Sometime Never vs. Time and Opportunity (no label. Out I dunno. At some point, presumably.)
You know, this reviewing malarkey's starting to feel like a seven-year case of deja vu. Everything I hear, I seem to've heard before. It's a tad dispiriting. But occasionally, you get surprised. For instance: this CD/DVD thing, once it's finished trying to load the DVD bit into your computer and crashing your e-mail account (note to all bands: don't make DVD extras that load automatically. Always give the listener a "yes/no" choice before monopolising their hard drive with pictures of your band flailing around onstage) kicks into a weird atmospheric haunted-house number: lots of squeaks and stop-start drums and warped vocal samples which sound a bit apocalyptic, in a tight-budget kinda way. And I thought "Oh, great. Another heavy metal band". But instead, it turned out to be post-At the Drive In skatepunk. Which isn't actually that good, but at least it failed to impress me in a slightly unexpected way. And the picture of the band waving a burning branch around is kinda funny. sometimenever.co.uk
I knew I'd heard this name somewhere, and as soon as I pressed play I knew where - this is that ska-folk band that sent me that single that one time. Yes, you heard right: ska-folk. Like, ska guitars, but with folky violins. It's definitely a Unique Selling Point but possibly not the right kind. Oh - and this song's skatepunk folk. Like a cross between Blink182 and a barn dance. If you like ska, and you like folk, then you may find this hyperactive marriage of skanking rhythms and sweeping violins to be just the ticket. And if you like skatepunk and like folk, then once again you may find something to like here. If you like skatepunk, ska and folk well, my friend, it is your lucky day. However: if you're now rushing out to buy this from that description, I'd just like to let you know that you are WRONG. makeitbetterlater.co.uk
The Servant - How To Destroy a Relationship (Famous Music; out
Y'know, however aesthetically displeasing I may find a lot of the stuff I rant about on here, most of it is at least merely annoying. But this; this is surely actively evil. The sound of dull, resigned whining; of wallowing in defeat without insight, stupid self-pitying pointless whinging dross with no life, no excitement - the lyrics claim to be full of regret, but the whole tune is so damped down and muggy that all that comes across is a half hearted acceptance of just sitting and sinking further and further into grey. And it has no tune; it's just a load of fuzzy, washed out and pointless sustained notes. This post-Coldplay nonsense is the sound of the death of the soul - and not in an exciting, Faust kinda way either. Yuk. thebravery.com
The Counterfeits - No Alternative (Radio Friednly Recordings; out now)
Yes, I know that's not how you spell "friendly". But that's what this company calls themselves on the press release, and it is not my place to misrepresent them. I will, however, feel free to sneer at them whenever the fancy takes me.
So. This is another punky track, with very fast trebley guitars and pained vocals. The kinda thing that'd soundtrack the pivotal action scene in a teen movie. The first b-side is choppier, with almost nautical rhythms under a lost soul bluesy howl. And then there's a delicate acoustic number as the second b-side. And that's kinda all one can say, really - Counterfeit may be average across a wider range of genres than many bands, but they still fail to stand out from the flock. Or herd. Or swarm. Depends what kind of animal you're thinking of, I guess. thecounterfeits.com
"Despite coming from sleepy Hertfordshire The Runners have carved out a unique blend of noisy and infectious indie-pop": how does the first part of that sentence lead onto the second part? Is Hertfordshire a notorious black hole for all things indie pop? Is there something anti-indie in the water? Is the county overrun by indie-hating Gestapo types who hound anyone with indie-pop tendencies out of town before they get round to picking up guitars, in order to preserve the indie-free nature of the area? Or is it just a load of nonsense?
