The only real difficulty is that they almost sound like a brilliant pop band

Pity the maverick, won’t you? While blinkered bands peddle straightforward (read: drab), indie ‘Music For The People’ with nary a murmur of complaint, others stick their heads above the parapet with something inventive only to be met, far too often, with the suspicion that they’re over-complicating things. That smart, creative bands are somehow reneging on music’s main purpose (presumably to make us want...

 
 
 

No longer too pop to be art and too art to be pop, The Maccabees are evolving into their own entity

Bookish tendencies are by no means a bad thing, but there’s always been an air of wimpy feyness about The Maccabees that suggests Orlando Weeks and his crew spent their art-school days stalking the corridors like nerve-wracked velociraptors, bobbing their heads appreciatively at fetching pairs of clogs. So while 2007 debut ‘Colour It In’ was a commendable set of art-pop confections, it was short on bite and...

 
 
 

As ’80s revivalism hits its self-fellating peak, it’s a pleasure to hear an album that knows escapism isn’t dressing up like a fucking unicorn

We might be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us,” goes the saying, but now, finally, the past is through with Future Of The Left. Their debut ‘Curses’, stunning though it was, was beset by memories of the members’ former bands and subsequently ignored by anyone without intimate knowledge of Cardiff’s DIY music scene (ie, almost everyone). But now FOTL can move forward as A Band...

 
 
 

Beyond the hype lay something really special

Never let the music get in the way of a good story. So goes the music journo mantra in a world where quotes rule over chords and headlines matter more than basslines. With this in mind, Girls’ press coverage is pretty much guaranteed before they’ve even played a note.

Lead singer and songwriter Christopher Owen was raised in a cult where pop music was banned, women sold themselves for sex and...

 
 
 

Their charmingly rustic debut suggested greater things to come

The problem of authenticity in folk is as old as the Appalachians. Ever since masters of the form were plucked from under rocks and corralled into chic NYC café venues for the edification of right-on students in the early ’60s, folk has signalled something desirable yet tantalisingly out-of-reach for fed-up inhabitants of the lonesome, crowded west.

Mumford and Sons might sound like the name of a...

 
 
 

Pure indie-pop to hold close to your heart

This time last year it was as if someone had been leaving copies of ‘Graceland’ in every thrift-store in Brooklyn. Now it seems like someone has come across a job lot of NME’s legendary ‘C86’ tape of fey indie bands, because they’re all at it – Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and now this lot.

Everything from the oh-so-twee name to singer Kip Berman’s affected English accent screams wrong,...

 
 
 

It wasn't 'The Holy Bible'. Then again, what is?

If we have to define Manic Street Preachers’ ninth album ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’, then let’s begin with what it isn’t. This is not ‘The Holy Bible Mark II’. This is not another state of the alienation address.

In 1991 the balance of power in rock music shifted dramatically after the release of two albums: 'Nevermind’ by Nirvana and the eponymous ‘Black Album’ by Metallica. The...

 
 

13

La Roux

 

Much, much more than just those singles

Annie Lennox’s stern, android persona. The asexually metallic voice of Neil Tennant. Marc Almond and Andy Bell’s flamboyant vocals. During the ’80s, the labour-saving potential of the synthesizer allowed for Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys, Soft Cell and Erasure to develop a new form.

The electropop duo was a perfect yin/yang, the anonymous machine operator and their asexual and ambiguous singer, and...

 
 
 

Out of the desert came a challenging third album. See yer later, casual fans

You do wonder whether, in their treehouse, the Arctic Monkeys haven’t got a copy of the lyrics to ‘Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?’ pasted to the wall, with the important bits circled. Never were truer words spoken in drawl: “Stick to the guns. Don’t care if it’s marketing suicide…”
So, as they Montgolfier off on the magical balloon ride that is ‘Humbug’, over the side they chuck about...

 
 
 

A multi-coloured yet unexpectedly risky return

Oasis. Lad rock. There, three words in and that’s the phrases obligatory to all Kasabian reviews out of the way. Good. Now we can move on, because they certainly have. Did you see last week’s NME cover? Does that look like a band to be adored solely by Stella-swigging football hooligans? If you haven’t already, go watch the Noel Fielding-starring video to ‘Vlad The Impaler’.

In fact, listen...

 
 
 
 
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