Luring you in with musical wailings…

Life is a funny thing isn’t it? In the same week that you watch Michelle Heaton on Celeb Come Dine With Me walking knickerless down a flight of stairs with all the dignity of a Yak in heat, you hear an amazing song by a North East girl band which immediately makes you sit up and want to scream like…well, a yak in heat.

And then you only go and find out that the two things are bloody connected! Sirens are a North East girl band whose original line up involved none other than the vagina flashing dignitary herself. Heaton left before the band’s debut single- a cover of N*E*R*D’s ‘Things Are Gettin’ Better’ was released, and it’s funny to think how, while Heaton’s career has been reduced to appearing on reality TV shows with her lulu out, the band she left all those years ago recently released their third studio album and appear to be going from strength to strength.

Having been together for over ten years, Sirens have almost certainly earned their stripes when it comes to their place in the music business. Not only did some of the girls sell their cars in the early days and even sleep rough in order to pay for studio demos, they’ve also managed to make serious waves in the US and Japan through a combination of sheer hard work and a determination which has seen them stick together while countless other girl bands have gone to that big old harmoniser in the sky. In an industry focussed overwhelmingly in London, there’s also something charmingly endearing about the girls decision to remain in their home city of Newcastle- another indication that the three girls who make up Sirens are confident enough to do things their own way.

Their latest album #3: Opium Apathy, released early last year, features a collection of catchy electro pop tracks which. while not exactly breaking new ground, would still probably make the current Sugababes line up weep into their spray on PVC suits. Songs like ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Stilettos’ contain a fun, dance edged and, dare I say, Gaga-esque beat, while ‘Murda’ and ‘Damn Right’ head in a more urban direction. However, the stand out track comes in the form of ‘Good Enough’- a fizzing electro ballad with an irresistible melody that sees the girls harmonising in the same enchanting manner as the mythical figures from which they take their name.

It’s been a tough old time for girlbands in the last few years. 2011 saw countless groups try to make it and often failing- SoundGirl, Wonderland, Belle Amie, WooWoos, BelleVoxxx and BeachGirl5 (‘Ohhhhhh THEM!’ *confused face*) to name but a few. But sticking together for ten years and releasing three albums suggest that Sirens are more than capable of navigating their own way through the rocky pop terrain that so many of their contemporaries have broke careers on.

And if the music thing goes tits up from now on they can always be filmed serving up a lamb shank to Peter Stringfellow on Channel 4, right?

‘Oh hooray! ANOTHER ‘best of’ music list!! SO excited for this one!!!!!!

*ties noose*

Ok, so when it comes to end of year lists the internet is literally rammed with wank. It’s all ‘top ten this’ and ‘playlist that’ and ‘OMG U PUT SUSAN BOYLE B4 NICOLA ROBERTS?? LIKE, WTF?!!’. In some ways it’s nice to have those lists to bookend the year and remind you of that random song you loved way back in February before that other song came and shat all over it- they (usually) acknowledge the tracks which have defined the year for most people and (the best reason for these lists in my opinion) may even help to finally introduce someone to a song which somehow managed to pass them by during the last twelve months.

But at a certain point it all begins to seem a bit meaningless. We KNOW that ‘Born This Way’ was a fucking amazing album, and that while Lady Gaga might still be doing a major cock tease re: the whole ‘Heavy Metal Lover single release’ sitch (GET ON IT GAGA CHEERS THANKS TA), ‘Marry The Night’ and ‘Edge Of Glory’ were still above average songs. We KNOW that Adele pretty much smashed it with ‘Someone like You’ this year, that Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’ is a breathtaking piece of song writing, and that Rihanna yet again pulled it out the bag with ‘We Found Love’.  Even your bloody gran could probably nail the rap to Super Bass while making you a cuppa and acknowledge that it is ‘a fucking good tune’.

