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singles - current and forthcoming releases...

Late November / early December 2002

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Briefs
British Sea Power
The Caesars
Cranebuilders
Crimea
D4
Electric Six
Elf Power
Fantastic Super Foofs
Interpol
Killcity
Ladyton
Liam Lynch
Pattern
Psychid
Radio 4
Speedmarket Avenue
Sub5
Subway Sect
Thrills
Various Flying Bomb
Von Bondies
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Young Heart Attack

Earlier Reviews

THE D4 Come On! (Infectious, 2 x CD singles)

d4 come on (6303 bytes)Come On! is an air-punching party record, a little less dissolute than the first couple of singles but no less powerful.  It runs at Ramones pace with a wicked Motown bass sound.  The regular single is backed by two seasonal Sonics tunes.  Don’t Believe in Xmas has machine-gun vocals and a Chuck Berry riff lifted straight from ‘Too Much Monkey Business’.  Santa Claus is the riff of the Premiers’ ‘Farmer John’ (on the ‘Nuggets’ album) set to maximum fuzz as the list is reeled out: “I want a brand new car, a twanging guitar, a cute little honey and lots of money”.  Always ask for the essentials is what I say.  A fantastic, squealing guitar wails above the village-idiot-simple bass line.  The D4’s versions of these songs are as brainlessly fun as the originals.  On the extra CD, Joe 90 is a cover of a silly Bored Games song (an early 80s Kiwi band) while Pirate Love catches the dirty, flaky mood of Johnny Thunders’ original and bow-wraps it with a junk-aching, sleazy sounding guitar.   As ever, everything the D4 do is essential. 

Reviewed by Ged M
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THE CAESARS Fun and Games (Virgin)

Before I played this I was lining up my ahem hilarious Emperor's new clothes analogies and ready to be Brutus sticking in the knife into the poor old Caesars.  Oh dear.  That'd be far too easy and unfortunately for this lazy hack this is bloody good.  The first track Fun and Games starts like a brooding folk song before bursting in with a singalong pop rock chorus and swooping organ solo. Track two, Crackin Up, is a fuzzy garage pop number, again building up to a killer chorus.  Track three, Only You breezes along like a monkey on a trike, featuring lines like "Baby you've got ears just like Dumbo, I think it's so sweet" - it should be irritating nonsense but it's utter daftness wins you over.  There's nothing pretentious about any of the tracks and with their Swedish background and marvellous powerpop credentials the Wannadies are probably neighbours geographically and musically.

Reviewed by Paul M
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VARIOUS ARTISTS Flying Bomb Presents Surprise Package Volume 4 (Flying Bomb Records, 7” single)

Out of Ypsilanti, Michigan, a seasonal threesome in the shops now though it’s 2001 on the sleeve.  First up is the Von Bondies, whose Ain’t No Chimney In The Big House is a ridiculously camp prison movie set to music, with cellblock sound effects, Jason’s grungy guitar playing a fuzzy riff, Don’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ drum sound and Marcie’s vocals sounding like they’ve been recorded in solitary!  Fun, fun, fun till the warden takes your privileges away.  The Mistreaters’ Santa Stole My Baby is a hysterical shriek against a kleptomaniac Santa on Xmas morning while the Soledad Brothers offer a blues with sleigh bells Hang My Star.  Play these and you won’t be (lonely) this christmas.

Reviewed by Ged M
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ELF POWER Let The Serpent Sleep (Shifty Disco)

They’re a silly bunch of self-confessed nerds obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons and other stereotypical ‘nerd-like’ activities, so the Lord of The Rings theme on their album ‘Creatures’ was no surprise to anyone. ‘Let The Serpent Sleep’ is a more straightforward and generic illustration of their tuneful psychedelic-pop sound, and as you can guess by the title, the Lord of The Rings fascination is present. I can just imagine the band dressed up in medieval clothing and feathered caps dancing around in a forest to this tune, and quite frankly that’s just disturbing. It’s a daft song with a serious tune, and I suppose that’s Elf Power for you.

 Reviewed by Richard C
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YOUNG HEART ATTACK Tommy Shots (Rex Records)

It’s like being hit with a sock full of billiard balls and someone kissing your fractured skull better afterwards.  It’s a pure MC5 caffeine rush with his and her Rob Tyner vocal effects, half screaming, half moaning.  A blast!  On the flip, To the Teeth is a fearsome heavy rhythm boosted by female harmonies.  Defibrilators at the ready, this is so good it’s life threatening.   Limited to 500 copies.  

