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For the first single off their debut album ‘You and I’, someone in or around Cut Off Your Hands decided it was a good idea to release ‘Happy As Can Be’. That person was terribly mistaken. ‘Happy As Can Be’ is a dreadfully bland single, sounding like a mixture between a 90s pop-Christmas song and a The Bravery b-side.

It’s a shame really, because Cut Off Your Hands can be good at times. ‘Expectations’ was a good single, ‘Still Fond’ and ‘Closed Eyes’ were great. ‘Oh Girl’ wasn’t though, and ‘Happy As Can Be’ is quite frankly woeful. In conclusion, Cut Off Your Hands need to return to the form that they had with the ‘Shaky Hands EP’ and songs like ‘You and I’ and ‘Closed Eyes’, where they blended their pop hooks with The Strokes cool, and The Cribs urgency.

When I saw them live, Cut Off Your Hands were exceptional, this song thuogh, is awful.

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So here it is. One of the most anticipated albums of the year. Dear Science, the third album from New York art-rock experimentalists TV On The Radio. I got this album at the same time as a couple of other big albums in the form of Bloc Party‘s Intimacy, and Kings of Leon‘s Only By The Night. I’ve not got around to the KoL album yet, and I’m reserving judgement on Intimacy til the full physical release next month. Dear Science, however, is a cracker.

Since Return To Cookie Mountain came out in 2006, and was subsequently named Spin Album of the Year, (which turned out to be just one element of the album’s huge critical acclaim) the musical world has been eagerly anticipating Dear Science. We’re talking expectations of life-changing, music-industry-changing maybe even world-changing brilliance here. Well, I’ve heard it, and it’s only an album at the end of the day. It’s just like the rest I’ve heard this year, but better. Change your life it will not, and it was never going to. Get over it.

One key difference here to Return To Cookie Mountain is immediacy. RTCM took a few listens to “get”, and no doubt Dear Science will reveal it’s true wonders with time, like fine wine, without the psychoactive drug effects (probably). However Dear Science is also quick to hit you, and grab attention, with hand-claps, horns and something that sounds suspiciously like a 1983 Casio DG20 electric guitar, set to Electric Mandolin. Opener ‘Halfway Home’, single ‘Golden Age’ and tracks like ‘Dancing Choose’ grab you with electronic and guitar parts blended in a way I think Bloc Party might be trying to achieve, while ‘Red Dress’ is unashamedly funky. What TV On The Radio do on this album, to an even greater extent than they did on Return To Cookie Mountain and earlier, is blur genre boundaries, with the funky elements, the rap elements on ‘DLZ’, oft-disguised guitars throughout, and synths, drums and vocals all put together brilliantly by Dave Sitek’s production skills.

Ending with with ‘Lover’s Day’, Tunde Adebimpe also demonstates that vast variety is present in his lyrics as in the music, with openly sexy lyrics ending an album that has covered death, war, anger, heartbreak and most of the world’s other ills.

As ‘Lover’s Day’ rounds of the album with jazzy sax and horms, choral vocals and marching snares, I reflect on another triumph for TVOTR, and I can see this album being featured in even more “album of the year” debates than its predecessor.

You can, and should, buy Dear Science from here (UK) or here (US Deluxe Edition) if you don’t already have it.

MP3: TV On The Radio – Golden Age

MP3: TV On The Radio – Dancing Choose

Bloc Party‘s new “tour” has been announced and the tickets are now on sale. Is 6 dates in 3 places a tour? Is it if you add one London date 2 months later than those 6? Are they worth the money any more? Is this why gigsandtours.com is currently not working, 10 minutes after these tickets go on sale? Answers to all this and more in next weeks NME, no doubt.

Birmingham-based Old School Tie used to be an intrumental outfit, but have now incorporated vocals into their electonic rock sound and are soon to unleash a self-released debut album, Mystery Sound Playrgound. In the past they’ve supported the likes of Oceansize, Infadels and Mexicolas, one of my favourite Birmingham bands.

Fireflies is a good example of their sound, and what’s to come from the new album. A blend of subtle electronic sounds and varied strengths of guitar sounds complement the lush vocals well, creating a crisp but deep track. The vocals in the second half of the track remind me of someone else… It’ll come to me…

MP3: Old School Tie – Fireflies

Wichita Recordings, the record label that brought the world the likes of Bloc Party, The Cribs, Simian Mobile Disco and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! have announced the release of a digital sampler which is available for free here. The sampler contains 15 tracks from the London-based label’s artists, and it’s also free, and available here.

