Swearing at Art Students
Anna C's spring time reviews

ELLE MILANO- Swearing's for art students

The singer of Elle Milano has a slightly annoying tone to his voice that I just can't put my finger on. They are a band who come from the same stable block as Miss Black America. But also from a similar cowshed as Arctic Monkeys. And I must be the only person in the country not to care less about the latter. They're calling it "artrock". Whatever that is. I mean, who gives a monkeys if you're middle class? The title track of this still pretty much bored me rigid. Which is a shame because, despite essentially being another four pretentious posers fancying their fifteen minutes of fame, the songs that follow do demonstrate that, although they sound like they have the same enormous energy levels as any other young band out there, they might just have the wit to succeed where others have failed. In short, this is NME-sponsored rock 'n' roll for the spoilt bitches amongst you, played by brash and cocky little beggars for whom it's all about how loud they can shout and occasionally squeak songs which don't sound very unlike each other about how men are bastards and to believe your own hype, always. Though, not that it really matters, I would still say it is a grower. Which means you'll immediately like it. And they will do really, really well.


This was released on 3rd April, 2006 which means I should have written this a few weeks ago. Oh dear.


The Loft is a cosy little place. And it is made further cosier tonight thanks to the friendly little crowd that has come along to sing along to the rather charming support act this evening. Like a better-looking Billy Bragg or a slimmer Chris TT, one man with a beard, an acoustic guitar and a sense of humour draws his listeners in not only with his modern and very British take on folk-slash-country storytelling but with an utterly endearing stage presence to boot. Frank Turner writes extremely honest songs which have the common theme about heartbreak, one night stands and staying up all night talking to some girl about her gap year when you just want to get laid that put me in mind of what Dashboard Confessional would perhaps sound like if they lightened up a bit. And, punctuated by covers of NOFX and fellow singer/songwriter, Beans On Toast (which I very much enjoyed and must remember to look up), tonight's set wonderfully illustrated what can be done with a totally unpretentious attitude and merely good simple song-writing. And, yes, he used to be in Million Dead…

In actual fact, I was quite surprised that Mr Turner wasn't headlining. Especially when I saw who actually was. Because The Gabby Young Collective may be good at what they do but … are they a little boring? Yes. And are perhaps best described as a group of young hippies who have listened to a lot of PJ Harvey and Jeff Buckley whilst communally hallucinating and thinking it seemed like a good idea at the time. Don't get me wrong, I love both influences. And the girl singer of this band has a phenomenal set of lungs on her. It's just I don't like bands whose idea of communicating with their audience is to blurt out a song title in between long and drawn out performances during which the entire band look at the floor and don't even seem to connect with each other. Because I don't care if you're playing to one person or a hundred, they will still help to build or break your reputation. And I'm telling my friends I would rather watch "60 Minute Makeover". Sorry.


Thanks muchly to Dan Griffiths at Press Counsel for sorting this out for moi.

THE PLAYMATES- Smash Hits/ Jackie Wright

I received treatment for my vertigo today. I almost feel off the doctor's couch. I then went looking for a white Alsation that wasn't there which involved climbing lots of hills and getting too hot. And then I have to come home and listen to this. So, The Playmates have played with The Paddingtons, Boy Kill Boy and Towers of London to name a few which lets you in on the kind of obnoxious power pop you can expect from them. Things of note to include about them is that the intro to "Smash Hits", a sneering ditty which turns out to be fairly catchy after all, goes on for a fair few minutes too long, which made me laugh some, and "Jackie Wright" is a sleazy ode to a past love/sex fantasy. Fair enough. So perhaps men with too many hormones will enjoy this best. As for me, I personally don't like the shouty vocal and found it actually to be quite boring and would go so far as to say it goes relatively nowhere musically. Which I suppose makes good punk. It's just I don't like it. And probably never will. The electronic remix bunged on the end for good measure was more to my liking.


CALMER- California Days

Calmer don't want anyone to know anything about them except they are four blokes who make music. If I were them, I'd start being a bit more polite and considerate to their listeners. Because it turns out that the music doesn't say much for itself. Their saving grace is that they can play their instruments. Their downfall is that what they are playing happens to be some of the most boring guitar-based semi-grungy pub-rock that I have heard in a while and that they have a singer who alternates from singing through his nose and through his throat but never through his mouth. Write some better songs, lads, and you might get somewhere. And coming from Norwich is no excuse.



This release does exactly what it says on the tin. Because Julie Collings has indeed created something acoustic. And that's really all there is to it. Which is, in my humble opinion, just lovely; sweet and simple from beginning to end, this is quite frankly a breath of fresh air. From someone that looks a little like Lucy from "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe". With influences including The Beatles, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake and sounding not unlike The Sundays or Sheryl Crow at her most mellow, Julie Collings writes gloriously melodic songs that float and rise like bubbles, from the beautifully hopeful "Simple things" to the wistful and gently heartbreaking "The last post", here is what happens when little hands strum, each track almost childlike in how delicate it is. Yes, this much gorgeousness works well with the sun to hug it all better. Which is just what I needed at the time. Great stuff.


Anna C.

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