Singles Roundup No. 11 brings new singles and EP’s from whoever we have come across. Here are the better releases WithGuitars focused on. Below you should find releases by The Invisible, Monument, Maribel, Showbizheroes, The Skints, Blood Red Shoes, Porcelain Raft, Pond, Jenny Gillespie, Light Asylum, Forth Quarter Comeback, Tango In The Attic, John Lockey And The Solemn Sun, Concrete Excuse and maybe a few more soon.
Since the Mercury nomination of their debut self titled release back in 2009, the post-rock, jazz and world music that informed their sound so effectively has been pillaged and debased by bands with a fraction of the imagination of these guys. The main protagonists, Foals have gone on to receive worldwide praise for a sound they stole note for note from The Invisible but now they’re back to take what is rightfully theirs, they achieve this in this one track alone.
‘Protection’ is no massive departure, rather an huge step forward away from their past and leaving other bands way behind, it’s eight minutes of musical heaven transporting you to places you’ve never been to before, the dramatic synths particularly towards the end have Eno’s influenced all over them, the tribal drums are the drums from hell and the jagged disfunctioning guitars are like knife stabs to the ears. This is an incredible piece of music that must be heard. 9.5/10
With the world falling at Adele’s feet it’s becoming more and more apparent that we no longer love the freaks, the beautiful outsiders, we like our music safe and bland beyond belief, like listening to the colour grey. Luckily New York label Mexican Summer, increasingly a label synonymous with quality come up with a release from a New York duo who are recording everything they do at an absolute extreme.
The attacking drums are pure Stephen Morris with added over the top melodrama and the violent sonic sound scapes are indebted to early TV on the Radio, it’s the wall of sound acts such as Big Pink and Glasvegas attempted to achieve but didn’t quite manage. To top this off Shannon Funchess’s stomach growling deep bass baritone is like something from another world, part Dracula, part Pete Murphy, sexless but feminine, sensual and mechanical at the same time, ‘Shallow Tears’ is so over the top that you will initially ask yourself if this is some kind of joke, within plays you’ll realise how amazing this really is. 9/10
Cold is the first single from Blood Red Shoes eagerly awaited third album ‘In Time To Voices’.
Probably the bands heaviest work to date, this is a tauter more muscular sound from the Brighton based duo with Steven’s machine gun drumming providing a solid beat for Laura Mary to shred guitar over.
Joint vocals are a Blood Red Shoes trademark and here they have a heartfelt, passionate urgency – Steven practically screams his first line – and the song production sounds denser, harder than anything we’ve heard from them in the past. Always a brilliant live act it will be interesting to see how they recreate the song on stage.
Cold’ serves as an excellent teaser for album number three, whereas ‘Light It Up’ was a good indication of what to expect from their second release ‘Fire Like This’ with ‘Cold’ it merely hints at what is to come. One thing is for sure, based on the quality of this track ‘In Time To Voices’ will be Blood Red Shoes time to shine. 8.5/10
‘The Halfway House’
Released March 19th
Edinburgh dark cello pop noiseniks Letters return with a run of Scottish dates to celebrate the release of new single ‘The Halfway House’. Followed by their debut EP ‘Older Motion Pictures’ due on the mid May. A brief back story – Since last year’s ‘Pipe Dreams’, ‘The Grand National’ and ‘Flash!’ single releases impressed just about everyone I knew. Fine Scottish alternative band. Letters’ new single ‘The Halfway House’ was recorded and mixed alongside Stephen Watkins of TAPE Studios, and it’s their strongest yet. “Calibrating” sharp, strong but intricate guitar lines with gorgeous string arrangements accompanied by bombastic choruses, strong vocal harmonies and a more than just delivers the narrative. Good quality. 8/10
Single Tour (with ‘Where We Lay Our Heads’) March 21st – Glasgow – Captain’s Rest; 22nd – Inverness – Hootanannys; 23rd – Thurso – Newmarket Bar; 24th – Skye – Saucy Mary’s; 25th – Edinburgh – Wee Red Bar