The full tracklisting is below:

01. Tasty Boy – Those Dancing Days
02.Human Hair – Lovvers
03. Molten – Sky Larkin
04. How I Taught Myself to Scream – Los Campesinos!
05. Knifeman – The Bronx
06. Meet Me in the Dollar Bin – Les Savy Fav
07. I Dont Want To Die (In The Hospital) – Conor Oberst
08. Tell Me In Time – Peter Moren
09. Burn The Margins – Greg Weeks
10. Saving Up To Get Married – Euros Childs
11. Maiden in the Moor Lay – Meg Baird
12. Paint The Rust – The Dodos
13. Inland Empire – Peter Bjorn & John
14. I Got This Down (Invisible Conga People Mix) – Simian Mobile Disco
15. The Year In Review – Her Space Holiday

So that’s the summer sampler from Wichita, it’s free, and it’s here.

The New Sound. x

The brilliant Dartz (the artists formerly known as DARTZ!) have made a track free to download from their label’s myspace page. The End, Moving On is going to be track number 8 on their forthcoming ‘mini-album’, The Sad History of the Village of Alnerique. It will be their second album, following on from thrilling debut This Is My Ship. The first album was one of my favourite albums of 2007, a stunningly well put together and utterly brilliant record that brought the Teeside trio a barrage of critical acclaim.

The download is only available for 24 hours, so grab it while you can from here!

The album can be ordered here.

Yes indeed, it is less than a week until the Leeds and Reading Festivals kick off. The New Sound. will be attending the Leeds Festival and we cannot wait! From Friday to Sunday, hundreds of good bands will be playing the festival, including a handful of really awesome ones like Rage Against The Machine, Bloc Party and Queens of the Stone Age, to name a few.

Of course, for Leeds attendees, the music starts a day early with a handful of bands from the superb Leeds-based record label Dance To The Radio playing, including the brilliant Grammatics. Last year Dance To The Radio brought the likes of now-defunct Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames, Sky Larkin and Grammatics to support ¡Forward, Russia! and they were all superb (except The Wallbirds who were really boring).

If you’re going to Leeds (or Reading), have a great time! I know we will!

Does It Offend You, Yeah?‘s debut album You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into has two types of song on it: the frenetic electro songs, and the pop songs. Dawn Of The Dead falls into the second category and is my favourite of the pop songs on the album. It’s due for release in about a month and can be pre-ordered from their website here. If you shell out a whole £5 you can get the CD, 2 x 7″ vinyl and a t-shirt in one package. Nice.

I wasn’t originally planning on reviewing ¿Cómo Te Llama? but I’ve been listening to it almost non-stop since it was released and I felt I had to.

¿Cómo Te Llama? is the second album from The Strokes guitarist-come-solo-artist Albert Hammond Jr and I think he’s excelled himself again. Originally the solo stuff was songs he wrote for The Strokes but didnt’t fit. Now not only is ¿Cómo Te Llama? better than his first album, Yours To Keep, they’ve both been as good as if not better than the last Strokes album, First Impressions Of Earth.

¿Cómo Te Llama? kicks off with Bargain of a Century, with a fast bassline that could have been on Room On Fire, before AH Jr comes in with Julian Casablancas-esque vocals. However, this is not a Strokes record, and the perfect guitar-pop of In My Room shows what AH Jr can do. Catchy as Last NIte, and with brilliant little pieces of guitar riff-age overlapping and playing around the vocals, this is possibly my favourite track on the record. Lisa follows it, starting with a lo-fi drum-machine intro, this song develops into a deep mix of pianos, fuzzy guitars and distant vocals.

Fourth track GfC was the first single released from the album, and again it’s perfect guitar-pop from Hammond, from the quiet guitar intro to the almost yelling vocals in the chorus. By this point in the first listen of this album, I was already considering whether I prefer Hammond alone to The Strokes. The album continues through the Sex Pistols-esque guitars of The Big Americana, the dark “ooooh-woo-oohs” of The Rocket, and the scattered guitars and wandering bass-line of Victory At Monterey. After these the album continues in much the same vein, but with slightly less quality, including an eerie 7 minute instrumental called Eerie Couch.

Overall, ¿Cómo Te Llama? has all the quality and instant-impact of Yours To Keep and perhaps more depth. These aren’t Strokes songs, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as good. AH Jr was one of my highlights of the Leeds Festival last year, when he and his band headlined the Carling Stage, and with this album, I can’t help but wish he’d headline it again, instead of the emo-pop dross of Elliot Minor or the NME-scene-indie of The Kills. Ah well…

You can buy the album from here, with a bonus DVD of live songs.

The New Sound. x

“One Day As A Lion is both a warning delivered and a promise kept.”

If you haven’t already heard, One Day As A Lion is Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine‘s side project, accompanied by former The Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore. The terribly-talented twosome recently posted their first track on MySpace. Wild International sees trademark de la Rocha vocals over Theodore’s drums and some brutal-sounding synths laid down by de la Rocha. It’s damn good and there’s an EP on the way! Rumours of an album from de la Rocha under a different guise have been around since the last millenium, but finally we might have something a bit better than the stuff he did with DJ Shadow. Then maybe a new Rage album?