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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Download Review: Pulled Apart By Matt Emery

Released: Out Now
Label: Self-Released / Download it from Alcopop!

Shame on me for hardly having mentioned Stagecoach on KPL before. In fact, I'm not sure I've really said much about them since their split 7” with Johnny Foreigner when they covered 'Salt Peppa And Spinderella'. Funny that I should chose now and the side-release from their drummer Matt Emery to mention them again, for those of you that enjoyed the pared down acoustic rendition of the JoFo smash should well enjoy this release.

OK, maybe release is a bit far fetched for what is a free download release of acoustic Pulled Apart By Horses covers. Still this (almost) EP is rather unexpectedly brilliant.

Like the very best of covers, the songs are deconstructed and rebuilt again rather than just being straight played. Here Pulled Apart By Horses hard-hitting post-hardcore anthems and brought into acoustic territory with layered choral vocals, delicate pianos, strings and soaring lead vocal.

First track 'Hive Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' is the best example of this and a soothing yet epic slice of pop magic. Meanwhile, 'Yeah Buddy' has a jazzy feel, with accompaniment coming from barely more than a piano. The backing vocals lend the cover a haunting air that contradicts the fact this has been done with tongue in cheek (and entirely for fun) almost as much as the very idea of something being acoustic and post-hardcore at the same time does.

'Back To The Fuck Yeah' is more conventional, with Emery's acoustic guitar rendering the song a step closer to the slacker pop of Stagecoach that we all love, whilst 'I Punched A Lion In The Throat' couldn't be any further away. Chants overlap and collide into each other whilst the piano becomes a distant sound underneath. By the time everything's faded back into nothingness you realise that you may have just heard one of the strangest pieces of pop of 2011.

Really, you've no excuse for not giving this a go. It's a free download from the AlcoBlog (the Blog of Alcopop records) and if nothing else, may help you break yr other half into Puled Apart By Horses. Those with a taste for the absurd will particularly enjoy the juxtaposition of lyrics such as “I'll make you dance with my balls of fire” with the classical arrangements and at the very least it'll help us all to learn the words to some of the biggest rock anthems of 2010. God knows why Matt Emery put so much effort into this curiosity, but we're glad that he did.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Album Review: MJ Hibbett - Wonderful Wednesday

Released: 4th April
Label: Self-Released

Peterborough born and raised, London based songwriter MJ Hibbett is essentially one of my favourite songwriters of all time. I've mentioned it before, but it bears saying again. His latest record is a solo album, done away from backing band The Validators and contains fourteen tracks recorded on Wednesdays in February. Hence the title.

It all sounds pretty DIY, with GarageBand drum loops and a basic lack of production. That's not to say that it sounds bad however, it's just all stripped down and simple with the music mostly there to provide a backing for the songs. And importantly the songs are bloody ace.

Of all the songwriters that are around at the moment MJ Hibbett is the one who has the greatest knack for getting under the skin of contemporary (Middle Class) life in the UK. And that is of course because he's just out there living it like the rest of us. 'Wonderful Wednesday' itself is a delicate little track extolling the virtues of working from home. Touching on little things like having fry-ups for dinner and being able to do the washing he makes the whole activity sound positively utopian, but that's Hibbett. As a songwriter he always manages to bring out the positives in what can be a mundane existence for some of us.

Yes, office work can be dull. Very dull but on tracks like '(Really Nearly) Lunchtime' and 'Is It Time To Go Home Now?' the small joys of deciding what to eat or learning new things from Wikipedia bring smiles of recognition and the understanding that actually, things could be much much worse. After all, this comes from a man who once said “A fridge full of nice things is my equivalent of bling.” Plus, '...Lunchtime' cracks out a great little electric guitar solo, and that's something that none of us can complain about

Like that other favourite songwriter of mine that I mentioned yesterday, Hibbett is a bit of a geek. That manifests on Wonderful Wednesday across the songs 'Let's Network' and 'Antidote To Cloning', both of which come from a comic book world of sci-fi. The former tells the story of how bringing a galaxy of businessmen to earth to use the conference facilities makes the hero of the story the king of the planet, whilst the latter sees Hibbett do the voices of different scientists in a story that culminates in what may be the least useful moral ever. It's still of course really bloody entertaining and features some trademark MJ Hibbett lyrics.

Elsewhere there's some more musically adventurous moments such as 'They Hate Me' which hides the vocals behind drum machines and echoing guitars, displaying the paranoia of playing to decreasing crowds. As always it's not all dark and gloom, “Sometimes they just need a wee,” he concludes. Album highlight (and a Track of the Week this week) 'Touch Wood' is plenty bouncy and fun, whilst 'Skies That Smile' is a Candle Thieves-esque summery shimmer that's really pretty.