And don’t lists just make everything seem a bit, well, dull? The whole joy of music is that it’s a fluid, ever evolving experience- a song which seemed amazing three months ago may seem a bit grey and dull in the light of newer releases, only to sneak up on you again in a few months and give your ears a big old frenchie. It’s those little idiosyncrasies in music which make it so fun and exciting. To pin it all down in a nice, neat, ordered list seems like the equivalent of replacing the chocolate fingers and bouncy castle at a kids party with plain digestives and a Sudoku puzzle.

WHICH BRINGS ME NICELY ON TO MY END OF YEAR LIST. (Horaaaaaayzzzzzzzz)

Firstly, this is not a list of the best songs of the year. There have been so many amazing songs out this year that choosing even five would be impossible. Instead, it’s a list of songs which, for one reason or another, made my iTunes library that little bit more special in 2011. Some of them may have sold less copies than a ‘Steve Brookstein Sings Dad Rock’ CD, and be relatively unknown, but they each bought something to the table. In the case of Unicorn Kid, Charli XCX, Saint Saviour etc, they introduced us to some amazing talent which may well come to bend the sounds of the charts to their will over the next few years, while in other cases such as Roxette they demonstrate that even after nearly thirty years in the biz you can still knock up a balls out tune.

So go and have a tea break Lana, and let’s give Gaga some time to go and find a bin to piss in before she unleashes album number three next year. It’s time to shine a light on some of the songs which brightened up 2011 in their own special, understated way.

UNICORN KID- BOYS OF PARADISE

For me Unicorn Kid has to be one of the most exciting artists around at the moment. Armed with an electronic feather duster and industrial sized can of Mr Sheen, this year he managed to dust off the naff cobwebs from the chiptune genre and shine it up to something exciting, fresh and bursting with energy. While Unicorn Kid is no stranger to the music industry (he’s been remixing and releasing songs since he was 15), this year he began to refine his sound and demonstrate what he’s truly capable of. Songs like Boys Of Paradise combine elements of chiptune, trance, rave and pop with a more conventional song structure that builds and falls in all the right places. There’s nothing like it in the charts at the moment and, with his debut album set to be released in 2012, it will be fascinating to see where this goes.

Also check out: Unicorn Kid- Feel So Real

CHARLI XCX- STAY AWAY

Like Unicorn Kid, Charli XCX is one of those annoyingly talented scamps who, while the rest of us were busy getting pissed on WKD and watching Hollyoaks at the age of 15, was out there on the East London club scene- playing at a series of warehouse raves and soon becoming renowned for her energetic/ slightly mental performances. However, 2011 was the year when she really began to develop a maturity in her sound and find her feet with regards to her musical direction. Stay Away is a beautifully haunting slice of electro pop which harks back to the luscious laments of Shakespear’s Sister and matches it with intelligent lyrics. There’s no shortage of female electro artists around these days, but with her effortlessly cool persona and assertive intelligence, this girl has the potential to stamp her musical mark all over 2012.

Also check out: Charli XCX- Nuclear Seasons

PENGUIN PRISON- DON’T FUCK WITH MY MONEY

In the latest case of ‘shagged by the blogosphere, dicked over by the charts’, meet Penguin Prison- a.k.a New York uber fitty Chris Glover, who combines 80’s New York disco with electro funk and synth pop to make music radiating with a housey warmth. Having spent the last few years remixing tracks by everyone from Marina and the Diamonds to The Fader, this year he released his self titled debut album and demonstrated that he’s more than capable of being an artist in his own right. With its accomplished arrangements, tight hooks and ridiculously catchy chorus, Don’t Fuck With My Money is one of the album’s clear highlights and, for me, one of the most joyously upbeat songs to be released this year.

Also check out: Penguin Prison- Fair Warning

COLD WAR KIDS- MINE IS YOURS (PASSION PIT REMIX)

The best remixes are the ones which not only change a song, but completely transform and, in this case, improve it. Passion Pit have always been on the ‘amazedar’ for their stunning remixes, but what they managed to do with Mine Is Yours by Cold War Kids is breathtaking- turning a pleasant enough indie song into an epic, star gazing, synth washed, electro booming wall of multiple orgasmic, ‘let’s do that again shall we? OH GO ON THEN’ noise.

