Another Level are attempting to break America. Not just because they've "rewritten the R&B
rulebook and are kicking it around the room" as their website claims. But because they've
collaborated with TQ, an artist who isn't ashamed to admit that he wrote every word on his
album, brave lad. Mind you that was their last single. This one is more of the same. There are
b sides too, including a remix but I couldn't bear to listen.
Bennet reached the big time with their "Mums Gone To Iceland" charting well, but since?
Well they've released two albums and on the evidence of this single, matured, a bit.
I always got the impression that they could write superb pop songs but lacked a certain something,
that they regard their music as too much of a laugh. It seems they've made the effort for this
one, with mellow parts to balance the superb chorus. But it is less mainstream than their regular
pop offerings, so it looks like they'll never chart now. The b sides are a different kettle of fish,
with one piano led, another loud and punk and the last "Home Karoke", need I say more?
(pub - 2.3.98)
ON THE OTHER SIDE
This single has 1999 printed on the sleeve but on listening it sounds like it comes from a land
where Britpop never died. Now I'm all for innovative indie records, but this wouldn't have been
interesting even before Britpop. The fact that it sounds like Menswear but with worse singing
doesn't help either.
(not published 11.99)
UNFINISHED MONKEY BUSINESS
Ian Brown is back and this time he has done it himself, well most of it at least. Since the break
up of the Stone Roses in 1996 Ian Brown has been plotting his return, in his garage with a four track.
The result is 53 minutes long with a musical style somewhere between the two Roses albums.
The opening track is a load of samples thrown together with no rhyme or reason, thankfully
it's not long and the track soon blends into the single "My Star" which although is repetitive
grows on you, thankfully the singing on the rest of the album is better than this due to the
distortion on this track. The next track "Can't See Me" is Brown's favourite and probable
single and it's easy to see why, it is also the track which features Mani and Reni. It has the
easy rhythm of the Roses and is the best track on the album. Then it is "Ice Cold Cube" which,
apparently, was John Squire's nickname. It seems quite melancholy at times but is a thinly
veiled attack on Squire and is marred by overlong guitars at the end, although that could be
an obscure reference to Squire's guitar playing on "Second Coming", possibly. Next up is
"Sunshine" with a frail acoustic guitar giving it an demo feel which does Brown's voice no
favours, it's one of the poorer tracks, as is "Lions" with its profound and repetitive refrain
of "There are no lions in England..", although the song does improve when Brown stops singing
and lets his backing vocalist (ex-Primal Scream) go solo. However a dance remix may not be far
away. The album then improves with the casual rhythm and understated guitar of "Corpses In
Her Mouth" (which will be the next single) and "What Happened to Ya Part 1 and 2". "Part 1"
has a country like "Love Spreads" feel while "Part 2" is one of the best tracks on the album
with its very "Second Coming" guitar and echoing vocals making it sounding like a remix of
"Part 1". "Nah Nah" while having a very inane chorus "Nah Nah, Nah Nah.." is another good
track although maybe too mainstream for some people, however from then on the album goes
downhill. "Deep Pile Dreams" sounds like WhiteTown with the lo-fi drum machine beats and
electronic handclaps. However worse is too follow with "Unfinished Monkey Business" a purely
instrumental and repetitive track which offers nothing new and doesn't interest in the
slightest, probably just a joke on Mr Brown's part. Overall the album is patchy with good and
poor tracks, whether it will sell as well as Squire's remains to be seen, although Brown has
stayed much closer to the Roses original style.
