Dan Sartain - Too Tough To Live

Dan Sartain

Too Tough To Live

Released: Jan 30 2012

Genre: Rock

Label: Swami

Rating: 3.8/5


By: Dan Titcombe

Dan Sartain’s latest album; Too Tough To Live is an inspirational record

Too Tough To Live is a rock album compiled of short songs, and by short I mean songs of 1-2 minutes in length but this isn’t a bad thing – he has kept all his songs short and sweet.

Dan’s style of music has similarities with; The Clash and even Queens of the Stone Age (if your looking for some of the rhythmic guitar) and these days there doesn’t seem to be enough of this type of rock music, so this album is a very welcome edition to the music world.

The album is compiled of 13 songs, some are a bit hit and miss when it comes to diversity, but overall the majority of the tracks have a strong vibe to them. As the songs are so short there’s hardly any room for the lyrics to have any emotional meaning, but nearly every tune is contagious and will have you dancing in seconds.

The song; ‘Even At My Worst I’m Better Than You’ is one of the stand out tracks on the album, with a great rhythm guitar mainly compiled of power chords this song delivers the kind of ‘I don’t need anyone’ message that will put you instantly into a good mood!.

Boo Hoo Hoo’ is another great song on this album, again with a great rhythm that evokes a  ‘lets do something stupid’ atmosphere, which when paired with the right situation could lead to great times. This song has the power and potential to make memories.

Because every song on this album is so short it is an easy listen and highly enjoyable. This record may lack some diversity, but it has to be said if you like the type of music that inspires reckless and fun behavior then Dan Sartain and his album Too Tough To Live is definitely for you.

Dan Sartain – Now Now Now


†HYMNS† - Cardinal Sins/Contrary Virtues


Cardinal Sins/Contrary Virtues

Released: Nov 14 2011

Genre: Rock

Label: Function Records/Big Scary Monsters

Rating: 4.5/5


By: Chris Fishlock

“Atheist rock” band †HYMNS†, formed by ex-Blakfish man Samuel Manville and fellow musician Peter Riesner have created a unique album littered with religious themes – performed mostly with just guitars and drums. Many of the musical arrangements on the album are inspired by classical pieces, but adapted perfectly into heavy rock; creating their own sound and edge over the current blandness of many rock bands today.

The songs are well performed by the two-piece act – from the slow build ups to the full loud guitar and drums onslaughts they present in many songs. It’s amazing how much noise the band manage to make with just a guitar and drum kit. Samuel’s vocals are a highlight, mixing between calm clear singing and gasping shouting, of which he switches between the two sometimes mid-verse. Samuel can adapt his voice to the perfect tone to go with whatever tempo or mood. The best track showcasing Manville’s vocal skills is ‘Tristitia’: Opening with a slow piano piece Samuel slowly sings along until the guitar kicks in and his powerful screaming takes over and Samuel shouts his last breathes on the album to calm piano sandwiched between the loud guitar parts.

As you can guess from the band name, album title and the “atheist rock” label they have given themselves – there are many religious undertones throughout the record.  Opening and closing the album are the sounds of a church choir and many of the songs lyrically take on the atheist theme, and at times is cynical or sarcastic of faith and religion, sometimes mentioning such things as ‘the lord’ in disbelieving tones.

At 52 minutes long – keeping one main theme throughout and with the bands unique and basic sound the album creates its own mood and feel, giving back the meaning to the format of an album. This is more than a collection of songs written by the band, this is a collection of songs that sync together perfectly, creating one long piece rather than sixteen stand-alone tracks. †HYMNS† have created a highly competent and strong debut album, tackling strong themes with confidence.

†HYMNS† – A Punch To The Temple

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Tomorrow Dies Today

The newest track to be released by 2011 pop sensation is Tomorrow Dies Today, the B-Side to The Body. In comparison to the A-side, Tomorrow Dies Today takes a slightly slower in tempo, yet equally uplifting approach. It seems the sound of TPOBPAH is becoming somewhat iconic – it’s impossible to mistake the soothing vocals of Kip Berman overlaying feel-good guitar patterns. TPOBPAH have definitely adopted the composition styles of their predecessors; as the retro style of Tomorrow Dies Today echoes memories of The Smiths and The Cure




Wolfette – Different Story

London based solo singer-songwriter Wolfette has been making her mark on the UK pop scene recently with the release of her latest single, Different Story. Wolfette creates straightforward no-nonsense pop music. Echoing the styles of recent successes such as Ellie Goulding and Ladyhawke – it’s quite possible that  Wolfette could find herself pushed straight into the limelight. Sooner rather than later the likes of Robyn and Ladyhawke may become her competition as well as her influencers.




Firesuite – Of Little Faith

Earlier this year Sheffield band Firesuite released their debut LP, You’re an Ocean Deep, My Brother. The opening track of this fantastic record is Of Little Faith, a fantastic alternative, progressive rock track that beautifully displays the vocal and instrumental capabilities of Firesuite. Although distinctively rock, what makes Of Little Faith such a stand-out track is its affinity to post-hardcore – the emotive vocals and rapid guitar riffs bringing back memories of greats such as YOURCODENAMIEIS:MILO and At The Drive-In.