Also check out: Tegan and Sara- Alligator (Passion Pit remix)

JUNICA FEAT LADYHAKWE- LIVING IN MY HOUSE

Spurting from the musical loins of talented New Zealander Nik Brinkman, Junica’s debut five track E.P, released earlier this year contained the sort of dreamy mix of bouncy synths, atmospheric vocals and New Order style guitar riffs that you can never have too much of. Living In My House has all of those things, but it also has that bird Ladyhawke who came and amazonged everything up a few years ago with her debut album and then sort of pissed off for a bit! Summery, infectiously catchy and carrying echoes of a nostalgic indie pop sound, it’s a song which takes you by the hand for a cheeky dance and kisses you on the lips when it’s all over.

Also check out: Junica- And it Hurts

ROXETTE- SPEAK TO ME

Somewhere in Azerbaijan a radio station will currently be playing either Listen To Your Heart or Joyride by Roxette- trapped in a blissful musical groundhog day and refusing to believe that anything exists outside the comforting vortex of late 80’s/early 90’s power pop. Perhaps in about thirty years they’ll discover this song- taken from their eighth studio album (159th if you include the greatest hits) which was released earlier this year, Speak To Me demonstrates that, while Roxette may have lost their way a bit since their peak and become slightly lazy/ by the numbers with their songs, they still have the ability to knock out a fucking amazing ballad when they want to. Featuring the failsafe strategy of Per on verse and Marie on chorus, Speak To Me is a gorgeous, touching pop ballad whose comfortingly familiar presence made 2011 at least 3% less shit.

Also check out: Roxette- Anyone

PARADE- PERFUME

‘OH YAY! LITTLE MIX HAVE WON X FACTOR! THE WORLD OF GIRLBANDS IS SAVED!!’.

Except actually, ‘The World’, there was already quite a good girl band knocking around out there who happen to have put together a brilliant album. While there have been an endless, erm, ‘parade’ of failed girl bands littering the musical graveyard of 2011 (Belle Amie anyone?) Parade immediately struck me as offering something different. Amidst the glut of bland auto tuned, dance driven polish that a lot of girl bands seem to have gone for recently (HI ‘ON YOUR RADAR’!), Parade’s album is alive with character and, dare I say it, good old fashioned pop songs. It sounds edgy and urban, yet simple and playful , and while it’s by no means perfect the hard work that these girls have put into making the album and the range of styles and sounds that they’ve experimented with suggest that if they stick with it they could start to make some serious progress in the next couple of years.

Perfume is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Catchy, fun and playful- it demonstrates everything that makes this ridiculously overlooked girl band so special.

Also check out: Parade- Mr Right Now

SAINT SAVIOUR- REASONS

GOOD GRIEF, that voice. There are so many amazing things I could say about Saint Saviour- her genuine talent for writing beautifully crafted songs, her mesmerising live performances which hook your eyes and don’t let go, the fact that she’s took complete control of funding her debut album via the ingenious Pledge Music scheme- in which fans can pay for a range of items including stage costumes and the chance to sing in her choir, through which she’s able to master and market her music, or even the fact that she posts handwritten thank you cards to everyone who makes a pledge.

But it all comes down to that voice. Crystal clear and exuding emotion, Saint Saviour has one of the most distinctive and exciting voices to emerge in music over the last few years. Nowhere else is this more evident than on ‘Reasons’- featured on the Anatomy EP which was released in early 2011. It’s a truly gorgeous song which begins as a tender soul tinged ballad and builds to something powerfully uplifting. The last 60 seconds in particular never fails to bring me out in a goosebump ravaged swoon.

Also check out: Saint Saviour- This Aint No Hymn

Saint Saviour’s Pledge Music page

GENERAL FIASCO- WAVES

Shhhh. Whisper this very quietly and don’t tell Pitbull, but word on the street is that indie pop might be getting good again.

I KNOW!