There's plenty more about Wonderful Wednesday that deserves mention (the kiddie friendly ukulele numbers such as 'A Little Bit Excited' and 'One Finger' or a commentary on the Alternative Vote referendum ('I'm Saying Yes')) but essentially you'll already have an idea of what MJ Hibbett is about by now, so unless you're one of the other 119 people who has a physical copy of Wonderful Wednesday head over to his Bandcamp page, have a listen and exchange some money for a really good album.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Track Of The Week (Part 2): Art Brut – Lost Weekend

Art Brut sure do love the weekends. They've written about good ones, bad ones and really bad ones. Now it's the turn of the 'Lost Weekend'.

The lead single from Album #4 and it's a bit of a surprise that Art Brut have got this far. When they hit with 'Formed A Band' back in 2004 they were assaulted with insults about Eddie not being able to sing and the rest of the band not being able to play. Now they're proper indiepop institutions and international treasures. Not that it's undeserved of course, the Brut are one of the best damn bands that we have, and as you might have assumed after what I said yesterday, Eddie is by far one of my favourite songwriters.

Musically this is business as usual for Art Brut. Their fuzzy rock complemented by a full out glam rock solo that closes the track. The big surprise is that Eddie has actually learnt how to sing. Working again with Pixies man Frank Black as producer Eddie's singing voice has been brought out, and even though it's barely above a murmur it adds a new and unexpected element to the Art Brut sound.

The video's not appeared yet, so in the meantime here's a radio rip. I'll update with the video when it drops so check back

Monday, 28 March 2011

Track Of The Week (Part 1): MJ Hibbett – Touch Wood

There's two Tracks of the Week this week, owing to two of my favourite songwriters being currently in the process of releasing material. Therefore in a move that should surprise absolutely no-one, the first of the two TotW goes to MJ Hibbett.

Recorded on Wednesdays in February, Hibbett's latest album bears the title Wonderful Wednesday and in terms of physical copies was limited to the people who put in a pre-order. But there'll be more about that on Wednesday, today we're specifically looking at my favourite track from the record, the bouncy pop of 'Touch Wood'.

With backing vocals and a summery indiepop bassline 'Touch Wood's impossible to not want to dance to. Lyrically it's business as usual, with Mark delivering clever punchlines that you don't quite see coming and, as ever, looking on the bright side.

Essentially a delight for existing Hibbett fans and a potential gateway for those who've never got around to listening to Peterborough's finest export.

Unfortunately there's not a stream that I could find to embed of 'Touch Wood'. However you can listen to the song and buy a digital version of the album from MJ Hibbett's Bandcamp page.

Part 2 of this weeks' top tracks will be online tomorrow so check back then.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Flashguns

Another introduction to a potentially excellent band today on Keep Pop Loud as I FINALLY get around to bringing Flashguns to yr attention again.

I reviewed a previous single ('Locarno') by the band this time two years ago and called the track "a pretty little indie song". I stand by that, but musically the band no longer seem to.

Luckily I caught them supporting Dananananaykroyd on their tour last month and saw that the three-piece have bolstered their sound massively since we last heard from them. They now deploy their anthemic songs with highly skilled instrumentation that even allows for the odd rock wig-out without sounding wankey. Flashguns only performed a very short set but they did so with self-confidence to match that of festival headliners, leaving us with very little doubt that they're destined for very big things.

So, it's pleasing that when things start getting a bit conventional indie-rock they land us with such a high quality single.

Think John Hughes films, jangly '80s indie, a soaring chorus that's bound to get stuck in yr head and a yearning, powerful vocal performance.

Let's watch 'Passions Of A Different Kind'



Nice.

Like all new(ish) bands these days they've also got a download that you can stream or nab from Soundcloud.

Flashguns - Racing Race by Top Button Digital

I think we can all agree that Flashguns have the potential to be a very good thing. We'll keep an eye on them, and you should to.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mazes

At Keep Pop Loud we champion fuzzy indiepop. That's our 'thing'. It seems rude in that respect to not introduce you to Mazes. We don't want to be rude, so here's a song by the band that we think you'll like.

Mazes - Most Days by FatCat Records

Introduction out of the way I think I can drop the third person now. As I hope you've just heard, Mazes are rather delightful. Like The Crookes the band quite clearly take influence from early rock n roll records, but unlike The Crookes' slick recordings they have taken things down an altogether more lo-fi route. Shuffling along and installing a massive urge to dance Mazes have hit on altogether brilliant formula.

It's good therefore to know that as well as the above 'Most Days' Mazes have other great songs in their arsenal. 'Vampire Jive' is one of them.

Mazes - Vampire Jive by Paul Lilley

We're not the only ones to be enamoured with this. The band are due out a record on Fat Cat Recordings and the staff at Rough Trade Shops were impressed enough by the above song that they included it on their Counter Culture 10 compilation, where it's by far one of the best songs.

