April 05
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British Sea Power - It Ended On an Oily Stage (Rough Trade)
Return from exile with further guitar based exploits. More polished and commercial than the first album, not sure where they are going with this though..

Brendan Benson - Spit It Out (V2)
Lead (and possibly the best) track from the Album The Alternative to Love. Dead catchy pop in the vein of Matthew Sweet. Deserves to be a massive hit, but probably won’t.

Camera Obscura - I Love My Jean (Elefant)
Corking versions of Robbie Burns poems with nice jaunty jangly guitar reminiscent of early Belle & Sebastian. Out on the rather wonderful Spanish label Elefant. Buy, buy, buy

Arcade Fire - Laika (Rough Trade)
Weird and wonderful Canadian outfit release first single from last years rather wonderful Funeral album. Sounds like a disturbed folk band with fiddles & accordians trapped with their singer using a megaphone in some weird chinese new year celebration! The even stranger B-side features the lead singers grandparents recorded in 1940. Released as folded 7” sleeve or 3” CD - unique & worth buying for the amazing packaging if nothing else. Highly recommended.

The Subways - Oh Yeah (Infectious)
British White Stripes anyone? enough said!

Thirteen Senses - The Salt Would Routine ( Vertigo)
Third single from the rather good Invitation album. Described elsewhere as the missing link between Coldplay and Keane and this single reinforces that. Sometimes the singer sounds more like Paul Heaton than Chris Martin. Lavish production might make it a hit this time.

Yeti - Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder (Moshi Moshi)
Bass player from Libertines finds himself making this brilliant slice of indie guitar pop. Reminds us of early Postcard/Creation. Decent tune with slightly nasal vocal, could prove to be a classic. Grow your fringe floppy and start saving for that US college suede jacket from Flip in London again...

Do Me Bad Things - What’s Hideous (Atlantic)
Hotly tipped Croydon 13 piece cabaret act. They work live but on not sure what they are trying to achieve with this record. If you mixed up the Darkness with The Darts (1977 band for you kids) and threw in some cod jazz-funk, this is what you’ll get.

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The Bees - Chicken Payback (Virgin)
Taken from the album Free the Bees. Another piece of sublime & clever pop. Sounds like a lost Beatles track recorded in 1965 rather than a band forty years later. If there were another Austin Powers film being made this could be the theme tune...

Garbage - Why do you Love Me? (Warners)
I can think of a few reasons why Shirley! Unfortunately, this is just another Garbage-by-numbers single which sounds like they got their moneys worth from Pro-Tools in the Studio. The 7” comes wrapped in pink PVC tape which means that you can’t easily open it. Maybe the PR company were trying to do the public a favour?.

The Priscillas - Gonna Rip Up Your Photograph (Damaged Goods)
With names like “Mavis Minx” and looking like a cross between Poison Ivy from the Cramps and Marge Simpson on the back cover, these 50’s stylee sexpots rock! Part Rezillos, a smidgen Crystals and a tad of Fuzzbox for good measure. Endearing girly garage-pop issued on clear, red blood splattered 7” vinyl.

The Departure - Lump In My Throat (Parlophone)
Saw these be-suited boys support the Gang of Four earlier in the year and thought they were really pro. Their first single Be My Enemy was a nice guitar romp ala Gene. Their second single sounds like early Blur B-Side with beefed up lead guitar. Don’t think they’ll be winning any awards for lyrics like “I’ve got a bag with no air holes, I’ve got a chair with no seat” Must do better next time... Pressed on yellow vinyl - maybe to make it easier to mould them into traffic cones later?

The Postal Service - We Will Become Silhouettes (Sub Pop)
Third single taken from last years Give Up album. The intro sounds like its early Kraftwerk then it goes all New Order circa Power, Corruption & Lies. Nice poppy single, but is it just me that thinks its 1983 everywhere at the moment? Are the 80s the new 60s? I was there, I can assure you it was crap.

Tanya Walker - The Changing Me ( Fopp)
Issued by Fopp as one of the six winners of the Wales & West Fopp Unsigned Bands competition, this is real melancholy class. We liked her when she supported Redlands Palomino Co in Newport last month (See: March 05) and this shows that she really has got something a bit special going on. Part Jeff Buckley part Liz Frazer, the only concern is that the sound drifts into Julia Fordham “serious adult music” territory at times. Worth 3 of anyone’s money. Buy it at your local Fopp shop.

