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singles/eps - jan 2013


 

 

Jon DeRosa – O Holy Night

This is a simple and pleasant interpretation of a Christmas carol that is often covered but not quite as uniquely as this. I remember hearing Lisa Hannigan give her interpretation of Holy Night at the end of Damien Rice’s ‘O’ and the feeling was very deep and atmospheric. This version, by Jon DeRosa, is completely different and presents ‘O Holy Night’ as a cheerier and almost summery version of the alternative. It is not profound, nor is it meant to be. Simply, it is meant to fit in to the background of a happy Christmas.

Matt Bull

 

The Voluntary Butler Scheme – Quinzhee (Building Us A House Out Of Snow)

The Voluntary Butler Scheme are supporting Slow Club this year, and it’s that reminiscent, warming, rather lovey pop that Slow Club have produced that The Voluntary Butler Scheme give us here. They admit that this offering, Quinzhee, is not strictly a Christmas song, but rather sounds like one by accident. I agree that it sounds like a Christmas song, with its subject matter and rather cute and easy chords. Like most modern, alternative Christmas songs, this song is neither profound, nor will it gain the momentum to become a classic. But I am sure it will please many listeners who are in hope of finding a winter warmer that is easy to sing to, happy and light-hearted. The lyrics may be thought of as lazy by some and humorous by others, but I am sure that TVBS will achieve what they wanted to with this single. Make a few people smile.

Matt Bull

 

Why? - The Water You Walk

Appearing as a B-side to their forthcoming Waterlines single, Why? produce a Christmas song, complete with distant sleigh bells, an offering of “Have a very merry Christmas” whilst still retaining an alternative and distinct sound. Although it includes a couple of the generic sounds that a festive song should have, these only really are demonstrated in the chorus, which provides a little relief from the almost melancholic verses. This hip-hop Cincinnati group have made a relatively dark and mysterious song that requires a few listens to become accustomed to it. But those who have not yet heard of Why? should check out their website whywithaquestionmark.com/tagged/videos to really appreciate their confidence in changing genre. They are definitely worth listening to. Especially their non-Christmas releases.

Matt Bull

 

Tender Trap – Leaving Christmas Day

Because this song is taken from their album, Ten Songs About Girls, it proves to be less of a generic Christmas song but more of a pop song about Christmas. The advantage is that it can be related to throughout the year. This is a resounding a full sound complete with a trio of female singers, harmonising in an endearing and tuneful way. This is a what a girl group should sound like.

Matt Bull

 
 

Darren Hayman – Queen of Misrule

The focus for Hayman here is the lyrics. Written about Oliver Cromwell’s supposed banning of Christmas, this song has the intention of telling a story and making people feel something different. Its disjointed and discordant introduction attempts to entice people in by setting the scene of a different century. The truth is that it could scare people off, especially if they are expecting a Christmas song. Only, after the initial verse, are people rewarded with an acoustic guitar that sounds slightly more pleasant. After two minutes, the song is a bit fuller and can be appreciated a little more. For those with patience and intrigue, looking for a rather abstract song, listen to this. Otherwise, best stay clear.
http://soundcloud.com/darren-hayman/queen-of-misrule

Matt Bull

 

Wolf Alice – Fluffy (Chess Club)

What a terrific start to the new year with the skronky guitars of Wolf Alice. In fact one of the best intros for ages, not just this year. And the rest of the track is pretty ace as well, with Ellie Rowsell’s vocals providing the unnerving voice behind the brilliant guitars. Also check out the B-side ‘Leaving You’ which is at a completely different tempo with lots of layers of lovely airy vocals but is still equally ace. 9/10
https://www.facebook.com/wolfalicemusic

SB

 

Hannah Scott – Still Static EP (Casa)

Solid stuff from Hannah Scott here if you can get past her slightly squeaky, warbly, nasally vocal style. Pretty little radio friendly songs beloved of 6 Music and other conservative press no doubt. Just lacks in a bit of depth for my liking though, having said that, the lead track ‘Only Way Out’ is actually stronger than the title track. 5/10.
www.hannahscott.co.uk

SB

 

Shouting Signals – Stand Your Ground

Lovely production quality here from Essex based Shouting Signals. And the production is backed up with some decent song writing, very much in the mode of You Me at Six. Now I fear my time for dancing like a mentalist punching my fist in the air may be well over but I can still appreciate the crisp guitar work and crunchy delivery of these tracks – there’s just no slacking off throughout these five tracks, even if they do begin to merge into one a bit by the end. 7/10
www.facebook.com/shoutingsignals

SB

 

Mary at Midnight (ft. Talvin Singh) – Heads Will Roll

Excellent stuff here from relative newcomer Mary at Midnight. Layering rich vocals and simple beats, dropping in and fading out different accompaniments, ‘Heads Will Roll’ is very much a contemporary take on traditional folk music performed by an artist with a stunning voice. 8/10
www.maryatmidnight.com

SB

 

Love and Radiation - Three Kingdoms

Chicago's Love and Radiation may have a dubious name but their musical style is an allure concoction combining moody Siouxie and the Banshees overtones with more flamboyant Brit electro pop sounds, the like of which would be more akin to a Bearsuit track. The results are fabulous – catchy and serious. 8/10
www.loveandradiation.com

