Every week, one of our writers will be given a selection of tracks – they could be unsigned, they could be international superstars. Any genre could be included, and the writer gets one week to give their verdict on each song in under 100 words. This week, Craig Forshaw takes his turn. If you like what you hear, click on the band names to visit their website, and if you want your music to be included in the future, send an MP3, picture, short bio and link to email@example.com.
Scream’ by BIM
‘Scream’ most sounds like the future of end credit tracks for Japanese anime series about the inevitable fusion between man and machine. When this singularity approaches, we will ascend from the Earth as machine gods, colonising other worlds and converting them into boring grey nano-goo. Within the goo, our minds will become as one, and we will truly know each other. This is probably why BIM, “Scream”: when our minds are joined, we will truly know the depths to which the human mind can plummet. Every dark, dirty secret. Even yours. Yes. That one. (It’s also enjoyable and dancey.)
‘4 – 7 – 0’ by One Shot Progress
There are many words that can be used to describe ‘4 – 7 – 0’, but sometimes we need to be a bit more creative to fully express ourselves in the most succinct manner possible. The word that best describes my reaction is, therefore, “Pleasitating”. This portmanteau sums up the constant straddling of the fence, between enjoyable and tedious, before eventually veering away from been-there-done-that rock towards something a little more varied and enjoyable. Recommended, with reservations.
‘Pravada Scrolls’ by Modern Faces
‘Pravada Scrolls’ is quite good, make no mistake, but the one part of this rock track that stuck with me the most was the phrase, “jaded complexion”. It struck me as odd. What is a jaded complexion? Jaded, of course, means, “to lack enthusiasm”. Meanwhile, complexion means, “the colour, texture or appearance of skin”. That made me wonder… how can colour lack enthusiasm? Perhaps an image search on google would be enough to explain what they meant… However, the search just produced pictures of make-up containers and women of Asian heritage. Colour me confused.
‘Screwface City Dub’ by Screaming Soul
Imagine a disused, London Underground station, with shafts of light cutting through the persistent murk from somewhere above, when a carnival, all steel drums, colourful dancers with silk handkerchiefs, stomping Morlocks dressed in rags, and a floating cherub choir with beehive-haircuts, triumphantly and ecstatically prances out of one tunnel. If you can imagine how that looks, that is how this track sounds: a wonderful, multicultural, swooping and looping mixture of various underground samples and sounds over a well-paced, seductive beat. Lovely stuff.
‘Lie to me Darling’ by Kings and Aces
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ has always been a favourite show of mine, and one episode that stands out from the early seasons is, ‘Lie to Me’, in which a bunch of Gothic posers learn that vampires are less, “lonely wanderers”, and more vicious pricks. You may wonder why this review has wasted half its word-count on a topic mostly unrelated to the track or the band, but one of my failings is that lies do not easily trip off my tongue, darling. Instead, it is better to say as little as possible, especially of this dull, guitar-based indie-pap… oops.
Every week, one of our writers will be given a selection of tracks – they could be unsigned, they could be international superstars. Any genre could be included, and the writer gets one week to give their verdict on each song in under 100 words. This week, Mellanie Moore takes her turn. If you like what you hear, click on the band names to visit their website, and if you want your music to be included in the future, send an MP3, picture, short bio and link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jodie Marie– I Got You
I can’t seem to recall anything exciting about this song. After a second and third listen I was still struggling to figure out a ‘thing’ about it. I do know that she has me though, but even that recollection was aided heavily by the title. All that stayed with me was the melody. I could hum that for you at a moments notice. Other than the melody and Jodie’s gorgeous syrupy voice I’m not grabbed by this song at all. All it brings to mind is a quadrillion montages in a quadrillion romantic comedies that use songs like this one.
EJ – Mama I’m Gunna Sing
A quarter of the way in I’d decided that anybody would dance to this song. Obama, he’d love it. Boris Johnson, he’d go mad. Ivana Trump, King Jong Un…They would all lose their shit to this song on a dance floor. There’s not much singing (and we all know you shouldn’t lie to your mama), but if you’re losing your shit on a dance floor with the POTUS, Mayor of London, Ivana Trump and a Korean dictator, you don’t focus on the little things. Obviously. There’s not that much more to say. It’s a dance track, I want to dance.
