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Reviews Written by
J. Lachno "thepopscener" (London)

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July Flame
July Flame
Offered by Coda Music Scotland
Price: 7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Burns bright, 20 May 2010
This review is from: July Flame (Audio CD)
At first glance, this record appeared to be more of the kind of twiddly folk music tailor made for Waitrose adverts. At second glance, it still is, but in contrast to the perpetually disappointing `nu-folk' from this side of the Atlantic, Veirs' Portland residence gives this a more satisfying slant - dryer, less faux-authentic, and far less sorry for itself. Two dazzling tracks (`Where are you driving' and `Life is Good Blues') help, whilst the others lope along in a soothingly pleasant, if unremarkable, manner.

Choice Cuts: `Where Are You Driving', `Life Is Good Blues'

Price: 15.65

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inoffensive but irrelevant, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Saturday (Audio CD)
Having owned the obligatory copy and cheerfully appreciated the four good songs off `Moseley Shoals', I was under the impression that these Britpop behemoths had long since met their demise, but apparently this is their 7th record since the 1996 breakthrough. Evidently the sound hasn't changed much, meaning there's more sub-Who melodies, sub-Weller vocals, and the odd Beatles off-cut (`What's Mine is Yours') thrown in. In actuality, some of it isn't half bad - the bar room stomp of `Mrs Maylie' in particular is worth a listen - but there's no `Day We Caught the Train' to ease the sense that it's all painfully inconsequential. `100 Floors of Perception' maybe, but evidently not a single one that deals in brutal honesty.

Choice Cuts: `What's Mine Is Yours', `Mrs Maylie'

Turn Ons
Turn Ons
Price: 12.02

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Supergrass play the hits - other people's, that is., 20 May 2010
This review is from: Turn Ons (Audio CD)
Taking some time out from their day jobs in Supergrass, 'Turn Ons' sees Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffney tackling a series of new wave, post-punk and rock classics likely to appear on any self-respecting indie band's influences list. The predictability of the track listing is largely mirrored by the finished article - that is, it sounds like Supergrass and the songs largely speak for themselves. Even so, super-charged versions of Roxy Music's `Love Is A Drug' and Gang of Four's `Damaged Goods' sound great, as does the hammed up glam version of the Kinks' `Big Sky'. Meanwhile, the whispy, atmospheric take on `Up the Junction' stinks, whilst the majority are as agreeably irrelevant as the concept itself.

Choice Cuts: `Love Is A Drug', `Big Sky'

Romance Is Boring
Romance Is Boring

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of the same, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Romance Is Boring (Audio CD)
The Cardiff band have always been a favourite with the fanzines, but their third coming seems to have provoked a muted response this time round; a raised eyebrow replacing wide-eyed enthusiasm. If I were a betting man, I'd suggest this was because they're still trading in the same currency that won their debut a coterie of admires - Romance is Boring duly offers up the usual painful mix of shy, rambling emo platitudes and a propensity for being extroverted about their social and emotional impotence, backed with familiarly punky indie-pop. Again, the hits typically revolve around the more breathless beats (`There Are Listed Buildings'), while the misses (`Straight in at 101') afford singer Gareth the kind of excruciating airspace that his grating vocals certainly don't deserve. Par for the course, then.

The Soft Pack
The Soft Pack
Price: 6.57

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Packs a punch, 20 May 2010
This review is from: The Soft Pack (Audio CD)
Cheering me up from the get-go isn't a bad route to currying favour, so the fact that 'The Soft Pack' bursts into life with a throwaway guitar chord and a relentless hi-hat hardly hinders its prospects for a positive review. Whilst nothing else quite touches opener `C'mon' for pitch-perfect honing of Replacement-esque recklessness, plenty (`Answer To Yourself', `Move Along') come close, as a breakneck half hour of breathless bliss surfs its way to crest of 2010's garage-rock wave. Released in June and it would've been the sound of the Summer - a joyfully lively, well-crafted and coherent effort.

