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>SINGLES
>POLESTAR - CAMPLEX EP

On this new EP, Polestar takes a leaf out of Leaf’s book with four tracks of melodic, melancholic electronica. Polestar inhabits dance’s outer fringes – a subdued place where the warm crackle and hum of abstract dissonance rules the airwaves, and people hum along to phantom melodies. Polestar operates half a world away from the ambient blandness of many of his contemporaries. Put simply, the ‘Camplex EP’ is a gorgeous cloud of music – prettier than electronic has any right to be.

Review by Tom Leins

www.boltfish.co.uk

>RADIO 4 - TRANSMISSION

These New York punk-funkers have never really achieved the same respect that's regularly bestowed on their musical peers, but while the likes of The Rapture and LCD Sound System shape house-sized grooves from a heroically simple template (scratchy guitars, incessant bass-lines and yelped vocals), Radio 4's latest offering sounds bloated and overproduced. Sure it has the requisite 80's sound, but rather than leaning towards the New Order or Gang of Four end of that dodgy era's spectrum, it sounds more like the slick efforts of Duran Duran. The song also lacks any of the angsty political polemic which made their earlier triumphs so thrilling- instead the vague chorus hails "digital recording heroes".

It's worth sticking around for the b-side though, which sees the 4's album track 'Nation' remixed by old hand The Mad Professor and none other than the, err, 'rather eccentric' Lee Scratch Perry. The former adds a typically spaced-out dub feel to proceedings, while Scratch delivers his patented stoned musings. Highlights include his shouted "I Am Perry!" (as if you wouldn't know) and his brilliantly child-like impression of a lion. It's completely mental, and infinitely more essential than the a-side.

Review by Ian Viggars

www.r4ny.com

>THE ROBOT VS - DEMO

The Robot Vs are Straight Outta Hampshire, and play great art-damaged post-punk, akin to the sound of The Fall having a fist-fight in a library. It isn’t easy listening by any means, but that’s hardly a pre-requisite now, is it? Their three-track CD provides anger and noise in abundance and they spit out wordy diatribes over eat-your-own-tail riffage. Sample lyrics include: “Boy A/Girl B/ he had warm eyes/she had a sweet smile and after lips and teeth were reset (from the initial impact) they were stitched at the fingertips and given a map to the horizon/but the sun kept setting and they couldn’t keep up the pace and for all the love and ambition that flowed in their veins the harmonies they sang to pass the time were soon broken, choked with dust and falling apart”. -Which is a brilliantly freaky – a bit like The Mars Volta without the crack binges. They’ve got a lot to say, and sometimes trip over their own words amid the onslaught of noise, but it isn’t really a problem in the grand scheme of things. If you like visceral expressionism and buzzsaw guitars, you should check out The Robot Vs. Good, (un)clean, highly-volatile fun.

Review by Tom Leins

www.therobotvs.co.uk

>BADWATER - EP

An impressive self produced CD with some interesting art work I was curious to see what kind of music this was. With titles like 'Tripwire', 'Psychosis' and 'Icicles' I thought it might be in the genre of Massive Attack but I could not be more wrong. The most impressive song on this CD is the second track 'Psychosis' which is reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. Interesting.

Review by Sonia Pagliari

http://badh2o.net

>CALVOON - COME ON

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, right? …Well, the artwork is great, in a Radiator-era Super Furries way, and it’s done by a guy called Andrew Houghton who obviously has a lot of talent. Unfortunately, the music has more in common with the sluggish Britpop of some of the Super Furry Animals’ old Creation label-mates. Heavy Stereo, anyone? One Lady Owner? Thought not. In short, Calvoon play instantly-forgettable stodge-rock and bring nothing new to the party. The A-Side ‘Come On’ is slightly-lumpen Glam-tinged garage-rock. There’s a nice hint of menace in the vocals, but not enough to make it interesting. The B-Side ‘Last Chance’ is even more lightweight. In short : not the most interesting tool in the garage.

