Dodging the lazy journalistic comparisons with Beck, Tom Vek returns with one of the definite highlights from the 'We Have Sound' album. Despite the fact that 'Nothing but Green Lights' has been doing the rounds for over a year, having appeared on an early Vek EP, it still sounds as fresh as the first time Gigwise heard it. Vek's now instantly recognisable deadpan delivery rhymes lines about driving a "1989 Mercedes Benz" over a staccato flash of an electronic beat and a melt in the ether baseline. Irresistible.
George Bush and Tony Blair must be having some terrible nightmares inhabited by the seething, immense hulk of Guy Garvey launching a scathing attack on their policies in Iraq. 'Leaders of the Free World' are those nightmares come to life in the form of a morose, darkly pounding and typically Elbow drone. Garvey doesn't quite make it onto his soapbox but instead opts for the use of his razor sharp wit as he calls Dubya and Tone "just little boys throwing stones". Fuck the Tories Elbow are now the true opposition.
The makers of lighters in the UK must be thanking their lucky stars The Magic Numbers came along. For in the space of six months they've managed to produce a whole host of flame waving anthems for the fans to sway along to. 'Love's a Game' is no exception as Romeo Stoddart swoons with breathy ease notes trip off strings into a vat of syrup sweet melodies hiding the true bittersweet meaning of the lyrics. Is it any wonder The Magic Numbers are on the EMI imprint Heavenly because no other word could describe this better?
You'd need more than two hands (more like ten!) to count the number of times Gigwise has had to say "yet another re-release" this year and no doubt we'll have to use the line a few more times before 2005 is out. Next in the queue - Maximo Park with 'Apply Some Pressure' - the only saving grace is that as "things turn out" this is a completely brilliant track even if we did know that back in January. Paul Smith almost leaps out of the speakers at you as he soars across majestically angular guitars and charity shop keyboards. Next!
Now children you may think it's a bit sad to like a track by an artist that your Dad fancied over twenty years ago, but Kate Bush deserves your attention. In a era of identikit pop stars we should thank our lucky stars that Bush has come back from the abyss to grace us with her presence and with 'King of the Mountain' she doesn't disappoint. Five minutes of Bush's eerily beautiful voice and a windswept ethereal melody proves truly mesmerising. Simplistic in the extreme it may be, but a great comeback it is also.
The Modern are inexcusably trying to be so cool that they forgot that to be a good band takes more then good threads, nice hair cuts and 80s references â€“ you actually need some good songs too. â€˜Jane Falls Downâ€™ is a particularly bad three and a half minutes of posing and pouting glued together with a music by numbers synth beat and vocals a la a bad Stars In Your Eyes contestants. If ever there was an example of why scenesters should stick to being clothes horses and stay away from making music, this is it.
Morning Runner are a front - a front of beautifully melodic indie hiding the dark and twisted soul which lays beneath. Never more so than on new single â€˜Be All You Want Me To Beâ€™ which twins an almost James like searing piano led rock concerto and scorching guitar riffs with a melancholic tale of lifeâ€™s hardships - all in perfect symbiosis. It's music for down and outs with an uplifting tinge. On this form they may just grace us with one of the best albums of the next six months.
What do you get if you cross the shouty synth led beats of Test Icicles with the achingly danceable hooks of Franz Ferdinand and the boredom of living in a South Wales village? A band to dismiss the stain on society that is Lost Prophets and a band that can produce the cerebral attack of a debut single that is 'Recover'. They are The Automatic. Looking certain to rip the beer stained lino off every indie disco dance floor in the land it jives and juts itself into oblivion while barely taking a breath to check its skinny jeans are all present and correct. Remember the name Au-to-ma-tic.
Meanwhile, in the north of Wales a sleeker more refined force is rising in the form of Crosbi. While they may have less of a thudding impact than The Automatic there is no denying they can definitely turn themselves to a driving riff and towering baseline. New single 'Coastline' is a strung out twisting mixture of Andrew Jones' tortured vocals and a deft alliance of a kicking drum beat and cut glass guitars. Who said Yorkshire was the hot bed of British guitar music?!
With their new subdued style and mature attitude you may have thought Supergrass had lost the wackiness and exuberance of their youth, but thatâ€™s clearly not so. In the video for â€˜Low Câ€™ they battle to save the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee, getting behind the â€˜Save Our Tailsâ€™ campaign. So you see, Supergrass havenâ€™t changed at all theyâ€™ve simply begun to make a more beautifully considered and atmospheric version of their past selves that grows into your conscience rather than slapping you in the face.
In Gigwiseâ€™s mind pedestrian stadium rock should be banished from Earth for the rest of time and then we wouldnâ€™t be forced to listen to the likes of The Glitterati. For â€˜Back In Powerâ€™ is like a sub Velvet Revolver Gun nâ€™ Roses rip off with added dumbed down lyrics. It full on stomps its way across everything that came out of the sleaze pits of LA in the late 80s and desecrates its grave. And then at the end when you breath a massive sigh of relief they put you through it all again on the B-side. Aaaarrrggghh!
One day Chris Evans will have to face up to the consequences for all the misery he has brought upon the British public. Top of his list of crimes will be convincing Texas to make a comeback, shouts of "Hang him!" should reign forth for that misdemeanour alone. For, while Sharleen Spiteri remains interminably hot up front, Texas continue to unleash endless minutes of middle of the road pop-rock pap and latest single 'Can't Resist' is no different. Maybe Evans should be played all Texas' hits back to back continuously until he either gives up on life or says sorry.
Best of the Rest:
Vanlustbader â€“ 'Here We Go Again'
Not much is expected of Australian bands when hey cross the globe to break the UK but Vanlustbader are a band to take notice of. â€˜Here We Go Againâ€™ is a quirky fusion of electro-indie and straight rock that leaves you wanting just a little bit more.
The Shortwave Set â€“ 'Repeat To Fade'
They call their music â€œVictorian Funkâ€ and it is really is as off kilter as it sounds with timid mouse like vocals, charmingly simple sci-fi electronics and a slightly deranged sensuality. If the Victorians really did have funk like this theyâ€™ve gone up in Gigwiseâ€™s estimations.
TV-OD â€“ 'Recognise Us'
Ruffed up synths rip at buzzing guitar riffs with an aggressively sarcastic attitude while the front man sings â€œDo you recognise us?â€ In the background the female vocalists groans with orgasmic pleasure taunting and teasing the whole thing to ecstatic heights.