Rock / Pop


This week's Rock/Pop CDs reviewed

A Psychadelic Guide to Monsterism Island
Lo ****

It’s time to return to Monsterism Island, the bug-eyed world created by Welsh artist Pete Fowler, who has also created visuals for The Magic Numbers and Super Furry Animals. As he showed on his previous compilation (2005’s Sounds of Monsterism Island), Fowler believes his gallery of beasts and monsters goes best with a soundtrack of far-out psychedelic grooves and weirdbeard freaky rock. There’s something here for every space cadet in the audience, including: Circulusgetting into a medieval frame of mind; Richard “The Grid” Norris firing up some sinister melodies on To All the Wizards in Lockdown; space-age ambience from Gruff Rhys on Wild Robots Power Up; and beautifully realised fun from Cherrystones and Hardfeelinsuk.  JIM CARROLL

Download tracks:Circulus, Til We Merry Merry Meet Again; Richard Norris, To All the Wizards in Lockdown

Some kind of kick
NIcotine Records***

Back in the day, The Golden Horde proudly unfurled and waved the flag for exciting, smart punk rock that welded classic garage riffs with drips of psychedelia and fused clever words with dumb aplomb. Now, we’re not making the same claims for The Things (after all, The Golden Horde’s debut album is one of Irish rock’s great lost classics), but let’s just say that these Dubliners are the closest and best equivalent to a Damned/New York Dolls/Ramones hybrid we’ve heard in years. It doesn’t really matter that The Things are no more in tune with contemporary music than Pat Kenny. Their heart is on their sleeve in the same way that their music is straight to the point. No fuss, no bother, just a wan-chew-free-faw countdown to moderate ecstasy. TONY CLAYTON-LEA
Download tracks: Crash and Burn, Make Her Cry, Sandy Tells Me

The Fame

Sometimes pop success is all about timing, and Lady GaGa has come along just when everyone is as keen to engage with sassy electro-pop lasses armed with beats and boots. But Stefani Germanotta is no newbie, having already written for Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears and working with Akon while limbering up for a spot in the limelight. Awash in swinging electro, poppin’ r’n’b and swathes of synth-friendly washes leftover from the 1980s, The Fame has its arty, glammy sound down pat. Lyrically, though, it’s a different story, with Germanotta striking a pose and living the high life. While she might well believe that her vacuous observations on celebrity are an ironic deconstruction of the age we’re in, the truth is that she doesn’t carry it off. That said, the likes of Just Danceand the title track are state-of-the-art pop belters you won’t be able to scrape out of your brain.  JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: Just Dance, Paparazzi

Dance Mother

They have everything it takes to be dismissed by hipster-hating cynics, but the experimental electronica- pop furrow ploughed by Brooklyn’s Telepathe goes a little deeper than those of their contemporaries. Comparisons with the likes of vacuous scenesters Crystal Castles are perhaps inevitable as well. Still, Dance Mother, produced by TV on the Radio wunderkind David Sitek, is a fine example of originality within a threadbare genre. This nine-track debut shifts back and forth between offbeat rhythm patterns and whip- snapping electronica, and includes pounding pop melodies best heard on the unfussy Michael. True, at times it’s simply too austere to form a bond – but you get the impression that plunging the listener into a tumult of pulsing, dodgy pacemaker-style beats was all part of Telepathe’s plan.  LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: So Fine, Devil’s Trident

Numbers Lucent

Hot on the heels of Tom “Squarepusher” Jenkinson’s most recent full-length release (last year’s Just a Souvenir) comes this further exploration of the electro boffin’s eclectic canon. Jenkinson has always incorporated a multifarious selection of genres into his sound; this six-track mini-album continues that tradition while expanding on the user-friendly quality of his recent output. Numbers Lucent is perhaps not quite as evocative as his previous material, but there’s still plenty to satisfy devotees as well as entice newcomers. A series of flailing, glitchy tangents and skidding synths are pulled together and somehow work, while the intricacies, basswork and key changes of songs such as Paradise Garageand the intense Illegal Dustbinare thrilling.

Download tracks: Paradise Garage, Star Time 1 LAUREN MURPHY