Review by Tom Leins

www.calvoon.co.uk

>DEAD AS DISCO - DEMO
Some bands are destined to stay in the toilet circuit and that’s just the way it is, right? Right. C’est la vie, such is life, what can you do? Some bands will always sound like support acts, and Dead as Disco unfortunately confirm this.

They’ve obviously spent a lot of time on the studio trickery involved on this CD (a whole track played backwards?!? Or has all that Coffee I spilt in my stereo recently only just reached the lasers? Who knows) but this doesn’t remove from the fact that they’re really not very..well, good. The singer sounds like Brian Molko if he huffed tarmac, the tunes are uninspiring to say the least and the mood created when I turned this on can only really be described as harsh.

My heart goes out to DaD, they’re talented musicians n’ all but maybe instead of pratting about with the ‘rewind’ button on their protools maybe they could try remixing or something? Everyone’s doing it these days you know.

Review by James Williams

www.deadasdisco.tk

>BLIND JACKSON - EP
Vaudeville-esque post-Britpop. Don’t run away! (Actually, do…)

Blind Jackson are apparently the new poster-boys of the bastion of average-ness that is: Virgin Radio. And, to paraphrase/misquote an old saying: in the land of the bland, the one-idea’d band is King… Like contemporaries The Coral and The Bees, Blind Jackson play slightly-cartoonish left-of-centre pop; and come across like the kind of Carnies who skulk around at fairgrounds, push you into the furry dogshit and steal your chips. To this heady brew they add a sprinkling of Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebel nonsense, a tea-spoonful of Supergrass’s hysteria, and even a big, fat shot of Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’-esque gibberish. Sadly, nothing on this mini-album is as entertaining as that photograph of Bryan Ferry stumbling around confused onboard that hijacked aircraft a couple of years ago. (On the plus side, their offspring probably don’t tear apart foxes for fun at weekends.)

As records by Blind people go, ‘Blind Jackson’ by Blind Jackson certainly isn’t as bad as ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ by Stevie Wonder; but, other than Virgin Radio listeners, it’s hard to see who this record will actually appeal to. Zutons fans looking for something a little less catchy? Gomez fans looking for something a little less worthwhile? People who nurse a strange affection for the self-consciously wacky elements of Paul McCartney’s solo career? Who knows? Sorry, boys and girls, it looks like John Lennon died in vain.

Review by Tom Leins

www.blindjackson.com

>MY FAVOURITE - THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF MY LIFE

Fresh from rave reviews in Time Out and Rolling Stone, across the big pond, My Favorite are gearing up to set trembling British hearts everywhere a-flutter with their own brand of bashful, pop heartbreak. A-Side ‘The Happiest Days Of My Life’ comes across like a female-fronted version of The Wedding Present, or maybe an American Belle and Sebastian. Charming jangle-pop for people who are happy being sad. But, B-Side ‘The Suburbs Are Killing Us’ is the real star of the show.

“You did what you did because of pathetic mythology…” The same well-worn ‘pathetic mythology’ fretted over by Morrissey, David Gedge et al. Irresistible chorus: “the suburbs are killing us/asleep when we should be dancing” would even, dare I say, melt Mozzer’s fat, black heart – coming on like a transatlantic rewrite of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. In the wake of the success enjoyed by The Killers, Interpol and other fellow ‘80s obsessives; and equipped with swooning, lovelorn laments that the LA-dwelling, sun-lounger-reclining, cocktail-swigging Steve Morrissey himself would wish he had wrote, My Favorite have the odds stacked in their favour.

Review by Tom Leins

www.lostdetective.com

>SCARAMANGA SIX - WE RODE THE STORM

The Scaramanga Six are "are flaming ball of fury" and are "hell bent on assaulting the ears of the unsuspecting with intensive rock'n'roll"- that's what their website says anyway. My limited research also told me that The Six have been "assaulting the ears" of the musical fringes for ten years now, and that they get through drummers at a rate that would make Spinal Tap blush. No wonder they look so pissed off and gnarly on the inlay card. What's surprising is that after so long in the game you'd at least think that they'd have carved some kind of identity by now- instead We Rode the Storm is the sound of a band who don't seem to know what the hell they want to be. This isn't carefully considered eclecticism; it's a jarring clash of some of the worst musical styles known to man. Listen and you'll hear pub rock, bad glam, and a faint air of 'wacky-ness' which summons to mind the dreaded Electric Six (there must be something about that number). On the chorus they valiantly sing "we rode the storm, we came through", but by the time you get to track four of this dull EP you kind of wish they hadn't bothered.

