Monday 31 October 2011

Battant - As I Ride With No Horse

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The time since Battant's 2009 debut album 'No Head' must have been challenging to say the least. Originally a trio, these past two years have seen Tim Fairplay quit to pursue a solo career, leaving the duo of Chloe Raunet and Joel Denver to work on the tracks that make up sophomore effort 'As I Ride With No Horse'. Tragically, in between the album being completed and its store date, Joel Denver passed away aged just 25, making the record's release a crushingly bittersweet one and rendering the usual means of promotion, such as gigging and interviews, practically impossible.

Aside from the obvious reason, this is also a huge shame because 'As I Ride With No Horse' is a work that deserves its arrival to be marked with a little fanfare. Battant's sound has always been tricky to pigeonhole and although a sizeable portion of the electronics have now been removed, this remains the case. The minimalist approach may draw comparisons to The xx and there is a certain amount of breathing space around the instrumentation, but Battant are an altogether darker, more twisted proposition, sharing a similar approach to the style-mashing art-rock of The Kills. Where that band operate with a studied, try-hard cool, this seems far more natural.

Single 'Shutter' uses organic beats (much of the album is the synthetic variety) and a cascading riff to create a real highlight, indicating that they may have had a more mainstream future ahead of them. Elsewhere they cover subjects such as sexual discrimination in the workplace ('Modern Days') and sexually deprived farmers ('Farmer's Ode To Wife'). This album has an almost otherworldly, psychedelic feel to it, yet not in the conventional sense. It's surreal rather than druggy, clean and minimal rather than a distorted wall of sound and concise and to the point rather than meandering. This may be Battant's swan song but you're left hoping that, in one form or another, Chloe can continue to forge ahead down this unique musical path.

battant-shutter by killthedjrecords

Battant's website

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Out This Week - 31st October 2011

Blouse - Videotapes

Another beauty from Portland, Oregon's endless supply of great bands. Blouse are a dreampop trio with a retro, 80s feel about them. Their self-titled album is out this week and taken from it is this track, 'Videotapes', which sounds a bit like playing a 30 year old cassette that's seen better days. Getting this effect is probably not easy but it definitely works, adding to the organic, dreamlike quality.

Blouse, "Videotapes" by The FADER

Blouse on Bandcamp

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Parenthetical Girls - A Note To Self

Talking of Portland - the city is currently home to Washington natives Parenthetical Girls who this week release new EP 'Privilege, Pt.IV', which includes the superb 'A Note To Self'. Also boasting a slightly 80s, alternative sound, this track surges along before borrowing the drum beat from Bow Wow Wow's 'C30, C60, C90, Go', top it off with a yearning vocal and you end up with a winning tune.

Parenthetical Girls - A Note to Self by

Free download: A Note To Self

Parenthetical Girls' website

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Trailer Trash Tracys - Wish You Were Red

 London collective Trailer Trash Tracys have a new double A-side single out this week, the best of the two tracks is the rather ace 'Wish You Were Red'. Kicking off with a beat not a million miles away from a Clinic song, and then nicking the riff from 'Baba O'Riley, it may have borrowed from the past but it makes for a mysterious, soporific, treble-heavy new sound.

Trailer Trash Tracys - You Wish You Were Red by DominoRecordCo

Trailer Trash Tracys' website

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Girls Names - Black Saturday

Earlier this year Belfast trio Girls Names released their debut album 'Dead To Me', and not being ones to mess about, they're already releasing brand new material. New single 'Black Saturday' is not dissimilar to the kind of music Minks are currently creating. There's a hint of The Cure and a hint of Hidden Cameras in its upbeat, post-punk canter, and that's no bad thing at all.

Girls Names - Black Saturday by Slumberland Records

Girls Names website

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Two Wounded Birds - Together Forever

If you can ignore the try-hard look of leathers and shades and concentrate on the actual song you will find a thing of simple beauty. Two Wounded Birds hail from the un-rock 'n' roll town of Margate. Their new single 'Together Forever' packs a heck of a lot of melodic pop-punk thrills into its two-minutes-fifteen-seconds duration. This must be superb to pogo along to at gigs, it's a little bundle of pure, high octane fun.