SB

 

Vimes – UpStairs (Humming)

They may be based in Cologne but they sure don’t stink. I thank you very much. Seriously though, quite the opposite, ‘Upstairs’ is a beaut of a track, slightly PiL due to the vocals wonderfully overlaying glitchy yet warm beats. Watch this space for the album coming in 2013. 9/10
http://www.vimesmusic.com/

SB

 

Mogwai – Wizard Motor (Rock Action)

Released as part of the soundtrack from Canal+ series ‘les Revenants’, ‘Wizard Motor’ sees Mogwai hitting the same kind of highs as ‘Sine Wave’. There’s a fizzling electronic loop with some heavily fuzzed guitars washed over the top, almost like a bagpipe drone. Do we hear the bagpipe drone just because Mogwai are Scottish? Possibly, but it sure sounds good. 9/10
https://soundcloud.com/rock-action-records/wizard-motor/

SB

 

Northpaw – Trepidation EP

Nearly as sinister as the spooky ghost child on the cover art, Northpaw manage to flit between melodic and outright ferocity with impressive skill. Opening track ‘Extinction’ (surely best left until the end of an EP?) pretty much fires everything at you in one sonic hit – there can’t be much more to come after that can there? Actukally yes, but it’s very much more of the same, almost to the point where it’s hard to tell ‘Face Needs’ apart from ‘Habitus’ (both having an underlying taint of Faith No More’s ‘Ugly in the Morning’. Until ‘Artificial Respiration’ that is, in which a marginally more measured approach explains why ‘Extinction’ wasn’t used to finish the EP. 7/10
www.facebook.com/northpawofficial

SB

 

Sillyboy – Coast to Coast

Well this is a bit of a welcome discovery. They may not have any bin men or civil servants but the good folks of Athens do have Sillyboy who apparently lives directly above a railway. There’s an arty video to accompany this quirky dEeus-like track in which Mr Boy demonstrates his dulcet tones, languid guitar compositions and funky bridges. 8/10
http://sillyboy.bandcamp.com

SB

 

City of Ashes – Then There Was a Hand in the Darkness

Oh god, I can’t decide if this is totally wet emo nonsense or passionate alt rock. On the one hand there are totally earnest vocal yelps and ostentatious emoting. On the other hand there are some killer chuggy guitar sounds. So I won’t decide. 5/10
www.facebook.com/cityofashesband

SB

 

The Deep Red Sky – Zombies

Don’t get confused with all this Mumfordian love which abounds the popular press at the moment – not all that alt folks is gold. However, in the case of Edinburgh’s The Deep Red Sky, they have produced a single here which is probably deserving at least double the praise of all their better known contemporaries. Gently building into a rabble rousing crescendo, it’s not the Mumford method of playing your ukulele twice as fast and twice as hard in the final chorus – it’s much more subtle and beautiful than that. Their debut album ‘Plans’ is released in March – seek it out. 9/10
www.thedeepredsky.com

SB

 

Maya von Doll – Is This Love

It may not be The Soho Dolls but it’s the next best thing. In fact it’s maybe even better. Clearly the driving force behind the Soho Doll’s songwriting aplomb, I’s This Love’ sees the trademark dirty electro given a club makeover then getting re-scuzzed courtesy of German DJs Robs and Duke. Makes me feel a bit sweaty. 8/10
http://www.facebook.com/mayavondoll

SB

 
 

Alto 45 – I Will Not Lose You To The Sea (Happy Capitalist)

Hideously late on our part comes the review after a long hiatus from East Anglia’s foremost lab-coat wearing indie posters Alto 45. ‘I Will Not Lose You To The Sea’ is a bit of a sombre fuzzfest with just the right amount of levity. Maybe this year we’ll even get round to reviewing a few more of their tracks within 6 months of release. 7/10
www.alto45.bandcamp.com

SB

 

Argonaut – More Life (Criminal Records)

Do you remember when life was simpler? No MP3’s. Weekly trips to the newsagent to buy Melody Maker and NME. Our Price. Watching the Word on Friday night. No? Ok, fair enough. But in both style and persuasion, Argonaut's ‘More Life’ takes me back to those times. Oh, and it sounds an awful lot like Hole. 7/10
http://www.argonaut.info

SB

 

Revere – Keep This Channel Open (Albino)

Another round up from the end of last year, partly because there’s a friend of a friend in the band and also partly because its rather good. I can’t believe how much Revere have changed their sound since earlier post rock dalliances. This track has gone so commercially friendly it even won a competition on Channel 5. It’s hard to put a finger on their sound as with seven members you can imagine there’s quite a lot going on. But it all hangs together nicely and there’s even a really impressive cover version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. 7/10
www.revereonline.co.uk

SB

 

Robert Vincent – Life in Easy Steps

It’s boom chacka Mersey beat tastic from Robert Vincent. It’s not my cup of tea but it’s harmless enough providing you are not expecting it to ever really get going and off your seat. 6/10
www.robertvincentmusic.com

SB