FEAR OF SOUND
After the recent rerecorded rerelease of "Breathe Underwater" the Carrie album is here and its
quite good. Carrie once having been compared to Republica featuring Michael Stipe by someone
who will remain nameless. The lead singer is more obviously compared to a psychopathic Richard
Gere. The tone of the album as a whole is quite variable being mostly indie pop/rock but
veering towards the punk end of the spectrum on songs like "Leek Out". It starts with "Molly"
that old classic dominatrix song which was an early single and top tune it is too, featuring
the lyric "passiveness turns her on/when she's strapped on". Although the feeling that they
wrote this song and released it as an early single solely to appear dangerously different is a
nagging one. "Breathe Underwater" has had a new lease of life thanks to its intensive rerecord
and sounds much more substantial than the original incarnation, while retaining its pop
sensibilities and is one of the highlights, although whether the chipmunk like ending adds
anything is open to debate. Other stand out tracks are "Joseph" with its harmonised chorus,
"Caring Sharing Song" which is strangely uplifting despite its downbeat but amusing lyrics
and great harmonies. "Tricara" with its otherworldly guitar part and great chorus, "English
Cox" with its lovely harmonising and funky guitar solo of which there are very few, Carrie not
being a rock excess band and "California Screamin'" which is probably the most poppy and easy
to get into of the lot and even featured on Light Lunch with Mel & Sue. Overall the album has
plenty of good tracks but no classics and is a bit patchy due to the singer's sometimes grating
voice, mainly on "Friend" and the end of "Leek Out" and the starts of "English Cox" and
"Caring Sharing Song" and most of "Hurt For". But then again you might like that and it
certainly adds body and makes the songs distinctive. In distinct contrast to most albums this
year Carrie only use strings, appropriately, on the last song "Friend" which, although a
little too short, ends the album fittingly with just a brief reprise of "Caring Sharing Song"
to finish. Just a perfect summer album to listen to casually and not expect too much of. Sadly
it's no longer summer, looks like Carrie missed the boat.
EVERYTHING GOES AROUND THE WATER
The Delgados sound not unlike their Scottish contemporaries Belle and Sebastian, but with loud
parts along with the quiet bits. The song is good, although it takes a while to grow on you.
It starts upbeat but as it goes on gives way to melancholy. The two vocalists go well together
with their different voices complementing each other, the extra jangly bits also add to the
track. However the b side "The drowned and the saved" is even better. It's a very atmospheric
track with the muffled drum beats, warm fuzz of static, understated keyboard and the singer's
quiet whisperings adding to the overall effect of sadness. Worth getting for the b side alone.
HOLD ON HOPE
A previous Mark Radcliffe single of the week is this second single off GBV's album "Do The
Collapse". Sounding totally unlike the Warm Jets (unlike previous single "Teenage FBI", the demo
version included as a b side) this track is quite mellow and comes across a bit like Crowded
House, nice, inoffensive and lacking bite. However the build up to the chorus isn't bad, though
the chorus itself is a bit of a let down.
SEE ME THROUGH
This 60's influenced three piece are going places, probably. With this the last single before
their album global domination awaits, or does it. Well the track certainly starts well with
loud guitars and then things quieten down a little, well until the rocking chorus when the
volume goes up again. The obligatory guitar solo comes in near the end and the song fades out
with the chorus repeated. Somewhat unoriginal but a damn fine song. The b sides are somewhat
disappointing after the white heat of the single, although there are three of them and the
last, a Peel session, sounds a bit Kula Shaker. And to think I missed them when they played
I'M A MESSAGE
Idlewild's second single on Food is poppier than their Deceptive songs but keeping their
distinctive rocky chorus. The singing is somewhat less abrasive than their earlier songs in
keeping with Idlewild's more poppy attitude. The song isn't that original sticking to the
standard quiet verse building to a loud chorus, that presumably Idlewild fans expect. However
it is a pretty good song to bounce around to and is bound to be a live favourite. The b side
"This Is Worse" has an intro similar to labelmates Blur's "She's So High", it must be the Food
Mr Jay's debut single/EP (though its 4 tracks mean that technically it's an album) hails from
the Belle & Sebastian end of the music spectrum, not just because all of the songs have
prominent acoustic parts. Melancholic first track "Please Don't Send Me Away" stands out the
most, though predominantly acoustic "Four Minute Rebellion" has a certain charm. A bit of a
(pub - 14.2.00)
Sweeping strings married to rocky guitars suggest that this Swede's debut should do well, the
soaring chorus helps too. Extensive radio play has ensured that most people have heard it. Sadly
it falls apart a bit on the verses as his voice isn't brilliant, but that never stopped Macy
Gray from reaching the top ten. Despite the fact that this could be his only good song it's
still a simply glorious...
(not published 2.00)
THE ONLY ONE
The Dublin based five piece's first UK release is a fairly catchy pop song with a hint of
cranberry. It starts acoustically, then when the singing starts the Cranberries comparisons
appear, especially as the singing at the start sounds very much like "Ode to my family". Aside
from that the song has laid back verses and louder choruses with poppy, earnest guitar
strumming. A little later comes the obligatory quieter reflective part. Pretty much pop by
numbers, however it is done well so it'll probably sell a few, although it lacks a certain
something to be truly popular.
