Plenty of new music to sample this month, but before the young pretenders come the old-timers. But you could hardly apply that moniker to Sons And Daughters. I have to declare an interest: I’m a fan, but Darling (14 Jan, ****) is still another winner from the best exponents of Spector-meets-Cave pop. The Kills were often tagged a poor man’s White Stripes, but were always better than that, and comeback track U.R.A Fever (7 Jan, ***) returns to their primal chemistry with overhauled production. The ever-reliable British Sea Power return with a fanfare, Waving Flags (7 Jan, ****) no less. Big and epic without the self-importance, the waves of guitars break overhead while a chanted chorus aims straight for the heart.
And now those fresh-faced newbies…
Hello Wembley claim to be a backlash against “style over substance bands like Bloc Party or Franz Ferdinand”. But their meek rebellion, Up Great Britain (14 Jan, *), is an embarrassingly daft, Sex Pistols-aping take on modern ennui. Kele and Kapranos can sleep soundly for now. Lightspeed Champion’s Tell Me What It’s Worth (7 Jan, **) is disappointing, given former Test Icicle Dev Hynes’s talent: this sugary warbler is distinctly ho-hum. Similarly uninspired is Single Sedative (14 Jan, **), the debut from Pennsylvanian trio Eastern Conference Champions. For those old enough, this has a whiff of Reef about it. Says it all really. The Courteeners are, ostensibly, another northern band who sing about dole queues and a ‘bit of rough’, and What Took You So Long? (14 Jan, **) is stuck in a time-warp of ’80s chiming guitar and social inertia.
Matters improve with Brighton’s South Central, the latest act to scale the boundary fence between rock and dance. Golden Dawn (7 Jan, ***) is a gut-wrenching mash of feedback, techno, vocoder, and the processed, charred remains of guitar. Former OBE frontman Matt Thomson crops up with a new band and a record deal: Disco Dancer (7 Jan, ***) by Parka will be familiar to fans of Edinburgh’s favourite punk-funk sons, although it’s been given the commercial treatment here.
In its short history, this column has spared its harshest words for acoustic solo artists, but Aussie troubadour Derrin Nauendorf’s Shipwrecked (17 Jan, ***) is undeserving of the usual scorn – he’s got character see. The eccentric SAY may hail from darkest Lancashire, but they’re not another bunch of miserablists. Instead, Yr Kicks (28 Jan, ****) is a happy-clappy, shimmering indie-pop mirage. But single of the month goes to The Mae Shi (pictured) for Run To Your Grave (14 Jan, ****), for the completely objective reason that they use one of the pre-installed beats from my childhood keyboard as the intro. This infantile opening is developed with fuzzy guitar, musical madness and an ice-melting chorus.
Listen to my single of the month on The Mae Shi’s MySpace. Go on.
This article was written for The Skinny magazine.