London-based reggae & dub upstarts The Skints latest single ‘Ratatat’, brings a not unfamiliar mix of Jamaican styles with “pop hooks, grimey raps, filthy basslines and a punk rock work ethic to create a sound familiar to newcomers” states the press release, hand on heart, I totally agree. if you have ‘got’ their soundclash influences, then skip this review , press play on the accompanying video and relax. If not, put simply, their is a strong undercurrent of 2tone, always a good thing in many books, but ultimately what marks this single out, is the originality of The Skints, effortlessly they have released a ‘classic. On repeat in the WG offices and not by chance. 8.5/10
The Cast Of Cheers
School Boy Error / Cooperative Music
Not the first most have heard of the Cast Of Cheers, this is technically their first debut single proper. Championed by the who’s who in radio land and armed with the knowledge that the band work fast, I suspect at least one person of the 150,000 who download the band’s free ‘Chariot’ album will probably be able to tell you even more about TCOC. But for now i am just sticking to the regular version of ‘Family’ it’s tight, focused and snappy, I am even start thinking of early XTC, but I suspect anyone seeing Theme Park at the moment or planning to see Blood Red shoes when they tour the UK in April, will make up their own valued opinions. Mostly, I think a majority including me, will be singing their praises. An impressive debut single. 7.75/10
I am a man of a mere 23 years and I luckily missed the new wave of British heavy metal. From bands I’ve listened to it’s nothing more than bands playing practically the same music and trying to somewhat “out metal” one another.
I’m not that excited about the apparent second wave of British heavy metal but one band in the “second wave” stand out and that is Monument. Their debut single “Fatal Attack” is filled with all the clichés of the NWOBHM but as a band they seem to know this and not take it as seriously as others.
Guitar harmonies through out, a snarling vocal and a simplistic upbeat rhythm section is the ground base for the sound of Monument, along with the chorus which is simply the words “Fatal Attack” repeated over and over makes it a simple catchy chorus that gets stuck easily in the listeners head. Although not the most inventive band in the world Monument are doing what they enjoy and putting their all into the music that they create and because of that I tip my hat off to these guys. 7/10
Play It Again Sam
Life is good Again, one of my favourite songs (alongside ‘Hey Joe’) from Liz Green’s ‘O, Devotion’ album is now a single. ‘Bad Medicine’ is a slice of the peculiar, other-worldly jazz and blues riffs, over at times sparse vocal. Liz Green can, with cohorts, be a tadge experimental, but in a good way Tom Waits, PJ Harvey or Mothers Of Invention. ‘Bad Medicine’ is compared to it’s brothers and sisters on the ‘O, Devotion ‘album, is a little more straightforward. But it is lyrically a rich dark story, in the the landscape of the better story telling troubadours. Great album, a very worthwhile single. 7.5/10
Do you see the problem here; Brighton’s ‘most talked about band’ Shoot The Dead are named after a line from a George Romero film, they ‘relish their initials STD and refer to their fans as carriers’ and song titles include ‘Inhuman’ ‘Kill Machine Kill’ as well as this offering ‘The Rage’. If you are expecting them to be some gloriously flamboyant thrash metal outfit with Zombie masks then get a load of this.
According to their press release ‘they make a unique brand of dance infused rock’ and cite influences ranging from the Beatles to Prodigy.
So what do Shoot The Dead actually sound like? Well after what appears to be a hundred car alarms going off simultaneously ‘The Rage’ is just a standard pop track with the guitars turned up in the mix and it’s female vocals are way too light to transcend this into the Rock category. 5/10
‘Climb To Fall’
Released 26th March via Urchin Records
With all recent talk about the death of guitar bands circulating, along come Showbizheroes with the follow up to their excellent debut single ‘Sinner’. Showbizheroes are a return to a bygone era of dark melodic songwriting, that delivers a well timed boot up the arse to the tepid indie hipsters of late.
‘Climb To Fall’ has a slow, rhythmic intro that builds up to a full blown indie rock stomp. Crashing drums and spiky guitars are welded together with majestic vocals to form a song that has more hooks than the National Portrait Gallery.
