London’s Scanners really can carry a gloomy mood in some of their tracks but without going overboard. The indie rock band has been around for a couple of years now and even if you have never heard of them are a pretty big deal – maybe not so much in the US but I have the feeling that will be changing in the upcoming months. If you were a fan of alt rock in the 90’s as well as have love for new wave this band might be up your alley.
Don’t be held off by this though if you were not a fan of either genre as the band also carries a great melodic talent heard throughout.
The Faint bring yet another installment of their new wave/dance/indie tunes to your ears with Fasciinatiion. Once a solid staple to Saddle Creek Records, the band parted ways in spring of 2008 stating they would be releasing material on their own label blank.wav. This is their first album in four years and is also the first to be entirely fashioned by The Faint. Fasciinatiion proves that this five-some has no problem doing things all by themselves.
Formed in Omaha, Nebraska around 1995 the band lured me in thanks to the release of 1999’s Blank Wave-Arcade. Their unique sound that had similarities to 80’s dance but with indie rock and even a little punk rock flair; something I had not found myself getting into before. Soon thereafter, I was listening to them on almost a daily basis. They were one of the original bands that introduced me to Saddle Creek records and helped get the indie label some well deserved recognition.
I was excited to check out their latest release seeing how I really have not listened to The Faint in quite some time. Fasciinatiion started out strong with “Get Seduced” refreshing me on their dance rock style. Their electronic rock music was not missed by my ears. It would appear even after four years the band still has it.
“The Geeks Were Right”, the band’s first single off the album, was my favorite track. The more indie pressed song reminded me of She Wants Revenge and Interpol, but heavy on the electronic side. The music video for the song is extremely interesting too almost visualizing what a Max Headroom acid flashback might look like. Even better there are remixes of this track floating around on the internet; my favorite was “The Geeks Were Right (Does It Offend You? Yeah Remix).
The album seemed to stray away from the Faint’s unique sound I had grown accustomed to with more experimental tracks like “Machine In The Ghost” and “Fulcrum And Lever”. The vocals were a tad too robotic for me and the sounds were too experimental and unhurried.
The funky “Psycho” saved the album for me as it took direction back away from the slow, unusual songs previously mentioned. Deep blimps and bleeps at the beginning of the song kind of exceeded it’s welcome, but soon it mellowed out building for an good listen. “I Treat You Wrong”, with poor lyrics, really was a good track but was nothing to dance about.
I really feel that The Faint created a roller coaster effect on Fasciinatiion. The album does not seem nearly as constant and up-tempo as prior releases nor was there any of that punk rock flair that could be heard on Wet From Birth. It is one of their more unique albums, but certainly not their best effort. I am not saying this album is bad, but it does not compare to their more recent efforts.
UK pop punkers Beat Union previously released Disconnected at the beginning of the summer, unknown to me. The band first grabbed my attention when I caught their live set at the Vans Warped Tour 2008 and much to my surprise, they are a first-class act. Their take on punk rock mixed with elements of new wave really was fun to listen to, not to mention their stage presence was outstanding. Disconnected is the band’s debut CD and was released under Science Records.
CD opener “Disconnected” started with a very catchy style that easily could be the next hit song to hit the airwaves. The song reminded me of what the Proclaimers or XTC might sound like if they were punkers. “Pressure Zone” followed with typical lyrics, a great bass line, and added horns making for a great listen.The very Elvis Costello like “My Heart Starts Beating” was likable and seemed to focus on the pop and strayed from the punk. “Dancing In Our Sleep” seemed to follow the same trend but suddenly erupted with a nice little “whoa” sing-a-long ending.
“Stay On The Line” has lyrics along with great guitar sounds that potentially may get stuck in your head as it stands out as the most likable track on the CD for me. It’s just one of those songs you start thinking about later after listening to it and suddenly the chorus is repeating in your mind. “She Is The Bullet” followed and with a monotonous beginning to the song thankfully erupted with energy.
“Can’t Stop The Radio” was my personal favorite track on the album. It was very suggestive of UK punk and new wave artists from the past and just sounded excellent all the way though. “Don’t Have Love” was another track I got a kick out of. There is even a secret dub-style remix of “Can’t Stop The Radio” that in my opinion blew away all of the other tracks. I almost wish the entire CD was dub inspired, regardless though, it was a good listen from beginning to end.
For a debut release, it sounds like these guys have been recording albums for years. Perhaps the solid sounds were tweaked out by producer/front man of Goldfinger, John Feldmann. Regardless, Beat Union has won me over as a fan seeing them live and also thanks to Disconnected.
I am really happy the band decided to travel overseas and introduce themselves to the US by playing here over the summer or I might have overlooked them. I am even more excited to hear they are going to be touring with Flogging Molly later this year which means a longer live set.This band has plenty of potential and seems to have ignored those who think they are just a fashioned mainstream band that will soon disappear. Even if they do replicate the English Beat or the Clash in a sense, the band has a great upbeat sound and I am really looking seeing more of them very soon.