Fearless Vampire Killer
Anna C waves the garlic...

FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS- Exposition: The Five Before The Flames

Apparently 'The Five Before The Flames' is not an E.P or a mini album; it's an exposition. Let's see: definition of an exposition= 'Noun; 1. A comprehensive description and explanation of an idea or theory; 2. The part of a movement, esp. in sonata form, in which the principal themes are first presented'. Definition of an E.P= 'an extended-play single, one of the formats in which music is sold, usually compromising four or five tracks'. So it's an E.P then. Now we've got the pretentious stuff out of the way… oh, wait. Maybe not. Because Fearless Vampire Killers are a theatrical alternative rock band after all. And so, from this E.P., we could define this as 'a boy-band that sounds a bit like McFly on one track but wear lots more mascara'. A boy band that probably don't sleep in their eyeliner (or in coffins) but, in reality, spend a fortune on make-up remover and cotton wool pads so as not to clog up their pores and have real names are Lawrence and Luke. Not really very rock and roll.

Still, to give the quintet their dues, this is much better than I was anticipating, having seen a picture of them first. They look like right tits. But, fortunately, their sound is significantly more mature than their silly outfits and posturing would have you believe, much more solid than the stupid blurb about 'Exposition…' being a prequel to their debut album 'Militia of the lost'. Not that I'm against personas and clever alter-egos but it has been done in more creative and original ways. Because I don't want to know about a world called Grandomina, where dastardly deeds play out against ink-black skylines, the twisted world that is home to five anti-heroes who fight against oppression from the dark, un-dead cardinal. To quote the girl from the Maccy D's ad 'What does that even meannnnnn?' I'm not twelve. Apparently the story culminated in the royal palace being set ablaze with five outcasts on the run. No, I don't want any of that dross- just boys with guitars. And hair. Decent songs would help too.

Anyway, all manner of absolute bollocks aside, FVK write oft-dramatic rock arrangements, with a massive guitar riffage that will have emo-kids everywhere scraping their hair forwards into their blackened eyes and adopting pseudo-sullen expressions that mean that they don't notice too much when track three kicks in sounding a bit like Midget circa 1996 (whoever remembers them will realise this is not a compliment). While the band cite influences such as Green Day, Weezer, Iron Maiden and The Kinks, 'Exposition…' has lots of shouting and screaming, epic and uplifting anthems and a bit more grunting towards the end so are more suited to fans of My Chemical Romance and other acts that incite young girls to wear stripey tights on their arms. And, for the folks amongst us that would bleed instantly from the nose if listening to any such thing, they sound like Jackdaw 4 for their harmonies and melody but with less clever lyricry. If you fancy a bit of that, just be prepared to feel extremely old if you go and watch them live.

Released 11th March, 2013


MOUSE- ½ Wig E.P.

Mouse are a band from North London. There are three of them. Their saving grace is that they sound like they love what they're doing, fully embracing and ignoring the fact that, musically, they are pretty crap. By their own admission, Mouse like writing short punky bursts of energy with an underlying sense of humour. And, true enough, this is what they do. It's just that everyone's sense of humour is different. They have a shambolic DIY sound but not in a particularly likeable way. They remind me of The Vichy Government because they write songs about having bombs in your fridge behind the cheddar. And songs where the word 'bankers' rhymes with 'wankers' and they say 'ho ho ho' and 'ha ha ha' a lot. It's well renowned how I felt about things like that. Things like that make me angry. They certainly didn't write this for me.

Mouse also pride themselves on a Chinese twang, best demonstrated on track 'Warping', though it could just be gibberish. That said, the CD does actually get more listenable as it progresses. I like 'Moon room' because it is fun and 'Roll up' because it has a kazoo and an attempt at harmonies. I also like that Mouse tackle some sensitive subjects- politics, the recession, being on drugs for the first time. And the fact that '1/2 wig' is mercifully short at about ten minutes long. Which is probably its most redeeming feature.


Released on 11th January, 2013.

ULTRAISTA- Small talk

Ultraista are alternative and electronically-based. Everyone is kissing their collective arse from Q Magazine to the NME, Rolling Stone to The Guardian, mainly because one of their three founding members is Radiohead's producer, Nigel Godrich, and another is producer/drummer, Joey Waronker (great name) who played for Thom Yorke. And then there's the glamorous, blonde frontwoman, Laura Bettinson, who sings and makes the whole lot sound a bit like St Etienne or Suzanne Vega (particularly on 'Tom's Diner'). The project has that sort of feel actually and, though their names probably do precede them, they are still good in their own right; a defiant edginess but with a classic and familiar sound. On this, the band's latest single, (released through their own label: I am Fortified), Ultraista combine the synth sounds and great use of rhythm you might expect a group like theirs to have. 'Stop with the small talk, won't you?' Bettinson drawls nonchalantly over some enticing beats and, although we've heard it all before, it doesn't stop us wanting to hear more. Which you can if a) you buy their self-titled and critically acclaimed debut album (out now) or wait until they release their remix album around June time or see them even sooner when they support Flying Lotus in May.

Released 22nd April, 2013.


ST EVEL- Ballads from The Cronx

St Evel are a punk three-piece from Croydon. In their promo pic, they look a bit like The Wildhearts. They wear stripy red and black jumpers like Ginger used to back in the day. They don't particularly sound like The Wildhearts though. The Wildhearts are one of my favourite bands. They have, in my opinion, written some of the best songs in Brit Rock history and are one of the more entertaining live acts you will be lucky to see too. Sadly, St Evel might count them as an influence but they would be lucky to consider them a comparison.

But it's not all bad. St Evel are what they are and that's grand, as long as you are expecting three men playing rock and roll that, although not offering any surprises, fits nicely into the current punk gigging scene, alongside local Cambridge bands like Beverly Kills and The Stand-Ins. With a solid and classic sound, the energy that comes as standard with this sort of music and demonstrating a clear love of The Buzzcocks and The Ramones, 'Ballads from The Cronx' won't leave you amazed by what can be done with a few chords and some sloppy vocals but it will get your respect for what it adds to the genre it champions. 'She said' sounds a bit like The Vaselines, '8818' continues the theme of good and heavy riffs and 'An interlude' allows the guitarist to widdle in the only song that does not feature vocals that follow the guitar melody. Which means, like all good acts they idolise, St Evel have a self-belief and know the basic chords to guarantee a good night out when they play a pub near you (or at least their local) some time rather soon.


Anna C