Single Reviews

Play it again, Sam!

Single Reviews

Single Of The Issue:

Carbon Silicon – “Good Morning Here’s The . . . News” (Carbon Silicon Records)

good morning

Mick Jones (The Clash) & Tony James (Generation X) have been experimenting with Carbon Silicon for what seems like centuries. Early attempts to ‘launch’ were dogged by directional-confusion issues & frankly sub-standard material: It may have looked good on paper, but standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a decidedly non-pulsating crowd at the Jailhouse in Coventry, just a couple of years back, I knew instinctively that this particular ‘culinary creation’ needed to go ‘back in the oven’ 3-songs in!

Thankfully, these recipe issues have now been satisfactorily addressed, & “News” is one of the tastiest dishes yet to leave the Jones/James porta-kitchen: A subtle, but tasty blend of late-period Clash & early doors BAD, with a sprig of Sigue Sigue Sputnik to flavour (especially the guitar break @ 5.05!). Easily up there with “Bottom Line”, “E=MC2” & “Medicine Show”. Mick’s voice is as angelic as ever: a cherubic West London barrow boy who still can’t believe his luck!

“Good morning here’s the news,
& all of it is good,
Good evening here’s the news,
All of it is good.
And the weather, too!”

How’s that for eternal optimism? Buy. Bye!

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

The International Trust – “Talk Of The Town” (Redlace Records)

Leeds’ International Trust pimp un-reconstituted lad-rock of robust proportions (with chart-worrying implications)! “Talk Of The Town” pops its clogs in the general direction of the ‘New Yorkshire bandwagon jumpers’ who got left behind on the platform when ‘the Emap Metro Career Train’ chugged out of town (London bound). Brass stabs, rasping vocals, enormo-chorus: THIS IS THE KIND OF RECORD WE NEED ON THE FUCKING RADIO! Are you listening, Zane Lowe? I’d like to see International Trust in the ring with a few of the mainstream’s current contenders! I’d love to watch them kick the fuck out of The Enemy, for a start!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Leatherettes – “Johnny Thunders EP” (Filthy Little Angels)

The Leatherettes are Becca Bomb & Johnny Yen from Dundee. The Leatherettes like to hang about in shitty nightclubs talking about making the kind of music you don’t here in shitty nightclubs anymore. The Leatherettes have got all the right badges on their lapels. The Leatherettes write songs about Johnny Thunders, being born bad, Disney characters & loose women. They use loud guitars, broken drum machines & shouting. Punk, rockabilly & electro: now that’s what I call a palate!

Minimum fidelity. Maximum gain!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Colt 45s – “Stockholm Syndrome EP” (Filthy Little Angels)

“I heard crack can kill you,
Now I’m not so sure,
It’s only for rich kids,
& Christian D’ior!”

“Crack Can Kill You”

Crack can kill you, chant The Colt 45s, over a broken break-beat . . . Clang! Clang! Clang! But they wouldn’t know where to score! Butter wouldn’t melt in their dirty little mouths.

Filthy Little Angels continue to consolidate their position as one of the few labels worth caring about in the UK right now, with the kind of record that all the crap record labels wouldn’t touch with someone else’s shitty stick. Kudos to them for that. That’s what being truly independent is all about: taking risks! Most ‘indie-schmindie-owned-by-a-major’ labels still think Risk is a board game! If only they knew what a bored game they are playing with our ears!

Durham’s Colt 45s are coming to a toilet near you! Don’t lock that door!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring – “A Question Of Trust” (Marketstall Recordings)

Their hearts may be full of spring, but their ears are full of The Smiths, Prefab Sprout & Magnetic Fields! Not that that’s a bad thing, mind, especially when you factor in the swoon-some harmonies that dress “A Question Of Trust” so elegantly.

This is chamber-pop touched by the mind of Stephin Merritt. Studiously, meticulously, uproariously camp.