And anyway, this indie-pop is not unique. You'll have heard something similar to this yearning, jangly clatter spewing from a radio near you a veritable multitude of times in the last, oooh, 30 years. And there's nothing wrong with having influences or belonging to a genre - it's kinda inevitable, isn't it? But if you then claim not to sound like anything else when you clearly, obviously, totally do, then people will get sarcastic at you. So don't bloody do it. Mmmkay? That said, The Runners' indie, though nothing new, does do what it does pretty well, in that anodyne "let's find something utterly average and hype it as the new big thing so no one has to stretch their musical horizons at all" kinda way, so they would seem to have a reasonable chance of pissing me off via FM/Longwave fairly soon. How nice for me. myspace.com/therunnersband
Purity - Liberation(So Alive) (Own label; out now)
Pulsing, computerised beats with that throbbing, organic feel to them. Trancey, sweeping atmospherics under repetitive, slightly hypnotised-sounding but still emotive female vocals and rhythmic sequencer tunes. Breakdowns into poppy pauses to allow the dance floor to recover a bit before the beats kick back in. Yep, this'd be dance music, a genre about which I know bugger-all. So, why not hit myspace.com/purityuk and listen for yourself? Go on, get ye gone.
Simon Mastrantone - and the drowse (Rekabet Records; out 10th September)
Sweet cunting Christ, what the hell was that?
Right, here's a handy life hint for you. If you're gonna describe an artist as an ex-agit punker whose new material has as much in common with The Dead Kennedys as it does with Tori Amos, make really, really fucking sure that when people press "play" they're not actually going to hear post-Britpop indie-rock meanderings tinged with a very, very small amount of slightly punkish references. There're a couple of decent jerky rhythms and threatening bass lines on here, but that doesn't change the fact that this is slick as Mr Sheen and about as threatening as a crippled kitten. simonmastrantone.co.uk
Does someone else wanna review the rest of these? Please? I'm fast losing the will to live. No? Bastards. OK then - but on your heads be it. Please, something decent next?
Aidy - Darn Snail Like (Self release; out now)
Some slightly psychedelic overtones to the guitars and an ear-catching vocal with a hint of sneer behind it make this stand out somewhat from the rest of the reviews bag, but sadly it doesn't take these things and run with them. Instead, it settles into an acoustic-indie groove with a bit of a difference, and the original hopes that it might actually be worth listening to again fade fast. A tragic story, non? Aidy.com
Fall Out Boy - The Take Over, The Break's Over (Mercury; release date hopefully never)
Oh, for fuck's sake.
Klaxons - It's Not Over Yet (Rinse; out sooner or later. Look: if folk won't include the release date with the promos they send us what'm I meant to do?)
Right. New Rave. It never actually existed, did it? It was just a load of silly escapist pop, party music - which should've found its niche among those who dig that kinda thing and been otherwise left alone. But it was warped into a "scene" which it never actually had the substance to maintain. This means that the whole thing's acquired something of an aura of embarrassment. So, I reckon that everyone will shut the fuck up already about the new rave tag (those that actually took it seriously in the first place, that is - which'd probably be about two people) and many of the bands will be abandoned by ze kidz as they grow up and get cool, will be soiled and tarnished by the whole embarrassing thing; vanish from the public eye; develop a bit of a plague circle around their musical feet and then find a new niche as our generation grows up: they'll become the 21st Century version of ELO, and develop steady sales among those who have a stubborn, nostalgic love of anti-cool noise from their teenage taste-wilderness years.
That's my theory. D'you like it?
Anyway: this is a Klaxons song. One of their slower, emotional ones which don't work because their sound's really more set up for hyperactive party music. That's probably all you need to know.
Shock Defeat! - Guts (Snakes and Ladders; out now)
Thank fuck. Just as I was starting to worry I was going to end up writing a whole jiffy bag's worth of reviews without being able to approve of a single one, the last record out of the bag is not only acceptable but actively great. It's got clear influences, but it doesn't stick slavishly to them; it sounds weird, but has enough tune to stick in the head; it's the only band who sound like they'd be unpredictably energetic enough live to actually be worth seeking out.
So: this is utterly insane post-punk lunacy, with Talking Heads-esque bass rhythms and post-punk funkiness which've been carefully nurtured into something organically original rather than tradition-bound and irritating. The vocals are bizarrely accented and have weird emphases and random yelps scattered through them, the oddity of which is accented by the alienating distance of reverb. It makes you want to dance; it's complex enough to be played over and over without getting tired of it; it's slightly threatening and slightly melancholy; there's a general feeling of experimental drive and creepyness in the works; and the whole thing is memorable in its bizarrity. And the b-sides are just as good as the a-side, too. Hurrah! myspace.com/shockdefeatband