Chapter of Accidents...
some summer reviews by Holl(i)y.

Corporation:Blend - Chapter of Accidents EP (

Either memory deceives me, or Corporation:Blend have recently cranked up the melodrama. It's as though they've recently bought a load cheap and only just noticed the imminent Best Before Date. They've always been a pretty emotive bunch, but I don't remember them ever being quite this blatant about it.

Not that this is, in C:B's case, necessarily a bad thing. Because the thing about C:B is that they have enough style and passion to pull off melodrama with their credibility intact - and they also have a sufficiency of originality and quirkiness in their melodic armoury to pull them clear of the mire of glam-rock-stomp mockery and make them interesting and engaging rather than formulaic and laughable. Their mixture of catchy pop tunes and rock'n'roll bravado delivered by howling guitars, dark simmering synthesisers and pop-opera vocals has the kind of individuality which catches the attention and the kind of substance which keeps it enthralled. And although this EP does occasionally veer perilously close to feeling histrionic (something which wouldn't, I feel, be a problem with the live show…), it always recovers itself admirably to come storming home with style.

Morning Runner - Gone Up In Flames (

This is Teenage Kicks! It is! It's the same fucking riff! Morning Runner's press release promises us "ambitious big hearted swooning pop", but what Morning Runner actually deliver is a wholesale rip-off act which is almost audacious in its blatancy. It's a good tune, it's true; but crucially, it's someone else's good tune. Admittedly the B-Sides are all Morning Runner's own - but then I can't imagine anyone else wanting to lay claim to this charmless acoustic mithering. When the A-Side to (and the only good tune on) your single was lifted from another band, you know that you're in severe creative trouble. I suggest that Morning Runner stop now, before the bewilderment wears off and the lawsuits start..

C-Jags - Sandy (

Influenced by the Voidoids, Iggy Pop… and The Police? This I just had to hear - except hear it I didn't. Well, not the Iggy/Voidoids thing - there may be some Police in there, but having heard Sting's solo output I've kinda avoided his former band by default. Should I give 'em a chance? Answers on a postcard… or maybe on the R*E*P*E*A*T message board. How 21st Century.

But anyway: it's actually just the A-Side which utterly lacks the Iggoids sound. You can kinda hear it on the B-Side and the B-Side is, to my mind, the better song; less clean-cut than the A-Side and with far more punch to it. However, that's not saying much when the A-Side itself is so bloody harmless. C-Jags have that chipper melancholy which is probably meant to be worldly wise and disreputable but which actually comes across as Iggy Pop - The School Prefect Years. Not that these are exactly bad songs… it's just that they're not exactly good songs, either. They're hard to care about. And in a world already so full of the passably competent, is there really much need for another contender to the crown of Default Indie Club Dance Floor Filler? Not really. I'll admit that C-Jags sound like they might be worth seeing live; but on record they just ain't got the edge.

Cortez - Conquistador

Half Tindersticks, half Sonic Youth, Cortez mix massive walls of guitar fuzz with intimate vocals-and-violin tenderness, commit it to CD in a manner which loses nothing of the grandeur and scope of their live set, send it out to jaded reviewing types across the land… and said worldweary scribes proceed to fall utterly, utterly in love. There's simply no way to avoid it. How could one not be charmed and captivated by something which simultaneously bowls you over with bleak sweeps of noise and breaks your fall with emotion-aching strings and vocals? Resistance is not only futile; it's unthinkable. Who wouldn't want to be won over - and for God's sake, why wouldn't they?

Cortez's winning sound rests on a bedrock of distortion, a gentle white-out fuzz through which tunes slide and swagger in a counter intuitively hummable manner. Keys, violin, trumpet and saw are also woven into the sound, all sounding so natural in their context that you hardly notice they're not traditional rock'n'roll fare. That distortion lends the sound an organic and extremely cohesive quality, and also makes it supremely substantial. Cortez have one of the most massive sounds I've ever heard, storming from the stereo speakers to fill the room with no apparent effort. Over this wall of beautiful noise lie vocals with that natural emotive quality which moves the listener without seeming to try and which repeatedly tugs the record back to the centre of the casual listener's attention… And it's really all rather glorious.

At one and the same time impassively impressive and infused with heartfelt emotion, Cortez catch you both coming and going and leave you with no option but to stand stock-still with jaw dropped and heart melting. They're simply breathtaking, and I wholeheartedly urge you to discover them immediately.

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