Saturday, November 25, 2006

Single Reviews 27/11/06

It's almost as if Christmas has come early here at The Sloppy Dog. This week's Single Reviews provides us with a wealth of top-notch songs, which admittedly isn't exactly a £100 Selfridges voucher, but after recent droughts meant Tenacious D somehow rose to the top with their worst single to date, it's certainly no swift kneecap in the bollocks.

While we’re far more supportive of her R&B brothelmusic than the anodyne cautionfest previously peddled, it’s nice to see Nelly Furtado returning to a slightly less slutflapped sound in All Good Things Come To An End, though we can’t help but think people wouldn’t care quite so much had it not been tainted blessed by the hand of Chris Martin.

Muse continue to push towards the title of most innovative and exhilarating band on the planet today with Knights of Cydonia, although it must be noted we have a difficult time not hearing Cydonia as "Cidona" - and once you've crossed that line, there's no removing the mental image of a mucky ginger child asking his Mammy if he can have a glass of the aforementioned to go with his banana and Tayto sandwich.

Lostprophets further flag up the greatness of Liberation Transmission with the anthemic Can't Catch Tomorrow. We're still not sure whether the Good Shoes Won't Save You This Time sub-title is entirely necessary, but managing to inject both melody and energy into a rock song to this extent transcends any bizarre naming conventions. Elsewhere, another icon of the wondrousness of 2006 comes in the form of The Fratellis, whose lovable lament Whistle For The Choir displays a mellow alternative to their patented acid country, and just manages to claim Single of the Week ahead of its worthy contemporaries.

However, there's one single out this week on which we can allow the bile to flow freely. Not before time either, as we were on the verge of running out of good things to say, and Lord knows, being nasty comes so much easier. Take a third of a quirky hip-pop collective turned four-piece washaway nightclub PA specialists, mix with an underachieving Tweet song too recent to warrant covering, and engulf the whole lot in a tar-like treacle of Eurocheese house. Boogie 2Nite by the faceless Booty Luv featuring Nadia and Cherise, is arguably the most pointless release of the year - although if Big Brovaz keep dividing down according to the current pattern, maybe we'll get at least one half-decent solo career.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The 'Ump: "A Moment Like This"

This year's X Factor has been a right funny one, eh? Boy bands with gender issues; frontrunners stopped in their tracks before the live shows; Louis Walsh actually coming across better than his contemporaries; The Unconventionals... well, The Unconventionals. But nothing can match the nonsensical news that has just reached Sloppy Dog Towers.

We've learned, courtesy of Digital Spy, that the winner's single has been selected as A Moment Like This, the debut single of bellowing K-Mart cashier, purveyor of pogde, and apparent American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. A song that was eventually relegated to Bonus Track status when they realised teefing Slaguilera cast-offs was far more effective. A song that's since provided the stiltonised audio to Sandals adverts. A song so absolutely bereft of original thought, even bloody Westlife haven't touched it.

Have we learned nothing from the whole Sound of the Underground vs Sacred Trust non-debacle? There's a pattern as clear as Aisleyne's green dress between gungey, insipid, I-am-here balladry and a steep drop into the unforgiving shitter. Evergreen. Anything Is Possible. All This Time. That's My Goal. Seriously, how did Simon Cowell ever claw his way out of the BMG postroom? Sure, you're a millionaire mogul turned supposedly omnipotent pop guru, but mistakes like this only remind us that you're also responsible for some of the biggest fuck-ups in modern music. Girl Thing, anyone?

So, that's that. Once again, the Great British public invest months of Saturday night eye-squaring, spend small fortunes on the extortionate phonelines, not to mention the desolate hopefuls who put themselves firmly in the firing line in front of millions week after week, and for what? An insulting, re-harvested spunkrag of a song doubling as a one-way ticket to Brooksteinville. Farewell, Leona/Ben/Eton Road - we knew thee well, and liked you in drastically varying levels.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Single Reviews 20/11/06

Ciao ragazzi! We write this week’s Single Reviews from the picturesque Italian town of Bracciano, just outside of Rome, where we’re attending the modest ceremony of our good friends Tom ‘n’ Katie. Truth be told, we’re not too keen on her – she looks like she’s about to burst into tears at the best of times, so God help her during the vows. Seriously, we wish them all the happiness in the world, or if they prefer, a lifetime of column inches. We really should have taken a glance at their wedding list.