If you like your music a bit indie, with touches of rock and a hint of goth then Showbizheroes could well be the band for you. If I have to criticise, then I think the songs need more prominent basslines, and despite recording in a diy studio they sound a little too polished? But still we need more bands of this calibre to drag the twitching corpse of guitar music back into relevance. 8/10
Jenny Gillespie’s new EP ‘Belita’ is an intriguing blend of folk, lo-fi college indie, with, if at tomes acoustic alt-rock. Produced by Jenny and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily (Jolie Holland, Bonnie Prince Billy, Lou Reed) this is her third release after the lush chamber folk of Light Year (2009) and the ambient progressive pop of Kindred (2010).
To get to this point, though, I feel we would all be better off with more background of these days, as anyone with acoustic guitar, happily dons the folk tag, funny that ‘Ace Of Spades’ at a foot tapping pace, not to big to say I cried, how can music mean so little? So aforementioned details - When Gillespie performed a YouTube cover of Sam Amidon’s ‘Saro’ Ismaily, Amidon’s longtime bandmate, contacted Jenny to share his appreciation of her version. From there a conversation grew and developed into collaboration. Gillespie travelled from her hometown of Chicago to New York City to record a new work with Ismaily over the course of 2 weeks. They discovered common north stars of their musical vocabulary (Vashti Bunyan, Mark Kozelek, Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, and Ali Farke Toure, among others) and decided they would create something that truly featured Gillespie’s unique acoustic guitar playing, set often to open tunings inspired by Gillespie’s most beloved influence, Joni Mitchell.
The Belita EP’ featuring turns by Amidon on back up vocals, Marc Ribot (Tom Waits) on electric guitar, and Jim White (PJ Harvey, Cat Power) on drums, the resulting record is a nuanced and modern approach to the folk genre. Globally influenced, but intimately rendered, with precise yet imaginative instrumentation. With my arm twisted, I call time, pick Creature Of Our Make’ as the choice track from the ‘Belita’ EP, but understand it has competition.
That was easily enough to capture all of my attentions, which were rewarded with the beguiling and rich, ‘Creature Of A Make’ is on repeat, strangely the world is a better place. 8/10
This Norwegian four piece have been compared to luminaries such as My Bloody Valentine, complete tosh of course, nobody can emulate the music Kevin Shields created twenty years ago…especially Kevin himself, they have however taken his sonic template and created something just as special. ‘Jezebel Jive’ is the lead track from their second album and although the ethereal and impossible to decipher vocals are from the same hush hush place Belinda Butchers were, this track fits in nicely with other more contemporary ‘nu-gaze’ acts such as Spotlight Kid and Still Corners. Time for a dream, then. 7/10
Typical! Just as I am putting the first instalment of Singles Roundup No.11 onto WithGuitars, A badge Of Friendship send me details of a great free download single. Scotland’s Tango in the Attic are releasing the free download single ‘Paw Prints’ on March 12th, taken from their anticipated second album ‘Sellotape’, released via Believe Digital on 23rd April. Sellotape is the follow-up to their well received 2010 debut album ‘Bank Place Locomotive Society’.
’Paw Prints’ sees Tango in the Attic’s sound progress into much noisier territories than anything on the first record. It’s loud, frantic, fun and unconventional for todays slightly bland industry. Dial it back a few years, pre-Oasis days, and ‘Paw Prints’ would sit well with this heavier, noisy brash approach. Having read the press release again, and recently seeing both |Tee Rums and Two Door Cinema Club, I agree that Tango in Paris March download of ‘Paw Prints’ will most certainly appeal. (7.5/10
First impressions of Fourth Quarter Comeback were formed a little to hastily first glance at the official video for ‘When I Fall’, a natty little number but the band came over watered down college–rock, Pleased that I delved further. A little worryingly their Sound Cloud description reveals they are a pop rock band, how foolish of me, to think they took a few riffs from the Orange County. Despite my misgivings, fourth track ‘Finders Keepers’ the title track is a good song, so that make s two from five, with a couple more average songs. in my book good. But this furthers nothing, sadly no new dimension, I hope this Northern Virginia band do win a fanbase, get better, heavier and say what they want, not what ‘works’ in an air-conditioned Marketing Meeting, I hope I’m wrong. But I can remember when we once had garages! One day again, maybe. 6.75/10
Feb29 Eleanor Rigby’s- Jermyn, PA; Mar 02 Marlboro Rec Center- Marlboro, NJ; Mar03 Crocodile Rock- Allentown, PA; Mar04 TrocaderoTheatre Philadelphia, PA; Mar06 TalkingHead Club- Baltimore, MD; Mar 07 The Champ- Lemoyne, PA; Mar09 Shaka’s Virginia Beach, VA; Mar10 Jammin’ Java- Vienna, VA
‘Unless You Speak From Your Heart’
With an almost clichéd cool emanating from yer average one man New York synth act, Porcelain Raft is performing several steps ahead of other chillwave acts, a genre no more than indie with filters applied to the production.
