Singles : Ellen and the Escapades, Just Handshakes (We’re British), Xavier, Cokiyu, Stagecoach, Shugo Tokumaru, Straw Bear, Louville, Dead Gaze, Ola Podrida, Little Tybee, Cyril Snear, The Smösh, Psychic Twin

Greetings, readers drinking Sidral Mundet (via smuggling) and eating twiglets because you gave up cheese for lent (idiots).  Welcome to another edition of our “reviewing releases late again” single reviews column.

This week’s singles come courtesy of a lifelong depression triggered by The Fridge Episode, from staple 80s show Punky Brewster. Shit, that is the second most fearsome fridge I’ve seen in my life (after the one in Requiem for a dream). Get an icebox.

Ah, singles, right. In the tradition of being nerds and spending a shitload of cash in Pathfinder figurines, books and dices, we’ll change our surnames to the various methods Dungeon Masters have exterminated us. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED:

Psychic Twin – Strangers / Dream State

My co-editor already told you about ‘Strangers’ (he did!) but now it’s my turn to tackle this 80tastic band. ‘Strangers’ has a catchy beat, a mild chili sauce bass line and the very lovely vocals of Erin Fein creating that warm hug feeling in this track that although it walks in the shape of an 80s song, it has the Shaolin style of disguise. Indeed, this is a dream pop track in 80s skin!

‘Dream State’ starts slower, almost menacing. The synthetic beats are only the shell that Psychic Twin use to move their delicate feelings around the stage. “Every way I feel I’m changing / but baby so are you” declares the chorus, describing the sometimes arduous process of growing older with someone. It might have a retro sound, but the message is timeless and universal. Top.– Orestes “I’m cockpunching that Beholder, you guys!” Xistos

Ola Podrida – Staying in

There’s something in Ola Podrida‘s new track, ‘Staying in’, that taps into a nostalgic vein in your mind. The urgency in the beat, the wistful vocal delivery and that explosive crescendo by the end. This song is as cathartic as the moment you realise you are old enough to know better, still too young to give a damn. It’s a keeper. – Sam J. “I can’t stop looking at this basilisk” Valdes Lopez

Little Tybee – For Distant Viewing

A recipe for perfect pancakes. Take 125 grs. of Folk, sift while listening to Player and add sprinklings of sugar coated violins. If you’re allergic to any of the previous ingredients, forget about the pancakes and listen to Little Tybee‘s ‘For Distant Viewing’, a sweet song that smootifies folk, chamber pop, country and even a bit of tropical music for a gorgeous drive through the coast with AOR (the good one) blasting from a radio. Sweet solo too. – Orestes “Cockatrice fodder” Xistos

Dead Gaze – I found the ending

Don’t let the name distract you, there is nothing metal in ‘I found the ending’ by Dead Gaze, just some heavy reverb usage and an infectious groove for this song that could’ve been a track in a lost mixtape you gave years ago. Spring is coming and the fluffy synth notes of this track are the harbingers of the season.  – Sam J. “Killed by kamikaze Kenkus!” Valdes Lopez

Cyril Snear – How presidential of you / Loitering with intent (reprise)

Once upon a time, The Great Mancunian Riff War (TM) ended with a détente between Trojan Horse and Cyril Snear. Not for long, as Cyril Snear are back into the fray, throwing an Able Archer of a single with this twofer. ‘How Presidential of you’ sways wildly; a rollercoaster of riffs, attitude and strange vocal samples that add a vertiginous atmosphere.

Just when you think you’ve got them figured out as the harsher ones from the Prog Nouveau movement, they drop a whopper-sized (mit bacon) track called ‘Loitering with intent (reprise)’. Expansive, breezy and so majestic it needs a purple cape and a crown, the track is truly a quintessential example of the beauty of layering sounds to create a beautiful, baroque painting. Bravo, Manchester’s best kept secret (well, one of them.) – Orestes “Dragon snack” Xistos

The Smösh – Dias Dorados

A poppier shade of rock, The Smösh reveal their brand new single, ‘Días Dorados’, a lovely track that’s more optimistic than their usual fare. A bit of nostalgia, a good dose of ebow (at least for the intro) and a healthy dose of pedal effect shenanigans for the instrumental interlude, it seems they are finding their space now. -Sam J. “Kobold adopter” Valdes Lopez

