But what has MySpace ever done for us…

These folks either sent me a demo/single, sent one to REPEAT or handed one out at a gig. If you want something reviewed, just PM me here and I'll give you a postal address...

1. Rosalita - Poptart (3-track demo)
Ipshit's young indie upstarts deliver a lead track with a weird kind of Charleston feel that verges on the point of being over-quirky, falling over the edge when the singer starts drivelling on about Poptarts burning his mouth. Second track I'm in the Local is much better and far more representative of their highly charged live show, and while the cheeky chappy poppy keyboardy indie thing is getting a little overdone right now, these young uns are definitely worth visiting www.myspace.com/rosalitaband to see.

2. The Left Outsides - Leaving the Frozen Butterflies Behind (I wish I Was Unpopular)
I can't make my mind up about this. On one level, it is hippy dippy drivel, but then again, its really, really good hippy dippy drivel. Four tracks, including two covers; The Brian Jonestown Masacre's The Ballad of Jim Jones is done rather boringly and reverentially - can't see what all the fuss is about them myself. Mercury Rev's Goddess on a Hiway is, however, beautifully reworked, with Alison "Saloon" Cotton making it her own with some beautiful viola and vocals. Of there own tunes, I found the title track a hopeless flare-wearing 60s throwback, but Take me to the Other Side is a fantastically dreamy lose yourself tune, reminiscent of January at their peak. So, 50-50 then. Decide yourself at www.myspace.com/theleftoutsides

3. Opaque - The Last Moustache (6-track album demo)
These guys are interesting. Lots of smoky lounge room strummy, almost Spanish guitar accompanies a voice that lisps a little but delivers a strong and individual sound (and some fine lyrics) with just enough originality to keep you interested. Opaque are a little psychedelic at times too, with some guitar noodling and odd keyboard breaks keeping you on your toes. There are nods to the likes of Led Zep and all that other 70s stoned guitar crap, while bits make me think of the chirpy Kinks/Blur thing - there's even one that rips off Men at Work, but while the influences are worn pretty obviously on their sleeves its what they do with them that counts. Twirl your moustache at www.myspace.com/bandopaque

4. Kat Flint - The Secret Boy's Club EP (Naz Recordings)
I'm a sucker for a good female singer-songwriter, and our Kat is just that. She has a tremendously agile voice and the production is magnificent, with the subtle harmonies spot on. I've been lucky enough to see a wealth of this kind of thing recently at Cambridges folk festival, and Kat Flint is in a very similar mould to Polly Paulusma and a little less ethereal than Martha Tilston, but equally impressive. The lyrics are good too - I especially like "how does it feel to be a lonely girls headrush?" in Headrush - and the fairytale feel of London Lullaby is utterly beguiling. Great stuff. www.myspace.com/katflint

5. The Decades - City of Lights (2-track demo)
The Decades seem to be a pretty standard rock band bumming off The Stooges in much the same way Primal Scream do, but with less pizzazz and a weaker, more pub band vocal. I guess they don't have the Primals money, or production, or drug/booze background to back up the rock clichés, but that's no excuse for some of the gothy sub-Cult cliché and solos. Not my bag, and there's certainly better than this around if you like this sort of thing. www.myspace.com/thedecades

6. Summer Bullets - Tell Me Who You Are (3-track demo)
I like this a lot. Saw them in London a little while ago with about six people in the crowd (no exaggeration) and they still put on a great show, and this is a cracking tune. The singer makes me think of bands like Pavement and Garlic but with more vocal edginess, plus rocky guitar noise instead of country twang. The lead track is a bit poppy, a bit coarse and catchy as hell, if a bit repetitive. But second tune Enemies steals the show with a stonking driving riff and beat with a "hey hey" chorus break that'd make any bouncing, sweaty indie crowd happy. They'll probably never be trendy but they deserve to be loved. www.myspace.com/summerbullets

7. Blankit More - Than You (3-track demo)
This is, frankly, poor. The production is amateur, the tracks cut out before they finish, but the songs themselves don't really sound like they'd get much from a good polishing anyway. I thought I'd give 'em the benefit of the doubt though, and go to their myspaz page, and surprise surprise none of theses tunes are on there. Instead, there are four other poorly produced tracks that cut out half way instead. However, Mexico Flood City shows promise in a pub pop-punk way. They're pretty young, and from little acorns and all that, but this is a real, real small acorn right now. www.myspace.com/blankit1