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Unexploded Shells – “High Times” (demo)

Unexploded Shells are one of the few young combos I’ve heard recently who’s Libertines’ jones doesn’t destroy their art by sheer weight of redundant influence alone. “High Times” messes with The Clash a bit, digs a few Who steps out of Grandpa’s old memorabilia box up in the attic, lets everyone know it’s heard of Television . . . then runs away after 1.41 flicking v-signs over it’s shoulder.

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Reverse – “Shutterspeed EP” (Run Out Records)

Hey kids! C’mon everybody! Let’s go backwards into the future! We’re The Reverse! We’ve got the glossy promo photos back! Nathan’s acting the wag with a megaphone, Danny’s pretending to shout, Greg’s trying to hide his bald patch, & me . . . well I’m just leaning back doing Johnny Depp does James Dean Bradfield, as usual . . .

With productions duties being handled by ‘some bloke or other’ that has ‘twiddled knobs’ for The Rifles, Razorlight & Supergrass in the past (like that’s actually going to impress anyone!), the songs on “Shutterspeed” sound just like you’d imagine Coldplay to sound if you’d surgically removed all traces of misanthropy (sic) from their sound!

This is turgid drivel of the most offensive nature. If you get to ‘catch’ the band live on any night of their forthcoming tour of the Potteries & North Wales, don’t forget to take a loaded shotgun. You’re going to need it!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Polytechnic – “Won’t You Come Around” (Shatterproof)

Third-single-time for Manchester’s Polytechnic . . . & what a little learning establishment of a record it is, too! This is the kind of effortless jollity that mugs like The Thrills would give their Tony & Guy loyalty cards for.

“Won’t You Come Around” harks back to simpler times: echoes of a young Mike Scott, the massed guitars of Edwin Collins, fast food that tastes of HP Sauce not chemicals, milk-bottles on doorsteps . . . a time when getting a single on Postcard Records into the charts would have seemed like an achievement worthy of note! The kind of record that prompts the question: Whatever happened to Roddy Frame?

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Dirty Hands – “Get On Your Bike, Charlie” (Happy Release Records)

Dirty Hands are students. No, wait up, come back . . . it’s worse than that: Dirty Hands are ‘a band of London students’! That’s right, fucking London . . . so don’t go getting them confused with students from Hull . . . or Warwick . . . or Loughborough . . . or anywhere vaguely regional, right?

Dirty Hands, then, are allegedly (& I use that word advisedly) Mike Batt’s son’s fledgling combo, & it would appear that the old children’s television theme tune creator has been helping his offspring out in the compositional department, if “Get On Your Bike, Charlie” is to be taken remotely seriously! B-Side, “Vivid Imagination”, even uses the chord progression to “Underground, Overground, Wombling Free”, before wanking off it’s Libertines obsession all over Madame Cholet’s apron!

Interestingly, despite hours of research on that internet, I’m (sadly) not able to confirm whether the ‘Charlie’ involved is the same chap that turned up on The Prodigy’s “Charly” back in 1991 (I did note an inconsistency in the spelling, mmm . . .), or a simple homage to cocaine!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club – “La Mer” (Fantastic Plastic)

The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club’s love of The Slits cannot be ignored: It’s all over them, like a rash! A Slit-Rash! Isn’t that a member of the Thrush family? Can’t you get some cream for that?

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Hair – “Disco/Retro” (Louder Than Bombs Records)

If you’re going to name your record label after a Smith’s compilation, wouldn’t it be better to sign Johnny Marr’s latest bunch of no hopers . . . or Mike Joyce’s daughter’s neo-pastoral folk invective . . . or Andy Rourke’s Progressive Bad Jazz Aktion Unit . . . anything’s got to be better than this piss-poor appropriation of the corpse of baggy?

Oi, children . . . leave that Bez alone! All in all, it’s just another brick in the mausoleum commissioned by Anthony H Wilson to commemorate 20-years since anyone other than Sean Ryder gave a flying fuck on a bike about Manchester.

