Wicked Man's Rest
Alan Smith reviews finds out pain is pleasure
(or should that be vice versa?)
Passenger - Wicked Man's Rest
Passenger are the artist formally known as Mike Rosenberg Band. The
name change makes sense to me as they are very much a band, not just
a one man effort. Their first single under their new moniker proceeds
in the same musical direction as before, namely that gentle acoustic
and vaguely electronic feel that the two singles I have reviewed here
before had. This is the best yet, as they continue to evolve as a band,
and sounds like they are now ready to put together a valid debut album,
confident in their own sound and ability. It's catchier, more tightly
produced, and generally a BETTER song. It's very downbeat with a depressing
nature, but enjoyable as a song. The album when it comes should be well
worth a listen. www.passengermusic.co.uk.
My Device - Nervous System
Last year Brighton's My Device won the NME Breaking Bands
competition for unsigned artists, which is both a sure sign of future
success and a sign that they might not actually be that good, simply
picked due to their ability to fit into whichever pigeonhole NME is
currently promoting. Happily they turn out to be more rough and ready
than you might expect, full of passion for music and remarkably un-pigeonhole-able
(is that a word?). No longer unsigned, they've taken a good choice and
plumped for the Shifty Disco label, who have put out this debut album.
12 songs in 33 minutes ensure boredom is not likely; they take no longer
than is strictly necessary to say what they want, with only one song
hitting the 3 minute mark, and this gives them the opportunity to show
off all their abilities. Single I Was Brave Today is one of the highlights,
shouty, distorted and freewheeling; it is the perfect example of their
ramshackle approach. So it's definitely an NME-gets-it-right shocker,
you can now feel free to enjoy them at your leisure. www.my-device.co.uk.
Dead Or American - Ends
Dead Or American are both "FIERCELY independent" and "fundamentally"
a live act, which would explain why I've not heard any music from them
up until now. That and the fact they are unremarkable in the extreme.
Routine guitar music with unexceptional vocals throughout. When there
is so much amazing music out there, I'll find it very hard to spend
any more time on this generic rock band. But as usual, I must admit
it's a matter of taste and if American MOR is your thing, this band
can't be much worse than many other bigger names out there. www.deadoramerican.com.
OPM - California Poppy
Yes, you read right. OPM are STILL going, some years after their ubiquitous
one hit wonder "Heaven is a half pipe". Needless to say they
haven't undergone a dramatic reinvention into a post new rave techno
folk jazz act, and are still peddling the same jolly punky poppy fare.
The press release claims this contains "13 catchy songs",
which is unlikely given that two of these "songs" clock in
at 30 seconds each. But the rest are surprisingly pleasant and inoffensive.
Their desire to deal with issues doesn't quite work. For example hitting
back at "so many of their generation being locked up for growing
and smoking weed" with the line "I've committed no crime"
is hardly a revolutionary political argument winner. Whilst this album
on a small label shows that their a-list days are well and truly behind
them, they are still making the same listenable and enjoyable music
that I'm sure their actual fans will greatly enjoy. www.opmden.com.
Xmas Lights - Enron Ate My Baby EP
Strangely this EP was recorded way back in 2004 which begs the question
what have they being doing in the years since, and have they progressed
on from these 6 songs? I would assume they are still on the hunt for
a record deal and have no opportunity to record a debut album. The first
track rumbles on for a tediously long 9 minutes, producing little more
than the same gentle riffs and background wailing, with an annoying
shouty bit at the end. This, as Pulp would say, is hardcore. The art
of screaming incoherently the same sound repeatedly and calling it music.
The remaining tracks (excluding a pointless interlude) are more traditional
hardcore, with a faster pace and screaming throughout, thus making the
first track with its passable first two thirds the best of the whole
rubbish lot. www.xmaslightsrock.com.
Seagull Strange - Better Angels Of Our Nature
Seagull Strange are a band whom you might love or hate depending on
your tastes. You won't find anything original here, and the album is
certainly very samey. So it just depends whether you enjoy the trick
they deploy repeatedly in similar ways throughout the album. The nearest
comparison I can think of is Ryan Adams, who can also divide opinion.
Lead singer Dan Tellings vocals are similar, but with less angst and
more poppy chorus'. The album as a whole is quite downbeat, and the
lyrics dark and depressing. I think they can find an audience who will
adore their tunes, but fail to attract universal appeal thus creating
the perfect niche audience. Having said you will either love or hate
this, I find myself realising I could take them or leave them. The more
judgemental of you will certainly pour scorn on this, but those easier
to please will find much to enjoy.
New Rhodes - Songs From The Lodge
New Rhodes gained much attention a couple of years ago as part of a
number of up and coming new British bands touted as ones to watch. Whilst
some of those bands (Razorlight, Bloc Party, Morning Runner etc.) have
moved on to gain varying degrees of success, New Rhodes have fallen
by the wayside. This is probably due to the slightly less commercial
sound of their music, and their inability to create a specific angle
to sell themselves with. Plus of course, it's taken them 4 years to
release this debut, in which time the music world has moved on to "newer"
things. Whilst you feel their chance has surely past them, they are
still very much worthy of your time. This is an album of classic indie
songs, where they have not sacrificed their ideals for success and have
written songs akin to the likes of The Futureheads. A very enjoyable
piece of music. www.newrhodes.com.
The Somatics - Dynamo Mercurial
I previously called The Somatics single Elemental "a dull disappointment",
so I'm afraid the omens aren't good for this new album review. As explained
before, they aim for an indie/psychedelic crossover which manages to
be truly good at neither. The songs on the single all dragged on repetitively
for no reason, and the same is true of this album which manages to cram
an amazing 7, yes 7, songs into its 53 minutes. This would be fine if
they were magnificent tunes which traversed the entire musical spectrum,
but they don't. It's bland, lacking in both "tunes" (you know,
with such crazy things as verses and chorus') and any real examples
of psychedelia. In my previous review I asked them to please go away.
They didn't, and sadly I can still only repeat my feelings, they bore
me beyond belief. www.the-somatics.com.