Mauro Remiddi (AKA Porcelain Raft) takes fuzzed up synth stabs, clattering tambourines and ooohs and aahhhhs all in the appropriate places on this piece of lo-fi pop cuteness. ‘Unless you speak from your heart’ is gloriously heady, a refreshing real take on modern day psychedelia which makes a nice change from the fakery of acts such as MGMT. 8/10
‘Fantastic Explosion Of Time’
There is some kind of lysergic shit in the water in some parts of Australia, bands such as Tame Impala, Total Control, Midnight Juggernauts and chief Antifreakdian Luke Steele make UK acts with any edge sound as dangerous as Cliff Richard.
Add three piece Pond to this list of Cosmic Aussies, as a side project of two members Tame Impala; comparisons are obvious but also futile. ‘Moth Wings’ mashes ‘I wanna be your dog’ piano bashes, snotty vocals, too many Aldous Huxley books and nu-glam guitars into a swirly massive fuck you resulting in a track of superior trippiness. 8/10
Jim Lockey And The Solemn Sun
‘A Song About Death’
Xtra Mile Recordings
Cheltenham’s Jim Lockey And The Solemn Sun are described as Alt/Folk/Country/Punk or in With Guitars world lets just use the umbrella term Alternative Roots, if that is not confusing BBC Gloucestershire claims a bit of an easy listening tag in a thoroughly modern way, of course. They must train these BBC folk on a diet of Exploited, Nine Inch Nails at their most furious and to relax to Rage Against The Machine in the green room. No listening to the vocal and lead guitar delivery, this definitely should warrant the moniker of alternative, what and what influences are various. please view the video above and you will get the point.
Released originally on the 14th February the single sadly failed in terms of a wonderful gift for your loved one, cannot think why. To the single ‘A Song About Death’ gets our collective thumbs up. After all it starts with the lyric, “For My love, somewhere in the pastures, with my body soon be turned to coal” although the song has a strong lyric, it not dark, evoking no goth threads, ‘A Song About Death ‘is more earthy, the guitars are bright, the lyric thumped out, the overall result oh a song that we will come back to time and time again. 7.5/10
Centre Excuse are a band that believe they create a ‘blistering meld of synth and pop rock guitar’ this allegedly fresh sound ‘fuses their own contemporary 80’s style synth pop with the raw energy of punk rock’.
Firstly lads, synth pop is quite possibly antithesis of punk rock so instead of hard hitting ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ is actually just fuck awful.
A tuneless barrage of keyboard & drums with posh boy vocals that is admittedly catchy, but then again so is chlamydia. 4.5/10
Released On Fat Cat Records March 19th
This is the second taster of things to come from Breton’s debut album, ‘Other People’s Problems’. Listening to their, at times relationship ‘kitchen-sink’ narratives of conflicts, observations and compromises… fearing some imaginary dog house, I better stop there. lyrically sharp and according to their press release, ‘subversive’ then I read they are an art collective to boot, look forward to the band’s debut album, for the artwork, as well as the song; for, ‘Interference’ is the band’s second piece of evidence that Bretton if not a household name, I think, if ‘Other People’s Problems’ can keep the songwriting, nitty-gritty lyrics and arrangements standards high -, the band will soon will be. 7.5/10
We hope to bring more good single releases – any comments or suggestions below, have WithGuitars got it right?