Hacienda that!

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Bobby Cook – “Déjà Vu” (Dance To The Radio)

A lot of people have pooh-poohed Robin Cook’s contribution to British politics over the last decade, but hopefully that type of rabid negatively will have little or no effect on the career of his talented son, Bobby, who’s second 45, “Déjà Vu”, we are here to judge this fine summer’s morn.

So, Jim, what’s the recipe today? Well, rather unsurprisingly, trakMARXists, what we have here is another banal attempt at that old elusive bugger: chart success! You see, Bobby has ‘created a space for himself already’:

- & now he’s intent on ‘maximising’ his, err, space!

So far, so tedious . . . but, if your idea of revolutionary fun is Ryan Adams covering Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, then you may not automatically share my total hatred of ‘the man & his music’!

Just in case anyone’s still ‘sitting on the fence’, I’m pretty sure that Simon from the March Violets does Bobby’s hair these days. What more can I tell you that you don’t already know?

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Shock Defeat – “Guts” (Snakes & Ladders Records)

The yawn-inducing International Talking Heads Lampoon Society shows little indication of taking a gentleman’s excuse me anytime soon (Victorian, or otherwise? – Ed). If I have to read one more press release crammed with clueless twats offering comparisons to The Fall, just because the record in question doesn’t sound like the Artic Monkeys, I will surely spontaneously combust. Attempts to rope in Sebadoh are also futile.

Try this for size: The Danse Society do Living In A Box! Or The Age Of Chance do Blancmange! These people have all the imagination & flair of Jeremy Clarkson’s kids.

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

Heartbreak Club – “Lamecore” (demo)

I know precisely fuck all about Heartbreak Club. Obviously, there are some out there who would truncate that sentence somewhat, possibly dispensing with the words ‘about’, ‘Heartbreak’ & ‘Club’ . . . but those kind of dudes are so way not invited to my sisters’ High School Drop Out Gang Bang Party in my mom’s garage this weekend . . . did I mention that my band, Heartbreak Club, are playing? We’ve spent the last 3-years-solid eeking every ounce of relevance out of our guitars, practising our moves in this giant mirror Mom had fixed to the ceiling in the garage for her Yoga sessions, getting our roadie, Brad, to go through his brother’s collection of frat house movie soundtracks to find some witty samples to bolster our sound, eating raw cane sugar to sweeten our voices, plundering our Mom’s record collection for adult song-structure ideas, just working real hard, trying to up our game for the big one . . . a shot at the major prize . . . our Superbowl . . . our chance to tour with Bowling For Soup!

Hey man, don’t knock it till you tried it, it could happen . . .

Lamecore! They got that right!

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Twin Thousands – “Like You A Lot” (Exercise 1 Records)

Twin Thousands contain various members vaguely associated with names-worth-dropping, Bright Eyes & Arcade Fire . . . but don’t let that put you off unduly! “Like You A Lot” is the sound of a young St Etienne warming up for their annual appearance at Stool Festival: Swindon Rucks . . . The sound of a young Kirsty MacColl limbering up for her Go Discs audition: Jaunty strings . . . The Bluebells are coming over for tea! I do hope Roddy Frame will bring some Orange Juice (& those moody Joseph K types don’t come round & spoil it all with their fringes & their dark macs!).

“Like You A Lot” is replica pop! An exact fucking replica.

How arsing pointless is that?

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Simon Mastrantone – “And The Drowse” (Rekabet Records)

Apparently, Simon Mastrantone used to front ‘UK Agit Punks’, Academy Morticians . . . & who are we to argue? Well, you don’t argue with Agit Punks, do you? They might ‘go off’ in your face!

Meanwhile, back at the plot, anyone who sets out to mash up Tori Amos, Tim Buckley, The Dead Kennedys & The Subhumans gets the Wilkinson Sword Genre Mincer Of The Month Award, in my book!

