Single Reviews

@tomika
Wiser? (Mother Stoat)

This is another fine single from @tomika, that sees them improving from their gritty debut 'Dead Flowers' earlier this year. Again, however, I feel they've chosen the weakest song as the lead track; 'Wiser?' growls along fairly comfortably, but I much prefer the other songs. 'Uncomfortably Numb' begins with an air of fragility before being dragged kicking and screaming into a rousing chorus. 'Dead Man Walking' is a live favourite, and sees @tomika at their best, blitzing through a series of fizzy riffs and breakneck melodies. In all, this is definitely a further steady step towards the band enjoying further success.

BRASSY
Bonus Beats EP (Wiiija)

Brassy boast a mix of punky-pop and dance music which is used in varying ratios in the songs on this EP. The first two, the guitar based tracks 'Good Times' and 'Secrets' are infectious and rhythmically driven enough to make you want to dance, whilst 'Back In Business' has a laid back vibe to it. The final and title track consists of only a drumbeat which is a bit annoying but on the whole I really enjoyed listening to this and can imagine the band are really fun to watch live. (Jess)

THE CUBAN BOYS
Blueprint For Modernisation EP (Org)

This lot have been on John Peel's show a lot lately haven't they? I did like one of the Cuban Boys' tracks as well, but it isn't on this EP! Maybe I just don't understand dance music, but I can't get myself to like these songs at all. They're all speedy, rather cheesy, straight forward dance tunes. Maybe they're deliberately naff, because apart from 'Stardust' there's not even many decent hooks to pick up on. Don't listen to me though, I know nothing about dance music; someone more knowledgeable will probably tell you that this is great!

DREYFUSS
Shapes And Sizes EP (Helsinki)

Dreyfuss only formed late last year, and they've already released an EP full of twisted sonic melodies, which is more than many bands in the Guildford area achieve in several years! The band are exciting to watch, but this recording has surpassed all my expectations; there's frantic tunes, fragmented guitars and fragile vocals throughout, and all of it is performed within some excellent songs. My favourite is probably 'What I Want (Limp Wrist)' with it's screaming chorus, and more gentle second section. The production of the single is slightly rough but overall this is a lo-fi rock record that is going to make a lot of fans.
3.50 from Helsinki Records, 5 Romayne Close, Cove, Farnborough, Hants, GU14 8PB

DUSTBALL
Like Monkeys Do (Shifty Disco)

I am a massive Dustball fan, and so it's good to see the band release such a cool single as a predecessor to the impending second album. On Shifty Disco as ever, 'Like Monkeys Do' doesn't stray too far from the usual Dustball formula of fizzy, slightly angular guitars and fast rhythms, but this time around they've injected a real dose of rage, in the form of bassist Tarrant's screaming. I have no idea what he's shouting, but it sounds great! The b-side, 'Shortsight', is a more sensitive track, which provides a nice contrast in style. If there are any of these left in the shops, try and find one quick!

EVERLAST
Ends (Tommy Boy)

I heard this at a gig a few months ago, but it wasn't until it was finally released as a single in June that I got to find out what it was. Everlast used to be a rapper in House Of Pain, who I know little about, and despite the fact that 'Ends' is basically a blues song about the depths of society, there is a definite hip-hop influence in there, with lots of record scratching and a smooth rhythm. And yeah, I like the song, it's really chilled out and mellow. The American public are buying this in mass, and I think they've got the right idea.

FANTASMAGROOVER
Buzz Aldrin (Spangle)

If you read my interview with the band elsewhere in the zine, you'll discover that they don't like this single much. Well, I'm going to disagree with them, because 'Buzz Aldrin' is great! It has plenty of their usual angular guitars, but this time they make up a gentle tune, with some cute spaceman lyrics. Continuing with the outer space theme is the b-side 'How Long is a Martian Day?', which is more lively and has some very impressive drum fills. And I think Matthew Babbs voice is so distinctive, it's worth checking the band out just to hear it.

FANZINE
American Larks (Spangle)

Fanzine's debut single, 'Magazine Actress', was a piece of lo-fi indie genius, and whilst 'American Larks' is a disappointment in comparison, it is still two minutes of manic harmonies and rattling guitars which make up a good, fuzzy pop song in it's own right. The b-side, 'Wish I Was Safe In Heaven', however, is very poor; a dull, limp and uninspiring attempt at a slower song.