The Enemy – Gimme a Sign
This is more like it. It’s forceful and melodic, but not overly poppy as seems to be the risk with rock + melody at the moment. Such peppiness would render the guitars a false accessory, but the track is sufficiently gritty and the guitars are the backbone of the song rather than a generic addition. It’s a perfect blend of anthem and melody with no 80s cringe. I’m not quite sure what eponymous signal they’re waiting for. I’ve no problem dancing with a strangers foot smashed into my face and a spilled pint down my dress while I find out.
Joshua Caole – Sweet Sweet Eyes
What exactly can a man do with a riff stolen from The La’s and a jar of aspartame and ocular organs? He can write this song of course! The riff bothered me for the first half of the song and when I’d figured out why it was familiar it was my favourite part. It was sufficiently distracting that it’s all that remains memorable, even after several listens. All I know is he can’t help falling for some sweet sweet eyes, and they’re not even his. Otherwise the song is dull. My favourite part is from elsewhere, says it all really.
Every week, one of our writers will be given five tracks – they could be unsigned, they could be international superstars. Any genre could be included, and the writer gets one week to give their verdict on each song in under 100 words. This week, Janice Jong takes her turn. If you like what you hear, click on the band names to visit their website, and if you want your music to be included in the future, send an MP3, picture, short bio and link to email@example.com.
WIRESCAN – “Amps”
I’m not usually a fan of electronica, but this track was a pleasant surprise. It is a cheery song with a sunny disposition that reminded me of ‘80’s music without being cheesy. At first, I thought this would be great music to play in the background at a party, but my kids both loved the track and it got them dancing – it’s definitely fit for centre stage. This track is the perfect length – it is interesting the entire way through and there are no slow bits, even without any vocals.
Jo Hamilton – “Alive, Alive”
Jo Hamilton has a beautiful, haunting voice. She sings like a human cello, with clarity and emotion. I loved the first thirty seconds of this track where Jo Hamilton reminded me of k.d. lang with her soulful lyrics and serious temperament. Then, the beautiful sounds were invaded with otherworldly alien noises. This ruined the track for me – as soon as the strange sounds started, the piece took on a cartoonish quality and the delicate emotional balance was destroyed. I found myself unable to focus on the lyrics – I could only hear the invasive sounds. I kept thinking about Bjork and outer space and the entire experience was ruined. Pity.
Pepper – “Running Rings”
This is a song that I would turn up to full volume in the car. It is also a song that I would be tired of listening to after a couple of weeks. (Ahhh…such is my fickle nature.)
“Running Rings” is a high-energy pop track with a repetitive and pervasive raw acoustic guitar backing. It has a slightly angry vibe that showcases Pepper’s gorgeous voice as it intertwines with the choppy guitar. Our local pop radio station loves to play chipper tracks like this; it would fit right in to their regular playlist.
Padraig Whelan – “Off & On”
I wanted to like this track. It is exactly the kind of music I love to listen to – a folksy-slow track sung by a man with an interesting voice. Problem is, I found the song boring. At full volume, it barely seeped into my consciousness, the music and lyrics did not pique my interest, and the emotional effect of the track was entirely benign. I loved the relaxed feel of the song and Whelan’s smooth voice with the pared down band and clean guitar notes. It was just so boring…
Alonestar feat. Ed Sheeran – “Real Life”
Listening to hip-hop, rap or urban music of any sort is way out of my element, so I was not sure what to expect from Alonestar. My impression of this track is that it is hip-hop “lite” – it is not particularly gritty or tough. The “Real Life” lyrics are appropriate for an after-school special, with a peppy and utterly unconvincing hook about how “this is the real life and it will only get harder…” This track reminds me of the only old school rap I had any contact with – Will Smith in his “Fresh Prince” days. It is easy to listen to and not offensive.