Be Your Own Pet - Damn Damn Leash (Infinity Cat)
Imported from Nashville, this is a blast of pure pop/punk energy! They’re hardly into their teens but with valve-bursting guitars, thumping drums and a screaching girl vocal, these kids could show the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s a thing or two! One of the singles of the year and due to be issued in the UK soon on XL Records (home of the White Stripes & Prodigy). Can’t wait to see them on TOTPs!. Get an original hand made copy if you can! Visit www.infinitycat.com 

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Secret Machines - The Road Leads Where It’s Led (679)
Remixed from last years excellent album Now Here is Nowhere. One of the Texans more pedestrian tracks, this is polished rock with a thumping bass line. Could they be the thinking man’s Kasabian?, who knows? Pressed on one sided 7” with two grooves so its pot luck which of the two tracks you get to play!

Kings of Leon - King of the Rodeo (BMG)
One of the best tracks off of the Aha Shake Heart Break album from the hairy Followill brothers. Great guitar tune but still can’t fathom what the hell he’s singing about. It seems to end with the repeated refrain “you talk to rolos” but I may be wrong!. Perhaps its the inbreeding? As my dad used to say, what these boys need is a damned good haircut and a war to sort them out! See them in Cardiff CIA on July 1st.

Hal - Play the Hits (Rough Trade)
Country-tinged Irishmen Hal’s third single. They seem to have gone Beach Boys for this one with close harmonies, jangly guitar and start-stop bass. Any song that mentions “Radio” somewhere in it is unsurprisingly usually  played on the radio. Very clever and pleasant, but may they may have tried too hard with this one to rope in unsuspected record buyers.  Nice purple spangly vinyl. Could be that surprise summer hit if the sun comes out.

Interpol - C’Mere (Matador)
Third single from the Antics album. Sounding like an upbeat version Joy Division or early Sisters of Mercy, Interpol know exactly what they’re doing with their post-Goth bass driven sound and imagery. Issued as two 7” singles with different B-Sides of remixes from the album.

Razorlight - Somewhere Else (Vertigo)
First new material since their classic debut last year and sadly, a disappointing return it is too. Acoustic guitar leads the track which bizarrely includes crowd noises from a London gig! Was the Producer trying to add atmosphere to a dull tune or make it sound live? The further layering of a haunting keyboard only adds to this listeners confusion of where Razorlight are heading. A dubbed-up B Side can mean one of two things, short of ideas or a complete change of direction ahead. If any other band had released this, it would be ignored. We’ll have to wait to see what the rest of the songs are like - let’s hope they are better than this..

Iron & Wine - Woman King CD EP ( Sub Pop)
Sam Beam the one-man army that is Iron & Wine releases another set of top acoustic songs (this time about ladies he’s encountered, hence the title) on the brilliant Sub Pop label. Using more instruments than on his previous releases, sparkling layers of violin, bottleneck and picking make this superb EP simply bounce along.. Worth the entry price for the track Jezebel alone. If you only buy one americana single this year, get this one..

We Are Scientists - The Wolf’s Hour CD EP(We Are Scientists)
Bought from the band when they supported the Editors (See:April 05) this is a brilliant piece of energetic guitar pop. Sounding a bit Pavement with a slither of Bloc Party thrown in for good measure. Well thought out and structured songs. Any of the 6 titles on this EP would be really strong singles in their own right, but the killer track The Great Escape is simply a classic slacker/indie song. Import, Import, Import!

The Tenderfoot - Vale Industrial CD EP(5:15)
Missed this lot when they played Newport the other month, but a number of those who made it have recommended this EP, and they’re right. Sounding like Robin Hitchcock’s younger brothers, The Tenderfoot have some clever guitar based songs with understated vocals. Glad to see that the old saying If You’ve Nothing Nice To Say Don’t Say Anything At All has finally got it’s own song! Recommended!

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The Cribs - Hey Scenesters (Wichita)
Issue as two 7” singles with different B sides and Produced by Edwyn Collins (get well soon mate from all at soundsnew!). These three brothers from Leeds sounds a bit like they may be The Fall of the current batch of so called “arty” guitar groups. With one B Side titled the North of England, they lay their stall out to dislodge Mark E Smith as King of all things Northern. Won’t trouble the charts but will probably be played to death in damp student bedsits across the land until disco is fashionable again.