(Talking of compilations, if you want to grab 'Most Days' then, head to yr newsagents and pick up Artrocker magazine who've included it on their covermount (along with ace tracks from Ringo Deathstarr, Mojo Fury and The Chapman Family)

Keeping it short and sweet is hardly novel at the moment thanks to the success of The Vaccines and Best Coast (the latter of whom Mazes are due to support in Sheffield at the end of April) but Mazes ensure that everything sounds fresh. I guarantee that most of you will love this and that Keep Pop Loud will be following these guys up pretty soon.

Find out more about Mazes and their up-and-coming tour dates (most of which are supporting the equally fuzzy Dum Dum Girls) here.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Album Review: Those Dancing Days - Daydreams & Nightmares

Released: February 28th
Label: Wichita Records

In the continued absence of The Hives, Those Dancing Days can easily stake a claim to being Keep Pop Loud's favourite Swedish band. Their debut album from 2008, In Our Spacehero Suits, stands among the best indiepop records of the past decade and with the mindblowing 'Fuckarias' leading off the album #2 campaign expectations were high.

To be fair to Those Dancing Days anything less than Album of the Year by far would of come as a tiny disappointment, so to say this doesn't quite meet the standards I'd have hoped isn't to insult Daydreams & Nightmares. Instead it's said to comment on how the album is 'merely' VERY damn good and possibly one of the best of 2011.

'Reaching Forward' proves to be an excellent opener. Cissi's drum fills scattering across the keyboard led sound. The vocal from Linnea once again heartfelt and touching. It has all the sonic watermarks of what I've always loved about the band. Lyrically, as with the entirety of the record it's heart on sleeve and affecting; “There is so much more to life than this / I just cannot say it straight to your face”.

If 'Reaching Forward' falls into the camp of songs detailing a suffocating and collapsing relationship it's polar opposite is 'I'll Be Yours'. An epic singalong with a hook to rival 'Fuckarias', it's held together by the bass and vocals whilst the drums rattle and guitar chops around. Again the keyboard melody is dominant but it's the addition of group backing vocals that make the single truly soar.

Although still informed by '60s soul and pop this new record sees Those Dancing Days add a more recognisable indiepop influence to their sound. 'Dream About Me' has the low slung, melodic bass of '80s New Wave acts such as The Cure whilst the aforementioned 'Fuckarias' takes the garage rock of (yep) The Hives for a sass-full spin. Although highlights, these are challenged by 'Can't Find Entrance' for the title of album stand-out. It's epic, yearning and wonderful. Listen to it now!

Side Two of Daydreams & Nightmares is where some of you who like ALL of yr music to be instant and punchy may drift off. Songwriting takes centre stage with the often whimsical accompaniments serving to flesh out the sound. 'Forest Of Love' is the most obvious example of this on the record, but with time could well prove to be the favourite of Those Dancing Days fans who are willing to go all of the way with the band.

Going out with a bang, Those Dancing Days mange to throw everyone off the sent with one last barnstormer and a closing duet. Said barnstormer 'I Know Where You Live Pt.2' gives Rebecka her best guitar moments, recalling the best of the 00's post-punk revival bands. The duet 'One Day Forever' meanwhile really gives Linnea the chance to flex her pipes against one of the best male indiepop vocalists around. The Maccabees' Orlando Weeks provides her with a jazzy counterpoint as their vocal lines wrap around each other over a subdued but memorable conclusion.

Despite song-writing contributions from several members of the band, Those Dancing Days have produced a record that's remarkably consistent in quality but that holds together as a piece of work in its tone and subject. You may find better indiepop records this year but they'll be few and far between. It'll probably have less heart too.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Track Of The Week: The Winter Olympics – I Miss The Nineties

Aside from apologising for this being late (the song came out a week ago) I don't know how to start with this. So here goes: 'I Miss The Nineties' is more than just a massive sounding glam-pop song. It's the 'All My Friends' for the kids of the 1990s.
 
Although arguably it relies on the audience borrowing some nostalgia of the decade from the band the sentiments expressed seem nothing but genuine. Cultural references from MegaDrive to Bill And Ted are reeled of almost constantly throughout the song and (superb accompanying video) until the track climaxes with the emotional crux “I miss the people that we were / I miss the ones we might have been”

And, wallop! That's one to the gut, that along with spotting all of the references to the films and TV that you grew up with, keeps you coming back to 'I Miss The Nineties'. Admittedly it does help that this latest single by The Winter Olympics has possibly the catchiest chorus of the year so far, but I think it's one that's destined for the End of Year List.

Listen to it NOW!

You can find out more about The Winter Olympics here and buy the single either on CD or Cassette at their online store.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Album Review: You Animals – Crimes, Creeps & Thrills

Released: April 25th
Label: This Is Fake DIY

Crime, Creeps & Thrills has all of the hallmarks of a classic indie rock record. At risk of spouting cliches, let's get out of the way the fact that ever song here sounds like a single and You Animals have, on their debut, produced the record that heaps of more successful bands spend their life trying for.

