Friday, 16 November 2012

Single Reviews: The Lovely Eggs, Veronica Falls, Menace Beach, Mega Thomas

The pop don't stop. As soon as we've posted one set of reviews another crop of songs turn up and we're reminded of something that got missed last time. There's plenty of contenders for Track of the Week within this lot – a good job we're not doing that any more then...

Menace Beach – Dream Out EP
Featuring two members of You Animals and one of Sky Larkin, Menace Beach are the latest and best indiepop supergroup that we've come across. Based in Leeds they've released the fab EP Dream Out on French lable Desire Records. Four tracks short and so very sweet, the cassette sees the band playing with hazy 90's US alt rock to excellent effect.
It's the opening and title track that steals it from early on, with a strong vocal hook and echoing guitar melody, it's a welcome postcard from a hazy trip. 'Teenage Jesus' and 'Wake' form the middle of the EP with the former rocking like an old Dinosaur Jr song played from memory and the latter is slacker rock that sounds although it's coming from under plaid in unbearable summer heat.
Closing with 'Burn Out' we're reminded most strongly of You Animals. It's a stitching together of their high-octane pop and the 90's borowing of Stagecoach and ringing it through a fuzz pedal mangle.
The whole release is over in 8 minutes and 33 seconds, leaving us wanting more. Well played chaps!

Veronica Falls - Teenage
Strange that the only band in the past couple of years to have properly broken out of the indiepop ghetto and onto Pitchfork and the 6Music playlist has been Veronica Falls. The good news however is that new single 'Teenage' is likely to find itself in plenty of ears. It shed's the reverb-heavy hits of their debut album and aims for perfect pop. Recalling classic indiepop tunes filtered through teenage nostalgia (the hint is in the title) it keeps everything short and snappy, meaning that after the three minutes are up you're more than happy to go straight back in.
What's more, this sounds both Christmassy and Summery at once. A very good thing!

The Lovely Eggs – I Just Want Someone To Fall In Love With
This week the Guardian correctly stated
“When future music historians write about the great indie-rock bands of c. 2005-2015 - the ones who should have been massive but the kids were all too busy downloading Lana Del Rey remixes and knowing things about Snooki - Johnny Foreigner will get two chapters to themselves.”
But what they neglected to mention was that the book will probably be called You Should Listen to The Lovely Eggs.
Everyone with sense is fully aware that the two piece have everything that makes bands great and on the taster for their third album (in 3 years) they've taken another step forward. Positively epic by the Eggs standards it features their surreal humour, fuzzy guitars and – this time – a chorus that you could expect to hear on the radio.

Mega Thomas – In The Shower
As the singer in Thomas Tantrum (whose current fate is unknown) Megan Thomas was responsible for a large handful of undeniable indiepop smashes, her solo material takes a different tact however. The 'n' is gone, and on the first free download from Mega Thomas the pop bounce has been replaced with a creeping sense of unease. It has a similar sparseness to early TT stuff, but ultimately stands rather apart. Standing alongside Megan's unique vocal is the creeping guitar, haunted backing vocals and droning strings for an effect that's akin to an undead Phil Spector concoction or more convincing counterpart to Foe's 'Handsome Stranger Called Death'.
An album under the Mega Thomas name is hoped for at some point in the new year, and we're certainly very intrigued.

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Friday, 9 November 2012

Single Reviews: My First Tooth, Big Wave, and more

We're still catching up on recent releases, but that's not stopped some long-standing Keep Pop Loud favourites from releasing killer new singles. Or for that matter, a semi-decent band from a few years ago releasing an utter... Well, you'll see.

My First Tooth – Past Broadcasts

Alcopop! Records has spent the past few weeks spoiling pop fans everywhere with stunning new music. From the more established camp came strking new tracks from Johnny Foreigner and Screaming Maldini, whilst new signings included the ace Oh No! Yoko. This week however it was the turn of the group most synonymous with the label to mark their return. 'Past Broadcasts' is the most confident outing yet for My First Tooth, and feels like a big step up. Still incredibly sweet, but now more sweeping, My First Tooth utilise elements from the current wave of folk influenced pop but do so without sounding contrived. A full pop sound that will keep hearts warm this winter.

Joy Formidable – This Ladder is Ours

Following on from rollicking rocker 'Cholla', The Joy Formidable have unleashed yet another take from the forthcoming LP Wolf's Law. It opens with a blissful cinematic meander before the band kick into the kind of huge rock sound that made their debut album (and preceeding mini A Balloon Called Moaning) so enjoyable. It sounds much better produced this time around however, with Ritzy's vocal and Matt Thomas' drumming still their main weapons. It's the former that takes centre stage here, breathlessly emotive and soaring above the revving guitars. Thanks to tracks such as 'This Ladder Is Ours' a stadium future is a certainty.

