Break Friends / Make Enemies
Alan Smith risks wrecking friendships with purveyors of Nickleback-meets-Darkness generic pap everywhere…

Actress Hands - Come The Summer Days
First out of the bag is a suitably timed low-key delight from the always pleasant Actress Hands boys. This is their third, and best, single proper released ahead of this summers debut album. It's gentle, inoffensive and undeniably charming. They have a hazy sound that manages to be both summery pop but never plain, maintaining a stomping indie underbelly combined with surprisingly husky vocals to create their own unique sound. The b-side, Everybody's In Love, is equally soothing with the added bonus of Brighton legend Phil Sumner's cornet magic.

The Answer - Be What You Want
Apparently The Answer were one of "the rock success stories of 2006". Funny, I managed to miss that. I also must have missed turgid Nickleback-meets-Darkness generic pap coming into fashion, which must be the case if this lot are taking the music world by storm. The vocals are earnest, "you gotta freeeeee the peeeeeople!!!!", and painful. I can just imagine the singer, eyes closed, on his knees, long hair draped over his face, putting all his energy into his oh-so-meaningful lyrics. He's heard Led Zeppelin and is ready to take it to the next level. If you dislike Wolfmother, you'll HATE this lot. Headline time: The Answer will not Be What You Want.

The Kamikaze Hearts - Oneida Road
Alt-country. Surely the words you've been longing to hear for so long. Apparently The Kamikaze Hearts have turned folk on its side, so not quite enough of a revolution to be described as upside down then. To be honest, I'm not sure what exactly is folk or country about this. It just seems to be an excuse to justify a lacklustre piece of music duller than a recent England display. The guitars are quiet and unimaginative, and the vocals soft and monotone. This may be, as the press release says, a "sigh of relief for longtime fans", but it is one of depression and desperation for something worthwhile for me.

The Longest Day - Break Friends / Make Enemies
This band is asking for it with both their name and album title. And, sadly, from only about a minute in I realise I'm going to be free to make the oh-so-obvious derogatory remarks, just as they are free to make such oh-so-obvious music with which to torment my ears with. Their music will, yes, break friends and make enemies, and, yes, it is seemingly The Longest Record I've heard in some time. Such hideous comments are worthy of such a hideous sound, but sadly one that is familiar to all of us. It's along the same lines are The Answer, with the same faux earnestness and emotion. They've stolen a needless American vocal sound (they hail from Bournemouth) and choruses are denoted by an elongation of whatever drivel they are emitting from their mouths.

Torque Armada - Users And The Wasted Youth
Jesus, how are their so many identically pants bands out there? This manages to not give you earache or drive you to suicide the way the previous three CDs might, but it's not exactly a masterpiece. Something you might have gathered from their dreadfully chosen band name. The vocals are shouty for shoutys sake, and intended to be shocking and hard hitting, "You don't give a fuck about me; well I don't give a shit about you", but really aren't. Another sample chorus for you; "yeah you work in the city, everyday in the city". Not great is it? None of it is. They do manage to get me head banging, as I'm sure they'd like, but once again it's against the wall. Another band it's best not to dwell on.

The Scaramanga Six - The Dance Of Death
At last, we have a band who aren't taking themselves too seriously, and the benefits to the music this brings are clear. This is joyfully overblown rock pomposity which batters its way into your ears. It's fast and furious, and the lyrics twist and turn and generally confuse you into submission. That said, I wouldn't actually pay money for this record. They are the Neighbours of music. Humorously enjoyable, but once enjoyed best discarded and by the second time around the element of surprise is gone and all that is left is something with the distinct whiff of tackiness.

(But worthy at least of a link, and a pic of a bird of prey- Ed)

Mr Derry - Goodnight / Beast And Pearls.
Mr Derry are the latest signings to the always satisfying Worst Case Scenario Records. They are that unfathomably still rare entity, a female fronted rock band. They remind me of Kings Of Leon, but with a bit more pace and vitality. And not having a dreary male voice is very refreshing. The songs themselves play it pretty safe, as you would expect from a new band putting down a marker from which I'm sure they can experiment with a range of styles and sounds. Goodnight is the strongest track, thanks to its catchy chorus which inevitably sucked me in and is now a firm favourite of mine. But the other track Beasts And Pearls isn't far behind with enough "woos" to keep you going for a week or

The Pocket Gods - Sandringtonsput
This is a nice little gem, fully of fuzzy vocals and a lovely wall of guitar noise. They have stolen some fairly standard riffs with which to slur their ludicrously dirty vocals over. "I want to give you your first pearl necklace" and "I want to lick your juices" are two of the choice turns of phrase offered up on this album which even includes a song titled Oily Smooth Penetration. This modest bands sense of fun and simplicity are what make them so gratifying to listen to.

The Dawn Chorus - Town / City EP
This is an upbeat joyful little record, accessible, happy and poppy throughout and very much my cup of tea. Each song is perfectly crafted and hook laded, which makes it somewhat of a surprise to find that this lot are still unsigned. They remind me of people like The Shins & Camera Obscura, not only in the sound of their music but their decision to do their own thing. The songwriting is well above average and the whole thing has a fantastic lack of pretension or any desire to conform to what is popular, which inadvertently has let them create perfect pop songs. Possibly the best unsigned band I've heard all year from a band full of promise.

By Alan Smith