Two Wounded Birds - Together Forever by Anorak London

Two Wounded Birds' website

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Saturday 29 October 2011

King Salami & The Cumberland 3 - Trubble Trubble/Jellyfish

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The two tracks on the new single from King Salami & The Cumberland 3 are fairly standard retro rock 'n' roll  fare, aping the great rhythm and blues pioneers without striving to stamp any of their own personality on the record. The result is a fairly generic sound that's a tad too bland to leave a lasting impression. 'Trubble Trubble' is amiable enough with it's fervent vocal and brass, and like it or not, it gets the feet tapping, but it could have been made by any number of pub-rock bands. The instrumental 'Jellyfish' is better and has a certain clap-along charm and an almost powerpop energy thanks to the beefy, reverberating bass, but it's too much of a facsimile of the past to get overly excited about. King Salami & The Cumberland 3 are reasonable enough but their sound doesn't possess a sufficient amount of its own identity to linger for long in the memory.

King Salami & The Cumberland 3 on Facebook

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Five For Free #24

Bass Drum Of Death - Get Found

Mississippi duo Bass Drum Of Death get their unusual name from their original incarnation as the solo project of John Barrett who would play solo using guitar and a solitary bass drum. Earlier this year they released their debut album, 'GB City' on Fat Possum Records. Now you can pick up the noisy, melodic, grunge buzz of 'Get Found' for free by clicking the link below.

Bass Drum of Death - Get Found by wirralaudio

Free download: Get Found

Bass Drum Of Death's website

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Trwbador - Sun In The Winter

Another great duo next, this time Welsh twosome Trwbador. Trwbador released their second EP in the summer and have recently performed at the Swn Festival. They make gorgeous folktronic which is high on beats and melody and low on the meandering soundscapes that many in the genre create. Check out the excellent 'Sun In The Winter' by hitting the download arrow.

Sun In The Winter by Trwbador

Trwbador's website

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Orbital - Never

Sticking with the duos - the brothers Hartnoll reformed in 2009 for gigs celebrating their 20th anniversary making music. This was followed by a one-off single last year and they've now announced that they will be releasing their first album since 2004 next year. They first track to be lifted from it is the lovely, spangley, retro electronica of 'Never'.

Never by ORBITAL

Orbital's website

Thee Cormans - Open The Gates

Many bands are marking Halloween with ghostly new songs but few will be as good as the rollicking surf made by Californians Thee Cormans. Taken from their new album 'Halloween Record', 'Open The Gates' is a high tempo blitz of guitar twang and treble and primitive drums, a little bit like someone's Frankenstein-esq experiment  to interbreed The Shadows and The Cramps.

Thee Cormans - "Open The Gates" by forcefieldpr

Thee Cormans' website

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Gray Things - Fortune Teller

We started with Mississippi and we end with Mississippi. This fuzzy, sinister, lo-fi electro-pop track features backing vocals from Dent May and was apparently recorded in his bedroom. Gray Things is the musical project of Thomas Cooper who is signed to the Cats Purring label and is his first new track since last year's strictly limited cassette EP with Dead Gaze.

Free download: Fortune Teller

Gray Things on Myspace

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Friday 28 October 2011

Dirty Projectors & Bjork - Mount Wittenberg Orca

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Fans of either Dirty Projectors or Bjork will surely be familiar with this collaborative project by now. Originally written and performed in 2009, it was a year later that 'Mount Wittenberg Orca' was recorded, the delay due to both party's hectic schedules, with Dirty Projectors busy touring breakthrough album 'Bitte Orca'. These seven tracks have been available digitally since June last year with all monies being donated to National Geographic's sustainable oceans program, but they now receive a physical release on CD and deluxe vinyl, with limited signed vinyl available from the Domino Records website.

Given that both artists are known for fusing genres and being proponents of the avant-garde, it's little surprise that they match so well. Neither is it a revelation to find that 'Mount Wittenberg Orca' isn't exactly packed with fist pumping festival sing-along anthems. What's included may pose a challenge to more casual listeners, but it's not without moments of beauty. Bjork's childlike tones add a wide-eyed innocence to the choppy 'On And Ever Onward' and the pulsing 'Beautiful Mother' has an awkward charm with its harsh, piercing bursts and (oxymoron alert) discordant harmony.

