Friday, September 29, 2006

The Killers - Sam's Town (Island)

Ah, hype. Good old hype. That staple of the recording industry that’s capable of turning the greatest music into a cacophonous, unlistenable dirge. You would think, given our hatred for this particular promotional medium, we’d be steering well clear of current everywherists The Killers, but we’re going to adorn our metaphorical hat of impartiality, and only partly because it’s a bad hair day.

Sam’s Town, the second album from The Killers, is big business. Aside from following up the colossus that was Hot Fuss, and wafting a charming aroma under our noses via the superb When You Were Young, the propaganda machine is chugging away furiously – there’s a LOT to live up to.

While Sam’s Town isn’t necessarily a dramatic shift from the studio-heavy sound of Hot Fuss, there’s some definite sidling away from electronic overtones, a wise move in the recent hijacking, arse-raping and complete obliteration of the genre by one Robbie Williams.

However, there’s also a clear-cut modification of the aural geography of The Killers – the UK-influenced sound honed by the band not only paid tribute to the wonder of late Britpop, but there’s nothing Brits love more than an American who accepts we do it better (FYI – not in a “Oh my Gawd, you guys are from London!? That’s totally awesome!” way). Alas, with the exception of the unashamed Suedesque Northernness within Bling (Confession of a King), Sam’s Town relocates Stateside.

Not that we should begrudge them this – they are American, after all. And it should be noted that although this is now more evident in their music, they’re not quite Fall Out Boy just yet. The soberly honky-tonk Enterlude sets the scene, further established by the Cadillac rock of Bones and the big-haired throwbacks of This River Is Wild.

Sam’s Town is, for the most part, a grandiose victor of a record, but frustratingly, with a very knowing quality. The Killers somehow made a very quick transition from quirky electro-rock underdogs to power-platinum headline heroes, a title they’re patently attempting to provide for. Which, given the expectation surrounding the album, is probably a good thing. But you can’t help feeling The Killers will need to hit an all-time low before being able to make anything resembling mind-blowing music again.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Single Reviews 25/09/06

It’s been a tough old week, hasn’t it? Embrace announcing their split, Richard Hammond’s wee mishap, Corinne Bailey-Rae’s inexplicable barnet at the MOBOs. But fear not! Embrace are not splitting, Hammond is recovering well, and hats are available now in all good stores. So let’s celebrate the joys of life with this week’s Single Reviews...

Getting the worst of the week over with, we’ll begin proceedings with the Pussycat Dolls, who sadly still haven’t staged a green-eyed upheaval and pushed Nicole down a flight of stairs. The Syphilis Six hock up another auditory phlegmball in the form of I Don’t Need A Man, a polystyrene wasteland of 1994 dance throbbage and empty femme-clout. Arguably as bad as Stickwitu.

But suggesting that Melody Pussycat Doll may eventually rule the galaxy, two releases this week highlight a couple of background bitches rising above their spotlight-munching adversaries. Having shared a stage with the tabloids’ favourite hopeless, conceited, own-vomit-chugging prescription cunt-rag, Carl Barat can do nothing but shine as part of Dirty Pretty Things, whose champion Wondering we’re also attributing to the presence of ever-ace Cooper Temple Clause alumnus Didz. And proving that she wasn’t buried under the patio by Mathew and Tina Knowles, former Destiny’s Child shadow-dweller LeToya finally gets to showcase her talent. Torn may not herald the golden era of R & B, but certainly hints at considerable potential. Stick that in your gold lamé hotpants, Bernice.

Continuing to bore us further and further with each successive mention of her name, Lily Allen rehashes the once-purveyor-of-underdog-cool LDN into another advance forward in her dreary gallop towards the pinnacle of pretension. Meanwhile, it’s difficult for even the least clownly US college rock band to pull off a wistful, introspective semi-ballad, not that All American Rejects have managed it. It Ends Tonight is a seemingly-simulated angst number crying out for credibility, but get past that and you’re left with an appealing, melodic rock ditty.

