The Dirty Dozen - January, 2008
A new year of new musical masterpieces? Nick Mitchell assesses the first batch...
Plenty of new music to sample this month, but before the new come the seasoned veterans, though you could hardly call Sons And Daughters fogies and Darling (4 stars, 14 Jan) is another winner from the best exponents of Spector-meets-Cave guitar-pop. The Kills have often been lumbered with the 'poor man's White Stripes' tag but they're miles better than that, and comeback track U.R.A Fever (3 stars, 7 Jan) reclaims their primal chemistry with overhauled production. The ever-reliable British Sea Power return with a fanfare, Waving Flags (4 stars, 7 Jan) no less. Big, epic but not self-important, the waves of guitar break overhead while a chanted chorus aims straight for the heart.
And now for those fresh-faced newbies...
Hello Wembley claim to be a backlash against "style over substance bands like Bloc Party or Franz Ferdinand". But their meek rebellion, Up Great Britain (1 star, 14 Jan), is an embarrassingly daft, Sex Pistols-aping whine about how modern life, like, sucks. Kele and Kapranos can sleep soundly for now. Lightspeed Champion's Tell Me What It's Worth (2 stars, 7 Jan) is disappointing, considering former Test Icicle Dev Hynes's talent: this sugary warbler is distinctly ho-hum. Similarly uninspired is Single Sedative (2 stars, 14 Jan), the debut from Pennsylvanian trio Eastern Conference Champions. For those old enough, this has a whiff of Reef about it. Says it all really [Oi, you can't mess with Replenish! - Ed]. The Courteeners are, ostensibly, another northern band who sing about dole queues and a 'bit of rough', and What Took You So Long? (2 stars, 14 Jan) is stuck in a time warp of 80s chiming guitar and social inertia.
Matters improve with Brighton's South Central, the latest act to scale the boundary fence between rock and dance. Golden Dawn (3 stars, 7 Jan) is a gut-wrenching mash of feedback, techno, robot voices and the barely identifiable remains of guitar. Former OBE frontman Matt Thomson resurfaces with a new band and a record deal: Disco Dancer (3 stars, 7 Jan) by Parka will be familiar to fans of Edinburgh's favourite punk-funk sons, although it's been given the commercial treatment here.
In its short history so far this column has saved its harshest words for acoustic solo artists, but Aussie troubadour Derrin Nauendorf's Shipwrecked (3 stars, 17 Jan) is undeserving of such scorn – he's got character see. The eccentric SAY may hail from darkest Lancashire, but they're no miserablists. Instead, Yr Kicks (4 stars, 28 Jan) is a happy-clappy, shimmering indie-pop mirage. But single of the month goes to The Mae Shi for Run To Your Grave (4 stars, 14 jan). In uncertain times, nostalgia is good and this tune uses one of the pre-installed beats from my childhood keyboard as the intro before its lo-fi rhythm is developed with fuzzy guitar and an ice-melting chorus. Genius.