There's a dreamlike, fairytale feel to much of the album, but it's rather like a Brothers Grimm fantasy with moments of unnerving darkness. Of course Bjork is no stranger to this sort of imagery, her distinctive voice is perfectly suited to twisted cinematic soundscapes of this kind. The creative juices were certainly flowing when David Longstreth penned these songs and overall it's a winning combination, and at just twenty-one minutes long, one that leaves you wanting more.

On and Ever Onward by grantith
Björk+Dirty Projectors - When the World Comes to an End by guil-laume VII All We Are by Dirty Projectors

Mount Wittenberg Orca website

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Shield Your Eyes - Volume 4

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The fourth album from Leeds trio Shield Your Eyes is a frustrating one. Their approach to making music must be commended as they're willing to try and push boundaries and experiment with sounds and structures rather than bow down to convention. It's easy to believe that in the live arena they'd be a force to be reckoned with, but it fails to translate to record in this case. You could (and many have) compare Shield Your Eyes' sound to US post-hardcore behemoths such as Shellac or Fugazi. However much they try and deny it, there are definitely echoes of that scene here, as well as elements of math-rock and prog.

The album kicks of with 'Larkspur's' stop/start drumming and ferocious, screaming vocal as it chops and changes between different rhythms and tempos, setting the blueprint for much of the album. Yet it's the times they break from this format that are most rewarding . The rough, laid back blues of 'Glad' is particularly effective, as is final track 'Schutze Deiner Augen' with its impassioned vocal. Raw moments such as these show what a talent the band have.

The big problem with 'Volume 4' isn't the music, it's the production - or rather the lack of it. Instead of the lo-fi edge they may have been aiming for, the shortage of sheen causes the album to sound like it was recorded on a mobile phone at the bottom of a well. The vocals are distant and the discordant guitars lack vitality, overall things are too muddy to make it a record you want to go back to again. You have to take your hat off to Shield You Eyes for trying to create interesting music, but the end result is somewhat forgettable.

drill your heavy heart (volume 4) by shield your eyes
larkspur (volume 4) by shield your eyes

Shield Your Eyes website

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Thursday 27 October 2011

City Reign - Numbers For Street Names EP

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These past few weeks have seen much attention paid to Manchester's musical history and legacy, but this focus has been on past glories - namely a major reformation and the two new projects of a certain pair of feuding siblings. None of this has really represented the Manchester of today, indeed most of those mentioned no longer even live in the city.

City Reign formed in Manchester over a love of Ryan Adams (their name is taken from his song 'City Rain, City Streets) and have gained the support of Steve Lamacq following last year's appearance at In The City. The five songs that make up new EP 'Numbers For Street Names' are well formed tracks that sound full of confidence yet, thankfully, low on the arrogant laddish swagger that's so associated with their forerunners. In fact there's barely a hint of Gallagher lad-rock here, the closest cousin to City Reign's sound is probably the post Britpop indie-rock of Idlewild.

Single 'Making Plans' certainly has a hint of Roddy Woomble in its delivery but the overall sound of the EP is a touch more widescreen than the scratchy clatter of his band's early work. The anthemic quality of tracks such as 'The Line' may put off those who prefer their music a touch more lo-fi and much here would sound perfectly at home on bigger stages, but there's an attractive honesty to what they do which makes for an enjoyable listen. If the Stone Roses can once again open the door for British guitar bands you wouldn't bet against City Reign breaking through.

Buy the EP from City Reign's website

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Fuck Knights - Let It Bleed

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Despite their relatively short career, US garage/psych band Fuck Knights could already be considered movers and shakers in the garage scene. Formed in 2007 they've so far landed slots supporting The Greenhornes, The King Khan and BBQ Show, Monotonix, Jacuzzi Boys and more, and have recorded an EP with The Monks' Gary Burger. It's hardly any wonder they're a fairly in-demand band either, as they're not content to simply emulate the past, instead preferring to push the genre on to pastures new.

