Help I'm Alive
ISAACS AIRCRAFT- Friends and foes EP
It is hard to believe that Isaacs Aircraft have an average age of 19-years-old because they sound like four guys who have been playing in a band for a while. Perhaps they were writing songs in their nappies, I dont know. Based on this, they could well have been. A generally fast-paced jog through Indie Land, the songs are well written and arranged to a very impressive standard, confirmed by the recent appreciation shown by BBC 6 Music, which cant fail to be a thrill to such a young band. However, claiming to be influenced heavily by anyone from Chopin to The Arcade Fire to Fast Food Rockers, they actually end up sounding rather more generic than either (well, possibly not Fast Food Rockers), though thats not to say Isaacs Aircraft arent any good, just not anything new- a typical nod to many guitar-based bands of the recent era. That said, with strong melodic vocals and piano the foundation for each track, it cant be disputed that this is definitely a band to watch. It will just depend on your taste -(and probably how closely you have followed the British music scene in the last decade)- whether you will think that they are a band to get excited about. Certainly, as they progress musically, which they no doubt will do in the future, they have a lot of potential to become more convincing.
Released 6th April, 2009
ROD THOMAS- Until something fits EP
This man made the ingenious move and appeared alongside sock puppets in the video for his recent single Same old lines (AKA the catchiest song you will hear this year played on a ukelele) and I, for one, have been hooked ever since. The perfect antidote to the drab bits of life, cue Rod Thomas with his infectious brand of adorable pop music; wonderful upbeat melodies playing happily amongst a range of twinkling instruments and warm, friendly harmonies to be silly in the face of all the bad stuff in life (did I mention the sock puppets?). Must be a Welsh thing.
A new twist on the male-singer songwriter, Mr Thomas combines a cynical approach and tired outlook to come out with something which amazingly ends up sounding ten times fresher than his dull contemporaries and so completely betraying his subject matter, only matched by Herman Dune or the dearly departed St Thomas. With lyrics describing all that is wrong with the fake people- all of whom seem to have broken his heart- it is up to the tunes to lift the spirits in the face of things and this the tunes do a very good job of. Crammed with positivity and ridiculous amounts of restless energy, the beautiful poignancy that is most apparent in the reflective Hints of him remains in a subtle form alongside the electronic disco romp Love is a tease and the irrepressible Good coat to appeal to the youngest baby right up to the indie fan of Noah and The Whale or The Guillemots and beyond to those who see the inner meaning in his music. All this, along with endorsements from the likes of Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq, make Rod someone who, with the right breaks, should achieve full commercial success if thats what hes after. Just dont bother listening to the remixes on the end. They didnt happen, OK?
Released 2nd March, 2009
Zane Lowe and Mike Davies like this apparently. Not that I would know because listening to Zane Lowe is, for me, like someone scraping their fingers down a chalkboard. I simply cannot bear it. Anyway, that aside, it doesnt make Chicagos Rise Against particularly credible in my opinion either, confirmed by hearing this, their latest single from their fifth album, Appeal to reason, something for fans of American singalong tunes saluting Fall Out Boy, with the voice, and passion, of Nickelback. Yes, theyre accomplished musicians who do the loud, melodic rock guitar and impressive drum thing rather well, and theyre obviously hardworking as they have been going about 10 years, but its almost like they have sold their souls to the devil in exchange for any kind of success. Again, I personally know bands that would make better use of radio airtime and it makes me angry that merely pristine production and a big enough budget is enough to convince people your band are worth listening to. I wont use a pun for Audience of one, however tempting, as it seems as predictable as this song but this is the sort of stuff that will obviously do alright regardless.
Released 2nd March, 2009
TOMMY REILLY- Give me a call
Tommy Reilly was the rather greasy 19-year-old Scotsman who was voted winner of Orange Unsigned Act- you remember? That rather rubbish programme on T4 that you used to enjoy scoffing at when hungover, the one that made you realise that Alex James was definitely a cheese farmer these days, in case you needed any convincing? Anyway, Mr Reilly only ended up winning a record deal with Universal Musics A and M and, leading up to his first album release in June, has come out with what is, admittedly, a catchy little number which he seems to have worked very hard to create.
That said, I wonder if it is enough to make people like him that much. Likened to a young Bob Dylan by one of the judges on the show best demonstrates that industry officials dont always know what theyre on about, a rather obvious comparison as it is just him and a guitar. If said industry official knew their music stuff, they might have said that he isnt doing anything that Frank Turner and artists of his ilk have been doing better for years, writing clever stories about love and life, in this case urging someone to gimme a call, perhaps predictably. Still, he is good at what he does and, although not the most interesting thing I have ever heard, hopefully bringing his music to the mainstream will bring deserved attention to the musicians who are already out there.
Released 23rd February, 2009
FEDERAL BLACK 40- Just drive EP
Federal Black 40 (or FB40 for short) have certainly been taken to the hearts both of the gig-going kiddies and more discerning rock fan recently, with their strong breed of uncomplicated rock and roll. Having sprung to the publics attention after local support slots with Jackson United and Soulfly, these four lads from Cambridge have proved that what you need to come out singing is chugging riffs, fast-paced beats and a singer who sounds like Lemmy chewing on the shards of a bottle that someone incidentally possibly just broke over his head. Matching black shirts seem to be very important too.
Their perfect mix of conviction, energy and a smidgeon of underlying anger, means that they translate well to a younger audience, whilst maintaining classic influences to attract a more mature listener. With uncomplicated rock and roll action high on the agenda, even Bruce Dickinson has been widdling his air guitar along to their relentless metal mayhem and, though their influences are clear -ranging from shouty post-punk to, at times, an impressive QOTSA-inspired punch- when singer Dan growls I am the one youve been waiting for (on EP opener, er, The one) no-one can doubt that he means it. Something exciting could well happen for this lot. Definitely one to keep your eye on.
METRIC- Help Im alive
Apparently, Metric are what artistic freedom sounds like, a result
of a band sticking it to a few lucrative record deals following the
release of their critically-acclaimed album, Live it out,
and setting up their very own label, meaning that they can release what
they want, when they want. And who can blame them in todays music
industry? So, you heard it here first: artistic freedom, at least on
this occasion, sounds like something straight from the year punk broke
circa 1991, featuring the brooding energy of Sonic Youth and The Breeders
command of melody as their muses, falling not quite next to the commercially
viable nor underground secret act, and so perhaps holding some kind
of appeal to fans of both.
Released on itunes 9th February, 2009; picture 7 released 9th March, 2009.