Rakennus Ash takes the bullet.


First things first, Honey Ryder have an ace name which is important. Can’t be doing with your Foals and your The Views. It’s a promising start and Honey Ryder and I are ready to make friends. Unfortunately, they then proceed to spoil everything by making wretched Dido style complaint pop only with slightly heavier guitars. They also see fit to use their bio to tell us, in what I can only describe as tedious detail, their intention to fund their recording career via a share issue on all future profits.

Possibly one of the most depressing things I’ve read all year.

Rock and fucking roll.

VIOLET VIOLET- Bring! Bring! The Morn And Bike Till Dawn

Now this is much more like it. Lovely spiky punk rock made by three girls who share the surname Violet. Like The Ramones. Fabulous, obviously. Going back a wee bit, this lot remind me of Chicks, another all girl 3-piece who supported the Manics about ten years ago, were tipped for stardom and then promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. Violet Violet are, however, made of sterner stuff-all fizzy guitars and gorgeous harmonies. In Twin On Twin with it’s call and response chorus they have a classic in the making.
Second track in, they inform us “You can’t drink and drive but you can drink and ride.” I want a bike.

ROSALITA- Manga Girl

When reviewing Rosalita it’s compulsory to mention that they won the Road to V competition last year. Rosalita won the Road to V competition last year.
This EP has been out for a while now so I reckon probably most of you have heard it already so I ain’t telling you owt new. Rosalita make a kind of
bleepy, choppy, keyboard driven row and write tunes that require surgery to remove from your brain. Rosalita are going to be huge. They tick all the requisite boxes, have songs you can dance to when you’re pissed, are as tight a snake’s backside live and are really nice looking chaps.

At the risk of showing my age though, I have to say they leave me cold. Yeah, it’s all good clean fun but where’s the soul? They don’t seem to be saying anything at all and for a band as clearly talented as this, to let themselves down with such cretinous lyrics (listen to Art Attack and wince) is a damn shame.

SPARKADIA- Morning Light

This pretty little ditty starts off sounding a bit like Roxanne which sets the alarm bells racing. Luckily it settles down fairly quickly into a
somewhat twee but ultimately rather likable xylophone and bell drenched indie strumalong. Goes rather well with sunny days, bare feet, tea on the
lawn, tennis watching, festival going, sunglasses wearing shenanigans. The singer has a fine line in what I like to call the Chris Martin Trick ™ in
which banal lyrics become profound as a result of colossal reserves of sincerity in a singing voice, “Last year is gone so leave it all behind” being a perfect example. Well yeah, what else are you gonna do? Time travel?

Good tune though so I shan’t hold it against him and neither should you.

JACK McMANUS- You Think I Don’t Care

Good Christ almighty, the last thing the world needs is another terrifyingly middle of the road English singer-songwriter. Is there a factory somewhere churning these fuckers out? Is it not time to get Stella-ed up, assemble a mob-pitchforks, burning sticks and the like-and close that bad boy down before it does any more damage?

This guy sounds like Toploader. Toploader!
Let’s forget Mr McManus and his nonsense and instead check out Moto Boy. Moto Boy is like Jeff Buckley in high heels and lipstick and, as such, is what a male solo performer should be aspiring to in 2008. Find his stuff on YouTube here and feel your heart break.

XX TEENS- Only You

If any of you lot know how to say this band’s name, please write to me. Is it like a long “XXXX” or do you actually have to say both the Xs? It’s
important to keep up with the burning philosophical issues of the day.

Hmm…I like this. It’s exciting and breathless and a little like snogging someone for the first time when you’re still not 100% sure if they like you or not. “I don’t sleep anymore and I’m too tired to eat” sings Rich Cash (I hope to God that’s his real name) and you find yourself believing him. The driving guitars and frantic vocals bring to mind The Killers before they climbed aboard the Good Ship Springsteen and the band earn themselves extra brownie points by managing to polish the song off at around the two and a half minute mark.

Nice work fellas. Always remember that brevity is next to Godliness.

TRIPWIRES- Just So You Know

This is ace. Absolutely ace. When I was about sixteen I was firmly of the opinion that all music should sound like this-shouty chorus, urgent romo
style vocals, bleepy synth-and I’m still not completely over that view ten years later. There is nothing better than finding a wonderful new pop song that seems like it’s been around for ages. I reckon they must have dug up some amazing lost Duran Duran song from 1982 and stuck crunchy guitars all over it.

On their website, the band describe themselves as “alternative rock.” Bollocks to that … Tripwires are a pop band and a damn special one at that.

