Review: The Sunshine Underground – Nobodys Coming To Save You

Second albums and their difficulties are well documented in the music world and they don’t come much more difficult than this. Four years ago The Sunshine Underground released the very promising  Raise The Alarm which was well received by critics and punters alike but just when it looked like they were destined for bigger and better things the disappeared. Much has changed in their absence in particular the New Rave scene which they were lazily pigeonholed into is effectively dead, so how does the album fair out?

Nobody’s Coming To Save You is spearheaded by their renowned fervor in a number of distinctive barnstormers full of synths, beats, swirling guitars and the familiar and opulent vocals of frontman Wellington with ‘Coming To Save You’ and ‘Spell It Out’. By the time the midway point is reached with ‘A Warning Sign’ it certainly feels like it has been worth the wait as the ferocity and intensity both musically and vocally appears to have no let up at all.

However as we enter into the final stages of the album things become less cohesive as suspicions that their heart and roots always lie in more traditional rock are confirmed with tracks  ‘The Messiah’, ‘Change Your Mind’ and ‘Any Minute Now’, all of which are heavy on the indie rock side of things. While they are delivered carefully and with all the confidence and attitude we have come to expect from the likes of Kasabian or Oasis something seems a little out-of-place as a result.

Nobody’s Coming To Save You has to be welcomed as it heralds the return of one of the most promising acts back into the fold. While it delivers a lot particularly vocally, it feels somewhat like an album that has been caught between two stools in an attempt to try and deliver some change, once that can be resolved they could potentially be firing on all cylinders. Roll on album number three, hopefully we won’t have to wait another four years.

Rating: 7/10

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Mystery Jets (Live) Dublin Academy April 17

Happy days! Amidst all the discussion surrounding the Electric Picnic line for 2010 which I will deal with at later date, I have just discovered Eel Pie’s finest, Mystery Jets are playing the Academy on Friday April 17. They have always stood out in what has been in recent times a largely bland indie ‘scene’ due to talent, eccentricity and peculiarity making them one of the best bands around. While their debut was ambitious it was a little lack lustre but the  follow-up Twenty One on the other hand was absolutely fantastic. I saw these guys way back in 2004 (for £4) supporting Bloc Party in a club in North Wales and they stole the show that night, but alas since then they have proved for one reason or another to be very elusive until now.

Tickets are on sale now and are €18.50

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Belfast Ahoy!

I’m Belfast bound today and it got me thinking about the rich cultural and musical heritage of the city. I’m not going to bore you with a long-winded article about cultural history or differences that exist in the city as I’m pretty sure we’re all aware of this and it sounds more like a module to be tackled on an undergraduate degree course. Both past and present there has been a steady stream of great bands and musicians to emerge from the city but for me  it will always be what it brought to the world of punk that makes it special.

In the late 70’s at the height of ‘The Troubles’ very few musicians would dare journey to Belfast or elsewhere in the North of Ireland with the exception of Rory Gallagher that is. This must have fed the musical despair and anger which led to one Belfast band in particular, Stiff Little Fingers setting the world alight with their debut album Inflammable Material. One of the key elements of their music is like all the great punk bands they looked at the socio-political environment they lived in and challenged it, in their case it was writing non-sectarian songs about the Troubles not just causes far away like the classic ‘Alternative Ulster’ and bloody curdling ‘Suspect Device’ to the brilliant much-needed and humourous ‘Barbed Wire Love’. The album became the first to be distributed by Rough Trade records and was the first independent album to chart in the UK when it reached number 14 in 1979.

Inflammable Material is still worthy of attention years later and their brash and angry punk is still as rousing today as it was then (I can imagine) especially if your lucky enough to get their material on vinyl. Lest we forget that Belfast is the city of Good Vibrations record label and store founded by Terri Hooley in the early 1970’s which is responsible for bringing Derry’s The Undertones to the world too.

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The photo is thanks to Zoe52

Review: Wounds – Dead Dead Fucking Dead (EP)

Having already established a redoubtable reputation for their explosive live sets at home and abroad, Wounds take aim at an unsuspecting public with Debut EP Dead Dead Fucking Dead. Wounds are possibly one of the most surprising acts to emerge from Dublin’s murky underground in recent times, assaulting the senses with a potent brand of hardcore punk fuelled by manic drums and dangerously addictive riffs. On a first listen it heralds memories of hearing The Exploited for the first time as a teenager.