Finally, we come to our Single of the Week and the welcome return of Evanescence. Admittedly, we’re slightly worried that there’s not a whole lot happening in the way of innovation round Evanescence Towers, but there’ll be a long way to go before we’re anything resembling bored. All things considered, Call Me When You’re Sober is a superb milk-metal anthem. And is it just us, or is Amy Lee morphing ever so slowly into Elvira, Mistress of the Dark? Tell us we’re not wrong...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Single Reviews 18/09/06

Well hide our shampoo and order us a Kronenbourg ‘n’ black! This week’s Single Reviews are all proper, like, bands! With guitars! And drums! And, in drastically varying amounts, credibility! It’ll be like Radio 1 in 1995 when even Crapital FM shat all over it.

Edit: we’ve just noticed that bloody Janet Jackson’s back, and she’s brought Nelly with her. Is it too late to swap the lager ‘n’ black for a Shakeaway?

Let’s begin at the bottom, which surprisingly isn’t Janet ‘n Nelly. Snakes On A Plane by Cobra Starship (what are the chances?!) is less the soundtrack to a Hollywood blockbuster and more the thud of a bad-ass rival group during a Battle of the Bands in an episode of California Dreams. Even the mere existence of a movie entitled Snakes On A Plane has shaken our belief in the entire film industry, and we saw Spiceworld at the cinema. Twice.

Jet herald their second album influx with the below-par Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. By no means unpleasant, but there’s a noticeable whiff of sweaty endeavour to carve out a classic. In this case, ‘classic’ has come out the other side as ‘dated’, and sadly not dated enough to be an intentional throwback.

High time we stopped delaying the inevitable and tackled Janet Jackson. Not literally, mind – heaven forbid her nose fell off or bejewelled tit popped out. Call On Me doesn’t quite convey the impact required to proclaim the return of a speedily-maturing diva, with the attendance of Nelly barely even registering. It’s all sludge and twinkles, nowhere near enough to carry a melody, let alone a greying career.

And so we come to the contenders for our Single of the Week, and it’s a tricky dispute. Three bands we love, three first rate songs – if we knew enough about horse-racing we’d churn out a dirty great euphemism in the style of John McCririck. However, we only know him as a Diet Coke-snaffling mutant Womble, so it’s on with a regular review. The Zutons just miss out through no fault of their own – Oh Stacey (Look What You’ve Done) is a radiant rock-lite treat, but having played the album to death it doesn’t get us in quite the same high spirits as its competitors. Similarly, the prodigious Recover by The Automatic has been rinsed through the Sloppy Dog speakers, and while it’s withstood the repetition, we’ve decided to leave it in the shadow of Monster to aid our deduction.

Finally, When You Were Young loudly pronounces that The Killers are back, with the hype-o-meter already set to ‘Lily Allen’. Good points? Fucking awesome band. Tremendously vast indie anthem. Fit singer. Bad points? Unspeakably shit moustache on fit singer. Impossible to get tickets to gig. Summary: Shave, put us on the guestlist, and assuming you comply, we’ll award you our blessed title. Congratulations! Provisionally.

This week's Celebrity News with Shakira

Hola my friends! I, Shakira, bid you greetings, for I am the Mongoose of throwaway gossip de celebridad. When I am not objecting to tango or telling hip-truths, I enjoy scouring the internet for details of the stars and their mishaps. And so, señoras y caballeros, I bring to you this week’s Celebrity News.

I bid multiple congratulation to Britney Spears and her bloodsucking companion Kevin Federline on the birth of their second offspring, Sutton Pierce. The gift of a child is much like preparing a sonnet for a Shetland pony. Many blessings to you, Britney.

News reaches my ears that Little Britain is to become a motion picture film. It is like my good friend and spirit guide Confucius says, “it is better to open a flask of weasels than to drink from a flask of beetroot wine.” But he says it only to me. The Little Britain film, it is... how you say... to make overkill. I shall not show it to my face.

