Good To Be Back
Middleman really like their buddies. Both tracks off latest single 'Good to be back' are heartfelt homages to friendship and familiarity, skilfully crafted into pocket-sized pop/rock/electronica packages. 'Good to be back' is a stylistic step forward for the Leeds band, introducing some welcome new colours into their palette. We are treated to a lead vocal performance from bassist Lee Smith in the acapella first verse, before guitars and synth arrive in a combination recalling the Killers, making perfect sense among the elements more familiar to Middleman fans, such as Slurpy's tight-as-your-jeans drumming and Andy Craven-Griffiths' rapped second verse.
Equally satisfying is b-side 'I love my friends', which has been a highlight of the band's live set for over a year. The song gives space for Andy to show off his considerable skills as a wordsmith, with his east midlands accent flowing amiably and intelligently over a particularly (and I hope intentionally) cheap-sounding keyboard, showing a more considered side to Middleman's space-hopper-pop. The chorus just about stays the right side of sickly sweet, and will surely have lighters swaying emotionally back and forth throughout the land. Although the boys might think its 'Good to be back' among their friends in Leeds and Dr Wu's, they shouldn't get too used to it. If they continue releasing pop songs of this quality, they'll be back off on their travels again before long.
Continue reading: Middleman, Good To Be Back Single Review
Neon Nights Mixtape
To some, namely that amoeba that got kicked off Big Brother, the indie-dance scene is a brand new phenomenon. In reality it has actually been ticking over nicely for a good few years now.
Admittedly, there has been something of an explosion in what has loosely been dubbed 'nu-rave', and this compilation from the makers of the Back to Mine series shows what a deceptively diverse genre it is.
Middleman's 'You Look Like You Do' is a highlight, with an insanely addictive chorus that is destined to become a massive sing-along hit in both the clubs and the gigs, whereas Tigerforce, who are represented by two tracks here, take a more arty, multilayered approach to equally impressive effect.
Other gems include Datarock's funk-a-licious 'Fa-Fa-Fa' and Kate Nash's bone-rattling version of 'Caroline's a Victim', but these pleasures are conspicuous in their singularity. Many tracks simply fade into each other here, an effect which can't be blamed on the seamless production, but rather on the sameness of some cuts. Blah Blah Blas' offer a competent slice of Joy Division lite which would be improved immensely with beefier production, but next to the similarly nondescript 'Dull Thud' by The Bleeps it descends into a damp, grey mess.
Another grumble in such an eclectic collection is the inclusion of the ubiquitous 'Standing in the Way of Control' by NME headline spewers, The Gossip. Next to the other, more underground cuts, it sounds as tired as 'you can stand under my um-bah -rellah-rellah-rellah'.
The Neon Nights Mixtape will serve as a good introduction to several exciting new bands, and will show the fly-by-night nu-ravers that there is more to the genre than Klaxons.