Here I present the best national releases I have reviewed in the last 3 months for The Ocelot. In looking back at some of these firstly I realised I have been a little inconsistent with my scoring, and some of the records have improved with repeated listening, some not! Anyway, here is the snapshot of what I thought at the time…
Spector – Enjoy It While It lasts 5/5
Eagerly anticipated debut from London’s latest Indie Darlings. And a cracking record it is too, chock full of chant along melodies, sparky music and interesting beats. Influences from Roxy Music to Brit Pop are apparent, taking in stops with namesake Phil’s Wall Of Sound Motown output via Punk, New Wave and hints even of New Romanticism. Highlight is sing-along single Chevy Thunder, as addictive a piece of indie-pop as you are going to hear all year. This is the record The Vaccines should have made were they a more interesting band.
Serj Tankian – Harakiri 4/5
System Of A Down frontman heads back to familiar heavy rock territory with this 3rd solo album, moving away from the jazz and orchestral flavours of previous effort Imperfect Harmonies. And an impressive work it is, hitting a great compromise between heavy rhythms and punky riffs, melodic vocals and scathing, intelligent lyrics. The usual politicising is here, with frequent references to favoured topics like environmental destruction and media manipulation. But it remains a surprisingly accessible record thanks to the melodic writing.
Stealing Sheep – Into The Diamond Sun 4/5
Critics darlings Stealing Sheep have concocted a fantastic and eagerly anticipated debut album, a lo-fi pop record with a real DIY feel. This girlie 3 piece from Liverpool trade in harmony drenched vocals over psych-folk pop music. Some sixties pop influences rub shoulders with the folk, Psychedelia and punk tones that litter the recording resulting in what I can only describe as fairy-pop. There are some interesting vintage sounding instruments used alongside the modern electronica. At times it sounds like the drums were performed by Ringo Starr such is the authenticity of sound and rhythm.
Gallows – Gallows 4/5
First album for the new look Gallows, after the replacement of singer Frank Carter with former Alexisonfire man Wade Macneil. And it is business as usual. Yes the vocals are different, but there is all the bile, fury and attitude of old in these songs. Riffs are heavy, tempo is fast and the pointed lyrics are spat out with venom. And there is no pausing for breath, at all. This is modern punk at its best. Stunning stuff.
Lucy Rose – Like I Used To 4/5
Former Bombay Bicycle Club backing artist steps into the limelight with a brilliantly confident, striking and mature debut. Songs that are sometimes upbeat and poppy, or graceful, melancholic and soft showcase the many layers to her writing. Much of the record is filled with lush production and arrangements but it is the more Spartan numbers that allow her sultry style to flourish without ever losing sight of that breezy summertime feeling. Ideal dinner party background music to impress your mates.
Last Dinosaurs – In a Million Years 4/5
These young Aussie lads play sun-drenched, melodic indie-pop anthems that make the spirits soar. Kind of how The Wombats might sound had they grown up somewhere sunny instead of soggy Liverpool. Beautiful melodies, funked up beats, harmonious vocals and fragile trance vibes combine with a generous chunk of classic indie guitar muscle to create a fantastic debut that should be the third decent guitar band in your collection with Dinosaur in their name.
Huey And The New Yorkers – Say It To My Face 4/5
Band set up by Fun Lovin’ Criminal and 6Music DJ Huey Morgan. What you get is essentially a trawl through his musical heritage and passions. It is very much like his radio show condensed into 1 album of 12 original songs. And that is a very good thing. You get bits of soul, funk, hip hop, country, folk, disco, rock, pop and blues all blended together into a beautiful whole. Head bobbing genius and seriously too cool for school.