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Overspill Poets

Posted: November 8th, 2009, by Mandy Williams

Overspill Poets are an alt-country/indie combo who have dramatically changed in sound since their first incarnation as nineties Kitchenware outfit Hug Their debut album Thompson Falls is released on Revenge Western and was made for listening to on a summer day trip.

The journey begins with the title track that laments lost love. While by leg two the boys from the North show off their instrumental skills. The band are clearly no strangers to the work of Teenage Fanclub as in ‘Sound of Sirens’ they manage to blend that sound with a Jersey Rock feel. Reggae/dub track ‘Summer,’ sees them take another turn in the road. Pastoral folk song ‘Boxing Gloves,’ looks back in time with a narrative comprising the two mythical figures Holly Golightly and Hazey Jane.

‘London’s gear when you grew up round here,’ sings front man Tim Taylor on ‘The Neon Lights are beautiful.’ Curling licks are provided by guitarist George Kitching.  Mid trip ‘Inner Space,’ takes time to reflect on lost opportunity. ‘I don’t need a volunteer to bang a drum and bend my ear, pull me out of here before I lose another year.’  While ‘Independence Day’ is a rousing protest anthem. ‘Northern Star,’ sounds more North Carolina than Newcastle, as the indie boys take to Americana like a fat kid to cake. The experience draws to a close with some psych era Beatles and a ballad which is lead by a heartfelt vocal. The standout track for me is the simple and affecting ‘Ricochets,’ where the instruments literally rebound off each other.

It has been an interesting and varied journey, driven by a band who speak from the heart. Each chapter tells a story and the vocals compliment the surprising guitars.  Lo-fi and lush with an edge, this album will find a place in your heart. Warm beat driven melodies sound track a road trip that is more Interstate 5 than M62.


Overspill Poets

Posted: January 12th, 2009, by Mandy Williams

Overspill Poets were first conceived in a Tyneside flat by guitarist George Kitching and singer Tim Taylor before Kitching progressed to nineties Kitchenware outfit Hug. After a long gestation this new reincarnation sees the pair deliver a promo CD of material for their new album due out later this year.


It’s very much an alt-country affair. I played this in my car on a long journey and found it to be ideal road trip soundtrack but perhaps more suited to a sun drenched Interstate 5 than the rainy M62. The gorgeous ‘Neon Lights,’ begins the first leg.  London’s gear when you grew up round here,’ sings Taylor over huge curling slide guitar licks that skate off into ad hoc riffs. ‘Sound of Sirens’ starts a little like Jersey rock but the voice ensures it stays more within the realm of Teenage Fanclub. Mid journey ‘Summer,’ changes route with a reggae/dub mix without veering far from their trademark enticing beat driven melodies. While the Dylanesque ‘Boxing Gloves,’ finds ‘the neighbourhood curtains twitching again as he buys you roses and sleeps with your friends.’ I’m always a sucker for a song that name checks Holly Golightly and the reference to Hazey Jane makes me think of the Nick Drake quality of the vocal. There’s a little pit-stop for my favourite track ‘Ricochets.’ It’s actually quite a simple song but one that engages immediately as the instruments rebound to reflect the title and compliment the lyrics, ‘bind it to me with promises, live in transit to the edge.’ ‘Independence Day’ has an upbeat Ryans Adams feel to it. With ‘Walking Tall’ and ‘Northern Star’ we are now firmly dwelling in the house of Americana. The former with a psych perspective, the latter has an authoritative hook. Next they muse on finding ‘Inner Space,’ ‘I don’t need a volunteer to bang a drum and bend my ear, pull me out of here before I lose another year.’ The vocal now reveals a deeper timbre. Journeys end comes with ‘Vital Signs,’ a bluesy piece – think Ry Cooder meets The Doors with the backing track from ‘Loose Fit.’


Throughout the collection of songs Taylor’s distinctive vocals tower above the attendant instrumentation and keep the resultant sound firmly on this side of the Atlantic. Whether understated or extravagant, Overspill poets make a promising return with a richly crafted piece which comes from the heart.




Voo – ‘Dates, facts & Figures'(album)/Same Mistakes’ (single) – Spank Records

Posted: January 10th, 2009, by Mandy Williams

There are some great bands coming out of Liverpool at the moment who don’t sound like they come from there. To my mind that’s a good thing, I long ago tired of Sixties pretenders. Frontrunners include Wave Machines, Hot Club De Paris, 28 Costumes and this band Voo, who I discovered at Liverpool Music Week 2007. Their debut album has been out for a while now and they have just released a new single in anticipation to their sophomore offering. Having recently received it though, I think the first album is worthy of some press.

Fans of jingle jangle pop suffused with nineties college rock look no further. Voo provide that deadly mix of intricate and beauteous guitar work with light touch vocals, unswerving bass and percussion.

