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Reviews

Single Of The Issue 1:

The Violets – “Descend” (Angular)

“Descend” is the metaphorical carnation in the lapel of the Violets’ heavy petal racket thrift store jacket: all the spunk of a pre “Scream” Banshees, the raw manic thrill of the new - & a firm grasp on the concept of brevity that’s totally in tune with the special needs of today’s short attention span generation. Drums fall down 20 flights of stairs, guitars bounce off the studio floor – the vocals fluctuate like AC current. “Descend” builds to a chorus of wonder – before delivering a guitar solo of “Debaser” proportioned genius (with nods to a very young Mick Jones). This is a rare gem of a single - & I strongly advise you to clutch a copy closely to your chest whilst swearing loudly in the general direction of the opposition. Love it – don’t avoid it.

www.theviolets.co.uk

Guy Debored – tMx 23 – 01/06


Single Of The Issue 2:

¡Forward Russia! – “13” (Dance To The Radio)

¡Forward Russia! are currently killing time in the ante-room of greatness – their invitation to a seat at the big table a mere formality – “13” is further evidence (if any were needed) that their eventual accession to alt.rock heaven is only a matter of time. The notes wrenched from their guitars are sinews of sound, perfectly punctuated by the positively persistent rhythms of their hyperactive drummer. Gilded melodies laced with passion sans fashion are the icing on this already attractive Punk infused cake. Any group that names their songs numerically in the order they were written is alright by me.

www.dancetotheradio.com

Asger Yawn – tMx 23 – 01/06


EP Of The Issue:

Silent Front v Tiger Force – “Split EP” (In It For The Money)

South-west London’s Silent Front out-rock their post-hardcore tag with 2 slices (“I Much Prefer Hating You” & “Self Seller Event”) of discordant underground quiche made from mashed Fugazi, freshly grated Melvins & sliced Shellac. Atonal, mid-paced & intense – the boy howled at Johnny. Oh my God, what have I done?

www.silentfront.co.uk

Tiger Force don’t know how to spell genre - & have absolutely no intention of looking it up in the dictionary in the near future. To Tiger Force, rules are for breaking – just like the wind. A boy, a girl, a couple of guitars, a beatbox - & a million conflicting ideas. “Death Cola Music” rides an irresistible groove that’s as hip-hop as it is Punk Rock – just one listen & the lazer’s doomed to hover in perpetuity until someone turns the electricity supply off at the mains. “Kill The Wonderboy” is equally as magnificent. As raucous as it is angelic, this duo have greatness in the palms of their hands (see also “Live At Purr” – PURR 018CD – www.purr.org.uk).

www.tigerforce.co.uk
www.initforthemoney.net

Isidore Ajar – tMx 23 – 01/06


The Arctic Monkeys – “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” (Domino)

Hate the hype - or sprinkle it on your cornflakes every Wednesday morning – whatever – there’s still no avoiding the Monkey mania that’s been spouting from the media mafia these past few months. A generation of music journalists desperate to give the world something equal to a Stooges, a Dolls, a Ramones or a Pistols, have duly unleashed their own take on pandemonium - & shot it all over the faces of a largely gullible public who, to be honest, were simply waiting for the next Libertines bus. The race to canonize Alex Turner as yet another in a long line of working class heroes is ultimately the grossest disservice this phalanx of professional bullshitters could impose on this articulate young man. Let’s clear this one up from the front: Ian Brown, Sean Ryder, Liam & Noel – collectively they’d struggle to spell dictionary, yet alone thesaurus. Alex Turner is either reasonably well educated - or some kind of autodidactic dilettante – either way, he’s not au fait with the term will this do? That makes a fucking refreshing change.

Initially, the most impressive thing about the Monkeys is their age. I’ve been racking my brains trying to collate a list of epoch defining rock’n’roll groups under 20 years of age that have emerged since the Punk Rock explosion of ’77: the word list seems totally inappropriate. For teenagers, the Arctic Monkeys are eloquent beyond the call of registration.

I’m not wearing these Mike Skinner comparisons, either. What the fuck does a Brummie pretending to be a Cockney have to do with singing in your own regional dialect (& anyway, there’s more social commentary in the first verse of “When The Sun Goes Down” than there is smeared all over both Streets LPs rubbed together!)? Phonetically, if any president has been set, that plaudit should surely be laid at the feet of The Futureheads – or some other bunch of northern tykes (or to be socially precise, Irvine Welsh). Fair play to the Monkeys for deciding that they wanted to celebrate their Britishness in ways that don’t involve hiding behind a Union Jack - or being superimposed over one - after the fact – or after the photo shoot – on the cover of some dubious music periodical or another. Top drawer -top buzz - & all that. Top marks to the boys from New Yorkshire, New Yorkshire – so good they coined the phrase twice – after an editorial meeting down at the Old Bullshitter & Bush in New Hoxton Town. Fact: two years ago over 73% of capital-centric employees at EMAP had never heard of Hillsborough - yet alone Yorkshire.