‘Enough, already’, I hear you yawn, ‘has this particular aural experiment in unlikely-musical-influence-related-bedfellows been successful or not, dear reviewer?’ Well, trakMARXists, not entirely . . . we’ve had the bugger under the microscope, exposed it to several contrived sets of controlled experiments, sent copies to everyone on the Reader’s Digest & Saga mailing lists . . . & analysed the feedback!

This just in: traces of Tori Amos: negative, traces of Tim Buckley: negative, traces of The Dead Kennedys: negative, traces of The Subhumans: negative! Traces of Pete Shelley pretending to be Mika: positive!

Back to the drawing board room, Simon!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Whip – “Divebomb” (Kitsune Records)

Apparently, Kitsune Records is the ‘cooler than cool’ record label . . . out of Manchester, England. Glad we got that one cleared up early doors! Don’t you losers know that today’s kool is tomorrow’s kold? You ain’t been paying attention!

The Whip, it would transpire, used to be called Nylon Pylon, which raises the question: Is there a worse name for a pop group than Nylon Pylon? The answer, rather obviously, is ‘yes’! The Whip! “Divebomb”, meanwhile, sounds like Bomb The Bass, or some other piece of tedious shit from that era, & should not be touched with a bargepole (on the end of a very long extension rod) held at arm’s length!

It’s got nothing to do with ‘not being punk enough’, or not ‘understanding’, either . . . shit is shit, regardless of genre.

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Answering Machine – “Silent Hotels” (High Voltage Sounds)

The Answering Machine get back to us again, & this time we’re glad they’ve left a message!

“Silent Hotels” is a quantum leap forward from last year’s mildly amusing “Oklahoma” - & B-side “It’s Over! It’s Over! It’s Over!” isn’t far behind, either. Like a test tube interface involving The Lodger & The Strange Death Of Liberal England, this is moodily-edgy-random-fi-wobbliness of the most endearing nature.

Studied ennui, snapshots of gritty urban reality, boy hangs out with girl vocals, shouting . . . what more could an independent record ask for?

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

Blue Sky Project – “Fenestrae” (Salt The Wound Records)

Sharing a sense of bombast to match fellow Leeds post-coders, This Et Al, Blue Sky Project do just about everything to compensate for their appalling moniker over the course of this 5-track EP.

Jive-arsing-up slithers of metal/prog with an awareness of classical structure would seem to be Blue Sky Project’s modus operandi. In some places it’s extremely effective, in others it reminds me too much of the aforementioned This Et Al (except without the hooks), at it’s worse it sounds like a phalanx of Art History students with a Jeff Buckley jones.

It’s a thin line between self-expression & self-indulgence!

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Orphan Boy – “Postcode”/”John Mellor” (Concrete Recordings)

No press release! No pack drill! Subsequently, no idea! I was going to let “Postcode” inspire me to Google Orphan Boy’s doubtless impressive rep. Sadly, one spin in, & I couldn’t be bothered to fart in Orphan Boy’s general direction (even though I was down the Spice Of Life with Sub Kid last night)!

“Postcode” seems intent on quoting the Slits fervently, but can’t make its mind up whether to be Sham 69, Wire or The Jam! “John Mellor”, on the other hand, can’t make it’s mind up whether it’s a Libertines pastiche or a Libertines parody. The words ‘ham’ & ‘fisted’ flash across the screen. Repeatedly!

They only wanted to be loved! Despite their obvious neediness, I can’t see anyone adopting Orphan Boy.

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Mr Solo – “Kiss It Better” (Outstanding Records)

Mr Solo is the ex-lead singer of David Devant & His Spirit Wife, and “Kiss It Better” kicks a hell of a lot of arse for a small chap!