ORPHAN BOY- Stilletos

And so crashing back down to Earth we come to Grimsby rabble Orphan Boy. Anyone familiar with The Arctic Monkeys’ mileau (everybody) will know what this horrible song sounds like. We have the loud, jerky guitars, the lyrics that aspire to urban poetry but are more like a 5 year old writing a school essay entitled “What I Saw Today” and the ridiculously accented vocals. “You’re still messing abaht with all the wrong ‘uns” they shout. Are there many cockneys in Grimsby do you think? They probably imagine they’re gritty.

Seriously guys, and actually this goes for anyone thinking of starting a band, just because something worked for somebody else doesn’t mean the same trick can be repeated ad nauseam. The rule of diminishing returns comes into play. For example, The Stone Roses-Oasis-Northern Uproar. Do you see where I’m going with this or is it all a bit too technical? Second song Ludwig is even worse, the kind of crap Pete Doherty knocks out when he’s too smacked up to exercise quality control. Avoid these knuckle headed dullards at all costs.

THE MARCHES- Album Sampler (Loaded Records)

Now this is an odd little thing. The Marches is not, as the name implies, a silly Indie band but rather a chap named Rich Lane who, after spending years as an underground dance music producer, has decided to branch out into singer-songwriter territory. Opener Disco Sucks surprises the hell out of me by being an absolutely scorching disco track. Bee Gees 1978 scorching. I’m loving it and am dancing around the living room like a pint sized Travolta, thinking that Lane is some kind of genius.

I‘m quickly proved wrong as after three minutes of disco carnage, Rich Lane starts singing and it ain’t good. “We don’t need pills to get our thrills, we get our kicks from rock ’n’ roll,” he murmurs in an awful weedy Lennon voice. Ahh, so it’s irony you deal in, is it Mr Lane? You pretend to dislike dance music whilst playing us a dance tune. How clever. On the other hand, just because something is ironic doesn’t stop it from being shit. Blur taught us that with a little
something called Country House.

The rest of this sampler is a mish-mash of different ideas. Baby Boomer is a lament for the unfulfilled promise of that generation and its inability to affect genuine social and political change, an admirable enough sentiment but one which is ruined by the Beatles aping mediocrity of Lane’s arrangement. We are also treated to Electro Pop (Turn It Around), Dub (Yard Arm) and “chilled wobbly electronics” (Life Goes On), all of which are ruined by that awful voice. I’m not against experimentation per se but this leaving no genre unturned attitude smacks a little of desperation…“you don’t like Indie? Well don’t go away, I can do Massive Attack too.”

Lose the singing and stick to the disco, sir. The disco rocks.

ZEBIDEE- Planet Zebidee

Disappointingly, Zebidee is not a 300 year old Texan with a beard and a banjo. Zebidee is Mike Nicholls, a session musician who has been in the
music business for twenty years and has toured with “rock ’n’ roll legends including Joe Brown” (me neither). There’s no way of putting this without sounding rubbish so I’ll just come right out and say it…Planet Zebidee is a concept album about an alien planet, “world music from another world,” as Nicholls puts it. Now if that doesn’t put you off then I’m genuinely sorry for you.

This album is every bit as bad as the sentence “world music from another world” suggests. Frighteningly dull electronic noodling from a guy who really ought to be old enough to know better. Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds this ain’t. War Of The Worlds had Richard Burton and Phil Lynott, and was based on a classic story by H.G. Wells. Planet Zebidee has squelchy noises.

At the end of this record I am fifty minutes older. It’s better than Orphan Boy but only in the same way that it’s probably more pleasant to have a broken bone reset than open heart surgery.

LATE OF THE PIER- Fantasy Black Channel

Don’t read this review until you’ve gone out and bought this record. I know that’s not how it’s supposed to go and I’ve rendered myself redundant but that isn’t important. This album is awesome and hearing it for yourself will do it far more justice than I ever could. Late Of The Pier are the band that The Klaxons have been hyped up to be and Fantasy Black Channel positively drips with more ideas than most bands could cram into an entire career. It’s completely spazzed up and in no way should work but it does and if there’s a
better record made this year I won’t believe it unless it’s Late Of The Pier’s second album.

FBC kicks off with a majestic wall of noise called Hot Tent Blues, it’s discordant riffs a statement of intent that this is going to be a tad different from the Rosalitas of this world. Broken is like Franz Ferdinand in space, all spiky guitars, bass you could level planets with and synths to die for, and previous single Space And The Woods boasts the best glam stomp since Marilyn Manson decided he wanted to be Bowie and made Mechanical

However, it’s on The Bears Are Coming that things really get weird. Full of machine gun drumming, what I think is scratching although it could
just as easily be the singer making noises into the mic, Rio carnival music, and what sounds like the best synth riff Herbie Hancock never wrote. It also has Erol Alkan’s magnificent production all over it. Now there are any number of reasons to dislike Mr Alkan, not least his thankfully defunct club night Trash, the place where people with haircuts for brains went to listen to music made by other people with haircuts for brains. However, he really earns his corn here, giving this incredible music, made by four guys just out of their teens (and they do look about twelve), the rich sheen it deserves.