There are already a few bands starting to make ripples in this area- Spector, PNAU, Starlings etc, but General Fiasco seem to be completely nailing it. They’re a conventional ‘band’ with instruments n shit, but their songs contain an unmistakable poppy character- catchy hooks, stadium chanting choruses and, most importantly, fun- without veering over to the ‘cheesy/cringe’ side that indie pop can sometimes go to. Their Waves E.P was released last month and if you’re looking for two and a half minutes of hands in the air chanty how’s yer father, then look no further than the title track.

Also check out: General Fiasco- The Age That You Start Losing Friends

D/R/U/G/S- LOVE/LUST

And finally, in a year where chart music continued on its massive tits out bender in da club while dubstep wanked all over the place, Manchester outfit D/R/U/G/S demonstrated that it is possible to make electronic, dance edged music which sounds euphoric and bold, while still retaining a subtle simplicity to it. Love/Lust is five minutes of hypnotic electronica in which D/R/U/G/S gradually paints a radiant canvas of ambient melodies, plucked strings and ghostly female vocals. It’s an amazing piece of music, and if more of the charts started to sound like this next year that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

Also check out: D/R/U/G/S- Velodrome 1

Having named his debut album ‘The Boxer’ and his latest E.P ‘The Hunter’, perhaps Kele Okereke should call his next release ‘The Frontman… (Who Went Solo and Released an Amazing E.P That No-One Gave Two Wanks About)’. Granted, it’s not the catchiest of titles, but it would certainly be appropriate. After all, The Hunter was released on November 7th with all the fanfare of a nun breaking wind in a bath- greeted by a deafening wall of silence that included not only radio playlists (sad yet expected), but more bizarrely the online blogosphere as well. From small independent blogs to major websites like The Guardian or NME, the amount of people who could actually be arsed to review the album could probably be counted on one hand, and even those seemed lackadaisical at best.

It would all make so much sense if the E.P was shit- if the songs were lifeless, run of the mill indie pop fodder with a dire lack of lyrical imagination or musical verve. But they’re not. They’re songs like ‘Goodbye Horses’- a striking cover of the Q Lazzarus song which rises and falls on a tide of driving dance beats and epic, synth soaring choruses; complete with galloping electronics and Okereke’s  trademark impassioned wail gluing everything together.

Consider too the gorgeously atmospheric pop-soul gloom of ‘Devotion’- combining the stark sonic landscapes of Depeche Mode with the warm, bittersweet tones of Vangelis. As usual Okereke’s voice is the star of the show- transforming from quietly intimate to soaring falsetto in the space of a few seconds. There’s always been a fluidity to Kele’s vocals which is almost mesmerising; ever changing, never still- it’s a voice which evolves and changes throughout each song and keeps you on your toes.

The same can be said for the music itself. The Hunter could be described as primarily a dance record, but there are a whole range of musical styles and influences here- from the dubstep breakdown in lead single ‘What Did I Do’, to the unexpected rave horn chorus of ‘You Belong To Someone Else’ and the ghostly piano ballad that is ‘Cable’s Goodbye’. Like his last album The Boxer, Kele wrote all of the songs on The Hunter himself and has again roped in producer XXX Change to oversee proceedings, along with the capable hands of Fred Falke, RAC and Sub Focus.  The result is an eclectic mix of styles and genres which feels both exciting and fresh.

So why the chronic lack of interest? Some have suggested the silence comes from confusion- both about Kele and the E.P itself. Not long before the E.P was released, a bizarre story emerged relating to Kele’s position as Bloc Party’s frontman- suggesting that the band had started recording without him and that he’d effectively been fired. It’s also been suggested that the E.P itself is confusing- there are so many different styles that Kele himself isn’t sure which musical direction he wants to take and the public aren’t sure where to place him. Both reasons seem like the kind of baseless wank that you’d overhear two pensioners gossiping about outside W H Smiths, but they do hint at something that’s going on- be it confusion, ignorance or just total apathy which, after hearing how good the E.P actually is, is bizarre in itself.

Still, at least he has that lovely hair of his, right?