Reviewed by Ged M
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ELECTRIC SIX Danger! High Voltage (XL Recordings)    

electric 6 danger high voltage cd (5589 bytes)Detroit oddballs the Electric Six could have a worldwide smash on their hands with this magnificent disco/rock crossover.  It sounds like it’s been lifted straight from Rocky Horror Show but is way better than any of that cack.  It has a brilliant disco bassline (yes I hate disco too but trust me on this), swirling synths and sax.  None of this should add up to a great record but it does mainly because they’ve been topped off by a gruff rock mutha lead vocal, meandering garage guitars and goofy German sounding interplayed backing heckles.  The kind of record that could get even the baggiest arsed wallflower to strut his oily thang.  It’s not alone though as I Lost Control (Of My Rock & Roll) also displays a brilliant quirky Germanic glam side for a shade under 2 minutes before stopping way too quickly.  Remote Control (Me) is Led Zep style 70s rock, not a mile away from Datsuns territory.      

 Reviewed by Paul M
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CRANEBUILDERS You’re Song (Skinny Dog Records)

The title track is classic Liverpool pop music, very Bunnymen with a touch of Cure in the echoey guitars: “it feels like heaven’s right before my eyes” and the lyrics seem to make sense of the apparent grammatical mashing in the title.  In the best sense, this might become a staple of indie nights and student discos.  Public Space is another great Liverpool/New York rocker while Morning Cup is a dream-drowsy Velvet Underground drone and Now I Hear You is late night melancholia with reverb guitar.   Four cool slices of essential pop music.

Review by Ged M
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THE CRIMEA Lottery Winners on Acid (Shiny Beast)

The Crimea are not exactly a new band, having spent about six years under the name of The Crocketts, garnering a cultish reputation but little in the way of sales.  This, their first release under their new name is a charming gentle plodder with steel guitar.  It sounds vaguely Badly Drawn Boy-ish with its funny lovestruck lyrics (“if she goes tripping, I go falling over”) and will become Our Tune for many a young indie coupling.   It’s quite lovely though at nigh on four minutes could probably have been edited by a minute.  Similarly pleasant is Tragedy Rocks, another moody swayer.    

 Reviewed by Paul M
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LADYTRON Seventeen (Telstar Records)

ladytron 17 (4172 bytes)They gained a bit of fame for wearing all black and looking very moody. Then they gained a bit more fame for getting ‘single of the week’ in almost every music publication in the whole wide world. Then the album ‘604’ released in 2001 was touted as something rather special, and they weren’t wrong. Now they’ve returned after sunning it up in LA recording a new album, probably not wearing all black though, as that’d be silly. ‘Seventeen’ is the first single to be released off the album, and it’s a bloody superb slice of catchy synth-pop. With an irresistible beat throughout and the memorable chorus of “They only want you when you’re seventeen/When you’re twenty-one you’re no fun” means it’s definitely one for the discos, that’s for sure.

 Reviewed by Richard C
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LIAM LYNCH United States of Whatever (Global Warming)

A garage novelty record.  Who’d have thought of it?  This is Jilted John for the 2002 punk generation, built around the simple response line “Whatever?” it’s beauty is not so much the catchy riff or the humour but the sensibility in editing it down to little more than a minute.  After all even the best jokes become tiresome eventually.

 Reviewed by Paul M
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SPEEDMARKET AVENUE Is Anything Ever Done? (Modesto Records, Sweden 7”)

The title track is Californian sunshine pop imported via Sweden, light and melodic and the best thing on the EP.  The trumpet takes a lead role and adds a Love-like touch.  Moments of Sudden Bright is more punky pop while Another Setting is a sweet chiming ballad, until it becomes helplessly melodic in washes of organ and trumpet. 

Review by Ged M
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YEAH YEAH YEAHS Machine (Wichita)

yeah yeah yeahs machine (10495 bytes)New York’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs continue their slow march towards global domination with this atmospheric and frankly spooky early Siouxsie-style goth punk effort.  You’ll have goosebumps listening to Karen O’s wailing over deep buzzed riff.  Stunning. Graveyard is primal garage rockabilly, part Birthday party, part Cramps, part power drill to the rectum.  Again, deeply disturbing but undoubtedly gripping.

Reviewed by Paul M
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VON BONDIES Tell Me What You See (Must Destroy Records 7”)

Possibly the greatest use of vinyl this year.  It’s a work of staggering genius.  The effect of this record is like shagging, overdosing on chocolate and seeing your football team destroy your worst rivals, all at the same time.  It’s a one sided single, limited to 500 copies (try Rough Trade, as ever) and this version won’t appear on the second album, even though the song will.   Who needs two sides to a single anyway when the one side is as awesome as this?  The song has a perfect garage beat, like no specific track on Nuggets but capturing perfectly the spirit of those bands, with echoey guitars, handclaps and a raucous, strangulated vocal like Roky Erickson’s on You’re Gonna Miss Me.  Hear it and discover how much adrenaline you really have.  Etched into the vinyl are the words “Jesus loves the Von Bondies”; what greater endorsement do you need? 

Reviewed by Ged M
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THE THRILLS Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far) EP (Virgin)

Their name gives the impression that this Dublin five piece will be another dirty arsed garage act.  Wrong!  Far from it.   This is melodic and timeless balladry with Beach Boys harmonies and a country feel.  Unfortunately it’s also fairly dull and veers rather too close to Gilbert O’Sullivan and Ben Folds Five territory for this listener’s comfort.