Finally, it would appear that millions of record sales, saving Embrace from poverty, muchas rumpo with Gwyneth Paltrow, cancelling world debt and being the second coming isn’t enough for Chris Martin. He is to become an urban divinity by producing music for Jay-Z’s new album. I tell you, that man will find a cure for cancer, or my name isn’t Shakira Juanita Bogota Wizadora Cucaracha Jezebel Los Vibración.

Farewell, mis niños, and as always, beware of the adder.

*shakes violently and passes it off as dancing*

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Honking Box Preview: Totally Boyband

Earlier today, we had the hardship opulent privilege of viewing the first episode of what is promising to be the ultimate car crash series of 2006. Totally Boyband sees five former popstars being presented with an opportunity to leave the dole queue and return to the limelight as an all-new band assembled from over-ripened off-cuts.

It’s not so much being thrown a lifeline as much as they’re being thrown a small child’s rubber ring with polka dots and a dinosaur face. And while it’s unlikely to have the music industry foaming at the nether-regions with excitement, the line-up alone is enough to warrant a Sloppy Dog stamp of ironic appreciation: Bradley S Club, Lee out of Steps, Dane Bowers out of Jordan, some plumber from 911, and Danny from New Kids On The Block.

Highlights include:

Wholly unoriginal but eternally classic lines including “opinions are like arseholes – everyone’s got one”

Lee Latchford Evans being ribbed for his dance prowess, despite this being his sole contribution to Steps

Some rough bird with her knockers out

The shiny, ageing face of Popjustice, and its uneasy attempt at maintaining an expression of smugness after being given The Slaegin™ by Dane Bowers

The first sign of cracks within the band - of course, it won’t lead to anything big, like someone quitting. Oh...

We’re hoping the series overall will be rather less awkward than Totally Scott Lee, rather more exciting than the Geri documentaries, and significantly less depressing than Hear’Say: Off The Record. But on the back of the first episode, Totally Boyband will certainly be worth a look, albeit through your fingers.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Single Reviews 11/09/06

Apologies, readers, for the late arrival of the Single Reviews this week. Unfortunately, the summer (who we thought had packed up and legged it for good) decided to come out to play again. And let’s face it, it would be rude not to oblige.

Let’s get the ball rolling then, with a band whose last release prompted a horrendous review – a risky move in that it nearly had Sloppy Dog Towers firebombed. Good ol’ Embrace follow their malodorous World Cup ‘anthem’ with the far greater Target. A marked improvement, no doubt, but it’s still not one of the singles we recommended during the aforementioned World At Your Feet review. It’s almost as if they don’t sit and read The Sloppy Dog religiously. The very idea of it!

We can’t quite make our minds up about Jamelia. Pros: quite nice at times, decent voice, capable of a good tune or two. Cons: quite a cow at times, somewhat beige overall, capable of a shite song or two, Brummie. For now, we’re leaning slightly towards the former, off the back of the harmonious Something About You. A production line Scandiballad but strangely captivating, the shelf life will be short, though pleasing enough until the overkill sets in.

Airhead, pramface, rough-bird and self-styled “Dutchess” (gotta love that “T”, folks), Fergie finally gets round to expelling the corn-spiked stool that is London Bridge. In a follow-up to our recent Ferg-aimed ‘Ump column, we still think she’s facially busted, musically inept, geographically-retarded, and that this still sounds like Jentina. Thankfully, The Guillemots are on hand to nullify the earache of Fergie Ferg with the wondrous Trains To Brazil. A merry mash-up of horns, happiness, and the occasional sleigh bell, it’s an absolute joke that they didn’t walk away with the we-didn’t-care-anyway Mercury Music Prize.

Sticking with the subject of the Mercury diarrhoeathon, our ‘Ump rantravaganza about the unabashed predictability of the awards perhaps was ill-timed – it may come as no surprise that our Single of the Week goes to the eternally-spectacular Lostprophets. But we make no apologies – A Town Called Hypocrisy is, in addition to the pretty and rather amusing video, a skilful rawkalong demonstrating the merit of Liberation Transmission.

