Love Actually?
Cobie hoped to brighten up the festive season with some happening sounds of the moment, but all he found were lazy guitars and tinkly pianos… and The Super Nashwan Kids.

Gruff Rhys - Candylion

First impressions of Gruff Rhys were pretty good, with the opening track, This Is Just The Beginning, being an eclectic mix of acoustic guitar and Stevie Wonder style synths. You can imagine the disappointment, then, when I realised this was just a 43 second intro to probably one of the most boring albums I've ever listened to. Which is quite an achievement seeing as I used to like Coldplay. (Not really, I've never liked Coldplay). The title track, Candylion, is like listening to an English Jack Johnson at half speed while under the influence of mind-altering drugs, with some ill-fitting hip-hop drums thrown in for good measure. This is the sort of thing The Beatles did well, but for some reason he just doesn't make it work. And so it goes for pretty much the rest of the album, with most songs sounding pretty much the same.

However, the album does have its saving graces. With songs like Lonesome Words and Cycle Of Violence sounding like a spaced-out spaghetti western with some pretty inspired drumming, it does at the very least make a bid to break from the norm. However, the sleepy, droney vocals bring the song down a lot. My favourite track from this album is Now That The Feeling Has Gone, with the drums and double bass sounding like they've come straight out of a 1930's jazz club, this was probably the only song that got me tapping my feet. As always, however, the vocals tend to make the whole song just too boring to actually listen to, and when the spaced-out, synth-filled chorus comes in, the song loses all momentum. I would suggest this album to people who have trouble getting to sleep, but that's about it.


The Super Nashwan Kids - Demo 3

I never would have thought there would be a band to fill the political rap-metal shaped hole left by Rage Against The Machine. Sure, there have been attempts, some good, mostly bad, but none of them really lived up to the standards set by Zack and co. Well, maybe there is a glimmer of hope in Tsnk, a shoutier, punkier, slightly more out-of-tune version of Rage, but definitely worthy successors. They have all the balls, funk, and lyrics you could hope for, with lines such as "why don't you just shut your face/we've heard it all before" that have all the pent-up aggression that Killing In The Name Of mastered so well. And they're consistent too, each song a balls-out rampage of punky aggression. Even the bought-my-first-guitar-yesterday solos work well, although not quite on a par with Tom Morello's OTT pitch-shifter squealing (but then again, they got pretty annoying). The out of tune backing vocals were probably the only thing that let the band down at all, especially in Stop Thinking, which was an otherwise great song, with an awesome Metallica-style riff, and lead vocals executed perfectly. If there's any justice in the world, Tsnk will keep making music, and more people will listen.


The Ordinary Boys - I Luv U

I never really liked The Ordinary Boys, even before they stopped playing real ska and started writing songs with the intention of getting on Top Of The Pops. However, I went into this with an open mind, I mean how crap could it be? Maybe the title "I Luv U" is just a clever post-modern twist on today's world, and how technology has taken over our lives, and caused us all to spell like knobs? Well it isn't. It's plain awful. Even though the lyrics are admittedly quite clever ("it doesn't make it any better/to just steal kind words off Phil Spector"), it doesn't cover the fact that it sounds like the soundtrack to Love Actually. The lazy guitars and tinkly pub piano might've worked very well in a song by a different band, with different subject matter, but this sellout pseudo-ska band just don't cut it.


Klaxons - Golden Skans

Having been subjected to all the "new rave" hype surrounding this band for about the past month now, and not having listened to them once, Klaxons had a lot to live up to. Well, they did. It is so refreshing to see an indie guitar group actually making some worthwhile music. Think the best parts of Razorlight (I know, there aren't many), mixed with some Primal Scream, and all painted a wonderful day-glo pink. This song has it all: originality, spiky guitars, a catchy (if slightly annoying) melody, and a whole load of hype.


