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Howling Bells and many more

Howling Bells - Into The Sky (Cooking Vinyl)







Australia's foremost dreamers of dark dreams return with a new single, taken from their album The Loudest Engine.


The single, as expected, showcases the more radio-friendly side of the band, less the shimmery electro-pop wooziness that stamps their sound.


Over a driving bassline and muffled guitars, lead singer Juanita Stein comes in with her polite Siouxsie-Sioux-on-Prozac vocals, her light and airy style working well with the more impressive lift of the chorus.


A little too much shimmeriness in the guitars makes the vocals hard to decipher, though I get the feeling the words aren't as crucial.


A mix of Cocteau Twins otherness with mainstream indie freshness is the order of the day. Stein's elevation to sexy sexpot has no doubt helped push the band further mainstream. If that sounds cynical, then imagine SuBo in tights, headbands and see-thru shirts. Wood yet?


This isn't a showstopper of a song so we'll have to wait before the Bells set the world on fire with their dark, woozy, but essentially pretty and cutesy music.





Dels feat. Roots Manuva & Joe Goddard - ‘Capsize' (Big Dada)







Occasionally you hear things in polite society that are so wrong-headed, you lack the wherewithal to respond.


Music is no different; ‘It's all been done already', ‘There's no good music at the moment' and ‘No one writes political music anymore' being just three that can provoke a person to bring their handbag to their face, in order to use it as a nosebag for snorting into. But it is the last of these that ‘Capsize' hits, effortlessly, out the park, what with it being about NOW and VER TORIES and CUTS, and how it might be quite a good idea for ‘us' to ‘stick together' if we want anything to change.


The brilliant thing is that a) it's political in a non-Levellers way, and that b) it's still a brilliant pop song; a floor magnet and yes, a banger. 'Capsize' rattles with percussive ideas and judders with what sound like the very cranks and cogs of The Machine - shifting and re-writing those little snippets of legalese that only start to matter to you personally when you try to return a library book, only to find it entirely staffed by W.I. ladies; jam on everything. Or find your examinations have been sponsored by Amstrad. Still, free calculators! If you save enough democracy tokens! (They're not for you, peasants.)





Liz Green - ‘Displacement Song' (PIAS)








‘Female singer-songwriter' is one of those phrases which was not worn by repetition, what with it meaning precisely nothing in the first place.


That doesn't stop it falling from the mouths of the sort of knuckleheads who collect Wimminz Music as if it were a genre all its own; or as if a piece of music's innate worth were tied to how earnestly its tits had been tweaked.


Being not quite sure what any of this has to do with Liz Green - except to say that she would be damned by any of the above epithets, and doubtless has better things to do than shoehorn masturbatory metaphors into single reviews - let us hone in on that voice, Green being possessed of a sound that jaunts along with more character than a thousand Mexican soap operas; knowing, calm and foggy. ‘Displacement Song' has a plotzed brass section that has been at the optics all evening and reads like a warning speech before the baddies burst in.


So when she asks you not to ‘look to me to carry your weight, for they're on their way' you know the speakeasy doors aren't long for smashing. Just as easily as you can imagine her rolling her eyes when the wood splinters.





Big Deal - ‘Chair' (Mute)







I don't like how ‘Chair' starts, it has one of those needlessly breathy, solemn intros that rarely convince, like deliberately ripped denims.


I start to like it a lot more when they break out the fuzz, giving the plaintive whining something to jut up against, putting it into sharp relief.


This is a slight but amiable single about someone who is only going out with Big Chair so that they write songs about them. We've all done it.





Bearsuit - ‘Princess, You're A Test' (Fortuna POP!)







Bearsuit are from Norwich. And because I now live there it is incumbent upon on absolutely everyone I encounter outside the county - no matter how flimsy their knowledge of indie - to go ‘Norwich? Bearsuit!' as if it might be Narfuck Law to like them.


As I am allergic to scenes given that the enrolment in same inevitably requires one to encounter scenesters; and given that any scene based solely on geographical location is nebulous at best, let it be known that a) I don't want to know where any band comes from and b) I don't normally enjoy yelpy art-indie of the sort Bearsuit deal in and c) I like ‘Princess, You're A Test', quite a very lot.


I found myself singing the ‘testtesttesttest' of the chorus about the house quite unprompted, I like its bass rumbles, I like how every instrument is not so much being played, as bashed with spanners.


It is almost as if I had eaten too much Colemans. Which you should know (massive contradictory witch that I am) is easily the best mustard, and effing delicious on everything.