Every week, one of our writers will be given five tracks – they could be unsigned, they could be international superstars. Any genre could be included, and the writer gets one week to give their verdict on each song in under 100 words. This week, Nick Duffy takes his turn. If you like what you hear, click on the band names to visit their website, and if you want your music to be included in the future, send an MP3, picture, short bio and link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SINEAD O’CONNOR – Wolf Is Getting Married
It’s easy to take the piss out of Sinead O’Connor, so let’s get right on with it. “Wolf Is Getting Married” is presumably the first in a series, the next ones being “Wolf Is Getting Unmarried A Few Days Later”, “Wolf Is Tweeting About Bumsex Again” and “Wolf Has Checked In To A Clinic Suffering From Exhaustion”. The song itself is thoroughly meh – take away O’Connor’s admittedly fantastic voice, and it could be any Radio 2-friendly, mid-tempo rock-lite waster. Like Morrissey, she’s far more interesting as an interviewee than an artist these days.
SAM SPARRO – The Shallow End
Likeable enough hipster-friendly disco-funk that never quite gets to the big chorus you feel must be along soon, instead veering off into an ill-advised sax solo (as if there’s such a thing as a sax solo that isn’t ill-advised). Probably destined to soundtrack a few hen parties which think they’re too good for Abba, and the tamer sort of gay bar over the next few months, but unlikely to match the success of “Black And Gold”.
IO SECT – Sneaker
I’m sure the editors put this one in just to watch me make an arse of myself. They know I know bugger all about dance music. That said, I know what I like, and I used to be vaguely up-to-date about a decade and a half ago, which by a happy coincidence seems to be where this lot take their inspiration from – this would have fitted in quite happily between Daft Punk and LTJ Bukem back when I knew where to buy drugs and my knees didn’t hurt when I danced. The Kids – and indeed my kids – will probably think it’s shit, but there you go.
THE KNOCKS – Midnight City
I was liking – honest, I do sometimes like things – this electro’d up cover of the M83 song, which if nothing else, doesn’t have the sax solo which blighted the original. Could easily imagine being driven through a city under the influence of substances and this sounding like the best song EVAR, but then it hit me: guest vocalist Mandy Lee sounds like a combination of Ellie Goulding, and whatsherface from The Cranberries. And there aren’t enough substances in the world to remove that kind of bad taste in the mouth. Shame.
GRAEME CLARK – Kiss Of Life
KIDS! Do you want steamhammer beats clashing with buzzsaw rock guitar? The sound of alienation sliding into euphoria with vodka and amphetamine coursing through it’s veins? The new sound from far out? DO YOU?
Well, better luck next week, because Graeme Clark doesn’t do that. He does earnest, beardy, easy-listening singer-songwriter filth. I daren’t read the press release, because I’m sure at some point it’ll use the words “heartfelt” and “craftsmanship” and I shall be violently sick. Will somebody tell him they stopped making Cold Feet years ago, so they don’t need any more soundtrack for it?
Every week, one of our writers will be given five tracks – they could be unsigned, they could be international superstars. Any genre could be included, and the writer gets one week to give their verdict on each song in under 100 words. This week, Cassandra Parkin takes her turn. If you like what you hear, click on the band names to visit their website, and if you want your music to be included in the future, send an MP3, picture, short bio and link to email@example.com.
When you look at your “Most Played” list on your iPod and realise nineteen out of the twenty-five tracks are by the same artist, you know it’s time to expand your musical horizons. The Camel’s Hump kindly turned me loose on five new tracks from five artists I’ve never listened to before, and told me I was allowed to share my opinions with the world.
Jay James Picton – Heads vs Hearts [Part One – Battle Call]
Put me in charge of the stereo, and I’ll generally pick something heavy, rocky and piano-y, with vinyl hissing and doomy lyrics. This puts “Heads vs Hearts” – a heartbroken lament on the pain of loving a bad girl – right in my sweet-spot. Picton also made the video – a noir confection of battered protagonists, bad relationships, brunettes and cigarette smoke. While I could lose the massive instructional signage at the start, song + video = glorious wallowy misery. I liked this, although shinier, happier people might find it easy to mock. A big, bad, ANGSTY track for days when you’re feeling big, bad and very, very ANGST-RIDDEN.
The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
I’m going to have to gush about this one just a little bit, because I absolutely adored it. It’s minimal, clean, pure and perfect, with spine-tingling harmonies and immaculate rhythms. Songs about sinners who can’t go home can be horribly maudlin, but Barton Hollow nails it – lyrical and heart-shaking, without tipping over into wallowy self-pity. If you feel you ought to take an interest in American Folk music, but can’t quite bring yourself to deal with the knee-slapping, jingly-jangly, Randy-the-cowpokeness of it all, buy the whole album and feel like a pioneer.
