FRYARS: Olive Eyes. Gothic-minded electro-pop that may have some roots in the 80s, but there’s something darker going on here too. The 19-year-old is into the dreamland of the absurd.
PLACEBO: The Never-Ending Why. Harkens back to classic Placebo. Nervy, edgy, intense barrage of noise powered by a strong melodic undercurrent.
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND: Wrench. Hard-driven, hard-bitten rock outpouring that drags thrash and screamcore into its out-of-control party.
ZERO 7: Medicine Man. There’s an unsettling Sparks-like weirdness to this electro bounce.
THE SHALLOW CALL: I Wanted You More Than You Wanted Me. A painful paean to unrequited love in the English suburbs done in a Smithsian jangle style. The negative thoughts only add to the experience.
TAYLOR SWIFT: You Belong With Me. The 19-year-old is huge in the States, but if you’re anything other than a teenage girl wannabe pop star you’ll struggle to see anything in it that lasts longer than bubblegum. Overwhelming in its insignificance and, even worse, it’s got a slight country twang.
STEEL PANTHER: Community Property. One look at them and they make Spinal Tap seem serious. They’ve got to be having a huge laugh, but at whose expense? A big ballad complete with audacious guitar solo and a full orchestra doing its thing in the background – and probably keeping their heads well down.
DOT ALLISON: Room 7 ½. Makes you wonder if it’s linked to Platform 9 ¾ in some way. Still, yearning, predominantly acoustic troubadouring that’s breathy, wistful, full of meaning and, er, somewhat drowsy-inducing. Even when she teams up with Pete Doherty for a song of outrageous paradoxes it fails to be a real wake-up call. Neither does a more straight up duet with Paul Weller. Only when things get rippling and bluesy does she get intriguing.
BLACKHOLE: Dead Hearts. If there ever was an album that was an antithesis to what music’s all about it’s this screamcore thrash nonsense. Let’s all hope that frontman Richard Carter’s larynx implodes as it almost certainly will considering the not inconsiderable strain heaped on it – and the listener’s ears. Every day seems to be Halloween for this lot.