Review by Ian Viggars

www.thescaramangasix.co.uk

>PACIFIC OCEAN FIRE - WHISKEY FICTION

Outside the focus of mainstream media sits a collective of British bands playing music not directly ripped off from Gang of Four and Joy Division. Although citing Gang of Four as an influence can make you a very good band (Futureheads) it can also backfire horribly (The Departure).A pleasant change comes with Pacific Ocean Fire whom are position directly in the middle of this outside collective.

The latest EP ‘Whiskey Fiction’ progresses and shifts in new directions previously uncovered while still never swaying too far from the precious hearting melodies that have become their own. The title track ‘whiskey fiction’ shows the most variation from old to new sounding like Springsteen playing guitar for Calexico. With each song the instruments all seem to be fighting for position and not in a blurred, fuzzy way. The clarity and perfection of the production seems to have done justice to a collective of songs that are not easily forgotten.

Review by Barry Bennett

>BEING 747 - THE GIRL WHO FELL ASLEEP WHILST WATCHING HER LIFE FLASH BEFORE HER EYES

To be honest, I wasn't sure what the point in this song was when I first heard it. It's jaunty feel is somewhere in the same vein of a Franz Ferdinand B-side, but hey, that could perhaps work in the Leeds’s three piece’s favour. The kids love Franz Ferdinand at the moment. The iffy chorus is the singles lowest point, but it picks itself back up for it's raw and spontaneous verses. It's a real saving grace, to what turns out to be quite a cracking song. If I didn’t know what the point was when I first heard it, I’m now well aware.

Next track up is called "Communist Prince." There's probably not much that I want to say about this song that wouldn't result in the band wanting to deck me. It's promising intro riff gives way to Cooke singing in a key a touch too low for his range, and on a purely pedantic point- Wasn't one of the key points of the Communist Manifesto to rid society of any form of hierarchy? So, are Being 747 trying to be ironic? All in, if you can get past the ‘Your knight in Bolshevik armour’ references, it, like pretty much every song on the CD is a bit of a grower.

The tracks seem to get progressively better, the highlight being ‘Desperate Dan,’ with its familiar feel of a disappointing Saturday night out. We've all been there folks, "Another Saturday down, I must be wearing a sandwich board that reads 'I'm a desperate man.'" Shame. There are plenty of opportunities for singer and lyricist Dave Cooke to be lazy with the lyrics in this song, but he seems to bypass them with flair. The upbeat “Don’t tip toe,” as a finisher rounds off the scene set by its predecessors effectively. Promising stuff, definitely, but not quite yet at the ‘wet-your-pants’ excitement stage they seem to aim for.

Review by Mary Young

www.being747.co.uk

>THE EXPLOSION - HERE I AM

I’ve never heard of The Explosion before and after doing some research on their website I see that they are from the States and are currently over here doing some shows. From their on line journal they seem to be very excited to be over in the UK, lots of things seem to excite them including our clean public toilets. They have done a few shows around London and they have supported a range of people from New Found Glory to Ordinary boys back to Good Charlotte. Their music is EMO rock/ indie but this does nothing for me. If you are into bands with names like Taking Back Sunday and A Static Lullaby you will probably like this.

Review by Sonia Pagliari

www.theexplosion.net

>POLAR - BITE YOUR NAILS

Hailing from Dublin, Polar have been around for 4 years. This is their 3rd independent release, called 'Bite Your Nails' and it charted in the Irish Charts at number 36. It’s a well-deserved place for a band who want to go places. Bite Your Nails is a real grower, it start with a great guitar riff and it carries on throughout the whole song. The song keeps up the tempo and it shows that they have real potential to write some epic tunes. The second song “The shortest route to happiness is a straight line” is a gentle song that shows Gavin’s voice can be fragile and emotional as well as intense. Already with a cult following in Ireland it’s about time they graced our shores to play some live shows.