Reviewed by Paul M
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BRITISH SEA POWER Childhood Memories (Rough Trade)

The A-side is fairly pleasant, if not outstanding Joy Division meets Psychedelic Furs.  Better is the flip Favours in the Beetroot Fields, a brief choppy romp, similar to the mayhem of fellow Brighton mob Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster.

Reviewed by Paul M
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THE PATTERN Nothing of Value (Wichita)

Nothing of Value is a short, driving and enjoyable garage rifferama, perfectly complemented by Chris Applegren’s hoarse vocals.  It’s accompanied by a video, which is part- Busby Berkeley, part- Health & Efficiency, with young men in big pants frolicking in a swimming pool.   Very homo-erotic and so not-the-record that it’s very memorable.   What makes the single essential are the other tracks.  Cream Puff War is a Grateful Dead number, but one that sounds a lot like Love’s 7 & 7 Is, with apocalyptic sounding, punky, spunky guitars.  Abigail is even better, a slow-building, rhythmic song with psychedelic vocals which, over its six minute length, builds into something massively powerful as it falls and rises before swooping onto a melodic chorus.  The subtlety of the song shows they’re not two-chord, two-minute wonders.  

Reviewed by Ged M
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INTERPOL Obstacle 1 (Matador)

interpol obstacle one (3761 bytes)Second single release, and probable highlight by the thread of an old overcoat, off the dark debut album.  This is Joy Division on a nice sunny day, somehow uptempo whilst being gloomy at the same time. It’s backed by fairly faithful session versions of PDA and the haunting Hands Away.

Reviewed by Paul M
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THE BRIEFS This Age (Crystal Songs)

Seattle’s The Briefs are another bunch of time warp punks playing spiky late 70s powerpop numbers.  This Age is This is Pop era XTC whilst b-side Medication is a catchy early Damned style singalong.  Both are thigh slappingly great. 

Reviewed by Paul M
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SUBWAY SECT Lazy So and So (Motion)

This 3 track EP is a taster for the excellent Sansend album (you don't have it? You lazy...) where the Sect eschew guitars for modern technology to good effect. Lazy So and So is a clear candidate for a single -  a catchy midtempo programmed rhythm lays down a fine track on which Vic Godard trains his mockney litany of invective against the 'natural born loser' who still goes 'round his mum to get his washing done.  Gertcha! Amusing stuff but terms like 'give a toss' and 'you filthy ponce' may not encourage R1FM airplay! Things get a bit looser with Everything's Crashing Down on Me whilst Don't Take It All Out on Me (Sub Sect Mix) is overhauled with a quasi-ambient quality. 

Reviewed by Kevin O
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KILLCITY Three Songs EP (Poptones)

The Poptones roster’s fairly light nowadays, down to just six fairly average bands and London’s Killcity are the latest.  Opener New York in My Pocket is acceptable if not devastating riot grrrl punk pop whilst White Boy Brown Girl is the Slits given minor electroclash treatment.  On this release it’s difficult to see the justification of the support slot on the mighty Libertines tour.

Reviewed by Paul M
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FANTASTIC SUPER FOOFS Devan Endo (Floating Toast)

After the wonderful debut Bilo Boss this is a relative disappointment from South Wales’ Foofs.  However worry ye not, my little chums as it’s still pretty wizzo, influenced as it is by the mighty Pixies, albeit at their most commercial.  B-side My God You Showed shows similar qualities though c-side Enjoy the Ride is an Oasis style plodder reminiscent of the Royle Family theme and should therefore surely be banished to Hades.  

Reviewed by Paul M
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SUB-5 This is Your Day (3 track demo)

Very confident and radio friendly without being heavy metal or boring.  They’re a four piece who over the journey of three songs show that they’re good enough for fans of U2, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Linkin Park.  They have the benefit of knowledge on their side as well as clever ideas, new gimmicks and most of all, just fucking great songs (man).  This rocks gently and is easily XfM friendly but is a bit too rock for the average indie/alternative fan.  Seek out information at www.sub-5.com

Reviewed by Tone S
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RADIO 4 Dance to the Underground (City Slang)

Fuzzy post-punk funk from the early 80s obsessed NYC, that’ll have you shaking your booty till your butt caps drop off.   It nods at A Certain Ratio, tips a wink to the Talking Heads and gooses the Mekons.. it even has bongos on it!  It’s backed by three remixes, one of which by The Faint is great, starting off futurist but then adding chimes and making it almost festive and the dfa version could be a funky New Order. 

Reviewed by Paul M
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PSYCHID Split Lip EP (db records)

Hmmm so they are from Oxford and according to the promotional blurb they have ‘a very distinctive sound’. Distinctly Radiohead would be more accurate but they do have something beyond the template.  At least three of the four songs are fairly strong with charming multi-layered instrumentation accompanied by breathy vocals.  If you like maudlin stadium rock you could do a lot worse than this.

Reviewed by Paul M
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Earlier Reviews