The rules of modern policing
Alan Smith wonders what's all this then...

The Electric City - Dark Skies
This begins with a low rumble, which builds and then launches into a pulsating rhythm that's maintained throughout the song giving it a strong poppy feel. This mixed with a slight aggression gives it a kind of Kaiser Chiefs feel, albeit one with a slightly more electronic edge. In fact it reminds me a lot of Reverend & The Makers; it has that same vocal intensity. I could go on with many more likenesses, they seem to have amalgamated about 20 other current bands giving me the impression I've heard this before, which in a way I sort of have. It's an age-old formula (or at least, a 2 year old formula) but one they've executed to perfection, and there's no doubt that is instantly likeable and catchy.

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Having heard their superb single Time To Pretend I was very excited about hearing this album, and seeing if it would live up to the gentle hype it had created. And I'm happy to report it's one of the best albums I've heard so far this year. They've created a staggeringly accomplished record given that this is only their debut, which leaves you wondering just how far they could go in the future. It's a very diverse set of songs with each song built around a forceful rhythm and a genuinely original structure. The album takes about three listens to embed itself in your brain, but once it does you'll find each track uniquely recognisable and regularly stuck in your brain for hours on end. Each song is unpredictable and coated with lyrics you can't believe nobody has written before, they are so fresh yet so right. They offer a modern day alternative to Bowie, or a danceable (yet never repetitive) Flaming Lips. It's an album to show Scissor Sisters fans how it really should be done. It does drop off a little towards the end of the record, but that's a minor criticism for an album that is far better than it ought to be. And whilst it's credible, it still manages to be a record that any fan of music should be able to appreciate and enjoy.

Out From Animals - The National Curriculum
This is a high-tempo offering from yet another new band that put a great rhythm at the centre of their songs. They follow a fairly traditional approach with all three tracks remaining fairly smooth and un-dynamic throughout. This makes them good candidates for the dancefloor or a live performance but potentially less alluring on radio. The lead track thankfully doesn't use its title as a basis for the chorus, sticking with the more natural refrain of "Is This My Education? I've got a lot to learn". The singer sounds very similar to the Klaxons' both in terms of his actual voice and the way he enunciates his lyrics and with a similar musical styles regular comparisons are inevitable. They don't yet have the diversity or musical personality that they do, but it certainly seems that they have the ability to create this, and Klaxons have shown that this a genre that can prove immensely popular.

Teasing Lulu - Waste Of Time

Brighton based Teasing Lulu are Lou and Lucy who write feisty punkish anthems to perform with their drummer Jason. This single launches fiercely and frantically, wasting little time (see what I did?) in progressing into the hook-laden chorus within the first 30 seconds or so. It pains me to use the age old cliché and say the vocals are similar in style to P J Harvey's, but they really are. However it's mixed with a frenzied sensory assault more akin to that which the legendary Elastica produced. It's a refreshing and clean sound that I find satisfies my hunger for jerky joyful riffy guitar music.

Pic Rachel Smith

Family Machine - You Are The Family Machine
Family Machine are a charming little new indie band that have put together a solid debut album of upbeat three minute wonders. Each song has a strong melody and a clear identity, a feat that new bands are rarely able to achieve. This is a band that I would expect to stumble upon on a rough trade compilation, in a geeky record shop or late at night on BBC 6 Music, so to find it has been sitting on my shelf unplayed for a couple of months comes as quite a shock. This is a band that deserves to be heard, the kind of band to name drop if you want to seem like you know what you're talking about. They're a modern day Bluetones, a chilled out Maccabees and a young-again Supergrass all rolled together.

The Best Of Joy Division
I'm not sure exactly what the point of this release is. It's not even Christmas yet (usually the time of year for needless best of albums). I'm sure none of you need me to tell you what Joy Division sound like, or the impact they had on modern music. By now I would have thought most music fans will have bought their limited selection of records, or at the very least the previous compilation album, Substance. This new collection contains virtually the same selection of songs but also includes The Peel Sessions, a couple of other live tracks and an interview. But nothing significant you couldn't already get elsewhere. I assume this release has been prompted by the superb film Control, on the assumption it might have created some new fans. To that end it does its job; if you don't actually own any Joy Division this is a good encapsulation of their career on one release.