Review by Sonia Pagliari

www.polarofficial.com

>PSYCHIC SPIES - FIGHTING FOR SPACE EP
Funk is a four-letter word …

Last summer a bunch of unknown Welsh boys came down to Torquay and tore the motherfuckin’ roof off the TownHouse one Friday night, laying waste to some very average local grunge bands as they did so. They were simply the best live band I’d seen in a long time – and if it didn’t sound like such a strange proposition, I’d call them Wales’ answer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers! Before the Chili Peppers turned middle-aged, that is. Confident without coming across as arrogant, funny without coming across as annoying, they combine Happy Mondays’ grubby chip-shop swagger with great Stone Roses-esque guitar work and a hint of Jane’s Addiction’s casual funk. In a way, they also reminded me of barely-remembered NME cover-stars Terris. If, that is, Terris had had the tunes to live up to the hype, and back up the manic intensity. Psychic Spies have great tunes in abundance.

The Artists Formerly Known as White Noise have burst out of Wales like a wild eight-armed funk-rock beast. After honing their watertight live performance by gigging constantly in Wales at venues such as the Barfly and Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff and the Monkey Café in Swansea they won the highly-coveted Fopp/PRS award for the best unsigned band in the South West and Wales and went on to record this EP at Forge Studios – Ian Brown’s old stomping ground with producer Rod Callan who has helmed studio sessions by bands like U2/Small Faces/Rolling Stones in the past. The EP features live favourites ‘Master Beat’ and ‘Hundred Thousand People’ and exclusive new track ‘I Was Going That Way Anyway’ which is much mellower than anything they have recorded previously.

Whilst the EP doesn’t quite capture their incomparable live sound, it’s still a triumph. If Newport was still the new Seattle as the NME once claimed, then surely there’d be a feeding frenzy in A&R circles similar to the one that accompanied Stereophonics early promise. As it is they have to make do with airplay on BBC Radio Wales and Radio 1’s Regional Evening Session for now. Such is their broad appeal though, that even sacked Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable has been voiciferously championing them lately. Watch out Gene, maybe he’s after your job…

Catch them on tour soon in a town near you.

Review by Tom Leins

www.psychicspies.co.uk

>THE HUNGRY I - THE CAR EP
“I wanted to take something concave and ugly and twist it into something beautiful.”

The Hungry I is the new alias of former Kim frontman- Jon Stolber, who quit Southampton and moved to Edinburgh intent on “crafting a more original and fractured personal sound”. The opening track of his recent “The Car EP” is a moody slice of DJ Shadow-on-downers dub-hop which sets the rather downbeat tone for the EP.
What follows are four claustrophobic alt. gems, broken up by brief, dissonant sonic shards. ‘Coming Up For Air’ is a paean to pain, if ever there was one. The track literally overflows with ideas. Whereas this kind of non-stop invention may well prove wearing over the course of an album, it works very well in the context of an EP. The isolation-in-a-crowd vibe continues throughout the EP– all elliptical lyrics and ravelled textures. The kind of songs that Radiohead should have filled Kid A with. In fact, if you can, imagine an alternative reality in which Radiohead are signed to Ninja Tune … or more specifically, imagine a more cohesive version of Ninja Tune’s own Fog then you are close to approximating the sound of “The Car EP”.

Title track ‘The Car’ is consumed by this melting happiness: “when you really think of it, all the good will seem shit” and only ‘Happy Too’ lightens the tone – until you hear its floaty “Despair” refrain, that is. All of the tracks are shot through with the same traces of English Voodoo that informed the work of artists like Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead.

Where he will go next is anyone’s guess, but this is one ‘car’ journey you’ll want to join him for. (Sorry).

Review by Tom Leins

www.thehungryi.co.uk