Inaugurating this week’s assortment of bitchery are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though it should be noted that we’re actually quite contented with the line-up of singles this week. In fact, the only pessimistic point to address for Snow (Hey Ho) would be the use of “ho” in its title when the lyric is quite clearly “oh”. Otherwise, we’re presented with a beguiling, affable tune and the biggest redeeming feature of Stadium Arcadium. Pedantic? Us?

Although we’re more likely to wave a banner for Pink’s more ballsy repertoire, it’s always nice to heed the musician behind the stern beats and corrosive I-am-woman hollers. Nobody Knows sees Pink playing the little girl lost in a unruffled, authentic ballad, adding a squillionth string to her musical bow.

The Feeling continue to dominate the Sloppy Dog MP3 player, having provided us with the definitive album of the year. And while Love It When You Call is our least favourite excerpt from the aforementioned masterpiece, it’s still head, shoulders, groin and mid-shin area above its nearest competitors. Need we even point out that it’s out Single of the Week?

While we’re big supporters of worthwhile charities (morally, not financially), this year’s Children In Need single warrants a gloves-off examination. Once again a rush-released cover of indefensibly unoriginal proportions, we see current Beeb darling Emma Bunton taking on Downtown. Luckily, we needn’t be too harsh, as The Bunto carries it with just enough Mary-Quant-in-a-can sass that only she can pull off. Satisfactory for now, but Must Try Harder.

Next up, the elite homecoming of Take That, a return so heavily hyped, it feels like they haven’t actually been away. The reception hasn’t been exactly toasty for Patience, having been described as somewhat Bluntesque by numerous outlets. However, it’s more that it sounds like four blokes in their thirties making capable pop, which quite frankly is preferable to four blokes in their thirties reliving the days of jelly, ice cream and stark bollock nudity.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Single Reviews 13/11/06

We know whenever the Single Reviews are late, we come up with some lousy justification for the tardiness, be it a coma or an explosion or alien abduction. But we’re sure you’ll understand that it’s taken us almost a week to pick ourselves up off the floor after seeing the new M&S Christmas ad. Never have so many of the senses been so ill-treated all at once. *shudder*

Pushing the tired jailbird branding to its limits, Akon returns with Smack That, a track supposedly including Eminem as a featuring artist, yet the unmodified stench of Slim Shady throughout all but clouds Akon entirely. More likely than not, Smack That is a mere stop-gap until we’re ‘privileged’ enough to hear the former get back to sampling Tweety Pie, and the latter providing us with another HILARIOUS! and ORIGINAL! parody-packed cuss-by-numbers.

Greatest Hits albums, by their very nature, should contain the artist in question’s greatest hits (c’mon, it’s right there in the title). Oasis inaugurate their Greatest Hits – a compilation that skips much of their greatest work and most of their hits – with The Masterplan, which, by releasing as a single, is forever stripped of the hallowed title of Greatest B-Side Ever. No contesting the triumphant material itself, but the approach of it all feels very, very wrong.

Sadly having not drowned in the vomit of the entire nation induced by Rudebox, Robbie Williams sneezes out Lovelight, an apparent cover of a song by someone we’re supposed to care about. An obnoxious jumble of high notes and textbook electro-squelches, it’s the polar opposite of Snow Patrol & Martha Wainwright’s striking Set The Fire To The Third Bar. A quietly epic musical delicacy, it not only highlights the remarkable diversity of Eyes Open but is a confident Single of the Week.