The artless Chav threads are another important factor: sports casual, post-mod & branded. I never thought I’d ever take anyone in a Fred Perry seriously again – but by the end of “Fake Tales Of San Francisco”, the inescapable fact that rock’n’roll has been that transparent these past couple of years makes the notion of handbooks, bandwagons & weekend rock stars all the more plausible. Whether these Monkeys are genuine proles or not – they’re definitely no art threat!

As with The Stones Roses & Oasis in the 90s, the latter stole the former’s audience, & took it all the way to the bank! The Monkey’s accountants are suddenly rubbing their hands with glee - whilst all Pete Doherty can rub are his already somewhat swollen testicles. All his own fault? Most definitely. Fickle? The British Public? How dare you? Some might say we get what we deserve in this life, that fate rests a hand on all of our shoulders – but I say the future is already written - & Joe Strummer was full of shit. Irreversible.

All over the country right now, in indie shindigs, student union knees ups & trendy new rock’n’roll clubs, the Arctic Monkeys mean the overground is shitting all over the underground (another thing the group instinctively already know themselves) - & to those who have been waiting for a generationally significant group to call their own since The Strokes first painted the front pages of the inkies all rock’n’roll again back in early days of the century – this is a perplexing conundrum - something along the lines of: ‘we know they’re the real thing - but we couldn’t possibly compromise our elitist underground ethics & get down with the NME!’. One one level, the Monkeys posters, in many ways, have merely replaced Westlife posters - and there’s the rub. No matter how hard the brand directors at IPC rub their bloodshot eyes & pat themselves on the back – it’s a case of: whatever you claim we have lost, that’s what we’ll never recover! To any seasoned campaigner it’s plainly obvious that the war is over. Guess who lost?

The taller you build ‘em, the further they have to fall - & these intuitive little Monkeys have even sussed that one out well ahead of the game (see “Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But . . “). Arctic Monkeys could possibly be too clever for their own good. They already realise that people will slag ‘em off to save their hip whilst loving them privately at home in the comfort of their own anonymity. Work that one out, Lester?

The most important English group since the Smiths, claims some old has been hack or other in some high brow publication or another: have you actually listened to “The Smiths” recently? It says fuck all to me about my life, or anyone else’s for that matter (other than little Stephen himself). One thing’s for sure: in 2016 I bet you a pound to a pinch of shit that the other three will NOT be pursuing Mr Turner through her majesty’s courts for mislaid royalties.

They say the Arctic Monkeys have swallowed the last 40 years of garage rockin’ beat combo history whole - & spewed out a glorious rainbow of trad-flecked puke in response. That kind of sentiment gives stating the bleedin’ obvious a whole new strata of pointlessness that could only have been developed under laboratory conditions. Under no circumstances whatsoever can one ‘deduce traces of influence all the way back to The Who’. The cheeky Monkeys, it would appear, were raised on a diet of hip-hop! So much for implied significance.

The Monkeys ‘sound a bit like the Clash’, says some musically illiterate twat or other in some fuckin’ daft broadsheet or another. Jesus fuckin’ wept, have any of these tossers ever listened to the Clash? Do they know the difference in tone & sound between a Gibson Les Paul & a Fender? Obviously not – but it’s got loud guitars on it - & the Clash were a Punk Rock group, right? So they must sound like the Clash. This kind of logic scares me. It’s seems to be rife on every level of professional occupation in UK PLC 2006. Ineptitude, total ignorance of the concept of lineage, an over blown sense of one’s own generational significance - & a Café Uno loyalty card: “always have a desert when the record company’s paying!” Argh! The wit & wisdom of the A&R wag! Trouble is: these cunts believe all this shit.

Just to put the record straight, there’s absolutely NOTHING on “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” that sounds remotely like the Clash. If any ’77 Punky Waver DNA exists in the Monkey’s musical genetics, it’s Buzzcocks circa “Another Music In Another Kitchen” – but that’s just coincidence. I’m fairly confident that the Monkey’s inception did NOT involve digging through the crates of their parent’s or hip uncle’s past in search of some hither-to lost inspiration that the rest of the world has somehow forgotten - & will therefore not notice the join. Apart from the odd dash of Libertines (& why not – see above), this is ALL the lad’s own sterling work – & they resolutely sound like nowt else! So there! Their breadth of depth, appreciation of the importance of social observation (which, when you consider the absence of a Bernie Rhodes character in the script, is admirable beyond compare), lyrical poignancy, musical prowess, refreshing cynicism & - above all – zeitgeist defining use of profane language (some of the most life-affirming swearing ever to appear on a debut LP?) – sets them apart as a ‘stand alone unit’. How many teenage rock’n’roll groups can you say that about?

