Punk Confetti (Spinach)
Fruitbat's new band is basically straight out punk rock; lots of nice melodies, rhythms to pogo to and some silly, funny lyrics. All the songs are about as good as each other, the raw speed of 'I Don't Know' probably edging it as the most enjoyable. What I don't like about the band's sound is the echo effect they have used on some of the vocals, particularly the lead track, which sound a bit cheesy. It's a pretty fine single overall though.
Dead Flowers (Mother Stoat)
I love the opening riff to 'Dead Flowers', and even though the entire song doesn't match up to it, it's a solid, abrasive rock number. Some reviewers have criticised singer Gareth's vocals, but I think that although they're quite frail, they complement the band's sound well. B-side 'Third Star From The Right' is an excellent song; even though I usually like the fast, rocky tracks, this epic, sombre song is the best on the single.
The Circle (Org single/compilation)
Cynical Smile play powerful metal with lots of rap and screaming thrown in. Although it's not the sort of music I usually listen to, I like it, and can see it being a riot live. I like the hard-hitting drums and the way the singer switches from mumbling to roaring in a matter of seconds, particularly in 'Pro-Tection'. Those nice folks at Org have stuck about a dozen tracks from other bands on their roster at the end of the CD too. The best of these are the woozy rock of Lukan, the manic Tommie Griggz and the very frightening Scarehead. If you want to discover some new bands, shaped in a firmly metal mould, look no further than this CD.
FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE
I haven't heard many Fountains Of Wayne tunes in the past, but from what I can remember, 'Denise' doesn't stray much from their usual, highly listenable formula: angular riffs, quirky harmonies and cheesy, but very cool, handclaps. If the rest of the forthcoming album is as good as this, I may have to buy it.
No Pictures/Hold It Up (Extreme Sports 7")
This band have been raved about so much by other fanzines that I just had to hear what all the fuss was about. And yeah, this double A-side, Hirameka Hi-Fi's third single in all, is something very cool. There's a definite college rock sound, but it's all so fresh and exciting. Out of the two tracks I probably prefer the more poppy 'Hold It Up', with it's shimmering vocals, but the angular, sonic chords of 'No Pictures' completely rock too. Hirameka Hi-Fi are one to follow closely in the future, I hope they play near me soon.
Artwork (Curveball 7")
Just when you thought things were a bit quiet in the Midget camp, along comes this, quite simply the most fantastic thing they've done, and should silence their critics, for a little while at least. 'Artwork' is lo-fi pop-rock, kind of like the material Blur are now producing, but injected with real vitality and innovation. Right from that rumbling bassline, past the thrashing guitars, to the na-na-na chorus, this is one of the best singles yet this year.
Be A Celebrity (Artists Against Success)
There is nothing very original about 'Be A Celebrity', with it's concoction of pop and rock, but you cannot help being swept up by the song's rousing chorus and ironic lyrics. I like the bit where it goes all quiet before bursting into a final chorus the most. Yeah, so it's an old idea, but it works really well here. The B-sides sound quite different to the lead rack, I'm not sure in which direction the band are heading, but it should be fun finding out.
Know How (Things To Come)
The lead track off this single is almost the anti-single; just some harmonised vocals over a bass line, yet it has such an absorbing endearment to it. I think it is a great track, proving that teenage angst doesn't always have to be screaming in your face. The B-side, 'Thrush', is much more traditional grunge rock, but songwriter Ben Bueno proves again he can write a great tune. The third track, 'Bleeding On The Inside' is the weakest, but overall this single shows great potential for a new reflective rock band.
I Can See You/Your Back Again (Fierce Panda)
Did I buy this single just because it had the legendary, disgraced ex-Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon on the front cover? Well, yes, but I was interested in the bands as well. The Sing-Sing track is certainly intriguing and different. It's main hook is a string sample, which makes for a strangely pleasnt listen. However, I prefer the Linoleum track; two minutes of sugary guitar pop. I especially like the singers breathy vocals, they make the song considerably better. Overall, two female fronted bands who are worthy of more investigation.
Girls Of The Nite (Fused And Bruised 12")
People who know me will know that generally I don't like dance music, it's never really been my thing, but every now and again I hear a track on the radio that I just can't get out of my head, and Surreal Madrid have produced one of them. 'Girls Of The Nite' has an infectious, monotonous vocal over a delicious disco beat, and whilst I am by no means the person to recommend dance music to anyone, all I can say is this record is music at it's most maddeningly good.
Punk fans should not be without this CD. Two great bands; Understand's hard noise contrasting against Jetpak's emo-pop tunes. 'Screwtop Milkshake' by Understand is a ferocious start to the single; slightly discordant, but producing a passionate sound. The Jetpak songs are fantastic, you can see why they're fast becoming the most popular band in the Guildford area. The best of the two is probably 'Saviour', with it's quirky lyrics, three part harmonies and tune that concludes into something really special. It is actually very difficult to describe, so I probably haven't done them justice in this review, but take my word for it, Jetpak are one of the best bands out there.
Issue 2 Contents
Issue 3 Easter '99 © Tim Bragger