Chvrches – The Mother We Share

It transpires that Chvrches are the most exciting new band on the planet. 'The Mother We Share' is the first single proper from the Glasgow based three-piece who're already being referred to as the best thing to happen to pop music since Robyn became totally amazing. With their icy cool and massive hooks we've been completely taken in. Although there's some similarities to the great of electro-pop's recent past and present this feels incredibly fresh and will delight all who like their ears to feel happy. Check out previous song 'Lies' for another example of why Chvrches debut album is one of the most eagerly anticipated of 2013.

Foals - Inhaler

Total Life Forever, and its singles 'Spanish Sahara' and 'This Orient' were so sublime that we went back to Foals debut (which at the time we found faintly irritating) and found plenty to enjoy. It is probably for the best that we don't re-evaluate Foals previous material in light of their new single however, as 'Inhaler' is a bit of a turd.
It sounds like a similar re-invention attempt to Bloc Party's recent album, but where FOUR came across as a bold statement borne out of the meshing of four musicians, 'Inhaler' comes across as self-satisfied muscle flexing. 'Look what we can do', 'Inhaler' seems to shout whilst ambling along with all of the joy of a '70s hair band's b-side. Somehow the world's already been taken in.

Big Wave – Only You

Like My First Tooth and Screaming Maldini, Big Wave have returned with a single that takes them up to the next level. We loved last year's 'Wild Strawberries' with its seaside girl-group feel, but now with 'Only You' they've got more drive they're belting out numbers that feel like across-the-years indiepop classics. Mixing the best of The Popguns, Pipettes and Love Is All it has the hallmarks that we always fall for. B-Side 'Living Room' is more of a lo-fi treat, but you can hear why we're excited for what comes next of Big Wave.

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Friday, 2 November 2012

Single Reviews: Johnny Foreigner, Girls Aloud, and more

We've been away, but now we're back. Reviewing recent and current singles as regularly as we can. Without further ado...

Johnny Foreigner – 3 Hearts

With JoFo being a particularly prolific act, this new tune feels like it's been a long time coming, yet it has been less than a year since Vs Everything. From the forthcoming Names EP, '3 Hearts' is their first release as a four piece. I'll admit to being nervous at the news of a line-up change, but thankfully the expanded line-up suits them. The second guitar adds another element to their sound whilst allowing everything that's always been great to shine through. An exhilarating rush, it sounds pretty like the best bits of Johnny Foreigner stitched together and given to us at a time when we desperately need a helping hand through the winter.

Girls Aloud – Something New

It has been well publicised (and better received) but Girls Aloud are BACK. And although it is a little disappointing to find out that the rumoured new studio album is going to be a greatest hits package instead this is soon forgotten because new single 'Something New' is killer. With auto-tune and dance synths it does initially appear that the girls are following where they used to lead, but in stitching this song together from what appears to be fragments of others the team have effectively updated 'Biology' for the new decade. Of course, this would mean quat without a hooks, and 'Something New' has plenty. With 10 years at the top, Girls Aloud are the closest our generation has come to 'a Beatles'... but better.

Screaming Maldini – Summer Somewhere

We've always loved Screaming Maldini for their eccentricities, so it's something of a surprise to hear that them refining their sound has lead to their greatest moment yet. Progressive pop is very much the phrase of the moment with Field Music riding high, and Maldini are a great (if very different) example of this ideal. Despite the epic sound (lead by Gina's superb vocal and a piano) the group throw in sonic detours that ensure this is constantly a cut above most other bands on yr radar. Radio friendly and poptastic, it is clearly a big moment for the group.

Public Service Broadcasting – Everest

As evidenced by The War Room EP, Public Service Broadcasting are one of the most conceptually interesting acts around at the moment. Their mixture of electronics and live instruments that underpin the sampled archive footage is as gripping and intriguing as we'd care to imagine, and with new single 'Everest' they've taken yet another step up. The perfect mix of past and future, and with a grand sense of scale, the only other act to match this feel has been British Sea Power, whose Open Season-era melodies is the only other thing Public Service Broadcasting really recall here.
Expect great things from this act.

Frankie & The Heartstrings – I Still Follow You

When did Frankie & the Heartstrings turn into a boy-band? We jest, but you can't deny there's a slickness to the vocals that have hints of that about it. Less scruffy around the edges than their stunning debut album, 'I Still Follow You' is a Dexy's influenced pop tune that plays it relatively safe. One listen is all it'll take to get spinning around your head, but that's been true for the Heartstrings as long as we've been aware of them. It's not a bad return, but it's not as satisfying as 'Hunger' either. As a free download, we've no complaints.

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