Ultimately, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” is as old fashioned as the Alan Sillitoe novel (“Saturday Night & Sunday Morning”) it’s title was liberated from - & for a generation that allegedly suffers from too much choice too soon & is incapable of looking over its shoulder – yet another conundrum is sent fluttering up the flagpole. Black & white on the outside, full colour on the inside. The heart at the centre of their monotone exterior pumps the very same crimson liquid it always has. The ashtray is half empty – the ashtray is half full. Never mind, just flick it on the floor.

There’s little point in me breaking this down & quoting exactly the same lyrical passages as every other two bob review: like a brilliant film that you desperately want to recommend to a mate, you wouldn’t want to spoil the ending for them, would you? All you need to know is: if you love rock’n’roll - then you need Arctic Monkeys in your life. That basic rock’n’roll can still be this achingly relevant after so many rinse cycles only goes to prove that everything moves inexorably in ever decreasing circles. There is nothing new under the sun. We are all doomed to repeat – an infinite echo that began with a distant big bang. Talent, ability, quality songs, dedication, integrity & an aptitude for hard work will always get you where you want to go - if you want it bad enough. What goes around, comes around. Except for once, there’s some substance where the hollow bit normally is - & that, my friends, is surely cause for celebration, no matter whose brand is on the invitation.

At the end of the 90 minutes, it’s game of 2 halves - the pundits are unanimous - & Gary Linker can only replace the cliché dictionary on the BBC library shelf & grin sheepishly: “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” is a one group holy rock’n’roll war against mediocrity – a guttural Punk Rock 2006 tour de force crammed with pride, self-belief & just the merest hint of pathos. If only it meant we’d never have to suffer another note from Frank Ferdinand (how Domino cab be so wrong & so right simultaneously is beyond marketing strategy!), Razorshite, The Tizer Thieves & their ilk: the pretenders (sorry, Chrissie – Implications Ed). Arctic Monkeys. Maybe modern life isn’t so rubbish after all.

www.arcticmonkeys.com

Guy Debored – tMx 23 – 01/06


Cut Copy – “Bright Like Neon Love” (Modular)

Get the boys mashed up, do the science on me laptop. Aussie popsters Cut Copy effortlessly straddle the great divide between cutting edge electronica & functional commerciality with this, their debut LP. Encompassing strands of Daft Punk, New Order, Kraftwerk, Human League, Heaven 17 - & a love of alt.rock guitar shapes - Cut Copy rinse familiar gimmicks into a cohesive whole in a way so many protagonists of dance-floor chic find seemingly impossible. Consistency is the name of Cut Copy’s game, & cut after cut hits the sweet spot with the kind of precision accuracy normally associated with laser-guided weaponry. “Saturdays” - & it’s telling guitar shaped ‘reprise’ – deftly dispense all the quality control perameters your gonna need in order to assess the cut of Cut Copy’s jib. Pure pop for now people!

www.modularpeople.com
www.cutcopy.net

Michele “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 23 – 01/06


Theoretical Girl – “It’s All Too Much” (Fake Product)

Theoretical Girl (not to be confused with Glenn Branca’s ’78 NYC No Wavers, Theoretical Girls) ‘stems from the roughest end of Southend On Sea’ – so, you’ll understand, I’m taking no chances with this review!

Theoretical Girl’s obviously an industrious young lady. She’s not averse to playing the guitar, bass, synth or drum machine – or writing the songs - or sticking the stickers on the promos either, for that matter. She’s played out with the excellent Good Shoes & the even better Twisted Charm (who’s Dave Garley is heavily involved) – so, all the cred markers are in place. “It’s All To Much” is suitably eclectic electro-pop-punk with superb staccato guitars, persistent bass under-currents & beatific vocals. Her signature tune, “I Am Theoretical Girl”, is on board in too, in two different mixes! I’d buy this – if they hadn’t sent me one already. You know what to do by now.

www.fakeproductrecords.com

Serge “Bunson” Burner – tMx 23 – 01/06


The Pigeon Detectives – “I’m Not Sorry”/”I’m Always Right” (Dance To The Radio)

