Marching to A Different Beat
Malka : Marching to a Different
Beat (Tantrum Records)
One I enjoyed more than I expected...
Time was when R*E*P*E*A*T was swamped with scores of CDs each week. Since the arrival of digital promos, the amount of physical 'product' (hate that word) we receive has massively diminished. Nonetheless, some enterprising bands manage to circumvent our lack of a PO Box and secretive locatiomn to get us real CDs. Which I filed in a neat, unlistened to pile in my porch, until now. When I am listening in a sun drenched garden in Swansea...
Appearances can be deceptive. Reading the press release for Malka, I thought I was in for some worthy folksy worldy music dirge, but actually this is sasssy and sunny and upbeat and very enjoyable. Like Lily Allen backed by a tribe of hyped up Oompa-Loompa drummers, or ethereal shadows flitting on a gurgling stony stream, this is perfect for a summer morning in the garden.
Lucy Spraggan 'We Are'
Another one I enjoyed rather more than I expected.
A collection of sincere ballads and folk-tinged pop songs it says on the label, but tracks like 'London Bound' are definitely pop driven and again, sound perfect in an August garden. The vocals here also remind me of Lily Allen the distinct accent, the poppy bounce, the sassy summery breeze. And then I read that Lucy Spraggan was an X Factor contestant sensibly the PR person left this information to last, or, bigot that I am, I'd not have got on with this record so much.
Motor Tapes : Count To Ten ep
Another talented, professional and enjoyable release from Motor Tapes, perhaps the Cambridge band most persistently hovering under the radar and deserving of wider exposure for their hard work, professionalism and melodies. This ep showcases the breadth of their influences and range of their abilities : I particularly liked the harder rocking edge of lead track 'Everything' and the more restrained, smouldering power of 'Falling Away' with its triumphant harmony fuelled chorus and its insidious burrowing bassy riff. Take a listen here on Soundcloud : you know you want it!
War Waves : War Waves
Featuring 'two arguing brothers and an unfeasibly handsome lead guitarist', War Waves début album shows a passion for indie rock of all varieties. With a definite indie twang, the songs are well written and performed, with a definite nod to The Smiths and some of their more obscure influences (The Waltones? Razorcuts?). The album was written to win back the life-long love of the songwriter Mark Newby I hope she was touched enough by its raw if shy emotion and vulnerable hooks to at least talk to him again.
Sal Vitro: Cirque to Sleaze
I thought this was another world music record, until I pressed play. Now I wish it was. Hair metal drawled with fake American accents sandwiched bteween unnecessary guitar noodles and blessed with titles like 'The Gettin' Older Casanova', 'Sick As Me' and 'The Party Hard Smoker' tells you all you need to know.
C'Etait La Guerre ep
The same City's The Destructors are more angry incendiary attacks on religion, big business and the façade of 'democracy', all delivered with a punky sneer. Powerful stuff. Not sure if I was meant to review this ep or if it's fallen off the Beverley Kills merch table, but I'm very glad to have heard it!
GUN : Frantic
GUN (in big letters) ROCK, with big letters. This is their NINTH album. They have ROCKED with such big letter bands as Bon Jovi, Simple Minds, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard and THE ROLLING STONES. So of course they are pretty COMPETENT at what they do. And if that's what you like, you'll LOVE this.
And now THE SUN'S GONE DOWN!
Money For Rope : Money for Rope
Featuring 2 drum kits, 2 guitars, bass and keys plus 3 voices, and promising a tsunami of 'rock'n'roll surf garage', I was hopeful about this one. I was disappointed. Sub easy listening white boy blues funk, with not a lot to say. Next!
Conrad Vingoe : Tomorrow Then
Sepia soaked soulful folk at its best, says James Robins of BBC Introducing. So, not really my thing again, but far preferable to Money for Rope. It's got an urgency, an honesty, a passion that shines through the laser grooves. This maybe partly to do with the way Phil Brown recorded the whole album live in 2 days, as well as the song writing skills. Not one I'll listen to again, but neither would I like to diss his effort and talent. File under Good at what he does
Digital By Birth : Brain Candy
Digital by Birth are an enigma to me. And maybe to you too? They regularly bombard me with old school punk play lists, slightly less 'out there' articles than I expect, and new sounds. This record is firmly entrenched in the digital age lots of samples, loops, beats and ideas, all very interesting and accomplished, but to my ears I am still waiting for the crashing crescendo, the clinching conclusion, that explains what it's all for. There is definitely some intelligence and some creativity at work in this band, but I am still not sure what it's working towards. Maybe they are too. Or maybe that's the whole point?
Bouquet of Dead Crows : Don't Panic
The rain may have set in, but this brightens up the day again. Urgent, hooky, bombastic riffy rock with presiding, powerful female vocals which really spike you in. The choruses are infectious with a stop-starty thing that works really well live. So far, I do prefer this band (what to call them for short? The Crows? The Bouquet? BQODC?) when they rock out at a gig to their more intimate, bluesy numbers.
Bouquet of Dead Crows play Cambridge Corner House on August 28th
An exciting way to finish these reviews, and a chance to quote some Ted Hughes.
In the beginning was Scream