Disclaimer: articles may still be late and/or rubbish once the weather turns shit again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The 'Ump: The Mercury Music Prize

Ah, good ol' awards shows. They tend to serve first and foremost as a prompter of tellywards abuse instead of a celebration of talent (Panic At The Disco, Best Video at the VMAs, anyone?). So, well done, Mercury judges. You've once again made yourselves look like you know diddly-squat about music.

We're not hugely bothered by this - I mean, the Mercury Prize has never been enough of a lowculture bastion for us ever to actually care. Ok, so Franz Ferdinand winning or the Spice Girls getting nominated were rare moments of greatness, but overall it's a beige pretentiousfest for 30-something Hoxtwannabes in drainpipe jeans who bought the M.I.A. album.

We're merely pissed off about yet another media outlet singing the undeserving praises of the Overrated Apes. You remember that Oxfam ad about giving a man a fishing rod, and he'll feed his family for a year? Well, give a Clearasil-lite scally a guitar, and he'll make a fucking abysmal racket with it. Woo-hoo, let's spunk awards and money their way. Elsewhere, the annual Xenomania nosh-in that is the Popjustice £20 Prize threw up Girls Aloud's Biology as the winner. Well blow us the fuck away! Who'da thunk it?

Maybe next year we'll see a musically diverse list with exciting nominees and a deserving winner. And maybe, in the words of Homer Simpson, we will then hug some snakes. Yes, we will hug and kiss some poisonous snakes.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Single Reviews 04/09/06

We’re incredibly pleased to announce that this week’s Single Reviews are, for the most part, bloody great songs.

While this is undoubtedly ace, it’s also slightly disconcerting, as it means one of two things. Either the music industry is pulling its socks up and is finally starting to put out some good music, or we’re getting less bitchy in our old age. Surely reality would crumble and the universe would implode if either were the case?

Opening proceedings this week is the marvellously dirty Promiscuous. While we’re still having trouble adjusting to the genuinely lovely Nelly Furtado reinventing herself as a carefree ho-bag (albeit an effective and musically-capable one), the back-and-forth bravado exchanged between Nelly and Timbaland makes for a likeable, if slutty as hell, bop-mantra.

Muse follow up the spectacular Supermassive Black Hole with the only-slightly-less superb Starlight. You’ll have to bear with us as we attempt to complete this review without using the words “stellar”, “lunar” or “astronomical” – this may only be a blog, but we’re not Ian fucking Hyland. A nod to a more recognisable Muse, Starlight is a near-anthemic jewel from a band that surely can’t be far off legend status.

On to a track that we unequivocally hated at first listen – Bossy by the rather marvellous Kelis. However, we’ve since grown to love the hooktacular verses, the oddly charming conceit of the chorus, and even the new hairdo. Also, we’re now dismissing the slippery video as post-modern feminist irony on Kel’s part [insert shameless fanfare for new album here].

At the risk of sounding like Fiona from Little Miss Jocelyn, urban music isn’t necessarily top of our Windows Media playlist on a day-to-day basis. But not only is Kelis a close contender for our top position this week, the actual lucky claimants are none other than Outkast. A refreshing break from the heinous braggage of regular hip-hop, they’ve always been a Sloppy Dog favourite. And new track Morris Brown, a cheerful-but-not-saccharin jig through the world’s friendliest ghetto, is an indication of their brilliance. Single of the Week, trust.

But, as if to underline how good the rest of this week’s releases are, we come to a serious contender for the most fucking abusive-on-the-ears pile of putrid offal of the year. Of course, you’d be hard pushed to steal that title from Sandi Thom, but Robbie Williams comes pretty damn close. Perennially cunty, it’s no surprise that the egotistical window-licker that farted out Rock DJ would come up with another stinker. But the utter rancid overconfidence displayed in Rudebox (which we understand is a ‘stab’ at dub) further proves why this waste of oxygen needs to be publicly hanged. Let’s face it, he’d love the exposure, so it’s win/win.

Looks like we don’t need to worry about the industry sorting its shit out. Or us getting any less insulting, for that matter.
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