Hear The Track HereEven in this age of instant download gratification, there is nothing quite like a nice bit of artwork, a plastic case that will disintegrate quicker than you can grasp it and a shiny new CD to play around with. As much as I am completely at home downloading the music and the music only, you do miss quite a lot of what the band intend(ed) by not paying attention to the OTHER areas of presentation they might have. Ladybear get around this smartly by having all of those things, and then sending li'l ol' me my very own copy and I do love to get nice shiny things in the mail. You may remember that we have heard from this London based band before. I reviewed Crocuses (June 2009) and was mucho impressed and - in my usual restrained and gentle way - effused about this 'loud, in-your-face wake up call' which managed to snag a Must Have on its way through my review digestory system. This is a real world release too, through a new record company called South West Records, and it all shows in the excellent (makes quote sign) 'product' grasped in my sweaty mitts. Wtf ARE sweaty mitts anyway??
Catch 22 is a twelve track CD (including Crocuses) on sale at the bands website for a mere 10 GBP, so what are you waiting for? Oh, the review. God, I hate smartasses! As I mentioned in my review of Crocuses, Ladybear are a three piece alternative band with an added advantage. Amy Nicolls has a bass player brother playing with either The Streets or Muse (not sure which) and Big Daddy Billy Nicholls (as you will see from the link) is an old music business hand writing songs for a great many musicians, as well as writing and recording for himself. Serious stuff then, and part reason I gave Crocuses such a glowing review. Amy takes lead vocal on the charmingly staccato Hurricane, ably backed up by Louis Matthews (guitars) and John Martin (drums and production). What comes across though is a highly polished, totally professional sound, arrangement and production of a pop rock track that has tremendous appeal from the start. Sounding like a MUCH tougher B-52's, by the time track two - Whatcha Doin - rolls round you are either going to sold on this CD or not. I know that it isn't really fair to review something as real world sounding as this in the same breath as some other unsigned (and inevitably much less polished) musicians but when all is said and done, we each have to work with what we have. Amy and Co just seem to have a lot of all the things that count; great back office support, seasoned professionals helping out and an eye on the prize.
Wow, isn't that a powerful whiff of sour grapes right there? ;)
Mind you, in the face of what results from this good fortune is undeniable regardless of circumstance, but it would all fall apart if Ladybear didn't have anything substantial to offer and that is where this all comes brilliantly together. As good as Crocuses is (it's a sure fire hit IMHO), there are plenty of other examples on Catch 22 of just why Ladybear are a band to be savoured. Once you get past the awesomeness that is Crocuses (Ed: Crocusi, surely?), the mood gets a lot more modern and again to use a tired comparison we are into Lily Allen territory, but this time with bollocks and panache as opposed to simpering bounciness. Both Crack and All Played Out show how professional this band's style is, either one could be played on the mainstream radio right now without so much of a blink of the eye. Amy's skills as a musician are on display everywhere from her very listenable vocals, piano and string arrangements (Crocuses features some great string parts). Can I Have It?, for example, could have been a Pretenders track and is - to my mind - the other Must Have track on this CD, an absolute blinder. It also features the track that should be the Official London Fashion Week anthem, Skinny Bitch which - as you can imagine - is priceless lyrically. The ultimate question comes down to cash. Would I actually stump up some hard earned cash to get this track, and the answer is a definite yes. Therefore it's a good job I pretend to be a reviewer and I get one for free. Stand well back while I gloat on my good fortune because I have one and you don't. You could, however, remedy that and make Ladybear very happy.
MUST HAVE highly professional English rock pop.