MARINE RESEARCH/ BUILT TO SPILL
Sick and Wrong/ By the Way (K)

I think this is a record of Marine Research covering a Built to Spill song and vise versa, but it's not very clear from the sleeve. Not knowing much about these bands it is therefore difficult to deduce anything about either of them but the songs are enjoyable in themselves. 'Sick And Wrong', performed by Marine Research is a slightly funky, tuneful piece if indie and the Built To Spill offering 'By the Way' is comfortingly reminiscent of the mainstream indie of five or six years ago. The single is not the most amazing thing you are ever going to hear but it's very nice all the same. (Jess)

MURPH
Snapshot (Addiction)

The lead track from this single by Coventry's Murph is enjoyable in a catchy, toe-tapping kind of way, but it's also quite unoriginal. It's the b-side 'Chinese Whispers' where the band really excel. It has a tidy little riff and some lovely harmonies, culminating in a really exciting track. Well worth checking out on their forthcoming tour in the summer to see what other nuggets of indie-pop they can produce.

MUY FEO
All Pleasure Is Relief EP (Org)

The first two songs on Muy Feo's debut EP start with a low, rumbling bass that soon erupt into blasts of melodic metal. The third track 'Drag Habit' includes much more thrashing riffage, and in contrast, 'Dead Arms' is a breathy, haunting number . As you can see, there's quite a bit of variety to the band's sound, and it's all solid stuff that is beginning to impress lots of people in high places. Org have also included a dozen bonus tracks on the EP as well, which is nice of them. I prefer the minimalist groups like Rothko and the Sea Nymphs to some of the heavier material, but seeing as they all come free, it's all just a cool bonus, to what is a worthwhile purchase anyway.

SCRIBBLE
God Bless The Kids (Shifty Disco)

This is a fantastic little song from Derby's Scribble. Essentially, it's punk-pop, but there's a hint of glam in there too. Altogether it makes a real Evening Session style sing-a-long! And, no, I can't tell if it's being ironic or not. The b-side, 'Discuss' follows in a similar vein, and whilst understandably it's not quite as good, it makes a lovely noise and adds a bit of teenage angst to the lyrics too.

SEAFOOD
Easy Path (Fierce Panda)

After almost a year's break, the brilliant Seafood are back with their shortest single yet, about infidelity, although apparently it's not autobiographical! And yes, it's another top-notch track, with that usual blend of extreme guitar noise and pop music, although this time it leans rather towards the latter element. It's not the most experimental thing they've done, but 'Easy path' is an intelligent slice of rock. As if that wasn't enough, the band have also included their terrifying, feedback-fueled version of 'Walking in the Air' as a b-side, which brings back fond memories of their performance at last year's Reading Festival.

TWIST
Shari Says (Fierce Panda)

As a rock tune, 'Shari Says' is great; it's loud, angry and you can jump around to it a lot. As a whole however, I think it's flawed - bands from Seattle have been doing this for almost ten years! All I'm saying really is that this isn't very adventurous. Sure, the band rock, but there's still plenty of room for them to develop their own distinctive sound.

VARIOUS
Dope Is Important (Fierce Panda)

You know the score by now - every six months or so, those guys at Fierce Panda release a compilation single of some of the finest new acts doing the rounds. Usually, the bands have a musical link, and this time around they all seem to produce dramatic, epic indie-rock- the search for the new The Verve perhaps? I'm not going to go through it all track by track, I'll just say that Bellatrix, Magic House and the Alchemicals have donated some gorgeous songs to the single, and are my tips to go on and make it big. As for the rest, well you'll have to buy it. You can even get it on CD now so there's no excuse!

VYVYAN
Going Out (Abuse)

Confession time: I must admit that I never used to like Vyvyan. I thought they were rather over-hyped, and in my opinion, 'Teenage Wannabe' was not a strong enough track to release as a single. 'Going Out', their third single, however, is something else and easily the band's best song. Okay, so it's a bit poorly recorded, but that only adds to it's punka charm, and the song itself takes a while to get going, but when it does, it has a truly cracking tune. I love the bit where the vocal parts meet up together at the end. Overall, this is a big improvement for Vyvyan, and now they've finished their A-Levels let's hope they write more songs of this quality.

WINNER
Life's A Wedgie EP (Mother Stoat)

Wow! Winner have really progressed since those tinny recording which featured on various compilations last year. The lead track from this single, 'Not Again' is an amazing slice of breakneck, melodic, snotty punk, with superb production from Donagh of Speedurchin that really adds beef to the band's sound. The second song, 'Funny Tea' reeks of punk rock coolness too, and I think the only downside of the record is that despite claiming to be an EP, it only has a couple of tracks! Punk zines are raving about Winner, who are actually a local band to me, and I can see them having loads of success in the future.
Demo Reviews
Issue 4 Contents

 

Issue 4 Summer '99 © Tim Bragger