This week our three guest reviewers take on another five new tracks and give them a spin through the headphones before they then air their opinion on each.
This week's panel: Jake Smallwood, vocalist with Brighton alt-rock band White Room; Mike Dench, head of live promoters, Goodsoul Promotions; music writer Harry Barnes.
CROSS WIRES - WE CALL THE SHOTS
Produced by Rory Attwell and out on April 21, 2017's first taste of the East London/Essex-based rockers' debut album, due out later this year. No strangers to Little Indie with both sides of last summer's double A-side single 'I Want Radio' / 'Pink Dogs' making it as a Track Of The Day in their own right.
Jake Smallwood: At first I wasn’t too sure about this track, but after a few listens it pulled me in. A grower for sure. The rising chorus is especially a stand out moment and a lovely lift from the verses. There’s something enticing about this track; a certain intensity you don’t hear often, which almost reminds me of Grinderman. Overall a pretty strong tune. 3.5/5
Mike Dench: Interesting that this is the 'clean' version that I listened to. Are they trying to shock, but then were told not to by someone and then recorded two versions? Okay rock 'n' roll with an attempted punk overtone with the vocals. Reminded me a bit of The Computers when they first arrived, but without that special something which set them apart. Musically it wasn't too bad, but nothing to get me excited about. 2/5
Harry Barnes: The vocals at the beginning I could see putting some people off, but after the initial screaming, the song progresses nicely. They remind me of Slaves, but slightly more radio friendly with their backing vocals and solid rhythm creating a likeable tune. 3/5
Total score: 8.5/15
BLONDER - IN AND OUT
Addictive dance beats laden with little hooks, claps, oh-oh-oh's, 80s synths style and breezy vocals from New York City's Constantine Anastasakis who we first heard last summer with 'Lean'. This new single (released April 7) precedes upcoming '$5' EP via 300 Entertainment.
JS: I like the drive of this track, it pumps and holds the energy well. After a while it lost my attention though, which is a shame because there are some great melodies and arrangements in there. If I'm honest, the lyrics didn’t really do that much for me. 2.5/5
MD: This was like going back to the 80s for me. Very polished, and had me humming 'Best Friend's Girl' by The Cars at times. For a new generation clamouring 80s sounds this would probably work, but to this child of the 80s it was nothing new. 3/5
HB: This is a fantastic song. The guitar and rhythm are reminiscent of White Lies at the beginning, and the vocals are similar to Sundara Karma. The production stands out on this one - superb. Every part of the song has its place, as does every member. The guitar is lush, the vocals are catchy and the drums are key to the song. A must listen! 5/5
Total score: 10.5/15
TOUTS - SOLD OUT
Released on Phil (Radio 1) Taggart's label Hometown Records on April 4, the debut single of rage-infused guitars and furious drumming by three young (16 - 19) teens from Derry, Northern Ireland. "They are one of the most insanely amazing live bands I've ever seen at such a young age. I caught them, by accident, over a year ago in a dingy cellar playing and signed them up on the spot."
JS: First off, I love the lyrics and the energy of this track, and just hearing Touts recorded instantly made me picture a serious live band. I want to hear more from these guys, but in my opinion it needs to move a touch more into 2017, keeping the punk influence but looking back to look forward. It feels a tiny bit throwback to me. Although, that said, this is a great tune. 4/5
MD: Sounding like The Buzzcocks meets The Undertones, this is punkier rock 'n' roll. Musically these guys are talented, and vocally it is punk. Short, sharp, to the point! 4/5
HB: Would it be rude to say I expected a Green Day song from the beginning? The vocals are a little weak and the artwork is revolting. The song hasn't got much to it, but is reasonable enough. Not for me, but will be for others for sure. 3/5
Total score: 11/15
STIKS - PUT US DOWN
Following fellow Chelmsford artists Rat Boy and FREAK, Curtis Driver and Sam Hooper are an 18-year-old duo making DIY indie/alternative beats from their home studio. This new single released last week blends indie rock, hip-hop and youthful exuberance.
JS: This isn’t exactly my usual cup of tea, but this track got me going. The tune has a very modern production value to the drums and vocals, especially how they sample out and strobe; that’s a great touch. Also, I’m a big fan of the complex grooves on the hi hats. Solid track overall. 3.5/5
MD: Synth driven rap, almost like a guitar-less EMF at times. It sounds like something different the way they come across, rapping to a synth beat and avoiding the normal rap style of rhyming every word at the end of the lyric. 3/5
HB: Nice to see another local band to me appear. Similar definitely to Rat Boy, almost too much; much like how Rat Boy initially sounded too much like Jamie T to me. I'll wait for a bit more originality, but this is pretty good to start with. The style is definitely popular though, with the sliced vocals making a welcome comeback recently. 3/5
Total score: 9.5/15
POLAR STATES - GOLD
The Liverpool four-piece precede their debut EP ‘Electric -out on April 28 - with this first single released April 7. “The ‘million in my heart line’ was basically a way of saying you should see wealth not in terms of money, but in terms of the people around you whom matter,” explains vocalist Paul Tong.
JS: To be brutally honest, I don’t like this song. There’s something too comfortable and familiar about it and there’s not much in there that catches my attention. That said, music is very subjective and I can see how many people will love it. It’s just simply not for me. 1.5/5
MD: Not a bad voice over a lo- fi pop song which I can see doing very well for them. I wish the vocalist would give some space to the music, rather than insist on singing what seems non-stop through the song. Sounds very radio friendly and can imagine people singing along to it. 3/5
HB: The vocals are ephemeral, and the reverb-soaked guitar at the start gives way to a quick and catchy bridge that goes into a smooth chorus full of interesting guitar and vocals. Spandau Ballet, they are not, but another up and coming Liverpudlian band they are! They're similar to another band that has done a song with the same name: Jaws. Only criticism would be the first two minutes are quite similar in the sum of their parts. I'd be intrigued to see the atmosphere they create live with this, as it is quite chilled but I can imagine the lead guitar being heavier and taking over. 3/5