The EP explodes out of the blocks with ‘Trees’ and ‘Ugly Mouth’ setting their stall out that they mean business with chugging riffs and furious drums accompanying shout-out-loud choruses throughout. They build up momentum and energy each time like an unstoppable juggernaut to reach an almost explosive crescendo with highlight and penultimate track ‘Pyramids’. This caustic racket leaves the rest of the songs seeming relativley tame by comparison due to the sheer strident and incendiary nature of this caustic racket.

This is a band that demands your full attention, to be honest it would be very hard not to comply as this EP is captivating from start to finnish. These guys are well worth the ones to watch tag which has been bandied about by sections of the musical media in Ireland and elsewhere, they can add another voice to that call from now on.

Wounds – Pyramids

Dead Dead Fucking Dead is released on March 29th. Wounds will play Dublin’s Odessa on April 9th and Psychofest in Twisted Pepper on April 24th.

Toddla T Mixing It Up

What the hell are they putting in the water in Sheffield?

Over the past few years there has been a steady stream of talent emerge from the post industrial city of Sheffield, current favourite Toddla T certainly deserves much more attention. He has been making a name for himself for a while now but 2009 was a big year for T which saw the release of album Skanky Skanky and his own Fabriclive 47,  both showcasing his ability to effortlessly shuffle through genres and styles at a reckless pace while rattling soundsysystems with his electro dancehall riddims.

Why are you telling us this I hear you say, because if you haven’t heard him yet it’s time you did and I have come across a few free remixes for you. It certainly looks as though he has picked up where he left off with latest remix of Dancehall Queen Lady Chan’s ‘Sticky Situation’. It’s full of  the electro riddims and thumping bass which have become his signature, coupled with Lady Chan’s husky voice and flow makes for a track capable of blowing up any dance floor. The other two mixes are of the same high standard and The Metros is a particularly fun, catchy mash-up of the original adolescent indie with a touch of reggae, electro beats and looping  MC-ing. Here’s hoping that rumours of a new album this year are founded.

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Mp3: Lords Of Flatbush – 999 (Toddla T Ross Orton Remix)

Mp3: The Metros – Clubhouse Riddim (Toddla T Remix)

Two Door Cinema Club

Yes these guys have probably got more attention than other new bands so far this year but it’s not undeserved. The Bangor three-piece have released a pretty solid and tight debut album in Tourist History which is brimming with energetic cheery indie tunes and at just over thirty minutes it doesn’t over stay its welcome. Thankfully the quality of their debut translates well to live performance as anyone who saw them rock out Dublin’s Button Factory earlier this month can verify.

Apart from drawing your attention to the obvious talents these guys possess there is also an ulterior motive here, I did a review of latest single ‘Undercover Martyn’ for DailyMusicGuide which you can read here. This is far from my best work but the song like the album is great and if you haven’t heard it yet it’s about time you did.

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Introducing: Losers

Sometimes you are lucky enough to stumble across a real gem completely unwittingly and that was the case yesterday when I was dually introduced to Losers. The inaptly named group are the combined talents of Eddy Temple Morris,  XFM Remix stalwart and Tom Bellamy of Cooper Temple Clause fame. Up until now these guys have been making their name as re-mixers for the likes of The Prodigy and Empire of The Sun .

So far their stuff is impressive and that’s after only two tracks, new single ‘Flush’ and ‘No Man is an Island’ which is is raspy heads-down electro at it’s best. The former is slick, catchy as hell ghetto fused electro which enlists the on point vocal abilities of Riz MC & Envy, who deliver pinpoint tit-for-tat rhyming so sharp they could cut themselves.  The video is  a work of sheer genius. It’s been a while since something so imaginative has been released, akin too a Victorian opium induced trip fueled by animations from Monty Python.

So far so good, if their future material is up to this standard we shall all be a lot better off.

Mp3: Losers – No Man is an Island

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Losers single ‘Flush’ is released through Distiller records on April 5th.