Better To Leave
Anna C is ill and grumpy...

DIGITAL BY BIRTH- Noise pollution
First- what is with the essay enclosed with said CD about renewable energy? Is it someone's homework? And why does the tracklisting show up on Itunes as a band called 'F*ckhammer'? Anyway, my husband liked this- it figures, given that Digital by Birth cite some of their influences as Bad Religion, Beastie Boys, Weezer and The Prodigy vs Rage Against The Machine. When I first met my husband, two kids at college, we bonded over our love of these bands. Actually, we still bond over our love of these bands. But I hated 'Noise pollution' instantly. Their sound made me angry. I was ill- and they shout a lot. In fact, they're really very aggressive, on the whole. In opening tracks, 'Fear Machine' and 'Hold on be strong', though sounding a little like early Faith No More (perhaps pre-Mike Patten), it also has a really careless feel about it, which was annoying at first.

Still, on the second listen, the irritation I first felt was replaced by slightly more respect. I still wouldn't go so far as to say I like Digital by Birth but the driving force behind their music, the raw, anarchic sound of people wielding punk-fuelled guitars and making creativity their outlet- is something to be admired; in this case, a low-tech studio band, built around a games console, a stereo and an old VCR for film samples. Yes, what Digital by Birth do is different without a doubt and, as the CD draws to a close, they also prove that they are varied by adding some solidly electronic influences, particularly on final track 'Love close by' which could be played in an inflatable stage in a field to a few hundred people gurning. That said, I have recordings of myself and my best friend almost two decades ago that sound similar.

And we were completely taking the piss.

Either way, what DBB asked for very politely when sending this CD in was that this is mentioned: 'Noise Pollution' can be downloaded for £4 at and that you can stalk them here: . See, I'm not all bad.

JULIA STONE- It's all okay

Julia Stone is best known (at least to me) for her cover of 'You're the one that I want', recently used on Sky's telly advert. It was cute in a Bridget Jones kind of way and 'It's all okay', her second solo single, is arranged to convey the whimsical pining that follows a love lost. Taken from Stone's second solo album 'By the horns', despite being produced by the guys responsible for Mary J Blige and David Byrne, she still sounds like that other Australian singer who was featured in another advert, doing a cover of 'Wherever you will go', in the same ilk as Gemma Hayes, Heather Nova and their ilk. Extremely commercial then, needless to say that Stone makes the sort of music that would sound good on a chick flick like 'My sister's keeper' which, although you want it to be emotionally compelling because you should be moved by something so tragic and heartbreaking, you end up waking up with the telly on standby, the film over and a little patch of drool on your cheek.

Mostly featuring a repetitive melody and simple piano, vocal and drum-beat, 'It's all okay' builds up with more instrumentation yet fails to get more interesting at the same time, the most notable thing being that Stone sometimes sounds a bit like a softer Lou Rhodes and it's mildly amusing to count how many times she sings 'It's all okay'. Though a move from the folk she was performing with her brother, Angus -(as part of award-winning duo, er, Angus and Julia Stone)- it still veers towards the melodic pop that is going to make the same great chasms in the ground as any winner off the X-Factor. Though sell-out as many arenas regardless.

SCHOLARS- Blinda data

This taken from Scholars' bio: 'Having spent our formative years listening to bands like Braid, Hundred Reasons, The Dismemberment Plan, The Faint and Tears for Fears, when Scholars write songs they tend to leave traces of influences all over the place, but hope what they end up with just sounds like…Scholars'. Actually, what Scholars sound like is around a decade of Britpop, starting with Franz Ferdinand and ending up having a party in the forest, or something, with The Wombats. Surprising really, considering that this single, along with their forthcoming debut album, is produced by Larry Hibbitt of Hundred Reasons. Who are a lot more rock and roll.

This five-piece, on the other hand, write spiky and energetic, slightly kitsch, indie-pop, this time about a man's perception of love. However, they do earn a few man points for getting beaten to death with a hockey stick in the video and using a time-change in the chorus. They also get a further ten out of ten for chucklesome song title, though it is with regret that these marks are subsequently deducted as the lyrics sadly aren't as quirky; instead destined only to be copied into the back of a slightly hormonal twelve-year-old's maths textbook ('I want a girl who likes my band/Will laugh at my jokes and will hold my hand'). That and the fact that 'Blinda data' features a cover of 'Stepping Stones' as a B-side, which sounds like friggin Menswear. Yeah, I used to like them- so what? Still, I think Ant and Dec did the same thing some time ago and it did them no harm. If that wets your whistle, then you can see Scholars on the road supporting Pure Love in the coming months. Dear Diary: The singer's pretty cute. Blah.

Released 24th September, 2012



Sian Cross is from the West Country. There's a lot to her life story and I have never read such a long bio. Honestly, it verges a bit on self-indulgent, despite the fact she claims not to be a self-absorbed stage-school graduate (she trained at Bodyworks). It's interesting reading, for sure. The main thing to take from it is that she loves singing. Perhaps obviously.

Her forthcoming, as yet untitled, album is based on stories from people who have been through stuff in their daily lives and how this was overcome (she has been through some hard times herself, which has also proved inspiring as far as songwriting goes). So it's surprising then that this single doesn't get much deeper than the spittle on a lonely drunk's whiskers (actually, theoretically, that would be pretty deep). A song about a clouded vision of a boozing (actually, that's also too deep), the chorus goes 'Drank too much alcohol/ now I need alcohol', the melody sounding like mid-90's indie bands circa Echobelly, the arrangement repetitive and dated. This is not good. While Cross is beautiful and can sing her little heart out in the most stunning way, she has better tracks than this in her repertoire (which has seen more of a following in the jazz audience for a smooth and classic sound). So don't let this pseudo-Chumbawumba rip-off put you off if velvety-voiced divas are your thing. And now I need to go and binge drink. Arf.

DEADMANS TEQUILA- Better to leave.

I have followed the hopes and dreams of young and not-so-young local musicians for as long as I have been allowed to get a bus into town on my own. I know what it means to them, even to get one stupid review, even if those reviews don't really mean anything, how successful their gigs are if the room is just half full. I was listening to some early stuff just today actually, by a well-known Cambridge band and, my God, it was terrible, though it was the most exciting thing ever at the time. And that's the point of what I'm going to say about Deadmans Tequila. They will look back and cringe at this single. They are taking it so seriously now in their 'quest to play in a way that perfectly expresses each of us'. Good for you, lads. But this is by no means the best you can do.


Though it pains me to say it, despite obvious and complete self-belief and commitment, the classic rock that 'Better to leave' and its sister songs display is, unfortunately, dated in a way that suggests that this is a band that are still trying to find their sound. They can play their instruments, they can string notes together but that is where the fascination ends in this four-piece. Apart from the drummer. He's fairly hot. But seriously, taking influences from Simon and Garfunkel to Red Hot Chili Peppers, neither are audible here; instead Deadmans Tequila have a long way to go before they leave the working man's pubs that they currently play in to a handful of people. And there's no shame in that- all the best bands do it. But I hope they do improve, because I can tell how much they, and their supporters, enjoy it. Even if I don't. P.S I think there should be an apostrophe in your band name?

Anna C