Run to the Hills...
Alan Smith wonders if willderness really is a paradise now.

Morning Runner - Wilderness Is Paradise Now
How kind of the folks at EMI to send out a copy of this album for review. Shame that, as I write this, I've yet to hear anything. This is thanks to a lovely copy protection system preventing iTunes from recognising or playing it. My CD player similarly rejected it. Eventually, I discovered the CD would accept me listening to it on Windows media player, but ever getting it onto my iPod is out of the question. The major labels need to realise they are looking at the problem of illegal downloading the wrong way. These kinds of restrictions (now used on many releases) will only push people to illegality with its bonuses of portability. They need to provide VALUE to tempt customers back. The independent labels have already realised this, and Arctic Monkeys have shown that by giving a little you can still sell records (in a normal format). You want to know about the music? Oh, OK. I got it playing and discovered what you may already know. This is shoddy sub-standard Coldplay (who I love) that no self-respecting music fan would wish to illegally spread across the internet. The songs sound the same; it doesn't grow on you and offers nothing in the way of originality, genuine emotion or the epicness that other bands can create in this genre. Will probably sell shit loads.

Buzzcocks - Wish I Never Loved You

Buzzcocks are not only still alive, not only still touring, but actually still making new records. This has to be applauded in these days of reformation cash-in tours. Whether anyone is buying the new material is another matter. But they should, it's really not too bad. Free from EMI (now on Cooking Vinyl) they are free to do as they please. The three songs on this single can hardly be described as punk, sounding more like Paul Weller. All are very pleasant fare, tuneful and not the sound of a band out of ideas. Long may they continue to enjoy their continuing career.

Dilated Peoples - 20/20
Another EMI nearly-a-real-CD, this time only Winamp playable and completely unburnable (see Morning Runner). This is hip-hop, one of those genres I feel unqualified to talk about. Rarely does this type of music grab me, and Dilated Peoples 4th album doesn't break the trend. The single "Back Again" is nice enough (but sounds just like previous hit "Worst Comes To Worst"), but the rest of the album sounds very generic and like many other peoples work. It is, I think, "genuine" and they obviously believe in what they do. It has the typical irritating "skits" which demand to be skipped. I'd guess if you like this king of thing you'll like this. Although perhaps not love it. But I have to shrug and move on. It just doesn't sound interesting, moving or enjoyable.

Plastik - How Much Is Enough?
Unsigned three-piece Plastik have impressively managed to create a full 10 track album, produced themselves but with a very polished sound. The album is packed with promise. It's full of hook-filled exciting tunes, brilliantly executed, all of which demand to be played out loud and proud. "Brainstorms" is a rocking, epic highlight, one of many gems to be found here. This is a band which could go in any of a number of directions. Hints of The Rakes, Radiohead, Muse, Suede and The Breeders could all be pulled out from what is quite a diverse set. An accomplished album from a promising band well worth keeping an ear out for.

The Pigeon Detectives - I'm Not Sorry
From the label that brought you iForward Russia! (Dance To The Radio) and the town that brought you those monkey people (Sheffield) come another indie band fighting their way to the front of the queue with their guestlist status being Steve Lamacq's approval. And once again I'm surprised at how much I enjoy yet another new guitar band. The noughties are finally delivering by the bucketload. Whether this or any of the other 50 bands who have the required tunes, ability, fanbase and sound will become one of the few who create a lasting career is a lottery. But they can hold their own against the competition without anything unique to add to the mix, as there is only so much you can do as a non-experimental indie band. The two songs on this single are fast, exciting, earnest, enjoyable and memorable. Clear examples of how they have good talent to add to the UK mix. Closest to Franz Ferdinand at their most frenetic or Bloc Party at their most enthusiastic. They could be huge or they could sink without a trace, but that would be a great shame. But who cares, just dance to it!

A Million Billion - Volcano Season
This is the debut single from Ryan Smith, Silent League guitarist and Bloc Party remixer. Volcano Season is made up of nice piano work, soothing background electric sounds, forgettable vocals and, towards the end, some thumping drums. However it never really gets going the way I thought it might. The start sounds like the start of something really catchy but then… nothing much more. No memorable chorus or musical progression. His singing is fine, and there's nothing here to dislike, you just feel he has better in him than this, which will undoubtedly pass most people by. The b-side is reasonable as just that. The vocals are distorted, but it's OK. Once again it never really goes anywhere.

Cadillac - Magnetic City
It's time to RAWWKK!! And rip of Queens Of The Stone Age. But they list them as an influence so I suppose that's OK. It really is very similar. Fast passed drumming and guitars with vocals like… well like QOTSA. Which kind of makes this hard to review. What more do you need to be told about how this sounds when they have a perfect reference point? It's not quite as good, tunes wise, but that's hardly surprising. But it's still good music and highly enjoyable when you're in the mood for something loud and "heavy" in a decent way, rather than a metal way. There is no filler on here, and they have made a complete album which is a sign that they have plenty of ideas. The Independent ticked all the correct boxes reviewing this; "energy", "fuzz", "accomplished" and "riffs". I like it, "the kids" will love it, but if they truly want to leave their mark in music history they need to develop their own unique selling point to distinguish themselves from… oh, you know who.