Opener 'Theme From You Animals' wastes no time in upping the anthem states. Self-titled songs are notoriously tricky, but You Animals repetition of their moiniker for the chorus is thrashed out over crisp and nimble guitar work that flies like We Are Scientists at their best. And under three minutes in we hit track two, former single 'What You Want/What You Need'.

Despite this being the moment You Animals caught our ear it sits as one of the less adrenaline songs of the first half of the record. This fact says quite a lot about the strength of the surrounding moments. The vocals trip over themselves a-la Young Knives whilst the beat sends you straight to the dancefloor. Air punching backing vocals complete the moment and like the rest of Crimes, Creeps & Thrills is guaranteed to wedge itself in yr brain.

Following 'What You Want' is possibly the strongest run of indiepop hits since The Futureheads last let rip. 'What A Shame, Lorraine' fleshes out the dual guitars with keyboard flourishes whilst 'Communicate' ups the ante with the hard left and right panning on the guitars giving us some of the most exhilarating pop in a while. It's 'Halfway To Heartbreak' which takes prize position as king of kings on Crimes however. Punk-pop guitars and the biggest chorus on the LP combine with “oh-oh-oh”s on a massive hook that's addictive enough to get us to hit the repeat button. Repeatedly.

So as not to misrepresent You Animals, they are capable of slowing it down a notch. 'Western Bridge' replaces the keyboards with a piano and creates a sense of nighttime fatigue, growing into a huge and unexpectedly stadium anthem.

Arguably, Crime, Creeps & Thrills is front-weighted and on the first few listens the attention does seem to sag towards the end of the second third but like with The Answering Machine's recent album multiple listens get the songs ingrained with each having something to recommend it. Be that the rapid-fire drumming on 'All The Rage' or the way that 'Every Day Is Like Friday Night' races the mind through a nighttime city on horsepower and vocal momentum. More than anything else though, side two has to recommend it the best closing track of 2011 so far.

'Shotgun Valentine' is absolutely massive! The thunderous drums peel back a fog of war conjured in the opening bars whilst guitars race for the sky ready for the vocals to smack us with the chorus. “Last night was the last time that I wanted to see you / My shotgun valentine / Today you know I want you to stay”. Need say no more really. It's recalls the time that mainstream indie bands of the mid-00s sounded exhilarating.

If there's one more thing that warrants a mention it's the frequency that You Animals pepper their songs with outros and interludes. On headphones it can seem a bit meddling to the pace, working only between the very quickest tracks ('Communicate' and 'Halfway To Heartbreak'). Yet when listened to properly at home settles the record no end. And that's the point with You Animals, there's little touches to Crimes, Creeps & Thrills that means it is, on some level, always perfect to listen to.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Who's In Control? - Why British Sea Power have written the song of 2011

It's perhaps an obvious claim given the nature of the song and the way the world is turning, but when 2011 is recapped on summarising news features it'll be the opening track from Valhalla Dancehall that scores the footage.

With the video for 'Who's In Control?' being unveiled on Friday I wanted to take the time to reiterate why both British Sea Power are a band for the ages and why said single is THE soundtrack to 2011. Even though, basically it speaks for itself

British Sea Power - "Who's In Control" from British Sea Power on Vimeo.


Sex and riots, as seen in the footage above is essentially what the media at the beginning of 2011 saw nothing but. Said imagery is set to a powerful guitar riff that spirals upwards, leaving a feeling of freefall. The biting delivery a refreshing and evocative chord in comparison to the naval gazing blog pop scene.

That the track in question was written before said demonstrations and well prior the North of Africa and the Middle East setting light in revolution seems scarily prophetic. Landing the video the weekend of (the damp squib that was) the Liberal Democrats Sheffield conference could have turned into an even greater master-stroke too.

Although arguably non-judgemental on the subject of the riots, 'Who's In Control?' hardly seems to take a positive slant towards the idiotic and hasty Tory government cuts. “I'm a big fan of the local library” howls Yan, foreseeing the first blameless institution to be targeted by Cameron's goons in cutting the state. (“Were you not told / Everything around you's being sold”)

But with Libya essentially in the mist of civil war, Egypt and Tunisia having overthrown their dictators it's oh, so fulfilling to listen to listen to 'Who's In Control?'. Even though “no, don't say, it could go either way” we'll listen to this BSP masterpiece in years to come and be reminded of a time when the world was on a tipping point.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Darkness – a scissor kick up the arse of pop music

I’m actually genuinely excited about the return of some-time whipping boys The Darkness. Whether we’re too cool to admit it or not, back in 2003 The Darkness were one of the brightest lights in the British pop scene. A debut album of 10 faux-cock rock anthemic blasts, a catsuited-up stage show and the fact we all knew that they didn’t really mean it all amounted to the most fun possible.

