Singles - September 2009
Posted by Kuang on Fri, 11 Sep 2009.
Motion Picture Soundtrack - Departure EP
This three track EP from the Canterbury quartet is a dramatic affair that swings between fiery indie rock and low key angst. The title track trades in atmospheric reverb soaked guitars and rolling rhythms, whilst soaring yet strangely vulnerable vocals fill up the soundscape.The final track 'Mirrors' is quite subtle and cinematic, holding back from stamping its presence on the listener until the final few bars - maybe not something you'd put on repeat at home, but that might be welcome if it turned up on the radio during a long night drive home. It's a pleasant sound whilst not really throwing up many surprises, although it does have a lot of potential if the lads can avoid falling into the usual indie/emo cliches.
Alice in Chains - Check My Brain
I was absolutely gutted when I heard of the tragic death Layne Staley in 2002 and thought it would bring the final hammer down on Alice in Chains. Various solo projects aside, the band are now back and recording with vocalist William DuVall, and Check My Brain is the lead single from the forthcoming album 'Black Gives Way To Blue'. The main worry I always had is that they'd recruit a Staley soundalike from the thousands of wannabes who couldn't hold a candle to him, and fortunately that hasn't happened. There's no denying that DuVall takes a LOT of cues from Staley's delivery, but with guitarist Jerry Cantrell stepping up to take a more active vocal role the overall sound is more tribute than carbon copy. Check My Brain is a broody, lurching powerhouse of a track that plays like a continuation of the direction they took with their last studio album, yet injects a welcome melodic uplift into the chorus - it's like a blend of 'Grind' and 'Heaven Beside You', which should make the faithful very happy indeed.
Ian Brown - Stellify
The first single from the ex Stone Roses frontman's forthcoming album is a slow burner, with echoes of new romanticism rising in the staccato synths and sparse, insistent backbeat before giving way to a Madchester-tinted brass interlude. Brown's vocals retain that understated and slightly breathless tone we've come to expect, but with a harder edge driving each line home. It's a surprising lead single, and as I haven't heard the album yet I can't say how fits into the flow of things, but it's far more laid back than you might expect. I can already picture the remixes turning up the impact and filling the open spaces, and wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the album had already beat them to it.
Japanese Voyeurs - Sicking and Creaming EP
I'll make this easy for you - you'll love or hate them and there is no middle ground. Imagine Daisy Chainsaw meets Babes In Toyland, with the most bizarre female vocalist since Katiejane Garside. Japanese Voyeurs blast through three fuzzy, scuzzy, lo-fi garage gems in less than eight minutes, with vocalist Romily bouncing off the walls with a near overwhelming style ranging from childlike whimpers to throat-shredding yowls. It has to be said that she's probably going to make or break your opinion of them, but coming from a background of Mudhoney, Sonic Youth and other pre-grunge nutcases I quite like it. Records never entirely nail this stuff - live is definitely the way to go.
Elliot Minor - Electric High
We like Elliot Minor since chatting to them a while back and finding them very cool and friendly, and developed a soft spot for their sound at the time. From the sharp and energised sound we knew and loved, their latest single has taken an evolutionary bound forwards, sounding focused and mature whilst remaining extremely rocking and catchy as hell. Electric High is beautifully melodic and restrained, pared down and direct enough to pull you in but then soaring away on a tidal wave of lush harmonies. The production values are damn near perfect, tight and balanced without sounding pop-glossy, and if you don't at least find yourself nodding along then you have no soul.
Twin Atlantic - You're Turning Into John Wayne
I'm starting to approve of the approaching wave of guitar bands who eschew the tired and whiney indie-schmindie mentality in favour of a tough, gutsy and stripped down approach straight from the pages of Pre-Cobain history. Twin Atlantic thunder in from Scotland with a punchy and no-nonsense blast in the form of You're Turning Into John Wayne, coupling a huge, chuggy guitar attack with Sam McTrusty's raw and heartfelt Glaswegian-accented vocals to piledriving effect. This kicks off with a bang and a shedload of intrigue and then just grows, and I'm finding myself liking it even more with each repeat.. six and counting. A live classic in the making, and a welcome return to what electric guitars were made for.
Flood Of Red - Home, Run (2007)
Is there something in the water in Glasgow? First Twin Atlantic, and now Flood of Red both appearing seemingly from nowhere and effortlessly kicking everyone's backsides. The curiously titled 'Home, Run (2007)' calls great bands like Idlewild, InMe, Feeder and Three Colours Red to mind, mixing dense, dramatic rock/hardcore soundscapes with powerful and emotional vocals. Flood of Red elevate themselves high above the indentikit skate/emo mob with genuine passion, drive and dynamism, and I'm behind them all the way.
Black Gold - Breakdown
Black Gold take the direction in which the Scissor Sisters were heading, strip out all of the cheese and pompousness and exchange the ditzy for moody, resulting in a classy chunk of dark underground synthpop. There are all sorts of diverse elements cherrypicked and layered together, from the offbeat ska-like guitars lurking way back in the mix to the disco funk backbeat, topped off with carefully understated and immaculately harmonised vocals. I hear they're about to tour with the effortlessly cool Neko Case, so this Brooklyn duo could well be the advance guard in the assault on tacky retro-pop.
Bowling For Soup - My Wena
Back to earth with a bump. No matter how they spell it, this is simply the singer stringing together a load of single-entendres (not quite sophisticated enough to be double ones) about his trouser area. It's like those 'cheeky' seaside postcards mixed with the sort of joke that's passed around behind the bike sheds and is almost too embarrassing to listen to. The music is exactly what you'd expect from Bowling for Soup so at least they don't disappoint if you're into them, but the lyrics are so puerile that I'm amazed they can bear to sing them. Couple that with cover art that should be voted 'most likely never to appear in a family shop near you' and you have a track that'll provide a few giggles in the schoolyard but not much else.