OH GOD.

Swiss Lips: U Got The Power

Sometimes you hear a song which is so instinctively, ball grabbingly, sherbert suckingly brilliant that you just want to give it a big old frenchie, run naked with it into the street and grab Mrs Jones from number 34 as she sets off to the shops for that new 1% fat milk she read about in Readers Digest so you can do the ‘WOO HOO WOO HOO’ bit with her in the sort of carefree, don’t give a fuck way that this song injects into your brain like a motivational flavoured Red Bull.

The ingenious 80’s dance routines, those infectious power pulse synths, that charmingly kitsch YOU CAN DO IT message in the lyrics, the jaunty carefree vocals, the ‘Boom Boom’ bit: everything about this song and video is so unbelievably genius that it makes me want to gush until I’m dry.

They’re called Swiss Lips. It’s called ‘U GOT THE POWER’. And I love it.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of lazy comparisons when reviewing new artists. You hear a woman’s voice rise a smidgen above a B# and your brain immediately starts screaming ‘KATE BUSH KATE BUSH KATE BUSH KATE BUSH!!!!!’. A British female singer dares to stray into that current darling of genres- soul- for just a fraction of a second, and Adele’s beaming face plonks itself stubbornly in your mind next to Amy Whinehouse or even (if you’re really screwed for inspiration and can’t be arsed to look back more than 2 years into the past) Jessie J. *rolls eyes*

And thanks to Ellie Goulding monopolising the whole ‘quirky voiced emoto-warble’ area of the singer/songwriter/soppy chrimbo advert market over the past two years, any female singer who now happens to play an instrument on stage with a combination of poppy sheen and folky wistfulness immediately gets bundled into a stuffy cupboard with the starry eyed lady herself.

Hattie Murdoch- a young songwriter based in Newcastle- has already had her fair share of Goulding comparisons, and on first hearing her clear, distinct vocals- part elfin innocence mixed with steely grit and just a hint of her Lincolnshire accent- it’s not hard to see why. Delve deeper into the music however, and the similarities soon begin to dissipate. Like Goulding, Murdoch writes her own songs and enjoys the odd guitar strum on stage along with sprinklings of electro dust here and there, but there’s also a darker, gutsy edge to Murdoch’s music which you could argue Goulding’s lacks.

Her debut EP ‘Ocean Floor’- released in August 2011- contains three tracks with an eclectic mix of dark synth (Black Shadow) twinkling electro pop (Submarine) and beautiful reflection (Won’t Back Down). It’s an impressive introduction which demonstrates her love for a wide range of musical genres including hip hop, dance and jazz; elements of which she subtly infuses into her songs like a deliciously dark and smooth cup of Twinnings tea.

Murdoch has become a familiar face on the Newcastle live circuit and a notable buzz has been building around her for some time now. The taster track for the EP- Submarine- peaked inside the top 3 on the Amazing Radio chart (a national radio station dedicated exclusively to playing emerging and independent music), and with her varied tastes and ability to experiment with her sound, it shouldn’t be long before she’s casting off those Goulding shackles and navigating her own way through the heaving tide of folky female synthtronica that she began to make a splash in in 2011.

The “Ocean Floor” EP is out now and available to download from iTunes (with an exclusive bonus track): http://bit.ly/qz4zwp and all good download sites. A CD version is available from here: http://hattiemurdoch.bandcamp.com/

Oh those loveably pretentious wankers at the NME. Sometimes you just want to give them a big old hug and caress the burden of tedious credibility from their weary shoulders while giving them the charisma equivalent of a back sack n crack- stripping away all that matted musical prejudice as they squat on all fours until there’s nothing but shiny, smooth open mindedness underneath.

It’s probably what General Fiasco would like to do if they ever met the charming scamp who decided to give their 2010 debut album ‘Buildings’ three stars out of ten and labeled it as ‘instantly forgettable’. The bizarrely short review (110 words) oozed with the kind of lazy knee jerk derision and ‘pop is shit’ mentality which usually only serves to make the reviewer look bad rather than the item being reviewed. You get the distinct impression that whoever got paid (no doubt a fair amount) to review it spent 30 seconds whizzing through each track before throwing it in the bin and having a massive wank off to some obscure Led Zepellin B-Side.