Think Death Cab for Cutie meets Teenage Fanclub with some Lemonheads thrown in. ‘For Sake of Space,’ boasts an enticing swirling guitar line that hooks you and has you humming ‘the music lived for the last time today.’ ‘Shape & Size,’ contains synth work reminiscent of Grandaddy and possesses the unshakable vigorous quality of Pavement.

‘On The Return,’ is a former single of layered resonance. ‘Favourite Films (the films we like)’ sounds like Polytechnic meets The Shins, which is always welcome in my house. While ‘The Constant Threat of Falling Buildings,’ is an upbeat stop start piece that ends the album in style.

Their single ‘Same Mistakes,’ is from the forthcoming album ‘Songs We Used to dance To.’  It gallops along with the urgency of The Spinto Band. It is of course interspersed with telltale Voo, a sense of beat driven harmony. I actually prefer the b-side ‘What Will Happen and When’ which meanders and draws you in. ‘The music’s loud enough to drown me out…to cover this up,’ they intone. The new album can’t come soon enough for me. Voo wrap you in a blanket of low-fi sound. They’ll keep you warm in winter.





by Mandy Williams

Single Reviews

Posted: March 25th, 2008, by Mandy Williams

Get your hands off (single)

From influences as diverse as Beefheart and Bis come Glaswegian Rockabilly soulsters Isosceles. ‘Get your hands off,’ is released on the Art Goes Pop label ‘I said honey don’t use your sexuality on me, declares their vocalist Jack Valentine in theatrical manner with wobbly analogue synths worthy of Grandaddy enhancing the perfect put down song.

Their triangular catchy keyboard sound is eminently danceable. The b- side ‘I Go,’ adds a funky bass-line and um diddle um diddle chorus and shattering glass to the short sharp pop. These Franz Ferdinand favourites are no strangers to the droll phrase. They embrace Oxfam, ignore KFC and like to kiss the homeless apparently!  Maybe a touch throwaway yet these ‘scientists of sound’ win over your dancing feet with their playful energetic sound.


People of Santiago
Circles/Dinosaurs (single)

Not from South America but the North East come an epic guitar led indie band with Interpol envy. The people of Santiago have a serious story to tell about ‘untameable masses painfully aware of their stolid surroundings yet consumed with hope.’ They achieve that goal on their single ‘Circles,’ with brash impassioned vocals that declare ‘It changes, every time you open your mouth and say something.’ Jangly guitars provide the background to this somewhat repetitive narrative. You can’t fault the arrangement and the atmospheric sound lies somewhere between The Longcut and The Killers. That said this Steve Lamacq single of the week takes it self a tad too seriously. It perfects the huge sound without the leftfield lyricism that gives the doomy new Yorkers their edge. Better by far is the B-side ‘Dinosaurs’, with a more touching vocal and lighter acoustics that tell of ‘charging the shopping malls like rebellious kids.’ By their choice of single it seems People of Santiago have stadium sized aspirations but if they look less to bombast of the former and concentrate on skewed textures of the latter they may be onto a winner.


Twin thousands
Like you a lot (single)

Ex Saddlecreek records Nebraskan cellist Gretta Cohn, Brooklyn pianist Ryan Smith and a few friends come together to create a thing of beauty. Twin Thousands single ‘Like You A Lot’ is like a Mazzy Star/St Etienne hybrid. The best in summery pop with rolling guitars, chirpy cellos and ghostly vocals that breeze along and ‘wake you,’ on the way. It ascends into luscious instrumentation like Arcade Fire meets The Cocteau Twins

This song of love vs. lust is a little taster from the unsigned band who love things that makes your stomach want to explode. They say they sound like ‘an elephant killing a rhinoceros.’ Intrigued by the seemingly inapt metaphor I listened further to the songs on their myspace. Better yet was to come in the form of ‘Pirate Song’ and ‘Fireworks,’ lovely gems of orchestration worthy of Sigor Ros or The Polyphonic Spree meets the Good The Bad and The Queen. I would replace the heavyweights in the musical milieu with a moth and a butterfly and watch them tangle with interesting results. Definitely ones to watch out for.



The Bordellos

Posted: March 25th, 2008, by Mandy Williams

The Bordellos (album)
Songs For Swinging Stalkers

It’s St Helens and not the Ukraine that spawned this band, not Gogol Bordello simply The Bordellos. We have here a four piece who produce their own brand of rock and roll, psychedelic, country pop. This re-release of their debut download album ‘Songs For Swinging Stalkers,’ follows last year’s album ‘Meet The Bordellos,’ both released on The Brutarian Label.