The Kits - Lead Us Into Temptation

The Kits

Lead Us Into Temptation

Released: June 13 2011

Genre: Rock 

Label: Pop Crime Records

Rating: 4.0/5


By: Jack Oldham

It would be easy to assume that a band made up of three Australians and a Spaniard would produce an eclectic album for an acquired taste, wouldn’t it? In the case of The Kits‘ second album, Lead Us Into Temptation, it’s important to remember never to assume (you know how the saying goes) as what we have here is an album consisting of 10 solid rock and roll tracks.

Lead Us Into Temptation kicks off in stomping fashion with first track Open Season really setting the bar high for the rest of the album. Vocalist Kit Atkinson could be mistaken for an Australian Alex Turner here as he spits out opening verse “I’ve reached a limit, the point has come, I’m sentimental, my race is run”.

Recent single Wild At Heart picks up the pace with its rasping guitars and sharp vocals whilst Salvation carries on in a similar vein as Atkinson belts out “let me save the children’s lives”. These opening three tracks hark back to good old 1970’s rock and roll and set the tone for a thoroughly enjoyable album.

Whilst the appeal may wear slightly thin on tracks such as Detroit Feeling and Girl You’ve Got No Remorse, The Kits have enough about themselves to shake it up to make sure that there’s some variation on the album. The title track is a chilling track that builds up to an epic climax and isn’t too dissimilar to some of Razorlight’s darker moments. Album closer Ain’t No Wolf also shows that The Kits can do slow tracks just as well as they can do rock and despite not knowing who or what Atkinson is singing about with a chorus like “You may be a bitch, but you ain’t no wolf” you almost feel his pain.

The highlight of the album however, is The Jam-esque guitar heavy Modern Love which, with what sound like slightly dimmed vocals, really places an emphasis on the instrumental talents the band. The guitar hooks hit you at 100mph and before you know it all three minutes have passed in what feels like ten seconds.

In times where the music scene is dominated by R&B and electro records, it’s refreshing to hear an album like Lead Us Into Temptation suggest that all hope isn’t lost just yet.

The Kits – Salvation

The sun is out and it’s the bank holiday weekend, perfect. This week’s Essential Listening showcases three, as always, very different tracks – that we think should be on your iPod playlist.

The Tamborines – Black and Blue

Black and Blue is a burst of vibrant lo-fi pop from The Tamborines. The currently unsigned, London based outfit have hit the nail on the head with this record — it’s summery, dreamy and spirited. The gloomy artwork gives off somewhat of an odd impression. Black and Blue is London’s attempt at recreating the surf-pop trends of America’s west coast – and they’ve done a pretty good job, too.

tUnE-yArDs – Gangsta

Okay, it’s been pretty hard to ignore this record – it’s been ambushed by pretty much every new music publication, but for good reason. Unlike those majority, I’m not going to claim that this album, or indeed this track by the horrifically stylised tUnE-yArDs is one of the best records of the year – but there’s no doubt that it’s one of the most interesting. Combining influences of rock, pop, R&B and reggae, tUnE-yArDs, or by her real name Merrill Garbus, has attempted to create something completely unique.

Icicle – Arrows

In a rather dramatic switch of style, this is Icicle with Arrows from the new ‘Under The Ice’ LP. Icicle is one of the greatest producers of the ‘deep’ drum & bass style. Arrows and indeed the whole LP takes a fairly minimal approach, which admittedly may not appeal to all, but there’s no question that the production is sublime. The less familiar styles of drum & bass always seem to be overshadowed by the more dance-floor friendly records, but Icicle proves that as we’re seeing ever-more so with dubstep, drum & bass can also be enjoyed in more than one form.

Fun Lovin' Criminals - Classic Fantastic

Fun Lovin' Criminals - Classic Fantastic

Fun Lovin’ Criminals

Classic Fantastic

Released: Mar 01 2010

Genre: Rock/ Funk

Label: Kilohertz Records

Rating: 2.7/5


After five years of legal disputes, side projects, acting careers and presenting an award winning Radio shows, the Fun Lovin’ Criminals are back with their latest offering, “Classic Fantastic”. Following on from 2005’s slightly mellow homage to New York, “Living in the City” (slightly ironic seen as all three band members live in England now), the Criminals return with a slightly funkier offering.

Despite that, lead single and title track “Classic Fantastic” is FLC in their element. Huey Morgan’s smooth delivery helps create a chilled out tune that you could imagine kicking back to on a summer’s day sipping a cool Corona. Being the second track on the album, preceded by the funky bass led “Mars”, it sets a high standard for the rest of the album to follow.

Sadly, the remainder of the album doesn’t quite live up to the expectations and the majority of the songs are pretty average. Songs like “Keep on Yelling”, which features Roots Manuva, and “El Malo”, are just too “schmoove” even for Fun Lovin Criminals and could just fade into one if they weren’t split up by the rather forgettable “Jimmy Choo”. The inclusion of “Conversations With Our Attorney”, a 90 second skit which involves Paul Kaye ringing members of the band and pretty much just abusing them, would suggest that they were running out of ideas for the album.

However, this isn’t to say there aren’t brief glimpses of excellence throughout the album. The previously mentioned title track is a stand out, “She Sings at the Sun” is a lively jaunt which gets the feet tapping and “We, The Three” is up there as one of the funkiest tracks FLC have ever done. Sadly however, these songs are few and far between and the album peters out into a bit of a non event.

It’s not the sort of album that’ll lose the band fans, mainly due to the fact that the previous five album were pretty damn good. However when you give an album a title like this, it’s got to be something special. Unfortunately for Huey and co, it’s not a classic, and only briefly fantastic.

~ Article by Jason Smith