Song reviews

  First One off the Waltzer by The So and Sos

First One off the Waltzer cover art

Cleethorpes bombardiers

Whilst nearly tripping over its Britpop influences, "First One Off The Waltzer" demonstrates more than revivalist tendencies. The lyrics could have come from Morrissey's pen but Richard Dutton's much more robust singing style gives the necessary swagger and substance to hold your attention. Bonus points for referencing Cleethorpes too. I don't imagine that is a common occurrence in song writing.

Review date:  August 25 2011

  Last Train by Alex Haynes

Last Train cover art

Skewed blues

Out of the smoke, better known as London, comes Alex Haynes and he's got the blues in his soul and no desire to make it easy for you. Sure, there is an elemental simplicity to both "Shake 'Em On Down" and "Last Train" but there is no musical laziness either and that cigarettes and whiskey atmosphere is neatly and effectively invoked. He might well be following a path previously trodden by the mighty but he does so with undeniable authority.

Review date:  August 20 2011

  Angela by Craig White

Angela cover art

Glasgow guitar boy number 2835

He's got an acoustic guitar, he's sensitive and he knows it and, surprise, he wants you to know it too. With little regard for originality or passion, Craig White lights a caramel flavoured candle and attempts to fan the flames of love with "Angela" (or perhaps for an Angela?). A similarly weak vocal performance also afflicts "Demons and Fireflies" although it was sinking under the weight of its own insignificance anyway. Must try harder. A lot harder.

Review date:  August 20 2011

  Feel the temperature rising by Stuart Newman

Feel the temperature rising cover art

Anguish personified

I suspect that Stuart Newman's voice will be something of an acquired taste. There's a bit of britfolk and a bit of post punk in his approach to performance – which is commendable – but both "Feel The Temperature Rising" and "Head Hurts" just plain irritate. In fact, all these songs did was to make me wonder how much Tiny Tim records go for on Ebay these days.

Review date:  August 20 2011

  Sun Catcher by Sonic Templars

Sun Catcher cover art

Thoughtful post rockers

"Sun Catcher" comes across as mellow post rock with a little bit of folk thrown in for good measure with singer Stewart Bryden going high and clear instead of down and dirty as you might expect of a Glasgow band.  "Sitting Ducks" is harder and heavier and somewhat fond of a Cream riff too with the end result being more up-tempo and probably indicative of the band's true direction. I doubt this band would have any problem scaling their songs into the epic but they do sound like they are playing it a bit safe here. I'd like to see them take some risks and thereby stamp some serious individuality on to their songs.

Review date:  August 12 2011

  Dancing in the Rain by Half Deaf Clatch

Dancing in the Rain cover art

Acoustic blues soldier

You can't go far wrong with one man and a resonator guitar in my book and Half Deaf Clatch – I probably should look up what a clatch actually is in case it is something (ahem) dirty – steers a steady course here. Both "Dancing In The Rain" and "Hammer Down Blues" are earnest and respectful, even reverential to the format and will not disappoint fans of such things. As Jimi Hendrix once said " Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel". Half Deaf Clatch, who is probably called Nigel or Jeffrey in real life, clearly feels it.

Review date:  August 12 2011

  The Fiddle by Shifty Sarah

The Fiddle cover art

Toypop terrorist

It's all out there if you look for it or maybe it will just hunt you down. Toypop is a new genre to me but Shifty Sarah seems to be Princess Number One in it with "The Fiddle" being a somewhat skewed take on nursery rhymes implemented via clever and cute lo-fi loops. I tried to hate this – really, I did – but got overcome by the incessant catchiness and the wheelbarrow of charm hidden amongst the chords. Grumpy reviewer therefore admits defeat and gives this one the thumbs up.

  Darkest of days by Funke and the Two Tone Baby

Darkest of days cover art

Kent-based loop-artist

A sparse bit of blues based from a Kent based loop artist, "Darkest of Days" spins up more in the way of angst and inner torment than you would get from a hundred dreadfully sensitive singer songwriters.  It would appear that his real name is Daniel Turnbull which seems way too ordinary to be the creator of something this special.

  Where the Pebbles grind and scrape by Sheila K Cameron

Where the Pebbles grind and scrape cover art

Torch singer

Got a somewhat vague recollection that Ms Cameron has sought our words (and duly she has – Ed) before. No matter as her mature, world weary and rather ethereal approach to a song pays dividends to the demanding listener. "Where The Pebbles Grind and Scrape" is no less than a poetic torch song and Ms Cameron is no less than a poetic torch singer. It's that simple.

Review date:  July 16 2011

  Dopamine by Heavy Smoke

Dopamine cover art

Glasgow c*nt rockers (apparently)

Sometimes I have to despair at the sheer lack of inventiveness found in hard rock and metal music these days. Then you hear a band like Heavy Smoke and my faith is restored. "Dopamine" swaggers and staggers like a song on a mission to encourage the abuse of any and all legally prohibited substances. Promise is therefore demonstrated and duly acknowledged.

Review date:  July 16 2011

  Broken Clocks by The Beautiful Game

Broken Clocks cover art

Indie rock band from Camden Town

Curiously laidback considering The Beautiful Game call themselves a rock band, "Broken Clocks" seems to have a notable degree of retro reticence built in compared to what many of their competitors in the post Libertines market place have put out in recent times. The song works though, avoids the obvious clichés and Jason Crowley's vocals have the mark of authority. Thumbs up time, I think.

  Unleashed You Spoke by Adam Beckley

Unleashed You Spoke cover art

Birmingham ambience

Another case of a man alone with his sonic textures. Describing his own music as hypnotic seems fair enough as "Unleashed You Spoke" relies heavily on synthetic repetition. Rather more successful is the delicately undulating (and curiously named) "I Take The Form of Your Skeleton". Nonetheless, despite being easy on the ear, Mr Beckley's music seems insufficiently complex compared to European practitioners of ambient electronica like, for example, PNDC or Housework.

Review date:  June 26 2011

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