The split didn’t surprise after the underperforming (but still great) second album. That it conformed to all sorts of rock clichés (side projects, drug habits etc) only served to lessen the legacy of The Darkness in the eyes of the alternative music press. Permission To Land was sadly absent from End of Decade lists whilst only Pitchfork remembered ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. Now that decent pop music is starting to creep it’s way back into the Top 40 and reformations no longer carry a stigma, it’s time we all realised what we can get from the return of The Darkness.

Ed, Justin, Dan and…. and … Frankie! Yes, this is the classic line-up. And that’s a picture that we can all revel in. What’s yr favourite bit? Justin’s tasche? Frankie’s hair? The fact that Dan actually looks younger? My personal favourite is that there’s new material due.

Right now, with governmental cuts and a general gray feeling of depression hanging over the UK we need a bit of musical abandon in our lives. There’s no reason why, alongside our beloved indiepop bands playing in pubs up and down the nation we can’t also worship at the enormodomes of catsuit clad megastars… as long as we all get that it IS all played for laughs - because that's what rock music is about.

This isn't ironic. Hawkins is a great songwriter and I’m not exaggerating when I say that the forthcoming album from The Darkness is now the most eagerly anticipated of 2011 (sorry Art Brut) at KPL Towers. You can pencil me in for any tour they do too… as long as it doesn’t clash with one from Pulp of course.

Now…. Where are The Hives?

EDIT: NME (yes really) agrees with KPL on this one

Monday, 14 March 2011

Track Of The Week: The Crookes - Godless Girl

Track of the Week was very nearly something different this week, but seeing as the point of the feature is generally to bring something to your attention I decided that it was time to give the latest single by Sheffield's newest pop heroes an airing.

'Godless Girl' is the lead single from The Crookes' forthcoming debut album Chasing After Ghosts (March 21st, Fierce Panda) and is a fantastic demonstration of The Crookes' classic shuffling indiepop. Basically, and this is either fortunate or unfortunate timing, The Crookes could well be Sheffield's answer to Frankie & The Heartstrings.

Although they deny an Orange Juice influence it's easy to hear such nuances in their sound. Doubtlessly this comes down to a shared set of reference points with the Juice and their C86 peers and a desire to strip pop back to its rock n roll foundations. They're a band more in love with Richard Hawley than they are with Arctic Monkeys and there's more than enough about them (as demonstrated on EP/Mini-Album Dreams Of Another Day) to deflect any accusations of them being indie-landfill.

Having been a regular at the much missed Fuzz Club in Sheffield I got to see The Crookes a few times in their formative years, and my have they grown. With their strong sonic identity they're one of very few decent bands currently operating around the Steel City, which is quite sad considering the thriving popscene from the latter part of the previous decade. (A problem noted in this recent Drowned in Sound city roundup).

(As a completely irrelevant side note, the bus stop part of the video appears to have been filmed directly outside my flat)

Friday, 11 March 2011

Good Free Downloads (even if yr sick of remixes or side projects)

The past few years have seen so many remixes, both official or otherwise, banded around the internet and given away as promotional MP3s that they're essentially now worthless. Don't get me wrong, I do kinda like Marina & the Diamonds but did we really need to get bombarded with versions of 'Hollywood' for 12 months? It doesn't help that most of them seem to get themselves off on the fact that all they're doing is sampling the vocal and sticking it over some godawful electro.

Trust Thomas Tantrum to change all that eh? 'Sleep's been worked over by fuzzy garage rockers Band Of Skulls and the results are rather chuffing nice. Whilst it is still essentially a case of sample the vocal and do something underneath, the replacement of tight art-pop with grizzly grungyness means that we get the best of both worlds. Essentially, you could class it as much as a collaborative effort as a remix.

It might just be enough to tide you over 'til Thomas Tantrum album time too.

Thomas Tantrum 'Sleep' (Band Of Skulls Remix) by WorkItMedia

Side-projects then. Everyone's doing them. Jack White even split up his decent band to focus solely on his. Therefore when it transpired that Farris from The Horrors was setting up shop with a "renowned Canadian soprano and classical musician" called Rachel Zeffira, with the intention of creating music inspired by old Italian film soundtracks... well let's just say that I was less than enthused.

Lo-and-behold, the first fruits of this labour have been revealed and they're rather damn fine.

Rather than the abstract pseudo-noir that was expected Cat's Eyes have treated us to some delicate pop in the vain of John Barry or Nancy Sinatra. 'Not A Friend' is really gorgeous, with incredible string textures and exotic, untouchable air. Not for the pop fans who want something quick and immediate perhaps, but for those searching for pop heaven - it's available as a free download

If you're in doubt then you can always just have a quick listen here. It's only just over two minutes long.