The Editors - Munich (Kitchenware 2)
Seen this band twice this year (see April 05) and they get better each time. The latest single follows the debut Bullets in blistering style. Others may cite Joy Division, Bunnymen or Interpol comparisons but that’s just lazy journalism. We know a good tune when we hear one and these are clever, well thought out guitar songs. All we can say is “You’ll speak when your spoken to”. Watch out U2, you’ve got competition that doesn’t charge 150 a ticket to see them in a soulless arena....

Hard-Fi - Tied Up Too Tight (Atlantic)
Really odd one this. Starts very promisingly with nicely picked guitar then gets all messy with a load of  “nah, nah, nah, nah’s” from kids over the the chorus section. The tinny phased keyboard sound just doesn’t suit the track either. Better than lots of chart stuff, but that’s not saying much. The B Side rub-a-dub stylee version of The White Stripes Seven Nation Army is OK. Are they trying to be the new Clash?

Caesars - Jerk It Out (Virgin)
Released ages ago and dropped off the radar. Released as its used in the I-Pod advert on the TV. Its a nice Hammond keyboard 60s romp ala ? Mark & the Mysterions (or Inspiral Carpets for you 80’s Madchester types). Got “hit” written all over it and its on nice turquoise plastic so it looks wonderful on the Wurlitzer jukebox...

Fans of Kate -I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands (Moshi Moshi)
CD Single on the nice Moshi Moshi label. Another anthemic guitar song this week which has a bit of inappropriate keyboard thrown in for good measure halfway through - why? It just doesn’t fit! “Give me solutions” they cry - get rid of the bloody keyboard I reply. A real shame, it all started so well.....

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People in Planes - Talking Heads (Trigger Industries)
With a video that seems to be on MTV2 all day, this Cardiff band may well be on the way to stardom with this jerky pop record which actually owes more to accessable Radiohead tracks than David Byrne’s Talking Heads. Nice guitar hooks and a chorus “If you talk too much, my head will explode”. Buy one before they get signed to a major and become bloated, rich and dull.

The Rakes - Retreat (Moshi Moshi)
Is there something in the water at Moshi Moshi Records? I’m yet to hear a naff record from the label. This one is another choppy guitar band. The Rakes sound like a southern Futureheads with Colin Newman of Wire on vocals. “Everything is temporary these days, may as well go out for a fifth night” they sing - mines a Guinness if you’re getting them in sunshine... 

The Tyde - Look Back In Anger/Roadrunner (For Us)
Those incredibly clued up staff at Rough Trade Shops have set up their own label and this is number 31 in a series of 500 7” only releases. Look Back in Anger is a brilliant version of the TV Personalities track (from And Don’t The Kids Just Love It) with loads of electric 12 string guitar and a vocal performance Ray Davies, let alone Dan Treacy would be proud of. The cover of Jonathan Richmond’s Roadrunner on the flipside is OK, but seems a fairly straight cover version compared to the A side. Look out for singles on this label, these guys are onto something special..

Bloc Party - Banquet (Wichita)
Fifth single from the Silent Alarm album (if you include their super-rare She’s Hearing Voices debut) and second time around for this song. Although it was released last year on the top Moshi Moshi label, it’s surprising they waited so long to reissue the best track (and then decide to press it on shite-brown vinyl!) With different Peel session B Sides across the 3 different formats it will probably go top 5 this time? As they say, “I’m on Fire”

Moving Units - Available (Palm Pictures)
Single from the band that never arrived from LA for The Editors tour this year. Sounds a bit like early XTC meets Electric Six (but so do a lot of things at the moment!). Bass heavy plodding with repeating lyric of of “Desire, are you available, are you available”. The B Side remix by Junior Sanchez makes them sound like a third rate  Duran Duran -  bland 80s disco, avoid! Just as well they missed the plane, we’d never of seen We Are Scientists if they’d made it!...

The Tears - Refugees (Independiente)
 Ex-Suede men make a record that sounds, well, just like Suede!! We sort of expected them to take a new direction, but they seem to have just got the old formula out of the cupboard and followed it to the letter. Did they change the name for legal reasons? Maybe calling themselves Nylon, Polyester or Cotton would have kept the fabric theme going! I’d challenge anyone to tell them apart in a blind tasting! The songs OK, but it just sounds like all the others ....but not as good.

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