Average age: 22. Hometown: Leeds. The Pigeon Detectives have a firm grasp on the past - & use it, like reigns, to steer themselves forward into what must surely be a very bright future. Oliver & Ryan’s guitars sparkle with urgency & wit, Matt’s keening vocals are backed up by arrangements you’d usually associate with a football terrace choir - & David & Jimmy are left to pin this brace of effervescent gems to the floor with dextrous bass & drums respectively. Above all, the tunes shine like distant stars gone Super Nova on our puny arses. The Pigeon Detectives are magnificent. Get your telescopes out.

www.dancetotheradio.com/pigeondetectives

Guy Debored – tMx 23 – 02/06


downdime – “Hate The Morning” (Squirrel)

The second 45 from downdime is every bit as excellent as their debut 45 from 05, “Seeds Of Hopelessness”. “Hate The Morning” brushes aside the sleepy dust to force its way into a bright new day with trebly guitars to the fore & insistent organ at the back. Intense, persistent & not entirely un-addictive, rattling all the way to a guitar solo of blinding simplicity that soaks the senses like the very best dew on a high quality lawn at the break of dawn. B-side, “Joanne” is no slouch either. Up & atom. These little buggers are worth keeping an eye or two on, trust me.

www.downdime.co.uk
www.squirrel.co.uk

Asger Yawn – tMx 23 – 02/06


Cat Power – “The Greatest” (Matador)

Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) has been bashing away at this kookie off-kilter pop lark since 1995’s “Plain”, quietly honing & perfecting her craft. Often regarded by the cognoscenti as the hipsters hep-chick of choice, previous outings have always suffered from focus issues. “The Greatest” is Chan Marshal’s Memphis LP - & her most definitive collection thus far. Aided & abetted by Al Green’s guitarist & songwriter, Mabon ‘Teenie’ Hodges, Marshal utilises a raft of Memphis legends to recreate her own unique take on the kind of songs that shaped her youth. From the breathtakingly sublime opening title track, via the equally wondrous “Lived In Bars”, the bewitching “Where Is My Love” & the Bragg-esque “The Moon”, Marshall coasts all the way to the closing “Love & Communication” in complete control. “The Greatest” is a testament to persistence drenched in the very essence of country soul. Magnificent.

NB – Those lovely people at Beggars Banquet have given us 4 x lovely Cat Power posters to give away to the 1st 4 x trakMARXists that e-mail the words CAT & POWER – along with their postal address - to:
www.matadorrecords.com

Isidore Ajar – tMx 23 – 01/06


American Distress – “American Disress” (Tent City)

American Distress hail from the mean streets of NYC – rising from the pipe ashes of the Big Apple’s Crack Rock era heroes, Choking Victim. “American Distress”, the group’s debut LP, is 12 cuts of resolutely old school hardcore punk with an admirable social conscience. No vaguely trendy lefty idealism for these boys, as the likes of “Fraudulent Times”, “Eternal Bullshit” & “Be The Law” ably demonstrate, there’s a whole lot of anger going down. The guitars cut like razor wire, the vocals growl with disgust - & the bass & drums push it all forward ever onward & upward. Anthems of disaffection – one & all.

www.amerciandistress.com

Michele “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 23 – 02/06


The Muldoons – “Red & Black”/”Drivers License”/”Destruction Boy”/”70’s Punk Rocker” (Cass Records)

The Muldoons are an enigma, to say the least. Featuring 8-year-old Shane on vocals, 12-year old Hunter on guitar - & their 40-something-year-old Dad, Brian, on drums (all ages are approximate) – The Muldoons keep it strictly in the family. These 4-tracks of basic Punk Rock are made all the more appealing by the fact Shane & Hunter wrote all the songs themselves - without any assistance from Brian – or Jack White – who ‘produces’. The EP is housed in a suitably enigmatic homemade sleeve, complete with Shane’s crayon scrawled lyrics & additional ‘illustrations’. Utterly loveable, totally indispensable - & quite possibly tongue in cheek. Send for one today!

Cass Records
3424 Bishop
Detroit MI
48224
USA

Serge “Bunson” Burner – tMx 23 – 01/06


Harrisons - “Bluenote” (Melodic)

A week after the Leeds/Reading Festival the glossy music mags were full of praise for commanding performances from the likes of Arcade Fire, The Killers, Foo Fighters and The Subways. However, if you’d have ventured away from the main stages for just 30 minutes you would have seen Yorkshire outfit Harrisons produce an explosively free-spirited set on the Unsigned Stage. You would have left that stunning perfromance armed with the knowledge that their songs are as memorable & durable as any of the aforementioned acts.

