Tag Archives: Blood Red Shoes

April in singles: beatniks, soulsters, the usual fluff

Lightspeed Champion's Dev Hynes with a very small guitar

Pitched somewhere between O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Pogues, The Ballad of Bess Houdini (***, 7 Apr) by Paul Vickers and The Leg is nothing if not intriguing. Which means it is, by the way. So we’ve established that SL Records have an ear for quirky, beatnik troubadours. Thomas Truax is further proof: Stranger On a Train (***, 14 Apr) is a skiffle ode to locomotive life that showcases his weird and witty narrative style. Over on the more conventional side of the singer/songwriter scale is Rory McVicar. No More Do I Care (***, 7 Apr) really benefits from repeated listens – a pleasant strum by the Norwich native. White, English, mid-30s, but Jamie Lidell does his best Stevie Wonder on Little Bit of Feel Good (***, 14 Apr). A less flattering tagline would be ‘the male Joss Stone’, but we know better.

Scouting For Girls have a new song out. It’s called Heartbeats (*, 7 Apr) and the rhythm is timed to a human heartbeat sample. Clever? About as clever as these fuckwits will ever get. It’s a risky business calling only your second single Listen Then Leave (***, 28 Apr) but then Midlands metalheads AFD Shift don’t seem like a worrisome bunch. Their glitchy thrash is surprisingly listenable, even for this metal-sceptic’s ears. The same can’t be said for Las Vegans The Higher, whose UK debut single Dare (*, 14 Apr) sounds like it’s been marinated in The Feeling singer’s melted hair gel. Less gloopy are Blood Red Shoes, who up their game with Say Something, Say Anything (***, 7 Apr). Although the subject matter is a family bereavement, its garage-punk blast is not at all funereal.

In these esoteric days of math-rock and Afrobeat, simplicity, it seems, is not a fashionable concept, but The Envy Corps use just that to good effect in Story Problem (***, 21 Apr), a rousing terrace-style chant that’s more British Sea Power than Fratellis, thankfully. Make Model sing “we’re here with a mission” on The LSB (***, 21 Apr), and with their major label backing and ear for bright punk-pop, this Glasgow mob could be on the cusp of ubiquity. A rich seam of indie runs through Canada, and even if you don’t like latest exports Tokyo Police Club and their single Tessellate (****, 21 Apr) – and it’s hard not to – you may at least have learned a new word. This blog wasn’t complementary about Lightspeed Champion‘s debut single back in January: “distinctly ho-hum“. But Galaxy of the Lost (****, 14 Apr) is a big improvement, big enough for single of the month. The lap-guitar tags it as folk-pop, but Dev Hynes’ love-torn lyrics are in pointed contrast to the trad sound.

Listen to the single of the month.

This article – or one very similar to it – originally appeared in The Skinny magazine

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February – A month in singles

Alice McLaughlin of Alice & the Majesty

Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong may have a ridiculous name, but they’ve already been tagged as a band on the rise in 2008. No surprise on the evidence of Lonely Buoy (***, 18 Feb), with its Bloc Party pace and Cribs-y guitars. [Although they fairly divide opinion, as Ally shows in his hilarious rant.] With the exception of their last single, Biffy Clyro have been going a bit American of late, and Who’s Got a Match? (***, 4 Feb) is another barn-torching Foos-scale rock-out. I’m roughly a decade too old to appreciate angst-laden pop-punk – or emo, as the Daily Mail shrieks. But You’re the Designers We’re the Deciders (**, 11 Feb) by Southampton’s Not Advised is more likeable than should be advised. The market in girl-boy, minimal garage rock has been thoroughly stitched up, but Blood Red Shoes pick at the seams regardless. You Bring Me Down (***, 4 Feb) lacks no raw emotion, and yet still feels strained by its instrumental limitations.

What to write of a song with the Disneyland refrain, “You are all beautiful/ And you are all magical”? Well I can’t return the compliment, because Beautiful (*, 4 Feb), by South Africans The Parlotones is just creepy, like the evil cartoon empire. Damn the NME! Because its summation of Letting Go (***, 25 Feb) by Preston band Team Waterpolo as “like Franz’s Take Me Out played to the tune of Mamma Mia” is spot-on, and I would have surely said the same if they hadn’t beaten me to it. This column praised The Coral‘s comeback single last year, but their latest ’60s whirl Put the Sun Back (**, 11 Feb) is just too lacklustre to shout about. You wait for one bunch of melodic Scousers and two come along at once. Britney’s Tears (***, 4 Feb) by The Steeples has exactly the right sound for mainstream indie: breezy, upbeat, endearing – unlike the disastrous pop wench of the title.

Proving that ska never dies (it just hibernates in the winter), The King Blues bring a premature burst of sunshine with Mr Music Man (***, 18 Feb). The live buzz suggests a chaotic, renegade spirit, so it’s a shame that this is, at best, reggae-lite. You cool cats might be turned off by Eoghan Colgan‘s debut single That First Time (***, 4 Feb), given its Lenor-conditioned softness and Coldplay guitar, but the industry is about to gobble this sweet-voiced ex-doctor up and hawk him out in massive pre-packaged globules. Asobi Seksu‘s Citrus was a standout album of 2007, and with Goodbye (****, 25 Feb), the New Yorkers give us a wee nudge of a reminder – gorgeous, Electrelane-meets-Mary Chain guitar pop. On a first listen to I Could Love You (****, 4 Feb) by former Edinburgh native Alice McLaughlin, aka Alice and the Majesty, the thing that strikes you is her voice: unique, expressive, world-weary. The pared-down alt-folk only adds to her allure – single of the month.

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