As this is by an practically unknown band don't expect to see this single in the major record
stores or even the top 40. "Cool" sounds vaguely like a lo-fi Warm Jets with the singer
sounding American, although not as good. The song is hardly groundbreaking with the usual
Pixies template of a quite and slow start topped by a loud chorus, which is done well. The b
sides are pretty good, in fact "Misunderstood" is in some ways better than "Cool" with a
brilliant (and unprintable) chorus, in fact it was the band's first release. If the band are
anything like their cover image of Wayne Gretzky then they should have a good few years in
I'M SO HAPPY YOU FAILED
The electro-sythists return after the fantastic "Nothing To Declare" with a attack on an unnamed
failed band, it probably wouldn't be so nasty but for the chorused "Ner Ner's". The theme
continues with the b side "The Reason" (you're screwed up) which is almost on a par with the
single. It takes a while to get into and sadly isn't as good as their last single. File under
(pub - 18.10.99)
By the time you read this the single will have been out for ages and failed to get into the
Top 40. A shame if you missed it as it truly is a cracking song by a band from Norway. This is
the their 3rd single off the album "Killing Some Dead Time". It has all the elements required
with a talented vocalist holding it all together. A breath of fresh air. It does tend towards
the lighter indie/alternative, a bit like Jocasta. This band could be going places. The b
sides show a different heavier side to the band, which isn't necessarily a good thing.
STEP RIGHT UP
Mainstream's new single starts with an rockin' riff and then the keyboard comes in and the
phrase "indie anthem" springs to mind, at least till the singer starts. It's not that he can't
sing, its just his voice seems a little weedy, like an undernourished Tim Burgess. The chorus
isn't all that great either, but it is a good song overall. However the really great thing
about this single is the value for money you get. Although one of the b sides is a remix of
the single, normally a bad thing, it's a Perfecto mix and isn't half bad. The other b sides
are good, especially the experimental instrumental, and extend the single's playing time to
over 24 minutes, bargain.
(pub - 2.3.98)
Fresh from her V99 bottling comes self proclaimed "Indie" Spice's debut solo album. You'll
of course be familiar with "Goin' Down" which the press release refers to as crunching,
spectacular and malevolent. It of course isn't any of these. Instead it's anaemic soft rock
that even Feeder would be ashamed of, but will go down a storm in America. However next single
"Ga Ga" is better due to its pop leanings. On poppier songs like "I Turn To You" and "Northern
Star" her voice really shines and the album sounds much more convincing. This could be due to
the dazzling array of collaborators including William Orbit and Lisa Lopes. It's better than any
Spice Girls album.
(pub - 18.10.99)
THE MONTROSE AVENUE
If you've heard of The Montrose Avenue chances are its because of their second and most recent
single, the excellent "Where do I stand". Sadly this song is nowhere near as good, you get the
feeling that the band realise this as the songs share some parts, especially the "spinning
around and around and around" which sounds exactly the same. The country guitar just grates
after a while. It does however improve about half way through, but still sounds distinctly
average indie plod, just like their first single. Although after further listens it doesn't
sound quite so unimpressive. Looks like they were a one hit wonder, shame.
(pub - 26.5.98)
MY LIFE STORY
My Life Story's new cut-down, no strings attitude continues to reap great things with this their
third single from their eagerly anticipated album "Joined Up Talking". Lyrically it's business
as usual, this time regarding fashion models. Oh and there's a big chorus, surprisingly. But
they're forgiven, as their last single was net only.
(not published 11.99)
MY LIFE STORY
JOINED UP TALKING
The Story's 3rd album carries a lot of expectation, not least because it contains the fantastic
"It's A Girl Thing", one of last year's best singles. Recently the band have slimmed down, lost
most of their string section and gained long song titles, like the important question "If You
Can't Live Without Me Aren't You Dead Yet?". The album is their rockiest yet but they've
retained most of their string bluster. The stand out tracks including "Sunday Tongue" (despite
an iffy midsection), "Yes To Everything" and "Stalemate". The latter half of the album doesn't
flow as well due to its slower string led tunes. This is their best album, despite some dodgy
tracks (like single "Walk/Don't Walk") and occasionally pretentious lyrics, but that's what MLS
are all about.