The jerking and nostalgic nature of “Bluenote” makes for a careering musical rally car that swerves past the sound of The Rakes, Ramones and The Others to give this outfit some gritty rhythm and thrust. Soaring 70s rock vocals and guitars keep you captivated on “Shirley’s Temple”, with its stammering nature pushing home a salient point about the cruel nature of human relationships. Next year, when it is festival time; be adventurous - you never know what you might see!

www.harrisonroad.co.uk

Dave Adair - tMx 23 - 01/06


The Scaramanga Six/Me Against Them – Wrath Super Seven 11 (Wrath)

Wrath Records Super Seven Series marches on unabated with no pause for breath. The Scaramangas continue to swell – a boil of wonder aching to splatter the insipid world of contemporary pop in the septic puss of their inherent brilliance. “Heart On My Sleeve” is yet another forceful bugger - & one can only speculate as to why they haven’t taken up their rightful place as a zit on the pasty face of Zane Lowe. Have a chat with Lard & get back to us. Meanwhile, back at the split seven, Me Against Them distort their way through a taught “Bad Judgement” with all the joy de vivre of seasoned champions: Stranglers shaped garage punk of the highest order. Rubbing the impossible to bleed.

The Playmates/Instant Species/Farming Incident/The Terminals – Wrath Super Seven 12 (Wrath)
Number 12 in the same series is a 4-track EP affair. With “Damn Good”, The Playmates deliver playful pop-punk with the emphasis firmly on pop & their collective tongues lodged surreptitiously in their cheeks: from the Buzzcocks all the way to Ash – they don’t miss a beat. Instant Species’ “Hombrecide” is electro-fueled duelism equally at home on either a dance-floor or a radio. Farming Incident chip in with “The Terrorist You Seek Is In The Mirror” – there’s pride in their prejudice & The Fall in their blood. The Terminals wrap things up perfectly with the protein-filled buzz-pop-punk of “Screw Me Up”. All In all, Wrath’s strongest Super Seven to date – slowly the world is waking up to their splendour. Will you be the last pop kid in the nursery to catch on?

www.wrathrecords.co.uk

Guy Debored – tMx 23 – 01/06


Film School – “Film School” (Beggars Banquet)

The buzz surrounding Film School has reached tinnitus inducing proportions of late. Veterans of a Fierce Panda EP, champions of SXSW, critically lauded from The Sunday Times all the way to Music Week, these San Franciscan marvels are deservedly poised to eat an Arcade Fire sized hole in the mainstream. Incidentally, they have much in common with the new music emerging from Canada right now. Brooding, knowingly beautiful & epic - almost simultaneously. Film School possess the panorama of the 1st Tortoise LP, the songs of Pavement & the sonic arsenal of Kevin Shields. Never the twain should meet, I hear you yelp – but hang on a minute, come back – it works. To awe-inspiring effect. “Film School” is set to smoulder – a slow burning joint nestling in the ashtray that is 2006. Their quality will establish itself by personal recommendation – ear to ear – mouth to mouth – ashes to ashes (funk to funky, the cops know Doherty’s a junkie!). Arresting.

www.filmschoolmusic.com

Asger Yawn – tMx 23 – 01/06


At The Lake – “These Days” (Pop Fiction)

The debut single from aspiring London popsters At The Lake is a positively uplifting experience, to be sure. The drive in being closed, presumably, the lads took their love of ‘brooding song-smiths’ down to the water’s edge & chucked their influence satchels onto the dark waves to see if they’d float. Luckily, no lifejackets were required - & no ducks were harmed during the filming of the accompanying promotional video. “These Days” bursts from the traps like a young U2 with out a knobhead for a singer. Fashionable closed hi-hats are rejected in favour of crashing ride cymbals & At The Lake break from the dictates of fickle followers of fashion by employing melody, atmosphere - & a suitably anthemic chorus.

www.atthelake.com

Isidore Ajar – tMx 23 – 01/06


Sarandon – “The Feminist Third” (Wrath)

I know absolutely nothing about Sarandon – except that they record for the spiffingly wonderful Wrath Records, Northern doyens of the nouveaux-indie renaissance that will indelibly stamp 2006. “The Feminist Third” is a 7-track mini-LP of impressive diversity & unremitting quality. “Don’t Say No” is the Subway Sect pissing all over “Modern Life Is Rubbish” era Blur (I say, what a good idea – Toiletries Ed) – basically a list of things one shouldn’t say no to, like white boys with afros - & homos in discos. “Prove It” can’t keep still for a minute, either – fidgety, fraught & freckled – Sarandon make Futureheads sound like a marketing exercise for the new Kate Bush LP. “Health” is 2006’s repost to JCC’s “I’ve Got A Brand New Tracksuit (Still Got The Old One)” – a justified & ancient critique of a million midnight runners. “Manky” keeps the quality peddle pressed firmly to the metal for another adrenalin spiked charge from intro to outro that recalls Wire fronted by John Morton. Rarely a tune loner than the 2-minute mark on board, this extended EP or mini LP, or whatever you want to call it, flags Sarandon up as ones to watch – whoever they may be.

