2'Over' mixes glitchy retro computer sounds with pulsating Electro and some fantastic guitars. This is the kind of thing that Peaches should be making. The bit at 2.17 where it slows right down and then rapidly speeds up is ace.

One half of 'You Got Me' sounds like a lost Pet Shop Boys classic. The other half is what The BellRays would sound like if they discovered Synths. One part is all sweetness and light, the other is down and dirty.

'Feel' sounds like 'Tubeway Army' or 'Joy Division' at their most pop (And pop at it's most fucked up). The screeching towards the end gives Iggy Pop a run for his money.

'Flip X Rules The World' also sounds like The Bellrays but with a nod towards The Donnas. The lyrics are about following your heart and damn what anybody else thinks.

'So Good' is like something from the 'Blade Runner' soundtrack that's gone off the deep end. The guitars sound like they were borrowed from the Grange Hill theme, which has to be good thing. Unfortunately it was removed and replaced by 'Flip X Rules The World' as I was writing the review.
Mama Shaone 5 Check out my brother's live review and his amazing photos (The band have used some on their MySpace page) at Music Like Dirt.

Mama Shamone MySpace Page

April 9, 2006

VINCENT VINCENT & THE VILLAINS – I’m Alive / There Is A Cloud (CD Single)

I'm Alive, There Is A Cloud CoverYoung & Lost Club YALC0005: 27th March 2006
1. I'm Alive
"When I look into the mirror, for what's written on my face, my reflection's got nothing to say"
2. There Is A Cloud
"Lover forgive me, if I seem cold and strange, this cloud hanging over me, got my face all re-arranged"

As before, this is a Rockabilly style meeting of The Clash and Dexys midnight Runners. It's also got a nod towards Surf music and the classic pop of Buddy Holly. Unlike previous releases that had already been available as demos, these two are entirely new.

'I'm Alive' isn't as instantly catchy as first single 'On My Own' but it's miles better than last single 'Blue Boy'. For reasons that I can't fathom this reminded me of The Beautiful South. It's about feeling a bit out of sorts, so out of sorts that your pen, face, shadow and any other inanimate objects seem to turn against you. Then you decide that you've been inside too long, so you go out and the breeze upon your face makes you feel alive. Every line in this song brings a smile to my face, it's genius.

'There Is A Cloud's description of depression covers similar ground to 'I'm Alive'. In fact, these songs seem like they are two parts of one story. Like a cloud, Vincent's depression soon passes "It takes more than one cloud, to keep me under the weather". Once again the lyrics to this song consistently delight.

The video (Available to download below) is one of the best (And cheapest) I've seen since 'Motorcycle' by The Rumble Strips. Learn all the dance moves, I dare you.

I'm Alive Video

Vincent Vincent & The Villains Website / Vincent Vincent & The Villains MySpace Page

April 9, 2006

TWO GALLANTS – Steady Rollin’ (CD Single)

Steady Rollin' CoverSaddle Creek SCE92CD: 27th March 2006
1. Steady Rollin'
"You might have seen me 'neath the Pool Hall lights, well baby I go back each night"
2. Dappens
"The voiceless debate, when the clock's face is straight, just echoes these pale bathroom walls, where I wait"
3. Don't Want No Woman Who Stays Out All Night Long
"You leave now, but you'll be back 'fore long"

'Steady Rollin' opens with demented laughter and recounts the story of an ageing man who is a murderer, a thief and a drifter.  Then he meets a girl who makes him think about changing his ways.  It's the same red-raw vocals over-country rock mix of brilliant last single 'Las Cruces Jail'.

Acoustic country epic 'Dappens' builds slowly and subtly until at the end the pain in Adam Stephens' voice is palpable.  At six and a half minutes long, there's also time for a few soaring Harmonica solos.

Blues-rocker 'Don't Want No Woman Who Stays Out All Night Long' is cover of a song by Nehemiah James.  It's louder and brasher than everything else I've heard by this Duo, but it's also weaker.

Las Cruces Jail (Radio Edit)
Waves Of Grain

Two Gallants Website / Saddle Creek Website

April 9, 2006

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB – Amateur Man / Ban The Gin (CD Single)

Amateur Man, Ban The Gin CoverFantastic Plastic Records FPS058: 3rd April 2006
1. Amateur Man
"As the shutter falls, his ship has sailed"
2. Ban The Gin
"A woman drowned her baby for the money for her clothes"

'Amateur Man' starts off with a scream of "Ahhhhh" then rapidly slams on the brakes. Then goes into a jerky bit of interplay between the bass and drums. It's all about the build up and release of tension. The bit that's going to get stuck in your head is the shouts of "A-a-a-a-a-a-amateur man".

The government in Victorian times where so desperate to eradicate Gin Shops that they subsidised ordinary people to open pubs that sold just Ale. Soon there we're pubs on every street, Gin Shops closed and the landscape of modern Britain was born. Listen to Radio 4, you learn stuff all the time. You think, that documentary about Gin Shops was interesting but when is that information going to come in handy? Well thankfully this band have written a protest song about it called 'Ban The Gin', and I'm writing a review. It sounds like a superb artier version of the Pixies.

Click here to watch the 'Amateur Man' Video

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club Website / The Victorian English Gentlemens Club MySpace Page

April 9, 2006

GOODBOOKS – Walk With Me (7″ Single)

Walk With Me CoverTransgressive TRANS025A: 3rd April 2006
1. Walk With Me
"I don't go down on my own, I can't bare to be alone"
2. Start/Stop
"There's fire, on the city streets, black sooty eyes, that stare, but never meet"

The quite creeping opening of 'Walk With Me' reminds me of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'.  At about 1.30 it kicks off with some Art Rock guitars and at 3.30 it goes all Rapture with some cowbells.

For the most part 'Start/Stop' is Art Rock as well, except in the middle it changes into heavenly accapella pop.  Then the bass guitar comes back in for the final part.  This is the stronger of the two tracks.

This isn't as good as their masterpiece in waiting 'Passchendaele' but it's still worth having.  Next time they'll have to try a little harder.

Passchendaele (Demo)
Leni (Demo)

GoodBooks Website / GoodBooks MySpace Page