8. Alpha Road - No Dice (3-track demo)
Another young Cambridge band, but these guys are a bit bigger in the acorn department (that sounds a bit rude doesn't it? Apologies). If you were sorting out a sixth form gig, these guys would be the headline act. They'd be the ones who could set everything up, plug everything in and would have the most girlies oogling them by the end (although that'd probably be down to the cider). Good structures, nice harmonies, pretty well produced and with some sing-a-long-a lyrics, Alpha Road wont be playing any of these songs in a couple of years - they'll probably all be at uni by then anyway - but you can bet some of these lads have the talent brewing to go on to great things. I wish them well but for now, enjoy the girlies! www.myspace.com/alpharoad

9. Harrison - Greyscale (5-track demo)
Beautifully crafted indie gems ahoy! I haven't been reminded of Adorable by a band for, well, ever, and its great to hear something reminiscent of the criminally overlooked Creation gods. Opener Way Down is Creation material all over, complete with swirly Slowdive-esque feedback, and is an absolute belter. Cruiser is a little bit more emo-inspired (or American indie, as it might be called nowadays - basically there's no shouting) and almost as catchy. Inspiringly titled ... is an interlude that returns to Slowdive territory, and the last two tracks tread similar ground. If you miss early nineties Creation and have been won over by American guitar pop from the past decade, you'll be in a happy place with Harrison. www.myspace.com/harrisontheband

10. Names for Enemies - Denial is not a River in Egypt (6-track demo)
Although currently known (I think, it seems to change regularly) as Daniel Flay, the singer-songwriter's name, this EP under an old group name is a beautiful introduction to his/their work. This is melancholic acoustic indie, played with intelligence and imagination and sung with passion and feeling. There's an interesting mix of styles but it all hangs together well, with highlights being Kirsten Dunst (understated violin, fragile harmonies, lyrics to die for and a four-second rock out to close) and country swinger The Protagonist, which chugs along in a frighteningly similar way to how the best Buffalo Tom songs used to. Flay is a prestigious talent who cant be far from teetering over the line into recognition, especially as he's now mixing with some other rather talented individuals. www.myspace.com/danielflay

11. Marshals of the Vanguard (4-track demo)
I never trust anything that comes with a manifesto, especially a thinly veiled fantasy one, but bonus points for extra effort. This is essentially an experimental project by singer-songwriter Richard Rowland, slapping electronica and effects over a few piano and guitar driven tunes with varying degrees of success. I'm never convinced by anyone this young (19, apparently, but at the rate I review he could be 25 by now) being eccentric in a Beck kind of way, and there's a real feeling that this isn't coming naturally - it's all a bit pretentious art student who hasn't really lived, burnt, drunk and drugged their way to being this odd yet. That said, it shows a hell of a lot of promise and is an interesting listen, while the newer offerings on MySpace look to be going in some more interesting, less forced directions. www.myspace.com/marshalsofthevanguard

12. Loman (3-track demo)
Professional, accomplished, intelligent - all words you can use to describe Loman but that wont warm the cockles of your heart. This is all a bit John Denver really. They make country music with nice, story-telling lyrics, spot-on harmonies and all the right musical bits in all the right places, but that's the problem. These tracks are all so by-numbers, so unadventurous, so, well, dreary. That said, bands like this can make millions selling CDs to middle-aged Americans, and good luck to them - they're no better or worse than the any other pop Americana band you'll hear on the radio. But give me Broken Family Band, or Mary Gauthier, or anyone who sounds like they smoke, drink, fart and throw stuff around any day. www.myspace.com/lomanlive

13. Wild Hope - Don't Take Me Home (5-track EP)
Folk rock is an easy genre to get wrong, and opener Don't Take Me Home is an object lesson in what not to do. In Clara Kousah they have a talented singer-songwriter but add electric guitars in a by-numbers fashion and you take away from that, instead of adding to it, turning nice songs into pub rock plodders. One Step Backwards is more interesting, the bass-driven intro giving way to a ska-ish Police feel with a touch of The Pretenders, while Still Life's stripped-down sound makes more of Kousah's vocals until the predictable rock chorus steps in to spoil things a bit. Highlights for me were the bonus live tracks, with some nice slide sounds and thoughtful plucking over lovely, dreamy soundscapes, and not a rock cliché in sight. Recorded, Wild Hope sound arranged, not wild at all, but they have the ingredients to shine if they give in to freedom and try and be themselves. Otherwise, mediocrity waits I'm afraid. www.myspace.com/wildhopemusic

Chris Marling

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