‘Velvet Mind,’ sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins composition performed by The Velvet Underground. Muffled vocals dominate the psychedelic sound, which descends eventually into grinding machine noise. George Best and Dennis Wilson inspired ‘Deadwood’. It starts with a murmuring guitar line that whispers like the soundtrack to a spooky thriller. Then it turns into a driving Ramones rocker with the odd vocal cry of ‘stroke the pussy til it begins to purr.’

‘Is Death the End’ layers on the Motown rhythms and shaky tambourines. It’s a roaring soulful number inspired by Johnny cash. Although clinically morose and smashed out of his head the protagonist of ‘Little Bird,’ persuades the feathered friend to hop on his hand on a late Beatles slide guitar piece. ‘The Hurting Kind’ is a touch of early Floyd while The Bunnymen-esque ‘Poet or liar,’ grabs you with its addictive bass riffs. ‘Blank Letter,’ entices you with its blues chord progression. The week after Jeff Buckley lilts along in tribute to the purveyor of ‘a thoughtful rhythm in southern Californian style.’ ‘The autumn of my youth has whispered its final goodbye,’ howls the singer. ‘Setting Sun,’ is an acoustic harmonica ballad sung by a dissonant Northern Neil Young. ‘Melancholia’ is Fried era Cope while ‘Plasticine Man,’ was inspired by the late great Syd Barrett.

The Bordellos wear their diverse influences very much on their sleeves. They owe a big debt to sixties psychedelia but borrow from post punk seventies bands in equal measure. This makes for an intriguingly weird combination of sound. The vocals veer between Mark E. Smith and Pete Shelley. The flattened northern vowels and lispy consonants were quite literally recorded under a pile of coats. With titles the fall like ‘Drunk (is a state I like to call home)’ and ‘Too old for love bites, they come from the HMHB school of lyricism.

A plethora of themes and sounds punctuate this album, The Doors do The Fall maybe? You are never bored as you wait for the next strange offering to assail your ears. They may be no gypsy punks but I bet they could hold their own in a fight.



Posted: March 25th, 2008, by Mandy Williams

GoFaster>> (single)
Flammable Leisurewear

In Liverpool’s City of Culture year a backlash comes care of goFASTER>> Mates of The Wombats and the NKOB of scouse indie, they are the exponents of the self titled bosspop movement. This band seek to upset the applecart by mischievously dragging us through their trailer park. No psych rock devotees, their narratives are packed full of up to date references. Ferrero Roche pyramids, the Jeremy Kyle show and Channel Four TV whores all fuel the goFaster>> fire. They view the world with a satirical eye and deliver post punk with their own brand of keyboard layered resonance and animalistic drumming.

The second single from this up and coming new band released on Alcopop Records is called ‘Flammable Leisurewear.’ This humorous nod to the shell suit wearer is a ‘song about where they all come from.’ Mark E Smith here’s your great-lost Fall track! ‘There are green stripes everywhere’ on a three-minute pop song with a hand clapping start, intricate guitar, bass and drum parts, a pounding chorus, wobbly keyboards and their trademark big sound. ‘Even when the sun couldn’t ever shine through we will keep our tans, our orange glow,’ they chorus, nailing the stereotype perfectly.

GoFaster>> do what it says on the tin. A seemingly loose cannon of untethered sound, actually their amphetamine fuelled catchy melodies are timed perfectly. Melodic building guitar work one minute then electronic madness the next. Think The Buzzcocks mixed with the intricate bits of Don Caballero and Inspirals keyboards creating a wall of Sigur Ros sound that also reminds you of Half Man Half Biscuit on speed.

They aim to make this single to Liverpool what Ghosttown was to Coventry, It’s ‘no win no fee compensation guaranteed,’ from the purveyors of trailer trash trisha pop.


THE ANOMALIES – Employee of the Month (7", Beyond Management)

Posted: August 12th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Hip-hop from Hereford, you say? This bunch of new rappers reference funk and drum and bass, and manage somehow to mutate it into an overall swing sound. On their debut single they shout “I am the employee of the month. I’ve got a badge upon my front”. In the same breath, they make “Come and join me in the gutter, there’s room for two” sound an inviting proposition.

The overall result is street urchin vocals like Pete Doherty jamming with Jamie T and The Streets to entertain a street party with a ragtime band in tow. As they repeat the ‘Strike Me Down’ chorus you can almost imagine an ensuing conga led by a saxophonist. Or have I just got a very vivid imagination?

The B-side is about the kind of party where all the cool kids are wearing ‘Hats and Glasses’. “We could raise the roof or tell the truth or knock back tequilas in the DJ booth”, they suggestively rap as Penelope Pitstop with her art degree knocks back the five-pound wine.

