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Demo Review

The Delilahs / Korze 4 Koncern / Copy Haho / Commander Swift / Betes Noires / Cloudbase / Gears / Electroluvs / Birds of Prestwich / Revere / Harlette / Kelman
Various Demos / Self-Financed Releases

Article written by Paul M - Jun 18, 2006

SoundsXP Towers is straining to contain the volume of demos and self-released product that people keep sending in. Teetering piles of CD-Rs and handwritten notes cover every inch of the floor, so here’s an attempt at reminding ourselves what colour carpet we have round here...

First up… The Teutonic tones of Swiss all-girl three piece The Delilahs get things off to a rather sprightly start. This is it is an affirmative nod at edgy punk, though I preferred the Blondie’s Atomic style remix of it they offer us on track 2, plenty of handclaps and scuzzy guitars over an autobahn cruising discobeat. This was released on Jexed Records back in March but may still be available if you search hard. Sehr gut!

Next… Oh dear, some bands probably need to be aborted at the planning stage. A prime example is, ahem, the lazy texters of Korze 4 Koncern. Dyslexic emo may suddenly be the new black (coincidentally the colour all four band members wear in the cover shot) but last time I checked it was on a par with Bulgarian butt bugling in the steer clear section. Mean and moody the four youngsters may look and sound though I suspect the worst thing that’s ever happened in Beccles in Suffolk, where they come from, was when a tractor broke down in the main street for a day preventing these pups from getting fresh deliveries of strawberry milk and this week’s Kerrang. Do I even need to mention the music? No? Good.

Next… Copy Haho’s Bookshelf has only just been released on 7” on the I Fly Spitfires label. From Aberdeen, they produce an interesting post-punk sound, set in 1981 before any of these young scamps were born and with elements of the Cure, Comsat Angels and Echo & the Bunnymen as reference points. Languid and droney (but in a good way!), they dish out catchy hooks and lovely rolling drum rhythms.

Next… A few minutes bimbling around Commander Swift’s nice looking website quickly tells you that these North Londoners are no Poundland shelf stackers careerists. Named after an East End war hero, both their site and music veers between fun and pretension as classic catchy pop of Off Days (think Squeeze or Costello) and witticisms about Oxford Street characters sit alongside dreary 1930’s parlour music and pipe smoking references. I know which side I prefer. Snuff’s enough, lads.

Next… Belfast’s The Betes Noires are familiar faces on the London gig circuit despite the sea between, and they peddle a very agreeable set menu of beefy rhythms and meaty hooks which is very competent and accessible, though it’d probably be nice if they went a la carte occasionally.

Next… You have to admire the commitment and perseverance of some people to strive on despite the knockbacks. Cloudbase have been battling under their current moniker since 2000 but include participants who in previous guises have performed as support to acts like The Cult, the House of Love and Darling Buds. In the 80s. In some cases, it’s obvious to see why bands continue to fail and in this one I suspect it’s because they’ve lost track of what makes a good tune. I sit through two fairly mediocre indie by numbers affairs, irritated by the slightly grating female vocals, and contemplating moving onto the next act when up pops Real Thoughts, a gorgeous shimmering slice of soporific lushness, reminiscent of the Cocteaus and ideally suited to the warm tones of the same, now splendid, vocalist. Duh, Cloudbase!

Next… A PR sheet that announces that Gear recently toured with the Buzzcocks whets my appetite. Scuzzy punk and catchy ditties? I’ll have some of that! Unfortunately the bloody CD-R they’d sent was duff so the klang klang I hear is presumably unintentional...

Next… Electroluvs’s Bubblewrapped album is also not really a demo as it’s actually available on Ninth Wave Records. It’s aptly named, being bubbly Casio driven electropop with interchanging girl/boy vocals and although the froth goes a tad thin after a few minutes like any sugar rush it at least briefly does the job. One to perhaps dip into rather than wallow in...

Next… Birds of Prestwich catch my eye as a) I was born in a place of that name (Prestwich not birds, silly) and b) they have a performer called Wankowicz. Huh huh and, er, huh. Unfortunately their slow, ponderous and laboured material doesn’t real catch my ear so after a ten minute wrist slitting dirgefest I decide it’s time for a poo. Upon return I decide a flush of the CD player’s also in order...

Next… Revere‘s self-financed single Skin is a brooding brass and melancholic string piece that is carried by an amazing warbling larynx. It reminds me of some of the more downbeat moments of the Associates, which is no bad thing. Opera for the XFM generation without delving into G4 camp silliness. Oh yes.

Next… Any cobwebs that might have been gathering are blown aside by Harlette and their angst ridden riot grrl rock blast. Rumbling basslines underpin squawking guitars and, er, even more squawking vocals, to produce something that might be the sum of Hole, X-Ray Spex and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs if they’d synchronised their menstrual cycles and had hay fever...

Next… And finally, and yes, fortunately, I get to finish with the blissed out aural charms of Kelman. Ok I’m two months late with The Heart is a Useless Ally but good things come to those who wait and all that. This is sweet earnest guitar pop at its very finest and with only, oooh, another 200 CDs or so to commence, it’s highly unlikely I’ll find anything better. Time to knock off and crack one off, sweet dreams, my little readerlings...

Links:
http://www.kelmanband.com

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