I DO NEED YOU
This one is a grower, the singer's dark brooding voice backed by menacing guitars and
understated strings gradually builds on repeated listens. The quiet verses are followed by
heavy guitar driven obsessive choruses which sound quite fantastic with the strings quietly
swelling in the background. The keyboard breaks, however, do tend to spoil the atmosphere of
the song, being far too light, even though they are preceeded by heavy guitar parts. Possibly
expect great things from this band.
THERE'S ONLY WE
It seems 1999 could be the year of the incomplete album title, as shown by this album and
Travis's forthcoming 'The Man Who'. Sadly, titles aside, this album lacks a certain something.
That is unless you count the band's obsession with cars, which are mentioned in almost every
track. That's not to say that they don't have any tunes at all, 'Planet XXX' and previous
single 'I Do Need You' with its heavy guitar parts and menacing chorus, which promised great
things from the band, are good songs which are sadly not representative of the rest of the
album. Debut single 'Wheelkings 1973' isn't up to much either, bar its dark chorus and is one
of the highlights, such as they are. The main problem with the album is that it lacks variety,
the fact that the singer's brooding voice tends to blend into the rest of the song thereby not
providing any counterpoint to the, in places dreary, guitars. In fact their keyboard player,
while initially seeming out of place, provides a much needed widening of their sound, indeed
the album is at its best when the keyboard is to the fore. It's also a very short album just 3
minutes shy of Idlewild's 35 minuter, and unlike them it's not a record dying to be played in
the summer months.
HOW LONG DO I GET
Having heard some of Raissa's other songs it's initially disappointing to hear her occasionally
sounding somewhat like Geri Halliwell as she is capable of much more and a few glimmers of this
can be heard at various points, most notably the chorus. Though tipped for big things this year
it's not the best start, oh and the b sides are remixes.
(not published 2.00)
I thought Robbie was trying to be Oasis. Not on the strength of this single. The start of it
sounds like Candle in the Wind. It plods on for what seems like ages with Robbie going through
the motions with a piano plinking away in the background. It is only at the end that the
Robster redeems himself by singing his little heart out and putting some passion into it. The
end is pretty good and is much more reminiscent of his previous singles which I thought were
great. So let down by the beginning; which the Chart Show doesn't play, strangely enough. It
may be harsh but.....
EASY WAY DOWN
Taken from the highly rated 'Slow-Motion World Of Snowpony' this fantastic song gets its claws
into you right from the start. Katharine Gifford's (ex-Stereolab) dulcet tones complimenting the
dark bassy tone and occasionally claustrophobic nature of the instruments perfectly. The,
unfortunately obligatory, remixes are pretty good due to the fact that most of the original
parts of the songs are retained. Sadly 'Easy Way Down' is unlikely to get the respect or sales
deserved due to the lack of a triumphant chorus, but then there is always Steps.
(pub - 25.5.99)
This came out weeks ago, so if you didn't get it, this is what you missed. But you can get the
track off the soundtrack of the new Bob Hoskins film 23/7. Stangely enough the singer sounds
like Hoskins, understandably this is a bad thing, however the music is pretty good so it
doesn't suffer too badly. The song is slightly country-like but with quite a funky rhythm
section. It's one of those songs that when it starts you think it's going to be a good song,
but then the singing starts and you think "oh dear". The b sides aren't bad, compared to
"Monkey Dead", "Black Blood" being even more country sounding. The band are tipped for good
things and they have a new single out very soon, so listen out for it, it might be better but
still with 'interesting' singing.
When this song starts you can almost imagine a dark deserted church in a Hammer horror. It
starts slowly and gradually builds up, over six and a half minutes, into an unstable ending.
The track is somewhat experimental and not to everyone's taste, the singing style similar to
Ultrasound's. The lyrics involve two million deaths at the singer's own hands (I'm surprised
he didn't get on the news). There aren't many lyrics with a fair amount of repetitions, but
probably helps the singer get his point across, maybe. The b sides are far more conventional,
the first "Your Town" has had airplay. The best one, however, is "This" which is better than
the actual single especially the bit when the keyboard comes in. The question is, does the
title of the single refer to the European Championships?
SHE'S SO HIGH
Thanks to its soaring chorus Tal, son of Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Bachman's
debut UK release is currently on heavy rotation on MTV. So you probably know it by now and
guess its 'rock' credentials. Nothing original despite occasionally sounding like an unholy
fusion between Robbie Williams and The La's. Though not as interesting.
