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Single Reviews: 27th April, 2002

Hope in Ghosts - E.P (BMI)
The atmospheric samples at the beginning of 'Stitches' put me in mind of Pink Floyd and the subtly shifting guitars and stream of consciousness vocals make me think of King Crimson, so that's a good start. 'My Headphones are Broken' adds that effortlessly uplifting REM feel to the warming sensations of a good Jeff Buckley song while sounding wholly different to either. The final song, 'Math Rock Spy Hunter' is once again like a very low-key King Crimson or Smashing Pumpkins. Hope in Ghosts, something of a labour of love for one-man-band Ted Flynn, manages to stand out by sounding optimistic without being na´ve and progressive without the pretension. Good, back garden, lemonade-drinking music and hey, everyone loves lemonade. If you don't you can go back and listen to your Dio albums. Sorry, but there had to be an insult in there somewhere.

Bad Religion - Broken (Epitaph)
If like me, you like the energy of pop-punk, but wish that it could be directed into something constructive then thank your assorted deities for Bad Religion. Focused drumming and aggressive guitars wreck havok under solid supporting fire from solid bass lines. This kind of thing just hasn't been done better since Smash. Looking at the current competition, I don't think Sum 41, Blink 182 or any of those other numbered bands will ever attain this level of precision, intelligence or maturity. Maybe Bad Religion should add a random number to the end of their name to sell more albums. Those weird shorts wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Timo Maas - Shifter (Perfecto)
Since funky German music is about as rare as a black lemur, Timo automatically wins points for originality. He also scores with his hilarious press release and its ill-advised use of huge amounts of sibilance (lots of words starting with "s"). Unfortunately the tune itself is one for part time clubbers. Serious funk-techno fans won't remain interested in this for too long, although they have done some interesting things with the remixes. Not quite the "sexy slithersome slinkiness" (or whatever) promised in the press release, but passable nonetheless. The sausage roll of funk - not pretty, but pretty satisfying.

Emetrex - Staring at the Stone (Seriously Groovy Music)
This song sounds like some kind of futuristic church choir, with all the strange organ sounds, uplifting vocals and trance-inducing repetitiveness. The singer seems a little out of breath and the whole thing makes me feel sleepy. I think this would be good music for hypnotising people, or putting your friends to sleep so that you can steal their wallets and take photos of them with teddy bears that you can blackmail them with later. Not that I'd do that kind of thing! Actually, the thought just occurred to me that the only reason I don't hate this is because the sun is shining. If this song were an Olympic figure skater it would have come fourth, just outside the medals. Does that help?

Garden of Dreams - Sleeping Stars (Seraph Music)
Songs like this piss me off! It all starts off promisingly enough with some up-tempo drumming and continues with nicely picked guitar-work and sweet vocals, but then suddenly, I have an epiphany! It sounds uncannily like Remy Zero and The Smiths jamming eighties pop like New Order and Depeche Mode and those floaty keyboard sounds date back at least as far as Pink Floyd. In fact, if this song were an X-Man it would have to be Jubilee - flashy and initially impressive, but ultimately useless and embarrassing to its contemporaries. The tiny CD and special packaging did impress me for a couple of seconds though.

Mother Goose - Village (Seriously Groovy Music)
Like a cheap grenade, I keep waiting for this song to explode. It never does. Throughout it all, the band sounds just as bored as I do and I am slightly shocked when the bass gets slightly deeper for the mid-passage, so accustomed have I become to the droning of the first few verses. In the end, the song refuses to go anywhere in much the same way as an old Lada. In all fairness though this single is still worthwhile for the quality b-side, 'Mozart', which sounds like Marilyn Manson covering Fugazi or the Dead Kennedys. Where the fuck did that come from?

Apoptygma Berzerk - Until the End of the World (WEA Records)
Quite obviously Apoptygma have been scouring old Preacher comics for song titles and themes. Jessie Custer would be disgusted! Actually this wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't developed their sound by waiting around Depeche Mode's bins to see what kind of aural junk they were throwing out. I think the phrase is "second rate".

Stereo360 - Vaseline Mouth (Baby Pea Records)
I'm going to try something new here - a live review. That's right, you're going to get my thoughts just as they occur to me. It'll be a real first impression! Before I even put this song on I'm thinking of 'Vaseline' by the Stone Temple Pilots, so it's already at a disadvantage. Let's see how it fares. Hmm, yes, I see, jangly guitars, predictable drumming and "emotional" singing - Dear God! - It's Jimmy Eat World! Think I'll get a sandwich.

Econoline - Breakfast of Champions (Seriously Groovy Music)
It's been a long time since I've seen a seven-inch single and this one sounds pretty good on my battered old record player. Predictability here is a strong point, with the band sounding comfortably familiar in a kind of classic guitar band way. While the White Stripes and the Hives won't exactly be quaking in their - in the case of the Hives - immaculately tailored boots, this song has changed my definition of a breakfast of champions from a pint of Guinness and some stale toast to something entirely more musical.

Dominic Body

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