Alan Smith joins the club
Club Smith The Loss EP
Opener Lament is a soaring hook laden clone of every other
anthemic indie tune, the kind belted out to adoring fans by Snow Patrol
et al every year. The second track, Courtyard is much
better in that it actually has some individuality attached. And therefore,
its less likely to be successful. This is the world we live
in. Its understated and gently charming, adding synths to the
mix rather than relying on simple chord structures as the opener does.
The third track, Connected is somewhere in between and
the best yet. It has a big sing-along chorus, but doesnt drift
into sickly lighters-in-the-air territory. Its very close in
sound to The Sunshine Underground, whom they have recently supported.
The dark edge displayed here, I havent got
an axe to grind, just a razor in my pocket, is the most intriguing
aspect of this release, and I hope they have a secret desire to head
in this more Interpol direction than sticking to inventionless Killers
happiness. No Friend Of Mine is the being-a-bit-dancey
track, but has the unpleasant whiff of Kasabian about it. Whilst it
is good to showcase a variety of sounds, this final track is a step
too far. Every indie band going seems to think that they need to go
a bit dance to succeed at the moment, heres hoping that trend
dies out in the coming months and I can once more wallow in miserablism.
Hexicon Something Strange Beneath The Stars
For fans of Camera Obscura, Super Furry Animals, Yo La Tengo
and Elliott Smith apparently. Thats a lot to live up to.
And unsurprisingly it doesnt, but theres nothing wrong
with ambition and those are worthy footsteps to try and follow.
This single does have the upbeat happy element of Camera
Obscura, the gentle vocals of SFA, and the quirkiness of Elliott Smith
that is so dear to my heart. Its a daydream in a song, but with
more handclaps and French horns than your average daydream. The b-side
Still Here is truly charming. Its simple and doesnt
really go anywhere, but it doesnt need to. Its just so
perfect and relaxing to listen to and proves that less can often be
more. Its the concept of The Thrills, except with significant
musical and songwriting ability. From the first track alone, I wasnt
really sure what to make of Hexicon as a band, how much talent they
have up their sleeves. But the b-side excites me, and I look forward
greatly to hearing more from this band. www.bunkeronthehill.com
The Alfa Binding Theory
From the sublime to the ri-dreary-lous. The mistake here was to think
words are the same as a song. This just goes on and on, monotone,
without attempting to build up to or execute a chorus. That is other
than occasionally an apparent lack of ideas means resorting to repeating
keep em to yourself over and over again. The second
song is the same, but a bit quieter. As is the third. The final track
is better, more upbeat and less likely to send the listener to sleep.
But this too, drifts off into nothingness too often.
It comes with an explanation spouting such bollocks as saying The
Alfa Binding Theory is predominantly an experience-based collection
of notions and concepts that is described more efficiently through
sound. Still reading? Thought not. www.thealfabindingtheory.com
Delayed Cold December
Originally from South Africa, but now relocated to London, Delayed
are a punk rock three piece. Impossible Dream deals in
Offspring chorus harmonies. Currently unsigned and on the hunt for
some backing, there is a lot to like about Delayed. Second track What
Do You Know is more Sum 41, and its hard to not like any
song with the lyric what a f*cking arsehole. Final track
Cold December showcases the requisite ability of any pop
punk band to hit the drums repeatedly and hard. The next step for
Delayed is to try to turn their mastering of their influences, and
catchy songwriting, and create more of a distinct sound to make them
recognisable as Delayed rather than those who inspire them. www.myspace.com/delayeduk
The Half Rabbits From The Horizon To The Map
For some reason the singer seems to think it necessary to imitate
Editors when his voice really isnt the same. It comes across
as false, unnecessary and slightly odd. It seems like hes putting
it on, and I wonder whether hes hiding a more interesting singing
voice with greater variety behind the mock-baritone front. The vocal
hindrance is a shame, as theyve put together a well-written
and executed debut album here. Their sound seems naturally geared
more towards Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins the closer you listen and
the more you block out the lyrical style.
A promising act, with a release sadly ruined by the
unconvincing vocals. Must try *LESS* harder. www.halfrabbits.co.uk
Flies Are Spies From Hell Red Eyes Unravelling
Youre interested already arent you? Piano-led instrumental
post-rock informs the promo bumf. Not sure anymore are you?
Me neither. This is certainly unique, with the gentle piano in the
foreground backed by a cacophony of noise that comes and goes. This
Chichester band do their best to provide suitable variety within their
songs, but fail to do so due to making each song on this seven track
album twice as long as necessary.
Although I found the first track Swimming In
Streets interesting and exciting, and listened carefully, I
realised midway through the second I was putting the kettle on and
hadnt been paying attention. Added concentration reveals its
too samey for my liking. But then I struggle to listen to Mogwai And
Godspeed! without zoning out (dont tell the owner of my musical
credentials) so perhaps Im being too harsh. If you like the
aforementioned and reckon you can cope without lyrics then give them
a go. www.myspace.com/fliesarespiesfromhell
The Active Set EP
This is rather good refreshingly free of ego and over-acting.
Ive heard this sprightly bouncing indie rock many times before,
but I think they know it and therefore concentrate on making lively
happy songs that are fun to listen to, if not exactly memorable. The
vocals fall slightly flat at times, especially on third track RNRG,
but other tracks show this is evidently a growing pain rather than
a fatal illness. Fourth track Im Not Coming shows they can do
gentle and endearing as well. My favourite, fifth track Truth Hurts,
is similar in style but somehow darker.
The EP as a whole shows remarkable versatility, a promising
sign. Time will tell if they can push on to greater things, but all
the parts are here, they just need time, more tunes, and some production
money and time spent ironing out the weaknesses. www.theactiveset.com.