Critic: July

Fink in Brighton SOURCE at www.brightonsource.co.uk Brighton’s best listings, music and culture magazine

EP: ADOLESCENT •
Run Away From Bad People (adolescent.bandcamp.com)
On this debut EP from Brighton-born producer Alex Parish, each track floats hypnotically through to the next, displaying down-tempo electronic soundscapes combined with gentle glitch and trip hop undertones. Opener ‘TLE’ mimics Alex’s struggle with temporal lobe epilepsy and the resulting seizures. It’s accompanied by an emotive semi-documentary music video mostly shot and edited by Alex himself. The video takes you by the hand and leads you through Alex’s experience of TLE. A promising start. (JG)

ALBUM: BIRDENGINE •
The Crooked Mile (Bleeding Heart)
When a CD review can’t be summed up with ‘it’s X meets Y’, we’re kind of forced to dig a little deeper for a description. This is pretty much one of them, X and Y usually suggesting integers of conventionality. Birdengine has an eerie beauty about it; fairly conventional song structuring in that it doesn’t willfully disorientate the listener, but with an underlying sense of unease underpinning much of the content. The 10 tales of strung-out supernature run from accordion to castanets, with softly angry guitar picking that pricks the gentle baroque like a rusty pin. (NC)

ALBUM: FINK •
Perfect Darkness (Ninja Tune)
Ninja’s lone troubadour (although we’re always reminded of his past as an electronic producer and DJ), Fink is now four albums into this genre incarnation and it’s clear he’s earned his place at the table. This time out there’s a brooding menace to the songs with a handful of the darkness suggested by the collection’s title. Reflective guitars, strings and light percussion trail the smooth vocal, with the mood lifting often enough to deliver a rounded summation of emotional exploration, from fear to optimism and beyond. (NC)

ALBUM: JEAN-GOUGH FRAIS •
Sssh… (jean-gough-frais.bandcamp.com)
The sleek, urbane Jean-Gough Frais is like a modern-day Casanova holding court in a West Street nightclub. Oozing effortless charm and unsettling sleaze in equal measures, his smooth talking creates visions of sun cream, dirty dancing and sunglasses at night. Reliving 70s funk and filling a gap in the music market that no-one knew existed, Frais’ slick lyrics and crafted riffs are catchier than most diseases. Imagine the lovechild of Sid James and James Bond trying to seduce you at 4am, and you’re nearly there. (JMM)

SINGLE: MARY HAMPTON •
Honey In The Rock (Rough Trade)
Former recipient of Mojo’s Folk Album Of The Month, Mary Hampton makes a sound that’s resolutely diminutive and delicate, a subtle mélange of guitar, ukulele and gentle brass with just the vaguest hint of percussion. Against this mouse-like orchestra is the most haunting voice we’ve heard in a while, beautifully bucolic and managing to be almost apologetically epic without any hint of artifice or cynicism. A Brighton treasure, she’s definitely worth investigating if you don’t know her already. (NC)

EP: ITAL TEK •
Whip It Up (Atom River)
It’s been over a year since his melodic and clinical ‘Midnight Colour’ album took the dubstep world to a new dimension, and Ital Tek, or Alan to his mother, has created ‘Whip It Up,’ probably not in homage to Willow Smith. The four-track EP features the futuristic soundscapes he’s known for: intense basslines simmer behind artificial synths and glitchy, scratchy melodies. An evolution in the progression of dubstep surely awaits. (JMM)

EP: LIONS ARE SMARTER THAN I AM •
American Idle (lionsaresmarterthaniam.bandcamp.com)
A follow-up from last year’s ‘Pop Idle’ release, this local post-rock outfit are developing an acute sound, putting them far away from anything you’ve heard before. Clearly those masters of the genre Mogwai have been a big influence on the band, but only as an omniscient presence – watching over this trio as they utilise various pedals and effects to make their own recipe for powerful, melodic and predominantly lyricless music. You can listen to first single ‘Galbras’ and download their first EP online. (JC)