Fresh off the boyband conveyor belt are 365, a band so trite and clueless, said conveyor belt is evidently jerking awkwardly whilst chugging out black smoke. Curiously, One Touch reworks the demo version of Liberty X’s No. 48 ‘smash’ X, a fact that proves 365 will have a hard time ascending from their starting point at the bottom of the sewage-storing barrel, and that we here at The Sloppy Dog should be ashamed for even knowing what a demo version of a track that reached No. 48 sounds like.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Honking Box Review: Torchwood

Can it really be five episodes into a brand new series, and we're yet to cast a condemnatory eye over it? It took us all of two seconds to tear the parched, hopeless Robin Hood to mere shreds, but we've purposely held back in scrutinising the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood until we've had a more comprehensive gander.

BBC Three's brand new bi-fi hasn't taken long to establish itself as an edgy, identifiable drama with a knowing element of kitsch. Perhaps its none-too-covert promotion throughout every single episode of Doctor Who would explain why we've eased into it so comfortably - effectively, we've known about it since forever ago.

Supposedly a tool for the endearingly plastic Captain Jack Harkness (although it must be noted he's far better at playing the space-age slutbag than the world-weary champion), we're also introduced to his team - an aggravated tea boy, an arse-kicking Welsh bird, a slimy mockney with no lips, and only fucking NICOLA FROM SPICEWORLD. Does television get much better?!

However, it wouldn’t be a Russell T Davies classic without an overt dash of smut – though we can’t help but wonder whether Auntie has actually seen half the stuff served up throughout Torchwood. So far we've seen Mockney No-Lips essentially date-raping a married couple, the heterosexual PC Gwen lezzing it up in a prison cell, and both of the above getting congenially clammy in a mortuary drawer while a semi-naked Cyber-ho stalks the unit looking to cut herself a robo-mate. We’re fighting the urge to leave our Catholic prude hat in its box.

This week's episode sees the team investigating fairies, which, it would appear, are not all that nice. Insert your choice of weak joke from either an obscure Labyrinth reference or an obvious remark about bitchy gays.

Russell T, you've nailed it once again. It'll still be a chic day in Lidl before you top The Dark Season, but sign us up for the Torchwood Appreciation Society all the same. Assuming it doesn’t actually exist, that is... we’re being strictly metaphorical.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Magic Numbers - Those The Brokes (Heavenly)

We’re not ones to hold grudges here at The Sloppy Dog. I mean, wishing the plague on Sandi Thom and her entire family based on just one single isn’t necessarily a grudge, is it? Definitions aside, we have to remind ourselves of our no-grudge stance when presented with Those The Brokes, the sophomore offering from The Magic Numbers.

Responsible for one of the most crushing disappointments in modern music via their debut album, we’re almost afraid to dip a toe into the water a second time around. Glorious pop making way into morose, forgettable bleating, the eponymous predecessor played out like the greatest night out you’ve ever had followed by the most unthinkably painful hangover imaginable.

So, having finally pushed ourselves to sample the wares, it would appear the fears were thankfully futile. A generally steady, distinct sound spread across a line-up of expert ditties means The Magic Numbers couldn’t be further from our Thom-topped blacklist – something which we’re damn relieved about, as they’re also on our list of pop stars who we reckon would be terrific to go for a pint with.

Willowy folk takes a back seat to accommodate amplified twiddling and subsequently, a far superior energy. Those The Brokes indicates that musicianship needn’t be defined by minor key broodage, opting for a merrier route throughout. Carl’s Song, a noodly hoedown punctuated with angelic harmonies, or opening goldmine This Is A Song demonstrate the Numbers doing what they do best.

Slower moments are by no means absent. More successful examples come via Boy, Take Me Or Leave Me and Undecided, which crucially each have their own identity rather than becoming misplaced in a puddle of their own pensiveness, undoubtedly the key fuck-up of the first album. However, considerably generic ballads cloud the latter part of the record, proving there’s still room to aim for perfection.

