New Soundbites: April 16-22


Matt Eland reacquaints himself with old buddy Frank Turner but finds his protégé, Chris T-T in greater voice. Meanwhile Saviours, Blood Red Shoes, Les Savy Fav and Does It Offend You Yeah? also get the treatment as the reviewascope reaches meltdown.

Chris T-T: CapitalAlbum Of The Week
Xtra Mile Recordings
The first thing that strikes you about TT is how weak his vocals are – they struggle to fill the space at the best of times – and yet he’s managed to produce, on his fifth album, a funny, disquieting and musically eclectic record.
It’s the final part of his London trilogy, and paints a picture of a dystopian city in the grip of a sinister curfew.
He takes a different tact to label mate and contemporary Frank Turner – his songs sound huge, imbued with operatic overtones (King of England), cornet interludes (Ballet School Pianist) and crazy Casio solos (Black Music).
Even the gentler, more melodic tunes aren’t safe from TT’s sinister lyricism.
Some may find this difficult to deal with – his message seems simply to be that we’re all fucked – but after a few listens an off-kilter charm manifests itself about a city where jealous boyfriends break their lover’s ankles and will have left tire tracks through your back yard come the morning.
For fans of: Congestion charges, getting beaten up by the fuzz.

Frank Turner: Love Ire and Song
Xtra Mile Recordings
Frank Turner first won my heart one sleepless night back in 2002, when Million Dead’s first single Smiling at Strangers on Trains played on the Radio One Rock Show.
It was vital, invigorating, technical, with the same high-energy appeal as At the Drive-In, and I leaned out of bed to write down the band’s name straight away.
He won my heart a second time a couple of years later when, after two great albums and an acrimonious split, Frank showed there was hope for a solo career with the Johnny Cash-esque hangover hymn The Real Damage, a bold u-turn from the frantic post punk of the ‘Deadz.
There followed an EP and an album, both showing you could have an acoustic singer songwriter combining a brash punk rock spirit with a self-mocking sense of humour.
Now comes Love Ire and Song, his second studio album, and one that, as a fan, I initially found hard to digest. But let’s start with the positives.
Much more apparent on this offering is the contribution of his backing band (Oxford’s Dive Dive).
He’s confident enough now to let them take the weight on some songs, for example Better Half, and there’s some classic up tempo singalongs on Reasons Not To Be An Idiot and Perfect Tense, helped immeasurably by some nice drumming.
The title track is a rousing ode to the Turner’s days as an idealistic student protester, and Long Live the Queen is a genuinely poignant, yet bright and positive tune about the death of a friend.
And yet on repeat listens something seems wrong. Substitute and A Love Worth Keeping sound fatigued and self-pitying, the ironic wit that cuts through his previous work not forthcoming.
Jet Lag, while a better song than the above and a good album closer, is indicative of how the constant touring seems to have drained Turner’s energy to the point where the distance from loved ones is such a strong motif throughout the record. So, a difficult second album then.
For fans of: Shouty folk, drink-induced self-pity.

Does It Offend You Yeah?: You Have No Idea What Youre Getting Yourself Into
Does It Offend You Yeah? have been taking a bit of a pasting from some quarters over their new album, and I must admit to having approached the record (and their terrible, terrible, terrible name) with some trepidation.
But guess what – it’s not actually that bad. It’s not the trail-blazing mash-up mooted by the trendy trades but there’s enough here for it to stand up.
With a Heavy Heart features a metal breakdown complete with lurching samples (sounding eerily like Slipknot for a second), and yet on the Dawn of the Dead you’ll be listening to pure synth-led-Saturday-daytime-80s pop.
It’s when they do the trendy nu-rave thing that it all comes unstuck, especially on Let’s Make Out. There are a million bands peddling this kind of stuff at the moment, and it all sounds the same – lazy and uninspired.
DIOYY have a good album in them though, I’m pretty sure of that – one to watch if they survive the inevitable nu-rave cull.
For fans of: E4, lolskates, Popbitch

Blood Red Shoes: Box Of Secrets
Another band emerging from a maelstrom of hype are Blood Red Shoes.
Problematically, they exist at the other end of the DIOYY-spectrum, in that they are devoid of eclecticism.
The only discernable differences being the occasional switch between male and female lead vocal. True, they have some big choruses, as demonstrated on You Bring Me Down and I Wish I was Someone Better, and the occasional nice harmony, especially in This Is Not For You.
The only real problem is that lack of variation. A more niggling complaint is their diction. They veer uncomfortably close to Kate Nash-style mockney which, for a rock hard northerner such as myself, is completely unacceptable.
For fans of: Apples & Pears, repetition.

Les Savy Fav: Inches
Les Savy Fav’s Inches is a compendium of a bunch of different 7″s.
Apparently, when you lay them all out on the floor they turn into a big collage, a concept slightly lost with the CD release. As such, the record lacks any real cohesion, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had.
Meet Me In The Dollar Bin lurches around under looped guitar feedback, The Sweat Descends unleashes that customary delay pedal, Tim Harrington‘s lyrical lunacy reaches new heights with the arch psuedo-plagarism of Knowing How The World Works.
While the band never really deviates from their Pixies-esque punk there’s genuine surprises in Reformat, a spoken word piece about a negligent submarine captain, and the rap intro to One Way Window.
For fans of: Bear suits.

Saviours: Into Abandon
Into Abbadon is a poor man’s Mastodon. It’s all there; the labyrinthine riffing, swinging time signatures and battle cry vocals, only not as exciting or intricate.
The formula is broken occasionally with the title track’s stop/start Iron Maiden-style intro and the flanging production to the intro of Narcotic Sea, but nothing to suggest any great depth.
For fans of: Leviathon.




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