Sparks The Rescue – Eye To The Sun

Offering nothing new to the music scene, Sparks The Rescue’s first album is by far the most annoying piece of teenage butt rock to hit our record stores. What makes it so annoying you may wonder?

Well, like many pop songs, they manage to get into your head some way or another. This album is really catchy, well produced and well written. It may follow exactly the same format as the whole back catalogue of Drive-Thru Records bands, but it works.

Having had no prior knowledge of Sparks The Rescue, I had no idea what to expect when placing the cd into my player. ‘My Heart Radio’ began to play and instantly I laughed. Especially when the first lyric is: “We were gettin’ fucked up” in an American accent.

Harmonies, punky-guitars and fast-paced simple beats make Sparks The Rescue an easy-to-listen to band. It must be so much fun to be in one of these bands, touring around America with hundreds of screaming girls and playing really easy rhythms and melodies.

But would I sacrifice making innovative music for cheesy pop? No I wouldn’t. All you other bands looking at replicating bands like Sparks The Rescue, please don’t and save our worn out old ears.

‘Skeleton’ stands out a tad from the other tracks with a powerful chorus of harmonies that please the ears like a cute puppy pleases the eyes. ‘Chemistry Set’ confused me a little, as the lyrics describe forgetting someone with a chemistry set? “God bless this chemistry set, it helps me to forget you”. At times they have tried a heavier approach to verses and bridges in the songs which do seem to work.

The album is consistent, each track seems to blend with one another into annoying whiney American heartfelt OC pop. This does mean your feet never stop tapping the floor in an uncontrollable spasm. At some points you even sing along, yes I admit that I was singing along after the 20th listen.

MGMT – Kids

Following the release of their debut album; Oracular Spectacular, MGMT became huge. Tracks that stood out on the album have now been released as singles. ‘Kids’ is a very clever pop song. Multi layered, cool samples, and some mind blowing production.

The ‘Kids’ has a refreshing youthful sound, with synth samples and some very clever disco-pop.
 ‘Kids’ is currently getting A LOT of airplay, which means we will be sick of hearing it in a few weeks time. How long will MGMT last? As pop music progresses into a better form of synth heavy upbeat electro, you can’t help but ask, what next? If music in the charts can progress into actual good music, then hey, I’m all ears.

The two remixes featured on this single are slightly weak. Soulwax usually deliver absolutely knee trembling reworks, but this is more Royal Mail than Parcelforce delivery. A heavy, dirty bass line alongside a bass drum sound produced by the gods is always included in a Soulwax rework, yet the structure leaves a lot to the imagination.

‘Of Moons Birds And Monsters [Holy Ghost mix]‘ is a very nice mix, but still slightly weak. Relaxing, happy, and generally an OK remix. When listening back to the original ‘Of Moons….’ you realise how good that track actually is. It’s upbeat but still mellow with a Zero 7 style.

Columbia have their hands on a great pop band, bring on the next ‘Spectacular’ record!

We Reviewed Team Waterpolo At Bodega In Nottingham

This gig flew by so quickly, and that’s a good thing. The Preston based indie four piece got off to a great start with what I assumed was the intro to their set, rather than an actual song. The intro was different, progressive and catchy, then they started playing actual songs. This set was like a sandwich with no filling. As the end song/outro was brilliant.

A lot of the songs sounded like theme tunes for children’s television series and the only emotion I could get from this set was laughter. I found myself asking, ‘Are they serious?’. The only way to accurately describe Team Waterpolo’s music is Pop music for children. I guess it’s extremely lucky that a lot of venues are now allowing 14+ gigs as this is blatantly Team Water Polo’s target market. The on-stage performance was very good and the harmonies and musicianship were very tight. Maybe Team Waterpolo just lack the so called X-factor?

The venue was quiet, better than their last set though according to lead singer Fred Davis where they found themselves playing to four people last time they ventured onto the Nottingham circuit. Team Waterpolo have played with some well-established artists but for me they are far from ready to headline their own tour. The potential is there, they just are not using it to the fullest.

Natty – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Tonight’s venue seemed to be filling up nicely. I walked in halfway through what looked like the lead singer from The View playing an acoustic set. But no, this was a gentle, timid, quiet and unforgettable Karmina Francis. Such a powerful voice seemed inconceivable from this delicate artist. In-between songs she would talk shyly to the crowd, smiling and seemed to be overwhelmed by the crowd’s love for her. You could do nothing but stand in silence and admire her vocal talent. She provided a natural ability to disappear into her songs and have the crowd follow. She is currently working hard on her debut album on the Kitchenware Label and will inevitably become something special. At times you were faced with a lot of similarities to Adele’s voice, but musically it’s a different story.

Next up was the headline act; Natty. The room seemed to fill even more as it neared to the 9:00pm mark and anticipations were high. Fans cheered as the music stopped and the backing band picked up their instruments followed by an even bigger cheer as the cheeky dreadlock reggae king Natty took to the stage. He worked the crowd well, giving the advice of everything will be fine as long as you have ‘music and dancing’, which is exactly what he gave.

Some people have described Natty’s music as ‘listener-friendly acoustic reggae’. Very listenable indeed, to the point where Jack Johnson meets Bob Marley, and there is no other way to describe it.

Through the duration of the set he mingled with the crowd, dedicating songs to people from one parent families, to all the women and to all the men. At one point It seemed as though he had lost the plot (he looked very high at the time) ranting about a revolution, sofa’s and Playstations. His very easy going attitude seemed to warm the crowd to him, securing a brilliant reception upon finishing each track.

The backing band was very tight, each track flowed without one cock-up. At times the guitar licks sounded like Jack Penate with a fun-go-flow sound, which inevitably got the members of the audience dancing.

It was refreshing to see the role of a 2008 reggae pop star being fulfilled.

Cold War Kids – Loyalty To Loyalty

So, to the return of the Californian Soul four piece, Cold War Kids. If you were a fan of their debut Robbers And Cowards, then you are automatically a fan of Loyalty To Loyalty. The album is similar in many ways, yet different in others. In our two-year wait for this record, nothing much has changed.

Lead singer Nathon Willet continues his vocal domination on each track, providing cracked-throat blues and a soulful atmosphere. Plus the big beat, slow piano, jittery music works just as well as it did the first time. It’s hard to compare CWK to any other band around at the minute, and I like that.

The Opening track ‘Against Privacy’ sounds as if The Zutons have taken over the record, with a guitar sound from SpongeBob Squarepants. ‘Something Is Not Right With Me’ is a dry, 2min22sec, 2008 equivalent to ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’. It undoubtedly gets into your head and makes you sing along (even if you don’t want it too!).

‘I’ve seen enough’ is a more upbeat track that controversially feels as if it could be used in the credits to a bond film. ‘Relief’ has a more ’08 feel, with a very electro bass line and tech drum sound reminiscent of Kid Koala (Musically, not vocally). The rest of the album just seems to drag.

My advice for new listeners would be to give it a lot of time, Cold War Kids are sometimes hard to palette. Listening to the whole album in one sitting is like tackling a marathon, it is not advised.

Cold War Kids, Hang yourselves up to dry!