Kids Unique – Love Tunnel (out 11th June)
The latest offering from Medway outfit Kids Unique is possibly their most accessible and accomplished to date. A coming of age tale of teenage lust, set against the backdrop of a fabled underpass is the vehicle for this slice of summer ‘hop pop’.
The streets comparisons still hold water of course, but you can add to that a chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on a Madness record and an opening verse where the vocal has room to breathe and thus occupies a postage stamps worth of Squeeze’s ‘Up the Junction’ territory. I guess that’s the attraction for us here at Eartwister, the fact that KU are so damn English. They simply couldn’t have come from anywhere else.
At times the lyrics are witty and well-constructed and at times fall foul of youthful naivety. Not quite in the same league as ‘Up the Junction’ then (a track they should visit if they haven’t already) but infectious nevertheless.
The bass is a little lean for our liking and could do with some fattening up, as could the production as a whole, in the choruses in particular. That said there is little here to get our hackles up and it should serve them well. Love Tunnel is due for release on the 11th of June and if there’s any justice in Medway the sun will shine.
Bar Room Crawl – Are You Papylonian Ep (out 8th June)
Hailing from Perth in Scotland-shire, Bar Room Crawl describes themselves as “Bringing Apocalyptic Funk to the masses!” Hmmmm.
Now, I can imagine this lot produce a live show to behold, and sonically at least their recordings are reasonably proficient. The trouble lies however, in the song writing. The fusion of electro blues rock and funk is delivered with all the care and subtlety of a toddler wielding a sledge hammer. It’s akin to Dali trying to create’ The Persistence of Memory’ by exploding a bomb in a paint factory.
El Pollo Diablo, which is the better of the two tracks we were sent, is built around a Peter Gunn type bass line, and opens with the lyric “Let me tell you a story from way back when”. From there on in I’m afraid, it’s pretty much downhill. The vocals are as uninspired as the guitar, and keys are predictable, the only saving grace being a smattering of snarly trombone. They seem to have caused a stir with the folks at their local radio station though. So one can only presume that either good bands are pretty thin on the ground in Heartland FM’s neck of the woods or they’re putting something they shouldn’t in the water up there.
Stop the Blackout – Oxygen (digital single out now)
What does a band want from a single review? Well, stating the obvious, for the writer to gush superlatives and wax lyrical about a life-changing piece of music and a band destined to conquer all. Either that, or for the reviewer to hate first note to last and spit bile on to the very page. At least that way the band can cry foul, they don’t know what they’re talking about, that bloke couldn’t review a bus queue, you get the gist right?
So what could possibly be worse than a scathing review? The answer is polite indifference, and I’m afraid that’s all I can muster for Stop the Blackout’s Oxygen. The song treads a very familiar path and revolves around a catchy enough vocal refrain that acts as introduction, chorus and closing loop. It’s much like the outro of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, and I’m sure the boys have already imagined leaving the Pyramid stage with it ringing in their ears from the lips of adoring thousands. The difference is, at least Chris Martin conjured up enough enthusiasm to pen some lyrics for the chorus of Viva La Vida. You kind of get the impression, that either James Moon had nothing to say or simply thought that words would only confuse the issue.
Elsewhere the drums are reverb drenched, the piano is set to grand and the strings are firmly in Bitter Sweet Symphony mode.
So what else is there to say? Well very little actually. Oxygen is a perfectly pleasant serving of anthemic indie pomp, it just doesn’t set our collective hearts racing as it should. Oxygen; colourless, odourless. Perhaps they should have tried a different gas.
A Dark Horse - Take Me Home ep/video
‘Take me home’ is a lilting tale of salad days that yearns for the sun on its back and an ice cream kiss. A beguiling ripple of pop folk, the opening guitar reminds me of the Indigo Girls ‘Ghost’, whilst the layered vocals put me in mind of Teenage Fanclub at their most melodious; think ‘Mellow Doubt’ or the chorus of ‘Everything Flows’. Perhaps a little Fleet Foxes, perhaps not. But whatever your reference points, A Dark Horse gently reel you in with sleight of hand and grace. The use of cello, and is that mandolin or Bouzouki, is both simplicity and deft in the same stroke. As is the use of accordion which adds charm and a sprinkling of gentler times. Now I never thought I’d be writing that when I woke up this morning. And that’s what ‘Take Me Home’ is, it’s effortlessly charming. So let us know if you’re popping across the water boys (no pun intended). We’d love to see it live.