Tuesday, 21 June 2011

reviews: driver drive faster, elan tamara, trapped mice

Driver Drive Faster - Open House

Driver Drive Faster - Open House (***)

If Open House sounds extraordinarily professional for a self-funded debut, it’s worth noting that three of Driver Drive Faster’s four bodies formerly performed as Polytechnic, who graced 2007 with indie-pop gems like Pep, but ultimately lacked the depth of material to build on such sprightly foundations.

Now the trio (plus drummer David Schlechtriemen) prove themselves as proficient penning dream-pop as the snappy indie nuggets of yore, with first single It’s All Over It’s Everywhere a well-chosen calling-card, breezily recalling nostalgia-loving Aussies The Sleepy Jackson.

Elsewhere, Missing Out’s Bowie-inflected lilt impresses, charming to its final deadpan line, but unfortunately, like their former guise, Driver Drive Faster eventually settle on the solidly unspectacular, albeit with greater potential for future brilliance: if they can achieve this in shared digs off their own steam, they’ve surely got the chops to turn heads on Driver Drive Faster 2: Driver Drive Fasterer.

Out Now

Elan Tamara - Organ EP

Elan Tamara - Organ EP (****)

Elan Tamara is a Brit School graduate, but try not to hold it against her. Seems despite the institution’s strong track record for cultivating chart monsters – Adele, Winehouse, Jessie J, er, Dane Bowers – there’s often a kneejerk suspicion towards its precocious progeny. Organ’s press release counterclaims that Tamara stands out from any crowd you care to place her amongst, with a degree in ethnomusicology and a passion for Balinese music offered as proof of wider horizons, but if a cloud of suspicion still lingers, this third EP does a spiffing job of vaporising it. Tamara manages to evade pigeonholing while remaining broadly accessible, with opener Runaway the boldest realisation of her burgeoning sound. Top of the class, Miss Tamara.

Out Now

Trapped Mice – Waving and Pointing EP

Trapped Mice - Waving and Pointing EP (***)

After Portrait of the Great Father saw Edinburgh’s Trapped Mice set out a confident but fairly conventional indie-rock stall, Waving and Pointing sees the quintet open out their sound. The title track’s jaunty synth riff helps counter its somewhat plodding pace, though the EP may nonetheless have benefited from a few more ups and downs.

Which is why final track Ghostwriter Blues is the obvious stand-out: its raucousness isn’t entirely convincing, but as it’s the first time the Mice have bared their teeth on record, it’s a notable development that bodes well. “Make me famous!” lead mouse Ian Tilling roars sarcastically, and while they’ve a way to go, Waving and Pointing makes their real ambitions that little bit clearer.

Out Now

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