Non-stop cliché machine
Alan Smith reviews some sounds

The Recusants - Elliott Strange
This EP opens with the fast-paced Sunday Afternoon, which pleasingly waits until the final 30 seconds to break out into any kind of chorus, following a hectic stream of consciousness vocal performance. I'm not sure why I'm pleased by this, I guess I'm just happy to hear that a new indie band doesn't have to stick to generic song structures. Second track Name In The Lights is a more aching, depressing number, with a Pixies inspired guitar sound. The Recusants have a cosy sound, a familiar feel that manages to be both relaxing and intense. Third track Vincent is similar, but is followed by an odd little unlisted interlude, made up mostly of ghostly vocal harmonies. Next track Mermaids is like listening to The Maccabees with ear muffs on. I'd like to see them live, they are a proper little indie band, and as such must surely sound better in person than on record. Longer track Paint By Numbers basically puts all the aforementioned traits into one nice long heartfelt potential sing-along. The EP is finished off nicely by a rambling, vocally distorted unlisted bundle of energy. The Recusants are well worth keeping an ear out for.

The Flack - Demo
Channelling the spirit of 2005 are The Flack, who in Weekend Warrior have created the kind of ode to going out to "paint the town red" that The Rakes & The Ordinary Boys excelled in. It's not a particularly original theme or set of vocals, but it is executed deftly. The second track is a non-stop cliché machine, full of cringe-worthy lines, like the kind that get uttered by drunken irritating egotistical "blokes" in an attempt to win the favour of a member of the opposite sex, such as "I will sort you right out", "I'll show you a real man", "We should be together" etc. I don't know if it's intended as irony, but the slurry slangy vocal style makes me worry that it is perhaps not. The lyrics really put me off, I don't want to hear tales of people going out. Perhaps I'm just too old to find that appealing. I'm not sure what the final track is meant to be about, but it's got a nice little bouncy style, they are aiming at a mix of indie and ska, so that must be the ska bit.

Rise To Remain - This Day Is Mine
Rise To Remain are unfortunate. Unfortunate that their single has happened to be passed to me for review. Unfortunate that anything vaguely metal sounds the same to me, shouty and unappealing. But I'll do my best to be fair. This is definitely a catchy song, not just a mess of shouting as seems to often be the case. Keeping the growling to a minimum is good, although I realise some growling is a prerequisite for the genre. The tight complex riffs are worthy of high praise given this are a band just starting out. Rise To Remain are likely to get both some instant attention and extra scrutiny because their singer is Austin Dickinson, some of Iron Maiden's Bruce. This single suggests that they are well equipped to deal with the extra attention.


Amplifier presents The Octopus

The Octopus is a sprawling (i.e. fucking long) prog rock entity where the band have clearly been very self-indulgent, doing whatever they want for as long as they wanted (i.e. fucking ages). This is probably largely a result of being without a label, so credit to them for putting it out themselves. It's ambitious and requires lots of time to get into. I don't really have any desire to get into such music, I've never liked any music that is, to my mind, dragged out excessively (you might have been able to work that out already). But if you do want high levels of production, a rockier version of Pink Floyd, and to fill up a lot of time, then getting into The Octopus (so to speak) will probably prove to be a highly pleasing undertaking.

The Lucid Dream - Heartbreak Girl
This is more like it, unique, intense, catchy, jangly and somehow a bit silly. The vocals remind me of the mighty Mull Historical Society, and a bit like a male fronted Helen Love. The slightly scuzzy guitars add in a touch of The Raveonettes and, less subtly, The Jesus And Mary Chain. An enticing and lovely combination. The press release and other reviews suggest a debt to the 60s, and although I can't know for sure (without asking my dad), I feel it is a track very much in the here and now. The b-side, an acoustic version of I Feel So Lonesome (I'm Blue For You) is very different, but still highly enjoyable. It's super slow, with aching distant vocals and a sparser, gentle sound. A simply beautiful song.

Brigade - Will Be Will Be

This is one of those records that is hard to fault, but equally difficult to recommend. As such, it's probably why this is their third record but they've yet to come across my (admittedly sometimes faulty) radar. The lyrics aren't bad, but don't offer anything particularly memorable. And the vocal delivery itself from Will (brother of Busted's Charlie) Simpson seem slightly strained, lacking confidence and strength. They do have a dedicated following, this record was funded through fan pledges, but a wider audience seems unlikely with nothing that sticks in the memory after the CD ends. And the fact that Brigade have announced a "hiatus" from touring is hardly going to help their promotion opportunities. For a band on their third album, you'd expect much more variety, the latter tracks are largely indistinguishable from those that came before. That said, final track Find Your Own Way Home is probably the best thing on the album.

By Alan Smith