The Brute Chorus – Chateau/The Cuckoo and The Stolen Heart feat. Tigs
Mardy four-piece The Brute Chorus sound like bluesy cotton-pickers transported by fairytale pumpkin to a skiffle party in a garage: these boys might reside in London but their music heralds from the rural dirt of their provincial origins. It’s pretty glorious to behold, too. ‘Chateau’ evolves from heartbeating bass into the drunken stutters of guitar over filthy string bass, exploding into vocal fury as the Brutes lyrically conjure a nightmare nursery tale before swaggering back to brood, like a lover scorned, in the dark corners of the castle. ‘The Cuckoo and The Stolen Heart’ confirms the band’s gift for ingenious name giving whilst moving musically up-tempo. A growling Kazoo introduces a blues band complete with hillbilly banjo that titters away through dizzy rounds of 8 bar blues. Meanwhile vocalist James Steel and featured artist Tigs spin yarns and spit accusations of absorbing folk-intrigue. The Brute Chorus are dirty drunken troubadours etching out an overdue remedy to the sugar-sick, mindlessly slick pop fodder of our spurious musical age with the strut-thump of jutting garage pop genius.
Operahouse – Born A Boy
Operahouse are Camden-town skinny-jean clad kids bravely attempting to catch a sniff of the melodic jittery pop that the Maccabees excelled at last year, but they remain sadly unconvincing. ‘Born A Boy’ is infected with post punk angles that are so of the moment they happened yesterday. The single is a headlong hurtle through wanky basslines and watery guitar solos that whine through the instrumental. This is then punctuated with a hideous assault on a high hat mid-track, leading into a finale that sounds like the drummer had an epileptic fit on the crash cymbal. The lyrics are barely comprehensible and frankly disappointing when they emerge over the racket. High-energy north-London punk-pop habitually comes with ladles of pretension, but Operahouse smack a little of desperation. The B side, ‘Telescopes’, is marginally better and slower in tempo, giving the band a greater chance of holding the constituent parts of their limited musicality together. ‘Telescopes’ ends on the repeated wail, ‘I don’t care anymore, I don’t care anymore,’ a rather apt pre-emption of the creeping apathy induced by this release.
Gabriella Cilmi – Sweet About Me
Born to second generation Italian parents in Melbourne a mere sixteen years ago, this pretty little lady and her dust-covered bluesy vocals will be invading your headspace with pervasively jaunty jangle-pop anytime soon. She repeats, seemingly incessantly, for nearly the entirety of her new single, ‘there’s nothing sweet about me,’ but it doesn’t take more than a myspace to see that this mechanically exported industry product is the musical equivalent of a Nigella Lawson dessert involving three kilos of sugar and a garnish of gummi bears. Expect heavy airplay from major radio stations as her label, Island, try to market their pop sweetheart of choice ahead of contenders for the 2008 pop-princess crown (and there are a lot of them) including Duffy, Adele and old hats Lilly and Kate. She’s already performed on Later with Jools Holland (But then, who hasn’t these days?) and recorded the title music for ITV drama ‘Echo Beach’. The year’s off to a good start for Gabriella, with ‘Sweet About Me’ a sure-fire pop hit.
Butterfly Bangs – Junk Sky
Butterfly Bangs fall into the ubiquitous four-man band bracket and aren’t the most ball-grabbingly original outfit to flutter around the edges of indie-rock mainstream. Their second single, ‘Junk Sky’, is melodically elusive, perhaps tactically avoiding the descent into guitar-riff stadium anthem gore, but failing to replace this with a sense of musical direction, and this is a bit frustrating. There’s something in there, but it never quite happens. The guitar work is impressive, invoking a sound reminiscent of The Rakes or a cleaner Art Brut. An Idlewild-inspired static-filled spoken recording adds interest mid-track under a pleasingly tight 16-beat splashy high-hat, and a trumpet makes a brief twiddling appearance. Lyrical limitations are apparent in the rather boring refrain ‘It’s sad, sad, sad, being alone,’ probably the most disappointing part of a single from a band that should be capable of big things. This isn’t the record that will make Butterfly Bangs. ‘Junk Sky’ is a jigsaw puzzle of a great brit-rock track, but this time the pieces just don’t quite fit together.
Subliminal Girls – Hungry Like The Wolf/Self Obsession Is An Art Form
Subliminal Girls created a bit of a buzz with last year with their rainbow hued ‘Burn KOKO’ that sounded like mashed 80s electro injected with a relentlessly annoying football anthem chorus about how terribly awful it must be to be indie. They return with a double A side comprising of a sad, synth-led reflection on modern times in ‘Self Obsession Is An Art Form’ and a Duran Duran cover from 1982, ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’. The latter is dragged screaming into 2008 with a faster tempo, though thankfully retains the endearing, hiccuppy eighties electro-blips and a good bit of synth. It’s inoffensive, but was the world really yearning for a subtly souped up version of a mediocre Duran Duran track? Meanwhile ‘Self Obsession Is An Art Form’ moves down-tempo, following in the same lyrical vein as ‘Burn KOKO’ minus the cocksure arrogance. Its fizzy synth-imbued charm hangs over chugging guitars and breathy eighties keyboards: a kind of introspective pop-sensible number, not genius, but actually pretty good. This self-proclaimed ‘nu-pop’ has an obvious shelf life, but taken as lightly as the Subliminal Girls intend, it’s also got the potential to induce a bit of an eighties-electropop revival amongst those pretentious indie kids this year.