'Let It Bleed' is the first full-length from Sir Gregory Fuck Knight and co. and sees them tackling the conventional guitar/bass/drums format in a more experimental way than some. The regular trash that begins 'Knight Terrors' soon gives way to a psychedelic soup of pounding bass and drums and squalling guitar distortion, it's more than a little acid-fried. The punk buzz of 'Kristina!' has the feel of an original 45 circa '77 and includes a blazing solo and a compelling vocal, it's immediately followed by the 60s psych-pop bop of 'Materialize Soon'. The stop/start beat, trumpet and backwards guitar mean that album opener 'Abrasions' is also bang on the money.

It's this kind of variety and the willingness to incorporate different sounds that gives 'Let It Bleed' a certain edge and adds depth and originality to a tried and tested format. It also means that Fuck Knights may be on the way to adding their name to the illustrious list of modern day garage heroes they've  had the pleasure of sharing a stage with thus far. Definitely worthy of attention.

Fuck Knights - "Abrasions" b/w "Materialize Soon by fukn

Fuck Knights on Myspace

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Wednesday 26 October 2011

Five For Free #23

Two Wounded Birds - Think The World Of You

Fresh from playing this year's Swn Festival in Cardiff, Margate quartet Two Wounded Birds will be releasing their new single 'Together Forever' next Monday (Halloween). B-side 'Think The World Of You' is good enough to be a single in its own right, with ticking drums, twinkling piano and a forlorn vocal making for an atmospheric listen. Hit the download arrow and it's yours.

Two Wounded Birds, 'Think The World Of You' by nmemagazine

Two Wounded Birds website

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Grimes - Oblivion

Grimes is the musical project of Montreal resident Claire Boucher. Her new single 'Oblivion' begins with Kraftwerk-style electronic pulses which underpin the whole track. Boucher's vocals are part Kate Bush and part Alex Winston. 'Oblivion' is a hybrid of styles and results in a light yet brooding alternative pop song, catchy enough to sell and edgy enough to gain critical acclaim.

Grimes - Oblivion by knucklerumblerdotcom

Grimes on Myspace

The Strange Boys - Me And You

Austin, Texas' favourite 60s garage indebted sons The Strange Boys are back with a new album 'Live Music' which is in shops this week. To get you in the mood they're offering album track 'Me And You' as a free download. This track sees them shedding their previous garage sound in favour of a lovely mid-paced, piano led number topped of, as always, with Ryan Sambol's quirky voice.

The Strange Boys on Myspace

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Wet Illustrated - Gypsy Town

Also hitting the shops this week is the new album from San Franciscan trio Wet Illustrated. Taken from '1x1x1' is this track, 'Gypsy Town' which has a similar retro feel, again harking back to 60s garage but adding a post-punk/indie-type feel to things. 'Gypsy Town' is upbeat and ramshackle as it clatters along with a certain bouncy, vibrant charm.

Wet Illustrated- Gypsy Town by truepanther

Wet Illustrated on Myspace

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Man Without Country - King Complex

"There's no such thing as bad publicity" sing Cardiff's Man Without Country on this track from their debut EP 'King Complex'. Oh yeah? Well try telling that to Gary Glitter. 'King Complex' is a wonderful mix of electro and guitar-pop with a widescreen sound that indicates they may be destined for big things. They're supporting M83 in December, and that sounds like a very good night out indeed.

Man Without Country, 'King Complex' by nmemagazine

Man Without Country's website

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Mahoney & The Moment - Mahoney & The Moment

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The particular brand of alt-country created by Anglo-American duo Mahoney & The Moment is the traditional, unadorned variety. It's the kind that will fall flat on its face unless the bare bones at its core, the songs themselves, are up to scratch. In keeping the production and arrangements simple M&TM leave their songwriting exposed, with no place to hide. This stripped back approach has paid dividends here, allowing the album to breathe and to keep the focus purely on the tunes, and what a fine set of tunes they are.