www.wrathrecords.co.uk

Michele “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 23 – 01/06


Calla – “Collisions” (Beggars Banquet)

“Collisions” is an apt title for the 4th full-length outing from New York’s Calla’s 4th – pseudo gothic influences litter this LP like the burnt-out wrecks of a high-speed traffic accident at a particularly busy intersection – let’s say 53rd & 3rd. House Of Love, Ride, The Cure, Slowdive, MBV & a whole host of minor league shoegazers have seemingly informed proceedings. Musically, this approach coalesces with reasonably convincing results - but lyrically, Calla are dogged by the spectre of cliché. However engaging the backing track, the monochrome vocals struggle to lift things above distinctly average. There are plenty of engaging moments, but the overall impression is one of living someone else’s dreams. Kudos is due for their dogmatic refusal to be genre led by the nose by their famously demanding hype-infused surroundings, but at the end of the disc it’s not an experience I’d ever want to repeat. Make of that what you will.

www.callamusic.com

Serge “Bunson” Burner – tMx 23 – 01/06


Cherubs – “Paper Cut Moon” (Cargo)

Cherubs mash various early 80s influences to a pulp in much the same way as the loathsome Editors (they also both have appalling monikers – haven’t you heard, the is soo passé!) - but substitute the former’s Ian Curtis obsession with a touch of the Morrissey/Marrs. It’s all high-hats, Bowie impressions & mumbling round the Cherubs gaff – a panoramic aural vista only partially brightened by some admittedly pleasant lead guitar figures around the 2.20 mark. At the end of the four minutes plus they demand from your already busy life, the only conclusion you can draw is: come back when you’ve written a song. Rock cannot live on atmosphere alone.

www.cherubs-hq.com

Guy Debored – tMx 23 – 01/06


The Strokes – “First Impressions Of Earth” (Rough Trade)

The top 5 single “Juicebox’ features early and is indicative of the new bounce and defiance The Strokes have garnered for this, their difficult third LP. “Heart In A Cage” is notable for its more colourful (how many times have you seen that adjective used for The Strokes?), laid back style. Julian Casablancas’ effortless vocals are punctuated by looping guitars to produce a reflective and pleading mood.

The laid back, bluesy feel continues on “Razor Blade” which contains lyrics that could have been ripped straight out of a Leonard Cohen scribble book. This New York gang have definitely moved away from the sharp and snappy numbers that were plastered all over their debut LP. They’ve honed & refined their sound, drawing the listener into their mindset by employing instrumental variety that helps cushion the pleading vocals, delivering more of a cohesive message than in past offerings.

The boys daringly dabble in the world of electro this time around - passing close to Bravery territory with the floating “Electricityscape” - but once again they use just enough hounding 70s guitars to retain their integrity and, no doubt, the respect of their hardcore fan-base.

Husky soulfulness with a smidgeon of Shane MacGowan becomes the latest notch to Casablancas’ vocal belt, by way of the bouncy “15 Minutes”. The expanded length (in Strokes terms: goodbye 2 minute wonders!) of many of the tracks here enable the listener to get down with the mood of each song, something I’m sure that new producer David Kahne (who has worked with Paul McCartney) will probably have influenced. This newfound maturity has helped The Strokes pull off their sea change effectively whilst ensuring they haven’t lost touch with their roots.

www.thestrokes.com

Dave Adair – tMx 23 – 01/06


Be Your Own Pet – “Let’s Get Sandy (Big Problem)” (XL)

This must be one of the strongest Januarys for good new records – erm - on record! BYOP join that esteemed collective, with this, their third 45. “Let’s Get Sandy (Big Problem)” is, in my humble opinion, their best yet, justifying, as it most definitely does, their awesome potential. You don’t need a very long attention span to get the most from this record – it’s only 57-seconds long! At its core, it’s hoary old rock’n’roll – based around a fairly basic 12-bar structure. What lifts it above all the other 57-second singles released this month (ho hum, we wish) is the sheer power of its delivery. The drums sound like Rat Scabies on Ritalin. The guitars wail like 14 Ron Ashetons trapped in a lift. The bass kicks the whole room in the bollocks - & Jemina woops & yelps like several lives depend on it (which, come to think of it, they most probably do). Apparently, their imminent LP clocks in at 30 minutes. I’m expecting over 20 songs at that rate. Don’t know about you.