The frustrating thing about it all is that General Fiasco are really quite brilliant. Hailing from Bellaghy in Northern Ireland, the four piece write songs with infectious hooks, melodic verses and fist punching choruses which instantly grab your attention and refuse to let go. With three guitarists and a drummer, they may give off the appearance of being just yet another of those landfill indie bands that clogged up the charts between 2004-2008, but when you bother to actually give their songs the attention they deserve, it becomes glaringly apparent that they’re anything but.

The reason that so many reviewers seem to have missed the point is that they can’t seem to see past the instruments that the band play, and so review them as a purely indie act. They’re not. In an interview last year with music blog All Gone Pop, frontman Owen Strathern was in no doubt as to the bands pop leanings:

I think…all the best bands have got a pop sentiment about them, and that’s what’s good about it, it has got a pop melody. It is sort of what people classed pop as- something catchy, something hooky, and no matter how left-field or indie or weird something is, the big band will have big hooks in it…something that will make you want to listen to it again and catch your ear’

Which is why you get the feeling that reviews like the NME’s are less to do with professional critique, and more to do with pure unabashed snobbery. Read ‘low I.Q hooks’ in aforementioned ‘review’ as ‘poppy hooks’ and you get the general idea. In truth the songs on Buildings are a group of finely crafted indie pop gems which dispense with tiring self conscious attempts at being cool and simply look to give the listener 45 minutes of raucous, chanting fun. Take ‘Ever So Shy’ as a prime example.


Their new E.P ‘Waves’ – released last week- contains more of the same ball grabbing hooks and anthemic choruses which fans of the band have already fallen in love with, but this time there seems to be more maturity in both the sound and lyrics. ‘The Age That You Start Losing Friends’ in particular demonstrates not only General Fiasco at their concise, indie pop best, but also their ability to write lyrics which speak to and for their audience.


Add to this Strathern’s charismatic Irish twang as he coo’s, chants and yelps through each song together with the edgy production which makes it feel like the band are playing directly in front of you (complete with sweaty bouncing strangers and flying cups of piss) and you have a band who are anything but forgettable.

Strap on, sit down and plug in! It’s time for four songs who’ve never met to have an awkward fumble in your computer speakers and lie about their phone numbers afterwards.

So who’s making up our frisky four way this week?

Blondfire: Where The Kids Are

It might have all gone a bit tits up for Same Difference, but the world of brother/sister sibling-pop is about to get a new ambassador in the form of Blondfire- an L.A based duo who specialise in luscious soundscape indie-pop. Their new single Where the Kids Are- taken from upcoming album Win The Game- is a gorgeous bittersweet lament about those last carefree days of childhood before the scary world of grown-ups marches along and does a big old shit over everything.

Live it up, You’re growing up
Parties in the wilderness of life
Light it up, Just give it up
Where the kids are running free tonight

You would think that a music video featuring psychotic cowboy pandas, feathered shoulder pads and bizarre ‘boy gone mental’ stabbing sequences would detract from the song slightly- the equivalent of a bitchy cousin trying to upstage the bride on her wedding day. ‘Oh god, you’re wearing white too??? If only I’d known! And this figure hugging mini dress with the plunging neckline was all they had left in stock! Mortified.’

Fortunately Where the Kids Are is more than capable of holding its own. With the same dreamy, whimsical hints as The Naked & Famous, MGMT and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Maps’, Blondfire take a familiar indie template and layer it with epic synths to create a potent blend of futuristic grandeur and youthful pathos. If the new album is as good as this it has the potential to be one of the best of the year.