Duffy - Rockferry
Surely you are all aware who Duffy is. It's been hard to escape her this year, in particular her irritating single Mercy which essentially offers a clean cut alternative to Amy Winehouse, being essentially the same as her hit single Rehab. Follow Up Warwick Avenue is proof that you really can build a hit out of horrific and generic lyrics. "You think you're loving but you don't love me, I want to be free, baby you've hurt me" goes the chorus. Painful isn't it? In case you can't tell by now, Duffy does nothing for me. The best track by a long mile is the title track, no doubt largely due to the fact it was co-written and produced by Bernard Butler.

Telegraphs - The Rules Of Modern Policing
This sounds to my ears like Biffy Clyro. Which sadly doesn't make it something I'm really interested in. But Biffy are a very successful band, and this lot have a similar songwriting and playing ability so on the basis of this single I see no reason they can't carve out similar levels of success and adoration over the next few years. Dave Eringa is producing their debut album and I'm sure he'll be able to bring out the best in them. So providing nobody uses the "emo" word to describe them, they should do well.

The Shivers - Merry-Go-Round
This stripped back and catchy single from Cambridge band The Shivers is one to really get inside your head. I thought it was simply "OK", but found myself needing to listen to it again. And again. And again. I don't know how something so simplistic can be so delightful but it is. Once again, the fact that this band are clearly enjoying themselves and not caring about where the band takes them is what makes this so special. It's honest and it doesn't try to be anything more than what it is. What it is, is fabulous.

After Effect - By Yourself
After Effect feel that singer Andrew is reminiscent of James Dean Bradfield and Kelly Jones. The sooner they release this really isn't the case, the better. His voice is dull and dreary and is what makes this band sound so average. The choruses are based on the idea that you just need to say the key lines slowly and more draaaaaawn out than the rest of the song. The playing is more than competent although sadly the songwriting is unoriginal and none of the three songs here give any opportunity to showcase any talent they may have as musicians.

The Humanity - Bass Linear
I must admit, I don't have many other bands creating "anarcho gothic nu-grave" in my life. For those of you still unclear as to what this means The Humanity sound like I will elaborate. A frantic and fierce wall of sound akin to Glasvegas gone hyperactive is overlaid by equally speedily spewed out vocals. The lyrics are hard to decipher on first listen so the accompanying lyric sheet comes in handy and reveals some clever turns of phrase and a poetic edge missing in most bands today. It's an exhausting but satisfying listen and the electronic b-side Hollywood (which is equally up tempo) proves they are no one trick pony. This is addictive stuff, providing your ears can take it!

Toochi - I Represent
Twins Chinwe And Chidi represent Destiny's Child style pop music. Surprisingly I didn't actually dislike this. But it's generic pop truly made for the masses, made without soul or any real thought, and I don't really want to hear it again.

Rob McCulloch - Escaping Times
Vince Freeman - Songs Without Shoes
Listen up singer-songwriters, you may not have realised it but there are a lot of you out there. We've all heard numerous men with reasonable songs, a guitar and the ability to put songs together. And you really need to do something special to stand out. I hope you realise the chances of success are slim even if you're exceptionally talented, and minute otherwise. Neither of these records offers anything new or notable. Rob is a bit more upbeat and poppy, Vince a bit more emotional and heartfelt (i.e. sickly). It's sad because a lot of time and effort has clearly gone into both of these, but that alone isn't enough to stop them both from ending up in the bin.

Sukie - Pink-A-Pade
Jerky Libertines guitar work, the fierce vocal style of The Cribs and a splash of Elliott Smith go into the pot to create Sukie, who are entering the competitive land of modern indie. Strange, back in the late 90s I'd have given a limb to listen to something as honest, lively and exciting as this, yet now talented young bands like Sukie are everywhere. Both the single and its b-side are bursting with life and bound to whip up a frenzy when performed live. Whether they will get their time in the spotlight remains to be seen, but on the evidence of this single if they get it it will be deserved.

By Alan Smith