Gloriously-eccentric-populist-faire of a type rarely seen in public these hastily-assembled-combo-rocks-the-spot-days. If they still played records on the radio because they got parties started, “Kiss It Better” would be squarely installed inside Zane Lowe’s rectum with the exit hole duly boarded up.

In a pop kind of way, this fucking rocks . . . & you can’t say squarer than that!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Scare – “Bats! Bats! Bats!” (Dance To The Radio)

The Scare are the first Australians to sign to Dance To The Radio. That’s good. We like that. Today: Leeds. Tomorrow: the Antipodes! That’s what you call Global Ambition!

The press release duly attempts to glue the word ‘Australian’ to the words ‘Birthday’, ‘Party’ & ‘madness’ (not the Kings Of Ska, you understand . . . no capital letter!), but, as any fickle follower of fashion will attest, these things don’t automatically pan out just because you want them to. If, dear reader, you’d never heard any ‘alternative rock’ records in your life before, The Scare would doubtless seem like cultural-pinnacles-of-original-thought to your virginal ears. To the more cynical amongst us, however, The Scare sound like The White Stripes jamming with Hurricane No. 1.

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Molloy – “Tracey” (Way Out Records)

This is absolutely fucking nauseating. If this is what passes for irony in 2007, then I’m having a sense of humour bypass (whaddya mean I already had one, already?)! Laughably pretentious, orange-faced drivel of the lowest common denominator.

Tell them we told you.


Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Mother Vulpine – “Keep Your Wits Sharp” (On The Bone Records)

Trying almost as hard as their label, On The Bone, Mother Vulpine strive to impress with their work rate, attitude & connections. Everyone says nice things about them! They are, it would seem, destined for greatness!

Reading the press release, it’s hard to equate the sounds I’m hearing with the words I’m reading: frenetic, ferocious, frenzied! No shying away from the f-word at On The Bone! It all sounds muddy & disjointed to me, like Gallows without the tunes (“oh irony, sweet irony, I’m not fixing anything tonight!”). Jammed full of brave things that would love to come off, but just end up sounding forced & lumpy.

“They remind me of early Muse, before they turned into sci-fi nerds obsessed with the apocalypse,” bleats Exitfare (Boston, MA). Which reminds me: reviewing music should be left to unprofessional amateur journalists at all times.

People without a vested interest!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

Samsa – “To Conquer” – (On The Bone Records)

Samsa have been knocking around the Leeds scene for a while now, making earlier appearances on rival local labels, Mook & Dance To The Radio.

Championed by both the late John Peel & the not quite late enough Steve Lurpack, Samsa’s allegedly poetic amalgam of angst & longing is steeped in fragile-electric-guitar-shaped-ephemera from trends gone by. Much like a large bank of cloud on a sunny afternoon in Trumpton, they’ve gone over your head before you’ve even noticed their shadow.

The word innocuous doesn’t begin to describe the tedium.


Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Fran Rodgers – “I Fell To You Under Winter Sun” (On The Bone Records)

I must admit, I am continually gob-smacked by the stuff people send in to us for review. You’d think that after 6-years they’d have sussed it out by now! Maybe they got their envelopes muddled up & sent us Folk Roots copy of Fran Rodgers earnest folkery by mistake.

Earnest folkery? Jiggery pokery! Pig-in-a-poke! A can a can’t! A can a can’t! This music is for local magazines.

Not us!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

Rent – “PS . . .” (Northern Line Music)

I don’t have a problem with Rent, per se . . . they obviously aren’t anywhere near as far up their own arses as some I could care to mention!

They’ve written their own press release without mentioning The Fall or Talking Heads, which is a good start . . . & they are obviously no strangers to the term ‘self-depreciating’, which helps . . . & it’s all packaged ‘deliciously’! “Bonus”, I hear you cry!

In fact, at the end of the day, the only things that really put me off are the totally lame songs, the singer’s plaintive voice, the insipid arrangements . . . the cool country manor!

Rent: coming to a reality TV singing competition on your television, soon!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07