We Start Fires - Caught Red Handed (11 tracks/Head Girl)
By Steve Rudd
Album release date: September 13th 2004.
Proudly keeping the DIY punk spirit alive, Darlington quartet We Start Fires
(in which female members outnumber the male contingency three to one) aren't ones
to wait around for a record company exec to get out his chequebook.
They believe in their music to such an extent (which they should do, because it
is brilliant) that they've booked their own tour and recorded their own
album in the front room of band member Becky Stefani: the supremely talented singer,
guitarist and chief songwriter.. who, given such talents, could quite conceivably
be related to No Doubt's Gwen - although I doubt that she is!
They had previously worked in a studio for their How To Be A Lady EP and come out
with a highly polished release, but a number of reasons made them head into her front
room for the recording of this, their 11-song-strong debut album.
One reason was that studio time costs a relative fortune, and they aren't that rich.
But hell, in having recorded such a high-class album on their own backs and on the cheap,
the feisty We Start Fires clan has proved to one and all that thousands of pounds
really don't need to be wasted on studio recording time, because the quality of
recording on this release has turned out that well.
The majority of the tunes are daubed deliciously with punk rock 'n' roll relish
that's glamourised by succulent swirls of keyboard melodies from Melissa Marx.
As they admit themselves, We're sick of boring indie bands - we want thrills
and sexiness and attitude.
And that's exactly what this album delivers, with the opening track in Bang Bang
setting their stall in the most exhilarating of manners as their awesomely
original sound attacks the senses. Keyboard babe Melissa plays, to exciting degrees,
in the style of The Stranglers organ-grinder Dave Greenfield, while solitary
man of the moment Ashley keeps time with a coolly lashing drum beat.
Hey Now reigns as harmony-heaven, proving that the quality of these songs are most certainly on
a par with the pop-pouting musical exuberance of Liverpool Goth-pop band Zombina & The Skeletones.
Queen Bee, meanwhile, begins as a moody instrumental of grandeur, before the heavy guitars
of the title track in Caught Redhanded and the well-harnessed angst of When You Fall and
Blackout's shouting provide other stand-out moments from a bold and beautiful album that
deserves to get these girls - and Ashley - away from the dust and dirt of Darlington for good.
Priming their music with head-turning punk attitude is one thing for many bands,
but the main component that really stands out here is the hard fact that all four
band members of the Barbie-bashing and Sindy-smashing We Start Fires can really play
their respective instruments, and the way the album has been mixed allows time and
space for all such talents to genuinely shine.
Becky's guitar grinds a treat while her lead vocals both growl and break your heart,
Melissa's keyboard-based melodies underpin the guitar hooks perfectly, Ashley Wade's
drums are smacked a treat and Nikki Vaughan's bass grooves cut their own distinctive
path through the rest of the noisy hustle and bustle.
Given their collective enthusiasm and deep-rooted passion to rock out hard and
fast and here and now, it seems that the commendable We Start Fires spirit will
positively smoulder until the right record deal comes their way.. and then some. 5/5
Album Reviews -
Cathy Davey - Something Ilk (album/ Regal) By Steve Rudd
This 14-track release is an infinitely interesting and beautifully conceived album, opened with Come Over,
which is reminiscent of the sultry sounds that Italian-born singer-songwriter Elena is making.
Complete with a cool riff and sexed-up PJ Harvey-esque swagger, this is
Single Reviews - Still Life at the wheel By Michelle Dee
After a promising start, a distinctive vocal, which can only be described through emotions rather than words,
tells a story of a road trip gone sour.
Short chords punctuate the verse and, at the wheel, gathers pace.
The chorus kicks in followed by rolling guitars.
One or two of the backing vocals seem superfluous but
Single Reviews - Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue (Parlophone) By Steve Rudd
Release Date: September 6th 2004.
It's been one hell of a couple of years for this American pop-punk-rock quintet, and deservedly so.
This is the title track from their ever-so-popular Ocean Avenue album that was released to instant
acclaim earlier this year, and - somewhat
Single Reviews - Sam Roberts Band - Brother Down By Steve Rudd
Release Date: August 30th 2004.
This guy - and his band - has long been big business in Canada from where they hail, going so far as
to be awarded with Best Artist and Best Album awards at this year's Juno Awards.
Now it's time for the UK to see and hear what all the amassed fuss
Single Reviews - Ricky - That Extra Mile/Beat The Best Out Of Me By Nick Quantrill
Release date - 6th September, 2004.
Following hot on the heels of acclaimed debut album, The Summer Sun Still Echoes, Portsmouth's finest,
Ricky return with a double A-side that will (hopefully) accompany some long awaited summer sun.
The single picks up
Single Reviews - The Hot Puppies - Green Eyeliner (single/ PURR) By Steve Rudd
Release Date: September 27th 2004.
I've got a funny feeling that this Aberystwyth quintet is about to become very well known indeed
over here in England, following a prolonged spell of relative fame in Wales, courtesy of their
last Dawn Of Man release
Single Reviews -
The Beastie Boys, Death Cab For Cutie and The Departure By Steve Rudd
After all these years, The Beastie Boys are still making amazing music, here
presenting the second single of 2004 from their To The 5 Boroughs album.
These Manhattan-obsessed guys have long been respected for their refreshing fusion of
rap, hip-hop and dance elements, and if
Single Reviews -
Single of Week - Cornershop Presents: Bubbley Kaur Topknot By Lee Cassanell
Only in a world of George Bush and Sudanese Genocide could Busted be riding high in
the Charts with the theme from Thunderbirds so in the spirit of such rampant insanity
I've decided to make a little deal with you the good people of Kingston upon Hull.
Every Saturday I'm going
CD Reviews -
What Ya Cryin' For by The Landau's - By Tony Bates, Jim Hines and Leigh Lee-Roy Stancliffe (Aussie Radio)
Every now and then a new band comes along, complete with biography promising a new
sound and telling one and all that to miss this band and their release will be at their peril.
I've heard it all before; haven't you?.
Well this time I have to say that I have received a couple of releases from
The Landau's, but without the usual hype.
Album Reviews -
Michelle's CD choice of the moment CRUSH double CD by Polygram T.V.
Where did all the good stuff go, those great bands of the nineties with cool
sounding one-word names like Dodgy, Lush and Pulp etc.
The t-shirts were tight fitting, brightly coloured with trims on neck and sleeves.
The band logos were unobtrusive in trendy oval shaped designs.