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  Public Paranoia
Artist: Sola Harba
Label: indie
Length: 4 tracks

Stand Forever
Artist: Blade
Label: indie

Buy Cheap, Buy Twice
Artist: Remedy
Label: indie

Some months back it seemed like every British indie band and their roadie was going into the studio to begin recording, and this burst of energy has been followed with quite a number of recent releases. Wisely, many of the bands have opted to release EPs, allowing them to better focus their time, money and songwriting.

Sola Harba, a young band from Oxfordshire, present four tracks of fairly standard indie-guitar fare. On the first and fourth tracks, X's sultry vocals ride clear of thebritpop guitars, developing the brooding feel for which the instruments hint, while on the intervening songs the acoustic guitars are more dominant.  For a debut release, it's a solid effort, showcasing promising songwriting. While the band probably need to spend some more time establishing their own identity -- most of the material on show here is fairly derivative -- they pull it all off in a very promising manner.

Blade lift the octane somewhat higher than Sola Harba, with deep-throated vocals somewhat reminiscent of Eddie Vedder, and guitars and chugging bass similarly reminding the listener of Pearl Jam. Lyrically, the band are nothing if not direct, with refrains such as "bring revival/won't you bring revival Lord?" and "spirit, spirit of God/here we are/ready for you" the band make their position more than clear but unfortunately the song structures suffer slightly, and on the second song, the constant musical stops and starts appear to occur solely to fit the lyrics jar somewhat. The general sound is good, if a little dated and again perhaps too derivative, but the band could definitely do with more work on their arrangements.

The longest of these three EPs arrives in the form of Remedy's Buy Cheap, Buy Twice. Like the others, they're a guitar-driven indie-pop act, and two tracks into the Buy Cheap... some apparent Newsboys influences rear their head and stick around for the duration. The songs could be more focused; the styles covered are fairly consistent, but a few tracks -- particularly towards the end of the CD -- begin to drag a little without the energy that a live performance could perhaps give them.

The standard of indie recordings does seem to have risen over the past few years, and there are few of the ropey cassette releases that used to flood the scene. These three fairly promising recordings could do with the assistance of a good producer to help them focus the arrangements and weed out the weaker songs.

James Stewart 8/28/2001


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