www.xlrecordings.com

Jean Encoule – tMx 23 – 01/06


Be Your Own Pet – “Let’s Get Sandy (Big Problem)” (XL)

Youthful exuberance, shocking lyrical dousing, bolting bass lines and crushing percussion are crammed into 59 seconds by a sonorous Nashville quartet that shudders with intensity and dynamism. Singer Jemina Pearl’s lucid shock tactics peer out above the mayhem, as the lyrics are delivered with lurid gusto:

“You take a twelve year old and break his arms twice,
We can guarantee that it won’t be very nice.”

This prelude to their debut album (out on XL Recordings - 27/03/06) is a swift celebration of the freedom of the young mind, soul and musical dexterity.

www.beyourownpet.com
www.xlrecordings.com

Dave Adair – tMx 23 – 02/06


YSN – “More” (Wrath)

“More” is the debut single from Leeds based YSN – imagine British Sea Power if they’d been raised on a diet of Blancmange as opposed to Joy Division. There’s an element of vaudeville to their sound to that isn’t afraid to reference Queen on b-side “Away From The Club”. Along with Envy & Other Sins, YSN are proving that there’s far more to digging a bit of Freddie than getting Roy Thomas Baker in to produce your make it or break it second LP. After the Darkness, a little light relief.

www.wrathrecords.co.uk

Asger Yawn – tMx 23 – 01/06


Steve Treatment & The NoMen – “2005 A Sided 45” (Topplers)

The legendary Steve Treatment returns to the confines of a record player after an absence of 26 years! Debuting back in 1979 on Swell Map’s Rather Records, Treatment is widely regarded as one of the major protagonists in establishing the defiantly DIY approach that has evolved (via lo-fi) into the no-fi sound of the true underground that we know & love today. Released on 7” (& CD) by those refreshingly honest & wholesome types down at Topplers, “2005 A Sided 45” houses “Vanish”, “You’re Gonna Receive Treatment”, “Don’t Do It (If It Makes You Feel That Way)”, “Echo In The Backstreet”, “The Tea Went Cold” & “Aargh”. Superior fair in almost every respect, welcome back Mr Treatment, park yourself over there next to Mr Childish.

info@topplers.net

Isidore Ajar – tMx 23 – 01/06


Broken Social Scene – “Broken Social Scene” (City Slang)

The experimental tone is set straight away by the groovy instrumental led “Our Faces Split The Coast In Half” that clatters along on a percussion laden ride to punctuate Lesley Feist’s (also an established solo artist) low key and almost haunting vocals. The vocal variety proffered by this outfit includes the lost and calming style of the aforementioned Leslie and the wispy murmurings of Kevin Drew that give numbers like “7/4 (shoreline)” and “Major Label Debut” a floating feel. A garage beat vibe adds to the spice of this multi-faceted Toronto outfit via the introduction to “Windsurfing Nation” that turns into a screechy female vocal-led indie free-for-all.

The longingly provocative vibe given off in “Swimmers” helps to make this fourteen track empirical foray both thoughtful and alluring. Broken Social Scene’s ability to build up emotion and maintain musical integrity is illuminated by way of the six minute plus finale, “It’s All Gonna Break”, that rocks like it’s 1973 early doors before slowing down to take on a more contemplative bluesy feel.

As if 14 tracks of varied veracity weren’t enough, these kind-hearted Canadians provide their own January sale by throwing in a free seven track E.P. entitled “To Be Me And You” that has a prominent spacey/art feel. The pulsing and grinding “Baroque Social” highlights the liberal nature of this progressive outfit. There is surely something on this two for one offering for everyone.

www.arts-crafts.ca/bss/

Dave Adair – tMx 23 – 01/06


Swimmer One – “Largs Hum”/”Cloudbursting” (Dogbox Records Download)

Edinburgh electro pop duo Swimmer One record in a cupboard & employ a sampler that was once owned by Shakin’ Stevens! Christ on a yacht, wonder if said cupboard has a green door? Whatever, it’s not keeping it’s secret a second longer. “Largs Hum” is a classy electronic interface steeped in 80s references backed by a brilliant cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbursting” that was their very own special idea absolutely eons before Futureheads thought of covering “Hounds Of Love”. Just in case Futureheads are reading this, Swimmer One also cover the Big O’s “Cry” & Joe Jackson’s “It’s Different For Girls” – so keep your thieving hands to yourselves & try & come up with a few of your ideas.

