As Ricky mentioned a few weeks ago in his introduction to the Demo Dungeon, we're not running the weekly Monday Music Review any more. But we do still get sent CDs from time to time and we thought, since someone has taken the trouble to post them to us, we'd take the trouble of having a listen and jotting down a few notes. We'll be doing this sometime around the beginning of each month looking ahead at some of the less mainstream releases coming up.
We'll endeavour not to refer to anything as 'the next Babyshambles, Arctic Monkeys or The Killers', although we may occasionally make reference to Ronnie James Dio or Coldplay, if only to annoy a few of you. So without further ado, here's the next Coldplay. Not really.
Sign - A Little Bit (IC Records, out now)
Icelandic rockers Sign's debut single is a solid slab of pomp metal; all chugging riffs, big hair, and bigger choruses. Lots of shouting, lots of harmonies, lots of energy. To some this will epitomise all that is ludicrous about Heavy Metal, to others this is proof that only those who live six months in darkness, wear their shirts open to the waist in temperatures of minus one hundred degrees and were suckled by their mothers on neat vodka are worthy of standing one foot on the monitor, Flying V nestled in crotch spitting chord-fire at the audience. Perfect air'n'hair guitar work out then, you can catch Sign as part of Kerrang!'s Most Wanted at the Barfly on Sunday 21st May.
Hanne Hukkelberg - Do Not As I Do (The Leaf, download only from March 27th)
We'd missed out on Hanne's debut album, Little Things, so this download only single has been our first taster of her trippy, soulful, acid folk jazz. And a pleasurable little taster it is too, showcasing her tender, smokey vocals over a daintily complex little tune and the dark tale she tells. Likewise, her live cover of The Pixies' Break My Body is all soft and sweet and sexy and scary as hell all at the same time, not disimilar in intensity to Tori Amos's slow burning crawl through Slayer's Reign In Blood. Well worth a listen through the usual download merchants when it's released.
Fiction Plane - Bitter Forces And Lame Race Horses (Everybody's Records, out now)
Although with an album and soundtrack appearance (in Holes), already under their belts, Bitter Forces... is Fiction Plane's debut UK release. A sign perhaps that they're not prepared to cash in on the family jewels (singer Joe is Sting's son). Although that could be considered a good thing anyway since Fiction Plane are a far cry from Sumner Senior's current jazz noodlings. Taking the occasional harmonic leaf from U2's book (the lead track is mixed by U2's buddy, Spike), Fiction Plane's sound draws influences from American angst rock and yet their sound remains reminiscent of the heady days of The Unforgettable Fire, touched ever so slightly by The Cure whilst Sumner's dark often bitter lyrics hide the occasional family resemblance in the voice. You can catch the boys at the Half Moon in Putney this Saturday, and they've a good mix of their work streaming on their site.
Peggy Honeywell - Faint Humms (Agenda, out today)
Faithful readers will know we like our folk and country down here in the dungeon and that we think the banjo can be as rock'n'roll as a million Lemmys pissed on rocket fuel and snorting virgin crotch-sweat. So with a voice that echoes Hope (Mazzy Star) Sandoval's melancholic harmonies rolling over some gentle country and blues acoustic guitar picking, not to mention a Sufjan Stevens like attention to banjo and handclaps, Faint Humms was always going to register highly with the dungeonistas. Honeywell (a.k.a. visual artist Clare Rojas) crosses the dreamy drift between bayou and bracken with an effortless solitude drawing her finger pickings from across American roots music, accompanied purely by herself. The pace rarely rises above somnambulistic and yet it's as hypnotic a record as we've heard this year, spinning together strands of both the old and the new America in a quilt that's as rich in its heritage as it is in the skills that made it.