Alternative music reviews

November 7, 2005

Dance For Your Dictator EP by The Morenas

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Blazing full of energy and the sound of a band going places, ‘Dance For Your Dictator E.P.’ is a bunch of tightly packed melodies with plenty of confidence. With Paolo on vocal and guitar duties, the band are underpinned by his enthusiastic singing and New Wave inspired guitar lines. Tim Jackson (Bass) and Steve Wilson (Drums) give suitable rhythm backing, with the bass heard loudly in the mix, ‘My Violent Femme’ especially driven by its rumbling bass line. Many commentators have compared The Morenas to The Killers, and it’s easy to understand why the connection is made, both are noisy and edgy with emphasis on catchy hooks rather than playing chords for noise sake. The distorted guitars really rip through the speakers, the songs are so reliant on pop melodies it doesn’t sound harsh or at all clunky. Some bands sound tired and force out their songs, here The Morenas come across as blasting out the songs effortlessly; the spirit is in place and attitude not too calculated. The best song is opener ‘I Just Wanna Be Someone’ mainly down to the really catchy chorus, as if the band were connected to the electrical mains. Sums up the band’s purpose – to deliver some toe-tapping tunes infused with incessant guitars and indie ethics.

To find out more visit http://www.themorenas.co.uk

Review by Nick Collings

Fear Today, Gone Tomorrow by Moonshot

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Having been established since 1988, Moonshot are a UK-based collaboration between three musicians Daniel Kent, Jeremy Grant and Richard Wolfe who have released several records during their existence, 12 albums on the last count. This 10-track album is full of electronic pop in the style of New Order, sometimes dark with heavy synth lines, and on rare occasions verging into pure lightweight pop. With no chosen frontman, the band shares vocal duties, although the difference in singing talents is not easily distinguishable, they are all capable if unimaginative singers.

When the band focus on their trip-hop influences, as ‘Painted Madonna (Brave New World)’ demonstrates, the music becomes more compelling. The lullaby melody complements the throbbing bass line and stirring string arrangement, the languid pace has a calming effect and pretty much sums up the vibe of the whole album. When Moonshot do pick up energy as on the bouncy and breezy ‘Wonderful’, the song seems too quirky for its own good, although as the song progresses it gathers momentum with a strong hooky melody – out of place on the album when you consider the Massive Attack jamming with New Order vibe. There’s enough electro wizardry and trance like beats here to satisfy people curious enough to find out what Massive Attack jamming with New Order would actually sound like.

A song as topical as ‘Where Is James Bond?’ with its dead-pan delivery has to aspire to matching a typical David Arnold soundtrack score of dramatic strings and stylish grooves. Here Moonshot mostly succeed and ‘Where Is James Bond?’ is one of the few times when something out the blue grabbed my attention. A song worthy of anyone’s consideration is opener ‘Making Decisions’ which is most indebted to New Order even down to the Bernard Summers singing style – could even be considered a tribute song. Over the course of 10 songs, ‘Fear Today, Gone Tomorrow’ with its pun filled title is a consistent and not particularly diverse collection of soft electro atmospheric songs. Accomplished is a word often thrown at Moonshot, and with their prolific output, it’s obvious they have finely-honed their expertise in this genre of music. Maybe too mature to go crazy about, Moonshot tick the right boxes in stylish and level headed electronic music. Which may come across as, well, boring, but we’re leave the excitement elsewhere.

To find out more visit http://www.moonshotmusic.com

Review by Nick Collings

Be Alone by The Fondas

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With their self-coined ‘Slum Rock’ genre description, The Fondas have set their sights on claiming some of the rock action. With just one track ‘Be Alone’ to judge, The Fondas are showcasing a punky basic guitar chord side to their repertoire. Built on the undeniably catchy “you want to be alone” chorus, the song is over in a blur of vigor. The Fondas know how to write memorable rock riffs that you can then hum to yourself later on in the day. Rough, raw electric distorted music, the guitar playing sounds like similar to Nirvana on their most straight-forward moments. With vocals ranging from falsetto to deeper range, the nagging feeling is the falsetto gets kinda grating after a few listens, the chorus becomes too repetitive despite being really catchy and there are countless bands playing this type of music to the same level of quality. What makes The Fondas stand out from the pack I can’t fathom, as this is yet another really, really catchy rock song with spunky attitude which is nothing extra special. Good song, but not jumping off the walls great.

