Falling Off Maps –' Honest'
In a another time and space, Falling Off Maps plotted an altogether more predictable set of coordinates in a previous guise as Headway; even managing to sync the track ‘Lord Knows’ to the ever popular TV series ‘ER’. Listening to tracks from their forthcoming album ‘A Seaside Town in Winter’ you wonder if life in that erstwhile incarnation had been a bruising experience, such is the vulnerable qualities of their current material.
‘Honest’, due for release Aug 12th is a case in point: Perhaps a little Elbow (circa 98 to 2000), a touch of Death Cab for a Cutie certainly, whilst the Thom Yorke associations will be hard to ignore. References aside, nothing deters from the fact that this is refined piece of writing. There’s a real organic feel to ‘Honest’, and despite the song’s compact structure, a real sense of freedom too. David Wright’s vocal is cradled sympathetically by understated strings and spectral backing vocals, and seems to have avoided all technical tampering which is a bona fide breath of fresh air.
If we’re to have a grumble which is our want, it’s that Joe Watts’ delicate looping guitar line is used just a little too sparingly. Now that wasn’t too bad was it?
Babyshambles - 'Farmer’s Daughter'
This has got to be the best thing to come out of the Doherty camp for what seems like an age. Now we don’t have a hotline to the Babyshambles Bat Cave but this record genuinely sounds like young Peter may have finally got his s**t together; for if it’s possible for a voice to sound healthy then this is it.
As Doherty sings;
"You've been travelling on a dusty road, break some bread with me. Wife and donkey on dusty road, break some bread with me"
Not for one instance do we think he’s found religion, but perhaps this is a rebirth of a kind.
The guitar lines are erudite, with perhaps just a touch of a ’Sweet Jane’ introducing a verse that builds to a belter of a chorus which has indie anthem written right through it like a stick of Brighton rock.
They say “a fool and his money are easily parted” and with that in mind we’re not holding our breath, as experience tells you to be prudent where Doherty is concerned. But the signs are that Babyshambles may have made a record worth reinvesting your time, money and love in.
The Drives – ‘It Might Have Been’ EP
The internet is both a wonderful and dangerous beast, just ask the folks at Wikileaks. In music terms it’s become the indispensable tool for artists and punters alike, as much part of the fabric as TV’s out of hotel windows, huge major label deals and Top of the Pops ever were.
For all artists, the opportunity to communicate directly with their fans, promote their brand and sell their wares has become a truly powerful weapon. With such a weapon at your disposal, the pressure on young bands to pull the trigger is often overwhelming. If you’re not posting, tweeting, updating or adding content it must feel like you’re standing still, the tendency then, is to rush.
The Drives (as far as we can tell) have been together a little over a year, with ten or so gigs under their belts, and yet we find them releasing their debut EP ‘It Might Have Been’.
It feels like it’s just too early to make such a statement, does no one make demos anymore?
As demos these recordings would be quite exciting, with ‘’Circus’ (a little Joy Division, a little Strokes) and ‘Of Age’ being the highlights. The latter like an early Libertines covering Dinosaur Junior’s ‘Freak Scene’. As a fully-fledged release however, they lack the skills that only come with time. There’s a sense that Joe Perrott is yet to fully discover his own voice and how it’s best placed, whilst some of the transitions feel jarred, and the recordings themselves lack that sparkle and finesse that’s associated with the finished article.
‘It Might have Been’ in parts shows real promise, but The Drives will make better recordings and probably write better songs than this, and I suspect they know it. So, why the rush boys?
The Minx – ‘Hey! Mr Warden’ EP
The Minx have been busy boys since we last caught up with them, so apologies to readers for our tardiness in putting fingers to keyboard, but patience is a virtue after all.
There was a glorious period in the late 70’s when the lines between punk, new wave and hairtrigger mod revival seemed to get wonderfully blurred. I remember those salad days of a tribal London Kings Road with great fondness. If like me you’re old enough to remember such times, it’s likely that The Minx new EP ‘Hey Mr Warden’ can spirit you back in the blink of an eye.
The Minx are true standard bearers for something of worth being a sum of its parts: From Haddon’s nasal sneer, to Robinson’s simple hooks, McIntyre’s flourishes or Stuttard and Evans’ driving rhythm. In the world of Minx everyone has a job to do and they’re comfortable doing it. Be it pushing the issue, reining it in, or putting the cherry on top, it just works.
It’s ‘Forest Bank’ that’s getting them the breakthrough radio play with its elementary earworms and a chorus driven to within an inch of its life, but ‘Hey! Mr Warden’ offers much more than just its lead track. ‘Walking On My Grave’ sees Stuttard take the helm with a bass line that puts us in mind of The Jam’s Mr Foxton circa ‘Eaton Rifles’ period, whilst ‘Out The Other Ear’ (although tipping more than a wink to The Stranglers ‘Dagenham Dave’) could easily have fronted this release. Complete with surfing safari backing vocals and terrace chant chorus, it delivers a bolt of undeniable energy.
In short, The Minx are producing punk pop that’s as infectious as a dose of chickenpox in a playground; catch it now!