The Delilahs - This Is It
This Is It, the debut single from Swiss all-girl three piece The Delilahs. It's a moody sort of indie rock, trundling along with a repetitive but pleasant repeated riff over which the singer does her best to sound as nonchalant as PJ Harvey / Kim Deal do and doing a reasonable job. After a while just as you think the song isn't going to do anything else, they let rip and they get all shouty Elastica style, which is much more interesting and memorable. Sadly it's backed up by a horrid standard-dance remix, although that's unlikely to be the bands doing. This shows promise, although on its own not enough to get people talking. With more shouting and with enough imagination they could produce something good.

Intention - Afraid At The Edges
At first glace this looks like the usual heavy screamy bollocks; red lettering, check, fly on cover, check, maggots on back, check. But wait, the press release promises an inventive different take on punk and hardcore. Sadly, stick in the CD and… same old bollocks. But, to give them credit, pursuing with the album reveals lyrics you can make out, songs you can tell apart and even the occasional tune. Damned with faint praise I know, but for the kind of music I hate this was relatively… pleasant. Although I'm sure they'd pack it in if they ever heard that somebody thought they were pleasant.

The Somatics - Elemental
Somatics have 2006 top name dropping sorted. Both featured on a Dance To The Radio compilation and having produced for iForward Russia! (those guys are everywhere!), it's enough to have NME wetting themselves at another job well done in the research department without having to worry about such details as the music. Whilst not quite the "psychedelic indie genius" it claims to be, Elemental is very nice. But trying to combine indie with psychedelia hasn't quite worked. There's not enough tune to satisfy the indie side, and it's too restrained to be truly psychedelic. To be honest, it only ended 30 seconds ago and I've already forgotten what it sounded like. The second track is equally average, however it plods away for a devastatingly repetitive 7 ½ minutes, repeating "cool… wet… grass…" throughout. Man it's still going. Dum de dum. Must. Not. Fall. Asleep. Final track You Promised Me is different but still dull. It's not too bad but… I just don't care anymore. A dull disappointment. Please go away.

Worst Case Scenario Records - Two track split single

This two track sampler from new label WCS begins with Ten Thousand Eyes (or Keep Dancing, the CD and info leaflet list different song titles!) by Six Nation State. SNS are a fast paced rock band who somehow manage slight ska undertones. A bit like The Zutons after a lifetime of alcoholism it manages to be both fierce and danceable. It's energetic, heartfelt and altogether a great little song. A change of pace for the other track, Broken Silver by Ox who have a much more acoustic sound. The singer has a very distinctive voice, a bit like Turin Brakes but with a harder edge. A bit like the music. It's a great tune well written and catchy. I thought the first band were great, but this is simply fantastic. Two bands to look out for and a label that clearly knows what its doing.

Babar Luck - Care In The Community
The press release builds this up to crazy levels. Apparently he has a new take on folk, punk, beats and poetry with a "musical melting pot" to call upon as he wishes. He wants to "reach out to the mainstream" and allow people to understand his multicultural world. Sadly, his "melting pot" consists of lots of samey songs in which fairly dull, gentle, nondescript music is talked/sung over by him. It's dull, monotonal and hardly original. The lyrics may allow him to express himself, but good music this does not make. I cannot see who this would appeal to and he has fallen well short of the "unique" music he has claimed to make.

Screwd - From All Angles
Opening track Against The Wall kicks off with awesome throbbing guitars. The vocals kick in, both strangely ambivalent but enchanting all the same. This is a young band who have managed to take their generally heavy rock influences and create something unique and listenable. Second track Two Worlds does sound vaguely Metallica-like but that can only be a good sign (can't it?). The lyrics are accomplished and well thought out. Awoken is a slightly weaker track, but final song What About Without is better with nice vocal harmonies and a more relaxed feel. Overall this CD shows great promise for a small young band. I couldn't find out where they hail from, but keep up to date at

Don Mescall - Innocent Run
This album, and indeed this artist, is perhaps not exactly aimed at the average Repeat reader. Rather it's aimed at a Radio 2 audience. There is nothing wrong with this, but it should give you some idea of what to expect. It's an album of pleasant enough country / guitar / pop as peddled by hundreds of similar sounding artists (David Grey et al). His voice is suitably inoffensive and the music competent but free of risk taking. It's credible enough, and his own work rather than a record company crafted package (I think). Whether he can find a way into a crowded market I don't know, but he has as much chance as anyone else. I wish I could be more descriptive, but its blandness prevents me from doing so. It's not something I, or probably you, will be interested in, but his target audience will lap it up.

HiFlyer - Here Comes The Sunshine
Bristol's latest young band HiFlyer claim they mix "Coldplay, Fleetwood Mac & The Rolling Stones". I'm not exactly sure where that last one is meant to fit in but the others are on the money. They make piano and guitar led indie pop. Female singer Elle is a classic pop music voice and works well with the decent music behind her. It's not exactly hard edged or cutting edge, in fact it's more or less a spoon of a band, and to be honest it doesn't really do anything for me. It's just too poppy and restrained. If I was more of a musical snob or NME hack I'd laugh at this and give it a virtual kicking. But I believe in credit where it's due. So it's yet another CD which is of good quality, with lots of effort put in, that simply isn't of any interest to me.

By Alan Smith

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