To find out more visit http://www.thefondas.co.uk

Review by Nick Collings

Jesus by The Cutters

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Not messing with the well-worn formula of a solid melody, good musical chops and pleasant singing, Middlesborough based The Cutters are aspiring to join the dependable likes of Paul Weller, The Who and a host of unyielding English artists. This three track promo shows plenty of promise, all three tracks ‘Jesus’, ‘One Look Back’ and ‘Star’ have undeniable appeal – proper songs with proper melodies, this is not your forgettable, strum the chords and sing any old lyrics over the top which so many bands are victim to. The Cutters have put effort into the timeless art of song writing, all three songs are of same quality, it’s hard to pick out what the most distinctive song could be, no one song sticking out as far better than the others. Little highlights include the questioning lyrics of ‘Jesus': “If you were Jesus would you come back here” before long the pay-off line “Yeah, I think you know the answer” is given. Another nugget is the opening chiming guitar on ‘One Look Back’ which closely recalls U2 and their also chiming ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ intro. This gives an air of familiarity as does most of The Cutters music. Which brings me onto the main point – there is something so familiar with this band, nothing is off-the-wall or dangerous – but The Cutters write songs that would make Oasis or even The Verve proud, songs that would work well on both radio and in concert.

To find out more visit http://www.thecutters.co.uk

Review by Nick Collings

November 5, 2005

Riotmind by Riotmind

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The sum of three previously-released E.P.’s, this self-titled record is a hotchpotch of Britpop influences and New Wave. It’s a mixed bag, with some tracks working well (‘Out Of Your Mind’ springs to, er… mind) and others too derivative and plodding for their own good (‘Monday’ sounding disturbingly close to the era of The Longpigs, The Bluetones and Mansun). When ‘Revolution Tonight’ revs up, the verses are brooding, delivered in the tone of Moby on his mid-Nineties records, full of rattling percussion and shouty vocals – in stark contrast to ‘Cold And Confused’ which is piano based and soft singing – not a bad effort, it does sound awkward and lacking in heart. Solo artist Riotmind’s strength lies in punchier offerings like ‘My Friend Lucifer’, using agitated guitar tones to give a post-rock metallic sheen to an unsubstantial song at its core; the track oozes energy and is well-arranged. Another highlight is ‘Friends Like New #7′ which gets under the skin which little delightful moments like the speeded up rhythm and dead-pan vocals. Keeping with the positives, ‘In The Name’ works rather well, yet another upbeat, distorted chord strumming number. As I mentioned ‘Riotmind’ is a mixed bag, the vocals lack emotional depth and it’s difficult to pick out individual instruments in the mix, but the enthusiasm and brace of enjoyable songs in ‘Out Of Your Mind’ and ‘In The Name’ make for a useful career overview.

To find out more visit http://www.riotmind.com

review by Nick Collings

November 1, 2005

Mirror by Liner

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A fully fledged band – check; a passionate, youthful frontman – check; a decent batch of tunes – check. Liner tick all the right boxes with their ‘Mirror’ single, it’s catchy and as musically tight as a duck’s arse. Liner has the same sort of hooks that Hot Hot Heat served up so well, twitchy guitars and a singer who can hit the right notes. ‘Mirror’ is well-put together and gives the impression some effort went into the songwriting process rather than just banging out some chords. There’s enough to gleam from this three-track single raising hope that Liner’s forthcoming 2006 debut album will be worthwhile. Both B-Sides ‘Money’ and ‘One Kiss’ are vocal-led with some jangly guitars to give the music a modern touch. ‘Money’ gets the nod as the better track, with singer Alex Callaghan questioning “what’s wrong with your life” over a robust rhythm section and it works well as a memorable vocal hook, before offering the solution of “taking the money and run”. This is the sound of a professional band honing their skills at an early stage of their career, showing promising glimpses of their future potential.

To find out more visit http://www.linermusic.com

Review by Nick Collings

October 31, 2005

The Halloween Party by Murkin

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Self-proclaimed “anti-popsters”, Murkin are an off-the-wall rock band who was zany enough to call their debut album ‘We’re Not Pretty & We’re Not Clever’. This Halloween themed single, titled unsurprisingly ‘Halloween Party’, is to be conveniently released on Halloween. And I’ll refrain from using the word Halloween again. It’s a fuzzy garage-rock tinged single and although the hook is derivative it still packs a potent punch due to the insanely simple chorus. In contrast, ‘Sometimes’ introduces females vocals from band member Holly which works pretty well in the context of the song, yet another worthy chorus and fast-paced basic three chords turn a potentially turgid tune into something that does not disappoint. Vocalist El-Gordo has an unassuming voice which compliments the more sedate ‘Freeworld’, which has ringing acoustics harking back to the eighties of The Replacements and mellow (if there’s such a thing) Husker Du. Production-wise, these songs are tinny and lack a coat of polish, former single ‘This Time’ sounds like it was recorded in a shed. This does not diminish the music, as you don’t need flawless production to get the most out of the songs. In fact, the moving melodies and enthusiasm overcomes any shortcomings. The band also has a perverse and welcome sense of humour; their website contains many nuggets of irrelevancy from band interests ranging from “screaming in terror, throughout the night” to “basket weaving” and the anti-pop manifesto of attempting to redress the manufactured pop imbalance with issue driven songs. Have Murkin succeeded in wiping out banal pop music? Well, of course not, but as least they gave it a go….

To find out more visit www.murkin.8m.com/

Review by Nick Collings

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