EP: MEAN POPPA LEAN •
Live On Twelve Legs (Massive Artists)
For a band whose reputation is principally built on their live shows, it makes obvious sense to showcase the energy and ability of the gigs on record. This seven-track EP features highlights of the set that’s rocked crowds at the V and Isle Of Wight festivals and will be taking to the road across the UK in September. It’s heavily rooted in soul, r’n'b and funk, all shot through an unapologetic prism of rock to arrive at a sound that spells good times and sunny climes. Check them out at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar on Saturday 16th. (NC)

ALBUM: THE MOJO FINS •
Shake The Darkness (Amazon)
Since their debut album in 2009 the band have cranked up the epic levels; these songs soar with anthemic confidence. The production stewardship of Dave Eringa (Manics, Idlewild) truly brings the songs to life, juggling crescendos of analogue guitar warmth with live strings and keys against towering vocal harmonies. The tunes are there, the hooks are there – you’re unlikely to hear a more accomplished and self-assured album this year. The Mojo Fins just have to transfer it to a national audience, and that can only be a matter of time. (NC)

SINGLE: NATIVE ROSES •
Colours (Creek Records)
A troupe of young bohemians, Native Roses’ debut release is the culmination of several tentative arrangements of the same loose circle of friends and housemates. Their trademark close-knit vocal harmonies come over like a family band singing on the porch at sunset – in equal parts mournful Appalachian ballad (the girls) and rugged British rock’n'roll (the boys). This familial closeness is tipped off by the central refrain; “we’ll all just fall into each others arms” – the theme song for a band of 21st century folk minstrels. (MB)

ALBUM: OMAR
Sing (If You Want It) (Tru Thoughts •)
You might remember Omar from his soul classic ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ in 1992. You might not have been born of course, but trust us – it was a big hit when singles actually sold. 13 years later, he made this album and finally looked set for worldwide recognition. Collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, Estelle and Jo Bentley were the credibility confirmations he needed, but the record company went bust a week after it came out and it sort of sank. So Tru Thoughts have stepped up and given the album a deserved second chance, making this a true soul survivor. (NC)

EP: PINK NARCISSUS •
Block Your Ears/Shield Your Eyes (reverbnation.com/pinknarcissus)
The last time we reviewed a PN release, we were impressed by the scratchy and dissolute, don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that spewed from the speakers. With this latest EP, the balls are still there in spades but, boy, have they dropped. There’s a decidedly commercial air about these latest songs; a rounder production that takes the deliciously doomy pessimism of the band and confuses any previous notions of what radio-friendly means. Shades of Jane’s Addiction and 80s Matchbox bleed through, in what amounts to the band’s best work to date by a mile. (NC)

ALBUM: PINT SIZE HERO •
Get Your Kicks (pintsizehero.com)
This just describes itself as a rock’n'roll record – no mucking about with subgenres here – and it certainly lives up to that time-honoured moniker. Tidal waves of guitar smash away everything in their path, with energetic echoes of Wolfmother and even The Who, but it’s certainly not just volume and velocity. The songs here just don’t sound like a new, self-funded and unsigned band at all; it’s a massive accomplishment. Not just in the professional sound they’ve achieved, but in the way they obviously and instinctively know how rock’n'roll works. (NC)

SINGLE: POPE JOAN •
The Celebration/Billy’s Bride (myspace.com/popejoan)
These former SOURCE cover stars never fail to impress us – and this double-header single is no exception. There’s a post-punk edginess to the songs with an avant-garde narrative slant, all somehow enveloped with a melodic pop sheen that insists you’re listening to something inherently commercial and accessible. If percussive guitar menace can be delivered with suave moustache panache, it certainly is here. Get it, and if you haven’t caught up with the last single ‘A Drowning’ yet, get that as well. Pope Joan are ace. (NC)

DEMO OF THE MONTH: THE DENIM •
(soundcloud.com/thedenim)
After Suede and Corduroy comes the latest fabric-based band to catch our attention. With demos we’re not necessarily looking for production excellence or a faultless mix – indeed these can sometime distract from a lack of substance beneath. But the songs in The Denim’s Soundcloud set all have a basis of greatness about them – loose, melodic and ear-pleasing rock with thoughtful lyricism and an overall air of promise we’re only too happy to publicise. (NC)

WORDS BY MATT BARKER, NICK COQUET, JAKE CUNNINGHAM, JOSEPH GRANT, JESSICA MARSHALL MCHATTIE

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