Ivan Campo – Diceman
This track feels like it might have fallen through a wormhole from the early nineteen-sixties. Specifically, it sounds like a lost Beatles song. The rhythm, the harmonies, the esoteric lyrics, and a singer who sounds almost ridiculously like Paul McCartney, all conspire to create this illusion. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it a lost masterpiece; it’s more like something the boys wrote, then discarded because it wasn’t quite good enough for Please Please Me. There’s nothing wrong with this song. I just can’t get past how much it sounds like a pastiche of a masterpiece, rather than something new in its own right.
The Lights – Mostly Water
Mostly Water is sung by a pretty girl with a passable voice, a photofit American accent and a competent backing band, and there’s some guitar and some rhythm and some words, and no – I simply have to say it – this song is the utter personification of boring, British niceness. If you’re looking for bland music for your Financial Services advert, this song is for you!
Damn it, now I feel mean. Look, I have the same problem with Katie Melua, okay? If you like Katie, you’ll like this. That’s a lot of people. Just – you know – not me.
Jake Morley – Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
I feel like the meanest person on earth for not liking Mostly Water, so I’m very pleased to be finishing with Morley’s lovely anthem Feet Don’t Fail Me Now. With its feel-good blend of cheerful chords, uplifting chorus, youthful charm and poor-but-hopeful sensibility, Morley may well benefit from the mad rush to find artists with a strong musical resemblance to Ed Sheeran. Quite right too. His song is sweet and cheering and likeable, and I wish him all the best. However, I bet his mum wishes he’d washed his feet before they filmed the video.
Now I don’t know if I’m ignoring the clique by including a foreword here, but I always think it’s nice when writers introduce what they’re about to say. Isn’t it nice? Isn’t it? Yeah. It is.
This week’s five tracks aren’t anything to rave on about in particular. There are some good tracks. Some. But 50% of the tracks I’m about to review are horse shit. Well, not horse shit. But they’re certainly close to being part of the dungheap. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m trying to be honest, and as an avid, avid fan of music I will stay true to my opinion. Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope what is said doesn’t ruin any careers!
Deep breath before the plunge, here goes.
As soon as I heard this, the Mighty Boosh theme song began playing in my head. Think of the ‘crimping’ that they made famous, and then think of this song. They sound alike, yes? Yes. They do. Compare the two until you agree. I think this song is very much the sound The Ting Tings would make if their front person was of the male gender. Although this song lacks in melody and singing, it isn’t without a tune. Very toe tap inducing, I’d expect to hear this in a teen angst moment on UK Drama Skins.
I’m hearing violins. Violins? From the girl who’s meant to be the next Lady Gaga. First impressions are that it would fit in well at a funeral or some other sort of bereavement event. Obviously, the song is about death and being prepared to die, but perhaps you could play this at the burial of one’s pet? If you’ve ever heard Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love, this will not sound unfamiliar. While the whispering is reminiscent of “I’ll protect you from the hooded claw” introduction from Frankie’s Christmas classic(?). The song is extremely pessimistic, just look at the title. I will not buy the album.
Obviously I’m far too young to have experienced the 80s, but this song reminds me of that era immensely. It’s the type of house beat that I’d expect to hear in a nightclub at the beginning of the rave scene in 1989. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this thumping from my local social club while they attempt to be gay-friendly. The introduction is very reminiscent of that famous beat Insomnia by Faithless. Repetitive, but not annoyingly so. Vocals wise, think Cee-Lo Green in his Gnarles Barkley era. I highly recommend this to anyone.
These Reigning Days – Changes
Surprisingly, I don’t have much to say about this one. Except that it’s very good, and I like it a lot. I extremely recommend buying this as soon as it released on whatever platform is popular in February. The song is a sort of love-triangle-come-bigamist-marriage between Coldplay, Bullet For My Valentine, Editors and Glasvegas. Though frowned upon in some societies, this marriage works extremely well, and I can’t get enough of it. It creates a relaxing atmosphere that is simultaneously very upbeat and catchy and damn I just can’t get enough. (Turns out I did have a lot to say).
