Manhattan Byline (+ singles)

"If you want to call round, just come around"

Shouts going out to AFC Wimbledon - after last night's win over Hornchurch, it's Staines Town on Saturday for a place in the Conference South. Shouts also going out to whoever nicked our i-pod in Angel the other night. Cue up the Bubblegum Splash! playlist, and you might find that crime pays.

You know we had to mention this new Manhattan Love Suicides single, "Clusterfuck", a 7" on Squirrel Records. For just as the band continually bely their lazy, offputting name, yet again the songs here are so much better than their leaden, cliched titles ("Detroit Diesel", "Burning Wire", "Heat and Panic") suggest - this is a woozy, ragged, dirty, bliss-drenched four track EP of girl-fronted, growling guitar burr which we would aver is even more of a treat than even the "Keep It Coming" EP; and "Clusterfuck" itself, which we suddenly realise we remember fondly from many an MLS gig, still boasts a prettyish tune beneath all of the studied cacophony and black-clad po(i)se. True, at some point there must be a risk that MLS will get sucked in to a different, less forgiving, genre altogether: but at the moment they are playing merry hell with the frayed, fuzztastic edges of indieness, and that is only to be applauded. Vigorously.

A word (well, maybe 150 or so) too for the Hillfields' 3-track EP on the ever-prolific, ever-brilliant Cloudberry (who put out one of MLS' other singles last year: we are admittedly somewhat behind on Cloudberry reviews generally, but the problem is that we're never going to catch up, at least not until whatever we go on about has sold out anyway - in the meantime, yes we are avidly keeping up with what we can, most recently and especially the Honeyheads and the Danny Says and the three-track fog of sheer divinity that is Cloudberry 504...)

Listening to Northern Portrait in particular has kind of rekindled our desire to seek out able, discerning guitar pop, and the Hillfields, another band formed only last year but with the assuredness and style to suggest otherwise, deliver restrained yet rolling washes of it, diluting any poppier tendencies with Jactars-ish tautness to create the mysterious, short-form indie of "A Visit" (again, we hear something of the Windmills in its appealing mix of darkness and buoyancy, the singer's warm, low voice) or the more chiming, sedate, perhaps even more beautiful composition "The Front Room". The EP needs just a chink of time to grow - but it's a mature, rewarding debut.

Speaking of mature, Fortuna Pop! have just launched the Ladybug Transistor's "Always on the Telephone", off last yr's "Can't Wait Another Day" album, as a single. Now while there was some mumbling disquiet in the indie-pop community (that we didn't necessarily disagree with) about the er, expansive nature of "Can't Wait Another Day" taken as a whole, "Always on the Telephone" was always our favourite track on it: and taken in isolation, it's much easier to appreciate its cascading, luxurious, softly tumbling flow, at least before that controversial sax solo (to our minds, any sax solo is controversial: only Orange Juice have ever got away with it, and that was probably because for a time Orange Juice could get away with anything).

Ooh, and while we don't want to broadcast this too widely, and while it doesn't sound like his normal stuff, and while it's not even in his best 100 songs, we are kind of enjoying Wiley's disarmingly sweet "Wearing My Rolex" crossover which is currently hogging the *TOP FOUR* near you, even if we'd rather be impaled on a rusty spike than invest in or wear one of them things ourselves. Yes, it would be even better if Horowitz or the Pocketbooks or the Parallelograms were in the top ten too, but that's a year or two off we reckon.

Right. There doesn't seem to be time to mention Sway's amiable if less-than-groundbreaking "F Ur Ex", (Mobb Deep) Prodigy's gormless "The Life", DPF's forever-in-the-making "What Can I Say", Buju Banton's conscious, rootsy "Cowboys" nor Knucklez' rather more vital, and happily downloadable "Jack Me In 3Style" (mixtape anytime soon!), so let's finish this one with a quick memo to the Respect party: ways not to campaign effectively for the local elections probably include driving around the city blaring out Bryan Adams' "Summer of 69", of all things, at headsplitting volume. No wonder you got the full force of the stressball.

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