But in the meantime, we’ll dismiss all thoughts of album #1, happily enjoy Those The Brokes, and hope that the aforementioned pint comes along before we change our minds.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Single Reviews 06/11/06

Sorry readers, but there’s been a slight error in the awarding of previous Single of the Week winners – each should in fact have gone to talented, humble, maturely-behaving, respectful, all-round good sport Kanye West. Let the record also show that Kanye should have been the rightful recipient of no less than six Nobel Peace Prizes, over 20 ribbons at Crufts, every Oscar ever awarded, and is the actual Son of God, rather than Jesus who was only recorded as such due to a voting error.

Kasabian get the proverbial rolling this week with the bloke-chic terrace rawk of Shoot The Runner. Perhaps not quite up to the standard of previous single Empire but certainly proves the album of the same name is a capable collection of anthems, and incidentally provides us with one of the best videos of 2006.

Paving the way for their Greatest Hits album, the Sugababes unveil their first fully Amelle’d single. Sadly, it seems Mutya was the sole vessel of edge within the band, for Easy is a sub B-side snoozer with severely forlorn undertones. By no means a bad song, but is left shivering in the shadow of previous efforts. We’re crossing everything that this is a one-off.

Christina Aguilera hits the shelves this week with the drab Hurt, another self-indulgent vibrato marathon. Thankfully it’s not another excuse for the yelp-happy harpy to inform us how it’s “a throwback to the 20s, 30s and 40s” for the millionth fucking time. Hard to believe this is the same woman that brought us Beautiful.

Innovation specialists and near-overkill purveyors Gnarls Barkley wallop us from two directions with a double A-side treat. Who Cares is an itchy lounge trill, while the electro-noodle of Gone Daddy Gone is an invitation to the dancefloor that only a limbless corpse could refuse.

Finally, we begrudge herald the return of All Saints, a band who we hated with fizzing bile back in their glory days (it was mandatory for any true Spicephile). However, we’ve had a chance to develop an objective approach in the past five years, while the Saints have evidently learned how to make songs without autocue intros or twiddly fieldmouse noises. Rocksteady is the single Sugababes should be pre-empting their Best Of with, but is instead our Single of the Week.

(...which, of course, in actuality, belongs to Kanye “King of Fucking Everything” West.)

Honking Box Review: The X Factor

The X Factor has fallen off the radar a bit recently, hasn’t it? Not that we’ve stopped watching it, we’re just talking about it considerably less, plus we were gutted that the clumsy Macdonald Brothers playing the bagpipes live onstage turned out to be hearsay. But all of sudden, the show has taken a turn for the better. A BIG turn....

Our uncontrollable delight at the exit of arrogant woollen mongoloid Ashley could be heard for miles – quite possibly the greatest decision Louis Walsh has made throughout his career, although the look of downright hatred on Simon Cowell’s face was genuinely chilling. Still, more fool Simon for betting so much on a stroppy oik that claimed “it’s not my type of music, d’ja get me?” about every single genre presented to him, let alone the fact that he looks like a Highland cow and sings like a sheep. Seriously, we haven’t detested a complete stranger this much since Horseface Grace.

So with supposed frontrunner Trashley out on his whiny arse, the competition has been given a brief burst of fresh air. For those of you (and feedback suggests there are many) that have switched off over the past week or two, The Sloppy Dog presents a concise X Factor finalists refresher...

Initially we dismissed Leona as being a bit generic and Javinesque, but we’ve quickly come to realise she’s actually rather fucking ace. Perhaps a wee bit dull as far as personality goes, but potentially nothing a drink or seven before next week’s show wouldn’t aid – she looks like she’d be fantastic at vodka-sodden tragedy. Knock ‘em back, love.

Perma-grinning ratpack chimp whose face and hair are constructed from the same recovered plastic, we much preferred him as Bernie Nolan’s littlest in Brookie. Sure, he’s likeable. Sure, he’s marketable. But Christ on a bike, if this lad hasn’t prompted a nationwide abhorrence of swing music, Panic At The Disco are a serious band with an important message.

The Macdonald Brothers
The most sexless siblings to bother TV screens since, well, The Conway Sisters. How they even got through Boot Camp is wholly unfathomable, although they’re flogging the Scottish card so heavily there’s only a matter of time before they do Letter From America. Also, four weeks in and they still haven’t mustered up even one lousy comeback for Simon’s ever-flowing bile? Do you actually have testicles under those kilts, lads?

