The Roundtable returns! After its brief hiatus, we are back with our three guest reviewers taking on six new tracks and giving them a spin through the headphones, before then airing their opinion on each.
This week's panel: Luke Branch, of Asylums/Cool Thing Records; Little Indie contributor, Steve Willcox; guitarist with Bradford band FLING, Jack Winn.
GARDEN PARTY PILLS - LITTLE VIOLIN
Debut single from the Welsh (Chepstow), Bristol-based grunge rock trio - Alex (vocals/guitars) and Ben (drums) formerly of Birdcage, and Josh (bass) - who only formed in December last year.
Luke Branch: Something brooding and grungey about this, not in a Nirvana way but slower and more Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. The vocal is somewhere else completely, reminiscent of The Music at times. Part of me wanted it to take off at some point but I don’t think that was this song's intention. 3/5
Steve Willcox: Nice drum intro, but the song only really starts for me at the chorus with some clean vocals. The rest is a bit dreary for me. 2/5
Jack Winn: Kinda like getting a pair of socks for Christmas, it’s nice but you wouldn’t ask for it. 3/5
Total score: 8/15
LAUNDER - FADE
From his upcoming self-released, Jackson Phillips (Day Wave) produced debut EP, 'Pink Cloud' (out in March), LA dreampop/ shoegaze solo artist John Cudlip released this first single on January 26, featuring Zachary Cole Smith (DIIV) on guitar, vocals from Soko, and Phillips on synth.
LB: This reminds me of some ‘Captured Tracks’ bands, like DIIV. It’s very pleasant and ethereal, some almost New Orderness on the bass. I enjoyed the understated vibe, the guitar work caught my ears the most on a first listen; some lovely hooks in there. 3/5
SW: Nice guitar work on here, but the vocals start to become tedious and flat. The tune itself, though, is quite catchy. 3/5
JW: Nice lo-fi beat, and cool keys into the chorus. Moody vibe, like walking in the rain at night. Favourite of the six. 4/5
Total score: 10/15
PUMA BLUE - ONLY TRYING 2 TELL U
New self-produced single from South East London singer-songwriter Jacob Allen, following last year's debut 'Swum Baby' EP. Fragile, soulful vocals in a soft, R&B-tinged production.
LB: Love this. Lots of Portishead via Warp Records vibes. I could hear the influence of some of Prince’s more abstract material in there: ‘The Ballad of Doherty Parker’ and ‘Adore’ came to mind. Interesting squelchy production and musical pauses throughout. 4/5
SW: This has a relaxing feel to it, with its jazz vibe and hip hop broken beats. Vocals are velvety smooth which goes well together with the rest. I’m chilled out now. 4/5
JW: Lovely minimalistic instrumentation. Who's licking the next spliff? 4/5
Total score: 12/15
MONICO BLONDE - FLOWERS ON TARMAC
New single from the Cardiff band, out last week via Fizzy Moon Records/Kartel, and premiered by Huw Stephens on Radio 1. Big riffs with infectious indie-dance beats reminiscent of The 1975, Circa Waves and Blossoms.
LB: Really good within its field, but not quite my cup of tea. It's taught, tight, electro-influenced indie pop. Some of the drum production reminded me of late 80s pop music, big octagon drum pads and shoulder pads in equal measure. 2/5
SW: Hands up: I'm a fan of these guys, so will try not to be biased. Quite a busy little song with lots going on, good production and razor sharp vocals. Sorry to say - but I love it! 4.5/5
JW: Indie landfill. These guys make Bastille sound like The Beatles. 1/5
Total score: 7.5/15
FEVER DAYS - BORED
Self-produced debut single - released January 26 - by 18-year-old, Newcastle-based Oliver Green. A Northern version of FREAK crossed with Jamie T.
LB: Good fun. I couldn’t quite place what it reminded me of at times. I liked the vocal delivery - like a hyperactive Bernard Sumner fronting a The Strokes song played by BIS. 3/5
SW: Great fast beat intro, math-punk style. Interesting lyrics but unless my stereo is faulty, I think Pinky & Perky were on guest backing vocals! Wish it was a minute shorter as it started to drag. 3.5/5
JW: "Called up my friends, they don’t wanna meet up" and neither would we. 2/5
Total score: 8.5/15
DANTEVILLES - BLACKJACK
Produced by Joe Cross (Hurts, Courteeners), this latest single sees the Manchester four-piece open with energetic guitars and dual vocals, joined by a fast-paced and upbeat chorus. “'Blackjack' relates to playing your cards right and if there is a risky hand, play it anyway," say the band.
LB: Stompy, helium pop with slippery grooves and production. The voice had character with some nice guitar parts. The drums and bass reminded me of Clor during the gaps in vocal delivery… I really like Clor, I wish they still made albums. 3/5
SW: Interesting fast-paced song; you can hear the originality in this band. Catchy - and the only song of the six I’ve played twice for the pleasure. I want to know more about this group already. 4.5/5
JW: Can’t understand what the singer was saying. Don’t quit your day jobs. 2/5
Total score: 9.5/15