Mukul - You Don't Know Me

I've never been a big fan of trip-hop, or any variety of that electro/dance/club music, and people like Mukul are the reason why. The beats are boring, the melody (or lack of it) is completely tuneless, and the vocals are plain awful. He just sounds like a pervy old man trying to be sexy, and it's more than a bit creepy to be honest, especially on Happy Birthday, which is basically some drunk guy slurring godawful chat-up lines with some forgettable dance music in the background. The sad thing is someone out there will buy this and call it "music".


The Tarka Groove Experiment - I've fallen over

"This is okay", I thought, as the first lines of opening track Belmont Hill came gently wafting out of my speakers in a nice, non-threatening manner. It's the same feeling you get when you watch a Disney movie that's aimed at people half your age, but by the end of the film you find yourself hoping that the talking fish/elephant/deer finds his mum and dad. Which isn't a bad thing, just a bit strange. James Fender's velvety soulful vocals are great against the Leadbelly style blues guitar. At times this album sounds like The Doors, at others, Jack Johnson, but has a dominating bluesy country feel to it. A major highlight was Mugger Got Mugged, a song that uses gospel-style organs, vocals that sound like a happy Nick Drake, and clever post-modern lyrics that would put The Streets to shame ("With a nike hoodie up over his head/he said pass me your iPod and your mobile phone/or I'll shoot you with this knife and you'll be dead"). While staying under the folk/rock/country/blues genre, they can still be pretty versatile too: Get On Down sounds like Led Zeppelin at their funkiest, while the next track, 5108, is a sweet, confessional acoustic track that could have easily come off a Johnny Cash record (well, if Johnny Cash was a twentysomething English bloke). I can only hope TTGE stick around for 2007, nearly every other band in the charts right now could learn something from them.


Her Next Friend - New #2

I don't really have much to say about this band, they don't suck exactly, but they're not that brilliant either: they're just a bit boring really. Think the mildy depressed Dandy Warhols. Sort of. They do have a very good acoustic folk version of 7 Nation Army, which is nice. His voice covers the whole vocal spectrum from an even more depressed Morrisey to a slightly happier Morrisey. That's pretty much it.


The Hours - Back when you were good (Polydor)

Rejoice! All fans of Coldplay and Keane who were looking for something a bit more depressing! Yes, it is possible! Take everything awful from Coldplay, Keane, Snow Patrol, Morrissey, and any of Radiohead's recent stuff, and you've got an idea of what they sound like.


James Morrison - The pieces don't fit anymore

You know you hear those American evangelists saying that heavy metal music is what caused the Columbine massacre? Well, I've always heavily disagreed that any form of music could physically drive someone to do that, but after listening to this, well, I'm not so sure…
Apparently, he has the "voice of an 80-year old black American blues singer" and he's "channelling the spirit of Otis Redding", but it's more like a cross between James Blunt and one of those god-awful boybands you see trying to get on X-factor. You know the ones, they call themselves "Tru Luv 4 U" or something like that. Honestly. He actually sounds like that chubby one from Westlife. But I decided not to give up on this song just yet, and stuck it out for another 3 minutes, foolishly thinking that maybe there might be a little sliver of originality or integrity in the song. Of course there isn't. What was I thinking? In short, don't buy this. Don't even look at it in the shop. In fact, put the Klaxons' CD in front of it, so maybe some sappy 20-year-old yuppie who read in the Guardian that James Morrison was actually quite good, might stumble on something worthwhile instead.


The Answer - Come Follow Me

You would've thought that people would learn from The Darkness' mistakes, not tread in their footsteps, but The Answer seem to be doing exactly that, albeit with a slightly less annoying singer. So you've got your usual early Metallica/Led Zeppelin style riff, AC/DC like vocals, the usual. At best they're a very good imitation of Guns n Roses, at worst, well, they suck. Well they don't suck, but that's only because the bands that they're ripping off are awesome, if you see what I mean. With bands like Bullets And Octane and Avenged Sevenfold doing the same thing, but with much more originality, it makes you wonder if this band really are The Answer…


By Cobie

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