(not published 11.99)
3 COLOURS RED
3 Colours Red's first single from their up and coming album "Re-Volt", which is ineligible for
the singles chart due to the fact that it has 4 tracks. "Paralyse" is one of their heaviest
songs (reminiscent of the ones on the second half of their first album) and does seem to get
bogged down in the verses but this is balanced with a poppy chorus except for the shouted
"Lies that paralyse" part, which is just too much. Its a okay song but the rest of the EP is
much better. Talking of which "Say Something" is the best track especially the middle eight
and guitar solo. It's not as heavy as the rest of the songs but has variety and no
disharmonious shouting parts. "Room With A View" is another good track, starting with just a
brooding bassline and then moving into large guitars and harmonies in the chorus. All in all a
promising taster for the next album.
(pub - 3.11.98)
IT'S ABOUT TIME YOU WERE MINE
The 'bugs' second single is less vibrant than "Forever Friends" in fact and far less memorable.
Thanks to this and their cliched lyrics they fit in even better with the bland legions of MOR
artists. All praise Mr Waterman for this pap.
(not published 11.99)
THERMAL @ LENNONS
THERMAL @ LENNONS
WEDNESDAY 18TH NOVEMBER
A familiar song was played at Lennons on Wednesday night "So come on down to South Park and
meet some friends of mine" we expected cartoon characters but instead we got newcomers 4 piece
Thermal in their first gig ever, and what a gig. Lennons is not the most forgiving place to
play as its small size does tend to lead to the drums drowning out the rest of the band. This
was the case for some of the two 9 song sets that Thermal (consisting of Ben on vocals/guitar,
Paul on lead, Hayley on bass/backing vocals and Marcus on drums) played. Their gig inexperience
showed occasionally, near the end of "Like Dylan In The Movies" (by Belle & Sebastian) they
lacked cohesion and they had to restart "Winner Takes All" after confusion between the two
guitarists, although the sight of the drummer dancing kept the crowd entertained while the
guitarists sorted themselves out. They also played convincing covers of "Welcome To Paradise"
and "Are You Blue Or Are You Blind", along with "Hit" by the Wannadies with the singer's bored
"oh nothing" sounded excellent and better than the original. However there was no such problem
with their own songs all of which showed polish. Thermal's songs were generally melancholic but
prevented from being self pitying by the upbeat nature of the music. "I Could've Lied" showed
real promise and warning of what was to come later with its building to a chorus while avoiding
the trap of just playing a loud chorus followed by quiet verses. "Alive" was a touching song
with a wonderful instrumental part at the end which was elegant in its simplicity with just
guitar and bass parts. However they'd saved up two superb songs to finish their first set.
"Cool" was a fairly rocky song that built to a maelstrom of noise by the end, but the best
was yet to follow. "Don't Let The Light Go Out" was announced as a metal song and while not
quite accurate it certainly did rock. Not even the occasional unintentional feedback could
detract from its brilliance and intense riffage, which was almost "Take It Easy Chicken" in
The second set, while not as good as the first, had its moments especially "All My Life" with
the drums really making the song and "Mirrors" which was was ace but begging for a keyboard
part. Strong stuff for a first gig, they may play the Union in the new year, I'll be there at
the front waiting for "Don't Let The Light Go Out" I'll see you there.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SOUNDTRACK
Does this need an intro? What with Buffy reappearing on BBC 2 and the Union showing the film
most people should know by now. Anyway the artists (16 of them) are mostly unknown barring
Garbage and Hepburn. Garbage's "Temptation Waits" inclusion seems a bit tenuous "I am a
bonfire/I am a vampire". Other songs such as Guided By Voices' "Teenage FBI" and Furslide's
"Over My Head" are included, as are many unknowns such as Rasaputina's string epic "Transylvania
Concubine". The Buffy theme by Nerfherder is short and sweet, but seems slower on CD. The Angel
and Buffy theme though is rubbish. Despite this the cash in, I mean soundtrack, album is okay,
the lesser-known artists generally propping it up.
First of all Wigan based band Witness are not the new Verve, not even close. If anything their
acoustically dominated songs (barring the occasional guitar flourish) evoke the Unbelievable
Truth especially on the b sides, however when the song gets going it does improve and sounds
not unlike Lower. The song builds as it goes along but the effect of this is reduced by the
stopping and starting, appearing to leave some instruments stranded, this is especially true
of the abrupt end which does the song no favours.