We get sent a lot of EPs, singles and albums. Some are from PR agencies, others from the bands themselves and some we ask for based on recommendations from our readers and contributors. It’s great to get them wherever they are from and through these parcels in the post we have discovered so many of our favourite bands, such as Special Benny, Free Swim and Alice Gun. We do listen to everything we receive but unfortunately we don’t have time to properly review them all.
To make amends we’ve decided to start this occasional feature to run through some short reviews of those EPs and albums that have been sent to us but just missed the cut for our main album/EP review section. This first batch were sent to us in the first half of 2011.
Hong Kong in the 60s – My Fantoms
Beloved by The High Llamas Sean O’Hagan this London band have a bizarre mix of influences from 1980s electro-pop to 1960s Chinese music to kitsch film soundtracks. On the whole the 12 tracks on this debut album work well and will appeal to those that like dreamy pop with a twist. There’s also a likeability to their music even if the melodies are not always strong. Among our highlights were the sinister instrumental ‘Les Petits Chasseurs De Son’ and the St Etienne-esque ‘Diaryland’.
For more information click here.
The Hit -Ups – Unforgiveable/66Sexy
The Hit Ups, from the UK, are building up a strong reputation across their native west country as a party band, churning out a high energy mix of metal, funk and rap. Following a recommendation from a reader who’d seen their frenetic live show we contacted the band and were delighted to get their promo single of Unforgiveable and 66Sexy in the post. Both tracks perfectly showcase the band’s energetic stage shows. Whether their distinct take on mid 80s metal funk can attract an audience outside of the west country remains to be seen, but they will certainly have fun trying.
Both tracks can be downloaded free from their website: The Hit Ups
The Low Suns – Never Gonna Care
London based The Low Suns are one of those cinematic type indie bands with a big sound that sits somewhere between Sigur Ros and Muse. According to the PR release accompanying this single they are unashamedly ambitious and lust after packing out stadiums. On the basis of this one single you never know. It sounded a little bland to us, but if you like your indie rock to be stadium sized then this band could be for you. Interestingly the b-side featuring a New Order style dub remix of ‘Never Gonna Care’ sounded much better. Perhaps they could do more of this should the stadium thing not work out.
For more information: The Low Suns
Oxygen Thief – Destroy It Yourself
Oxygen Thief is one of those odd names given to a songwriter. While Sam Beam has his Iron and Wine Barry Dolan, who has supported acts such as Frank Turner, has gone for the theft of oxygen. Released on Broken Tail Records the press release accompanying the copy of his album Destroy It Yourself promises a “a yelling match far removed from the acoustic folk normally suggested by the one man and his guitar live set up.” In reality he just sounds a hell of a lot like Frank Turner and not that far removed from a lot of acoustic folk either. Other minuses are that Dolan ranting over fast strummed acoustic guitar track after track gets a little samey and wore us down after a while. At the very least he’s got good song titles. ‘Terry Nutkins Salute’, in particular tickled us, even if the song itself was pretty humourless.
For more information: Oxygen Thief
Research Turtles – Mankiller Part 1 of 2
This four piece may be from Louisiana but on their 2009 self titled debut album their hearts were firmly in the world of early 1990s Britpop. This follow up EP released in April 2011 follows on a similar path chugging out some pretty tight power pop but this time with a more US feel to it, a little bit Ted Leo in places a little bit New Pornographers in others. ‘You Are So’ was our highlight on this tidy five track EP.
For more information: The Research Turtles