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EP roundup

It's not often a reviewer plays a record and hears his own words thrust back at him.

But something sounds familiar on the Chase Yirsel EP by Edinburgh hip-hop ensemble Stanley Odd. "'Voice of a generation' - that quote would've felt better/if we could equate the praise with some ways to sell records," says emcee Solareye and, okay, I may have been guilty of that one when bigging up the rapper's political insight and placing their album Reject at No 4 in my Top 50 Scottish Albums of 2012.

The new four-track EP (released through A Modern Way Records) takes their story further. Did Yi Hear? is a five-minute catch-up on the band's progress in the past couple of years, which also included a SAY award nomination for Reject ("CDs in HMV, lifetime ambition achieved/but the death of the high street made it kind of bittersweet"); Chase Yirsel spanks the backside of a funky blues workout while Establishment and Let Ma Brain Breathe slow the beat down and twist the music to artistic angles.

So, is this still "voice of a generation"? Yes, I stand by that because here Solareye is again, firing out wit and wisdom at nail-gun velocity and tackling head-on the need to vote on September 18. This is music that speaks directly from where Scotland is, right here, right now in 2014. The same can't be said for Harry And The Hendersons. There's something of the novelty act, or perhaps a troupe that might pitch up in a Coen brothers' period movie, about I Robbed A Bank, the lead track on their debut EP (released on the student-run Electric Honey label).

Harmonies are the be-all and end-all here and, to be fair, they are gloriously tight right across this five-song set. But melodies fall into a distinct second place, even when things are at their most pretty and pleasant. The laidback balance between country-folk strum and horn section support is carried off well, if you're looking for somewhere warm and comfy to rest your ears.

Also harking back, but to a more recent musical past, is the Junk EP by Tuff Love. This three-piece, signed to Lost Map, push their entwined female vocals down beneath guitars that jangle and buzz. The Breeders are an obvious reference point, as are a legion of fondly remembered UK post-C86 darlings such as The Shop Assistants and Talulah Gosh. Pop wins out at the end of day, with the songs Sweet Discontent and Flamingo as catchy as anything you'll hear this year.

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