Not A Friend by Cat's Eyes Music

Normally I'd give both of these tracks a wide berth. You'd be a fool to. Stick a big fat Keep Pop Loud recommends sticker on the both of them

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club

This year looks set to be a very good year for our friends at This Is Fake DIY. Not only are they moving into having an actual print edition but they're releasing albums from two of the brightest lights in the UK underground.

Now, I'm gushed a couple of times before about how AMAZING You Animals are, and you can rest assured that within the next few days there will be a review of their great debut album Crimes, Creeps & Thrills. But what you might not be expecting is how mind-fuckingly ace the new single by The Victorian English Gentlemens Club is.

For the un-initiated, The VEG Club (as I like to call them) are a three-piece from Cardiff who have in their times undergone a few line-up changes and released two full length albums.

Their self-titled debut (2006) was sparse and strange post-punk, all wiry and spidery guitar riffs and intermittent yelping. It was pretty damn ace, and I was lucky enough to catch a couple of their appearances at Sheffield's legendary Fuzz Club around this time. (It was at one of these appearances I picked up their split 7" with You Say Party! We Say Die! - a forgotten gem if ever there was one)

Since this debut they've signed to the aforementioned This Is Fake DIY and put out album #2 Love On An Oil Rig in 2009. Now they're preparing album #3 Bag Of Meat and leading the campaign with this single.

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - A Conversation by thisisfakediy

Take a moment to listen to that if you will. The band have discussed the song as being about "a conversation between a woman and her executioner just before her beheading" but yr probably more concerned with how it sounds. Well, aside from ace it's heavier and much more fleshed out than The VEG Club's previous material. Fans of Hold Your Horse Is should flock to this like the news of celebrity deaths to Twitter.

So KPL advice for the day: give The Victorian English Gentlemens Club some time over the next few days and if you like what you hear then invest in their first two records, I can guarantee that they're worthwhile purchases.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pop Drop #1...

...for when there’s far too much good pop for me to talk about it all properly

Art Brut confirm all the details of their fourth album. It's called Brilliant! Tragic! and the artwork is brilliant.

With the free download of new song (that's not on the album!) 'Unprofessional Wrestling' they've cemented their place as returning international indiepop treasures.

Guillemots are back, after last years pretty-damn-good solo record from Fyfe Dangerfield. The two tracks online thus far hint at a pretty schizophrenic record. Free download ‘Walk The River’ drags out their gentler side into something pretty, hazy and hypnotic whilst lead single ‘The Basket’ heads towards electro territory. Sounding more like an 8-Bit remix with aggressive keyboard bloops taking centre stage, the band (Fyfe’s voice included) to the rear. Unexpected considering the acoustic successes of Dangerfield’s ‘She’s Always A Woman’. ‘The Basket’ is also not entirely brilliant; although the poor sound quality of the radio rip may explain this – Guillemots have always been ones to benefit from a proper speaker set-up. Either way, we’re a long way away from the gorgeous wonder of Guillemots fantastic debut.



Everyone's favourite former Long Blonde, Kate Jackson, has unveiled yet another song on soundcloud. Again it's only a demo, but 'Weightless' manages to hold a menacing air and a classic pop aloofness. It's the most promising of the demo songs that Kate's put out there so far (providing you ignore the clarinet section four minutes in) and points towards a fairly eclectic album that I still hope if forthcoming.
WEIGHTLESS 24 2 11 by KateJackson

In bullet points then:
- Johnny Foreigner self-release a download EP of their non-Alcopop! material from 2010 (called There When You Need It) that includes new song 'A Kings Heath Story'

- Young Knives put out a video for former Track of the Week 'Love My Name'

- Standard Fare are back already! Despite their debut album only coming out last year and a split 7” already having come out in 2011, Standard Fare have another single due out very soon. It's called 'Suitcase' you can listen to it below and order it here. It's very very ace!
Standard Fare - 'Suitcase' from Melodic on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Album Reviews: The Lovely Eggs - Cob Dominos


Released: February 14th
Lablel: Cherryade Records

This is a bit of a belated review and apologies for that. I have been busy. Normally I could use the excuse that I was waiting for the album to sink in and reveal itself, but I know that you wouldn't fall for that here. It's The Lovely Eggs! If you've heard any of their stuff you should know what you're getting, and if you've not then now is the best time to correct this.

On their second album, Holly (guitar) and David (drums) rattle through 18 tracks in little over half an hour using little more than distorted guitars, drums, their voices and some children’s toys. It's shambolic, silly and so very fun.

Holly kicks of proceedings with 'Minibus' a classic tale of unrequited love, full of colloquialisms and backed by only her grungy guitar. Sombre and reflective it could be the most sophisticated moment The Lovely Eggs have in their arsenal, or it could just seem like that as it's followed by 'People Are Twats'. Either way, both are brilliant... but not as brilliant as 'Panic Plants'.