Goldseal, Murf, Mayhem and Lo create their own form of mayhem. It’s lyrically clever and a musical mix of big band/ska and old school hip hop with brassy little nuances at every turn. Having supported Grandmaster Flash, Goldie, The Scratch Perverts and Groove Armada, The Anomalies (as their name suggests) show us you can be ultra-cool and have a jolly good old knees up at the same time.

The Anomalies

LE RENO AMPS – Poison Letter (7", Pet Piranha)

Posted: August 12th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Maple and Nero were born of sorrow in the North East of Scotland, found some mates and then three men and a little lady morphed into Le Reno Amps. Apparently they aim to write songs with all the fat cut off so you can sample their buttery goodness. Sound tempting? It is, actually.

Their malevolent missive ‘Poison Letter’ is released on Pet Piranha and apparently “it’s not easy reading but it’s not Yeats either”, with “questionable spelling but the message is clear”. They inform us of these facts over a lolloping melody and a bouncy chorus.

B-side ‘New Man’ bemoans the replacement lover. “Whatever car he drives is not Korean made and I bet she doesn’t think of me when she is getting laid” laments the singer whose ex only talks to him so she can twist that knife.

In the spirit of Teenage Fanclub or The Lemonheads, Le Reno Amps find that irresistible combination of power pop, folk and indie. They mix alt-country balladry with observational singer-songwriting. Arab Strap’s laments, with the more upbeat poppy sound of Belle and Sebastian, perhaps.

Yet the louche mid-western vocals make them sound more like they hail from Albuquerque than Aberdeen. Whether it’s Reno or Rutherglen, these Glasgow based Amps are cranked up loud and well worth a listen.

Le Reno Amps

THE LOVES – Xs And Os/She’ll Break Your Heart… Again (7", Fortuna Pop!)

Posted: August 12th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Lovers of the Sixties, take note: there are some new kids on the block. But no copyists these, The Loves put an up-to-the-minute spin on The Velvet Underground and The Monkees, by way of garage rock and Creation Records.

For their pains, the Cardiff band received The Sunday Times LP of the week for Technicolour, released on Fortuna Pop in February, and including tracks mentioned here. The band have been through many reincarnations since they formed in 2000.

‘Xs and Os’ is a singalong ode to a friend in trouble; like The Archies meets Jan and Dean with a psychedelic bluesy twist. ‘She’ll break your heart again’ begins like Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders ‘The Game of Love’ crossed with the Beat’s ‘I Can’t Get Used To Losing You’, then the percussion whizzes you back to The Troggs’ ‘Wild Thing’. By then, it’s full-on sixties bubblegum, complete with keys, chimes and huge beats. Simon and Jenna duel on vocals. Her seductive intrusive refrains remind you of Jane Birkin or Nico, against his nasal tone. The song ends abruptly with a single note.

‘My Sweet Drunken Blues for You’ is a chaotic jam on a four track that sounds like an early Stones demo. On ‘Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai’ we get another change of style – The Bees meets the Magic Numbers, if they sung in Brazilian with backing vox that rattle along eccentrically in the background.

With their revolving door membership policy this band have cleverly picked a name that inspires adoration, and they’ve toured with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Rapture. What’s not to love?

The Loves


Posted: August 12th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

As I opened the plain white cardboard sleeve, labelled with scrawled biro, that sat amongst a pile of other CDs bearing flashy artwork, I had absolutely no preconceptions. On hearing the first notes I was quite captivated.

High Vinyl are a band from Cambridge who formed in 2001 and have a few EPs under their belt. Their sound can best be described as indie instrumental. Guitar- and bass-driven resonance with a light yet insistent percussive touch, intermittent vocals, and assistance from flute and glockenspiel.

The first track ‘Predicted/ignored’ is pure instrumentation, starting slowly and building into controlled mania. Like Field Music meets Joy Division in a very mellow mode. The vocals kick in for ‘A Disappointing Cycle Ride in Romsey’, where they begin to sound a touch like The Longcut. The lyrics inhabit the solid bass sound without dominating proceedings.

With the next track it’s a return to emotional musicality. The flute and glockenspiel play over clever fretwork. ‘Moth Eaten’ has percussion-led, driving resonance. The singer’s muffled vocals slur, “They are hiding away in pitch black, I want them back.” At this point their style is somewhere between Pavement and an upbeat Zero Seven. Snarey, shuffling drums and delicate guitar lines populate ‘The Abbot Sway’, giving it a vibrato layered feel.

I’m not immediately drawn to the instrumental, but this piece of work flows really well and convinced me enough to play it repeatedly. Tracks from their last three EPs, including some of this work, is combined on their debut album Condor vs. Albatross. With Kelso on vocal, Nicos on drums, Auff on bass, Shpol on flute and Hotch on guitar, check them out. They are as interesting as their names sound.

High Vinyl