March '14

Andrew Lemon reviews the latest from Sullivan & Gold, The Wood Burning Savages and Malibu Shark Attack

Sullivan & Gold – Glory

Emerging from a pleasingly healthy Derry~Londonderry music scene, which has thrust the likes of Soak and Little Bear into the spotlight of late, Sullivan & Gold release 'Glory', the latest single from their debut album, For Foes, out now on Smalltown America. It is an anthemic delight.

Containing the sort of emotionally-loaded piano motifs and bass pulses that Snow Patrol and Coldplay spend their careers chasing after, Adam Montgomery and Ben Robinson's take on the genre is one that involves a rather more nuanced touch.

Here, instead of being assaulted with a multitude of stadium-pleasing sounds all at once, each individual element of the track is left to breathe. Guitars are introduced only when there is room for them, and the radio-friendly piano lines never threaten to overwhelm.

The glue holding 'Glory' together, in fact, are the duo's milky smooth vocals throughout, which perhaps serve to take some of the sting out of the track's lyrical content" 'A secret glance, a word unsaid / The battle-bruised bones we take to bed.'

'Glory' is another accomplished slice of choral pop, which hints at a promising future for Sullivan & Gold. Glory indeed. Download 'Glory' now.

The Wood Burning Savages – America

Yet another band emerging from Derry~Londonderry. Up until now, the Wood Burning Savages' have developed a dependable rock and roll sound, with occasional forays into folk – all of which makes the octave-toggling basslines and wah-wah-flecked guitar licks on 'America', their debut single, seem delightfully out of character. Here the alt-rock quartet dance into indie-disco territory.

It's no mere pastiche though. While vocalist Paul Connolly channels the Rapture's Luke Jenner throughout and adds enough guitar fillers to keep the track ticking along, the memorable – if a little corny – chorus keeps the toe tapping: 'I've never been to America, but I've been in some states with you.'

Given the amount of bands from Northern Ireland currently exploring the indie-electro sound, it's probably for the best that Wood Burning Savages release 'America' as an exception to their rule. But if they can turn their hand to other genres with as much panache, it can only bode well for the unsigned foursome. Download 'America' now.

Malibu Shark Attack – Better Off As Friends

'I hate it when my favourite bands go on indefinite hiatus and later announce a new side project. They may be done, what if I'm not yet?'

As air-clearing hipster statements of intent go, the opening line of 'Better Off As Friends' from trans-Atlantic duo Malibu Shark Attack is up there. Featuring former Oppenheimer songwriter and producer Rocky O'Reilly and Atlanta, Georgia native Tribe One, this eclectic whirlwind of a track is aimed at fans of positive pop. It helps if you're acquainted with these two protagonists' previous work.

The suggestion in the track is that said fans would rather hear more of the old hits – 'What happened to Oppenheimer? I liked their old stuff better' – but a few spins of 'Better Off As Friends' suggests that this new collaborative venture is worth sticking with.

Although I suspect that Tribe One's rapping style will have a Marmite effect, those familiar indie synth lines begin to cascade, and O'Reilly's hushed vocals add a warmth to proceedings. Also making a brief appearance is the Dudley Corporation's Dudley Colley, whose vocals lend an emotional weight to what could have been considered a throwaway cut.

Not likely, though. 'Better Off As Friends' gets through several genres in just over two minutes, and a track which can appear disorientating upon first listengets better with repeated plays. If the band's full length debut album – scheduled for a May release – is as much fun as this, those nostalgic fans may have something to smile about after all. Download 'Better Off As Friends' now.