A opening monologue from David about OCD-isms paves the way for a semi-serious take on convincing yrself that you've forgotten to do something before leaving the house. A single listen is all that it takes to get the chorus ingrained in yr head. “Planting the seeds in the brain, they grow into panic plants” is either the most intelligent insight into human psychology committed to tape in the past few years or.. well there is no 'or,' it just is.

More refined and less schizophrenic than If You Were Fruit, Cob Dominos betters The Lovely Eggs previous LP and should, by rights, make them national treasures in the Art Brut and Half Man Half Biscuit school of outsider pop. Sadly, with not enough people shouting about idiosyncratic homegrown acts like The Lovely Eggs it seems unlikely to happen right now. Which, when the album contains indiepop dancefloor 'smash' 'Don't Look At Me (I Don't Like It)' and Undertones-y 'Watermelons' amounts to the biggest injustice in contemporary music (outside of people actually buying Glasvegas records).

Despite their simplistic approach, describing The Lovely Eggs sound isn't easy. There's always the temptation to draw a comparison to The White Stripes (especially on 'Hey Scraggletooth'), but they're far more musically naïve sounding and don't show off. So, twee-grunge would probably be more accurate. Or Tourette's-rock. Maybe.

Outside of the 'big' songs (can we call 'Fuck It' a ballad?) there's five songs including 'Muhammad Ali And All His Friends' (12 seconds) that refuse to go anywhere near the one minute mark. This results in one of the most charming, fun and instantly enjoyable releases you'll hear this year. Buy it and listen to it. I won't say any more as I'll just ruin some of Cob Dominos many smile inducing moments/punchlines.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Track Of The Week: Ringo Deathstarr – So High

OK, so this one's been around for a while (the album Colour Trip was released on Feb 14th) but I've not got around to mentioning yet how gorgeously awesome 'So High', by the superbly monikered (pun and a Star Wars reference!) Ringo Deathstarr is.

Imagine a dose of pure summer pop coated in layers of guitar fuzzy-noise and delivered through a shimmering haze. Now, make sure the vocals are classic indiepop boy-girl harmonies...

...and you've got 'So High'.

Sure, it's been done before and will be done again, but rarely (if ever) has shoe-gaze been done as well as Ringo Deathstarr do it right here. As useless as it may be for me to tell you this - I'd like to go on record as saying that Ringo Deathstarr have created one piece of utter musical perfection – and there's not many bands that you can say that about.

'So High' is easily one of the best songs of 2011.

Listen to it NOW. It's only just over two minutes long. So no excuses.



ALSO: 'So High' isn't the only cracker they've got in their arsenal. 'Imagine Hearts' is on this month's free Artrocker Magazine Cover-mount CD. Also very much worth a listen

Friday, 4 March 2011

Jumping Ships - Heart And Hope

Released: March 7th
Label: Alcopop Records!

What strikes immediately about 'Heart And Hope', Jumping Ships first single for Alcopop! Records, is how bloody huge the thing sounds. It's a dead cert for a highlight in their live sets and a very good choice to start their campaign with.

Of course, I don't mean that it sounds huge in a pompus stadium way but rather that it sounds huge in how much it manages to pack into 3:40 of punk-pop. The band cite post-rock as being a large influence on their sound and it's certainly a lot more noticeable on 'Heart And Hope' than it has been in the past. It contains a level of subtlety and intricacy that really allows Jumping Ships to shine, particularly in the interplay between the guitars and drums.

Yet in doing this, they've sacrificed none of their punchy anthemic brilliance. Not that you'd know it on the very first listen. With 'The Whole Truth' being the epitome of immediacy it's easy to see this as a step back, but press play again and the multiple hooks become so ingrained in yr mind it could well displace previous Jumping Ships songs as a perennial earworm. Vocals bounce off each other in snappy harmonies and are perfectly complimented by the driving bass.

When 'Heart And Hope' soars it REALLY soars. When it goes full throttle on energy you'd better either hold on or jump straight in.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

EP Reivew: The Answering Machine - Rarities 2006 - 2009

Released: February 21st
Label: Self-Released

Essentially a collection of self-recorded demos, Rarities 2006-2009 is an EP offered up as a bonus for fans that pre-ordered second album Lifeline direct from The Answering Machine's website. Spanning the time between their inception (or thereabouts) and the release of début album Another City, Another Sorry it's an insight into the recording and compiling process of the Manchester four-piece, as well as a demonstration of how they've grown.

Track one is a very early demo of 'Romantic And Square' from 2006. Fuzzily recorded and with percussion provided solely by Mustafa Beat it's an artefact from their days before a drummer was a part of their set up. That it hasn't appeared as a full recording until this year's Lifeline shows how much the band needed to progress to allow the song to reach it's potential. Along with 'Answer Me' and 'The Hold Up', 'Romantic And Square' comes from the demo sessions from the bedroom of guitarist Pat Fogarty. In terms of sound (muffled bass, scratchy vocals and rough'n'ready guitars) it's pretty much as you'd expect and shows the band that our now favourites used to be.