'When She Smiles Back At Me' and 'Manhattan Girl Again' are both reminiscent of Ryan Adams' better acoustic moments, the dual vocals of the latter working especially well. The breezy 'If You Only Asked Me To'  shows the wonderful purity of Emily Moment's voice, and this purity runs through the entire album regardless of who takes the lead. The delicate instrumentation couldn't be better suited to the compositions and it's the more delicate moments that delight the most, letting the songs carry themselves. The likes of 'Roadtrip II' and 'Waiting Games' boast a sound clarity that's all too rare.

If it's rock 'n' roll thrills you're after, this album won't be for you, and neither will you find much in the way of innovation, but those looking for a simple romantic beauty and songs that demand to be played again and again will find plenty here to fall in love with. 'Mahoney And The Moment' is an album that many will cherish for some time.

  Mahoney & The Moment by Mahoney & The Moment

Mahoney & The Moment on Facebook

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Tuesday 25 October 2011

Thee Vicars - Every Day/Don't Wanna Be Free

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The beat explosion is alive and well in the heads of the trio that make up the new, slimmed down Thee Vicars line up. Not only is it still alive, it's positively thriving and the two tracks on this, their new single, sound as vital as many of the originators. The band's sound is as sharp as the suits and boots they wear and they don't half generate a big noise for a three piece. 'Every Day' struts its stuff urgently before blossoming into a searing guitar wig-out, if this had been recorded in 64 it would be a stone-cold classic. 'Don't Wanna Be Free' has a similar feel to that of The Kinks rougher moments and is played with the kind of economy that ensures not a note or a beat is wasted. It's all been done before of course, but Thee Vicars know exactly what they're up to and have a superb understanding, and it's those two facts that give these two tracks an authenticity that few other garage revivalists possess. Thrilling stuff.

Thee Vicars on Myspace

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Monday 24 October 2011

Wild Flag - Wild Flag

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Portland quartet Wild Flag are clearly no novices. Having variously cut their teeth as members of underground heroes including The Minders, Helium, Quasi and riot grrrl legends Sleater-Kinney, the coming together of musical talent of this experience and stature has unquestionably paid off. The band's sound is rooted in America's early nineties alt-rock scene, although they sound anything but dated and this album proves a masterclass in indie-rock songwriting.

Free download single 'Romance' gets things off to a flyer, as they build upon the simple riff and organ parts to generate a soaring finale. From there on in the standard remains equally high with layers of meandering guitar and precision drumming. The attention to detail is incredible without ever losing the edge that Wild Flag possess, these aren't your typical verse/chorus/verse compositions, each track has an unpredictable twist, taking you on a journey and ensuring that boredom is never allowed to set in.

It's difficult to pick high points on an album that doesn't really have any low ones, but 'Something Came Over Me' and 'Endless Talk' are particularly irresistible, the former's guitar work provides a psychedelic feel and the latter's stop/start vocal works a treat. Not only do Wild Flag know their way around a fretboard, they know exactly what to do with it too, not once over-egging the pudding - noodlers everywhere should take note. They may have been making records for twenty years but there's still an undeniable spark here and you get the sense that this was a hugely enjoyable album to make by four women who have ideas in spades.

Wild Flag on Facebook

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Los Explosivos - Primeras Grabaciones

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This is the second album from Mexican garage-punks Los Explosives although the title translates as First Recordings. 'Primeras Grabaciones' is a full throttle assault on the ears, with the controls set to 'blisteringly frenetic' and the needles firmly lodged in the red. It's not only the fact that nine of the ten tracks are sung in their native tongue that make the lyrics indecipherable to English speaking ears, the vocals are a red-raw primeval scream, loaded with distortion. They could be singing about anything, but deep and meaningful lyrics aren't really the point.

Dirty riffs prevail and cymbals are smashed as frequently as most bands use a snare. There's a definite lo-fi aesthetic here, the whole thing sounds as though it was recorded in one take - it could almost be a live album. Los Explosivos clatter their way through all ten tracks in little over quarter of an hour, while it's definitely an exhilarating experience there's little in the way of variety (besides a touch of organ on album closer 'Crusher', a positively epic composition by their standards, clocking in at a mighty two minutes nineteen seconds), but given the whirlwind duration this is a minor point.