Ellen and the Escapades – This ace I’ve burned

Yeehaw! ‘This ace I’ve burned’ is the new single for the new album (All the crooked scenes – out March 3) by the very lovely Ellen and the Escapades, who make music for long roadtrips. Not one of them “coming of age” ones with insecure dudes and Manic Pixie Dream Girls, but the ones when you drive a bit aimlessly, looking at the green, lush landscapes around you. A lovely, easy going track, with the right amount of piano dashes to make it a fresh, healthy musical meal. – Orestes “What’s a Paladin?” Xistos

Just Handshakes (We’re British) – London bound

Somewhere along the line (that is, between 2009 and today), Just Handshakes dropped the fluffier sound they had to a more dark approach (well, the voice is still very warm and embracing). ‘London Bound’, their new (and free!) single finds them on that C86 sound with a more dark sound. The synths have a more sweeping approach and even if the pace is the one they usually do their victory laps on, there is a strong sense of urgency here. Remix on the b-side jiggles it a bit, but still goes for the neck to neck finish. – Sam J. “Detonates holy handgrenade in a sewer” Valdes Lopez

Xavier – Soy yo

Jonathan Arellano has been really busy. Last year, he released 4 eps (which we reviewed, yes) and Xavier is a brand new project he is a part of. With an experimental approach cocktailing itself with rap (good flow by Eric El Niño), easy going ballad (the lovely voice of Citlalli Toledo) and sax (Mr. Arellano), ‘Soy yo’ finds Xavier doing a quite tasty cocktail. Get your pimped-out fedoras ready, this project is your only company after you leave a low light bar in an unforgiving city (like Mexico City). Free Download with a remix. – Orestes “Poison snakes? I eat them!” Xistos

Cokiyu (feat. Baths) – Twinkle way

‘Twinkle way’ is the ethereal single from Cokiyu‘s collaborative EP, Haku. This track finds the Japanese artist (and I do stress the word artist, because she’s worked for it) in an ambient, almost musique concrete rarefied atmosphere, with the Baths pairing being just the perfect extra layer in a warm musical coat. Cokiyu‘s vocals are almost as otherworldly as Grouper‘s and that ain’t bad at all. – Sam J. “I cast Outer Plane travel. What happens?” Valdes Lopez

Stagecoach – Work work work

Do we miss College Rock? I do! With the whistle-like synth lines and the “too young to give a damn” vocal approach, Stagecoach offer you this slice of pop rock called ‘Work work work’, a simple and effective track to ease the problems, at least for 3 minutes. The single comes with an A3 vinyl print and will be available from Alcopop! on March 25th. – Orestes “How hard can a Tarrasque be?” Xistos

Shugo Tokumaru – Katachi

Shugo Tokumaru is having a ball. You can tell that from the very upbeat ‘Katachi’ and it’s quirky use of instruments in an almost “kumbaya” approach. Now, then, this is no campfire singalong and there’s a hint of nostalgia in the wistful notes of the accordion, a wistfulness that is shooed away by the ever optimistic flute notes. Come in for this track and listen to In Focus? in its entirety. It’s a lovely and uplifting album. – Sam J. “Lost in time & space – again!” Valdes Lopez

Straw Bear – Kitty

Well, it seems we’re on a folkathon in this review-a-thon, as Straw Bear, which sports a vocal as sweet as Ryan Adams, sway us into this little ditty called ‘Kitty’, a jaunty stroll through a park in the Autum days (fall be gone!). Listen to this while holding hands with someone. If you don’t have anyone to hold, listen to it again. Sod relationships. – Orestes “I taunted Chtulhu with a fresh ceviche” Xistos

Louville – Prelude #1 / Prelude #2

What is it with British musicians and found sounds? Nothing wrong at all, the BBC Radiophonic made a dent in history with this approach and I for one love musique concrete. Anyways, Louville come armed with synths, a field recorder and several layers of manipulations (think the Mafia going Corleone on notes). ‘#Prelude 1’ is atmospheric, adding a few glitches and whammy-like changes in tone while the synths chirp like cicadas in mating season. ‘Prelude #2’ is more of an ambient dance track, with cyclical sweeps disturbing the time-space continuum. – Sam J. “Not sure if level 19 Ranger or just aching to roll another character” Valdes Lopez

And that’s that. Thanks for reading us. If you enjoy the bands, say hi to them! Go to their gigs! Buy their stuff! If not, GIVE THEM A LIKE/TWEET, DAMMIT!

phew.Hey, notice how these singles sound very 80s? Is this a clue? Keep your eyes open…

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