Free download exclusively from:
www.dogboxrecords.co.uk

The Sweethearts – “Blue Skies”/”Rainy Skies” (Dogbox Records Download)

The Sweethearts are in love - & as any lover knows – there are two sides to every coin. You can flip it up in the air, but you have no way of knowing which way it will come down. For every couple basking in the warming glow of their love, another pair shelter from the storm, soaked by the tears of their love. The Sweethearts know this only far too well. Amy plays bass & sings, Joe plucks away at a ukulele, whilst Rob manages to drum & pluck a banjo at the same time, which is no mean feet. Allegedly adapted from a cassette discovered down the back of sofa at Magnetic Fields rehearsal loft, both “Blue Skies” & “Rainy Skies” are achingly beautiful evocations of the aforementioned theme.

Free download exclusively from:
www.dogboxrecords.co.uk

Michele “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 23 – 01/06


Young People - “Five Sunsets In Four Days” (Too Pure)

LA’s Young People make an emotive & imaginative case for the very existence of artROCK with this haunting & atmospheric 6-track EP, a precursor to their 3rd LP, “All At Once” (27/03/06). The sound is sparse & mannered throughout – Young People make cinematic music – a wide-screen soundtrack for a movie still in production - & way over budget. Rooted firmly in formative years of Punkiness, there’s an enigmatic post-rock noire to their vaguely neo-country-blues. Vocalist Katie Eastburn is reminiscent of Kirsten Hersch in places &, as often is the way with Too Pure, old school Peej is never too far away either.

www.ilikeyoungpeople.com

Serge “Bunson” Burner – tMx 23 – 01/06


Johnnie Burton – “Johnnie Burton” (XXXXXXXXX)

First things first, Johnnie Burton is a ladee – that’s right, the girl looked at Johnnie! Secondly, Johnnie Burton has one shit hot old skool punk rock & roll group backing her up. Together, they make a gloriously traditional racket with one eye trained on rock’n’roll authenticity - & the other firmly focused on mainstream success. When it pushes all the right buttons at once – “Hello Lover”, “These Days” (both massive hits singles in a perfect world) – it’s peerless in its genre pool. An added bonus to any hot-blooded male readers, Johnnie sure is one foxy chickette - & the sight of her slinging her guitar around her bathroom only heightens the listening experience for this revoltuionary! If she ever makes it to these shores to play out, I for one, will most definitely be down the front.

johnnieburton@earthlink.net
www.JohnnieBurton.com

Guy Debored – tMx 23 – 01/06


The Early Years – “All Ones & Zeros” (Beggars Banquet)

The Early Years take on a pseudo-Kruatrock undercarriage & bolt on their collective love of all things Spiritualized – sadly forgetting to write a song in the process (erm, since when did Spiritualized ever bother writing songs? – Oxymorons Ed). Regardless of this glaring faux pas, the ensuing 4 minutes pass pleasantly enough. I love the way that genres die & then come back to life again years later – delayed reincarnation is a wonderful thing, is it not? Pass the smack, Jason, mummy’s popped out to Rugby – let’s party like it’s 1992.

www.theearlyyears.net

Asger Yawn – tMx 23 – 01/06


White Rose Movement - “Kick” (Independiente)

A throbbing and thudding disco kick coupled with a throaty femme vocal element provided by the seductive sounding Finn Dyke, signals the start of this thrusting debut album, by way of the title track. The cohesion of electronica and guitars has been a recipe for disaster from outfits who just don’t know how to get the blend and feel right, but for this quivering quintet, it seems to be their sixth sense. “Love Is A Number” succinctly packs a vocal punch and puts affairs of the heart in its rightful place with the aid of a thumping backbeat and high rising guitars.

A splash of blues trickles through the eleven tracks and manifests itself in no small part in the male vocals, most noticeably on ‘Alsation’. Good old-fashioned Rock’N’Roll instrumental freewheeling and dingyness take over on “Idiot Drugs”. The wandering and lovelorn “Deborah Cane” that immediately follows, gives a great indication of the Norfolk outfit’s ability to switch emotions and tempo. A heartily provocative Cure meets Jean- Michel Jarre feel is proffered by way of “Testcard Girl”, to give the band a troubled edge. Overall, ‘Kick’ is a mishmash of musical styles spanning the 70s, 80s and 90s to keep you alert and interested.

www.whiterosemovement.co.uk

Dave Adair - tMx 23 - 01/06

tMx 23 – 02/06
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