Invigorating yet slightly challenging, 'Primeras Grabaciones' is either the ultimate hangover cure, designed for blowing cobwebs away, or the borderline thrash is likely to make a bad situation worse and leave you with a throbbing headache. Either way it's certainly worth drinking to.

Los Explosivos on Myspace

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Out This Week - 24th October 2011

The King Khan Experience - I Got Love

Canadian garage titan King Khan is one of the most prolific men in rock. Famed for his work in King Khan & The Shrines and The King Khan & BBQ Show, he's now back with another EP, this time as The King Khan Experience. 'I Got Love' is exactly what you'd expect from a man of this calibre, an urgent riff, organ swirls and raw vocals. Top stuff.

King Khan's website

The Kills - Baby Says

It's difficult to believe that Anglo-American duo The Kills have been making records for over a decade now. The past few years have been noted for their rock star collaborations and celebrity girlfriends, but it's better to concentrate on the tunes. What a beauty they've come up with here - 'Baby Says' is all their finest moments distilled, probably the best track they've made.

The Kills' website

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Kathryn Calder - Who Are You?

Kathryn Calder is a member of Canadian indie collective The New Pornographers and this week sees the release of her second solo album. 'Bight And Vivid' features several guest appearances and boasts a slightly more experimental, synth-based sound than her debut. 'Who Are You?' is driven by electronic beats and sparse guitars, and in places has an almost choral vocal. Hit the arrow to download.

Kathryn Calder - Who Are You? by killbeat music

Kathryn Calder's website

Stream the album in full

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Surfer Blood - Miranda

The debut album by Florida quartet Surfer Blood was one of the word of mouth success stories of last year, proving that some Sound Of Confusion predictions do come true. This success has seen them sign to Warner Bros. and they're now back with a new EP which, thankfully, is more of the same. Grab a free download of 'Miranda' below.

Surfer Blood - Miranda by SPEAKIMGE8

Surfer Blood's website

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Elephant Stone - Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin

Rishi Dhir was previously in psychedelic revivalists High Dials but formed a new outfit, Elephant Stone in 2008. So far they've released two albums and now unleash new single 'Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin', a first class lesson in psych-pop songwriting. This track is incredibly catchy and shows of a superb sense of melody, it's completely impossible to dislike. Download it free below and tuck in.

Elephant Stone's website

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Saturday 22 October 2011

Beat Seeking Missiles - Break My Fall

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Beat Seeking Missiles are something of a garage supergroup featuring veterans Sir Bald Diddley and Kid Wig of The Wig Outs alongside Bruce Brand of Thee Headcoats and former Supergrass bass player Mick Quinn.  In a world with no shortage of raw rock 'n' roll revivalists, the pedigree here certainly shows. Rather than pastiche, BSM sound bracingly modern despite their retro stylings, with crisp, clean, fresh production. The spiky 'Break My Fall' uses incisive drumming and Beatlesque harmonies to great effect, and there's a fantastic soaring chorus to boot. Flip side 'Dr. Strangelove' is all jagged riffs and stuttering beats with a distorted guitar solo which brings a slightly psychedelic feel to the mix, in a similar vein to early Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd. This is garage rock 'n' roll as it should be; these missiles have definitely hit their target.

Beat Seeking Missiles on Facebook

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Five For Free #22

Little Racer - Little Racer

Good old Brooklyn spits out another great new band. Little Racer recorded their first EP last year and have recently been picked up by the excellent UK label Young And Lost Club, who will shortly be releasing the trio's debut single. Their sound is a rich tapestry of "surf-indie-motown-pop" and is pretty impressive for a three-piece. They don't seem short of ides either. 

Little Racer - Little Racer by thebluewalrus

Free download:Little Racer

Little Racer on bandcamp

A Classic Education - Baby, It's Fine

Jonathan Clancy must be a busy man. The Italy based Canadian has just released a split single with Shimmering Stars under his solo guise of His Clancyness and is following it the debut album from his band A Classic Education. 'Call It Blazing' is out Monday and is full of lovable, ramshackle guitar-pop goodness. Download 'Baby, It's Fine' and see for yourself.

