The Dirty Dozen - January, 2009

The time for Slade and Wizzard has passed: it's new music we crave. Nick Mitchell rates the first batch of 2009.

Single Review by Nick Mitchell | 01 Jan 2009

Travis have moved on from the traditional method of singing pop songs for other people. Now they sing a Song To Self (**, 5 Jan). Like much of their output since The Man Who, it’s inoffensive and melodious but largely forgettable, so just as well no-one’s listening. Travis aren’t the only band with a boy’s name. Alan are a London four-piece who release their debut single Shine (**, 19 Jan) this month. With their free use of organ and trippy, swirling guitars this is listenable but hardly groundbreaking psych-rock. Banjo or Freakout is the musical moniker of Alessio Natalizia, a London-based Italian who caught some attention with a DIY cover of Burial. Mr No (***, 12 Jan), his debut single proper, is a dreamy, gauzy number, like Panda Bear without the Beach Boys harmonics. It’s backed by an acoustic cover of LCD Soundsystem’s Someone Great, which isn’t a patch on the original - or Franz Ferdinand’s version for that matter.

They start the female singer/songwriters early these days. Lisa Mitchell is just 17, and her debut single Neopolitan Dreams (***, 19 Jan) is a sweet little breeze of folk-pop. What it’s got to do with Naples is a mystery to me. Shirley Lee, frontman (yes, man) of Britpop nearly-men Spearmint, takes time away from his bandmates to release his debut solo single The Smack of the Pavement in Your Face (**, 26 Jan). It's predictably saccharine and tuneful, but nothing to make you sit up and take notice. More interesting is Mareado (3stars, 19 Jan) by Leeds trio Lord Auch. Steeped in the weird lyricism of the art school scene, they make thoughtful indie-pop with a dark streak. A band name like Safe2say doesn’t bode well. And even if I was a fifteen-year-old with a straightened fringe, a taste for metal accessories and an ear for Lost Prophets, 3 Sides to Every Story (*, 26 Jan) would still give me a headache. Deltasound fail to raise the bar with Dust Can Explode (*, 19 Jan), a wholly inept, stultifying attempt at alt.rock.

Is the world ready for a band who sound like Lisa Maffia fronting the Happy Mondays? Reverend & The Makers’ Jon McClure evidently thinks so, since he was the culprit behind the formation of Mongrel. Comprising rapper Lowkey and ex-members of the Arctic Monkeys and Babyshambles, this ragtag bunch fail to gel on debut single Hit From the Morning Sun (**, 26 Jan). Le Corps Mince de Francoise want you to think they are the new CSS - albeit from Finland, not Brazil. And despite Bitch of the Bitches (2stars, 26 Jan) boasting quite a fresh electro beat, it sounds more like a Peaches cover band, if there were such a thing. Shempi (***, 12 Jan) is far from the best song on Ratatat’s last album, but with an organ riff that sounds vaguely like an old Scottish reel, it’s a notch above the average this month. This may be predictable, given The Skinny’s well-documented love for this band, but TV on the Radio claim Single of the Month with Dancing Choose (****, 12 Jan), an urgent, rap-led standout from Dear Science.