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Demo Review

The Climb / Dukes of Portland / Hayze / Lunar Jet Man / Manuka / Plastik / S J Esau / Safetyword / Villette
Various Demos

Article written by Kev O - Nov 20, 2005

The Climb Who Shot Laura Clarkson? EP [4 tracker]
This Exeter Arts Council funded EP from girl fronted four-piece displays a confident, if not too individual, brand of indie pop- rock which harkens back to the days when Echobelly and Sleeper were queens of the indie charts, with a nod to more recent bands like No Doubt. Applaudable stuff.

Dukes of Portland Come Into No.23? [6 tracker]
Cheshire’s Dukes of Portland play accomplished – and I mean as good as anything you are likely to hear - Americana/country-rock that is favoured of late. They should, by rights, be giving the likes of Kings of Leon a good run for their money: and then there are ghosts of Gomez blowing in the brush. But really, if this is your sort of saddle-bag then get your mule and high hi-ho silver over to their website for further information/sounds.

Hayze In The Box Seat [11 tracker]
Assume this Suffolk five piece have got their deliberate misspelling from the school text books of Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard et al but the influences on this 11 tracker could be anything from Guns’n’Roses to The Stone Roses, with a nod to Oasis, Echo and The Bunnymen or even Coldplay on the way. There are some neat rock songs buried in here but overall this lacks real identity: could do with more focus on honing an individual sound.

Lunar Jet Man Shadow/Lullaby/Treat Me Like Dirt
Reviewed in the Morning Star? Well comrades, in spite of an unpromising moniker, this London six piece are the ice-pick of the bunch. The music is a mix of blues/Stax/soul –with horns, organ, bluesy guitar and a Nick Cave/Kevin Rowlands vocal. Shadow is like a torch band in smokey boho soho drinking den, playing in place of Gallon Drunk; Lullaby is Nick Cave doing Mariachi; and Treat Me Like Dirt is a Dexy’s punky-soul. Terrific.

Manuka Cadillac/U-Turn/Walk a Mile
[no site]
This Brighton four piece play competent, if not a bit unexciting, brand of that 70’s r’n’b style rock played by Rolling Stones (think 'Exile on Main Street') - eg Walk a Mile has hints of Midnight Rambler about it – or more recently favoured by the Charlatans.

Plastik How Much Is Enough? [eight tracker]
For a three piece, Plastik, pack one hell of a punch over the scope of this eight tracker. The music is powerful enough but it is the strong, bravura vocal performances that lift this above its indie-punk leanings: this has the spirit of Muse/Radiohead and that is no easy thing to pull off. The name doesn’t promise much, but the music/performances do.

S J Esau Wrong Faced Cat Food Collapse [13 tracks]
A full fledged album no less (even if three tracks are “ –“), this is the lo-fi experimental indie end of the spectrum: a magpie mix of backward/looped sounds, vinyl crackles, harmonium, horns, indie guitars, folk-countryish rock etc. It sounds like it should be all over the place but there is a creative intelligence at work: it is never less than interesting and has some wonderful tunes/songs on it. If you like Sparklehorse, Homescience, or the idea of a Pavement-meets-Pink Floyd, then this might be the soundtrack to your dreams. Wonderfully off-kilter.

Safetyword Foreskin O’ The Heart [6 tracker]
Safetyword say they want to create an original sound: at best this might be said to be challenging/unique, at worst it could be said to be self-indulgent wibbling of the progressive, jazzy, order. *Shudder*

Villette Drama Girl/Devotion/Something Real
If the Bronte sisters had formed a band, what would they have sounded like? It’s one of those eternal pop conundrums. Well, probably not. Anyway, Pope-quoting four-piece Villette might think about that sort of thing. But this is less Kate Bush and more Bigger The God. It’s a bit new romantic, a bit camp, a bit OTT. Drama Girl is a nifty, speedy tune, high voiced and breathy vocal sighing “Just you and I, Ophelia”: Devotion is sub-Morrissey/Smith and pretty neat; Something Real is all amphetamine hysteria, and the sound of a Mark Almond going Wild(e). A band who know what they want to sound like. And it’s rather good.


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