A Classic Education - Baby, It's Fine by A Classic Education

Free download: Baby It's Fine

A Classic Education's website

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DZ Deathrays - Gebbie Street

Australians DZ Deathrays are currently making waves in the UK. They're appearing on this year's NME tour and also stopping off at the SWN Festival. Recent single 'Gebbie Street' straddles the mid-point between dance and rock in the same way that Death From Above 1979 did, with crunching guitars and four-to-the-floor beats.

DZ Deathrays - Gebbie St by Humming Records

DZ Deathrays on bandcamp

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Gospel Music - This Town Doesn't Have Enough Bars For The Both Of Us 

This coming week will see the release of 'How To Get To Heaven From Jacksonville, Fl', the debut album from Gospel Music. Taken from it is the excellent lo-fi shuffle of 'This Town Doesn't Have Enough Bars For The Both Of Us'. With titles this long it's no surprise to learn that Gospel Music is the side project of Black Kids bassist Owen Holmes.

Free download: This Town Doesn't Have Enough Bars For The Both Of Us

Gospel Music's website

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The New Tigers - Pocketful Of Sand

Thanks to our sister blog The Found Of Confusion, this morning was spent listening to tracks from the self-titled debut album by Finnish Quartet The New Tigers which was released last month. They specialise in fuzzy, shoegazey indie-pop of the highest order. Hit the arrow below to get a free download of the epic 'Pocketful Of Sand'.

The New Tigers : Pocketful Of Sand by Soliti

The New Tigers on Myspace

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Friday 21 October 2011

Twin Sister - In Heaven

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The first steps of Twin Sister's career have been promising. Over the course of two EPs the Long Island collective have showcased a slick maturity and a pop nous that belies their relatively tender years. Add a touch of refinement and you have the makings of a great pop/soul debut album. Now that that debut has arrived it's difficult not to feel slightly underwhelmed. For the majority of 'In Heaven' it seems that the alternative edge to Twin Sister's sound has been airbrushed away leaving a somewhat sterile end product; it's all a little too smooth.

'In Heaven' is not without its moments though: the chimes and skittering beats of 'Daniel' set the tone for the album in tasteful way; 'Kimmi In A Rice Field' is a blissed-out, widescreen anthem and boasts a quite beautiful vocal; 'Spain' possesses a cinematic swagger; 'Space Babe' pounds along in a nice enough fashion, ending with pleasant guitar and synth atmospherics. And therein lies the problem: 'In Heaven' is just too damn nice to fall in love with.

Twin Sister should not be written-off by any means. They're gifted song writers, Andrea Estella has a superb voice and the simple wandering guitar lines are perfectly suited to their sound. Unfortunately that sound currently lacks any grit whatsoever. Streamlined and professional they may be, but in a way that's suited to gracing the coffee table at dinner parties more than anything else, and with this much polish it'll probably give it a darn good buffing while it's there. Twin Sister do have a great album in them, sadly this isn't it.

Twin Sister - Gene Ciampi by DominoRecordCo

Twin Sister - Bad Street by DominoRecordCo

Twin Sister's website

Buy the album.

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Thursday 20 October 2011

Unruly Dogs - Unruly Dogs

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If you're of the belief that the music world has been crying out for a dog obsessed indie-pop concept album about time travelling Victorian hellraisers, then it's time to have a long, hard look at yourself. Secondly, believe it or not, you're in luck. 'Unruly Dogs' sees our heroes (Messrs Arthur Pimmsley-Fox and Frederick Pinegar) build “a mysterious vehicle that was said to manipulate the laws of time and space” and travel to the modern day where they partake in womanising, clubbing and, um, walking dogs.

The idea behind this album is clearly a barking mad one but it would be rash to dismiss it as a mere novelty record. Sure, it's jovial, playful and more than a little ridiculous, yet it's perfectly executed, diverse and crammed with imagination. 'Big City Lips' is a foot-stomping way to start and gives 90s indie a sprinkling of 70s AM radio dust, 'Lost Dog' is a piano-led, harmony-drenched piece of AOR that somehow succeeds in not being naff, and 'Sweaty Wiv U' is a Hispanic take on cheesy 90s indie-disco fodder. These are songs that have no right to work, but they're carried with enough conviction and insanity to make them thoroughly enjoyable. 'Unruly Dogs' chops and changes between different styles and it's quite amazing that the separate pieces make such a coherent entity. 'I'll Bite You' adds big beats to 60s soul, 'Freaky Weather' and Walking The Dog' both contain hints of The Beatles.

