The Dirty Dozen - May, 2008
From Philadelphia to Norway (via Dundee, of course) Nick Mitchell treks the sonic globe in search of this month's best song.
Most agree that the indie-fication of pop has been a change for the better. Except, that is, when bands like The Pigeon Detectives bring their knuckle-dragging post-Libertine shtick to the table with new single This Is An Emergency (2stars, 5 May). A rush of equally naff computer beeps heralds the debut single of Philadelphian electro-rock-bots Innerpartysystem. Don't Stop (2stars, 5 May) is quite good fun, in an emo kind of way. Speaking of emo, I'm not sure if Paramore fit the criteria, but they've got that strangely sanitized angst-rock down pat. That's What You Get (1star, 12 May) might be gash, but they sport some splendidly coiffured 'dos on the cover.
Figure 5, this month's new-band-from-Glasgow, offer a kind of garage punk that's anything but forward-thinking with debut single Rock of Gibraltar (2stars, 26 May). With cited influences like The Jam and Buzzcocks, they probably want to be seen as retro rockers anyway. Another debut single from the other side of the indie continuum: Oxford's A Silent Film come over all sensitive and slick on Sleeping Pills (3stars, 12 May), but they sound better than many of their soft-on-the-ear southerner peers. Just.
The Dirty Dozen wouldn't be complete without an Australian singer/songwriter, so step up Mr Kris Morris. Someone Sometimes (2stars, 5 May) is a downtempo love song that will fit nicely into Terry Wogan's Radio 2 playlist, if you catch my drift. Cazals are an utterly different proposition, but with Somebody, Somewhere (3stars, 5 May) they obviously attended the same vague school of song-naming. Nevertheless, this is sharp, punchy indie - and Casio keyboard noises are always a winner. This month's female singer/songwriter, Norwegian Ida Maria, upstages her male counterpart with Queen of the World (3stars, 12 May). An ode to getting sozzled that drinks from the same (presumably spiked) pint glass as the unnaturally chipper Jack Peñate.
Why should a band from Dundee pine for the Big Apple, as The Hazy Janes do on New York (3stars, 19 May)? Is the silvery Tay not inspiration enough? Whatever their home-town gripes, they make indie-pop that's safe but satisfying. Proving the theory that the point of art school isn't to paint but to form bands, Edinburgh's The Gussets arrive through our mailbox with Gortex Erotique (3stars, out now), a paean to seedy subculture that falls somewhere between The Slits and Le Tigre. Banish all thoughts of Enya before listening to Sail Away (3stars, 12 May) by The Thirst. This Brixton quintet make quality indie-rock that couldn't be further removed from the '80s warbler. The Skinny sang their praises in the last issue, and now - surprise surprise - Frightened Rabbit take single of the month with Fast Blood (4stars, 26 May), a beautifully simple track that takes its cue from the ragged-edged panache of The National.