Choice Cuts: `C'mon', `Answer To Yourself', `Move Along', `More or Less'

Causers Of This
Causers Of This
Price: 7.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glitches in the system, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Causers Of This (Audio CD)
This South Carolinian may have come from the school of hard names (he's really called Chazwick Bundick - ouch!), but despite the hip-hop twinges evident herein, judging by this effort he certainly didn't come from the school of hard knocks. Indeed, his dreamy, spacious hip-pop has more moments in common with the like of Empire of the Sun and Phoenix, but avoids sounding derivative, even if it lacks thrust. Unfortunately, most of the groundwork of the first few tracks is laid to waste by a middle section (`Fax Shadow' on) which employs the kind of relentless in/out glitching that renders it virtually impossible to listen to. Note to Chazwick (and others): stop tripping over the mixing desk!

Choice Cuts: `Minors', `Imprint After'

Be Brave
Be Brave
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: 6.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So far, so so., 20 May 2010
This review is from: Be Brave (Audio CD)
Returning with their sophomore effort, these Decidedly Nondescript Boys appear committed to bridging a rather happy gap between fist and foam. And so, this is for the most part lazy brawlin' music for surfers. Or tide troublin' tunes for hicks. It all rumbles along with carefully manicured raucousness, but half an hour of howlin' vocals and scratchin' chords later, you might be a-wantin' a rest - regardless of the unexpectedly excellent garage-Dylan drifters which are tacked on as parting shots (`All You Can Hide Inside', `You Can't Only Love When You Want To'.)

Choice Cuts: `All You Can Hide Inside', `A Walk on the Beach'

The Family Jewels
The Family Jewels
Price: 6.15

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fame-searching meets soul-searching, 20 May 2010
This review is from: The Family Jewels (Audio CD)
A fairly typical example of the hype-meets-fame-meets-success paradigm instigated by the BBC's 'Sound Of' poll, Marina Diamandis has swiftly undergone a makeover from East London indie-boys' guilty-pleasure to pop chart darling. Unsurprisingly then, this record goes for the dual attack of hooks and sheen, both of which flow with abundance. When done well, as on `Are You Satisfied' and brilliant single `Hollywood', Diamandis is allowed to create perfectly legitimate, enterprising pop songs.

However, when it's not so well - as on `Girls', which sounds like La Roux covering Madness - it can be the musical equivalent of fingernails down a blackboard. In addition, for all the comparisons (Regina Spektor, Bat for Lashes, Kate Bush), listening to Family Jewels I couldn't help but be reminded of forgotten mockney Kate Nash. Whilst the actual flesh and blood of the music has virtually nothing in common with Nash's chirpy piano-pop, both have affected voices which can border upon irritating, and whilst Diamandis has her eyes on bigger fry (`Hollywood', `Shampain') than Nash's kitchen-sink observational banality, the results of both are close in terms of lyrical accomplishment.

Still, it's unlikely anyone who actually buys the record will notice such matters, so this one'll doubtless sell by the bucketloads. Ironic lyric: "feeling like a loser, feeling like a bum, sitting on the outside observing the fun" on `The Outsider'- not for long love.

Choice Cuts: `Hollywood', `Are You Satisfied', `I Am Not a Robot'

Price: 7.80

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to mix brain and brawn., 20 May 2010
This review is from: THE MONITOR (Audio CD)
Punk concept records (an oxymoron, surely?) are a bit like algebra for toddlers. Even the smarter ones, of which Titus Andronicus must rank - they like history, for chrissakes - struggle with the step-up. Unfortunately, the American Civil War deserves better treatment than "you will always be a loser, man" repeated ad infinitum, and clocking your songs in at 7 minutes doesn't constitute `maturity'. Disappointing.

Choice Cuts: `A More Perfect Union', `Theme from Cheers'
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 16, 2010 10:01 PM BST

Plastic Beach
Plastic Beach
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Beach-life, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Plastic Beach (Audio CD)
'Plastic Beach' perhaps, but this is no plastic pop - the irony of Blur's demise is that Albarn is now too smart to push his (increasingly forlorn) hooks too far to the front. Duly, he mixes things up with a Mick Jones here and a Bobby Womack (!) there, burying the Gorillaz-as-band continuity, but can't resist marrying the whole together with an eco-harmonious back story. As always, no-one else would've dared, or bothered.

Choice Cuts: `On Melancholy Hill', `Some Kind of Nature', `Empire Ants'.

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