Overall this a definitely a fun album; it's not designed for chin-stroking musos to assess over one too many jazz-cigarettes, but for all its idiosyncrasies and dog-based imagery 'Unruly Dogs' has good tunes at its core and because of that it's worthy of investigation. The funky 'Small Faces' sums up the ethos here: “We're having a laugh with our sound/just trying to be different from everybody else/but if you don't like it/you don't have to buy it.” In this case buying is recommended.

Unruly Dogs is out as a name-your-price download on November 11th.

Unruly Dogs by Grandpa Stan

Unruly Dogs' website

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Wednesday 19 October 2011

Hatcham Social - Like An Animal

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At another point in time, when guitar music was more in vogue, London quartet Hatcham Social would surely have broken the top 40 by now. As it stands, with a debut album and a string of excellent singles (including 'Murder In The Dark', 'Crocodiles' and the superlative 'So So Happy Making') under their belt, they're still relative unknowns. With a follow up prepped and ready to go, one hopes they'll reach a wider audience this time around. And so to the first single from the forthcoming “guitar-heavy” album 'About Girls': 'Like An Animal' does see a modest change of sound, it's less quirky than previous releases and the shades of baggy and 80s indie have been erased. Unfortunately this makes the whole thing rather more conventional and therefore slightly anonymous. Where in the past Hatcham Social's sound was stamped with their own hallmarks, they now seem more ubiquitous. 'Like An Animal' could be by any number of bands. It's a decent enough track but you can't help but feel it's lacking the spark that made them so enticing in the first place. Those gold discs might have to wait a little longer.

Hatcham Social on Facebook

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Five For Free #21

Brown Recluse - Impressions Of A City Morning

Slumberland Records come up trumps once again. Philadelphia indiepop band Brown Recluse released their debut album 'Evening Tapestry' earlier this year and the first single to be taken from it is the tambourine driven, jangly, summer pop rush that is 'Impressions Of A City Morning', a track that it's impossible not to fall in love with.

Brown Recluse - Impressions of a City Morning by Slumberland Records

Brown Recluse on Myspace

Buy the album.

Grass House - Faun

As mentioned in a previous blog, Yorkshire's Grass House have a new single out this week; 'The Breeze' which is backed by 'Faun'. Both tracks are exceptionally good and are the work of a band who are brave enough to do their own thing rather than follow trends. The good news is that they're now offering both songs as well as three previous recordings as free downloads from musicglue.

Faun by Grass House

Free download: The Breeze

Free download: Faun

Grass House on Myspace

Other Lives - Song Song

Windows are currently running something called the 'Me Series' which follows creative Windows Phone users. You can find more info on that here. One bunch of creative types featured are Oklahoma based alt-country band Other Lives who have given up a beautiful new demo 'Song Song' for free. Hit the download arrow and it's yours.

Other Lives website

Ewert And The Two Dragons - Jolene

Not a cover of the Dolly Parton song but rather ace anyway. The Scandinavian indiepop bug appears to have spread around the Baltic Sea. Estonians Ewert And The Two Dragons have an new album out called 'Good Man Down' and you can grab a track from it below: the twinkly guitar pop of 'Jolene'.

Jolene by Ewert and The Two Dragons

Free download: Jolene

Ewert And The Two Dragons on Myspace

Buy the album.

Gardens & Villa - Spacetime

As with the aforementioned Slumberland, you can generally count on Secretly Canadian Records to sniff out a good band. Santa Barbara five-piece Gardens & Villa are a slightly psychedelic update on 60s west-coast Americana. Their self-titled debut album was released in the summer and you can pick up album track 'Spacetime' below.

Gardens and Villa - Spacetime by Voler

Free download: Spacetime

Gardens & Villa's website

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