Zenon – Love You Forever
I’m trying to listen properly and drown out the ringing sounds of Irish heartbreak pop, but all I can hear is Westlife. The singer’s voice doesn’t particularly suit the genre, the melodies are mismatched with the vocals and there is too much versatility concerning the verse and chorus. If this was placed in line with 1000 other love songs, it wouldn’t particularly stand out. Trying to be unique but failing. That’s not to say that he cannot sing well. Unoriginal but not unpleasant. Top marks for trying, though.
Bob Dean isn’t a man called Bob Dean. They are a band from Manchester. And none of them are called Bob, or Dean. But putting the misleading name to one side, this is a damn fine song. The opening piano melody and haunting vocal lead into a whirlwind of crashing cymbals and buzzing guitars that actually sent shivers down my spine. It’s melancholy without being depressing and triumphant without being self indulgent. And if that hasn’t convinced you to check out Bob Dean, if I said this reminds me somewhat of OK Computer era Radiohead would that encourage you?
Man this is smooth. As I listen, I’m transported to a red velour seat in the corner of a dark jazz club in NYC, where I’m chain-smoking and getting slowly arseholed on fine whisky. Claire’s saxophonist wears a white jacket and black polo neck and her husky voice wraps around the room and draws all eyes towards her, including the rich record company executive standing at the bar armed with a recording contract. Having said that, it was probably recorded live in a Conservative club on Wearside with Match of The Day on in the background and an old bloke pissing on a plastic cheese plant in the corner. There’s no justice in the world.
I think these guys were the band that were playing in Back to the Future at the school dance. Remember? The good looking clean cut guys in suits? It was all romantic and sweet and mellow and harked back to innocent times of pinball machines and strawberry milkshakes and holding hands at drive-thru movies. And then Marty McFly turned up and rocked out Johnny B. Goode. Trouble is, while it was nice, before Marty’s appearance, the dance was kind of boring. And the thing is, on Cadillac Dreams, Marty doesn’t turn up. He was probably making out in the back seat of a Cadillac while listening to Chuck Berry instead.
This energetic indie-pop-punk track sounds like The Buzzcocks crossed with The Beach Boys crossed with The Clash. It’s anthemic, upbeat, catchy and memorable and it gets even better the more I listen to it. It’s good to hear a new indie band not poncing about trying to be clever or cool but just getting stuck in and bashing out a tune. What’s more, it is completely out of step with the universal depression enveloping ConDem Britain in winter 2012 and just what we need to cheer us all up. I like it very much.
Apparently BBC Radio 2 has playlisted this track. Did they ignore the blatantly obvious drug reference in the title or do they just think that Tom likes pretending to be an eagle in his spare time? Anyway, musically, it’s definitely a radio friendly track, with a relaxed and easy feelgood vibe to it. It starts out with Tom’s gruff 30-a-day voice bemoaning his miserable 9-5 existence over a bluesy guitar riff and then turns, slightly bizarrely, into a gospel jazz singalong which indicates that everything is alright so long as you are flying off on holiday on an aeroplane. It’s certainly different to the work that many singer/songwriters are producing at the moment. I’m smiling.
This week, Kris Ball takes a look at three singles from three very different artists…
“Clinton’s still rocking the throne, playing the sax while Monica’s been giving him dome”… is he? Anyway. This repetitive hip hop tune has its moments of “this isnt’ too bad actually”, and it’s definitely a song you can relax whilst listening to, as long as you don’t try and think about its lyrical content too much.
If The Tiger Lillies were to duet with Kate Bush, it would not sound too dissimilar from this song. Unconventional to modern music, with its ¾ time signature and unusual instrumentation, with what sounds like a singing saw, make this song interesting and exciting to listen to. The best thing about this songs otherworldliness, is that without having ever been there, it evokes the feeling of being at a freak show at Coney Island, New York, and not many songs have that ability.
The opening bars seem to echo “Easy” by The Commodores, and the song never really seems to pick up from that point. If you sit back and close your eyes whilst listening to this, you could imagine yourself in an expensive, dimly lit jazz club, full of gap yah students discussing their half baked political thoughts. It’s that sort of music. On the positive side, it’s good background music for dullards to put on when they have a dinner party to show off some tagine recipes they picked up on their backpacking trip around the middle east. And he has a nice voice.