AKA The 1993 Man. The voice, the styling, the horrendous barnet – it’s all very, very dated and very, very wrong. Not to mention the fact that he seems to believe he has some sort of superpower that enables him to turn any song into bona fide rock music. Sling him an S Club 7 track, Mrs O, see how he handles THAT.

Not a lot to report on Robert – essentially Andy from last year’s series, except he looks less like a Malteser. Nice guy, good voice, and that’s pretty much your lot. Which doesn’t bode too well for him in the competition. Next!

We actually began to consciously mull over Nikitta’s talent in the competition during Saturday’s show, it being the first occasion that her USP of having a dead mother wasn’t rinsed to bejesus. It would turn out she’s not all that great, bless her. Quick, get the solemn ballad playing again, Nikitta needs votes!

Eton Road
Looking and sounding like Shirley Bassey backed by 911, Eton Road are arguably the most interesting act in the competition. It’s undetermined whether we love or hate Mini-Molko’s flat-out refusal to correspond with his bandmates’ vocals, dance moves and... well, gender. But it’s fair to assume hate is more likely. All the same, Eton Road make for incredibly watchable television.

So who’s got The Sloppy Dog vote? Well, it wouldn’t be right to say – partly because we don’t want to influence your ballot, partly because we could well change our opinion in the coming weeks, and mainly (approximately 98%) because we’re hoping for Jonathan to return in a wild card twist.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Sound Of Girls Aloud (Polydor)

Ah, the yuletide season is upon us. Yet in this cynical mercantile paradise, tis not signified by the welcomed appearance of a wee robin, or adorning one’s skates for frolics atop the frozen lake. It’s the increasingly hellish crowd numbers along Oxford Street; it’s the horrific reality that the company of wretched in-laws draws nearer; it’s wall-to-wall Coke ads; and it’s that perennial staple of the stocking, the Best Of album.

Amongst the numerous releases hoping to make it under many a fibre-optic tree is The Sound Of Girls Aloud, the greatest hits of a band arguably initially constructed solely for the Christmas market. But the key dynamic here is that particular market was four Christmases ago. Geri, Waterman, One True Voice, Chloe fucking Staines, and the Sikh bloke singing Kiss Kiss couldn’t be further removed from the pedestal of quality, inventive, idiosyncratic pop that Girls Aloud rightly and proudly stand upon.

So not an entirely unjustified anthology, then. And it’s ironic that when you consider that it was four entire years since Sound Of The Underground, it feels as fresh and as innovative as it did when it left a nation of reality TV viewers pleasantly gobsmacked. And while that debut has never been surpassed, The Sound Of Girls Aloud illustrates that there followed some landmark pop music.

Whether it’s the two-fingered bitch power of No Good Advice and Wake Me Up, the knowing pleated skirt giggles of Jump and The Show, or the Archers Aqua-soaked sorrows of Whole Lotta History, it reads like a manual on how (and why) to push the envelope.

It’s not without its hiccups – See The Day could have been shat out by Atomic Kitten during a coffee break, while Long Hot Summer and Love Machine prove that Xenomania missed the target on more than one occasion. However, these, along with the uninspiring, non-ironic take on I Think We’re Alone Now, serve to further highlight what an impressive catalogue of superior singles the band have built up.

It’s no revelation that Girls Aloud don’t have – and will never have – the wit, charm or charisma of the Spice Girls; the sharpness of All Saints; the credibility of the Sugababes, or the sheer cum-drenched slutdom of the Pussycat Dolls. Which is why, when considering what they do have, the strangest realisation you make is that The Sound Of Girls Aloud is all about the music. Perhaps not their music, but you’d be hard pushed to find a contemporary pop act as consistent and as definable as Girls Aloud. And if, in the tradition of the Christmas greatest hits compilation, this is to mark the end of the band, let’s hope their puppetmasters can find another suitable outlet to keep that triumphant music coming.

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