Each week Little Indie takes three guest reviewers and six new tracks, and after giving them a spin through the headphones, they then give their opinion on each.
This week's panel: Little Indie editor, Linn Branson; guitarist with emerging Cardiff trio, Red Telephone, Kieran O'Brien; founder of live club night promoters This Feeling, Mikey Jonns.
SAD BOYS CLUB - 15/01
From Crouch End come North London's new five-piece, following December's debut 'Know' with this just released single named after a diary entry frontman Jacob Wheldon etched at a questionable point in his life. Sad Boys Club draw on an amalgamation of influences to craft an emotive, inherently ambitious indie-pop sound.
Linn Branson: I will admit to bias here as I love these guys and really think they have a lot of potential. ('Know' was a beaut debut and which they should reissue later.) Jacob Wheldon is one of my favourite three vocalists - with Henry from Sea Girls and Stereo Honey's Pete - so I am giving this a big 5. Plus, Jacob has loads of starry Twitter followers like Matt Healy, so I am hoping a good plug here will earn me not just brownie points, but Twitter ones too! 5/5
Kieran O'Brien: Well produced and I can hear a lot of thought has gone into the instrumentation and recording. This song is at its best in the instrumental sections; particularly the run from 2:40 through to 3:05 which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Julian Casablancas solo record. It’s not bad overall but I think the band would benefit from mirroring the dynamism in the instrumentation with more interesting vocal lines. 2.5/5
Mikey Jonns: Proper Cure vibe here. Usually this for a new band means shite! But, wow, this is absolutely amazing. Special. This is goosebumps good. 5/5
Total score: 12.5/15
BLUE OCTOBER - I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY
Title track and first single from their ninth album (set for a June release) by the San Marcos, Texas-based alt-rock four-piece band, known for shimmering rock songs and haunting lyrics on albums that date back to 2009’s Billboard Top 15 debut, 'Approaching Normal'.
LB: Anyone who knows me knows my avid dislike of rock: hard rock, soft rock, pop rock, especially American arena rock - just no, no, no! So I should hate this, but surprisingly Justin Furstenfeld's voice - which makes this track - has got me; the verses are really addictive - though I'm not so keen on the chorus - and it's hard to sit still to, so... 4.5/5
KOB: This starts out promisingly with an infectious danceable beat and Win Butler-esque vocals in the first verse; all good by this point. Unfortunately, the chorus is pretty derivative for my tastes and the song meanders a bit without going anywhere after that. Catchy tune which I could see getting a decent amount of airplay. 2/5
MJ: Absolute mega tune. Nothing much more needs to be said here! 4/5
Total score: 10.5/15
NERVOUS TWITCH - THESE FOUR WALLS
Following their third LP, 'I Won't Hide', released last November, another infectiously fuzzy pop tune from the Leeds garage-pop-punk three-piece. Inspired by a shared love of the Ramones and other 70s punk bands, 60s girl group such as the The Ronettes.
LB: The opening - "is this the dawn of a new beginning, or just another Monday morning?" - has been going round in my head all week! Delivered in Erin's vocal style, makes it a catchy punk grower. This track, was originally the b-side to 'That Weird Guy'. It should be bumped up for its own recognition - it's fab. 4/5
KOB: There’s definitely something to admire about the stripped down production - a rattling acoustic guitar being the only instrumentation apart from the vocals. The tune is pretty infectious too, as are the angsty opening lines. But ambitious as the bare production is, it also exposes the lack of dynamism and not really going anywhere. 2/5
MJ: Yep, dig these. DIY punk-pop done good. 3/5
Total score: 9/15
DANCEHALL - DRONERS
Out via Vibe-Anti Vibe on March 23 - and coming from the forthcoming debut album (due June) - by the London/Kent-based post-punk trio. The track with a shoegaze undertone features a single guitar note, effected with tape delays, buzzing through the entirety of the song. Lyrically, singer Tim said the single is about “the torture of being in love. All the fear, self-doubt and anxiety one goes through on the journey of companionship, along with the lust, passion and the uncertainty when you place your life in the hands of another.”
LB: This is so my kind of thing. Some will possibly think differently, particularly with that single guitar note drone, but I feel it works well with Tim's vocal and is not overly intrusive. Definitely one to have on repeat - as I have. Best yet from them. 5/5
KOB: I like the fuzzy guitars and the pounding snare drum. The driving bass and moody vocal give it a nice sense of urgency too; basically it all sounds pretty good. Would’ve liked to hear a bit more variation around the single droning guitar note that runs throughout the song to make it sound that bit more vital, but it’s definitely good. Would be keen to hear more from this band. 3.5/5
MJ: Proper stoner, shoegaze vibes here. Dig. 3/5
Total score: 11.5/15
OH MADDIE - YOUTH
Released February 16 via Dog Heart Records following its premiere on Radio X by John Kennedy, the London-based
Ben Rowntree and Jack Pepper, launch this as their debut single. Adopted as a baby from Romania, Rowntree's stark narrative explores the trauma and shortcomings of the past while at the same time expressing optimism and hope for the future via an Americana spin. Oh, and you can dance to it too.
LB: There's a Springsteen feel here; in fact, it could quite easily have come off 'Born To Run'. I think they should let BS have a listen to this. Love the vocal, and its American feel should go down well across the pond. Classy debut. 4/5
KOB: I think this is really good. Excellent arrangement and compelling story-telling. The song floats along with the lyrics spat out at a feral rate without ever feeling forced or squashed in to fit the melody. I love the vocal delivery too – nothing has been left in the vocal booth. One of the best things I’ve heard from a new band in a while. 4.5/5
MJ: Great vocals and songwriting. High class Springsteen-esque anthemic Americana rock. Love it. 4/5
Total score: 12.5/15
QUEEN ZEE - VICTIM AGE
Latest single from the Liverpool queer-core punk outfit, released last Friday on the band’s own label, Sasstone Records. Defined by their riotous sound, this is a typically high-energy track that thrashes through politically charged lyrics, drawing heavily on a variety of musical influences, from the teenage rampage that was the punk rock explosion to the wildest elements of exploratory 80s pop.
LB: Undecided, is my first reaction here. I can visualize mosh pit frenzy when this is done live, and it's certainly loud, bold and energetically brash, but it doesn't hold me as much as it probably should. 3.5/5
KOB: This is a super fun recording, starts at a million miles an hour and doesn’t let up for the entire song. Really like the vocal, love the Sonic Youth-esque dissonant guitar lines and could imagine ‘Welcome to your victim age’ being chanted as the crowd walks out of a gig. 4/5
MJ: Explosive power-punk-pop. Fans of Cabbage/HTML will love 'em. Can imagine their live show is incredible. 4/5
Total score: 11.5/15