'Emergency' is the lone track from the Rarities EP which made it's way onto Another City and it's telling that it's said album's most intimate full band moment. It's the closest to The Answering Machine that we're familiar with with the bass audible in the mix and extra glockenspiel percussion. But as is understandable due to the very nature of the release, the side to TAM of spiky riff and excellent drum fills is all but absent.

Aside that is, from closing song 'Winter Without You'. With a full drum kit and the space to create something a bit fuller they really shine. It's easily the most energetic moment outside of their debut album and a real gem. With penultimate track (a demo of 'Hospital Lung' recorded in Brooklyn and with the echoing guitars of Interpol bolstering the sound) it's the highlight of the EP. Pining lyrics are delivered at a breakneck pace and the fuzzy indie band that we love surface.

Unlike Lifeline you may not need Rarities 2006 – 2009 in yr life. However, if once you've delved into the depths offered by the album you find yrself wanting more then here's the place to come. In the meantime, seek out 'Winter Without You' and regret not picking up the EP when the chance came on the pre-order.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

EP Review: Chapel Club - Wintering

Released: January 31st
Label: Polydor Records

The Wintering EP is another one of those chronology fucking releases. Recorded after the sessions for Palace it was initially released beforehand as a special edition from their tour at the end of last year. Now it has seen the full light of day as a bonus disc to the special edition of the aforementioned album Palace which is where it has found it's way into the hands of Keep Pop Loud.

Chapel Club have gone on record saying that the music on Wintering was a step away from the direction they'd chosen for the album, and it's something that's instantly noticeable. Where Palace had the feel of Chapel Club reigning themselves in and focusing energies on conventional songs, Wintering sees them indulging more and allowing the music to run it's own course. That's not to say it's unrecognisable as the same band however. 'Running' especially shares some DNA with 'The Shore' and 'Surfacing'. The waves of guitar lapping around the vocal croon with a black and white brooding.

Wintering is still very film noir in atmosphere. 'Telluride' particularly featuring flecks of guitar that promise other worlds. The vocals alternate between Chapel Club frontman Lewis Bowman and a female singer credited as Hels Baron (?), but the distance at which they're set means they haze in and out of focus of the listener, more an instrument than vehicle for the lyrics. When the words do appear however it's only to reinforce the sensory opinion; “In dreams I saw the image of your eye”.

At only four tracks this isn't a very long release, but it's evidence for Chapel Club being more then gloom-rock chancers. 'Bodies' is barely there, with reverb and echo falling in over the calm calculated drums that head towards Joy Division territory. The stings which swoop in towards the end however are enough to make anyone swoon and certainly come from cinematic inspiration. As has been said before, Chapel Club certainly do not live an indie rock cultural vacuum.

For an eight minute long song, closer 'Widows' is remarkably controlled. Bass and rhythm guitar provide a disconcerting low end whist the lead guitar scales heights that Bowman's voice doesn’t. In the interplay between these two lead instruments there's certainly comparisons to be had with Suede and The Smiths. 'Widows' occupies the same night-time spaces as 'Sleeping Pills' by the former whilst if the vocals were to spill over into 'I Know It's Over' by the latter, it would seem as natural as the 'Dream A Little Dream' reference on 'Surfacing'.

It's fitting that the EP ends quietly, with restraint on everything bar the vocals. That Chapel Club already find it unnecessary to use the full power of their shoegaze guitars all the time shows how they're already much wiser as a band than their years would suggest. As with most EPs that come around as bonus tracks, Wintering isn't completely essential but it's a very strong argument to show naysayers that yr not wasting yr time on Chapel Club.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Jumping Ships

Delaying the review of Chapel Club's EP, which was going to go live today, comes a double whammy of news from Jumping Ships.

First up, their track 'Bad Outweighed The Good' is this weeks track in the Big Scary Monsters '11 Collection. In case you've STILL not subscribed to it yet I'm once again encouraging you to do so. Jumping Ships join ace acts such as Rival Schools man Walter Schreifels and rocking-popsters Bear Cavalry on the MP3 subscription list that is VERY GOOD!

The big news though is that Jumping Ships have a new single out on Alcopop! Records on March 7th. Huzzah!

I know you all loved 'The Whole Truth' when I featured it as Track of the Week back in January so despite this not having a video yet I'm giving you the heads-up on it now.

As you can hear it reaches for a more epic place than the aforementioned TotW but is no less punchy or aces!

Jumping Ships - Heart And Hope by WhiteboardPRO

You can pre-order 'Heart And Hope' on CD and t-shirt from the Alcopop! Store which is something that I recommend you do. Meanwhile, The Orientation EP (which contains 'The Whole Truth' and 'Bad Outweighed The Good') is still available from the band here for £5.99