Some random single reviews to keep things ticking over during the gig drought

Nephew – Our Cold War EP (Baked Goods)
Indie Credential faves Nephew‘s debut EP is finally upon us and it was well worth the wait. Lead track “High Rise Buildings” is a live favourite of mine and sounds almost as dynamic on record as it is in concert. It deals with swapping mundane small town life with life in the big city. Similar themes were explored by Doves on their Some Cities album but where that album was duller than a Ukraine performance at the World Cup, “High Rise Buildings” ebbs and flows with its yawning violin loops and epic chorus. “Sorry” recalls Elbow and is short and sweet while “Who The Fuck” and “Secret Army” are vitriolic episodes that sit somewhere between Radiohead and The Unbelievable Truth, Thom York’s brother’s band, who released the seriously underrated Almost Here way back in 1998. Needless to say, all four songs on this EP are excellent and I really can’t recommend it enough.

Nephew launch the Our Cold War EP with a gig at the Night & Day on Wednesday 12th July, tickets are £5 on the door. The EP will be in the shops on Monday 17th, I’m not sure which shops exactly but I’m pretty sure Piccadilly Records will have it.

Snowfight In The City Centre – No Light Left (High Voltage Sounds)
We went to see Snowfight In The City Centre at their single launch at the Music Box last week and they were pretty good, though not as impressive as either of the support bands, The Answering Machine and The Maple State. “No Light Left” made much less of an impression on us than much of the rest of their set but it’s definitely a grower, an urgent slice of anthemic Manc pop that should hopefully gain them wider exposure. The b-side, “My Saving Grace”, sounded rather excellent live but further investigation reveals it to owe far too much of a debt to Elbow, right down to the title. A promising debut, nonetheless.

Mogwai – Travel Is Dangerous EP (PIAS)
The new Mogwai EP is a worthwhile purchase if only for the fact that it contains a fearsome live version of “Like Herod” recorded in Tokyo earlier this year which makes the “Mogwai Young Team” version sound positively serene by comparison. A similarly bowel-loosening live version of Mr Beast’s “We’re No Here” is also a winner and elsewhere there are remixes of “Auto Rock” and “Friend Of The Night” that strip away the driving piano motifs of the album versions and play around with the rhythms beneath. I’m not a great fan of remixes but, though both tracks lose some of the melodrama of their album counterparts, they make for an intriguing listen. The title track features Barry Burns on rather undistinguished vocal duties but it boasts great arpeggios and a whopping chorus in which the vocals catch a ride on the back of a wave of shoegazey distortion.

Smog – Rock Bottom Riser (Domino)
The new Smog EP arrives just in time to remind me of the melancholic brilliance of last year’s A River Ain’t Too Much To Love featuring as it does, two tracks, “Rock Bottom Riser” and “I Feel Like The Mother Of The World”, from that album, alongside two newies in “Bowery” and “Fool’s Lament”, both of which wouldn’t be out of place on River. Which is high praise indeed and makes this EP a must for all Smog fans out there. Also included are videos for the first two tracks which feature Chloë Sevigny as a chambermaid with an eye patch in “Mother Of The World” and some beautiful animation in “Rock Bottom Riser”. Bill Callaghan is a genius and has the most beautiful voice known to man. Buy this now.

The Sleepy Jackson – God Lead Your Soul (EMI)
The Sleepy Jackson never really piqued my interest when they were around a couple of years ago but their new single ain’t bad at all, starting off as a dusty, atmospheric shuffle before bursting to life about halfway through when the traditional sophomore album orchestra comes in and briefly threatens to undo all the previous good work. Fortunately the orchestra is reined in for the final verse. There are hints of gospel and the song is clearly inspired by Luke Steele’s apparently new-found Christianity. I won’t hold that against them, though, as this is a strong lead track for their forthcoming Personality long player.

The Sleepy Jackson play the Manchester Academy 3 on 13th July. Unfortunately Silver Jews are playing Club Academy on the same date so I’m going to that instead.

The Hedrons – Be My Friend (Measured Records)
The Hedrons are an all-girl rock band from Glasgow with a terrible name and a completely uninspiring debut single. People should know by now that surnames don’t work as band names (The Smiths being the exception that proves the rule). Just because your lead singer’s called Tippi doesn’t mean you have to call your band that. It’s like Hepburn never happened. Anyway, the song is tuneless faux-punk rock pap inspired by MySpace from a band who sound like they spend their Sundays ironing their Ramones t-shirts they got from Top Shop.

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