Oh My!: Dirty Dancer

There’s always room in the charts for a quirky female duo. Whether it’s the ‘lesbian schoolgirl quirky’ favoured by shy, retiring duo t.A.T.u, or the ‘WELL AREN’T WE MASSIVE TWATS?’ quirkiness of Daphne and Celeste, there’s something about the chemistry between a female pop pairing which, when done well, is brilliantly effective.

Oh My! are the latest female duo to bound onto the scene in a cheeky flash of playful British brattiness, and with their feisty ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude, clever lyrics and love for exotic wildlife they may just be my new favourite girl group. The two girls who make up Oh My!- Alex Grewcock and Jade Davies- have already professed their love for 90’s girl power groups like The Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child, and in the brilliant video for new single ‘Dirty Dancer’ they bristle with the same kind of spontaneity and fun which The Spice Girls did back in the day, while also managing to pull off the almost impossible feat of looking cool while singing to a Chameleon. They even subscribe to the bizarre rule of female pop duo’s followed by the likes of Shakespear’s Sister, t.A.T.u and Shampoo by having one girl with short hair and one with long hair! Amazing.

The song itself is a catchy slice of quirky dance pop with an infectious chorus, and you can’t help but fall in love with the girls as they talk about calling into work sick (a.k.a- ‘pulling a Rowland’) and dissing guys with flashy watches and wanky personalities. If there’s any justice in the charts at the moment (cue hysterical laughter), this song and the girls will be huge.

The Flaws: Sixteen

The Irish town of Carrickmacross might sound like the kind of place where the weekly highlight is pension pick up day at the local post office and all the shops go into lockdown at 4pm in time to catch Deal Or No Deal, but it also happens to be the hometown of The Flaws- an all male indie quartet made up of childhood friends who make gloriously atmospheric indie pop in the same vein as 80’s gloomsters The Cure and The Smiths. Their debut album ‘Achieving Vagueness’ ,released in 2007, found itself in that strange but not unenviable position of being almost universally praised by critics for its precision crafted melodies, intelligent lyrics and catchy hooks. Guided by frontman and lyricist Paul Finn’s solid vocals and a radiant combination of lush synths, jangling guitars and diamond cut drum beats, The Flaws make music which is almost, well, flawless.

And if you want to hear The Flaws at their impeccable best, look no further than Sixteen- an elegantly dark slice of indie pop with a beautiful plaintive chorus. Finn’s haunting lament of ‘even as a boy of sixteen I had this recurring kind of dream, where every night I’d feel the same pain’ plays over a pensive guitar riff aching with nostalgic longing and delicate angst.

Commercially it’s all gone a bit tits up at the moment, but when you have the kind of raw talent and ability to craft air tight melodies which The Flaws clearly do, it shouldn’t be long before the town of Carrickmacross goes apeshit along with the rest of the country for them. JUST NOT AFTER 4PM. That’s Noel’s time.

Bjork: All Is Full of Love

By now you either ‘get’ Bjork, or you don’t. For some she’s an artistic genius- constantly evolving with each album and challenging the boundaries of music through her work, while for others she’s just that mental bird from Iceland who will only ever be known for dicking about with umbrellas and rudely shushing people in the street.

As I discovered last year however, it’s never too late to let a bit of Bjork into your life. Whether it’s the epic native rawness of Homogenic or the microscopic intimacy of Vespertine, each of her albums has its own musical soul layered with hidden depths and surprises. It’s impossible to do justice to Bjork’s thirty year career in a few paragraphs, with its seven studio albums, giant dancing cats and mountain of awards, other than to say that she remains one of the most eclectic, inventive and poetically sublime artists in the industry today.

Granted, to the outsider it can all look a bit ‘banshee screaming mad woman enjoys making an almighty racket’, but for the uninitiated/ potentially terrified Bjork beginner, All Is Full Of Love is quite a good starting point. As the last track on Homogenic, it manages to encapsulate the epic majesty of that album, while still retaining a gentle, sultry quality- softly guided by Bjork’s otherworldly vocals as it blooms into a stunningly beautiful ballad. Oh, and the video is a bit mind blowing too.

Female robots having a snog?? Someone alert the Daily Mail!!!

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