Picking highlights from Fantasy Black Channel is difficult as there’s not a duff track to be heard but Focker, a break up tune with a filthy synth riff that makes your arse move like it’s pissed in a gabba disco AND a heart (“I wanna be your friend,” wails singer Samuel Dust), would be Number 1 for months in a perfect world. Add to that closer Bathroom Gurgle which seems to
have about 27 tunes packed into it’s four and a half minutes and you’ve a debut album that’s experimental, danceable, intelligent and as near as dammit to perfection. Late Of The Pier are so far superior to any other new British band at the moment as to be in a different galaxy. Do yourself a favour and don’t be put off by the inevitable NME hype. Go stroke your naughty bits to the Fantasy Black Channel.


Oh you poor sods. The Corrections have the misfortune to be reviewed after Late Of The Pier and, to be fair, pretty much every other band would suffer in comparison. They’ve also set me up to loathe them by listing Radiohead as an influence. I know dissing Radiohead is about as socially acceptable in Indieville as wanting to suck off Nick Griffin but they’ve always bored the
arse off me. However, The Corrections have sent their material off to be reviewed in good faith and thus deserve a fair crack of the whip

Opener This Voice Is Not My Voice is built around the line “If your heart won’t listen to your head you might as well be dead” and is alright in that
kind of faux profound indie way, which is to say it’ll sound perfectly apt being played in the background while someone’s having “issues” on Skins.

That familiarity is the problem The Corrections suffer all the way through this album. It’s hard to pick out anything awful here but I’ve heard this album three times now and I bet if I ever hear one of the songs on the radio, I’ll say to my girlfriend “Is this bloody Snow Patrol?” Third song “Full Stop” with it’s silly piano riff and ridiculously melodramatic lyrics could be key study material in a uni course entitled “How To Get In The Charts With An Indie Song in 2008.

“No one’s listening, I think I’m gonna give in,” sings Joe Winter. Cheer up for Christ Sakes.

And so Repeat After Me plods along with its slower songs (An Easier Way) and its faster ones (White Dog) and I’m thinking that perhaps it’s my problem
that I don’t like this. My opinion ultimately counts for jack as I’m sure this record will do well. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it and you only have to glance at the album chart to see that this sort of stuff is popular. On the other hand, shouldn’t it be even more worthy of contempt
than any trashy little pop star? Is sounding a bit like Coldplay and getting a song played over a montage of crap scenes from some worthless television drama enough to sell hundreds of thousands of records these days? Why do people accept such mediocrity? There are, at the last count, 345, 000 bands in Britain that sound like this. When is the counter offensive going to


Anyone remember Imani Coppola? She was briefly famous as a teenager in 1997 with her Neneh Cherry influenced single Legend Of A Cowgirl but, like so
many teen idols, it all went a bit wrong and she dropped off the radar somewhat.

Now she’s back with Little Jackie, a duo consisting of herself and programmer Adam Pallin and The Stoop is the fruit of their collective
labours. Excellent fruit it is too. This is a lovely record, warm, intelligent and soulful.

The World Should Revolve Around Me is the first key track here. Think Jenny From The Block, only not shit. Coppola describes it as her “anthem” but
despite the lofty proclamation of the song’s title, it’s about self-affirmation and is a million miles removed from the hollow posturing
found in must contemporary r’n’b. “I don’t need you around, I know I rock,” spits Coppola at whichever poor sod has got on her wrong side.

Throughout the album, Little Jackie show that there is another way for hip hop and r ’n’ b to go. Their beautiful minimalism really lets Coppola’s lyrics come to the fore and there are some stone cold classics, “Stars and Stipes is acting all sassy and crass,” from Cryin’ For The Queen being a personal favourite. On 28 Butts, a sort of summation of a female’s life, Jack Kerouac gets a name check. Yeah, you heard right…Jack Kerouac like what Manics fans read.

Everything about The Stoop is so far removed from what this genre has been reduced to that it’s tempting to get lost in just listing the differences. This would do Little Jackie a disservice as The Stoop deserves to stand alone as the marvellous piece of work it is. “Another typical day in the universe, another MC spit’s a puny verse,” complains Coppola in 28 Butts.
Well this clearly isn’t a typical day and this gorgeous modern soul record announces the birth (or rebirth if you will) of a real talent.

Rakennus Ash